Brilliant Learning

St Mary’s Primary School: Shelf Life

The one-form entry school in Putney wasn’t short of books – they had nearly 5,000 – but when Amanda consulted with her Year 6s in 2019 they were very keen to have a proper library. “We made our library into an art room 10-15 years ago, though we made sure each classroom had a vibrant book corner. Our library books went along corridors, but it was higgledy-piggledy and wasn’t well used,” says Deputy Head, Amanda Bishop from St Mary’s recalling the library makeover project.

The opportunity came when the reception area was upgraded. “We thought we’d use the small new study room for teaching, group work and music lessons, but I felt we had an opportunity to make it into a space with books.” 

Amanda is a self-confessed ideas person. Knowing that she, “didn’t have the expertise to organise a library, and that it was a project that was important ‘to do properly’ she went to Wandsworth Learning Resources Service with a group of Year 6 children to find out just what they wanted and turn it into an action plan. When the pandemic meant everything moved online their library project stalled, but the £4,000 budget agreed by the Head Teacher and governors (thanks in part to that action plan and timeline) was protected. 

Amanda Bishop, Deputy Headteacher

Post Covid-19, the remit changed a little. 

“We knew we wanted a space for children to really enjoy reading and mixing it with a study space – so now we do call this small space a library. It is a place to celebrate books in a relaxing enjoyable space,” says Amanda who helps manage it with Year 6s librarians. 

“It’s so nice to hear that,” says Wandsworth Learning Resources Service (WLRS) librarian J, beaming as the Deputy Head describes a typical Friday library lunchtime with Year 6s relaxing on bean bags reading their favourite books – The Gruffalo, Gorilla and Hairy Maclary – to the Year 2s.

The project was led by Wanda Gajewski the Senior Librarian at WLRS who has much experience with school library developments. Amanda found WLRS’s advice and skill at re-organising the books invaluable. It’s a plus that the books are well organised so children can access them easily and know where to put them back.

There’s a real focus on reading and the enjoyment of reading and having a quiet space at lunchtime rather than a hive of activity.

Amanda Bishop

“We re-labelled 3,162 to form the base of the collection, the remaining 1,606 were inappropriate, out-of-date or in too poor condition to go into the library,” says WLRS librarian, J. “My predecessor had put a lot of thought into how to arrange it. Then when covid regulations relaxed a bit, I came in and made a few extra adjustments.”

Wanda and J also labelled books, made suggestions about how tolay out the space to make it easy to use for different activities. Bean bags were added after WLRS talked to students.

Amanda remembers it as a fuss-free time. “WLRS were brilliant, with an action plan of exactly what they were going to do and a clear vision. I had all these ideas,” she says, adding that WLRS worked out “what was feasible, who was going to do what, what resources I needed to get and even advice for where to get shelves (via links). It was bespoke to the school and had a timescale of what we needed to do when.”

Library making can be a decision minefield, but J points out, “WLRS staff have helped set up many libraries, taken consultations from teachers and pupils and integrated that in a cohesive and rigorous way.

Even with the simplified Dewey system (used across Wandsworth) there are all kinds of small decisions and options along the way – for example do you put Spaceship books with Space or Vehicles? Anyone could make those decisions, but WLRS librarians work with the curriculum every day making it easier and quicker for us to hit the ground running. Therewas a timetable and action plan from word go.

J Lythgoe, WLRS Librarian

WLRS librarians have helped set up many libraries, taken consultations from teachers and pupils and integrated that in a cohesive and rigorous way.

J Lythgoe

The WLRS team also provided a guide book for the pupils about how to navigate the collection and how to use the Dewey system.

Which means “it is manageable with new books as I can train the children up and they are learning how to sort the Dewey system out for themselves,” adds Amanda – in itself a massive time-save and a proper lifeskill.

J emhasises the importance of creating spaces for pupils to read in school libraries. “We provide books to primary schools, so it seems counter-intuitive, but really what WLRS is about is bringing inspiration, promoting more access and empowerment toschool children to foster a love of reading. Having space to do this is a key component – an absolute good for schools and pupils which completely fits with our mission and resources.”

