Thursday, 29 March 2007

The Apprentice 2007 Episode 1

Finally, my other favourite programme returns to the TV!

The Apprentice is such an inspirational programme. Sir Alan Sugar is so astute that he can pounce on any sign of weakness or address any problem he identifies. It amuses me to think that the people taking part give up their lives to go to get bullied by Sir Alan only so that they can end up working for him in the end!!

I totally agree with his decision to fire Andy. Despite coming over as a bit smarmy, he seemed an ok guy. But his decision to go along with the high volume of stock ordered, and the bad location choice for his mobile coffee van was just foolish. And then he ordered his mobile van to return! You just knew that decision would backfire on him!

I didn't like Tre or Jadine - their constant arguing was pathetic.

I'd have liked Sophie to go as her buying decisions were rubbish - even though she denied she was responsible, she was definitely the one to decide how much to buy!

Buzz Comedy Night 28/3/2007

This evening I went to De Bees for the monthly Buzz Comedy Night. It was the best one for ages!!

This month Marcus Birdman was the compere. He was really funny and did well to get the audience involved.

Next up was Paul Jennings, a Brummie. His routine was clearly rehearsed, but he really made me laugh.

The best comic was Andy White (pictured). Andy combines silly voices and a mad afro to devestating comic effect. Andy's humour embraces silly voices, funny faces, observational humour, topical humour and his mixed race background. He can do material that's clever, cheeky, sick or just silly. His performance can shift from deadpan to loud and physical. I thought he was hilarious. Many of his jokes were off the cuff and he was really quick. One comment that stands out was when he said that at school all the teachers encourage children to have a dream and to follow it. He added that it isn't long before you find out that dreams are rubbish. "Dreams are like children - if you follow them for too long, people will get suspicious!"


Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Marine conservation roadshow

Today the Marine Conservation Society visited our school with the Cool Seas Roadshow! The presentation featured life-sized marine creatures (whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles and seals). Demonstrations were delivered to each year group, and the children found out about lots of different marine wildlife. Each child was given an action pack booklet and each class received a poster. Resources are available online at the Cool Seas website.
The children found it really interesting!

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Lost Season Three Episode 13 'The Man From Tallahassee'

What a brilliant episode! This was the best episode for ages! It was unbelievably exciting, and the ending was just mind blowing!!

We learned that Jack and Juliet were about to leave the island using the submarine. Sayid hinted to Alex that he knew her mother, Danielle. Jack was all set to leave the island without contacting the other islanders! Ben tried to persuade Locke not to blow up the island. Of course, Ben always seems to manipulate situations to how what he wants. He didn't manage to prevent Locke from blowing up the submarine (why did Locke come out of the submarine soaking wet, by the way?). But Ben did manage to make it look like Locke had done him a favour.

We discovered that Locke broke his back when his father pushed him out of an 8th storey window! His father is such a slimy git. But the ending revealed that the Others have a secret captive - none other than... Locke's dad!!

What an episode! Next up is a Nikki and Paolo flashback. Should be interesting.

Made IT happen

E-skills have announced a competition to look for innovative IT projects. They are looking for pupil-led innovative ICT projects that have made a positive impact on a school. The judges will be looking for innovative projects that demonstrate best use of the school’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) resources to the benefit of the school, local community, in the UK or across the world.

For example, the entry could:

  1. Describe a community project involving the school that works well because of good use of ICT.

  2. Be about special provision the school has made for students with special needs.

  3. Show how the school links with partner schools here and elsewhere in the world.

  4. Show how the school runs a club or other community group by good use of ICT.

  5. Describe the use of ICT in recycling projects that the school has been involved in.

  6. Describe any good use of ICT that the school thinks the judges will not find elsewhere in normal use.

  7. Anything that your pupils have been doing that has had a positive impact.

The budget 2007

Finally Gordon Brown says something I agree with!!

Spending on education is due to increase from £60 billion this year to £74 billion by 2010 which will mean £6600 per pupil.

Andrew at PTUK has written a summary of the implications for schools.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Leading Teacher Twilights

I am one of a group of Leading Teachers in the Cheshire LEA. I was recommended by our school adviser at the end of my second year of teaching.

