Abel Smith bank on iPads to enhance many aspects of learning
We were pleased to help Abel Smith School to purchase a bank of new iPads, charger unit and licences after receiving a well-reasoned bid from Headteacher, Daniel Hewitt:
“We want to make greater use of IT across the whole curriculum, enabling children and teacher to capture work that is usually very difficult to capture in traditional books, such as speaking, listening, drama, children's creative ability in language and maths. Our approach to marking and feedback is also changing, so that it is more tailored and interactive. All this work is underpinned by our new online learning platform 'Seesaw' which has been a great success since it was launched in April.”
We have seen a massively increased use of on-line learning platforms such as Seesaw during lockdown which have helped pupils of all ages keep up with and extend their learning. We also fully appreciate that such platforms will continue to be a strong force for effective learning in the “new normal”. Daniel showed that Abel Smith are of like-mind, by outlining other benefits the iPads will bring for years to come:
"…Able to share their work at a high frequency with their parents, which in turn will allow their parents to interact with the children learning.
...Support our cloud-based learning platform, so it can be used for marking and feedback, and enabling the children to improve their work much more effectively.
...Children will be able to access their homework online and understand how to use the cloud-based learning system, because they will have much greater use in school. This approach will also reduce our reliance on paper and printing due to the online storage of work.”
Great Gaddesden Grasp Google!
We were pleased to award Great Gaddesden CE Primary School funds to buy 3 Chromebooks and associated Google device management licences. Due in part to the Corona Virus, the education sector has become even more aware of the importance of fast, reliable means to connect to the internet and the multitude of learning resources available online. Sarah Wickens (Headteacher) goes beyond this however:
"Great Gaddesden CE Primary school wants to begin a digital revolution. At the school, we see and recognise the need for children to leave primary school with a higher-level understanding of digital skills, including: digital literacy, digital awareness and coding - across the curriculum.”
Of course, just three Chromebooks won’t achieve all of that, but Sarah is going to make sure they facilitate a wide variety of benefits:
“Even though the devices will be used for children who need additional support with learning, we will look to allow other children to use them to familiarise themselves with the devices
…In addition to this we would use the Chromebooks to showcase the benefits of devices in enhancing teaching and learning, which we hope we lead to increased funding from the PTA and external funders.
…We also see the devices being used in PE lessons to record gymnastics techniques and routines so that these can be reviewed and showcased to the school. In terms of science, we would look to use the camera to record investigations and apps like Science Journal to record these. Finally, we can use the Chromebooks to create collages of artists that different children are studying.”
The Grove construct an outdoor bid that hits the right note.
We are very happy to award The Grove Junior School funds to buy a great selection of outdoor building and music equipment including planks, crates, den-making resources and a grab-and-go music playground set.
We love it when the children themselves come up with well-thought-out ideas for resources. As Amanda Hutson, PE Coordinator explained:
“At The Grove Junior School we have a well-established programme of play leaders and sports captains during lunch and break times. These teams are led by Teaching Assistants and the staff Sports Coaches who liaise with the pupils to deliver a variety of engaging activities. The Play Leaders have themselves identified that there is a lack of creative and imagination resources which would benefit many children in a different way.
…Our Play Leaders would love to offer den building, creative crate challenges and musical performances in their active area and have asked the school to source the following resources…”
As valuable as creative/constructive play is to learning, development and fun, especially when led by older pupils, Amanda also plans to use the equipment in a more targeted way during lesson times:
“Learning and being physically active outside the classroom through outdoor activities is known to have significant educational benefits and we would like to use the equipment not only for the whole school, but especially our nurture groups to help develop their social skills as well as overcoming challenges and sharing decisions. The Creative Active Area is also intended to help some children dealing with anxiety, fear and physical stress. We hope to enable the children to develop their communication skills, problem solving and decision making, encouraging a positive 'opting in' and 'can do' attitude which translates back into class time.
The different approach is to be used to motivate children and enhance their interest in science, forces, tension, structures, sound both in lessons and in group work. Our specialist music teacher is already gathering ideas for outdoor lessons using the equipment.”
Flamstead End achieve a STEM double with bugs, clubs and hands-on learning.
Flamstead End School put in two applications within a few days of each other and we are very happy to be able to award them both.
The first was for funds to set up STEM club, purchasing such items as lab coats, safety goggles and stopwatches. As teacher, Samantha Richardson explained, the club would be:
“…focusing on a different project each week ranging from a focus on physics, biology, engineering, design and technology, chemistry and mathematics and modelling.”
The club will initially be aimed at a selection of KS2 PPG pupils which will:
“provide them with new experiences that they may not encounter otherwise. They will be able to handle scientific equipment and use it in a child led manner, allowing them to take ownership of their own learning and discover through enquiry.
