You can read here the Whole School SEND South West Regional Newsletter Summer 2021.
Introductions, resources, webinars and more.
For this final newsletter of academic year 2021-2022, ESW Associate & Strategic Leader of Teaching & Research Schools, Roger Pope CBE wished schools and partners a well-earned summer break and next year "we will be here to support you with a great professional development programme."
Looking to the next academic year, you can find out more in this issue about the Plymouth Oracy Project (FREE for Devon, Plymouth and Torbay Primary Schools); the Leverage Leadership in Action Programme; reformed NPQs, including scholarship information and the recruitment of Professional Community Leads (a NEW initiative starting next year!).
ESW Associate & Strategic Leader of Teaching & Research Schools, Roger Pope CBE contemplates the effectiveness of collaborative learning with our peers - true to the spirit of our SWIFT partnership.
In this issue, you can read an update on the RSHE Ready (Primary) programme and check out the sign-up journey for the reformed NPQ's and book your place at the Train to Teach | Get into Teaching Event next year. Plus the latest CPD offers from our partners in these final few weeks of the academic year. AND...don't forget to book your place - if you have not already done so - for the 2021 Summer Conference.
After this year of all years, we were looking forward to celebrating the phenomenal achievements of our wonderful cohort of Exeter Consortium Primary Early Career Teachers at their graduation this July.
The continuing Covid restrictions presented the challenge of how to do this safely as we usually celebrate the graduation in our training rooms at West Exe School; but this year, sadly, we could not safely bring the whole cohort together inside the building.
What to do?
After some discussion, we decided to combine our graduation with the delayed outdoor learning training from earlier this year and we took our wonderful cohort to a local forest for the day – to be outside and away from the screens.
We prayed for sunny weather despite the rather gloomy weather forecast, and our prayers were answered as we woke up to (mostly) blue skies. The wonderful outdoor learning team had prepared some exciting activities for our trainees to enjoy in the morning, including using the forge to create jewellery with copper, mud art; and using wood carving and whittling tools to create all sorts of wonderful things: fire lighting and Hapa Zome.
The trainees learned exciting ways to engage children in their learning outdoors and hopefully will take these creative ideas into their new schools in September.
Gabby, our outdoor learning trainer explained how often one sees talents that are not always so apparent in the classroom when you're outside learning with children. We certainly saw some trainees engage with the activities in the forest and learned new things about them even at this late stage in the year.
Most importantly, the cohort had an opportunity to come together, chat, share their experiences and bond in a way that's hard to do in a breakout room on Zoom.
Sitting around the campfire and sharing their experiences together was delightful. We are incredibly proud of this group of teachers and their resilience and positivity during some challenging times. Celebrating their remarkable journey over pizza cooked in the cob oven and Prosecco drunk from a paper cup was a fitting end to quite an extraordinary year, and might perhaps established a tradition for future cohorts.
We wish all our graduates every success in their future careers – they really do deserve it!
We’d also like to wish our ITT colleagues across the hub a positive end to the term and a restful summer break.
Report by Dawn Chapman
Following his entertaining Reading for Pleasure event in April, Michael Rosen returned to our screens to share his love of language in a Poetry in the Classroom event on Wednesday 23 June 2021, hosted by our partner, CPD Provider, Ilsham English Hub.
To start off, fellow poetry lovers were invited to wave their own beloved poetry books on their screens, including Michael Rosen’s own quirky-sounding poetic plea, “Don’t Put Mustard in the Custard,” a nostalgic “The Puffin Book of Fantastic First Poems,” Roald Dahl’s poetic oeuvre, and John Hegley’s “I’m a Poetato” (correct creative spelling!) and many more…
The premise of the talk was to “imagine a bogey person in your life asking you as a teacher to justify why you’re spending time, wasting time on poetry; when there are more important things you should be to be doing?”
Poetry rules, such as they are, were devised way back in 1900 with rules and tendencies, and regular rhythms. Poetry in the classroom as “laboratory for words” is much more exciting. Children can play with syllables and the good news is there’s no Haiku police!
Difficult as it may be to put into words, poetry is a form of entertainment that intrigues us, even if we may not fully understand or grasp it. By suggesting things rather than declaring, poetry offers a different form of discourse. Think of Hamlet’s elusive “To be or not to be…” that is not even a real question! This is where poetry is open-ended, mysterious and experimental. It provides an impression – rather than providing the whole story.
Poetry is a dialogue, but it’s not a real. It’s a form of desire. It makes familiar things unfamiliar and unfamiliar things familiar. Think of the vivid opening line from Wilfred Owen’s powerful “Dulce et Decorum Est” that brought back life in the World War I trenches to those in England, “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks…”
Quoting aplenty from him abundant poetry memory bank, Michael made the audience think how nonsense has some kind of sense, quoting next from Edward Lear’s “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat.” It opens conversations. Think of the curious opening of Tennyson’s narrative poem, “The Lady of Shallot:”
“On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;”
What’s going to happen next…?
Poetry constantly draws attention to how it sounds and how it’s made. The rhythm and rhymes draw attention to how it sounds. It also helps in learning other languages (cue quoting in French) and is comparatively easy to learn – compared to a page of prose – thanks to its hooks, of rhythm and rhyme and easy to remember phrasing. Children can use chunks to make up their own poems.
To the mechanics of poetry that bring together similarities, figurative language, similes, metaphors and personification and inspire abstract thought. In “Persephone and the Pomegranate Seeds,” Persephone takes pity on Pluto – but what does pity mean? Poetry can help the reader to see a situation from another person’s point of view through the use of “I” and by putting feelings into words. We all know that feelings can sometimes be hard to express and can sit in what Michael called “a mushy miasma,” (very alliterative!) like a ping-pong ball bouncing around in our heads and hearts. But by writing, you bring it out of your brain and put it in an order; as Michael very personally did in emerging from his Covid coma…”out of the coma words spat out.”
