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Elmwood Experience Days

This term has been an opportunity for the Elmwood Community to come together and thank Specialist Schools from across the West Midlands and Secondary Schools from across the Matrix Trust for hosting “Learning From” visits during 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 for our Teachers and Teaching Assistants. These experiences have enabled staff to support our whole school development of the school. Therefore, during w/c 22nd January 2024 we welcomed 16 teachers across all subjects and key stages and w/c 19th February 2024 we welcomed 14 teaching assistants, again across a variety of key stages.

Below are the comments received following these experience days.


Day One

Dame Elizabeth Cadbury

Smestow Academy

Matrix Central Trust

  • Academic challenge was higher than initial anticipated.

  • Behaviour for learning was outstanding (in comparison).

  • Pupils are respectful towards staff and their views.

  • Boundaries are respected by pupils and staff.

  • Emotional check-in’s and check-out’s enabled staff to support effectively.

  • A focus on Learning outside of the classroom was evident.

  • The behaviour / learning points supported engagement.

  • Reflection on pupils learning by staff justified their decisions to pupils – so they understood.

  • Expectations are high for all.

Day Two

Barr Beacon

Turves Green Boys School

  • Curriculum structure is a strength.

  • Staff are welcoming and supportive.

  • Emotional check-in’s and check-out’s enabled staff to support effectively.

  • Problem solving supports learning and behaviour.

  • Calm atmosphere, which supported regulated behaviours and learning opportunities.

  • Anticipated a lot of tension between staff / pupils (but this wasn’t evident).

  • Structure of the day meant that things weren’t chaotic (which was what I perceived it would be).

Day Three

Barr Beacon

Phoenix Academy

  • Mindful minute used effectively to break negative behaviours.

  • Greater use of reflection to support behaviour.

  • Opportunity to regulate pupils before they transition to the next lesson – is supportive.

Day Four

Smestow Academy

Wednesfield Academy

Kingfisher School

  • The behaviour / learning points supported engagement and took responsibility for their actions.

  • Pupil voice within lessons means they understand the decisions made by staff.

  • Reflection supports regulation and arousal levels of the pupils.

  • School is acceptant of differing needs.

  • Positive relationships between staff and peers. Your staff are ace!

  • Academic stretch /expectations were there (Blood Brothers and Frankenstein in Yr9 English).

Day Five

Barr Beacon

  • Real sense of confidence in staffs’ ability to manage situations and pupils as well.

  • Strong empathetic language modelled by staff – gets the best out of pupils.

  • Pupils are seen and heard. They feel valued.

  • Opportunities are provided to celebrate every interaction / experience.

Day One

Smestow Academy

Barr Beacon

Turves Green Boys

Kingfisher School

  • Expected the behaviours to be more challenging.

  • The environment supports pupils.

  • The curriculum is child centred.

  • TA’s are there to support learning.

  • Anticipated there to be more staff physically supporting pupils.

  • Rewards are clear and valued.

  • Expectations are high – no upper or lower sets within subjects / years.

  • End of day reflections support appreciation and achievement.

Day Two

Wednesfield Academy

Smestow Academy

  • Pupils are supported to manage their frustrations / anger. I thought there would have been more incidents of this.

  • Thought the environment would be “relaxed” but there is such a lot of structure for pupils to work.

  • TA’s and staff are encouraged to be direct with pupils when they are not meeting the expectations.

  • Pupils are polite, and when they make a mistake staff model or re-word in the moment.

  • Pupils and staff accepting of visitors, opportunity for them to show the schools values.

  • Environment is at ease meaning people are relaxed in each other’s company.

  • All parties are working with each other – which means no “tension”.

  • Rewards are clear and the opportunity for pupils to discuss what they have achieved builds responsibilities.

  • Pupils are honest in their reflection.

  • The effective use of cognitive load.

Day Three

Smestow Academy

Dame Elizabeth Cadbury

Barr Beacon

  • Feel able to support learning of pupils.

  • Brilliant sense of community (across staff and pupils).

  • TA’s work extremely hard, but are valued by teachers.

  • Like the approach of emotional check ins and how this sets the tone of the day.

  • The use of discussion to problem solve was also empowering.

  • Expectations are high, regardless who is teaching the group.

Day Four

Barr Beacon

  • As expected as a provision.

  • Can see why pupils do well, unsure how this can be transitioned into a mainstream setting.

Day Five

Barr Beacon

  • Very different environment.

  • The group sizes enable TA’s to have an impact on the pupils.

  • Staff model the interactions well between staff and pupils.

  • Pupils are eager to please the staff, especially within reading.

  • Can see why pupils achieve their potential here.

  • Loved the idea of enrichment on a Friday and how this starts the week for pupils (ready for the weekend).


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