Blogging may have solved one of the most pressing problems that has perplexed the education world for years: how to get boys to write properly.Intriguing!
It all started during the heavy snowfalls last year. "I got really frustrated at the bad press teachers were getting [for school closures]," said David Mitchell, the school's deputy head. "I threw out an idea about hosting online lessons."Isn’t it nice to hear about a teacher using their initiative for once?
The school texted all the pupils' parents saying there would be online lessons while they were kept at home. On the school website a blogging platform had been set up and soon most pupils were busily blogging in response to requests to go out into their back garden and report on the depth of the snow. "Blogging was cool and fulfilling," said Mr Mitchell. "After this there was no looking back."
The school set up links internationally with other schools allowing their children to exchange blogs with places as far apart as Canada and Australia. It also introduced a "blog of the week" prize for the most exceptional piece of writing.Incidentally, if anyone’s a long-time reader and is getting a hint of déjà vu from this, well, yes. It’s not as innovative and new as the ‘Indy’ would have you believe.
Bev Humphrey was doing this in a Thamesmead school back in December 2009.
"It is now a part of everyday life and the way our pupils like to communicate," said Mr Mitchell. "They will produce their work in class and then quite happily and eagerly go home and do a blog. It's now cool to be writing – especially for the boys. It's the boys who were coming up with the 5,000-word articles first."Long may it continue…
Ministers have ploughed millions of pounds into trying to solve the problem of boys' writing and reading standards, creating a "boys into books" scheme which introduced more fact-based books for boys to read in the classroom and a "reading champions" programme in which Premier League footballers spoke about their favourite books.Money and a centrally-driven policy can’t, it seems, buy everything…
Neither, though, seem to have had as big an effect as the opportunity to blog at Heathfield primary school.