Free School Meals Eligibility Checker

Do you know if your school is using the LGfL Free School Meals Eligibility Checker to maximise income from Pupil Premium Funding? Read on to find out more about this LGfL service …

Since the 1st September 2019 £15 million has been identified by schools making use of this service.

The Free School Meal Checking Service is an online process where parents can check eligibility for free school meals. LGfL has taken this initiative, at no cost to schools or LAs, with the aim of supporting schools in maximising income from Pupil Premium as well as promoting the wider benefits of free school meals. It is estimated £50m of Pupil Premium is unclaimed within the London region alone because parents do not check for eligibility. Parents can conduct a simple online check to determine eligibility for free school meals which in turn may attract the extra funding for each of their children’s schools. Parents are not required to accept free meals but schools appreciate the help with conducting an online check.

What the Service Does For Parents:

After entering a few details into the website, the online application process links to the Department for Education database and gives an immediate ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. This system is designed to eliminate the need to apply in person for free school meals and improve the claims process for schools. It also means that if you are eligible for free meals, the school is able to process your application using the information you submit.

There is no need to reapply each year, as schools can recheck eligibility as required using the data already provided – although if your child moves to a different school then you will need to update your account.

We have made a couple of enhancements to the website:

  • A parent of a child attending any LGfL school can now use this website to check their eligibility.
  • A Certificate of Eligibility is available through our website for any child eligible for a free school meal who is attending a school in England. The Certificate of Eligibility should be taken to your child(ren)’s school.

How it Works For Schools:

Since the Government introduced free school meals for all children in Key Stage 1, it is more important than ever for schools to know how many pupils would otherwise be eligible for free school meals (thus allowing schools to apply for the extra Pupil Premium funding). These funds enable schools to take on more staff, invest in additional equipment, resources and activities which can benefit all not just the children with Pupil Premium entitlement.

Schools wishing to encourage applications can promote the online eligibility checker to parents by publicising the following web address: fsm.lgfl.net.

Services Available for LGfL Schools:

After parents have submitted their details online, a suitably authorised school administrator will be able to facilitate the submission of claims by clicking on the ‘Administrators’ button and visiting the school administration section. The Headteacher is an authorised school administrator by default but would normally nominate one or more staff members as additional administrators via this section of the site. Data will only be made available securely via this site. In order to use this FREE service, schools already subscribing to LGfL need to ensure that MIS data is exported regularly and that the school has configured an information status in the free OpenCheck service found at opencheck.lgfl.net.

By way of thanks for your application and support, and regardless of whether the answer returned is a yes or a no, LGfL and its connected schools would like to provide parents of children attending LGfL-connected schools with Sophos AntiVirus software, free of charge, to protect the computers used by pupils at home. To gain access to this software, a short registration process is required, at which point other services related to your children’s school will be explained. Don’t worry, its straightforward, there is absolutely no advertising, and you won’t be asked to buy anything! There is no catch, LGfL (a UK education charity) is providing this service to support schools.

Schools can find out more and how to set this up by downloading the guide for schools. This includes a template letter that schools can send out to parents to inform them off the service. All submitted data is stored securely in compliance with the Data Protection Act. For additional information regarding data please see our privacy statement.

Savings Calculator for LGfL Schools:

Have you ever clicked on to view the Savings Calculator on LGfL.net? If you are logged in with your USO you will notice “My School Savings” directly under the login. On this page you can view the licences you have already claimed as part of your ‘Let’s Get Digital’ subscription and claim others you are entitled to but have yet to claim. Towards the bottom of this page, you will also see a link to ‘Claim your Pupil Premiums’; this tells you the average claimed by similar schools using this service.

Please do share this blog post with your Senior Leadership Team and School Business Manager/Bursar to ensure your school claims their Pupil Premium entitlement and let us know the impact it has. If you have any suggestions for what else you would like to see from LGfL or would like to write a guest blog do so by posting on LGfL’s Twitter or Facebook. 

