AKG’s submitted and approved programme for primary education for grades 1-6 is presented below.
Key principles of the AKG primary school programme
How do we see primary school?
The role of schools in society and the tasks they have to perform have changed. The directions set by the challenges of the 21st century have shifted the focus of learning and teaching from knowledge acquisition to the development of competencies. Today’s schools need to keep abreast of technological innovations, the latest scientific research, and changes in social conditions. The different learning paths, mindsets and knowledge acquisition techniques of the new generations are therefore seen as a starting point and a resource. We adapt to these in our work.
Traditional schools cannot respond well to these challenges. Our school has chosen reconstruction over institutional renovation. We have developed our own pedagogical concept and created a school structure to match that. What we are bringing to life is not a ‘school’. It is almost a school, a quasi-school, so to speak.
It is a school because we want to serve—within a legitimate institutional framework—the social need that has emerged over the last decades to enable children to progress at their own pace, to acquire the competencies they need to thrive in the future, and to prepare them for flexible adaptation to change. We think in communities and groups, but with the development of each individual child in mind. School is not just a place to acquire knowledge, but also a socialisation and community space. We do not teach children to memorise facts, but primarily to think critically, to organise and to use information constructively, and to work together. We create a safe, homely socialisation environment and a supportive community, while allowing each child to progress at their own pace and to develop according to their own interests. Yet our school is not a school in the traditional sense of the word, because we do this within a framework that departs from the traditional school concept. Here, everyone is in motion, interacting and developing according to their own abilities and circumstances, rather than according to a set standard. Let us redefine the concept of school. A quasi-school is a learning organisation where teachers, students and parents follow their own learning paths, perfecting them according to their own needs.
When we talk about school, we have this altered notion of school in mind.
Extending the school’s function
The framework curriculum awaiting approval describes an extended school function (in line with the whole school concept) with the following characteristics. It is also in line with the provisions of the National Law on Public Education concerning full-time education.
- This means that pupils are provided with full-day care, which also means that day care whether at home or in the classroom is part of the school day, thus allowing for flexible and differentiated learning organisation.
- Sharing knowledge is important to us. We therefore pay particular attention to creating as many extracurricular learning opportunities as possible (research environment) and to hosting as many professionals as possible, relying mainly on parental resources.
- It sees school as a social space in which the growing generations can learn, play, experience, develop their personalities, eat, rest, move, express themselves and create. In other words, we are aware of the fact that children spend a large part of their school years at school.
- Open school. These tasks presuppose the involvement of all stakeholders (children, parents, teachers, the immediate and broader environment) and an open institution that is an integral part of the local community. Close contact with parents and families, mutual cooperation with NGOs and a cross-sectoral approach (for-profit, non-profit, service, commercial). The community function also means participation in the cultural life and social networks of the municipality.
- Cooperation with parents is based on mutual trust and partnership. Families/parents are involved in school decision-making and school life. Parents have access to relevant information. Mutual communication is intensive, parents can come to school at any time and have access to the teachers working in the school every day.
- Learning is a shared responsibility. The learning process, and therefore the learning outcome, is no longer the shared responsibility of the school community alone, but of the broader and narrower environment surrounding the school. The school is an integral part of society and a school in the 21st century should be seen as an intersection where any number of paths can converge and diverge, and where the relationships, interactions and networks between people carry the most important knowledge to be acquired.
Features of our curriculum
The framework curriculum sets out practical solutions that are synergistically linked and form a coherent whole.
- Mixed-age learning is an integral part of the programme, with children of relatively homogeneous age groups learning together. Vertical groups are formed to involve the whole school in learning at certain times.
- Three teachers accompany each class; paired and parallel teaching is commonplace. Each teacher supports the individual journey of 6-10 children.
- There are no discrete subject areas in our school because competence development requires an interdisciplinary approach. The areas of competence are divided into developmental sub-areas, to which clearly defined levels are assigned. The levels do not correspond to class grade levels.
- Progression from grade level to grade level allows for individual learning pathways.
One of the main tasks of the assessment system is to establish internal control, therefore in our school we use only text-based assessment in grades 1-6, which provides a thorough and detailed picture of the children who attend our school.
In order to implement the framework curriculum, we have created a school structure that matches our pedagogical concept, and we work with procedures that are appropriate to its practical implementation. The different learning paths, ways of thinking and ways of acquiring knowledge of each new generation are a starting point and a resource. We want to serve, within a legitimate institutional framework, the societal need that has emerged over the past decades to enable children to acquire the knowledge (competencies) needed for their future well-being at their own pace, and to prepare them to adapt flexibly to change. We think in terms of community and groups, while also focusing on children’s individual development. We do not teach children to memorise facts, but rather to think critically, to organise and use information constructively, and to work together.
In our programme, school is both a place for the acquisition of knowledge that can be mobilised and also a socialisation arena. It is a community space where children are active rather than passive participants, one which builds on their responsible participation: a place where children are not preparing for life, but are living it.
The curriculum is NAT compatible. The current 2012 NAT (Government Decree 110/2012 (4.VI.)) defines the key competencies to be developed, but a school with a traditional subject structure and a learning organisation framework that is less reliant on student activity is not conducive to the implementation of the National Curriculum. Educational establishments that try to meet the challenges of the 21st century, as well as implementing the requirements of the NAT face a number of difficulties. Our curriculum, within the framework provided by the legal and content regulation instruments, proposes to transform the traditional mechanisms of school functioning and to organise learning more effectively, based on individual needs.
The rationale for developing a framework curriculum is to respond to the challenges of the 21st century in an informed, valid and forward-looking way in the following areas, which fall within the competence of teachers:
- The impact of the information explosion and the digital revolution.
- The transformation of the family and the changing role of parents in their children’s daily lives
- Children’s changing needs, habits and prior knowledge
- Dynamic changes in the learning environment and diversity as an everyday experience.
- The changing role of the school and the changing role of the teacher.
- The emergence of individual pathways in the organisation of learning and the development and use of new methods, tools, procedures and structures to achieve this.
- Responding to social changes and tensions and inequalities.
Our framework curriculum seeks to provide a basis for adapting its approach, content and methodology to the specific institutional features of different institutions. It also offers examples of possible ways of implementation. It proposes a system of objectives and tools, as well as learning organisation procedures that build on the reform pedagogical trends of the 20th century, the professional experience of alternative schools in Hungary, humanistic psychology and the research findings of positive psychology.
The document is a curriculum because of the specific solutions it proposes, the fundamental reason being that the paradigm shift in schools today is a matter of principle, methodology and content. The present curriculum helps to translate the objectives and tasks prescribed by the NAT 2012 into practice and to disseminate widely the competence-based complex development approach. In its design, we have taken into account that the strategic goal of public education, as conveyed by international measurements and competency assessments, is that schools are responsible for transferring knowledge that can be mobilised for children.
The content of the competency assessment:
1. Mathematical literacy
The ability of an individual to understand and analyse the role of mathematics in the real world,
- the application of acquired knowledge to real life situations
- using mathematical tools at a skills level
2. Ability to understand texts
- Concentrating on the content or form of written language texts
- Understanding and using texts; recognising connections and contradictions
- Ability to reflect on texts or formulate a position in order to achieve goals, develop knowledge, skills, adapt successfully or participate successfully in everyday communication situations
Our programme is congruent with the above objectives. It has been designed with the aim of enabling children to acquire the skills they need to cope in everyday life, to continue their education, to enter the world of work, and to adapt to a changing environment, using content, methods and tools that are most appropriate to their age.
Our framework curriculum is designed for the first six years of AKG’s 4+1+2 years. The move to lower secondary (grades 7-10) implies that in the preceding years of primary schooling, the curriculum must be coherent (both in content and approach) with the AKG secondary school programme. This is a six-year phase which provides a solid foundation in basic skills and the development of social competences. A community-based programme of individual skills development based on differentiated learning organisation. Since, in technical terminology, an eight-grade primary school is widely referred to as a primary school, AKG’s six-grade primary is referred to as a primary school.
