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Issue 52 January/February 2012





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Cry freedom for schools Common to many of the articles of this edition of Leadership Focus is the theme of creativity and innovation. Several articles are about turning the clinical and impersonal aspects of education – the tests, the sometimes narrow subject focus, the prescriptive and knee-jerk reaction to poor behaviour – into a deep, rich experience that motivates, enthuses and gives pupils an understanding of real-world consequences. As Mick Waters says on page 22, “When in life do you sit one metre from everybody else in silence for three hours and do a problem?” Although for me a hospital waiting room did leap to mind. And as I write this in December, the Government is overdue with its announcement on the Primary Curriculum, so it is worth looking at what happens in schools such as St Luke’s CE Primary in Islington where the adoption of the International Primary Curriculum has enabled them to be imaginative and engaging while still delivering the key requirements of the National Curriculum (page 28). “Because teachers are allowed to use their own creativity, they much prefer teaching the IPC” says the head, Cassie Moss. Meanwhile, at a completely different end of the scale, there is the totally off the wall concept of The Shop in Kettering where secondary pupils with special needs serve real customers and run a real business selling sweets as part of their learning and development (page 42). The initiative has instilled students with greater confidence and taught them skills for their future lives.

In ‘Justice of the Peace’ (page 34) a very different approach to bad behaviour and bullying is used to teach children that their behaviour has consequences by asking them to repair the harm they have done through a ‘restorative justice’ approach. The process has proved a long road but has ‘transformed’ Child’s Hill School in Barnet, enabling the school to identify pupils’ needs and what caused them to behave that way in the first place. And finally – in ‘And finally’ – Dyffryn Taf secondary school in Carmarthenshire has developed its school sports programme far beyond what many schools have been able to achieve with a huge range of sports and many athletes travelling from Wales to London on weekends to compete (page 50). Schools need to be free to explore possibilities, harness technology and try out new ideas within a framework of responsibility and respect. Banning mobile phones (page 23) and ‘controlling calculator use’ (page 8) are restrictions that may achieve short-term aims at the expense of a child’s future. • Follow me on Twitter: @robertsanders11

‘Schools need to be free to explore possibilities, harness technology and try out new ideas within a framework of responsibility and respect’

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: Russell Hobby, Steve Iredale, Mike Welsh, Chris Harrison and Robert Sanders @nahtnews Leadership Focus is published by Redactive Publishing Limited on behalf of the NAHT

17 Britton Street, London EC1M 5TP Tel: 020 7880 6200 Email:

EDITORIAL TEAM Managing editor: Steve Smethurst Assistant editors: Rebecca Grant and Sarah Campbell News and features reporter: Hollie Ewers Designer: Adrian Taylor Senior picture editor: Claire Echavarry Production manager: Jane Easterman Cover illustration: Mark Smith Printed by: Wyndeham Heron

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Member of the Audit Bureau of Circulation: 27,210 (July 2010-June 2011)

ISSN: 1472–6181 © Copyright 2012 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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What does ‘innovation’ mean in schools? Is it to do with technology, the type of school, or the way students are taught? BY SARAH CAMPBELL

38 20

NEWS FOCUS 6 PENSIONS UPDATE The day of action by public sector employees on 30 November produced ‘helpful movement in the Government’s position’, said NAHT General Secretary Russell Hobby.

6 NASUWT ‘WORK TO RULE’ ADVICE Head teachers are advised to seek guidance over any possible sanctions in relation to NASUWT advice to ‘work to rule’.

7 ‘NO SURPRISE’ OVER EXAMINER HINTS The profit motive and the high-stakes nature of testing meant that there was little surprise that teachers were given strong exam-question hints, said the General Secretary.

8 SCHOOLS AT MERCY OF MINISTERS The new Education Act gives Government ministers the power to close failing schools with little need for consultation. 4

9 WORRYING TREND IN RECRUITMENT The annual NAHT survey into recruitment trends shows that many deputy and assistant heads are ‘staying put’.

9 RSA CRITICISES ‘COASTING’ SCHOOLS Disadvantaged children are being let down by ‘coasting’ schools, according to a report from the Royal Society of Arts.

10 OFSTED FRAMEWORK STREAMLINED The new Ofsted framework will emphasise achievement, teaching and learning. It will also involve inspectors undertaking more lesson observations.

10 CHANGES TO VOLUNTEER CRB CHECKS Changes to the Protection of Freedoms Bill mean that occasional visitors to schools cannot be CRB checked.

12 ASSURE EARNS POSITIVE FEEDBACK NAHT’s new managed service, which offers HR, health and safety, and financial advice, is gaining positive feedback.


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NAHT’s charity of the year, disaster-relief agency Shelterbox reveals its latest teaching resource, The Day the Rain Came.

28 THE PRIMARY AIMS Schools are awaiting the outcome of the National Curriculum Review, but it hasn’t stopped Primary schools being creative.

34 JUSTICE OF THE PEACE Could restorative justice be the answer to bad behaviour such as bullying? Some schools are already putting it to the test.

38 RUNAWAY STRAIN The Children’s Society is campaigning to reduce the number of runaways – and the role of schools is vital, it says.

42 SWEET SUCCESS Did the Wren Spinney Community Special School bite off more than it could chew when it opened a sweet shop?


REGULARS 15 RUSSELL HOBBY’S COLUMN The pendulum is swinging back towards teaching and learning and the emphasis should be on raising standards.

17 STEVE MUNBY’S COLUMN Following National Leaders of Education and National Support Schools comes National Leaders of Governance.

18 STRANGE BUT TRUE This issue we discover that Everton FC has a new goal, and there’s a radical use for needles in South London.

20 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... their best joke.


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



Our regular columnist visits a school in Wales where they’re determined to have a level playing field. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 ● LEADERSHIP FOCUS

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Optimism over pensions strike Nearly two thirds of schools closed as school leaders joined teachers, council workers and other workers from across the public sector in a day of action against the Government’s planned changes to pensions. And it appears that the action has had an effect on the Government’s willingness to negotiate, said General Secretary Russell Hobby. “It produced movement in the Government’s position both before and after, which was very helpful,” he said. The next stages in discussions were handled more privately but, as Leadership Focus went to press, he was optimistic that an agreement would be reached. The NAHT’s decision to strike – the first time that it has done so in its 114 year history – also helped


NAHT General Secretary is confident that the day of action on November 30 by public sector has produced positive results

cement the relationship between head teachers and others in the public sector, he added. “What was nice was how important it was to other parts of the public sector that head teachers were involved, that we don’t just expect low-paid public

‘The current erosion of pensions will, in my view, deter the very best candidates from entering the profession’

sector workers to strike – and that the sector was genuinely unified,” he said. “This display of unity will pay off in years to come when people remember that their head teacher was campaigning for them too.” While this was not a goal of the action, it will have helped to strengthen the reputation of the association – something that will be important when it comes to recruiting the next generations of members. Steve Kirkpatrick, a deputy head teacher in Salford, Greater Manchester, and a member of the NAHT Executive, explained that he decided to go on strike not to protect his personal financial future but the future of the country’s children. He said: “It is my firm belief that the decisions that are currently being made by the Government are damaging the future educational prospects of the children of this country. The current erosion of pensions will, in my view, only deter the very best quality candidates from entering the profession.”


Seek guidance over teachers’ ‘work to rule’ Head teachers are being advised to seek clear guidance about the nature and extent of any sanctions they should apply to NASUWT members over its ‘work to rule’ call. The call was issued in response to its dispute with Michael Gove over workload, pay, pensions and conditions of service. However, such action is likely to be in breach of 6

their contracts, according to NAHT guidance. Matthew Kelly, partner at Thomas Eggar, the law firm, said that a work-to-rule campaign would effectively be a “drastic slowdown of operations through a punctilious adherence to a narrow interpretation of work rules.” “It may result in a breach of contract even though employees are adhering to

the letter of their written contracts or rule books. Employers are likely to require head teachers to report the facts and circumstances of any possible contractual breach, NAHT advice said. This may mean that they may have to issue individual teachers with instructions to carry out a particular duty and then obtain confirmation that the teacher is refusing to comply.

It will then be up to the employer to decide whether or not a breach of contract has occurred and what action should be taken. The NAHT endorses the right of any teacher to receive, in full, their contractual and statutory rights. However, the NAHT is not aware of any evidence that supports the assertion that teachers nationally are being denied these rights.


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GCSEs: have examiners given too much away? EXAMS

‘No surprise’ over examiner hints Financial pressure and the increasingly high-stakes nature of exams underpinned recent newspaper reports that some examiners appeared to give teachers too much information about what to expect in test papers, said NAHT General Secretary Russell Hobby. An undercover investigation by The Daily Telegraph recorded an examiner apparently telling teachers at an advisory seminar which parts of the GCSE history syllabus would be in the exam. Referring to section A of the exam, he explained that it goes through a cycle, then said: “This coming summer it’s going to be … Life in Germany ’33-’39 or Rise and Fall of the American Economy, and then the other two questions will be in section B. So if you know what the compulsory section is you know you’ve got to teach that…” The Secretary of State, Michael Gove, ordered an official inquiry into the exam system and exam board WJEC launched its own

internal inquiry. In a statement on its website, it said: “The wording used by the GCSE History examiners to deliver advice to delegates at the course was unacceptable and inappropriate. “This example – by two individuals from a total of over 5,000 examiners who work for WJEC – is not typical of the professional content of the training courses we provide.” The General Secretary said he was not surprised by the news. “There are two pressures that encourage the wrong sort of behaviour. One is the profit motive, where people within the exam boards have to uphold the exam’s status and tout for business at the same time. “The other is the high-stakes nature of the exams themselves. Exam results can make or break careers or even schools. As long as the system is managed on crude data and cruder incentives, these risks will be rife: market forces crowd out ethics, and league tables crowd out judgment.”

Twitter users can now get up-to-date news about education and the Association by following @NAHTnews. As Leadership Focus went to press, pensions and phonics were the main topics of conversation. Other NAHT voices to be found on Twitter include the General Secretary (@russellhobby), the Vice President (@SteveIredale), Head of Campaigns Lesley Gannon (@nahtLAG) and the Director of Policy and Campaigns (@ KathrynEJames). Russell encouraged school leaders to use Twitter. “Used appropriately, it can be a powerful communications tool for schools, but it is also a great way for individuals to stay in touch with the latest news in their sector,” he said.

CALL FOR PRIMARY LEADERS The National College is seeking to expand its team of National Leaders of Education (NLEs) and their National Support Schools (NSSs) to meet its target of 1,000 by 2014. It is particularly looking to recruit outstanding leaders from the primary sector. The latest recruitment round opens on 16 January.

CAUTIOUS WELCOME FOR TEST RESULTS The NAHT has welcomed this year’s overall improvement in primary standards which reveals the number of children achieving the expected level in English and Maths has increased to 74 per cent. However, General Secretary Russell Hobby urged caution. He said: “The inevitable focus on a few headline measures of attainment reduces the breadth of a modern education to a few bare statistics, which conceal as much as they reveal. There is far more to value about a school than its ability to get children to pass tests.”

IN YOUR NEXT LEADERSHIP FOCUS The next edition of LF is going to be themed around International Women’s Day, so if you have any suggestions for inspirational female school leaders we could include, please let us know by contacting


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Schools at mercy of ministers Education Secretary Michael Gove now has the power to close failing schools without discussing the matter with the local authority or the school community thanks to the new Education Act, which received Royal Assent at the end of last year. Previously, he had only been able to recommend that the relevant local authority close schools. “The Secretary of State can now close down what he perceives to be a failing school without consulting the community or talking to the local authority,” said NAHT General Secretary Russell Hobby. “That’s a lot of power in the hands of one person.” This suggests that the current


New Education Act gives ministers power to close failing schools without consultation

Determined: minister Nick Gibb.

