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Tapestry in Key Stage

by Jack on May 20

Are you getting the most out of Tapestry for your key stage children? Are you thinking about expanding your Tapestry provision to other year groups?

In this article, I’m going to outline what I think are the main benefits for using Tapestry in key stage.

Reflections

This is something you can start doing in your setting right now. You can have as many staff members on a Tapestry account as you would like, so you can all be involved in making reflections.
This feature is what it sounds like: a platform for practitioners to spark a conversation, re-visit an old problem or find a solution to a current one. We have a couple of great articles about reflective practice which you can find here and here, but I want to give you a real-life situation where this could help.

A substantial portion of my CPD as a teacher happened in the staff room at lunch. It was a hot-bed for pedagogical discussion and creative development. We would suggest great ideas for art lessons, advise colleagues on how to engage a particular child that day, provide explanations as to why a certain lesson or strategy didn’t work this time. It was a cornucopia of knowledge with ideas flowing as freely as the instant coffee. This was wonderful but what it lacked was longevity. Were these fantastic ideas ever used? Sometimes. Were they ever written down? Shared with the staff at large? Reflected upon? No.

Welcome, Tapestry Reflections.

I will use an example from my own career which I’m sure some of you can relate to. The results from one of my classroom scrutinies was, “Your book corner could look more inviting.” This is where I would create a reflection: “I want to liven up my book corner!” I can then make that visible for managers, staff or both and they can weigh in with their advice, ideas, resources, links to research etc. Ta da! It’s just like lunch time, except now I have all the ideas in one place where I can consider and act upon them more carefully. Now armed with a new sense of purpose and fuelled by my colleagues’ willingness to help, I will change that book corner – hopefully for the better! But even if it doesn’t work, that’s what reflecting is all about. I can then go back to Reflections and update it. I can write about the “impact” all those ideas had. “Brilliant! I’ve added a roof and a roaring fireplace to my book corner – the kids love it!” And then all your colleagues could build their own book corner rooves and fireplaces. Or “The roof and fireplace idea didn’t quite work. I wonder if there’s another way to make it a more inviting space?”

Links with Parents

Secondly, and arguably the best thing about Tapestry, is the links you can make with parents. It’s a well-known phenomenon that, on average, parent interaction wanes the further up the school you go. We all know that children benefit when relatives and schools work in conjunction with one another; both consolidating and reinforcing each other’s ideas and values, to create a more consistent approach to learning. If you, like many key stage teachers, find that relative participation is dropping, consider discussing whether Tapestry might help. If you have already used Tapestry in your Nursery/Reception classes, the transition will be even easier.

Here’s a few examples of when I could have used Tapestry to support parental engagement when I was teaching in Year 6.

We’ve all been on school trips. I’m sure you’ve all got fond and/or harrowing memories of them. I always wondered how much my students told their parents when they arrived home after a trip. Well, talking to parents the day after, it turns out it’s usually not a lot.

If my class had been using Tapestry at the time, I could be taking photos along the way, shooting videos of children dressing up as Victorians, quoting interesting comments or questions children ask and all of that could be sent to the parents to enjoy. And then, when they get home, parents can follow up with questions or comments of their own.
This kind of thing could have been done for any particularly exciting lessons I had planned, or a special visitor I had at school, or simply because the child asked me because they want this memory solidified somewhere.

As well as giving parents updates about their children, this helps children understand that their home life and education are intrinsically linked by a network of caring, interested individuals.

All about the child

It can be a great pupil voice tool. I tried to get at least half an hour every couple of weeks to sit down with each of my students individually and go through anything we had done previously. This could be to identify gaps, discuss any problems they had, offer extra 1:1 teaching on a particular area or even just to review and celebrate something that made them feel proud. It would have been great to sit down and craft an entry to their Tapestry journal together about something they enjoyed. Taken a picture of the piece of work, had them explain what they did and what they like about it.

Now, all of this might not be enough to convince you, or the person who holds your school credit card, to upgrade and accommodate all the year groups in your school. Fair enough. But bear with me. I’m not done.

Activities

Our newest feature and the one I have been most excited about.

Activities provides all staff with a central repository of high-quality resources, which is updated weekly. The resources are created by the Education Team at Tapestry, all former teachers.
Activities range from EYFS up to year 6, as well as many SEND friendly resources.

You can pick and choose which activities you are interested in from the Tapestry Activity Catalogue and with a click of a button, turn this into a Planned Activity.

Planned Activities can then be edited as you wish, assigned to specific children, and then sent out to relatives. It’s a great feature for assigning follow up activities or to aid in home learning.

You can also pick activities from the Tapestry Catalogue and add then to your school’s Activity Collection. Giving you a personally curated set of activities which you can do whatever you like with.

You don’t have to pick from our Catalogue though. If you would rather create your own activities, feel free! It works a lot like when you create an observation, and can be added directly into your school’s Collection.

This is how I would have set homework. The number of sheets I printed off, only to be lost and never seen again, pains me to think about! I could have simply uploaded my homework as an Activity, tagged the parents and off it goes. They could then follow up by commenting or creating on observation to show how their child got on with it.

Memos

This will be a feature your lovely office staff will like! The capability to send mass notifications to relatives. I know some schools do this over their school website with varying degrees of success. Others produce actual letters and most schools do a combination of the two. In the interest of the environment, perhaps we should all be making an effort to go paperless. Plus, what percentage of letters are taken out of book bags in time?

If you have your relatives already used to using Tapestry then the transition will be easy. Memos is quick to follow for new parents too, making it easier for them to get into the habit of engaging with their children’s school life.

Send a Memo telling the parents the best time to turn up for the Christmas production or the details of your next school trip or that your sport’s day has been postponed because of the rain. The possibilities are endless and I’m sure this will be a really handy feature for all types of settings.

Documents

A very simple feature which could help you use less paper and keep you more organised. Documents will enable you to upload documents to Tapestry and give all staff easy access. You can organise them into separate folders and you can choose whether to share certain documents with relatives, too!

So, you could have a folder for Health and Safety Policies, Staff Training, GDPR, Planning, Dinner Menus, Term Dates. Again, the list goes on and on. For me, this would have been a great one for storing all my school policies, risk assessments, staff meeting hand-outs etc. Then, instead of having to trawl through huge folders and wrestle with plastic wallets, I could have just done a quick search and downloaded it straight away.

I hope this has given you the low-down on some of the things you may not have known about Tapestry so you can put it to best use to enhance your Key Stage teaching and learning and support parental engagement.

Jack

Product Support Technician and Education Advisor

Jack started his career in education as a volunteer in a Brighton-based Charity for children with motor disorders. After which he was hired as an assistant conductor. During his time there, he studied at the University of Brighton to qualify as a primary school teacher. After a short stint as a supply teacher, Jack got his first job teaching Year 6. He remained in that role for a few years before moving to Year 4.
Jack joined Tapestry in August 2019 after many hints from his former housemate and now manager, Emily. In his Product Support role, Jack can be found answering customer emails and offering Tapestry advice on the phone. As part of the Education Team, you'll find him writing articles, recording podcasts and offering words of educational wisdom while drinking mugs of coffee.