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Issue 41 January/February 2010






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Meet the standards with excellence High quality food in schools is central to children’s health and well-being. That’s why all school food is now governed by nutritional standards – something everyone involved in school food provision should address. A confident, motivated and fully-trained school food team is key to meeting and sustaining those standards and to encouraging children to choose healthy school lunches. School FEAST centres equip all staff in the school food team with the skills to prepare, cook and promote healthier and tastier meals that live up to new government requirements. To find your nearest School FEAST centre or training alternative visit us online at or call 0800 089 5001.

Remember, some cours es are fully funded.

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Reasons to be cheerful? Christmas is over. Yes, really, it did happen. And those of you who celebrated will, I hope, have received some beautiful, useful, economical or tasty gifts. I know I did, and I’m writing this in mid-December. One popular type of present is the ‘collector’s item’. Perhaps you received a mint-condition, first-edition copy of your favourite childhood book. Or perhaps a cricket bat, signed by the England Cricket team for your birth year. Whichever it is, you’ll want to take good care of it. In fact you’ll want to ‘safeguard’ it, won’t you? Make sure it isn’t ‘vulnerable’. Naturally. Thing is though, that schools are not collector’s items. They are the vibrant creative hub of communities which, according to the Alexander Primary Review “are the centre that holds when things fall apart” (see p26). But the perimeter of a school cannot be a membrane that allows energy out but prevents inspiration from entering. Of course, we have to keep our children safe, but when a school’s quality is measured by the height of its fence (see p49) we really are measuring ourselves out of existence. The large-canvas writing, drawing and language projects in Limpsfield community junior school (p38) for example, allow for parents to enter the school and take their child out of class to write, and there is an open-house in the afternoon. Would this be acceptable during an Ofsted inspection? Or how many ‘real people’ would be able to come in to schools to talk about their jobs and boost the teaching of science? (see p32).

It’s no wonder that the Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres and the NAHT feel the need to promote actively the ‘Learning Outside the Classroom’ agenda (see p12). If Ofsted had a score for ‘sense of humour’ that would help. Mick Brookes and ASCL leader John Dunford both warn us not to take ourselves too seriously (see p9 and p15). Maybe there should be a minimum standard of one joke per week from each member of staff. If you look at pages 24 and 25 you’ll see school leaders have a plentiful supply. The devotees of slapstick may even feel that ‘food-fights’ have their place as a part of making “healthy relationships with food benefit the children,” (see p42). Yet my greatest fear is that the current Ofsted would be woefully inadequate to assess it. As it says on page 23, “Costly measurement systems may come under greater pressure to justify themselves when the resources involved could be put to other frontline uses.” Might it be better to just replace it completely with the 5,000 teachers it is said to cost to run it? I’m joking… of course.

Of course, we have to keep children safe, but when a school’s quality is measured by the height of its fence, we really are measuring ourselves out of existence

redactive publishing limited EDITORIAL & ASSOCIATION ENQUIRIES NAHT, 1 Heath Square, Boltro Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 1BL Tel: 01444 472 472 Editor: Robert Sanders Editorial board: Mick Brookes, Chris Howard, Mike Welsh and Robert Sanders Leadership Focus is published by Redactive Publishing Limited on behalf of the NAHT

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EDITORIAL TEAM Managing editor: Steve Smethurst Sub-editors/writers: Carly Chynoweth, Rebecca Grant, Amy Rowe Designer: Carrie Bremner Senior picture editor: Claire Echavarry Deputy production manager: Kieran Tobin Cover image: Spencer Wilson Printed by: Wyndeham Heron ISSN: 1472–6181


Member of the Audit Bureau of Circulation: 27,835 (July 2008-June 2009)

© Copyright 2010 NAHT All rights reserved; no part of this publication may be copied or reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publishers. While every care has been taken in the compilation of this publication, neither the publisher nor the NAHT can accept responsibility for any inaccuracies or changes since compilation, or for consequential loss arising from such changes or inaccuracies, or for any other loss, direct or consequential, arising in connection with information in this publication. Acceptance of advertisements does not imply recommendation by the publishers. The views herein are not necessarily those of the publisher, the editor or the NAHT.

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If the Large Hadron Collider experiment goes wrong, scientists could end the world – according to some physicists – but it’s far more likely that they will shape its future. Is this how to make the teaching of science exciting? BY CARLY CHYNOWETH

08 NEWS FOCUS 6 VETTING AND BARRING The Government has backtracked slightly and the scheme will now apply to nine, rather than 11 million people.

6 ROTARY EXCHANGE TRIPS Rotary International is encouraging students aged 16-18 to consider its international exchange programme.

7 SATS STAY – FOR NOW The Government has announced that teacher assessment will be included in league tables, but Sats remain.

8 CONFERENCES PROMISE CUTS The 2009 political party conferences all point to a tight budgetary future for schools.


12 8 A DAY FOR CHANGE How schools can help Unicef raise money to help pupils in Mozambique.

9 ADVICE FOR NEW HEADS Nearly 400 people attended the National College’s most recent new heads conference to pick up some timely advice.

10 LEGAL ADVICE OFFER FOR MEMBERS A new NAHT partnership with legal firm Browne Jacobson will benefit members.

10 SINGLE-FUNDING FORMULA The new formula’s start date in Early Years has been postponed by a year, a decision welcomed by the NAHT.

12 COMPETITION WINNERS The NAHT and the AHOEC present the winning photographs in the outdoor-education competition.


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26 THE MOMENT OF TRUTH Professor Robin Alexander’s review into primary education has been the most exhaustive in 40 years, but one question remains unanswered: will the Government do anything about its recommendations, asks Warwick Mansell.

38 DON’T WRITE US OFF Challenging circumstances can be overcome with hard work and a bit of imagination, says Steve Smethurst, as he discovers how one Sheffield school is combining artistic flair with parental involvement to enthuse children about writing.

42 IN FOOD WE TRUST Jamie Oliver’s TV show did a lot to draw attention to school dinners and the dreaded turkey twizzlers, but the School Food Trust says heads were aware of the issue well before he and his moped tootled into view, reports Rebecca Grant.


REGULARS 15 MICK BROOKES COLUMN The next few months are likely to be tricky as the election looms; schools should expect to be attacked from all sides by politicians and journalists determined to show that the Government has failed.

17 STEVE MUNBY COLUMN Hiring a school business manager could save your sanity and your budget, says the National College’s chief executive Steve Munby.

18 BEHIND HEADLINES: HOMEWORK Hashi Syedain investigates how much is too much after one Canadian family negotiates a ban on homework.

22 TEN THINGS WE’VE LEARNED Headteachers can affect teenagers’ fertility; exercise stops when school does; and how Ofsted equals 5,000 teachers.

24 HEADS UP Three school leaders take the magazine’s Big Question challenge by telling us about their favourite biscuits, guilty secrets and the biggest challenge of all... to tell us a joke.

48 WHAT’S NEW All the latest books and educational resources.

49 RANTLINE What’s making you angry? Find out here...



Susan Young imagines a brand-new dating service to help headteachers find their perfect federation partner.


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Drawing a line on vetting plans Changes to the Government’s vetting and barring plans improve the scheme but more clarification is still needed The new vetting and barring scheme for adults working with children will now only apply to nine million people.This is two million fewer than initially expected after the Government accepted all recommendations made in a review of the scheme. Recommendations made in Drawing the Line, the report produced by the Singleton review, include: regarding exchange visits (lasting less than 28 days and where parents accept responsibility for choosing the host family) as ‘private arrangements’; setting the ‘frequent contact’ limit at once a week, rather than month; and clarifying that parents who transport other people’s children do not need to register as long as they offer the lifts occasionally rather than on a regular and frequent basis. NAHT General Secretary Mick Brookes said he was pleased with the changes but

more should be done. “We thought the review would tinker at the edges, so we’re pleased there has been some rowing back,” he said. “What we need now is a definitive and achievable list of requirements that schools must have.” However, he was unhappy with Secretary of State Ed Balls’ claim that headteachers had ‘overreacted’ to the scheme. “If you had in place an inspection system that forced you to run the risk of being publicly humiliated or even criminalised

organisations representing state and independent schools wrote to the Education Secretary expressing concern about the system’s excessive bureaucracy. “You will recognise that the first duty of our colleagues is to the health, safety and care of the student population,” they wrote. “We take that duty extremely seriously. However, the new system is disproportionate to risk and will not be an absolute guarantee of safety.” The checks could even engender a false sense of security, they added.

If you run the risk of being criminalised for any slip-up, it’s no wonder that headteachers are protecting their backs for any slip-up, is it any wonder that headteachers are protecting their backs?” he said. The changes come after sustained criticism of the campaign from a number of organisations, as well as highprofile children’s authors such as Philip Pullman. Several days before the announcement, Mick and the leaders of several other

The letter raised a number of consequences of the new model, including a reduction in workplacement opportunities, difficulty obtaining emergency support staff such as plumbers, and inappropriate labelling of schools when they come under child-protection scrutiny. Some of these problems have been avoided by recommendations made in the

review. “A number of these can now be crossed off the list,” Mick said. “For example, it has got rid of the one that would have barred foreign-exchange visits for language students, which is very important.” Sir Roger Singleton, who wrote the review, is the chairman of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), the quango that works with the CRB to assess every person over the age of 16 who wants to work with children or vulnerable adults. The ISA also considers ‘soft intelligence’ – information that exists on police databases but has not led to action – and holds lists of people barred from working with these groups. Individuals will be able to register voluntarily with the ISA from July; it will become mandatory in November. Registration costs £64 in England and Wales and £58 in Northern Ireland per person, although volunteers do not have to pay. Anyone on the barred list who seeks a job in a regulated activity faces up to five years in prison plus a fine.

Rotary flags up vetted exchange programme Students looking for a gap-year alternative to backpacking in India are being encouraged to apply for the 2010/11 Rotary Youth Exchange programme. Successful applicants, who need to be aged between 16 and 18, can spend up to a year living with a local family and studying at school or college in another country. Meals, accommodation, tuition and an allowance of about £30-£60 per month are provided by the programme,


although participants do have to pay for some other costs, including flights and insurance. “Rotary International is the largest volunteer service organisation in the world with 1.2 million members worldwide offering a massive support network for students,” said Andrew Page, chairman of Rotary International. It also undertakes thorough vetting of all host families, he said.

Happy exchange students


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Sats stay – for now Teacher assessment data will contribute to school league tables from this year but Sats are still the order of the day for Year Six pupils Eleven-year-old pupils will still endure Sats this year but the Government will publish teacher assessments alongside the national test results, Secretary of State Ed Balls announced at the end of last year. “I have decided to take a further step in recognising the value of teachers’ own assessments,” he said. “From 2010, we will publish primary schools’ teacher assessment data for pupils in Year Six in English, maths and science. This will be published alongside test data for English and maths in our Achievement and Attainment Tables.” But simply putting teacher assessment into league tables is no reason for the NAHT to stop its action on pupil testing, General Secretary Mick Brookes said. “We are very clear that we want the best education for children in Year Six and we will not rest until we get that,” he said. “We want to make sure that schools are judged on the breadth of their good work and practice and that the league tables are abolished. If they are not abolished then we can do our bit and you can do your bit in abolishing them.” The NAHT is to hold a special assessment campaign meeting on January 7 to discuss the next steps before deciding a formal course of action at the council meeting of January 21-22. There was a positive response from members, with 94 per cent believing that Sats should be replaced – mirroring the Annual conference vote. Importantly, nearly two thirds of headteachers working in KS2 were supportive of taking action should it become necessary. The General Secretary thanked members for returning the Association’s assessment survey. “It is encouraging that our membership as a whole actually does very much support the need for change,” he said. He also highlighted the NAHT’s new assessment and accountability charter, which calls for moderated teacher assessment to replace external

testing for 11-year-olds; rotational sampling of standards; and a new role for Ofsted around securing consistent assessment practices across schools. “This detailed document has been produced as a direct response to the challenge of replacing Sats with an assessment and accountability model for the 21st century that meets the needs of all stakeholders,” Mick said. The Secretary of State also announced ‘School Report Cards’ as part of the new Children, Schools and Families Bill, published late last year. These are designed to provide more information for parents and more well-rounded assessment of school performance. “The Bill will ensure every parent is

NEWS IN BRIEF JOB-LOSS THREAT ON ISLE OF WIGHT Headteachers in the Isle of Wight are under pressure as a result of organisational changes by the local authority. “The secondary sector is essentially being franchised off to the providers of three new Academies,” NAHT President Chris Howard said. “And all the island’s middle schools are closing, with existing primary schools expanding to fill the gap.” Middle school staff are being asked to apply for available posts in the primary and secondary sectors, but some face losing their posts. Schools on the Isle of Man may also be under threat, this time due to funding shortages; the Isle’s Government is facing a short-term financial crisis that could see it being forced to find savings of at least 25 per cent next year.


If league tables are not abolished, then we can do our bit and you can do your bit in abolishing them guaranteed to have a good local school, a balanced curriculum, tough homeschool agreements and catch-up support” he said. “It is right to ensure that parents and pupils have a clear set of expectations about what education they should receive. It is also right that they play a full part in working with schools to ensure their children behave. This will give head teachers the authority they need to say parents must play their part. “The new primary curriculum and greater flexibilities on budgets will also devolve more freedom to schools so that they can work with other schools and local services to provide broad curriculum choices, joint working and value for money. Alongside these freedoms comes smarter accountability and the School Report Card will provide a better and broader assessment of how a school is performing. This is better for both parents and schools.” The NAHT wants the report cards to use a wider range of measures and to incorporate teacher assessment.

