Tag Archives: technology

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.

The Education Show, Birmingham (16th to 18th March 2017)

Despite it being the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, a Friday and endless roadworks on the M5 with speed restrictions in place, my journeys to and from the NEC were bearable.

It was not Young Voices calling this time around, but The Education Show (http://www.education-show.com/)!  I try to visit annually or bi-annually to keep abreast with developments within the realm of education, attend keynote speakers sessions and meet individuals whom I have had contact with via e-mail, tweets, etc. (it is always lovely to be able to put a name to a face).

The NEC was heaving this year as there were three shows in the neighbouring atrium to The Education Show, plus the Big Bag event that numerous schools appeared to be attending judging by the amount of minibuses and coaches in the car park!  It threw me somewhat having to park and exit from the north side … usually I approach from the east side.  The shuttle buses were very frequent and soon took us to the exhibition halls, however.

Once inside, there was a real buzz.  It can be quite bewildering at first as the stands seem to go on forever.  Nevertheless, once you have viewed the floor plan and identified the zones that are most applicable to you, it does become more manageable.  I negotiated a good half of the exhibition before stopping for a well earned coffee break.  Not only did I seize some great offers on educational supplies (stocking up for private tutoring), but also spoke with several people manning stands that I felt might be relevant to my freelance consultancy and authoring work, e.g. British Council, Artsmark, Ministry of Defence schools, Jack Cherry.  It was also good to catch up with representatives from organisations that I have recently provided services for, e.g. Ed-Coms, Canada-UK Foundation.

What did strike me is how much emphasis is placed on maths/numeracy, English/literacy, SEND, online safety/technology and outdoor spaces.  Foundation subjects seemed somewhat marginalised … I think I only saw one stand linked to history!  Perhaps, a target for 2018 should be to have a greater range of exhibitors displaying their products/services?  Often, with so many budget cuts, it is foundation subject leaders that fail to gain the support that they require.  In my opinion, and this was also reinforced at a primary geography conference I attended a fortnight ago, achieving mastery in maths and English is far more effective when it has a clear purpose, e.g. links to a real-life situation/context that children are able to easily relate to.  There is still room for foundation subjects … after all, we should be aiming to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum in our schools.

Now, back at home, I must pursue leads that I have made and sift through the various leaflets/brochures that I have been given.

Be brave … it is worth the trip if you have yet to experience a show!

Online Safety Mark Accredited Assessor Update Training

A hugely intensive, but highly informative and very thought-provoking day.  Many thanks to Ron Richards, Ken Corish and Andrew Williams for sharing their endless knowledge, expertise and experiences so willingly.  Participants were also forthcoming in adding comments and providing feedback to the presenters throughout the event too, which was great.

My, along with many others’, log in to Skype for Business went smoothly, enabling the day to start on schedule.  Ron gave a formal welcome and introduction, whilst Andrew outlined the protocol, before providing updates on the 360 degree safe tool for schools, E-Safety Mark & Online Compass. Ron also elaborated on recent collaboration with NAACE concerning a joint E-Safety Mark/ICT Mark assessment and work that had been done with academy groups.  It was encouraging to learn that the E-Safety Mark will shortly be re-labelled as the Online Safety Mark, in line with changes within wider documentation, e.g. from the DfE, Ofsted and local safeguarding boards.

Next, Andrew expanded on the success that has been achieved in Wales regarding engagement with the 360 degree safe tool in particular.  The Welsh Government has shown a real commitment to online safety over the past two years.  Aspects of the Welsh Government Project were shared with us … examples of best practice that could easily be replicated in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland should the same financial backing and support be given from the government.  We must not become complacent … technology is constantly evolving and our behaviours are changing dramatically as a result.

Ron shared Professor Andy Phippen’s (based at the University of Plymouth) 360 data analysis with us.  His in-depth review of the data from 360 degree safe reviews gives an indication of online safety provision in schools across the UK.  His findings are clearly summed up by the following infographic:

Click on the image to enlarge it and discover more about Professor Andy Phippen’s findings.

Ken and Andrew’s combined presentation relating to online safety updates was incredibly well-delivered, interesting and insightful.  They discussed recent trends/developments, both from the UK Safer Internet Centre (UKSIC) and SWGfL’s perspectives.  Reference was made to the DfE’s documentation on Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) and Ofsted too.  Ken’s knowledge is endless … I really do not know how he manages to recall every minute detail as he does and keep abreast with technological developments!  Andrew’s background in schools prior to his online safety remit, alongside being a parent, means that he can truly empathise with the challenges Head Teachers, Senior Leaders, classroom teachers, etc. face.  Their session provoked many comments and raised several questions from the audience … it was difficult to keep up-to-date with the accompanying instant messenger feed!  As always, participants’ questions were answered honestly and confidently.