Our programme is based on the European Framework of Reference for Key Competencies for Lifelong Learning . These competencies are subject-independent and are based on cross-curricular objectives in a traditional subject-based educational structure. They are generally related to the management of an individual’s own learning, social and interpersonal relationships and communication, and reflect a generally observed shift in emphasis from teaching to learning.
The Framework gives preference to the terms ‘competence’ and ‘key competencies’ over ‘basic skills’, because the latter is generally used to refer to basic literacy and numeracy skills, or ‘survival’ or, in other words, ‘life skills’, and is thus too limited in meaning.
The eight key competencies identified are a transferable, multifunctional set of knowledge, skills and attitudes in the knowledge society that are essential for everyone to fulfil and develop their personalities, to fit into society and to be employable. Key competencies should be acquired during compulsory education and training because they form the basis for all learning in later life, as part of “lifelong learning”.
The definition emphasises that key competencies are transferable, i.e., they are transferable from one situation to another and can therefore be applied in a variety of situations and contexts. They are also multifunctional, which means that they can be used to achieve different objectives and to solve different problems and tasks.
Key competencies are prerequisites for good individual performance, work and learning throughout life. They are competencies that are crucial for each of the following three components of life:
(1) Personal fulfilment and lifelong development (cultural capital). The key competencies should enable people to pursue personal goals throughout their lives, which are determined by their personal interests, aspirations and the desire for continuous learning.
(2) Active citizenship and inclusion in society (social capital). Key competencies should enable everyone to participate actively in society.
(3) Employability (human capital). Every individual should be able to find decent work in the labour market.
In an ever-changing society, individuals face different requirements in different situations. Therefore, in addition to the basic skills needed to cope with a certain range of tasks, individuals need to have a set of general and transferable competencies that are flexible and can be used in a variety of situations, in order to have a set of skills, knowledge and attitudes that can be used in a variety of situations.
Communication in your mother tongue
The ‘mother tongue’ is the language acquired in early childhood, which becomes a natural tool for thinking and communicating. Communication in the mother tongue is the ability to integrate linguistically correctly and creatively into the full range of social and cultural activities in family life and leisure, education, later training and the workplace, according to the needs and requirements of the individual. This includes the ability to express and interpret thoughts, feelings, facts and opinions both orally and in writing (listening comprehension, speaking, reading and writing).
Communication in foreign languages
Communication in a foreign language is the ability to understand, express and interpret thoughts, feelings, facts and opinions orally and in writing in an appropriate range of social and cultural contexts in family life, leisure, education and later in the workplace according to individual needs and requirements. Communication in foreign languages also requires skills such as mediation and intercultural understanding.
At the most basic level, mathematical competence involves the ability to add, subtract, multiply, divide, use percentages and fractions in mental and written calculations to solve a variety of everyday problems.
This competence includes, at different levels of abstraction, the use of mathematical thinking (logical and spatial reasoning) and the use of mathematical expressions (formulae, models, geometric diagrams, curves, graphs) universally used to explain and describe reality.
At a higher level, mathematical competence is the ability to select the most appropriate of convergent (analogical, algorithmic) and divergent (intuitive, creative) strategies, to switch between them and to combine them.
Scientific and technological competencies
Scientific competence is the ability and skill to use the knowledge and methods that science uses to explain the natural world. Technological competence is the application of this knowledge in transforming the natural environment in response to human perceived needs and wants. Competence in science and technology includes an understanding of the changes caused by human activity and the responsibility of the individual.
Digital competence (digital literacy) is the ability to use information society technologies (ICT – information and communication technologies) confidently and critically at work, in leisure time and for communication. It is linked to logical and critical thinking, high level information management skills and advanced communication skills. Skills related to the use of information and communication technologies include the ability to search for, evaluate, store, create, present and transmit information mediated by multimedia technologies, and to participate critically, responsibly and safely in Internet communication and networks. Digital literacy is a thorough understanding of the nature of ICT and its role, potential and usability in different contexts of everyday life.
Learning to learn’ involves the ability to organise and control one’s own learning, both independently and in groups. It includes the ability to manage time effectively, to problem-solve, to acquire, process, evaluate and integrate new knowledge, and to apply new knowledge and skills in different contexts: at home, at work, in education and training. Learning to learn has a strong influence on an individual’s ability to manage his or her own career.
Interpersonal, intercultural, social and civic competencies
This area of competence covers the behaviours that individuals need to acquire in order to be able to participate effectively and constructively in both public and private life and to be able to resolve conflicts when they arise. Citizenship competencies enable individuals to become active citizens, to participate actively and responsibly in public affairs and democratic decision-making. Acceptance of and commitment to fundamental human rights is an essential element of these competences, as it is the basis of solidarity and responsibility in modern democratic societies. It is the various competencies in this area of competence that enable the principles of equality and justice to be put into practice. They also enable individuals to participate in solving problems that affect their local and wider community.
Entrepreneurship includes the ability to initiate change, to take initiative and to embrace, support and apply innovations triggered by external factors. Entrepreneurship includes a positive attitude towards change and innovation, taking responsibility for one’s own actions (positive and negative), a strategic approach, setting and achieving goals, and a success orientation. Closely related to this, ethical behaviour and awareness of moral values are also part of this competence area.
Cultural competence is the creative expression of ideas, experiences and feelings through a variety of artistic means, including music, dance, literature, sculpture and painting, and the ability to relate one’s own creative and expressive viewpoint to the views of others. This competence enables the recognition and exploitation of the economic potential of cultural activities. It is based on a thorough understanding of one’s own culture and a stable sense of identity, as it can be the basis for a positive, open-minded attitude and respect for diversity of cultural expression.
During the last century, school activities were adapted to the needs of the labour market following the industrial revolution. What was needed then was for large numbers of people to learn to read, write and count. In other words, the emergence of mass education was an appropriate response to the needs of the age. At present, international comparative analyses also focus on these historically emphasised areas of knowledge (mother tongue language, mathematics and science), so that they are in fact based on measures of two or three main areas of intelligence. It is now accepted that human intelligence is not exclusively captured by the g- and s-factors of the Stanford-Binet scale (IQ), nor by the ability to read, write and count, but has many other manifestations. Thus, of the multiple intelligence profiles, language, mathematics and science are disproportionately more important than all others in judging the effectiveness and efficiency of education systems and schools. Thus, these measures significantly shape our perceptions of education, and they also determine what we think about what, why and how children should learn in school.
Following the digital information revolution, education must re-adapt to meet the needs of the times. What is needed today is the ability of the masses to adapt flexibly to a rapidly changing economic environment and to maximise the development of individual potential.
The essence of the Multiple Intelligences (MI) approach, in theory and in practice, is that it takes differences between people and human diversity very seriously. It recognises that not all people can be categorised into one intellectual dimension and that any single educational approach will serve only a small group of children.
Among the theories of multiple intelligence, we use Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence (MI) model. According to Gardner, human intelligence is a multi-component bio-psychological potential influenced by experiential, cultural and motivational factors. Its components are: intra- and interpersonal, linguistic, logical, spatial, physical, musical, natural, existential intelligence. Each of the different intelligences is a problem-solving and creative ability based on the processing of a certain type of information. It can also be interpreted as a specific perceptual competence. A person with high intelligence is therefore someone whose ability to transform information is highly effective across one (or more) particular information and content spectrums. Individuals possess the different intelligences to some degree, but there are large individual differences in the extent and combination of these intelligences.