 

 

 

Christmas Crackers 2019

‘It’s’ nearly here and we know as teachers how hard it is to get through the final weeks of the Autumn term. It’s cold, dark and wet, you are exhausted because of grotto duty at the Christmas Fair, you have been trying to get the glitter out of your hair for several days, sorting out yet again who gets the toy from the cracker during the Christmas lunch or going to yet another Christmas production practice! It leaves gaps in your day which you may not know how to fill, which is why we are offering you a range of stocking fillers to help you fill those moments!

Busy Things offers a range of fun, festive digital content that you can use to get that much-needed magical moment of peace within in your class. From designing your own digital Christmas card, decorating your own tree (perfect for fine motor control in the EYFS), writing a letter to Santa, exploring symmetry through making your own snowflakes, or building a digital snowman you can use the many fun, interactive tools.

Busy Things have just released an updated ‘Santa’s Sleigh Ride’; in this fun game the pupils help Santa to get as many presents delivered as possible! In the daytime, they collect as many presents as they can using the ‘giddy-up’ button to keep him in the air (on a desktop computer you can use the space bar too). They should make sure they avoid the red monsters or else it’s game over! At night time, they drop the presents down the chimneys by pressing the ‘throw present’ button (on a desktop computer they can use the space bar too). There are 3 other ways to play the game: ‘Words’ within this mode at night time you must select the present that matches the label on the chimney, ‘Mental Maths’ they must select the present that match the amount on the chimney and ‘Shapes and colours’ during night time you must select the present that matches the shape/colour on the chimney.

Also, newly added are more fun colouring sheets which you can use digitally via Busy Paint or simply print them out.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The j2e Tool Suite has a Christmas winter wonderland tab where you can access a bumper pack of festive treats. Why not try playing a game of digital noughts and crosses festively named ‘Shepherds and Wise Men”, play a word matching game or create your own digital nativity scene?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Did you know that all of these resources are made with the powerful j2e5 application? If you select the edit button on each activity you can see how the activity was made and then ask your students to edit the activity.

Many J2e tools have also had a Christmas makeover:

  • J2data (Branch): a Christmas set of resources to sort – elves, reindeer, gingerbread men etc. – plus a Christmas background and the clothes category are all winter clothes.
  • J2Pictogram: a set of high-quality Christmas clip art images to use.
  • JIT: Both Write and Paint have had a festive makeover, with a Christmas background in Write and Paint having high-quality Christmas clip art images to use.
  • J2code: Visual has a reindeer instead of the usual penguin sprite (also a new update enables you to search via safe search where you find more Christmas sprites with ease).
  • J2e also offers analogue activities such as making yummy festive biscuits. Remember to go back every day to open the advent calendar to see the latest activity!

Your students don’t need to be visited by the Ghost of Christmas past to see what has happened at Christmas time in the past. Let them search The Guardian and The Observer Archives, they go all the way back to 1791 and offer a window into celebrations from years gone by; great for your students to research and compare modern traditions with those in the past. Look at my previous post on other ways to use this resource too.

Widgit has 3 ready-made activity packs you can download for Christmas, which can be found in the activities area of the Widgit resource.

  • Christmas Cards: 3 ready to print and fold Christmas card designs. Provided in the pack is a full-colour card for each of 3 designs or to make it more personal, each design also has a ‘colour your own’ version. Each card features Widgit Symbols and pictures and a symbolised greeting message on the front.
  • Christmas Pack: Worksheets and activities from the Symbols Inclusion Project, This pack contains a range of 21 activities based around the secular aspects of Christmas, suitable for children of different ages and abilities. The more difficult activities are numbered towards the end of the list. included in the pack is an interesting German folklore story about why we put tinsel on a Christmas tree.
  • Nativity Pack: Worksheets and activities from the Symbols Inclusion Project, 12 Nativity and Christmas themed activities and stories: colouring, word search, letters to Santa.
  • There are also ready-made packs for St Lucia (the Swedish Festival of Light) and Hanukkah. These resources are for whole-class work, small groups and independent workers. There are symbol–supported stories, text-only stories, information sheets, recipes, crosswords, word searches and much, much more.

Audio Network has over 60,000 professionally produced tracks that can be searched by keyword or mood. Why not search for ‘festive’, ‘jolly’ or ‘Christmas’? You can use the tracks in lessons, performances and for any videos you create in school – without breaking any copyright rules!

