A Thought Piece by Julie Ashley 29 November 2018

It’s now almost a year since we launched the E-ACT Passport, which has seen pupils across the trust taking part in enriching activities in line with our values of thinking big, doing the right thing and showing team spirit. Julie Ashley, a Year 6 teacher at Denham Green E-ACT Academy, reflects on her experience of the passport so far. 

When Denham Green’s staff were introduced to the E-ACT Passport, I was approached to trial it with my class and eventually lead the programme in the academy.

Seeing that the different elements linked into the core values, my creative cogs started to turn. How could I slot these into my timetable? Some of the passport challenges were relatively easy to tick off: Timestables Rockstars we were already doing. We had completed the challenge to read, write and perform a play in English already. We had covered ordering food in another language in our French classes.

Others needed a bit more thought: an Apprentice-style task for charity? Hmm… Then I remembered that I had a class of 30 children who could devise this themselves – simple!

I showed the class a copy of our year group’s tasks on the interactive white board and explained the E-ACT Passport idea to them. “You mean this is an enrichment activity, don’t you Ms Ashley?” piped up one of the children. I love when I’m surprised by my class.

Following a discussion we realised that the tasks aren’t specific in some cases, and so were open to interpretation. For example, the challenge to play and sing five songs in a different language.  Okay, we already knew ‘Frere Jacques’ and ‘Feliz Navidad’ (it didn’t say the whole song had to be in another language!) and the class reminded me that there was a song at the beginning of all of our French topics. That covered the singing part, but what about the playing? Percussion instruments, hand clapping and beatboxing were all used.

I definitely needn’t have worried about the Apprentice task. The class were overflowing with ideas. Eventually, we chose The Book Trust as our charity and decided to do our event during Book Week. Each group decided on a book themed task which would be suitable for the whole academy to take part in.

In the end, we completed our passport challenges in three weeks and I was ready to share with the rest of the staff. I was enthused by the way my class worked together, had fun, learned and had a go at things that they wouldn’t normally get the chance to. The Apprentice task is a memory that is still talked about today (I’m teaching the same class) – the pupils loved working with all the different year groups. Children showed leadership qualities I’d not seen before and their confidence grew.

The core values were further embedded as we ticked off the different tasks. Children ran for chunks of time; wrote a letter to an MP; entered an E-ACT writing competition and learned yoga moves (as well as meditation).  One of the great things about the passport is that all children are given the same opportunities.

In the first week of this academic year, my class asked what extra things they would be doing extra in their learning – would they get to be apprentices again? This is one of the reasons that I love the E-ACT Passport: the fact that the children recognise they are learning something different and are enthusiastic about it.