Friday, 30 November 2007

Sing up!

Sing Up is the Music Manifesto's National Programme. The site has tons of information and resources for children, parents and teachers including free lesson plans and advice on how to get started with music in your classroom.

The site's ambition is to make singing central to young children’s lives – in primary schools, the home and the wider community.

Thursday, 29 November 2007


This is an unbelievable story! Just imagine if this happened to your school choir!

First the shopping centre security guard stepped in. Then it was the turn of a police officer.
But it wasn't drunken youths or shoplifters who required their attention. It was a group of enthusiastic carol singers from a local primary school. The children, aged between six and 11, were told they were singing too loudly. Parents and many of the shoppers who had enjoyed the carols were astonished by the intervention.

"They were a small group singing to raise money and they were singing beautifully," said their headmaster Ian Jones yesterday. "After a bit a security guard came over and said we had only meant to be singing for one hour and could we please stop. I just said 'No', because I knew we were allowed to sing between 11am and 3pm. He said he had complaints from tenants that we were too loud. " just asked how he proposed to stop children singing. In the end he said we would have to stop or he would call the police."

The 29 pupils from Ysgol San Sior school, aged between six and 11, had permission to sing at the Victoria Centre in Llandudno, North Wales, last Saturday to raise funds for the school. "I couldn't believe what they were saying," added Mr Jones. "Some of the parents were incredulous. A member of the public came over and said she thought the singing was fantastic."
Then a Police Community Support Officer arrived and shortly afterwards Mr Jones decided he and his pupils should pack up.

Organiser Debbie Ankers, whose nine-year-old daughter was singing, said: "To begin with, I thought it was a joke - it was just ridiculous. They were asking us to leave but we couldn't just leave when we had children there with parents coming later to pick them up."

Sue Nash, manager of the Victoria Centre, admitted last night that security staff should not have intervened. "It was quite loud apparently, and we have had problems with acoustics in the centre whenever we have had live music here," she said. "It was a misunderstanding but it has all been sorted now. Mistakes do happen."

The pupils will be allowed to return to perform their carols at the centre this weekend - and will not be required to sing quietly.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Takeover Day

Today is Takeover Day. This is a scheme run by 11 Million when, for a single day, pupils are invited to take over adults' jobs, either at school or elsewhere.

At Broadwas Primary School in Worcestershire, all 21 staff positions were filled by KS2 pupils. Teachers have prepared easy to deliver lessons which the pupils will conduct. One pupils shadowed the headteacher as she attended meetings and observed a reception class. Pupils also took over support and administrative roles.

Headteacher, Mrs Sandra Logan, said, "It will give pupils an insight into what we do."

Conservatives want every teacher to be scrutinised

In a report in the TES, if the Conservatives came to power they would want every teacher to face a visit from Ofsted in 'lightning inspections' with no prior warning.

Their other education proposals include:

  • Replacement of KS1 English assessments with a national reading test for 6-year-olds
  • Ofsted will ensure that all schools teach synthetic phonics
  • All academic subjects will be taught be ability (presumably this refers to High Schools?)
  • 'Credit' and 'debit' rewards schemes used to promote discipline
  • Local authorities to divide large failing schools into small schools on the same site.

Fox Howl, Delamere

Today I returned from a Year Three residential visit to Fox Howl Outdoor Education Centre, Delamere. Fox Howl is the perfect place to take the Year Threes - it's not too far from school and it allows the children to try lots of activities that they don't normally try in school.

On Thursday they went on a nature walk, looking for signs of wildlife in the forest. We then tried some orienteering challenges, firstly within the centre, and then one on a larger scale in a safe part of the forest. In the evening we took the children on a night walk and when we returned toasted marshmallows on the bonfire!

On Friday we built dens and then took part in a trekking and trailling activity in the forest.

A brilliant time was had by all!

Monday, 19 November 2007

Christmas Play

Started work on the Christmas play today! This year, our grand production is "The Wizard of Oz".

Using images to stimulate writing

I attended a course today all about using images to stimulate writing. I must admit that I was a little reluctant to go on to the course. I felt at I wouldn't learn anything new.

In the end, though I had some good ideas. As a teacher of Set 2 in Year Six I think that perhaps using images would be a great way to keep the children interested. It is something that I have done before, but after going on the course I wonder whether moving images might be something that could work.

