Monthly Archives: March 2011

Parents asked to rate schools

“Parents will be able to direct inspectors to failing schools via a new website to be set up by the education watchdog.

Positive or negative feedback from parents in response to a set of 10 multiple choice questions will help Ofsted decide which schools to inspect.

The new website, to be launched in September, will be linked to schools’ homepages and could publish some of the feedback by showing parents’ overall rates of satisfaction for individual schools.

Exact details on how the website will work have not been decided, but it is likely parents will be able to give feedback using only an email address as identification.

It comes as part of a new inspection framework that puts failing schools under greater scrutiny and aims to speed up the rate of improvement where it is needed.

In contrast there will be no more routine inspections of outstanding schools, with inspectors only to be called in if serious concerns are raised.”

Read the article by Nick Collins in full here

Our View

This is an interesting concept and when we first read the article there were several questions that came to mind;

1) Who decides on the 10 questions? Will schools be involved in the decision-making process?

2) Why can parents appear to ‘hide’ behind an email address as the only form of identification? Surely if parents are leaving feedback that could trigger a potential inspection, then schools should be given the opportunity to know exactly who the parent is?

3) As the article highlights, schools will also be able to request parents to ‘go online and give them positive feedback’ – so how will this be monitored and fairness assured?

The first pilot will be taking place in 10 schools before Easter, with a wider pilot to take place during the Summer Term. What are your views?

Ex-Tesco chief Sir Terry Leahy invests in homework site

“Sir Terry Leahy, one of Britain’s best known businessmen, has made his first significant investment since leaving Tesco.

The former chief executive of the UK’s largest retailer has invested in, a video-based online teaching tool for GCSE students.

The first website of its kind in the UK,, will provide homework help for students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Based on the school curriculum, and featuring real teachers, the website launches today.”

Read the article by Emma Wall in full here

Our View

With a hugely successful businessman such as Terry Leahy involved, this new homework site is bound to be a big success. It’ll be interesting to see how the quality of the content is maintained, as that can often be a deciding factor for users. We wish them luck with the new venture.

Is academy status being foisted on schools?

“Parents in Lincolnshire fear that their local schools are being railroaded into applying for academy status by a service provider

It makes an unlikely setting for a passionate outburst of frustration at the “big society”, the alleged privatisation of state education and claims of a deficit in democratic accountability. But the front room of a terraced house in Louth, Lincolnshire, seems central to that argument now, as members of a “Save our Schools” group discuss proposals – some of them not yet public – that raise the possibility of the bulk of the county’s schools leaving the local authority to become academies.

The four members of the group discussing the plans, who are all parents with children aged between three and 14, are incensed about the possibility of this happening at both primary and secondary level. It is the primary element that seems the more intensely contentious.”

Read the article by Warwick Mansell  in full here

Our View

The term ‘Academy’ appears to have recently changed under Mr Gove, previously it was schools deemed to be ‘failing’ that converted to academy status in  order to tackle the issues within the school. In 2010, ‘outstanding’ secondary schools were initially invited to apply for academy status, this invitation has since been extended to ‘very good’ schools and primary schools are also included in the mix. It seems to us that the word ‘academy’ will soon replace the word ‘school’ in no time at all, as other category rated schools are likely to be invited to apply to become academies in the future. How that impacts on the quality of the education received by the students will probably depend on the type of academy the school becomes, its leadership and ethos. But surely parents should be part of the consultation process too, as they and their children are the ‘customers’ so to speak?

What are your views and experiences? Are the ‘new-look’ academies the future of education in Britain?

Children still delight in playground games

Two-year research project shows youngsters incorporate computer games and TV shows into breaktime activities.

Traditional games such as tag and the evergreen – and often scatological – Ipi–dipi-dation are still popular but children are also incorporating cultural figures including Beyoncé and Simon Cowell into their play.

After spending more than two years watching children play, researchers from the universities of London, East London and Sheffield concluded that popular media are informing, rather than destroying, playground life.”  ~ read the full article by Sam Jones here.

Our View

What were your favourite playground games? I used to love ‘British Bulldog’ despite the ‘rough & tumble’ that usually ended in a few bruises and was a master of ‘French skipping and Double skipping’ ! A quick canvas of the office has revealed other favourites such as hop scotch, tig, football and marbles. Please share your playground favourites using the ‘comments’ box below ~ we look forward to hearing from you.