Government’s talk of localism is little more than rhetoric, he said. “Actually this Government is centralising a lot of powers. It even wants to be able to tell us when we can use calculators. “In opposition it’s easy to promise

‘This Government is centralising a lot of powers. It even wants to be able to tell us when we can use calculators’

THE BEST OF THE BLOGS ACADEMIES MAY FACE PROBLEMS Academies have been heavily sold by Governments, but could they be storing up problems for the future? Education journalist Warwick Mansell was surprised to learn that, according to barrister David Wolfe, academies are not covered by the main body of education law. Legislation covers governance, curriculum, admissions and so forth for maintained schools, but in the case of academies such details are set out by individual funding agreements signed by the Secretary of State. blogs/warwick-mansells-blog/


PM GOES TO WAR ON SCHOOLS David Cameron seems to have come over all military in a recent attack on ‘coasting’ schools in The Daily Telegraph, writes Steve Smethurst. The prime minister writes of ‘war zones’, ‘smashing through’ and ‘entrenched failure’. And that’s before you get to the ‘shock troops of innovation,’ Steve says. blogs/steve-smethurst/

THE FORGOTTEN DEBATE “It’s a sad indictment of our national interest in education that the best and widest-ranging discussions on education – what it’s for, how it’s organised – are often tucked away in a Commons

to give freedoms to schools but it is much harder to stick to it when you are in power.” The wide-ranging new act covers a considerable number of other areas. For example, its provisions on school discipline give schools the authority to search pupils without their consent for any banned item – not just weapons, drugs, alcohol and stolen goods, as in the past – that they think could be used to cause trouble in the classroom. It also places restrictions on the public reporting of allegations made against teachers. Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “This legislation hands teachers all the powers they need to ensure that every classroom is a safe and ordered place where children are free to learn. It focuses school inspection on educational standards and strengthens school accountability. “We are determined to deliver for parents the type of schools they want for their children.”

committee,” writes Susan Young. In this blog post she tries to re-balance the situation with a report on evidence heard by the Education Committee as it considers the future of 16-19 education. blogs/susan-young/?blogpost=509

FLYING VISITS When Mike Welsh catches a plane he hopes not to end up next to a crying baby, so it was with some trepidation that he faced a flight with three of his own small children. Fortunately all went smoothly and he got the chance to see how well students at the Desai School in Nairobi are preparing for their exams. nairobi-in-october.html


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Schools and academies could struggle to find or keep head teachers if current recruitment trends continue, according to NAHT research. Research commissioned by the Association shows that many deputies and assistant heads are staying put rather than moving in to headship, while high salaries offered by academies and free schools could attract existing heads out of maintained schools, the NAHT said. The 17th annual report into the state of the labour market for senior school leaders in England and Wales (see link) found that there was a slight decline in the number of headships advertised in 2011, but a steep fall in the number of vacancies for assistant and deputy headships as people in these posts declined to pursue headships. This, combined with the new wave of academies and free schools increasing the demand for head teachers, could result in escalating recruitment problems. Without a steady flow of people moving from deputy and assistant headships into more senior roles, fewer people will gain the experience needed to become heads in the future, said Professor John Howson, the report’s co-author. “The implication is that there will


‘Worrying trend’ in recruitment

Russell Hobby: “We want people to become heads. It’s a wonderful job.”

be a smaller pool of people prepared to take on headship by dint of having taken on these jobs,” he said. The Government’s decision to stop the NPQH from being mandatory will also contribute, he added. “Having a reducing pool of experienced candidates and the abandonment of mandatory preparation risks shrinking the pool of people who governors are prepared to appoint as heads.” NAHT General Secretary Russell Hobby said that the report identified ‘worrying trends’ in the school labour market. “Headship is a wonderful job, with challenges and satisfaction in equal

measure,” he said. “We want people to become heads and experience the unparalleled power to make a difference to young lives. “Against this are the prospect of a 20 per cent real-terms pay cut over the next four years despite rising targets, longer hours, increasing threats of violence and lower job security. “We run the risk of running out of heads. Recent caps on pay for executive heads will only exacerbate shortages too, as they will make federations – a solution to a lack of applicants – increasingly difficult.”


‘Satisfactory’ is not good enough, says RSA Disadvantaged children are being let down by ‘coasting’ schools, according to the Royal Society of Arts (RSA). An RSA report found that they are overrepresented in ‘stubbornly satisfactory’ schools that provide an inconsistent quality of teaching, learning and assessment practice. One of its recommendations was that such schools should be

relabelled as ‘performing inconsistently’ rather than termed ‘satisfactory’. NAHT General Secretary Russell Hobby welcomed the report but said that fiddling with labels would distract people from what should be the real focus: encouraging all schools to perform better across the board. “We agree that the quality of teaching is

at the heart of school improvement and that we need to help schools focus on this,” he said. “But let’s not waste any time playing with labels – the goalposts change all the time and the inspection process is inconsistent – so let’s just help every school on its journey to being great.” The report was released

just before the latest league tables were published. They showed that more than 1,300 schools are still falling short of the official targets. About 150 have been below the floor standard for five years in a row. Schools minister Nick Gibb said that the Government would “pay particular attention” to these schools in the year ahead.


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Ofsted framework streamlined Sir Michael Wilshaw, former head at Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, will oversee a streamlined new Ofsted inspection framework as he starts his role as Chief Inspector this month. The new framework will focus on fewer areas – it will emphasise pupils’ achievement, teaching and learning, leadership and management, and the behaviour and safety of pupils – but will involve inspectors undertaking more lesson observations. They will pay particular attention to reading, literacy and numeracy, and will hear children read as part of inspections. The contextual value added (CVA) measure has been scrapped but inspectors will still have a ‘clear focus’ on measuring improvement for different groups of pupils during their time in school, Ofsted said. While schools will still be given the same amount of notice to prepare for an inspection, Ofsted will now also be doing unannounced ‘spot checks’ on schools that are graded satisfactory but


Michael Wilshaw, a head teacher likened to Dirty Harry, has just taken over as HM Chief Inspector

have behaviour as a weakness. Sir Michael told the BBC that he was prepared to shake things up and that schools would not be graded ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted unless they had outstanding academic results. And he told MPs that his reputation for being a bit like the Clint Eastwood character Dirty Harry could help to get results. “If you look at schools, we have something like 50 per cent of youngsters not getting the five A*s to C,” he said. “Some 200,000 children don’t get the required levels in English

‘Ofsted will do unannounced ‘spot checks’ on schools that are graded satisfactory, but have behaviour as a weakness’

and maths each year. So if schools see me as someone who’s going to make demands of them, then that’s OK.” Baroness Sally Morgan, who chairs Ofsted, said “I am delighted that the Select Committee has recognised the great strengths that Sir Michael Wilshaw will bring to Ofsted and I look forward to working closely with him. He will be a real asset to the organisation.” Sir Michael has been a teacher for 42 years and a head teacher for 25; he stepped down as head at Mossbourne and from his role as Director of Education at ARK (Absolute Return for Kids), which runs nine academies and two free schools, to become HM Chief Inspector for Schools.


No CRB checks for ‘occasional’ volunteers Schools will need to rethink how they manage volunteer and other groups that use their facilities after hours when proposed changes to the vetting and barring scheme come into force, said Rosie Carter, the chief executive of Safe Child, a child-protection organisation. The changes, which are 10

outlined in the Protection of Freedoms Bill, mean that occasional visitors to schools cannot be CRB checked. “When schools have out of school activities such as people using their sites, head teachers need to think about their duty of care,” she said. “They may not be aware that people using their facilities

will not be able to CRB check their volunteers as they did previously.” The same thing applies to contractors: unless they come to the same site four or more times in any one month, schools do not have a right to ask them for a CRB check. “You will actually be breaking the law if you do

ask them,” she said. Rosie advised schools to ask organisations using their facilities to obtain written ‘self-disclosure’ statements from their volunteers. But people who wish to do children harm may attempt to take advantage of the changes, she warned.


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Assure earns positive feedback The NAHT service Assure manages back-office services for schools so heads can focus on the areas that really matter The NAHT’s new managed service offering, Assure, has had positive feedback from the schools using it on a trial basis. Several hundred schools have expressed an interest in Assure in the months following its launch in autumn 2011. Assure currently provides HR, finance and health and safety services and during 2012 it will be expanded to include payroll, insurance and property maintenance. Niki Elsey, school business manager at Roding Primary School in Essex, said that Assure had provided her school with a clear answer to a query in a timely manner. “We were able to log on and see the progress of the query through the system, and the person I spoke to on the phone was very helpful,” she said. “She explained everything in very clear terms and suggested ways forward. I found it a good advisory service.” Jack Hatch, head teacher of St Bede CE Primary Academy in Bolton and NAHT National Treasurer, has been using Assure’s HR advice service. “We wanted to find out how to handle an issue involving a criminal investigation of a member of staff we were considering taking on. It was quite sensitive,” he said. His deputy made the call to Assure and was pleased with the prompt response. “It’s very well tracked and well organised. Each case has a code so it’s easy to follow its progress. Also, after you’ve had a conversation with an Assure adviser, the advice is typed up and sent to you by email straight away. “It’s fantastic because when you’re on the phone and dealing with a complicated issue you don’t want to have to rely on your memory or notes.” Assure’s services are available to all 12

With Assure, schools can concentrate on teaching and learning.

education establishments and will be especially relevant for schools and colleges that are either considering or have just been awarded academy status, or have found that their local authority provider is having to outsource its own services. John Randall, NAHT’s Head of Marketing and Ccommunication, said: “there are some key elements to Assure services that make them stand out from other providers. All the services have been developed by

education professionals for education professionals and they have been quality assured by NAHT. “The services are delivered by skilled professionals experienced in the education sector and provide excellent and responsive customer service. In addition, there is regular quality assurance through feedback and user-group input. Finally, schools and colleges have the flexibility to buy at the level they require and start at any point in the year.”

BEST VALUE, DISCOUNTS AND HOW TO ORDER At present, Assure provides four core products including: • Human resources advisory service • Health and safety advisory service • School finance service offering more • Payroll, and other services, from April 2012 Commenting on what makes Assure’s services so different, John Randall, NAHT’s Head of Marketing and Communication, said he hopes that schools and colleges will seriously consider Assure as part of their ‘Best Value’ tendering proces. He said: “for contracts signed by 31 March 2012, there are discounts for buying more than one year and buying multiple services or in clusters, subject to a minimum spend.”


To find out more visit for more information and to request a quote tailored to your school or cluster, or call Assure on 0333 323 0033. Phonelines are open from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.


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• Stress counselling sessions • Physiotherapy sessions • GP helpline operating 24 hours, seven days a week • Lifestyle health screenings from an experienced nurse All of these benefits are available to insured staff, regardless of whether they are absent from school or not, and regardless of whether a school chooses to utilise supply staff. And the best part is, this is all available at competitive prices which are typically 10 per cent lower than Local Authority offerings.


