LLantarnam School in Special measures – Why?

I read with interest and dismay about Llantarnam School being in special measures and wonder where did it all go wrong? Surely the educational choices of management over the years have led to this insecurity of both pupils and staff. This did not just happen overnight and those in authority must have been aware of the failings, just looking at recent data should have sent alarm bells ringing.  Where were the Local Authority advisers? Where was the support of the teachers, head and governors in the previous years to stop this slide from happening?

Perhaps I write with rose-coloured glasses but as a product of Llantarnam school and its then wonderful teachers I am disappointed by the educationists within the system as they let this happen. It has always been in the Croesy is a much better school – left over from the old grammar system – battle despite being the first comprehensive. This immediately makes the learners and I suspect teachers feel it they are second best – yet they can shine as I know.

Recently I applied to help and support the Welsh assembly via their system leaders but lost out in the first stages so at that point immediately wondered what they were looking for. I might not be the best candidate but I can offer having being asked twice to help to successfully turn around a school in special measures with not dissimilar problems to Llantarnam.  In the past I helped other school out of difficulties and departments improve practice all successfully and with praise from LA and HMI. Currently I work part-time with my husband and his translation company but have kept helping schools with good practice on my free days as well as directing, organising and developing the Primary Language Awards of which I ensured Welsh was an inclusion and its own category. NB Entries are currently open for schools to enter and each category winner receives £500 of langauge resources. www.languageawards.com

Yet having such experiences meant I didn’t even get an interview, maybe they feel my other work is a conflict of interest but it my mind it clearly isn’t, for me its a daily reminder of the difficulties learners have in school with literacy and my first experiences as a teacher. How many other educationalist have first hand experience of successfully turning around schools and still want to achieve it for others… I suspect not many.  I made the decision years ago not to become a head but preferring instead to offer support to those school labelled as unsatisfactory.  The reason being that either OFSTED or ESTYN quite rightly made their judgements but no one then wanted to help.  LA staff whose job it should have been just pulled away and began pointing the finger whilst school staff and pupils were left demoralised like ‘billy no mates’.

When at Llantarnam I was inspired by my teachers from my form tutor Mr Harrison who also played cricket, and Terry Cobner who played a bit of rugby  through to my history teacher who became a pastoral leader later in her career, geography teacher who later became a head. I was even blessed with one term of Ken Jones teaching me and the class poetry…I dont think many of my class liked poetry but he said he liked my poems and writing so hopefully he will be looking down on thsi and smiling and saying as he did then …if you think it write it… and I remember it fondly. I was the first to get a GOLD Duke of Edinburgh award and although at the time in sixth form not knowing what I wanted to achieve I was allowed to do woodwork and Mr Jarvis my 5th form form tutor tested me on wiring a plug, changing a  washer and similar things.  I was only ever nurtured on the unconventional things I liked like the discus in PE and not liking food technology.

It will be no surprise then that in later life after getting annoyed because the boys wouldn’t let me saw the piece of wood they always wanted to help…love them, my dad always let me use wood but watched like a hawk and if I wanted to use metal not understanding my interest in welding but my grandfather letting me play in the shed I trained to become one of the first design technology teachers wood, metal, plastic, control and textiles. Not an easy feat as even in teacher training at Croesy, Bettws and Llantarnam I kept getting offers to do food technology whilst I was confident to do what felt right education wise, I was never a great speaker and this is still something that everyday I struggle with and didn’t get my NQT job at Llantarnam because I got very tongue-tied.  It takes a while for people to get used to me but through a mix of my mentoring and my willingness and ability to achieve especially where there is a struggle involved and the willingness to show practically what the theory means in the classroom means that over time I have become respected within my field of support.

I wish the new person overseeing it from Croydon well and will read with interest the developments in the next months. I only hope that they do not underestimate the desperation of staff not sure they are doing a good job and the risk of them leaving, parents taking children out to another school leading to a more falling role means that it is a task that will take years rather than months to improve. What it needs is a clear vision, a charged up and interested staff that can get help without feeling they are inadequate and positive experiences by the pupils which will feed interest and success vibes into the parents and community.

And finally to the Welsh Government, Torfaen LA and the schools governors before you start being negative about all the practice remember:

  • there are some really good ones that need pulling through and building on
  • each child every day is their first it cannot be regained further down the line they must get the best education that the teacher can give that day
  •  From a management point of view ‘no one gets up to do a bad job, but circumstances and policies in the day to day running lead to the best not always being achieved’.
  • If you look out to find the worst and always talk about that and not balance it with the successes it will always be a failing school for all within it.

see the full report here http://www.torfaen.gov.uk/en/News/2012/November/21-Council-response-to-Llantarnam-Estyn-inspection.aspx

ESTYN – Good practice bilingualism

Team teaching and the pivotal role of the Welsh co-ordinator to implement the clear shared vision has ensured a school in Aberystwyth has developed bilingual practice according to ESTYN.

