Oxhey Wood Lift Hearts and Minds!
EdufundUK are delighted to award Oxhey Wood Primary School in Watford an Arts award to take their pupils to see Matilda in the West End.
This was a difficult decision for us as we have to have a very good reason to fund trips. Our difficulty lies in balancing value-for-money against the educational value of the trip and the longevity of its benefits.
In this special case, Kerry Kent, Assistant Head, explained that their school is in the top 5% of deprivation in the UK. Many of their children (and parents) have never travelled out of the Watford and many children have never been on a train, let alone to the theatre and many have no more ambition than to “stay at home like my mum”.
Matilda is an ideal show as it will bring their topic work of Heroes and Villains to life and generate enthusiasm for all the arts in school. However, what really swung the decision for us was that the trip will show the children there is a huge, exciting world of opportunities beyond South Oxhey and hopefully fill them with aspirations.
As Kerry put it:
The trip will be remembered by the children FOREVER - longevity at its best!!
St John’s Show Five Ways to Well-being
We were very pleased to award St. John’s Primary School (Baldock) a grant to promote and enhance well-being throughout the school. In a very comprehensive project, Kat England (Asst. Head and SENCo) explained St. John’s will:
…put on a different activity each day during Well-being week which would link to one of the “5 Ways to Well-being.”
1. To be active (Physical Education link)
This is where we wish to spend money on a specialist dance teacher who can come in to teach the children a fun “Strictly style” routine/year group
2. Take notice (Physical Education link)
Having a specialist children’s yoga teacher come in to help the children chill out!
3. Connect (Art and DT link)
We want to spend money of art resources so that the children can work together with members of their family (who will be invited in for the day) to build a mosaic for the outside area of the school. This will also improve the environment and overall setting for our children.
4. Learn (Music Link)
We would like to spend money on an African drumming workshop so the children can learn something they would never normally experience.
We will all be giving of our time by organising activities related to the community.
The application was comprehensive and very well written, with each individual activity being costed and sourced and the benefits of each and the week as a whole being clearly explained.
Let’s give Kat the last word…
…we can tackle the mental health epidemic through showing children just how the different school subject areas can be used to heighten motivation, engage them and show them the enjoyment that comes from learning something for a subject they thought they already knew about but have seen in a different light. What child would turn down learning about music, through African drumming, rather than using the same equipment and resources that have been in school for years? What child wouldn’t be motivated to pursue their creativity in art when they have taken part in a massive whole school project that they can see every day when stepping out onto the playground?
Kat kindly sent us a copy of their newsletter which gives a great picture of how the Wellbeing Week went...
Wellbeing Week at St. John’s Primary School
In the week of Monday 10th February- Friday 14th February, our school took part in a variety of activities as part of "Wellbeing Week." The children were bubbling with excitement as each day was assigned to one of the "5 steps to Wellbeing" which include:
Learn new skills
Give to others or the community
Connect with others
St. John’s Boot Camp Championships
African drumming workshops
Whole school Art Project
Monday kicked off with a very intense round of exercises that saw the staff and the children physically exhausted by the time our sports coach for the day, Mr Baker, had put us all through our paces. There was a lot of squatting, running and general competitiveness (and that wasn’t just from the staff!) There were many sore legs for the rest of the week so it must have done us all some good!
Tuesday saw 2 tutors from the Letchworth Healthy Living Centre, come in to teach us how to be more mindful. We took part in some breathing techniques to help us all be “in the moment” more and support us when we are feeling anxious. We learnt about our brains and even sang a song to remember which parts did which jobs.
Wednesday brought a whole lot of noise as we banged away on our drums and roused the local neighbours from their naps! The children had a thoroughly amazing time learning how to play music through African drums with our excellent expert Raz, who had us marching to his beat all day. It was great to be able to show off the children’s newly learnt talents in a whole school assembly at the end of the day. We may just have created some future drummers!
Thursday was spent in and out of Hi Vis jackets and yielding litter picking equipment as we descended on the local Baldock community and started tidying up the rubbish that had been strewn around the woods and the grassy areas near our school. Despite the, not quite so warm weather, we donned our wellies and got stuck in, managing to remove lots of waste and turn our green spaces into a much nicer place to live for all.
Friday ended the week with a whole-school art project where each class was given a large piece of wood. The children and teachers set about creating a mural depicting a subject theme which are to be displayed in various places around the school. The art project has not only helped us to connect as a whole school, whilst talking and listening to music when we worked, but will have a positive effect on enhancing the environment within the school, when they are proudly hang up throughout the corridors and general spaces.
We want to say a big “thank you” to EduFund UK, who provided us with the money to spend on the art and music projects so that we could invest in outside agencies to teach us something new, and buy the materials we needed for the beautiful displays the classes have made.
We hope the children have been telling you all about the fun they had that week and that we can put on more activities in future to help promote good mental health through arts, sport and music.