Teachers and school leaders who want to find out more about assessment for learning are being invited to attend a one-day conference run by the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust in London on February 25. “Embedding formative assessment in primary schools” will be presented by Professor Dylan Wiliams, deputy director of the Institute of Education. He will discuss a range of issues, including what formative assessment should look like in the classroom, how teachers can raise student achievement, and the way in which ‘teacherlearning communities’ provide a sustainable approach to CPD.

SWEET BAN CAN TURN SOUR A nutritious diet is a prerequisite for a good education but a blanket ban on sweets and crisps in school meals can have unintended consequences, including more parents putting these items into packed lunches, the NAHT said in its response to Northern Ireland’s Department of Education’s draft policy on school dinners. The Association said it supported the drive for higher standards but that recent developments “are in danger of becoming oming overzealous in their imposition n and application.” n.” See ‘In food we trust’: p42


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Conferences promise more cuts The annual round of party conferences saw politicians trying to out-promise each other. But the only certainty is more belt tightening Politicians’ attempts to outdo each other at the 2009 party conferences with promises of just how tight the UK’s fiscal belt needs to be heralds a “perfect financial firestorm” in the near future, NAHT President Chris Howard said in his report on last year’s events. “Education Secretary Ed Balls began on the Sunday of the Liberal Democrats’ conference by announcing that he could save £2 billion at a stroke,” he said. “Then Vince Cable pledged that the Liberal Democrats would not shirk these tough decisions either, while David Laws, the education spokesman, will probably keep the KS3 tests

and slash public spending as hard as any of the others.” By the time of Labour’s conference both Ed Balls and Schools Minister Vernon Coaker were calling for the defence of front-line services; however, “we only needed to wait a week to discover that [the Chancellor] had started freezing public sector pay not subject to three-year deals,” Chris said. At the Conservative gathering in Brighton, shadow ministers lined up to explain how they would suck waste out of the public sector. “Michael Gove was by turn charming, witty, analytical and disturbing,” Chris said. “He will beat back teacher bureaucracy. He will broaden the primary curriculum. He will stop the tick-box culture at KS1…but he will also scrap national pay agreements, allow just about anyone to open up

Is it worth maintaining a presence at the party conferences? If we want to remain a political force, the answer is yes a ‘free’ school or nursery with state funding, and make sure that only proper exams like science and maths really count in the secondary league tables. “Just as you felt giddy from the joy of receiving such hard medicine, you learned that he would sack all failing heads immediately and turn all failing schools into academies within 18 months.” The President also raised the question of whether or not the Association should continue to attend party conferences. “Is it worth maintaining a presence? If we want to remain a political force, the answer is undoubtedly yes,” he said. However, if the NAHT is

also “in the business of cuts”, it could stop attending these events without affecting direct services to members, he added. While party conferences are not the democratic debating chambers that they once were, they are still important events in the political calendar, the President said. “They allow attendees to network with a range of political stakeholders and to assess the views of party members who will be implementing policies locally as well as nationally,” he said. “They also allow detailed scrutiny of the policies of the parties and their spokespeople, although without any prospect of affecting policy directly.”

Unicef has challenged schools to beat last year’s fundraising record by raising more than £200,000 for children in Mozambique through its 21st annual Day for Change events on February 5. The organisation will use the money to support its education work in the east African country, which is suffering from a massive shortage of classrooms, teachers and school materials. Donations will also contribute towards vaccinations, mosquito nets and improved hygiene practices, which will improve child survival rates. Unicef education officer Stella Kaabwe said: “We can’t remove all the problems in the education system, but we can assist with some fundamental changes that will improve the quality of education.” Young people like 14-year-old Esperanca (pictured) are also contributing.


Esperanca: encouraging girls to stay in school


Help Unicef to construct a ‘Day for Change’ She is part of the Namurumo school council, where one of her responsibilities is to visit girls and orphans and encourage them to remain in school. “It is difficult for orphans, especially the girls; they don’t have food and clothes,” she said. “They can’t do anything to improve their lives. Their mothers can’t help as they are so poor.” Her own life is also difficult; her father died when she was a baby and, as the eldest child, she now has many responsibilities at home. As her mother has only a small cassava plot, she usually eats only one meal a day. “I am often hungry in class,” she said. Each school that registers for Day for Change will receive a pack containing lesson plans, fundraising ideas, posters and a range of other resources.


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Sound advice given to new heads The annual New Heads Conference hears that school leaders will have a greater say over local services. They also need to keep smiling… A decade ago some of 2009’s new school leaders were sitting A-levels and listening to the Spice Girls, according to National College deputy chief executive Toby Salt. Last November, however, nearly 400 of them spent two days meeting their peers and questioning schools minister Vernon Coaker at the New Heads Conference in London. The minister began his speech by recognising the esteem in which parents and communities hold headteachers. “That popularity does not just happen,” he said. “It’s because of your ability time after time to inspire pupils, teachers, parents and

indeed communities alike. It epitomises what is best about public service.” This public leadership is likely to expand in the future, he added. “Over time, this evolution towards a more outward-looking brand of leadership will give you a far greater say over local services,” he said. “You will be leading and inspiring local communities, not just schools.” The minister also discussed the new school report cards, which he said would make life easier for school leaders. “They will provide a single, clear and prioritised set of outlines against which achievement can be measured,” he said. “They will make it easier for heads

to gauge their own school’s performance. Parents and teachers will have the report card to measure how well the school is doing.” The future of Sats took a high profile in the Q&A session that followed and the minister was unable to say what would happen if, as seems likely, the NAHT and NUT boycott the KS2 Sats next year. When pressed, he said: “It is difficult to know exactly what the situation will be. All I can say to you is that our intention is for KS2 Sats to happen. I know that does not answer the question in the way you want me to.” But the event wasn’t all about politicians and education

If you walk around the school looking miserable you do not have a cat in hell’s chance of other people being cheerful

policy. Mick Brookes, General Secretary of the NAHT, and his counterpart at the ASCL, John Dunford, welcomed delegates to the opening night’s networking event. Smile, was John’s advice. “If you walk around the school looking miserable you do not have a cat in hell’s chance of other people being cheerful and enjoying what they do,” he cautioned. “You might feel lousy with the world’s worst hangover, but smile.” And don’t be afraid to laugh, even at yourself, added Mick, who said he was once mistaken by a pupil for a vicar. Other speakers at the event included Kriss Akabusi, the Olympic medallist and Richard Olivier, the artistic director of Olivier Mythodrama, who led a 20-minute race through Julius Caesar, explaining how leaders can learn from its protagonists.

THE BEST OF THE BLOGS EDUCATION UP TO 0.1 PER CENT BETTER The Office of National Statistics has done some sums and calculated that the UK’s education system improved by something between 0 and 0.1 per cent between 1996 and 2008. “Sceptical? You are right to be,” Warwick Mansell says. “But please don’t laugh. This is serious stuff. For the results of the ONS’s calculations helped shape the debate this week on the

success of our schools, capturing headlines to the effect that they were a ‘damning indictment’ of Labour’s education record.” resources/blogs/warwickmansells-blog/

WHO’D BE A HEAD? Hardly anyone, says Susan Young. Research from the National College found that just 9 per cent of teachers fancied trying for headship in the next three years. Not that

teachers are responsible for this dearth of ambition; Susan also draws our attention to a report by the OECD that places the blame squarely at the feet of Ofsted and the Government. “This is a tremendous vindication of what heads’ leaders have been saying for ages, as Education Secretaries stick their fingers in their ears,” she says. “It’ll be interesting to see if anyone in Government pays any attention at all to this report.” resources/blogs/susanyoung/

ARE THEY CHILDREN OR BABY GOATS? Most non-teachers happily call small humans ‘kids’ without a second thought but for at least some school leaders it’s a loaded term, as Steve Smethurst discovered. One interviewee recently asked that an article in which he’d referred to kids be amended so that they were ‘children’

instead as he was worried that the first version made him appear to be patronising. “It has given me an insight into how risk-averse, politically sensitive and fearful the teaching profession has become. And that’s not a good thing,” Steve writes. resources/blogs/stevesmethurst/

For more blogs – from secondary to special needs to NAHT Cymru – visit


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Legal advice offer for members A new arrangement offers school leaders discounted legal advice on everything from admissions policy to commercial contracts School leaders are now able to access legal advice and assistance on behalf of their schools and colleges at a 20 per cent discount, thanks to a new relationship between the NAHT and law firm Browne Jacobson. The Association will continue to provide individual members with personal legal support when needed, for example when they face threats to their employment or conditions. However, members increasingly need to access legal assistance on behalf of their school and Browne Jacobson offers a range of services, including 24-hour hotline access to an education

lawyer and national coverage across England and Wales via its three-office network. “All business-minded organisations require a range of professional advice services, and those required by modern school leaders are diverse,” said Mark Blois, a partner at Browne Jacobson and its head of education. “With local authorities now adopting the role of commissioners rather than providers of education, legal advice is something that increasing numbers of leaders are seeking to avail themselves of.” Schools and colleges can face a range of issues from admissions and exclusions to SEN and disability equality duties, he said. Other areas which may require advice include safeguarding, employment, property, commercial contracts, information management,

School leaders are now able to access legal advice and assistance on behalf of their schools at a 20 per cent discount dispute resolution and governance. “Never before has the delivery of education and skills been more important or more complex,” Mark said. “Leaders must consider their obligations to promote attainment and welfare, the development of new organisational structures and models of governance, the growing impetus for partnership and collaboration, and increasing involvement from the private sector. “All these themes need to be managed against the background of regulatory scrutiny and engagement of demanding stakeholders.” He added that the traditional image of a charismatic,

omniscient, omnipresent headteacher is anachronistic. “In its place is a new breed of business-minded leaders of education concentrating on their own fields of expertise, delegating the balance to their management teams and taking professional advice from advisers as and when required. “In addition, the growing popularity of foundation and trust schools in recent years has meant many school leaders now wish to control as much as possible of their school’s destiny.” For further information, contact Mark on 0115 976 6087 or email

The NAHT has welcomed the Government’s decision to defer the implementation of the Early Years single-funding formula (EYSFF). Originally, local authorities were expected to start applying the formula from April this year, but postponing the change until 2011 will give local authorities time to assess the potential impact in their area and prepare themselves for the change, said General Secretary Mick Brookes. “We are delighted that the Government has listened to our views and allowed common sense to win the day,” he said. “Hopefully, this will ensure the successful transition to the


Early Years: funding formula deferred by 12 months

new formula without reducing or disrupting the early years education that is so vital to the success and future wellbeing of our young people.” The delay came after a Government survey found that

fewer than one local authority in three was ready to start in April 2010. The Government is still ‘strongly committed’ to introducing the new funding formula, which was announced


Early Years single-funding formula is deferred in 2007, across the board from 2011, Children’s Minister Dawn Primarolo said. “I have asked my officials to invite all local authorities that are confident they are ready to implement their new formulae in April 2010 and who wish to do so to continue as planned,” she added. “We believe that it is only through the effective implementation of the EYSFF that all providers across the sector can have confidence in local decisions about funding,” the minister said. “This delay should provide enough time for concerns to be addressed, without incurring a risk of drift.”


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Let us introduce the toolkit for school leaders. The Looking for Learning Toolkit: a cost-effective, step-by-step, results-oriented leadership toolkit to help your school become learning-focused. It contains 5 practical manuals, 3 supporting DVDs and secure on-line database.

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Using the Looking for Learning Toolkit as a leadership tool is very helpful. It has helped to radically rehaul our focus on learning. Chris Walton, Headteacher, Woodlands Primary School, Leeds

To get more information about the Looking for Learning Toolkit visit us online at, call 020 7531 9696 or write to

From Fieldwork Education, part of the WCL Group

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Dedication to duty winner Torbay School, Paignton, Devon

Primary winner Lukes Lane Primary School, Hebburn, Tyne and Wear

Special school runner-up Strathmore School, Petersham, Surrey

Primary school runner-up St Edburg’s CofE Primary School, Bicester, Oxfordshire

Making a splash The NAHT and the AH HOEC present the winners of their inaugural photography competition to celebrate outdoor learning 12


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Secondary winner New Greenhall School, Atherton, Manchester


Secondary runner-up Torbay School, Paignton, Devon


n a bid to promote learning outside the classroom, the NAHT and the Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres (AHOEC) joined forces last year to give young people the chance to win cameras in a photography competition. Leading the judging panel was Jo Barnett, head of the High Borrans outdoor education centre in Cumbria and national chair of the AHOEC. She told LF: “Heads

Special school winner The Ashley School, Lowestoft, Suffolk

of outdoor centres will typically have hundreds of photos of children enjoying the outdoors, but we were looking for what the children saw.” She was particularly pleased with some of the entries from special schools. “They were really impressive,” she said. “The image of the girl in the waterfall was probably my favourite, while I also liked the primary runner-up as it shows a group of kids doing what kids do. They’ve taken it on an angle and it’s quite quirky. It’s the background that appeals to me.”

A new category was created to honour dedication to duty, Jo added. “We loved the image of the teacher falling into the water. We know that kids love seeing their accompanying adults in difficult, funny or uncompromising situations. We’ll keep that one going for next year too.” The AHOEC is affiliated to the NAHT and represents the highest quality outdoor education centres. The competition was sponsored by Stone Computers.


