It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

The phrase, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ has become a mantra for Alison Kriel and her team at Northwold Primary School. Earlier this year, Alison had recommended a visit to Andalusia, in particular the beaches of Tarifa and Conil. By chance, I was recently invited to the area by another friend who epitomises the Southern Spanish attitude to life. During my time there, I found myself being drawn in by the ambience of the region and wisdom of my friend.

It was not just the climate that soothed me, though this has an undeniable impact, as does the proximity to sand and surf. Catching a wave and the smiles of others, indicating ‘You Get It’ has a profound effect.

Amongst the surge of the waves was the sound of pure laughter, from young and old. What struck me was the mixture of generations, the sense of family and community. This was even more obvious in the evenings with the children playing and watching the street artists until late, while the older folk kept watch amongst their own conversations.

The gulf between southern European and UK lifestyles is vast and my visit was a timely reminder to seek a better balance. The relentless initiatives forced upon those working in education communities take their toll, so much so that we often fail to take time to reflect and be truly mindful.

The changes in Government have led to the long overdue removal of Gove and Morgan, who have systematically attempted to destroy the teaching profession. What happens next remains to be seen, but I am hopeful that Justine Greening will actually encourage the DfE to listen to teachers and learners and consider the different qualities and needs of schools. Hopefully, she will be mindful of the words, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’…

Summer Holiday: Part 2…Bookings Now Being Taken

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This time last year I wrote a post entitled, ‘We’re all Going on a Summer Holiday’, which focused on transition funding and programmes for children moving from primary to secondary schools.

Today, as I board a train at Bradford, I discover that Minister of State for Schools, David Laws, has announced £50 million for the second year of the summer schools programme. For further details, click here.

The arrangements look similar to last year but this time round the net appears to be wider, in that ‘Eligible schools that have Ever6 FSM (i.e. pupils who have been registered for free school meals at any point in the last six years) and pupils who have been looked after continuously for more than six months by the local authority (LAC) making the transition into Year 7 in September 2013 can take part in the summer schools programme by completing a short, simple online form.

Last summer, Evolve SI introduced their successful XLR8 programme to help overcome some of the problems children experience when making the transition from Year 6 to Year 7.  The first set of successful XLR8 Camps took place in Birmingham, Bradford, Swinton and Lincoln. Having read the recent evaluation reports from DfE regarding Summer schools 2012, it would seem that the XLR8 programme was visionary in that it achieved many of the recommendations for future courses.

The XLR8 programme was designed specifically for Year 6 pupils and activities were hosted in the secondary school that pupils would attend from September onwards.  The 2012 programme focused on two key themes:

  • Super-Heroes’
  • ‘What’s Your Big Idea? THE Next Big Thing…’

Each XLR8 day included sessions focused on:

XLR8 Vitality – these physical engagement games included a range of exciting teambuilding, quick thinking and problem-solving challenges. They were not limited to sports and multi-skills activities!

XLR8 Enterprise – these sessions looked at discovering and developing the pupils’ enquiring and productive minds. Learners were given opportunities to design and develop an idea, service or product that could be presented in a ‘Dragons Den’ meets ‘Junior Apprentice’ style team challenge with literacy, numeracy and promotional elements.

XLR8 Talent – allowed learners to develop their creative arts and performance skills. Evolve SI invited professional young performers (e.g. urban poets, actors, choreographers and motivational speakers) to excite and inspire the pupils to develop the confidence needed to undertake performance opportunities. These were shared with parents and carers at the ‘Talent Showcase’.

XLR8 DigITal Me – introduced and developed pupils’ abilities to fully utilise the internet and digital media in order to nurture their interest and enthusiasm in this important area of the curriculum.

The aim of all sessions was to build pupils’ confidence in their own abilities whilst making new friends with pupils also making the transition to their new school.

The initial XLR8 courses had a unique ability in that they got everybody physically active in an inclusive atmosphere and provided a mix of education, health and physical literacy benefits whilst addressing the transition agenda.

“…Evolve were extremely professional and flexible throughout the entire process.  They had a genuine understanding of our needs and the challenges we face and provided an effective and hassle free solution for us.

The Health Mentors were excellent with the children and we have received positive feedback from staff, parents and pupils who were involved.  We are looking forward to extending the XLR8 programme this year so that we can maximise the pre and post course mentoring opportunities to provide an even more seamless transition for next year’s new intake…”

Deena Satchell, Year 7 Coordinator, George Dixon Academy, Birmingham.

For further details about the types of activities on offer and the impact that the 2012 programme had on pupils please click here.

As you can imagine, Evolve are looking to build on the successes of last year and are now planning an expansion of the XLR8 programme in 2013. This year, Evolve are operating a more comprehensive package that allows pre-Camp mentoring sessions in primary schools during the summer term and post-Camp mentoring sessions in secondary schools during the autumn term. This approach will ensure Evolve’s Health Mentors can:

  • Identify and address issues or concerns relating to pupil progression to secondary education;
  • Support the ongoing academic attainment of pupils during this often challenging time.

Further information can be found here. Evolve welcome the opportunity to discuss how XLR8 could play a key role within your transition strategy in 2013, accommodating the specific needs and interests of your school.

Images courtesy of Paul Atherton.

We’re All Going on a Summer Holiday

Summer ThoughtsWalking along Regent’s Canal this week, having completed a presentation for and , my thoughts were future-shifting to to the summer.  Well, the sun was shining, I had removed my jacket and tie…it really was THAT warm, AND Beth Orton was playing through the wires so life felt good.

That evening, I was checking my e-mails and found a link to:

The Summer Schools programme for disadvantaged pupils is open to all secondary schools. The first Summer Schools of the programme take place during the 2012 school summer holidays, with a budget of £50m.

This programme aims to help disadvantaged pupils make a successful transition from primary to secondary school. Schools can claim Summer School funding for:

  • pupils who are registered for free school meals (FSM)
  • pupils who have been looked after in public care continuously for six months.

For further information, follow the link above. Please note the deadline for submitting the opt-in form is 5pm Monday 30 April 2012.

If you need ideas for how best to run a Summer Camp, will be more than willing to help in terms of providing high quality Health Mentors to deliver innovative programmes that will enthuse, educate and activate students.

These programmes will build on the proven success of the outstanding transition project, Compass: Finding Your Direction,

So if you work in a secondary school, remove your jackets, walk in the sunshine, listen to music that warms the soul, future-shift and get those applications in…

Bryn Llewellyn, 15 march 2012