The NAHT is committed to negotiating a wide range of high-quality, value-added benefits and services for its members. If you have any comments on the services provided by our affinity partners, please email John Randall, the NAHT’s Head of Marketing and Communications, at


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without is never a good idea. Anyone thinking of travelling without insurance should consider whether they can afford the losses if the worst happened. While many holidays pass by without a problem, should the bags go missing or a medical emergency arise, the trip could end up working out far more expensive than planned. When you book your next holiday, don’t take the risk of travelling without insurance. Take advantage of our partnership with Rock Affinity and get travel insurance at great affordable prices with excellent quality of cover.Visit naht2011. or telephone 0844 482 3390. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 ● LEADERSHIP FOCUS

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The pendulum is swinging In 2012, the focus for school leaders is coming back to teacher performance n 2012 the pendulum may well swing back. It could move from structures and standards to a renewed focus on teacher performance. There are two angles to this: addressing underperformance and raising general performance. It is the latter that has the most scope for gains, and it is the hardest to deliver, but it is worth briefly focusing on underperformance. The chief effect of tolerating a small amount of underperformance is not on standards – at least not directly – but on morale: it demoralises effective teachers and depresses the school culture. There will be many forces bearing down on school leaders in the coming years: the new Ofsted framework and floor standards, in particular, but also new professional standards and possible reforms to threshold. Heads will be expected to know about, and have plans in place to improve the quality of, all inadequate and satisfactory teaching. If they do not, their careers will be on the line. This is not the most pleasant part of the job. It disrupts relationships and attracts unfair accusations of bullying and harassment. It also focuses vast amounts of time on a small number of people. Fortunately, there will be steps taken to strengthen the hand of school leaders – new performance management and capability procedures should be introduced in the new year, although when they will come into force is not yet clear.



The real prize But what about raising performance? This is the real prize. It is about helping competent and good teachers to become great, and it would clearly deliver the largest impact. It is also much more fun, as it is driven by professional development, experimentation, creativity and innovation.Yet on this topic, the Government’s stance is muddled. The most successful elements of its policy focus on highquality small-scale interventions such as Teach First and Future Leaders. It tinkers at the margins with proposals for a minimum degree class for teacher recruits and bursaries for those with first-class degrees. Above all, the constant rhetoric of criticism and failure – blended with tight prescription on how

things should be taught – threatens to create a bunker mentality which will diminish the optimism and creativity on which the move from good to great depends.You cannot compel excellence, only obedience. A more coherent approach would begin with a different narrative: one of pride in the significant achievements so far, combined with an ambition to go further. It would do the following: • encourage parental engagement through strong relationships rather than crude data; • help heads focus on teaching and learning rather than marketing and competition; • build constructive collaborations based on mutual challenge and sharing of expertise; • seek the best recruits, but recognise that excellence is driven by behaviour as well as intelligence; • reform the pay and conditions system to link progression more securely to performance and to recognise that excellence can be found at any stage of a career, not just at the top of the mainscale. We urgently need a coherent strategy that draws on the evidence of what raises performance. Until that happens, system-wide gains will be slow to materialise. Coherence in teacher quality means addressing all stages of the ‘life cycle’ in one over-arching fashion: recruitment, training, performance management, coaching and mentoring, career progression and succession planning.

Heads will be expected to have plans in place to improve the quality of all inadequate and satisfactory teaching

Russell Hobby is NAHT General Secretary JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 ● LEADERSHIP FOCUS

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20/12/11 15:42:20

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A new era of governance The role of chair of governors is to get a boost with the NLG initiative cademy status, free schools, a new Ofsted framework, the pupil premium; even by the standards of our constantly fluctuating world of education the past 18 months have seen a significant period of change. At the National College we know that the leadership shown by our governing bodies will be critical to how successfully we manage that change. A strong governing body holds us to account and drives improvement. And the chair of that governing body not only has to lead it but also work in partnership with the head teacher – it’s a pivotal role. That’s why I’m delighted that we have been asked to lead on the training and support for chairs of governors. We are working with the NAHT and other partners including the National Governors’ Association (NGA), National Coordinators of Governor Services (NCGS) and the Foundation, Aided Schools and Academies National Association (FASNA) to create a suite of leadership development opportunities for chairs of governors. A new publication, Leading Governors, which provides an introduction to the role, is already available through our website. And from April there will be more support, focusing on three key areas: ensuring the governing body makes a difference and improves the school; putting the accountability role of the governing body into practice; and leading the governing body.



Sharing expertise We are determined to enable governors to play a part in system-wide success. We already know from National Leaders of Education (NLEs), National Support Schools (NSSs) and the City Challenges that collaboration with other schools – with the support and encouragement of the governing body – is a key lever for wider school improvement. NLEs and NSSs are achieving well above national average levels of improvement in the schools they are supporting. Crucially, improvement also continues in their own schools. These are the most accomplished leaders and

schools, learning how to do elements of what they do better and gaining new ideas by supporting and learning from other schools. With this in mind, we are developing a new role: National Leader of Governance (NLG), which we hope will build on the huge success of these other programmes. NLGs will be highly effective chairs of governors. They will work with other schools, sharing their expertise and experience. Recruitment for the first group of NLGs is happening now and we want to appoint and train between 30 and 50 people by March 2012. The governors we have spoken to have welcomed this new role. But they tell us it must not just be a badge, and that we should be mindful that many chairs have other jobs. So we have had to think creatively about how we make this work best. Again, we have worked with the NGA and others to make sure the role will be a success. With school-to-school support now increasingly at the heart of the government’s school improvement strategy, conversations about new forms of collaboration are taking place. Governors are central to those conversations. Extending the concept of schoolto-school support to chairs of governors recognises the crucial role they can play, not just in your school or group of schools, but right across the system.

It must not just be a badge, and we should be mindful that many chairs have other jobs. We have had to think creatively

Steve Munby is chief executive of the National College for School Leadership. For more information about training and support for chairs of governors and to download or order the publication Leading Governors go to chairsofgovernors JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 LEADERSHIP FOCUS 17

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Armenia puts chess on the national curriculum


Everton FC to open a free school in September The Everton in the Community Free School, has been given approval to open in Liverpool. It will be Government funded and will use ‘the power of sport’ to engage pupils and their families with ‘an alternative learning experience’. So far, it is the only Premier League football club to go down this route, saying it will augment its existing community sport, health, education and social development programmes. It will be open to 120 students aged 14 to 19. But what next? Aston Villa’s Holiday Homes? Or the Wolves Animal Rescue Centre?

Armen Ashotyan, the Armenian Minister of Education and Science, has confirmed that the game of chess will be part of the primary school curriculum between the ages of seven and nine. He said: “taking chess into classrooms will help to nurture a sense of responsibility and organisation among schoolchildren, as well as serving as an example to the rest of the word.” If the last bit sounds a trifle ambitious, then think again. Wendi Fischer, executive director of the US Foundation for Chess, thinks it’s a brilliant idea. “By incorporating chess as part of the curriculum you are including a game, and that’s how kids see it. It’s a great way to cross over between a true hardcore curriculum that’s mandatory and the young children being able to play and explore and have fun.”


Knitters have a ball (of wool) in Dulwich With a waiting list of almost 100 pupils, the Dog Kennel Hill primary school’s knitting club is confounding stereotypes.You might think that knitting is for nanas, as the Shreddies adverts would have you believe, but not in this part of South London. Boys make up half the group too. “It’s peaceful, no shouting. It’s different to other things in school,” says 10-year-old Sam Otufale. “I usually play football – it’s mad.” Only one thing spoils the story: they’re not making teacosies. Instead, the pupils knit wristbands, phone-holders and fingerless gloves.



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Since the last edition of LF, we’ve learned that football clubs can open free schools and that Chloe and Jack are teachers’ pets



Study hard? No, it undermines my masculinity

‘Children called Chloe and Jack worked extra hard last year’

The head of the Jamaican Teachers’ Association told a conference recently that many Afro-Caribbean boys perform poorly at school because of their fear that appearing studious undermines their masculinity. Adolph Cameron claimed that the attitude was affecting the academic standards of boys in Jamaica and Britain. There is little doubt that a malaise affects this group as last year just 40 per cent of Afro-Caribbean boys achieved five good GCSEs including English and maths, compared with the national average of 58.5 per cent. Mr Cameron added: “In Jamaica, education takes second place to entrepreneurship as, predominantly our young men, get involved in what University of the West Indies academics have called a ‘hustle culture’. Boys are more interested in a quick way of making a living, rather than making the commitment to study.”

A study by a manufacturer of reward badges for d pupils has found girls called Chloe and boys called Jack are most likely to be rewarded for good behaviour. “The School Stickers ‘naughty and nice’ list has become an annual tradition,” said School Stickers managing director Neil Hodges. n “And since in 2010 neither Chloe or Jack were in the top ten best in the class list, it suggests they’ve worked extra hard last year.” In an interesting subplot, the research also i l’ name, Jessica J i revealed that while Jess was the top worst-behavedd girl’s was actually number four in the best-behaved list “which suggests children with shortened names are less likely to be teachers’ pets.” Backing up this unlikely finding is the news that while Josh is in the worst-behaved list, Joshua is number seven in the best-behaved list. Top 10 best-behaved girls 1. Chloe 2. Emily 3. Megan 4. Jessica 5. Hannah 6. Charlotte 7. Lauren 8. Rebecca 9. Sophie 10. Katie

Top 10 worst-behaved girls 1. Jess 2. Hayley 3. Becky 4. Rosie 5. Kayleigh 6. Gemma 7. Stephanie 8. Kirsty 9. Ashley 10. Beth

Top 10 best-behaved boys 1. Jack 2. James 3. Daniel 4. Thomas 5. Matthew 6. Ryan 7. Joshua 8. Jordan 9. Luke 10. Callum

Top 10 worst-behaved boys 1. Chris 2. Scott 3. Sean 4. John 5. Josh 6. Jonathan 7. Robert 8. Christopher 9. Andrew 10. Bradley


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STEVE HARDAKER Co-head teacher, St Luke’s CE Primary, Warrington

WHAT TYPE OF PERSON ARE YOU? In five words: Loyal, passionate, committed, caring, geeky. What’s top of your to-do list? Visit Disney World in Florida with my kids. Favourite biscuit? Fox’s Chocolate Crunch. Top holiday destination? Lake District. What wouldn’t you do for £1 million? Support Liverpool. Who would play you in the film of your life? David Tennant (pictured).




Always have a cool head, even if you’re about to explode



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

The celebrity I’d most like to have as a teacher at my school is Chris Evans. He just seems to have that knack of making you feel good about yourself. I think he would be a brilliant teacher; he has the ability to get the best out of those around him. As a child, I wanted to grow up to be Han Solo. I am still a massive Star Wars fan; even as an adult I await a call from George Lucas. The best excuse I’ve heard is ‘I’ve lost the key. I think I packed it into a snowball.’ I went into teaching because I wanted to make a difference and change the world. My sociology teacher always said I was an ideological dreamer. I hope now I can make some of those dreams come true. Besides, where else can you still be a big kid at heart and get away with it? My most embarrassing moment as a teacher was while I was setting up for an assembly my trousers split right down my backside, revealing my Incredible Hulk undies.Years Five and Six thought this was highly amusing. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s always have a cool head, even if inside you’re about to explode. I shouldn’t be telling you this, but I once accidentally packed my house key into a snowball and threw it. My brother and I were stranded in the cold for several hours. Tell us your best joke “Everton will win the Premier League next season.” I say it every year and people always look at me like I’m joking.


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He teacher, Head Bal Balladen Community Primary Sch School, Rawtenstall, Lancashire

Princ Principal, Dun Dunclug Primary School, Bally Ballymena, Co Antrim



In five words: Fantastic, amazing, superb, thesaurus owner. What’s top of your to-do list? Watch the England football team win a major world tournament. It would be great to not feel the disappointment which started in 1970 and has been a feature of my life ever since. Favourite biscuit? I don’t eat biscuits because if I start I can’t stop, but KitKats were my favourite as a child. Top holiday destination? India. I’ve been twice and I remember thinking that one nose, one pair of eyes and one pair of ears isn’t nearly enough to take everything in. What wouldn’t you do for £1 million? Anything that I would look back on and be ashamed of. Although I’m sure £1 million would take the edge off most things. Who would play you in the film of your life? Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons.

