Some thoughts from a teacher in the early stages of her career. Inspired by all the great edubloggers out there!

Archive for August, 2014

Not enough time to play

Really though provoking – who is actually benefitting from shorter break times? Reblogged.

The Diary of a Not So Ordinary Boy

It’s a funny thing, the factors you apply when you are looking for a school for your darling children to attend.  When we were looking for the right secondary school for Sam we looked around two, one mainstream and one special, and before we even stepped over the threshold I was breaking my heart over the decision.  Should we continue to keep him in the ‘real’ world, with the friends he’s made at primary school, or should we send him to the smaller, specialised institution where he’d be all on his own, but he wouldn’t be so lost?  It was a big decision.

You’d think, with me being a teacher and all, that I’d be looking at standards and exam results and teaching styles and syllabuses and OfSted reports and all of that jazz.  Were they progressive or traditional, did they engage with educational research, what was the proportion of…

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Come again?

So here I am on a gloomy Friday morning, casually reading the Guardian app when I come across this gem – Toddlers must learn British values.
My brain was struggling slightly – toddlers? Must? Learn? British? Values?
As I read deeper, it all became clear as obviously we are nipping extremism in the bud by starting with the British values while they are in nappies! Nappies!!!

To be honest, I’m not quite sure why I am writing this blogpost now, as I am yet to form a fully coherent thought about this topic that isn’t “what? But? What? How? Why?” but it is my new resolution to blog more so here I am.

I have never worked below key stage one, so I am not particularly well placed to talk about what happens in our nurseries (for 2 and 3 year olds) but from my discussions with the members of staff who do, the last thing they will be starting with in September is the teaching of British values; chances are they will be more focused on making sure all the children have been toilet trained and can feed themselves.

My school is situated in a very ethnically diverse area, so to be quite honest, it would not surprise me if our school was to get a little ‘visit’ to check that we are not promoting extremism too. But for two and three year olds?!? They are deemed to young to go to Arabic school anyway so where the extremism would start to be dripped in, I don’t know – would they even understand what they are being told? I can just picture a tiny 3 year old now “I’m sorry Imam, but I just can’t agree with your radical views as just today in nursery we learnt all about the British values of fairness and democracy for all” – yep that’s definitely happening.

How will we show that we are promoting British values? Festoon everything in Union Jack flags? Ensure the children can sing the National Anthem by heart before they leave Reception? Some nurseries will probably take this too far and there will be no mention of any other religious stories for fear of promoting creationism and then having their funding cut. It was interesting that in the article somebody is quoted as saying ‘we’re not saying you can’t teach Bible stories’. But what about the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu creation stories? To create a well rounded society, we need to understand everyone’s view points. If we can teach a Bible story about how the world began, then why not a Muslim story too?

I fully appreciate the sentiment for where this statement came from; that to create a fully inclusive society we all need to understand that we live in Britain so therefore we must all abide by the same ‘British values’ (which if I’m honest sounds all about too UKIP for my liking) but equally we need to value diversity. The community that my school is situated in is fantastic and not once have I ever thought ‘oh my goodness, we need to get some British values instilled around here’! British values are linked in with the values for a healthy society and any good school will be teaching these values anyway – they just don’t call them ‘British’. If we are not careful, we could almost end up going the opposite way and indoctrinating children into extremism about British values – a 3 year old BNP member anyone?

I just hope that nurseries across the UK and nursery managers/head teachers who have read this this morning think ‘pfft what tosh, I am confident in my nursery staff that the values we teach are ‘British’ enough to satisfy any ofsted inspector’. But sadly, I know that there will be some nurseries who panic and go the other way – making everything overly British, banning the creationist stories from other cultures (which are often some of the children’s favourites anyway) and stamping down on any reference to any cultures that they deem not British enough. I have a horrible feeling that this ‘inclusive’ policy could backfire horribly.

Scripted Langauge – Why bother?

Will be trying this next year with a few individuals! Reblogged

Mainstream to a PRU and back...

“The words you use are as powerful as the message you are trying to convey – do you always know what to say when under stress?”

Bill Rogers

I started my current post at the end of April this year. I left the safety of the PRU that I had worked at for the last 4 years to pick up my dicey relationship with mainstream. Last time we broke up, we ended terribly and I was convinced that I would not return. I loved working in a PRU. Children with EBD issues are some of the most challenging and rewarding people who I have been fortunate to work with and it was down to them why I have managed to convince myself that I need to acquaint  myself with my former life – a classroom teacher.

I was asked to immediately re-write the schools behaviour policy, in fact, I was…

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Reading for CPD: a starting point.

A useful reference list for me to come back to! Reblogged.

@mrocallaghan_edu

via @GapingVoid

One of the pitfalls of my PGCE course was that I was not encouraged to read much beyond ‘101 ICT starters’. It was not part of the culture of the course. It was not a habit widely encouraged either during the course of in the schools within which I trained.

Since then (mainly through my PLN on Twitter) I have read a number of books that have challenged and made me think about the the way I teach and the strategies I use inside and outside of my classroom (see my reading list). I also have an Amazon wishlist the size of a phone directory! PGCE’s may have changed a bit in the 5 years since I completed mine

I always encourage all teachers I connect with, whether new to the profession or not to read widely. Getting advice and preferences from colleagues within your school is a good…

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The Level 4b myth

This is so depressing – I am not looking forward to getting my year 5s up to the new ‘4b’! Reblogged from rumblings of a teacher.

Ramblings of a Teacher

The current government has made no secret of its intention to “raise standards” in the curriculum, and to expect higher attainment at the end of Key Stage 2. We have been told that the old Level 4 threshold was simply not demanding enough, and that from 2016 the new floor thresholds will be for 85% of children to reach the new higher standard.

Importantly, we were also told that the new higher standard would be broadly similar to a 4b under the current system. Now, setting aside the fact that 4b doesn’t really exist, this already meant – as Warwick Mansell pointed out in his excellent NAHT blog – that around 1/5th of schools would then fall below that threshold.

However, what has never been fully explained is how this new ‘level 4b equivalent’ will be arrived at. The floor standards will be based on the percentage of children attaining a scaled…

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