Therfield track down two, tip-top teepees.
We were very pleased to award Therfield First School (Royston) a Multi-Subject Award for two large wooden teepees. In a strongly argued application, Tara McGovern (Headteacher), explained how the project would fit into their existing impressive drive for outdoor learning:
"At Therfield, we have been on a journey for effective outdoor learning for the past four years. We introduced 'Outdoor School' in May 2017, where all children had a weekly lesson outside, led by a specialist teacher. At the same time, we introduced greater emphasis on using our outside spaces for as many curriculum lessons as possible. In 2018, we introduced Forest School and now very proud of our high quality, embedded forest school provision.
We have fundraised to purchase outside overalls for all pupils and have created a welly wall to store our pupils’ wellies, which stay permanently at school. We want to be ready, during all weathers, to take our learning outside.”
Tara then went on to extol the many virtues of learning outdoors:
“We strongly feel that this offers a more practical, hands-on approach to learning, providing our pupils opportunities to make real life links to their learning. We also recognise and witness first-hand the benefits on our pupils emotional and social wellbeing by learning in the natural environment. …It also provides opportunities for pupils to learn and develop new skills and to find a voice that we do not always see within the classroom. …Children's imaginative play will be promoted…”
The teepees will benefit a very wide range of pupils:
The whole school will benefit. Outside, of the 5 teachers and our forest school specialist that the school employs to teach across our three classes, the teepees would also be used by other adults overseeing small groups/projects. This would include:
Teaching Assistants leading small groups
1:1 support, including SEN (Autism, Sensory, Additional Learning Needs)
Therapies - Play, Music, Lego etc
…These will run parallel to our outside learning circle and will be used by all pupils. They will be integral to outside learning lessons, small group and 1:1 interventions and in promoting pro-social experiences during break and lunch times.
…We also allow the local pre-school to use our outside spaces as they have very limited outside areas attached to the local village hall that they use. These would be available for the pre-school leaders to use with their young children.
…I also regularly reach out to the Children's Centre, that are based in the nearest town as they have very limited reach to our parents in the village. I am sure that these will prove a welcomed addition to any 'stay and play' sessions that they lead on site in the future.”
Finally, researching the best quality and effective products/services for a fair price always strengthens funding applications to us. Tara did just that:
“Ordinarily, these are exceptionally expensive and we are a very small school. Our budget is based on having just 52 pupils. We have seen much more cost-effective versions on the Costco website, and we would arrange for the teepees to be assembled.”
Roebuck strike the right chord with an orchestra of ukuleles
We were pleased to award Roebuck Academy (Stevenage) a Foundation Award for eighty ukuleles. Lynsey Young (Headteacher) explained how the mass of instruments would be allocated through the school:
“60 would be used for whole class teaching plus 10 for teaching and support staff to model throughout lessons. Additional 10 would be used for nurture classes and musical nurture intervention… particularly for those pupils displaying anxiety, those who have dealt with loss or bereavement.”
As much as we enjoy supporting new ideas and activities, we are also keen to help with ongoing drives. Lynsey told us how this purchase would support their push in music:
“We have invested and make use of the Charangra scheme of work at the school. The children love the lessons provided and this has helped in raising the quality of education in this subject area as well as their love of learning. “
Lynsey went on to emphasise the role music has in supporting children’s well-being and confidence, especially as we emerge from lockdown:
"Music lessons have equally supported children's well-being and mental health through such turbulent times
…Playing musical instruments provides children with the opportunity to express themselves and benefit greatly from the restorative and therapeutic effect that this can have. Music also enables all pupils to access the curriculum regardless of age or ability
Playing the instruments afford opportunities to build confidence, self-esteem and resilience. It also provides opportunities for those pupils less academic to shine and display talents that may not necessarily be displayed in other subject areas.”
St. Paul’s take their reading corner straight outside.
We were pleased to award St. Paul’s Catholic Primary School (Cheshunt) an English Award to set up an outdoor library. The award includes a large, wooden reading corner (shed), a map of the world rug, beanbags and a wide range of books to stock the shelves.
Donna Rolt (Assistant Headteacher) explained the need for the facility:
"Our school has limited space for a library and we use widened parts of the corridors and nooks at the moment. A large wooden outdoor library would enable us to give a platform where our teachers can support and facilitate children to make meaning while reading. We can transform the physical space of the outdoor library to create a conducive, lively and inviting space for reading for all of our children.”
Donna went on to point out some of the benefits of the space:
“…it can promote and support leisure-time reading, contribute to the social development of the students in our school and provide a place to study and do homework. It can provide a safe haven for all students to think, create, share, and grow.”
Hillshott set their sights on a great range… of books.
We were pleased to award Hillshott Infant school an English Award for an excellent range of books to promote diversity and wellbeing. Sarah Murdoch (School Business Manager) explained the project, its benefits and how it fitted in with the school’s updated reading schemes:
“As part of the school's development plan we want to support the social, emotional and developmental needs of children by creating a nurturing, holistic approach and encourage children to value the processes of learning.
This will be achieved with nurturing a lifelong love of reading to support children's learning of the English language. Part of this objective is to ensure the reading materials we offer children are relevant, inclusive and representative of the communities in which we live. In the last academic year all of the reading schemes were reviewed and replenished with relevant texts. The final stage of this project is to do the same for the school library.
The award would ensure all children in our school community have access to reading materials that are relevant, inclusive and representative of the communities in which we live. Offering children books that are of interest to them ensures we nurture a live long love for reading.”
Hobletts Manor build back better with books.
We were pleased to award Hobletts Manor Junior School an English award to build a library of resilience books. We are very aware of the potential difficulties that children will face when they return of children to school and, in some cases, unhappy times during home schooling. Kelly Smith (School Business Manager) explained:
“All the book titles have been carefully selected with strong messages for the children to feel empowered covering a wide range of emotions.”
Bids that have been put together based on research, experience and/or training have a head start in terms of achievable benefits for the children. Hobletts book choices have this advantage:
“A group of Teachers are undertaking the Back on Track training course run by Herts for Learning which focuses on getting pupils back into achieving following the period of School closure. As a result of the training recommendations from the course are to build a library of resilience books which support both English curriculum and the pupils’ wellbeing.
These books have been recommended by trainers of the Back on Track programme and also cover some activities like cookery to further promote wellbeing. … some of which come with Audio CD's for whole class reading activity.”
Holy Family School swap lock-down for the great outdoors.
We are very pleased to award the Holy Family Catholic School a grant towards creating an outdoor learning area. The project will include many wonderful elements such as a fire-pit, a pond, class seating, raised beds, a bug hotel, bird boxes, children’s tools and plants.
Jackie Willcocks (School Business Manager) explained the benefits:
“This would be available to the whole school to enable and encourage teaching outdoors.
The children would benefit from this resource as many of them do not explore the outdoors with their families. It would really help them to discover and learn about nature and show them how to continue their learning outdoors. The children would benefit from collaborative working and provide positive healthy benefits both physically and mentally and assist with gross and fine motor development, it will help children who struggle emotionally and find it difficult to express their feelings and help them develop a lifelong love of the outdoors. The benefits of having an outdoor learning experience can help children grow in confidence, forge relationships and increase their self-esteem.”
Jackie also explained that the outdoor area will not only benefit their children but also…
“We have a school that is right next door to us, there is a fence dividing the 2 schools, we want to put a gate up at the end of the field so that they can enter the back of our school field to use this facility.”