We have moved!

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At the start of the month we launched our brand new Fronter website and with it, a new blog. So this blog will no longer be in action. Head over to the new site to see some of the great things we’ve got going on!

Why not visit the new website and have a good look around for yourself.

Don’t forget, you can also read more about our Fronter UK Conference and register your interest on the new website too!

My school visit trip

By Tina Shari

photo 1This week I decided to get out of the office and tag along with one of our fab trainers, Mark, for a few hours while he went on a school visit. We went to see East Barnet School in North London who were one of our original pilot schools and have been using Fronter ever since.

Mark and I met with Janet and Stephen, who are both Fronter administrators at the school. They told us how the Design & Technology, Science, Music and Humanity departments are all using Fronter in different ways. The key Fronter tools in use at the moment throughout these departments are Tests, Hand-in tool, the Today page, News RSS feeds and video streaming. They plan to do a re-launch of Fronter in the autumn term to get even more departments, teachers and pupils using it both in class and for homework. Both Janet and Stephen are currently developing the use of Fronter and Microsoft Office 365 and are planning to implement Microsoft OneDrive to all staff in the next academic year.

The plans for the future use of Fronter within the school cover the implementation of a new Today page with lots of ideas already developed. Create channels for teachers and students (This is great for events, school trips and even communicating with parents). Encouraging more teachers to download the new Fronter Messaging app, attendance at one of our Fronter CSS training courses for members of staff and they also plan to attend the Fronter Conference in November. So lots of exciting things coming up!

Stephen from East Barnet School had this to say about our visit;

“It’s fantastic to finally hear that Fronter are pushing forward with new apps and other developments, as well as going back to their roots.

I think the school visits are very important for you guys and this is something that needs to be done. I can imagine it takes a lot of your time. However, it has raised the confidence level in pushing the Fronter platform forward within EBS.”

General Election & Citizenship Competition


In the run up to this year’s General Election, Fronter is launching a competition to help teachers encourage pupils to become more involved in Citizenship and what’s going on in the world.

First Prize winners will be invited to lunch, where they can take in the magnificent view of London from the famous 10th floor balcony at Pearson’s headquarters in the Strand, where Winston Churchill used to survey damage caused during the Second World War.

What you need to do to enter:
Pupils – create a General Election Fronter Page
Teachers – create a General Election Fronter Room

What the judges will be looking for:

  • Creativity
  • Original information, text and ideas
  • Interesting use of photographs or images
  • Exciting use of a range of Fronter tools
  • Carefully selected links to related info
  • Videos can be added i.e. YouTube or other

How to enter:
Submit entries via our pupil and teacher entry forms. (Teachers need to submit on behalf of pupils)

The closing date for entries is Thursday 7th May 2015, entries received after this date will not be entered into the prize draw. Winners will be notified on Monday 1st June by email.

Download our competition flyer!

Students have the knowledge, now they need the power!

Every Champion School we visit is different. No two are the same. Whether primary or secondary or infants, they all use Fronter in different ways and to achieve different goals. They all have Fronter embedded but some started using Fronter from the Staff Room out – a communication tool for teachers and support staff to use to pick up newsletters, diaries and policies. Other schools start with student pages – exciting content, forums, tests, home learning opportunities. Some start with home school links – parent pages, sharing photos of work, using individual folders to provide targets and helpful homework tips.

Each of our Champions Schools using Fronter have made it a success via whichever route suited them best and it is now embedded into the daily life of the school community.

So how do they keep it fresh? Well, many Champion Schools have now trained up an army of helpers in the form of students! From Key Stage 1 all the way to Key Stage 5, student-created content is creating a buzz in Fronter buildings across the land!

From something as simple as changing the votes to something new each week, all the way to students who manage their entire form room online, students having the power and ownership of Fronter has a huge impact. Students may start with non-learning related items – favourite songs and football teams for example, but quickly start to follow the example set by teachers. Students set up learning opportunities, link to educational sites they find and also give a voice to other pupils by asking them what they want to see on Fronter.

The knock on positive effect in terms of e-safety has also been huge with Campsbourne Junior School recently showing us how pupils have started to moderate each other on forums, letting other pupils know when their contributions are not appropriate to the discussion in hand.

