Birchwood screen the best work
We were very pleased to give our first award to Birchwood School (Bishops Stortford) for 12 visualisers to be used in science.
Birchwood are very keen to use the visualisers to give whole class feedback on excellent examples of student work, both to show best practice and to give recognition to student’s work and effort. As Matthew Briscoe, Head of Science, wrote:
Each class will be provided with an opportunity to enhance the quality of their own work and their performance in examinations through the ability to see and share best practice and answers in a quick and easy way in lessons.
“Through the continuation of the new feedback policy across the faculty, the staff will be able to share evidence of outstanding work in assessments and home learning tasks to the rest of the cohort.
It will enable the faculty staff to push those more reticent learners to improve their technique in examinations to improve school outcomes in STEM.”
The application was strengthened due to this cross-over with Effective Learning and we hope the department finds many other uses for the visualisers such as demonstrating experiments etc.
Watford Girls explore new sports
We were very pleased to award Watford Grammar School for Girls a PE award to purchase equipment for a range of new sports including water polo, tchoukball and stoolball.
Katie Holes, Director of Sport, made a very good case for introducing the new sports:
"During KS3 our students cover a range of more traditional sporting activities, as they move into KS4 we want to encourage continued participation but at aware that not all students are motivated by the sports previously covered. Each term we offer students a selection of different sports which they can opt into and follow for 6 weeks.
Having the equipment to cover a new range of alternative sports will enable students to try something different, which may engage them in participating in this sport further, both in and outside of school.
It will also be beneficial to those students who already participate in sport regularly. These activities will allow students to be challenged by learning to transfer the skills learnt in similar games into new ones. For example, stoolball is a combination of cricket and rounders, waterpolo is an invasion game but in a very different environment and tchoukball is also an invasion game but has very different rules to most others.”
We were very keen to support this bid as the novelty and excitement of the new sports will encourage more girls to participate fully in physical activity and the equipment should continue to provide benefits for many cohorts to come.
Presdales prevail with a precision pipette bid
We were pleased to award Presdales School a class set of industry-standard micropipettes in two sizes. The bid followed a visit by their biology teachers and a technician to the Amgen Biotechnology Experience which also included a three-week, free loan of research-grade lab materials and linked teacher and student guides.
Staff were so inspired by the opportunities the higher grade equipment presented, they wished to be able to continue to carry out the advanced practicals beyond the loan period. As Nikki Albone, Revenue Generation Coordinator wrote, the equipment would:
"…make full use of this training. This equipment is key to the teaching and learning of modern and commercial Biology. It would be used on a regular basis and, with the diversity of practicals their use supports, this equipment is a good long-term investment for the department as it be useful whatever curriculum changes may be made.”
This grade of equipment is usually prohibitively expensive for schools but Nikki managed to catch an offer price and then further negotiate a reduction for her school. The application made a strong case for the specialised pipettes, explaining that it will help staff capitalise on the free training and written resources and help develop many science skills across the key stages, for example:
- “Many students struggle with unit conversions and with understanding the value and magnitude of such small lengths and volumes (e.g. micrometres and microliters). The use of micropipettes will allow students to visualize the small quantities of such lengths and volumes and compare them to more familiar units such as millilitres and centimetres cubed.
- This is also applicable to Physics, Chemistry, and Maths as unit conversions and a strong grasp of the magnitude of units is important in these subjects as well
- Use of micropipettes at the KS4 level to carry out simple biotechnology activities such as DNA fingerprinting will nurture interested in A-Level Biology
- Introducing students to industrial standard procedures to better understand how science is used outside of the classroom (e.g. medical treatment, medical diagnosis, research, forensic sciences, etc.)
- Introduction to industrial standard equipment so students can practise competency”
(Our sixth form biologists) found this new experience very exciting and engaging and unfortunately very topical. Our teachers have commented that they didn't get their hands on this sort of equipment until either Uni or when they entered the workplace. With fun experiments we are extending their use through all key stages.
Rickmansworth turn up the heat in technology
We were very pleased to help Rickmansworth School expand their Food Technology offering by awarding them a grant for six new cookers. Although we do not have the funds available to help schools buy/replace core equipment (or class sets of text books – see How We Select Successful Bids), we do try to facilitate expansion of existing courses/facilities where we can. The school are currently scoring in the top echelon of Food Technology results despite relying on just 4 fully functional cookers.
Rafferty Gunn, Head of PE and Technology, succinctly argued the case for the Food Technology expansion:
1. Allow more classes to study food technology
2. Allow primary schools links to use facilities
3. Provide extracurricular usage for all years
4. Enrichment opportunities for sixth formers
5. Allows Ks4/5 the opportunity to do GCSE and A-Level food technology
Barnwell make a big bang with Kerboodle
Barnwell school have made a successful, two-pronged bid for STEM. Firstly, we have awarded them a grant for an additional Lego Mindstorms kit and a small sum to help their students attend a hard-fought place in the National Big Bang finals in Birmingham *.
As Sophie Tyler, Assistant STEM Coordinator explained:
“The Big Bang trip will provide an experience that the students would not otherwise receive. They will see exhibits from major engineering, medical and research organisations, interact with professionals from across the STEM subjects and listen to talks by inspirational people.”
The second major strand of the bid was to fund an online learning platform purchase for KS5 in Science. Sophie gave lots of reasons for their choice of project:
“…introduce activities which support the curriculum and ensure that the key objectives of the course can be delivered. Students are also able to access texts and resources online, and assessments are also provided. This would allow training teachers or teachers new to A level to be able to deliver A level lessons more successfully in the future. The school changed from the Edexcel course to the AQA course for our current year 12 cohort, so the year 12 teachers are currently writing lessons or searching for materials to use, which is very time consuming. The Kerboodle resource would improve the quality of learning for the students and enable teaching staff to invest more time in supporting students to close gaps in learning.”
*Please be aware that we are often reticent in awarding money for trips as we think there are often, more long-lasting, directly educational/effective learning benefits to be derived from other types of project. In this case, the trip contribution was a small part of the bid, had the potential for pushing obvious high-achievers and would be massively motivational for pupils following a worthwhile, curriculum-linked activity.
Table tennis times two for Watford Boys
We are pleased to award Watford Boys Grammar school funds to buy two indoor table tennis tables plus all the required equipment.
There is great demand for the sport at Watford Boys and the tables will help it be delivered in core PE lessons in all years as well as in 3-4 open sessions each week which attracts about 50 boys. The school also runs teams at various levels for which they bring in an outside coach and the tables will be available for outside lettings – benefitting the community and bringing in income for the school.
Giles Wallis, Head of Sport, further strengthened his application by explaining:
“The school has a rich heritage in table tennis, with former Team GB player Will Maybanks being a former pupil. We know from speaking to our students that table tennis is a sport they would like to play more of, and we would love to be able to support future top table tennis players.
Table tennis is a fantastic sport from an accessibility perspective and complements our three main sports (rugby, cricket and hockey). Boys who are disengaged from team/collision sports, for any of a number of reasons, find table tennis far easier to participate in. It can provide a route into participation in sport where they would otherwise totally disengage, bringing them all the physical and mental benefits that sport provides.”