Advent Calendar 2007 draws in visitors from around the World

Stepping Stones 2007 Advent CalendarThe traditional Online Advent Calendar managed and run by Stepping Stones School each year has been another big success, attracting the World's attention from people in almost 30 different countries.

Although this wasn't the first year we have run an Advent Calendar, look back to Advent in 2006, it is the first time that we have taken contributions from school children (and a Scout Troop!) in countries including New Zealand, Little Cayman, Scotland and England. We are developing a community around the work we are doing which, apart from the delights of getting into the Christmas-y spirit, is as much about sharing pupils digital creativity online with others.

The long list of entries in the Advent Calendar guestbook reflects such a small percentage of people who have been enjoying our festive offering this year!

Well done to all the youngsters who contributed work towards the calendar.

Happy New Year to you all, and we look forward to hearing from you with suggestions for the 2008 Advent Calendar!

Submitted by Jonathan Furness on Sat, 2008-01-05 20:17.

Be Very Afraid: Pupils showcase their work on connecting with a school in Little Cayman

Be Very Afraid 4 logo

Two pupils from Stepping Stones, Dominic and Amie were fortunate to represent the school at a National Digital Creativity event called Be Very Afraid in London. The venue for this event was the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and is an ideal setting to hold this prestigious event. Now in its fourth year, Be Very Afraid has attracted a great deal of interest from professionals in Education, policy makers, ministers, the media and also from the gaming world. Stephen Heppell of, which runs and organises this annual event, invited 13 schools in the UK to come along and present their work.

This is the third year that Stepping Stones have been involved and they had the opportunity this year, of showcasing their work on connecting with a small learning community on Little Cayman. The pupils demonstrated how collaboration in this way enhances teaching and learning and how this has a direct benefit on the self esteem and confidence of young learners. Arrowe, a 10 year old student at the Little Cayman Education Service, woke very early to join in via video conference, therefore demonstrating the power and delight of Apple's iChat technology. No longer are pupils in the hands of technicians and network administrators for connecting schools via expensive and unwieldy video conferencing equipment.

The Apple iChat software is a very empowering technology for learners in the 21st Century who need and want to be in control of their own learning. This means they need to be empowered to make the connections themselves and build relationships with pupils in the driving seat. During the event which ran for most of the day, we were able to link up with the Minister of Education, Hon. Alden McLaughlin in Grand Cayman. Stephen Heppell, Chair of Trustees and Director of, spoke with pupils in Little Cayman and the Minister in a multi-way video conference. Stepping Stones are incredibly fortunate to have established this connection.


This international project is the first of many for Stepping Stones as we hope to connect schools in Africa, Russia and other regions of the world where children are in disadvantaged settings.

Stepping Stones School opened in September 2004 with the intention of providing an education for children with hemiplegia. So far it has changed the lives of children where mainstream education simply hasn't worked.

Read more about the Be Very Afraid event here:

View photographs of the Be Very Afraid event.

Submitted by Jonathan Furness on Wed, 2007-10-24 00:55.

Everyone Upbeat at the HemiHelp Music Workshop

On Sunday 21st October the Stepping Stones School hosted the HemiHelp Music Workshop which attracted budding musicians to come for the day and have a chance to perform within a group. It was very much a family occasion where brothers and sisters, Mums and Dads were encouraged to join in.

The event was organised and run by Sally Motley and her team of talented musicians who each delivered a session, from singing to playing percussion instruments and boomwhackers, beating drums, and making digital music on a computer.

Sally commented on the day:

"It was a brilliant venue and the feedback that we've had about the workshop has been excellent."

The looks on the faces of those who took part, clearly show that everyone had a great time. Curiously enough, I wasn't quite sure who enjoyed it more, the parents or the kids!

Take a look at the photographs taken on the day.

Submitted by Jonathan Furness on Wed, 2007-10-24 00:40.

Another milestone completed as pupils work towards DofE and ASC Awards

The pupils at Stepping Stones School are marching ahead at a staggering pace as they work towards Duke of Edinburgh and Adventure Service Challenge Awards schemes.

Both programmes are immensely challenging but rewarding which develops many different skills, from social interaction and collaboration, to more technical skills in navigation and camping. Another huge outcome for these young people is the confidence and self-esteem that they build as they challenge themselves and succeed. These moments can be small, such as making the right choice as to which direction to follow when hiking, through to completing the whole challenge.

As the photographs on the following pages will show, these pupils had a fantastic time hiking to a remote location between Dockenfield and Headley Down, nr. Farnham, Surrey. The route was pre-planned and covered a distance of approximately 4km. We setup camp on a patch of grass which was adjacent to a building that we could use when the sun went down for evening activities.

The pupils erected dome tents and prepared their sleeping quarters. It was very soon time to prepare dinner, and they set about making the stoves, we used a wide range of stoves, including gas, methylated spirits and paraffin. This gave them a wide understanding of the benefits of each stove. The evening meal consisted of mashed potato, sausage and peas, followed by a yoghurt for dessert.

A few evening games later (flying Kim's game and team games) they were all ready for bed. Luckily, the hike had properly worn them out and they promptly fell asleep within minutes of their heads hitting the pillows.

The following morning the pupils made a cooked breakfast - porridge, with bacon, eggs and bread.

Take a look at the photographs taken during the first day.

Submitted by Jonathan Furness on Sun, 2007-10-14 01:17.

International project goes live as pupils video conference to a school in Little Cayman

An exciting new project and partnership between Stepping Stones School and a school in Little Cayman has begun with a video conference between the two locations. This is the first of many schools that Stepping Stones will connect with over the coming year. This particular project will be featured in the Be Very Afraid, BAFTA event which will take place later this month.

Little Cayman and Stepping Stones School video conference across the Atlantic

In the photograph above, four children in Little Cayman Learning Community can be seen engaging with the pupils at Stepping Stones School - a real first for schools on both sides of the Atlantic.

The outcomes for this project are already becoming obvious as the desire for children to communicate with each other (around the world) is very natural. Building small learning communities, such as those at Stepping Stones School and Little Cayman are wonderful places for children to learn. However, by creating more opportunities to socialise and learn with children in other places using video technology, overcomes some of the limitations of smaller schools, surrounding social diversity.

Jonathan Furness, a lead teacher at Stepping Stones School said:

"Video conferencing is a very accessible technology for everyone now, including younger age children. This technology empowers learners to be in control of the relationships they want to build and the connections they need to build for their own learning. Learning in the 21st Century isn't going to be confined to four walls of a classroom driven by a curriculum for a very age specific group. This is just the beginning as we look to work with communities in Africa, Singapore, Russia and Australia"


Arrowe of Little Cayman Learning Community chats to Amy of Stepping Stones School

Arrowe in Little Cayman chats to Amy at Stepping Stones School.


When Professor Stephen Heppell, Chair of Trustees at Stepping Stones School, saw some of the images he commented:

" just hints at what an extraordinary world of wonder we can build for these young folk."


The work of the pupils can be found online by visiting the following blog sites which the pupils have created:

Little Cayman Community and Stepping Stones Community


Read more about this project on the Building Cayman's Future blog:

Technology enhances Teaching and Learning


Submitted by Jonathan Furness on Sat, 2007-10-06 16:29.