Welcome to the BLC

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 The Brixton Learning Collaborative (BLC)  is a group of 13 schools and Children’s Centres in Brixton, south London, working together to support pupils, staff, families and the local community  through partnership working.

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In the Brixton Learning Collaborative, we help each other to be outstanding

We do this through:

  • Maintaining our creative approach
  • Promoting pupil voice
  • Demonstrating transformational impact
  • All schools becoming beacons of excellence
  • Demonstrating a sense of collective responsibility
  • Supporting schools to ensure Teaching and Learning remains consistently outstanding over time
  • Engaging families with support from schools within the Collaborative
  • Sharing our resources in a reciprocal way

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EYFS Forum at Effra Early Years Centre

30 staff from across our cluster gathered after school for our EYFS Forum this week, held at Effra Early Years Centre. It was a busy meeting kicking off with Stockwell’s presentation on the impact of the 30 hour Nursery offer for working parents and it’s impact on Nursery places and funding. Local school nurseries are concerned this will greatly impact on their numbers and are looking at how to recruit more children and what they can do to make the budget work. Clare Bradley went on to present on Talk for Writing and the stages of imitation, innovation and invention through immersion in a book. We all enjoyed using actions to retell Billy Goat Gruff! Finally the group discussed and brought forward their top tips for successful transition from Nursery to Reception and Reception to Year 1. Home visits for new children were unanimously thought extremely valuable for a successful start in school. More of this information will be posted separately. Thank you to all staff who came and to Effra for hosting. Next term’s meeting will focus on STEM in Early Years.

successful transition from year 6 to year 7 – a guide from our teachers

Senior teachers in our cluster have discussed their thoughts on how to make transition from year 6 to year 7 successful. This is one of the biggest changes children face during their school career, which is so important to get right.
First they identified some of the challenges:

What are the barriers facing new year 7 students?

Everything is much larger scale

Children have to make new friends

There’s a new behaviour expectation

Children have to travel to school and around the building (can get lost)

Children have to organise themselves (bring the correct equipment to lessons)

Children have to get used to different teaching styles and to working with 10 teachers not just 1.

Children start new subjects or subjects approached in a different way (eg History not through topic, new modern foreign languages)

Our teachers then discussed how schools can prepare for the transition:

What do secondary schools need to know about new year 7 pupils

Information about childrens’ home lives, history and individual needs

SEN information and data

Useful to bring a portfolio of their work to a secondary.

Useful for year 6 and year 7 teachers to meet in the summer term and share expectations.

What kind of pastoral support needs to be in place for year 6/7 transition

Its worth secondary staff visiting their feeder primary year 6s.

Buddy children up with year 7/8 students

Arrange for secondary students to visit primaries or talk to new year 7s about their own experiences of transition.

Hold a special morning for SEN and vulnerable pupils to visit secondary school.

Make sure new year 7s know where to go to for pastoral support eg student services, the librarian – the people who they can go to and chat if they have a problem or feel vulnerable and get to know.

Hold Taster days at a secondary school for primary pupils.

What do primaries need to do to support their pupils academically in transition?

Enable more collaboration between year 6 and year 7 teachers

Make sure year 6s still keep up with their subject knowledge after SATS – maths problems, looking at texts, taster lessons at a secondary in humanities/languages/science

Make sure primaries take some samples of their work with them to show at secondary school.

Invite ex pupils back to primary schools to update on how they are getting on and what it was like

prepare year 6s for working independently and for homework

Give year 6s some activities in the summer term that include practical skills – eg getting round a building, bringing in the right equipment etc.

The teachers agreed that information sharing between primaries and secondaries is vital and that helping new year 7s to cope with the practical challenges of a new big school was very important.

Big read programme gets underway

Last Friday children from our primary schools gathered in the library at Evelyn Grace Academy to meet their year 12 reading mentors from EGA, choose from a wealth of books and get reading together! This is the start of our second Big Reading project where year 12s support year 4 and 5 students with their reading through weekly visits. It was apt that the event took place just after World Book Day. In fact Loughborough Primary School had just had a visit from David Walliams that morning! This year the project has been more popular than ever with 17 year 12 students volunteering to take part. The children were excited by the wealth of titles available in the library and look forward to some quality reading time together in the weeks to come.

