2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,100 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 35 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Thoughts for 2013..

I haven’t posted for a while as I’ve been busy designing websites (a new venture) and working in a BESD residential school. For those of you unsure as to what that is – it is a school for students with behaviour, emotional and social disorders (my school is for boys only). It’s not an area of education I have extensive experience in but the last 4 months have been some of the most challenging yet rewarding times of my professional life. I have been reminded why I entered the teaching profession all those years ago and look forward to going to work EVERY day!!

As a ‘Teaching and Learning’ consultant from January I will be working with colleagues and students on embedding a culture of learning, supported with e-learning strategies and I can’t wait. The staff have have already been to see me with ideas they would like to develop further in January. Ok, so we have an impending Ofsted visit to contend with but still I can honestly say that I am excited about the challenges this new project will bring and will keep you all posted.

Best wishes for 2013

To Teach Up Until the Last Minute… or Not?

I have a question for you ~ should you continue to teach right up until the end of the last day of term or is it acceptable to play games, watch videos, complete word searches, etc?

The reason I ask this question is that the primary school my children go to has recently amended their holiday policy. The change was ‘supported’ by several facts and figures about how ‘many lost of hours of learning’ will negatively impact on my child’s learning if they’re taken out of school.

One of the facts provided:

“A child absent from school for two weeks each year means that the child misses the equivalent of two terms of education over their school life”

Now I’m not sure if the ‘2 terms’ relates to holidays taken every year from Reception through to the end of Year 13 or not but the fact remains that every night this week when I have asked my children (Y3 and Y6) what they have done in school the answers have ranged from ‘watched the Flushed Away dvd’ through to ‘played board games’. There appears to have been very little actual learning taking place at all in lessons and this has been ALL week. So this raises several questions:

  • why do the ‘facts’ focus on what learning my child may miss when I take them on holiday  ~ what about the amount of learning lost through ‘fun end of term activities’, staff illness, shows and other school-based events?
  • when I have taken my children out of school for a holiday (only once as I’m a Science teacher so I’m usually working!) I asked for work for my children to do (yes I am that mean) but didn’t get any work provided by staff to cover the absence? But if learning is so important and so why wasn’t it provided?

Usually I blog about changes in education, sharing teaching resources, elearning, etc ~ so why have I written about this today? The main reason is that I am a teacher and I have been teaching this week, ALL week to ALL of my classes. Due to the number of ‘guided learning hours’ I’m allocated to teach my course, I need all the lessons I can get. That’s not to say that we don’t watch video clips, create board games or make models ~ we do and they’re linked to learning. If I was to use the few lessons I have during the last week of term for other activities, it could be deemed that I don’t need them and who knows next year I could find I have reduced hours to teach the course.

I know it’s been a long tiring year and everyone is counting down to the summer break, but imagine the impression parents are getting ~ being told on the one hand that they will be fined for taking their child on holiday and on the other hearing about all the videos, games and fun taking place in the last week of term! Would a compromise be that if parents want to take holidays outside of the summer holidays, they could use the last week of term instead? 🙂

Read the TES article by Tom Bennett ‘Behaviour: Managing the last few days of term’ by clicking here

Learning without limits

“Grouping by ability holds children back argues headteacher Alison Peacock, whose school went from failing to outstanding when the whole staff worked to ban limiting beliefs about fixed abilities and fixed futures and became a listening school”


Blog post by Alison Peacock is Headteacher at the Wroxham School in Hertfordshire, and co-author of Creating Learning Without Limits. Her co-authors are Mandy Swann, lecturer at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, and Susan Hart and Mary Jane Drummond, both former lecturers there. To read the full post click HERE

What are your thoughts and experiences? Should classes be mixed ability or streamed? Personally, I have worked in secondary schools where classes were mixed ability until Year 10; lesson planning involved making sure that for every lesson I planned ‘core’ work, in addition to ‘support’ and ‘extension’ activities. I have also worked in schools where classes were set on ability, I still had to plan for ‘core’, ‘support’ and ‘extension’ activities but the range in ability wasn’t so great. There is definitely a staff perception that planning for mixed ability classes is more time consuming but I believe that if you are effectively differentiating the work surely it shouldn’t take that much longer? I do believe that mixed ability classes offer students the chance to shine in other ways (e.g. communication skills, teamwork, etc) the benefits of which shouldn’t be ignored as they raise self esteem ….

University graduates embark on earlier chase for jobs

By , education editor at The Guardian

” The graduate class of 2012 has made a record number of applications and begun looking for jobs earlier than ever, a survey of over 17,000 final-year students shows.

Applications for graduate jobs in investment banking have returned to their highest level since the start of the credit crunch in 2008, the High Fliers Research survey finds.

Desire to take time off or go for a gap year is at an all-time low – just 12% plan to do this. The survey, of students at 30 universities, estimates the volume of applications has risen by 40% in two years.

A record 42% of students made applications for a graduate job by the end of October in their final year, while 61% had applied by the end of February, compared with 59% last year.

More than a third of students started researching their career options in the first year of their studies.”

Is this the end of the infamous ‘gap year’? What about the choices students are making in relation to the course studied? It wasn’t so long ago that a gap year was seen as almost a right before settling down and getting a ‘real job’. More often than not nowadays depending on your career choice it would make more sense to focus on getting relevant industry experience or perhaps an apprenticeship to get ahead.

What are your thoughts on the taking a ‘gap year’ – important or not?

Cartoon: school for equal opportunities

via guardian.co.uk