Improving Biology grades with Fronter!

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The Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls is a successful, multicultural comprehensive school located in Ealing, West London. The school became a specialist college for Science and Maths in 2002, re-designated in 2006 and 2009 and, following recognition as a High performing Specialist School, was awarded Training School status in 2007. The school has gained a variety of awards recognising its strengths in areas from success in adding value (Specialist Schools Award) to Investor in People (since 1999). The school is particularly proud of the SSAT Gold Award for Cultural Diversity. A recent Ofsted report also recognised the girls’ outstanding personal development and well-being. The school is in the top 100 Value Added schools in the country and are also a Silver Level Pearson Champion School.

Being smart with Fronter
In the academic year of 2011-12 Sarah Sakimoto, a teacher at the school, decided to monitor and break down the amount of pupils who had used Fronter when revising for their final grades in biology against those pupils who had not. Of the top 20 pupils who used Fronter the most for Biology (number of documents opened ranged from 208 to 34) the grade breakdown was as follows:
A = 40%
B = 15%
C = 5%
D = 20%
E = 10%
U = 10%

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Of the top 20 pupils who used Fronter the least for Biology (number of documents opened ranged from 7 to 0) the grade breakdown was as follows:

A = 5%
B = 20%
C = 20%
D = 10%
E = 15%
U = 30%

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You can see from the two graphs that those pupils who regularly used Fronter had higher biology grades than those pupils who had not used Fronter. There are other factors involved so we cannot say for certain that grades were higher purely because of Fronter but it certainly shows what a great influence and impact Fronter can have on pupils’ results when used in a thoroughly engaging way.

“Our biology results have gone up consistently for the past five years and I think that having and using the Fronter learning platform has played a huge part in that!”
Sarah Sakimoto
Key Stage 3 Science Coordinator

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Using Fronter at St Matthew Academy

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St Matthew Academy is a school for all the family and takes girls and boys from the age of three to the age of 16. Through their specialism of Enterprise they give their students every opportunity to develop initiative, creative thinking and collaborative skills through the academy’s programmes and events and through links with local businesses.

St Matthew Academy has used Fronter to apply their BTEC work collaboration across the school in order to communicate to other Primary and Secondary schools across their borough. Several projects have been created in the VLE, including an applied science room, which incorporates PSP’s, voting, hand in folders and forums.

“Hand in folders, forums, all the basic tools are very effective for the staff and the students engage with it easily.”

Students are encouraged to work at home and hand in homework via Fronter. This means that even if a student is away from school through illness, they can keep up with deadlines and discuss topics relating to the subject. This has resulted in more students being able to stay on track with their learning outcomes, and a huge increase in overall attainment level in the BTEC science course with an improvement in student grades. Ben Smith (Head of Science) adds;

“Fronter was a key part in using the BTEC, it was there to solve the problem to keep the students communicating.”

The next project the school worked on was a 6 year medical project course starting in February 2012 titled “Home grown doctors in Lewisham.” Using Fronter they hope to create a “transition room” and a “Lewisham St Matthew’s room” to help bring the surrounding schools’ activities together using it essentially as an online journal with an interest to use Collaborate as a recruitment tool.

“It’s beneficial to go with other schools in the area that are using Fronter. You can collaborate with tasks and work across the borough.”

Fronter – 21st century tool for a 21st century education

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Enfield Grammar School created a Citizenship Fronter room for students to log in. The homepage is what students first encounter when they visit the room, where they can find links provided to complete student voice surveys, access current affairs and see what is new on Fronter. There’s also a homework reminder section, links to relevant Citizenship research and information websites, a feedback section about the room and educational related videos.

