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September 2015

We've been that busy...

More activities added!

So two very important programmes for the future curriculum have been added. Many see orienteering as one of the activities which is simple enough when a course is set out in the usual places; country parks, forests and outdoor centres. Then there's the cost of travel to those places... Well, at Open Minds we've designed activities that can be adapted for any site which keeps your costs down and still develops teambuilding skills of co-operation, communication and map reading skills. Not only that but numeracy and literacy skills are also incorporated into the programme. It's ideal for any age group! Here's the youngsters of Y2 at Garrett Hall Primary having a full day of activities progressing from their classroom to understanding maps to different types of orienteering. Phew!

Secondly, British Values is something every school will be looking at this year. The new OFSTED framework highlights that pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development and the promotion of fundamental British values must be at the heart of the school’s work to achieve ‘Outstanding’ school status. Our new 'British Values' programme will embed the British Values of democracy, liberty, mutual respect, the Rule of Law and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs. Exploring how we form our opinions, the voting system and practising debating skills will be at the centre of this programme

Since the last news Open Minds has spread further afield! At Middleton Tyas Primary, near Darlington, we delivered a whole programme of Financial Capability for all of Key Stage 2 throughout the year. We did our very own Supermarket Sweep collecting items, pricing them up and making totals. Groups also made use of our Crown The Town programme working out budgets and costings. The ever popular and fun Swans & Ducks activity incorporated savings, loans, investment and interest.

Following up in the summer term, we had two whole days of teambuilding activities (just before the rains came!)

In February, our visit to Sacred Heart in Leigh celebrated the World Of Work, investigating jobs, the skills required and what skills could be transferred to different but similar occupations.

Delivering activities with adults can be so much fun - so we make sure our Staff INSET is engaging, enjoyable and above all educational. Whatever the adults do is exactly what the children experience. This empathy really benefits teachers and reminds them what it's like to be a child again! So the staff at Garrett Hall found all this out in March 2014 for our taster sessions.

Popping over to nearby Hindley Green Primary with KS2 in March was exciting for all. Then a week at Ysgol Esgob Morgan in St Asaph with a focus on self-esteem and conflict resolution. Some really interesting outcomes for children and adults to work with.

Next was 4 weeks at Leigh Sacred Heart teambuilding. They love it there! Y6 were shipwrecked becoming pirates in our Learning Treasures activities focuses on allowing the more passive children to take the lead and make decisions for the group. Most exciting was our new Hungry Hippos activity!

Finally, just before the summer holidays started we were back at St James Daisy Hill, following the Staff INSET in January, working with 120 pupils from Y5 and Y6 allowing them to interact with each other before they became new classes next year.

So that was the academic year 2014-15 and we've already been busy working with over 60 staff at Kates Hill Primary in Dudley, Birmingham. A vibrant and energetic bunch threw themselves into the activities; Senior Managers, governors, teachers, teaching assistants and lunchtime supervisors all mixing together with new staff and taking our ideas to work with the children.

Then Staff INSET at St Saviour's Primary, Bolton - a brilliant day with lots of questions and ideas. We'll be returning there for more days this year too working with the lunchtime supervisors and the pupils.

February 2014

Where to start? So much has happened since the last time you popped in!

More Programme Development!

We've added two new programmes to our repertoire! First is the custom designed Bright Sparks and Learning Treasures programme. Originally designed to encourage confidence in less confident pupils in Y5 and Y6 over an 8 week period, giving those pupils the opportunity to make decisions for the group and encourage them to be more active participants, we worked on delivering challenging activities using a pirate theme. We quickly realised these activities can be adapted and used for all groups as our philosphy of promoting communication, sharing and listening skills was evident straight away. Besides this, it was really fun being a pirate! We aim to continue to spark pupils' imagination and creativity through this programme. Here's children from Sacred Heart, Hindley Green, trying out the activities.