With his fast-thinking mind, and wonderful way of creating pictures and ideas with words, Michael described how poetry in a welcoming environment can grow as the ivy, with education the bricks.
So, what can a poetry-friendly school and classroom look like?
1. Post Poetry on the Wall
Appoint a pupil Poem Monitor to be responsible.
Draw attention to the change on the poetry board so that people read it.
Invite children to bring in poems and their own poetry and change it every two weeks.
2. Read Poems in Assemblies
Poetry in assemblies should be no different to singing songs.
3. School Bulletins
Include poetry for parents and children to read.
4. Visits by Poets in School
Think of the joy of being face-to-face with a poet in school who w-r-i-t-e-s poems (as we were in this event)!
5. Poetry Video Channel
A wealth of poetry possibilities (cue Michael Rosen’s own YouTube channel here!).
6. The Poetry Archive
519 POETS TO EXPLORE
2194 POEMS FREE TO ENJOY
8076 POEMS AVAILABLE TO MEMBERS
7. Use Post-its
Encourage children to express how a poem makes them feel so that they respond personally.
Invite them to scribble their thoughts on a post-it note and stick it on the poem, in the poetry book.
8. Read Poetry out loud in the Spaces of the Day
“Create question marks in the children’s mind” (another gem of a phrase!).
9. Create a Word Wall
Invite children to bring in their favourite words and new discoveries – the funnier the better!
“Language can be collected. It is not received. We make it and collect it and that’s how we live.”
We own language and every day we encounter it. True true…
10. Word Anthology
Invite children to make their own Word Anthology.
This can be built over the school year beyond the poetry unit.
Create a space.
11. Poetry Shelf
Children can include favourites in their own anthology.
12. Poems can be Partnered with Mime, Model-Making, Videos etc.
Poetry is not the poor relation.
It helps to interpret other art forms.
Think of Michelangelo who painted the Sistine Chapel from the sacred texts.
13. Make a Poetry Film
As Michael began to create one effortlessly before our very eyes…
14. A Poetry Class Cabaret
Build up a performance repertoire across the whole class.
Mime it, hold up words from the poem, use the chorus of the poem…
15. Create Monologues from a Poem
Think of Hansel and Gretel…what were they thinking? Or be the tree witnessing the children in the forest.
Get children talking in pairs and create a mini drama and hot seat and interview each other and write about it.
What do you feel?
Create a soliloquy.
16. Create a Poetic Sequel to a Well-Known Story
Think of Cinderella and say, the not so prince charming.
Invite children to write poetic monologues from within the situation.
17. A Moment in a Film
Start with phrases and choruses to build up a poem.
“After dark…after dark…I…”
Through repetition, hang your words on the washing line of the chorus.
18. Use a Painting
Write from within, think of Victorian storytellers; write from their point of view.
19. Use Day Dreams
Jot down day dreams and listen to the voices in your head.
20. Imitate and invent
Use another poem as a springboard/trigger.
Consider the sound, pattern, rhythm, theme…
Michael cited his own use of D.H. Lawrence poem’s “Man and Bat” for his poem, “Snake” when he killed a moth that came into his room.
21. Reminders of Your Life/TV Programme/Film?
Be inspired – write a poem!
22. Use the Five Senses
Add in what you remember, think, dream and imagine AND what is it like?
Proud of his Secret Strings theory, get children in pairs scribbling on the poem as poem detectives, discovering links through rhythm, sound, and images, contrasts and opposites. Some children even think they’re cleverer than the poet!
There are so many starting points.
There is not a fixed process to how you write a poem.
The important thing is to make poetry centre place.
These are not soundbites for Michael. But soul-bites by which he lives and believes.
As he reluctantly ended his talk, I was reminded that the joy of listening to Michael Rosen is not only his engaging enthusiasm. But that he makes it all seem so promising, possible and doable. Thank you to Michael for his sharing his wonderful poetic wisdom and to Ilsham English Hub for organising another highly enjoyable and entertaining Michael Rosen maestro masterclass (note the artfully crafted alliteration!). The positive effects of which will doubtless be felt in classrooms for a long time to come.
Report by Jude Owens
Module 1 live from Monday 13 September 2021!
We are pleased to announce this modular training programme starting next academic year, which will be based on the rich and diverse evidence base gathered in the EEF guidance reports.
The course will draw on the evidence represented in multiple reports: improving behaviour, metacognition and self-regulation, special educational needs in mainstream schools, working with parents, and social and emotional learning.
Module 1 | Monday 13 September 2021
Modules 2 and 3 | Wednesday 29 September 2021
Module 4 | Tuesday 12 October 2021
Modules 5 and 6 | Wednesday 3 November 2021
Module 7 | Tuesday 16 November 2021
Module 8 | available from Tuesday 23 November 2021
Module 9 | Tuesday 7 December 2021
Audience | Senior Leaders, Heads of Departments or Key Stage Leaders from primary, secondary and special schools.
Attendees will need to have a deep understanding of their organisation and the authority to afford change within it.
Cost | £220 per school, which includes online course materials and recordings of the sessions.
As a 100% EdTech focused company, and SWIFT corporate sponsor for the next three years, we are delighted to share Computeam's blog posts and case studies.
In today's article, Chief Technical Officer Jon Crosse shares his thoughts on further targeted Ransomware attacks on UK schools. Read on, as Jon provides some practical advice, technical best practice and guidance for the education sector in response to the latest NCSC alert.
The National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) continues to alert us regarding further targeted Ransomware attacks on the UK education sector by cyber criminals.
