Brilliant Learning

Alex Purssey: Harnessing ECT energy to deliver Creative Digital Tech Days in your school

As part of the Ravenstone Early Career Teachers professional learning, three new teachers, Lauren, Jack and Rory, were asked to help plan and organise a student Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Day. Some creative discussions and stimulating ideas workshops with the energetic ECT’s and consultants from the CLC ensued to plan an exciting day of interactive labs for staff and students at the Balham school.

Educators often search for professional learning experiences that explore how STEM concepts and tools can be embedded into the classroom in meaningful, intentional and academically engaging ways. Teachers know their students want more technology in their classrooms and so are always seeking to integrate STEM into learning opportunities, but sometimes suffer a lack of confidence, resources or time to experiment with innovative interactive tools. Partnership, collaboration and sharing are all in abundance through the CLC and their tutors are on hand to come into schools to support staff in delivering and embedding engaging digital transformation into the schools’ curriculum.

Ravenstone Lead Science teacher, and brainchild of the day, Richard Ingham enthused;

“STEM day was amazing! The children had a great time exploring the Virtual Reality world of NASA and taking a trip in a helicopter. Others had the chance to ‘touch coronavirus’ and look at other viruses up close and personal. The overwhelming response was of positivity and learning across both Key Stages. Dave, the facilitator from the CLC, was great, and the day went off with smiles and laughs.”

The stimulating activities included using Artificial Intelligence to allow students to explore a galaxy in the palm of their hand. Learners could hold a 3D object, explore a DNA molecule, enabling an entirely new way to learn and interact with the digital world. Using the fully integrated VR goggles provided students with virtual and augmented reality content to explore and investigate complex scientific topics in a safe and absorbing way.

Pupil engagement and excitement was clearly evident, with the activities triggering incredible discussions and motivation for further future workshops. “I enjoyed the lesson because I don’t get to do those things normally…it was fun to have the opportunity to do different things!” stated one learner, with another adding, “We looked inside a human body through an iPad, it was cool to see the body in a different way!”

The enjoyment and interest from the pupils was matched by the eagerness of other staff wanting to incorporate the digital tools in their own curriculum areas. The exhilarated ECTs, clearly pleased with their accomplishments, chimed about their learners “They loved it…they were fascinated by the technology but it was interesting to see how familiar the

students were with the terms and use of the devices, they were constantly engaged and it was lovely to see.”

Ravenstone skilfully harnessed the energy and enthusiasm of their new teachers Lauren, Jack and Rory to deliver an inspiring and refreshing day of creative practical sessions to promote STEM, and not only motivate pupils but re-energise staff into wanting to integrate tech into their subject areas!

Wandsworth City Learning Centre can deliver specific projects in your school to enhance teaching and learning, and introduce innovative digital tools to motivate and engage staff and students, making difficult topics exciting and fun. Please do get in touch via the form below to discuss how the CLC can bring subjects alive and challenge your learners in the classroom.

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Brilliant Learning

Wanda Gajewski: What price progress?

A few weeks ago, I attended a webinar with Andy Jones. The author talked about his latest book ‘Bob vs the selfie zombie: a time -travel comedy adventure.’ The children were asked to travel in time, and it was interesting to hear that some pupils wanted to be transported to pre -technology era and others to Tudor times, for instance. If the children travelled back in time to the 16th century, what would they miss the most? I am personally in favour of new technological developments and that what inspired me to investigate what technology is coming out in 2023 and link with the topic for KS2 ‘What price progress’. The list of tech inventions to kick off 2023 is impressive; green hydrogen, nuclear fusion, quantum computing and the artificial intelligence to get even smarter, just to mention a few. 

We live in a time filled with modern technologies and are excited about the novelties that global corporations provide us with and are still waiting for more. Your pupils will learn that many inventions that only yesterday seemed revolutionary and forward-looking, today are almost obsolete. However, there are also those that have changed our lives forever and become milestones in the history of the world. 

This IPC (International Primary Curriculum) unit gives you and your children the chance to explore lots of amazing developments that have changed the world. It is a great topic for children to develop their history skills and learn about different brilliant inventors and inventions. The resources will also help your children in developing critical thinking skills and build their knowledge about the effects that the inventions had on their lives. 

Kickstart a discussion by asking what earlier technologies and devices have been replaced today by computers and the Internet?

The dynamic development of the entire electronic and IT sector meant that the man was no longer required to perform many activities. The number of professions that have been dismissed thanks to this revolution is growing with each passing decade. The internet, on the other hand, has made it possible for everyone to have access to things that our ancestors would not have been able to imagine within a few clicks. Fax machines are now completely replaced by smartphones, for example.

