Little Downsend shortlisted for ISA Award for Excellence and Innovation in Early Years

The team at Little Downsend in Ashtead, Epsom and Leatherhead are absolutely delighted to have been shortlisted as a Finalist in the Independent Schools Association Awards 2021.

The submission was commended by the judges as extremely high quality with evidence of exceptional practice taking place within the schools.

The award, titled ‘Excellence and Innovation in Early Years’ specifically focused on Little Downsend’s work with FIRST LEGO League Discover and the Institution of Engineering and Technology, where small groups of pupils in each Reception class were guided through interactive, fun and hands-on sessions exploring a real-world theme.

Children worked through the process of designing an obstacle course for a local outdoor space that could be used by lots of different people to keep them healthy. Using a Lego Education kits they explored, designed, tested and built their obstacle course. They had time to free-build, to learn through play, to record their notes and engage in plenty of collaborative discussion. The challenge ended with a Celebration Event designed to celebrate the children’s learning, giving them an opportunity to share what they had built and learned.

The strength of the submission was built on excellent evidence of impact on children, parents and teaching staff. Built around the Early Learning Goals, specifically aiming to support the development of language and communication, problem-solving and collaboration skills, Little Downsend were able to demonstrate that children’s academic outcomes had been impacted positively by the initiative. 97% of children met or exceeded the goal for ‘Being Imaginative’, with ‘Number and Shapes, Space and Measure’ increasing 5 percentage points on the previous year to 97%. To see the Little Downsend Early Years data, click here.

Downsend School has recently released a new vision, focused wholeheartedly on the future and the skills young people will need to thrive. Vanessa Conlan, Head of Little Downsend and self-proclaimed Lego enthusiast said:

We are both delighted and excited to have been shortlisted by the ISA for this award. We’ve always had an innovative outlook, but the pandemic has sharpened our thinking on how and what we teach our children. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to see our little people engaging enthusiastically with a real life challenge, debating and presenting ideas with passion, working together and being creative. It feels as this is just the tip of the iceberg for Little Downsend children, we are brimming with ideas for what comes next!

The ISA will announce the overall winner of the award at a ceremony in November 2021. Everyone at Little Downsend will be eagerly anticipating the results.

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