Over Zoom Amanda smiles: “That’s why we work well together, that’s exactly our vision of our school as well. We want reading to be really crucial. In an age of technology, opening a book is really important.” And of course having their own library is exactly what the children wanted.


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Brilliant Learning

Smart Money, Smart Working: Brilliant Learning

Responding to the limitations that real-term funding cuts and inflationary pressure has wrought on learning requires a comprehensive approach to strategic financial management, budgeting and accounting.

There is no doubting the seriousness of the situation facing school finances, but we cannot allow balancing the books to take precedence over student success.

Brilliant learning is complex and multi-faceted. Our response to its funding needs to be equally so. 

This means accessing services efficiently and ensuring their effective deployment; grasping the potential of data and using that insight to do things differently; while tackling resources and questioning whether we are using them properly. 

Mindful Money Management

When dealing with educational, social or mental health issues, the sooner a child’s difficulties are isolated, identified and dealt with, the more successfully they will learn and the less their self-esteem, self-confidence and education will suffer.

However, schools have often been affected by long assessment wait times, unconnected expertise and expensive fees.

In response, the Schools and Community Psychology Service (SCPS) offers a full time, expansive team with multiple areas of extended expertise. Working with SCPS will save your school both time and money – cutting wait times for assessments; giving access to multi-disciplinary expertise; all while reducing costs.

  • Schools purchasing the entire service will benefit from a bespoke approach, with a dedicated team responding to emerging needs in their specific school context 
  • Schools will roughly realise a 50% per hour saving, compared to paying privately for educational psychologist (EP) assessments
  • Private EP assessments are usually costed around £150-200 per hour and Smart School Services cost is £590 per day (6 hrs) 
  • Further discounts available for larger packages (15 days and above)

Pupil Insight: Food for Thought 

England’s school population is set to shrink by almost a million children over the next 10 years, according to the government’s latest data, raising the prospect of surplus places and school closures in the years ahead. 

As the need to attract students intensifies, so does the need to ensure the school receives the optimal provision available for every pupil to maximise budget contributions. To help, Smart School’s Research and Evaluation Unit (REU) provides a high-quality data analysis service to underpin your performance planning. 

An example of which can be found within the REU’s School Census support, guidance and checking service. Among other insight, the service helps schools to identify children on free school meals, which in turn, increases their budget.

  • A secondary school hadn’t identified 10 children on free school meals transferring from primary school. Identifying the error and understanding the free school meals protection rule, the service was able to inform the school in time for the October Census, when DfE funding is calculated. 

Space Savings

Learning resources are the catalyst for brilliant learning – empowering teachers to perform at their best. While the benefits are numerous, there are an equally lengthy set of challenges.

Issues such as finding the space needed to house a wide variety of material. Or condition – tatty books rarely inspire pupils to read for pleasure. And obviously, the cost of updating resources to meet new educational developments. 

Smart School’s Learning Resources Service provides the answer through its cost-effective annual subscription delivering termly resource packs. Gain access to over 120,000 items and a dedicated librarian consultant to help you champion the curriculum, free up space and cut costs. All delivered in a ready-to-go resource box. 


Building Value

Maintaining your school’s infrastructure is both complex and costly. Whether you need to ensure IT investment is fit for purpose and future-proofed; your library area is the optimal use of space; or the development of the school’s computing curriculum is actioned correctly; bringing in professional insight is imperative. 

  • Planning and consultancy from Smart School experts with years of experience eradicates expensive investment mistakes while saving valuable time 
  • Implementation by industry leading specialists, including staff training
  • Ongoing support and insight to keep you ahead of the curve
  • Significant savings realised when schools combine services into a coherent whole

Wandsworth IT and CLC have proven that working together benefits the school, saving time and money. We have been impressed with their recent work improving our computing curriculum and ensuring our network is running efficiently.