In 2012, as a result of prioritising bilingualism in the Foundation Phase…the school can now offer pupils a realistic choice of bilingual secondary education as they enter key stage 3 and parents realise the benefits of their children being bilingual in our community.

link to the original report : http://www.estyn.gov.uk/english/docViewer/257739.3/welsh-second-language-comes-first/?navmap=33,53,158,

Ysgol Plascrug is situated in the town of Aberystwyth which lies on the coast of Ceredigion. Approximately three-quarters of the pupils are white British while a quarter of pupils are from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, originating from 38 different countries. Less than 1% of the pupils come from homes where Welsh is the main language. Thirty-five per cent of pupils live in disadvantaged areas and approximately 12% are entitled to Free School meals.

English is the main medium of teaching. Nearly all pupils learn Welsh as a second language. For many minority ethnic pupils, Welsh is a third or even fourth language for them to acquire. The school’s provision and comprehensive professional development programme for all staff in the development of Welsh is judged as sector leading. As a result, pupils’ standards in Welsh second language are deemed excellent.

The school has a firm, clear vision to prepare pupils to become inclusive members of the bilingual society of Wales and nurture pride in the language, heritage and culture of our country. The introduction of the Foundation Phase curriculum also highlighted the need to improve pupils’ bilingual skills at a very early age.

Description of nature of strategy or activity:

This vision is shared with all staff and over recent years has become a high priority in the school improvement plan. In order to fulfill the vision of creating fully bilingual pupils in a natural Welsh ethos, the school is committed to offering excellent provision to its pupils and exceptional opportunities for staff to improve their professional skills in Welsh language provision.

As part of the school’s strategy for raising standards in Welsh, the school improvement plan gives particular emphasis to the continuing professional development of staff.

The Athrawes Fro service provides effective support for Welsh language development on a weekly basis. It complements a team-teaching approach and offers helpful guidance on planning and resources. This allows the school to implement a ‘target group’ teaching approach at key stage 2.

The Welsh coordinator has a pivotal role in planning and integrating the teaching of Welsh.

The governing body recognises the benefits of releasing this member of staff to model good teaching approaches, monitor planning, provision and standards, and provide suitable resources and appropriate guidance and support to colleagues. The enthusiasm and passion of the coordinator is evident as Welsh is increasingly becoming the everyday informal language of the school.

In recent years, the school has focused upon developing bilingualism in the Foundation Phase. Welsh is now used as a medium of teaching for 40% of the timetable. As this progresses throughout the school, there is a direct impact on standards in Welsh and at key stage 2, pupils are able to access more subjects through the medium of Welsh. For example, physical education, art, design and technology and music can now be taught through the medium of Welsh.
In 2012, as a result of prioritising bilingualism in the Foundation Phase, 85% of pupils achieved Outcome 5+ in Welsh second language.
The school can now offer pupils a realistic choice of bilingual secondary education as they enter key stage 3 and parents realise the benefits of their children being bilingual in our community.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s education services for children and young people have been judged to be unsatisfactory

JFI news report

17 December 2012

Pembrokeshire County Council’s education services for children and young people have been judged to be unsatisfactoryin an Estyn report published today. As a result of this report, Estyn has recommended to Welsh Ministers that the authority be placed in the category of an authority requiring special measures.

The ‘Report on the quality of local authority education services for children and young people in Pembrokeshire County Council’ identifies important shortcomings in leadership of the authority’s education services. It states that corporate leaders and senior elected members have been too slow to recognise key issues in safeguarding and to change the culture in, and improve, education services. The report also finds that the authority’s arrangements for supporting and challenging schools are not robust enough and have not had enough impact on improving outcomes.

The Estyn inspection team was joined by inspectors from the Wales Audit Office (WAO) and from the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW). The inspection also involved taking into consideration evidence from the joint recent investigation work by CCSIW and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) into Pembrokeshire. Estyn also took evidence from the WAO in relation to their ‘Special Inspection – Implementation of Safeguarding Arrangements in Pembrokeshire County Council’ which is published by Wales Audit Office today.

The Estyn inspection followed up on a similar inspection of the local authority’s education services for children and young people carried out in June 2011 which recommended that Pembrokeshire was placed in the category of being in need of significant improvement, due to shortcomings in the important areas of safeguarding and corporate governance.

Character #347: 紙

Scottish Parlaiment launches inquiry into foreign language learning

Well woth feeding back to the government. You know what serves you best in the classroom so let them know.

Language Rich Europe

On Friday 14 December 2012 the Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee launched an inquiry into the teaching of foreign languages in primary schools:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/56920.aspx

“Earlier this year, the Government recommended that children should learn a second language from Primary 1 and that learning of a third language should start no later than Primary 5. The Committee has determined that it wants to look at this policy aim, the capacity within the curriculum for this, and the role of languages in supporting the economy.

