Get online tutoring in all subjects

TutorVista is a paid-for service that puts a tutor alongside the learner... whenever the learner wants. 

Teach Your Monster to Read



Flipped classroom

Allows teachers to quickly capture themselves delivering a lesson and distribute it to students. The Swivl removes the barrier of having to convert existing lessons into multimedia to start trying this teaching technique.

Professional development

Enables capture and sharing video of their skills with online professional development communities like Torsh, Teaching Channel, Bloomboard and more. The Swivl enables frequent sharing and more rapid skills development.

Teacher assessments

Removes the awkwardness of using video in teacher/principal reviews and lets the principal focus on the review. It also brings transparency and efficiency to the process for administrators.

I spoke recently at the Casey Cardinia Network Conference, "Over the Horizon, On Personalised Learning", Phillip Island Resort, Melbourne, Australia. 

The conference highlighted the importance of technologies in enabling learning and personalised learning. 

One of the conference keynote speakers, Andrew Douch, who in 2008 won the Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Teacher of the Year Award believes that, "You don't need to be very good with technology to do very good things with technology. Teachers no longer need to be tech-savvy to transform their classrooms into thriving, connected, learning communities. Rather they need a willingness to question their 20th Century paradigms and rethink their roles as educators in a world where information is available on-demand and communication is instantaneous.” 

Andrew's blogsites is well worth a visit.


Wall-mounted IPad

This is an interesting way to interact with IPads... spotted in a clothes shop in Leeds.  The IPad shows the shop website.  Not only an interesting way to engage with the IPad itself, but also an interesting fusion of the real and virtual worlds.  In this case, the website becomes an in-store feature.

Perhaps school websites could learn something from this (?)

Multi-touch technologies


Planning for a Learning Environment

Planning effectively to get the best out of technologies in the classroom first requires some thinking about infrastructure.
The infrastructure is the boring bit.  The bit you don't often see or that doesn't look at all flashy.  But, infrastructure is key.  Like anything good, anything sustainable... technology in classrooms has to be built on solid foundations, and in this case that is a solid infrastructure.

This is what Year 5 & 6 classrooms at Robin Hood Primary School, Leeds, looked like in May 2012.

Classrooms at Robin Hood feature a hard-wired 'spine' throughout the building that allows us to have eight computers in every classroom that are hardwired into the network.  That means that they have a physical connection... a cable... into the network.  Hard-wiring the computers means that each classroom is less reliant on wireless to carry data.  The more pressure on the wireless system... the more potential for problems.

In this case, a wireless cloud overlaid on top of a hard-wired spine means that laptops can be added as an addition to the static computers in the classroom to give a Computer Suite as and where needed.  Classrooms can be 'ICT-heavy' or 'ICT-light(er)', depending on the subject being learned and the preferred style of the teacher and children.

There is also a data point for the teacher's laptop.  Again, this means that the teacher's device is hard-wired.  It does not rely on the wireless signal and is therefore more reliable.

The mix of hard-wired, static device and mobile wireless devices allows you to balance the data load and to be flexible in how resources are deployed.  This is much closer to a 'real world' engagement with ICT and technological devices than the old ICT Suite model allowed.

The bits that aren't on show....
There are ten data points in the classroom.  They are strategically planned in the room in order to enable a cluster of static computers that do not have a significant impact upon the classroom space itself.  One data point is next to the Interactive Whiteboard in order that the teacher's laptop can be hard-wired into the system.

The ten data points from all eleven classrooms are routed back to a panel in the centre of the building.  The panel has been considerable expanded over the years to cope with the number of data points in the classrooms and the additional data points that provide the wireless access, data to the School Hall, a data cluster in the Cyber Cafe, etc.  Beneath the panel is a hub that runs at the fastest speed we could buy.  Beneath the hub is a regularly updated, expanded, future-proofed, memory-enhanced, backed-up and souped-up server.  The server is connected to a 100Mb Internet link that goes out to a 3Gb Internet link, courtesy of Yorkshire & Humber Grid for Learning.

All of the equipment quoted in this last paragraph is all but invisible in the school itself.  It has come at considerable expense, and it is key to the effective running of 'the bits you can see.'  Invest in infrastructure first.  Get that right.  Then build on top of that towards your vision for a twenty first century school.

Use of technologies at Robin Hood

This is a short film made by Sophie Moore, Newly Qualified Teacher, and pupils at Robin Hood Primary School, Leeds in late 2011.  Sophie made the film to show how a range of technologies are used to support and enable learning at the school.

Third Millenium Learning - long film

This film captures the philosophy and the views of School Leaders at Robin Hood Primary School, Leeds, current in January 2012.  This film is a companion piece to the short film that shows children learning in their classrooms that was captured at the same time.

