Cogan nursery school, Vale of Glamorgan, has embraced technology to engage parents/ carers and pupils with school life. They use social media, video, a website and a blog to share the children’s learning with the wider community. The children’s skills in ICT have significantly improved, along with reading and oracy.
Age range: 3 - 4 years
Date of Estyn inspection: January 2013
Context and background to sector-leading practice
Cogan Nursery School serves a wide area on the outskirts of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan.
The school caters for children aged three to four years. Children are admitted to the nursery on a part time basis, at the beginning of the term following their third birthday and attend either the morning or afternoon session. They spend up to five terms at the nursery before transferring to local primary schools. We pride ourselves on our welcoming atmosphere, our caring ethos where everyone is valued and on providing the best possible teaching and learning opportunities for our children.
Staff and governors are fully committed to engaging all stakeholders in life at our school.
We live in an increasingly technological age and have decided to embrace this as a means to involve parents and carers more fully in their child’s learning.
Initial staff meetings and the development of an internal professional learning community enabled all staff to become familiar with how we could use information technology effectively to fulfil this aim and to improve on the standards our children achieve.
Evidence shows that children perform better if their parents/carers are involved in their education. At our nursery we use emails, paper ‘newstrains’, newsletters, text messaging and noticeboards to enable parents to share in their child’s learning as well as running programmes such as Langauge and Play and Nurturing. However, we live in an increasingly technological era and staff and governors felt greater use could be made of this to engage parents and carers and to improve on the standards our children achieve.
Young children often find it difficult to explain what they have been doing at school. It was decided to use an information network site to share this information and to show photographs of work produced. Our school website is also constantly evolving. A ‘blog’ has been established following requests for advice from parents on such as bedtime routines or more information such as Chinese New Year.
Improving standards in literacy and numeracy had been identified in our school improvement plan along with our aim to enable parents and carers to become more involved in their child’s education. We felt that greater use of video sharing sites and information network sites would be one way of achieving our aims.
Internal training enabled staff to become more familiar with software and apps to create videos. We have filmed parents, staff and friends reading stories and uploaded them to the internet. Showing them as the children arrive creates a buzz that encourages parents and carers to search for them at home. These stories have been viewed not only by the children in our school but have been shared worldwide.
Nature of strategy or activity identified as sector-leading practice
The production of story videos that can be shared has led onto the development of videos linked to other areas such as mark making and mathematics. Parents and carers have commented about the usefulness of these:
“I know the sort of things I can do to help my child.”
“We all like looking at the Share a Story videos.”
“We went to the library to borrow ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ and then had a bearhunt in our garden .”
Children ask for the videos to be shown in school and have taken part in their production although it is our policy not to share images of our children on the internet.
Our information network site has also been extremely successful and we have shared our ‘Bearhunt’ video with Michael Rosen, the author.
Impact on provision and learners’ standards
Children are eager to find the books recorded on the videos in the library area. They retell the stories to their peers and both boys and girls use the library area far more. In an early evaluation we found that nearly all parents have asked to borrow the books to share at home.
Showing clips of the videos as the children are entering the nursery has encouraged parents to ask about the stories being shown and how to find them on the internet. There are lots of positive comments about how the children watch them over and over at home, This really fosters a love of books, and standards in reading have improved as a result.
Parents have also suggested topics they would like to see covered in our videos. These include pattern making and other mathematical concepts that they can help their child learn in a fun and practical way. Staff are mindful of the economic climate we live in and ensure that activities can be replicated at little or no cost to the parents. Children have confidently taken part in the production of these videos thereby developing their skills in various areas of learning and impacting positively on their progress.
Use of our information network site has enabled parents to share activities their child has been doing in nursery. It has also enabled parents to share activities their child has done at home with others in nursery. Staff have shared these with other children and open ended questioning has enabled the child to develop their oracy skills.
The children’s skills in using information communication technology have significantly improved. Nearly all are able to use a tablet computer for a wide range of purposes such as recording their work using the camera or video, finding a particular piece of music and choosing and following a programme. In addition around half are able to scan and use the quick response codes that enhance the school displays. Children are eager to discuss what the bar codes reveal and this provides valuable opportunities to develop their oracy skills.
There are many possible uses of social media within a school environment as although it is important sensible e-safety precautions are taken. At our nursery we have found this kind of work to be very helpful in engaging the wider community and improving standards.