Our framework curriculum is based on the key competencies defined by the EU, i.e., it focuses on the development of competencies for lifelong learning rather than the traditional subject structure. At the same time, we see the development of the whole person as an interpretative framework that goes beyond these competencies and also encompasses the areas of competence. This framework is the multiple intelligence (MI) model. The relationship between intelligence domains and key competence domains is multi-layered and reciprocal. Each Key Competency Area is related to the overall intelligence profile, but how each competency can be best strengthened and made most useful through information processing is specific to the individual. The development of the overall intelligence profile facilitates the acquisition of mobilizable knowledge. For us, this is the goal. In our school we therefore work with the multiple intelligence approach.
Each of the 8+1 areas of intelligence as defined by Gardner is both consciously developed and treated as a resource and included in the differentiation criteria. After all, these areas of intelligence are also „carriers” and channels which, when used with similar emphasis, can increase the effectiveness of learning and teaching by orders of magnitude. We focus on the acquisition of knowledge that can be mobilised, and this is achieved when children feel comfortable, happy, interested and motivated to participate in activities, tasks and problems.
This framework also proposes, supports and enables a more balanced integration and development of the different areas of intelligence. It makes recommendations for differentiation in this respect.
Developing a complete intelligence profile
1. Intrapersonal intelligence
In the NAT, these contents appear here: general part/ development areas: development of self-awareness and social culture, moral education, career orientation
Intrapersonal intelligence is a set of competencies that play an important role in successfully coping with the challenges of the environment. One domain of this intelligence domain is also known as emotional intelligence (EQ). This intelligence includes the ability to deal with emotions, to perceive, identify, understand, accept and express one’s own emotions. It determines our ability to engage with our emotions and feelings in our relationships, to be able to feel good about ourselves. Part of intrapersonal intelligence is our ability to be self-aware, to be able to see that what we do and how we experience it is our own responsibility, our own choice, to recognise our strengths and weaknesses, to be able to articulate our problems, our opinions, to be able to represent our beliefs.
2. Interpersonal intelligence
In the NAT 2012, these contents appear here,
Interpersonal intelligence is a set of competencies that play an important role in our ability to respond and react successfully to the challenges of our environment, to find our place in our immediate and wider environment and to integrate into society. These competencies enable us to perceive, identify, understand, discriminate and accept the feelings, motivations, needs, intentions and goals of others and to empathise with others. It enables us to consider different perspectives at the same time and to be able to see a situation from the point of view of others. It enables you to deal flexibly with controversial situations and conflicts.
It is a crucial area of intelligence for developing and maintaining constructive and mutually supportive positive relationships. It enables us to learn from others, to work with others towards common goals, and to have high expectations of ourselves, even when responsibilities are shared.
Interpersonal intelligence enables us to think pro-socially, to support others and to help others. We can encourage others to take (reasonable) risks, to take the initiative, to be active citizens, to take local responsibility.
It is crucial that we recognise the responsibilities that come with different roles and tasks and the importance of sharing tasks. It enables us to internalise basic norms of coexistence and cooperation and to adopt behaviours appropriate to the situation. It also determines the ability to reinterpret rules according to the context.
3. Existential intelligence
In the 2012 NAT, these contents appear here: Moral education, Sustainability, Environmental awareness
Howard Gardner himself is constantly researching the scientific specificity of this area of intelligence. The results of his numerous research projects confirm that existential intelligence is a full-fledged member of the multiple intelligences.
This intelligence is linked to the ability to reflect on the nature of existence. What is the world? Who are we? Why do we live? Why do we die? What is there, what is lawful, what is matter, energy, force? What is consciousness? What is love? Why are there wars? What is justice, why is there injustice in the world? What is happiness? What it is to be human and what is our purpose on earth? Are there other dimensions? Is there life on other planets? Is there a God? Is there an afterlife? Can animals understand us?
Every culture raises existential questions of this kind, questions of the meaning of existence, which are addressed by historical disciplines: theology, philosophy, ethics, the arts.
But these questions also appear in everyday life. In every culture where questioning is allowed, young children also ask the big questions of existence, and they have age-appropriate answers.
Myths, origin stories, fairy tales and folk stories also discuss existential questions.
This area of intelligence also includes the ‘sixth sense’, intuition, insight and the ability to transcend oneself. It is particularly difficult for the environment to deal with children who show outstanding abilities in these areas, because they raise embarrassing questions. They often persist in asking questions that adults cannot answer, and which they themselves sometimes, because of their age, give surprisingly serious answers to. They radiate an inner peace and wisdom, as if the child’s body were inhabited by an “old soul”.
Those who excel in this area of intelligence are philosophical thinkers, typically able to see the big picture, able to see things that are beyond our perception, too small or too large for our senses. They can think deeply about things and analyse questions that have no clear answers. Through existential intelligence, individuals are empowered to advocate for collective values and the importance of global responsibility, and to intuitively understand the workings of other people and the world around us.
4. Natural-environmental intelligence
NAT 2012 these contents appear here: Responsibility for others, Volunteering, Sustainability, Environmental awareness, Education for physical and mental health
People with a high level of “natural” intelligence value contact with nature. They value the aesthetics and harmony of the natural and man-made environment. They are aware of humanity’s role in the earth’s ecosystem, and are sensitive to the state of their environment and its preservation. This intelligence enables them to understand the specific features of the environment, to identify and distinguish plant and animal species, land formations and cloud formations. These abilities are not exclusively visual; the song of birds or the ‘speech’ of whales, for example, also requires auditory skills. Natural-environmental intelligence allows us to understand the cycle of life. Understanding how nature and civilisation interact and depend on each other. It enables us to notice and appreciate the positive and negative processes in our environment and to propose changes in our own micro-environment that improve its quality.
Today, humanity’s natural habitat, in which we are compelled to navigate, is increasingly the human-made environment. In the Western world, few people are directly dependent on natural intelligence. We simply buy or order what we need. However, our consumer culture is closely linked to natural-environmental intelligence, because it is the area where we make conscious distinctions between cars, sports shoes and hair styles, and where energy-saving and recycling are embedded in our thinking and actions.
5. Tactile-kinesthetic intelligence
NAT 2012 these contents appear here: general part/ development areas/ educational objectives: education for physical and mental health
Intensive, conscious perception and control of body changes, body movement, balance, posture, static positions. This intelligence enables us to move our bodies and body parts in perfect balance, to express emotions with our bodies (mimicry, gesticulation, dance), to master different forms of movement (sport, dance), or to use and create objects and tools. This intelligence includes the ability to solve problems physically, to express emotions and thoughts through physical movement, manual, performing and creative activities.
6. Spatial-visual intelligence
This intelligence is the ability to think in terms of images, sights, colours, figures, to be able to create mental or real images, to create visual-spatial forms, to transform them mentally or actually and to interpret them. Closely related to this area are the ability to visual memory, spatial rotation, peripheral vision and spatial orientation.
7. Musical intelligence
The ability to recognise, follow, create, maintain and evaluate musical patterns is called musical intelligence. It is the skill of musical performance and listening, including the ability to hear and see sounds, melodies and rhythms, to distinguish between different timbres and pitches, to play with them, and to write and transcribe music. It also includes the ability to ‘hear absolutely’.
Musical intelligence enables us to think in patterns, to identify patterns when processing and organising stimuli and information from the environment. This area of intelligence is closely related to mathematical intelligence.
8. Language intelligence (verbal)
Among the key competences
Intellectual development is closely linked to the development of conceptual thinking and language, and is therefore one of the most important areas of intelligence in education. Linguistic intelligence is a universal domain of intelligence that all healthy people can use to a high level, all people can learn to speak and, if they have the opportunity, to write.
Language-verbal intelligence enables us to understand oral and written communication, to learn language, to put our thoughts into words, to communicate and explain our knowledge. We use rhetoric to persuade others, we use mnemonics to memorise the information we hear or read, we use metacommunication to talk about language.
Since language is a means of acquiring knowledge, it has historically played a prominent role in school education. It is therefore also a key competence. Our framework curriculum also gives priority to the development of mother tongue and foreign language competence.
