Author Archive: Sarah

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Valley Road Primary, Oxfordshire ~ Day 2

| October 20, 2015 | 1 Comment 

Valley Road Primary

Valley Road PrimaryBack, for a day of lessons, at Valley Road Primary School, with the Y2 pupils and the Y5/6 pupils.

It is always a joy to watch “growded-ups” and children, take off and fly, with speaking and listening, writing, exploring, creating and more. Joined again by colleagues from schools from The Henley Partnership: Shiplake CE Primary, Trinity CE Primary, Sacred Heart Catholic Primary, Stephen Freeman Primary and Badgemore Primary.

“Verbal jazz”, the ability to make things up on the spur of the moment, is a skill that empowers every kind of person, in so many walks of life.

We need to encourage creating sentences, and ideas, as they go. Trying and flying. … … …

One of the techniques we use is to get children, or adults, to start talking when they get asked a question. For example, “Aha! A good question, my child…” said one of the characters today. He was young, but still got so much in to the role that we believed he was a grizzly, old retainer.

Valley Road Primary

levitating convincinglyThat “starting to talk”, rather than nervously umm-ing and ahh-ing whilst you wait for the words to come, means that you break your own nervous silence.

The words you want, and didn’t even know you had within you, appear to flop in to place behind those opening phrases.

“Start and the rest will follow”, seems to give confidence to even the most reluctant speakers.
The same principal also feeds ideas for even the most reluctant writers. Start, however stumbling you may feel, and you might find you are running with words in a short space of time.

(How about the lad, to the left, “hovering confidently”!)

Thanks again to Head Teacher Tim Coulson for the invitation to spend time with his delightful children and colleagues.

Thank you to the teachers for sharing their thoughts, both verbally and here for the blog:

Rosie Wilkinson from Badgemore Primary:

During the two day training with Tim and Sarah I have been excited, amazed and quite frankly, blown away by all of the new and interesting ways of including technology into the classroom. As a self diagnosed technophobe the thought of putting this into practice unnerved me, but,  I got home after day 1 and immediately downloaded some of the apps that Tim and Sarah had introduced to us and started working out how to use them and deciding on different lesson ideas and teaching techniques.
Day 2 was all about observing and joining in with Tim’s teaching and it was fantastic. I felt not only like I was learning a huge amount but I could see how much the children were gaining from the teaching and it was hugely beneficial to see how I could implement different aspects of technology and different techniques into my teaching.

Carolyne Harrison from  Stephen Freeman Primary:

I have had an incredibly inspirational and usable experience learning and applying some amazing tech and ideas. All stuff that is instantly applicable in the classroom. From using a cup to drink out of to give a child time to extend and develop their ideas to tech that allows the class mascot to speak to them. The techniques used to give the children a chance to think and process and by the time you want them to write they are chomping at the bit, ALL of them! Full immersion into a world where you can wonder what’s up there, where does that go, how long has it been there and how can we get there and acting out our verbs and adverbs with purpose. There are so many ideas it would be impossible to go through them all but I am planning to try all of them over the next millennium!

Tim Hoskins from Badgemore Primary:

I don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account and I would rather go for a walk than play a computer game. However, working with Tim and Sarah has been inspirational. I have been exposed to so many awesome computing ideas that are simple to use (minimal planning time) incredibly child-friendly (great for behavior management) and free (no need to fill in any expenses form.)
This is a must experience for any teachers who intend to carry on teaching in the future. Unfortunately, IT stuff is changing faster than the primary school curriculum.

Valley Road Primary, Oxfordshire ~ Day 1

| October 19, 2015 | 0 Comments 

Valley Road Primary

Valley Road PrimaryAfter an incredible couple of weeks in South Africa, it was a joy to spend an INSET day with the folk from Valley Road Primary School, Valley Road, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, and The Henley Partnership of schools.

Colleagues joining us from Shiplake CE Primary, Trinity CE Primary, Sacred Heart Catholic Primary and Badgemore Primary.

Thank you to Head Teacher Tim Coulson, for inviting us to spend two days with his colleagues. Tomorrow, some mystical explorations with the children and staff.

Today, we started off with a joint exploration of some of the visual literacy ideas. Exploring some of those remarkable elements of the computing curriculum. We had a good look at how we can use a huge variety of resources as a spring board for creativity across the curriculum. When using computer games as a stimulus for writing, there are so many different genres that can flow from the images and experiences. With many immersive games, descriptive narrative is perhaps the most natural, due to the engaging nature of the landscapes.