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Cold sweat of election fever This Association can overcome a hostile press and misguided ministers


he next few months are likely to be rough for the world of state education as schools are attacked on all sides by politicians and a politically motivated press wanting to prove that the Government’s high priority for education has failed. This rhetoric simply creates a polarised view of the educational world. The ridiculous headline in the Evening Standard (a London-based newspaper, for those of you in the North, West and East) claimed that schools are failing 50,000 children. This is the sort of ‘calumny’ to which Robin Alexander refers in the excellent Cambridge Review (see page 26). This figure was compiled by lumping together all the schools with Ofsted categories of ‘satisfactory’ and below. I suppose that if the term satisfactory is now further warped to mean ‘mediocre’ the press will justify their misrepresentation of fact. This false, ‘ivory tower’ or ‘gutter’ view of schools and their achievements (or lack of them, as they would persuade us) is not helped by the Government, either in waiting or in action, as they prefer to listen to sycophants and flatterers rather than the authority of the profession. For example, we are told that the Prime Minister will be delighted to hear that the single-level tests are such a success whereas, in reality, reliability levels barely match the current Sats. These tests will be imposed on schools twice a year throughout KS2. The notion of testing when appropriate to schools is out of the window. The results are planned to be used to produce hierarchies of performance in every year group. Do me a favour! Seriously, are NAHT members going to sanction this as a way forward? The fight against the Sats regime is far greater than that. This is a turning point in the struggle to ensure that the voice of the profession is heard on every issue and that Government, any Government, listens carefully to us.

More unhappy than ever before? We do not believe that this is the case now, and neither can we expect much change in the future. The situation was neatly, and sadly, summed up by the North East Regional report at last term’s Conference during December: “I cannot remember a time when members have been more stressed and unhappy.” Or, from the west Midlands: “There is widespread anger and dismay here at the new processes for inspecting schools.” And from the south-west: “Morale is low with heads citing as particular concerns increasing accountability

[and] constant change… All this while struggling with poor funding.” When you take this commentary together with the queue of policy changes and new compliance restrictions waiting in the wings as a result of the new Children, Schools and Families Bill, it would be tempting to give up. But there is a reality beyond all of this and that reality lies in two places. First, in the richness of the work, the humour, the passion and the successes in your schools. The second hope is in your Association and of your empowerment to lead the fight back against the excesses of Government meddling in education. This quote below is from the recent Specialist Schools and Academies Trust conference: “Whatever can be done will be done. There is only one question for you. Will it be done by you or to you?” This was written by Thomas L Friedman, an author and journalist. I think we have had quite enough of having ‘it’ done to us. We have to enter a new era of professional selfdeterminism, active in our schools, to continue to ensure and demonstrate that everything that should be done is done. We should make sure that we act together to articulate and celebrate those achievements loudly, clearly and nd widely. At the heart of our commitment to you is thee need for the Association to speak with th authority, to negotiate with integrity grity and to lead with energy. The he authority we have comes from you.. This New Year will have heralded many changes, but the still till point of this turning world must hold d true to these values ues and together we are determined ed to make a positive difference.

This is a turning point in the struggle to ensure that the voice of the profession is heard on every issue

Talking of poor numeracy...

Mick Brookes okes is NAHT General Secretary ecretaryy


15 MickB column.indd 15

21/12/09 08:52:47


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LFO.01.10.016.indd 16

21/12/09 09:46:57



Time to save for rainy days Why school business managers could save your sanity and your budget


here are tough times ahead. After a decade of real growth in education spending, the likelihood is that budgets will be tighter from 2011. For many school leaders this will be unfamiliar territory. The good news is that schools have never been better led. The most recent annual report from Ofsted states that 72 per cent of all the schools they inspected in 2008/09 had good or outstanding leadership. The proportion of outstanding schools last year (20 per cent) was a substantial increase on the 16 per cent of 2007/08. However, despite this progress, we need to consider how school leaders can respond to an unfamiliar challenge. The emphasis is moving towards more efficient use of existing resources. The question is how can we best prepare as leaders to meet the challenges that tighter funding will bring? It’s the leadership of business functions, such as finance, human resources and facilities management, that will underpin the effective running of schools in such a climate. School leaders are already embracing professional school business management. There were 3,800 school business managers (SBMs) in 1997. There are now 8,100; seven out of 10 hold one of the professional qualifications that we offer at the National College. They are making a vital contribution both to the efficiency with which schools’ resources are managed and to the wellbeing and attainment of pupils.


Millions of pounds saved But SBMs can do so much more and I believe that the role will realise its full potential in the drive for greater efficiency in the coming years. Although finance is at the heart of their role, SBMs can also oversee the effective management of school administration, all its facilities, any major development projects and health and safety, as well as relationships with other schools and external partners. By putting SBMs on the school leadership team, the role can make a significant contribution to strategic leadership. Research suggests that if deployed in this way they can save their headteachers up to 30 per cent of their time to concentrate on their core duties. The potential savings that these leaders could deliver for our schools are also impressive. For example, our school business director (SBD) demonstration projects – where 14 areas, comprising 102 schools, are trialling a single strategic SBM who works with more than one school – are currently expected to deliver £1.2 million in savings in 2009/10. If these outcomes were reflected across England, it could save £150 to £200 million. The schools involved are bringing together their

administrative and back-office functions to create economies of scale while sharing their individual and specialised resources to the benefit of all schools in the partnership. Such an approach would mitigate against any future tighter spending restraints. The work of SBD Louise Staunton and her colleagues in Greater Manchester is one example of the impact that SBMs can have on their schools. Louise is now on the senior leadership team at Wellacre Business Management Support Partnership, saving more than £20,000 in one year across 20 primary schools and one technology college. These savings, which are over and above the cost of employing professional SBMs, will be re-invested in school improvement. The Wellacre approach has introduced economies of scale by increasing buying power and given primaries that would otherwise not have the resources to employ their own SBM a way of accessing business management expertise. The team has purchased insurance for all the schools as a group, restructured ICT functions at two schools and developed in-house training of administrative staff. Ray ay Howell, headteacher at Wellacre re Technology College, says that the approach has reduced the workloadd of primary headteachers. Tighter budgets will ill be a significant challenge but they will also be an opportunity to think about doing things differently and to build sustainable andd beneficial partnerships hips that may well outlast ast this time of economic mic uncertainty. It’s an approach that will ensure that our ur schools will come through this challenge enge in even better shape. ape.

Putting SBMs on the school leadership team, can make a significant contribution to strategic leadership

Steve Munby is chief ief executive of the National College ollege g for Leadership of Schools ools and Children’s Services vices g g

Schools need to stay in the pink


17 SteveM column.indd 17

21/12/09 08:53:40


Canadian family negotiates a homework ban When homework threatens to tear a family apart, is it time to reassess its value? Hashi Syedain canvasses opinion


document that decided the matter. The Milleys now have an agreement that their children will work in class, arrive prepared for lessons and revise for tests. They will also read daily and practice musical instruments at home. But they won’t do traditional homework assignments and homework won’t be used to evaluate their children’s performance. Closer to home, the National Confederation of Parent-Teacher Associations has commissioned research into parental attitudes on homework. It is asking whether parents think the amount of homework their child gets is right for the child’s age, whether homework is a source of conflict in the home and, if yes, whether the level of conflict outweighs the positives of homework. Finally, it will ask whether parents feel they are getting enough guidance on how to support their child – including understanding the line between helping a child with homework and doing it for them. Government guidelines on homework (see table, page 21) stipulate that primary-age children should have an hour a week in Year One and Year Two rising to half an hour a day in

Years Five and Six. By the time they are doing GCSEs they can expect as much as two and half hours a day of afterschool work. However, there is no official guidance on what form homework should take, or indeed what counts as homework – and this is where much of the controversy arises. Even the Milley’s home-school agreement says the children will read daily and revise for tests. At the Tiffin school in West London, a top boys grammar school which hit the headlines in 2008 for slashing homework times, the official homework policy draws a distinction between homework and ‘reviewing learning’ at home. Boys are meant to spend half an hour a day on the latter in addition to formal homework. Jane Simister, a teacher at independent girls’ school Northwood College, and author of several books on teaching thinking skills, says that at junior level homework should either be about practising basic skills, like reading and spelling, or should be something fun that inspires a love of learning. Few would argue with this approach, but achieving it is not always easy, so we’ve asked four experts for their thoughts.



here are few issues that polarise parents quite as much as homework. Some will be up in arms because there’s too little, while others with children in the same school and the same class will be complaining that their children are overburdened and that homework impinges too much on family life. Late last year, a Canadian couple (significantly, both lawyers) who fall firmly into the ‘children-get-too-much’ camp, won the legal right for their two younger children, aged 10 and 11, never to have to do homework again in their current school. Shelli and Tom Milley had fought long battles with their oldest child over homework assignments and didn’t want more years of family strife with the younger two. So, they looked into the research and argued that there was no clear evidence that homework improves academic performance. Working with the staff at St Brigid Elementary Junior High School in Calgary, she formed a homework committee. When no firm changes resulted from the committee, the couple began to negotiate the legal


18-21 Behind the headlines.indd 18

21/12/09 08:57:41

The expert SUE HALLAM Professor of education at thee Institute of Education Sue Hallam is Professor of Education cation at the Institute of Education and the author of many books. She hass a special interest in homework and nd has lectured on the ‘Battle for Homework’. mework’.



The research evidence on homework mework is complicated, Sue says. Most of the age controversy is about primary-age utely children, where there is absolutely no evidence that homework affects attainment. It’s also interestingg to see ries. what happens in other countries. ord “In Japan, there isn’t even a word for homework. But children go to cramming classes after school to ome do revision and prep. And in some rk has been European countries, homework banned at primary level,” says Sue. Indeed, there is some evidence that giving homework can be counterproductive because most children get no benefit, she says, while those who are struggling anyway get turned off school and learning. However, it depends what you mean by homework. “If children read a lot, their reading will improve,” she says. At secondary age the evidence is clearer, but still not conclusive. “Children who do homework do better at GCSE, but it is also the case that the brightest children get set more homework, so you can’t say definitively that it is the homework that’s leading to better results.” The other issue with homework is the amount. “Homework helps up to a point, but beyond that point more is not better and makes no additional difference,” she says. In families where homework becomes a battleground, particularly with teenagers, it may not necessarily be the homework itself that is the problem. “Teenagers, as we know, are trying to

establish their independence,” Sue says. “Although the fight appears to be about homework, it is often about control and autonomy.” One way round this can be homework clubs. These have long been popular in private schools, where children have “prep” classes after school, supervised by a teacher. “Where schools set up homework clubs they think they are successful, and if children do their homework at school, they are free when they get home.” Another approach is to give young people more autonomy in their work by putting an end to fixed homework tasks on fixed days. “I worked with one school that set up work boxes at the beginning of term and each child worked through them at their own pace,” Sue says.

Fights with teenagers may not be about homework, but control and autonomy instead


18-21 Behind the headlines.indd 19


21/12/09 08:57:59


The parent ANNABELLA COOK Mother of two boys and two girls aged between 13 and 20 HER VIEWS


The NAHT SION HUMPHREYS Assistant Secretary at the NAHT Sion Humphreys is Assistant Secretary at the NAHT and has 15 years’ senior leadership experience in inner-city secondary schools. HIS VIEWS

Homework is a good thing if it’s set right but problems arise when it’s dished out as a bureaucratic exercise, just because it’s on the homework timetable. “It should be carefully thought out and planned and play a distinctive role in the educational journey,” Sion says. It can include revision, preparation, or practising something learned in class, such as simultaneous equations. Or it

School leaderships should ensure homework fits in with learning objectives

can be something more open-ended, like preparing arguments for a debate about euthanasia. The classic cop-out homework is something set just for the sake of it, such as ‘produce a poster’. That kind of homework risks alienating children because it’s not engaging, he says. “When I used to teach sociology, the first homework I would set at the beginning of the year would be to get them to interview an older friend or relative, at least two generations older, about their daily life when they were


Homework wasn’t a big issue in the Cook family when the children were of primary age. They had reading homework when they were younger and writing assignments when they were older. “It wasn’t overly demanding,” Annabella says, although there was a significant difference between her daughters and her sons. “I didn’t support the girls much, because they didn’t need it. They were more motivated. The boys needed more active support, especially one son who found writing practice quite challenging. I recently found one of his Year Six books. It had lovely pictures in it. But I remember that it took quite a lot of input from me.” At secondary school Annabella’s approach changed over the four children. “When the older ones were in Years Seven and Eight I was much more hands on, whereas now I get less involved. They have to motivate themselves. With my older boy I would read through his homework and get him to correct it, but I don’t do that anymore.” Nagging is counterproductive, she adds. “My oldest daughter, who is now at university, recently told me that the more I used to tell her in the Lower Sixth to do her work, the more she wouldn’t do it.” Although homework has sometimes been a battlefield, on balance Annabella thinks it is a good thing. “If they’re doing more work, or practising something they’re doing in class, it can only help,” she says. “Older children who are willing to play the game and do two and half hours homework a night will get As and A stars.” She also thinks homework is a good antidote to other distractions. “They’d be under your feet otherwise, or else on the computer or watching TV. They need to have something else to do.”


18-21 Behind the headlines.indd 20

21/12/09 08:58:27

The secondary head

It’s not about setting one-off tasks and penalising children if they don’t do them

CAROLYN ROBSON Head of Rushey Mead School, Leicester Carolyn Robson has been head of Rushey Mead School, a sports and science college in Leicester, for seven years. It was one of the 12 outstanding schools featured in Ofsted’s 2009 report on excelling against the odds.



younger and compare it with their own life,” Sion says. The children found it interesting, while he was able to tell a lot about what their strengths and weaknesses were from the exercise. The NAHT doesn’t have a specific policy on homework, but is supportive of Government guidelines. It’s a good thing if parents take an interest in their children’s homework and helping them with it is OK, as long as the parents don’t actually do the homework for them. “Parents working in a quasitutorial role is only to be encouraged,” Sion says. As for school leadership teams, they should be sure that the way homework is set fits in well with learning objectives. “It ought to be part of the monitoring process, so see what part homework plays when classes are observed,” he says. “Do all the children write down the homework? We would say to teachers that homework should be set at the beginning of the lesson and you should check while going round the class that everyone has written it down.”