BLC teacher working party talks to children about how they learn best

This term, teachers from 4 of our primary schools are making visits to each other’s settings to see learning in the classroom and talk to children about how they learn, what helps them learn, what’s tricky, what’s good and what makes learning memorable. Today it was the turn of Hill Mead Primary year 2 to be interviewed. The children said that story maps and practical activities such as cooking, tile making, drama and a visit to the seaside helped them learn.Talking before writing helped them, and partner work ‘because I go slowly’.The children thought of a time they had used their imaginations to help them learn: ‘The dragon had 64 eggs, then he had another 64 – that’s doubling – we imagined we were in there counting’. We look forward to sharing the working parties experience and findings to our whole cluster and using it to progress the child-centred learning environments we foster.

Active Learners in Numeracy

This term Reception children in 4 schools across the BLC have been participating in the new Active Learners in Numeracy project, exploring movement-oriented approaches towards learning in maths.

Active Learners in Numeracy is a project funded by SHINE, a charity which promotes innovation in education. A grant was awarded to a group of teachers involved in the Brixton Learning Collaborative to integrate numeracy and physical activity. Four schools took part: St John’s Angell Town, Archbishop Sumner, St John’s Divine and Loughborough Primary School.

Active Learners in Numeracy aims to promote physical development by incorporating occupational therapy exercises within stories, songs and movement. The exercises help children develop balance, core-strength, posture and coordination which all help with academic learning. Parents and carers might recognise songs such as “Tiny Tim” and “The little green frog” as some parents have told us that the children have been singing them at home!

The children also learn maths in active ways through outdoor obstacle courses. First the whole class is introduced to a mathematical problem through a story about two birds- Crackity Jack and Cheep Cheep. Crackity Jack and Cheep Cheep always need some help- for example they need towers of 10 to build a new school, or need the children to halve the amounts of fruit they have so they each get the same. Children work in pairs to make their way through an imaginary jungle in order to get to the ‘communication station’ at the end where they complete this challenge for their feathered friends.

Along the way they meet various mathematical challenges and physical challenges, requiring the children to use a range of big and small movements to practice their number skills. For instance they have been rolling giant dice and counting out corresponding treasure with tweezers. This helps children to practice their throwing, recognizing an amount on a dice, counting to match a given number and developing fine motor control. The core learning tool of a ten square is drawn on the playground in chalk and becomes an imaginary broken bridge which the children have to cross. Children have to make sure there are 10 bean bags altogether to plug all of the holes in the broken bridge. This helps children to develop their understanding of number bonds to 10 as well as hand-eye coordination, spacial awareness and visual processing.

Active Learners in Numeracy have been studying the research on early childhood mathematical development which suggests that young children learn best using real physical objects. It also highlights the importance of children being able to visualise amounts, known as ‘subitizing’, for example, dots on a dice. Another important aspect of early numeracy is understanding the relationship between numbers. For example knowing that 8 and 2 makes 10 and 7 and 3 also makes 10.

The children have done brilliantly and have really enjoyed doing their maths outside. Over the course of the term we have seen the children develop their mathematical thinking. Most of the children can know instantly recognize the spots on the dice and have become more confident in their numeracy. They have also done really well in their partner work, making sure they take turns and wait for their partner.

Well done to all the Reception children for trying their best and joining in. Thank you to all the teachers for their wonderful ideas and collaborating with us on this project and Jenny Smith from the BLC for supporting us. Thank you to all the parents who came along to the open mornings. We really value your participation and your feedback. Finally, thank you to SHINE Trust for funding and supporting the project.

Science INSET with Sara Bubb and Andy Markwick

Science Leads for a training session with Dr Sara Bubb and Dr Andy Markwick yesterday afternoon. The focus was supporting primary children in working scientifically – what should this look like across KS1 and KS2? Sara and Andy have worked with primary schools and their staff across the country helping them to deliver a strong, exciting Science curriculum. Staff commented some headlines on what they would take back to school: ‘making Science more quantitive and linking it to Maths and other curriculum subjects’; ‘bringing Science outside’ . Sara also suggested children using Science books as group reading texts. It was good to welcome teachers from our neighbouring clusters, Windmill and Oval to the session.

Young Scientists at St Gabriel’s College

This morning, year 5s from Loughborough and Christ Church SW9 primaries were evaluating their experiments, guided by year 9 mentors from St Gabriel’s College, as part of the 4 week programme they have been following leading to a Science Fair next month.The children had decided themselves what experiments they wanted to do and a wide range of work has been tackled: from ‘How much PVA glue effects the consistency of slime’, to How do different types of pollution effect the Arctic’ .and Which length of wind turbines produce the most electricity?’
It was great to see the year 9s leading the younger students and all pupils able to explain their method and conclusions.
Next week a new group of year 5s will start the process and all the children will come together for their Science Fair on 16th March.
Huge thanks to the Science department staff at St Gabriel’s for organising this brilliant project.