Tag Archives: local

Prayer Day, Hempsted C of E Primary School

A day with a difference, and a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding one at that!  As a Church of England school, Hempsted has tried to establish stronger links with its local church (St. Swithun’s, under the very capable and inspiring hands of Canon Nikki Arthy) over the past few years in particular.  Now and again, Nikki asks members of the Messy Church team if they would be willing to spare some time to support community- or school-related events.  Being DBS cleared and an experienced teacher, Prayer Day at Hempsted C of E Primary School was obviously one of my areas of expertise and an event to volunteer my services for!

It had been intended to have everyone in the school hall at the start and end of the day. However, due to the current heatwave and 30+ degrees Centigrade temperatures, it was decided to be sensible and abandon this idea.

At their allotted time, the children came into the hall in their class group and with their teacher and any teaching assistant/s.  They had the opportunity to explore up to five different prayer stations in the time available, all centred upon a specific theme, e.g. family; me; friends; world and school.

Mrs Middleton and myself’s role was promoting ‘Love for the world’.  Our focus was on Psalm 8: 1, ‘O Lord, our Lord, your greatness is seen in all the world.’  We explained to the children that Christians believe the world was made by God and it is beautiful.  At one time, it was perfect, but things have gone wrong and the world is not the great place it once was.  This is not how God meant it to be.  Sometimes, children are particularly damaged and hurt by the things that happen in the world.  To begin with, the youngsters were asked to look at the inflatable globes on the table and try to identify places that they had been to, places that they had heard about and places that they would like to visit.  Next, they were encouraged to think about the pain that God feels when he sees his perfect world going wrong.  Then, pupils were prompted to consider children in other parts of the world.  They were asked to hold or hug an inflatable globe silently for a short while, thinking of all the children in the world and particularly those who were suffering.  Afterwards, each child was given a tag with a globe and children printed on it.  On the reverse, they were invited to share their thoughts, e.g. who would they like us all to say a prayer for.  These were then placed at an appropriate location on the world map that covered the table.

Other activities on offer to the children included creating class prayer paper chains, making beaded friendship bracelets, writing teaspoon (TSP … Thank you; Sorry; Please) prayers and decorating gingerbread men/women to hang on a small branch of a tree.

At the end of their session, Mrs Hill encouraged the children to come and sit in the centre of the hall for a time of reflection together.  A number of the children’s prayers were shared and pupil voice was collated about the activities that they had just taken part in.  Many of their prayers focused on family, friends, their school and events that had featured in recent News bulletins. The children clearly enjoyed completing the various tasks, especially the very ‘hands-on’ ones. Perhaps, this is something to consider when planning a future Prayer Day?  Less writing/drawing and more handling/talking, which would make them more accessible to less able and younger pupils too.

Parents/carers were also invited to participate, with sessions available to them both before and after school. Not only did this give them the chance to see what their child/children would be/had been doing, but it also provided them with a few quiet moments for reflection or to discuss any thoughts or feelings that they had, if they so wished.  Days such as these are an effective means of engaging with many sectors of our local community and certainly showcase the delightful school that we are so lucky to have within our village of Hempsted.

A ‘well done’ and ‘thank you’ to all who helped organise and deliver the day.

Thinking about our world …

And, different classes’ responses …

‘Teaspoon prayers’ (TSP … Thank you; Sorry; Please).

Making beaded friendship bracelets.

Thinking about our school community …

Each class’ prayer paper chains.

Thinking about our family … (with wisdom and support from Cath Wain).

A later e-mail from Mrs Hill stated:

‘Thank you so much for all your help on Wednesday and all your preparation.  The children are still talking about it today and wearing their bracelets, so thank you.  A beautiful day with beautiful weather.’

What a lovely and very genuine summary!  It was a pleasure to have been able to assist her and other staff at the school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

C&T, Gloucester Docks/Gloucester Quays

Fortunately, the hot and sunny weather at the weekend decided to hold out a little longer for my meeting at Gloucester Docks/Gloucester Quays with Paul and Max from C&T (http://www.candt.org/).  I first came into contact with both Paul and Max when presenting at a conference at the University of Worcester a few weeks ago.  They had been invited along as their offices were opposite the organiser’s, Professor Maggie Andrews, and it was hoped to be an opportunity for them to do a spot of networking, which they certainly did!  C&T is all about humanising technology through creativity, drama and digital culture.  Over the last ten years, they have been continuously developing new ideas, placing digital technologies at the heart of drama and giving young people the skills and confidence to know that they can make a creative contribution to their community and the world around them.