9. Logical-mathematical intelligence
Among the key competences
This area of intelligence is the other pillar of current education systems, alongside linguistic intelligence. It is the set of skills that enable us to understand and see systems and relationships, to make strategic plans. Much of scientific progress is based on mathematics.
Our framework curriculum gives priority to the development of mathematical, scientific and technical competences.
Transition from kindergarten to school
Starting school is a big change in the lives of children aged 6-7. Their familiar community is replaced by a new community, new people become dominant in their lives, the environment changes, the daily routine changes, and the expectations and rules they are expected to follow change.
Our starting point is that a child starting school is in fact still in kindergarten. It is a long way from kindergarten to school, and becoming a real school pupil is not a matter of biological age or enrolment, but of maturation, development and growth. The competencies that a young school pupil needs to have will not be acquired in the years before school, but only gradually, in school. It is the school’s task to develop them.
Gradual, attentive, patient and competent teaching, with the presence of a conscious teacher, is needed to maintain and strengthen children’s sense of security and positive attitude to learning when they begin to attend school. This is why we attach particular importance to the start of the first grade.
We create a positive, inclusive and supportive atmosphere. We build on the children’s curiosity and use activities that are familiar to them in the early years. In a safe environment, the child activates his/her own resources and knowledge and will cope successfully with the new situation and challenges.
We accept and consciously address the fact that it is not only the children but also the families who have to cope with this transition period. We work closely with parents to support them in this exciting, new and often life-changing process. It is important to build a relationship of trust and for children, teachers and parents to get to know each other before the start of the school year.
The transition period is determined by the development of each child’s community, both in terms of time and activities. The activities, methods and procedures typical of the preparatory period are used by the teachers in the learning process beyond the time generally allocated for transition, for as long as the children’s current development and individual development needs require it.
We take into account that there may be a difference of several years between children in the same year group, both in terms of real and mental age. The developmental difference at the age of six can be several years.
The reasons for this are:
- the construction of knowledge is a completely individual process, specific to the person;
- the development of critical cognitive abilities is responsible for learning achievement;
- the emotional, physical and cognitive development of individual children is uneven and cannot in any way be described by a single standard.
At the beginning of school life, we continue and expand the activities of the kindergarten, both in content and in form.
During this period, we attach particular importance to play, playfulness and the experience of success. Free play is a way of being for children, and everything that takes place in play – searching, exploring, trying, trying, adapting—has a major developmental impact. Play is a cognitive exercise, a source of versatility, flexibility and adaptability. It enriches children’s literacy, learning pathways, problem-solving techniques that can be applied later in life, and opportunities for cooperation and conflict resolution with peers. It is also the perfect arena for making sense of the world and working through the tensions within it. In a sense, it is a simulation exercise.
During the transition period, a flexible agenda is developed. We allow a one-hour interval for morning arrival, when there is room for both free play and breakfast. Rest time and the time to go home are also managed flexibly to suit the individual needs of the children. The ratio between free, informal play and restricted activities is adapted to the age of the children, the duration of the activities is gradually increased, taking into account individual differences, and there is space in the daily schedule for appropriate active and rest periods.
The role of the daily story is particularly important in this period, because it can provide support for the child’s soul that is difficult to replace. On the other hand, children who are regularly read to and told stories are a year and a half ahead of their peers who hear little or no stories in terms of language development. It is therefore particularly important for reading literacy.
Daily rituals are developed which are also sources of pleasure and thus help to ensure a smooth adaptation to the new situation during the transition period (and later) (e.g.: individual morning greeting ritual, start-of-day ritual, rhythms, eating, listening to stories, resting, singing together, end-of-day ritual).
The main areas of skills development:
- development of large movement, e.g., muscle tone exercises, balance exercises, imitation games
- developing a sense of rhythm
- development of graphomotor skills
- laterality, hand-eye coordination
- development of temporal and spatial orientation: body pattern development, direction discrimination, seriality
- development of discrimination and differentiation skills
- developing perception and cognition: hearing, vision, smell, touch, kinaesthetic perception
- language and speech development: perception and articulation base, phoneme hearing, speech perception, speech understanding, speech use
- attention development
- memory development
- development of reasoning skills
The skills listed above are practised and developed through movement activities, rhythmic play, drawing and manual activities.
During this period, the accompanying teachers have more opportunity to observe and get to know the children, on the basis of which they can plan individual pathways. It is at this time that teachers can see who in the group has what strengths and areas for development. What kind and intensity of development is needed, how much of a workload they can cope with, and at what pace they can progress.
When designing the interior spaces during this period, we pay special attention to the need to have nooks and crannies, places where children who want peace and quiet can retreat according to their individual needs. It is important that each child can experience his or her personal space in the new environment. This is why we work with them to create cosy, motivating and inspiring spaces in which everyone can find the opportunities that suit their interests. In this way, we also strengthen the children’s full acceptance and inclusion.
The developmental approach as our pedagogical method
Today, talent and the child to be developed cannot be separated into two separate categories. The challenges of the 21st century are revealing patterns in young children’s thinking and behaviour that can be considered atypical development compared to previous experience. However, a large body of research now shows that these uneven developmental patterns and atypical behaviours can also be a sign of outstanding abilities and individual talents.
Children who enter school start to process stimuli according to their own individual development and try to respond to tasks and challenges according to their own routine. This may coincide with the way and pace expected by the school, or it may be different. In cases where the child’s response pattern deviates from the usual and expected routine, developmental sessions are typically used to correct this and train the child to achieve the usual results.
Nowadays, increasing numbers of children are encountering special, individual solutions and peculiarities, the reasons for which are not uniformly agreed, but we believe that they are the result of the accelerated changes in lifestyle, a consequence of the information society, since children are bombarded with information of very different qualities and in significantly increased quantities.
We can see this as a starting point and as an immutable fact, since we have no way, or at least only through extreme measures, of changing this in our everyday lives. Thus we have to live with these given things and find answers to the challenges.
What are some of the specific solutions that children use that are typically blocked and identified as disturbances by the environment?
Various difficulties in reading, writing and arithmetic. Age-related delays in neurological maturation, different rates of motor development, lack of social maturation or a faster rate of social maturation. Lack of emotional intelligence, difficulty in social interaction, impulse control, communication difficulties. Personality traits, individual characteristics that do not necessarily depend on will and intention to be „reprogrammed”.
We accept children of sound mind into our school, in which case we take a developmental approach to each individual, treating them as a resource, not as a handicap, and as a special gift. A common starting point for individual learning pathways in school is an individual assessment, identifying each child’s strengths and areas where they need more attention.
Throughout the school year, but especially in the first phase, children are observed and analysed. We look at the level of skills required in each age-appropriate task and where individual targets need to be set to make their work more effective and successful.
One of the most important goals of development is not to use the results to declare a higher level of achievement for the child, but to strengthen the child’s self-esteem and self-confidence through individual success. This will of course lead to better performance at school, but it is not development for this purpose per se, but for the sake of experiencing individual success.
In each pair of classes, at least one development or special needs teacher is involved in the day-to-day work as a “accompanying” teacher, and continuously supports the work of the other accompanying teachers, displaying the developmental approach in the micro-school. In the assessment and in the analytical approach of the teachers, an important aspect is to identify the real abilities and individual interests and talents behind the irregular behaviours and solutions, and to help them to develop through development. We do not work to achieve typical solutions for their own sake, but to achieve children’s individual goals.
For the time being, the typical image of talent in Hungary is the 20th century ideal, the school-educated, test-taking, test-achieving talent. Middle-class students who are successful in competitions and over-represented in gifted programmes make up the bulk of the population that is identified as “gifted”. In our school, we also want to give opportunities to those who have different ways of expressing themselves or who have difficulties in expressing themselves (in writing, reading, arithmetic, communication).
