The Sutton Trust’s recent review of support for highly able children found that England’s teenagers are more than four times less likely to reach the highest levels in international maths tests as students from Switzerland and Korea, and half as likely as those from Slovenia and the Slovak Republic. Read more…
With the majority of students (aged 13 and above) and their parents already signed up to Facebook, it’s an excellent way to get to know students in a completely different light. Really knowing your students, their likes and hobbies results in a better experience in the classroom and a greater ability to reach every student effectively.
How can teachers use social media to connect with their students and enhance what they are teaching in their lessons?
The first and most important thing to consider if you want to start using sites such as Facebook in the classroom is that all the appropriate privacy settings should be used. There are some very strict controls that users can set up so that only people they want can access information, photos and send messages. This greatly reduces the risk of unwanted individuals contacting students.
Skype, Twitter and Facebook can all very easily be used as platforms to discuss and share materials from the classroom. Lesson plans, homework, notifications and letters to parents can all be posted online so that students can access them at any time.
Lessons can be recorded and then posted as online videos and podcasts on YouTube. This is excellent for students who have missed a lesson, as they can catch up online by watching the video.
Establishing an online community for you and your students can create an open and supportive environment. This can be very beneficial for students who are too shy to participate in the classroom as they may find it easier to engage with their classmates online. This can slowly help to build their confidence and eventually they will feel able to participate more and more in class.
Having an online facility can even help students in the evening if they have a question or are stuck on their homework. Rather than having to make yourself available in your free time, you can specify that you will be available online for questions during certain times.
Finally, social media websites can also help teachers keep in touch with students years after they have left school. This is great for teachers who like to know what their ex pupils end up doing later in life.
What do you think about teachers using social media in the classroom? Is it a good idea or will it end up causing more problems for schools and parents?
From ‘flashdance’ teachers becoming an online hit, to boys being put off by ‘long’ books, plans for extra years to study for core subjects and parents being reprimanded for wearing nightware to school meetings – what’s making the headlines in the world of education? We take our monthly poke around the papers to find out what’s got people talking.
Two years more studying for English & maths
Education Secretary Michael Gove has announced plans to tackle the number of pupils leaving school without a basic grasp of English or maths, says The Guardian.
Addressing MPs, Mr Gove said pupils who fail to achieve a good GCSE in English and maths will be made to study these subjects for a further two years, or to take a high-quality alternative qualification, until they leave school at 18.
The plans are part of the government’s response to a specially commissioned review into vocational qualifications. The review found that up to 400,000 teenagers were “wasting their time on college courses that did not lead to jobs or further training”.
Boys put off by long books
A survey into boys’ reading habits has found many teachers may be avoiding longer texts, as they believe boys ‘switch off’ if a book is too long, reports the Daily Telegraph.
The poll questioned 500 teachers of 11-13 year olds and found around a quarter believe that boys’ interest is often lost in the first few pages. Around one in five (22%) say it can happen within 50 pages and a further 24% at around the 100-page mark.
The research was conducted to mark the launch of Heroes, a school reading series aimed at boys. Of 260 boys aged 11-13 questioned, one in five said they prefer books with 100 pages or less.
Teachers become YouTube hit
Teachers at a high school in Fife have become a YouTube hit since they surprised pupils with an impromptu ‘flashdance’ performance, reports the Daily Mail.
Around 40 teachers at Bell Baxter High School in Cupar broke into a medley of cheesy pop songs in the school’s busy canteen, in honour of older pupils who were due to leave the school. Stunned pupils watched as teachers sang and danced to classic hits such as ‘YMCA’ and ‘Thriller’ before erupting into rapturous applause for the unexpected display. The YouTube hit has now racked up over 350,000 views.
The long and short of it
A 12-year old pupil from Cambridge decided to tackle a rule he thought was discriminatory, by wearing a knee length skirt to school in protest, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Aspiring politician Chris Whitehead decided to wear the skirt in protest that boys are banned from wearing shorts during the summer months, while girls can wear skirts. He marched to school while a group of pupils waved banners, before addressing over 1000 pupils in morning assembly wearing the skirt.
Teacher in the mire over Facebook comments
A teacher in Cornwall has apologised after branding a pupil’s coursework as ‘s**te’ on Facebook. The teacher, from Falmouth School, made the comments after working late into the evening marking year 11 coursework. They were immediately contacted by the pupil who said the comments were a ‘bit harsh’.
Unions have warned that the line between private and professional life is blurring and that teachers need to be very wary, says the Daily Mail.
In a similar case, a group of primary school teachers, including a deputy head, have been criticised by parents for posting photos of themselves on Facebook. The photos show the group on a night out, wearing army gear and posing ‘provocatively’. Privacy settings were not used to keep the images out of the public view, again reports the Daily Mail.
Pole dancing classes spark outrage
Meanwhile a dance school which is running pole dancing classes for children as young as twelve has caused outrage among residents, Christian groups and a local MP, says the Daily Mirror.