Third Millenium Learning Award - short film

This short film exemplifies some of the practice current at Robin Hood Primary School, Leeds in January 2012.  The film features short interviews with teaching staff and footage of children using technologies as part of a creative, stimulating and immersive learning experience.

A report by ofsted in April 2011 rated the curriculum at Robin Hood as 'exceptional'.  Standards, leadership & management, teaching & learning at the school were judged as outstanding in the same report.


Mind Maps and more

Mind mapping and more from BBC Scotland.


Evernote for Education

Interactive Images

Interactive images give an interesting, dynamic and rich look and feel to research and presentation.  Thing Link is a very useful tool to achieve grouped resources and multimedia content around a theme.

This is an example of an interactive image from The Guardian newspaper on, as you see, the theme of Star Wars

There is a Thing Link video tutorial that gives a quick and easy run through of the resource at:

Multimedia Learning Website

This site offers a series of really meaty independent research and learning opportunities, presented in an engaging and informative way through audio, video, graphics and photographs.

The Titanic resource looks particularly good and will be very useful for our Topic unit on America

The Anne Frank resource looks equally compelling


Cartoon Story Maker

Quick and easy Comic Strips for free...
Free software, courtesy of the Victoria State government (Australia)
Add speech bubbles, information and title boxes and audio clips.

Seemingly, the softwarewas developed to support languages teaching...  "Teachers can make cartoon stories to model language and cultural conventions." However, it could be used in relation to any subject.

Using iPads

These are just a very few 'quick and dirty' uses of the iPad and associated apps...

iTunesU is interesting in itself.  When mobile... it brings new possibilities.  There is much more to be made of iTunes U...
We have downloaded a whole series of free Spanish apps.  The teacher is using them with the children in their MFL sessions.  We then plan to do the same with the Teach Yourself Italian apps.... but not teach it - just give children the iPads during the lunchtimes and see what they can teach themselves of the language.... a Lunchtime University / independent learning action research project.
Structured, and coached, Study Support is a really enabling and empowering skill for children to acquire.

The integrated video camera in the iPad allows real flexibility.  We are taking short movies in school, then dropping them straight into Pages (wordprocessor app) - thus creating talking posters and books, in the style of The Daily Prophet.
Comic Life is an app for purchase.  This app - which can also be bought as an Apple & PC software program - gives lots of DTP / Comic style and poster creation options and is thus completely cross-curricular.
I Can Animate (again available not only as an app, but as a PC and Mac software programme for computers) enables stop-frame animation that can again apply to any curriculum area.  Recently we have been creating animations relating to Literacy and Science.  

A nice Science-related animation: animate a fruit talking about healthy eating.

Moving files:
Setting up a Dropbox allows you to quickly move files from the iPad to other devices.

Having an Apple TV box (£100) is another option here.


30 Online Multimedia Resources

multimedia mega-sites found on the web

WorldWide Telescope

"WorldWide Telescope enables you to explore the universe, bringing together imagery from the best ground and space-based telescopes in the world and combining it with 3D navigation. Experience narrated guided tours from astronomers and educators featuring interesting places in the sky. You can research and import your own data and visualize it, then create a tour to share with others."


IPad Language Apps

There are many free language apps for IPad and IPod.
Technologies for learning... the IPad has a great deal to offer.  I am interested in the potential that apps offer to shift the locus of language learning.  These apps really can enable the independent learner...

Apps to enable the learning of Spanish language:!-full-beginner/id337250660?mt=8
this isn't by any means the full list.

There are similar apps resources for enabling learning of French, Italian, and many, many more languages.  These apps free the learner to take their own learning pathway, learn at their own pace, learn in a way that suits them and at a time that suits them.

Apps to enable the learning of Italian language:!/id155864176
Again, not an exhaustive list.

All of these resources are supported, backed-up and supplemented by podcast and iTunesU content.

Language learners as independent learners:
Equip those children who want to be involved with an IPad.  Offer them the opportunity to develop their language skills, knowledge and understanding on a lunchtime:  A Lunchtime University.

Creative approaches to learning, enabled by technology.

Khan Academy

If you've not looked at Khan Academy yet, do have a look.  There are lots of interesting possibilities here.  I'm very interested in the idea of children as self-directed learners.  Khan provides a great infrastructure to support the development of those self-initiating skills and behaviours that enable self-direction.  Learning via Khan could potentially go in so many different ways...



31% of 8-18 year olds have a desktop computer in their bedroom and 12% have their own laptop.

'The quantity of information doubles every eight years.  This means by the time a child born today graduates from college, the amount of knowledge in the world will be four times as much, and by the time that child is fifty it will be thirty-two times as great.  By then, ninety-seven percent of everything known will have been learnt since that child was born.'
Alvin Toffler


BBC Online resources

The BBC is a never ending treasure trove of high quality resources.  Over 20,000 paintings spanning over 800 years here...



