Monday, 28 January 2008

Banana Louts

According to the Daily Mail, sugar-laden fizzy drinks and additive-filled cakes and biscuits have long been blamed for bad behaviour. But now there is a new enemy in the school canteen - the banana.
Children who eat lunches rich in fruit and vegetables much more likely to misbehave than those who fill up on junk food, government-funded research shows.
The so-called "banana louts" were almost four times as likely to be boisterous when studying with their classmates during the afternoon, the study by the School Food Trust found.
The finding challenges the widely-held assumption that chemical-laden fast foods cause misbehaviour, while healthy foods feed the mind.

The researchers studied the behaviour of youngsters at six primary schools in Sheffield, observing them over 12 weeks in the lesson after lunch. They found that youngsters who had lunched on healthy meals were more than five times as likely to be well-behaved when being taught as those who had eaten fast food. However, the situation was very different when the children were studying by themselves in small groups. In such cases, the fruit and veg-fed children were 3.6 times as likely to be "off task" or naughty.

It is thought that fast-food fuels hyperactivity, affecting concentration and making pupils difficult for teachers to control. Healthier meals, in contrast boost alertness - raising the risk of youngsters becoming boisterous when the calming influence of the teacher is removed. Or as the School Food Trust, which is chaired by restaurateur Prue Leith, put it: "Generally increased alertness in pupils who have eaten a healthier lunch may help to explain the increased off-task behaviours when pupils were being asked to work together."

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Year Six ICT Planning: Windows Movie Maker



End product:



Editing video with Windows Movie Maker

The whole class will produce a DVD all about the school

The recording of the video will need to be carried out carefully with some supervision as the children will need to go around the school to video the elements they require.


Learning Intention & Success Criteria

Targeted support for the lesson

Activity and Differentiation


New teaching

Main Activity



Learning Intention:

We Are Learning To plan a video

Success Criteria:

I can identify relevant information

  • Explain that the school is hoping to produce a DVD all about the school. It must show lots of different elements of the school.
  • In groups the children should prepare a list of features of the school that they think should be included in the DVD.
  • Discuss the organisation of the video – which elements could be grouped together. Discuss timings and how long each part of the DVD must be.



Learning Intention:

We Are Learning To plan a video

Success Criteria:

I can storyboard my video

  • Based on their work from last lesson, as a class, compile a complete list of every feature of the school that should be included in the DVD.


  • Split the class into groups of 4 and give each group 2 parts of the DVD to prepare.
  • For each part of the DVD the children need to decide where will be filmed, what will the video show and what must be said.
  • The children should then produce a 'storyboard' of their element of the video.
  • Share excellent, imaginative, original examples and the ways that different groups are showing their feature of the school.

Storyboarding sheets


Learning Intention:

We Are Learning To use a digital camera to capture film

Success Criteria:

I can film using a digital camera


This part of the challenge will take place over a number of weeks.

  • Discuss what a badly produced video would look like.
  • Then decide what a good video will look like – well prepared lines, confidently produced scenes, interesting backgrounds.
  • Demonstrate how to use the digital camera to record videos.
  • Accompanied by an adult the children should go, at an appropriate time, to record their video.

The children should carry out a quality control of their video. If they need to they need to record it again.

Digital cameras


Adult supervision


Learning Intention:

We Are Learning To import video and add effects and transitions

Success Criteria:

I can import video and add effects and transitions


This part of the challenge will take place over a number of weeks.

  • In order to learn how to use Windows Movie Maker the children will have to work with alternative video, i.e. not about school.
  • Explain how to load up Movie Maker.
  • The children should import their video and photos.
  • Demonstrate how to add their videos to the timeline.
  • Show the children how to add effects, but discuss whether all of these would be appropriate for a promotional video. Also show the children how to remove effects.
  • Demonstrate how to add transitions between the video clips, and again, also show to remove them.

Ensure that the children have saved their test video.

The children should look at their video critically – does it look 'professional' enough?

Windows Movie Maker

Video clips


Learning Intention:

We Are Learning To add titles and record narration

Success Criteria:

I can add titles and narration to my video


This part of the challenge will take place over a number of weeks.

