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."
Bayford hits the high notes outside.
We were very happy to award Bayford Church of England School a grant to buy and install a high-quality outdoor cadenza for their outdoor music ensemble project. As Malcom Foster (Headmaster) explained:
By creating an area in the playground with outdoor musical instruments, it will allow every child in the school to continue their musical interest at lunchtimes and playtimes, enjoying playing together in a less structured way.
In time, with more instruments, we will also conduct outdoor music lessons, taking portable instruments to supplement the fixed ones. Through the installation of outdoor musical instruments we believe that children will become further engaged in music as we strive to become further known in Hertfordshire for our excellent musical engagement.
Malcom certainly did his research in order to fully explain the many benefits of the project:
It has been proven that music is able to holistically develop children and research shows music can create improvements in a number of ways:
• Language and literacy skills
o Music experiences enhance processing of speech and language which impacts on learning to read.
o Music training develops skills to perceive auditory patterns between phonemes, also having a positive impact on reading.
• Some research shows a correlation between music tuition and improvements in some areas of maths, such as patterns, sequences and fractions.
• In a study of IQ, children in groups who had music lessons increased their IQ more than children who had not.
• Personal and social skills are developed – learning an instrument can create a sense of achievement, increase self-esteem, increase confidence and improve self-discipline which combine to create motivation for learning in general.
o Participating in musical groups promotes friendships, social skills, team-work, a sense of belonging and development of trust and respect.
• Improvements have been seen in physical development, health and well-being. Learning to play instruments enhances fine motor skills and research shows that singing may bring health benefits to: the immune system, breathing, good posture, improved mood and stress reduction.
We were also impressed by the efforts Bayford has made to gather instruments from other sources and raise money from other sources. Let’s hope the weather holds for the budding young musicians.
Oak View add a Chrome polish to their old computers.
Oak View Primary and Nursery school have been granted an award to convert 25 school laptops into Chromebooks. This will enable them to be used in the homes of their vulnerable children who are not currently able to access the online elements of the school’s home learning provision.
Susan Wombwell (Deputy Headteacher) explained the need for the conversions very clearly:
We are a school with a high percentage of Pupil Premium children 29.7% and 17.6% SEN in two form entry primary school. Initially, a group of twenty-five children will benefit from the award but our plan is to alternate the provision to provide greater access to more vulnerable children. The children we refer to are being provided paper copies of the learning activities set by teachers but they are missing out on the direct daily contact they can have with their teachers and peers through our school learning platform. These children include pupil premium children and low ability children who we have been working in school so hard to close the gap and are concerned on the effects the school closure is having on them both mentally and academically.
As vital as the lockdown provision is, we may still have struggled to get the bid past our very important longevity of benefits criteria. However, Susan addressed this potential issue in her bid:
Once the school reopens these new Chromebooks will continue to be available for our vulnerable children to support in enriching their learning experiences and closing the gap between them and their peers.
We hope Herts IT can convert the laptops quickly so the vulnerable pupils can start to close the learning gap as soon as possible and start to reap the wellbeing benefits of contact with their teacher and classmates.
I am delighted to inform you that the laptops have been successfully turned into Chromebooks. The speed at which they open and connect is amazing compared to how they were operating prior to the conversion. It has truly put a new life into them. Parents were so appreciative when I phoned them to explain that we were now able to provide them with a Chromebook for their child's home learning. It will make an enormous difference to how they can engage with their learning and allow the link with their class teacher and peers through the use of Google Classroom.
Thank you so much for enabling this to happen; it really is appreciated
Hillshott zone out with beautiful music.
We were very happy to award Hillshott Infant and Nursery School a grant for a class set of 4-hole ocarinas and accompanying booklets. Sarah Murdoch (School Business Manager) coordinated a strong argument for the instruments in her school:
Ocarinas are perfectly suited to younger hands and with pupils able to use one each, it will provide equal and wider opportunities for all pupils in our school.
All children, including those with SEND will be able to use the most basic 4-hole ocarina. The only other pitched instruments we have in school are glockenspiels and recorders, but they are difficult for EYFS and KS1 children to play and we do not have enough for 1 per child in a class. The ocarinas will be featured in the KS1 curriculum for years to come, creating wider opportunities than we are currently able to provide.
We hope the sound of 30+ ocarinas playing brings joy to the children, staff and parents in class and concerts for years to come!
Sarah quickly followed up her Arts bid with another one for safety barriers for Hillshott’s football/basketball/hockey area. She explained the benefit of the project clearly:
We are undertaking a full review of the outdoor equipment we have in school for safer play times for all children who use the playground. This includes having enough varied equipment to covers all needs / interests for children in Reception through to Year 2. This means the playground will be 'zoned' for multiple activities at once to keep everyone safe.
The grant would benefit children by providing a safe area for physical education. By allowing us to zone the playground safely, children are able to exercise and play in a safe way across the whole playground.
The physical zoning of outdoor areas will also prove useful with our phased return to school, particularly as regards the youngest pupils.
St. John’s digitise their nursery children
We were very happy to restart our Primary Awards Program after the initial lockdown with a grant to St. John’s C. of E. Infants and Nursery School (VC). Alice Aharon (Executive Headteacher) put in a bid for a desktop computer and a Zenbook for use by pupils, TAs, teachers and parents.
Applications for one (or perhaps two) computers are often difficult to pass through our criteria as we want to ensure our limited funds are primarily helping the school’s pupils directly. Although we know how much preparation and assessment teachers have to do on a daily basis, much of it using I.T., we would find it hard to justify e.g. purchasing a new computer for a single member of staff to use.
However, after Alice supplied some well-reasoned additional information we were convinced the new equipment would directly (hands-on) benefit a large number of pupils as well as many others in the school community:
At present, our nursery classes do not easily engage with ICT and start their technology development as the only equipment available to them is out of date. The addition of good ICT equipment will motivate the teaching staff and children and enable use and activities around new technologies.
The computers would be located in our nursery classroom area that is adjacent to our office. All pupils passing through the school would have the benefit of using the computers to start their IT education from a very early point. This would benefit our current pupils and all incoming cohorts. At present, our capacity to teach children at this early age is not as we would desire due to the lack of resources and age of equipment available to them. It would increase the learning options available to them . This would enhance and have a very positive effect on their learning.
The terminals would also provide strong support to our wider community, as we find increasingly there is a need to provide guidance to families in completing the many forms to support their children's education. This can include 30-hour childcare applications, Free school meal applications, Free milk applications, benefit support applications, school transfer details. Our staff are called upon to support the community in this way, and the terminals can be used for this purpose.
Newberries project a positive image
We were pleased to award a grant to fund the majority of the cost of a Laser DLP projector for Newberries Primary School’s hall (Radlett). Whilst we fully appreciate the effective learning value of classroom interactive whiteboards/projectors, we were initially a little sceptical about the bredth and depth of educational value of a replacement projector for the hall if it was just to be used for assemblies.
However, Jane Woods, School Business Manager, reassured us about this in her application:
“This resource is used during assemblies, workshops, class learning and for small group working. The current equipment has completely broken and needs to be replaced. Our students miss the interactivity this resource provides.”
Thus, the projector will benefit all year groups, from whole-school assemblies and presentations, to entire classes and smaller groups working in the hall.
We always appreciate it when schools shop around for the most effective resources. This projector has a 4,500 lumens lamp which means it will work even in a bright room; a higher than HD resolution and a 20,000 hours lamp life which will save money on replacing expensive bulbs.
As the cost of the project exceeded the maximum grant, Jane forwarded a letter from the Friends of Newberries School confirming that they would fund the excess and so we were able to approve the application.