Kingsthorpe Grove Primary School, Northampton ~ Day 2

| September 5, 2013 | 0 Comments 

Well done to Jaime Nairn, head teacher, for taking the strong decision to start the new school year, for children of Kingsthorpe Grove Primary School, with a visit from an intriguing pair of visitors with an even more intriguing, named, walking stick!

And, were these children up for the challenge? They most certainly were: picking up ideas and juggling them, in style.

We started the day with 60 children from Key Stage 2, on wondrous wanderings in digital landscapes.

The afternoon saw us joined by 60 intrepid explorers from Key Stage 1.

We often marvel that we ask children to accept, immediately, the bald bloke with the musical walking stick, and, even more than that, to rise to the challenges of creativity and expressive language. Today, that challenge was extended, as it was first day back for everybody. This did not throw them in the slightest. All of the children were up for the challenges of verbal, and written, “jazz”!

Mr Walker enjoyed a trip out too. When we asked the children for their ideas as to why Mr Walker might be full of holes, they came up with some really inventive ideas.

Jaime Nairn explains here how our visit fits into their story:

When I started at the school in April 2011, as headteacher, it was clear that the attainment was nowhere near has good as it should be.  We revisited how we plan our lessons, how we delivered them and then how we feedback to our children about the progress that they had made.

The staff all worked brilliantly to meet the high expectations placed on them.  Things really began to change and by December 2011, we had, in our opinion, made good progress with some cohorts making over 1 APS progress in the autumn term – something that had never happened at the school.

However, despite our best efforts, our Ofsted inspection in February 2012 placed us in the ‘Special Measures’ category.  The report recognised our efforts, but clearly they had not had long enough to become embedded.  This did not dampen our spirits and to my staff’s credit – they worked even harder to ensure that we came out of category as quickly as possible.

We undertook a number of actions to support our improvements, one of them was to dramatically improve and increase our IT hardware.  We upgraded our wireless network, bought in a range of mobile technologies such as netbooks and iPads.

We also sat down to scrutinise our curriculum – and decided it just wasn’t fit for purpose.  It was not relevant to our children and therefore did not engage or interest them.  So we ditched what didn’t work and built on the good practice that was happening.  We used more drama to provide ‘real life’ experiences for our children as a basis for their reading and writing.  We made our units of work more exciting and developed a range of different techniques to deliver them.

The up shot of this was that attendance improved, interested improved, engagement improved: all resulted in improved progress and attainment.  As a result we came out of category in November 2013 – after only 9 months!

Whilst I am so proud of the hard work and dedication of all my staff, we can always do better.  We needed something to reach those hard core children (and let’s be honest – they are mostly boys).  Some had become so disengaged and apathetic that we found it very difficult to grab their interest.

I needed to make a difference. I had heard from a colleague about the work of Tim Rylands and I investigated further, visiting his blog and following him on twitter.

So I sent off an email – not anticipating that such a busy person would contact me. The next day I received an email and a 45 minute telephone call from Tim himself.  I knew he was right for our school.  His words were like music to my ears and followed much of my philosophy on teaching really exciting and engaging sessions that children were just desperate to be part of and didn’t want to end. INSET day and day of lessons booked!

Now, after our first day, I can see I was did the right thing. After only half an hour – our minds were blown away from being “splattered” with a fantastic range of amazing free – yes FREE – websites that we could use.  But that was only part of it.  There was also a strong emphasis on engaging teaching techniques and skills that even the more experienced of us found new and appealing. A mix of delivery, doing, playing, stand-up, drama, etc, etc.

The day one just flew by and I just couldn’t keep up with noting down all the amazing ideas and links.  Bring on day two!

Category: 1) Events and Training days

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