Harriet Eweles
Headteacher, St Anselms

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Brilliant Learning Empowering Professionals ICT

Michael Hallick: Finding Value

Objective analysis of school finances is more important now than it has ever been. The post-pandemic, high level of financial volatility has seen a marked growth in school costs – reducing the purchasing power of school budgets, stretching resources and stifling long-term fiscal planning. In spite of competing factors, including rising energy costs and food inflation, schools that adopt a smart, holistic approach can still realise cost-saving opportunities to help alleviate budgetary constraints.

The Value of Collaboration

When Pearson’s School Report asked school leaders what they expected to be the top three challenges for their school to manage over the next year to 18 months, budget pressures came top of the list. I can understand why! A combination of high inflation and demographic changes that have seen numbers of pupils in primary schools across London, and even the country, decline, creating a scenario where income is flat or falling (if your school is lucky enough, rising slightly) but definitely not keeping up with inflationary cost pressures.

The hard reality is school leaders are having to do more with less. We hear you; we understand you, and we want to be at the heart of helping you through this challenging period. We are passionate about supporting schools in a collaborative manner, valuing our partnership as we work to deliver on our mutual ambitions for all our children.

We want to add value to your quality of education while considering your budgets through tailored services that meet your needs. Our Financial advisory service is the best prepared and most sophisticated that I have ever seen it. Our SBM academy is thriving and developing the next generation of SBMs for our schools. The trainees are adding more and more value every day. Financial Advisors and the wrap around tools and support that comes with the service, will work with you side by side to meet the demands of the coming year. Supporting our schools to maximise their budgets, so that crucial staffing and support services are still affordable. 

Smart Money, Smart Working.

We hope our latest report provides you with practical ideas that you can implement to realise the best future for your school, teachers, pupils, and the communities that you serve. 

Michael Hallick
Assistant Director – Business and Resources
Children’s Services

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Brilliant Learning

Alex Purssey: What do you do when new neighbours move in?

Everybody needs good neighbours…From Jason and Kylie down under to Hendrix and Handel in London’s West End, although they were separated by a few centuries!

Now Wandsworth has its own glittering new global superstar neighbour moving in next door to a number of our Battersea schools. So, what should you do when you know a new neighbour is coming – arrange a playdate? Offer to help unpack or move boxes, or take around some milk and sugar?  These goodwill gestures would not quite be enough when the new neighbour is the technology giant Apple! Apple are opening six floors of office space in one of London’s most iconic buildings, Battersea Power Station next year, and housing over 1400 employees…so what did we in Wandsworth, do to welcome the new neighbour?

Wandsworth City Learning Centre celebrated its Apple Regional Training Centre status and partnered with St Marys RC and Sacred Heart primary schools to devise an exciting digital project to greet their new arriving neighbour by demonstrating their skills and engagement of using iPads in the classroom. Apple were thrilled and shared their excitement in moving to Battersea by offering to support the schools further, including providing class sets of new devices, innovative day trips out for the students to the flagship Regents Street store to work with the Apple Creative Pro’s and an in-person visit to their school by some of Apple’s most senior VIPs ‘from California.

While the students were engrossed in a stimulating and special coding session with the CLC Apple Distinguished Educators, Lisa P Jackson, the former Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, appointed by President Barack Obama, and now Apple’s very own Vice President of Environment Policy and Social Initiatives, came into the classroom to work with the awe-struck students. Lisa is Apple’s CEO, Tim Cooks’ second in command. Lisa was accompanied by Alisha Johnson Wilder, Director of Apple’s $100m Racial Equity & Justice initiative. The inspirational Apple employees, delighted by the children’s work, were joined by MP Marsha de Cordova and Councillor Stock who enthusiastically participated with the learners and then freely discussed environmental issues, sustainability and future opportunities for the children and the schools. Senior Leaders from both schools and Wandsworth’s Assistant Director Michael Hallick then examined exciting plans for further development and opportunities to collaborate with Apple. Everyone enthusiastically deliberated on how the opportunities could disseminate into and support more Wandsworth schools over time. Executive Head teacher Jared Brading took time to passionately explain the needs of the Battersea community and Apple agreed the call for continued support into the area would be a real benefit to everyone.

