Captain Webb Primary School, Telford (III)

| June 5, 2009 | 13 Comments 

screenshot019The staff at Captain Webb Primary,  and the visiting colleagues from Coalbrookdale and Ironbridge Cof E Primary, are equally as enthusiatic as their pupils, and very perceptive, picking up on so many ideas! All of the subliminal, “learning rather than teaching” methods (as somebody called it here today).

One group even wrote notes (below) on some of the elements they picked up, and called it “It’s NOT about the game”. I like that title, as I often think people think “Oh. You’re the games bloke!”

NO! And, how refreshing when folk become focussed on the classroom management, social etiquette, confidence and “passion to write, create and so much more” bits

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The large art work and displays at Captain Webb Primary School was also impressive. The whole visit  for us was a delight. 

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Thank you to Jessie Guptha, headteacher, Chris Enright, and their colleagues for a memorable couple of days. Well done, for being a school who are already FLYING yet are still up for taking our challenges and going further still.

Here are one group’s notes on the non-game elements:

It’s not about the game



Word of the day i.e. cautiously

Technique of the coffee cup to extend children’s talking

Builds anticipation by repeating actions and phrases i.e. Mr Walker and flute and do you want to go for a walk DO YOU WANT TO GO FOR A WALK!!

Children left in suspense at the end of the lesson

There is no right or wrong answer places children at their ease and encourages

Less emphasis on spelling to ensure creativity rather than safety i.e. Labrador rather than dog 

Subtle use of undertones i.e. isn’t your handwriting lovely although the children will subconsciously absorb this not over emphasised to stop creativity.

No hands up, and dropping your idea in, encourages maturity and respect for others

Techniques used encourage those often defined as “less able” to achieve and perhaps show themselves in a different light

More movement and quicker pace for the younger children to keep them engaged and focused

Actions and speech gimmicks to promote and aid the use of tech vocabulary

The reassurance that it is fine to use others ideas as long as they are worked on, polished up, sparkled and tarted up, would support a lot of children

Positive reinforcement to encourage good behaviour i.e. your teacher will be able to take you on visits and make you laugh because you know when to stop.

The encouragement for teachers to write with the children acts as the best role model possible.

Visual moving imagery with sound is an extremely powerful tool (agreed it’s not the game) to aid writing but the most powerful tool is in fact the facilitator

Did I say “flying” earlier? At a school called Captain Webb, we should have said “swimming”!


screenshot011Victorian Britain was full of pioneers like Brunel, daredevils like Houdini and even madmen.

But in 1875 it was a Shropshire lad who attracted the attention of the British Empire – for being the first man to swim the English Channel.

At 10.41am on Wednesday 25th August 1875, Captain Matthew Webb picked himself out of the choppy waters of the English Channel and made his way onto dry land – French soil.

Almost 22 hours earlier he had entered the channel at Dover and begun swimming.

As the first man to swim the channel, Webb became an instant celebrity and public hero overnight. Everywhere he went, crowds turned out to welcome him.

screenshot012There is a HUGE statue of Webb, outside the school entrance.

Webb was born in the mining village of Dawley, where the school is located, on 19th January 1848, one of eight children of a local doctor.

At the age of 12 Webb left home to train as a merchant seaman, learning his trade for two years before going to sea.

It wasn’t long before his swimming skills – at a time when most sailors couldn’t swim – began to attract attention.

In mid-Atlantic he once jumped overboard to save a colleague who had fallen into the water – a highly dangerous feat. He didn’t find the missing man, but was awarded £100 – then a princely sum – for risking his life.

In 1873 Webb read an account of a failed attempt to swim the channel by J.B. Johnson, a racing swimmer and it changed his life.

He quit his job as captain of the steamship Emerald and lodged in London, where he began to train. To start with he built up his stamina at Lambeth Baths, but as soon as he could he was practising in the cold waters of the Thames and the English Channel.

Finally, in August 1875, it was time for Webb to take the plunge – but disaster struck.

Seven hours into his first attempt a violent storm blew up and he had to abandon the attempt.

Twelve days later he was ready to try again. Backed by a flotilla of three boats, he set out again, swimming breat stroke into the ebb tide, which carried him out to sea.

Eight hours into the swim, Webb was stung by a jellyfish, but a does of brandy helped him continue. But dawn saw him fighting the tide as he attempted to reach Cap Gris Nez on the French side of the channel.

For five hours he swam along the coast, waiting for the tide to abate and becoming increasing desperate. Eventually the tide eased and an exhausted Webb was able to make landfall at Calais. He’d swum 39 miles.

Webb never returned to a life at sea, and made a good living as an exhibition swimmer, at the same time attempting the odd race against other daredevil swimmers – and doing some circus-style stunts that usually involved him staying in water for a very long time.

He married Madelaine Kate Chaddock in 1880, but it wasn’t long before he was pushing the boundaries again.

His next stunt was to be a truly dangerous swim across the rapids at Niagra Falls – a feat many considered suicidal.