Next, is our now popular Crown The Town Programme. Participants have to design and build a housing development considering environmental issues, traffic considerations, facilities, cost and budget. Numeracy and language skills are prominent in this set of activities as well as design, craft and technology skills. This was a great success at Ysgol Bryn Hedydd in January and February of this year.

In June and July 2013 we spent a lot of time teambuilding at Sacred Heart, Leigh, supporting the school's PSHE lessons from Early Years to Y6. Lots of thinking throughout that month!

We revisited St Benedict's again in October (no OFSTED this time!) for their innovative No Pens Day. Janice Taberner, Headteacher at St Benedict’s kindly wrote to us complimenting Open Minds: 'Mike has been into St Benedict’s on a number of occasions working with groups and whole classes on problem solving and team development exercises. The children and staff gained a great deal from the programme including perseverance, working as a team, logical thinking as well as having a great time. We had Ofsted during Mike’s last visit and it went a long way to securing our Outstanding Behaviour grade as they could see the children working together and collaborating in teams. I would highly recommend Mike working in your schools – he is very professional and has a great rapport with staff and children.'

New schools

In November, after Anti-Bullying Week at Leigh Sacred Heart, Open Minds delivered activities in two new schools for us. First, in Whalley Primary supporting their Anti-Bullying Week (Early Years to Y6) then St Andrew's CE Primary in Bolton teambuilding with KS2. We're hopefully returning in the summer term to both schools.

Another enjoyable return to Ysgol Esgob Morgan, St Asaph, teambuilding with Y5 and Y6. Da iawn! Still practising the Welsh language phrases!

The new year held Money and Industry Weeks in January and February. We visited Leigh Sacred Heart for a very expansive period of work with Early Years to Y6. We looked at how we save, jobs we'd like to do and before embarking on the Crow The Town project with Y6 we looked at what we think industry is.

April 2013

It's been a while! Just to keep you updated on how we've spending our time this academic year! Firstly, thank you to everyone and anyone who has taken an interest in Open Minds; supporting what Open Minds can do for schools, the pupils who threw themselves into the activities and the staff who asked questions and discussed the services we provide.

New Promotional Schools video!

New Open Minds promotional video for schools and colleges (very proud)! The video explains briefly what Open Minds is about and how it can help to support your staff and pupils. Please click here to see it and tell us what you think.

Programme Development

In discussion with teachers Open Minds has worked very hard to expand the innovative programmes on offer and design additional activities that will support the curriculum in other areas. We have added:

Debating and Dilemma Skills

  • to practice speaking & listening skills
  • to prepare for debate and how to present counter arguments successfully
  • to practise the skills involved in becoming better role models and ambassadors
  • to explore the values and merits of values and determination

Good Vibrations!

  • showing real instruments (drums, acoustic and electric guitars)
  • investigate what sound is and how we hear sound
  • interactive opportunities for individuals to experience playing the guitar and drums
  • understanding of sound in music and science
  • Please note 'Good Vibrations' is a 1 hour session only.

School visits

In September, Financial Capability was the focus at Aspull Church Primary. Pupils and staff looked at buying at the shop and a treasure hunt for pennies (Early Years), how to spend and save wisely / money and moral dilemmas (Y1 and Y2), our needs and our wants (Y3 and Y4), business and enterprise games (Y5 and Y6). This was a really two days as we also tried some new activities too.

'All the staff spoke highly of your sessions.' Mrs J. Clarke, Headteacher

and those staff said: 'Resources were well prepared and instructions given clearly. The children enjoyed playing the game and passing round the purse of money!' Mrs J. Seddon, Y1

'A practical session well delivered which provoked thought and discussion. It certainly made our children think more carefully about the value of money.' Mr S. Isherwood, Y4

'Y6 thoroughly enjoyed the session, with particular children showing skills in this area. Thanks!' Mrs A. Clarke, Y6

Surprise of the term came at St Benedict's, Hindley, where we delivered activities as part of 'World No Pen Day'. All activities in the school on that day involved working without a pen or pencil. Interesting and innovative to say the least. The big surprise was walking in to be told OFSTED inspection was taking place that day! Open Minds was more than happy to take up the challenge, OFSTED inspectors saw some of our activities in the morning and were pleased the activities complimented the curriculum and schools planning.