  • Load up the work from last time.
  • Explain that there are two ways to add further information to the video – text or audio.
  • Show the children how to add titles – before a clip and on a clip. Save the opening titles and credits for later. Explore the effects.
  • Show the children how to add narration to the clips. Demonstrate what happens if the input level is wrong.

Share the children's work from the test project.

Copyright free mp3/ wma files



Learning Intention:

We Are Learning To add photos and titles and credits to my video

Success Criteria:

I can add photos, titles and add credits


This part of the challenge will take place over a number of weeks.

  • Load up the work from last time.
  • What else could be included as well as video?
  • Show the children how to add photos to the video.
  • Can they use narration or music to make their photos more interesting?
  • Add opening titles and closing credits to the video.

Share the children's work from the test project.



Learning Intention:

We Are Learning To produce a video using Windows Movie Maker

Success Criteria:

I can use Windows Movie Maker


This part of the challenge can only be completed when all the videos have been recorded, and it might take a few lessons to complete.

  • Remind the children of the importance of producing a 'professional' looking video without over-elaborate effects.
  • The children should prepare their video about the school.

Share what has been produced.

Video files (these must have been converted and indexed to be able to use them in Movie Maker)


Learning Intention:

We Are Learning To produce a DVD

Success Criteria:

I can combine clips to make a working DVD using Windows DVD Maker


This can only be completed when each part of the video has been made.

  • Put a DVD into the computer. What else is on the DVD apart from just the video? Discuss the purpose of a DVD menu.
  • Using Windows DVD Maker, show the children how to add clips to the DVD.
  • Demonstrate how to change the menu buttons
  • Show the children how to add an animated background.

Show how to add music to the DVD menu.

  • The children should produce their DVD menu for their DVD of the school.

Burn the DVDs to disc.

Windows DVD Maker

Music files

What's in your lunchbox?

Under a new Government strategy, all schools will be expected to design a 'healthy lunchbox policy' on what makes a nutritional packed lunch over the next year. Some parents may even be asked to sign a form agreeing to ban unhealthy foods from their children's lunches.

If a packed lunch is deemed to contain too much fat and sugar, parents could be sent warning letters or their children's meals confiscated.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson and Schools Secretary Ed Balls praised a Herfordshire school which has designed lunchbox meny ideas for parents, including falafel and houmous pitta bread with a tomato and avocado salad, followed by fruit yoghurt.

Whilst this is a great idea in theory, could it work in practice?

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Lost in translation

A lack of communication between primaries and secondaries is threatening to undermine young children's learning of languages. Figures obtained by the TES suggest most primary schools are giving secondaries too little information about pupils' progress in learning a foreign language. As a result, secondary teachers do not know what level, if any, the pupils have reached, or even what language they have been learning.

The National Foundation for Educational Research is monitoring the introduction of languages in primaries. Their recently released report suggests that 70% of primaries are offering languages. However, just 17% send information on the children's progress to secondaries. It also said that there was no difference between children who had learnt French from 8 and those who started at 11, partly because many secondaries had treated all pupils as if they knew nothing.

I think there's a lot of work to do if languges are going to be taught properly in schools. For a start, primaries should teach the same languages as they do in their feeder high schools.

Friday, 25 January 2008

School Reports?

A website is offering parents the chance to review their child's school. allows its users to add a review of the school - positive or negative - anonymously.

According to the TES, headteachers have expressed concern about the potential for the site to be used abusively - though analysis shows most of the 3000 reviews are positive.

The founder of the site, Greg Hatfield said that he was inspired to set up the site when he moved to Brighton and reliased he was entirely reliant on word of mouth to decide which school his children should attend. He said, "It is important for any school to know what the gossip is at the school gate, whether good or bad. If they don't know about it, they can't rebut it."

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the NAHT said heads would be concerned about any such sites being used by parents with personal vendettas. But, he suggested, parents could turn it around by using it as a positive forum for good news about individual children's progress.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Beer goggles

Children as young as 10 are being targeted in a growing number of anti-drinking campaigns. In one scheme the children try on specially designed glasses which allow wearers to experience the dizzy effects of drunkenness.

Year 5 and 6 pupils at Hook Primary School at Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, are taught about the health implications of binge drinking. Last year, pupils of the school produced a play portraying the embarrassing effects of drunkenness at a school disco which was performed at primaries throughout the county.

