Sele to see spectacular science in action
We are very pleased to award The Sele School a grant for their A level and GCSE students to attend the (online) Science in Action events.
Trips and one-off events are hard to pass through our award criteria as there is always the question of depth of benefit to learning and motivation and longevity of any such benefit after the “Wow” event is over. The best way (in our opinion) to address these concerns is to show how previous events have affected students’ attainment and interest in the subject. Another, is to demonstrate pupils’ enthusiasm for the event as Laura Morgan (Head of Science) did in her application:
“Having run a successful trip to see Lord Robert Winston last year (Oct 2019) with our Year 9, we saw a dramatic rise in the number of these students opting for Triple Science. When these students were interviewed on their reasoning, they expressed their desire to continue their Science education beyond school and work in the Scientific field (largely medicine due to the nature of the talk, but some also in research). This paired with the student voice forms from the trip showed that this experience, which allowed students to listen to and question to successful people in the industry, highlighted how important Science is when considering their career, and has inspired to our current Year 10 cohort.
In 2015 and 2016 GCSE and A level students attended the Science Live event (which again had several inspirational speakers). One of the most noticeable was Dr Maggie Aderin Pocock, who is a Space Scientist. One of our Year 11 students was so inspired by her speech he switched his A-Level choices from Drama and English to Physics Chemistry and Maths and is now at Keele University studying Astrophysics and Maths. Of the same cohort came a young lady who was focused on Mathematics and switched her University application to Forensic Science having heard these passionate Scientists speak.
The Science in Action events provide the opportunity for our students to still benefit from hearing inspirational speakers, despite the current pandemic that has left their faith in education shaken. “
Laura also explained some specific learning benefits of the trip:
“A unique benefit to these sessions is that GCSE and A-Level students will also be guided through an exam preparation session which, due to lockdown many of our students feel incredibly anxious about. I feel this is invaluable to our student's success. Another benefit to this is that each GCSE student will receive a revision guide. As a department we feel it is important to provide these resources for our students many of whom are from disadvantaged homes. All year 11's had a revision guide for the academic year 2019-2020 funded by the Faculty. As these student's time at school was cut short, and due to dwindling faculty budget, it has not been possible to regain these resources and such our current Year 11 cohort are currently without.”
The Reach Free School get their pupils more than a bit fit!
We were very pleased to award The Reach Free School an award to buy a class set of fitness trackers. Matt Sutton (Head of PE) explained how they would be used and their benefits:
“We will be using the trackers in lessons to try and develop understanding of a variety of different exercise types and the effect they can have on their bodies. By using trackers it allows the fitness and physical activity lessons to come alive and support pupils making healthy life choices while having personal feedback on their activity levels within lesson. The bands could be used throughout the key stages at the school and by having a full class set it allows us to be able to clean between uses and reduce pupils sharing equipment.”
Matt went on to explain how especially beneficial the trackers will be during the pandemic…
“The project will benefit pupils reengaging with physical activity after a possible period of inactivity during time away from school. It will also support pupils through a period where contact sports cannot be played in schools therefore engaging pupils in outside the box lessons and showing them the positive effects these activities have on there well being will be vital to improving their overall physical and mental health. “
…and into the future…
“The experience of tracking their progress will also allow pupils to have a healthy relationship with movement, understanding how lifestyle choices can positively affect their day to day lives post lock down.”
Highfield pen a strong maths application.
We were pleased to award The Highfield School an award to buy seven pen tablets for maths staff to use in the classroom and when marking online work. As Abby Smith (Head of Mathematics) explained:
“This would give us the ability to be able to write on our PowerPoints and whiteboards whilst being able to socially distance in the current circumstances and allowing us to move around the room with our students and edit the front screen (in regular circumstances) to be able to adjust our teaching as we go.
They will also help us to be able to feedback to students in a safe way where we can annotate the work they have completed. Writing feedback for Maths can be more challenging for online work due to the requirement to regularly write symbols, which this would therefore make feedback of a higher quality for online work when we can do so efficiently. Once students have received high quality feedback they will develop their understanding of a topic.
This will help to engage all of our students but especially those lower ability students who need motivation to continue. In particular, if they are receiving high quality feedback regularly, they have a starting point of how to keep progressing.”
Batchwood adopt the concrete, pictorial and abstract approach to maths.
We were very happy to grant Batchwood their second award this year, this time for a range of CPA maths equipment (inc. Numicon systems) and training.
In another well structured, convincingly argued application, Katharine Lane (TA/Interventions Provider) first explained her school’s need:
“As a person-centred SEMH institution, Batchwood School aims to be pioneering and creative in its pedagogical and curriculum approach. Staff aim to be research-led and take new developments from a range of settings and evaluate whether they could have a positive impact in our setting.
… The academic year 2020-21 sees the school expand to three-form entry, and the profiles of this new cohort are particularly complex or profound. Many have exceptionally low prior Maths attainment and are working at KS1.”
Then Katharine described their proposed solution and its strengths:
“In particular, the Maths department has been exploring the Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract [CPA] approach to building numeracy skills and Maths confidence. This pedagogical approach has thus far chiefly been the preserve of KS1 and 2 educators, but we feel that it would have great applicability for our students.
Developed by educational psychologists, the principle which underpins the CPA theory is to begin exploring topics using physical and visual aids, before exploring ideas at an abstract level (i.e. written sums/‘traditional’ Maths). Impact studies indicate that this methodology is highly successful, with students able to develop genuine understanding of concepts (rather than simply ‘parrot’ rote learnt sequences such as times table lists). Moreover, students engage more enthusiastically within the lessons, as numeracy suddenly becomes more ‘real world’ or relatable.”