Free 3D animation software for PC.  Download the .exe at


iBooks Author

Just on stream, but destined to be huge...
Does this change our relationships with books, again...



Reproduced from Creativity blog:

In 2003, a total of five exabytes of data existed. Now we generate that every two days. We are, literally, more creative than ever.

In the amount of time it takes you to read this blog posting, roughly 382 Android phones will be activated; more than 250,000 words will be written on Blogger; and 48 hours of video will be uploaded to YouTube.

There are two billion of us connected to the internet across the globe. By 2020, there will be five billion people accessing the internet on over 50 billion devices – phones, tablets, TVs, even refrigerators. The internet is information, but information is inseparable from the people who are creating, consuming, and sharing it. And the web is no longer anonymous – it’s built on real people and their connections, opinions, and ideas.


Recoding the classroom

Short extracts taken from a thinkwithgoogle article.

If the world we live in looks nothing like it did three decades ago, and even less like it will three decades hence, is it right that the classroom of today would be instantly recognizable to your mother, your mother’s mother, or your constantly networking, cell phone-obsessed daughter?  While we intuitively weave new tools into our everyday lives – blogging, tweeting, texting, and using Google as if by instinct – inside school walls, it’s like they don’t exist.

“Almost everything we know about school was designed for the late eighteenth century, when the invention of steam-powered presses made books available to common people.  Partly, it was about social control; how you take this massive group of people that are becoming literate and educate them for the industrial workplace. Now here we are, in this fourth information age where everybody can broadcast themselves, and we’re still working with a top-down, hierarchical system.”
Cathy Davidson

Full article


National Archive

Online film editing tool
Interactive Youtube video for Ideapaint.
I don't know how to do interactive Youtube videos yet... but a great option.
Should every school have it's own Youtube Channel??


Free E-Books

250 Free E-Book resources from Oxford Reading Tree.
Flash-based books... therefore nor viewable on IPad or IPod.

These are nevertheless really useful resources... ones whose potential can be maximised by sharing the URL with pupil/parents and by putting a link to the URL on the School Website homepage...


Audience and Purpose - Book publishing

Technology can come to our aid in create realistic audiences and purpose for writing.
Pupils can, of course, blog for a worldwide audience,
or create a website, or contribute to a collaboration site.

Pupils can create and produce books and newsletters that are DTP'd at school and distributed within the community.

And there's Blurb.....
Blurb is a book publishing website... giving a really professional look to publications, giving a real sense of authorship, real purpose, a real audience and a really compelling reason for the authors to produce materials of the very highest standard.

Books can be produced in 'standard' book form - and/or as e-books for IPad and IPod.

The sheer excitement and adrenalin rush of seeing one's efforts displayed in these forms surely cement the deal for our Authors...

There is also a Blurb+ App, costing 69p, that allows you to make instant e-books direct onto Ipad and IPod.... a recommend.

Also, remember Storybird from previous blog postings  - an online book publishing tool.  One of the beauties of this resource is the ability to print the pictures off first... allowing children to construct a visual plan using the images to support their writing.

Moglue is another book publishing site

Tableau for IPad

Tableau software is also available as an App for Ipad. The app allows you to both view pre-made data visualisations and to create your own, once you have registered with Tableau.

See how news media around the world have used Tableau...


Tableau Public & data

And it's interesting, isn't it, that Ted Cuzzillo of Datadoodle, quoted below, says that 'In the same way that YouTube spawned a surge of new filmmakers, Tableau Public will bring on a new generation of data players and spectators.'
Data Players?
Data Spectators?
... This reminds me of the John Dewey quote, "If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow."
If we want to prepare today's children for the world of tomorrow, we must teach them to adapt to new ideas and help them explore innovative concepts on their own. Teaching them that things aren't fixed, that they can impact upon the world, enabling them to manage change, to learn from others, to adapt, to think freely, will equip them to take on the jobs that don't yet exist or, indeed, create the jobs and the opportunities that don't yet exist.

Would you have predicted a job for a Data Player a year ago?
Or for a YouTube filmmaker five years ago?
Or for a Digital Resources Manager in a school ten years ago?
Or for a Website Designer fifteen years ago?

Huge industries have been created out of nowhere and it is mainly the young and educated who have filled those roles and created that growth. That surely proves more than ever that there is a bright future for all of our children and makes our role as educators all the more important.

Tableau Public

"In the same way that YouTube spawned a surge of new filmmakers, Tableau Public will bring on a new generation of data players and spectators."
Ted Cuzzillo, Datadoodle

Tableau Public is an incredible free downloadable resource that can be used to produce beautiful data maps... on any theme. The data can be downloaded direct into spreadsheets... or viewed, and manipulated, in tableau Public.

This is the most exciting data handling resource I've seen - and is the one used by The Guardian to achieve some of their beautiful data representations.