This Thursday I had to deliver a twilight course to teachers about the new teaching sequence in Maths. I have really worried about this. I was not looking forward to it at all. We took the decision not to introduce the new framework until after we have amalgamated in September. I felt like I was stood there talking about something I should have known a lot about, when in fact I knew quite little. In the end all my worrying was unnecessary as people seemed very positive about what I'd said. I wanted to ensure that people left with lots of practical ideas to try in school, and I think I achieved this.

However, I plan to take a year out of being a leading teacher. These are the reasons why:

  1. I hate the title Leading Teacher. It makes us sound like we are better than others - but who is to say this is the case? No one actually comes to check that we are still 'leading' teachers!
  2. I don't feel like I gain anything out of it. It's nice to be part of the group. It should look quite nice on my CV. It's good to get an occasional 'heads up' about new initiatives like the new framework. However, I don't feel that my skills as a teacher are developed, taking a fair bit of time out of the classroom and the stress of preparing a course make it worth doing all of this for free. I know it shouldn't all be about money, but I do feel that if the County want to recognise the services and skills of these teachers, we should be paid.
  3. The work involved in amalgamating the infant and junior schools is far more important next year.

That's my rant over. Just wanted to get it off my chest!

Parents Evenings

Posts have been minimal this week as I've had so much on!!

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we had our parents evenings.

I am really lucky to teach in a school where the parents are very supportive. I rarely have any problem and they are all very grateful for the hard work we put in with the children. I would even go so far as to say I enjoy parents evenings!!!

Key Stage tests should be scrapped

The Daily Mail (Thurs 22nd March) reports that national key stage tests should be scrapped. The Government's exam watchdog, Dr Ken Boston, said that only a sample group of pupils need take the exams - perhaps as few as 3 per cent - to give a picture of national standards. He also suggests that pupils' progress should be measured by less rigid assessments in English, maths and science which would be marked internally by teachers. These tests, which could be taken online, would be taken when the children are ready, rather than at fixed points during their school careers.

Dr Boston also proposes that school league tables should be abolished.

I'm not sure who Dr Boston is, and how much influence he holds, but he seems to talk a lot of sense! The pressure of performing for league tables encourages us all to revise and prepare for the test and so the children quite often perform beyond their ability. The tests indicate how good the children are at taking tests just as much as it indicates their ability in the subject.

Primary Teacher UK

Andrew at Primary Teacher UK has asked me to write for his fantastic website.

You can see my first contibution at the site now!!

Naked Scientists!

Today's Daily Mail features an article about the Naked Scientists website which is devised by Chris Smith and Dave Ansell, two scientists from Cambridge University. Included in the article are eleven experiments, such as turning bread into suagr, making sugar glow in the dark, creating electric slime and making a forcefield.

I plan to use a few of these experiments in the run up to the SATs - something to keep the children excited about the subject!

More experiments and a podcast are available on the website.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Lost Season Three Episode 12 'Par Avion'

How good was last night's episode?!!

The predictions of Charlie's death keep getting more and more sinister...

Claire suggested a brilliant way to make contact with the outside world...

Mikhail seemed to know lots more about the islanders. How does he know their full names? He was also about to say how he knew that Locke was paralysed too!

We discovered that Claire and Jack are brother and sister!!

But the shocking ending, seeing Jack playing football with Tom as if he is good friends, was fantastic!!

Next week it's a Locke flashback, and then, curiously, it's a Nikki and Paolo flashback...

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Guys and Dolls Manchester Opera House

Lisa and I went to watch Guys and Dolls in Manchester last night. Starring Claire Sweeney, Brian Capron and Ben Richards, it was a superb performance! We had never seen the show before and didn't really know a lot about it. But we both loved it! It was really funny, and the singing and dancing was brilliant!


On Friday, the Friends of the School organised a Bingo evening! I was the bingo caller! It's always great fun to do this.

What always amazes me is what an easy money spinner it is! We made over £450 for the school in one evening!

Thursday, 15 March 2007

MMU Focus Group Meeting

Today I went to Didsbury for a Focus Group meeting. The idea of these meetings is for Professional Development School Mentors to meet up to put forward ideas to change the course for Trainee Teachers at MMU.