Before a much needed break for lunch, assessors were asked to access Padlet and use this tool to add comments about the current 360 degree safe content and template policies and give suggestions as to how 360 degree safe take-up/re-engagement might be increased.  Delegates had some valuable feedback to give here … now Ron, Ken and Andrew need to digest and debate these further.

A quick lunch was all that was allowed as there was plenty to still be covered during the afternoon.  Ken began by considering the evolution of the online safety message and changing age-related expectations.  This was very enlightening and thought-provoking … I have lots to share with those who have oversight of safeguarding and computing when conducting my next E-Safety Mark/Online Safety Mark assessment.

Andrew drew the short straw, being given the rather dry, although essential, topic of data protection to talk about.  Again, this was informative and gave much food for thought.  Andrew shared recent changes to EU data legislation and focused upon the implications that these have on how we manage what is often highly sensitive information on safeguarding issues. As time was tight, he identified the main changes and outlined how compliance and effective practice could be implemented.  The new 360 degree safe data tool from SWGfL was discussed in more detail too.

The team handed over to us for the final session of the day.  This involved the use of Padlet, the instant messenger facility and having the opportunity to be ‘handed’ the microphone to speak should we wish.  Firstly, we were asked to give feedback on any E-Safety Mark assessments that we had conducted, especially examples of good practice.  Prior to the event, we had been sent four E-Safety Mark reports that had been completed by different assessors. We were expected to read these and make notes on a feedback form, so that we were ready to voice our opinions. Whilst a degree of personal preference might need to be taken into account at this point, there were clearly certain requirements that must be met for a report to be deemed appropriate.  It was reassuring to know the reports I have generated have been of a very high standard!

Many thanks to the trio for a very worthwhile, engaging and reflective training day.  We did miss David Wright, of course … hope to see him again before too long.

Gloucestershire schools head off to India!

And, what a great time we had too!

It was a little bit of a squash and a squeeze this morning as 63 pupils and their teachers packed into Year 5 and 6’s classroom at Birdlip Primary School, Gloucestershire, for another Global Learning Programme (GLP)-related, Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 transition project.  This time, Birdlip Primary School were playing host to students and staff from Cranham C of E (VA) Primary School, Coberley C of E Primary School and Ribston Hall High School, and they proved to be exemplary ones at that!  We received a very warm welcome and much forward-thinking and thorough planning had clearly taken place to ensure the event ran as smoothly as possible.  The day had an India theme since Birdlip Primary School already have a link with School of Scholars in Nagpur in central India and had expressed a wish to develop pupils’ place and locational knowledge of this wonderful country and their understanding of the cultural differences that exist.  In order to give students an authentic experience, I was joined, once again, by Sarah Shaw, an AST for primary dance, and Bharti Tailor, a freelance consultant and, currently, Member of the European Council of Religious Leaders and Vice-President and Trustee Religions for Peace UK.

After a formal welcome and various introductions, I brought out my India box of goodies, as I so often do when delivering this country-themed workshop in schools.  I invited the youngsters to explore the contents of the box with me to see if they could guess where we might be heading for the remainder of the day.  I tried to be quite clever by selecting a few more obscure objects and disguising the bag of rice, poppadoms and naan bread until the very end! Those at Nepalese Chef (http://www.nepalesechef.co.uk/gloucester/), an amazing, local Indian restaurant that we frequently visit, were kind enough to provide an array of culinary ingredients to add to my usual items.  The objects proved to be a brilliant stimulus for introducing key ideas, themes, issues and concepts, which were investigated further as the day progressed.

I had hoped to access Google Earth to take pupils on a virtual trip from Birdlip in Gloucestershire to New Delhi, the capital city of India.  However, their technical support team had only visited the school yesterday to upgrade the system and Google Earth had been disabled in the process.  With little time to download it and restricted administration rights, I had to resort, once again, to my inflatable globe.  This did not matter too much, but it does not quite have the all ‘singing and dancing effects’ that Google Earth has!  We talked about the direction that we would have to travel, the distance involved and how long we imagined it would take if we were travelling by air.  It was also an effective means of showing a different type of map to youngsters … not all are flat and pinned to the classroom wall or found in an atlas! After outlining the learning objectives and format of the day, pupils were placed in mixed -school, -age and -gender groups, named after India’s most populous cities, e.g. Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Lucknow and Surat.