In five words: Open, determined, creative, organised, (hopefully) funny. What’s top of your to-do list? To play my part in getting school leaders together to share good practice. Favourite biscuit? Fox’s Classics (with a hot cup of tea). Top holiday destination? Probably London. I just love the buzz of the place. What wouldn’t you do for £1 million? I wouldn’t give up the school holidays! Who would play you in the film of your life? Matthew Perry.

COMPLETE THE FOLLOWING SENTENCES The celebrity I’d most like to have as a teacher at my school is Kevin Spacey. He has such a magnetic personality. As a child, I wanted to grow up to be an inventor. I now have several inventions but no one else seems to appreciate their usefulness and potential. The best excuse I’ve heard was at an educational conference, when the man next to me fell asleep and started snoring loudly. Suddenly he woke up and said: “Sorry if I was snoring. I have a sinus problem.” I loved that he had no intention of excusing his sleeping.. I went into teaching because I wanted an indoor job in winter; and I find children funny and fascinating. My most embarrassing moment as a teacher was when I accidentally left two children behind at a swimming pool.They walked to a nearby school to ask for help – where my head teacher, Dorothy Perkins (that’s the truth), was at a meeting. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that if you look for what’s good in people, you find lots of it, usually. I shouldn’t be telling you this, but I also own a business called SP Educational Services. We sell maths materials written by teachers. Tell us your best joke A couple in bed are kept awake by next door’s dog barking. Eventually, the man says:“That’s it! I’ve had enough. I’m going to sort it out.” He goes downstairs and returns in five minutes. His wife asks:“What did you do?” He replies:“I put it in our backyard – see how next door like that!”

COMPLETE THE FOLLOWING SENTENCES The celebrity I’d most like to have as a teacher at my school is Richard Branson. I would ask him to teach creative thinking. As teachers we are expected to spend too much time filling pupils with knowledge and not enough time teaching them how to reason and think. As a child, I wanted to grow up to be a professional rally driver. I had great plans of being the next Colin McRae. The best excuse I’ve heard was the time I had a call one morning from the minister who was leading our school assembly. He said he wouldn’t be able to attend because his cat had attacked him, leaving a mark on his face. I went into teaching because like Roald Dahl, I don’t think I have ever grown up. This is reflected in my approach to working with children. As a teaching principal I particularly enjoy leading the more creative lessons, especially ‘philosophy for children’. My most embarrassing moment was while I was on secondment as a primary field officer for our local education and library board. I was due to lead a staff development meeting one afternoon and arrived at the school in what I thought was good time, got everything set up, only to be told by the principal I was too early – a week early! If I’ve learned one thing, it’s to take the job seriously but not take myself too seriously. I shouldn’t be telling you this, but if I had the choice of any career, I would love to be a professional photographer. Tell us your best joke A pupil in one of my past primary classes told me this one: if you’re buying a second hand budgie, make sure it’s going cheap.


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A new way of thinking? Innovation: a lovely buzzword, so much so that The Guardian newspaper devoted a conference to it recently. Sarah Campbell reports


f you believe David Cameron, writing in The Daily Telegraph in November, then complacency is the scourge of our education system. “For every fantastic school, there are others that drift along tolerating second best. Why should we put up with a school content to let a child sit at the back of the class, swapping Facebook updates? Britain can’t let weak schools smother children’s potential. We have got to turn every brain and every willing hand to the task of rebuilding our economy and society,” he wrote. So how are we going to do this? Well, free schools are going to lead the revolution, apparently. “I want them to be the shock 22

troops of innovation in our education system. They are going to smash through complacency,” the prime minister wrote. Eylan Ezekiel is one of those shock troops. The self-styled ‘education agitator’ and former teacher spoke at The Guardian’s Innovation in Education conference about his involvement with setting up a free school in Oxford, ONSchool, which will specialise in innovation. He told the delegates: “Social justice will be at the core of what we do. We will be secular. The Royal Society of Arts’ initiative, Opening Minds, will be the framework for our curriculum. We will be small but connected to the rest of the world, and co-operative in administration and governance.” But innovation means different

things to different people – and certainly not everyone agrees that free schools are the way to go. To many at the conference, innovation means new technology, while for others it means new pedagogical methods and imaginative leadership. For Mick Waters, the former director of curriculum at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, it means a radical overhaul of assessment. “When else in your life do you sit one metre from everybody else in silence for three hours and do a problem? It’s bizarre. And until we get rid of that examination system we will really struggle to make children understand the 21st century,” he said, somewhat controversially. Here, we outline the views of a few other conference participants.


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Technology has not yet been able to make an impact on the process of teaching and learning as in most other fields

The public policy guru LORD DAVID PUTTNAM Film producer and public policy campaigner HIS VIEW

“If I’m left with one disappointment regarding the political and public policy world I’ve encountered since leaving the world of cinema 15 years ago, it would be the growing absence of wisdom, particularly political wisdom,” says Lord Puttnam, who has since reinvented himself as an education policy guru.

“The so-called developed world of western Europe and the US is far too complacent when it looks at the rise of China as the predominant economic force in the 21st century. We have tended to think of China as a manufacturer of cheap products, not an economic threat.” This is because China spends a lot of time looking at its past, not to hark back, but to avoid repeating mistakes, he adds. The UK could learn from that. We could also learn from other countries’ approach to technological innovation. He cites research by forecasting consultancy Oxford Economics which shows that Europe’s investment in ICT is lagging far behind that of other parts of the world. The report suggests that

European states could add an additional 760 billion euros to their collective GDP – or 5 per cent – by 2020 simply by making the same level of investment in ICT as the US. And nowhere would this change be felt more than in education, he says. He illustrates this with a metaphor. “If you took a brilliant surgeon from 1911 and dropped him into an operating theatre today he could do little more than wipe the brow of the patient and watch what everyone else was doing because his skills would have become totally obviated in the intervening 100 years. This has nothing to do with his ambition or his commitment – he would just have found himself transported into a wholly alien technological environment. “Now take a similarly gifted schoolteacher from that same year, put her with a blackboard and 30 or so reasonably attentive faces in a modern classroom, and in most subjects she could deliver what would be recognisable to us as a lesson. And why? Because technology has not yet been allowed to make anything like the same impact to the process of teaching and learning as in most other fields.” Just imagine what the transformation would be if it had, he says. CONTINUED ON PAGE 24 ➧ JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 ● LEADERSHIP FOCUS 23

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The academy director ABDUL CHOHAN Director of the Essa Academy, Bolton, Lancashire HIS VIEW

You might have heard of the Essa Academy. It made headlines, and drew criticism, when it bought iPod touches for its students in 2009. “The first criticism was that the children would simply go on eBay to sell them,” says Abdul Chohan, a director at the academy. “The parents were sceptical, saying it was a music device, but it’s so much more than that. So we invited them in and showed them what we were planning to do.” The iPods – none of which were sold on eBay – were part of a wider drive to turn Essa into a ‘learning environment’. “We didn’t want to be a school where the kids come in to be batchprocessed according to their date of manufacture. We wanted to be something more intelligent that fulfils the needs of all the different students in a classroom,” he says. Technology was a key part of this, although not the only focus. The staff had to get used to a new way of thinking. “Just because you now use PowerPoint to project onto a screen a worksheet that you used to print out for your students, doesn’t mean that you’re using technology effectively,” Abdul says. “For the leadership team it was about moving staff on from that point and saying: ‘Let’s see what we can do, let’s put YouTube clips in.’ ” The students were the first to cotton on to this new way of 24

We didn’t want to be a school where the kids come in to be batch-processed according to their date of manufacture

The computing teacher PETER KEMP MIS development manager and computing teacher, Christ the King Sixth Form College, South London

learning, Abdul adds. “You show new equipment to students and they get it straight away. ” The academy’s latest innovation is a move away from traditional textbooks and towards applications that allow teachers to compile their own learning resources, then upload them to individual students’ mobile devices.


“In this country we have pretty good provision of ICT. We have fast, modern-ish computers and powerful software including Microsoft Office. We have students who are keen to learn and love technology. And we have staff who want to deliver lessons that are


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The futurist researcher STEPHEN BRESLIN Chief executive of FutureLab, a charity that promotes new approaches to learning through technology



going to help change kids’ lives,” says Peter Kemp. So why do children leave school disillusioned with ICT as a subject or industry, he asks. First, much of the software in use in schools costs far more than most families can afford to buy for home. So either pupils go without, and can’t continue their learning at home, or they download ‘hooky versions’, which are often crawling with viruses. Second, ‘everything is banned’, Peter says. “The way technology is banned in schools is atrocious. A pupil wants to record his homework in his mobile phone, but the teacher says: ‘Put that away or I’ll confiscate it.’” Third, “don’t assume they are digital natives. They can use BlackBerry Messenger but they need advice, they need to be led. If

school is there for anything it’s to teach children how to use tools to learn, and to shape their education.” Teachers, equally, need to be given the tools and freedom to make their lessons relevant. And that doesn’t mean forcing technology such as interactive whiteboards upon teachers if they don’t want them, but letting them experiment and find out what’s useful to them. “Ideas need to filter up from the kids, and then the leadership needs to enable teachers to follow those ideas. It needs to cut through red tape and let them install stuff and experiment with it,” Peter says. To do this, a school needs an ICT policy that opens up access to the web and which doesn’t take six months to get clearance to get a piece of software installed.

Innovation is a discipline, says Stephen Breslin, quoting the influential management thinker Peter Drucker. And it is capable of being learned and practised. The most pressing need in our society is the changing dynamic of the labour market – with one million young people in the UK now unemployed. “The nature of the world of work is changing and that is the critical need we have to address through education,” Stephen says. He then quotes Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap, which describes the chasm between what our schools produce and what is required in the world of work. “Wagner says that the old way of teaching does not fit the new way of work. The old way of teaching was to build compliance and to give kids a specific skillset which matched specific jobs, some routine and some manual.” Now, there’s a responsibility on the teaching profession “to teach young people to be more creative, imaginative, passionate, and to build in an expectation that they will be responsible for creating their own futures.” There will also be a ‘battle for hearts and minds’ as school leaders try to persuade teachers who have been accustomed to working in one way for a long time to try out new things. No one said innovation was easy. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 ● LEADERSHIP FOCUS

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Rebecca Grant reveals the story behind ShelterBox’s latest resource – a book that’s been produced by pupils, for pupils

Every picture T

ents were making big headlines last November. British newspapers were busy reporting on the growing number of pitches popping up outside London’s St Paul’s Cathedral as part of the anti-capitalist protests. But just up the road, in the reception area of the Free Word Centre in Farringdon, another tent was being erected. This one, however, didn’t belong to a protester; it was the property of NAHT’s charity of the year, the international disaster-relief agency ShelterBox. The tent was being set up for the launch of the charity’s new book, The Day the Rain Came. It is the second in a new series of books commissioned by ShelterBox to teach children about natural disasters. The launch event was hosted by The Reading Agency, which already uses the first book in the series, The Day the Earth Shook, as a resource for its Chatterbooks reading groups to encourage young people aged four-12 to read more. Miranda McKearney, director of the Reading Agency, says that the books are a great resource for children of all ages. “They provoke a very emotional response and they’re addressing some universal themes,” she says. The books are different from other reading material on the subject because the illustrations used have been created by primary school children. ShelterBox ran a competition where pupils were invited to submit drawings relating to sections of text written by Claire White and Heather White from Cornwall-based company Azook, which creates learning materials for the Young ShelterBox website. Claire says that introducing a competition for school children was a ‘stroke of genius’ on ShelterBox’s part. “Illustrations are another way for children to express their


