Year Three pupils at Cordwalles Primary School in Camberley could have been forgiven for thinking the holidays were being extended when they returned for the new term – to find their school had been turned into an airport.
The school hall was transformed into Cordwalles International Airport, complete with check-in desk, x ray machine, teachers dressed as cabin crew, rows of allocated seating and pockets – complete with sick bags – on the back of each chair as the children were introduced to the term’s new topic – Europe.
“Each term, we do something called a Stunning Start to try and capture the children’s imagination with the topic that they’re going to be studying, and this was a result of one of those 3am flashes of inspiration,” said the school’s English leader Philippa Leah, who came up with the idea.
"The day before term started, we had an inset training day where I sketched out a rough plan of what my idea to the other members of staff, and fortunately everyone bought into it and got working on it straight away – which is just as well, because it took a lot of work in a short space of time for it to happen.
“We made passports and maps of the journey the children were going to take and we put tape lines on the floor to mark out the cabin – we even had a first class area with extra leg room,” Ms Leah added. “On the morning the children came back to school, we strode out into the playground in airline outfits, with wheely cases, and told the children they were going on a journey – they had no idea what it was – before checking them in, getting them to their seats and making them watch the safety video. We even pointed out the emergency exits and demonstrated how to wear a life jacket."
After watching a YouTube video of a plane taking off, the pupils were then shown ‘in flight movies’ of some of the cities and countries they would be studying before ‘landing’ at Cordwalles International Airport and going to the arrivals lounge - aka their classrooms – for lessons to begin.
Cordwalles School is a member of the GLF Schools Group, a Surrey-based multi-academy trust which runs over a dozen schools across the south east, and is based on a model of strong collaborative working.
“It took a lot of hard work from a lot of people to pull this off so it was wonderful to see how excited the children were by how we introduced the topic,” said Ms Leah. “Some of them had never been on a plane before so they were a bit bewildered, frankly, but the whole point of it was to broaden their horizons. It was certainly a great way to launch this term’s topic – and also to make coming back after Christmas that bit more enjoyable."
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