Category: 1) Events and Training days

John Hellins Primary, Northamptonshire ~ Day 2

| November 3, 2015 | 9 Comments 

John Hellins Primary School

John Hellins PrimaryA really fun day at John Hellins Primary and travels through mysterious lands, with the children across different age ranges of the school.

A darkened room, dancing sound effects, haunting music enhancing the atmosphere, and we’re ready to go who knows where?

Today, we wandered in the world of wondrous words, with the children and staff, more a large amount of individuals in each session, yet, at times, you could hear a pin drop. Then, when an unexpected feature sprang to life, bubbling discussion and fizzing talk.

Our aim, on these two sessions in this group of schools, is to share tools, and techniques, that will add even more sparkle, magic and effective methods of bringing learning alive, to the toolkit that travels with the children and teachers.

One of the most rewarding ways to spend your working days. Teaching is a hard path, in many respects, on many occasions. Hours of extra preparation, planning and reflection. But, as Confucius said:

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.

Thank you to Jodie Matthews, Headteacher at John Hellins Primary School, for inviting us to work alongside the children and staff.

Well done all.

John Hellins Primary, Northamptonshire ~ Day 1

| November 2, 2015 | 4 Comments 

John Hellins Primary School

John Hellins PrimaryFantastic, to spend two days with John Hellins Primary School, Potterspury, (in the district of South Northamptonshire with Milton Keynes as the nearest main town.)

We were joined by colleagues from visiting schools, including Deanshanger Primary School, Yardley Gobion CE Primary School, Towcester C of E Primary School, Bugbrooke, Glapthorn C.E. Lower School, Rothersthorpe Primary School, The Abbey Primary School, Havelock Infant School, Havelock Junior School and East Hunsbury Primary School.


Thank you to Jodie Matthews, Headteacher at John Hellins Primary School:

Jodie MatthewsJohn Hellins is a village primary school in South Northamptonshire. Our ethos is simple – we strive to be the best we can be in everything we do and in all aspects of school life. We set ourselves challenging targets and have extremely high expectations of ourselves. School life at John Hellins is exciting, motivating and inspiring and is full of real life and immersive learning experiences.

Our staff are passionate about their own learning and development, and connect with other educators on Twitter; this is how we first connected with Tim. Following our 4 year talk for writing journey we are ready to take our writing one step further. We feel that adding tech to our writing journey will bring some marvellous results, particularly with those children who struggle to engage. It’s exciting to see where this will take us!

On our 2 days with Tim and Sarah, we will be joined by the staff from Deanshanger Primary School and teachers from several other local schools. We are excited by the opportunity this will give us for collaborative working.

Springline Partnership of Schools, Oxfordshire ~ Day 2

| October 21, 2015 | 1 Comment 

Stockham Primary

Following an INSET Day in September 2015, today a day of lessons and further training for Springline Partnership of Schools at Stockham Primary School, Wantage.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.

Thanks again to Ruth Burbank, head teacher at Stockham for coordinating our visit.

Characters in the villageWe travelled, with classes of Year 5 and 6, and their “big people”, through a land that went beyond the virtual and became so real we could see it, hear it, but also smell it, touch it, feel it, and build some powerful language within it. The mysterious, yet peaceful, village we found ourselves standing in, inspired some lovely extended writing, speaking and listening, role play, and inventiveness.

In fact, we didn’t actually move very far, just turned and took two steps. That is the aim really: Not to move too much. Rather, to take time in a place. It is also a great reflection on the children and staff today. They didn’t NEED to move. They were more than able to use words, humour, imagination, and character to make us feel we had gone many miles.

The afternoon, and we had the pleasure of spending time with the Year 2 pupils and their teachers. What stylish word play followed. We looked at how to stretch an idea beyond the initial temptation to “stick” at he first word. To “twist” our thoughts, and “come up trumps“. When exploring this land, and later, with the teachers, we also considered how “time” is something we need to think about. Taking time, allowing each other time, not filling all of time, stretching time, enjoying different speeds of time.And, what an enjoyable time we had!

This combination: of a training day, paired up with a day of lessons, gives us a lot of opportunity to explore the power of the digital/analogue mix. We have always said that we don’t advocate using virtual worlds as an alternative to getting out and about in the analogue landscapes around us. (Although, it is a lot safer and a lot less insurance than a school trip!!) There is no better experience than taking a group of children out into the world. It is powerful, though, to see that the experiences children have within the classroom settings, and the structured way these activities develop speaking and listening skills, have a big effect on the way their classes take part in trips and camps. Groups of children sharing ideas and solving problems collaboratively and creatively, using some of the skills they have acquired in their “virtual travels”.

This group know about a the strong need for REAL experiences, enhanced by digital tools. The use of the landscapes and the modelling of questioning techniques enable the pupils’ imaginations to take flight. It was delightful to see children today write with abandon. But, you still can’t beat the real. We were impressed by the enthusiastic responses from the Stockham crew. They threw themselves into the challenges and came up with some inventive, imaginative ideas. All with a lot of laughter. Thanks folks!

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

Pilanesberg nature reserve, South Africa

| October 17, 2015 | 0 Comments 

Pilanesberg Game Reserve

12095300_10153700712302392_7805247859389276263_oWe have been blessed to experience some of the remarkable side to South Africa. Johannesburg, Cape Town, The Cape of Good Hope, and more. This was topped off by four days at the Pilanesberg Nature Reserve. Phenomenal! We even got to see a herd of TWELVE camelephantelopelicanaries!

A remarkable, restful yet utterly, compelling, and fascinating experience. From the moment we arrived, to the moment we departed, this was an incredible visit. We felt so looked after and experienced a remarkable amount.

Wheels aloftAs a man occasionally in a wheelchair, it could be considered that a safari trip would be a challenge. The Ivory Tree Lodge folk could not have done more to make our break more accessible. We were welcomed by Janet, the assistant general manager, and me and my chair were carried in to the lobby. Our villa was gorgeous, and a peaceful place to relax in at the end of each of our three and a bit days of exploring the game reserve.

Sarah with cameraFor our dawn and dusk drives, we were in the capable hands of Michael, who took us to see so much wildlife, in jaw dropping settings. Elephant, hippo, giraffe, wildebeest, warthog, rhino, and so much more.

We were even blessed to see a leopard and cub for about an hour, on a rocky outcrop, and know that Michael’s understanding, and knowledge of the Pilanesberg, enabled some incredible “spotting”

We learned some fascinating insights in to those animals, as we coyaged around the stunning, varied, and remote feeling, scenery of the park.

Back at The Lodge, everything was done with a stylish and elegant safari touch. Thanks all. Beyond expectations. (Take some time to flick through the pictures above. Incredible!)

Pilanesberg Game Reserve

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