The Education Sector has become a growing target for cyber criminals, with the NCSC previously acknowledging an “increase in ransomware attacks on the UK education sector during August and September 2020”, and since late February 2021 this has increased further prompting the NCSC to alert the sector of the growing threat.
“It is also important that senior leaders understand the nature of the threat and the potential for ransomware to cause considerable damage to their institutions in terms of lost data and access to critical services…”
Here’s a quick summary of what you need to know:
The alert focuses mainly on the rise of Ransomware Attacks, which as the alert states is “a type of malware that prevents you from accessing your systems or the data held on them. Typically, the data is encrypted, but it may also be deleted or stolen, or the computer itself may be made inaccessible”.
“In recent incidents affecting the education sector, ransomware has led to the loss of student coursework, school financial records, as well as data relating to COVID-19 testing.”
The document then goes on to talk about various infection vectors (i.e. ways of getting access) that malicious attackers are using to gain access to or exploit vulnerable systems and the dangers of Lateral movement and privilege escalation (having acquired initial access to a network, navigating around it, and increasing their privileges or identifying high-value systems).
It finally talks briefly about mitigation and summarises some techniques for both prevention and recovery, but mainly provides links to further documentation and advice, much of which is again lengthy and targeted at those responsible for IT and Data Protection.
Below is a summary of our recommendations for ways to prevent as well as recover from a Ransomware attack, and how Computeam can help with each step!
The best form of protection is prevention.
It is better to try and stop an attacker than to have to fix or clear up their mess! Below are some examples or preventative measures to help protect against Ransomware and generally improve your Cyber Security.
Patching and Software Updates
A key part in protecting your network, is to ensure that devices have the latest operating systems, update patches or Firmware installed. When a vendor becomes aware of a security flaw which could be exploited by an attacker, they will usually release a software update to protect its users.
If you do not install these updates, it is like leaving the door open for the attacker.
Computeam offer Remote Management and Monitoring services, which can not only ensure your devices are kept up-to-date; but can also provide regular reporting and update activities to give you added peace of mind.
Effective and up-to-date Anti-Virus/Endpoint Protection
Antivirus and Endpoint protection systems are installed on user devices (e.g. laptops, desktops) to ensure that if an attacker does get through, or if a user accidentally brings malware into the network, these systems will attempt to prevent it from running on the device and achieving is malicious goal.
Not all Antivirus/Endpoint Protection solutions are equal, and they are only effective if they are kept up-to-date and effectively managed. Computeam can offer advice on which to use and why, as well as supply and or manage solutions for you to ensure they are effective.
Gateway and Perimeter Protection
Ideally, an attacker would not get as far as a user device or network server. To try and prevent access to the network, a secure firewall should be used at the network perimeter to manage the flow of traffic in and out of your network.
Modern firewalls can include many extra security features such as Gateway Antivirus with Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) and Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems (IDS/IPS).
Computeam offer fully managed Firewall Solutions with a host of Security features and options to suit any network.
Incorrect or badly configured devices and software is great news for a malicious attacker. There are thousands of tools, which attackers can use to exploit badly configured devices, even search engines, to help them find your network as a target.
These weaknesses also greatly increase the risk or lateral movement and privilege escalation once an attacker has made it inside your network. Speak to Computeam about our consultancy and audit services which can help to identify mis-configured devices and unsecure networks, as well as help you to plan for greater security in the future.
Securing Access - Using MFA
Secure access is essential to protect your network. Did you know that many user credentials, are already available for attackers to download and access on the dark web!?
Head to the site haveibeenpwned.com to see if your email or password has been involved in data breach at some time. Even if you have password complexity rules in place to ensure stronger passwords, which are harder to crack, many people re-use passwords that they think are secure.
Attackers use a technique known as “credential stuffing” to try passwords that have been discovered elsewhere on systems they are attacking. Just because your credentials don’t appear on the above site, it doesn’t mean they haven’t been leaked! To protect against this, Multi-Factor authentication requires another form of authentication in addition to your password, such as a passcode sent to a mobile phone by text, or a number generated by an app or fob.
In addition, where MFA is not available or appropriate, Conditional Access can be deployed to provide an additional layer of security, allowing authentication only from specific devices or locations - for example from inside your school network. Computeam can advise and assist with implementing both MFA and Conditional Access Solutions for your network.
Training and User Awareness
The weakest link in even the most secure of networks is often its users. While you can put in place tools and measures to protect from external attack, networks are often much less secure from an internal one! Phishing emails are a common source of attack and often provide an attacker with an initial foothold into a network.
The best way to ensure that your users don’t unintentionally compromise your network and data is to make them aware of the risks and teach them how to spot them and respond to them appropriately.
Computeam can offer Training services as well as a platform to manage Cyber Security Training, GDPR and Policy Compliance, ensuring that staff are kept up-to-date with any changes, and keeping track of who has or has not completed any mandatory training.
Recovering from Ransomware
It is all very well knowing how to protect your network, but sometimes the inevitable happens, and what you need is a solution. Below are some measures that will help you to be ready to recover from a Ransomware or other Cyber Security Threat should the worst happen.
A backup will likely be your primary tool to recover from an attack; however, these are not impervious to an attack themselves. Many organisations have found themselves in a situation where they have realised that not all their information was being backed up.
Others have inadvertently overwritten their backups with encrypted data after a Malware attack has taken place. For this reason, it is vitally important, not only that you have a backup solution in place, but also that it is appropriately specified and configured to protect all your data and systems, as well as to retain sufficient copies of your data to avoid overwriting your backups.
Computeam can offer advice, as well as supply and manage backup solutions, to meet the needs of any school.
Disaster Recovery Planning
Having a backup is great and may well be the critical factor in an effective recovery; but knowing what to do and how to recover is also vitally important. This is not only about how to restore your data, but also to stop further spread of any Malware and ensure it is removed, before data is recovered, to avoid reinfection.