There are specific stages in the process of skill development. Sometimes it takes years for relatively solid skills to emerge from the practical application of different knowledge. Optimal acquisition of basic skills and abilities is helped to develop over a period of at least 2-4 years for simpler skills and up to 5-10 years for more complex ones. We take into account that skills that have already been developed will also require level maintenance. For this reason, the developmental approach and individual development does not stop at a certain point.
The development and improvement of skills cannot be separated from the development and improvement of the learning motivation system, which is the engine of development.
Skills development methods can be effective if they work together and develop learning motives.
The learning motive, the motivation that drives us to engage in learning activities, is individual and crucial to school life. However, in a later phase of development, conscious activities to this end, developmental care, is no longer the task of the development professional alone, but also of the Facilitator. The maintenance of intrinsic motivation and the gradual development of learning methodological competencies are also complex factors that help to achieve self-development.
Elements of development activity
The quality of the learning process is equally influenced by the functioning of perception-perception, attention, memory and imagination.
The developmental activity and approach permeates all areas of the all-day school. There is no tutoring in the school, but the development of appropriate skills is promoted in the following areas.
If we observe the development of our children, we can see that the first thing that starts is the development of movement (lifting the head, turning over, crawling, climbing, sitting up, standing up, starting). It is only with the change in movement that speech starts. In this way, we see that movement is the basic requirement for the other areas to mature. The presence of each stage of movement guarantees that the neural maturity, the appropriate parts of the brain areas are ready to receive, process and master the school curriculum. Which makes movement the primary area of importance.
Own body (body schema, balance, spatial orientation)
A school-age child knows their body parts, orienting themselves from their body is safe for them. You would not think how important this is, because it gives him security. He knows his points of reference. They can orientate themselves well in space and on a plane. Thus their right-left differentiation is good, they knows where? whence? where to? where from? questions. They also uses relative terms well (in front of, behind, under, above, next to…). This is essential to be able to find your way around in your notebook or book, to know where to write, which way to read or write, which line to write on and how far to draw the line.
Perception, memory (sight, hearing, touch)
In tasks, visual and auditory perception may vary in preference between individuals. During the developmental tasks, we aim to strengthen all forms of perception, so that they are prepared to receive information from any direction and to take it in with understanding. Both auditory, verbal and visual memory are of great importance, as it is only with memory that you will be able to recall the knowledge you have learned. It is equally important to have the right level of short-term and long-term memory development, as it is through this that working memory is formed and acquired knowledge is transformed into long-term memory. Developmental tasks transform these processes into conscious, guided activities that enable children themselves to perform better.
Sequencing (sequences in space, temporal sequencing, verbal sequences)
Seriality is essential for the acquisition of reading and writing, for reading and writing letters and sounds in sequence, and later for the chronological ordering of events when interpreting text.
Fine motor skills
In order to learn to write, it is essential that the child’s fine motor skills, i.e., the ability to make „small movements”, are at an appropriate level. It is also necessary to be able to hold a pencil correctly, as it is not always the case that the ossification that has not yet been completed is not always the same.
One of the greatest challenges for children of this age. The extreme flood of information often causes children’s brains to automatically ‘switch off’, blocking out the enormous quantity of stimuli coming in. In addition to developmental activities aimed at consciously regulating, controlling, maintaining and/or prolonging attention, the practice and routine application of monotony tolerance and conscious rest and refreshment are also important goals.
Speech is made up of several sub-skills, each of which is important and cannot be omitted. The primary one is clear articulation, with which the child records and pronounces the correct sounds, providing confidence and a basis for the ability to recognise letters, read and write. It is also of great importance in speech perception, speech comprehension, sentence comprehension, text comprehension, which is also linked to literacy learning. Existing vocabulary and the activation of words in the right place and at the right time also play an important role in the process of school acquisition.
Logical, cognitive functions
We have activities that are directly directed at information itself, at acquiring, recording, constructing, transforming, storing, receiving, communicating and developing the use of information. These are cognitive functions. The functioning and behaviour of the intellect, i.e., the use of information, is also referred to variously as thinking (in the broadest sense), recognition, cognition, etc. More recently, research has given increasing importance to cognitive motives, motivation and even the role of emotions in cognition. Intellect, intelligence and similar concepts do not include motivation. In contrast, cognitive competence can be defined as a system of cognitive motives and skills (routines, skills, knowledge). Development activities targeting cognitive processes are complex development programmes that mobilise and address the above areas.
The developmental domains are:
The elements of the school structure allow for development itself to be embedded in the child’s daily routine in several places. It starts with the morning warm-up, rhythmic and movement elements, specific tasks for carers and developers, and ends with the individual development plan. Developmental tasks and methods are reflected in both joint activities and individual tasks. The Accompanists create personalised programmes for the children, incorporating each developmental element.
These typically take place in the basic skills band as described therein (Framework for Learning Organisation – Timetable) and in the afternoon, in proportion to the workload of the age group. Group and individual, movement and complex development elements are mixed within the development programme.
Free play, guided but not uncontrolled activities, where children are free to try and find where their instinctive selves can come into focus in experiencing their own pace and responsibility, is seen as a key element of development. During free play activities, children perceive and process information and content that they are exposed to through intrinsic motivation, including the knowledge they have absorbed during learning.
It is during these free, unguided activities that what will later be stored in long-term memory and become part of routine activities is deepened and consolidated. Thus, while children are most engaged in learning and practising basic skills, i.e., during the first few years of school, the developmental method is to engage in 1.5 to 2 hours of undisturbed free activity per day. Free activity is often difficult or less familiar territory for the current generation of schoolchildren, as they are involved in a lot of guided activities. Our developmental goals include experiencing and living free play, so that children are strengthened both mentally and cognitively.
Free activity also develops the child’s own intelligence, understanding and competence. They can regularly experience that they have an influence and can influence the events around them, thus increasing their confidence, which they can then use in their schoolwork. Free, uncontrolled play and activities are adapted to the child’s age.
The structure of the school
Our aim is to allow each child to progress at his or her own pace, so we have had to organise learning differently from the traditional way to create a flexible school structure.
In order to achieve our goals, we are moving away from uniform progression by grade level, from strictly homogeneous age-group learning and from subject-based teaching of content. We favour indirect modes of learning organisation rather than primarily frontal and uniform progression.
We are redefining and extending the role of the teacher in our school. The teacher is at once coach, mentor, facilitator of learning, expert, team member and partner. The teacher is more than a teacher in the classical sense, so we use a new term to describe him or her: facilitator.
We have two classes in each year group (grades 1 to 6). We see class membership primarily as a group-building force rather than a framework for uniform progression, so learning is not exclusively within classes, but there is a strong emphasis on working in mixed-age groups. Children in the same class may be at very different levels in different areas of competence, and therefore age and grade will not be the sole criteria for grouping.
We will also take into account other aspects that help us to achieve our pedagogical objectives.
(1) In particular, the fact that peer group tuition—children’s learning from each other—is currently an under-utilised resource in education. We consciously incorporate this potential into our programme.
(2) In addition, it is important to us that the children who learn with us are flexible, make relationships and friendships easily, and are open and accepting. Learning in pairs also means that children’s lives can be both stable and changing.
For them, constancy means that a class and three accompanying teachers form a stable community over the six years. But a class community will take on several roles over six years and will work closely in pairs with several other classes. In this way, we can model the rapidly changing and diverse working environment that characterises the world of work today (and is likely to become even more so in the future). Children will learn to adapt to this and will be able to feel safe, confident and able to build positive relationships in a changing environment.
With this in mind, the classroom is the basic unit of our school structure.
The next organisational units of cooperation are the class pairs, which function as autonomous pedagogical workshops (micro-schools).
The AKG primary school is made up of six micro-schools, with a variety of classes mixes:
1st – 3rd grade pairs / two micro-schools
2nd – 4th grade pair / two micro-schools
5th – 6th grade pairs / two micro-schools
Class pairs learn in classrooms next to each other, in a variety of activities, working together on a daily basis, also in mixed groups. There is close cooperation between the chaperones of the micro-schools/class pairs.
