The Durham Pupil Premium Cluster Blogging Project has been running for 7 months and Headteacher of Bader Primary School (Simon Feasey) tracks progress so far in this informative guest blog post.
Hearing of and then eagerly joining and participating in one of Deputy Mitchell’s blogging cluster projects promised to be just the sort of innovative practice we wanted to share in and develop and embed at Bader. The promise of raising standards in writing, through increased engagement and the expansion of audience the medium offered was in itself a pretty good reason for investing time, energy and resource. Identifying school leads for the project who would make maximise impact was easy. I sensed from the off that engagement in the blogging phenomenon would offer so much more, and that the whole would be greater than the sum of the parts. I was not disappointed. This particular band wagon just keeps on rolling!
All groups – Nursery through to Year 6 – maintain their own blogs. Range of use and content of posts vary beyond description. This might warrant a look. A small sample:
Reception: Videos of children designing, making, baking, planting…
Year 2: Videos of children, post-Reading Recovery intervention, reading during Read Aloud Week – shared with a partner school in Oxfordshire.
Year 3: Tasks set, using Padlet, for children to share independent research in Science, Latin and literacy.
Year 4: Progress with regard to Y4’s progress with ‘50 things to do before you are 11 ¾’, including a video of their snail race Science inquiry.
Year 5: Reports on key ideas learned in Science topics, with further opportunity to extend learning.
Year 6: Pupil input, through comments, on school’s identification of key learner qualities and their definition.
Recent newcomers are the Digital Leaders blog (with an introductory video created by the digital leaders on their role) and Cookery Club (complete with baking activities, recipes + instructions).
A real boom has been the extension of previously delimited professional learning communities. I offer one very good example: our embracing of Visible Learning concepts and principles, and our endeavour to become a Visible Learning accredited school. In keeping a Visible Learning blog, I have 1. maintained a useful record of our particular journey, and 2. sought to share experience and learning that others may be interested in. I know there is an interest because of the positive feedback received. I share and understand the interest shown in tracking our school’s journey because I follow several excellent, informative and inspiring blogs kept by fellow Visible Learning pioneers. Commonly, notification of new posts will be announced via Twitter #VLNetworkUK.
In January 2015, we disbanded our School Council and replaced it with an elected parliament. The thinking behind that decision was based on our want to have Bader pupils understand democracy, the rule of law and public service by replicating the function of Parliament in London – other than our parliament not being party political. Minutes of weekly meetings, activities, and updates from respective ministers are regularly posted, with the expectation that school community members will express their views, positively or otherwise, but respectfully. The blog being readily accessible to all, offers opportunity for expression of views: democracy and freedom of speech in action.
Pupils at Bader, in all year groups from Y1 to Y6, experience an annual residential visit. Needless to say, mobile phones and such communication devices are not allowed. Recently, our Y5s went skiing for a week and our Y4s went to France for a week. We kept parents updated, virtually hour by hour. A picture taken at the top of the Eiffel Tower, for example, was uploaded to the blog and viewed by parents back home. Parents commented regularly. Comments were relayed to the children and responses posted in return. I really can’t say just how well received this was by parents. As a parent, I fully appreciate that handing your child over to others to look after for any period of time away requires a truly significant placing of trust. On our return, so many parents expressed their gratitude for the efforts made to keep the blog live and regular; saying how reassuring it was to follow their child’s adventure.
We now plan on redesigning our website in a way that foregrounds this full range of blogs. Our blogs announce, celebrate and define our school as a living and breathing organic learning community.
If you would like to hear more about how DeputyMitchell could support your school or cluster in this way, please do get in touch by leaving a comment or filling in this form to express interest.