Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Gripping Yarns

In school today, our Year Sixes enjoyed a presentation by Jane from Gripping Yarns. She gave a monologue about a girl whose behaviour became worse as she struggled to cope with problems at home and the move up into high school. The presentation was about how problems can be built up if they are not shared and she gave the children the message that there is always somebody to talk to if they aren't happy. The children really enjoyed the monologue and talk afterwards really helped them to feel comfortable. My only wish was that the presentation was given in June or July when the move up to high school is perhaps on their minds more.
She gave details of a website that looks good. Kooth.com is a bit like an online version of Childline where young people can discuss their problems with somebody anonymously.

Monday, 26 February 2007

Lost Season Three Episode 9 'Stranger In A Strange Land'

That was a brilliant episode last night!!

It's always interesting seeing more about Jack's background, and it was good to see him having some fun for a change!!

The most interesting development was seeing that the survivors from the tail section are still alive and seem to now be part of the group that kidnapped them in the first place.

Some questions that need to be answered: Who is Isabel and what ranking does she hold amongst the Others? What are their plans for Jack now? Why are the Tailies so happy in the Others' camp?

It's a Hurley flashback next week - I always love his flashbacks. I wonder if we will see anymore of Libby...

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Le Chateau du Broutel

I have just returned from the most incredible residential visit that I have ever been involved in.
This was the first time that our school has ever taken children on a visit abroad and I am so glad we did because the children and staff all had a brilliant time!
The Chateau de Broutel in Rue, was built around 1714 by Jean-Baptiste Loisel, one of the heads of cavalry of Louis XIV. It was restored in 1824 after some damage in the French Revolution. During WW2 it was occupied by the German army. Lionel Leroy, the director of Leroy Merlin (the French equivalent to B&Q) bought the Chateau in the early 1980s.
The Chateau is now owned by Manor Adventure and it offers superb residential visits to KS2, 3 and 4.
We decided to take the children on a visit to France so they could practice their conversational French they have been learning since September 2005. The Chateau was by far the most breath-taking accomodation we could find and we were all keen on booking a visit as soon as possible.
Here is what the children enjoyed on the visit:
Monday: Travelled to Rue, by coach and ferry. In the evening the children took part in some team building games. Each evening they added to their scrapbook of the visit.
Tuesday: We had a guided tour of the village of Rue, which, for a small village, has a lot of history. The children tried a quiz to find out information about the town. It also gave them an opportunity to use their French. In the afternoon we visited a fantastic goat farm where the children had chance to listen to French speaking and also look at how the goats and cows were looked after. They could also try some goat's cheese. We also visited a chocolate factory which was lovely!! They had a talk about how chocolate is made and the chance to try and purchase some items. In the evening they tried a scavenger hunt.
Wednesday: In the morning we set off into Rue to buy stamps and postcards (using French, of course!) before we set off for Amiens. Amiens has the most incredible cathedral. It is huge and the children were completely blown away! In the afternoon we went to an underground city where people hid during WW1 and was used by the Nazis in WW2. There was a great adventure playground which kept staff and pupils amused! In the evening the children took part in a quiz.
Thursday: In the morning we went off to Abbeville market. The children had the chance to buy whatever they wished and there was a really good variety and excellent prices. Each group also had to buy three typically French items - one blue, one white and one red for a display back in school. In the afternoon they prepared their own promotional film for the Chateau, played petanque and completed the muddiest blind trail ever! The children, and a certain member of staff (!) were caked in mud but they had a great time! In the evening they enjoyed a disco.
Friday: Before heading for the ferry we went to Nausicaa which is a French sealife centre. The journey home seemed to take forever!! When they returned to school we had a small surprise for the children - a t-shirt to remind them of their visit!
I'm pleased to report that all the children were safe and thoroughly enjoyed their visit. I would whole-heartedly recommend the Chateau to anyone who wishes to organise a visit abroad!
School is going to seem so mundane tomorrow morning!

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Lost Season Three Episode 8 'Flashes Before Your Eyes'

It was interesting to see a little more about Desmond and Penny's situation before the island, but I thought last week's episode was really, quite wierd!!

Desmond's 'gift is obviously going to play some significant role later in the series.

Any thoughts anyone?

Friday, 23 February 2007


These are the penguins at Nausicaa in Boulogne.

Here we are at chateau du broutel!

Just found out I found out I can send to my blog by phone! This shows our school at the end of our week in France! We have had an awesome time!
It shows what a few spare hours on a bus on a visit to France can lead you discover about your mobile phone. I will have to try to send more photos to the site this way!!
Expect more details about the residential to follow soon!