This was the first time I'd attended, and I quite enjoyed it. We learned about the some of the new initiatives that the university plan to introduce.

I worked in a group to plan a clearer progression for trainees in the Monitoring and Assessment standards. This is something that is badly needed as sometimes I feel trainees ought to know more about MARRA than they do, particularly in the third year.

I suggested a focus for another meeting could be to begin to prepare a set of standards for each year of the BA course. If there were standards for each year group it would eliminate the different interpretations the QTS standards, and discourage mentors from claiming trainees have met the standards before Year Four of the course.


After school today I went on an information briefing about beginning the NPQH course. The next round of applications begins on April 10th and ends on May 4th.
I am in complete confusion about whether I should apply for this course or not. I feel it would help me with my duties as Deputy Head (or Assistant Head or whatever title I might be given after the amalgamation!) However, at the same time I'm not sure whether it is the right move to take at this stage in my career. And above all - how much extra work will it involve?!
If anyone has any advice I'd appreciate it!

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Complusory langauges at seven

Proposals by Lord Dearing suggest that foreign languages should be taught at age seven. He also suggests that languages should be a compulsory subject alongside Maths and English.

Isn't it incredible that the Government are talking like they have only just discovered foreign languages! It's about time that we all woke up to the fact that the majority of us are ignorant when it comes to foreign languages!

Whilst it is many years overdue, this is a fantastic suggestion by the Government and I support it fully. I think schools should be allowed to choose which language to teach, and it should be a compulsory subject.

Gay Fairytales

According to the Daily Mail 12-Mar-2007,

"Schools are teaching children as young as four about same-sex relationships to comply with new gay rights lawsss... They are introducing youngsters to homosexuality using a series of story books in preparation for when the contoversial regulations come into force next month... Fourteen primary schools across the country are taking part in a £600,000 Government-funded research project, aimed at familiaising children with gay and lesbian relationships.

Critics say the repeal of Section 28 - the law banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools - has increased the use of inappropriate teaching materials. Simon Calvert, spokesman for the Christian Institute, said: 'The predictions of those who said it would result in the active promotion of homosexuality in schools are coming true'."

Whilst I understand people being concerned about what children are being taught, I find it hard to comprehend people's ignorance in claiming that homosexuality is being promoted! In what way are story books promoting homosexuality?

In modern society, where children are being brought up by same-sex parents, all children need to be aware that same-sex families exist. Whilst some people might not approve, the fact is that children need to learn to tolerate what might not seem 'normal' to them.

Lost Season Three Episode 11 'Enter 77'

What a cool episode last week! The Russian guy with the patch is surely now going to become crucial in teaching us about the others. We finally got to see Ms Klugh, the Other from the end of Season 2 - but why did she have to be killed! I loved Locke playing chess instead of looking after his prisoner.

It was typical of Lost that, just as we found out something new, it all blows up!

Next episode has a Claire flashback. I'm looking forward to this as we haven't actually seen anything of what happened to Claire before the island since Season 1 (last season's flashback was a flashback to what happened when Ethan kidnapped her). My money's on her and Jack being half-brother and sister. Can you remember Jack's dad going to Australia to demand to see someone?...

Saturday, 10 March 2007

You've Got The Power

Judging by the date on the back (July 2006) perhaps I am a little late in posting info about this pack. However, 'You've Got The Power', an educational resource for 7-11 year-olds about Parliament and Government, arrived in our school last week.

It includes a DVD featuring an overview of Parliament and also a film about participation and democracy. There is also a resource booklet including teachers' notes, curriculum links, lesson plans, information sheets and worksheets. There is also a parliament website for children to explore.

Free copies can be requested from the publications site.

It looks really interesting and would perhaps make a good resource to use after SATs in the Summer. I plan to use it in September when we relaunch our school council.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Year 6 PSLN Network Meeting March

Had another Year 6 Cluster meeting last night. We decided to rename our cluster the 'Sharing Network' as we feel we should be sharing resources, ideas and give each other a chance to have a laugh. I visited Weston Village School and we discussed ideas for school visits and shared History resources. I was more than happy to share our thoughts about our visit to France!!

Next time we will look at Geography.

