Family Groups at Parkgate Primary began during the academic year 2012. The vision was to create an opportunity for pupils of different ages to take part in activities together one afternoon a week. Each of the 15 groups is made up of pupils from Year 2 to Year 6 (age ranges 6 to 11) and a cultural mix is maintained throughout these groups. Activities have a Social Moral, Spiritual or Cultural focus and are designed to celebrate the cultural diversity of Parkgate school. They are underpinned by the schools “University of Parkgate” ethos: which highlights a range of values including Aspiration, Challenge, Resilience and Pride. Sessions take place in school on Friday afternoon, and are led by class teachers.
All sessions are preceded by an assembly which includes a brief introduction to the afternoon’s activities. Assemblies are pupil focused and once every half term include opportunities for children to showcase song and dance from a range of cultures. There is also a focus on world events (for example Remembrance Day and International Mother Language Day) to increase pupils' awareness of the world beyond their immediate community. Inclusion in its widest sense is also an important element of Family Groups. Activities which promote increased awareness of disability have included Deaf awareness challenges and guest speakers from Guide dogs for the blind. These serve to emphasise not only the importance of all members of the school and the wider community, but also the understanding that disability does not exclude an individual from making a positive contribution in their community.
Where it is possible and appropriate pupils are placed with their siblings for the afternoon’s activities. Groupings are not rigid. Friendship groups and individual needs are also taken into account. For example if it is felt that a particular pupil would benefit from being with a male or female teacher, they are placed with one. If a child does not appear to be settling into a particular group, they are given the opportunity to discuss this and changes are made to ensure that they are happy and get the most out of the experience.
The sessions are planned and monitored by the PHSE coordinator. The costs of this initiative are kept to a minimum as existing staff lead sessions. This enables the Family Group curriculum to have a direct relationship to classroom activity and PSHE delivery during the rest of the week and ensures that the initiative and its benefits are sustainable.