We looked at the film The Monk and the Fish and then a video about how it could be used in the classroom. This could be something that could be used in the Fiction Unit 4, Stories with Flashbacks.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

The Times Top 500 State Primary Schools

I have been taking a look at the Times' Top Schools in the country. Not that I am exactly in favour of league tables, it does make us feel proud. There are some impressive results for Cheshire.

4th in the country in the small state primary schools is Duddon St. Peter's C of E Primary School in Tarporley and 6th in the same league is Little Leigh Primary School in Northwich. The highest Cheshire school with over 100 pupils is Prestbury C of E Primary School, Macclesfield.

I am really pleased that at position 253 is Wistaston Junior School. Of course this school no longer exists as we have amalgamated to become Wistaston Church Lane Primary School. But I am very pleased with the result. The top Cheshire state primary schools are:

4 - Duddon St Peter's C of E Primary School, Tarporley

6 - Little Leigh Primary School, Northwich

24 - Smallwood C of E Primary School, Sandbach

64 - Prestbury C of E Primary School, Macclesfield

82 - Black Firs Primary School, Congleton

85 - Davenham C of E Primary School, Northwich

118 - St Luke's RC Primary School, Frodsham Frodsham

138 - Ashdene Primary School, Wilmslow

247 - St Gabriel's RC Primary School, Stoke-on-Trent

253 - Wistaston Junior School, Crewe

335 - Lower Park Primary School, Poynton

337 - Egerton Primary School, Knutsford

343 - Comberbach Primary School, Northwich

422 - St Alban's RC Primary School, Macclesfield

429 - Leighton Primary School, Crewe

476 - Bunbury Aldersey C of E Primary School, Tarporley

508 - Christleton Primary School, Chester

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Ice Cream Van Factory Visit

Today we took the children to visit Whitby Morrison Specialist Vehicles in Crewe - aka The Ice Cream Van Factory. Whitby Specialist Vehicles was founded in 1962 by Bryan Whitby as a manufacturer of soft ice cream machinery and one-off custom vehicle bodywork. Today it produces, the manage estimates, 95% of the world's ice cream vans. Every vehicle is custom made to the buyer's requirements and some are shipped as far away as Spain, Italy and Australia!! Just this month the company was voted Business of the Year 2007 by the South Cheshire Chamber of Commerce.

The company are currently trying hard to promote links with schools. This led to our headteacher arranging a visit to the factory.

Now I understand that people might be put off by the risk assessment, but the visit was superb. We saw every stage of the construction process, the way that the graphics are added, and looked at ice cream vans through the ages.

The day ended with an ice cream which the children were allowed to pour themselves from the ice cream van! What a day!

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Evacuee Day

Today we arranged an Evacuee Day for our Year Sixes. This was the end to our focus on World War Two.

This has been such a fantastic topic. The children have been so interested in every aspect and it has provided us with a great focus for our English work on journalistic writing and stories with flashbacks.

All the children dressed up as war-time evacuees. The creativity and imagination shown by the children (and parents!) in creating their costumes was astounding and we were so proud of their efforts.

The first activity of the day was to enter the billeting office where we had arranged for TAs to 'pick' the children they wanted to stay with them. This was really good fun! Next, they planned their evacuation suitcases - one for 1940 and once for 2007. Although, of course, the items packed would be completely different, there were similarities, for example, the inclusion of games. We arranged for a war-time evacuee to come in to speak to the children about his experiences and to answer their questions. At lunchtime we had a war-time themed lunch available for the children, with such delicacies as 'Churchill's Corned Beef Hash' and 'Evacuees Macaroni Cheese'. After lunch the children sent a postcard home to their parents and we ended the day by dancing the Jitterbur.

I would highly recommend the idea of an evacuee day to anyone. The children loved it and gained so much from it.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Learn With Dogs

The Learn With Dogs website is a very child-friendly website with lots of advice for caring for dogs and also ideas for fundraising for the Dogs Trust.

Energy Experience

The E.On Experience is a lively, interactive online resource designed to help teach children aged 5-16 about energy. KS2 children can visit Energy Town where they will learn about the different types of energy we use, as well as their advantages and disadvantages, and effects on the world. There is also a free classroom pack which can be ordered free of charge from the site.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Senior Leadership Conference Day Two

Day Two of the Conference has been even better. There has been lots of theory-based ideas, but today's courses were much more practical and I know I will be able to put lots of these into operation in school.