Fed up

I have been feeling lousy all week with a bad chest. Lisa and my mum have finally convinced me to go to the doctors. But I couldn't get an appointment until Wednesday!! Rubbish.

Work has been really hectic too, and I realised the other day that I have now got two nights without anything on after school between now and Easter.

I can't get on top of my marking or my Deputy responsibilities (the TA that covers my art lessons is now off sick) and so I've had enough.

Looking forward to the Easter holidays already!

(After that rant I will get round to posting something worthwhile soon.)

Lost Season Three Episode 10 'Tricia Tanaka Is Dead'

I really loved this week's episode. It brought some welcome comic relief to the programme as it has been quite heavy going for a while. The part with drunken Sawyer and Jin was hilarious, as was their attempts to get the van started!

I love finding out more about Hurley, but we didn't really find out anything new about the island or the Others. It was great to see Danielle back at the end, though (we must be due a flashback about her soon).

Next week's episode has a Sayid flashback and we finally get to meet Patchy, the man with the eyepatch that appeared briefly in the episode where Mr Eko died, a while back. Can't wait!!

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Liverpool Vs Man Utd

As a Liverpool fan I was really fed up with yesterday's result. I doubt that anyone will argue - we dominated the game for most of the 90 minutes. However, if we didn't put away any of the many chances we had then we deserved to lose the game. I couldn't believe that John O'Shea scored the winner, but hopefully this will teach us a lesson. We badly need to sign a striker who will score us 20-odd goals a season.

Friday, 2 March 2007

SATs revision

The Poll seems to be generating some interest in when we revise for SATs. I thought I'd point out that Andrew at Primary Teacher UK has put together a revision programme for English, Maths and Science. He also has the SATs spellings compiled in one useful list.

Thanks Andrew!

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Year Six Teacher celebrates 1000 hits!!

Whilst I'd bet that a large percentage of these hits were mine, I'm pleased to say that the blog has today had it's 1000th hit!!

Just a few facts for you about the site, according to my hit counter:

  • Tuesday is the post popular day to visit, with over 23% of the visitors coming on this day!
  • Saturday is the least popular day (as it should be!!)
  • On average, each day, three visitors return to the site!!
  • Each day there are 11 visitors!
  • Over 90% of visitors have Windows XP (not one has Vista!!)

Thanks everyone!

MPMA Resouces

The Metal Packaging Manufacturers' Association website has KS1 and KS2 resources that support the literacy and numeracy strategies. They explore uses of metal in packaging, and environmental and sustainability issues.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home are holding a competition for children to design a picture for the animal home. It must show why they love dogs and cats.

There is also a teaching resource pack titled '3R's for 4R's' for Primary school children.

Admission Day Letters

Today was a little nervous for Year Sixes as they were waiting to discover whether they had gained a place in the high school they were hoping for!

I tend to find (I don't know about you) but if a child doesn't get into their first choice then they usually do on appeal!!

Best of luck to all children with the high school decisions - I hope everyone gets into the school they hoped for!!

Least favourite lesson to teach

Thank you to everyone who voted in February's poll. Here are the official least favourite subjects to teach for Year Six Teacher readers:

  1. Music 35.7% As a pianist you would expect me to enjoy teaching Music. However, I loathe it. It's just an hour's worth of noise - music is not the word I would use. I was so glad when the Music teaching was taken over by a PPA teacher in 2005.
  2. Geography and RE 21.4% I actually quite enjoy teaching RE as we fit in some Art, Poetry, D&T, ICT and other cross-curricular links. I'm not too keen on Geography. I'm not sure why as I find it quite interesting. It's possibly due to not having enough time in the day to really do the subject any justice.
  3. D&T, History and PE 14.3% I can't say I agree with this - I love teaching these three subjects!
  4. English, ICT and Science 7.1% I enjoy teaching English, and ICT has become so much better no we have our new Multimedia Suite. However, I loathe teaching Science. It's such a crucial subject in Year Six, but I find it very difficult to get excited by it!
  5. Maths 0% I love teaching Maths and I'm delighted to hear that no one dislikes teaching it!!

The question is now - what can we do as Year Six Teachers to restore our faith in Music, Geography and RE teaching? Comments on the this are welcomed!

March's poll is to find out to what extent our time table gets taken away by revision for SATs.