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Downham primary school looks to Sweden for inspiration

By Eve Tawfick

Hillcrest primary school in Downham Market has recently started a new teaching technique based on the Swedish model of learning.

Last year, teachers were sent to a primary school in Sweden as part of an international project between the local authority in Norfolk and Swedish headteachers.

Hillcrest and the Swedish schools involved “exchanged” members off staff to bring back educational ideas.

Matthew Try, headmaster at Hillcrest, was “particularly impressed” by the model of independent learning.

The model allows pupils have greater autonomy with non-core subjects.

Pupils will choose which subjects they will study of an afternoon based on what they feel they need to work on.

Hillcrest School
Hillcrest School

For instance, if a pupil is up to date with their Geography project but needs extra time to finish off something for design technology, they are free to go to that class and get the work done.

The school has not deviated from the national curriculum and the source material for subjects remains the same, however children are absorbing the information in an entirely different way-with “very positive” results.

The model is much more in line with the university standard of learning, where students have set criteria they have to follow, but have greater freedom overall.

Matthew Try told the Lynn News: “What we are seeing now are focused children who are eager to learn.

“They are engaged with the subjects, and there are less issues with behaviour, it’s been a great success and we will be rolling the model out for all of Key Stage 2 come September.

“Children are spoon-fed a lot with the national curriculum, they need to be able to explore education for themselves.

“Children from year 4 are responding really well to this, giving them the power of choice at this age is beneficial to their development.

Hillcrest School
Hillcrest School

“We are currently the only primary school in the county that is using this technique, we do hope to inspire others, asthis kind of education at primary level is a great start when our pupils move up into high school and more importantly, later on in life.

“In order to be successful young people need to be able to make serious choices on their own.

“Ideally we would have a school where children of all ages learning this way, not only to produce good academic results, but to help develop autonomous citizens.”

Hillcrest School
Hillcrest School

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