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.”
Harvey Road raise wellbeing with a downward-facing dog!
We are pleased to award Harvey Road Primary School a grant for a 5 week programme of Yoga workshops, lesson plans and teacher coaching. Clare Wallis (School Business Manager) coordinated a strong application, beginning with the identified need:
“We have identified an increase in the number of children who have suffered increased anxiety levels over the past couple of years. In addition to this, children have encountered emotional, social, and physical challenges during the pandemic.”
Clare then explained what the workshops and coaching will cover and how it will benefit the children, including addressing our “longevity of benefit” criteria:
“The Yoga teacher will provide a programme of activities that will improve the children’s competency and confidence to perform Yoga, in an enjoyable way, whilst encouraging their commitment both in school and at home. The workshops will focus on mental and physical wellbeing and will involve activities such as:
• Developing fine and gross motor skills through games, asana practice and meditations
• Improving social and emotional development through developing friendship groups and empathy
• Using spoken word to express emotions and understand how feelings can influence behaviour, which will also include learning elements of Sanskrit.
• Relaxation and mindfulness through breathing techniques and various Yoga poses to help manage anxiety and to improve focus
The coaching that will be provided to the teachers will enable them to create their own Yoga sessions as well as incorporate Yoga into their lesson plans, across the curriculum. This will ensure that future cohorts of children will also benefit from this investment.
The children will be provided with tools and techniques to help understand and regulate their emotions as well as increasing their level of physical activity in a safe and secure environment. These disciplines can be used throughout the children’s lives by providing them with coping strategies to manage the challenges that they encounter.”
Breachwood Green sense a top resource!
We were pleased to award Breachwood Green JMI a grant for a Lego Education WeDo 2.0 Class Pack Bundle for 16 students. As the website says…
Designed for primary school classrooms, the WeDo 2.0 Core Set is a hands-on solution that enhances pupils' curiosity and skills in computing and science.
The WeDo set is delivered in a storage bin along with sorting trays, labels, a Smarthub, a Medium Motor, Motion Sensor, a Tilt Sensor, and enough building elements for two pupils. It provides an easy-to-use programming environment and includes the WeDo 2.0 Curriculum Pack, which covers life, physical, earth, and space sciences, as well as engineering. The accompanying eLearning program helps teachers to become confident users of the WeDo 2.0 Core Set.
Mrs Fulton (Senior Teacher) explained the benefits of the equipment further:
“This grant will be used for resources to teach upper KS2 the Robotics and Systems unit of work as part of the computing curriculum. In this unit children investigate automated systems in the wider world and the use of sensors within them.
They create, test, debug and refine algorithms, pseudocode and the related programs using sequence, selection, repetition and variables. They program physical devices, controlling inputs and outputs, relating to their study of automated systems. As part of this unit of work children need to be able to build and program a device with inputs and outputs.
The resources will benefit all the children in the school as they can be used for computing clubs and STEM activities linked to science, mathematics and other curriculum areas.”
St Mary’s connect with their arguments to improve online learning.
We were pleased to contribute to St Mary’s Junior School (Baldock) upgrade of their failing WiFi network. This was a difficult application for us to pass through our criteria as we don’t usually contribute to “infrastructure” projects or put money towards bigger projects substantially above our £1,000 maximum (the network is going to cost over £4000). This is because our aim to help schools with smaller, discrete projects that will substantially enhance learning, interest and wellbeing. Another issue is we have to be sure that these larger projects will go ahead and be up and running in a reasonable time frame or else the award money could be sitting in a bank account doing no good for a long time when it could be helping other children.
Having said this, we do appreciate how vital reliable, fast WiFi is in normal times, let alone during these months of intensive online learning. Hayley Duke (School Business Manager) made a strong initial case for the project, including the difficulties they are currently facing:
“An upgraded Wi-Fi system will help support all pupils including, individual, small booster groups, catch-up groups, SEN and whole classes learning. Currently we have several pupils who usually end up sharing devices because of poor WiFi connection which hinders their learning opportunities. This award would enable an improved WiFi system which will increase the quality of time and quantity of pupils using individual laptop/tablet for learning. It will help teachers to plan efficiently and effectively with the confidence of knowing their lessons will run to plan. Our teachers will be able to deliver interactive and meaningful lessons providing our pupils with the best opportunity to learn through high quality teaching without interruption.
The Wi-Fi will be used every day in school for accessing the internet to assist with teaching. This will help greatly during this currently lockdown when teachers are teaching both children in the classroom together with children using google classroom from home.”
Hayley didn’t just focus on their need for strong WiFi during this lockdown period, however:
“Long term, the Wi-Fi will enable the school to use interactive learning platforms such as Timetable Rockstars (as well as others) on a daily basis without interruption or failure. We have found that interactive platforms generally engage pupils who don't always enjoy maths/English because they make learning fun, with challenges and competitions which encourages children to learn and feel a sense of achievement when they improve their marks.”
Despite these excellent needs and benefits, we needed some extra arguments to justify stretching our criteria due to special circumstances (the pandemic in this case). Hayley wrote back…
“The current Wi-Fi is hindering learning because teachers are currently teaching using Google Meet, Zoom or Microsoft Teams, at the same time as teaching the small number of pupils that are in class who are using school laptops or tablets. When the WiFi doesn't work this means that whatever the teacher is trying to remotely share on his/her screen on the computer with both learners at home and in school the lesson is interrupted or even stopped. Pupils who are in school are hindered because the laptops or tablets don't' always connect to the internet, or server which means they cannot load text or photos to complete work tasks. The lesson either has to be paused whilst the connection is resumed, or pupils miss that part of the lesson and must try and catch up. This has an effect on their confidence and learning.
The impact on learning and teaching is huge and very frustrating which impacts on staff and pupils’ wellbeing and motivation. When technology runs smoothly, we are all happy. Teachers are dealing with great pressures at the moment and we would like to eliminate one stress in their workload by upgrading our WiFi so they can teach with confidence knowing lessons will go to plan. This will give them new incentives and improve their wellbeing.”