Category Archives: Learning

Musical Roots

John from Milltown Studios comes into school on a Friday to work with quite a few children in developing their musical skills.  Focussing on drums, guitar and bass he is instilling a lot of passion and confidence in a range of styles, and they are sounding great!  I get to hear a lot of what they do at lunchtime, and the music is right up my street.

Back in October, they put on a concert to raise money to buy instruments for these sessions and his students from Grindleford took part, with amazing results.  Everyone who went said it was a terrific night out, and they were very impressed with how well the children are playing.

Here is a short video to celebrate the night and what they achieved, and a sneak preview of the instruments they bought 🙂

If your child doesn’t currently work with John, and you think they would benefit (they would!) then contact the school office for more information or visit his website.

Longshaw Longwalk

We have started British Science Week with a terrific day out at the Longshaw Estate.

After starting out in the Discovery Centre for some activities focussing on the area, we moved outside to begin the learning trail.  Rachel and Ruth from the National Trust led us through a wide range of science as we followed the water down Burbage Brook.  From sketching the landscape, identifying plants with keys, finding Hairy Marys, using quadrats, collecting specimens, looking at filtering water to many other things it was a wonder that we had any time to stop for lunch.

Following a refuel, we entered Padley Woods heading back to school.  A couple of frogs and the amazing money tree grabbed our attention, but we completed the walk that totalled just under 5 miles.

A lot of walking, a lot of learning and a lot of laughing – a quality day all round.


#SID2017 Post Positively with Permission

It has been Safer Internet Day today – an excellent opportunity to share some important messages to the children about enjoying all the great things the internet brings us whilst doing our best to stay safe.

The focus today was on posting images: a huge part of online life for young people, especially as they enter secondary education.  The day started with an assembly where it became apparent that we do a lot more online that we realise: Playstation, Netflix, YouTube, Googling and Minecraft to name a few, but that’s enough about me 😉

To start off the discussion we grabbed a quick selfie:


We take safeguarding very seriously here at Grindleford, and I told them that I only posted this because I had the written permission from all of their parents to put their picture on the school’s website.  It is always important to ask for someone’s permission before posting an image of them online.

We then went on to think about what personal information it is safe to share online, and who with.

Computing lessons in the afternoon with Classes 1 and 3 (Class 2’s turn tomorrow) looked into posting pictures at a greater depth; following some image-based activities, we had a great time creating an ‘online profile’ that follows the recommendations of Posting Positively and keeping personal information safe when sharing images.

(Weekly) Hour of Code

There is a large worldwide initiative from the Computer Science Education Week at the moment to get all ages to experience computer programming; known as Hour of Code, numerous institutions are providing tools, workshops and training to help everyone gain some insight into what is needed to control systems and produce games and other useful software.

We have been teaching coding in dedicated sessions for about eight years now, and the skills of the children have always been superb as a result.  We have used:

  • control programming using motors, lights and buzzers with our CoCo control box and virtual systems
  • visual block programming with the Lego Mindstorms robots
  • visual block coding with Scratch

and in class 3 we are about to start programming in a new environment developed by M.I.T. to produce mobile apps for Android tablets/phones as part of a year-long project in computing.


As interest was high, I have been running coding club since the start of the academic year to a very eager group of programmers. I spent last half-term giving them mini-tasks on code fragments needed to accomplish tasks needed for commonly-featured game elements (scoring, resetting, direction control, event handling, etc) and have since given them an open project to produce their own game.  Although I am on standby as a debugger and problem solver, I have been amazed at how little help they have asked for!  Their work is coming along really well and demonstrate how much progress they have made in such a short space of time.


If you want an Hour of Code yourself, there are plenty of experts here to guide you 🙂

Mountain Biking

Today Year 5 and I spent a very enjoyable afternoon at Hope Valley College having a go at mountain biking.  We will be going every Wednesday afternoon until Christmas so should learn some really cool moves.  We will be sharing our sessions with Castleton School which is really good as we get to make new friends as well (even though some of us knew each other already!).

Dean Hughes, a Go-Ride coach from British Cycling, gave all the children helmets and mountain bikes and showed them how to adjust the settings so they were all totally safe.  Then we were off cycling.

Unfortunately, the heavens decided to open and we got caught in a massive downpour!  But we didn’t stop cycling – Oh no….none of this sheltering from the rain lark for us!  Luckily the sun came out again and we were rewarded with the most beautiful, bright double rainbow.  My photography skills did not do it justice – where is Mr Petts with his camera when you need him?!