The Apple City Learning Centre Battersea project is proving to be a real success with the involvement of many key figures and Apple forging great links and devising energising ideas to support the local community which can then be expanded upon to support the whole of Wandsworth, something all parties are very keen on providing. Teachers and students are striving ahead with their digital literacy and coding skills to ensure Apple’s future workforce is homegrown in Wandsworth. It pays to be neighbourly, and this fantastic project clearly evidences that when one neighbour helps another, we strengthen our communities.

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Brilliant Learning

Susan Morgan-Jones: the FAB Book Award is back!! 

Twelve years of the Fabulous Book Award were recently celebrated in style by Wandsworth Secondary Schools.  With the disappointment of the last minute cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 events behind them, students representing Wandsworth Schools eagerly gathered at the Wandsworth Professional Development Centre in Tooting for the announcement of their 2022 FAB Award Winner.  

The shock closure of schools on 19th March 2020 on the onset of the Covid pandemic had proved to be a real challenge for many libraries who struggled to provide resources for their students, many of whom were confined to home schooling during the nationwide lockdown.  However, the ever resourceful school librarians met that challenge, e-library platforms becoming a much coveted asset as quarantining procedures prohibited library loans and some libraries even had to close. 

…Difficult times for us all. 

As schools reopened in September of that year, the librarians working in somewhat challenging situations sought to return to normality with our usual book clubs and participation in the FAB and Carnegie Awards.  Sadly, more Covid setbacks with more closures late in 2020 and through 2021 meant that we could not run our awards that year, but this made us more determined to go ahead in 2022.  Late in the autumn of 2021 with Wandsworth approval, participating Schools across the borough put forward 21 books for our longlist, which were avidly read and discussed by our FAB Book groups.  Due to national Covid uncertainties and subsequent school restrictive practices, numbers participating were down, yet librarians and students persevered with the shortlist, ever hoping that the FAB event would actually happen. 

…Fingers were crossed! 

The shortlisted books covered a range of subjects including Immigration, The Second World War and Racial Injustice, using both prose and narrative to incredible effect with thought provoking story lines.  We were also very pleased that three of our shortlisted authors were subsequently shortlisted for the National Carnegie Award, a testament to our discerning teenage FAB readers. 

On the day of our FAB Event, we were very glad to have the presence of author Lisa Heathfield, FAB Winner in 2020 who brought her trophy along so that students could share in her happiness at winning with her book ‘I am Not a Number’.  Just before the 2020 lockdown we had already voted her the winner, but with no end event we sent her the trophy and were super happy to see her at our 2022 event, to applaud her in person – Better (2 years) Late than Never! 

Our students had a very hard time deciding on the 2022 winner, all on the shortlist being worthy of carrying away our trophy and everyone gathered at the Wandsworth Professional Development Centre (WPDC) for the announcement, hoping that the book that their school had championed was indeed the winner. The morning was lively with each school introducing authors and participating in a quiz that tested their knowledge of all of the shortlisted books. 

Author Lisa Williamson shortlisted for ‘First Day of my Life’ was present. She gave a spirited and witty talk on her life and her writing process and thanked all present for their love of her books, having been longlisted twice previously for ‘The Art of Being Normal’ (2017) and ‘Paper Avalanche’ (2020). 

Messages of thanks and appreciation were also read out by students from authors who could not be present and Manjeet Mann, Phil Earle and Jewell Parker Rhodes sent in video soundbites, which thrilled the students present. 

Then finally, to thunderous applause for each author, the results were announced and judging by the screaming and clapping that ensued, the winner was a universally popular choice. Every one of the shortlisted books were really winners, such was the closeness of the voting and the authors should be applauded for producing such interesting and varied books that our students actually chose and wanted to read. 

