Longmeadow laptops lead to a love of learning
We were pleased to award Longmeadow Primary School a grant to buy four laptops which will add to the mobile laptop unit they are building. Paula Flint (Business Manager) explained how they would use the laptops in addition to whole classroom use:
"The IT equipment would be used for booster groups via Teams to upload and download their work to allow them to work with the teacher and independently.
… We would also be able to use the computers when mentoring our year 6 pupils during one-to-one sessions, homework clubs (when we are able to operate these again.)
… We run small groups of 1:1 activities which we would like to run using some of our platforms but currently we do not have sufficient equipment to be able to do this.”
Paula also told us how the laptops would help learning by running a variety of programs and platforms:
“Technology has the potential to increase the quality and quantity of practice that pupils undertake, both inside and outside of the classroom. The award would also enable us to fully embed programs we have introduced over the last academic year including accelerated reader.
We have invested in Timetable Rockstars which is a platform for children to recite their times tables faster and to consolidate their learning. We are also using Spelling Shed which allows the children to improve their spelling, practice familiar words and also learn new spelling patterns.
The learning platforms we are using make interactive learning fun and have an element of challenge and competition within them to encourage children to learn. We have found that some of our harder to reach pupils engage positively with these platforms and have a tangible sense of achievement when they improve their marks. We also have a number of pupils with special needs who are unable to write but are able to express themselves in writing when they are unable to put pen to paper.”
Featherstone Wood Make Room for a Sensory Sanctuary
We were pleased to award Featherstone Wood Primary School and Nursery an award to create a sensory room and resources. The wide range of wonderful equipment covered such items as a sensory mood water table, weighted lap pads, a LED inflatable pool and a dark den.
Sarah Haynes (Deputy Head) clearly explained the need for the room and equipment, giving her school’s high proportion of SEN pupils in comparison with other local schools and their disproportionate need for social/emotional wellbeing interventions.
Sarah then went on to explain who the room would help and how it would benefit them:
“The aim of the sensory room is not only to benefit our children with ASD and sensory disorders on a rota basis, but will also be used to support other children within the school with emotional and behavioural support as and when it is needed.
By having this sensory room we hope to create an environment for all of our children to learn to regulate their behaviour, giving them a safe and supportive space to work through and gain understanding about their emotions. This in turn will reduce disruption and improve focus in the classroom, allowing the children to progress with their learning.
The sensory room will also be used for our small nurture groups, it will be an ideal safe space for those children to be provided with the emotional support that they need.”
Sarah also addressed our criteria for benefitting as many pupils as possible and the longevity of those benefits:
“…the nurture room will give us a permanent shared space that is away from the classroom and can be used for all future cohorts. All pupils have the prospect of benefitting from our new sensory room and it will help to create a more focused learning environment in our classrooms.”
Greenfields literally plug a perceived gap.
We were very pleased to award Greenfields a grant for a huge range of books. The collection ranged from specific topic-based collections, to whole-class guided reading sets and great fiction, non-fiction and poetry titles from carefully curated reading passport lists.
We do like to hear about a specific, identified need for a bid and Kate Day (Headteacher) showed Greenfields’ needs clearly in her application:
“We have just revised our KS1 and EYFS phonics scheme and now need to focus on KS2 reading and enjoying reading. Our data shows that we are particularly weak in promoting and enthusing boys to read. Several staff now have this as a performance target. We have written age specific targets for all children but on reviewing our book offerings we have realized that boys books are not particularly engaging and our girls books lack in positive female role models. Our school is not very diverse either so one another thing we would like to do is purchase some texts which support widening our diversity understanding.”
Kate also told us how the books would be used and gave us examples of who and how the books would help:
“We have introduced 3o'clock reads in every class for this purpose - but now need engaging, enthusiastic texts which inspire the children to read. As we are developing our reading and phonics, we have realized that the cost of specialist books is huge and currently we only have one copy of each. Being able to have more would mean we can send more home and children will have more opportunities to read.
This would also support not just out class teachers but our phonics assistant who teaches in all classes N-3, our nursery nurses and our community by spreading the message of diversity and BLM through our children.
More opportunities to read, more choice in books, more willingness to try a text, more engagement in reading and wanting to read, all lead to better reading skills, better access in class and attainment results leading to better life chances in the future.”
Brookmans Park’s Lenovo Laptops Lift Lockdown Learning.
We were pleased to award Brookmans Park Primary School an award for three Lenovo laptops.
Understandably, we have a lot of applications for laptops in these difficult times. Whilst we appreciate the need, each bid still has to explain how the laptops will be used, who will use them, what benefit using a laptop will bring and the longevity of the benefit. Andrea Pollington (Assistant Head) produced a strong application which covered all these points well.
Who will use the laptops:
“…to support our catch-up groups across the school. Since lockdown we have worked hard to try to close the gap particularly with our vulnerable children, who did not have access to learning at home.
We are running daily small booster groups in maths, writing and reading throughout the school and we would really benefit from at least three more laptops for children to share and become familiar with accessing online learning independently.”
How will they be used:
“We have introduced MYMaths and google classroom as well the continued use of 'Timetables Rockstars', all of which are helping these children to catch up. These computers would also be used if a family has to self-isolate at home for 14 days so they can continue their learning. We have at least ten families that have no access to online learning without these extra computers, as the laptops we already have need to be utilised during the school day.”
What are the longer-term benefits:
“Long term these laptops will support booster groups and intervention groups in all areas of the curriculum and will be utilised by all children across the school.”