The Guardian Datablog

This is an incredible website... brilliant for supporting Data Handling learning. The Guardian regularly produces beautiful and fascinating visual representations of data... from which fish to eat and which to avoid, via where The Queen gets her money from and what she spends it on, and the data Florence Nightingale produced in The Crimea for the MOD, to the history of US Astronauts... incredible stuff!


Time Toast

Time Toast is a really interesting free online timeline creation tool.  Timelines are a great way of presenting research information.  Sign up with Time Toast, create your timeline, publish it... you can then embed it into blogs, etc.
Here's the beginnings of one I made earlier...


IPod and IPad Apps

Downloaded IPod Touch applications being used with young children from the Pre-Kinder blog site.

Tableau - beautiful data visualisations (showcased and discussed in more detail in subsequent blog posts)

Blurb+ - publishing for IPad and IPod

There are key essentials for IPad that make the device... potentially... a replacement for laptops.

do the spreadsheets, presentation, Word Processing, music creation and Film Making functions that make the IPad an incredible device.  The Apps that can then be bought as Add-Ons just continue to make the Value for Money argument.  Make sure that your IPads/Ipods have as much network integration as possible... so that Internet can be accessed, photos and resources can be shared, etc.

Other Key Apps:
Dropbox - allows you to share docs around the IPad/IPod network.  This can be done wirelessly through your settings... so that if (for instance) a pdf is dropped into one Dropbox it is picked up automatically in all the Dropboxes throughout the system.

I Can Animate

Strip Design

BBC iPlayer

Blurb Mobile


Marvel Comics

The list of Apps, of course, goes on and on and on.  Apps that some people favour, others don't.  The key is to play with them and look for the educational relevance for your children, your setting.

Slumdog reveals learning treasures

This Education Guardian article reports on Sugata Mitra's Hole In The Wall learning project, in which he installed computers with internet connection in Delhi slums for local children to discover. He found that the children began to teach themselves English, computing and maths, just a month after starting to use the PCs. The project inspired Vikas Swarup's Q&A, the novel that became the film Slumdog Millionaire.


Primary Science 2010

Pupils use a mixture of hard-wired PC's and wireless PC's and Macs in their own classroom.  There are sixteen computers in total and thirty pupils.  More computers could have been used, but the teacher
  • planned that pupils engage in high level Speaking and Listening work as a key part of the activity and
  • was keen to ensure that video download speeds remain high (and therefore the lesson maintains its pace) by not putting too much pressure on the wireless network from simultaneous video downloads.
Pupils load a pre-selected Internet science broadcast into their video editing package.  As they are using mixed platform machines, there are different video editing packages in use.  Pupils are equally comfortable with all available packages.  While the video is downloading to their machines, pupils watch the episode together with the teacher via the Interactive Whiteboard.  The teacher uses effective questioning to draw out key scientific concepts.

By the time the video ends, pupils have the full broadcast cached to their computers, allowing them to fast-forward, rewind and review key details.  The teacher asks the group to edit the film down from fifteen minutes to one minute, retaining only the real-world examples of the scientific concepts that are the focus of the session.

The activity prompts high levels of dialogue, discussion, debate, co-operation and collaboration between pupils.  It is clear to the teacher, who is listening in to individual group discussions that pupils have both a sound appreciation of the concepts involved and have a keen appreciation and awareness of the audience that their new output is designed for.  Pupils go on to edit the audio from the clip to complement their new product.  They also add narration to explain the concepts and the choices they have made.

The teacher now has sixteen one minute video clips from which to assess pupils understanding and to inform the next steps in learning.  The videos are saved both to pupils own online webspace and to the Learning Platform to serve as an aide-memoir.



Wordle is a great way of summarising a document quickly.  Creating a wordle creates many discussion points.  Copying a child's story and pasting it into Wordle tells you a great deal about the breadth of their vocabulary...
This particular Wordle is created from the words in this 


Learning Games

Creating bespoke computer games that address specific learning needs is undoubtedly a technology tool of the twenty first century.  This facility really does allow for personalised learning in a meaningful sense of the phrase.  Content Generator allows you to create your own learning games in Flash.  Some of the applications are free, others are paid for.

Hot Potatoes includes six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises . Hot Potatoes is freeware. It is not open-source.


3D Modelling

3D Modelling using Google Sketchup

Class Tools provides free, customisable flash templates to embed into blogs, wikis and websites.

Face to face technologies

Getting online and making connections with people and experts all around the world is stimulating, exciting and fun.  Here are three good, free online resources.
Flash Meeting
Google Talk

Visual Literacy

Used well, the use of video clips to support pupil's writing in Literacy and the wider curriculum undoubtedly impacts upon pupil outcomes.  The use of video clips is democratic... even if certain pupils haven't had a particular experience, a video clip can fill some of that experience gap for them.  Video clips help support pupil's imaginations and creative responses to writing.