At 4.25pm on 24th July 1883, he jumped into the river from a small boat and began his swim. Within 10 minutes he had become caught in the current and was dragged under by a whirlpool.

His body was found four days later and buried at Oakwood Cemetery, Niagra Falls.

In 1909, Webb’s older brother Thomas unveiled a memorial in Dawley. On it reads the short inscription: “Nothing great is easy”.

Category: 1) Events and Training days, 4) Well Done!

Comments (13)

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  1. Julie Lee says:

    A fantastic 2 days! The quality of writing that came from the children, especially the boys, who have a tendency to be ‘too cool for school’ was amazing. Their confidence and self esteem was increased almost instantly. The techniques that Tim used are innovative and easy to transfer to your own teaching. It’s not about the game its all about the learning that takes place without the children even realising they are doing it. The CPD day was as enjoyable as the teaching day and has given me loads of ideas that I can take away and use in the classroom.
    Thank You!!!!!

  2. blog says:

    Thank you for this Julie – and, for your great help in getting hold of our next Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii challenges. We’ll let you know how we get on with the Mercury madness and our polar bear wanderings. All the best. Tim

  3. Lesley Parker says:

    After teaching now for 33 years, have never played a computer game. Just gotta get in there now … oh yes…. and take my year 6’s with me! Or will it be them that take me? – probably – definitely. Have been searching for more and more ways to motive my Raise group of writers; so much in there for us to try now. After teaching for so long, it’s easy to play safe. Thank you for pressing ‘refresh’, Tim.

  4. Alison feeney says:

    For once a really enjoyable and interesting PD day!! I have been inspired to try new ideas and ways of working with my children.
    Hours after being taught, a child in my class was still excitedly talking about his story setting, which was read out by Tim. Others were asking when he would be back to work with them again!
    Thanks for a great 2 days!

  5. Clare Williams says:

    I feel so lucky to have been part of this experience over the last two days. Tim has given me so many ideas and used inspirational teaching techniques which I can take back to my own school and use. It’s not just a game; it effortlessly encourages children to think, imagine, talk and write. Thank-you so much.

  6. Jessie Gupta says:

    Tim and Sarah your two day training has been inspirational! It has for me and without doubt my staff, been the key to unlocking our developing creative curriculum! I personally feel very priveledged that we have had the opportunity to have such exceptional, outstanding and inspirationally creative training!
    As Headteacher having encouraged Governors to make significant investment in ICT over the last few years (because I believe it will transform our pupils life chances) inspired me to feel that what you have offered us is a creative experience that will move our practice to another level!

    Thank you both and watch this space!


    Jessie (Gupta)

  7. Natalie Manns says:

    Tim and Sarah..
    I have to agree with Clare, I feel incredibly lucky to have been given the opportunity to attend two inspirational and exciting training sessions. All the innovative ideas shared throughout the two sessions will definitely be taken on board for my NQT year. I feel particularly excited for the new creative curriculum and already beginning to think of different ways to ‘steal’ some of your ideas but of course sparkle and jazz them up a little! 🙂

    Thank you,


    Natalie M

  8. Cathy Salter says:

    Its not about the game ,I think its not about ICT being king in the classroom either.Its about using ICT as a tool to draw children in, allowing them to create imaginary worlds, linking these with real life and drip feeding them vocabulary during the process. I have a theory about why lower ability children appear to respond better than the brighter children intially too. I think it is because, lower ability children shut up as they are often told they are wrong, you give them the freedom to express thier ideas as you tell them there are no right or wrong answers. The brighter children know the warm glow of getting it right and feel confused at first when you take this away from them. Thank you both for a wonderful day yesterday there was so much to take from it, I could go on and on but as I have overran the box I will now shhhht myself!

  9. zoe lewis says:

    What a great experience it was to be involved in the Tim Rylands training.I feel that the children will access so much from this game and be inspired to use their imagination more freely.

  10. Carol Thomas says:

    A very productive P.D Day. Some lovely ideas, which I know from recent experience with year 5, that will help them when writing a descriptive piece of work. Very captivating and visual for the less able children to access and be inspired by. ‘The Hat’ is an excellent way of getting those children, who don’t put themselves forward, to take a turn and maybe share an idea. Once again thank you for a lovely day.

  11. Lucy Salter age six says:

    I thought it was funny and FANTASTIC!!!!!!!
    Thank you

  12. Sarah says:

    What a truly inspirational 2 days!!! The teachers and children learnt so much. One pupil asked why Tim couldn’t teach them all the time to which I responded that he had to go and work with other teachers and children. His response was Mrs Gupta should stop that and make him stay at Captain Webb all the time. We would all love to have you all the time !!!!!

  13. Sue Blackburn says:

    We really enjoyed taking part in the lessons with the children and you have given us so many ideas to build on to continue to inspire our children. You have also provided exciting possibilities for our two schools to work together, adults and children alike.
    Thank you and we will be watching this space!

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