Every child matters! or does it? When the mother of one of my year 7 students told me that her daughter was struggling to come to terms with the drop in her levels since primary school….

Such an awful yet typical story that those of us who work in pastoral systems in schools are aware of on a  daily basis. Every year our children struggle and yet as this article states quite clearly the system itself adds to the pressure on children. As I always say no matter what we agree our policies to be, every time we must remember there is a child at the end of it, and we have a duty to each individual child.

# mentalhealth

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/feb/22/secret-teacher-student-stress-suffering?CMP=new_54

Leaders 4 – Managing Resources

Of all the things recently discussed this is the one thing on a daily basis that can become a nightmare particularly as a new manager you are usually left with the previous owners resources which may not suit you and a budget which initially will be non-existent or meagre.

Here are things to help you sort out in your own mind what and how to achieve the best for you, your team and learners.

  1. How will you establish staff and resource needs for the subject and how should requests of this be transmitted/reported/asked/sent to Senior leaders and/ or Headteacher? and by when?
  2. How will you or what is the process to let the Headteacher know about the deployment of your staff within your team and job roles?
  3. How will you ensure the effective and efficient management of resources including technology?
  4. How will you explore and assess the role of new use of resources in your department?
  5. How will you ensure you effectively use the rooms/accommodation that you are in?
  6. How will you ensure at all times that there is a safe working and learning environment?

I hope that some of these things have been useful and if you have any good practice to share please do so on the comments page.

Leaders 2 -Strategic Planning and Development

As a leader you will need to ensure all of your teachers and learners receive the same curriculum to the same level using individuals skills, prior experiences and individual personality. Written like this it looks a large task but in reality it is made easier if you think about and follow your response to these questions.

  • How will you develop subject policies then ensure all teachers” commitment to them?
  • How will you ensure the above particularly in relation to high achievement and teaching and learning?
  • How will you maintain a positive attitude towards your subject?
  • What data will you need to collect? How often will it need to be collected? How should it be sued to inform policies, planning, targets and teaching methods.
  • How will you establish short, medium and long-term subject development plans? How will you ensure that:-they contribute to the whole schools aims, that they are based on pupil performance data, identify targets for improvement within your subject and then most importantly ensure that they are understood by everyone involved, parents included.
  • How will you monitor progress made in achieving your subjects development plan and targets?

Science report KS2 and 3 Wales

Just in… Estyn have shared their information giving recommendations on what Science lessons should look like and the responsibilities of the appropriate parties. All good information which confirms that those who have English as their second language should also be challenged and given scientific experiences.

Summary

The report has a context in the Welsh Government’s vision for scientific research, science teaching and the commercialisation of research set out in the Welsh Government document ‘Science for Wales – A strategic agenda for science and innovation in Wales’.

This report also provides evidence for the Welsh Government in relation to a recommendation from the Enterprise and Learning Committee’s report on science, technology, engineering and mathematics: ‘We recommend that the Welsh Assembly Government should carry out a study of why science in primary schools may be experiencing a decline and should explore with Estyn how best to assess science performance in the future.’

Recommendations

Primary and secondary schools should:
provide challenging science opportunities to stretch all pupils, particularly the more able, and eliminate tasks that are too easy;
provide more opportunities for pupils to pursue their own scientific interests;
ensure that assessment and marking practices provide pupils with meaningful advice on how to improve their scientific understanding and skills; and
work with other schools to share effective approaches to teaching and assessing science.

In addition, primary schools should:
make sure that pupils are taught science for at least two hours a week; and
provide training for teachers with weak science subject knowledge.

In addition, secondary schools should:
plan to use a wider range of numeracy skills in science lessons.

Local authorities should:
provide more professional development, support and advice to schools on science teaching and learning; and
support schools to share best practice in science education.

The Welsh Government should:
improve the reliability and validity of teacher assessment by reviewing assessment criteria and introducing an element of external moderation; and
review the National Curriculum subject orders for science to include essential content.

Best practice case studies

You can read the following examples of best practice in the main body of the report:
Cefn Saeson Comprehensive School, Neath Port Talbot
Pontarddulais Primary School, Swansea
Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Gartholwg, Rhondda Cynon Taff
Darland High School, Wrexham

Sharing ideas for multicultural classrooms.

