Sunday, 30 September 2007

Quiz Busters

Quiz Busters is a great website where you can design your own quizzes, based on the Blockbusters format. There are also lots of games ready prepared for you to use. The games would be great to use in a plenary to assess the children's understanding. Best of all, the resources are free to use!

Friday, 28 September 2007

20% of pupils come from an ethnic minority

Statistics from the DfCSF reveal that a fifth of England's school children now come from an ethnic minority, compared to 11% in 1997. In primary schools, 21.9% are ethnic minority pupils. 447000 primary pupils do not speak English as their mother tongue.

White British children are now outnumbered in primary and secondary schools in 29 of the 150 local education authority areas, including Leicester, Luton, Slough and most London boroughs.

There are concerns that the increasing number of pupils with English language difficulties is putting a strain on resources.

Damian Green, the Conservative immigration spokesman, said it is important to know how many immigrant children starting in British schools can speak the language. He added, "If they can't and they are being taught in overcrowded classrooms, this makes it much harder for teachers to do their job."

Boy with nut allergy is banned from school

A pupil at Howden School in East Yorkshire has been banned from school as he has a nut allergy. The headteacher was concerned that none of his staff was trained to cope if the 11-year-old had an allergic reaction, so he banned the pupil on grounds of health and safety.

Head Andrew Williams said staff were working towards an acceptable solution. "My main concern is to ensure that we meet the healthy and welfare needs of all students in our care."


A report in the TES describes the way that staffrooms are not used the same any more.

Their survey that more than half of teachers spend less time in the staffroom than they used to. Many said they are too busy with planning, clubs and break duties. Sound familiar?

Others complained that the staffroom is more like a workroom, with desks and internet connections that distract from banter and relaxation. Some were even forbidden from eating lunch there. Of 5000 teachers, TAs and head surveyed, 44 did not even have their own central staffroom.

80% of people interviewed said that they visited the staffroom at least once a day, with half saying they went to chat. Some said it was important to go to a 'management free' zone where they could escape from pupils for a few brief moments. 72% of heads said they spend less time in staffrooms than they used to.

The new staffroom in our school isn't finished yet. We plan to turn it into a staffroom without any clutter, resources or computers. We are going to try to ensure it remains a room for the staff, where they can relax and switch off. We will have a separate PPA room for staff to work without distractions.

Has anyone else got any thoughts about this survey?

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Primary Teachers are better trained?

A Becta survey has revealed that primary teachers are vastly better trained in using technology than secondary teachers. Virtually every primary teacher had received some training, as opposed to only half of secondary teachers. 80% of primary teachers had attended a formal training course whilst only 1/3 of secondary teachers had done this.

The survey showed that confidence levels were high in primary schools and 80% of teachers thought they were effective.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Erm... Hope for nervous speakers...

According to the Daily Mail, experts at Stirling and Edinburgh universities have proved that 'disinfluences' (um, er, erm, ah) actually help to make us better understood.

Volunteers were asked to listen to a series of sentences, including a number which had disinfluences. They then carried out a series of tests to measure how much the listeners could remember. Inserting the 'ers' had a significant effect on how well the subjects could recall what was said.

Neil Stevenson, deputy director of education and training at the Law Society of Scotland, said, "We're sure some of our members will be delighted that their ums are now seem as a sign of clear communication."

Erm... sounds good to me!

How to silence unruly pupils

The Daily Mail reports on an interesting piece of research. backgroud noise may help unruly pupils pay more attention in class. Scientists found 'white noise' helped children with ADHD concentrate. The same was true for children with no behavioural disorder but who under-achieved at school.

In contrast, brighter pupils, without ADHD, were put off by noise and performed better in silence.

Researcher Goran Soderlund of Stockholm University, who led the study, said: "The discovery is surprising, since previous research has indicated that children with ADHD are easily disturbed in distracting environments."

A group of 42 children aged nine to 13 took part in the first test, half of whom had ADHD.
They were read a list of 96 verbal command sentences, such as "roll the ball" or "break the match". They were then asked to recall as many of the sentences as they could.

Those without ADHD remembered more sentences when the task was carried out in silence.
But those with ADHD did better when subjected to white noise - a whooshing sound similar to the static from a radio tuned between stations.

