Guest post from Nick Soar Headteacher at Bishop Challoner Girls’ School in Tower Hamlets
The Pupil Premium Champion, Dr John Dunford, makes it abundantly clear that he “recognises that few things could be more important for schools than finding the best ways of giving extra support to disadvantaged young people.” The Pupil Premium funding, he says, should be used to “raise aspirations by working with the parents as well as young people”. #techmums does this having massive immediate impact on disadvantaged young people and impacts on the families with whom they live.
The #techmums initiative, run by Savvify’s Dr Sue Black, is an outstanding programme that achieved three of our main objectives at Bishop Challoner. It is a programme for which the Pupil Premium is ideal to support. As part of our provision last year, Dr Black helped the school move the internal attainment and progress gap in the school for PP students from 20% to 4%. I cannot thank her team enough for the ethos change they generated.
I felt, as Headteacher, that #techmums brought our parents and pupils closer together with both genuine purpose and imagination. It is our vision at Bishop Challoner to help all pupils, but specifically in Tower Hamlets those from disadvantaged contexts. Over 60% of our pupils come from a background of Free School Meals and engaging fully with the families we serve means that the child benefits in terms of pastoral care but also in terms of improved grades and rates of progress. The gap, as it were, is narrowed. Dr Sue Black’s own charisma and drive push this on, but the detail and the variety of the course really do fire up parents to make learning and work their focus. What I was so pleased with in #Techmums was that it provided a short, tightly packaged course using a cutting edge set of workshops and training sessions. The mums who took the course loved the collegiate atmosphere and the very real skills they gained that they could then use in the workplace, in job interviews and in helping support their own children.
I wanted to run the course again because I saw the massive impact it had on both family and child. So many parents don’t know how to track or monitor their child’s phone usage or internet footprint, nor do they have any sense of how to programme in a computing language. The parents own fears create a parallel reluctance in their daughters to approach computing and computer science; but #techmums increased confidence and allows the families to gain self-esteem in programming that sets them apart from people who haven’t completed the course.
In the context of continued Pupil Premium funding I can absolutely see #techmums working in schools across the country to empower families to work sensibly with technology and to see it as the tool it is, not the dangerous, frightening thing it can be, if approached wrongly. The vision of #techmums of providing new skills for mums who wish to return to a radically changed workplace after time away is one I endorse and want to support. Confident happy families produce children who come to school with higher aspirations and stronger ambitions to progress in school for their examinations.
Nick Soar December 9th 2013