Manland Show Signs of Excellent Communication.
We were very pleased to award a grant to Manland Primary (Harpenden) Makaton training across the school staff, manuals, resources and membership of Makaton.org and also Downs’s Syndrome training for two staff.
Manland have a number of children with communication issues and have a new starter who largely communicates with Makaton. As Cally Arbury, School Business Manager, explained in her bid:
“We believe the whole school will benefit from the training and resources. Our teachers will be able to model Makaton to all children, who in turn, will be able to use it with children with communication needs in our school. We have already seen two pupils in Reception and Year 1 communicate with each other using Makaton and we believe extra training and resources will be a great investment for the future for any pupils for communication needs.”
Giles Junior Gets Up to Lightspeed!
Giles Junior School (Stevenage) have won an award towards giving each teacher a mini ipad and Apple’s Lightspeed app. to facilitate monitoring/control of ICT use and give one-to-one and feedback to pupils.
As Louise Whitby, Headteacher, wrote in her application:
“This will impact significantly on all pupils but our focus will be to see if we can close the gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils as the feedback given to these pupils can be very specific and timely - verbalising it through audio will allow children to modify their writing as though they had an adult sitting next to them.”
Giles have a large number of disadvantaged pupils and this project should have a big impact on bringing them up to speed.
Offley Trains in Resilience to Reap Rewards.
We were very interested in Offley Endowed Primary School’s (Hitchin) bid to train all their staff in a Resilience for Rewards program. As headteacher, Paul Edwards wrote:
“This is a 12 month commitment that begins with a whole school INSET and then becomes fabric of the school moving forward. It is intended that the impact of the programme will help sustain and promote learning at the school in all subjects and I am confident that it will help reduce stress, improve concentration in all lessons and lead to successful lessons, learners and outcomes. It will give the children many opportunities to be resilient, happy and make excellent progress. It will also engage teachers and support staff to be pro-active in their ability to teach the children techniques to put them in the optimal frame of mind to learn.
The training is just the start. I want it to be sustainable and also acknowledge that there are accountability systems built in for all school stakeholders. The programme will instil rituals and daily habits within my staff, creating significant upshift in results. Our Year 6 teacher trialled some of the techniques last year and I was particularly impressed how it helped our more vulnerable groups of children. It helped improve their self-esteem and the progress they made was exceptional. It also had a huge impact on the autistic children at my school to such an extent that I feel it a necessity to roll it out to the whole school.”
EdufundUK are particularly keen to fund teacher training for specific projects/skills as we feel this gives us the greatest longevity payback – benefitting all children and staff (through pyramid/in-school training) who the trained staff member has charge of for the rest of his/her career. The fact that the whole school will train together will help kickstart the initiative and consistency, mutual support and enthusiasm will massively benefit. Another strength of the bid was the positive experience from a trial of the techniques in last year’s Year 6 and the school’s commitment to pay the extra costs from its own training budget.
Holtsmere Go Back to Nature!
Edufund UK are delighted to award Holtsmere End Infant and Nursery School (Hemel Hempstead) a primary award to buy a large “Wigwam Warrior” bell tent and ten all-weather suits.
Holtsmere have already invested heavily in training one of their staff up to a Forest School Level 3 Lead Practitioner and preparing a path and ground in their woodland area. Our award will now enable them to follow the Forest Schools curriculum with each child taking part in a six week programme every year. Holtsmere also run a Nurture Group for children with anger issues, speech difficulties, social difficulties and other challenges which will also have access to the Forest School facilities. As headteacher, Nicola O’Connell put it:
Many of our children live in flats and do not have direct access to the outdoors. We are fortunate that our school is surrounded by trees, of which there are many species. This would allow the children to experience a different type of learning in a calm, peaceful and natural setting.
2nd Bid - Arts
We were very pleased to pass Holtsmere End Infant and Nursery School’s application for a collection of Forest School equipment. This bid followed their earlier successful application to us for a Forest School shelter (see above). We shall be funding a whole host of outdoor goodies such as loppers, wheelbarrows, a tarpaulin and all-in-one suits.
Nicola O’Connell (Headteacher), waited until the shelter was in place and a staff member trained in First Aid before applying so the equipment could be straight away (present circumstances permitting). We are very keen on outdoor learning – as Nicola explained, there are so many benefits:
All of the children will benefit from learning new skills outdoors. They will experience things that they may not have the opportunity to do outside of school. These opportunities may spark an interest and love of outdoors and increase their self-esteem and confidence especially if they overcome fears and difficulties when completing tasks.
In the current situation, now more than ever, children need to build up their resilience and have appropriate opportunities to do so.
Holtsmere End’s bid was a good example of a school spreading their yearly £1,000 maximum allowance across terms for when they can actually realise the benefits of each project.