Secondary Award Winners

Over £230,000 donated to Hertfordshire Secondary Schools since January 2018
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The Reach tee up a virtually irresistible bid

We were very happy to award The Reach Free School a grant to purchase some excellent science resources to help bring the subject alive, particularly for EAL (25% of pupils), SEN and disengaged students.  Sushil Rishiraj (Head of Science) sourced some great practical equipment as well as some highly illustrated science dictionaries.  The practical equipment included structure and bonding class kits and sets of Virtuali Tee tee shirts which utilise AR to show the body’s organs, circulatory system etc whilst pupils are wearing them.

Sushil made a strong case for each element of his bid:

The Virtuali-Tee takes Science to a new dimension enabling our pupils to learn about the human body...on a human body. With beautifully designed augmented reality and amazing 3D learning experiences it will allow out pupils to explore the circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems with fully immersive 360 video. There is also a holographic guide to the body, which navigates and talks you through the anatomy and physiological systems in the body, describing processes such as the Circulatory system in detail using Scientific literacy. This interactive and novel way of seeing inside the body is a submersive experience and will no doubt engage and allow pupils to visualise concepts which we cant see with the naked eye. To support EAL pupils it is also available in 11 different languages… This set of resources will also work wonders within our sessions with our local primary school in which we can hook them into the love of learning and the wonder of Science.

Unfortunately, we do not have the budget to award grants for class sets of core text books to schools, as vital as we know these are.  However, Sushil made a good case for the dictionaries, explaining why and how they would promote effective learning not only in the subject but across the school:

“There are feature panels on key topics such as electricity, classification, metals, and the periodic table, all fully supported by 2-colour diagrams and illustrations. Clear, accessible definitions and cross referencing give full clarity to complex scientific entries.

All of these features build into ensuring our pupils yes can spell all key words but more so be able to define and apply terminology within work and longer style questioning. This would benefit every pupil in the school and would not just be beneficial to Science but to every subject taught. Improving the literacy of our pupils is paramount in Science as there are many words they will not use elsewhere within the curriculum. Having Science specific dictionaries that are laid out both pictorally and with the required definitions will be hugely beneficial to every pupil but also including our EAL/SEN groups too.”

And finally, the case for kinaesthetic learning of a complex area:

“Fundamental teaching in Chemistry is the structure of an atom, leading into the subatomic particles and how they interact to form what they do. This concept is extremely difficult for most pupils and as much we can use sweets or other models within lessons to have a set of designed and fit for purpose models that can be used and adapted would be amazing. Using the Atomic Structures and Bonding model, students can explore (individually and in groups) atomic structure with enough components to build two atoms up to Atomic number 20 (i.e. calcium).”

Batchwood revert to type to promote a host of skills

We were very pleased to award Batchwood School a grant to purchase software and licence to teach typing skills to pupils.  Batchwood School is an SEMH (social, emotional and mental health) school and the only such school in Hertfordshire which admits secondary aged girls.  Katherine Lane (TA and Interventions Coordinator) explained the project:

“…we intend to further develop the breadth of our curriculum by introducing typing to year 8’s timetables. Second, we intend to increase the effectiveness of our SEND and literacy-needs provision by incorporating use of this software as part of the individual interventions provided.

Within the scope of this project is the intention to enter every year 8 pupil for Level 1 and 2 Ofqual certified qualifications in order to ensure that their learning is formally recognised.”

Touch typing tuition had a period of unpopularity with the demise of typing pools etc. but the skill is extremely useful in the modern era.   As Katherine explained:

“…by ensuring every student has acquired touch typing skills before they leave school we will better prepare them not only for a range of employment options, but also to engage actively and confidently in society. Whether an adult needs to type out a letter, send an email, or complete an online bank application, the more fluent they are with a keyboard and word processing, the better equipped they are to function independently.”

However, what really strengthened the bid were two other aspects of the program:

“In depth research has encouraged us to choose Touch Type Read and Spell as the typing software we pilot because it is multisensory and has been approved by the British Dyslexia Association. The multisensory nature of the programme means that it will allow students with SEND to participate on an equal footing to other learners. Furthermore, the way in which the programme teaches typing is phonics-based (Orton-Gillingham-based approach) which means that all students, but particularly those with Specific Learning Difficulties such as dyslexia, should improve the accuracy of their spelling at the same time as they develop the new skill of touch typing.

Touch Type Read and Spell also features specific STEM subject modules. As students learn to touch type they are exposed to Maths and Science vocabulary. Hence it is hoped that the introduction of this software will increase pupil progress in these subject areas by enhancing familiarity with curriculum content and developing subject-specific vocabulary (knowledge and spelling accuracy).”