FAB Award 2022 the Results 

Results in Reverse Order:  

  • 7th When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle 
  • 6th First Day of my Life by Lisa Williamson 
  • 5th Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewel Parker Rhodes  
  • 4th The Crossing by Manjeet Mann 
  • 3rd A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik 
  • 2nd Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike-Lyimide 

1st The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 

Jennifer Lynn Barnes, who is American based, was sadly not at the ceremony, so the FAB Trophy was sent to her publisher in New York, who reported that she was thrilled and honoured to receive the Award. 

After the results, much celebratory cake was eaten, books were bought, selfies with authors were taken and the multicoloured balloons that graced the occasion found themselves bobbing back to schools across the borough.  

We all agreed it was such a happy day. The sun was shining and our FAB Award was well and truly back…. 

Teenage fiction goes from Strength to Strength!……Roll on year 13 of our Ever So Popular FAB Award! 

Happy Reading Everyone…. 

Special Mentions Go to:  

The magnificent team at the WPDC who under the guidance of Catherine Green, rose to the occasion and worked so hard to make the day so special. We truly could not achieve any of this year on year without you. Thank You All. 

Cheryl John for the truly FABulous cakes, which is so much a part of our FAB Award. 

Bronnie and Bob Mayo of Bookwagon, who had experienced some difficulties getting to us on the day, but who still managed to arrive in time with smiles, total professionalism…and lots and lots of books.. 

…To all of the Librarians…FAB Year 12 was such a gamble but we did it everyone!! 

…and to the students, who read, debated and voted on the books. The FAB Award is truly Their Own Book Award. The authors always say it is so very special because it is the students who read their books, it is the students that they write for and that is means so much when their books are voted onto the FAB Long and Shortlist 

 ….High Praise indeed! 

Susan Morgan-Jones, LRC Manager at Ashcroft Academy and FAB Event Co-ordinator. 

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Brilliant Learning

Keisha Bellingy: Value of Work Experience

Work experience is an opportunity for a young person to experience the world of work first hand. Up until that point they may have heard about the world of work from family, friends or on television but they get to see it for themselves and experience the good and bad side of working. 

I once worked with a year 10 student who had always wanted to be a hairdresser. I placed her in a hairdresser, and she called me on the second day to tell me that she wanted to leave. She had not expected to be on her feet all day and thought that she could start styling straightaway. They were in for a shock when they realised that this was not the case. Despite me warning them about the realities of hairdressing they thought that it would a different experience for them. I encouraged her to remain on the placement for the rest of the week and when she came back to school, she told me that she no longer wanted to be a hairdresser. In my eyes this was a successful placement because even though the student no longer wanted to be a hairdresser, the placement had taken them one step closer to deciding their future career option. Without work experience, this student may have chosen to pursue hairdressing in the future and only then realised that it was not for them

These are the further benefits of work experience:

  • Helps students to understand employer expectations
  • Students can add the experience to their CV
  • Students develop their employability skills
  • Students may get a part time job because of their placement

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Brilliant Learning

 Wanda Gajewski: Click With Care

Subject: Information and Communication Technology

Topic: E-Safety

Age Group: Upper KS2

Synopsis: Most children are familiar with basic internet safety rules. However, these are simply not enough to keep them safe online. This fantastic pack features all the resources which you could need to raise the awareness among KS2 pupils about online risks, safety and behaviour. It will provide interesting topics for discussions about being online and e-safety. Pupils will learn how to use internet comfortably, safely and responsibly and consider the hazards and risks in their activities online, writes Wanda Gajewski from our Brilliant Learning, Learning Resources Service.

Exploring the topic of e-safety has the potential to inspire your pupils’ ambitions to become the computer engineers and inventors of the future.

Wanda Gajewski
Wandsworth LRS

Librarian’s view:

There are also more than 800,000km of underwater cables carrying Internet data across seas and oceans.

