Diary Notice – Walk to School Week (May)

What: Walk to School Week is organised by Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking and happens during National Walking Month each May.

It challenges schools and their pupils to walk to school more during the week. It’s a great way to celebrate walking and can be a stepping stone to year-round activity. Last year, over 14,000 classes took part; that’s approximately 400,000 children walking to school.

This year’s Walk to School Week theme is ‘Strider’s Walk in the Wild’ with resources focusing on the walking habits and natural environments of different animal species and providing daily curriculum-linked activities for KS1 and KS2.

When: 16 – 22 May 2016

Where: Throughout England, Scotland and Wales

Other information: The fundraising element of Walk to School Week takes place on Tuesday 17 May, or ‘Happy Shoesday’. Children and teachers will wear the shoes that make them the happiest and donate £1.  

Money raised will go to Living Streets for work with schools, disability groups and local communities, and campaigning work to make UK streets safer for everyone.

Contact: Schools interested in getting involved should contact Living Streets for more information about available resources: 020 7456 9794.

David Graham, Head of Strategy (Schools) said:

“Walking to school is a free and easy way for children to build exercise into their day. Physically active children are more alert, ready to learn and achieve better grades than those who are driven.  

“The majority of children are not getting their recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise. At Living Streets, we know that encouraging more children to walk to school is one of the best places to start to tackle this inactivity.

“Walk to School Week is a really effective way of encouraging families to swap four wheels for two feet. I’d encourage anyone to get involved and take part in something great.”

DIGITAL SCHOOLS OF THE FUTURE: WOKING PRIMARY SCHOOLS LAUNCH PARTNERSHIP WITH DISCOVERY EDUCATION

Two Woking primary schools have launched a major new initiative to boost the use of digital technology and content in their classrooms.

 

New Monument and Broadmere Primary and Nursery schools have entered into a professional development partnership with Discovery Education, part of Discovery Communications, and one of the UK’s leading providers of digital content to schools.

 

The 3 year programme will see staff, pupils and even parents receive tailored training and support to increase their confidence and skills in using technology. Teachers will be trained as ‘digital champions’ and encouraged to use digital media right across the curriculum, while pupils will benefit from access to high quality digital resources in every lesson. The new partnership is focused on transforming the two academies into digital schools of the future, and preparing pupils for the challenges of tomorrow.

 

Judy Hall, Head teacher at New Monument Primary Academy said:

 

“This year we have developed a whole school ICT and Computing vision and our partnership with Discovery Education is an integral part of that. We want to make technology available and accessible for all our pupils, and to give our staff the confidence to use it in every lesson – not just computing. We’ve seen first hand how digital resources can really boost pupil engagement and achievement, and we’re delighted to have the opportunity to work with Discovery Education to transform our schools in this way.”

 

Some of the activities planned over the next 3 years include pupil workshops in digital literacy and robotics, and advanced teacher training in both maths and literacy, with a focus on using digital technologies to boost attainment in these core subjects. The schools’ partnership with Discovery Education will also give pupils access to a range of cutting-edge learning resources, including the award-winning Dinosaurs Module, part of the Discovery Education Espresso service. The module, which uses stunning Discovery Channel CGI footage to bring dinosaurs into the classroom, was the winner of this year’s national BETT Award for best Early Years Digital Resource.

 

By working in partnership with Discovery Education, teachers at New Monument and Broadmere will also benefit from membership of The Discovery Education Community, a network of education professionals who are passionate about transforming the learning experience with digital media. The community connects members around the world through events, virtual conferences and social media.

 

Catherine Howard, Discovery Education’s Director of Professional Development said:

 

“ We’re excited to be partnering with New Monument and Broadmere, and looking forward to working with them to build digital capacity and expertise amongst their staff. The 3 year professional development programme will help both schools to achieve their goal of using classroom technology to maximise learning opportunities for every child, while integrating digital media into every area of the curriculum. Our long-term partnership will really support teachers as they prepare today’s students to meet tomorrow’s challenges. ”

 

For more information about Discovery Education’s Professional Development visit www.discoveryeducation.co.uk/pd

 

Tim Peake Calls on Schools to Sign Up for Space Science Mission

Royal Horticultural Society project to inspire the next generation of
space biologists

Schools across the UK will today receive a special video message from British European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Tim Peake. Tim, who is currently on board the International Space Station, will call on them to help the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) with a space food mission.

This special mission is part of RHS Campaign for School Gardening and UK Space Agency educational initiative Rocket Science, which will give up to half a million young people the chance to grow rocket seeds that have travelled in space.

The video message will come direct from the Columbus module, a laboratory on the space station, which is orbiting the Earth at 17,000 mph. In the unique broadcast, Tim will be seen floating in the laboratory with the rocket seeds while encouraging schools to get involved in this exciting project.

Visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OgSJKqDRFk to see Tim Peake talk about the initiative and inspire schools to sign up.*

In September 2015 2kg of rocket seeds were flown to the International Space Station where they will orbit the Earth until March 2016, when they are due to return with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly.