It could also serve to build their confidence within the classroom and motivate them to be more engaged with STEM subjects than they may have been already, helping to close the gap in these areas for disadvantaged pupils. The club will provide a memorable and meaningful learning experience to pupils who may otherwise feel out of depth or disengaged at school.”
This bid was for a relatively small amount of money that will make a big difference to a number of children who really need it. In addition, the equipment purchased will also be able to benefit other children for many years to come.
Flamstead End’s second bid was for equipment to set up an outdoor, mini-woodland learning area. The bid included such wonderful things as a messy play tarpaulin, a Bugs Life mini-beast hotel, a hedgehog house and mud pit and grow frames.
We are always impressed when schools find effective learning uses for existing areas/resources and when they find cost-effective ways of enhancing/extending a project. Lindsay Wistow (Class 2 Teacher) demonstrated both in her application:
“We have a small area consisting of 6 trees on the side of our open field that is not used and our intention is to utilise this space, which is not currently used for any particular purpose, by transforming it into our own outdoor mini woodland by letting the grass grow long and more unkempt like nature intends. Funding would begin the process by purchasing the resources listed, with the intent to collect recycled or donated resources and materials to then enhance the area such as crates, pots and pans, logs and wooden palettes.”
Lindsay has lots of great ideas how the project will benefit children across the curriculum (in addition to being loads of fun):
“…Opportunities for after school clubs to such as gardening/ cooking club to utilise the area for growing herbs/ fruits or vegetables.
… provide Mathematical and Science based learning opportunities for children of all ages, but to also enable our Early Years the space to engage in purposeful and exploratory play. We want them to have space to dig freely, use their imagination and resources to build shelters, dens, obstacles etc. managing their own risks within this time and to build emotional connections through outdoor stimulation.
…One of the core programmes of study in Science is to use observations to generate answers to questions which cannot always be taught indoors. Children must engage all their senses in order to connect with Science, which starts within the Early Years. We have investigative resources like bug finders, magnifying glasses, clip boards and gardening tools etc but need a space to use these purposefully.
…We would also love to incorporate links with our school’s Eco-Council and tie this in with a project next year.”
Merryfield “dongle” an irresistible application in front of us.
We were very pleased to award Merryfield Community Primary School a grant for 5 tablets and dongles to help their vulnerable children access online learning.
Erica Cook (Office Manager) explained that the school is in a deprived area and they have high levels of PP pupils who are missing out on learning during lockdown. As important as this is to address, the school also plans to ensure our important “longevity of benefit” criteria:
“Initially a small group of vulnerable children will benefit from the award who at the moment are missing the opportunity to engage in any sort of home learning due to their family situation. These children include pupil premium and low ability children , who we have worked so hard with prior to the lockdown and now they will fall further behind and it will be so difficult to close the gap for them when the schools reopen fully. The tablets and dongles will be made available to support other children both at school and home in the future.”
The school has sourced some great value tablets which will enable the relevant home-learning activities to be accessed by the children who need it the most and we are very glad we were able to support them.
St Mary’s snuggle up in the mud.
St Mary’s Church of England (Berkhamsted) were awarded a grant for an outdoor mud kitchen, snuggle pod and a whole host of outdoor learning equipment. As Jodie Brown, nursery teacher and Science Lead explained:
"We currently have a Forest school space but need resources to really utilise this area in order to enhance learning, teach life-long skills, enable children to experience hands on practical learning in a creative way, where they can take reasonable risks to support self-esteem."
The forest school will benefit many pupils, both in lesson time and in afterschool clubs and will also be available for their linked preschool children. Jodie made a strong case for the equipment:
"At St Mary's Primary School & Nursery we are passionate about the positive impact that outdoor learning and Forest school activities can have on a child's well being, no matter what their age or ability. We have seen first-hand how some children who find formal academic learning a struggle, thrive during Forest school and outdoor learning. Their motivation levels increase dramatically, and they begin to shine in a way you don't always see in the classroom environment. Forest school and outdoor learning is something that will benefit all children from Nursery to Year 6 with Nursery, Reception and Year 1 have a weekly or fortnightly timetabled slot. By increasing a child's confidence levels this has a direct impact on learning back in the classroom as well as in the wider world.
Key benefits to Forest school and outdoor learning are:
-Building confidence and independence
-Feeling empathy for others and nature
-Improved mental health
-Learning by experience
-Exposure to manageable risk
-Better sleep and mood
We are also promoting more outdoor learning during Science lessons and the Forest school area provides a wonderful outdoor classroom for hands on practical learning."