Our team of Consultants and Account managers can help you to define and document a Disaster Recovery Plan, which will detail what to do and in what order to ensure the situation is effectively handled.
Business Continuity Planning
In addition to Disaster Recovery, an often-overlooked consideration is Business Continuity.
Could you afford for your institution to be closed or offline for a week or more while your Disaster Recovery Plan is being implemented?
As above, our team of Consultants and Account managers can help you to define and document a Business Continuity Plan, identifying which systems and processes are critical to the running and operation of your organisation, and how they can be protected and prioritised to keep things running should the worst happen.
The final essential measure is testing. Having all the above in place is useless if it does not work!
Many organisations do not identify flaws in plans or overlooked systems until they try to implement their DR and BC plans.
Computeam can review these systems and plans and assist with testing them and mitigating any effect on users.
If you have questions about the above or you wish to discuss further your organisation's Cyber Security , please contact Computeam.
ESW Associate & Strategic Leader of Teaching & Research Schools, Roger Pope CBE inspired colleagues to look forward and plan more strategically for the next academic year with this quotation from Fletcher-Wood & Zuccollo:
“Professional Development is likely to be the most impactful tool at our disposal for improving teacher quality and increasing pupils’ learning”.
You can also find out more about the new NPQ's, the SWIFT membership 2021-2022 offer, live Q&A sessions with Ofsted Subject Leads, and the Meet the CPD Providers event after half term; as well as a wealth of latest CPD offers from our partners.
As a 100% EdTech focused company, and SWIFT corporate sponsor for the next three years, we are delighted to share Computeam's blog posts and case studies.
In today's article CEO Owen Napier shares his thoughts on Edtech After Covid and Maintaining the Gains.
Over the past 14 months we’ve seen an unprecedented disruption to the way we all live, work and learn. While the many negative impacts of Covid are clear, the pandemic has also been a driver of positive changes, some of which have been brought about through the enhanced use of technology.
Positive technological change has been widespread in UK schools, enabling remote learning and keeping teachers in touch with colleagues and pupils alike.
However, with schools mostly open and classrooms mostly full, there has been an understandable desire to return to the old ways of doing things.
Nobody is advocating a continuation of eight hours a day in front of a computer screen; but the EdTech sector and schools should work together to ensure that some of the best practices are retained.
Here are our Top 3 suggested priorities:
1. The Power of Asynchronous Learning
Early in the first lockdown, forward-thinking, tech savvy schools were able to switch to live remote teaching using Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Zoom. This enabled continuity for their pupils and allowed the curriculum to be taught at more or less its usual pace. But they soon started to encounter issues.
Teachers and pupils reported “Zoom fatigue” and parents struggled with the time commitments of work calls and virtual lessons for multiple children; not to mention, access to the devices required.
Soon, a more balanced approach emerged whereby teachers had live contact with pupils for short periods each day, but the majority of lesson content was delivered via pre-recorded video and digital resources. Essentially, this was the realisation of the “flipped classroom” model that has been around for over a decade and we think it has huge merit after the pandemic.
Pupils learn at different paces, and some are more receptive to learning at different times of the day. By continuing to provide a rich range of lesson content and pre-recorded video delivered by familiar teaching staff, schools can enhance provision and help to support and stretch learners at different stages.
2. Streamline and Synchronise
Last year over two million new accounts were created in Google and Microsoft platforms for the delivery of home learning through the DFE’s successful platform provisioning programme, as Computeam and other leading providers from across the sector set up over 7000 schools with a brand new digital learning platform.
It would have been impossible to manually create and maintain so many user accounts and ensure they were grouped together correctly, so we used synch tools to generate the right accounts from each school’s MIS.
We also deployed tools to ensure that the details from one account were then synchronised to others removing the need for users to log in multiple times every day.
These innovations mostly happen behind the scenes, but they are an important area for schools to continue to invest in on an ongoing basis (synch services will cost around £500 a year for a primary school and around twice that for the average secondary school).
Switching off the synch will probably result in little immediate disruption, but over time the smooth running of a system that has been taken for granted will start to frustrate users, pushing them away from their new digital platform.
3. Keep Meeting Virtually
Most of us have had our fill of web meetings and many are keen to go back to meeting in person.
But virtual meetings should continue because they are shorter, greener and more efficient.
At Computeam, we can engage with clients far more easily than we used to and we are seeing record numbers of teachers attend our video training session.
It is far easier to ask everyone to log in for an hour from 4pm – 5pm, perhaps after heading home, than it was to arrange a twilight in person session for a school and it costs half as much for us to deliver.
The key is to identify which meetings are best held in person and which are most beneficial to keep online – for example there is already a vocal movement among teachers to retain the time-saving, overrun-proof innovation of the virtual parents evenings!
As with any period of innovation, there were good and bad things about the way technology was used in schools during the pandemic. While we’re all keen to move on from the chaos of the past year, identifying and retaining the positive changes that have been made is a worthwhile endeavour for schools and EdTech providers alike.
If you’d like to discuss this, or highlight examples of positive technological change in your school then please do get in touch with us.
We were delighted to support our partner, CPD Provider, Ilsham English Hub in their recent event for schools with celebrated author, Michael Rosen who led a session on Reading for Pleasure on Wednesday 28 April 2021.
Author of over 200 books, Michael was recently awarded the 2021 J.M. Barrie Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his work in championing the arts for children and his many achievements as a performer and author.
"Reading for pleasure," he noted, "is a cosy title. But it does an important job." Indeed, research shows that reading helps children to attain, achieve and get the most out of school, with many children and young people staying on longer in education. Which must be a good thing.
