Horniman primary school: bringing pedal-power to the playground

The winning primary school competition entry from Horniman, for power-producing static bikes, was prompted by a parent and developed in consultation with pupils

As the children sitting round the table bombard nine-year-old Milo Briche with questions about the final of the School We’d Like competition, he just beams. “In four words: the cheque was massive, ” he says. Cue laughter and applause among London’s Horniman primary school’s eco-committee. “It means,” he adds, “that we won the award and are getting £5,000 to have our eco-bikes power the radio station.”

The fluent advocates who wowed the competition judges come from a school that has a dynamic take on pupil voice. Every year has philosophy lessons from visiting Philosophy Shop teachers. “They learn to discuss and listen to each other,” says headteacher Julia Clark. “It’s about developing thinking and reasoning skills.”

Child-directed learning fuels “enterprise weeks”, in which classes work on challenges ranging from local history to playground design. “The idea is to make coming back to school after the Christmas holidays fun,” explains Clark. Classes open sealed envelopes on the first day of term and have a week to complete a multi-faceted project. The tasks are just as much a surprise to teachers as to their classes. Trips on the minibus, external speakers, art works, maths investigations and writing collaborations culminate in presentations to a judging panel of local advisers and school governors.

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