Illustrations are another way for children to express their feelings about natural disasters. So it’s all part of the learning process

feelings about those disasters. So it’s all part of the learning process,” she says. Leading children’s illustrator Michael Foreman has also made a contribution to The Day the Rain Came. In the 50 years that he has been working on children’s books, Michael has never before come across anything quite like the ShelterBox titles. “It’s a great way of introducing the wider world to children,” he says. “The thing I particularly like about ShelterBox is that, in the boxes it provides to families who’ve survived disasters, you have the shelter, you get tools and a cooker which gives you heating and a means of preparing food. But you also get a box of colouring pencils. And it seems that the children are very much considered by the charity.” Michael and Claire both admit it was a difficult job to pick the winning artwork for The Day The Rain Came. Michael explains their predicament: “It’s not just a case of picking the best pictures because it’s a storybook, so we had to have a different picture for each page. “We also wanted to pick winners from around the


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tells a story country, and we had to pick pictures that looked good facing one another. So there are various processes we went through to narrow it down.” The 18 pupils whose artworks were eventually chosen by the judges got the chance to attend the book launch in November. Each of the winners was presented with a certificate and a bag filled with goodies such as colouring pencils. These pencils came in handy later that day when Michael held a workshop for the children – an event that Claire says was her personal highlight. “The workshop really gave the pupils a chance to show their personalities. A lot of them were saying: ‘when I grow up I want to be an artist like Michael’ and many of them are drawing all the time at home. I’m sure there’s plenty of talent there to follow in his footsteps,” she says. As well as brushing up on their art techniques, the children also got the chance to flesh out ideas for the next ShelterBox competition. This year’s theme will be tsunamis. “The children in the workshop were so knowledgeable, They all knew what a tsunami was and I know their teacher had been using the resources on the website because it really showed in their understanding of the wider world and things that happen in it.” She attributes this to ShelterBox’s ability to ‘unlock its resources’. “They use pictures showing the consequences of earthquakes and interviews with people who’ve survived, and now there are these books. It’s like having a window into the world for teachers, so that is probably the thing that sets ShelterBox apart from the other charities.” To access the Young ShelterBox resources, and for information about this year’s illustration competition, see

AND THE WINNERS ARE… The book launch in London was an especially exciting occasion for Constantine Primary School pupils, who produced three of the 18 winning entries. The pupils, who had travelled all the way from Cornwall to attend the event, were eager to meet Michael Foreman as they’d studied his work as their literacy topic last year. “They’d studied his books and also written a letter to him, and Michael has written back, so it was really special for them to meet him,” says the school’s SEN coordinator Judith Carroll. Four pupils from Headington School in Oxfordshire were also among the winners, but the whole school had got involved with the competition. To prepare pupils before they created their illustrations, ShelterBox resources were used in lessons and assemblies. What was interesting about the project, says art coordinator Mandy Hasluck, was that it fitted into different areas of the curriculum. “We left it for the teachers to do it in a different way. Some of them did it in their art lessons, some of them did it as part of their literacy work,” she says. “As we started to get involved in it, I realised that ShelterBox was an accessible charity for children too, because they can really grasp the physical concept of this box, and how it’s making a difference.”


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primary aims As the leaders of Britain’s schools wait for the outcome of the National Curriculum Review, Rebecca Grant discovers how schools around the countryy are ggetting creative with the current curriculum



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s the Year Four pupils at St Luke’s CE Primary School in Islington, London, settle down for their afternoon, the teacher begins by asking if they know what the word ‘connections’ means. It’s not the sort of question you expect to provoke deep and meaningful thoughts among a group of eight and nine year olds, yet a sea of hands shoots up. Each has a different idea of what the word means. ‘I have a connection with my cousin in Ghana because I talk to him on Skype,’ says one. Another points out that a connection can be something physical, like when two stones rub together. This process of sharing ideas is known as a ‘knowledge harvest’ and the school uses it to introduce every new topic into the classroom. It is part of the method for teaching the International Primary Curriculum (IPC), a unit-based curriculum used by 1,000 schools in 65 countries. The knowledge harvest is an ideal way to immediately engage children in a new subject, says IPC spokeswoman Anne Keeling: “Children

aren’t scared to put their hand up to answer a question as there are no right or wrong answers.” Within 30 minutes of the ‘connections’ knowledge harvest, the lesson has moved on to a geography lesson. The pupils are asked to annotate a map – using a key to bring in literacy skills – to show what connections they have to different parts of the world. St Luke’s decided to implement the IPC five years ago as staff felt the units offered by the QCDA were not meeting pupil’s needs. “The units were not interesting enough and did not target our children’s needs in relation to their experiences,” says head of school Cassie Moss. “Looking at villages in other countries doesn’t mean very much to children if they have a limited experience of their own local area and the world around them. So we decided we were going to look for something that was more cross-curricular and which enabled us to widen those horizons.” IPC fitted the bill perfectly as it allowed the school to pick from more than 80 different units, CONTINUED ON PAGE 31 ➧


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with subjects as diverse as chocolate and the circus (see box, page 32) which can be slotted together to make a scheme of work.Teachers have the freedom to pick units that they think will work best in the classroom, providing that the scheme of work as a whole covers National Curriculum requirements. Fortunately, working out which units will work best together is a straightforward process, as the IPC has an online service that tells them whether their chosen scheme of work covers all the curriculum’s statutory requirements. Cassie says that the teachers at St Luke’s have found the IPC method ‘utterly liberating’. “The IPC enables you to become really creative,” she says. “It’s back to aspects of old-school teaching where you can get messy, have fun and do lots of projects, and both children and teachers really enjoy it.” The topic that Year Four has just begun – a seven-week long unit about airports – is an example of just how creative the IPC can allow teachers to be. Anne recalls visiting one school that was coming to the conclusion of the topic.They had arranged chairs to form a makeshift plane in the school hall, and each pupil was issued a passport and made to pass through airport-style security checks in order to ‘board’. “By the time they’d finished the activity some of the children were practically convinced they’d gone on a real journey,” says Anne. Cassie says that one of the added benefits has been the reaction from parents. “At the first parents evening we held after we’d implemented the IPC, lots of parents were saying to us: ‘my child’s coming home and she’s talking about her day at school. She never used to do that. She’s so excited about what she’s learning now.’” Ofsted has also been impressed with how the IPC has been implemented at St Luke’s, noting in its latest report that ‘pupils’ personal development – and their achievement – are enhanced by the excellent curriculum.’ Although Cassie is happy with the service provided by IPC, she points out that its success wouldn’t be possible without good teachers who are able to implement it within the classroom. “Because teachers are allowed to use their own creativity, they much prefer teaching the IPC than they did the QCDA. But ultimately, creativity is not down to the IPC alone. If a teacher wants to use the same resources and activities every year they will still do that. Good teachers adapt resources and activities to the different needs of each cohort and child.” Alison Peacock, head teacher at Wroxham School in Potters Bar, feels that some teachers are too fearful to be creative with the curriculum as there is too much pressure to meet national standards. “The threat of Ofsted inspections and the perceived threat of a new National Curriculum can, in some cases, stifle

people’s capacity to be able to respond to the needs of the children,” she says. In contrast to the opinion held by staff at St Luke’s, Alison thinks that the current National Curriculum is working very well. “I think it’s a very sound document and there is an entitlement to breadth and balance, which is really key,” she says. “What is difficult with the National Curriculum is there was a perceived requirement to do schemes of work required by the QCDA. Initially, when the National Curriculum was introduced there were time allocations for subjects and that was very tricky to try to balance everything, but once that was removed you could concentrate on the original message of the curriculum.” Alison is currently leading a network made up of 2,000 or so teachers that was set up following the final Cambridge

‘It’s back to aspects of old school teaching where you can get messy, have fun and do lots of projects. Both teachers and children enjoy it’ Primary Review (CPR) report.The CPR network was established to help improve standards in primary education by supporting reform within schools and local authorities as well as influencing local and national policy development. Although the CPR focused on primary education as a whole, several of the 75 recommendations made in the final report focused on shaping an effective primary curriculum. “If we are going to have a broad, balanced curriculum, it should be taught well, and we should build on the kind of innovative approaches that schools are taking towards curriculum leadership,” says Alison. She cites a model of a ‘community curriculum’, with lessons focusing more on the local population, history and environment, as an innovative way to raise standards. “When you’re teaching geography or history, if you’re able to teach something that’s occurring locally it makes it far more relevant.” But it can’t work for every aspect of the curriculum, she adds. “Clearly we don’t have volcanoes or earthquakes in Potters Bar, but in terms of studying rivers and those kinds CONTINUED ON PAGE 32 ➧ JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 ● LEADERSHIP FOCUS

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‘All the research and Ofsted evidence shows that a balanced curriculum leads to high standards, but politicians seem to find this counterintuitive’

HOW MUCH IS THERE TO LEARN ABOUT CHOCOLATE? Each IPC unit is designed to incorporate most of the core subjects including science, history, geography, ICT and art. There are many opportunities to teach literacy and numeracy within each unit, and some also offer options for music and PE activities. The chocolate unit for Year Four pupils, for example, would cover a variety of subjects including: History – learning about the time period when chocolate was discovered as well as changing attitudes to chocolate over the years. Geography – examining the countries that grow cacao and how particular localities have been affected by its production and by slash and burn. Pupils will also look at the links between countries that grow cacao and countries that produce chocolate. Art – exploring how chocolate is sold and how packaging is designed. Science – discovering the melting point of chocolate to understand the effects of heating and cooling, as well as looking at the energy values in food.

of things, it should be done on a local basis.” Alison would also like to see all schools within an area working in partnership to plan the curriculum, For more information about the International Primary Curriculum, and more opportunities created visit for parents and members of the community to get involved in school work. Sadly, some schools lack the confidence to work with the local community. “You’ve got to be outward facing in terms of involving parents, community members and local organisations.The schools that are more confident at doing that tend to be the more highperforming schools.” One of the curriculum-specific recommendations made in the CPR was to redefine standards and encourage excellence in all aspects of the curriculum, not just in ‘the three Rs’. But getting the Government to take on board this recommendation has been a challenge. “All the research and Ofsted evidence shows that a balanced curriculum leads to high standards, press a spokesperson for the review said: “The Department but politicians seem to find this counterintuitive,” says Alison. for Education is considering emerging findings and expects “Politicians seem to think that to raise standards you need to to provide an update shortly.” focus on the basics specifically, but the evidence would tell us Cassie Moss would like to see the National Curriculum’s that you can’t focus on the basics exclusively without content. content cut down significantly. “We should be focusing on You can’t just teach skills in isolation. A big part about how skills that children need in order to be good learners, and children learn is how interested they are, how motivated they also on developing a passion for learning within them. At the are and how much they feel valued.” moment there’s too much content and knowledge, and not However, thanks to its 2,000-strong following, the CPR enough focus on skills,” she says. network’s voice is now loud enough to ensure policy makers And while Alison is already seeing countless examples of the will sit up and listen. “The CPR team have meetings at the current curriculum being taught effectively through her work DfE at least every six weeks, and we feel as if we are able with the CPR network, she is eager to see more done to raise to present many aspects about primary education that this standards in every single primary school in the country. Government is taking heed of, which is encouraging.” “Something needs to shift,” she says. “While we’ve got a It’s still too early for anyone to determine what will come culture of fear in schools, true learning can’t take place in the out of the National Curriculum Review. As LF went to way that it should.” 32