A possible explanation for the findings, published in the journal Psychological Review, involves
dopamine, a neuro-chemical that helps control brain activity. Low achieving and ADHD children are deficient in dopamine, said the scientists. For them, noise appears to stimulate the brain just enough to make it function better.

But the brains of children with normal levels of dopamine may be over-stimulated, lowering their ability to concentrate and remember.

Does anyone have any experience of this in practice?

Txt spk

I loved Eats, Shoots and Leaves and enjoy reading anything about how the English language is evolving. I thought this article by John Humphyrs in the Daily Mail was quite interesting. It's all about the way the Oxford English Dictionary is removing hyphens from a lot of words, because people are too lazy to use them when sending text messages!

Friday, 21 September 2007

National Motto

Every school and public building in the country will be emblazoned with a new 'national motto' under Gordon Brown's drive to encourage patriotism and Britishness.

Could it be happening...? Could I actually be agreeing with Gordon Brown...?

The 'statement of values' summing up what it means to be a British citizen could even be written on UK passports and birth certificates as a way of engendering a sense of national pride. Ministers want the motto to reflect the national identity and be as commonplace as America's 'In God We Trust' or the French 'Liberty, Equality, Fraternity'.

Insiders said the motto will be chosen by a 'citizens' summit' of 1000 people for it to be 'truly representative' of Britishness rather than be imposed by ministers or dreamt up by a team of highly-paid consultants. Members of the public will be asked to come up with five or six word slogans, perhaps based around ideas of fair play or national pride.

I think this is a fantastic idea. I have long thought that British people lack patriotism. How many times do you hear an American say, 'God Bless America'? Americans love their country. How many times do you hear Briton say, 'God Bless Great Britain'? It's about time we all started to believe in our country, and a motto could make some difference in building a sense of national pride.

There are bound to be countless joke mottos that are suggested, but I hope people take this seriously.

Should classes swap each year?

There is an interesting article on the TES website about whether children should be swapped around in their year groups at the end of each year or if they should move up through the school together. At the moment we don't swap the children in our school. They do mix for sets in Maths and English. I can see the benefits although I can also imagine the disappointment if good friends are separated. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Pupils want to ban sweets and burgers

An NUT survey syggests that most children want unhealthy food banned from schools. More than 2/3 of 8 to 15 year olds wanted to ban crisps and sweets and also stop burgers too!

More than half of the 270 participating children also wanted a ban on the advertising of foods such as crisps, sweets and burgers on televesion. Almost 3/4 wanted a restriction on fastfood companies setting up websites that targeted children.

I'd love to meet these children that don't want sweets, crisps or burgers!

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Yahoo Year Six Teachers Group

I have discovered a group in Yahoo for Year Six Teachers. It seems quite useful and people seem to be sharing some good ideas. I hope to contribute a few resources to the site in the next few weeks. It looks like a good way to share thoughts!

Sunday, 16 September 2007

ICT Blogging Plans



End product:



To produce a blog website

A blog website with photos, videos and text

In this project the children will be setting up a live website and so they will need to be given a code of conduct for using the sites appropriately. All passwords and usernames must be recorded so that any unsuitable material can be taken down immediately.


Learning Intention & Success Criteria

Targeted support for the lesson

Activity and Differentiation


New teaching

Main Activity


Learning Intention:

We Are Learning To use email

Success Criteria:

I can send an email and have an online chat

A code of conduct must be discussed with the children regarding use of email and websites. Explain that all email address accounts must be only used in school and websites can only added to in school. Any offending material must be removed immediately.

  • The children should go to and create an email account. They should enter their username and passwords into a Word document so that we have a record. Usernames should take the form "wclpsjohnc"
  • The children will be given the email address of the teacher (not their personal account, of course!) and be asked to send the teacher instructions of how they opened their email account. This will then be printed to go into their ICT book.
  • The children should send emails to each other and use the chat facility to speak to another member of the class.

Remind the children about the code of conduct. Look at the Learning Intention for the lesson and decide whether they have achieved it.