Research in 2007 revealed that a tenth of pupils aged 10 and 11 had drunk alcohol in the previous week.

The scheme was funded by Mentor UK, a charity working to educate pupils about implications of drug and alcohol misuse.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Keep boys and girls apart!

A report in the Daily Mail says that boys need to be taught separately from girls from the age of five to prevent them being damaged by the education system. Dr Leonard Sax argues that boys are "turned off" by starting formal education too soon when they are expected to sit down and keep quiet in class. And, because they develop at different rates to girls, they can be discouraged from learning while very young when sat alongside female classmates.

Dr Sax, a research psychologist in the U.S., claims this has led to an epidemic of unmotivated boys and under-achieving young men. He said: "With boys you have to start right away. If you wait until secondary school, you have waited too long. From the age of five, there are clear advantages in all-boys' education when teachers know how to take advantage of it."

At present, single sex education is concentrated in the independent sector. Dr Sax wants more state primary and secondary schools to offer single sex classes. He added: "Boys and girls' brains develop along profoundly different timetables. It might be appropriate to ask five-year-old girls to sit still and be quiet in class, but for many five-year-old boys it's not developmentally appropriate. The message they get at five is that doing well in school is something that girls do."
Young boys become afraid of being seen as "swots". However, in single sex classes they are more likely to see getting good grades as "cool"."

Monday, 21 January 2008

Boys are from Mars, Girls are from Venus???

There is an interesting report in this week's TES. Teachers are five times more likely to tell boys off than girls, although girls are just as badly behaved. They are also much more likely to call on boys to answer questions in class.

Jeremy Swinson, of Liverpool John Moores University, observed behaviour in classes at two primary schools. He also recorded different teachers' response to this behaviour and the extent to which they upbraided and punished their pupils.

He found that boys and girls were equally likely to misbehave in class. "There was no difference at all in the work ethic or the attention span of the two groups. That goes against the common belief that boys are more easily distracted," he said.

Teachers tended to praise boys and girls equally. But Dr Swinson found that criticism was not so evenly distributed. Instead, teachers chastised boys for their behaviour five times more often than girls, despite their identical levels of misbehaviour.

Dr Swinson attributes this to girls' more subtle rule-breaking. "Boys tend to shout across the classroom, but girls are more likely to read a magazine under their desk or pass notes. They may not learn a lot, but they're not stopping the lesson. So teachers are more likely to see boys as potential troublemakers because boys are more likely to disrupt the whole class," he explained.

He belives this default assumption that boys' behaviour is worse is the reason teachers call on boys to answer questions more often. Some asked questions directly to specific boys. Others would direct a question to the entire class and then select a boy to answer. He said, "Teachers are trying to engage boys more. They are so relieved that little Johnny has has hand up and isn't shouting that they want to choose him."

There is more information about this report here.

Anyone got any thoughts about this interesting research?

Sunday, 20 January 2008

100 books every child should read

The Daily Telegraph has published a list of children's books that they say that 'every child should read.' Here are the books suitable for Year Six readers:

Stig of the Dump, by Clive King
When Barney falls down a dump the last thing he expects is to meet a cave boy. Stig was an eco-warrior before the term was invented. Sprightly, comic, classic.

Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling
Learn how the leopard got his spots and the camel his hump. And remember "The Elephant's Child" - whose "satiable suriosity" turns his "bulgy nose" into a trunk?

The Borrowers, by Mary Norton
First published in 1953, this remains a deserved favourite. The Clock family live beneath a floorboard, making do with what "human beans" drop, until one day one of them allows herself to be seen…

Struwwelpeter, by Heinrich Hoffman
These pungent 1840 morality tales are not to be taken literally: in one, a boy gets his thumbs chopped off.

Danny, the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl
Danny and his hard-up father bond over poaching pheasants from nasty Mr Hazell's land - before moral dues are paid.

Underwater Adventure, by Willard Price
Willard Price invented zoologist brothers Hal and Roger Hunt to get children interested in nature. Underwater Adventure takes them into shark-infested seas. Some sharks are human.

The Complete Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales
Sourced from medieval German folktales by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm in the 19th century, these sanguinary stories deal with abduction, cannibalism and worse.