Starting with the empirical evidence, Michael cited a study by the National Literacy Trust that he presented to Schools Minister, Nick Gibb on "Family Scholarly Culture and educational success" (MDR Evans et al, University of Nevada). Essentially, exposure to books and high culture provides important academic advantages for children - wherever they are in the world and no matter their parents.
But, Michael pondered, how can doing something cosy and ordinary like sharing books and "book blether" (talking about books in case you didn't know!) and the magic of books transform into creating attainment, success and access to schooling?
This is where Michael turned master of this reading for pleasure masterclass with his checklist below that is worth resuming in its entirety for all our book-loving teachers who aspire to inspire their pupils and as a reminder of the value of reading:
1. Empathy - get into the shoes of the characters in the books. By going outside of ourselves and comparing to someone else can lead to abstract thought. It helps children cope with a range of emotions: fear, anger, danger, sadness, pity etc.
2. Standard English - immersion in books is like learning languages. The reader is getting used to specialised ways in which English is laid out differently to how we speak it.
3. Structure of Story as narratives - stories are full of patterns and sequences/archetypes, e.g. Cinderella, the classic rags to riches story.
4. Wisdom - we get it from books and pass on these values and wisdom.
5. Figurative language - metaphor, similar, personification and images in literature. These can be quite complex for some children. But told through a story they can build on their understanding.
6. Symbolic Representation - does the story represent something more than it is?
7. Possibility of Change - someone can learn something from what's going on. This is a powerful message for children.
Even though the audience of over 260 were remote, watching Michael on screen as he read from "Where the Wild Things Are" brought all the magic of reading, picture books, language, atmosphere and stories alive. And had the audience been together in an auditorium I have no doubt you would have heard a pin drop. Utterly rapt!
With an almost effortless energy and enthusiasm, Michael oozed ideas to encourage children to read and engage actively in reading. Interviewing each other to discover the motive of stories - how did Hansel and Gretel feel? Writing prequels and sequels (with references to Daphne du Maurier's enduring classic, "Rebecca").
Find the Secret Strings (a beautifully catchy turn of phrase). The links inside stories. Turn poem detectives. Group activities. Yes! One teacher quoted in the chat how her pupils in her Year 1 class have been reading "The Little Red Hen" this week and have made links between "The Three Little Pigs" and "The Gingerbread Man," which "has instilled confidence, knowledge and understanding, particularly with my youngest children." Wonderful!
For our Early Year readers when stories are so essential in their development of language. Read out loud, sing and recite poetry. Help children to find the joy of language. Because "What they can say can be written." One teacher cited her class who love reading the story 'Chocolate Cake' and find it "hysterical." Another teacher added that her class changed the title to "Choc Lick Cake!" playing with the language. Showing how the best stories are often based on an element of truth, Michael shared how he used to pinch food from the larder - especially caramel wafers!
So how can a book-friendly school promote books for their children and families? Not surprisingly Michael had a feast of ideas:
We thank Michael for his joie de vivre for language and life in this "Reading for Pleasure" session delivered with fun and mischievousness and also thank Ilsham English Hub for organising such an enjoyable and engaging event.
The good news is that Ilsham will be hosting a further Michael Rosen session on Poetry in the Classroom on Wednesday 23 June 2021.
In the meantime, you can visit Michael's YouTube channel that has had more than 100 million views!
Report by Jude Owens
SWIFT is pleased to be supporting the Devon Right to Read initiative that launched at the end of April.
Primary School colleagues gathered together on Monday 26 April 2021 for the online launch of the new Devon Right to Read initiative (www.devonrighttoread.org.uk).
Director of Kingsbridge Research School (KRS), Jon Eaton introduced proceedings, joined by Lorwyn Randall, the Regional Delivery Lead, South West & South Coast for the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), as two of the partners in the project. Also present were partner representatives: Samantha Chapman, Strategic Lead for Effective Learning, Babcock LDP; Zoe Milligan, Evidence Leader in Education on behalf of KRS; Tatiana Wilson, Education Adviser with the Diocese of Exeter and Alison Jones, Primary English Adviser for Babcock.
The partnership originates from joined-up thinking about exploring ways to tackle the stubborn achievement gap for disadvantaged pupils in Devon with reading at the core of the programme. As Alex Quigley said, “Reading is one of the most metacognitive things you can do.”
Devon Right to Read focuses in particular on reading in Years 3 and 4, as analysis of reading outcomes in Devon has found that Disadvantaged children currently do less well than disadvantaged children nationally in achieving expected standards at KS2 in reading: 56.6% (Devon) vs 59% (National). There is a 20.2% gap between Disadvantaged Pupils and non-Disadvantaged Pupils in Devon: 56.6% (DS) vs 77.6% (Non-DS). Based on verified 2019 SATS data. In addition to this on average approximately 60% of our NQTs are assigned to Years 3 and 4 classes, which often sees a slump in children’s progress. Head Teachers deduce that reading goes under the radar in these year groups with an earlier focus on phonics.
Indeed, the statistics speak for themselves. Devon is in the lowest third of Local Authorities in terms of months gap between disadvantaged children and their peers. At the end of KS2 disadvantaged children in Devon are 10.8 months behind and by the time of GCSEs, disadvantaged children are 20.8 months behind in Devon compared with 18.1 months nationally
The main focus, or the DNA of the Devon Right to Read project, is to focus on the principles behind literacy and to ensure a strong implementation with a focus on improving the teaching of reading by supporting teachers to provide children with effective reading strategies. By closing the reading gap for disadvantaged children there is the double positive impact in boosting pupils’ confidence, and their successful outcomes in all aspects of schooling. Ultimately enhancing children’s life chances.