Developing place and locational knowledge using my fail-safe, inflatable globe!

Following our starter, students rotated around three, different sessions within their city group for the main part of the day.  One had a geography focus, developing place and locational knowledge via a series of short tasks (a mapping exercise, online quiz, mix and match text and captions activity and similarities and differences challenge).

Attempting to locate key physical and human features on a base map of India.

Key Stage 3 students supporting Key Stage 2 pupils with their learning.

Not a bad effort!

Key Stage 3 pupils challenging Key Stage 2 pupils with higher order questions to develop place and locational knowledge.

Intrigued. This Key Stage 2 pupil took it upon herself to explore the region further.

The competitive element begins to kick in! Cities competing against each other to complete an online quiz all about India.

Making effective use of technology to support their learning.

Lovely to see teachers engaging with pupils too.

A Key Stage 3 student acting as a scribe and directing the learning of others within her city group.

Great teamwork! Matching images and captions to discover more about India.

Key Stage 2 pupils discussing similarities and differences between their lives and that of a 10 year old girl in India.

Another ‘zoomed in’ on the culture and religions of India, classifying various images according to their commonalities, before groups competed against each other to complete the best rangoli, a form of Indian art.  As can be seen from the images below, their designs were pretty incredible, especially given the fact that it was the first attempt for many and time was at a premium.

Exploring a selection of images and attempting to classify them.

Justifying their card sorting approach, e.g. why they chose to group certain cards together.

Bharti Tailor sharing her expertise with the children.

And, now, time for the youngsters to ‘have a go’ themselves.

Great teamwork!

Experimenting on sugar paper with special rangoli powders.

Wow, what concentration! Such an intricate technique.

One Key Stage 3 student clearly very impressed with her initial attempt.

Some talented students!

Progressing well.

The last activity had a dance/drama element.  Sarah worked with groups to re-tell the story of ‘The people who hugged the trees‘.  Do read this if you can – it is a lovely, short story with a profound message woven within it.  Students from Ribston Hall High School also shared their recent Bollywood dance experiences with younger pupils.

And, the dancing/drama begins!

Re-telling the traditional, true story with vigour: The people who hugged the trees.

Clearly enjoying themselves.

Incredible what can be achieved in such a short amount of time. Well done, Sarah and pupils!

It was intended that the more creative sessions would highlight the ‘richness’ that exists within India; it is not all about ‘poorness/poverty’ as is so often portrayed in images found within the media or by charities/organisations.  I think you will agree they managed to do this very well?

The plenary, initially held in Birdlip Village Hall and later back in the classroom, was enlightening. Sarah introduced each group’s dance/drama brief and the youngsters performed their production in turn.  Combining their efforts was hugely impacting – the story of ‘The people who hugged the trees‘ was ‘brought to life’ for old and young to truly appreciate.  Next, I embarked upon a reflection of learning/experiences with pupils, bringing out my large, bright, infamous dice.  They rose to my challenges well.  When asked to sum up the workshop, pupils were very positive, stating words such as ‘enjoyable, exciting, educational, interesting, amazing and fun‘.  They mentioned skills that they had developed in the process, e.g. the ability to work as a team, organising information, communication.  The youngsters also considered how they might transfer today’s learning to other subject areas or activities outside of school; many Key Stage 3 students had learnt new dance moves, for example, which they intended to include in future performances that they choreograph.  It was pleasing that they were able to recall much topical vocabulary at this stage too, e.g. deforestation, castes, sari.  Many pupils were keen to explore Indian food and traditional dress when asked what they would like to discover more about.

I finished with a review of the learning outcomes via thumbs up or thumbs down signals. Majority of students held their thumbs up high in the air for all to see, demonstrating that the day had been a worthwhile, thought-provoking and stimulating.  Teachers were appreciative of our input and added that they had learned something too, which made the workshop even more rewarding.

Many thanks to Birdlip Primary School for hosting the event and for Ribston Hall High School for supplying a driver, minibus, teacher and impeccable students.  Thanks, also, to the Geographical Association (GA) for funding the day in conjunction with the Global Learning Programme.  Many of the teachers and children here today would not have been able to have such an engaging and inspiring learning experience if it had not been for this project – the cost of three, highly competent consultants would, unfortunately, be well beyond the budget of these small, rural primary schools.