October took us for 3 days to St Peter's in Leigh for their 'Learning For The Future Day'. An hour's session on teambuilding for each year group in KS1 and KS2. Emphasis was on respect, getting along and looking after each other. Positive Friend Week also took us to Sacred Heart, Hindley Green. As part of a buy-in package the school have spread their 4 days throughout the year. We spent the whole day with KS2 discussing and through activities highlighting reactions to bullying and how we can improve our friendships and relationships.

In November, we returned to Sacred Heart, Hindley Green, as part of National Anti-Bullying Week with KS1. Some really good outcomes and opportunities for staff to further explore the pupils feelings and interpretations of perceptions. Leigh Sacred Heart also booked Open Minds to support their work on Anti-Bullying working with classes from Early Years to Y6.

January was spent putting the final touches to our promotional video for schools and colleges of which we're very proud of. Please click here to see it and tell us what you think.

During February we returned to Sacred Heart, Hindley Green, working on our 'Dilemmas and Issues' Programme using a step by step approach and drama with Y3 and Y4 children. We looked at issues they have in class, school and outside of school.

'Agor Brydiau Mawrth' (Welsh for 'Open Minds March') in WALES! Our first (and not the last!) visit to Ysgol Esgob Morgan, St Asaph, for some intense teambuilding activities with Y5 and Y6. This was a great day finding out about each other and supporting the school's ethos on positive behaviours produce positive people. Back in Ysgol Esgob Morgan in the summer for more!

Open Minds then returned to sunny Rhyl (did I say sunny?) to Ysgol Bryn Hedydd. Financial Capability with Year 6 and Teambuilding with Y5. Also some extra discussion with Pastoral leaders on some of the approaches and strategies Open Minds uses to promote self esteem and confidence. We have plans to return in the summer for an 'Enhanced Learning Day' for some Y6 pupils from feeder schools to work with Y7 pupils from the two local secondary schools. That's something we're all really looking forward to!

So the summer, will see us back in North Wales, Hindley and Leigh. Open Minds will also be in Leigh Sacred Heart delivering teambuilding for the whole school throughout the summer term.

September 2012

So we roll into the next academic year with our themes and programmes for some important dates: International Day of Non-Violence (02 October 2012) World Teachers Day (05 October 2012) Learning for the Future (23 October 2012) International Day for Tolerance (16 November 2012) Anti Bullying Week (19 to 23 November) Fairtrade Fortnight (25 Feb - 10 March 2013) National Science and Engineering Week 2013 (15 March 2013) World Health Day (07 April 2013)

We also received a personal review from Freya of our work in Hindsford! :-)

July 2012

Wow! What a year we've had! So many places visited and people we've met. We've thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! The feedback has been amazing too! Check out our testimonials page for more.

We delivered Positive Friend Week activities at Sacred Heart in Westhoughton (we do like going there!) for Anti Bullying Week in November.

In the Autumn term, Sacred Heart in Leigh was the base for our Industry Week activities. The Year 3 and Year 4 children focused on skills involved in business and finance. Then onwards to North Wales and Connah's Quay for a Working Together Project working with the fantastic staff and pupils at Ysgol Bryn Deva. The headteacher, Mr Huw Jones, said of the activities 'Open Minds training sessions are now embedded into our annual timetable. Highly recommended!'

During the Winter term, Open Minds delivered a ten week course on Positive Behaviours in Christ Church CE, Pennington. Staff stated they had observed how well the sessions had impacted on the behaviour of individuals in the year group. The children also identified ways in which they could compromise in situations when conflict may arise.

St John's CE, Pemberton, also enjoyed two days of teambuilding activities for everyone (Reception to Year 6) after a successful taster session with staff. As is our practice we consulted staff to make sure the activities delivered were tailored to each year group. The two days finished with an celebration assembly where all the class discussed and presented what they had learnt - wonderful to see! PSHE co-ordinator, Christine Nash said 'I was a little dubious at first, about involvement for Reception but the session was brilliant as all children were kept active and involved.'

