Pupils kick off their shoes to improve concentration

SH 070514 Shoeless classrooms at Holmbush Primary School
SH 070514 Shoeless classrooms at Holmbush Primary School

SHOELESS classrooms at a Shoreham school have helped children concentrate better in lessons.

Holmbush Primary School introduced the scheme following research by the new learning council, which was set up in September to get the children’s imput into improving learning.

Year-six pupils were invited to apply for a place and the chosen nine have since been researching learning environments, seeking advice from around the world.

Following a trial week of shoeless classrooms, they wrote to the governors and it was agreed it would become a permanent arrangement.

It is not compulsory, children can wear shoes if they wish, or slippers, although many choose to wear socks in school.

All the members of the learning council, who are aged ten and 11, said it had made a real difference since it was introduced in January, including those who were sceptical at first.

Pupil Anna McCulloch had not been too keen on the idea but she found it definitely helped with concentratioin.

She said: “It has definitely got better because when we used to wear shoes, especially with the Velcro, people were messing around playing with the bits on their shoes and it was really distracting.”

Head boy Jake Scriven said not wearing shoes took the pressure off and enabled children to enjoy their work more. He added: “It makes you feel more at home, so you are not stressed. In shoes, you have to be really smart but without you have no pressure on you, you can do your work and enjoy it.”

Lucy Rowland also said there were less distractions, especially from reception up to year three, where the pupils sit on the carpet and used to fidget with their shoes. Holly Dixon said the classrooms were cleaner now and Sonny Whittington said it had helped to stop children from rocking on their chairs.

The learning council also felt it helped younger children to adapt to school more easily.

Kalli-Marie Wilson-Nicklin said: “Some of the younger children enjoy bringing in their own slippers. It helps them get used to school.

“It stops your feet from being all hot. It just feels more relaxing and you can get on with your work.”

Other elements from their research into better learning environments have also been introduced, such as improved lighting and bigger, more colourful displays.

Jake added: “In dark classrooms, you figure it is gloomy and it is late in the day so you just want to go home. People also wanted big, clear displays so they could see them more easily.”

Kalli-Marie explained that in years one and three, the children said they liked seeing their own work on display.

“It makes them feel important and that they are contributing,” she added.

They used questionnaires to get feedback from the children and also spoke to the teachers.

Their findings have been passed back and head teacher Rebecca Jackson said it was important for the children to go through the process and that staff would listen.

Despite some recent criticism, the school is sticking to the shoeless classrooms plan because of the improvements it has brought to the school and the support from most of the parents.

Deputy head Susan Stickley, who looks after the learning council, said it had been good for the children to see through a project, find out about the effects of it and defend their decisions.