The day the nation took notice of blogging in schools…

The 14th February 2011 was such an important day for me for so many reasons!

To think that just over 14 months prior to this date, Heathfield Primary School in Bolton didn’t any form of online presence was virtually unbelievable. Some of you reading this will no doubt know the story so I won’t bore you with the details, however, the developments over the few days before this date were monumental!

Around October 2010, Heathfield Primary became an affiliated SSAT Primary school. The SSAT were an organisation that had expertise oozing through their veins. Through this affiliation, Heathfield were guided into a position to showcase blogging to other schools and the fantastic impact it is having on our pupils.

On Friday 11th February 2011, Heathfield were featured in an article in the Independent. At about 12:10pm the phone started ringing…

BBC Breakfast News were the first to contact us, followed by Channel 4 News at 12:40pm and then BBC Radio 4 at 12:45pm. The chain of events that followed were exciting and also slightly comical!

I had been invited to give a talk to the PGCE students at Manchester Met University so had to dash out of school. During the journey, I spoke to BBC Radio 4 on the phone who REALLY wanted to get an interview for their 10 o’clock news show that night on Friday – So much so, that they put on a car to pick me up from MMU to take me to the studios in Manchester and back to MMU when finished. These things just don’t happen to teachers! However, just as I was being driven into the studios, BBC Radio 4 called me to explain that President Mubarak of Egypt had that minute stepped down and all radio space would be devoted to this story! The driver turned the car around and took me back.

The BBC Breakfast News were still looking to secure a time to do some live filming from school, as a result, my return journey was spent talking to teachers at Heathfield trying to secure parental permission from a selection of pupils giving permission for those pupils to appear live on the BBC on Monday morning! By 6:00pm on Friday night, we were sorted.

BBC Breakfast News were planning to report live from Heathfield at 7:20am and 8:20am and be gone by 8:45am. The only thing left to arrange was the finer details which they told me would be discussed over the phone on Sunday. After an hour’s phone call on Sunday night with the BBC we were both clear as to what the general format would be. I was happy and they were happy!

After not sleeping for more than 10 minutes at a time, I was up at 4:15am to get sorted and into school for 5:20am so that the Satellite truck could get set up.

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Graham Satchell (BBC Reporter) arrived and started to speedily run through the format of the live reports with the pupils and myself. This was REALLY interesting to watch and the pupils were fascinated to see and hear what reporters have to do behind the scenes.

At 7:20am, it all started on BBC1! Please watch the video of all the clips below:
Thanks to Simon Haughton for uploading!

The next day saw the local BBC North West team visit for some live filming from 13:30 to record some footage for their evening show at 6:30pm. The BBC Radio 5 Live interview took place on the Thursday and it was amazing to see the pupils speak so eloquently about the impact writing to a global audience was having on their aspiration levels, the quality of what they were writing and their enthusiasm for learning. There’s more to come and if only I could get all the pupils to have their say…we’d persuade the nation that:

Radio 5 Live interview with Mr. Mitchell, Miss Wiggans and Thomas!

BBC North West News Coverage:

I don’t think I have felt as proud of my pupils as I did that week! I was subsequently able to take pupils with me to conferences to present along side me. I now work across the country and beyond support schools along a similar journey and I’m still shocked as to why more schools aren’t using blogging to give real purpose to writing for their pupils. Simon Feasey (Headteacher at Bader Primary School) wrote a guest post here about the work we have been doing together. Take a minute to read it and if you think your school would like to begin a journey, please get in touch by filling out this short contact form.

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