How, what is essentially a primary school focussed initiative, can help boost the reputation of a secondary school.
I was at a very interesting Capita conference the other day that was focussing on how schools can make best use of Pupil Premium and how no school, primary or secondary, will get OFSTED ‘outstanding’ status if they can’t demonstrate that they are making ‘real and measurable’ difference for disadvantaged pupils.
Now while we know STEAM Co. has a big part to play in that and as well as demonstrating real parental engagement by bringing parents into school who might not normally get involved (when was the last time a dad took his toolkit to a PTA meeting/event or a mother her Ukulele?), we'll save that for another blog.
This is blog about how STEAM Co. can help secondary schools get OFSTED 'outstanding' status. Yes, really.
The key thing for us came up when I was telling an educational consultant and senior OFSTED inspector about STEAM Co and how it was conceived as a parent-led initiative, working with and supporting the work of primary school teachers.
I said how we’d realised the need to extend the definition of parents to ‘carers’, not for political correctness but as we want to offer a platform for anyone who ‘cares’ about children to be able to help them.
So to us the ‘carers’ who might run a STEAM Co. Day could be parents or carers in the conventional sense, but more importantly, particularly in challenged communities with low parental engagement, pupils from Secondary schools, UTC’s and universities as well as staff in companies that share our vision to connect business with community.
The role of the six form
This OFSTED inspector pointed out that he felt secondary schools should be particularly interested in running STEAM CO. Days.
He referenced a point recently added to the OFSTED inspector’s handbook around ‘Outstanding’ status for secondary schools and the roll of six forms:
‘Students in the sixth form make an outstanding contribution to life in the school’
He said it was as important that they demonstrate this within the school as well as the community. Now their are many established ways schools can do this such as the excellent Duke of Edinburgh Awards initiative but he suggested that Secondary schools could also do this by either encouraging sixth formers to provide ‘carer’ support for STEAM Co. Days in local primaries of by running STEAM CO. Days themselves for their feeder schools.
These sixth formers could also ‘manage’ contributions by more junior secondary year pupils in STEAM Co. Days – all good Spiritual Moral Social Cultural (SMSC) skills too.
I think this particular OFSTED inspector's interest in, and support for, what we're doing was confirmed when he actually gave me his inspection handbook (I trust he can get another, though he seemed to know it by heart anyway!)
Our experience OF INTER SCHOOL COLLABORATION
The STEAM Co. Day we held at our regional launch in Liverpool saw pupils from across the years Liverpool Life Sciences UTC and The Studio School get involved and help run activities for children from their local primary feeder schools.
The STEAM Co. Day that Willow Bank Primary in Bexley ran saw fantastic local collaboration across local secondary schools with pupils from both local secondary schools come in to help as well as staff from the new London Design and Engineering UTC.
A science teacher from a secondary school in Oxford came in to run a science activity, a testament to both his professional enthusiasm and the networking of the schools executive head teacher Mrs Angela Barry.
We were particularly pleased to hear this feedback after our regional launch event and STEAM Co. Day in Liverpool:
"Our STEAM Co. Day was a very special experience for our whole community, not only within our two schools here but also among the feeder primary schools who came along", said Nigel Ward, CEO of the Northern Schools Trust in Liverpool.
"I've heard from the primaries that the day was one of the best days those children had all year. But the effort really paid off for our team when we saw how our pupils worked with the primary children in the activities and they spontaneously lined up to 'high five' them all on the way out. Some special bonds were made that day on many levels."
So it will be interesting to see how the involvement of these very special schools with STEAM Co. and collaboration with their local primary schools helps towards their future OFSTED ‘Outstanding’ status.
We certainly feel they deserve it and hope many more secondary schools will follow their example as they see how the benefits of STEAM Co. Days can work at many levels.
As Sir Ken Robinson said in his talk at our event the next day, 'Education is a team effort" and for us that team involves carers, artists, business and teachers. For all our futures.