The Committee would welcome views from parents, teachers and pupils for its inquiry. A call for views has been published at the Committee’s website at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/57808.aspx

Issues to be explored in the Committee’s investigations include funding (including use of EU funds); the skills base and teaching resources available for language tuition; the capacity within the curriculum to accommodate greater language study; the choice of languages…

View original post 51 more words

Stock levels and mental translation

Love this, its so true in many cases beinga ble to communicate is enough. Was just at the local Costa where a Russian or Polish family were before us, the mother who spoke little English asked for latte with a croissant, but when asked couldnt explain until the daughter helped and asked for a skimmed milk late with an almond croissant. Both were right but one got closer to what they specifically wanted. Using your word stock is great and you can see from this little encounter how the build up of word stock is applied in proper everyday situations. Do we really need to translate exactly in these situations?

Good Practice – Using the outside classroom to promote pupils’ safety, raise expectations and attainment for all and narrow the achievement gap across the broad curriculum.

What a brilliant idea taking the children outside and around their area to see things for real rather than using pictures on the internet.  Through these life skills they can see sizes relevant to their surroundings and themselves. They benefit from seeing the animals real colours and the changes within species, they can put maths into practice thereby ensuring it becomes more embedded in their mind. This  works just as well for the vulnerable groups giving them more time to see the object, learn the word, practice it in context and have a good experience to draw on.

It is a difficult decision taking children out on schools trips and recent experiences of others, that have been shown via the media, have stopped many of these worthwhile practices to the level that in some schools the children are not being allowed outside within the school grounds to do maths and science trails. Yet done with care the children and staff can achieve the curriculum aims and have the benefit of fresh air and exercise.

Not surprising then that a school that combines these elements is deemed outstanding by OFSTED.   This primary school regularly uses learning outside the classroom on its own site, in its local area and on visits and trips to provide rich experiences, promote pupils’ safety, raise expectations and attainment for all and narrow the achievement gap across the broad curriculum. Read their story here.   http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/good-practice-resource-raising-standards-learning-outside-st-johns-roman-catholic-primary-school

 

Suffolk: Judge left frustrated as translator’s absence delays justice

Is this fair to the victim? is this fair to companies that could do a better job? Is this fair to the judge?  When will the government intervene?

A JUDGE has expressed his frustration with a court interpreter system after a hearing had to be adjourned when a translator failed to attend a Suffolk court.

Ipswich Crown Court judge David Goodin said he was “astounded” at the non-attendance of a Bengali interpreter who had been booked by the court to act as translator for a 27-year-old man accused of attempting to rape a woman in an alleyway in Newmarket in August.

“Astonishingly and disgracefully for justice, no interpreter has appeared and in these circumstances we can’t make any progress with the case today,” said the judge. “This is yet another example of interpreters failing to appear.”

Judge Goodin was forced to adjourn the plea and direction hearing until today after court staff were unable to ascertain the whereabouts of the translator.

The case is the latest example of problems courts around the country have had in getting interpreters since Applied Language Solutions took over a Government contract in January.

Earlier this year the Ministry of Justice accepted there had been problems with the court interpreter system in the first few weeks of the contract but claimed the situation had improved.

Before Ipswich Crown Court yesterday was Jakir Hussain, of Bahram Close, Newmarket, who is accused of attempting to rape a 24-year-old woman in an alleyway between the High Street and Rowley Drive in August.

http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/suffolk_judge_left_frustrated_as_translator_s_absence_delays_justice_1_1734842

Holly and Hogmanay all great for the yule tidings.

The History Interpreter

More pudding boiling today. The snag with pudding making is that one always feels obliged to consume the remainder of the can of barley wine. As my recipe only requires an eight of a pint that leaves rather a lot to finish up. So, yesterday I was drinking alone and before 9.00am, definately before the sun was even approaching any sort of yardarm. As I rarely drink at all, this did leave one with a warm sort of a glow. Today it was time to rub brandy over the bottoms of the Christmas cakes, so again I end up reeking of alcohol.

Then there was a bit of an incident with the candles. The glass holder broke and the glitter on the glass holly balls was  interestingly flammable. Oh the joys of the festive season. Surely I can write Christmas cards without incident.

Hogmanay

Hogmanay’s origins date back to pagan…

View original post 267 more words

great christmas facts.

The History Interpreter

Yesterday it seemed like a good idea to join the community of Clovelly in their switching on of the Christmas lights celebration. That would be seemed. A lovely occasion but for some reason best known to myself, I failed to don my normal winter wear of a million thermal layers. We also arrived ridiculously early. Surely even I should have worked out that turning on lights and fireworks would require something resembling darkness? Unfortunately not. So I froze. Have already written note to self in next year’s diary along the lines of ‘on no account arrive before 4.30pm’ and ‘thermal socks required’. Clovelley’s cobbles may be iconic but the cold don’t half strike upwards from them! The Lapland holiday is looking increasingly like mid-life crisis madness.

The first half of the Cs for the advent calendar today and cake making for me, later than usual this year. For someone who can’t…

View original post 323 more words