The Art of Dance pole dance and burlesque school in Plymouth is reportedly offering the classes for children aged 12 to 15 for £5-an-hour, saying it is a ‘gymnastic art, helping pupils get fitter, stronger and more confident’.
Kent school excludes eight pupils a day
The head teacher of a school where more than 400 pupils have been excluded in the space of six months has quit, reports the Daily Mirror. Christopher Sweetman has left Bishop of Rochester Academy in Kent, a school where 738 incidents of bad behaviour were logged by teachers in just one week.
Parents reprimanded for attending meetings in nightwear
It seems it’s no longer just naughty pupils who are getting into trouble with head teachers; the parents of pupils at 11 Middlesbrough primary schools have been asked to improve their ‘decency and respect’ by ensuring they come to the school gates properly dressed, reports The Daily Express.
Parents have been issued with letters making the request following an increase in the number of parents turning up to drop off and collect pupils, and even attending meetings with teaching staff, wearing pyjamas or nightwear.
But, claims the Express, wearing pyjamas outdoors is ‘common in the town’, it quotes one pyjama wearer as saying: “I can’t be bothered getting dressed.”
The children’s commissioner for England has said that more schools should involve pupils when it comes to recruiting new teachers.
A survey has revealed that 87% of children feel they know what makes a good teacher and two-thirds would like to be more involved in the recruiting process. Despite these figures, at the moment only 18% of pupils are reported to be involved when a new teacher is selected for their school.
Those in favour of pupils playing a more active role in teacher recruitment argue that young people are a school’s customers and see lots of different teaching styles over the course of their education. Taking this into consideration, it makes sense to make use of this experience when recruiting staff.
However, groups who are opposed to putting pupils on the interview panel fear that this would undermine the authority of teachers and think it’s another example of how teachers are given fewer rights simply because they work with children.
If students did become part of the recruiting process, it has been assured that they will be given proper training and support and it would be less about putting them in charge and more about simply bringing a different and valuable point of view to the process.
Do you think that involving pupils in the process of recruiting teachers will help schools to find quality staff or will this move completely undermine the authority of teachers?
What’s making the headlines in the world of education? Here we take our monthly snoop around the papers to find out what’s got people talking. From exceedingly good cakes from Rudyard Kipling, to playground games getting the boot and bad pupil behaviour that’s blamed on the weather, join us and have your say.
Playground favourites expelled
A survey of school staff by the Association of Teachers & Lecturers (ATL) has found playground games such as British bulldog, conkers and leapfrog are increasingly facing the axe due to safety concerns and schools becoming more risk averse.
Research was published at the ATL teaching union’s annual conference in Liverpool. Of the 653 school staff they surveyed, more than a quarter said British bulldog has been banned, playing conkers has been banned for 14% and leapfrog for 9%.
Bad behaviour blamed on the weather
Governors say adverse weather conditions – wind and rain – are partly to blame for the aggressive behaviour of some pupils at a school in Lancashire.
Seventy of the 80 staff at Darwen Vale high school in Blackburn say students are out of control, pushing them, challenging them to fights and threatening to film their lessons and post them online. Staff have criticised school management, saying they feel unsupported by governors and the head teacher, leading them to stage a walk-out.
However, a senior governor has defended management, saying the violent and abusive behaviour of pupils is in some part due to the bad weather.
See also our earlier blog: Discipline: do teachers get enough support?
Parents don’t have money to feed children
In a separate survey by the ATL, teachers have revealed that pupils are turning up to school hungry and in worn out clothes because their parents do not have enough money to feed and clothe them. Four out of five teachers said poverty is affecting their students and many fear the situation will worsen.
Teachers ‘should have a good degree’
Most teachers believe students should be required to have a good level of degree to work in the classroom, according to research published in the Daily Telegraph.
Some 62% said trainees should have at least a 2:2 to work in secondary schools and 58% said students should have a decent degree to work in further education colleges. However, many insisted that degree classification alone was not enough to guarantee a good teacher.
Female stereotypes in schools
Ofsted has criticised mixed sex schools, saying they are not doing enough to promote girls’ confidence and ambitions. A survey from the School’s Inspector has found work placements for female students are almost all in ‘stereotypically female’ occupations. Out of more than 1,700 examples of work placements, less than a tenth were ‘unconventional’, while the vast majority were in education, hair and beauty, offices and shops.
Girls in single sex schools exhibited the most positive attitudes, with pupils saying they would definitely consider doing jobs stereotypically done by men.
Exceedingly good cakes from Rudyard Kipling?
More than one in three children in the UK think Rudyard Kipling makes cakes, says an article in the Daily Mail.
The research was carried out to support an initiative to print extracts from children’s books and poems to breakfast cereal boxes.
Time travel concerns for parents
Parents in China are worried that their children are seriously thinking about how to time travel, says an article on Chinese website Xin Hua News.
Parents’ concerns have grown since pupils started writing about time travel in school essays and exams. One teacher quoted puts the popularity of time travel fantasies down to pupils needing an escape from school pressures and as a response to a lack of available quality reading material.
The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, China’s film and television watchdog, has reportedly issued a circular to discourage the broadcast of time travel related shows.