Do students use the Citizenship Fronter Room?
Fronter enables the teacher to keep track of the usage of the room over time. From the start of September 2012 – end of January 2013 there were:

  • 3000 Individual hits
  • 8000 Documents viewed/downloaded by students
  • 530 discussion forum comment left across 20 discussion topics
  • 400 Different students have logged on to the Citizenship Fronter room

Gifted & Talented Section

Students can access further reading on the topics studied within citizenship. Students can look at detailed PowerPoints embedded into the Fronter London MLE to stretch their knowledge base. The G&T cohort would also be able to attempt challenging project work in the near future.

Student Voice

The Citizenship discussion area on Fronter allows students a safe and controlled space where they can debate and discuss the latest current affairs or give virtual feedback about the school and each others work.

 Years 7, 8 & 9 landing pages

When students enter through the home page to the landing pages they have a host of information, resources and guidance about PSHE & Citizenship education. The rooms provide support for all students including those that are on the SEN register or the G&T register.

“Assessment criteria, support and help is provided in a virtual way to any student, learning support assistant or parent to help support their child progress in citizenship.”

Why is this useful? 

  • Students who are absent can view the PowerPoint and catch up on missed work
  • All teaching assistants are able to see what topics are likely to be taught in upcoming units
  • Any student in seclusion or excluded can still access the course content and keep up with the class
  • If students wanted to show their parents what they will be studying it is there to be accessed

Year 10 GCSE Citizenship landing page

Assessment criteria, support and help is provided in a virtual way to any students when completing their coursework and controlled assessment pieces. Checklists of what to do and downloadable fact file resource pages are also available.

GCSE Students are able to download and view each lessons PowerPoint. Students have access to download a homework sheet incase they lose theirs.

Extension A*-C homework tasks can be set to stretch the most able students and ensure they aspire to exceed their target grades.

For those students who prefer to learn from multimedia, recommended ‘videos to watch’ links are provided and podcasts are available about the different topics.

Year 11 GCSE Citizenship landing page
Help and support for the Y11 controlled assessment is provided in the form of Prezi-Presentations and YouTube clips.

Y11 GCSE Students can also print out the lesson notes and create their own citizenship revision material.

They also have access to view and download all the Y10 GCSE work and revision notes and homeworks so they can re-cap the units taught last year for their upcoming exams.

Setting emergency cover work
The Citizenship Fronter room has a section where cover work can be uploaded and saved for a later date. Both print outs for students to fill in or PowerPoints for the cover teacher to work through can be provided.

Encouraging students to read
The Citizenship Fronter room has a section where links are posted about recent events in the news or newspaper articles which may be relevant to topics being taught or the GCSE examination content.

Citizenshipgames room
The Citizenship Fronter room has a section students are actively encouraged to play educational games related to content taught within the citizenship national curriculum.

The Literacy Leaders’ Project at Whitefield School

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Whitefield School is a unique and exciting school and one of the most improved schools in the country with a global student body that speaks over 70 different languages. As an Academy and the first Full Service Extended School in Barnet they are renowned for their community links. Staff and students have spoken at national conferences about their community outreach work and in December 2009 they achieved the Cultural Diversity Quality Standard Gold Award.

English Leaders and Fronter – The Literacy Leaders’ Project
The project was created to celebrate the success of high achieving English students in year 11 and to promote literacy across the school. There were two types of responsibilities given to the English leaders; the first was pairing them up with year 7 students who had been identified as having low reading ages, but were receiving no intervention other than what was happening in the classroom. Each week, the year 11 and year 7 students would meet in the library where, in their pairs, they would have a guided reading session with the aim of developing word level and whole text comprehension. The second responsibility was for an English Help Forum; any students from year 7 could pose an English based question on the forum and the English leaders were then responsible for answering it accurately.

Role of Fronter in supporting the project
It was on Fronter that the forum was created. All students had access in (at the very least) and out of school, so questions could be asked and answered at any time.

