Category Archives: We’re interested in what YOU have to say …

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 ….

Cartoon: school for equal opportunities


Google+ adds an API for apps – but study suggests 40% fall in use

“Programmers will be able to write third-party apps that hook into search engine’s new social service, just as outside study suggests rapid fall in usage over part month

Google+ has launched an API that should allow developers to write third-party apps that will be able to post and read directly to the service – a move that may be sorely needed, after an independent study suggested that the number of posts to the service has fallen by over 40% in the past two months.

However Dave Winer, a strong advocate of systems that interoperate, was dismissive about the API: “Google doesn’t get it“, he wrote:

They need an API with one call, one that posts a tweet to their service. So people can hook up Twitter clients to Google-Plus, so the hundred million active Twitter users can post to Google-Plus from the comfort of whatever tools they depend on.

Of course it isn’t the hundred million that they need, it’s the hundred thousand who do all the work on Twitter. The ones that can’t be bothered with a service that doesn’t have basic rudimentary API support.”

Read the Guardian article in full -> here

Business Apps

I absolutely love my iPad and often get asked about how effective it actually is as business tool – here’s my answer… the iPad is like any technology tool it can be very useful but it takes time & patience to find how what best suits you and your industry. I have jotted down some of the apps that I find most useful at the moment – but I must confess that I am fairly fickle and do have regular ‘clear outs’ of apps once I find something better. I’m also interested in finding out which apps you use for business – so please let us know using the ‘comments’ section below and we’ll add them to our list.

Name    £ Description



Online ‘stickies’ service for making notes; easy to use and linked to email so reminders are sent to your email account. There are no limits to the number of ‘stickies’ or  noticeboards you can set up – so you can set up different noticeboards for different projects easily and colour code them. Can upload docs, images and web links to the ‘stickies’ – a bit similar to Infinote.

Prezi viewer


Used to view prezi presentations (; can drag to pan and zoom in / out of topics during meetings and add in additional notes, comments. I never use ppt now as Prezi has the wow factor in presentations – syncs with the desktop version, enabling presentations to be created & viewed on both



Word processing app – multi touch gestures for creating letters, reports, project plans, etc. Inserting images, tables and text has never been so easy. Once downloaded a tutorial guide is provided which shows you how to use the application fully.



Spreadsheet app – can be a bit tricky to start with but the tutorial guide covers all the key points.



Presentation app and can be connected to a projector to deliver presentation to bigger groups – much slicker than powerpoint and again a tutorial guide is provided.



Another note taking app which is best used during brain storming activities – you can have multiple noteboards, can print from your iPad and has search functionality too.



Social media in a magazine layout which makes it easy to read all feeds from my Twitter, facebook, Google Reader and Flickr accounts – highly recommended

Memeo ConnectReader


Syncs with Google Docs and can be used to import from Google Docs to Pages, Numbers & Keynote – some duplicate functionality withDropbox but I use both

Adobe PhotoShop Express


Used to edit and share photos – particularly useful when illustrating projects to clients



Universal translator for the iPad

Good Reader


PDF reader for iPad – can be synched with Dropbox and be used to ‘read’ books, movies, maps & pictures

Dragon Dictation


Easy to use voice recognition app can be used to send voice notes / reminders to yourself / make notes from meetings and update Twitter etc. Works well but you need to talk clearly and needs wifi to work



Used to update company wordpress blog – moderate comments, create / edit posts and pages


Free (Lite)

20 built-in invoice styles, can be used to create / email invoices, keep track of payments owing & made and even calculates totals and tax. Need the full version (£8.99) to be able to add your own company logo to the invoices. It also produces an interesting range of useful reports / graphical displays.

Word Web


English dictionary and thesaurus

Doceri Remote


Needs wifi! Can launch, present and annotate any document / presentation or web page. Need to download the desktop Doceri onto the pc you wish to ‘control’ – at present the desktop Doceri is free



e-reader app used to purchase and read e-books



Travel review app – used to find reviews for hotels, flights and restaurants. Very easy to use

Year Calendar


All – in – one year planner which syncs with built-in iPad calendar. Lots of icons and colours can be used to plan events easily



This is an iphone app as yet there isn’t an iPad app for LinkedIn however you can still access discussions, send messages and edit you profile easily



Free cloud storage service which syncs files between iPad and pc – folders can be shared with others. Email attachments can be saved straight to Dropbox and you can always have access to the files



There are LOADS of iPad apps for Twitter – it’s down to personal preference and I do change apps based on functionality – at the moment this is the one I prefer

Big increase in apprenticeships due to ‘striking rise’ in trainees over 25

“Research shows apprentices over 25 up from 36,000 to 121,000, but Labour says coalition is failing to focus on key skills

The analysis reveals a 10% increase in teenage apprentices this year, compared with the academic year which started in September 2009. Teenage apprentices rose from 93,700 to 102,900. There was a 21% rise in apprentices aged 19-24, from 85,100 to 102,800. But the number of apprentices aged over 25 nearly quadrupled, from 36,300 to 121,100. Youth unemployment hit record levels earlier this year, and latest figures show around 917,000 people aged 16-24 are out of work. The research, commissioned by Labour, shows that the biggest increases in apprenticeships are in health and social care and retail.

Gordon Marsden, shadow further education and skills minister, said: “For all the government’s warm words on apprenticeships, these statistics show they haven’t got to grips with the task of supporting business and creating an environment in which quality, long-term apprenticeships can flourish and support economic growth.”

The latest statistics, from the National Apprenticeship Service, show almost 90,000 employers offer apprenticeships to 491,300 workers in England. Companies hiring the most include BT, Capita Group, Tesco and McDonald’s.”

Read the article in full by Jeevan Vasagar & Jessica Shepherd by clicking here

Our View: While it is always good to see opportunities increased for people to gain qualifications whilst they are earning,  it is disappointing to see that apprenticeships lasting more than a year are decreasing. We wonder about the quality (and level) of any qualifications which last less than a year and the potential impact they will have on the apprentices’ future. Are businesses being provided with the appropriate support and guidance to ensure that apprentices actually have the real chance to future their chosen career and not just be used as ‘cheap labour’? What’s your view / experience of apprenticeships? Good, bad or indifferent – we’re interested in what you have to say…..