However, a huge variety of writing styles can be inspired by our journeys through these worlds.

We had a look, today, at some of the other forms including journalistic writing, holiday brochures and informative texts, instructions and explanations, poetry, interviews, and so much more.

We are looking forward to working with the children of the school tomorrow, and our focus will be investigating the power that digital games have in developing confidence in many forms of analogue writing.

And then, a twilight, with folks coming along after an already long day teaching, to experience a whistle-stop tour through some of the wonderful digital resources available out there.

Valley Road Primary

Crawford School, Johannesburg

| October 12, 2015 | 1 Comment 

Crawford School
Logo_Preparatory_FourwaysAfter a few spectacular days exploring the realities of this remarkable country, we are blessed to head back to Johannesburg for a day of exploring in the world of words. A full day of lessons and training for Crawford School, Johannesburg. Thank you to Robyn Hardy for coordinating our visit and to Ian Rothman, Principal, for his support and to the team at Fourways for their expertise and enthusiasm.

Today, we went wandering in the world of words, yes, but also way beyond. These journeys are extremely hard to define or describe. They are, inevitably, different from what is expected. Importantly, slower in terms of distance travelled geographically, yet we journey many miles in the world of language and imagination.

Essentially, your idea could be in complete contrast to the person alongside you, but you’re both right:

There is no “right idea,” because, even better, there’s no wrong idea.

Seeing the products of such work and the boundless enthusiasm that flows from it (where some pupils actually have to be asked to wait before writing down their thoughts!) is an impressive and influential experience.

We ran a session with Grade 7 students developing speaking, listening and writing, and then an exploration of a virtual landscape with children from the foundation phase. After this, we took the staff on a whistle stop tour of the wondrous world of digital delights there are out there to extend and broaden the curriculum. Well done all!

A big Thank You to Robyn Hardy, teacher at the school, for coordinating our visit, and to Ian Rothman, Principal at Crawford, Fourways. Fourways operates  in the heart of beautiful, tranquil, surroundings, where the indigenous trees are home to the Lesser Bush Baby. ‘We believe that children attending our school have the unique opportunity of learning through exposure to nature’.

Crawford Fourways is a small primary school in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg South Africa. As you enter the school you are greeted with the sign, ‘In This Space you are Free to Dream’. With this belief in mind, we aim to motivate each child and  instil the will to reach his or her dreams. As part of this process, we provide our students with many opportunities to develop their creativity and deepen their thinking. We are therefore very excited to have Tim and Sarah working in our school with our teachers and students, helping us learn new ways to use technology to support and develop creativity.


The Digital Education Show Africa 2015 ~ Johannesburg

| October 6, 2015 | 0 Comments 

Digital Education Show Africa

The Digital Education Show AfricaA keynote at The Digital Education Show Africa 2015 at The Sandton Convention Centre, Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa, with its title of “Empowering learning through technology”

We explored the power of inventive technologies and visual literacy elements, and saw how they can have a huge impact on raising confidence in children across the creative curriculum.

Animal magic! A mission improbable

dig ed showAn intriguing, imaginative and exciting exploration of tech, leaving folks with copious amounts of practical ideas, approaches and tools to take back and use in your own teaching. We investigated how fascinating challenges can be used across subject areas and age ranges, with remarkable effects: developing speaking, listening and writing skills and raising confidence and self-esteem.

With a focus very much on creativity, particularly to inspire writing, we explored ways of working that are centred on innovation and capturing children’s imagination, and left folk with many ideas, mostly free, that they could be using from the web and beyond.

We need to inspire young people and work with their imaginations; enhance their creativity and confidence so they can pick ideas up and start to juggle with them; encourage resourcefulness through challenge, but also the ability to reflect, and benefit from the experience of others; to motivate a love of learning for life.

We shared an accessible, range of ways to engage, and motivate learners of all ages, and abilities. We reinforced how these elements are not only essential for quality learning experiences to take place, but how they can also have a massive impact on standards, achievement … and enjoyment!

Thanks to Tanja Du Plessis, Project Director, The Digital Education Show Africa 2015, Miss Jerodé Moodley, Conference Manager and Operations Manager and Tanys Goosen, Experience Manager for Terrapinn Ltd

Bannerman Road Community Academy and Children’s Centre, Bristol

| September 23, 2015 | 0 Comments 

Bannerman Road Primary School

bannermanroadA full on, fast paced, day Bannerman Road Community Academy and Children’s Centre, in Easton, inner city Bristol.