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Impact
The English Help Forum has been a surprising success. The English leaders reported that they found it extremely helpful when answering these questions; they said that, in order to ensure accuracy, they first had to understand the skills fully. This often involved reference to their notes or independent research and proved beneficial, because the skills that discussed are those that will be present in their exams. They also had to adapt their language to suit their audience. This, again, is a skill on which they are examined . The year 7 students produced better homework; there was greater care in what was being produced and accuracy in their responses, because they had independently sought out what they needed. Using the forum as a mode of communication encouraged reluctant learners to problem solve and develop their own learning, in turn boosting their confidence, and fostered a sense of pride and confidence, particularly with the year 11s, in the answers they were giving and the acknowledgement of their expertise.

“The English Help Forum has been so successful that, from next year, it will be rolled out for the entire school (and teachers)!” 
Clare Thompson
Director for English

Different ways to use Fronter at Southend High School for Girls

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Southend High School for Girls was founded as a co-ed school in 1895. However in 1913 the school split and the girls school was established in its own right. They have excellent arts and physical education reputations. They are the top athletics team in the country for both juniors and intermediates (2008 and 2009) and came third at the World Schools Athletics competition in June 2009. Whilst as a Language College and an International Award School they are developing the global curriculum in school and in Southend. SHSG has just been accredited by the DfE as teacher trainers and are running a PGCE scheme across a range of subjects. Trainees will be encouraged to use Fronter for both their training and their subject delivery. They are also a Gold level Pearson Champion School for Fronter.

Using Fronter
A favourite Fronter tool is the Collaborate live classroom tool. Collaborate is used to link up classes and/or schools for special events. A popular special event are transition lessons. These are held for Year 6 pupils moving into Year 7 and is a great way to get to know new pupils joining school in September and for them to get to know the current pupils and teachers at their new school. Transition lessons are also held for Year 11 pupils moving up into Sixth Form to better prepare pupils on what to expect and give them a head start.

QR Codes
Instead of making notes that probably won’t make sense when read through again later, pupils create their own videos in lessons using the educreations app and a set of class iPads. These videos are then stored on Fronter so pupils can easily create QR codes which link to the videos and add this to their exercise books. This means when it comes to revision time at the end of the term or year, pupils can easily scan the QR codes in their exercise books with the class iPads and be taken straight to the videos from previous lessons. All links are also stored on Fronter so if a pupil doesn’t have a smartphone or tablet at home they can still log in to Fronter at home and access all lesson links and continue with their revision.

Maths Angels
Every night except Fridays and Saturdays from 6.30-7.45 ‘Angels’ man the online tutoring room in Fronter. These Angels are made up of Sixth Form Mathematicians who have volunteered to mentor younger pupils in the school. If there are pupils who may be struggling with Maths in general or with a specific homework task they can log on to Fronter and enter the room where the Maths Angels will be waiting to help out with any questions. This is a great way to support pupils who may need a little extra help to achieve their personal learning outcomes,  and it is also a fantastic skill and experience for the older pupils to include on their university application forms.

Video Banks
Sarah Imbush, Head of Maths at the school creates a bank of lesson videos by teaching in Collaborate and storing them on Fronter, so those who miss the lesson for whatever reason can still stay up to date on what their class is being taught. This is also a useful tool when revision time comes around. Sarah also holds online evening lessons every Sunday and Thursday where pupils can ask questions on certain subjects if they don’t feel confident enough to ask the question in class. There are also holiday time sessions for Year 11 transition into Sixth Form for AS Maths, this is particularly useful for pupils joining the Sixth Form from other schools who may have gaps in their GCSE knowledge.

Clore Tikva Primary School and their international partner school

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Clore Tikva is a two form entry Jewish Voluntary Aided primary school and nursery for children aged three to eleven. Open since 1999, they are located close to the centre of Barkingside, in the London Borough of Redbridge. Housed in a well designed modern building, their children enjoy stimulating surroundings and facilities that support their learning.

Clore and Kerner Partnership
Children and parents have an understanding that Israel is central to the schools’ Jewish ethos. The school is part of the “Living Bridge” programme and has a long standing link with a primary school in the north of Israel.