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21/12/11 08:49:43


Justice of the peace Carly Chynoweth investigates how schools can change the way they deal with bad behaviour, such as bullying, and achieve lasting change


unishment is quick and easy. Restorative justice takes more time and effort – but the results are worth it, says Catherine Allard, the acting head teacher of Childs Hill School in Barnet. “It is more time-consuming and some teachers can find it confrontational, because everyone is held to account – even adults,” she says. “With a punitive approach it is easy to say: ‘you hit someone in the playground, that is a half-day exclusion’, but if you are doing restorative justice it takes time because you have to uncover the underlying factors.” But it is precisely because restorative justice finds root causes that it is effective, she adds. “When someone hits another person they do it for a reason. That reason doesn’t go away just because you punish them. That problem will come back. But the restorative justice approach goes back, looks at what happened before and unpicks it. In the vast majority of cases it completely solves it first time.” Restorative justice is used in schools, care homes and the criminal justice system, says Lizzie Nelson, the director of the Restorative Justice Council. The idea behind it is that the person who does something wrong takes responsibility for their actions and repairs the damage that they caused. At the same time, the victim is able to have his or her say about how the wrongdoing affected them. “It has to be voluntary, particularly for the victim of the crime or the incident, and the offender has to have taken responsibility for his or her actions,” she says. “It’s not going to get anywhere if the offender is denying that they are to blame.” Although it is called restorative justice, it does not have to


involve a literal totting-up of harm done and repair needed. Most of the time – even in the criminal justice system, but particularly in schools, where children will need to be able to get along – the focus is on emotional restoration, Lizzie says. Childs Hill moved to a restorative approach after deciding that its existing behaviour policies, which were underpinned by the possibility of punishment for wrongdoing, weren’t cutting it. “We felt it just wasn’t changing children’s behaviour,” Catherine says. “So we decided to stop having a behaviour policy and start having a relationship policy, not just for children but for parents and the whole school community.” The idea is that it gets children – and others – to think about how they relate to each other and how they can find positive ways to do this, rather than focusing on punishing poor behaviour, she says. As part of this change the school got involved with the youth offending team (YOT) in Barnet, which invited them to attend training sessions on restorative justice with them. It was aimed at the YOT rather than schools but was aligned with the way Childs Hill was taking itself, Catherine says. “So staff started going on five-day sessions and bringing the practice back to the school. We found that it fitted like a glove. Instead of punishing children we were teaching them that their behaviour has consequences and asking them to repair the harms caused by their behaviour. We were also helping them to identify their needs and what caused them to behave that way in the first place.” Some teachers found the change difficult, as it meant that CONTINUED ON PAGE 36 ➧


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they were being held to account in a different way. “Before, if a child stormed out of a classroom, that incident was about the child. But now teachers are being held to account for the work being given to that child or how he or she is integrated into the classroom.” However, as they have come to accept it, their teaching practice has improved. Catherine describes her staff as “very reflective” on their approach to teaching and classroom management. Devon Hanson, the principal of Walworth Academy in south-east London, has also embedded restorative justice principles into his school’s environment. “My aim is to build a school with a culture of tolerance and acceptance of difference, a school where children reason rather than resorting to fisticuffs,” he says. Otherwise the only option is sanctions such as exclusion or detention, which do not actually solve the problem. “You will still have two children looking at each other with dislike in their eyes,” he explains. So, while he will still exclude children for fighting if need be, this will operate in parallel with a restorative approach designed to get children to realise that they can resolve their problems by talking without the need to resort to violence. Helen Philpotts (pictured, right), the academy’s restorative justice coordinator, tells children that they do not have to be friends with each other but they do need to work out a way to get along. “Do you think I am friends with all the teachers here?” she asks students. “Do I invite them all to my birthday party? No. But we are all professionals and we treat each other with courtesy and respect.” She advises schools moving to a restorative justice approach to make sure that they get their own professionals on side. “It has to be part of the whole-school ethos. It won’t work as a one-off – you have to have a common purpose.” This doesn’t mean that every staff member has to be behind the idea, just that most of them are. She suggests starting off by selecting volunteers to be trained as restorative justice practitioners (proper training and the time to carry out sessions properly are essential); others will be won around as they see its benefits. “The bottom line for some will be ‘has little Johnny done his homework and will he be in my class today,” says Helen. “Eventually those members of staff see that Johnny is a bit calmer and they are won over.” She says to look for volunteers among mentors, counsellors and teachers who demonstrate a high degree of emotional intelligence. “Ask yourself who do other staff members talk to? That shows that they are good listeners, that they are trusted and that they can keep a confidence.” Attendance at Walworth has improved since Devon began working there in 2007; restorative justice is not the only factor, but it is an important one, he says. For example, children feel more confident about reporting bullying when they know that the school will work to solve the problem rather than merely wagging a finger at the bully. It is more work for the school – “let’s face it, it’s easier and quicker to say to a child ‘you’re excluded,’ Devon says – but it has helped to foster an environment where children feel safe. “And restorative justice gives them the tools to be able to deal with issues themselves. We teach them it is OK to look someone in the eye and say sorry,” he says. 36

It has to be part of the whole-school ethos. It won’t work as a one-off – you have to have a common purpose

HOW IT WORKS IN PRACTICE… The restorative justice session, held in a bright, sunny classroom at Walworth Academy in south-east London, starts when Helen Philpotts (pictured) asks Jack and Thomas* to sit with her at a group of desks and thanks them for coming. She then shows the two Year Seven boys what looks like a multi-coloured juggling ball but is, in here, the ‘talking ball’: whoever is holding it has the right to speak without being interrupted. If someone else wants to speak, they can raise their hand, but they cannot actually talk until the person holding the ball has put it back in the centre of the table. Thomas is the first boy to speak. At Helen’s suggestion, he outlines what happened and then explains how it made him feel. Jack then responds by explaining why he did it. Helen already knows the story, as she has spent time with each boy separately before bringing them into the same room – it is important to be thoroughly prepared, she says. The event that sparked the restorative justice session was that Jack punched Thomas one day after school. As the boys talk, however – initially directing their comments to Helen, but gradually relaxing enough to make eye contact with and talk directly to each other – the underlying situation emerges. Jack and Thomas used to be friends; Jack got upset earlier that day when Thomas ran away to play with


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USEFUL RESOURCES Just Schools: a whole-school approach to restorative justice, by Belinda Hopkins, published by Jessica Kingsley The National Centre for Restorative Approaches in Youth Settings. This site offers a library of publications and articles covering best practice and recent developments in the field, information about conferences and access to training courses run by the organisation. The Restorative Justice Council. This covers restorative justice in all settings, not just schools and educational institutions. The council runs a register of accredited trainers and another of qualified practitioners. Schools without their own restorative justice specialist can use the practitioner register to search for an expert in their area.

other boys rather than with him. He hates it when other boys ‘lodge’ [ignore] him. Then Thomas explains to Jack that he and others in their group of friends sometimes don’t want to play with him because he calls people names and uses racist language at times. He also has a quick temper. “I’m sorry for having a fight with you,” Jack says. “I don’t want to have a fight. I just want to have a day where we have a talk and there’s no arguing, like the old days.” The two boys speak openly, honestly and with only the occasional hint of embarrassment about their feelings as they talk about what they each need to do to sort things out (while it is up to the boys to decide how to make things right between them, Helen ensures that they stay focused – when the conversation turns to mixed martial arts and wrestling, for example, she deftly steers it back on track). Jack promises to control his temper and not to use racist language; Thomas promises to be his friend and not ignore him. They both agree not to let other children bait them into fighting again. The deal is sealed with a complicated handshake and, as the boys leave, they are chatting eagerly about when they will get a chance to play a new game that they have heard about together. *The boys’ names and some details have been changed

At Childs Hill some children put those tools to formal use as ‘peer mediators’, Catherine says. “At the beginning of every year we put out a job advert and ask children aged eight or older to apply. We get 75 applications for 25 posts. They are interviewed by a member of the leadership team and the teaching assistant who heads up the team. They are asked about their understanding of the restorative approach and how they would use it. They work in the infant and junior school playground, so we don’t want children who think they are police officers, we want children with the emotional intelligence to be able to unpick situations.” The peer mediators are on a rota and work once or twice a week, which means wearing a badge and a high visibility jacket when they are in the playground. They are not there to monitor other children, but to be available if they are approached by other children who would like their help resolving a conflict. “It might be something like a child saying that other children won’t let him play with them, or maybe someone was pushed or tripped. The peer mediators are very carefully trained.” So they know where their own limits are and when they need to get help from a teacher or other adult. Catherine recommends restorative justice to any school prepared to truly embrace it. “It will transform your school but you have to sign up fully to what it means for the whole school,” she says. “It is a long-term programme that has to be led from the top and it should be built over several years. I would recommend visiting a school to look at how they are doing it. But it has transformed our school into a much happier and more welcoming place where children are very conscious of the consequences of their actions. “They are not perfect but they are much quicker to repair the harm that they have caused, and they want to repair it. Sometimes a child will do something and come straight to an adult and say ‘I have done this, I am so sorry, please help me resolve it’ rather than trying to hide it.” JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 ● LEADERSHIP FOCUS

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Runaway strain 38


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Can schools do more to identify children that may be about to run away from home? Carly Chynoweth reports on a campaign by the Children’s Society to publicise their plight

he good news is that a new research report by The Children’s Society has found that fewer children are running away from home than in 2005. The bad news is that it’s only a very slight improvement on the previous figures. Around 100,000 under 18s disappear for at least one night each year, and 10,000 of those who run away in England are aged under 14, according to Still Running 3. The research also found that more than a third of young people who run away first do so before the age of 13. “The first thing I would ask school leaders to do is to recognise the scale of running away, and that it can affect any child, whatever their background,” says Enver Solomon, the director of policy and public affairs at The Children’s Society. “Every five minutes a child runs away from home or care, so everyone who works with children needs to be aware of it. That’s particularly the case with schools because they are the institution that is in touch with young people. I don’t think that schools are fully aware of the scale – or the nature – of running away. “Schools need to be aware that running away is not a simple matter of naughtiness or misbehaviour but something that puts children at real risk, and which can also be a sign that there may be problems in the young person’s life.” The report found that more than one child in every 10 had been hurt or otherwise harmed the most recent time they had run away. Almost one in eight stole in order to survive, one in six slept rough or stayed with someone they had only just met (although the majority stayed with friends) and 9 per cent begged. “Children face all kinds of problems when they run away and go missing,” says Martin Houghton, chief executive of the charity Missing People. “Children as young as 10 or 11 are out on the streets alone at 2am facing very real dangers. And the research from the Children’s Society indicates that family relationship change is the single-biggest factor.” Children who are unhappy at school or who have low aspirations are also more likely than others to run away, adds Enver. “Children who are missing lessons or not doing well are very much at risk of becoming runaways,” he says. Often, children go missing from school before they run away from home – or at least, before the fact that they have run away is noticed, Martin says. He illustrates this with the story of a 14-year-old boy who left his family home in Yorkshire one morning in September. His parents expected him to go to school, as usual. He didn’t. He caught a train to London; the last known sighting of him was CCTV footage of him leaving King’s Cross Station. That was four years ago.