Facilitate a discussion which inventions are the 5 greatest of all time? 

The wheel

Some people consider the wheel to be the greatest invention of all time.  The Sumerian people in Mesopotamia  are widely believed to have invented the wheel around 4200-400 BC. The wheel led to other innovations, including wheelbarrows and chariots, and changed the way people lived, worked, and travelled. Other advances such as mills, steamboats also owe their creation to the basic but incredible wheel.

The elevator 

Mechanisms for vertical transport date back thousands of years. In 236 BC, Greek mathematician Archimedes designed a rudimentary elevator operated with the use of ropes, pulleys, and a capstan. In ancient Rome, wild animals kept beneath the Colosseum were delivered to the arena through a series of up to 28 lifts — each one of which could carry 600 pounds and took as many as eight men to operate. The elevator as we know it was created in 1854, when Elisha Otis produced an elevator with a safety device. His company’s designs were ground-breaking at the time, and the Otis company continues to be the leader in the elevator industry today.

Printing press

Although Johannes Gutenberg is synonymous with the printing press, he was not the first to use a press to create printed material. The oldest known printed text was a Buddhist scroll made in China, using block printing. However, in 1436, Gutenberg refined printing in a way that forever changed history. His crowning achievement was using his press to produce 200 copies of the Bible within three years, which was astoundingly fast at that time. 


The concept of inoculation is an old idea. It goes back to Buddhist monks who drank snake venom and people in 17th century China who purposely exposed their skin to cowpox in an effort to protect against smallpox, a related but far deadlier disease. But it was British doctor Edward Jenner who pioneered the field of vaccinology with his development of the smallpox vaccine in 1796. From there, Louis Pasteur made advances in the field, developing cholera, anthrax, and rabies vaccines. By 1970, there were separate vaccines to address deadly measles, mumps, and rubella. The invention and evolution of vaccines have saved countless lives around the world. 

The Computer

It is hard to think of an aspect of modern society that has not been affected by the computer. Although many people contributed to what we call a computer, several great minds are especially noteworthy. The idea of an automatic digital computer dates to mathematical prodigy Charles Babbage. His idea, named the analytical engine encompassed elements of current computers. A huge leap forward came in 1946, thanks to John William Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert. These two scientists  created the first general-purpose computer — the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC).

Resources to borrow

The top ten Inventions that changed the world, by Chris Oxlade

In 1903, two brothers achieved the first controlled flight of a heavier than air machine. The Top Ten from thousands of inventions that have undoubtedly changed our world. The children will find out why have these ten made it and not others and what the other top nine inventions are that changed the world! 

Inventor’s secret scrapbook, by Chris Oxlade

Inside this book you and your pupils will find pages of scraps from the notebooks of some of the world’s greatest inventors. Your class will also discover how the inventors came up with their incredible ideas- from the humble light bulb to a fantastic flying machine. 

Machines and Inventions, by Ian Graham

Humans are clever creatures. For thousands of years, they have found ways to make life easier, from lighting fires to building robots. This book, with special acetate pages, will help you and your pupils to explore some of the most ingenious devices that the human mind has created. 

I wonder why Zips have teeth, by Barbara Taylor

Colourful and full of information book is the perfect introduction to inventions, featuring the first computers, robots on Mars, eBook readers and much more. The pupils will learn that the Inventors try to solve problems and they think about people’s needs, and then try to come up with an answer. 

Inventors who changed the world, by Angela Royston

Discover the amazing brains behind the inventions we could not live without! This book brings together fascinating facts and information, from how phones became mobile to the World Wide Web   made available on the Internet. 

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Brilliant Learning

Wanda Gajewski: Using  topic boxes in the classroom

‘’I cannot wait to get your box for this next half  term as there are ALWAYS so many rich learning experiences – it truly is magical! ‘’

Teacher from Griffin Primary School

School Library Services across the UK provide excellent , tailor-made topic collections to schools to support their projects. Our topic boxes help teachers with their planning and delivery of the National Curriculum within a framework which is both interesting and flexible.

As a librarian, I am a great enthusiast of the topic box as it seems that all syllabus of the National Curriculum  nestled within it and just waiting to be released. Themed boxes are a wonderful way to support class projects and topics. Each box contains engaging and interesting resources, including  original and replica artefacts of outstanding quality as you would normally find them in the museum,  and they will bring history  lesson to life in the classroom.