After an initial chat, I took Max and Paul on a brief tour of the Gloucester Docks/Gloucester Quays, pointing out key features, recounting any historical links that I was aware of, identifying developments currently taking place and discussing issues.  The Gloucester Docks/Gloucester Quays did look wonderful this morning and they truly are an asset to our city.  There is still much potential to be exploited, however, as can be seen from the plans for the Baker’s Quay and neighbouring Blackfriars.  It is amazing how much you take for granted too.  For instance, I have often walked past the large, iconic sculpture, known as The Candle, in the main basin of the Gloucester Docks, but could not tell you much about it or when and why it was placed there.

Later, over a coffee, we considered where we might go from here.  Max and Paul have a meeting concerning a nationwide WW1 project scheduled for Friday; there may be a chance for a Gloucester school/schools to be involved in this too.  Besides, Paul has a few ex-students that are now based within the area and with whom he hopes to renew contact; it may be that they wish to collaborate on a project or have additional links that are worth exploring.  It was agreed that either Max or Paul will be in touch at some stage over the next fortnight once some firmer decisions have been made.  Fingers crossed, as the Gloucester Docks/Gloucester Quays would be an ideal location for a project with so much history and heritage attached to it and I have a couple of schools already in mind who would relish the opportunity to participate in such a cross-curricular and hugely innovative initiative.

Twilight staff training: Abbeymead Primary School, Gloucester

My task this afternoon was to deliver a twilight training session centred upon ‘taking learning outside the classroom’ for all staff at Abbeymead Primary School on the outskirts of the city of Gloucester.  Fortunately, the weather was fine and dry, so we were able to spend some time outside replicating a few of my suggested activities … this does not always happen when fieldwork is planned, believe you me!

To begin with, we based ourselves in a classroom.  Here, I outlined the aims and format of the session, before promoting the importance of fieldwork.  I shared some research conducted by a group of primary Head Teachers on behalf of the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), which listed the ‘hallmarks’ of an ‘outstanding curriculum’, many of which have strong connections to a powerful geography curriculum.  It also helped to signal the ways in which geography can contribute to the aims and values of the whole school and the personal development of every pupil within it.  We accessed the National Curriculum programmes of study for geography at Key Stages 1 and 2 and ‘zoomed in’ on the sections entitled ‘geographical skills and fieldwork’.  Next, I projected the Geographical Association’s (GA) ‘framework’, which exemplifies progression very clearly and includes age-related expectations in geography, as well as communicating their thoughts regarding fieldwork.  I briefly talked through the enquiry approach, which is fundamental in geography.  I referred to the updated Ofsted handbook and the direct implications that this has for geography, along with a recent geography survey visits report and a couple of outstanding school case studies.  These items were added to a folder on the school’s network in case teachers wished to delve into them more deeply at a later date.

With time at a premium this afternoon, I was keen to move on.  My prime aim was to showcase quick, cheap and easy activities that could be conducted beyond the four walls of the classroom and the achievements of similar schools locally, many of which have been supported by funding from the Frederick Soddy Trust.  Examples included:

  • ‘geographical glasses’;
  • ‘secret street detectives’, with case study material from Calton Primary School in Gloucester;
  • Andrea Mosaic;
  • emotional mapping with Quikmaps;
  • den building;
  • journey sticks;
  • The Geography Collective and Mission:Explore;
  • ‘Go the Extra Mile’ competition run by the Frederick Soddy Trust and the Geographical Association, with an ‘abridged version’ from Hempsted C of E Primary School in Gloucester;
  • Digimap, including reference to a Year 2 geography day for pupils based at The Christian Adventure Centre at Viney Hill in the Forest of Dean.

Geographical glasses.

Younger/SEND pupils could use images instead of text, making this an accessible activity for all.

Developing good observational skills.

After providing an overview of the application process for a Frederick Soddy Trust School Award to unlock the potential of the local environment for fieldwork, I decided to take staff outside and challenge them to a few ‘missions’ from the original Mission:Explore book.  The aim was to demonstrate how they too could easily take learning outside the classroom, even if there was only half an hour to spare.  The teachers appeared to really enjoy this, as can be seen from the photographs below:

Mission 19: Collect A to Z.

Great teamwork!

Proposing to be the gifted and talented group … not content with just collecting one image to represent each of their designated letters of the alphabet!

Making use of technology outside the classroom.

Discovering other ways to use their outdoor learning area.

Mission 26: Swatch nature.

A perfect colour match!

We came inside ten minutes before the end of the session for the ‘plenary’.  Each member of staff was handed a set of footprints.  They were asked to use the footprints to record their next steps once they left the room, starting from the big toes and working outwards.  Each step could be as simple or as complex as they wished.  Later, participants were asked how far they managed to reach and many voiced their ideas/thoughts in the short discussion that pursued.

