Run Forest, run!
We were very pleased to grant Long Marston VA CE School an award for staffing/training in on-site Forest School lessons. Although only a small school, Long Marston are investing a lot of time and money in developing Forest School activities and training staff in the required skills.
Outside education and Forest School skills have many benefits which EdufundUK are keen to support where possible. As Clare South, Headteacher, clearly explained in her bid:
“The forest school sessions will be linked to outdoor learning, science and physical exercise…
Outside learning is so key to developing our children's wellbeing and mental health. They will have an opportunity to talk, learn skills and work within a small group. Fresh air can give children more energy for learning. We have discovered this more with the introduction of the daily mile 2 years ago. Providing this learning opportunity will allow our children to access an area of the school we have invested in and haven't been able to use. They are so excited at the prospect.”
Broxbourne provide science learning in spades!
We were naturally very pleased to award Broxbourne Primary a grant to develop a nature/wildlife area within their school grounds. Amongst the many items that will bring the project to life are such wonderful things as insect hotels, hedgehog houses, minibeast grab and go kits, outdoor cushions and many different seeds and plants.
Headteacher, Paul Miller explained the project very well in his bid:
“We are fortunate to have a significant woodland/meadow area in our grounds. In order to use the grounds more effectively to accelerate the children's learning across all year groups, we need to maintain and improve the area. We would like to clear an area of the land which has become overgrown with brambles and plant butterfly and bee attracting plants, e.g. buddleia, lavender and wild flowers, such as poppies, scabious and birds foot trefoil. Improvements include adding bug hotels, hedgehog houses and bird boxes as well as planting trees and bushes, which demonstrate seed dispersal eg sycamore. The children would need clip boards, writing/sketching materials and cushions to sit on the existing benching. These would need to be housed in weatherproof storage. Once cleared our grounds maintenance team would be able to maintain pathways and borders as necessary and our eco-monitors, under the guidance of staff members, could water the trees, shrubs and flowers. We would like to install a rainwater collection point to make optimum use of natural water sources. Once all these resources are in place, we would like to add appropriate signage for the children to use to support their learning.”
Breakfast and after-school club children will also be involved in caring for the area as well as science being brought to life for every class. The project will be great value for money and certainly fills our longevity criteria.
As Paul says:
“Eco-monitors (children rotate to carry out this role so every child will have this opportunity at least once during their time in school), will water and care for the plants and shrubs, developing their self-confidence and sense of responsibility. The children throughout the school would be able to access the newly cleared area, rather than only being able to access wildlife areas during school trips.”
Almond Hill chill out
We were very content and calmed to award Almond Hill Junior School (Stevenage) an award to support mindfulness and relaxation. The award will cover training sessions for staff and resources such as mats and music etc.
Almond Hill’s headteacher, Judith Lovelock made a strong bid which explained the many aspects and benefits of the project:
As part of our school PE plan and as an objective in our School Improvement Plan this year to support pupil's emotional wellbeing and mental health, we have an objective to train staff to develop mindfulness and relaxation. We want to use mindfulness in all lessons but particularly within PE where some children with social and emotional needs often find it hard to govern their emotions and this limits participation and co-operation. We want to offer mindfulness training to all our staff.
Our PE lead runs a weekly 'nurture' group for vulnerable children and training will enable mindfulness to be offered as a programme of intervention in these sessions. It will enable our pastoral teaching assistant to organise daily mindfulness sessions in our lunchtime Friendship Room.
We also wish to offer an extra-curricular mindfulness club following training.
Our final aim is to inform carers/adult of our work and encourage them to use mindfulness techniques at home.
Maple Grove tap keyboard resources
We were very pleased to help Maple Grove Primary (Hemel Hempstead) buy 5 Chrome books to add to their existing 10. This would give them a half-class set which is much more effective than 3 pupils trying to share one machine.
Another strength of the bid was the fact that using laptops does give certain benefits over touchscreen technology. As Bella Bacon, Computing Coordinator, explained:
Research has found that the use of touchscreen is causing children to loose skills such as proficient mouse and keyboard operation, meaning that when they arrive in secondary school, they are less able than the curriculum demands.
- Daily practise, using an online tool called TTRockstars, in preparation for the (now postponed) year 4 multiplication check. The year 4 class progressed from around 25% of the class acheiving an age related standard to around 75% achieving an age related standard or above.
- Before school, we have been running a reading club using a tool called Reading Eggs. This helps children, particularly those who struggle with reading, to progress their reading independently. We have also found that children who find it difficult to settle in the mornings have found it easier to settle - through motivation to learn!
- This academic year our year 2 class have been able to develop more proficient keyboard skills earlier than in previous years as chromebooks are easier for them to access, quick to start up and easier to use. An example is the lack of a capslock key. When you are 6/7 and need to learn how to type a captial letter it can be quite challenging!
- Research during foundation subject lessons is also easier due to ease of access, particularly in the older year groups.
Woodside go “hands-on”
We were pleased to be able to award a grant to Woodside Primary School (Waltham Cross) for a range of art and DT specialist equipment to benefit the whole school.
With such an emphasis being placed on the vital subjects of English and maths, we fully appreciate the value of being able to facilitate practical work to enhance learning, provide variety and keep motivation high. As Nicola Boyd (HLTA) wrote in her application, the equipment will also:
…demonstrate understanding of how visual elements can create effect, mood and atmosphere and also it will focus on learners’ skills and abilities to express themselves through the significant aspects of learning/creating.
Shiny New Cassiobury Chrome
We were very happy to fund four new Chrome books for Cassiobury Junior School in Watford to add to their existing trolley of 26. We fully appreciate how much more effective learning can be when children do not have to share equipment (although, team/pairs work also has a big part to play in certain activities of course) and so we were glad to enable the school to finally have a full class set.
Whilst IT itself is only a small (but important) part of the primary curriculum, we are always keen to hear how schools would like to use IT to learn more effectively across the other subjects and prepare children for secondary school and the world beyond.