For our SEMH setting a more sensory, less memorisation-heavy methodology may be particularly beneficial. Within our pupil body there is great diversity of needs, but the prevalence of autism means that the kinaesthetic element of the CPA approach e.g. tactile magnetic numbers, are likely to help scaffold students towards seeing how they could use their different cognitive strengths to solve more advanced Maths independently. Likewise, many of our pupils have diagnoses of ADHD and as this condition inhibits the brain’s memorisation capacity, a pedagogy which does not resort to rote learning, but instead builds understanding should be highly beneficial.”
And, to strengthen her bid further, Katharine focussed in on the strengths of the specific resources they were applying for e.g:
“We have chosen to base our pilot on the Numicon programme because this is particularly well suited to learners with SEND (the Break Barriers resources have been developed specifically for this purpose), and we have been in contact with another non-mainstream secondary phase school which has integrated Numicon within its teaching philosophy and seen positive results (pupil progress accelerated).”
Batchwood secure a certificate to address Dyslexia
We were delighted to award Batchwood School an award to help fund a staff member to take a Postgraduate Certificate in Specialist Assessment for a Specific Learning Difficulty: Dyslexia, at Canterbury Christ Church University.
We love to support effective and quickly applied staff training as the benefits to pupils last for an entire career and some/all of the training can often be passed on to other staff. Katharine Lane (Teaching Assistant/Interventions Provider) explained that all Batchwood students have SEND and consequently, a very large percentage join them with low prior attainment…
“With the aim of accelerating progress, and reducing the ‘learning gap’, a multi-faceted new literacy strategy has been developed…
A new staff member has been employed to draft and deliver most of this intervention work, with the planned introduction of a paired reading scheme, oral language interventions, synthetics phonics-based schemes of work, and handwriting development. In 2019-20, less than a dozen pupils benefitted from consistent intervention work, but the intention is that from September a minimum of 45% of students will receive targeted support beyond the English classroom.”
Katharine argued that by studying for the Post-graduate certificate, this member of staff…
“…will be better equipped to lead and inspire whole school adjustments to remove potential barriers to learning, creating a literacy-prioritizing educational atmosphere [programme outcomes include themes such as the role of ICT and the social and emotional impact of dyslexia]. It is hoped that the formal nature of the qualification should inspire confidence from staff in departments which traditionally consider literacy beyond their remit. Hence, it will support the literacy strategy to be adopted in practice, rather than just in theory.”
It’s always essential to take a school’s particular students into account and Katharine further explained:
“…she would be able to provide both formal and informal 'in-house' diagnostic assessments of students' learning difficulties. In this sense, she will be able not only to write the reports which the exam boards require to make the exam access arrangements, but also more likely to spot literacy difficulties across the pupil body. As all Batchwood’s students have SEND, there is concern that some students are likely to suffer from dyslexia or other literacy difficulties which have gone unnoticed because of more ‘severe’ presentations of other barriers to learning e.g. anxiety or autism. Research indicates that the earlier the intervention the greater the efficacy, and the less likely for further morbidities to occur (e.g. depression).”
Finally, to well and truly tick the “committed to the project” box, Katharine told us the staff member was:
“willing to self-fund the remainder of the fees if further grant funding cannot be obtained by the school.”
Presdales have their textiles bid all sewn up.
We were very pleased to grant Presdales School their second award in a bid closely linked to their EL project. * Their STEM bid again focussed on textiles, this time, the purchase of 2 basic and 2 more advanced electronic sewing machines. Nikki Albone (Revenue Generation Coordinator) began by explaining the difficulties of running thriving D+T subjects:
“Due to the expense of equipment and increased teaching expense for small class sizes Design & Technology is no longer available in many schools. Presdales School however, prides itself in its provision of a diverse range of subjects under the D&T umbrella including Product Design, Graphics, Food & Nutrition and Fashion & Textiles (run in two class-rooms).”
She added to previous arguments about the benefits of practical subjects to struggling pupils by adding:
“However, these subjects also hold significant importance and appeal to Presdales’ more gifted students, providing them with the ability to develop projects using cross-curricular skills that engage design, construction and engineering theories learned within Maths, Computing and The Sciences. The D&T subjects are the stepping-stones to Engineering within Higher Education and the workplace. Whilst not a Presdales student there is first-hand knowledge of a student who studied Textiles Tech along with other STEM subjects to enter an Engineering Degree and is moving into a Space Defence career this year.”
Nikki then took time to explain the specific benefits of her project e.g.:
"… offer an extensive range of stitches and features, such as buttonholes and decorative stitching, thereby giving our students the ability to improve the quality of their final products and access higher exam grades. This is a 100% capital investment and will provide a significant asset to the school for many years.
At KS4 & 5 the importance of access to current machines, which provide a wide range of functions is increased, enabling students to produce work to a level that provides access to higher grades at AO2 of both the GCSE and A-level Design Textiles specifications.”
* We are more than happy to consider linked bids, where one project enhances the effectiveness of another, either in the same subject area or cross curricular. “Joined up thinking” is never a bad idea.
We had some lovely feedback about this and other awards Presdales have received from us over the years which was written up in their Press Tales newsletter. Here's a snippet and the photos are included above:
"Following three recent applications Edufund have supported us once again with grants for four new sewing machines and a class set of dressmaking dummies. This is of great significance to Presdales with student numbers in Textiles Tech increasing and ours being the only school in the local area to offer the subject at A-Level."
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