All through history humans have invented things. We create new ideas and technology to help us in our everyday lives. These inventions often lead to huge changes. When William Caxton brought the printing press to England in 1475, he changed the lives of thousands of people, putting reading and education within their reach for the first time. When Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web over 500 years later, he changed the world all over again.

The digital world offers many benefits for children, helping children to learn virtually, entertaining children and helping friends to stay connected. However, the internet brings significant challenges when it comes to how to keep children safe online.

All evidence indicates that children who are taught how to use the internet safely and correctly gain valuable skills and are more successful at everything they do. It is also critical that constructive online habits are established by the age of 10 or 11 to help prevent sexting, bullying and hurt online.

Birth of the World Wide Web (WWW)

Tim Berners-Lee was born in 1955, when the world was a very different to the one that your pupils know today. People didn’t have computers or game consoles in their homes. Tim loved science and maths, so after leaving school he went to Oxford University to study physics, the science that looks at natural matter and energy.

Tim wrote some computer programs that helped him take information from one computer and put it on to another one. He wondered if all the computers could be linked together so that information could be shared quickly and easily. However, he knew that the computers could not give us all the information that we wanted, but they could help by making the information easier to find. They could even give us the information at the touch of a button.

Tim had to build a framework  that would connect all the world’s computers together. He decided to call the framework World Wide Web. In 1991, he launched the world’s first website – It was a giant stepping stone towards reaching the internet that we have today. Tim Berners-Lee’s idea was so brilliant that it spread around the world quickly. Today it’s hard to imagine a world without it.

Staying Safe Online

The world of computers is often called the digital world. Children sometimes think that the digital world and the real are separate. But they will learn that the digital world and real life are connected. Just like in real life the main danger on the digital world comes from people who are dishonest.

Children will develop their knowledge on how computers and the Internet work together.

Almost all computers use the internet. The internet is a network of computers that covers the whole world. It allows computers to communicate with each other. Children who have a computer, tablet or phone can connect to the internet and socialise with friends, watch videos and play games. They need to be sensible and careful to keep themselves safe when they download and upload information.

Your digital footprint

Your pupils may be surprised by the idea that almost everything they do on a computer adds to their digital footprint. The digital footprint is made up of information about how someone behaves online. It might include what they have searched for on the internet, pages they have visited and even their location. The pupils will learn that someone’s digital footprint makes it possible to build up a picture of what kind of person they are. It shows things they are interested in, how many friends they have and the area where they live. Therefore, children need to be careful what they say online.

Personal spaces

Children will learn that a person’s online identity is not the same as a digital footprint. An online identity contains all kinds of information. Often it is based on popular social networking sites, which allow users to set up a profile.

Children will learn that in order to open their pages to post updates, photos and messages they will have to log in. The most important way of keeping information safe is by using a password. The password should be a mix of letters and numbers. The strong password is a nonsense word that will still be easy to remember. But if someone else guesses or finds their password, they can pretend to be them. This is called identity theft.

Click with care
The internet is used by people with widely varying interest. Children will come across materials that are not suitable for young people. Some adult material is sexual, and some of that is pornography. If children feel upset by materials that are not suitable for them, they should close the page and move on. However, they must notify the teacher or parent/carer. If children use a search engine to look for information, they need to read the little block of text about the pages found before clicking on the link.

And don’t be fooled! Facts on websites are not always true or up-to-date, so always be careful when you are searching for information.


Your pupils will learn that there are bullies online, just as there are bullies in the real world. Online bullying is called cyberbullying. Although it doesn’t cause physical harm, it is very upsetting because it can happen at any time – even when the children are at home.

Cyberbullying takes many forms. It can be nasty messages sent by phone or e-mail. It can include being abusive or ridiculing someone on a social networking site, perhaps by posting embarrassing photos or videos of them. Deliberately not letting someone join a game or chat is cyberbullying as well.

Children must remember to log out of their account when they finish using a shared computer.