Here are my 5 top picks from the Christmas jukebox:

  • Swingle Bells: who needs the Michael Buble Christmas album when you have this up-tempo Christmas classic? (Cocktail, swing, jazz with crooning male vocal).
  • Swing Merry Gentlemen: Jazz trio arrangement of ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’.
  • The Holly and the Ivy: Traditional English Christmas carol played by a brass band.
  • Rockin’ Wizards: A very familiar-sounding glam rock tune.
  • Warm And Toastie: Display an open fire video on the IWB, get out the marshmallows and put on this warm and cosy song.

We also have Espresso Faiths to look at how Christmas is celebrated. Why not compare this with how different communities celebrate festivals and ask your students to explore the common links that they can see in the religious celebrations?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you love an advent calendar (I know I do; I have 6 in my house!) have a look at the wonderful work of one of our Digital Excellence Award Winners, Simon Pile, with this wonder ‘Doodle-a-day’ book (designed for anyone aged 4 to 94). This book contains 25 Keynote doodle challenges to put you in a festive mood. Day-by-day you can build your skills using Keynote and move from adding a simple drawing to creating a whole animated movie with sound and music. So, download the book today and get ready to doodle!

and dont forget its never to late to send a Christmas card, unlock creativity this festive season and design your electronic (and environmentally friendly) Christmas greetings using #adobespark. Start your design from scratch or use the ready-made template Christmas Card designs, available here

Whilst we are sorry to say we can’t get round to everyone’s house to drop something in their stockings, we can give you to the gift of Pledge2020. We are giving schools a bandwidth boost, putting more security into our network and putting in fantastic equipment AT NO ADDITIONAL COST – to help enhance the use of hardware within your school all you have to do is push the “count me in” button #PoweredbyPledge2020.

Also, a quick reminder that we also have this blog post about using Christmas media within school.

However you fill the last weeks of this school year, we at LGfL want to give you a massive round of applause and thank you for all of your hard work and support this year. We hope you have a restful break and are ready for an exciting 2020! Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

Please share your Christmas creations with us on LGfL’s Twitter or Facebook. 

 

Cracking Ideas Competition 2019 (closes 24th April 2020)

The Cracking Ideas Competition is back and is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Wallace and Gromit! This year they’re asking young people to ‘Make Life Better’ and to ‘Get Those Mundane Jobs Done Quicker’!

The competiton is aimed at 4-11 year olds across the UK and the aim is to build on everyday inventions to improve the lives of themselves, friends, family or wider collective groups and this will be the tenth year the competition has run.

Cracking Ideas was designed with the help of Aardman, whose invention loving duo Wallace & Gromit feature in the learning materials, and aims to provide curriculum-led activities that get children engaged with product design and the importance of protecting intellectual property.

The Intellectual Property Office and Aardman want you to have a look at the world around you. Imagine a cracking idea that can help get mundane jobs done quicker, better and most importantly from the comfort of a warm armchair/school seat!

The resources can be used in the classroom, self-directed or any other learning setting (e.g. after-school club, youth centre or Scout/Brownie groups). They are intended to be used flexibly to adapt to different ages, spaces and interests. Children can learn about research development and product design, explore the core phases of design and technology, to come up with a new invention or rework an existing object. During this process, children will be introduced to Intellectual Property and the importance of sharing ideas.

So what is “Intellectual Property”? According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) it refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.

IP is protected in law by, for example, patentscopyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. By striking the right balance between the interests of innovators and the wider public interest, the IP system aims to foster an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish.

LGfL can help you further explore the idea of copyright with your pupils and have a range of resources that you can use to ensure that you are compliant with copyright.

Did you know that the Department for Education (DfE) buys copyright licences for all state-funded primary and secondary schools in England – covering schools for almost all their copyright requirements? Purchasing these licences directly means that DfE can save schools money and the administrative time involved in applying for many different licences. The licences mean you can copy, re-use and share content from a wide range of sources within your school for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Your school leadership (Headteacher and Chair of Governors) needs to make sure that:

  • all intended activities are covered adequately by the licences
  • all staff follow the terms and conditions

The copyright licences cover a range of content from printed materials to radio and TV broadcasts, for more information on what content you can use, and how to gain other permissions, see the guidance from the DfE here.

