A student teacher, Nick Carter, on going in to a Year 3 class for the first time, was asked by the form teacher to work with a group of six children. This in itself was not an unusual request but within seconds it became apparent that these children had been selected for a special reason. These six children (three boys, three girls) all had behavioural and/or educational problems and were all on the Special Educational Needs register. The teacher found them challenging and in her words, ‘impossible to teach’. Nick noted that they lacked basic literacy skills and more fundamentally, a belief that they could achieve anything. Nick’s task was to teach them geography and he was determined to succeed. The children informed him that they wouldn’t work if asked to write anything. Fortunately, Nick valued these children and wanted them to achieve something. He devised a series of lessons centred on the problem of litter in the school grounds. The intentions were to develop the pupils’ awareness of the problem of litter and to foster an appreciation of their environment and to encourage them to institute positive change. The children were able to make observations, record by using a camera and through field sketches
The pupils were asked to select features around the school grounds and to tell Nick why they had chosen them. The pupils in turn took photographs of their features and Nick wrote down the reasons for their choice. For example, a broken fence was recorded because it looked ugly. Once the children realised Nick meant his promise that they could learn geography without having to write, their enthusiasm grew.