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30 September 2010, 00:00
Children at a primary school in Brighton are using penguins and plasticine in an innovative series of study modules helping them to celebrate their family backgrounds and learn respect for others.
During the first four-lesson module, Year One pupils at Elm Grove primary school get to talk to each other about their families or carers and make plasticine models of their families to help the discussion along.
They also read from and discuss a book called ‘Tango Makes Three’ – based on a true story of two male penguins in a New York zoo who successfully raised a chick after being given an egg to look after.
Short modules aimed at Y3 and Y6 pupils look in more detail at diversity issues such as name calling and gender stereotyping in the playground and beyond.
Elm Grove primary’s Healthy School coordinator, James Dawson, said: “Children at our school have very diverse backgrounds – traditional nuclear families, single parents or parents who have died, some have two mums or two dads, some have a black parent and a white parent, some are in foster care, some families have religious beliefs, others don’t.
“Our starting point is simply that it doesn’t matter what size, colour or shape their families are – we want our pupils to feel good about themselves, be proud of their family background and respect other people.”
The study modules were created by James and teachers from Westdene primary and Stanford junior schools working with Brighton & Hove City Council’s Healthy Schools team. Staff at Elm Grove have noticed a reduction in bullying and name-calling since the new modules started.
The modules are now available on the city’s online learning platform. Other schools in the city have started using them and Elm Grove has also had calls from interested schools outside the city.
The council’s cabinet member for children and young people, Councillor Vanessa Brown, said: “This delightful project has really caught the imagination of pupils and teachers alike. Helping children to feel good about themselves and their family backgrounds is key to enabling them to fulfil their potential and get on in life.”