In this goal driven age, we could think that education is imparting a body of knowledge, rather than a shared journey of discovery. There are so many pressures put upon educators these days that enjoyment, inspiration, creativity, and fun can be forced out of the classroom.

We need to inspire young people and fire their imaginations; enhance their creativity and confidence so they can pick ideas up and start to juggle with them; encourage resourcefulness through challenge, but also the ability to reflect, change and benefit from the experience of others; to motivate a love of learning for life.

Fascination is a tool that can be easily neglected.

This digital world, when mixed with the analogue, brings such potential for communication. Technology, though, is also not the only answer… but it can provide some fantastic opportunities.

Great to spend another day with a team who are clear on the power of creative, inventive and imaginative teaching.

Thanks to Head teacher Paula Shore, our initial contact Samantha Fisher, Assistant Headteacher, who is now on maternity leave, Heather Beach, Assistant Headteacher, and to Adam Cattle, Schools IT Support Officer.

Well done indeed, and thank you, to the colleagues from Oasis Academy Long Cross, Elmlea Infants, Dolphin School, Westbury on Trym School, Blaise Primary School, Victoria Park Primary School, Ashton Vale Primary School, and St. John’s Primary.

Today was another culmination of hours spent researching in “The Shed” in Somerset. We investigated a plethora of free online resources to continue to engage, motivate and inspire children of all ages and abilities.

The school describe that they “are currently on a journey with developing the use of ICT in the curriculum”. Great to take these huge strides forwards with you…

Thank you to Heather for recording her thoughts:

Bannerman Road Community Academy and Children’s Centre

Bannerman Road Community Academy is an inclusive primary school in the heart of Bristol and shares its setting with the Children’s Centre, providing education and caring support for our children from 2 to 11 years old. We celebrate our diverse and multi-lingual community and believe that all pupils are entitled to high quality, engaging and exciting teaching and learning. We have high expectations and challenge everyone to reach his or her full potential.

We believe that our school is a learning environment for all the stakeholders – pupils, staff, parents and the wider community.

All pupils should have the entitlement to quality engaging and exciting teaching and learning. We expect our pupils to take ownership of their learning and to assess their own progress. To do this we have high expectations and aspirations for all our pupils

Personalised learning is about helping every child and young person to do better, which means tailoring their education to their individual needs, interests and aptitudes so as to fulfil their potential and giving them the motivation to be independent, lifelong ambitious learners.

We are proud of the relationships we have with our pupils, parents/carers and believe that it is central to the making our vision come true.

The Academy recently joined the Colston Girls School Trust and we are really looking forward to working closely with Colston Girls’ School, Kingfisher Primary, Dolphin Primary and Fairlawn Primary. Some of our colleagues from these schools have joined us for this INSET day with Tim and Sarah.

In addition we have staff from another 7 different Bristol Primary Schools here today and we welcome you all to Bannerman Road.

Tim delivered a great workshop at the Inspiring Leadership Conference last year. We knew that his ideas and passion for learning would match what we were trying to do at Bannerman Road so made sure that we booked him quickly for our INSET!

St Andrew’s CE Primary, Oswaldtwistle ~ The Return

| September 17, 2015 | 0 Comments 

Fheader-e1407573574837ollowing our previous visits to St Andrew’s Primary School, Oswaldtwistle, Day 1 and Day 2 we return ….for some wild and woolly extension, and travels into some new and unexplored territories… beyond.

We explored the power of inventive technologies and visual literacy elements, and saw how they can have a huge impact.  Raising confidence in children across the creative curriculum. We had a hands on DOING IT day. Tech in action. FUN!

St Andrews The Return 22

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St Andrews Composite CreaturesAs technology speeds forward, even these days, we too can feel left behind. The gargoyle’s wide mouthed amazement matches some of our modern day worries about new tools. We can fear that we don’t fully understand them. If we don’t, it is a good idea to be honest – there will be children who do. If we DO know, it is sometimes a good idea to pretend we don’t… that’s when some great learning takes place.

Offering guidance & support to a teacher?! Laughter and learning taking place from ALL. Motivation indeed! We set forth  investigating how fascinating challenges can be used across subject areas and age ranges, with remarkable effects: developing speaking, listening and writing skills and raising confidence and self-esteem.