When the Wind Blows, by Raymond Briggs
Jim and Hilda Bloggs's preparation for a nuclear attack remains enthralling. First comic, then moving.

The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." But reading about Mole, Ratty, Toad and Badger runs it a close second.

The Water Babies, by Charles Kinglsey
Tom the sweep drowns after being chased from a rich household and falls into a sub-aquatic purgatory. But once he proves his worth he is allowed wonderful adventures.

I'm The King of the Castle, by Susan Hill
A powerful and claustrophobic study of bullying, this has a real narrative grip and a frightening message. No reader remains untouched.

Tom's Midnight Garden, by Philippa Pearce
As Tom lies in bed preparing for the most boring holiday of his life, the clock strikes 13. Racing downstairs he sees daylight and a beautiful garden where there should be darkness. Incredibly exciting.

The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster
A bored young boy pushes his toy car through a toy tollbooth, and finds himself in the kingdom of Wisdom. Genius wordplay, slapstick and a real sense of fun.

The Silver Sword, by Ian Serrallier
Just after the Second World War, a group of children navigate war-torn Europe armed with little more than a letter opener. Tense, demanding and adult.

Cue for Treason, by Geoffrey Trease
After Peter Brownrigg chucks a stone at his landlord, he has to flee to London. Here he meets Shakespeare and uncovers a plot to kill Queen Elizabeth. Tudor derring-do.

The Sword in the Stone, by TH White
The trials of Arthur have never been more amusingly described. Merlin is the archetype for all dotty wizards.

A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K LeGuin
LeGuin's fantasy lands are scrupulously realised, but it is emotional complexity that makes her books so engrossing. Here a young wizard has to come to terms with the destructive power of his magic.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by JK Rowling
The third book may be the best in JK Rowling's series. All the usual Potter tricks are here, but the highlight is the Dementors, the terrifying guards of Azkaban prison.

The Chronicles of Narnia Box Set, by CS Lewis
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe isn't the only Narnia story worth reading. The Silver Chair is a powerful allegory of mental slavery; and Voyage of the Dawn Treader sees a talking mouse paddle over the edge of the world.

His Dark Materials Box Set, by Philip Pullman
Pullman's riposte to CS Lewis is a trumpet-blast against dogma - but, above all else, a gripping adventure.

Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome
Childcare used to be a bit less hands on ("Better drowned than duffers. If not duffers won't drown") and one cannot read the adventures of these four children in a lost Eden without a lump in the throat.

The Railway Children, by E Nesbit
When their father is accused of treason, Bobbie, Peter, Phyllis and their mother move to the country. They pass the time watching trains go by and proving their father innocent, which is nice.

Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell
One of the greatest books ever narrated by a horse, with a fine message: be kind to animals, and they'll be kind to you.

Just William, by Richmal Crompton
The classic naughty schoolboy, William wages a gentle war of attrition against parental and teacherly authority.

The Bad Beginning, by Lemony Snicket
This magnificently black-hearted book introduced us to the Baudelaire children, orphaned in a fire and trying to keep one step ahead of the predatory Count Olaf, who is after their inherited fortune.

Call of the Wild, by Jack London
Jack London introduced some dark themes into this story of Buck, a sled dog in the Yukon who rediscovers his wild nature when put to the test.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, by Joan Aiken
1832, and wolves have over-run a fictional kingdom of England. Orphans Sylvia and Bonnie fall into the hands of an evil Miss Slycarp and must use all their wits to escape. A mercilessly shadowy thriller.

The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
On June 12, 1942, Annelies Marie Frank started writing a diary. It was her 13th birthday. She died three years later in Belsen. An ordinary teenage life, made poignant by the knowledge of how it ended.

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry, by Mildred D Taylor
A tale of oppression in the American South, this tells the story of the Logans, a black family living in rural Mississippi during the 1930s.

The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien
A wonderful curtain-raiser for The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit finds Tolkein in a playful mood. The adventures of Bilbo Baggins, while never less than exciting, are spiked with gentle humour.

War Horse, by Michael Morpurgo
Michael Morpurgo's moving story plunges into the horror of the First World War by following the story of Joey, a cavalry officer's horse on the Western Front.

Beowulf, by Michael Morpurgo
Beowulf is a great story: scary monsters, fearsome matriarchs, boasting, singing, feasting, fighting and booty. Michael Morpurgo's rendition brings it to a new generation.

