Secondary Minor Awards - Autumn 2021 Roundup
Here's a quick summary of what secondary schools in Hertfordshire have successfully bid for so far in this autumn term. Each academic year, schools can bid for up to £1000 in each of our focus areas (PE, STEM and Effective Learning) providing there are enough funds in the budget. This budget is displayed on the applications page and it is "topped-up" at the start of each term (as funding allows).
We wish all the award recipients good luck with their amazing projects.
|Haileybury Turnford||PE||2 new team and training football kits|
|Haileybury Turnford||STEM||5 high powered microscopes|
|The Reach Free School||PE||Flooring for a fitness suite|
|Presdales School||PE||Monitoring and boxing equipment|
|Katherine Warrington||EL||Padlet platform license|
|Roundwood Park||STEM||Autoclave sterilising machine|
|Katherine Warrington||PE||Class set of tennis rackets and football shirts|
|Longdean||STEM||Class set of Sphero Spark+ robots|
STEM Major Award 2020/21 - Presdales School
We were very pleased to award Presdales School our STEM Major Award for 2020/21. Nikki Albone (Revenue Generation Coordinator) coordinated and submitted a very well-argued bid for two mobile fume cupboards for classrooms and one static one for the science preparation room.
Nikki explained how this bid would form part of a funding drive to improve science facilities overall. Part of the challenge of writing a strong application is to clearly explain the educational benefits of the project to non-subject specialists (particularly, might I say, if the equipment is not obviously awe-inspiring):
“The fume cupboard is an essential piece of equipment in a school Chemistry Laboratory, enabling teachers and students to safely use chemicals, which would otherwise not be available to them, and allowing demonstrations that inspire the youngest students through to GCSE and A-Level student conducted practicals.”
“Until the planned refurbishment, demonstrations have/are being conducted in fixed fume cupboards, which are sited against a wall. These afford a very restricted view to students in KS3 and KS4 Science classes with their inherent student numbers as well as in our growing KS5 classes.”
“Our refurbishment plan has identified the need for mobile fume cupboards in each Chemistry Classroom, the benefit of which will be significant. The proposed fume cupboards are 1000mm wide with glass rear and side walls. When positioned centrally in a classroom these provide a 360 degree view of the experiments carried out within. With every student able to see the chemistry happening clearly, in real time, right in front of them, they provide a very different experience for teaching and learning and we anticipate that our students will be more engaged in the subject and inspired to pursue it further.”
To further emphasise the benefits, the Presdales bid gave some specific examples:
“When Yr7 students see a copper coin dissolved in nitric acid they will be intrigued by the power of acids. When Yr10 students watch iodine crystals subliming into a purple gas and then re-forming crystals as a layer of glitter they will see the particle theory of matter in action. When Year 12 students observe the dehydration of sucrose to create a growing tower of charcoal they will appreciate how the reaction they have just learned in theory works in practice.”
Nikki also made sure to explain the need for each aspect of her bid e.g.:
“An element of the refurbishment of the Chemistry facility is improvements to the Chemistry Prep Room. Until now this has not contained a fume cupboard and prep work has been carried out in a classroom.”
To address our “numbers and types of pupils benefitting” criteria, Nikki made sure to explain the range of pupils who would benefit from the cupboards e.g:
“Presdales’ Chemistry Department has seen regular growth in A-Level student numbers. 25 students are currently studying for 2022 exams in comparison to just 10 in 2015. Many past pupils have progressed to study Chemistry-related courses at university, including medicine, or taken up apprenticeships or jobs in the chemical or biochemical industry and engineering.”
“At A-Level our students increase their practical skills, regularly dispensing corrosive and volatile substances, such as concentrated acids, from the fume cupboard. Learning to handle these substances safely is a key part of their development as chemists, and prepares them for future study or the workplace.”
Having clearly explained the need for and the benefits of fume cupboard facilities, Nikki also explained the strengths of Presdales’ chosen solution e.g.
“Another benefit of the mobile units is that, as the remaining four science labs within the block are refurbished in coming years, docking stations providing gas and water supply can be added at a small cost thereby significantly increasing the effectiveness of Presdales’ Science teaching facilities, helping both students and teachers.”
In summary, some of the main arguments that gave Presdales the edge in their application were:
- Excellent submission, comprehensively addressing most of the elements of our published Grant Application Assessment Criteria.
- Working hard to also secure grants from other sources to enhance related provision
- Managed to find an excellent value-for-money solution which can be actioned quickly (Nikki and the science department evaluated six quotes, assessing many factors in addition to price).
PE Major Award 2020/21 - Chauncy School
We were very pleased to award Chauncy the PE Major Award for 2020/21. Their project was to rebuild their long jump pit which has been condemned since 2018. Not only that, but for the award amount, they are also going to convert it to a double-ended pit to enable more pupils to practise.
Marissa Mason, Head of PE, managed to narrowly beat a large field of PE applicants (including another long jump pit application) by putting forward some strong arguments for her project e.g.
“Long jump and triple jump have not been a part of our KS3 curriculum for athletics since 2017. Students are desperate to be taught the full range of athletics events. Having two pits will enable more participation in each lesson with highly levels of group and individual feedback from teachers.”
“At KS4, both our GCSE and Cambridge National students (approximately 200 students from year 9-11)have also suffered practically when studying athletics in the summer term due to limited provision. Students in both courses are assessed in 3 sports across their GCSE years. We have been unable to offer athletics due to the limits created by not having a safe and usable long jump area.”
“In preparation for any competitions, we currently take our students to Wodson Park at a high rental cost to give them experience of these events before they compete. This is also the case for all our exam classes assessments.”