In April this year, up to 10,000 schools will grow and compare the seeds flown to space with seeds that have stayed on Earth as part of the nationwide experiment.

Participating schools will receive a teaching pack containing a packet of seeds from space and a packet that have remained on Earth, a booklet outlining the main experiment, a poster to record results, stickers and more.

Following the experiment procedure, pupils will embark on a 35-day voyage of discovery to find out what growing plants in space can teach us about life on Earth and whether we can sustain human life in space in the future. Results will be collected and analysed by biostatisticians and published later in 2016, feeding into the real life work going on in space science research.

Two additional suites of resources (aimed at primary and secondary aged pupils) are available to download from the European Space Education Resource Office UK website to enhance learning around the issues of growing food in space, nutrition and plant mutations.

Claire Custance, RHS Skills Development Manager, said: “Working with the UK Space Agency provides a unique opportunity for schools to engage young people in horticulture and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects. Educators can use this experiment and our suites of age-specific resources to teach the curriculum in a new, innovative way using real world issues of food security and the possible future settlement of humans on another planet. I encourage schools across the country to answer Tim Peake’s call and sign up to this very exciting project!”

Children and young people of all ages (from early years right up to university level) and all abilities are welcome to take part in the initiative. To register for Rocket Science, organisations will be asked to either log into the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website or become a member of the Campaign. Membership is free and includes many benefits including a free welcome pack.

The RHS Campaign for School Gardening will be accepting applications for Rocket Science until March 2016 when the seeds return to Earth. Find out more and sign up here: https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/Competitions/Rocket-Science-Application-Form

Organisations can follow the mission with the RHS and get involved on Twitter by tweeting @RHSSchools, using #RocketScience, by blogging about their own seed growing journey of discovery, and sharing the results of their food growing experiments online.

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Subtract fear and add a positive outlook!

Aled Willams - finalMultiplication screen

How one primary school is changing its pupils’ attitudes towards maths

The terms ‘long division’, ‘equations’ and ‘square roots’ are enough to strike fear in the hearts of many adults, with memories of their long gone maths class days making them shudder. In fact, if you were to mention these terms to a group of primary or secondary students, undoubtedly, many would have the same adverse reaction.

 

But while negativity around maths still exists, fortunately there are a number of schools successfully creating a shift in attitude. Aled Williams, deputy headteacher at All Saints Primary School, Barry, Wales explains how by introducing innovative new apps, the school has managed to change its pupils’ attitudes towards the subject.

 

Engaging children in maths has traditionally proved tricky; for various reasons a child may believe that they can’t do maths, and getting them to see past that can be the biggest challenge. Apps are the route to information for today children; they engage with them fluently. We started by implementing Daydream Education’s Maths Tutor app, because it provides schools with a complete maths learning solution It is aligned to the National Curriculum and incorporates a huge variety of tutorials, interactivities, real-life scenarios and assessments. We recognised the need for all these features to facilitate learning and improve pupils’ understanding of key maths skills and topics. I started by rolling it out in two of our classes, but it was so successful that it’s now being run from Years 2 to 6.

 

Friendly competition

 

In my experience, children naturally gravitate towards technology; Maths Tutor has been no different. The kids love it and it’s become part of our weekly maths lessons, where they go on the app and perform very focused and engaging tasks. Increasingly they are using it during their down time, which, for a teacher, is incredibly positive to see..

However it’s probably the competitive element of the app that has proved most popular with pupils; they enjoy being able to earn gold stars and trophies, and really push themselves to refine and rehearse things they’ve learned so they can better their personal scores

 

The app has really aided some of our teachers too, in, for example, the teaching of ‘time’. The concept of time can be one of the biggest headaches for a classroom teacher, largely because it is one of those rare cases in mathematics where there is such diverse ability range. You might have one group of children working on time-zones and very complex problems, and another working on more basic concepts; it becomes increasingly difficult for teachers to give each child the exact help they need. But I can access the app, and see where each child is in terms of progress.

On the app, there is an interactive clock, which breaks the whole concept down into very manageable chunks! The videos and tutorials that feature in the app also allow children to progress at their own speed; they get a great deal of success which makes them become motivated and engaged, in a format where there’s lots of different ways to reinforce and learn new concepts. And there isn’t any stigma associated with learning, because it’s very personal to them, and doesn’t show where they are in comparison to other children.

Real results

At the start of each academic year, I give my pupils a very general maths assessment to see where they are, look at previous data and then at the end of the term, after a few months of using the app, I re assess to see how they’ve progressed. The evidence is there in black and white: they’ve improved. But the improvement doesn’t stop there, they help each other to improve.  If, for example, some children are struggling with a specific aspect, they know they can speak to others who have achieved a great deal of success in that certain area. It’s quite heart-warming to see that in action.

Through apps and gamification, students can learn and complete work without being aware that this is what they are actually doing. Technology has positive associations for children, and is therefore welcomed by them as a platform for learning, which provides an effective journey to ensuring progress and engaging them at school and at home. Maths Tutor is solid, interactive and really gets children engaged, and anything that can genuinely do that, gets my vote!