The joint organisation of learning in class pairs is gradually being implemented for children entering Year 1. In the basic skills (α-) band, increased attention is paid to the stable acquisition of the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, with sufficient time for in-depth, independent learning and practice. Thus, in the basic skills band, the work of class pairs is gradually emphasised, while in the (π)-band, during projects, project days and theme weeks, the work of class pairs is more emphasised.
Introductory phase / first two years Children starting first grade in school spend the first two years working with children who are older than they are. In the first two years, they can rely on the local knowledge, experience, knowledge and help of the older children as „little ones”. For the first two years, the same two classes form a class pair/micro-school.
In the third year, the community takes on a new role, becoming the „big boys” for the new first years, and from then on, they provide all the help they have needed for the little ones to settle in, learn, have free time and eat. In the second two years, they will therefore form a class pair/micro-school with another class younger than themselves.
Foundation stage / third two years in the fifth and sixth years, the classes learn together in even more areas. During these two years, they are paired with two other class communities.
To summarise: in the six years that each class spends with us, they work together for three years (Years 1, 2, 5) with children older than them and for three years (Years 3, 4, 6) with children younger than them. During the whole training period, a class will work together with a total of four other classes and form a micro-school. The composition of the micro-schools is reorganised each year in line with changes in class pairs.
In the micro-school system thus organised, the transmission of the school culture and values becomes more a shared responsibility and task, facilitating the abandonment of external regulatory instruments. To develop social competencies, we create an environment in which children of different ages are consciously learning together. In this way, we develop tolerance, acceptance, cooperation, adaptation and communication skills, among others, in a more effective and multifaceted way. This way of organising learning also promotes understanding and acceptance of individual progression rates by both children and parents. It makes it more visible and therefore natural in everyday life that progress at certain levels within each competence area is not clearly linked to age.
In the resulting learning network, children learn from each other not only by design but also spontaneously, just as they do in the family. There are also more and more nuanced opportunities to develop self-awareness, to cooperate, to help, to play a role, to experience acceptance. In learning organised in this way, it does not matter who is in what grade. Children can show themselves in ways they would otherwise have less opportunity to do. They can discover, practise and test their own competences, and experience that everyone, regardless of age, can be a source of learning.
Learning organisation framework – Agenda
The proposal concerning the use of time and the timetable is an essential element of the framework curriculum. The acquisition of new curricular content with a new focus and the teaching of competencies cannot be achieved without the traditional 45-minute subject structure and time structure, which is linked to the 19th century disciplines and taught in homogeneous age groups, and without a redefinition of this structure. The organisation of teaching and learning must be adapted to the different characteristics of children, to the professional characteristics of the different areas of competence, to the time needed to understand, master, organise and practise the basic content elements related to the developmental task.
Arrival (7.30 – 8.30)
Arrival at the school. An accompanying teacher will be waiting for the children in the classrooms. Prior to this, on-call assistance is provided as necessary for those who require it.
Opening (8.30 – 9.00)
We start the day at half past 8.30 with a morning opening and discussion group. We give the children the opportunity to discuss their joys, sorrows and current events in the world. In the meantime, we listen to their current condition and needs.
This 30 minutes or so can also be used effectively to develop social skills by addressing and dealing with issues and conflicts that arise. This is a time that focuses on individual well-being on the one hand and on social functioning on the other. At the same time, it allows for conscious reflection on the activities to be carried out during the day. It is an element of our daily lives that helps us to put down or lighten burdens, share joys, get the attention we need, tune in to each other, and remove obstacles to working together.
TAN Trail (9.00 – 11.30 / 12.30)
The TAN (Learning, Foundation, Growth) Trail is a basic skills track, except on Fridays, and is a 2-3 hour session in the morning. During this time, we focus on developing basic skills that are age-appropriate for children. We consider basic skills to be:
- communication in the mother tongue language (reading, writing, reading, comprehension and composition),
- mathematical competence (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, percentages and fractions),
- digital competence (technical and content-related use of digital tools with understanding),
- foreign language communication (in our school: English speaking, reading, reading comprehension, writing),
- and health and physical education.
During this period, children work in groups, in pairs or independently, under the direct or indirect guidance of teachers, working together and supporting each other. It is a time for encountering new knowledge and practising, for understanding things, for acquiring skills, for deepening and for persevering with tasks. The activity and content learned in the basic skills band is followed up individually for each child by the facilitators.
During this time, a group of children may present a diverse picture: someone reading independently in a corner, practising using another digital tool, pairs of children at one table discussing tasks, a teacher working with a small group in the middle of the room, or another group working on a small project at the other end of the room. There may also be a child reading aloud to a peer in the corridor, or doing a movement exercise, or someone working in pairs with their developer. There may also be 24 children working in cooperative groups. These ways of organising allow for maximum differentiation, whether in the type of activity, the level of tasks or the content, for individuals or groups.
Within a given band, the activities and related content are not fixed—unless justified by the need for space (e.g., gym), language or special teaching needs. Activities within a band are flexible according to the age of the children, their particular condition and the time needed to achieve the objective. Activity changes may vary in time for individual children or small groups. Content may include texts or tasks linked to the developmental focus or work on own projects.
The continuous 2-3 hour time slot is divided into breathing, snack time, shorter and longer movement activities according to the children’s needs. The use of the time allocated to each block is therefore flexible, and it is always up to the teacher(s) to structure the time and content of the blocks within the time frame. The main criterion is that it should be as appropriate as possible to the needs, workload, interests, pace of progress and current state of the children in the group. It is equally important for the teacher to adapt the use of time to the knowledge and topics to be covered and to the focus of development, taking maximum account of the methods used.
In this band, the focus is on the children’s activities and the development of competence through them, with the teacher acting as facilitator. Therefore, a very conscious presence is required on his/her part. They support the children in planning, coordinating and initiating activities. If necessary, they directly guide the student’s activities or observes their work from the background. Their presence is a natural way of serving and supporting the children’s activities, sometimes very visible to the children, sometimes barely noticeable. The naturalness of the teacher and children working together is that it is based on a partnership in which roles are clear and lived. The teacher’s aim is to ensure that the children have as much autonomy as possible, and that the children experience a sense of responsibility for their own development at this time too.
Lunch (11.30 – 13.00)
Grades 1 and 2 have lunch at the same time, followed by grades 3 and 4, and then grades 5 and 6.
Rest period and fresh air (13.00 – 14.30)
After lunch, there will be a chance to relax, read stories, have a quiet rest (for the younger ones, sleep).
After the break, there will be a chance to breathe, play outside, exercise or go for a walk. In some classes, part of the physical education activities will also take place during this time, either outdoors or in the gym.
Free play and creation (14.30 – 16.00)
The remainder of the afternoon is free play and free creation time, typically for Years 1-3. This is a time for children to play and create without adult guidance but with supervision. The accompanying teachers can take the initiative and stimulate the children’s interest in certain activities (crafts, games, movement, etc.). The facilitator can also lead and initiate individual or small group discussions, thus helping the pupils to develop as individuals. Individual and small group development sessions may also take place in the afternoon time slot. This time slot is the longest for the youngest children, taking into account age specificities. In later grades the amount of time available is reduced.
Roaming (Friday mornings and Thursdays from 14.30 to 16.00)
In our school, the main emphasis in the mornings is on the development of basic skills (mother tongue language competence, mathematics, digital competence, health and physical education, English). The afternoon and Friday mornings have a different emphasis. This is where we create opportunities (time and space) to develop the other key competencies in an appropriate way, in addition to relaxation and outdoor time. These are:
- Science and technology competencies (technical),
- learning to learn (effective independent learning),
- interpersonal and civic competencies (social and civic competences),
- entrepreneurial competencies (initiative and entrepreneurship),
- cultural competence (aesthetic-artistic awareness and expression).