Treasure Island, by RL Stevenson
The riddles of Stevenson's tale endure. Why does X mark the spot? What is it with parrots? And why did Pugh go blind?

Watership Down, by Richard Adams
Fiver and his brother Hazel know that something terrible will happen to the warren, and set off for safety. Their story has implications beyond the usual concerns of rabbits.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
Less ambitious than The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn but just as exciting. The language is hard to begin with but the hero is one of the most endearing in literature.

Holes, by Louis Sachar
Sentenced to dig holes in the desert for stealing trainers, the wrongly convicted Stanley discovers that the holes are not so pointless as at first thought. Wit dry as a salt flat.

Carrie's War, by Nina Bawden
Carrie and her brother are wartime evacuees billeted on a bullying Welsh grocer. A wonderfully crafted novel full of memorable characters.

The Story of Tracy Beaker, by Jacqueline Wilson
A slice of life in a children's home narrated by 10-year-old Tracy, through whose eyes we confront tough dilemmas. Required reading.

The Lantern Bearers, by Rosemary Sutcliffe
As the Roman army prepares to leave for home, Aquila is forced to desert to protect his family.

Memory techniques being taught

The Times reports that a man with one of the best memories in the world is planning to teach schoolchildren across Britain his technique for remembering everything from French grammar to lists of dates. And he also hopes to find a junior memory champion in a national competition.

Jonathan Hancock, a primary school teacher from Brighton, has twice entered the Guinness World Records book for correctly reciting the order of packs of playing cards and also won the World Memory Championship in 1994. He said: “I have got As in everything I’ve ever done and I put it down to this memory technique.”

Hancock, who is backed by the Learning Skills Foundation, hopes that the winner of the competition for 10 and 11-year-olds will be able to rival his own feats. He says that children’s memories are becoming ever more loaded with information. “There is a huge potential for memory if you start learning the techniques early,” he said. “I don’t want children to grow up to become the kind of adults who say they have a bad memory. Those people just have a lack of confidence.”

Hancock’s project entails introducing his memory methods into school teaching over the next 12 months before beginning the first rounds of the memory challenge. Schools signing up to the idea will be given details of Hancock’s technique. He says that children can learn to recall anything - even lists of unrelated names. “One example is that in my class the children do a quick mental warm-up and call out 20 random words which they then have five minutes to memorise in order,” he said. “They each do this by creating a surreal story in their minds, linking the items together in the most memorable ways. They use colour, movement, humour and adventure, activating their imaginative skills and preparing their brains to absorb all the information of the coming lesson. As well as their memory skills, this is having a great impact on their ability to write memorable stories, poems and plays, and in their overall confidence to express their ideas.”

Daniel Tammet, who is the British champion at remembering the number pi, having successfully recalled 22,514 digits in the correct order, praised Hancock’s concept. “Memory is a vital skill that can be stimulated and enhanced by imagination and creativity,” he said.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Hockey and netball out of favour?

The Daily Mail reports that traditional sports such as hockey and netball are under threat as rising numbers of girls turn to football. They are taking up the sport at primary and secondary school and, for the first time, pursuing it at club level along with boys.

Experts point to the success of Bend It Like Beckham, the 2002 film starring Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra, for the sport's increasing popularity among girls. It tells the story of an Asian girl's attempts to become a professional footballer despite her family's objections. The Football Association - which estimates around one million girls and 250,000 women play football regularly - claims the sport is becoming more accessible to girls and is also seen as more acceptable.

The study by ChildWise, a market research company, interviewed 1,200 pupils - boys and girls - aged between five and 16 to track trends in their behaviour. In a 2001-2 survey, girls were asked what sports they played at primary school. Twenty-five per cent said football, 23 per cent netball, 22 per cent hockey and 18 per cent swimming. By 2007-8, 32 per cent of girls at primary level said they played football at school, easily beating all other sports. Netball participation had slumped to 14 per cent and hockey had fallen to only 4 per cent.

Across all 591 primary and secondary schools, 30 per cent of girls play football, with participation peaking among nine and ten-year-olds. FA spokesman Alex Stone said: "There are more opportunities for girls to play than some of the England players experienced when they were growing up. It's grown from being seen as a niche sport played by a few to something that's much more popularist."