Finally, each member of staff was given a blank postcard.  They were invited to sum up today’s twilight training session in five words/a sentence or two.  It was suggested that they might take the WWW/EBI approach, although this was by no means compulsory.  They could add their name and position or remain anonymous.  Instant feedback such as this is really useful for me when planning future CPD sessions, in addition to giving SLT some indication of any further support that might be appreciated or required.

‘Very informative and fabulous.  Thank you.’

‘Lots of simple, practical, yet inspiring ideas for excellent teaching and learning in geography.  Thank you.’

‘Interactive; helpful; interesting; pacey; creative.’

‘Valuable; helpful; interesting; useful; resourceful.’

‘Practical outdoor ideas for children.’

‘Range of ‘cheap’ tasks.  Practical. ‘Outside the box’ missions.  Revisiting geography. A stronger focus on Upper KS2 depth, perhaps?’

‘Explorative work outdoors with technology!’

‘Informative; eye-opening; practical.’

‘I enjoyed the practical activities.’

‘Great ideas for getting children into geography.’

‘Fun; hands-on; informative.’

I sincerely hope that teachers now feel far more confident about taking learning outside the classroom and look forward to hearing about, and seeing evidence of, their mini adventures shortly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Symposium, University of Worcester

Maggie Andrews, Professor of Cultural History at the University of Worcester, invited me to speak at a symposium that she was organising, entitled ‘Children in WW1: Histories and engagements’, during the afternoon of Monday 8th May 2017. The remit was to deliver a presentation, of approximately 20 minutes in length and aimed at undergraduate and post-graduate students, about our recent WW1 project, how we engaged youngsters, the impact that it had and what we discovered about children during the time of the First World War.  I was told to be prepared to answer any questions that the audience may have too.

Well, considering the time that I had to talk and all that we achieved throughout the timescale of our project, I had to be incredibly selective as to what material I showcased.  I decided to focus on our WW1-themed week’s activities and related events and then ‘zoom in’ on our jam-packed, cross-curricular day.  I included a viewing of our photo story as well since I think this really does ‘say it all’.  I felt rather emotional watching this again a year or so down the line.  It really brought home how much we had done and the positive impact that it had on our local community.  Several in the audience stated that they would have liked to have been part of such a successful initiative too.

My input was followed by a presentation from Julia Letts, an experienced, freelance oral and community historian. She shared creative ways to teach children about WW1, exhibiting some of her latest work with schools within Worcestershire.  These ranged from an hour’s lesson, providing a ‘hook’ for future teaching and learning about WW1, to a themed day, cross-curricular fortnight and a HLF project involving collaboration between four, local schools.  Whilst our projects displayed some similarities, I certainly picked up a few fresh ideas and new approaches to explore with those schools that I have regular contact with.

Comments and questions were very forthcoming from the floor, so a shorter than planned coffee break took place.  I did have another opportunity to speak with Paul Sutton and Max Allsup from c&t (http://www.candt.org/), however.  I am hoping to meet with them next week to see if we can work together with schools straddling both counties.  I am keen to discover more about their immense creativity and the global dimension to their work, especially after all the Global Learning Programme (GLP) activities that I have been involved with over the past four years.

Unfortunately, I had to leave shortly afterwards due to prior school commitments. Nevertheless, I am led to believe that the remainder of the afternoon was just as interesting and inspiring.  Rebecca Ball, a post-graduate student from the University of Wolverhampton, talked about the experience of working class children in WW1.  Afterwards, consideration was given to Worcestershire children in WW1, focusing on themes, questions and histories.  Finally, Maggie Andrews discussed and explored future plans, including the ‘patriotism or/and pragmatism project’.

I look forward to attending/contributing to the next event … I always return home with greater knowledge and understanding of this period of history and feel truly inspired to share this with others.

 

 

 

 

Teaching School, Sir Thomas Rich’s School, Gloucester

It was off to Sir Thomas Rich’s School (STRS) (https://strschool.co.uk/), one of Gloucestershire’s grammar schools, early this morning to meet with Debbie Brake, Assistant Head Teacher and Teaching School Lead. The purpose of my visit was to share outreach opportunities, discuss my recent, local consultancy activities that have been particularly successful and consider how I might be able to support their future developments.

I think Debbie was feeling a little overwhelmed an hour and a half later!  She was clearly impressed by the vast array of initiatives that I have coordinated and delivered over time, as well as the numerous contacts that I have established.  She commented on the really interesting role that I have too … yes, every week is different and I could probably earn more as a full-time professional in a senior leadership position, but it is incredibly rewarding.  She also made me realise just much I have achieved since freelancing and how this certainly complements any time that I spent back in the classroom in a part-time teaching capacity.

Giving up my time for ‘free’ occasionally is worthwhile when you receive an e-mail message on your return that says:

‘It was lovely to meet you today. Yes, this is very useful – thank you. I’ll be in touch after Easter.’