“We have been partnered with Kerner School, Israel for the last 8 years. During this time we have had delegations of teachers and pupils visit Clore Tikva from the Kerner School as well as teachers and pupils from our school visiting their school in Israel.”

As well as helping to develop the pupil’s Jewish identities, the project has also allowed the pupils from both schools to understand the similarities and differences in how they live their lives, learn about each other’s education, their respective countries and each cultural similarities and differences, to unite and bridge the children between the two countries.

How does Fronter help?
In 2012 the school decided they wanted to involve more of the school in the project, as not everyone has an opportunity to visit Israel and to communicate with Kerner School. To aid with this they created a, “Clore – Kerner Partnership” Room. They created three accounts in Fronter for the Kerner School, so the children from both schools could collaborate and share work and other information freely with each other. In 2012 the Room was in its infancy, however they found the use of a discussion forum helpful in directly communicating with each other, as well as sharing work with each other based around Jewish festivals and celebrations and they focussed on finding out as much as they could about each other’s ways of life.

How has the school moved on?
In 2013 the school developed things further. They now have a shared Topic each year, which they study together. The shared room is a place where resources are shared in relation to the topic both schools are studying. As the project has continued they have all built a wealth of shared resources and so are able to now begin to share a variety of different media, including a slideshow of pictures, videos, as well as still using the room for the children to upload and share their work. The use of Fronter has enabled Clore Tikva Primary School to directly communicate and work with Kerner School. It has enabled Clore Tikva to feel part of their partner school and vice versa, the children love to see the work and comments made by their Israeli partners, the staff find using Fronter a great way to communicate and share their teaching and learning ideas. It enables a secure and stimulating environment for their pupils to access a bit of Israel and has been very useful.

Fronter in and out of the classroom at Ashfield Girls’ High School

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Ashfield Girls’ High School, located in East Belfast, Northern Ireland is an ICT Specialist School. The school began using Fronter three years ago; initially training a group of teachers they referred to as ‘Fronter Champions’ who then cascaded the training across the while school staff. In 2012 Ashfield Girls’ celebrated their 60th anniversary.

Beyond The Classroom
Every pupil is confident in using Fronter independently at home and they are encouraged to log in regularly. Pupils never miss out on work taught or homework set. “A pupil missed class due to unavoidable circumstances so I was able to upload the entire module with sound clips, class notes and YouTube videos. The pupil was able to access the resources, complete her essays and submit them to me using the Hand-In tool, so I could then provide feedback to the pupil remotely.”

Assessment
“Using the Fronter Test Tool we created a test around the Symphony Orchestra for a Year 9 music class. We included pictures and sound files embedded to support learning and assessment. Our pupils had instant access to their results and were very encouraged and enthused by this project.” The overall results improved in comparison to previous years as pupils were motivated by the use of Fronter.

Internet Safety
eSafety is very important to Ashfield Girls’ High School, even more so now they increasingly expect their pupils to use the Internet at home. In order to raise awareness and promote eSafety the school has delivered assemblies and held a parents’ evening themed on eSafety.

“I believe that Fronter is a superb educational tool both inside and outside the classroom. We’ve demonstrated that Fronter can be utilised to encourage pupil-led, independent learning. This is in addition to developing essential ICT skills. Fronter is easy to use and most effective in supporting the drive for excellent results.”
Beverley Cripps
Music Teacher and School ‘Fronter Champion’

Sharing Education Programme
The school took part in a Sharing Education Programme which involves sharing ideas and skills with another school. Fronter played a significant role as pupils from another school were able to log on at home and access a particular Room which held Community clips on how to create audio and video files. They were then able to undertake lessons on how to use Microsoft Movie Maker.

There was another sharing project which involved a school in India. Teachers from Ashfield Girls’ High School travelled to India to visit the school and whilst they were there they accessed all of the resources that they had previously uploaded to Fronter whilst back in school. Teachers at the Indian school were given access to the Room so they too could make use of resources which had been uploaded.