There are hundreds of video clip sources on the Internet.  You Tube is a brilliant resource.  Others used by teachers at Robin Hood include:

BBC Schools 
BBC Learning Zone
British Pathe
National Archives
Telly Ads
TV Ark
Apple Movie Trailers
Using streaming YouTube videos live in class can be an issue for teachers. supports video downloads that allow the video to be played while offline.

BBC News for children

The BBC has a number of fabulous online News services for children.
These sites can help teachers to address many aspects of the curriculum.

World Class - world news for children
News Reports for children

Text Wall

Text Walls from Xlearn for £25 per year.

Pupils use mobiles to interact with a text wall in sessions (posing questions / sharing answers.... lots of possibilities)

Google Apps for Education

More than 6 million students use Google Apps.

Free Gmail, Calendar, Docs and more. 

Google Apps Education Edition offers a free set of customizable tools that enable staff and students.




Cameos of practice at Robin Hood highlighted by Schools Minister

Vernon Coaker, Schools Minister, gives the opening address at BETT 2010, Olympia, London, 13 Jan '10 (He talks about the effective use of technologies for learning at Robin Hood from the point 01min 27secs in the clip)

Becta ICT Excellence Awards winning video 2009: Excellence at Robin Hood, Youtube


Be Very Afraid

I'm not certain what Stephen Heppell is suggesting that we be very afraid of.  Nevertheless, that's the name of this website which contains short video extracts of learning using technologies.
It's about learning, not about technologies.

Taking inspiration from the Pathe News website.  Cappelle Fearn School for 'Be Very Afraid'


Cameos of Practice at Robin Hood

Becta ICT Excellence Award winner video 2008: cameos of practice at Robin Hood, Youtube


Shift Happens

Shift Happens from 2008... So lots of the statistics are probably already well out of date.  The numbers are phenomenal!  Even if you've seen it.. it's worth another look, just to marvel at the numbers involved....

Blogging, texting and tweeting makes for a better writer...

Blogging, texting and tweeting makes for a better writer...
A very interesting article at:

These are, on the whole, free technologies... that means that they are accessible to all users, therefore they have both power and potential.  
Are we making enough use of them?
Could we be doing more?

Free blogs for pupils

There are great examples of blogs created by pupils from Gearies Infant School in Ilford
Books 4 Breakfast:
Pleasure Readers:
Gearies Eden Project:

Wallwisher & twitter

We've used Wallwisher
as a quick way to inform parents of our open/closed status due to the severe weather conditions.  A direct link from the school website frontpage ( takes you to an easy to manage information bulletin board.

We are also using the embed code with twitter ( to post regular updates on the frontpage. 


Technologies in the curriculum

Creative approaches and effective use of technologies within the curriculum are inextricably linked.  There are posts about effective use of technologies in curriculum areas on my other blog site.

Technologies and creative learning in Science

Technologies and creative learning in History

Technologies and creative learning in Music

Why an interest in technologies for learning?

Everyone who is involved in education shares the same basic passion.  I'm involved in education because I believe that it is powerful. Educational success is the key transformational opportunity in every life. As an educationalist, I believe that I have the power to positively influence young lives and contribute to raising aspirations and improved life chances for young people.

Technologies, for me, are fundamental to how we educate twenty first century citizens in a way that has meaning for them now and for their futures.

Texting, Tweeting Are Great Teaching Tools

From Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning.......

Carol Tilley, Professor at University of Illinois , says that educators should embrace texting—as well as tweeting—to engage students.
Noting that more than 70 percent of teenagers have a mobile phone, Tilley says the technologies offer a “viable alternate means of engaging with that age group.” She offers numerous examples of classroom applications, including a look at how English teachers can use Twitter, which can be broadcast to a wider audience than texts:
“In terms of strategies for creative or critical writing, having a limited number of characters to work with opens up all sorts of cool ways to play with the medium.  For example, an English teacher could take a famous character from a novel and ask students to tweet from that character’s perspective.
It’s a good way to get into the psychology of the character.
Teachers could also challenge students to craft micro-stories complete with a climax and a denouement in 140 characters.
Full article and related links 


Robin Hood in the news

The effective use of technologies for learning have featured in the local newspaper twice within the last few weeks.

This one below is from the Yorkshire Evening Post, 17th Dec '09
'Connected with the World'

and from the same newspaper, 31st December '09
'Leeds and Wakefield schools praised for use of ICT'

both articles are by the Education Reporter, Debbie Leigh

The articles can be searched for either by title or author using the url above.

Parental Engagement

Jan 2012
This original post is from Jan 2011

Parents are, of course, the most important educators.
How do we, as professional educators,  pool our knowledge with parents, enable, empower and support them in understanding what is happening in school to deepen our partnership as co-educators and thereby give the best possible support to their child?
Technologies, of course, have a role to play and Becta have clear timescales established for when all schools in the UK should have the necessary provision in place.
Crucially, there is no 'one size fits all model' on offer.  All schools are taking their own approaches.