Sunday, 18 February 2007

We are taking our Year Sixes to France!

There won't be anymore posts to the site until the weekend as tomorrow morning, bright and early... actually, just make that early, we are taking our Year Sixes on a residential in France!! There will be lots of write about when I get back so stay tuned!

Saturday, 17 February 2007

Moving House Part 9 - We've bought a house!!

We had ten house viewings this afternoon. It was really busy. The thing was that we'd already made up our mind about which house we wanted yesterday morning!! We found a brilliant house which we both fell in love with straight away!! We had to compete with another buyer for a while, but we ended up agreeing a price with the vendor!!

We are chuffed to bits!!

Friday, 16 February 2007

Primary Resources Update

The superb Primary Resources website has been updated this morning. Tonnes of new resources have been added.

Moving House Part 8

Have seen two really nice houses this morning! I think that we might have a winner!! Have got quite a few more to look round first though.

Brit Awards 2007

I watched the show last night on Sky Plus. I always enjoy the Brit Awards as someone always makes a fool of themself!

Here is a list of who won and who I thought should of won:

  • British Male Solo Artist - James Morrison won and I completely agree!
  • British Female Solo Artist - Amy Winehouse (who is she, and why the heck did she win an award for that drivel she calls music?!) I thought Lily Allen should have won this one.
  • British Group - Arctic Monkeys won, but I thought Razorlight deserved to win. They have had a great year.
  • British Album - Arctic Monkeys won, but I think either Lily Allen or Snow Patrol deserved this. Okay, Snow Patrol, if you're going to force me to choose.
  • British Single - Take That's Patience won this and I think this is who I wanted. My second choice was Snow Patrol's Chasing Cars.
  • British Breakthrough Act - The Fratellis won this and this is who I wanted to win!
  • British Live Act - Not that I've seen any acts live this year, I would have liked Robbie Williams to win.
  • International Male Solo Artist - Justin Timberlake won, but I've not been at all impressed with his new stuff. I think Jack Johnson is brilliant and he should have won.
  • International Female Solo Artist - Nelly Furtado won but after hearing Lisa play the Pink album quite a bit, I would have actually preferred her to win.
  • International Group - The Killers won, but I think Scissor Sisters deserved this. Their performance at the beginning was incredible!!
  • International Album - The Killers also won this one, but I think, again, that the Scissor Sisters should have won this.
  • International Breakthrough Act - Orson won this and I think this was the right decision, although I wouldn't have minded Gnarls Barkley winning.
  • Outstanding Contribution to Music - Oasis are my favourite group of all time and they thoroughly deserve this award. After watching the show I immediately dug out all my Oasis CDs and had a listen!

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Unicef report claims that British children have the worst quality of life in the Western world

I'm sure you'll have seen the damning report about the quality of life for British children. This is really worrying. It seems that British children's quality of life (compared the 21 other Western countries) is:

  • 12th out of 21 for Health
  • 17th out of 21 for Education
  • 18th out of 21 for Poverty
  • 21st out of 21 for Family relationships
  • 21st out of 21 for Risky behaviour

This is not good. Now we need to demand that somethings is done to try to improve matters. Whilst millions of parents look after their children well, there must be something going wrong if we are last in the family relationships category. The Education result really annoys me. What is it that other countries are doing right that we appear to be doing so badly?

Unfortunately, although this is a terrible report, it is not completely surprising. The scally culture that exists amongst most of our teenagers is getting out of hand. You seem them all in huge gangs, walking around the town with their trackies, shoes and caps. It's impossible to drive through most towns without seeing a huge gang hanging around on some street corner. Children have got into their mindset that it's ok to look like a scally, it's ok to drink underage, it's ok to have sex underage and that it's ok to intimidate people. In my view, the Government have got a huge task on their hands to try to change the way many teenagers behave.

Whilst I'm ranting about teenagers, why is it that teenagers who do conform to society and are sensible are not rewarded properly. They all seem to get tarnished with the same brush, yet I know there is a huge number of teenagers who do the right thing. Can't children who do this be rewarded in some way. It all comes back to the positive discipline we all use - we praise the children who behave well in order to encourage the others to follow suit.

A third of high school pupils want their lessons to be harder

The Daily Mail (14th February 2007) writes that up to a third of comprehensive pupils say their lessons are too easy.

They have told researchers they want to be moved into higher-ability classes because they are worried that their work is not challenging enough.

