Foundations for learning?

Having seen how well tutorial systems can work in schools, I was keen to introduce one to the pupil referral unit where I worked before I gave up teaching to write full time.

As I have mentioned previously, our young people had many issues and difficulties which we tried to address and support them to overcome in their last year of statutory education. Having introduced the idea of tutorials, I was met with, for once, a lack of support from my colleagues; either they had seen tutorials not working in schools they had taught in before, or they were genuinely too busy to take on more work (there were only three of us teachers in our tiny PRU) or they just did not want to do it. I was very keen to do it on my own if I had the time… we tried for a couple of years with the three of us teachers as tutors, but it wasn’t very successful.

Thinking about themselves… students drew their own islands

Our head of centre then allowed me to develop my own scheme and pilot it, with me as the only tutor for all our fifteen students. I had no extra time and had to do it in my preparation periods. I came across a paper… and I do not now remember where, to be able to give credit to the original person who wrote it, but it looked at four key areas which were the foundations of learning.

I devised a check-sheet as a starting point; students answered questions about themselves which resulted in a score. I, as tutor, did the same for each of them and we would write the two results on a record sheet. The following term we would both answer the questions again, and then compare results from the first term… which were usually better. We would repeat this for a third and last time before the students left us and left statutory education.


Confidence means feeling you can do it, feeling you are not afraid to make mistakes, feeling brave enough to try new things

  • If you are confident you could:
  • Try new work on your own
  • Ask for help if you get stuck
  • Tell others in your group your ideas
  • Talk to someone you don’t know very well

Most of the time I think I am this confident:

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10


Persistence means trying hard at things and not giving up too soon

  • If you are persistent you can:
  • Keep working even when you are finding the work difficult
  • Not letting yourself be distracted by other people
  • Keep focused on what you’re doing
  • Check your work when it’s finished and be prepared to correct and change it

Most of the time I think I am this persistent:

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10


Organization means setting a goal or target, it means, planning your time, it means making sure you have everything you need to do the work, it means being present every day and on time

If you are organised you are:

  • Present every day
  • On time
  • Clear what you have to do
  • Know what your goal or target is
  • Prepared with everything you need
  • Able to finish the task, and finish it in the time you are given

Most of the time I think I am this organised:

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10


Getting along means working with your class mates and teachers, solving problems together, getting over difficulties without getting angry, following centre/college rules

  • If you get along with people you
  • Help others with their work
  • Do not distract others from their work
  • Listen to others without interrupting
  • Talk calmly rather than getting angry when something is unfair
  • Keeping to the centre/college rules

Most of the time I think I get along with others this well:

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10


After the first meeting with the student I would then see them every couple of weeks, more or less often according to the individual. I had a programme looking at each of these four areas and trying to work with the students to support them to improve. I did this through chatting, drawing, creative writing, questionnaires. For example, I had an outline picture of a mirror called The Truth Mirror; they had to write or draw a truth about themselves. They didn’t have to show me (though they usually did) but it had to be true… and most of them were surprisingly honest.

I was pleased with the programme I set up, and sorry it did not continue… but I guess we can all apply these four criteria to any project or task we undertake, confidence, persistence, organisation and getting along.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.