The approaches at Robin Hood to Parental Engagement involve high tech, low tech and no tech approaches that reflect the varying needs and preferences of the population we serve.

Our website, from inception, was developed as a strategic vehicle for effective Parental Engagement.  many of the features operated like a 'Learning Platform', with the potential for two-way information flow.
  • School Policies
  • Calendars
  • Messageboards
  • General Information
  • Publications, eg: Prospectii
  • Class learning resources
  • Web-links that were used in class
  • Staff email contacts
  • Examples of pupils work were all stored there.
Class resources and web- links were key developments for us.. as they took the learning (and the learning conversations) beyond the classroom and into the car, the home, Grandma's house.  We found that entire families were engaging with the learning activities in the home environment.

Sometimes it's as simple as providing your greatest assets with the tools to do the job......

We send a weekly paper-based newsletter to all parents... with the Headteacher's news on one side and the class news on the other.  Class news includes details of the learning that has taken place in the previous week and, more importantly, what pupils will be learning next week... and where parents can help prepare them for that learning, eg: go to the shop, let your child pay and count to ensure they receive the appropriate change... which keeps local shopkeepers on their toes too...

Celebration Assembly
Our Friday Celebration Assembly is a showcase for our pupils outstanding achievements both in school and out.  There are performances by pupils every week.  This is a very well supported community event.

Celebration Friday
Celebration Friday changes the dynamic of a 'Parents Evening'.  In additon to 'formal', twice yearly Parents Evenings, we have a Celebration Friday event each Half Term for each Key Phase in school.  This is led by pupils.. who invite their relatives into their classrooms and show them the work that they are particularly proud of.

Parent Meetings
'Welcome to...'
Every parent is invited to a 'Welcome to...' meeting at the start of each school year so that they meet the new class teacher, learn of any changes to dates, timings and/or routines and gain a clear appreciation of expectations for the year ahead.
Parents Evening
Are held twice annually.
Meetings according to need
We organise specific meetings with specific groups of parents throughout the school year, eg: Parents of Year 2 children who are reticent readers, Parents of Year 4 pupils who are attaining below their full potential in Maths, Parents of Year 6 pupils in the run up to SAT's, etc, etc

Reporting to Parents
We made a commitment to parents some time ago to issue three progress reports during the school year.  Reports are issued termly and inform parents not only levels and grades but also, crucially, what the levels and grades mean, where these assessments relate chronologically and what each child's next key development steps are.

Texting and Emailing Parents
A are many schools, we are able to text and email urgent messages to parents.  Parents report that they value this service.

Learning Platform
At Jan '10, we are taking a strategic approach to developing our Learning Platform.  Our key questions are:
  • What do we need it for?
  • What do we want it to achieve?
  • How is it going to help us achieve our key aims?
  • How do we build a sustainable model?
  • How do we ensure the necessary capacity for continued development?
  • How do we ensure its cost-effectiveness?
  • What content/look and feel do we need in order to create a dynamic environment that makes parents and pupils want to come back and back again?
  • What information do we need to protect, and what could be freely available to the rest of the world?
Since the Jan 2011 post, we have added:


Using blogs has helped us to connect at a far more dynamic level with parents.  There are micro blogs running for classes, and for specific topics that our parents are accessing regularly.  Our Reception class blog gets 100's of hits per day, 100's per week.
The list of blogs is at:

There is also a Headteacher blog with linked blogs for each of the phases in school, that explains Home Learning that that week, what's been learned in the past week and what's coming up for the following week, etc... that tends to get 300 to 400 hits per week... which is a very high percentage for a school with 367 pupils.

We also copy the blog into a Facebook page that over fifty parents at the moment are members of... which goes direct to their Facebook page and can, of course, be accessed on mobile devices as well as on computers.  Search robinhoodpri on Facebook if you're interested in having a look at this.

All of these methods give those parents who want it access and rich information.  As a school we , I believe, benefit a great deal from the social and community capital that communicating often through these means brings. 

This Jan 2012 update is replicated on my School Leadership blog


    Skype a Viking

    Our Year 3 and 4 pupils took a trip to Danelaw Dark Age Village in November as part of their Vikings topic.
    Due to pupil numbers, the Year Groups went on separate days.
    While one group were actually at the Viking Village, the other group held a live video conference with a Viking via Skype, organised with the co-operation of the education team at the Jorvik Viking Centre, York.

    Evolve Leeds

    If you haven't done so already, take a look at Evolve.

    This is a website about connecting practice and practitioners. There are weekly 'butterfly' videos... short videos from a different school in Leeds every week that exemplify effective use of technologies for learning. As there's a new video each week, there's a reason for coming back to the site......