With a focus very much on creativity, particularly to inspire writing, we explored ways of working that are centred on innovation and capturing children’s imagination, and gathered many ideas, mostly free, that we could be using, “from the web and beyond”, to bring learning even more alive.

Well done to Mrs Christina Wilkinson, Headteacher, her colleagues, and children for some inspiring collections of inventions and investigations.

Oughtibridge Primary School, Sheffield ~ Day 2

| September 16, 2015 | 6 Comments 

Oughtibridge Primary School

sclogo1Back to Oughtibridge Primary School, Oughtibridge, Sheffield for a day of lessons, joined by children from Year Six and Year Two, and visiting colleagues from across  the Locality G:  Malin Bridge Primary School, Bradfield Dungworth Primary SchoolNook Lane Junior SchoolStannington Infant School, Deep St John CE Junior School, Royd Infant School, Stocksbridge Nursery Infant School, Stocksbridge Junior School, Shooters Grove Primary School, Wharncliffe Side Primary School, Rivelin Primary School, Marlcliffe Primary School and Loxley Primary School..

Thanks to Patricia Munt Headteacher of Oughtibridge Primary School, for supporting our explorations and to Margaret Firth, her Deputy Headteacher, for spending the day with us, coordinating events and looking after us.

Oughtibridge Primary School

Locality G ~ Oughtibridge Primary School, Sheffield ~ Day 1

| September 15, 2015 | 6 Comments 

Oughtibridge Primary School

A great day near Sheffield in Yorkshire, at Oughtibridge Primary School and visiting Tech Coordinators from Locality G – a learning community with style.

It is always good to work alongside ICT/Tech Co orinators, especially when they have the open “up for it” understanding of those here today. Because, even though a lot of what we do is subtitled “TECH To Inspire”, it is the impact that any technology can have on raising many levels of literacy, and confidence, in children of all abilities and ages, that is essential. Speaking and listening, feeds in to writing in so many ways. The opportunity to drip vocabulary, and sentence structure, in to an exploration (or rather, more often, a “standing ssclogo1till in” ) of a virtual world.

A huge THANK YOU to Patricia Munt Headteacher, Oughtibridge Primary School, Oughtibridge, Sheffield, for inviting us and coordinating our two day visit, plus including so many of her colleagues from her school and beyond:
Malin Bridge Primary School, Bradfield Dungworth Primary SchoolNook Lane Junior SchoolStannington Infant School, Deep St John CE Junior School, Royd Infant School, Stocksbridge Nursery Infant School, Stocksbridge Junior School, Shooters Grove Primary School, Wharncliffe Side Primary School, Rivelin Primary School, Marlcliffe Primary School and Loxley Primary School.

Locality G – a learning community with a shared sense of direction that benefits from local school to school support, the sharing of good practice and joint CPD.

Headteachers and teachers from across the locality want ICT to be an integral part of children’s learning, enhancing activities and tasks and enthusing and engaging children. Tim Rylands and Sarah are leading the way, working with teachers inspiring them to use ICT as a tool for exciting learning.

Two days of activities allowing teachers to network, learn together, question, distil and synthesis. What ‘wonder’ it is to be a learner.


Caradon Co-operative Educational Trust, Upton Cross Primary, Cornwall

| September 4, 2015 | 3 Comments 

Upton Cross INSET

A full on and up for it Ani~smiles/animals Day with The Caradon Cooperative Educational Trust at Upton Cross Primary, Upton Cross, Liskeard, Cornwall

We focussed on tech, but, more on the power of picking up words an juggling them. Reading is a stimulus and models building sophistication in children’s writing. Speaking and listening, come alive when we expose children to new, valid, interesting and real, whether that is through ICT, trips, or other experiences. Oral rehearsal boosts quality and confidence … sometimes, making it up as we go, verbal, or written “jazz”, produces some of the most intriguing, and fascinating results. Today, we looked at how to inspire all of these elements, through the use of technology and beyond. Well done all.

We created, researched and reported on, our own magical imaginings, and, using creative technologies, we went wild and woolly with our new, remarkable creatures.

We explored the power of inventive technologies and visual literacy elements, and saw how they can have a huge impact on raising confidence in children across the creative curriculum.

