Monthly Archives: May 2013

When exams go wrong

Ok so in the news today, a school in Newmarket has been teaching one book for their A level English exam, which turns out not to be the correct book at all. This means that two weeks before they were due to sit their exam, the teacher dropped the bombshell. This horrified pupils and meant that they had to learn an entire new book in a couple of weeks.

Unsurprisingly this school was deemed ‘inadequate’ and ‘a school that requires special measures’ earlier this year by Ofsted, but this begs the question: ‘What on earth is that school, in particular the teacher doing?’

This isn’t the first blunder of this kind, it happened a few years ago as well. It was also portrayed on Waterloo Road a couple of years ago too.

I reminisce back to my GCSE days for a blunder of a different nature, this time it was a fault of the exam board. In my Music exam, we were asked to name a possible composer for pieces of music. The reality is these questions were easy as all you had to do was look at the copyright lists that the exam board had conveniently put on the back of the paper, which listed the composer, the name of the song and the year it was written.

This should not be happening at any level in any way, so as a teaching unit, we should be lobbying the government for an improved system, ie having 1 official exam board, not having several competing against each other, which allows for the exams to be made ‘easier’ so they will be more likely to be used.

What should we do in your opinion? Comment your thoughts 🙂

Banning of daytime takeaway food – Maybe?

Ok so it came out that a councilor in the Salford area of Manchester has proposed the idea that takeaway food shouldn’t be served in the daytime so that children in the area are encouraged to eat healthier (Full article available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-22700415) so I’m going to offer my take on all this.

As a lot of you know by now as I’ve done a few posts about food lately, I am all for healthy eating, especially among children. We have far too many obese people in the country as it is, so tackling the problem from childhood is a good way to make a start.

The problem I see is how is this going to work? Children are not often allowed out of school for lunch until they are in Sixth Form in most areas to my knowledge, which means the children mentioned in the article (10-11 year olds) do not fit into this category.

I think what will actually happen is that if this ban is imposed, it will simply drive these shops out of the area. It’s not just children who use these shops as those who work or other local residents will probably want to use them too, so they are actually wiping out a market, leading to a poorer economy within the area.

This proposal is open to public consultation on the 5th July so it will be interesting to see what happens.

School spending protected – or is it?

I’m sure a lot of teachers and educators around were probably thrilled with the news that George Osbourne has signaled that spending in schools will be protected, but I want to look in more detail about what is being protected and perhaps how much.

We all know that the education budget has many parts to it, what Mr Osbourne said was that he would ‘try’ to protect money going into schools, but this doesn’t guarantee that all parts will be protected. We have seen in recent reviews that whilst the budgets have been protected, schools still have had to face cuts at a local level because the councils budgets have been cut. This means that while it looks like schools aren’t baring the brunt of all this austerity on a national scale, at the local level they still are.

Shadow Schools Minister Kevin Brennan also rejects the idea that education spending has been protected. “According to independent analysis from the IFS, David Cameron and Michael Gove have slashed spending on education by the biggest amount since the 1950s. School buildings have fared particularly badly with 60% cuts to capital spending, leaving classrooms crumbling and a huge shortage of primary school places. And as a leaked DfE memo reveals – schools are subject to a real terms cut in their funding. All this is threatening school standards,” said Mr Brennan.

I hate to be the bringer of bad news, but I get the feeling that education will not be as protected in next month’s spending review as we might hope. Only time will tell of course, but for those who are trying to get into the profession like myself, it does add a lot of pressure to try and keep standards high in ever more demanding situations.

Comment your thoughts 🙂

Save the Children report – Malnutrition and Literacy

Today’s article is rather similar to my previous post about School dinners, although this time it’s been noted that authors have backed a report about malnutrition effecting literacy standards.

A group of leading authors including Julia Donaldson is highlighting new research that malnutrition leaves children struggling to read and write.

The children’s laureate backs a global study that suggests children who are badly malnourished are 20% more likely to misread simple sentences.

The Save the Children report on 7,300 eight-year-olds says quality schooling can be cancelled out by malnourishment.

A quarter of the world’s children are thought to be stunted by malnutrition.

The Gruffalo author is joined by Michael Morpurgo, Philip Pullman, David Walliams and others in raising concerns about the connection between malnourishment and poor literacy levels ahead of the G8 global nutrition summit in London on 8 June.

Donaldson says: “The devastating impact of malnutrition shouldn’t be underestimated. It stunts a child’s development, sapping the strength of their minds as well as their body, depriving them of the chance to be able to read or write a simple sentence. Leaders attending this summit have a golden opportunity to stop this. They must invest more funding to tackle malnutrition if we are to stop a global literacy famine.”

The Study

The long-term consequences of child malnutrition for health and resilience to disease are well established. But this research, carried out by the University of Oxford for the charity, presents new evidence that for the first time identifies the impact of malnutrition on educational outcomes across a range of countries.

The researchers followed children in four countries – Ethiopia, India, Peru and Pakistan – throughout their childhood, interviewing and testing them at key points in their lives to determine their educational abilities, confidence, hopes and aspirations.

