North of England secondary school awarded £50,000 to fund innovative online project

A North of England secondary school has been awarded £50,000 funding for an innovative project that will help children moving from primary to secondary school.

Falinge Park High School has received the grant from education charity SHINE, which works to ensure all children in the North of England leave school with a bright future, regardless of their background or where they live.

Since the start of the pandemic, Falinge Park has been developing its own home-schooling digital platform called i-college, which includes video lessons created by the school’s teachers, plus online quizzes, and tasks.

For the new SHINE-backed project, children in their final year at primary school will be able to use the i-college system to take part in online lessons throughout the summer holidays before they formally enrol at their new school.

The lessons will be aimed at boosting children’s vocabulary, so they are better prepared for secondary school life.

A member of staff from the high school will also be in regular contact with the children throughout the summer, to ensure they have any support they need. Both primary and secondary staff, to ensure continuity and a familiar face for the pupils, will develop lessons. Children taking part will spend around half-an-hour to an hour each day on the i-college lessons.

Falinge Park headteacher Janice Allen said: “To help our children succeed, we know we have to provide them with the vocabulary and experiences to hold their own in a complex world.

“This funding will allow us to extend a programme that is already helping our existing students so that it can also benefit those children who have not yet joined us.”

It is hoped that if children’s vocabulary can be developed at an earlier stage, it will help the children across all subjects when they arrive at high school.

Ms Allen said: “We feel that if we can get them a little bit sooner, starting with Year 6, then that will help them because to access, for example, a GCSE science paper, you need an excellent vocabulary; to be able to answer a history question and get those strong grades, you need the vocabulary to be able to do that.

“Our idea is for the children to do a little bit of work at home every day during the holidays, alongside regular contact with somebody from the secondary school. We feel that could be more effective than a summer school, and it will encourage more children to take part.

“Throughout the summer they will both be seeing a teacher from their new school, but also a face from their primary school, so they keep that link.”

SHINE’s interim CEO, Dr Helen Rafferty, said: “We are always amazed by the commitment and innovation of teachers when it comes to supporting their students.

“The project at Falinge Park High School will be transformative in helping children to be prepared for the challenges of secondary school and making sure they have the opportunity to thrive in the coming years. We’re thrilled and excited to be supporting this work.”

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