Being a Year 6 child at Springmead School is a privilege but comes
with great responsibility. This week, while enjoying our learning
opportunities I have been observing our Springmead
Ambassadors and thinking back over the year to consider what it
takes to be a great Year 6 pupil. I came across an article in The
Independent from 2013 which seemed to sum up what our eldest
children have, that make them so special:
1. Enjoyment of Life
The ability to love and appreciate life is the basis for a host of
qualities that great learners need. Cultivating an attitude of
appreciation means being able to enjoy the journey of learning,
wonder at the natural world, relish a good book, feel good about
achievements, and enjoy the companionship of peers and educators.
Resilient children give things a try. They understand that learning has plenty of setbacks and that they
can overcome them. Resilient children talk to themselves differently from non- resilient ones, and don’t
turn mistakes into catastrophes. Instead, they look at a wider, more positive picture.
A child’s ability to control their impulses appears to lead to better health, wealth and mental happiness in
later life according to research in the US. In school, self-discipline is also central.
Great learners need to listen, absorb and think. They need to keep going through difficult patches, stick at
hard tasks, manage their time well and keep mental focus.
Honesty matters for great learning because its opposites – deception and self-deception – hinder
progress. Great learners don’t say “I’m brilliant at science” but, “I’m OK on photosynthesis, but not sure
I’ve nailed atomic structure yet.” And this needs to start early.
The pre-schooler who speaks up and asks what a word means in a story, rather than pretending to know,
is already on the way to being a skilful learner. Honesty allows children to build good links with teachers
and mentors. It grows confidence, attracts goodwill, and gives children an infallible compass with which
to steer their learning.
Learning anything – piano, physics, tennis – is about approaching the unknown, and stepping up to new
challenges. Great learners are just as frightened of this as others, but can overcome their fear and find
They are able to try, fail, and try again. They can also navigate school life skilfully. Children need moral
courage to turn away from distractions and to be willing to be seen as “a geek” if they want to study, while
developing courage also helps them to stand their ground through the temptations of the teenage years.
Great learners are kind to themselves. They understand that learning is sometimes hard, and not always
possible to get right, but keep a “good” voice going in their heads to encourage themselves on.
A kind disposition also draws other people to them and bolsters their learning through the help and
support of others, as well as allowing them to work productively in teams and groups. A kind disposition
also feeds listening and empathy, which in turn foster deeper, more complex learning.
These character qualities are what make the Eagles great learners but they are also superb qualities that
will prepare them for the rest of their lives.
Nick Munckton, Year 6