Topic boxes provide additional resources in the classroom to enhance the independent learning. The collections may be fiction and non-fiction, supporting specific curriculum areas and literacy. In most cases , schools are usually fortunate to have some teaching materials within the school to help with their learning. However, for example the history topic boxes help the teachers and pupils understand how others lived and the resources assist pupils when they conduct their historical research. 

Starting point for a topic box compilation for me is the clarity of the request. We receive wonderful feedback from our loyal teachers so  we  cannot afford to misinterpret the teachers’ requests even though some of the requests are bizarre or ambiguous. Teachers evaluate the impact of the learning resources and what it adds to the overall learning experience. It is , therefore, imperative that I am clear what the teacher is expecting to receive in their topic box. Key thing that I have learnt over the 20 years is the value of instilling and maintaining curiosity. 

“I look forward to seeing what is in the box for the children to explore”

Teacher from Brandlehow School

With the slimming down of the National Curriculum and the increasing  autonomy of schools in curriculum matters, schools need to access a wide range of materials. Without the SLSs schools would struggle to gather enough resources to cover all subjects they want to teach.  We get it. School Library Services’ librarians will use their extensive knowledge and provide teachers with the best new and quality topic books available at the time of your request. We are constantly evolving and improving our services to ensure that all changes in the National Curriculum have been reflected in our stock. The curriculum celebrates differences and diversity which enabling a better understanding of current issues. The SLSs support the teachers by recommending high-quality fiction so that children can find themselves in books and stories as well as use the story to learn about the experience and lives of others. 

Our topic box collections not only  focus on the core subjects, we ensure that emphasises are also placed on a broad range of topics and that we offer a selection of the best diverse and inclusive  texts for the children. BAME and diverse perspectives are at the core of our collections. We recognise and appreciate the importance of educating children about human rights, justice and equality in the society. 

Why request a topic box?

  • It offers an abundance of resources focussed on subject and learning goals.
  • The teaching materials can be adapted to children’s interests and level of understanding.
  • The materials are designed to stimulate and  enrich learning. 
  • In the topic boxes your pupils will find a fascinating variety of artefacts to handle , investigate and use for re-enactment.  
  • The contents in each box  make a fabulous colourful and informative display.
  • The topic box will be delivered and collected from your school by the SLS’s couriers.

It is always incredibly positive to hear from the  teachers how they feel supported and react to the topic boxes and to think more of how the teachers would make use of the topic boxes.

“It is so easy to order your topic box. All you need to know is what want to teach and ask their advice and they will send it out to you.”

Teacher from Ronald Ross Primary School

“The box I received for this half term was AMAZING, thank you! The children have loved examining the Great Fire of London  artefacts and looking at all the books about History.”

Teacher from Granard Primary School


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Brilliant Learning

Mark Holliday: Working Together to Improve Attendance – Mental Health & Pupil Absence

The DfE’s Mental Health Issues Affecting a Pupil’s Attendance: Guidance for Schools very much focuses on a whole school approach to promoting the emotional health and well-being of pupils through your school’s ethos and the importance of creating a calm and supportive environment where pupils feel safe to learn.

Pupils should be able to access support from a trusted adult within the staff team. This could be anyone within the school community the pupil feels most comfortable talking to, and shouldn’t be someone identified for pupils. 

The guidance suggests schools put in place specific plans for pupils whose attendance is affected by mental health. 

A key point to remember is that medical evidence is not necessarily required from parents to support the authorisation of absence due to mental health, except in cases where repeated or long-term absences are occurring. 

New research by the health communication platform, Studybugs, shines a light on a lot of the issues affecting attendance due to mental health-related absences.

Data for 2022-23 shows mental health being cited by parents as the reason for absence has more than doubled since before the pandemic. 

Broken down by type, anxiety is the largest reason for school absence, followed by fatigue (although at a lower rate than the year before) and general mental health. 

Key to addressing any pupil absence, as we know, is to identify the underlying issues affecting regular attendance and early on. 

The Virtual School and Schools & Community Psychology Service (SCPS) are working with a good many schools with training available on EBSA (emotionally-based school avoidance). 

The Education Welfare Service will be holding pupil absence prevention and early intervention webinars for schools early next academic year. We hope these will help schools to learn from each other about the strategies they use to improve attendance. Please look out for dates coming up shortly on S4S.

Also, Wandsworth has produced a helpful mental health map, which can be found on the Family Information Service website: Emotional and Mental Health Services in Wandsworth | Wandsworth Family Information Service

You can find the DfE guidance here: Mental health issues affecting a pupil’s attendance: guidance for schools – GOV.UK (

You can read the full Studybugs report here: Studybugs – Mental Health-Related School Absences: The 2022/23 Report

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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

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.