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.”
St Meryl move the goalposts to net their award!
We were very pleased to award St Meryl School (Watford) an award to buy movable outdoor football, netball and basketball posts and different size balls. Caron Plein (Business Manager) first explained the immediate need for the posts:
“Our current football posts are broken, and one of our two netball posts recently broke too. We also don't have a sufficient quantity of proper footballs and basketballs.”
Caron then went on to explain a number of benefits of the equipment and when they would be used:
"We would like to acquire these to encourage our pupils to participate in these sports and outdoor activities. This is both for use in PE, break and lunchtimes and extra-curricular activities.
Additionally, having a greater quantity of resources, means that more pupils will be able to access the activities simultaneously, thereby encouraging active and healthy living. By getting 2 different sizes of balls, and full size netball, but training size basketball posts, we are also ensuring accessibility through all ages within our school community.”
Caron also applied the benefits to the current situation:
“The huge benefit is that because these are for outdoor use, we can continue to use them much more easily during the pandemic. Additionally, the balls will be wipe-cleanable, and we will also then have sufficient to be able to provide one ball per child.”
Longmeadow laptops lead to a love of learning
We were pleased to award Longmeadow Primary School a grant to buy four laptops which will add to the mobile laptop unit they are building. Paula Flint (Business Manager) explained how they would use the laptops in addition to whole classroom use:
"The IT equipment would be used for booster groups via Teams to upload and download their work to allow them to work with the teacher and independently.
… We would also be able to use the computers when mentoring our year 6 pupils during one-to-one sessions, homework clubs (when we are able to operate these again.)
… We run small groups of 1:1 activities which we would like to run using some of our platforms but currently we do not have sufficient equipment to be able to do this.”
Paula also told us how the laptops would help learning by running a variety of programs and platforms:
“Technology has the potential to increase the quality and quantity of practice that pupils undertake, both inside and outside of the classroom. The award would also enable us to fully embed programs we have introduced over the last academic year including accelerated reader.
We have invested in Timetable Rockstars which is a platform for children to recite their times tables faster and to consolidate their learning. We are also using Spelling Shed which allows the children to improve their spelling, practice familiar words and also learn new spelling patterns.
The learning platforms we are using make interactive learning fun and have an element of challenge and competition within them to encourage children to learn. We have found that some of our harder to reach pupils engage positively with these platforms and have a tangible sense of achievement when they improve their marks. We also have a number of pupils with special needs who are unable to write but are able to express themselves in writing when they are unable to put pen to paper.”
Featherstone Wood Make Room for a Sensory Sanctuary
We were pleased to award Featherstone Wood Primary School and Nursery an award to create a sensory room and resources. The wide range of wonderful equipment covered such items as a sensory mood water table, weighted lap pads, a LED inflatable pool and a dark den.
Sarah Haynes (Deputy Head) clearly explained the need for the room and equipment, giving her school’s high proportion of SEN pupils in comparison with other local schools and their disproportionate need for social/emotional wellbeing interventions.
Sarah then went on to explain who the room would help and how it would benefit them:
“The aim of the sensory room is not only to benefit our children with ASD and sensory disorders on a rota basis, but will also be used to support other children within the school with emotional and behavioural support as and when it is needed.
By having this sensory room we hope to create an environment for all of our children to learn to regulate their behaviour, giving them a safe and supportive space to work through and gain understanding about their emotions. This in turn will reduce disruption and improve focus in the classroom, allowing the children to progress with their learning.
The sensory room will also be used for our small nurture groups, it will be an ideal safe space for those children to be provided with the emotional support that they need.”
Sarah also addressed our criteria for benefitting as many pupils as possible and the longevity of those benefits:
“…the nurture room will give us a permanent shared space that is away from the classroom and can be used for all future cohorts. All pupils have the prospect of benefitting from our new sensory room and it will help to create a more focused learning environment in our classrooms.”