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CHILD PROTECTION Investigators were able to trace the path he had taken to London but by that point it was too late. If the police had learned of his disappearance earlier, if the school had called his parents to tell them that, unusually, he had not arrived that day, they may perhaps have been able to do more, Martin says. “Then at the other end there are children who repeatedly go missing,” he says. “That is often a result of sexualising behaviour, such as exploitation by an adult in their 20s. So when they go missing frequently and come back looking quite well looked after with gifts or stories about an older boyfriend it can be indicative of sexual exploitation. “It is key that schools look for these signs and don’t just treat it as ‘this person is playing truant again’.You always have to think about the bigger picture.” All the agencies that work with children and young people can do more to improve their awareness of what running away means, Enver says. “The children tell us that when they run away the police tell them off for bad behaviour. It is not seen as a potential child protection issue and often children who run away are seen as nuisances or troublemakers.” The fact that most runaways tend to be teenagers rather than very young children can also predispose adults to think that they are more able to handle themselves, he says. And, although an older child is more resilient than a very young one, the fact that they have run away is a signal that there is something wrong in their life and they are therefore vulnerable and in need of help. Improved coordination and information-sharing, both between and within agencies, would help. Enver tells the story of a time when the Children’s Society was working with a child who had been running away and had been referred to them by the school nurse. “But when one of our staff went in to try to have an appointment with the child, we were told that she had been excluded the day before for poor behaviour. “The question is, excluded to what? To the home that she was already running away from?” If the teacher who excluded the child had known about the running away and that action was being taken – and had been aware that there was likely to be a connection between that and her poor behaviour –

AMY HAS BEEN LUCKY SO FAR Fifteen-year-old Amy* is lucky: she has been running away from home for more than a year and is yet to find herself in serious trouble, she says. “When I go out to bars there’s always a situation where it is potentially dangerous, something could happen, but nothing bad has happened to me,” she says. “But now instead of doing it I take a step back and think about what might happen if I do.” This growing caution is thanks in part to her connection with a project that helps young people learn about the risks associated with running away. Not that Amy sees her absence from home as running away, exactly. “My friends were going out and having fun but my mum wouldn’t let me go out, so I went anyway. Some nights I would be at house parties and others I would go to friends’ houses and sleep over. As I have got slightly older I was going into bars. “The longest I have been away from home was a week staying with friends. I told their parents that my mum said it was OK. When I go back home

he or she may well have acted differently, Enver says. Denise Field, an inclusion officer at Thomas Tallis secondary school in south-east London, says that one of the major difficulties facing schools today is that organisations that can provide help and support to young people have seen their funding cut drastically. Where there is clearly an urgent need – such as in a case of abuse – social services can help, but services that could step in to less urgent cases and prevent things getting worse have been hit hard by budget cuts. “If there is a crisis point we have social services, but trying to get support that way sometimes can be quite difficult,” Denise says. “Fortunately the school I am at has a counselling service, but I don’t know what schools without that are doing. My view is that the Government needs to do more to fund

RUNAWAYS: TEACHING RESOURCES AND SOURCES OF HELP Missing People’s Runaway Helpline is a free, confidential service that operates 24/7. Children (and adults) can call or text even if there is no credit on their mobile. Telephone 0808 800 7070, text 80234 or email Find out more about Missing People at the website below:


The Children’s Society runs a specialist website that allows education professionals to download free teaching resources, including teachers’ notes and a curriculum grid, which can be used in PSHE and citizenship classes. Other parts of the site are aimed at children and parents. Find out more at

The Society’s website also offers a variety of resources for professionals, including access to research and information about its campaigns and its training and consultancy services. Find out more at:


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It is key that schools take this seriously. Do not just think ‘this person is playing truant again’. You always have to take it seriously organisations that help provide the step before you need to go to social services.” At a national level it is important for the Government to make sure that there are very clear links between all relevant organisations, Martin says. “For local head teachers trying to safeguard their children in the best possible way it’s crucial that there is a ‘missing from education’ policy that includes a protocol of working with police and social services and covers how and when to report children absent and when missing. It also needs a protocol to cover when parents should be notified that children are absent.” The most important thing, however, is making sure that children have all the information they need to understand and deal with the situation, for example through teaching in the PSHE curriculum. “They need to understand that running away is risky,” Martin says. “They need to see that there are risks if they sleep rough or stay with people they have only just met, and they need to know that there are resources available to them.”


my mum always says: ‘What were you doing?’ and I say: ‘It’s none of your business’. “In my eyes I wasn’t missing, I was just at a friend’s house, but because my mum didn’t know where I was, in the eyes of the law I was missing.” Amy also skips school, often attending in the morning then leaving at break or lunch time. “I don’t want to be there, it’s not a very nice place or atmosphere,” she says, before adding: “I do have friends there and the teachers are alright.” A contact at her school is helping her look at college options for when she turns 16; she’s much more enthusiastic about the independence that this offers as compared to the higher level of control associated with school. “College will be OK because there it is my choice to be there, I am not being told to be there. If I don’t go when I am supposed to I will be kicked out, but it would be my choice, whereas if you don’t go to school you get the law at your door.” *Not her real name.

Children who are thinking about running away often use the text service of the Missing People’s Runaway Helpline before they have done it, he says [see box, left]. “And of course sometimes running away is right in principle. If a family member is perpetrating child abuse it is right to remove yourself from that harm. We have had cases where children have reported it and we have been able to work with them, with social services and with police to work out an intervention that keeps the child safe.” Sion Humphries, NAHT Assistant Secretary, is an advocate for the PSHE resources created by the Children’s Society (see box) and advises school leaders to make sure that even primary school aged children are taught about the issue. He also calls on teachers and schools not to be afraid to raise concerns no matter how sensitive the issues involved. “One of the real issues is that this is one of those things that can potentially be shrouded by perceptions of political correctness, particularly where there is the issue of trafficking children in some communities,” he says. Martin would also like to see schools play a part in what he sees as a broader responsibility for our society: making it easier for parents to ask for help with parenting. “We need to de-stigmatise family support. Schools have a role to play in helping parents but not in a stigmatising way, in a way that supports parents.” It is important that parents fully understand the risks of going missing; the fact that only two thirds of missing children are reported to police suggests it is not always treated as urgently as it could be by parents. “The key is to support parents, not to make them feel like they’ve done something wrong,” he says. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 ● LEADERSHIP FOCUS

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We’re so proud it’s a success. And the best thing about it is the increase in confidence among the students



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success ‘The Shop’ in Kettering is a mouthwatering candy store – and an award-winning education hub and safe house. Sarah Campbell stops by for some bonbons and a chat with the teachers and students who run it


ike any good sweet shop owner, Debbie Withers knows her market. “We have the regulars who come in for their sugared almonds but the big thing at the moment, especially among kids, is megasours. I’ve seen grown men cry when they’ve put one in their mouth. For 20 seconds it’s the sourest thing you’ll ever taste,” she says. Debbie (pictured) is the founder of The Shop, an old-fashioned sweet shop in the centre of Kettering in Northamptonshire. It’s a colourful, sugary heaven, its walls lined with jars of flying saucers, Sherbet Fountains, bonbons, cola bottles and gobstoppers the size of golf balls. On a weekday morning in November, the Christmas decorations are already up and ribbon-festooned treats are on display for purchase. A steady stream of customers files in and out. Behind the counter, a polite and earnest young man called Charlie listens intently to customers’ orders and deftly selects and measures out the goods. Charlie, however, is not a paid employee.

In fact, he’s still a schoolboy, as the uniform he is wearing suggests. Charlie is autistic and is one of the many young people with special educational needs who work in The Shop to gain work experience and qualifications. Jemma Smith, a teacher who supports Charlie at The Shop, is delighted with his progress since he started working here in June. “In the past couple of weeks he’s been initiating contact with customers. Before, he would do the orders but wouldn’t actively ask people what they wanted,” she says. Charlie’s school, a mainstream secondary, has also noticed that he has become more outgoing, she says. The Shop, evidently, is much more than a sweet shop. It was set up by Debbie, the head teacher of Wren Spinney Community Special School, and her team two years ago, and this year it won them the Henry Winkler award for special needs at the 2011 Pearson Teaching Awards. Debbie and her colleagues describe it as a ‘satellite base for KS4 and KS5 pupils to promote life and living skills, CONTINUED ON PAGE 45 ➧


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y o u . . .

Invites you to

Pie Corbett

Performances by John Agard & James Carter

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Pie Corbett Inservice conference at Tate Modern, Bankside, London The Starr Auditorium & Foyer (River Entrance) The inspirational, charismatic and creative Literacy educator Pie Corbett will explore with delegates developing poetry, storytelling and writing through the Arts e.g paintings, sculpture, prints and photographs Be quick to avoid disappointment

Date Monday 19th March 2012 Venue Tate Modern (London) Cost £199.00 + VAT including lunch and refreshments OR £184.00 + VAT including refreshments

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A event Rsvp to Eddie Burnett Children’s Book Consultant & Literacy Events Coordinator 31a Vanbrugh Park, Blackheath, London, SE3 7AE T. (020) 8293 6060 T. (020) 8265 4645 F. (020) 8465 5111 E. Booking form - simply fill in below, cut from magazine and post off to the address above.

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supporting work-related learning’. In practice this means pupils from Wren Spinney and eight other special and mainstream schools are involved in every aspect of running and managing The Shop, including serving, stocktaking, ordering, cleaning and laundry. Some of them are also working towards food hygiene certificates and employability qualifications. The idea was born out of necessity and frustration. Wren Spinney is a small, ageing 11-19 secondary school with 59 pupils, constructed in a dip at the end of a cul-desac on the quiet residential outskirts of Kettering. Debbie explains: “When the school was built 30-odd years ago, the neighbours were horrified to think they would be looking out over this school for handicapped children. So the architects decided it would be a good idea to bury us in a bit of a hole, so we’ve no spare ground to extend into.” The school was in the second round of Building Schools for the Future funding, but that was cut when the coalition came to power. Then it had a chance to move premises when it looked like it was going to become part of an academy. But that, too, went quiet. “Then, one weekend I was walking around Kettering town centre thinking: ‘There’s got to be a way round this,’” says Debbie. “It seemed that every other shop was closed down. Then the thought came to me that if the school had a base in the centre of town, the young people could learn to catch the bus, and that you have to go to different shops for different things. They could walk to the library and the swimming pool without having to be taken in a minibus. “I galloped back to school on the Monday and said to the school business manager: ‘Why don’t we see if we can rent one of those empty shops?’” To her credit and to Debbie’s evident respect, Ann Brown, Wren Spinney’s school business manager, didn’t baulk at this suggestion. Quite the opposite, in fact. “I could have been an Eeyore: sceptical and pessimistic. But it just seemed such a brilliant idea,” Ann says.