    The 'My Evolve' section supports the development of collaborative practice between practitioners within a social networking framework.

    High Tech High

    I first came across Larry Rostenstock via a video on the mobilelearninginstitute site. I'd actually recommend a view of all of the videos. There are some powerful visions and passionate arguments for learning presented. I've shared a number of them at Staff Meetings. As a staff, we've discussed the videos and, as a natural development from that, our own aspirations for pupils, practice, philosophy, ethos, values and beliefs... which are the most powerful drivers for any school.

    The High Tech High film was probably the one that resonated for me most. I liked Larry's no-nonsense view of education. Like most good leaders, I think, he realises the power in keeping the message simple.

    I saw lucky enough to hear Larry speak at the Innovation in Education event in London, Nov '09. Again, the message was simple. Larry started by saying (apologies to Larry, I'm paraphrasing here) that success at High Tech High is a non-negotiable. Students are there, so succeed is what they do. Students who are at risk of failing... simply aren't allowed to.

    He went on to talk about learning. Again, simple common sense. Warwick Mansell's coverage of the event gives a flavour of the message.

    The High Tech High website is certainly worth a look. On there are some examples of the books, produced by students, that are for sale on Amazon.
    Also take a look at some of the videos of practice that are hosted on the site.


    A must read

    This document, by John Abbott, really is well worth the effort. A recommend to all educationalists....
    A Briefing Paper for Parliamentarians on the Design Faults at the Heart of English Education, Executive Summary and Full Text


    Stephen Crowne was recently moved to make a defence of Becta in the press, saying 'Becta saves more than it costs'.... which is a sign of the political times.

    I'm certain that Robin Hood, like many schools in the UK who are passionate about learning in a twenty first century context, would argue passionately in support of Becta for the role that the organisation has played in helping development.

    The Self-Review Framework gave us standards to measure our progress against and confidence that our investment in technologies for learning were meaningful and effective.

    Gaining the ICT Mark award in November '06 signalled to us that we were operating to a very good standard.

    The ICT Excellence Award in '08 inspired the next steps on our journey and the ICT Excellence Award in '09 pushed our thinking even further forward.

    The outputs have been enormous:
    In that time, we have supported the Professional Development of over eighty colleagues from Leeds schools at Robin Hood.
    We have received visitors from the region, the UK and around the world.
    I, as Headteacher, have had the opportunity to speak at events and share examples of practice around the country... which (I hope) will have had some impact upon practice in those settings.
    Teachers from Robin Hood have worked with the BBC and the Yorkshire Film Archive - directly benefiting provision for our pupils.
    I've been a member of the Becta Leading Leaders Network (LLN) since '07 - an outstanding national network of Headteachers and Senior Leaders.... all of which can be traced in a direct line back to Becta.

    So when Stephen says that Becta saves more than it costs... I'm inclined to agree with him and also offer the observation that Becta's work and influence reaches far further than may at first meet the eye, or grab the headline.

    Context Update

    Since the initial 'Context' post there have been further developments at Robin Hood School.

    The school was the proud winner of the Becta ICT Excellence Award 2009 in the Leadership & Management category.
    There's a 2009 video of practice at the school at:
    The 2008 video is viewable at:
    A 2007 video, done for the Becta DVD 'Towards the ICT Mark' is also viewable (entitled 'Excellence in ICT').. this time on the school website:
    It is interesting to look at the development in practice at the school during this time frame. The journey that we are on is the very same one that every other school is on. Key developments can, I think, be clearly seen.

    We were very pleased to receive our ICTMark revalidation in November 2009. The process was extremely helpful and supportive and I felt that our assessor was extremely insightful. It is a process that I would absolutely recommend to everyone.

    Websites for Information: Recommends

    Which websites provide good, reliable and up-to-date information that's easily useable and translatable into practice in the classroom?

    Those that I use regularly include:

    Merlin John Online
    I've recently discovered this one. Features news and really good articles.

    National Education Network

    Innovation Unit
    Lots of useful links off this site. I've found the research pieces particularly useful.

    Is an enormous site. Again, like the Innovation Unit, lots of really useful publications, research and next-practice case studies.

    Twitter is becoming a very useful tool for me in finding new materials and connecting to practitioners. It does need managing once you're following more than a few people... particularly if any of them are avid tweeters.. and could become a full-time job in itself.

    The key is to get connected to new learning that can directly impact back in your own context... not to spend all your life chasing your own tail....


    Web links: Educational Resources

    It's become very clear to me on looking through the page upon page of weblinks that I've collected over time that I need a way of keeping them together, available and accessible. Some are built into the school website and into the curriculum. Others... float around... and we either forget about them - which is a problem, or one individual uses them - which means that the potential of the resource may not be being fully exploited.