There was a speech from a very inspirational head teacher in the morning.

In the afternoon, I attended a course on New World Leadership which I think we really help me to approach problems and finding solutions more effectively.

Overall the experience was very worthwhile!

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Senior Leadership Conference Day One

Today I was at the Cheshire Senior Leadership Conference at Shrigley Hall, near Macclesfield. This is the first time I have been on one of these conferences, but they have been running for about three years.

We began with a speech on motivation from Eilidh Milnes. This was really interesting. I also attended a course on school self-evaluation and action planning which I think will prove to be very helpful. Some good ideas.

Shrigley Hall is an amazing place!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Parents' Evening

It's been a busy few days as we have had our Parents' Evenings. Late nights on Monday and Tuesday and then appointments until 6 tonight have made me very tired!!

I really enjoy parents' evenings as it's good to properly meet the parents of the children. I always find that behaviour and attitudes improve afterwards as well.

Tomorrow I'm off to Shrigley Hall for the Cheshire Senior Leadership Conference!

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Teachers find free stuff

More than half of schools are now downloading significant amounts of lesson materials for free from the internet. The trend is noted in a wide-ranging survey of school computer use by the British Educational Suppliers Association.

The poll, which included 798 primary teachers indicates a major change in teachers' use of the web over the past five years.

Nearly all schools have downloaded some free resources since 2002, but the annual survey shows that the proportion of schools downloading a 'significant' amount of free curriculum materials and software now exceeds 50% of primaries.

The report suggest the figures may even under-estimate teachers' reliance on free web materials. The report says that, "It is likely that the subjective definition of 'significant' has changed over time. What was a significant amount of material in 2002 may well be considered to be less significant today."

Monday, 5 November 2007

Primary Review

According to the TES, here are the main findings of the Primary Review:

  • No conclusive evidence that testing raises standards. Well dur... Anyone could have told you that!
  • No real change in pupils' reading abilities since 1952, despite the £500million National Literacy Strategy. This really makes me angry. That was £500million of our money really well spent then. All the hard work to improve the standards of education has been wasted then, apparently. Did they even have evidence from the 1950s anyway?
  • Current assessment regime criticised as 'inadequate', leaving out crucial curriculum areas and offering unreliable information. So once again, the government have ploughed cash into Maths and English and neglected the standards of the foundation subjects.
  • Pupils' learning experiences being narrowed by testing. But overall they get a 'good deal' from schools and get on well with their classmates. Dear God, how much money did they spend on this Primary Review? I would happily have pointed this out to them for much less...
  • International evidence says primaries have improved over the past 12 years in science and maths, but evidence in English is more patchy.

I just find this Review frustrating. Why can't a review ever pat schools on the back and say 'well done'? I guess this just wouldn't be interesting.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Don't force children to read classics

Parents run the risk of putting children off reading by forcing them to read literary classics.

Anthony Horowitz, author of the Alex Rider books, said, "Reading is not an issue we should keep banging children over the head with. As children, my generation were given the books that our parents read. Now children can discover their own writers. There have never been so many good living young writers."

He was speaking at the launch of the Starbucks Bookdrive, a campaign run in partnershop with the National Literacy Trust to promote reading by encouraging donations to school libraries.

He also suggested that the best way that parents could encourage a child to read was to set aside 15 minutes a day to read to them. "We are all so busy as adults that we tend to forget the inestimable value of spending 15 minutes a day reading with our child. There is no better way to get to know your child than to share their books with them."

Friday, 2 November 2007

A year 6 teacher with the X-Factor?

Not that I really watch this programme (or pantomime, from what I understand) but I thought it was quite interesting that there is a Year Six teacher taking part in the X-Factor.

Beverley Trotman is a Y6 teacher in Icknield Primary in Luton. Linda Crick, headteacher says, "Bev's wonderful and on Saturday we saw the real Bev shine through - the personality and depth and feeling she has. We're missing her terribly, but we're keeping our fingers crossed. All the kids and staff are voting for her. Obviously, it has its problems, especially with Y6 going into SATs, but this is a once in a lifetime chance."

Do it for Year Six, Bev!

Rolls-Royce Science Prize

Applications for the Rolls-Royce Science Prize are currently being accepted. Prizes of up to £5000 are available for schools with the best applications.

There are a range of science activities at the website.