Classroom activities

Classroom activities reinforcing the topic of E-safety

There are several great sites that explore the subject of staying safe online through games and videos, including:

Project Resources

To help your classroom click with care, use books such as:

Let’s Read and Talk about Internet Safety by Anne Rooney

Keeping Safe Online
by Anne Rooney

Computer Networks
by Clive Gifford

Understanding Computer Safety
by Paul Mason

Chicken Clicking
by Jeanne Willis

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Brilliant Learning

Wanda Gajewski: Hands on History

Subject: Cross curricular

Topic: Learning from objects

Age Group: Whole school


Why use artefacts (objects) in the classroom? Artefacts can be used in a wide variety of ways to enrich your teaching – they may be easier to understand in 3D or appeal to the senses and generally excite children’s interest.  What’s better to remember the parts of the body than by removing them from a model torso? How much easier is it to bring other cultures alive with dramatic, evocative icons and (if appropriate) religious artefacts?

This post from Wanda Gajewski, focuses on ways teachers can use objects for effective classroom teaching. Pupils will develop a wide range of deductive and analytical skills when handling objects and children with learning or language difficulties can participate fully in handling sessions.  It will enhance both your teaching and your pupils’ learning and thus provide inspiration and pleasure for all.

Librarian’s view:

Don’t we all just detest those country houses or museums which make it plain to us that we shouldn’t be touching anything? Of course, some objects should be kept behind barriers, but we like touching objects. Even replicas may inspire your children more than discussion or the written word.

Traditionally teaching has evolved around books and reading. However, the value of using real objects has been realised even within the National Curriculum. The History Curriculum requires pupils to use a range of information sources including artefacts. An object can be used for information or as a creative stimulus. Sometimes handling objects is a form of active learning that engages pupils in a way that other methods may be unable to match.

Artefacts are an ideal way to introduce a new topic or new area within any subject. They give hands-on experience and are a wonderful way of exciting children’s interest and engaging them in questioning, thus helping them to develop critical thinking skills for themselves. The questions can lead on to investigation and research as the children discover some of their own answers. For best effect, the artefacts should be presented singly or perhaps two at a time at most. The more active the presentation, the better it will be remembered, and the more questions will be asked.

Artefacts should be chosen with thought and introduced with proper planning. Think carefully how to introduce items as some may invoke laughter or perhaps distaste. For example, some children may find a made-up starched turban strange, others may dislike the bright colours typical of many images of Hindu deities.

Handling objects is a fantastic experience for pupils and it can also help them develop skills such as handling, observing, comparing, deducting and evaluating. A good way to develop close observation is to start with a familiar object. It might be a piece of classroom furniture, such as a chair. Children will be guided by you through the observation and deduction stages and finally they conclude that the chair is made of wood.

Investigate a Mystery Object

One good way of encouraging observation and deduction is to provide pupils with a mystery object. It is not always easy to find something which no pupil will have no seen before. Some objects from the Roman or Victorian period will usually suffice. Holding the objects in their hands helps the pupils to concentrate and reach conclusions based on the evidence.

The idea of sharing a mystery object is for the students to take away the knowledge about what it is called. This exercise helps pupils focus on thinking carefully and reaching conclusions based on their deduction. For the purpose of this post the names of the mystery objects are revealed.

Metal Strigil

In Roman times this unusual artefact was used after a hot bath to remove cleansing oils by scraping the skin.

Victorian Warming Pan

The warming pan was used in beds to warm them, and also to try to remove some of the damp. The pan was filled with hot charcoal or ashes and pushed into the bed.

Bring Ancient Civilizations into a Classroom

Sarcophagus and Mummy

Ancient Rome

Stone Age Flint Tools

Mayan God of Maize

Science and Geography

Chinese Utensils

African Wooden Shakers

Peruvian Musicians

Japanese Warrior

Bolivian Chullo Hat

Giant Compass

Basic Rock Set

Horseshoe Magnet Set

Religious Education

Nativity Scene

The Qur’an Set



How did it go?