The program allows teachers to set up their own typing exercises so any vocabulary from any subject can be practised in conjunction with learning to touch-type.  The listen-only option can be used for helping spelling and the listen-and-see option helps reinforce the vocabulary whilst all three VAK modalities are engaged.

Nobel gets VEXed at Robotic Competition

We were very pleased to grant Nobel School an award to purchase a new VEX V5 Competition Super Kit.  The VEX robot competitions are a fantastic way to engage and train boys and girls in STEM activities and also to develop social skills and confidence due to their teamwork criteria.  During a competition, teams have to negotiate with other school teams to work in partnership in one or more rounds of the event.  We have helped a number of schools in Hertfordshire set up and/or expand their robotics clubs over the years and have been very impressed with the high level of friendly competition and help between schools.

As Bob Lovelock (Director of Art, D + T) explained:

“Having a new style kit will encourage younger students to take part - we promote the club in assemblies. The younger years will be able to learn from the older students and taught how to problem solve, passing on their skills with regard to coding and engineering mechanisms.”

“Being part of a small but focussed club would also help them develop their interpersonal skills which would help build confidence and esteem.”

Bob also made a strong case for the relevance of the skills the project would provide:

“Stevenage is still a traditional blue-collar town with many opportunities for careers in engineering, aerospace, electronics and computers. Being part of this club would provide students with the opportunity to develop some skills and experience in this area and would help them with long-term career prospects.”

Sele students see science subjects screened to a significant size

We were happy to kick off our reopening of secondary minor awards with a grant to Sele School for 5 visualisers.

We are big fans of formative assessment/feedback as a method of making learning more effective.  Visualisers make this technique possible for an entire class or more.  As Laura Morgan, Head of Science, explained:

…there is a huge emphasis on independent learning and embedding knowledge. With this in mind the schools teaching style has shifted to largely ramped worksheets - feedback to the class would be much smoother with the use of visualisers but the school’s budget does not extend to this. The current situation re schools’ partial closure would also make distant learning easier with the school look at teaching in the hall which has no white boards, visualiser feedback would be ideal.

As the visualisers are primarily for the science department, they will also extremely useful for all manner of demonstrations and experiments.  However, as we much prefer a project’s Effective Learning benefits to be disseminated across the school, we were glad to read…

Whilst these will be purchased for the use of the Science faculty, as currently schools have partial closure with the idea to potentially bring back Year 10/12, use of visualisers in larger rooms without white boards will see feedback given more clearly across all faculties.

19/20 Secondary Major Awards ***WINNER*** Bishop Hatfield Girls' School (PE)

We were delighted to name Bishop Hatfield Girls’ School the Winner of the 2019/20 Major Award. 

Isabelle Fautrero-Sayer (School Development Officer) coordinated an excellent bid for  an England Cricket Board (ECB) approved training and coaching pitch, cage, specialist equipment and skilled teacher-training in cricket coaching.

Introducing a new skill or subject to a school is always a strong foundation for a bid to us so the application was off to a good start.  Isabelle successfully addressed the majority of the criteria we use to assess the bids.    To begin with, she made sure to detail the wide range of pupils both in and outside of school who would benefit:

Should we secure this funding, we will approach local community cricket clubs to offer our facilities. We would also be able to offer the use of our facilities to the 4 feeder primary schools that are within walking distance of our grounds.  Cricket could be run by them as an additional option during summer months. We could also involve our Sports Leaders to help with these

We have already made contact with the Hertfordshire branch of ‘This Girl Can’ (the campaign developed by Sports England) to offer an annual Parent/Daughter cricket match session as part of their June programme to get girls/women active and they are looking forward to getting a lot of local girls involved in this event.

With a pitch suitable for both junior and senior games available in Hatfield, the girls and women teams of the closest cricket clubs (such as St Albans and Knebworth) will be able to use our facilities in the evening and at weekends for training or matches. This will grow the interest in the game amongst local girls and our pupils.

We have also been contacted by Herts Cricket who want to harness our project to increase participation in girls cricket at secondary school level and are willing to providing some free teacher resources and online support, organise some Year 8 & 10 team competitions in the summer and help us with some potential cricket leadership and coaching opportunities in 2020/21.

The academic need and benefits were also emphasised e.g:

Successfully introduce Cricket into the KS3 & 4 curriculum (up to competing standards) and as an enrichment club with a view to helping pupils achieve higher practical grades at GCSE level and uncover talent.

The Department of Education has removed rounders from the list of accepted GCSE PE activities, and therefore the school proposes to introduce cricket as a team sport.