How will using laptops help learning:
“Lockdown and self isolation have proved very difficult for so many families and the use of these laptops will help and encourage children to re-engage with their learning in their homes. It will give them access to google classroom and MyMaths, so that if they have to isolate they will not fall further behind. At school it will allow them to participate in booster groups, pre teaching and wellbeing interventions. We are very aware as a school that Mental Health underpins everything we do and being able to fully participate and not be hindered in their learning opportunities will boost their wellbeing.”
Hertingfordbury Cowper provide a stable atmosphere!
We were very pleased to award Hertingfordbury Cowper C of E Primary School a grant to bring a live animal, Ark Farm nativity event into their school.
One-off trips and events, whilst exciting and motivational, are very hard to get through our depth, breadth and longevity of learning criteria so Lorraine Gauld (Headteacher) had to really go into detail about the learning benefits of the visit.
Lorraine explained how the visit would tie into a wide range of learning across the school:
“The visit by Ark farm would link to the 'Understanding the World' for the Nursery and Reception children, whereby their would be able to make sense of their physical world as well as being able to explore, observe and find about about a range of different animals. Also to the KS1 Science curriculum for Year 1 being 'Animals' and our Year 1 class are studying a topic called 'All creatures Great and Small' and also for our Year 2 class who also have 'Animals' as part of their Science curriculum but also go on to learn about 'Living Things and their Habitats' to have a greater understanding of different animal groups, where they live and the food they eat in their topic unit called 'Staying Alive'.
Then in the afternoon, this experience will then turn to one with an RE focus for the whole school, we will be using the animals as part of a living nativity to learn and retell the Christmas story. This will be directly linked to the RE curriculum of the school as we link the different parts to Bible passages, prayers and songs. Children will also be using this experience back in class to develop their own narratives of the Christmas story (including a range of genre, prayer, poetry and recount) as well as greater depth levels of study further up in KS2 as they analyse the different accounts in the gospels of the Christmas Story. Again, not only will this be an innovative way for the children to access their RE curriculum, it will be a learning experience have a lasting impact on their memory of such a visit but will make the story come to life for the children. We will also be able to promote our music and drama curriculum through this living nativity with children acting out parts themselves and older children providing the music - giving them an opportunity to perform in front of an audience.”
Lorraine then went on to explain more reasons why the visit would enhance learning in these areas:
“Being able to have the animals in school, and for more than one class (which would usually be the case with a class trip) means the children will have hands-on experience with their learning, enhancing their learning in one of the most valuable ways as we learn best when we 'do'. All of the sessions will include 'question and answer sessions' giving the children opportunities to use their own enquiry skills to lead their own learning from the experience.
…A key focus of the current curriculum is 'knowing more and remembering more', these hands-on sessions will give that key to giving the children the real experience of learning about animals, their habitats, life-cycle, what they eat etc... in front of their eyes.”
As well as the visit being the focus and inspiration for so many areas of learning, the school are also going to film the nativity for parents to enjoy. This can also act as a lasting resource for future years and so helps tick our longevity of benefit box.
To further strengthen her bid, Lorrain also highlighted the wellbeing benefits of the visit:
“We feel not only will this benefit the outlined curriculum areas but will also go a long way to promoting positive well-being for both our children and staff in what would usually be a time of great celebrations, concerts and performances.”
I’ll leave Lorrain with the last word:
“What better way to enhance the progress of the children than being able to live their learning.”
Clore Shalom flip-classrooms and grow minds.
We were pleased to award Clore Shalom School an award for two laptops to enhance the learning and motivation of vulnerable pupils at the school. Lorraine Field (Office Manager) gave some strong arguments for how the laptops would enhance learning and motivation including a flipped classroom use:
"During class time, the laptops would be useful to support vulnerable pupils with pre-teaching topics they may not be familiar with e.g. during a topic on the Mayans, to show pictures to those pupils who may not have had the opportunities to go abroad and see ancient civilisations, or for a topic on healthy eating, for those children who are not given varied and balanced meals to be able to access pictures/videos/information etc.
Word banks would be created and used on programmed, such as Clicker and Widget, with access to dictionaries and thesauruses to help those children, particularly reluctant readers, who do not yet have a vast vocabulary and will encourage them to use keywords they are less familiar with as they will have access to the spellings, definitions and synonyms.
They will be used to support children with their home learning, which is now being done on an online platform. There will be opportunities for children to access and complete their homework using these laptops in school in a supportive environment i.e. in a lunch time session, where they are unable to access this at home.”
Lorraine went on to argue how access to various interactive programs would also help:
“We also find that children who are reluctant to learn times tables and practise handwriting and spellings, and have little support with this at home and little motivation, will be more motivated to do so by using online resources such as Times Tables Rockstars, Purple Mash Spellings and Letter Join. We have found that there is a high take up of access to these programmes for some of our pupils in school, but less so for our vulnerable pupils. Again, to ensure equality for all, we plan on making these laptops available throughout the day during break and lunch times for the vulnerable children to be able to come and access these to further their learning by practising more in these areas.”
Lorraine also brought in growth-mindset benefits of the vulnerable children being able to use I.T:
“The children we have in mind who would benefit from using these laptops during class time would be children who don't always feel ready to commit to paper what they want to say and are scared to take risks and get things wrong. Therefore, to be able to complete some of their writing on a laptop, where they are able to delete and make changes will enable them to feel safe to take further challenges. The idea is that they develop this skill first using laptops and can then transfer it to their books, with a deeper knowledge and ability that it is ok to make mistakes as this is how we learn best.”