With its decisive and alliterative use of “Right to Read” the project feels dynamic, strong and positive. A call to arms. Or a call for school improvement to confront reality and to use practical ways to tackle and close the gap through evidence-based assessment and diagnosis, and targeted interventions and principles that make them effective. EEF Key Stage 2 guidance support is the basis of nine modules delivered over three days training.
Literacy Content Specialist for the EEF, Caroline Bilton joined the event from Newcastle. Familiar with some areas of deprivation in the North East, she is co -author of the EEF Improving Literacy in Key Stage 1 guidance report, and is now working on the Key Stage 2 report.
Caroline reiterated the importance of understanding the context and evidence in knowing your own schools and families and making evidence as accessible as possible. There is value in supporting and developing a trusting relationship with those families who desperately want their children to read, and are struggling in understanding and the complexity of that task.
The most important thing is talking. By giving children every opportunity to learn through talk they are provided with the foundation and essential starting point to develop as confident readers. “Talk is the sea upon which reading and writing float,” (James Britton, 1970).
A teacher herself, Caroline understands that teachers make it look easy; but it is vital to get children involved in high quality interactions and to show genuine interest in them with effective modelling/scaffolding and to use explicit teaching as building blocks for fluent reading; referring to The Matthew Effect, of creating a rich literacy experience. Remember the mantra: talk with children, not to them! Talk will build on the architecture in a child’s brain. Those children who have benefitted from a rich experience write instinctively.
Caroline’s joy of reading with children and inspiring, motivating and engaging and making reading an adventure was palpable. “Be a reader of children’s books. Your love of reading is infectious…Take children on adventures in the books you share…Allow all children to feel successful as readers.”
Ultimately, teaching children to read is a moral imperative. All the more essential in the aftermath of the Covid-19 lockdown effect. Again, the data is stark. Comparison of reading tests between 2017 and 2020 showed that children were two months behind and disadvantaged children seven months behind.
Dawn Stabb, Head of Education and Learning at Devon County Council, reflected on how society has changed rapidly in the past year. Not least the ongoing context of interactive technology in which children are immersed. She reminded the audience to remember the power of simply reading, which can transcend barriers to learning and spark the imagination and build curiosity. Reading also has the added benefits to help children build their own vocabulary, develop their fluency and help their writing. Reading can help children understand what is written and what they hear, as listening outcomes make a difference to help children achieve in the classroom, with the added awareness of children with visual or hearing impairments.
The lockdown has also impacted on mental wellbeing with a special role for books and reading to play beyond raising academic achievement. Reading can develop emotions and interactions with friends and family and help children and young people work through difficult situations and build up children’s thoughts. With both wisdom and passion, Dawn reminded the audience, “Don’t forget what made us fall in love with reading and impart this to children.”
Professor Jonathan Sharples, who works with Lorwyn and Caroline at the EEF and is based at UCL, explained the processes of effective implementation. Citing Dr Jake Anders on the EEF Projects Review, he noted that “Where there are problems of implementation these often appear to be linked to a lack of shared understanding among senior leaders and teachers of what is involved.”
Implementation is lots of small things done well, what he termed, “uncommon common sense.” A shared and a central vision with tacit expertise and knowledge that is explicit and structured. In other words, the essential thing is that implementation is manifested in day-to-day work with an enthusiasm so that staff feel trusted to lead the changes. Drilling down needs to be done to identify the active ingredients (using a memorable stick of rock image) as the essential practices and principles for intervention in order to achieve the intended outcomes. Using a gardening metaphor, Jonathan explained the value of preparing the ground, clearing out the garden and creating space to plant: Explore, prepare, deliver and sustain.
Action for schools as part of this exploration, understanding reflection phase, was to set up an implementation team and to complete a CPD Short Course questionnaire.
Lorwyn and Samantha concluded the launch by thanking schools for attending and expressed their excitement to work with so many schools on the project. The emphasis on long-lasting embedded sustainable literacy practices was one of the many memorable takeaways from the launch, with the benefits of the Devon Right to Read programme for ALL children, as well as the disadvantaged.
We will watch with interest.
Report by Jude Owens
An hour with a former Children’s Laureate, who also happens to be a former primary school teacher and a leading light of the save the libraries campaign in recent years, is always going to be golden time.
Keynote speaker, Michael Morpurgo certainly set the tone at the recent “The Inspirational Power of Words” conference led by The Cornerstone English Hub in an interview with Drama Lead, Bronnie Williams. He began his talk by reading his wonderfully uplifting poem, “A Song of Gladness” - written during the pandemic as his “escape.”
“The good power of words makes you think, dream, ask questions…”
He owes his own journey as a writer to his mother, whom he recalled sitting on his bed every evening, reading him and his older brother stories and poems by John Masefield, Walter de la Mare and Shakespeare. She read with “passion and feeling,” and Michael went to bed dreaming of her.
Ironically, and painfully, his own school experience put him off reading. A salutary lesson perhaps for colleagues today. In his day, it was about how you wrote – neatness and correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. So much so that the young Michael stopped reading and wanted to play out instead. Not surprisingly, he’s very no-nonsense about not being a fan of testing. But thankfully for us and his many readers, Michael has built up a lifelong love of stories over his 77 years. As is the case for most of us, he remembered his teacher who loved stories. An old professor in a tweed suit reading Beowulf. He sounds like a character from one of Michael’s stories.
In what became a masterclass for writing Michael cited Ted Hughes and his ideas for writing. Number one: lead an interesting life. Engage, meet people, and experience eye and heart-opening experiences. Number two: develop an enjoyment for reading.
“Reading is private relationship between the writer and the reader and nothing must interrupt it.”
“Dreamtime” is the most important part of story writing. Michael still uses a small school exercise book to pen his plots and advocates only putting pen to paper when you’ve found a story you care about. There should be no pressure to write. Michael goes for walks and talks to the sheep in the fields about his story ideas. Back in the classroom, children need time to think, read, ask questions and then, start writing.
