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Janet Hayward OBE: Why learner-led education matters

Why learner-led education matters

The whole experience of school needs to be built on a bed of joy and wonder, with the expectation that everyone, staff included, will learn, succeed and enjoy every day. Being open to taking risks and mistakes happening has to be integral to the outlook too. Project-based learning, led by the children's lines of inquiry allowing for creative approaches, is the way we do it at Cadoxton. Working in this way has seen attainment and achievement rocket in the last four years.

If we are going to achieve the best outcomes for learners both now and into the future, we have to be driven by the belief that they need to be in charge of as much of their learning as possible and that learning between home and school is seamless. This is why we have transformed our Victorian school building into a 21st Century learning environment and brought our teaching right up-to-date too.

We have designed our classrooms to support learner-led education and enable students to make their own choices about how they approach their work. Each classroom is equipped with a bank of computers, allowing a carousel approach to lessons with one or maybe two activities harnessing the power of technology. Furniture is flexible and minimal too, allowing space for children to choose where and how they want to approach an activity. Classrooms have huge writable surfaces (where the fireplaces used to be) and TV screens linked to Apple TVs allowing children to share their digital collaborations during plenary sessions.

It's not just our classrooms that are designed to support learners taking responsibility but our curriculum too. That's why last term began with the launch of a whole school topic 'Big Wide World', with each year group having spent the Easter holiday exploring their country and coming back to school dressed in costume/their country's colours. The first day back was an immersion day, sharing home learning, learning new songs and dances of their countries with experts and planning the learning for the half term. The project culminated with a whole school share, swap and celebration of learning - all led by the learners.

Janet Hayward OBE is the headteacher of Cadoxton Primary School in Wales.