Teacher's email account

Learning Intention:

We Are Learning To set up a blog

Success Criteria:

I can set up a website

Explain that the children are going to create a blog. 'Blog' is short for 'web log' which is like an online diary. It can be used for all sorts of things – you don't just have to use it like a diary.

Show the children the example of UK Music Review. The more original the idea, the better.

  • The children will go to They will create a new blog account. Once again, the log in details must be recorded.
  • Before any new posts are added, we need to work on the layout. Go to customize and template to do this.
  • The children should add a short description to explain what their blog is about.
  • Click on add a page element. The children should add a picture of the school or a picture of a hero.
  • They should add a newsreel to show news related to the content of their blog or about their favourite football team.
  • They should add a video reel for the same thing.

The children should share their blogs so others can see.

List of ideas for blogs

Learning Intention:

We Are Learning To add posts with text pictures and videos

Success Criteria:

I can add posts to my blog

  • Discuss what the first blog post should be about.
  • Demonstrate how to add a post. The children need to know how to change font size and colour and how to spell check.
  • The children should add their first post to their blog.
  • Demonstrate how to add a picture to a post. The children should add a picture to their second blog post.
  • The children should be shown how to add a video to their blog. They can choose from a selected set of videos. They should add a video to their third post.

Again, allow the children to look at each other's blogs.

Carefully selected videos

Learning Intention:

We Are Learning To add lists to a blog

Success Criteria:

I can add a list to my blog

  • Show the children how to add a list of links to their website
  • The children should add a list of links to their favourite websites.
  • The children should add a Top 10 list to their website.

The children should add comments to other people's blogs.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Primary targets to raise achievement of all pupils

The TES reports that new targets for primary schools will conbine maths and English results and highlight how much progress pupils are making. The change, which will come into effect in 2009, means schools must do more to improve all pupils' marks - and not just those on the borderline.

Schools will now have to set targets based on the proportion of children progressing across two levels within four years.

The revised targets indicate the Government's increasing determination to close the gap in achievement as fears grow that the pooreset pupils are being left behind.

Primary heads are unlikely to wecome any change to targets that focuses on English and maths because it would put them under pressure to narrow the curriculum.

School Website advice

I am currently making arrangements for the relaunch of our school website after our amalgamation. Hopefully the site will be up and running by half-term. I will let you know when it is online. In the meantime, here is a good website with ideas for how to maintain your website (and also what not to include!)

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Primary Resources Interactive

Primary Resources have added another site. Primary Resources Interactive is a new webpage with links to a selection of their online activities.

There is a small but very useful selection online at the moment but more are to be added soon.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Primary Music Teacher

I found this site, recommended by Primary Teacher UK. Primary Music Teacher is a website full of free resources for teaching music.

Plenary Games

Quiz Busters is a useful site for plenary games. There's an interesting version of Blockbusters which will prove to be fun to use in class.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Make your own comic strip

I have discovered this fun and useful website where you can make your own cartoon strips. They can be printed out or emailed. I think this would be good for storyboarding ideas, homework challenges or for cross-curricular work.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

One week gone already

Doesn't time fly! One week has gone already. My Lucozade addiction is in full swing and it's like we've never been off!

The amalgamation of our junior and infant schools has been interesting so far. Of course, the county would have you believe that amalgamating a schools is all about improving standards by having an consistent education all the way through primary school. In reality, everyone knows it's to save money. Their support has been poor and they seem to have the idea that the amalgamation will just happen without any problems. They go on about the educational benefits and I understand these. What they don't make you fully aware of and don't really provide any where near enough support for is pretty much everything else.

For instance school dinners. Our poor Year Sixes have been left with 5-10 minutes to eat their dinner whilst everyone gets used to providing dinners to around 240 children. The logistics of bringing the infants over to the junior building are difficult. What about the admin? New letterheads and the least of the problems. How about a telephone system that won't work? Computers that do not have the same data? Not being able to order things properly because the new school 'doesn't exist'? The massive operation to give out the new uniform will go on for a few more weeks yet (and that's without the new ties which haven't arrived yet!)

So far its been good fun but very chaotic. I have to give my first ever assembly to the infants on Tuesday! I am quite nervous!