The Coypright Licensing Agency has also produced the short video guide below:

You can also check permissions on the site as well as registering your interest to access the Education Platform which enables you to quickly create, share and store copies from books to support your teaching. Access digital versions of books your school owns, to create and instantly share high quality, copyright-compliant copies and store them for future use. Print copies for colleagues or students, or share straight to a student’s device. The platform is a more flexible way to work and is available to licensed schools at no cost. The video below gives an overview of the platform.

Digizen have a  great lesson plan and Powerpoint to use in school for teaching about copyright and there is also great guidance from Childnet that includes tips for teachers, jargon busting and what copyright is and why it is important which you could explore as part of the Cracking Ideas Competition.

The Gallery is a growing collection, at present containing over 60,000 image, audio and video resources covering a range of topics relevant to the curriculum.  Its purpose is to provide a free repository of high quality materials copyright cleared for use in teaching and learning.  All of the resources in the gallery are saved at the highest quality available so they can be used on whiteboards, printed materials, animations and for any other educational application whilst medium resolution versions of every file are also made available for review and preview. The  resources are copyright cleared for LGfL schools so they can be downloaded, edited and re-purposed for educational use, both within the classroom and at home.

The gallery is free to browse and explore online, the resources are searchable by topic and searchable by keyword, phase and subject.  As the resource is web-based it can be accessed at school and at home by teachers and pupils.  Everything placed within the gallery is moderated before being made live by a team of regional moderators and trusted educational professionals.

 

The LGfL ImageBank is an expanding collection of high resolution images from LGfL partners. The image collections have been checked for appropriateness for use in an educational context and where relevant, mapped to the National Curriculum.  To access these mapped images, please search for resources by programme of study to see if there are any for your subject and Key Stage.

Please note: Adherence to the licensing terms of use by teachers and learners is essential.  This will ensure that content providers continue to partner with LGfL and offer unique resources for teachers and learners connected to the NEN.

Audio NetworkLGfL’s online music database featuring over 60,000 individual audio files. The Audio Network schools’ licence is an innovative partnership between industry and education bringing UK schools a vast catalogue of originally composed recorded music for use across the curriculum and for all ages. Audio Network and the Education network (NEN) have worked together since 2003 bringing quality recorded music for digital production and performance in schools throughout the UK, meaning that teachers are able to use the same materials as professional film makers and broadcaster while remaining within copyright law.  All the music in this vast catalogue of tracks has been specially composed by Audio Network’s partner composers, performed by top musicians and recoded to exacting industry standards for media production.  The music catalogue spans music of many different styles, cultures, type and instrumentation – just browsing through is an education in itself!

The Audio Network database includes:

  • The ability to access the resource via the LGfL USO login when “off-grid” (e.g. from home or another location)
  • A very wide selection of music professionally recorded music
  • Improved interface and facilities (e.g. folders to store your selections  all linked to your USO account profile)

You have the ability to search the database and individual music tracks can be dowloaded, the LGfL licence allows students and teachers to download any of the music files free of charge with the condition that the downloaded files must not be used for any commercial purposes.

The Creative Commons website is also a great site to use within school to search for images for sounds and images that are copyright free and that can be modified and adapted. They have also released the  CC Search, a search engine that indexes over 300 million images from 19 image collections.  All of the indexed images are in the public domain and released under Creative Commons licenses–meaning the images are generally free to use in a non-commercial setting. Head here to start searching.

The two blog sites below are also worth a read as they link to other places where you can search for copyright images, videos and sounds.

I got it off Google Images…

A Guide to Finding Media for Classroom Projects

We hope this will provide a good starting point to explore copyright in school and for you to enter the Cracking Ideas Competition. To do this you can register online and upload your entry to the website or send your entries in by post to Cracking Ideas, Freepost CF4185, Newport, NP10 1BF.

Please let us know if you use any of these resources or indeed have suggestions for how LGfL could further support you in school by posting on LGfL’s Twitter or Facebook.