This week the Guardian Teacher Network has this from EAL teachers around the UK.

Teaching in multicultural classrooms: tips, challenges and opportunities

What does a range of nationalities in class bring to the teaching and learning experience? A collection of teachers give us a glimpse into their multicultural classrooms

Rachel Coombe, subject leader beliefs, philosophy and ethics (BPE), The Voyager Academy, Peterborough

Peterborough is a very interesting city with a population of second, third and even fourth settled generations of Italian and Asian communities. In recent years, because of a variety of reasons, the city has had an enormous influx of mainly eastern European migrants, and because our school has the space they are joining us; at the rate, at the moment of about 25 students a week. We have 40% EAL (English as an additional language) students at the moment.

I have Roma, Hungarian, Czech, Lithuanian, Slovakian, Russian, African Portuguese, Afghan, British and Asian students (I’m sure I’ve probably missed some!) in my classes. We have a department of support teachers who assess the students when they arrive and we are in the process of setting up a series of induction classes from every subject so that the students get an idea of what goes in school. We then give the students another similar (age/nationality/gender and so on) student to shadow for a few days and then the students are placed into classes. We feel that they will learn English best if they are immersed in the language; however, we are aware of possible issues (such as war trauma) so we are sensitive about how we deal with each student.

We have a number of adult translators in school, and on occasions, where necessary, we do use students [to translate] but we try not to as that’s not why they’re in school. We also have a number of teachers who are interested in EAL, of which I am one, and we try to support others when they are not sure how to manage when sometimes the class is made up of predominantly EAL students.

As we teach we try to use a lot of visuals, a lot of student discussion, translated key words, sentence/writing frames and so on to help those EAL students. We also have started having outside of school hours time for families to come in to understand about how the education system works. We had a Roma day last year, as an example. It is a challenge but it can also be enriching for the other students. Some come with incredible talents, such as one particular Roma student who can play the piano and violin extremely beautifully just by listening to a piece of music and then copying it.

Jess Hamer, science teacher at Lampton School in Hounslow

Lampton is a ‘complex urban’ academy in west London. The school is non-selective and its pupils, who come from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, fall below the national average both in terms of ability and socio-economic circumstance. Three quarters speak English as an additional language. However, student achievement is above average and the school has been deemed outstanding in challenging circumstances by Ofsted.

I wouldn’t  use the word “manage” – it’s great to have such a diverse range of nationalities and cultures as students bring their different backgrounds and experiences to the classroom. As a school we celebrate many different festivals from around the world and there is a real sense of understanding between students, more celebrations = more fun! It’s reassuring and heart-warming to see that the prejudices that exist in the adult world are virtually non-existent in the classroom.

Sometimes it can be a challenge to teach students with EAL even with support in the classroom. I’ve had some very amusing “conversations” with students. Once I was trying to explain what a rabbit is and I ended up having to act out a rabbit by jumping along with my hands upright on my head pretending to be ears! The student thought it was hilarious but understood. Having pictures prepared really helps.

I’m also a year 12 form tutor and guiding students who may be the first generation from their family to apply to university is really rewarding. Sometimes these students need additional support through the process as their families have no prior experience to draw from. Role models are really important for students, seeing scientists from a range of backgrounds raises their aspirations. We regularly host events and have visitors or Stem ambassadors giving lectures or taking part in career speed networking events. I’ve travelled a fair bit and it really helps my awareness of places and cultures that students talk about. Having conversations and showing understanding really helps build relationships in the classroom. Many teachers at Lampton have had specific EAL training, myself included. I found it to be really useful as it helped me develop strategies for scaffolding language for students and it also taught me to ensure that my lessons are visual and that provide opportunities for students to practice their English.

Raising literacy standards is a big issue for many schools, schools with a high proportion of students with EAL is particularly important. At Lampton we’ve had a big push on academic literacy, and I’m part of the working group. Each department is implementing strategies for developing subject-specific literacy. In science, we’re focusing on the process of reading information and then distilling it to scaffold a succinct paragraph of writing. With my year 7 class we’re reading the Horrible Science books and then writing a review.