Among other things, Marissa also wrote about how Chauncy are trying to improve athletics overall which would be helped enormously by the new pit e.g:
“Athletics has been our main focus to improve over the past 5 years. We have been working closely with HAWKS athletic club to improve our teaching of each event. Our athletics clubs in school are becoming increasing better attended with students from years 7-11.”
In summary, some of the main arguments that gave Chauncy the edge in their application were:
- This would re-introduce an essential sport which they had not been able to offer for a number of years.
- They were improving on their previous offering (double-ended pit)
- They had managed to find an excellent value-for-money solution which can be actioned quickly.
Congratulations to Marissa and her team and we look forward to seeing photographs of the new pit in operation soon.
EL Major Award 2020/21 - Bishops Hatfield Girls School
We are very pleased to award Bishops Hatfield Girls School our 2020/21 Effective Learning Award to purchase a class set of Virtual Reality headsets, supporting equipment and digital content.
Even such an innovative and exciting sounding project still needed to prove its academic worth and hit our Assessment Criteria hard. This can be a particular challenge in the Effective Learning category because applicants have to really focus on why/how their project will enhance learning and motivation compared to their existing methods and facilities. Isabelle Fautrero-Sayer (School Development Officer) did just that with a very comprehensive and well researched application.
Isabelle detailed many uses of the VR equipment and was careful to explain the learning benefits and give examples. Here are a just a few of her examples:
“We believe that, by immersing our students in a virtual world, we will:
- Offer experiences that can inspire and motivate students by transporting them to impossible worlds, for example, they could experience life in the trenches or take a tour of the solar system;
- make the abstract tangible, enabling students of all abilities to access and model abstract concepts that would otherwise be difficult to visualise;”
“Interacting with a virtual world is also shown to create an emotional engagement in the subject matter which not only motivates the student but also enhances their knowledge retention. The interactivity also encourages independence, allowing students to take the lead in their learning and enabling them to access content at their own pace. For example, year 12 geography students could visit and compare landforms around the world identifying key geographical features as part of their Coastal system and landscapes topic as opposed to memorising lists from a text.”
“Communication skills are not explicitly taught in most lessons but rather through opportunities to present to the class or through class discussion. This year, opportunities to develop these skills have been limited owing to the pandemic. It has been apparent that the limited social interaction has led to a lack of confidence with many of our students. There are many communication and team building applications that can be utilised to encourage these sorts of skills in a stress free environment. For example ‘Keep talking and nobody explodes’, a bomb diffusing exercise where one team member is immersed and needs to communicate with the team what is in front of them in order for them to work together to complete their task. Which offers an informal way to encourage teamwork and communication.”
“As VR in education becomes more mainstream, there will be opportunities to set up virtual classrooms with other schools in applications like Engage where pupils could practice their language skills directly with foreign pupils or meet their partner in advance of an international exchange.”
“Students will be able to experience the impossible by circumnavigating the Earth in a lesson or travelling back in time. This is more than novelty as it can impart context to a subject - allow students to experience events sequentially or allow comparisons of geographical features in-situ.”
“4.1.3 Alternative learning style
For those pupils with Special Educational Needs, a more visual and interactive approach to subjects will make these much more accessible to them. It is our intention to use VR to support booster groups at KS3. These learners need alternative ways of learning having fallen behind through inabilities to access mainstream lessons in traditional ways.”
“4.3.1. Cause and effect
VR will enable us to compare changes over time within the course of a lesson. Students could be immersed in a succession of 360 historical re-enactments to create a chronological narrative of events leading to critical moments in history, such as events leading to the gunpowder plot or WWII.”
“4.4.2. Allow girls to experience content development
The Curiious creator software will allow students to develop their own 360 content with other ‘free apps’ enabling coding for VR. This is particularly important for a girls’ school given the current gender bias in software development, where according to a global software developer survey in 2020, female developers account for only eight percent of respondents.”
In addition to these and many others, Isabelle also liaised with subject specialists to create a table of specific uses, links and target groups for the equipment and software for various subjects, skills and clubs.
We are always impressed when the efficacy of a project has been well researched. As well as many links to educational research, the school also undertook a trial of the equipment to assess it first hand…
“An initial expression of interest survey conducted at BHGS suggests the headsets would be in high demand and we have founded a working group which will continue to explore the potential for VR within their respective subjects and share best practice.”
“Two weeks commencing 7th June 2021, we will be trialling a VR headset for further investigation of the potential uses and subject specific applications. The selected Pico headsets are not restricted to content from a single developer allowing flexibility in selecting and uploading applications. This also provides insurance against obsolescence should an application be discontinued and ensures that all subjects can benefit from their introduction.”
Isabelle also explained the very wide range of students who would benefit from the equipment, not just in lessons but also in clubs, across enrichment groups and for outside groups such as primary and consortium schools. She took the time to give examples of how these pupils would benefit eg:
”VR could also be used to inspire and excite pupils within the subject-specific taster visits. The pupils could be taken to far away places such as walking on the moon to observe the shadows on the Earth and how day and night works or practice mathematical problems by solving puzzles to escape a room. The pupils could also experience content produced by our current pupils showing places they might visit at secondary school or the work that they produce. ”
Finally, we were impressed that 22 teachers were to be specifically trained in the use of VR and then this training extended to all staff as VR use increases. These trained teachers will continue to enhance learning through VR use and pass on their skills for the rest of their careers.
A great Effective Learning project “sold” by a well-organised and informative application. We look forward to perhaps sampling the technology first-hand once it is up and running and pandemic restrictions allow.
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