    One of the problems with collecting weblinks is having time to do the research on them.
    Christmas 2009 research: websites to check-up on/take a look at.
    Here goes...

    only web-based word processor that allows people to work together in realtime. When multiple people edit the same document simultaneously, any changes are instantly reflected on everyone's screen. Looks interesting... good potential for collaborative writing projects.
    Just following this one at the moment... not well developed yet, but has outstanding potential. The EduTubePlus project aims to develop a European hybrid, multilingual video-based service for schools. This service will integrate thousands of multi-lingual curriculum-related video-clips by major European educational TV & video providers.
    Already established as a favourite and being used by a number of Year Groups in school. We've ref'd it on the 'We Like' page of the school website Site is a beta. Storybirds are short, visual stories that you make with others and share (and soon print).

    Another site ref'd there is
    Now loads of online content. Not just relevant to Yorkshire and links to lots of potential topics/themes....

    We Like section of RH School website again...
    Arts 4 Life.
    Underdeveloped at the moment. A group working with Young People in Leeds. Some good ideas for arts curriculum development here...

    Click - The BBC's flagship technology programme.
    Lots of useful resources here and referrals to education-linked websites/content/resources
    A great website containing a wealth of independently made videos that are full of innovative ways of getting a message across. I came across the site via The Guardian.
    Make professional-looking books from pupils' photographs, direct onto your computer - simple as that.
    Another look at history.... Connecting with our own personal history opens a great many doors. This simple tool presents an interesting way to present a personalised approach to learning about history, yourself, your family and your locality.
    This is a truly great resource that allows you to custom-build interactive 'walls' with your class - like a pin-board, perhaps, or a mood board, thought board, a board that preceeds a topic, full of ideas that pupils want to explore.. a post-topic discussion board, a storyboard, praiseboard. The possibilities are.......
    I've begun a mock-up. It's set up so that I moderate the board. Nobody's post goes live unless I moderate it. Wallwisher sends me a message when there's a post added.
    Creative learning, play-based approaches, using digital video games as a learning tool and lots of interesting photographs on Flickr...... Well worth spending a bit of research time on.
    See also:
    and ...which moves the context to Scotland.
    Bringing together news, articles, research, views and opinions on emerging technologies for learning
    This looks remarkable. I haven't had enough time to fully get my head around it yet and work out the detail or, indeed, try it out with children. But..... I have seen it in action at an event... done with pupils of Primary School age. Again, offers an incredible opportunity to enrich the learning and the experience of a Local History study. Clearly enormous potential for Geography studies... and for Internet Safety awareness.
    Mainly populated by videos from US teachers. There are pearls here... Take a look at 'Mrs. Burk Perimeter Rap' at
    A comic book making tool that can export out onto ipod... which makes it a potentially interesting tool. A very limited range of characters and backgrounds to choose from, very few of which are actually FREE.
    There are quite a few comic maker tools out there.
    We've used the Doctor Who Comic Maker and Trailer Maker very successfully.....
    We used this one with our Reception pupils for their Superhero topic........
    We're also using
    for the Myths and Legends topic.

    An online planning tool from Futurelab.
    'The online music factory'. Free online music creation tool. Sister product, JamRecorder.

    That's probably enough to be going on with for now.


    Why I'm avoiding the use of 'ICT'

    We talk a lot about ICT in schools. I'm at the point of thinking that the word/acronym is itself getting in the way of our next steps. When people in education hear 'ICT' they immediately think about 'computers' and all of the insecurities around knowledge deficit and training come to the fore. I'm personally favouring the longer (though in my opinion more precise) phrase 'technologies for learning' and their application into the learning environment as 'the effective use of technologies for learning' as the technologies we have available go way beyond 'computers' and 'ICT' in the sense that they are generally understood.
    Technologies for learning might (and indeed do) include

    - Nintendo DS
    - voice recorders
    - all sorts of cheap and cheerful (and potentially highly effective, if used well) resources from the excellent TTS
    - Dance Mats
    and much, much, much, much more.

    And, of course, there is lots of material out there published by far more learned and intelligent people than I on the inspirational applications that these technologies can be put to in order to support, enhance and inspire learning.

    Some context

    The school was proud to achieve ICT Mark in November 2006 and an ICT Excellence Award (Whole School category, regional winner) in 2008. We regularly receive visits from Headteacher, teacher and advisory colleagues from the city, the region, from around the country and from overseas who are interested in the effective use of technologies to support learners and learning. In addition, the school has established a very successful CPD programme for teachers in association with the Local Authority.

    For more information about the school and our activities visit:

    Telephone: 0113 2823444
    I first thought of a blog as essentially an experiment for me in using another technology and, in so doing, considering its learning applications. As I thought about it, I also thought that I am actually interested in a public space to post thoughts, comments and ideas in the hope (I suppose) that they are of interest to someone, somewhere.