Rushey Mead has a flexible approach to homework. Although some of it will be standard assignments, like learning vocabulary or doing essays, the school also uses its virtual learning platform and online resources like Fronter and MyMaths to give children an alternative experience. The aim is to encourage pupils to use different techniques that help them develop thinking skills and independent learning. “It’s not about setting one-off tasks and penalising the children if they don’t do them,” Carolyn says. Nor is there a fixed routine of half an hour per subject, as children find this tedious, she says. One of the most innovative things the school does is to collapse the timetable for the last week before the Christmas holidays to do cross-curricular activities through the whole school, based on a particular theme. Last year the focus was on self-management and independent enquiry. It was organised across different themes, such as health and money, depending on the year pupils were in. The year before, the theme was bridges. “In science and design the children looked at how bridges are engineered. For English, they might prepare a presentation. They made models and did a dance project,” Carolyn says. “Homework might be doing some research or preparing something for a class or presentation. There’s usually also a lot of paired work and group work,”

she says. Carolyn says that this approach has many benefits, not least making what is often a dead week into one of the highlights of the year. If you’re not careful, the run-up to Christmas can degenerate into an endless stream of watching videos and doing quizzes, that even the children start to get bored by. Instead, on the Thursday and Friday the children do presentations based on the week’s work. “It’s a fun, learning way of ending the term, and it encourages attendance.”

Government guidelines on homework. Years 1 and 2: one hour per week Years 3 and 4: 1.5 hours per week Years 5 and 6: 30 minutes per day Years 7 and 8: 45 to 90 minutes per day Year 9: one to two hours per day Years 10 and 11: 1.5 to 2.5 hours per day Source: Directgov The guidelines also state: “It doesn’t matter if activities don’t take as long as the guide times as long as they are useful. Schools should organise homework carefully so that children aren’t asked to do too much on any one day. “All homework activities should be related to work that children are doing at school. However, homework should not always be written work. For younger children it will largely be reading with parents or carers and informal games to practise mathematical skills. For older children homework activities may include: reading; preparing a presentation to the class; finding out information; making something; trying out a simple scientific experiment; or cooking. “Again, it doesn’t matter if activities don’t take as long as the guide times as long as they are useful.”


18-21 Behind the headlines.indd 21

21/12/09 08:58:41


THINGS WE’VE LEARNED Since the last LF, we’ve learned that the seaside is a minefield, Coventry headteachers affect fertility, and that you could swap Ofsted for 5,000 teachers Paddling is a step too far Children are to be banned from paddling during school trips to the seaside unless teachers carry out a health and safety risk assessment. Before shoes and socks are removed for an ankle-deep walk at the water’s edge, organisers must put ‘proper measures in place’ to stop paddlers getting into trouble or mia suffering from hypothermia after a quick dip in the sea. Required checks at the coast – as well as at de rivers and ponds – include looking for sharp stones and strong currents.

Coventry heads are to blame for teen pregnancy Coventry headteachers are to blame for the area’s high rate of teenage pregnancy, which has dropped by only 2 per cent in a decade. Caron Grainger, the city’s public health director, said: “We’re trying to make heads understand that it’s as big a problem for them as for us. I don’t think sex education features on many heads’ agendas.”

Don’t diss the DS: Nintendo makes students concentrate You can use the internet in a Danish exam Danish students could be allowed access to the internet while sitting their final school exams if a pilot scheme goes well. Students will be allowed to log on to any site they wish, but they are not allowed to communicate with anyone online.


Nintendo can boost children’s maths performance. Robbie O’Leary, principal of Sacred Heart Senior den, Ireland, has been National School in Killinarden, using the DS games consolee in class to help fourth-, fifth- and sixth-classs children with maths. “You really havee to see the difference to believe it. In my 30 years of teaching I have never entration witnessed the level of concentration and application I have seen when the oles.” children are using the consoles.”


22-23 Ten Things Learned.indd 22

21/12/09 11:10:51

Forces children dren are just ticking king time bombss The children of those ose serving in Iraq and Afghanistan face a “ticking blems. time bomb” of problems. Some children experience up to 11 different school changes in their lifetimes, a report says.

Exercise grinds ds to a halt the gers second teenagers leave school The majority of 19-year-olds in England do not take regular exercise once they have left school, according to figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats. Only 30 per cent of 19-year-olds participate in at least 30 minutes of sport of at least moderate intensity three times a week or more.


Gypsy, yp y Roma and traveller students need someone to guide them A senior member of staff at every chool should be given secondary school responsibilityy for Gypsy, Roma and traveller d relations with their communities, students and o a new Government-funded according to ng traveller families report. Giving obile telephone teachers’ mobile d being numbers and ut flexible about nd behaviour and homework could be the solution rto the underachievementt of Gypsy pupilss in school, it says.

Parents spent as much as £150 to kit out their little angels A Debenhams spokesman has confirmed that well-todo par parents forsook the folded-up-sheet look last Ch Christmas in favour of adapted bridesmaid dresses for angels and arctic fur throws for sheep. “The amount of money that some parents [spent] on their nativity play appearance would enable the baby Jesus to check into a five-star hotel,” the spokesman said.

Latin is the future, not the past Latin is making a comeback. More than 60 state primary schools are teaching the classical language under a scheme designed to make languages compulsory for all children from the age of seven. The project aims to see all primary schoolchildren taught a range of languages, including Latin, to give them a better understanding of foreign languages as a whole.

You could swap Ofsted for 5,000 teachers The cost of running Ofsted, the schools inspectorate, is the equivalent of almost 5,000 teachers a year, or more than one for every secondary school in England, according to a study by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Christopher Hood, director of the ESRC’s public services programme and an author of the study, said: “Costly measurement systems may come under greater pressure to justify themselves when the resources involved could be put to other frontline uses.”


22-23 Ten Things Learned.indd 23

21/12/09 11:10:31


SUSAN O’HALLORAN Headteacher, Nottage Primary School, Porthcawl, Bridgend

WHAT TYPE OF PERSON ARE YOU? In five words: Witty, patriotic, loyal, annoying (at times) and happy. Most prized possession? My BMW. Favourite biscuit? Chocolate hobnob (or chocolate digestive, or chocolate finger, or KitKat). Unmissable TV? Gavin and Stacey. Top film? The Shawshank Redemption. Favourite song? Sex on Fire, by Kings of Leon. Best book? The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. Which celebrity would play you in the film of your life? Ruth Jones – Nessa from Gavin and Stacey. Guilty secret? Eating far too much chocolate but telling everyone I eat lots of fruit.

UP Three school leaders take up the Leadership Focus challenge to describe their leadership style and then tell us a joke

If you would like to take the LF questionnaire, email us at


I went into teaching because I thought I could boss children about. I used to line all my dolls up on my bed and give them a right going over... I hasten to add that as a teacher I was never like that. My own schooling was an experience on which I thrived. I looked forward with eagerness to every day at school. My most embarrassing moment in a classroom happened one morning after I had to get dressed in the dark as I’d had a power cut at home. As I sat on my chair with all my eight-year-olds on the carpet in front of me, a little voice piped up: “Miss, I like your shoes.” As I thanked her, I looked down to see why she had selected today to compliment me. I had odd shoes on. One was red and one was black. My leadership style is affiliative, according to Hay McBer. Hopefully, I create harmony and build relationships so that rifts are quickly healed even in the most stressful situations. I’d say I’m a democrat with a portion of pacesetter thrown in. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s to expect the unexpected. I am always amazed at the amount of fire-fighting I do. I plan ahead and everything is going well, then BAM... the unexpected hits the fan. If I were the PM, I’d make sure that education was a priority and that appropriate funding supported this proclamation. Schools in Wales are seriously underfunded compared with schools in England. There is no equality of opportunity for the pupils of Britain. I shouldn’t be telling you this, but I read Heat magazine and love celebrity gossip. I also watch Big Brother. Tell us your best joke. There’s an inflatable boy who goes to an inflatable school. One day, he’s so fed up with his lesson that he gets up and walks out of the classroom into the inflatable corridor.There, he sees his inflatable headteacher. Scared stiff, he pulls out a pin and punctures him, before running out of the inflatable school gates. It’s then that he thinks, “I hate school” and once more pulls out his pin. He then runs home as fast as his inflatable legs allow. A couple of hours later, the inflatable police knock at his bedroom door. In a panic, the boy jabs himself with the pin. Several hours later, he wakes up in hospital and, in the bed next to him, is the now deflated headteacher. Looking very serious, the head tells him: “You’ve let me down, you’ve let the school down, but worst of all, you’ve let yourself down.”





24-25 Questionnaire.indd 24

21/12/09 09:01:45



Deputy head, Arthur Bugler Junior School, Thurrock, Essex

Headteacher, St Nicholas Primary School, Child Okeford, Dorset



In five words: Busy, stressed, helpful, cheerful and sporty. Most prized possession? My first football medal. Favourite biscuit? Ginger nut. Unmissable TV? Match of the Day. Top film? The Vikings. Favourite song? The Unforgettable Fire, by U2. Best book? The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkein. Which celebrity would play you in the film of your life? Adam Sandler. Guilty secret? Taking chocolate from the PTA disco stock. Unfortunately this happens quite often; daily, in fact.

COMPLETE THE FOLLOWING SENTENCES I went into teaching because I felt I had a great rapport with children and that a life in sales was meaningless. My own parents were also teachers but had tried to steer me away from the profession. On reflection – and especially before an Ofsted inspection – I do sometimes find myself wishing that they had tried a bit harder. My own schooling was good and happy in the main, only spoilt by dodgy French and maths teachers. I don’t remember feeling the pressure our children do today until I was doing A levels. My most embarrassing moment in a classroom was not actually in the classroom, but on a school residential in Devon. It involved me running for my life while being chased by a herd of stampeding cows. Thankfully, no children were involved. My leadership style is in the main I’m democratic, and very occasionally autocratic. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that you can never relax or breathe easy because there is always something new or something revamped around corn to fit into the the corner curricu curriculum somewhere. If I wer were the PM, I’d ban league ttables, Sats and all the statistics and unfair/ unw unworkable points systems tha that accompany them. sh I shouldn’t be telling you this, but the prospect applyin for headship and of applying th pressure, fear and enduring the responsibili that my own head responsibility w dread, despite has fills me with achie having achieved my NPQH. I don’t how in the current climate, heads can see how, ac ever achieve a work/life balance and do justice to their own family during term time. y Tell us your best joke. shi What lies shivering at the bottom of the sea? Answer: a nervous wreck!

In five words: Friendly, happy, dedicated, enthusiastic, husiastic, spiritual. or, and receive from, my Most prized possession? The love I have for, family and friends. Favourite biscuit? Chocolate digestive. Unmissable TV? Strictly Come Dancing. Top film? Slumdog Millionaire. Favourite song? Woman, by John Lennon. Best book? To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee or, because I’m a Christian, the Bible. m of your life? Which celebrity would play you in the film Julie Walters. Guilty secret? This may make me sound likee a real goody goody but I don’t think I have one!

COMPLETE THE FOLLOWING SENTENCES TENCES I went into teaching because I love children. n. n in From an early age I used to round up children ad an inspirational the neighbourhood and play schools. I also had teacher in Frank Horne; he raised my self-esteem and changed the course of my life. My own schooling was enjoyable in my primary years, but I didn’t make the most of my time at grammar school, and I endured some mediocre teaching. My most embarrassing moment in a classroom happened at a local theatre rather than at work.The whole school went to see a pantomime and I was nominated to limbo dance on stage. I still have a drawing of me limbo dancing in a short skirt on my office wall. My leadership style is collegiate. I like to involve everyone in moving the school forward. We are working on the Rights Respecting Schools initiative and it is wonderful to see the children evaluating the way things work. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that you don’t make decisions because they are easy, cheap, or popular.You make them because they are right. If I were the PM, I’d ban Sats and league tables and trust teachers to provide reliable assessment information, reduce bureaucracy, create maximum class sizes and act on research that indicates we need a skills-based curriculum. I shouldn’t be telling you this, but I was so annoyed that the Government is ignoring the Cambridge Review that I wrote a letter to Gordon Brown. Tell us your best joke. It’s not a joke but an occasion that made me laugh. A five-year-old girl once asked her pregnant mother if she’d “had a sperm”. The mother, a little embarrassed, gamely started to explain to her how babies are made, but she was interrupted by her daughter, who said impatiently: “I meant a sperm to make your hair curly!”