Given our holistic approach, these are of course not separate—neither from each other nor from the basic skills. We do not only develop the basic skills in the mornings, but also the other key competencies on Fridays and some afternoons. They are naturally mixed in a complex way, essentially in a project framework. None exists without the other, none can be developed exclusively on its own.
We organise these sessions in vertical groups of learners, in small and large teams. The resulting learning network is also a spontaneous way for children to learn from each other. The development of self-awareness, cooperation, helping others, role-playing, trust and acceptance are experienced in other situations. Learning in this way is organised no matter what grade you are in. Children can show themselves in any activity, explore, practise, test their own resources, try out new activities.
Our aim is to ensure that children are exposed to all relevant topics and develop all important skills in the spirit of competence development. So that the individual journey that is so important to us can be experienced.
We plan this time frame in 6-8 week cycles. Over the course of the school year, children will be introduced to 5 major, overarching themes in 5 large units, in small groups, at class level, with class pairs or in a school setting – on Friday mornings in each year group. As the age range progresses (for grades 4-6), Thursday afternoons from 14:30 to 16:00.
A cycle is divided into two main stages.
The cycle starts with an introductory period, which is mainly used to introduce the topic and define the theme. During this period, students also acquire new knowledge – mostly in the classroom. These are linked to the subjects that are relevant to each year group and necessary for further work.
The first stage is followed by a longer period. During this time we work mostly in projects, basically in pairs. Accordingly, a team of 6 or 12 teachers is responsible for implementing the project and exploiting its potential.
In the case of school projects, the whole primary school body develops the themes and tasks.
Workshop (Tuesday 14.30 – 16.00)
In addition to project-based work, time is also provided in the afternoons to satisfy individual interests, to live and strengthen the individual journey.
We organise „workshops” for the children, similar to the usual traditional workshops, once a week for about an hour and a half. In these workshops they can work in mixed-age groups according to their individual interests. To ensure variety, we run different workshops for the children according to the order of the school year and their needs. Accordingly, a workshop can last from 6-8 sessions to a whole school year. These can be craft, movement, drama, music, English, science, social studies, etc. The work in the workshops can also reinforce and support the themes of parallel projects. Children can choose the workshops on offer, but it is desirable that they participate in the workshop of their choice until the end of the term, even if they have changed their minds. To achieve this, the accompanying teacher will also provide support and assistance.
Pathfinder (Mondays from 14.30 to 16.00)
In addition to the workshops, time is also provided in the afternoon for the older age groups (Years 5 and 6) to support them in their individual learning. With the help of their chaperones, they will have the opportunity to carry out individual projects and research based on their own interests or related to the projects they are working on. We help them to organise their growing knowledge and support their preparation for independent learning.
Closing (usually between 15.30 and 16.00)
Closing at the end of the day is part of our agenda. This is a time for a brief evaluation and feedback on the day’s events. The exact time and schedule is decided by the accompanying teachers by mutual agreement. The Friday closing will be held at the end of the lunch break as a unit.
We see in-depth engagement on the different topics as a kind of journey (as well as being in school, see an individual journey), so we intend to put this series of activities into a framework game—in fact, we are developing a credit system. This will allow children (parents and chaperones) to keep track of which activities they have already participated in and how they have completed them. This will also support their self-evaluation. (The different activities will indicate different countries and cities, e.g.: Digitalia, Painting Land, Ceramics Island, Writers’ United Kingdom, Yoga Land, Music River, etc.) The passport will also give them the opportunity to „administer” all this accurately, with a stamp, signature, drawing.
Participation in the Barangolo and the Workshops are also part of the individual journey, i.e. they are chosen stops on the child’s school journey. An entry will be made in the passport indicating the participation in the workshop.
Individual trip / Individual Development Plan
Each pupil in our school learns basic skills at his/her own pace, according to his/her abilities and interests, at his/her own pace and at his/her own pace, supported by the conscious use of group work and cooperative learning. The individual task becomes part of the community activity. We do not rush anyone, as we know that children have different talents and abilities and develop at different rates. In our school, the individual path means that, taking all this into account, the facilitators develop an individual strategic programme for each child. We understand individual progress as dynamic, which means that strategic planning is also a process of continuous situation analysis and re-planning.
Providing individual learning pathways is not the same as tutoring or talent management. It is about personalised learning. To achieve this, learning goals are set and steps to achieve them are consciously planned. In this process, a particular emphasis is placed on topics that are closely related to the learner’s interests and on areas that are key to the learner’s development. The individual strategy programme is designed to maximise the effectiveness of learning through children’s experiences of success.
We are flexible in the targets and expectations we set according to who needs to progress at the pace required by their individual plan, which also means that being in the same year group does not necessarily mean that everyone is in the same grade level at the same time for all the core skills. But it does not mean that there are no objective requirements. At the end of primary school, children meet uniformly defined and universally known progression requirements. The pathway to this level draws its own unique map for each child. These paths may even differ in time.
The curricular element of defining multiple levels of development for each of the major sub-areas within the core competencies helps to create a long-term plan. These levels represent a qualitative stepping stone in children’s development in each of the sub-domains. A level does not correspond to either a grade or a grade. There is no uniform definition, in terms of time or compulsory activities, of where a child should be at any given moment in terms of developmental levels. The individualised pathway consists in each child progressing through the smaller steps ‘tailored’ to him or her at each level of development, or following the pathway considered most appropriate at the time, from a range of possible forks in the pathway.
The acquisition of the subject content required by the NAT is followed by progression through the levels we have developed. We have identified 1 or 1 level (which can be any of the levels) within the progression levels, which we consider to be the common objectives to be achieved, and which we consider necessary to complete the basic schooling. Once a person has reached this level, he/she is able, on the basis of his/her basic competences, to continue his/her studies in the lower secondary stage of the AKG (6+1 years of secondary education) in the seventh grade. These specific levels can be reached at any time, even with significant time differences. It is also possible to reach a level much higher than the prescribed level in any of the different areas of competence. It is also possible for a child to stagnate for a long period in some areas of competence while making leaps and bounds in others. Long-term plans provide a helpful framework for addressing these aspects of unevenness.
Annual plans are broken down into phases and continuously monitored based on actual activities and experiences. An important building block of the planning are the weekly plans that the chaperones discuss with the children in person each week and jointly evaluate their implementation. They draw up a map of possible activities, which each child takes responsibility for and reflects on. The content and purpose of their self-reflection is a kind of activity inventory and an account of the related development of skills and knowledge. The feelings and efforts associated with the activity, the forms of work that bring results, the paths and wrong turns taken, the opportunities for correction, the awareness of the existence of helping partners and groups become more and more internal as the years progress. He or she becomes increasingly capable of independent planning and self-evaluation.
The aim of the weekly planning of the individual journey together is to enable children to become self-reliant in accordance with their age and individual abilities. They should be able to set realistic goals, identify the activities needed to achieve them, draw up a timetable, take account of the factors that help and hinder them, and achieve and evaluate the goals set, even without a chaperone. This process helps children to develop their metacognitive and learning methods.
Throughout their assessment system, our approach is that the learner is not a passive target of but rather an active participant in the learning process.
Primary school is a six-year unit, but we do not set yearly output requirements during this time. Our school is not output-centred but process-oriented, which is why assessment is an essential and continuous part of the learning process. In our fast-paced world, children’s habits of learning and acquiring knowledge have changed, and with them the need for intensive, immediate feedback. Nevertheless, the ability to delay desires is still essential for personal development and children need to learn to do this. In other words, for us, the speed and immediacy of children’s needs is additional information, which we treat as a resource and use to expand the framework of our evaluation system, and reflect on this to expand our evaluation practices and methods.