Details of the benefits to specific groups of pupils were also given e.g (my bullets for quotations from the application).

  • Provide pupils from all backgrounds and abilities with equal opportunities to try and participate in Cricket
  • With 13.4% of KS3 girls classed as Pupil Premium and 20.4% in KS4, we also believe that it is important to consider that disadvantaged students may not receive the same opportunities as others to take up, practise and excel at a sport. 
  • 19.5% of our pupils are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic origins where cricket plays a significant part of their culture.
  • Motivate girls to adopt a regular active lifestyle to carry into their adult lives
  • Equal opportunities for girls to participate and excel in a male dominated sport
  • We know we have some enthusiastic cricketers who belong to local clubs including two U13 and U15 Hertfordshire County players in Years 9 and 10. At present, they have not played Cricket at school due to lack of equipment.

We were also told of the wider range of benefits eg:

We also would like to encourage them to explore additional roles other than performance, including coaching and/or official roles such as umpires.

We currently have 70 pupils taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze and Silver Awards in our school. We run the scheme every year and strive to make it accessible to as many students as possible. Offering cricket as an after-school club will allow a wider range of girls to address the physical part of the four sections that they are required to complete. It will make it easier for families to support their daughters in taking up this valuable scheme as the club will run on site, alleviating transport issues for working parents.

We are currently seeing increasing pressure on our resources to deal with the mental health of the young people under our care. More options to increase their physical activity, encouraging them to be ambitious in their life choices and to believe in their worth (‘This Girl Can’) will help the girls manage their own stress level, which in turn benefits our 110 members of staff and their own wellbeing.

There were other elements that helped this bid win, some of which were introduced or expanded upon in the extension form.  eg

We have been in discussions with Hertfordshire Cricket who highlighted that Hatfield is one of the only major towns in Hertfordshire that has not got a cricket club. Hatfield’s demographics with a large BAME population and a rise in minority ethnic groups make it an ideal candidate for positioning our school as a potential cricket ‘hub’ for the area.

Our congratulations to BHGS – we can’t wait to get some feedback and photos of the new cricketers in action once the current situation is over.

19/20 Secondary Major Awards: Highly Commended: Ashlyns School (PE)

We were very pleased to award Ashlyns School (Berkhamsted) the second of our two Highly Commended Awards (£5,000) towards building a new long jump pit.

Interestingly, Ashlyns were one of several schools to put in a Major bid for a new or refurbished long jump pit.  All those schools put in strong bids with lots of similar arguments but Ashlyns managed to nose ahead in some areas.  It’s worth noting here that although we may see potential benefits of any project, if those benefits aren’t addressed in the application, we can’t give them any weight.

Some strengths of Ashlyn’s application are that they focussed on the benefit to their Sports Leaders and the pupils they would help.

“Ashlyns School was awarded Leadership Academy Status by Sports Leaders UK and named their Academy of the Year 2017. Academy status recognises the high commitment the school places on developing leadership within the school community. Our successful programme comprises Sports Leaders from every year group; they host sport festivals, visit local primary schools to offer specialist PE lessons and help to run primary school sports days.”

Ashlyns also brought the benefits to other parties, including staff into their argument…

“The new long jump pit would also help to engage the local primary schools in athletics, as we regularly work with our four linked primary schools to deliver sports festivals with our Sports Leaders. Therefore, this facility would also positively impact the delivery of primary PE lessons and physical activity opportunities in the wider local community.

Some of our PE Teachers are also wishing to engage in additional athletics coaching qualifications and this long jump pit would allow them to apply their learnt qualifications, thus improving the entire athletics standards and opportunities for both staff and students.”

John Preston (Head of PE) took full advantage of the extension form to enhance his existing arguments and put forward others e.g:

“The main aim of this facility is to boost the participation rates in all year groups within the summer months. Having this facility would provide an avenue into a sporting habit for life through the means of athletics. It would aid our disadvantaged students (12.6%) by allowing them to try other sports based around individual performance not team sports, which often leads them to becoming disaffected with PE. It would also help our students who have additional needs (15%) as sometimes these students do not socialise well in groups and will allow them to work on their own technique and focus on their own performance.

The all-weather lanes could also be used by other departments and subjects such as maths by calculating average speed and velocity, Biology by looking at anatomy and physiology, Physics by focusing on the energy, forces and bio-mechanics, which would make other lessons more interesting and engaging and give them real life applications of the knowledge being assimilated.”

As always, we were disappointed not to be able to award all the excellent and often, passionate bids the full amount, but with written assurances that the project’s additional funding was in place, we were pleased to at least be able to make a substantial contribution towards Ashlyns’ new long jump pit.

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