Above his desk Michael keeps a child’s framed letter to him as evidence of the power of reading. It tells how a teacher was reading from his book, “The Butterfly Lion” and suddenly started crying and passed the book to the child to read to the class. Overwhelmed, she had lost herself in the story and was afraid to show her emotion in front of the children.
“Books unlock us – that’s what they do…”
As well as the importance of a good story plotline, his joy for words was palpable. Especially funny words as the spoken word can be easier for children to grasp. Words like nincompoop and his favourite word tikityboo (fabulous for spelling practice!)! Reminding teachers and aspiring writers to make writing fun, as in the tradition of wonderful and timeless authors, Lewis Carroll and Roald Dahl who revelled in making up words.
Demonstrating the universality of stories, Michael marvelled about his celebrated story, “War Horse,” appealing to children of seven and 70-year-olds. A story about the universal suffering of war set in World War I, and narrated by a horse; amongst the many successful adaptations he recalled a moving production in Berlin. Part of the story-making process, there’s the additional joy and inspiration for the audience who watch a play in the theatre and go onto think about being an actor, making the puppets, the costumes etc. Evidence of the richness of reading and books that goes beyond and leads to many creative career pathways – the cinema, theatre and dance.
Linked by video conference from his home in Devon - so close to us in a virtual way – Michael mused on a year of Covid and all the ramifications. Of a divided country and the sadness, tensions and mental health issues in which education can and must play a huge part in the prospects of young people. Interestingly, Finland came out as the happiest country in a recent poll with a serious, but contented population. The secret formula? By and large, Finish people feel equal, with a fairness at the heart of society; which brings a cohesion, with education at the heart. Back to his roots perhaps as a teacher and his own experience as a child, it’s teachers who make the difference if they are properly supported by society.
As well as being a master storyteller Michael told of his charity work with children who come to live and work in the countryside on his farm and experience the joy of picking up eggs, digging in the vegetable garden, watching lambs being born. Ultimately, engaging and as with books, freeing their imagination to go wild.
There were more golden practical insights and suggestions in the Q&A session with Bronnie Williams including:
BW What’s the best reaction you’ve had to reading a story?
MM “Silence. They’re in the story.”
BW What’s the best way to end a story?
MM “It finds its own ending if you let it…Don’t be too tidy…Let the story work it out itself.”
BW How do you foster imaginative opportunities for children?
MM “Limit the ambition…Pretend you’re not writing at all. Tell them to write what happened.”
BW How can schools support parents who are not enthused about writing?
MM “Get parents to come to storytime. AND grandparents! Get the children to ask questions…Engage them!”
Organise big events once a term with storytelling and plays.
Cornerstone Academy Trust CEO & Executive Headteacher, Jonathan Bishop thanked Michael for his talk and true to the spirit of the conference, noted how good writing begins with children’s engagement in reading.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb led the next keynote speech and noted how it is hard to think of anything more important than reading and writing and how the Department for Education is building on schools’ work, particularly in phonics and using technology effectively when education is delivered remotely.
Understandably, much of the current policy work is driven by the challenging and devasting scars of Covid-19, and he thanked teachers for their dedication. The DfE have made huge efforts to keep education on track with £2.7m recovery plans: 1.3 million tablets/laptops distributed to disadvantaged children and working with leading telecommunication operators to provide free extra data for disadvantaged families. He also paid tribute to the Oak National Academy who have provided hours of work, in which a staggering 87.3 million lessons have been viewed.
Launched in 2018, English Hubs are an important force to raise standards of early reading and provide support to up to 30 schools in their area with nine days of literacy training. Similarly, the effective implementation of EdTech Demonstrator Schools - of which Cornerstone is also designated – showcases 48 schools and colleagues providing peer-to-peer support to enhance remote teaching; interweaving technology into high quality pedagogical practice. Technology is never a replacement for teachers, but should be used as a tool and with the additional benefit of reducing teacher workload.
It’s a known fact that children who struggle to read, struggle in all subjects. By ensuring high quality phonics teaching, children have a solid base to develop a love and habit of reading. The Minister celebrated the strong reading culture nationally, built on firm foundations to develop a love of reading and shared his own bookworm reading experiences as a child when he read voraciously. The Narnia Chronicles, Joan Atkins, Hornblower, and even illicitly as a teenager, he read Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries!
The Minister ended by thanking teachers for their energy and commitment and enthusiasm to make improvements in order to benefit pupils. He also thanked them for their drive to instil a love of reading in children to follow them though their lives.”
“A passion for literature that has no substitute.”
Deputy Head of School & English Hub Lead, Matthew Pitts thanked the Minister for his talk and thanked those Cornerstone colleagues due to contribute to the day – many of whom were speaking or leading a session for the first time. Working with Microsoft, other Curriculum Hubs and partner schools, the Cornerstone English Hub is committed to making a difference across the country working with schools in East Devon, Dorset and Somerset to develop a culture where children love to read.
Conference delegates had opportunity to participate in a series of dynamic workshops and discussion groups focused on the five strands of: Reading for Pleasure, Building Blocks, Brilliant Beginnings, Delivering Digitally, and Strong Support. Colleagues were enthused and engaged by exciting sessions led by Hub specialists on topics including, Schools that Love to Read, Intentional Excellence in Teaching Vocabulary, Rebooting Letters and Sounds, Encouraging Reluctant Readers, Agile Assessment in English: Digital Solutions and more.