The Summer term was our busiest! We worked with Hindsford CE near Atherton on a successful Working Together project with Year 3 and 4 pupils. Returning in June, we had all the Year 5 and 6 pupils taking part in problem solving carousel.

Hindley Green Primary also used our problem solving carousel for their Y5 and Y6 pupils which gave those who stayed at school while others went on their outdoor residential course to take part in similar activities. Staff were so pleased Open Minds has been included in the school's 3 Keys Newsletter which incorporates the cluster of three schools in the area!

St Benedict's in Hindley utilised Open Minds to highlight and develop the spirit of teamwork in preparation for their Olympics themed week. 60 plus children in one session was exhilarating!

Then for more learning and fun in Rhyl, North Wales, at the fantastic Ysgol Bryn Hedydd. Staff and pupils were all enthusiastic on a gorgeous sunny day in Wales - completely apt for their Enrichment Days. Deputy Headteacher, Christine Rodgers said 'Good clear structure and activities - interesting and challenging!' Dee Bartholomew added 'What a fabulous afternoon Year 5 have had... an excellent and mind opening afternoon.' One Year 5 pupil wrote in review 'So if you listen to others you will be treated with respect.' We couldn't ask for much more! (More in-depth reviews from Christine and Dee on our testimonials page.

Returning to Lancashire, Open Minds delivered activities focusing on Working Together and Communication skills in Shadsworth Junior School in Blackburn. Vastly different weather conditions from Rhyl kept us inside but did not deter us from pushing the possibilities for learning. Y6 teacher, Howard King, a teacher of over 30 years experience said that the sessions 'raised many issues regarding cohesion... All tasks set could be re-used later in the term or adapted for other year groups.' One of the Y6 pupils reflected 'I think today was marvelous! I loved it so much I would like to do it again.' (A more in-depth review from Howard on our testimonials page.

Next to Meadowbank Primary, Atherton, for a staff taster session - some very (dare we say over?) enthusiastic staff taking part!

Finally, we've concluded this academic year at Aspull Church Primary. Again, the weather was certainly not on our side for the day's theme of Roles & Responsibilities preparing the Y5 pupils for life as Y6 next year but it didn't stop us learning how to think of others! Open Minds returns to Aspull Church Primary in October for Financial Capabilities Days.

So, what a year! We've met so many pupils and staff who have all enjoyed our activities so much and are looking to further enhance the themes delivered for us to return with exciting learning strategies.

Coming up next term, Open Minds will be in Leigh St Peter's Primary for Health Week and in St Asaph, North Wales, for Chill Skills. We're also in discussion with more schools in Liverpool, Birmingham, Salford, Wigan and North and Mid-Wales to bring our specialised expert delivery to pupils and staff alike. Looking forward to it all as ever! We'll be looking at making even more innovative activities over the summer so watch out and keep those minds open!

Finally, thank you to all the pupils, teachers, teaching assistants, co-ordinators, pastoral managers, headteachers and supporters who have helped and taken part in Open Minds, and of course YOU for reading this and finding out what we're all about!


March 2011

Open Minds has completed a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding time at Sacred Heart in Westhoughton, Bolton, working with both Year 2 and Year 5 classes delivering activities for the school's Fair Trade Project. The work linked in with the school's Financial Capability element of the curriculum too. It was also interesting for Mike to visit his old school and see how much it had changed in 25 years!

In a busy April, we'll be working with Westholme Independent Infant School in Blackburn using our team building activities with pre-school, Foundation and Key Stage 1 children. The staff at Sacred Heart in Leigh, Lancashire, will be taking part in a team building day as part of their INSET (In-Service Training) so there'll be plenty of fun an learning across the country!

In other news, our new look website is now complete with more information and National Curriculum links available for download.

Many thanks to Joe Beech designs who have provided exactly what we wanted.