Teaching students from many cultures is no different to teaching in a school with a single culture – with the exception being having to pay additional attention to language/literacy.

 

Christopher Waugh, secondary English teacher, London Nautical School

 

I’m a 41 year old English teacher from New Zealand. I’ve worked as a teacher for 10 years, the most recent three of which in London. The schools in New Zealand that I worked for had much less of a cultural mix than the one I work in now but New Zealand operates strong bicultural practices in relation to the indigenous people, so my experience there has been of great use in my teaching here, and allows a unique perspective. ( I’m also an other-national in the classroom)

The range of nationalities in my room is an asset. The differing use of language is something we study and examine, their differing cultural perspectives provide a dynamic and vivid forum for debate and the need for mutual respect adds to the general dignity of the environment. The cultural diversity of my classes also creates an imperative not to make assumptions about religion, culture and values that creates room for many other firms of difference. I benefit from this uniquely as a gay teacher as my ‘difference’ is just another dimension in the wider melting pot.

Being aware of language acquisition processes is vital. Understanding that someone from another language culture with a south London accent who communicates confidently with his peers does not necessarily have access to the same range of formal language devices as someone who comes from an English-language culture.

I find offering opportunities for students to communicate with each other about their culture, origins and background as part of the learning programme (presentations, debates, writing and reading) is a very effective method of demonstrating respect for cultural diversity as well as making the most of the richness of what it offers.

I also find that asking students and their parents for their advice and input is valuable learning for me. Don’t be afraid of asking about students’ nationality and having them take the lead on embracing the multinational classroom.

 

Mark Hughes, teacher, Christchurch Primary School in Ilford

 

I’ve worked in a variety of classes over my 12 years teaching, all with a high majority of religions, cultures and languages spoken. Christchurch has a high majority of Muslim students (when I started it was 85% but now it is 68%) we also have a high number of Eastern European and children from Asian backgrounds.

Generally most of the children I teach have English as an additional language and can converse and work quite well in English. As a school we ‘set’ children in ability levels for English work. We do projects such as language of the month, British week, Eid/Diwali/Christmas concerts as well and look for opportunities in lessons to promote different cultures.

When I first started teaching a lot of the customs and cultures of the different children were all new to me, however I’ve come to embrace them and educate myself about the childrens lives outside of school (tends to help with the teaching side if you know a bit  about what goes on at home!)

The different faiths and religions within the school and my class do allow for some great topics and discussions based on tolerance and respect. My wife works in a very middle class/non multicultural school in Hertfordshire and doesn’t get the opportunities cropping up as much. We also have a take part in a global curriculum project about what it means to be a good citizen of the world. Looking at topics around the world – wars/tsunamis/child labour/respect/tolerance/historical influences on cultures and so on – all relevant to the chosen year group

I think you need to be open about how little you know; be curious; learn some words and customs, and most importantly show an interest in them.

 

Holly Miles, foundation teacher, Larkrise Primary

 

I work at Larkrise Primary – a large multicultural primary school in a deprived area. Being a foundation teacher, the majority of children arrive every September with no English.

The first term is always very quiet as children often are unable to communicate verbally especially if no one speaks their language. I use a lot of visual resources, props for storytelling and so on, and try to keep language very simple. These children do pick up the language very quickly and I hope that by July most will have acquired enough English to communicate with me and their peers.

We try to include all cultural celebrations throughout the year Eid, Diwali, Chinese new year and so on. The lovely thing about teaching this age is children are still very naive to differences in nationality and religion and so are very accepting to all.

Since teaching I have learnt a lot about cultural practices and I think the best way for new teachers to learn is to speak to parents and support staff about their cultures and find out through first hand experiences. As a nursery teacher I did home visits for all children in my class which really helped to give me an insight into where children are coming from.

Preparing my child for secondary education

For all of you who are parents of children moving ‘big school’.

kipmcgrathashford

Preparing my child for secondary education.

This is a most fabulous blog from Clare and Martin Rimmer of Kip McGrath Lisburn about the process of transferring to Secondary School.