In keeping with the Cornerstone Academy Trust reading policy when ALL their schools stop and read a story every day between 3-3.30pm. And what perfect way to end this conference, but with storytime led by Michael Morpurgo, reading “My Father is a Polar Bear.” He invited the audience to find out the true bits in this lovely story with a lovely use of words about his real father, the eponymous polar bear whom he watched in a production of the “The Snow Queen,” on Christmas Eve 1948 at the Young Vic Theatre: “The snarliest, growliest, scariest one…”
Thank you to the Cornerstone Team for “The Inspirational Power of Words” conference that was truly inspirational and powerful. A reminder that fostering a love of books can be the pathway to a deeper knowledge and understanding.
By Jude Owens
ESW Associate & Strategic Leader of Teaching & Research Schools, Roger Pope CBE updates colleagues that "SWIFT have decided to work with Teach First as our National Partner on the Early Career Framework from September 2021...and also our partner on NPQs, working through Leading Schools South West (LSSW)."
There's also an overview into the Devon Right to Read Launch this week and an insight into the journey from TSSW to SWIFT; as well as the latest CPD offers.
"The Inspirational Power of Words" Conference ends this Spring Term on an inspiring note...
Thank you to all the Cornerstone English Hub Team and everyone involved in delivering and preparing for the excellent conference yesterday on "The Inspirational Power of Words" A title full of promise, if ever there was one! Participants' goodwill and enjoyment was palpable in this perfectly-timed event as an uplifting end to the Spring Term with hope and inspiration in the air.
Watch out for a news item to follow, including more about Michael Morpurgo's keynote talk as an inspiring author and former teacher and Children's Laureate; along with some of his creative recommendations for encouraging children to read. We thank Michael for highlighting the joy and importance of reading.
For now, you can listen here to Michael reading "A Song for Gladness" for the BBC - his latest work, and part of a wider project aimed to provide comfort, especially to children during the lockdown to inspire others to enjoy the love of reading.
A live, interactive chat show for teachers and school leaders was streamed to nearly 300 attendees from the state-of-the-art TV studio at Broadclyst Community Primary School earlier this week on Tuesday 30 March 2021.
“Road to Recovery - Lessons Learnt from Lockdown” was produced in partnership with the Southwest Regional Schools Commissioner Office and The Cornerstone Academy Trust (TCAT), to provide an opportunity to share best practice and ensure a smooth return to full school and high-quality education.
The focus of the event was to build on the investments that schools have made in learning platforms, the upskilling of staff and in new devices to enable a new approach to education.
Hosted by TCAT’s Executive Headteacher, Jonathan Bishop and Head of Education, Dave James, the show began with a summary from Matthew Stevenson, Deputy Director, South West RSC Office, of the investment the Government has made in technology and training, who set the tone for the discussion with his comment that:
“Nobody cares about technology in and of itself; it’s about how we use the technology really effectively to improve things."
In conversation with Matthew Shanks, CEO, Education South West, both Nichola Offer, Assistant Principal, Kingsbridge Community College and Tom Graham, Deputy Headteacher, Coombeshead Academy agreed that there are aspects of remote teaching that they want to build on going forward. These include staff meetings, catch-up for absent pupils, recordings in advance to cover staff absence and revision. Nichola also commented on the advantages of technology for supporting children with SEND, such as using live captions within the classroom for deaf students and working in smaller groups with Teaching Assistants to meet some children’s sensory needs:
“It’s about being able to use the recordings and the live streaming in a lesson but replicating a learning environment that better suits them, reducing their cognitive load in a slightly quieter classroom environment.”
Giles Hill and Peter Bradburn from the Aspire Academy Trust discussed the barriers to implementing technology and shared hints and tips to embed the practice and innovation that was learned during lockdown. Reinforcing their message, Dr Fiona Aubrey-Smith discussed how the same technology can be used differently by different teachers, different children and in different classrooms:
“I think my golden message is focus on our individual teachers with as much value as we focus on our individual children.”
ESW Associate & Strategic Leader of Teaching & Research Schools, Roger Pope CBE keeps colleagues informed about forthcoming Early Career Framework engagement events and the new suite of NPQs...
"The Government rightly wants 'a Golden Thread' of professional development from ITT to NPQQEL and we are here to help you weave it."
In addition, you can read more and book your place at this year's TSSW Summer Conference with a stunning line-up of speakers.
There's more information about Early Career Framework School Engagement Events for school leaders to find out more about the national roll-out from September 2021 and opportunity to be part of a Teacher Research and Innovation Work Group about Parental Engagement in Maths with the CODE and Jurassic Maths Hubs.
Plus the latest offers and events from our partner Teaching School Alliances and Curriculum Hubs.
We hope you enjoy reading this issue.
Congratulations to Colyton Grammar School who have recently been awarded the status of Teaching School Hub by the Department for Education.
Colyton joins Kingsbridge Community College (part of Education South West) as one of the 87 schools nationally that have achieved this award, which is granted to schools with a track record of exceptional pupil performance and leading training in other schools.
The new Colyton Teaching School Hub will become a centre of excellence for teacher training and development, covering 194 schools in the four Devon districts of East Devon, Mid-Devon, North Devon and Torridge. The funding will be used to deliver national and local training programmes. In doing this, Colyton will draw on its strengths in curriculum, leadership and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).
From the start, Teaching Schools South West has worked closely with Colyton Grammar School, and there is a shared vision for creating a ‘two hub, one programme’ model for schools in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay. This vision is now being translating into reality as the Kingsbridge Teaching School Hub and Colyton Teaching School Hub, and a partnership of schools, trusts, teaching schools, curriculum hubs and the Kingsbridge Research School are working on planning next year’s programme.
The programme will include the new national Early Career Framework, a new Appropriate Body service for assessment and supporting Early Career Teachers, reformed NPQs and a wide range of evidence-based CPD. The focus of this partnership will be to improve the educational experience and outcomes for students Devon, Plymouth and Torbay by supporting schools to develop and recruit the very best teachers.
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