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Francis Patton overjoyed with BZS link-up

Francis Patton Primary School

Teachers at Francis Patton are celebrating as they have received some very positive science results after tests sat by their Primary 6 students.

“Back in March, the students took two ministry tests on food chains and caring for the environment,” said Alandra Swan, the P6 teacher at Francis Patton, “and on both tests, they have scored an average of 85 per cent.”

Although students had been performing fairly well in science previously, the school is attributing some of the success to the assistance they were provided by the Bermuda Zoological Society’s school programme.

“I wanted my students to receive engaging and hands-on learning experiences from teachers and experts who know a lot about the topics the children were learning about,” Ms Swan said.

“The classroom experience at BZS has helped students to quickly and easily recall information with vivid detail because they were able to touch, feel, observe and explore the topics in depth, thus extending their knowledge beyond the Cambridge curriculum. Also, BZS has an abundance of resources for students to access, making for a much more enriching experience than what the classroom could offer.”

Jamie Bacon, the education officer at BZS, said: “A year and a half ago, the principal of Francis Patton, Mrs Garita Coddington, asked if we could provide her P6 students with three classes that reviewed the majority of biology topics taught from P3 through P6.

“She was concerned that these students may have missed topics during the transition to the Cambridge curriculum. Last year and this year, the BZS education department gave three 1½-hour-long classes, each one week apart, on topics including the characteristics of living things, the senses, habitats and adaptations, food chains and nutrition, and major threats to the environment. The classes included hands-on activities and structured inquiries plus review materials for the students.”

However, Dr Bacon believes that it was team effort that gave the students the solid foundation to succeed. “It was the combination of the way in which BZS presented the material and the excellent teachers at Francis Patton, who both prepared the students before each class and reviewed the topics between classes,” he said.

Ms Coddington, who spoke at the Hamilton Rotary Club today, could not be more pleased about the results. “Working with BZS has enhanced the quality of learning and, more importantly, opened our students’ minds to what BZS offers,” she said. “As one student stated, ‘All this time, I just go to the Aquarium to look at animals and have fun. I now know that I am actually learning as I have fun!’”

What makes the BZS schools programme so beneficial to the students who attend classes there?

“We realise that students have different learning styles, so we try to present our topics using a variety of methods, emphasising hands-on experiences whenever possible,” Dr Bacon said.

“Our aim is to have all students able to understand the material, no matter what their learning style is. We are also both knowledgeable and passionate about what we teach, and students recognise and respond to our expertise and enthusiasm by becoming very engaged during our classes.”

Ms Coddington believes the experience should serve as a message to all the Island’s educators. “Take advantage of all the local educational opportunities offered,” she said. “BZS has a team that will work with you, meet your needs as a teacher and the needs of your students. They are willing to go above and beyond to ensure that your experience with them is a success. At Francis Patton, every year level from P1 through P6 attend field trips at BZS to support teaching and learning.”