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Safer Internet Day 2014

SID2014Logo-croppedClass 3 took part in Safer Internet Day on Tuesday with a range of activities aimed at raising awareness of several issues facing the use of the internet for young people today.  We all know that technology is moving at a very fast pace, and there are numerous apps, websites, behaviours and devices that simply did not exist when we grew up.  As such, the young generations are the first to encounter any resulting problems, and days like today (as well as our regular Cybersafety teaching) help prepare them for life online.


safer internet day-001We started by exploring what sort of things the class do online, a wide and surprising mix of gaming, researching, gaming, posting images, gaming, chatting and gaming. We then imagined a brand new world whose contents we could decide and asked the question, what would make the perfect place?   They made hundreds of terrific suggestions from luxuries such as free chocolate and huge zoos, to essentials like Mum and Dad (one of Nathan’s superb contributions).  Then we made a second list – one of things we would not want in our new, perfect world.  Again, hundreds of suggestions were made including violence, guns, nasty people, swearing, bullying, war and disease.

safer internet day-003Relating these ideas to the real world, we explored how it is relevant to the internet today.  It can be such a wonderful means to be creative, communicate and learn, but with the occasional danger of unwarranted content or people using it for illegal means.  Thinking about their own potential behaviour online, they saw by how avoiding contributing to the unwanted aspects of the web, they would help to ensure that they are not part of any problems and part of an overall reduction in negativity.  In addition, if any undesired things are encountered, they are to report them to trusted adults or online moderators linked to legal organisations.

safer internet day-005Using some terrific videos from the Horrible Histories team, we recapped on some of the key messages covered in last term’s Cybersafety work about keeping details private, not downloading unknown content and being careful about what pictures, videos and comments are left online with all the possible repercussions this could entail.  With current news littered with the extremes of such activities as neknominations with older groups, it is something they need to be aware of now to sow the seeds of responsible behaviour and awareness of consequences to their actions.

A short film by CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre) clearly highlighted the seriousness of many of these issues that many don’t consider when joining social networks and sharing information.

safer internet day-002After lunch, we returned to the positive aspects of life on the internet, by considering  the amazing creativity that people enjoy.  I showed them some designs made by school children that had won awards – apps for farmers to manager herds of cows, organisers for people with learning difficulties and Alzheimer’s and even a fun app using cartoon animals to teach young children how to tune musical instruments.  Then it was over to them – an hour to brainstorm ideas aimed at entertaining, improving the lives of, or solving issues for people.  They came up with a range of terrific ideas that were pitched to me, the investor, and then the class had the final say by voting on which they thought was the best.  Here they are:


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This group designed an app that offered help to many issues facing teenagers.  From the practical side of alarms for PE kits and homework, it also has features that allowed teens to talk to others who were experiencing problems such as family breakups and ways to track money management.   Their tagline was “You’re not the only one“.


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This group designed an app to get children to organise their chores and reward them for doing them quickly and on time.

Space Quest

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This group designed a complex game based in space.  Credits have to be earned by doing good deeds before ships can be upgraded to take on further tasks.

Any Game Anywhere

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This group designed a website that allows people to search for and play any game on any device.  It does not allow people to communicate to avoid any unwanted issues.

How are you feeling?

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An app aimed at people who are suffering from problems they want advice about.  It offers suggestions on what to do, and the user can rate how successful they were.  Any positive outcomes are rewarded with avatar upgrades to encourage people to act on good advice to improve well-being.

Exercise App

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Along with a presentation (nice!), this group explained their ideas of an app that tracked your activity rate and even called you to tell you do some exercise when it knows you need to.  It also makes suggestions on improving your lifestyle such as dietary choices.

I was so impressed with their ideas, and they got excited when I told them that these are the sorts of apps that can earn developers thousands of pounds.  If they are hounding you for an iMac, an Apple Developer account and The Dummies Guide to iPad programming, I am sorry!

All in all, a great celebration of what the internet can do for us and how to be responsible when using it.  If you want to know more, here are a couple of links you may want to follow:

If your child has access to the internet through a computer or mobile device, it is essential that you are aware of their behaviour and the limitations of the devices they use.  If the links, or any other online resources, do not answer your questions then I am more than happy to see if I can offer any advice.  Just pop in after school any time.

Whole School Phonics

Today we have started our new whole school phonics strategy. Following detailed assessment and analysis of the children’s work, we have identified the correct level of teaching and support required to move each of them on with their spelling. As such, they have been placed in targeted groups (across classes) that will get together three times a week to participate in appropriate-levelled sessions.

The aim of this is to encourage the children to take ownership of their own learning and to improve their success with spelling. Although the children are in groups matched to their current standards of achievement, membership is fluid and children will be adjusted into neighbouring groups if and when appropriate. The main method for judging this will be through their spellings across the curriculum, not just in these phonic sessions and spelling tests.  Evidence needs to be coming across in everyday work to ensure we can see that they have taken the learning on board.

Your child may at times bring some work home or spellings to complete. This will vary in amount and times depending on which group they are in. We welcome your help in any home work to aid their progress.