Navigation of your Fronter building

Often we spend hours making loads of fantastic pages and rooms in Fronter. Wonderful ideas which engage and excite students while keeping them up to date with their current learning. However the whole system falls down if the students find it difficult to navigate to these wonderful places you have lovingly created. If content is king, then navigation is queen in your Fronter building!

Top Tips from recent visits to Champion Schools include:

  • Have clear icons on each landing page so that people can choose their navigation route simply and find the links they need on each page with minimal scrolling
  • For a secondary school there are a number of choices – do you want to go to Year groups, then subjects? Or subjects then split by year group? Or shared departmental resource areas with classrooms used just for Hand-ins? The possibilities are endless but make a whole school choice so that the students are clued up and find navigation straightforward
  • Student teams who feed back to the Fronter administrator can ensure that pupil voice makes an impact – let them show you what they use the most so that you can make sure these areas are easy to navigate to
  • Show teachers and students how to “Add Favourite Rooms” to their personal toolbar for quick and easy access to their most used areas of Fronter
  • Use the Portfolio tool or Statistics of each room to keep track of the most and least used rooms so that you can explore the reasons why. What do the most used rooms have that the least used don’t? Share best practice across the school.

Teachers Teaching and Learners Learning: Part 3

So, there was a Maths teacher, a Music teacher and an English teacher who all used Fronter in their schools –  then what do you think happened?

Today’s blog post looks at how three teachers have created best online learning practice via Fronter to achieve improved learning outcomes for their pupils. We’ll meet a very special Maths teacher in Southend,  an enormously talented English teacher in Barnet, and an amazing Music teacher from Belfast. All of these wonderful teachers and schools appear (or will appear over coming weeks) in dedicated blog posts of their own, but in this article, I’ll shine a light on them all together.

Pizza maths

Sarah Imbush at Southend High School for Girls has been using a video conferencing tool in Fronter for many years now. Collaborate (formerly Elluminate) has been used for activities such as the Biggest Maths lesson in the World with Rachel Riley and the NSPCC, which with Sarah’s expert guidance was a great success in bringing pupils all all abilities into a fun and productive massive maths lesson!

Star Connection

Rachel Riley, host of the famous TV quiz show Countdown was invited by Sarah to deliver the huge maths lesson to around 700 eager pupils live online. Rachel, a former pupil of Southend High School for Girls has helped out on several occasions with the world beating maths challenge.  Sarah and the pupils are always delighted to have someone of Rachel’s star quality on board, especially when she delivers such tasty learning in the form of online pizza-maths!

Maths Challenge

Pizza, Pascal + Pennies = Fractals!

Rachel’s masterclass lesson used the intriguing theme of ‘Pizza, Pascal and Pennies’ as she skilfully engaged the attention of pupils aged 8 through to 18 in the topic of Fractals.  The aim of the lesson was to grip pupils’ attention, getting them really involved in what is sometimes seen as a ‘difficult’ topic.  In the event, pupils were so engaged they hardly even noticed they were learning.

Maths Mentoring in Fronter

More recently, Sarah set up a dedicated Maths mentoring room with a focus on helping younger pupils achieve personal maths learning outcomes. The room is monitored daily by older student mentors known as Maths Angels,  and has been seeing rewarding results for both mentors and mentees. The Maths Angels are Sixth Formers who find that their experience of maths mentoring is a useful and meaningful addition to their University application forms, and the Year 7 pupils who receive the mentoring are gaining confidence in their own maths ability and setting the fundamentals in place for real progress towards their own personal learning goals. A win-win situation as they say.

Online mentors

Music to our ears!

In Belfast,  Beverley Cripps of Ashfield Girls’ High School set up a project to assess Year 9 students’ knowledge of the symphony orchestra. Her pupils benefited not only from the instant results and feedback provided by the test, but found they became more generally enthusiastic about the subject matter, were more motivated to learn and showed a significant improvement in terms of their learning outcomes when compared to previous cohorts who had not been involved in learning via Fronter. Result!

Online mentors


Literacy Leaders and Fronter

Clare Thompson, Director for English at Whitefield School in Barnet set up a very successful Literacy Leaders Scheme. This involved Yr 11 students mentoring Yr 7 students, both in weekly face to face reading sessions and regular online forum conversations using Fronter forums.