I had to run for my life on a residential in Devon. I was being chased by stampeding cows


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f o t n e m o The m ary Review’s m ri P e g d ri b am C e th f o A summary ol and the o h sc ry e v e to t n se g in e findings is b t will it lead u B . rt o p re ll fu e th as h t Governmen Mansell k ic rw a W ks as t, n e m e v to real impro

nt. Its final report, it is genuinely independe s, ant sult con inquiry ger ing 586 pages, t is the most exhaustive ed in October, runs to a stag lish pub re mo ry is being sent to every into primary education for a smaller 42-page summa but e ce den evi s – who appear to includ than 40 years. It took UK school. To its supporter the d ch isse ear dism res o 00 wh isters, from more than 4,0 many teachers, but not min missions ute to the power of trib a is ort rep sources, 1,000 wr itten sub the – s finding ing olv inv gs and a vote of confidence etin ion me gat and 237 dence-based investi evi ned ear It . many others in professional expertise. teachers, parents, pupils and d news story goo a es have centered on has and ge era cov And, although the headlin blanket media oyed ministers, its central ann rk. ns that will have sio clu con to tell about teachers’ wo ry ma eat. Schools, it finds, are l the Cambridge Pri finding is remarkably upb But how much impact wil ges , despite the many challen ools? basically doing a good job Review really have in sch of ies ser a ked on they face. As the review team embar st emphatically report to disseminate its findings, nd gla En und aro report says: “What we mu s e Th conference es. to be under intense t on the lips of attende that primary schools appear is this question has been firs to ree deg They are highly valued by a lot about the pressure but in good heart. How it is answered may say te, ova inn to e the freedom children and parents.” which heads feel they hav many witnesses, e been successful in hav l wil iew rev the s: “Indeed, as was noted by er add It and wheth rs yea one point of stability g what it sees as 20 mary schools may be the pri questioning and challengin on s and rld where everything else g centralised dem and positive values in a wo of seemingly ever-increasin . For many, schools are the nt. is changing and uncertain primaries from ggovernme ng nni pla the in rs yea ngs fall apart.” ee centre that holds when thi The review, which was thr its up g ldin bui rs the often-expressed notion yea ns ee stio thr The report also que nd then spent a further and eye of iety var , remarking that children headlines for a that childhood is in ‘crisis’ evidence base, has earned g ing lud in inc s, ort rep eat witnesses. It cites cession of were the review’s most upb catching findings in a suc its les, tab iety’s recent Good gue lea and en’ Sats ce from the Childr s Soc den evi criticism of the effects of the s call s, marie ima found only 9 per cent of h iimpact off setttiing in pri i g off the i nin Childhood inquiry, which questio n tha a r pie and hap lum re ricu we cur children for a broad and balanced adults interviewed believed be ng rni lea l ma for . recommendation that dur ing their own childhood ed by that survey were rais ns cer con the delayed until the age of six. ong Am rbairn ssure, bullying, celebr ity Funded by the Esmee Fai family breakdown, peer pre ge or fess Pro by ed hnology. But the Cambrid n, a charity, and direct Foundation culture and computer tec ws e, vie lleg n’s Co ldre n chi lfso t tha Wo of found Robin Alexander, a fellow Review said research had academics, wr iters and 100 led o wh ge, rid mb C Ca

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s e h c a o r p truth ap parents’. often diverged from their ly worried about issues tain cer re we ils pup Some rming and world wa such as local safety, global adds: “It was noticeable ort rep the poverty. However, en account of pupils’ that when schools had tak address them through concer ns and chosen to Cambridge lar activities, children icu cur ricular and non-curr and London ok.” had a more positive outlo attended by childhood is inequality, The biggest problem facing Leadership the g child poverty should be says the review. Eliminatin Focus uld sho ority’, and ministers Government’s ‘highest pri concerned nt. me eve ng underachi continue to focus on reduci its overall llenges current But much of the review cha approach. The concerned that a narrow ministerial thinking. It is review’s idea of the s tise ouraged which priori enc ng bei is t die ng rni lea starting from first ion of other aspects of educat ‘basics’ of the 3Rs ahead principles – laying cent of Victor ian times. It in a style it sees as reminis down general goals for Sats and league tables ng laci rep tes oca adv re therefo primary education and aspects of the curriculum ng all ich wh in tem sys a h wit then seeking to base teachi an ‘unobtrusive’ h oug thr rs, s of the che ing tea find by would be assessed and learning on the ent. ssm asse r move forward – was very che ils tea ’ pup ced han how structure of ‘en best research on t jec sub list cia spe e It proposes introducing som well-received. rs teacher at Colleges chers. These specialists and tea s clas ide ngs alo rs phne Babour is, an early yea che Da tea last the in inly deployed ma in Cambridge, said: “They ‘semi-specialists’ might be nursery and family centre nt me s ple sup to ool sch hout a ionals, to children, parent years of primary, or throug have listened to the profess to nts wa o wh e eon the work of class teachers. and local author ities. As som widely misreported as I am a huge advocate of the g, din tan ers und my The review has also been pen dee should start school at six. w.” recommending that pupils Cambridge Primary Revie rs Yea ly Ear the t tha ted from ministers was not n oca ctio adv rea iew the rev By contrast, Instead, the rest the h wit six, age to ed r, the schools minister, Foundation Stage be extend appreciated.Vernon Coake ere should Th se. pha gle sin a day the final report by d the of primary then covere described the review on ins, says the beg lf itse ing ed” with initiatives ool spe sch to en up t wh be a debate as to was published as “no vernment, including the review’s final report. being introduced by the Go of ory the te ‘sta s’ perfor mance, a of card documenting school ort rep It also challenges the notion new t jus not ent’s right to dictate cational needs and the llearning’, or the Governm the review of special edu but how it , lum ricu cur al of the curriculum, by ion iew nat a rev w what should be in Government’s own sh should be taught. Sir Jim Rose. that ministers brace every aspect of the Cambridge conference told bin IIts 75 recommendations em Ro s, hap paradoxically per . The final report also mary education, meaning, clearly not read the report prim had h wit e com y n could onl with officials around the that their full implementatio adds that, dur ing meetings ➧ isterial support. i iis min CONTINUED ON PAGE 29 ll of backing from haps the biggest groundswe Perh in s ination conference teacherrs at the two dissem


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i eriim the review’s’ int time of the publication of nt that the full reports reports, “it became appare n the briefings weree were rarely opened and eve d”. unlikely to have been rea from Government will For all that this approach at least that seemed the annoy many teachers – or conferences – it doeess go overwhelming view at the on the review’s impact. to the heart of the debate her profession in favour of oth Will it be ignored by the l wil Or ed? cially endors approaches which are offi Cambridge viewpoint? the ce bra em to teachers try riculum, the outcome cur The Rose review of the d in law through the of which will be introduce ilies bill currently going Children, Schools and Fam ich sets out a curriculum through Parliament, and wh clearly be a highly l to be taught from 2011, wil . int influential counterpo mbridge Review. While It does differ from the Ca y ‘areas of learning’, and Jim sets out six compulsor e flexibility, Cambridge is then seeks to promote som s of the curriculum, listing more explicit about the aim e 30 per cent of teaching tim 12 of them, and says that ty uni mm ‘co ed min -deter should be spent on a locally aining 70 per cent rem the y onl h wit ’, lum curricu allocated at national level. had a While Jim seems to have s, ool sch ny ma in g rin oodd hea goo iness app unh n bee also has re the w that ministers did not allo r side con to him ff cts off h effe the testing, which Jim himself described

had a good hearingg, has h While Rose h ider the it was not allowed to cons lephant in effects of testing – the ‘e um debate the room’ in the curricul m” in the curriculum as “the elephant in the roo view is also far broader: debate. The Cambridge Re t of one of its 10 themes. the curriculum is only par acy arly takes the review’s leg The Cambridge team cle n tio ina em regional diss very ser iously. There are 14 g in a final session in atin min cul all, in conferences ich will aim to come up Cambridge in February wh of priorities’ for the next list nct ge ted ‘succi with a sugges in sent to all political parties Government. This will be t the general election. up to the run-up isposed to rvatives may also be well-d n nse Co e Th iversity, Un ge rid mb Ca of it. Professor Mary James, s within rce m ridge conference that sou t ld the Camb told n the tha y abl our w re viewing it more fav the party we ty’s par the ve, Go el cha Rose review. However, Mi ears only cautiously shadow schools secretary, app on, for example, iic welcoming its emphasis husiiastic, enth its proposals ng cki but atta subject specialist teachers, . on accountability as ‘fuzzy’ ow. Robin said ef cts of the review may foll Other effe ities had wanted to talk to that a handdful of local author unity curriculum’ about explor ing the ‘comm his team ab with one or rk wo to n ideaa. The rreview is also kee ut developing abo ort rep the ools featured in two schoo tw ching and learning. And innovative approaches to tea that the review r signs at the conferences h re were the cator from edu r che tea might have other effects: a final report the said ge, rid mb Homerton College, Ca g dents’ readin lists from would go on her PGCE stu g the review was influencin next yearr, while Robin said



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The political control of education is so tight in England, it’s difficult to h see how teachers can teac in a way not laid down by Government ld as Australia, New education debates as far afie ia. Zealand and Scandinav mbling about the price There has been some gru s practitioners and encourages parents, nces – £225 plus VAT– of the dissemination confere there is a different way iev and governors to bel e that explain why heads p hel ht mig felt e som which cation.” of looking at primary edu numbered by teacher school in Potters teachers appeared to be out Peacock, head of Wroxham policy specialists son Ali and s iser adv ity hor aut ve all, professionals educators, local , Hertfordshire, said that abo Bar n. ndo Lo and ge h its evidence themselves. in Cambrid needed to try to engage wit re was also the , ally ent dam fun re Mo ng presented with is an She said: “What we are bei move towards an ool improvement: an acknowledgement that any informed alternative on sch ion might struggle school leaders need All alternative vision of educat . tive rna evidence-based alte face of centralised the in ls oo sch in g rin for a hea to read this report.” . accountability mechanisms t tha nce, some said At the Cambridge confere review from More information on the of even attending the ned hte frig n teachers had bee .uk .org www.primaryreview concerns they might be dissemination events amid In icy. pol hed blis esta t labelled as trying to subver demic secretary of the London, Gordon Kirk, aca the Education of Teachers, Universities’ Council for t trol of education is so tigh told LF: “The political con can rs lt to see how teache in England that it is difficu way not laid down by the DATIONS a in ch be persuaded to tea SELECTED RECOMMEN VIEW RE ” GE political centre. OF THE CAMBRID erry Orchard primary Ch of d hea , son bin Ro Dr Sue e that schools might explor ld school in Bir mingham, said for tion on Rights of the Chi ng, rni ■ Adopt UN Conven teaching and lea y some new approaches to ert ing child pov ■ Prioritise eliminat test results were good. She ds example, but only if their of special educational nee and , iew ing rev full com is out ry sted Car Of ■ and , ool sch a are you said: “If stage to age six ■ Extend foundation sultants are constantly the local author ity and con s ool lum, 70 per cent nationally sch ricu e cur som ■ Establish new improve results] pressing headteachers [to developed enough to get away from will feel they are not secure of els ional strategy lev low h wit s ool ■ Scrap primary nat er sch s telling that. How do we empow al ion /quangos/local authoritie nat ■ Stop Government e risks, given that tak to e abl be to ent inm atta teachers how to teach Sats outcomes?” accountability is based on , tor teacher assessment across pec Ins y’s jest ■ Replace Sats with Her Ma Colin Richards, a for mer the curriculum wer was to persuade Ofsted replied that part of the ans results. test n tha lity qua Scrap league tables ■ ool sch that there was more to ed cation pos pro T’s ■ Reform teacher edu HT and NU Many will also see the NA l. ota ion piv y ect iall insp ent ■ Reform tests as pot ballot of a boycott of Sats subject teachers; authority adviser from al ■ Deploy specialist loc r me for a , on ers Pat Jeff lay iew c trol with ‘professional n rev wn dow con ■ Replace top-do deeper value of the the t tha said e, hir cas Lan s empowerment’ on alternative approache in its pprovoking of a debate ld /secondary funding gap cou m, ter g lon ■ Eliminate primary is, in the to primary eeducation. Th ngee. bring chan it co ld be very powerful if She said: “The review cou



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21/12/09 09:49:27



e c n a i l p ap

The country is crying out for scientists, says Carly Chynoweth. But how can schools ensure a supply of engineers and techies?