As the father of a daughter moving to Grammar School in September it has been invaluable.

View original post

I’m Deaf – Why cann’t I be bilingual?

At this years Education Show I met an inspirational person called Deborah Reynolds  who was telling me all about sign langauge and the need in schools all over the UK as well as asking me whether the Primary Language Awards in 2013 would include sign language in the other category.  I can confirm that this will be happening this year.

http://www.schoolofsignlanguage.com/about to find out more about the UK Sign language school

I remembered this because of this story which looks at bilingualism and deafness. It is interesting that many think that if  a child is deaf then literacy and linguistic ability is positively ignored. This article argues the case for bilingualism and the added dimensions it gives to these learners.  What do you think?

The brain-boosting benefits of bilingualism have been in the news quite a lot of late, and for good reason. The collective results of neurological and psychological studies show that bilingual thinking has a profound effect on the brain’s executive function, and bilingualism produces positive results in areas ranging from greater cognitive flexibility and faster response times to staving off dementia. With the backing of such staunch scientific proof, it seems only reasonable that educators, medical professionals and parents would advocate for bilingual education for children, and often they do; integrating foreign language learning into early education is an oft-cited goal for curriculum developers. But for deaf children, bilingualism as an educational option is ignored and in many cases even actively discouraged. The result is a child at risk of not mastering any languages, and therefore failing to reach his or her linguistic and cognitive potential.

It’s been proven since the 1960s that American Sign Language (ASL) has all the characteristics of a full and natural language, with a syntax and vocabulary independent of English, so the benefits of ASL-English bilingualism are the same as bilingualism between any two spoken languages. (I’m referring here to ASL and English, but the same holds true for signed and spoken language bilingualism in countries around the world.) So why would parents or educators try to stunt a child’s growth?

It isn’t a case of ill-intent, but rather simple misinformation. The media characterizes cochlear implants as miracle cures for deafness, and in the face of such impressive-sounding technology those who advocate for sign language education seem out-of-date or bitter about the potential loss of Deaf culture. In reality, though cochlear implants have provided hundreds of thousands of deaf people with unprecedented access to sound, as yet they cannot restore normal hearing. Success rates as to whether the user will be able to hear or understand sound and speech vary greatly, so deaf children accessing language solely through imperfect technology get fewer chances to acquire language than their hearing peers, and fall behind because of it.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not anti-technology, nor am I advocating for deaf separatism. Learning written and spoken English should be a top priority in deaf education; it’s essential for a successful integration into mainstream society. However, promoting speech shouldn’t mean sacrificing linguistic understanding, and it doesn’t have to. If given the chance, deaf children can acquire language through the natural process of incidental learning via signed language, because the visual modality allows for one-hundred percent access to linguistic information at all times. Having a strong linguistic foundation with which to think about language then allows a child to go on and learn a second language without frustration or the threat of developmental delay. But because of the stigma surrounding signing, children are often denied access to language in favor of promoting access to speech.

The arguments against ASL are many; the use of ASL prevents a child from learning to speak; learning ASL is hard; the distinct syntax and structure of ASL lowers deaf children’s reading levels. But the suggestion that ASL prevents a child from speaking is irrational, and illustrates a double standard in the education of deaf versus hearing children. Parents of a hearing child would never be instructed to stop speaking Spanish, French, Azerbaijani, etc, with their child in the worry that the child would not be able to learn English. In fact, teaching basic signs to hearing babies is trendy of late. It’s thought to decrease frustration, facilitate early communication and actually encourage speech. The idea that knowing two languages could hurt one’s reading ability is also tenuous. While some statistics show lower reading levels for deaf children, this data also includes children educated with oral methods, and research shows that children who have exposure both ASL and spoken English read better than those who know just one or the other. And the suggestion that verbal communication is easier for families should be met with question easier for whom?

With bilingualism, deaf children will not only catch up to their hearing peers, but also have access to the advantages of linguistic and cultural diversity experienced by bilingual thinkers everywhere. That is, if we let them.

