Debbie Wrigley, Headteacher at Greenbank Primary School Liverpool, discusses primary science, raising standards and getting value for money
Greenbank Primary School in Liverpool has an exceptionally varied pupil roll. Our children speak at least 20 different home languages and some have very severe special needs. The area has high levels of deprivation, but among our intake we also have children with highly qualified, well paid professional parents.
Setting New Standards
Last year we set our sights on making science in our school outstanding using hands-on experiments and investigative learning. We did however have many staff who felt they lacked the necessary skills to deliver such lessons.
I had heard very positive reports about the Empiribox primary science solution, so I decided to talk to other teachers and see it in action.
Schools do not need a science lab to make the most of Empiribox as equipment is delivered at the beginning of each term and collected at the end. Termly CPD training keeps teachers equipped with the subject knowledge they require and instils confidence to ensure delivery of engaging lessons that produce outstanding results.
Previously, each or our classes had two hours science per week plus we had 14 teachers booking external CPD courses. We also took pupils out on day trips to museums, the Planetarium, Jodrell Bank and power stations etc. I felt that Empiribox was excellent value, so I persuaded the governors to let me buy it in. We paid for it with money from the budget, topped up with Pupil Premium funding.
Instant Progress in the Classroom
It has proved to be a very good decision. We only started using Empiribox in the classroom at the beginning of September 2017 but having observed a lesson about forces just a few weeks later I could see at once the raised levels of engagement and understanding. The children were involved in investigations all the way through the lesson, learning by discovery and then analysing what they had seen and predicting what might happen.
I love the fact that the children are not spoon-fed – they are thinking, talking and doing. In the past they would have been given a learning objective and a set of instructions which some of our learners would have struggled to follow. With the Empiribox approach, every single child is engaged for the whole lesson discussing, planning, coming back with questions and ideas and talking them over with a partner. I am very impressed with the quality of their thinking and the vocabulary they are using.
The Empiribox solution takes away some of the pressures on teachers and reduces their workload as well. Empiribox does the planning, so our teachers can put all their energy into teaching the children and focus on the demands of the new curriculum which are especially important in Ye
All the resources are delivered to school and collected at the end of term and the lesson plans are so well structured that all the children benefit, regardless of ability. They watch the demonstration, learn and use the vocabulary and work through all the activities and, as a result, our EAL and SEND children are not left behind.
Spreading the Word
As well as being head of Greenbank School, I am Co-Leader for South Liverpool Learning Network which encompasses 18 primary schools, two special and three secondary schools. I asked Empiribox to come and demonstrate at a headteacher residential in March and everyone was impressed.
Now, we are trying to find a way for other schools in the Network to buy in Empiribox and we are currently bidding for funding.
Greenbank Primary is part of the Teaching School Alliance, a Schools Direct school and a Maths Mastery school. When our staff go out and train others, we use a proportion of the revenue they raise to fund extra resources. We are also hoping to secure a government innovation fund and planning to partner with Liverpool Hope University to measure the impact of engagement on primary school children.
“Empiribox has made such a significant difference to the teaching of science in Greenbank School and I have seen an impact in science lessons in just a few weeks. Now, instead of answering questions, children are asking them.”