how children a diagram of an atom and they’ll be fiddling with their iPods and DS Lites under the desk before you’ve started explaining quite what neutrons do. But tell them why some physicists fear that a science experiment in Switzerland could end the world within weeks and you’ll have a lesson that has all the appeal of a blockbuster movie. Add the theory that the experiment itself may be travelling back in time to sabotage itself in order to prevent the end of the world (yes, really) and you’ve got the sequel – and a conversation about the way in which science is reported in the popular press. Or how about mixing science with history when topic teaching? The Victorians start to get a lot more interesting when learning includes discussions about the science of flushing toilets, the benefits of soap and the connect-the-cholera-victim-dots game that led John Snow, one of the founders of epidemiology, to remove the handle of a contaminated water pump. Instructors at the National Science Learning Centres (NSLC) recognise that creating the scientists – and


scientifically literate citizens – of the future means showing children that there’s more to the subject than memorising the periodic table or knowing the stages of cell division. That’s why they help train teachers and lab technicians in how to make science interesting with nothing more than some simple equipment, a creative approach and a willingness for things to get a bit whiffy. Upcoming training programmes include everything from effective teaching and learning for post-16 chemistry to a course on how to make hands-on KS1 science investigations more engaging. The NSLC also offers bespoke programmes; it can help science departments that are short of physics specialists, for example. Anne Fletcher, a science teacher at High Storrs School in Sheffield, went on one. “We covered a range of topics – radioactivity, electricity, space – and how we could explain them,” she says. “It was useful to know where students typically have misunderstandings, and how we can correct them. It has been many years since we’d studied physics at school, so the course helped plug our weaknesses and update our knowledge. Even the terminology had changed.” But just why should school leaders be paying this much attention to how their school teaches science? One of the biggest reasons is the country’s increasing need for science, engineering and technology graduates, says Professor John Holman, a former headteacher who is now the director the NSLC. “It is very, very important for our economy,” he says. “That’s what’s driving this more than anything else. “And young people can make themselves more CONTINUED ON PAGE 35 ➧


of science


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employable by having science ience ations, and mathematics qualifications, en plus it is essential that even people who do not studyy science at university are scientifically literate to create the right environment for science to flourish.” That, in turn, means we need to look at how science is taught in our schools. Prof Holman is not too worried about media cience complaints that school science ed courses are being dumbed down or that grades are being gsters inflated – the UK’s youngsters are continually in the topp 10 internationally – but he ng is concerned about young ce, people’s attitude to science, ed over which he says has declined the past 10 years. “We want to be the best in the world so we have to do more about engaging young people in science.” And the key to doing that, he says, is not systems or processes but teachers who can convey their own enthusiasm for the subject; this is why NSLC focuses on providing high-quality professional development for teachers. This has been a problem, not least because it’s difficult and costly to get teachers out of the classroom for days at a time, particularly now that the new cover rules have just come in to play, but it is one that’s being tackled in a notably effective way: with money. The centre, which has its headquarters in York and has nine regional offices, secured £30 million in funding over five years (from the DCSF and corporate partners) that it is using to fulfil its aim of getting a physics, chemistry and biology teacher from every school to attend one of its programmes over that time. The idea is that they will take what they learn back to their schools and share it with their colleagues. The funding covers not just teachers’ attendance at the residential school and some money towards kit that they can use when they return to the classroom, but also pays for cover for their classes while they’re away. “Our call today is that headteachers should

advertising claims to science fiction helped too. Nicola Byrne found that the NSLC’s training helped her to make the step up from science teacher to head of physics at Aquinas Grammar School in Belfast. “It helped me to get on a management fast track,” she says. “The next stage in my professional development doesn’t seem like such a mammoth step.” It has also improved the way in which she and her colleagues teach, she adds. “Our GCSE pass rate has gone up to 100 per cent and we’ve had more children doing A-level and GCSE science.” But what happens when the £30 million runs out? While Prof Holman hopes to secure further funding to continue the programme beyond 2013, ultimately the only sustainable position is for schools to pay for the training, he says. However, without the current £1,800 bursaries the five-day courses start to look both expensive and time-consuming. Finding so much money for a five-day course wouldn’t be feasible, says Elizabeth Phillips, headteacher at St Marylebone. “That’s what we pay towards an MA or MSc,” she says. She has no quibble with the course’s quality – “we do most of our own CPD because when we send people on courses they tend to come back and say ‘what a waste of time’; this one is an exception” – but as soon as the bursary goes questions of time and cost re-arise. She also argues that the industry itself needs to do more to raise the profile of what it is that scientists actually do. If more young people see that science-based jobs are interesting, more of them will pursue such professions. “We have no problem getting our girls to do maths, chemistry and biology… but alongside this we need real people doing real jobs who can come in

We have no problem getting our girls to do science but we need real peop le to come in and talk about their jobs


seize this opportunity,” Prof Holman says. “Many are doing this but we need to make sure that this is known to all headteachers.” NSLC’s latest report suggests that attendees find the courses very effective: 90 per cent reported a significant positive impact on themselves, their school or their pupils, while 73 per cent said that students’ motivation had improved and 56 per reported improved learning. Nearly nine in 10 attendees changed their teaching methods as a result of their course. John Sellars, a physics teacher at St Marylebone School in London, attended a NSLC course about the ‘how science works’ programme of study for KS4. He admits that he wasn’t that excited about the new programme when it was introduced, but says that the course helped him to think about it in a much more inspiring way. “It changed my idea about this subject and made me much more enthusiastic,” he says. Discovering that pupils are fascinated by the real science underlying everything from



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ious as Being a scientist is not seen as prestig ange, but being a doctor and I do find that str a geek it is gradually becoming cooler to be to their classrooms and talk to them about what their jobs are and why they love them,” Elizabeth says. “A lot of our students want to be doctors because that is what they know… but [scientists and engineers] need to do more to show what the other career options are. They need to make the job real: a pharmacist is real, a doctor is real, but what does a chemical engineer do?” John agrees. “A lot of these kids who do science at A level just want to do medicine, but they would be excellent scientists in many fields,” he says. “They are often being pushed into one particular thing by their parents. Just being a scientist is not seen as being as prestigious as being a doctor, and I do find that strange, but it is gradually becoming cooler to be a geek.” Television shows starring all-powerful scientists (see below) are starting to appear in the schedules alongside the hospital dramas, doctor-based soap-operas and emergency medicine reality shows that help

to give medicine such a good name as a career. However, there are also a number of resources available for teachers who want their students to hear practising scientists talk about why they love their jobs. The Noisemakers website – www.noisemakers. – has a range of videos and articles by or featuring young scientists doing everything from explaining how engineers are improving footballers’ performances to the daily tasks of an astrobiologist searching for life on Mars. It also links to a range of events at which students can meet scientists. Other schemes can bring scientists into schools. Andrew Russell, a post-doctoral research associate at the University of Manchester’s Centre for Atmospheric Science, has done just that through the Researchers in Residence programme. “I am always willing to talk to schools whenever I am invited,” he says. “It’s always exciting to talk about what I do and about what other people want to do with their careers.”

The Researchers in Residence programme’s backers – the UK’s research councils and the Wellcome Trust – recently gave him £100 to run an experiment with students in years 10-12 at a local school. He used the money to buy a small weather station which, in conjunction with Met Office data, he and the students used to forecast the weather. “We looked at those forecasts and assessed how accurate they were using data from the weather station,” he says. “We also talked about climate change.” The research proved popular, with about 30 regular attendees, even though it was run as a lunchtime club rather than a series of guest lectures in lesson time (something he also does). “With those talks some people seem to be really interested, while others look like they would be anywhere but having a scientist talking to them,” he says. Like Elizabeth and John, he finds that the only science-based career that many children can identify is medicine. “None of them really think of science or engineering as a degree, let alone a career,” he says. Well, maybe that should be nearly none: one of the girls in his weather station group has applied to study meteorology at university.

DETECTING AN INTEREST IN FORENSIC SCIENCE CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is an incredibly successful television programme. Its recipe of bloodthirsty criminals, determined police officers and photogenic scientists capable of identifying wrongdoers from nothing more than a speck of dandruff and a tuft of carpet fibre has spawned several sister shows, a board game and a dramatic increase in the number of undergraduates studying forensic science courses at UK universities. In fact, the number has more than doubled in the past five years. Now Steve Quayle, manager of the Holgate City Learning Centre in Barnsley, is using a similar recipe to engage KS3 pupils in science at school. Steve, a former science teacher, used Create-A-Scape technology, developed by Futurelab in Bristol, to build an interactive detective game that requires students to play the part of forensic scientists discovering and analysing clues. The children are given a PDA, which uses GPS to calculate when they are in a ‘hotspot’ that requires them to watch

a particular video, see an image or hear a sound. This could then link to a clue that helps them find the next hotspot. “I gave students a map and told them to go in a specific order to build up the clues to answer the whodunnit,” Steve says. For example, one clue involved going to a footbridge across a road, which triggered a video witness statement from someone who had seen a car speeding away and filmed it on a mobile phone. From the information in the film, students had to work out things such as the car’s average speed. Another hotspot, indicated by a pretend bullet hole in a wall, triggered ballistics information from which they had to determine the angles and thus where the shooter had stood. A third involved huge wind turbines on a hill near the school; pupils had to work out the wind speed and, from this, determine that one witness statement was incorrect. Then it’s a matter of taking all the data back to the lab, conducting some further tests and working out who the criminal

is. “It’s good fun. They go outside, get a bit of exercise and do some really rudimentary forensic analysis, which is basic chemistry,” Steve says. “It has some silly gimmicks in it, including the theme music from CSI, but this is part of its appeal and one of the reasons it’s so engaging. “The other bonus is personal learning and thinking skills. It’s perfect for that because you have to do things as a group and be really organised to get it all done. And the kids all loved that they had gadgets – as soon as you give them a PDA you have the engagement factor there. They like the fact that it is a gruesome theme as well.” While his version was designed for KS3 pupils, the same basic program could easily be used to incorporate harder (or easier) science; it would also be possible for pupils to design their own whodunnits, perhaps with help from older students for some of the trickier bits of programming, he says.


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Don’t write us off

Challenging circumstances can be overcome with hard work and a bit of imagination, finds Steve Smethurst, as he discovers a Sheffield school that has enthused its pupils about writing



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here’s a tendency to shy away from spelling things out these days. The toilet has become ‘the bathroom’, organisations ‘downsize’ and on Match of the Day when managers say, “I think the referee will be disappointed with his performance today,” you know that the subtext is something that could never be broadcast on television, not even after the watershed. So when Limpsfield Community Junior School headteacher John Bainbridge says that his local community is located in a ‘really disadvantaged’ area of Sheffield and that some of his pupils are ‘behaviourally very difficult’, you know immediately what he means, even if convention prevents him from being any more explicit. If you want a more hard-hitting description of the area where his school is situated, the Guardian’s online politics section sums up the surrounding Brightside constituency in just 10 words: “Northeast Sheffield, working class, high unemployment and many council estates.” Against this kind of backdrop, mastering the intricacies of language, whether soft-focus or hard-edged, is something that might well be described as challenging. As such, any initiative to broaden people’s ability to communicate at an early age is therefore to be applauded. And projects that are successful deserve a standing ovation. Last autumn, Limpsfield School set out to encourage both children’s writing and children’s voice. ‘The Big Write’, as the scheme CONTINUED ON PAGE 40 ➧


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eventually became known, was adapted aw’ from the previous year’s ‘Big Draw’ org), a (, very year national event that takes place every throughout October. It also had its roots in embers of the passionate interest several members staff, including the headteacher, have in art and painting. “I paint big pictures,” John says. “Big landscapes. And we know that art is a stimulus to children’s learning. So I was trying to think of some way to promote writing in order to make children want to write, while at the same time giving them a completely different experience of writing. “Traditionally, writing is something you do in a book, but we wanted to create something that would engage them in the physical act of writing. We also wanted to use a different space and have something that would be dramatic and surprising.” The result, as you can see from the photographs, ticked all the boxes. The scale was huge and the installation filled the school hall for a week. The school staff created the writing space on a Friday evening and arranged for a couple of pupils to write the first comments on the walls to prime them for the others. “This sort of activity is well within our experience of big exhibitions in the past,” John says. “And when the children came in on the Monday morning, they were bowled over. They were itching to write and they were brilliant.” The school adjusted the timetable so that each class had the opportunity to write on the boards for a morning, with the year groups taking it in turn from Monday to Thursday. During the afternoons, it was open to parents to come and take their children out of class and write with them. And on the final day, Friday, it was open


To get all our parents in there enthusing about writing and feeling inspired was great

house for children and parents alike. John says that the teaching staff were overwhelmed by the response. “We are not an easy community at Brightside; it’s one of the most disadvantaged wards in the nation, so to get all our parents in there, enthusing about writing and feeling inspired by the whole event as a piece of art, was great. And then you read all these lovely stories, there were just so many magic moments. A lot of mums and dads wrote for us alongside their children. We had toddlers come in and we saw bits of emergent writing too. It was great, a nice, sharing family learning thing.” The pupils employed a variety of writing materials, from charcoal to crayons and coloured pens to paint. “It was simultaneously art and literacy,” John says. “They were just bursting to write. Some of them had brought photographs from home

impor that were important to them. And the stories ac were personal accounts of things they do in B i ht id like lik living l Brightside, with other kids and playing, and things that had happened to them, whether being bitten by a dog, falling off a wall, or where their dens are.” He says that several accounts stood out for him. One was a pupil who ‘is not an easy boy, behaviourally’ who wrote about being attacked by a dog. He had been playing with his friend and climbed over a wall into a neighbour’s garden. Once in there, the neighbour’s pit bull terrier went for him, seizing his leg and ripping his calf out. “He has horrendous scars, but he did a huge piece of writing about it,” John says. “And this from a boy who doesn’t like to write usually, but armed with a paintbrush off he went. He covered a huge board about two metres by a metre and a half.” He also recalls the work of a young girl who had recently arrived in the country from Burma who wrote about her baby brother being born. “She is a very clever girl who wants to be a doctor,” John says. “She has only been in the country for two years and came with no English at all. Now she is writing better than some of the children we have had here for years.” He says that many pupils have seen their writing come on in leaps and bounds since the exhibition. “Children are now viewing writing in a different way; it’s something they can do and engage with,” he says. The Limpsfield headteacher says that the school’s Sats scores won’t see a huge improvement from The Big Write, “as that’s a battle that has already been won”. Since


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2005, the school’s results in English have risen steadily to well above national standards, following rigorous teaching and assessment structures that have been em embedded in the school. “We have worked at writing for a lon long time and our Sats in English have cli climbed something like 56 per cent to 82 per cent. Our level fives are above th the national average because of the po polarised nature of our community. We ge get a smaller cohort of children who are vvery able. It’s a polarised community, it’s ddisadvantaged with a lot of criminality, bbut equally there is a smaller group of pparents who are very educationally o orientated, and you see that in our English results.” However, the project has added impetus to the school’s aim to go on improving literacy skills and compensate for the lack of language experience in the homes of its pupils. Also, following the experience, many childr children continued to write independently over the half term, bringing their work into school for teachers to see. “We have seen a result, definitely, because some children who have not written very much before are suddenly showing a willingness to persevere a bit more and show a bit more writing. So, while we can’t say that our Sats have shot up as a result of it, this has been about more than that, it is about children recognising that writing is a way of communicating with other people and telling people about their life.” The work didn’t stop with the writing, either. Pupils have been encouraged to read back wh what they’ve written with express sion and emphasis, rather like expression a piec ce of drama, to encourage piece theirr spe speaking and listening as a pe erfo formance. Some performance.

of them have even performed on video to increase self-confidence and self-esteem. Looking back, John feels that, taken as a whole, the exhibition of writing revealed an unexpected power and depth. “It was a fantastic picture of children’s personal lives within our community. It’s the kind of thing that will be forgotten years later, but these are the moments that shape children’s lives and affect their feelings about themselves and the world around them. “We wanted the writing to be big, powerful and meaningful, and to inspire. And when we’ve asked the children about the work, it became apparent that they took great pleasure in its execution and tremendous pride in the finished piece,

These are the moments that shape children’s lives and affect their feelings about themselves

excitedly telling visitors how they did it.” Next on the agenda for Limpsfield is another construction project. This time, the teachers are gearing up to create a French village. “Our children have been drawing beautiful drawings of the facades of French shops, such as boulangeries and patisseries. They have been drawing them A3 size and mounting them on to card. But we are planning to use maquettes and build a complete village in the whole hall where there will be facades of French shops, about six feet tall by about eight feet wide. “The hall will be a French street, complete with its very own café and even a square. The children will go in there for a week and they will only allowed to speak French once inside. There will be a policeman on the door checking their passports, which they will make beforehand,” John says. “So we are in mega-drive here at the present time.” The headteacher says that projects like the Big Write, the Big Draw and the French installation sum up what primary education is about. “It is about the thrill and the excitement of seeing things in a different way, which engages children differently and makes the whole thing a great learning adventure. “It’s so much better than ‘here you go, we’re doing writing again, write in your book and I’ll decide whether it’s a level four or a level five, and are you going to get level five on your Sats?’ That’s the attitude that is killing primary education.”


