What is ‘Ownership of Learning’?
Ownership of learning is where a learner is motivated, engaged, and self-directed and has a sense of autonomy, choice, and responsibility for their actions. It is well known that all learners have a fundamental need to feel autonomy in what they do.
We are fortunate that at Gateway School we hold the belief that the more you hand over decision-making to the children, the more they feel in control of their own learning. By giving the children ownership, we see their motivation and love for learning increase. The children feel empowered and experience the buzz and pride in the realisation that their amazing ideas have come to fruition. For this simple reason, we have always tried to involve the children in designing their learning as much as possible. We continue to look at ways to further enhance pupil ownership at Gateway and this year it is one of our whole school priorities.
Within our Early Years Phase, one of the ways we hand over ownership to children is by giving them a choice about which resources are accessible on a weekly basis. Miss Noakes, our Nursery Teacher explains ‘Developing children's independence is especially important within an EYFS setting. It promotes confidence and self-esteem, as well as motivation and perseverance.
“One way we can foster independence is by giving children choice and allowing them to voice their opinions - this may be a choice of using crayons or a choice of apples or oranges for a snack. At Gateway, the children are given the opportunity to make a choice of what provision they want to have access to and our skilled team always deftly applies the learning needs to these interests.
“A child may be particularly interested in dinosaurs, so we create a dinosaur swamp where they can practise skills such as pouring or measuring; we may discuss the sounds the dinosaur names begin with; draw what they like to eat; order the dinosaurs by size, weight, or even foot size or use the dinosaurs themselves to create prints in paint or play-dough.
“Having this choice, having their opinions valued and their interests fostered, really captures and accelerates the learning opportunities through carefully crafted and creative activities.”
Alongside choice, another aspect we consider important is to ensure the learning experiences reflect the individual’s personal goals, interests, or values. Furthermore, to achieve real ownership, learners also need direction, support, and feedback along the way to help them know if they are on the right track and to give them confidence for the next learning challenge.
Feedback has long been recognised as one of the best ways to accelerate a child’s learning and progress. It supports learning and allows children to identify their own strengths and weaknesses. Quality feedback also helps teachers to locate potential areas of development, as well as dedicating attention to anything that the children have highlighted. In your children’s books, evidence of feedback is present at every stage. This is where the teacher and child have a meaningful dialogue about the learning during that lesson, this may include the teacher modelling the learning, highlighting areas for improvement, the child self editing, or evidence of conversations on how to progress the work further. This clear feedback helps to focus the child on the learning intentions of the lesson and what they need to do to achieve.
In some lessons, our pupils are presented with a “menu” of options – much like you would find in a restaurant. For example, some are offered ‘Chilli Challenges’ where the spicier the menu choice, the more challenging the activity is. Giving the children a simple choice of how much they understand a topic and how far they want to stretch themselves results in better motivated and engaged learners. Of course, as teachers, we ensure that these choices are carefully facilitated so that a progression of learning can be fostered and measured.
We know at Gateway that it is vitally important for the children to take responsibility for their day-to-day learning. We carefully combine giving children ownership with the relevant amount of choice, feedback and challenge which leads to a learning recipe for success. We understand that children who have a true sense of ownership of their learning are inspired and the lifelong learner is born!
Mrs Samantha Woods
Head of Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1