Over the course of the project, Clare observed that the Yr 11 Literacy Leaders improved personal confidence in their knowledge and expertise about a range of English language skills even though they were already recognised as being strong in this subject. Being given a position of responsibility clearly encouraged these older students to make sure they had fully researched and consolidated the skills and knowledge they needed before engaging with Yr 7s in reading and forum tasks .

Clare also reported that Yr 7 students in the literacy project displayed more confidence and accuracy in their skills as a result of the one to one help from Year 11s and from the quiet opportunities to ask questions  and develop problem solving skills via Fronter forums. As a result, Year 7 homework showed improvements as did the level of care taken over completing English tasks. This in turn boosted pupils’ pride in their work and spurred them onto greater efforts towards achieving their own personal learning outcomes.

The remarkable success of the Whitefield Literacy project with Years 11 and 7 this year means that next year Clare expects to involve the whole school, including staff. This should give a real boost to literacy learning outcomes across the school.

Online mentors

…and the answer to the question at the top of this post

Great news for learning outcomes all round. 🙂

In the next post in this mini-series, I’ll be taking some time to look at the Individual Learning Plan tool in Fronter (or the ILP as we fondly call it) and exploring how it can be used to monitor progress towards learning outcomes.

Thanks for reading!

Jane Harris

Teachers teaching and learners learning

Fronter and Learning Outcomes – an Introduction

The Fronter VLE is all about helping teachers to teach and learners to learn. Always has been. Always will be. So, when I was asked to write a series blog posts about Fronter and Learning Outcomes (LOs)  I thought, ‘LO LO’ ( think about it) and went back to first principles.

When I was at uni training to become a teacher in an age so distant that Noah and the Flood were still recent history, the thing the lecturers drilled into us ad nauseum was to set lesson aims and objectives. Every lesson. No exceptions. From the overarching lesson aims,  lesson objectives would flow;  together these would form the structure of the lesson and predict the Learning Outcomes  to be achieved by pupils – ie,  what we as teachers expected the pupils to learn /achieve/ understand by the end of the lesson.

These days,  lesson aims and objectives still revolve around Learning Outcomes.  Many teachers use the method of putting Learning Outcomes into ‘I can…’ statements, which works well, particularly for primary pupils, and which can apply to longer term topics or schemes of work rather than just one off lessons.

Afterwards, the teacher and pupil can look back and agree whether the pupil did actually learn any outcomes aligned to aims and objectives (or not.) This is easy to say, but often hard to do in a busy working week/term/year – and this is where Fronter comes in.

Basketball players

With Fronter, goals can be created, edited, recorded and tracked easily. So the business of setting lesson aims and objectives can be aligned with personalised Learning Outcomes in the form of goals, which may be created, viewed, commented and tracked in both the goal tool,  and / or the ILP tool.

For example; the goal tool can be managed by individual class teachers in their own virtual classrooms in Fronter:

eco room screen shot

All in the left hand nav bar: goals, portfolio and assignment tools  work together to give teacher and pupil an ongoing record of progress

Or, goals can be managed by Fronter administrators who can create a large, structured bank of learning goals, behaviour goals, ‘I can’ goals, or any sort of goals,  in the admin area and make them available for staff to draw on when and as they need them. All of these goals can be set up as Learning Outcomes and can be aligned to any curriculum area. The goals can then be given for individual pupils, small groups, whole class or year groups.  The teacher can decide where and how the pupil will see the goal, maybe with a discussion or a piece of homework, and can allow (or not) pupil comments.

create new goal

Simply tick the self-evaluation box for pupils to be able to add their own commentary to their own progress.

A goal is easy to set up, and once filled in with say, a series of ‘I can..’ statements, would look like this:

I can Learning Outcomes on a goal based Learning Ladder

An example of ‘I can…’ goals arranged in a series, to support the new computing curriculum

In the next blog post in this series, we will have a closer look at how goals can be used in various classroom situations to capture Learning Outcomes.

For now, if you want to have a look at goals in action for yourself, log into a guest (read only) account:


Primary userid: pguest, passsword fronter

Secondary userid:  sguest, password fronter

PS: As well as the exploring the goal tool, future installments will also include a look at how Learning Outcomes  work with Fronter’s Individual Learning Plan (ILP) tool,  and some examples of how teachers are using Fronter to support management of Learning Outcomes, and perhaps more importantly how pupils use Fronter to achieve their Learning Outcomes.

Jane Harris  @virtualjane
Head of Education
Pearson Fronter