Tim worked alongside the Upton Cross Crew, before… way back in 2007 (!) (Here and Here)

Thanks to Mark Clutsom, Executive Headteacher Upton Cross Primary and St. Kew C.P. School Federation, for sharing his thoughts on where our visit today fits in to the Caradon Trust story:

Caradon Co-operative Educational Trust

Founded on 1st January 2013 by Coads Green, Delaware, Gunnislake, Pensilva and Upton Cross – five primary schools in South East Cornwall, our aim is to provide training, support, activities and raise standards for all children in all of our schools. St. Kew joined in 2014, following federation with Upton Cross in late 2013.

We regularly meet as teachers and TAs to train together, and share great practice. In the past we have had sessions on outstanding teaching, creativity in the curriculum and questioning. This year’s focus is on writing and IT.

Why the Co-op?

We all passionately believe in the values of the Co-op movement of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity, and know that by teaching these values, we will enable all young people in our schools to be better prepared for the 21stCentury. Of course a major part of modern life revolves around IT and the ways in which we can use technology to make life easier, more creative and exciting.

Because we are spread across a wide geographical area, we have started to use a shared VLE to upload ideas, resources and examples of the children’s work. We are excited to be working with Tim and Sarah today, and will be sharing our ongoing work over the coming months.

Partnership In Malvern Schools, Worcestershire

| September 3, 2015 | 8 Comments 


Great, to spend a day leading INSET for the Partnership In Malvern Schools (The PIMS Partnership) at The Elim Conference Centre, West Malvern.

Thank you to Geoff Rutherford, Headteacher, Wyche CE School for coordinating our involvement.

Everybody here today was “Up for a challenge”! The aim was to have a look at some of the plethora of ICT ideas available, and how they can, even further, enhance the curriculum, particularly in the area of writing.

PIMS is a group established over 15 years ago with the express purpose of working together to ensure that every child in the Malvern area got the best education possible. It draws together the headteachers of 22 schools who meet each half term to share good practice and support each other in many areas of the curriculum. The group has developed into a very successful support network and the joint INSET days they hold is one expression of this.

Recognising that ICT has huge potential to in enhancing teaching and learning the PIMS group decided to invite Tim and Sarah to the town to lead and inspire us in this subject. We’ve been looking forward to exploring with him ways in which ICT can be integrated into our classroom practice. There are 13 schools attending all from the Malvern area. They are: St Josephs, Malvern Parish, Suckley, Eldersfield, Wyche, St Matthias, Rushwick, Pendock, St James, Malvern Wells, Leigh Bransford, Castlemorton and Somers Park.


Springline Partnership of Schools, Oxfordshire ~ Day 1

| September 1, 2015 | 2 Comments 

Springline INSET

Wow! For 180 (ish) people (!!) to share a training day and tackle the challenges, and opportunities, with so much laughter, and focus, is admirable.

A superb way to start our 2015/16 year, back in The UK: a day of INSET for the Springline Partnership of Schools, their first as a cluster, at Stockham Primary School, Wantage.

Thank you to Ruth Burbank, head teacher at Stockham Primary for hosting our day, and sharing these thoughts:

Stockham School is a high achieving, busy and creative school with over 205 primary school children. The school is over subscribed and focuses on fun learning and has an individual and active approach to learning. The newly formed Springline Partnership of Schools (SPS) consists of 8 local schools working collaboratively in order to achieve excellence. The 8 schools include Stockham school, Stanford in the Vale, St Amands Catholic School, The Hendreds Primary, Fitzwaryn Special School, Grove Church of England School, Uffington Primary and The Ridgeway CE School. The partnership have been working towards becoming Storytelling schools and we are now very excited to be adding the ICT element into our schools to inspire our children and staff.

Today, we explored an increasingly speedy whizz through many analogue and digital gems. Folk were up for the challenges, and stuck with us on some quite technical wizardry, and a range of free, accessible tools that can be powerful in many contexts, in the classroom and beyond. Too many to mention in fact. Thanks one and all, for your laughter as well.

We splattered folk with oodles of accessible tools and ideas for raising the levels of creativity, writing, speaking and listening among children of all ages. We looked at the powerful effect of using games, Web2 tools, software, handheld devices and more and explored ways of teaching that focus on quality learning, rather than the latest gadget.

back to their future black backgroundBTTF DayWe are looking forward to coming back for a day with the children and a follow-up day of lessons on the 21st October 2015 on Back To The Future Day. Take a look at the countdown HERE