FACTS AND FIGURES Turnover: £29,100 (2009-10); £39,301 (2010-11) Opening hours: Monday 11.30am-3.30pm; TuesdaySaturday 10am-4pm (Debbie offers staff a day off in lieu in term time for every two shop days worked in the holidays and weekends) Number of young people involved: about 30 Number of volunteer helpers: seven Number of sweet varieties: 300 Favourite sweets Debbie: fudge Ann: sports gums Jayne: rarely seen to eat a sweet... Jemma: nougat (although is working her way through every sweet in the shop) Charlie: Scottish tablet, white chocolate pebbles and snowies Find out more at and

Both Ann and Debbie seem amazed that they managed to pull it off. “We were extraordinarily naive, but I think that counted in our favour,” Debbie says. “If we’d known what you actually had to do, and what laws and regulations had to be taken into account, we might have tried something else.” The process started with a day of being shunted from desk to desk by well meaning but unhelpful bureaucrats at the council. Finally, they were put on to the manager of the local shopping centre, who helped them choose the premises they are in now. Their plans were nearly derailed when they learned the cost of legal fees, but a local solicitors’ firm took on their case pro bono, and the lease was signed. In the meantime, Debbie and her colleagues had to decide what to sell in the shop. Debbie says: “There was nowhere in Kettering that sold oldfashioned sweets in jars. I thought that would be great for numeracy and for motivating the kids. There would be all CONTINUED ON PAGE 46 ➧ JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 ● LEADERSHIP FOCUS

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They are making choices all the time, whereas at school and at home they don’t get the opportunity to make as many decisions

these opportunities for weighing and measuring. And customers would come in and browse, then order in small quantities, so it’s not like a supermarket where someone comes to the till with masses of stuff and it gets stressful.” The Shop – built on goodwill, donations and favours – opened on 7 November 2009 selling 32 varieties of sweets from behind a counter cobbled together from kitchen units and bits of worktop. “Within a couple of months it was quite clear that what we were trying to do was going to work so much better than we had ever imagined,” Debbie says. Since then, the range of sweets on offer has increased to 300 lines – even including dog biscuits made by students at Wren Spinney – and the counter has been moved and extended. In addition, the police recognise The Shop as a safe place for vulnerable people, and Debbie has installed a fully accessible toilet as part of the national Changing Places scheme ( Neither Debbie nor Ann pretend that The Shop is a great money-making venture. It breaks even, they say, and they are satisfied with and proud of that. But its remit has grown so much that Ann has had to hand the business aspect over to a full-time manager. This is Jayne Barnett, formerly a teaching assistant (TA) at Wren Spinney and now based full-time at The Shop, gradually taking the financial as well as management reins from Ann. Jayne was a TA at Wren Spinney for 22 years, but doesn’t seem at all fazed by the transition to retail manager. That’s down to Debbie’s skills as a leader, she says. “She knew I’d be passionate about it. It’s so important to me to make it successful now so that it will be available for future students. “At first people thought this was just a whim,” Jayne adds. “But now we’re so proud it’s a success. And the best thing about it is the increase in confidence among the students. Here, they are making choices all the time, whereas at school and at home they don’t get the 46

opportunity to make as many decisions for themselves.” As LF is leaving – laden with goodies for the office – Debbie tells one last anecdote. “Usually when we talk about The Shop, we have to explain that it’s the sweet shop next to the butcher’s with the big awning. But the other day I heard someone take a call on their mobile. She said, ‘I’m in The Shop,’ and I was expecting her to then say, ‘You know, the one next to the butcher’s.’ But she didn’t – evidently the person on the other end asked her to get them some sweets. And I thought, ‘Yes! We’ve arrived.’” As if to emphasise this point, on the train home LF gets chatting to a train driver instructor from Kettering on his way to work. “The Shop – they sell those megasours, don’t they? I’ve had one of those. Couldn’t eat anything else for hours afterwards,” he says. The Shop is leaving its mark on the residents of Kettering in more ways than one.

FROM SHOP TO WORKSHOP Wren Spinney picked up a cash prize of £10,000 at the Pearson Teaching Awards. This money will go towards funding the next stage in the school’s ambitious outreach plans. Business and enterprise staff and students from the University of Northampton are helping Debbie and her team put together a business plan. ‘The Workshop’ will be a space where young people will learn practical vocational skills. Here they will manage mail shots and assembly and packing tasks for local businesses. It will also have a car valeting area, a hairdressing and manicure section, a floristry section and a canteen.


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The latest products, books and teaching resources The essential gguide to tacklingg bullying y Michele Elliott Pearson £16.99

Part of the essential guides series, this book has useful chapter introductions, top tips, case studies and further reading. What makes it really stand out though is that it was written by anti-bullying expert Michele Elliott, who is also a teacher, child psychologist and the founder of children’s charity Kidscape. The book offers a number of strategies for dealing with bullying. Everything suggested has been tried and tested by other teachers and is backed up by reallife examples, case studies and up-to-date research.

Seducing souls Karl D. Hostetler Continuum £17.99

Author Karl Hostetler takes a philosophical view of schooling by arguing that the fundamental aim of education should be to help people learn to live well. He looks at how schooling in wellbeing – an engagement of body, emotion, spirit and mind – has been lost to a culture of testing, statistics and league tables. He believes education must be rethought if it is to help people live worthwhile lives. A useful mix of policy and practice.


Watch W atch h th the he bird birdie rdiee Thee B Big igg Sch Schools’ ho oo olls’’ Birdw Birdwatch dwaattch ((16 (16-30 6-30 0 Ja January) anu uary a y) iss d described eessccriib bed aass tthe he h wo w world’s orrld d’ss big b biggest ggest g tw wildlife ildlif l fe survey sur urvveey b byy iits tss cre creator, reato ator tthe he R he Ro Royal oya yal SSociety oc ociet ety for or tth the he PProtection ro rote tecctio t on of o Birds B rds Bir d (RSPB). (RS RSPPB B). It gives give v pupils p p across r s the h UK K the h o opportunity p r n y to o learn lea earn n aab about bo out th the he w wil wildlife ld dlifee living v g in n the their heir own ow wn school sch cho oo ol ggrounds. ro round ndss. A Af After fter er recording rreecordin o d ng results res esult u ts o on n the he num number umb beer aand n nd d ssp species peecies e o off b birds ds iin ttheir i grounds, gro oun nds ds, sc schools ch ho oolss postt tth the he d data atta tto o tthe h hee RSBP,, which R wh hiich adds ad dd ds up up all alll tthe h hee nu numbers umb bers and and d reviews rev view ws the he fi findings indinggs b before efo oree se sending end dingg b ba back ackk a ccertificate erttific f catte and and d letter lletteer of of results reesu ultss to o pupils pu upilss. In 201 2011 11 the pro project ojeect involved invvolvved d around arround 90,000 90 0,00 00 teachers tea ach herss an and nd pupils pupils; s; the RS RSPB SPB ho hopes opees tthat hatt itt willll be wil be even eveen bigger bigg ggerr this th his year. yeaar. Download the teachers’ p pack free from p g

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Amnesty A mnestyy on on free frree books books Am Amnesty’s mneestyy’s range ran ange of of res resources eso ou urcees ffor o or childr children dren e aag aged ged from fro rom five i e to o 111 ssu supports upp ppo ortts learning lear arn nin ng about ab bo ou utt human h hu um maan rights i ts is iss issues su uees aand nd d tak ta taking kingg actio action t on for or h hu human uman m n rights rights. i t One O On ne o off tthe he he ffre free ee res resources eso ource ces ffrom rom om it its ts w website eb ebssitte includes n u e a copy o y off itss award-winning w r wn n b book o We A W Aree A All Born B rn Free F e. e It’s t a collection o e i n off 30 0 beautiful beaut b utifu ful illustrations illlu usttra rattion ons that th haat interpret in ntterpr prett human hum um man rights, righ ghts, s, and an d itt iis sui suitable uitab able fo for aag ages ges es ffiv five ve aand n nd du up up. p. B Big-name igg-n name m illustrators illu lustr trato tors wh who ho ccontributed on nttribut b ted d pi pictures ictu tures include in nclu ud dee Axel Ax A xell Scheffler Sch heffflerr off Gruffalo Gruf G ffalo o ffame. am me. Al A Alongside lo onggside i tthe he book, bo b ook, sc schools ch ho oolss willl also also o re receive eceive a ffree reee co copy opyy of A Amnesty’s mn n nesty’s es estys y s primary p prrim m maaryy schools sch hoo olls res resource sourcee Le Learning earn nin ng About Ab bo outt Human Hu uman Rights Riggh htts in n the th he Classroom Cla assrroo om, wh which hich is ffull ull off innovative inn novvatiive lesson lessson plans. plan ns. Although Althou ugh h it is a free frreee offer, offferr, Amn Amnesty nestty ask askk schools sch hoo ols to payy £4 £4.50 4.50 tow towards ward ds p postage osstagge aand nd d pa packing ackkingg (w (which whicch inc includes clud des the book bo ook and an nd the the primary p ary resource). prima ressou urcee)). Orders Ord derrs are are processed pro ocesseed by by Central Cen ntraal Books. Boo oks Caall 0 Call 0845 84 45 4 458 58 8 99 9911 911 or em email mail mo o@centrralb boo om y g

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Head of department’s p pocketbook 2nd edition Brin Best and Will Thomas Teachers’ pocket books £7.99

This compact book provides practical advice for new and established department heads on improving management and leadership skills. The authors encourage readers to take a reflective approach and to challenge accepted norms. Other issues covered include raising the profile of your department and maximising student achievement.

The EYPS handbook Jackie Bascall, Liana Beattie, Joanne Ryan Pearson £19.99

This handbook is a great resource for new Early Years graduates or undergraduates at your school. It helps readers to understand the 39 Early Years Professional (EYP) standards by looking at each standard individually. Difficultt terminology is explained using leadership and personal practice examples. Reflection points and stakeholder comments are also given. The experience and practices acquired from the handbook can provide students with improved communication skills and the grounding to move into a leadership role, and ultimately to achieve EYP status.


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Seeking a level playing field A secondary school in Wales is aiming to give its students the best possible chances in life, with any number of opportunities to acquire new skills

Confidence building What I learn from head teacher Robert Newsome is that their sporting success is the fruit of a school-wide belief that pupils should have something they feel confident about, whether academic, sporting or social. “We’re a community that’s continually creating varied opportunities for students to excel,” he says. With a thriving house system at the 950-pupil secondary, a ‘significant 50

proportion’ of the lower school play team games even if they aren’t the elite athletes, and have fun doing so. And the main teams – in a huge range of sports – are out winning things. A second reason for pushing sports came with the Government’s drive to get 50 per cent of pupils into university. State school pupils are at a disadvantage if they haven’t clapped eyes on a golf course before arriving at university, argues Robert. “State schools have no experience of scuba diving, no experience of rowing or kayaking - so their pupils are socially inept going to university. That’s another driver for us: to enhance the experience for those students who head off to university.” If you’re assuming that the Welsh funding system must be very generous, think again. “I am very frugal in the way I invest. Our bread and butter is academic performance and money has to be spent on that. We box cleverly with community and national bodies giving opportunities to these young students,” says Robert, adding that

the school’s fitness suites, which are envied by visiting professional rugby teams, were largely paid for by PE department fundraising. So, what’s the secret of Dyffryn Taf ’s success? “Our focus is on skills development, to be the best you can be. It’s not about being big-headed. It’s not The X Factor.”

Significant challenges There is also clearly rapport and role modelling between current pupils and the alumni. And there is the sheer dedication of staff (not just the PE staff either) and pupils. The school’s catchment area is 400 square miles. Every afternoon, 20 coaches wait to take pupils home, often decanting them into minibuses en route to remote farms. Any student taking part in extra-curricular activity has ‘a significant challenge’ and curtailed time at home - and yet many of them embrace this opportunity. Then there’s the competing. For instance, one of the school’s newest sports is slalom canoeing, for which students must travel either to Lake Bala, Cardiff, or the Lee Valley just north of London. “If anybody has a desire we find the resource. The international athletes we see have to travel as far as London to compete at the weekend,” says Robert, before adding: “I don’t think many people travel from London to compete in Wales at the weekend.” You can’t help feeling this kind of dedication is a key part of their success. Tell me about your school, because I’d love to share good news with Leadership Focus readers. Contact me at


This month’s inspiring school is brought to you courtesy of an old friend who works closely with the Teaching Awards. We meet up every so often, and at some point the conversation turns to the marvellous schools she’s seen. But there was something different in her tone when she told me about Dyffryn Taf, a secondary school in Wales. She told me: “You know how the kids at private school excel at sport because they get coaching at both ends of the day and they’re expected to do well? This school is just like that - the PE department is amazing. You really ought to write about them.” This Carmarthenshire school’s sevenstrong PE department ran away with the UK Award for Outstanding Team of the Year. They were nominated by a former student who’s now a professional rugby union player. Other alumni include four international cricket players (including the captain of the Welsh women’s side), a Swansea City football apprentice, plus students in the Welsh national squads for golf, bowls and basketball.


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Leadership Focus January/February 2012  

Leadership Focus, the magazine for the NAHT, January/February 2012 issue

Leadership Focus January/February 2012  

Leadership Focus, the magazine for the NAHT, January/February 2012 issue

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