Regular, concrete, personalised feedback is essential for learners. Assessment is thus an external regulator of personal development. If it is a conscious, multifaceted process and not a momentary revelation, it has a forward-looking effect on overall personal development. It is therefore a huge responsibility how a school’s assessment system is implemented, what expectations and values it represents and reflects.
Our individual, personalised assessment aims to develop a positive self-image, healthy self-evaluation, self-reflection and the ability to self-correct. It is therefore explicitly developmental, supportive and non-qualitative. Its strategic aim is to develop self-regulated learning and individual responsibility through increased experiences of success and achievement, and to strengthen internal control.
The aim is to support complex personal development, not through external regulation and discipline (grading, red points, punishment, etc.), but through assessment methods and information that support internal control (shared rule-making, self-reflection, responsibility, consequences, etc.).
A positive self-image and realistic self-evaluation lead to low anxiety levels, which is a necessary condition for the learning process. A confident child has more energy for learning, high intrinsic motivation, higher cognitive performance and, in the long term, easier integration in school and society.
Assessment is both a pedagogical method and a value statement, but also a learning content. Assessment is important for the child, the parent and the teacher. Our written assessment serves to inform all three equally. It is also a source of feedback, encouragement, reinforcement, support and benchmarking. Because the traditional five-grade system measures children’s performance on a narrow scale and does not give a true picture of the student’s status and progress, we consciously and purposefully use our own self-developed system of tiered progression and text-based assessment.
Level-by-level progress allows us to move away from grades and marks, and text-based assessment gives us the opportunity to describe pupils’ performance in depth and in detail, to draw attention to their strengths and areas for improvement, to give them advice for further work, to formulate questions to help children develop their own solutions.
Feedback is a way of acknowledging efforts and achievements, providing information about where the learner is at, reinforcement and support. On the other hand, in order to be developmental, it requires a positive critical vision on the part of the teacher in order to identify opportunities. For teachers, assessment and measurement allow for correction in terms of objectives, content and methods, and then for the identification of necessary tasks and directions for further progress.
Meanwhile, assessment is an opportunity for children to self-correct and learn from mistakes. We believe it is important to encourage experimentation. We strive to incorporate past experiences constructively into development and to use failures and mistakes as a source of strength.
Features of our assessment system:
- Descriptive-developmental: qualitative but critical, providing an opportunity to develop self-assessment
- Positive: focuses on what is, what has been achieved, what was good. Focus on achievements, efforts, novelty, and creativity. The aim is for the children to formulate for themselves (initially with more and then less external help) the problems they face and the tasks they have to complete. We trust in the children and in the natural tendency of the individual to develop the self, to recognise for themselves what their shortcomings are, what could have been done differently or better.
- In written assessment, we highlight those points where the child has been able to go beyond themselves, to change, to move out of their comfort zone. In other words, we focus on the moments of progress, while also spelling out the negative aspects.
Tracking individual progress – 360° assessment
360° assessment is a method of assessment whereby, unlike traditional measurement based on a hierarchical relationship, it is not only the teacher who assesses the children’s performance, but we look at their progress, development and learning from all angles, from as many perspectives as possible. The caregiver, the team working with the children, the parents and the child themselves are all assessed. In this way, any subjective opinions are better blurred and there is more room for objectivity.
- Oral and written
- Verbal and visual
- Spontaneous and planned
- Verbal and oral Verbal and oral
- The facilitator sits down with the children on a weekly basis to look together at the goals previously set, where the child is, what has been accomplished and what needs to be done. Together, they set goals for the next period.
- The timing of this will depend on the chaperone-child pair – some will need a fixed time, to talk to their chaperone at the same time each week, and some will need flexibility. Our primary concern in setting this up is to establish safe habits for the child. We always discuss with him or her the next time to look back and look forward.
- The content of what is said in the journey planner is reflected in the regular written summative assessments. This forms the basis of the quarterly evaluation for parents.
- The quarterly evaluation is available to parents in the e-book.
The chaperones prepare a quarterly evaluation for 6-10 children. This includes:
- Tracking the individual journey
- Evaluation of the goals and tasks set
- Assessment of progression of the individual’s progress
- Life in the community
- Reporting progress by level: you are here now
Quarterly feedback is always based on weekly planning and feedback.
Mid-year and end-of-year reviews
Accompaniers provide summative assessments and feedback for 6-10 children at half term and end of year. This includes:
a) Written and/or video assessment (included as a report card insert)
feedback per competence area for the child: this is what you have started, this is where you are going
– documents on priority works, results and achievements
– joint collection of the portfolio as part of the weekly meetings
– children regularly take it home during the year, but at the end of the school year as part of the end-of-year assessment
c) Children’s self-evaluation – Journey Diary
– Taken orally every week, written only every half term
– Form: age appropriate – picture, drawing, text
d) Parents’ evaluation of the child, written for the child
– if the parent wishes, shared with the teacher, at the teacher’s discretion
– at the end of the term and at the end of the year, we ask parents
– shows the progress of the individual on the path
– progress in the development activities and activities organised in the framework of the Wanderer, Workshop, Wayfinder, Framework Game
Text assessment is used to reflect the progress of the pupils in relation to themselves. It is important that all children understand the content of the assessment and are able to use it to move forward. It is our job to teach them to do this. The method of assessment is adapted to the age of the pupils. Initially, we link it to stories, drama, art, drawings and pictures so that children are able to interpret independently or with little help before they have developed stable reading and writing skills.
Competency-based measurement and assessment linked to level-by-level progress
One of the basic functions of assessment and measurement is to get to know pupils, to assess their status and to explore their situation. In our system, measurement is a tool for gathering information, not to rank pupils but to monitor individual progress. It serves both as a test of learning and teaching strategies and methods and as a basis for differentiated learning organisation and the development of individual pathways.
The curriculum does not formulate the conditions for progress and progression from primary school in terms of grades, but links it to the achievement of specific levels within each competence area. In line with Nat 2012, we feel it is very important to provide each pupil with a pace of progress, method of development and curriculum content that is relevant to them. We take into account individual differences due to developmental phase shifts and build on this by drawing diagnostic conclusions from daily observations.
Measurement and assessment in our school is linked to the key competences. The areas of development within each competence area are broken down into well-defined sub-areas. Sub-areas are assigned levels, the number of which is not uniform and depends on the sub-area. Some sub-areas have 2 levels and others have 7. In all cases there are professionally justified reasons behind this. The last level set is not necessarily the level to be achieved by all, but the level to be supported in primary school up to the age of 12, in case a child progresses faster in that area.
A level does not correspond to either a grade or a grade. The levels defined represent a qualitative step in children’s development within a given domain, i.e., it is categorical who is at which level. Reaching a level is a stage, where a child has either reached or not reached. In primary school, there is no uniform definition, either in terms of time or in terms of activities and tasks, of where children should be at any given moment within the developmental levels. However, there is a uniform expectation at the end of primary school. By this time, everyone will have met the requirements set by NAT 2012 for the end of Year 6.
In our assessment system, we give priority to the summative assessment at the end of primary school, which is a summary of the levels to be achieved within each competence area. It is also a condition for progression to the next level of schooling.
At the end of primary school, a single target is set for all areas of competence: the achievement of a single expected level of knowledge, which is the sum of the minimum levels defined for each of the sub-areas. These expected outcomes at the end of primary school are highlighted visually – in bold – for ease of reference. Achievement also means that the child is ready to continue his/her studies in primary school or in grade 7 of a six-form secondary school. Any other case will be subject to an individual assessment in line with the AKG’s pedagogical programme.
We can match our text assessments and progress by level to a grading system based on a five-point scale if necessary. In cases where a pupil continues his/her studies at another educational establishment and needs to do so, we will issue a traditional certificate. Following individual pathways allows us to prepare a child for a smooth transition to the other school of his/her choice if he/she leaves our school before the end of Year 6 and the parents inform us in writing in advance.