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Better diet, better results

Children who shun junk food in favour of fruit, vegetavles and oily fish do 11 per cent better in exams, a study claims.

Patrick Holford, visiting professor of mental health and nutrition at Teeside University carried out the research, funded by the organic food firm Organix. More than 10,000 children were included in the survey which found that unhealthy diets were linked with poor performance as well as bad behaviour.

Professor Holdord said, "The brain is 60% fat. Children who eat good fats, from raw nuts, seeds and oily fish, double their chances of high performance."

Synthetic Phonics 'works miracles'?

The Daily Mail reports that children who struggle with reading can make dramatic progress in just a fortnight when they are given traditional lessons. The study, carried out by Civitas, has shown that primary school pupils increased their reading ages by nearly two years in as many weeks when they were given intensive 'synthetic phoniocs' lessons.

Synthetic phonics involves teaching the letter sounds of English and how to blend them together to work out unfamiliar words. Civitas claimed that this system has the potential to end the 'apartheid' between the educational haves and have-nots, and putting a stop to the 'thousands of children consigned to the educational scrapheap by the failed reading schemes promoted in the schools over the past decade.'

Does anyone have any more information about how synthetic phonics might affect teaching in Year Six?

Monday, 3 September 2007

Remember The Milk

The new school year will bring with it all sorts of tasks that we need to do. Well Remember The Milk is a new way of keeping on top of your to do list. Jobs can be added to your easy to manage task list and you can view this anywhere. I have already begun to use the site and I think it will help me over the next 12 months! Here is a site with instructions for using this application.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Keep failing pupils back a year

The BBC reports that David Cameron, the Tory leader, is proposing that failing students should repeat the last year of primary school. He said the move could form part of a "genuine schools revolution" improving literacy, numeracy and discipline.

But Schools Minister Jim Knight said the proposals for pupils to repeat a year would only stigmatise children who needed extra help. "They would also increase class sizes and make it impossible for teachers and parents to plan ahead," he said. "We need to intervene early rather than holding kids back."

And a government spokeswoman said Mr Cameron's claim that 43% of children leave primary school unable to read, write and count properly was "quite wrong". The Tory leader's intervention came as Schools Secretary Ed Balls urged schools to concentrate on the basics. He admitted government reforms had "not delivered for every child".

100 Literacy Framework Lessons

My Year Six colleague and I are beginning to try out the new literacy framework this year. We are using this book for inspiration. It looks really useful and it includes a CD-ROM with lots of useful resources. I know I will refer to it a lot this year.

New year, new challenges

Well I can't believe the "Summer" is over. I think we've had about two days of sunshine in the last five weeks. I wonder how many people completed all those jobs we'd planned to do in the holidays. I know I haven't. I've done lots of them. I guess that five weeks sounds like a long time at the beginning. But by the end you really could do with one more week...

I have been in school 8 days over the holidays. I've mostly been tidying up my classroom after a hectic final term. I've also put up a few displays (I will try to get some photos online soon) and prepared for the new class.

As from tomorrow our school is a primary school due to our amalgamation with our infant school. There are bound to be many challenges of bringing the schools together. I am a little anxious about what we have to do this year but also really excited! It will be so different. I will be teaching 3 and 1/2 days each week and so thinks will feel strange.

For any one out there that is reading Year Six Teacher blog rest assured that I will continue to write about news, ideas and lots of random things that I find interesting. I thank anyone who reads the site especially anyone who leaves comments.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

11-year-olds drinking twice as much as 5 years ago

Drinking among children as young as 11 has nearly doubled in five years according to the Daily Mail. NHS statistics show that a fifth of secondary school pupils admit to drinking regularly. Although this is down from a quarter in 2001, the quantity of alcohol consumed by children aged 11 to 13 who do drink regularly has shot up from less than 6 units a week to more than 10. The NHS also suggests that their survey underestimates the amount of drinking by youngsters.

8200 pupils from 288 schools in England were questioned in the Autumn term of 2006. More than half thought their parents did not mind them drinking, as long as it was not too much. Two per cent said their parents let them drink as much as they liked. 26% said they had been given the alcohol by a friend and 23% were given it by a parent.

Doesn't anybody care what their children do any more?