Feedback from schools has been very positive:

‘’Thank you so much for all the artefacts for his term. The prehistoric artefacts were brilliant – the kids got so much out of handling them!’’

‘’We had a very successful lesson looking at some of the Roman artefacts and trying to guess what they were, before doing research to find out.’’

Teachers from two Wandsworth primary schools

Artefact collections are available to borrow as part of subscriptions to our Learning Resources Service. To find out about what is available for your school, book a Head to Head today.

Book your
Head to Head

If we have piqued your interest in Smart School Services, why not meet with our head team to see how we can work together. To arrange your Head to Head, or for any other enquiry, simply fill in the contact form and we’ll be in touch shortly.
Brilliant Learning

Gwen Sinnott: Return to Statutory Assessments

We are gearing ourselves up for the summer assessment period, with Primary Statutory assessments back on the table and Secondary exam season results back in the public domain, we have much to do.

Hang on a minute… but what about all the other stuff we have started doing?!

Powered up with Power BI

Part of our growth has been in developing our expertise building tools to help support easy access to intelligence for schools. We have used Microsoft Power BI to pull data sets together and generate interactive dashboards on several intelligence themes. We are planning to embed some of these into the Research & Evaluation Unit website so you can easily find comparative and historic data about your school for specific needs.

Bringing it together

We are so looking forward to pulling the new assessment data together to bring you new presentations of school’s performance alongside established reports, more guidance and training and offer more bespoke solutions where you want them. We are looking forward to seeing comparative progress across Key Stages once we finally have a formula for this using new assessment measures, but we are like that! Join us this year to celebrate the hard work you have put into safeguarding and guiding the learning of children and young people.

Joining up

We have had a busy year developing and connecting more robustly with other teams in Childrens Services, meaning we have a more holistic (data) picture of cross service needs and outcomes. For example, the social care list for schools has been a real step forward for supporting vulnerable pupils.

Book your
Head to Head

If we have piqued your interest in Smart School Services, why not meet with our head team to see how we can work together. To arrange your Head to Head, or for any other enquiry, simply fill in the contact form and we’ll be in touch shortly.
Brilliant Learning Empowering Professionals Intelligent Operations

Michael Hallick: Lessons for the Future

Without warning, the Covid pandemic upended school life across the UK. Overnight, headteachers had to establish remote learning, absorb and implement an avalanche of guidelines and advice, while supporting students, parents and staff academically and emotionally. The scope of the crisis and the subsequent reopening have created distinct challenges, but also highlighted potential opportunities for whole school positive change.

The Future is Now

There is little doubt that the pandemic has stretched resources, accelerated trends and highlighted inequalities across the education sector. But while significant challenges remain, this is also a time of exciting opportunity as we learn the lessons from the largest disruption to education in living memory. 

As we step into the ‘new normal’, it is imperative that we allow room for analysis and reflection. To think about the bigger picture. Where joined-up collaborative ideas help to connect a wide range of tailored services to benefit all aspects of a school’s ecosystem.

That takes time.

And we understand that time is a precious resource. Schedules are unforgiving and workloads unrelenting. 

It is the main reason behind publishing Lessons for the Future – to start a discourse – to show that if we all collaborate to create and implement best practice, we can alleviate pressure on teaching professionals while realising the best future for schools.

A future, for example, where technology not only supports learning, but helps to realistically reduce workload, increases operational efficiencies, engages students and communities, and provides tools to support excellent teaching, monitors attendance and raises student attainment. In short, creating a smart school.

We hope you find value in Lessons for the Future. We hope it inspires ideas and sparks debate. That it opens a discussion on what is positive and achievable as we pivot to realise the opportunities of post-pandemic education. And we would like to be part of that discussion. 

Michael Hallick
Assistant Director – Business and Resources
Wandsworth Council

Book your
Head to Head

If we have piqued your interest in Smart School Services, why not meet with our head team to see how we can work together. To arrange your Head to Head, or for any other enquiry, simply fill in the contact form and we’ll be in touch shortly.