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News and Views

Preparing and Planning for Sickness as a Teacher

As a teacher, it’s all too easy to get ill at work. Schools are a hotbed for illness, and, sooner or later, it’s going to be passed on to you. First things first: do away with that teacher guilt that all school staff are burdened with. If you’re not well, you can’t do much about it, and you won’t be much use in the classroom anyway. Everybody gets sick; it’s okay to admit it. If you struggle through your illness to go in to work, you could end up making the problem worse and need even more time off to compensate. You...

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Creative Solutions to the Plastic-Free Classroom

Plastic. It’s the dirty word nobody wants to hear. Whatever we do in our day-to-day lives, from public transport to the very food we eat, plastic is everywhere. While we may not have been aware of the dangers of plastics while growing up, the current generation of children are more in-touch with the dangers of pollution than any preceding it. This is largely attributed to David Attenborough’s work with Blue Planet II, but there’s also increasing societal pressure to find a solution to this problem – pressure that was made clear by the introduction of the supermarket carrier bag tariff. Today’s children...

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Is This the End of Teacher Pay Austerity?

Classroom teachers are set to enjoy a pay rise of up to 3.5%, in an exciting measure that means the end of real-terms pay cuts for teaching staff. However, this isn’t being awarded across the board. Headteachers and other senior staff look set to get between 1.5% to 2% instead, which means their year-on-year pay still won’t keep up with inflation. This isn’t the end of the impact of austerity measures, although an upwards trend has to be celebrated. Those in senior positions are still receiving a real-terms pay cut, although a lesser one than in previous years. Classroom teachers will...

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Does Primary Baseline Assessment Benefit Children?

Is it right to assess four- to five-year-olds? The proposed baseline assessment test will only be sat for a few minutes, but the impact of these tests could be more wide-reaching. Due to be piloted in 2019, there are plans to implement primary baseline assessment nationwide in 2020 following a successful trial. Assessment will be carried out via a 20-minute test that spans literacy, numeracy, and emotional literacy, with an aim to getting a snapshot of children’s ability as they enter school. The stated aim is to track improvement from Reception class to Year 6, and to use this data to provide...

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Closing the Digital Skills Gap

How many mobile phones have you confiscated this term alone? An annual computing education report from the University of Roehampton has found that only 12% of this year’s GCSE students have opted to study Computing to GCSE level; more worryingly, only 2.7% have continued this through to A-Level. This may seem like an odd statistic when you consider the small stack of impounded phones sitting in your desk drawer. Almost all children enjoy the benefits of modern computing technology, but it seems that very few of them are actively engaging in learning how to advance computing and use it to create something...

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What the Critical Window of Language Acquisition Means to Education

It’s usually agreed that the earlier children acquire a second language, the better their cognition and language acquisition skills in later life. In support of this, the findings of a journal recently posted to online news outlets suggests that, to acquire native fluency, it is best to start before the age of 10. This period of development is often referred to as the critical window of language acquisition; the implication is that the ability to easily pick up on grammar and its intricacies begins to decline through a person’s teens, and drops right off as they enter their twenties. So what...

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A Sixth Former’s Experience Working at SPC

I’m a sixth form student in year 12, and when I heard we were expected to do more work experience (since my last experience in year 10), I groaned like everyone else. This meant more worrying about finding a placement, more making phone calls with receptionists who broke promises to follow them up, more disinterested members of human resources. And so, this was what I initially got; research a place near enough, call them up, wait for a follow-up, follow them up myself where I find that they ultimately refused me. That was until I came across Mimeo; a printing...

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A Student’s Perspective on Setting Homework and Marking Tips

Today's blog was written by Chris Walsh, a Year 12 student visiting the SPC offices on work experience. He's presented some interesting and potentially helpful points on setting and marking homework.   The debate over whether or not homework is useful has raged on for quite possibly over a century, and will continue to be debated for another. Even I myself made a presentation about it for English Language class. Any stakeholder in education has an opinion: parents, teachers, students, even inspectors. But none of this actually helps teachers; schools rarely address the issue, and some issue minimums for how much homework is...

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Encouraging Students to Volunteer

The 15th of April is International Microvolunteering Day 2018, and it provides a great opportunity for students to get involved. The initiative offers volunteers 'bite-sized, on-demand, no-commitment actions that benefit a worthy cause', which can range from playing free video games to contribute to scientific research, 5-minute volunteering opportunities, and even volunteering from your smartphone. Small, easily digestible chunks of volunteering, or microvolunteering as it has come to be known, are a great way to hit students with the altruism bug and inspire them to take on richer volunteering experiences in their local community. But how do you get them to take...

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How to Help Students Get the Most from Holiday Revision

How much Easter revision is too much for a secondary school student? How about seven hours a day? With the advent of the Easter holidays, revision – and how much each student actually does – has once again become a hot topic. A press release published on the Independent Schools Council website argues the case for seven hours of Easter revision per day for GCSE and A-Level students. Advice like this will always be polarising. Some have condemned it as a draconian stance, whereas others have praised it as sage advice. While we may not agree on how much time students should dedicate to...

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