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21/12/09 10:52:59

In food we trust

Having bid goodbye to turkey twizzlers, schools can offer pupils meals that are both nutritious and tasty. But is that enough to entice pupils back? Rebecca Grant investigates


ack in 2005, the standard ‘chips with everything’ rules of the school canteen were turned on their head, thanks to a certain TV chef from Essex, but, according to the School Food Trust’s (SFT) chief executive, Judy Hargadon, he’s not solely responsible for the revolution. “Jamie Oliver’s programme highlighted the issue but the original thinking came from the education world itself – from a few headteachers and cooks who said it’s really important that we feed our children properly,” she says. The benefits speak for themselves. Controlled studies conducted by the SFT, a body set up in 2005 to promote the health of Britain’s school children, have confirmed that a good lunch in a pleasant environment helps to improve pupils’ concentration in their afternoon classes. Now that the Government has fully implemented its four-stage reform of school meals, every child who eats a school meal should be guaranteed to get a healthy option. Schools now need to concentrate on ensuring that as many children as possible benefit from the changes. One way of doing that is the SFT’s Million Meals campaign, which has been designed to significantly increase the number of pupils who eat a midday meal provided by their school. The NAHT is one of the organisations supporting the campaign.


“The old adage ‘you are what you eat’ has never been more pertinent, with growing numbers of children becoming obese and suffering the toxic effects of an unbalanced diet,” General Secretary Mick Brookes says. “We urge catering organisations to listen to the student voice and to design attractive menus in a pleasant environment.”

The dining experience The campaign’s message has slowly been getting through to school leaders and caterers, it seems, as the SFT reports that some schools have seen their take-up of school meals rise to the 80 per cent mark.“At first, a lot of people felt that the new rules were very strict and almost impossible to implement, but now schools are realising that it’s not quite as hard as they thought,” Judy says. “Now they’re thinking that if other schools can do it and make it work, maybe they can too.” But new menus alone will never be enough to encourage Britain’s pupils to eschew their snack-filled lunchboxes or afternoon visits to the local chippy in favour of the school canteen. Often, it’s not that pupils don’t want to eat healthy food but that they don’t like doing it in the school dining room, Judy says. “One of the reasons many children don’t eat in the school dining room is that it isn’t a pleasant experience. It’s far too rushed, it’s noisy and the queues are usually too long.”


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this possible. It has implemented a colourcoded ordering system that means that children choose their meal in the morning rather than waiting until lunchtime and slowing down service in the dining room. Pupils choose from a limited choice of meals – say, a meat option and a vegetarian option – and are given a token in either red or green. At lunch, they simply swap the token for the corresponding meal. The SFT would like to see this system introduced in more schools. “A caterer recently told me that one of the problems is the amount of time children take to make choices, especially at primary age,” Judy Hargadon says. “Getting them to pre-order

Getting children to pre-order meals in the morning can massively reduce the queueing time and cut down on wastage

meals in the morning can massively reduce the queuing time. It also means schools can cut down on wastage, because they know what amount of food to cook.” Julie has certainly seen positive results at Cherbourg, which uses an interactive whiteboard to help children make their menu choices as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, for a system like this to work there needs to be clear lines of communication between the school staff and those providing the food. “We meet regularly with the council’s catering arm,” Julie says. “This has made a real difference to the harmony within the school. There is better communication and everybody knows the importance of working closely with our school meals service.” Just over a year ago, Meadowdale Middle School in Northumberland had very little contact with the people who provided pupils’ lunchtime meals. “Everything was dealt with solely by our unit manager, Sharon Robinson, who was employed by the council,” says deputy head Rachel Spence. “There wasn’t a dedicated CONTINUED ON PAGE 44 ➧


Pupils at Cherbourg School in Hampshire would have been among the first to agree with this. Take-up of school dinners has soared from 30 per cent to around 60 per cent since the school started serving healthier food; and it can reach 70 per cent on days when roast dinners are on the menu. As it turned out, pupils’ main concern was the dining room. “When we asked children about it, we discovered that they wanted to sit with their friends and they wanted more space,” headteacher Julie Greer says. The school responded by staggering the lunch break so that different year groups went in at separate times. It also swapped the old dining tables for round ones that offered a more sociable seating environment. Another change involved opening the hatchway to the kitchen so that pupils could see the food being prepared. “It’s about being explicit with children about the food they eat,” Judy says. “Children are encouraged to taste things that they’ve not tried before. There’s a much more open relationship between the children and the food that they’re going to eat.” It’s the school’s good relationship with the council’s catering arm, HC3S, that has made


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person for her to speak to within the school, although the head would help when he could, so if people were off and she needed to arrange cover, for example, it could be really difficult for her to get support.” With the school’s take-up of school meals at 64 per cent to begin with, it would have been easy for the school to rest on its laurels. However, when Rachel was handed responsibility for overseeing school dinners last year, she forged a good relationship with both the council and the unit manager. Since then, Meadowdale has seen school meal centage points. take-up increase by 3 percentage “We work very closelyy now,” Rachel says. “Sharon has a lot of goodd ideas and she’s tic person, even always been an enthusiastic ng together. She’d before we started working al themed days, arrange things like special where if we’re studying a xample, country or a topic, for example, she’d incorporate it into the meals on those days. But I ntact think having me as a contact ident has made her more confident about trying new things and ife.” be more part of school life.” With the partnership in place, the school is slowly implementing many more initiatives to improve the school meals on offer, and Rachel is confident that take-up will soon reach 70 per cent. However, schools also need to be aware of the consequences of making changes. Meadowdale was one of the first schools in the country to benefit from the SFT’s Small Steps to Improvement programme, in which schools and councils are encouraged to implement changes in gradual, manageable steps to ensure maximum success while minimising demands on the school’s administration. “It’s like solving any problem,” Judy says. “You start by solving one thing and you find it has a knock-on effect. For instance, if you decide that the it’s long queues that are turning pupils away, you might decide to organise the serving counter so you can have three queues running instead of two. But then you might discover that this affects how you organise the kitchen, so you have to think ‘right, what are we going to do about that now?’” Rachel is pleased to report that the Small Steps programme, which has seen the school

introduce a new change every four to five weeks, has been well received. “We’ve been very lucky. Our council was reorganised, so some schools in the area closed down,” she says. “This meant that there was spare equipment available to us when we needed it and at no extra cost. For example, we’ve now got a second serving counter, which we used in the summer when we introduced a ‘grab bag’ lunch option. “By doing little things in a short space of time, the programme really gives you a goal to

backfired and I received a petition from parents, along with a letter from Walkers crisps, stating that crisps were healthy and I was wrong to ban them.What that taught me was that the school has no statutory authority to say what children can eat and not eat.The only way you can change things is by winning hearts and minds.”

Who’s in charge? Both Cherbourg and Meadowdale have hosted ‘taster days’, where parents were invited alongg to tryy some of the schools’ menu options. The feedback fe was positive, and Meadowdale has also started to invite the catering unit man manager to speak at the school’s new-intake evenings e to inform parents about the service ser on offer. “She w as able to answer was questio questions and dispel any myths about sschool meals that the parents might have heard,” Rache says. Rachel But now that more school leaders are taking responsibility for cate catering, is there a risk of imp other important school business push aside in favour of being pushed pl menu planning? Not so, accco ordi to Judy Hargadon. according “H Head are extraordinarily “Heads busy people, and we unde understand that,” she says. “But they provide legitimacy to the way school mealtimes ru by giving it their are run intere and support.” interest Ju ul Greer agrees: “Three Julie y years ago if anyone had asked me about school catering, I’d have said: ‘No that’s nothing to do with me,’ but I see it as my responsibility now, which has made a big difference. For about five months, it did take up a concentrated amount of my time, but now relationships have been built it’s easy to oversee everything.” Ultimately, she says, taking responsibility for school meals can help heads in achieving their five outcomes for education. “It’s is part of being healthy, enjoying and achieving,” she says. “It’s understanding the importance of how healthy relationships with food benefit the children – and school meals are a good way to take that on board.”

to eat I tried to ban crisps and get children that said fruit, but parents sent me a petition ong crisps were healthy and the ban was wr


aim for. And there are always ways around lots of things if money is an issue, or if time’s an issue.There’s always a way to make it work.” Although building relationships and improving logistics within the school environment is vital to improving take-up, there is also one outside factor that cannot be overlooked: to succeed, you need to get those who ultimately pay for the school meals – usually pupils’ parents – on your side. However, handling parents can be delicate issue, as Julie Greer discovered when she first joined Cherbourg. “I tried to ban crisps, because that was all that the children seemed to be eating at break time and in the morning before school, and get them to eat fruit instead. But the idea

For more details about the Million Meals campaign, visit millionmeals. To download more ideas, go to asp?DocCatId=9&DocId=45


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Professional development

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If yo you ou gget et invo involved olve l ed in th the he B Big ig SSchools cho oolss’ Birdwatch Bird i dwattch fro from om 18 JJa January–1 anuaary– –1 Fe February eb bru uaryyy, yyou’ll ou u’lll n not ot onlyy bee ta ttaking aking i g pa part artt iin n the th he world’s wor orld’s d s biggest b biggges g st birdwatch, birdw dwaatcch h, but but also al helping help e ping ng tthe RSPB PB tto m mo monitor onito ni or U UK Kb bird ird r numbers. num umb beers. s T This h hiss sim ssimple mp plee b bird d ssurvey urv rveyy is for o alll ages g aand d abilities. i e Y You u can n do o your o watch t either h within th your u o own school c o grounds, g u s orr byy visiting i g a local l a park. a Butt best e of o all, a itt only n ttakes e an n hour o to ccomplete, m e and n iss rich c in n curriculum u c u llinks. s W What’s t n new thiss year e iis the h LLittlee Schools’ c o Birdwatch d a h which h h is d designed i e fo for EEarlyy Years. Yea earss SSchools chools c o cca can an re register egis g ster e onl o online line n to o request e e tth their heir i free r teachers teac e che herss aactivity ctiv t vity t pac p pack. ckk. T Then h hen yo you ou w will iill just u t ne n need eed d to o aarrang rrraangge ge a day ay to do you your our w watch. at atcch.. M Morning o orrning i is the he b be best estt ttime ime me o off d day ay tto o se ssee ee birds ds – o orr af after fter te break brea ak w when heen th they heyy com come me to p pick ickk up p dro dropped op pp ped cru crumbs umb bs fr from rom m the th playground. p y o nd pl Once Onc ce yyou’ve ou’’ve ssubmitted ubmittted d yyour rresults esults aand nd yyou’ll be entere entered ed d into in nto o a prize p prrize z draw dra d aw to t win n som some me fantast fantastic tic ggoodies oodiess fo for or yyo your our school school.l

Exploring human emotions is a vital part of learning. Each chapter of Creating an Emotionally Healthy Classroom: practical and creative literacy and art resources for Key Stage 2 breaks down different emotions – both positive and negative – and draws on examples from literature and art to encourage pupils to examine them in more detail. For example, the chapter about dejection starts with a poem about never being the winner and suggests scriptwriting as a follow-up task. For any teacher with a KS2 class, this book is a practical and time-saving resource, offering a wealth of inspiration for PSHE lessons.

Overschooled but undereducated By John Abbott with Heather MacTaggart Continuum Price: £16.99

Unlike other living creatures, two-thirds of brain growth in humans occurs after birth. Essentially, we were born to learn. So why is it that children can often switch off when they’re being taught? By exploring human nature through the ages, as well as how other cultures teach and nurture their young, John Abbott and Heather MacTaggart examine why some children excel in education while others fail to perform. Their conclusion? Education needs to be about preparing young people to become good citizens and competent adults, not merely successful school pupils.


