“I hate it when I get the phone call but every time [Ofsted] comes to the school I feel like it’s supportive”
Mike Fairclough is not an ordinary primary school headteacher.
It may be an unassuming state school for 7-11 year olds, at the back of an Eastbourne housing estate – but West Rise Junior, is nationally famous for its focus on risk and resilience; teaching children to use fire, knives and guns, to care for dangerous animals and to be candid about how they are feeling, embracing tricky conversations as a part of life.
In this After Corona episode of The Possibility Club podcast, we look at the decisions and perspectives of a primary education leader during the biggest challenge to the delivery of education in the UK since the second world war.
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Mike Fairclough’s two books on education and learning ‘Playing With Fire’ and ‘Wild Thing’ focus on the innate creativity and curiosity of children, and how it is the adults that don’t know how to cope when presented with challenges with our playfulness and ability to learn through risk eroded as we get older and more buttoned-up.
We recorded this conversation with Mike in March 2021, in order to get the view from the frontline of how this pandemic has affected children, families and school communities. If the curriculum at West Rise Junior is so cleverly focused on personal capacity to deal with change and uncertainty, how has it benefited students at a time like this?
We talked about the decisions to close schools to all but key worker and vulnerable children, remote learning, inequality and opportunity and the hope for a better understanding of children’s wellbeing and resilience from all of society.
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