As if this is something we didn't know already... How many of us have had pupils come back in to visit us and be told that high school is easy! I particularly find this so in Maths. You have to ask yourself why this is allowed to happen in high schools. So many strategies have been put into place in primary schools so that this won't happen. But my experiences of some high schools is that the children are sometimes allowed to drift in their first year or so.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Playground Fun

Playground Fun is an excellent website which is full of ideas for games children can play at break times. It is very handy for teachers and also parents, but it is very child friendly and so children themselves can take ideas from the site. I plan to use it with the school's Break Time Buddies!

I have added it to My Bookmarks - you will find an image which links to this on the right of the page. Let me know if there are any sites you'd like to add.

Moving House Part 7

I have just been to collect details of what feels like a million properties in Winsford! Lots of stunning places. We have our first viewing tonight!!

Monday, 12 February 2007

Moving House Part 6

Oh my God!

It's all happened so quickly!!

We have accepted an offer on the house!! Now we've got to spend the next few days searching for a house to move in to!! Very chuffed!!

Number of teachers has risen

The BBC reports that the number of teachers in England's schools has risen by more than 36,000 in the past decade. Ministers add that there has also been an increase of 155,000 in support staff because of changes and investments they say.
The figures were released in response to parliamentary questions from former Education Secretary David Blunkett.
Mr Blunkett, who led the Education Department from 1997 to 2001, said that they provided a "phenomenal good news story" about the government's record.
He said: "Contrary to the cynicism and downbeat message that is so often portrayed on progress and improvement over the last 10 years, these figures tell a phenomenal good news story which should boost the morale of both parents and teachers alike.
The figures, provided by education minister Jim Knight, showed there were 435,600 full-time equivalent teaching posts in English schools in 2006, compared to 399,200 in 1997.
There were 287,530 support staff - including teaching assistants, special needs and minority ethnic pupil support staff, administrative and clerical workers, technicians and medical and child care staff - in 2006, compared to 133,480 in 1997.

I wonder how PPA time will continue to affect the dynamics of the teaching work force...

Moving House Part 5

We've just had a second viewing by a potential buyer!! Blimey! Fingers crossed!

How to create an exciting display

I found this information in Junior Education September 2006 about how to create an exciting display:

  1. Have a cross-curricular element
  2. Use interesting borders and backing (see the borders available at Teacher Toolbox Ebay Shop)
  3. Try unusual positioning
  4. Include some interactive elements - enourage the children to 'stand up and do' rather than 'sit down and look'
  5. Feature children's work
  6. Be original - attempt to display unusual topics and ideas
  7. Ensure your labels and titles are all big and clear

Thought there were a few good ideas here.

Lost Season Three Episode 7 'Not In Portland'

It's back!!

What a great episode to kick off with too. We got to learn more about Juliet. It hinted that she'd been handpicked to be taken to the island to carry out experiments - something to do with pregnancy. Could this explain why they were so keen on capturing Claire in Season One? It also means that Sun should be worried!

Kate, Sawyer and Karl managed to escape from the island. I wonder what they were doing to Karl - some kind of mind-altering experiment?

At the end, Juliet revealed that Ben was prepared to let her go home after over three years on the island. He has now said that he will allow Jack and Juliet go home.

Every week I get more questions I need to know the answers to! Desmond's flashback is next week!

Child Genius

I watched a really scary programme on my Sky Plus box last night - Child Genius.

Child Genius is a landmark Channel 4 returning series that will document the lives of ten of the UK's most gifted children as they grow up. Beginning with this 90-minute curtain raiser and first returning in a year's time, Child Genius will follow the ten children as they develop over the coming years. Each will follow a very different path and there will be no predicting the outcomes as they come to terms with their gift and figure out their place in the world.

I really enjoyed watching this documentary, but at the same time I found it very disturbing. There was an almost robotic-looking mother and father who push their four children so hard they have an 11+ celebration day (you've never seen so many presents!) Next, there was a boy called Dante who was a superb philosopher but I sensed had real issues. I was really put off by Michael the 'literary genius' who didn't seem to be able to stop talking, but in the end I thought had a good sense of humour. Peter was a hilarious boy who was a chess genius but was only ever in the company of adults. Aimee was a lovely girl who was incredibly bright and inbelievable talented in music. At three-years-old, Mikhail is the youngest ever member of Mensa. He can multiply five figure numbers before most kids can count to 10. His parents were told that he was spending too long on learning maths and not a lot else, and as a result his IQ was going down! Fair play, he is only 3, but they were very shocked by this. My favourite genius was the six-year-old boy who was taking GCSE maths!