Art Ar A rtt imitates imita tates ates llif lifefedrawing dra awingg w with itth tthe he R RA A Steel yourself yourrselff for the occasional occasion nal ttitter… itteer… and d offer offe er aart rt students stud dentts a fantastic fantasttic o opportunity. pportu unitty. Pupils Pupiils have hav ve th the he cchance han nce to d draw raw w a lifee mo model odel with tthe he guidance guid dance of of specialists speccialissts ffrom rom m th the he R Royal oyaal A Academy cad dem my of A Arts’ rtss’ outreach ou utreeach h programme. pro ograamm me. It runs ru uns day-long dayy-lo ong creative crea ative dr drawing rawing worksh workshops k hops th that hat help yo young oun ng people peo oplee explore l a var variety rietyy off d dra drawing awin ng ttechniques. ech hniq quess. It is aime aimed ed p primarily rimarilyy att G GC GCSE CSSE and dA AA-level -leveel st students, tudeents, butt itt can can be adapted ada dapte ted to o su suit uitt p primary rim imaryy students stu ud dents t att KS2 S – in tthatt case s tthe llife model o l would o d bee clothed. clot l th hed d. T The he Roy Royal yall A Academy’s cad dem my’s inst instructors trucctorrs ca can an travel trav ravell aanywhere n nyw wh heeree iin n th the he U UK K – tth they’ve hey ey’vve h held eeld d ssessio sessions s ons everywhere eve veryw ywher h re fr from rom om tthe Sh Shetlands heetlland nds to oG Guernsey e s y– and n ttheyy hold o 1100 sessions s n ev everyy year. e Keep e in n mind, m d however, o ev , that a this h iis a popular p a programme. r r m e Alll workshop wo ks o slots l s forr thee 2009/10 0 9/ school h l year a are r fully u booked, o ed so now o would o be a good go d time m to t get e yo yourr request q s in n ready a y forr thee new e aacademic d m year e in i September. S t m rr. You o ca can ffind d out u m moree about b t the h scheme c e e from o a short h video d available ai b on o the th Royal Roy oyall A Academy’s ccad deem myy’s we w website. ebsit s te.


48-49 whats new.indd 46

21/12/09 12:35:41

The Natural The N Naatturrall H History isto ory M Mu Museum useu um h has as launched laun nch hed d a se selection elecction n off new neew learning leearn ningg resources reso ourcces tha that hat su support uppo ort school sch hooll vis visits sits to o Cocoon o o – the h interactive n r t visitor i r experience exp xpeerieen ncce att tthe he heart eart a t of of the h museum’s m e m n new Darwin r n Centre. e r The rresources Th o c ccontain n n sections ec o ffor students t e s to o complete om l e before e e and n after f r their e visit, v t as well e ass an n activity t ty that h eencourages c r e them h m to o gather t r information n r t n forr ass they e ggo aaround u the h eexhibit. i . There e aree separate p a activities act ctiviti v iess targeted taarggete ted to towards owa wards ds Key K Stages Sta tages e 3 aand nd d 4,, aand nd d for o pos po post-16 st-166 sstude dents ents. nt The rresou The resources, ources c s, an and nd aaccompanying cco c om mp pany a ying ng tteachers’ ch r ’ n no notes, otes, e , ccan nb bee aac accessed cces essed ed aat the he w we website eb bsitte below. bel low.. Seee pa page agge 32 ffor or ourr cover fea feature aturee on n th the he te teaching each hingg off Sci Science. iencce.

Program Pro ogram m aanalyses nalyysess pup pupils’ pilss’ p progress ro ogresss Inceertss, a not-for-profit Incerts, nott-forr-prrofitt organisation orgganisation tha that at us uses ses techno technology ologgy to o he help elp school lea leaders aderrs implement imp plem men nt as assessment ssesssmeent syst systems, tem ms, T The he Incertss 2010 20 010 online onlin ne tool tool allowss teachers to reco record ord pupil’s pup pil’s learnin learning ng si simply imp ply aand nd eas easily. sily. It ca can an sshow how w head headteachers dteaacheers aand nd cur curriculum rricu ulum m co coordinators oord dinaatorrs exactly exa actlyy wh what hat eac each ch p pupil, upil, class, and d ye year ear grou group up h has as lear learned. rned d. PPupils upils an and nd cclasses lasses can n bee compared com mpaared d so tha that at st strengths tren ngth hs and an nd weaknesses weaakneessees in n teaching teaachiing and d learning leaarnin ng can can identified identiffied and d illustrated. illus straated d. Th This his ccan an in turn info inform form m teach teaching hing at yyour our sc school. choo ol.

Don’t Do D on’’tt tthrow hro ow aaway waayy yyour ou ur Christmas Ch C hrisstm mas ca cards ards Laaastt yea year ar sc schools cho hools l h han handed nd ded out gglitter littter aand nd glue l an and nd heelp elped ped chi children ildre d en d design esiggn ffestive esttive C Chr Christmas ristm mas car cards rds ffor or th heir fr h friends riends aand nd fam families. milie l es. N Now, ow w, in th thee co cold old dd dark ark days day d ys of JJan January nuaary aand nd Feb February, bruaary, it’s’ time to o as ask sk th them hem tto o brin bring r ng them em ba back acck to o scho school c oo ol an and d rre recycle ecyc yclee tthem. hem em. The Re T Recycle eccycle le N Now ww website ebs e site t p pro provides ovvid des a ggu guide uide de ffor aan any ny sschool o interested e st d in p putting tt g together o t r its own wn carda rrecycling y n p project, e , including c d how w to o get e started, t t suggestions gg st n for o ggetting t thee whole h e school h o involved, nv v d and d information f m ti about o maintaining a a n tthe m momentum m n m once c things t n are a running. r n g Itt also o offers f r a range g o of downloadable o l d b re resources, ou e iincluding u n p posters t s that a can a bee personalised e o i d with t a school h o photo. h o guide/index.html

Philosophy with teenagers By Patricia Hannam and Eugenio Echeverria Continuum Price: £19.99 The modern-day classroom is a multicultural, multi-faith environment – a set-up that requires all pupils in today’s secondary schools to have an accurate moral compass. This book explores what it takes to incorporate philosophical enquiry into learning and to allow pupils to think more creatively and collaboratively about important world issues. Offering practical advice and backed-up by case studies, Philosophy with Teenagers explores a whole new way of thinking. From this perspective, it is okay to encourage pupils to disagree and it is always better to consider other viewpoints rather than simply dismissing them – even if they are controversial.

Raisingg self-esteem in p primary schools By Margaret Collins Sage Publications Price: £29.99

The five aims of Every Child Matters seem straightforward enough but for children with low self-esteem the path to achieving them will be littered with obstacles. For them it is easier to give up when they reach a hurdle than to pick themselves up and try again. This book, which is packed with advice and ideas for classroom activities, is designed to help heads, classroom teachers and other staff to work together to develop programmes that will encourage young pupils to adopt a more positive outlook on life. It also comes with a CD-Rom.


48-49 whats new.indd 47


Resources R eso essourcees eevolv vo olllvve ve from fr rom D Darwin arw win exh exhibit ex xhibitt


21/12/09 12:36:45


Yo ge u co t u uld pt o

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RANTLINE What’s driving you mad? The Queen’s speech? Floor targets for English and maths? Or is it Ofsted and safeguarding? AREA: Lancashire SUBJECT: Queen’s speech

AREA: Tyne and Wear SUBJECT: Safeguarding

Dear editor I’ve just read the synopsis of the Queen’s speech to Parliament. These new proposals will drive out all those ‘near to retirement’ headteachers and teachers even faster than anticipated. It will also make young people considering teaching as a profession think twice or three times and will put a huge strain on primary school budgets in particular. Over the past few years we have had to absorb new initiatives without additional funding so that in real terms our budgets have decreased dramatically. We have never had funding for, among other things: ■ Primary school PPA cover ■ Increased numbers of CRB checks @ £50 per person ■ Funding to create Early Years outdoor play facilities ■ Safeguarding the premises (fencing alone for my school would cost more than £75,000) ■ Systems to communicate with parents via text or email ■ Support staff pay increases after the reviews - etc etc etc This will inevitably affect staffing levels so there is the chance that standards may slip due to higher numbers of chidren in classes. This in turn will lead to parents demanding more one-to-one tuition and schools having to use money they haven’t got to provide this. If this legislation does become law, I, for one, am finding a job outside the profession where there is at least some recognition in the outside world that you are doing a good job.

Dear editor I’ve had it up to here with Ofsted. I’ve had the inspectors in and they asked if we had a risk assessment of the playground from the past seven days. I told them that we had one, but not that recent. As a result, I was told that whatever else they found during their visit, we would be placed into a category because of the failure to audit the playground. It’s madness.

If this legislation does become law I, for one, am finding a job outside the profession

AREA: Humberside SUBJECT: Safeguarding Dear editor What is Ofsted up to? Outstanding schools now get ‘a notice to improve’ because their fence is too low or a gate has been left open too long at the start of the day. My old school is a listed building in a rural area; the walls are four feet high all around and I dread to think what will happen in their next inspection, even though it’s been safe for the past 166 years. I’ve

even heard of a school being criticised (verbally) because their central register had the word ‘left’ written against the name of a former member of staff, rather than the name being scored out. Time to try common sense Ofsted – you’re losing credibility and making this job more stressful.

AREA: Yorkshire SUBJECT: Ofsted v DCSF Dear editor There are schools in my area that achieved positive inspection reports under the new framework, but because they haven’t hit combined English and maths floor targets they are facing extra grief from the DCSF, despite being on an upward trend. They know that they’re effective, as does Ofsted and the national strategies team, but if they don’t hit the floor targets in 2010 the Secretary of State could remove the headteachers. Quite what he thinks that will do I’m really not sure. These headteachers know their schools and are working their socks off for the good of their pupils. And if the headteachers are removed, who would replace them? It’s already hard to recruit headteachers. How many applicants will answer a job advert that reads: ‘Wanted, new head teacher (last postholder was sacked)’?

A PROBLEM SHARED… Angered or annoyed by something at work? Get in touch and we’ll air your grievance. You can email publications@ or leave a message on our dedicated rantline: 020 7880 7663.


49 Rantline.indd 49


21/12/09 09:16:59


Faff-free federating is here


Need to save money? Fancy taking on another school? Here’s your chance


ead, there’s a woman on the phone. Says it’s about some new dating service, which she says could solve all your problems. I’m putting her through.” “No, stop, I’m happily married. I don’t want— Hello, can I help you?” “That’s Mr Woods, isn’t it? We’ve been checking your details and we think we could have the answer to all your problems. My name is Sharon, and I’m the dating co-ordinator for—” “Stop, stop! My wife will kill me!” “Don’t worry, it’s fine. Can I call you Rod, by the way? So much pleasanter.” “Miss, er, Sharon. I am sure there’s been some mistake. I am really in no need of any dating services.” “Ah, but that’s where you’re wrong. Let’s see, primary school, three-form entry, good CVA. And you’re a few years off retirement, aren’t you, Rod? Now, you’ve got an assistant head as well as a deputy, and a problem with buildings maintenance.” “Pardon?” “Oh, it’s all on my database, which has just suggested a couple of possible matches. How about St Bertha’s? The head’s retiring in July and it has lots of money in the bank but the school’s CVA is not quite as good as yours. Lots of potential there.” “Excuse me? I really don’t understand. What are you talking about?” “And here’s another that might suit. Grindstone Infants, on the estate a couple


of miles from you. Falling rolls, but if you can turn that round you’re made. That assistant head of yours is an infant-trained specialist, isn’t she?” “Sharon, stop. I don’t understand what you’re saying. Who are you? Why do you know so much about us?” “I’m calling from SchoolDate, your new budget-bolstering service. It’s a very new company, so I can forgive you if you really haven’t heard of us. “You’ll know that the Government has strongly recommended schools should federate to save money. And you’ll know that Mr Balls is very keen not to lose any teachers or teaching assistants. And that he’s sure you’ll want to keep the one-to-one tuition which is now a legal right.” “It’s keeping me awake at night.” “Well, we’re the answer. You need to federate to save money on your own salary. We find you the perfect schools to do it with. Our database compares your Fischer Family Trust data and all other relevant figures and comes up with possible matches within different distances. “The two schools I mentioned are close by. If you don’t mind a bit of travelling or would prefer to keep quiet about this, I can come up with others a bit further away. There’s one near Land’s End which looks quite good. If none of these are what you’re looking for, we’ve also got a long shots section. They’re schools that have low fences and door handles, or staff that offer coffee to visitors before checking their

ID, and other little problems which could mean that they do badly in Ofsted and the head goes anyway. I can tell you about some of those if you like, but it would be necessary for you to sign up to the service first. I’m sure you understand why.” “I see. I think. You match schools to federate with each other.” “Yes. Our vision statement is: ‘Federating without the faff ’.” “So, Sharon, if I wanted to take this further, what would I need to do next?” “Clearly there will be a fee for the full service, which guarantees at least one federation a year and includes counselling services for any sticky patches in your relationship during that time. “You’ll get five introductions, full disclosure on each of the schools and a meeting at our local bistro with wine and nibbles. That includes three members of your leadership team, the bursar, and the chair of governors. Then you’re on your own unless you go for our enhanced service.” “Which is?” “If both parties decide they do wish to form a relationship we will do all the work necessary to formalise that partnership, including announcements to the local authority and Ofsted. We may also be able to get you Pathfinder status from the DCSF – they’re very keen to show that shotgun federations work. So, can I sign you up?” “Sharon, I think that we are going to be very happy together. When can we meet?”


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Leadership Focus January 2010  

Leadership Focus January 2010

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