Monthly Archives: December 2010

Podcasting – is your school in on it?

More than 8m Britons have downloaded podcasts

by John Plunkett

“Rajar research also finds 6.6 million have listened to radio on smartphones, with many downloading dedicated apps.

The research suggested 16.3m have listened to the radio via the internet and 12.7m used a listen-again service such as the BBC’s iPlayer.  The latest research commissioned by radio audience measurement body Rajar reveals that 8.1 million people in the UK – 16% of the adult population – have downloaded a podcast, with nearly half of them (44%) listening to such a service at least once a week.The popularity of smartphones is also changing the way we listen to the radio: 6.6 million adults (13% of the population) have listened on their mobile phone at least once, and 2.2 million downloaded a radio app, a 57% increase in less than six months.  The last survey, in May, put the download figure at 1.4 million.”

Our View:

So how are we harnessing this interest in schools? Assembly podcasts and revision notes for students to download appear to be at the top of the list for those colleagues I have spoken to. But what else? Parental Engagement? Community Engagement? How can podcasting be used to engage parents in their child’s education?

If you have been using podcasting in your schools or have set up a school radio then please comment on this post and share your ideas using the ‘comments box’ below.

Primary schools could be closed for not reaching key standards

Primary school league tables could see over 900 closed or taken over

by  Jessica Shepherd

Government says primaries where pupils failed basic standard in maths and English face becoming academies or closing.  Almost 1,000 primary schools in England could be closed or taken over for failing to reach new government standards in maths and English and not making enough progress in either subject, primary school league tables published today show.

The tables, compiled from government statistics, reveal that in 962 primaries, fewer than 60% of pupils can write a proper sentence using commas or tackle basic arithmetic in their heads by the time they leave – the standard expected of their age group.

Our View:

It remains to be seen how skewed the results actually are, as approximately a quarter of primary schools opted to boycotted the SATs, in protest at the way in which the league tables are used to ‘punish’ schools. As it is already difficult to recruit quality staff to challenging schools, how will this impact on future recruitment? Will enthusiastic leaders be given the chance (and more importantly the time!) to make a difference in schools?

Surely the purpose of data such as the SATs results is for schools to identify areas for development themselves – does the information really have to be shared? Recent articles have highlighted educational systems where other countries are out-performing England – most have a similar theme running through them, where league tables are not used and the data is kept within the school for developmental action. So why make all the changes proposed in the White Paper, then keep the outdated league tables??

Name That Building …

The answer to this week’s post will be shared next Tuesday – remember to post your comments using the ‘Comment’ box below. Good Luck!

Olympic athletes join school sports cuts protest

“Olympic athletes Denise Lewis and Darren Campbell today joined hundreds of pupils and parents protesting outside parliament over the coalition decision to cut funding for school sports.

Young people delivered a petition to Downing Street with more than half a million signatures after gathering at Westminster with placards urging ministers to “Say no to school sports cuts”.

David Cameron last week promised to look again at the decision by the education secretary, Michael Gove, to cut £162m in funding to school sports partnerships (SSPs) from next March. The money is used to run PE classes in schools where there are no trained staff, organise sports clubs and hold competitions.”

Our View:

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I believe that the decision to cut funding for sports in school is short-sighted particularly with Great Britain hosting the 2012 Olympics. So far the ConDems have appeared to re-consider their stance on some key issues – hopefully this will be one where common sense prevails and the funding is found to continue this good work.

Click here to read the full article by Denis Campbell & Jeevan Vasagar

Labour to take flak as OECD survey poised to reveal pupils’ failings

UK pupils slipping behind foreign peers as Michael Gove looks to follow Finland and South Korea By Jeevan Vasagar

” The education secretary, Michael Gove, who is thought to have seen the OECD results, told the Commons recently that England was “failing to keep pace” with competitors. He said: “In the last three years of the last government reform went into reverse – schools lost freedoms, the curriculum lost rigour, Labour lost its way. Now, under this coalition government, we are once more travelling in the same direction as the most ambitious and most progressive nations.“Gove has made plain his ambition for schools in England to be more like Finland’s; name-checking the country nine times in his recent education white paper. By contrast, Sweden – which helped inspire the Tories’ free schools policy – is only mentioned once.

The survey, which included 65 countries, revealed that Britain had dropped from seventh to 17th place in reading and eighth to 24th in maths. Britain also slipped to 14th place in science, down from 4th when the last comparable UK results were published, in 2001. Pupils in New Zealand, Ireland, Australia and Estonia were among those who did better than British children at reading.”

Please click here to read the full article

Finland’s schools flourish in freedom and flexibility

State prescribes the curriculum but leaves teachers alone to decide how to teach the subject

By Jeevan Vasagar in Helsinki

“At Meri-Rastila primary school in a suburb of Helsinki, pupils shake the snow off their boots in the corridors, then peel them off and pad into class in socks. After a 45-minute lesson, they’re out in the playground again.

The Finnish education system contrasts sharply with England. Every Finnish child gets a free school meal, and a free education, which extends to university level.

There are no league tables, and no school inspections. There is only one set of national exams, when children are about to leave school, aged 18. The government conducts national assessments, sampling the population to keep track of school performance. But these results are not made public.”

Our View:

What I think I like the most about this article is the response by the Principal at Meri-Rastila regarding testing and how the information is used:

“We have these tests, in the fifth or sixth forms, that are the same tests at each and every school. We get the results and we see where we stand. But that is not common knowledge. And if it’s not good we have to check what are we doing wrong, what we have to improve.”

Instead of the data being used to ‘punish’ the schools for under-performing, the information is used BY the schools to address any issues and make the necessary improvements – what a fantastic idea!

To read the full article by Jeevan Vasagar click here