Author Bio:

Sara Blazic is an instructor of undergraduate writing at Columbia University, freelance literary translator, and the founder of Redeafined (www.redeafined.com

with thanks to:

http://linguagreca.com/blog/2012/06/silencing-bilingualism/

NQT – Help I have an interview …What shall I do?

This time of year reminds me of my degree show, just as I was preparing for it I was called to the professors office as there was a phone call for me. I was being invited to a job interview which was two days away and this just coincided with the middle day of my degree show and examinations. My mind went mad what should I do first, how can I get both things done? Luckily on that particular day I only had one verbal test which the professor changed to the day before, so off I went…luckily I was chosen and my teaching career was started.

If you are in the same place here is some advice particularly for language interviews.

  • If you have any questions ring up or email  to clarify  the position
  • Where possible find out about prior learning
  • Are you co-ordinating languages as part of the position?
  • Know the up to date curriculum and where appropriate suggest exemplar lessons to support any changes.
  • Find out the year group you will be teaching and relate the curriculum to this group including, aims and objectives.
  • Think about objections e.g. some parents and teachers think teaching a child another language rather than English is the wrong thing to do so will do all they can to object…how can you over come this?
  • What is the heads view?
  • Know the benefits of MFL or EAL especially that: good practice for MFL/EAL  is good practice for everything else.  (Many benefits of bilingual learning are now to be found on this blog and the internet)
  • Most importantly enjoy what you are doing.  If you enjoy it, your enthusiasm comes across and the children enjoy their learning.
  • This is probably one people will say you shouldnt say that, it is obvious, but having been in the position of interviewer, here goes.  Wear appropriate clothing for the demonstration lesson you want to deliver thereby show your professional clothing choice. Some people plan e.g. a walk around the grounds in trousers that drag in the ground, shoes that are unsuitable for walking and then are uncomfortable throughout the rest of the interview.  Both themselves and the interviewer do not feel they have got the best out of each other.

If part of the interview is the demonstration lesson, try to find out the normal expectations e.g. are the aims clearly shown, is the three-part lesson expected, the number in the class, the age group. What they would normally doing is a good place to start …if you have no ideas…because you could support current learning. Find out what they expect via lesson planning and if possible use their normal proforma – showing that you could fit right in helps. Know where what you are doing fits in the curriculum and what could come before or after it.

In some situations you may be starting off MFL or EAL in the school for the first time…unlikely but it has been known… in this case be aware that governors may want to ask questions re the curriculum and what you hope the MFL/EAL curriculum to look like in thats chool in say three-five years once you have embedded your ideas.  As I said more likely for a full co-ordinators role or Head of Department role, but it aware it can happen. For example just because there was a member of staff in the school when the job was advertised who was to be the co-ordinator, it doesn’t mean they will be there when you take up position for all sorts of reasons.

Finally make sure you enter the primary language awards and show off all of your good work. www.languageawards.com or facebook primarylanguageawards.

 

 

Draft Primary National Curriculum link – UK

Further to the last blog here are the direct links to the Draft National Curriculums.

English:

http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/teachingandlearning/curriculum/nationalcurriculum/a00210036/sosletter

Maths

http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/p/draft%20national%20curriculum%20for%20mathematics%20key%20stages%201%202%20primary%20%20%20%2011%20june%202012.pdf

Science

http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/d/draft%20national%20curriculum%20for%20science%20key%20stages%201%202%20primary%20%20%20%2011%20june%202012.pdf

National Curriculum Review – UK

Have you seen the Letter from Micael Gove  re the Curriculum review? He is saying that emphasis will be on English, Maths and Science with Maths expectations of pupils to be higher and knowing number bonds to 20 by year 2 and times tables to 12 by year 4. Added to this will be  more challenging content.

After that to broaden the curriculum  the following subjects will be compulsory: Art and Design, Design and Technology, Geography, History, ICT, Music and PE across all primary years. At KS2 all pupils to learn a foreign language.

Brilliant news about languages and Design Technology two subjects that really set our children up for the world of work. What do you think of this news?

See more at http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/l/secretary%20of%20state%20letter%20to%20tim%20oates%20regarding%20the%20national%20curriculum%20review%2011%20june%202012.pdf