The study suggests children who are malnourished at the start of life are severely disadvantaged in their ability to learn.

As well as the lower basic literacy abilities, stunted children score 7% lower on maths tests and are 12% less likely to be able to write a simple sentence at the age of eight compared with non-stunted children.

They are also 13% less likely to be in the appropriate grade for their age at school.

Save the Children chief executive Justin Forsyth said: “These findings confirm our very worst fears – that poor nutrition is capable of seriously damaging a child’s life chances before he or she even sets foot in a classroom.

“We have made huge progress in tackling child deaths, but having a quarter of the world’s children at risk of underperforming at school will have grave consequences for the fight to end global poverty.”

Important lesson for teachers and parents I think. Kids need the right nutrition, too many kids are being disadvantaged by all this. We know that this is not the only factor, but we can at least tackle one of the biggest ones now.

Metal Cover Monday! 27th May 2013

OK this is a request from a friend who asked me to find a metal cover of Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits. This was a hard one as there aren’t any. The closest I could find was a version by the Killers, which obviously isn’t metal.

I did however find quite a nice guitar cover for a different song of theirs – Sultans of Swing. It uses the original vocals etc. Anyhow enjoy 🙂

Comment on here for any other requests, I’ll hopefully do a better job of finding one next time 🙂

I have a dream …

OK today is going to be all about dreams and ambitions.

People always have ambitions, even people from my background. Over the years I’ve met many different people and come across many different ambitions. So I wanted to share my own ambitions, and some of those that children have told me in my teaching years.

My ambition

    My own personal ambition is to prove my belief that it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, you can always achieve your potential if your mind is on it. To those who’ve read my very first post about my life, it is very obvious why. That theory is also my motivation for becoming a teacher, I wanted to make that possible. My real ambition is to make a real positive contribution to the world, by working on the front line of developing generations of young talent for the future. Recently I’ve been mentoring a fantastic young girl, Hannah, who wants to become a teacher as well. She’s currently working through her GCSEs and is quite possibly the most amazing person I’ve worked for in all the years I’ve been mentoring and teaching. I look forward to the day when she joins the profession too.

    Some ambitions I’ve been told

Now I’m going to give some ambitions of children I’ve worked with in the past, some are quite amusing and others really made me emotional;

“I have a dream that I will become a dustbin man, so I can keep the world a cleaner place” Yr 1 boy

“I have a dream that I will be successful in whatever I choose to do” Yr 2 girl

“I have a dream that I will make my family proud, and maybe even be famous one day” Year 3 girl

and one that almost brought me to tears;

“I have a dream that I will be an awesome teacher like you Mr Melaney” Year 6 boy

What ambitions do you have? Feel free to comment 🙂

Krokus – Schools out

Ok today I’m bringing you a song that relates especially to those who are entering Study Leave for GCSEs, finishing A levels, or finishing uni. This is School’s Out covered by Swiss rock band Krokus, an underrated band from the 70s and 80s. I prefer this version to the Alice Cooper one if i’m honest.

Children abusing children – a shocking tale

OK this has to be one of the most shocking stories I’ve heard in a long time.

Charities have announced that a growing number of children are being sexually abused by other children. They say their helplines have seen a big increase in calls from young people who are being abused.

Freedom of information figures obtained by the NSPCC say more than 5,000 children were reported to police in England and Wales as abusers over the last three years. Almost all of those accused of the abuse of other children were boys.

This, according to the charities, mostly is due to the access to online pornography becoming a lot easier in this technologically driven age, where more and more children are getting access to smartphones and tablets at an increasingly younger age.

A story of a 9 year old girl, told by her mother Jenni

Jenni says her nine-year-old daughter was sexually abused by a boy of the same age.

“He aggressively rubbed himself up against her, getting very excited, and telling her what he wanted to do to her in a very graphic way. He had his hands around her neck.”

Jenni is convinced the boy was influenced by images he saw online. “He told her to go home and look at porn sites and then copy what she saw on him,” she said. “I looked at some of the sites and I couldn’t bear it. I walked away in disgust, it was just too much. The images were absolutely horrific. He took my daughter’s innocence away. It’s just shocking what he did at such a young age.”

Charities believe indecent online material is making young people think that is how they should behave.

So what is happening about it?

The four main internet providers have told the government they plan to put safety filters in homes with children by the end of the year. Experts say they do not really work because many young people know how to get round them.

A recent government report on young sexual offenders said parents, teachers and social workers often missed warning signs in children who might sexually abuse. Campaigners say there needs to be more investment in training staff so that they’re able to detect problems early on.

The charities believe blocking porn sites is a start but it is not necessarily the solution. They think teachers and parents should talk about the damaging effects porn could have on children in an open way.

I think you’ll agree that this is a horrifying story, so it is important that teachers are aware of any of this going on. I haven’t heard anything quite like this before, but it is the shocking truth about what can happen in a world driven by technology.