The disturbing aspect of the programme revealled something quite concerning - that it seems that the vast majority of schools are unable to cater for children with needs like their's. Some of the parents had spend thousands trying to find the right private school to challenge them. Our government has spent so many years trying encourage schools to be inclusive so that children with physical and learning difficulties can be educated with everyone else. What about children who are extraordinarily bright? I think the government are only just waking up to this fact. Ofsted are apparently looking at this too. One of our local schools was given challenging gifted and talented pupils in the foundation subjects as an area for development!

The most appalling thing about the programme was that the parents didn't seem to mind that their children didn't have any friends. They were all too happy to remove them from school, teach them at home and deny them any social interaction with their peers. Being a genius is one thing, but learning to look after themselves in the real world is far too important a skill to be ignored. I am already looking forward to the next part of the series, in a year or two's time.

Why do we put children through SATs if the high schools don't believe the results?

Taken from Independent 8th Feb 2007:
Secondary schools setting own tests
(Thanks to Andrew Ross @ Primary Teacher UK for mentioning this article.)

Secondary schools are testing 11-year-old students themselves because they lack confidence in national curriculum test results.
Headteachers believe too many pupils are being coached for maths and English tests throughout their last year at primary school to improve the school's league table position.
They may reach the required standard in the national curriculum tests but lack the necessary comprehension to improve their standards - and are forced to sit new tests three months later.
Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, said there was not enough emphasis on oral reading skills in the national curriculum tests, which could help determine a child's reading confidence.
John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the national curriculum tests were designed to show what a pupil could achieve at 11 - but secondary schools wanted to know they could be expected to achieve by the age of 16. As a result, it was necessary to carry out more cognitive tests to determine what targets to set for individual pupils.

Well this is just great. It seems that high schools don't trust the SATs results. All the hard work that the children go through only to be told that their results don't really count, it's the high school's own results that do.

In my experience, our local high schools do use our SATs results in conjunction with our Teacher Assessments to decide how a child should be placed in sets. Well, each year I get to have a look at the results and I don't think they reveal anything that we didn't tell the school beforehand!

Surely, this article simply highlights a huge flaw in the SATs testing system - the fact that children shouldn't have to go through them at all!

Friday, 9 February 2007

End of half-term

Well, it's been a hectic week. After having to attend a course with five minutes notice on Tuesday and spending a couple of hours on Thursday trying to fix our brand new server, I am ready for a half-term holiday!!

The week after the holiday we take our Year Sixes to France for a week! This is the first time that we have done this and we are all really looking forward to it!!

Hope everyone has a great holiday!!

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Lost Season Three

I received my Lost magazine from the post today (I know, I'm a nerd!) It reveals that the next episode, to be shown on Sky One on Sunday, will have a Juliet flashback!! Can't wait to see more of her story!!

Monday, 5 February 2007

'Pleased with your progress letters'

I know it's late, but we are planning to send out letters to the parents of children who have made pleasing progress this half term. Does anyone have a sample letter they could email me?

Sunday, 4 February 2007

McDonald's sponsors NAHT Conference!

It has been revellead in the Mail on Sunday (4th Feb) that the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) conference in the summer will be sponsored by McDonald's!

Whilst I think it is hilarious that McDonald's think that sponsoring headteachers will improve their customer base (picture them all eating Big Macs!) it does seem an irresponsible choice of sponsor. In an age where we are trying to encourage healthy eating, why is the biggest junk food chain in the world deemed to be a suitable sponsor?

Perhaps Ronald McDonald will be the keynote speaker!

Moving House Part 4

Well, this morning we had our first viewing of the house. Hopefully we should hear soon whether they are interested in buying! I hope so!

Cookery lessons to become compulsory... for secondary pupils?!

The Daily Mail (Saturday 3rd Feb) reports:
'Compulsory cooking lessons could be put on the school curriculum in an attempt to tackle the obesity epidemic among children. All 11 to 14 year olds would be taught how to make healthy meals from basic ingredients to counter an obsession with junk food... Education Secretary Alan Johnson said that he hoped compulsory lessons would lead to a resurgence in home cooking. "I want kids rolling up their sleeves and getting to grips with simple healthy meals from scratch," he said.'

I think this is great news. One of the reasons that children get into junk food is because they just don't know how to cook properly.

However, I don't understand why this initiative doesn't include primary age children. Surely this is the age at which children begin to acquire their tastes and it is important to teach them the right way to develop a love of food at an early age.

Our school has introduced a small amount of cooking into the curriculum and the Year Threes visit the local high school to practice cooking some items of food. One local school has a teaching assistant who teaches all the children three times a year to cook a proper meal from scratch.

I applaud this idea from Alan Johnson, but I just wish they would extend it!

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Lost Moment 12

Oh my God! This one is brilliant!

I cannot wait for the series to start again on Sunday next week! Just one more week to go!!