Rosemary Duff, of ChildWise, added: "Children know the names of footballers as it's very high profile. But can you name a famous netball player? Even hockey isn't the same. These sports don't have the same kind of glamour that football has."

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

2.45% pay rise

The BBC reports that teachers in England and Wales will get pay rises above the 2% inflation target set by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The three-year pay deal will mean increases of 2.45% in September 2008 and 2.3% in each of the following two years, says Schools Secretary Ed Balls. The award was higher than the 2% anticipated for public sector pay.

Teachers' unions were divided in their reactions - with both warnings of ballots for industrial action and support for the pay deal. Head teachers' leader, John Dunford, welcomed the higher than expected rise. "There had been a good deal of anxiety among school leaders at the prospect of a lower award," said Dr Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.

Chris Keates, leader of the Nasuwt teachers' union, said: "Compared with other public sector workers, clearly we have fared well." But she said the union would hold an opinion poll "to gauge whether teachers feel that the level of this award is going to be sufficient".

The National Union of Teachers remained unimpressed by the increase - warning that its executive would meet next week to plan a "robust response. Teachers have to pay increases in the cost of housing, fuel and food. This settlement is in effect a pay cut," said general secretary Steve Sinnott.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers acknowledged that the award was higher than for other public-sector staff, but cautioned that it still failed to match inflation.

The salary increases, recommended by the independent pay body, the School Teachers' Review Body, have been accepted by Mr Balls. Describing teachers as the "backbone of our education system", Mr Balls said that the pay award was "fair and affordable for schools. Today's pay award will enable teachers and schools to plan ahead with a greater degree of security and certainty and at the same time will help deliver stability for the taxpayer and the wider economy," said Mr Balls.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Climate Cops

Although I currently despise NPower because they have raised their prices for gas and electricity massively, I am impressed with the educational resources they have published, called, "Climate Cops".

The Climate Cops try to teach the children about saving energy and climate change. A fun website with an important theme.

There is also a site for adults with energy saving tips.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Converting video

Just thought I'd give a quick tutorial in how to convert files from digital cameras into WMV format so that they can be used in Windows Movie Maker. My digital camera is a Samsung.
You will need a video converter. There are free versions on the internet, but I used one by Xilisoft. There is a free version, but if you want to convert files that are longer than 5 minutes, you'll need to buy the full version ($35 or about £25 including VAT). Open the program and select the files you wish to convert. Change the file destination and also the type of file you wish to create and then click on Encode.

The file will then be altered into a WMV file. This still can't be used, however, as it needs to be indexed. You'll then need some free software called Windows Media File Editor which is part of the Windows Media Encoder Package. If you open up the video in this program and then save it, the program will automatically index it.

You are then able to use the video in Windows Movie Maker.

Our Year Sixes are going to make a DVD of the school to form part of our new school prospectus.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Ideas for WW2 Day

Here is a link to a TES forum discussion on activities for a World War Two day.

Online school reports

The Daily Mail reports that our traditional school reports might soon become a thing of the past.

Labour is today calling for schools to introduce "real-time" assessment of pupils. Continuous online updates would allow parents to monitor their children's behaviour and academic progress throughout the term. They would be given passwords to access secure websites containing details of achievement, progress, attendance, behaviour and any special needs.

Schools will be required to update the information frequently - thought to be once a week or fortnight - while also maintaining personal contact with parents. They will still need to issue an annual summary report but a single document can no longer be the sole means of reporting progress.

The scheme is likely to be introduced into secondary schools within two years, and primaries within four.

However, there are fears that the scheme could open up a "digital divide" between families.
The computer-savvy and well-off may log on frequently while poorer and less technologically minded parents will have to do without the service. So-called "helicopter" parents - who hover over their child's every move - could also use the system to heap more pressure on their offspring.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Data unprotected?

The BBC reports that sensitive information on school pupils is being put at risk by staff who take it home with them. Teachers in nearly half of England's primary schools back up pupil data on CDs and memory sticks, which they then take out of school, research suggests. A survey of 933 schools for school computing firm RM found only 1% of respondents were encrypting the data.

RM blamed a lack of clear guidance, but the government said it published advice for schools on the issue. The warning comes after a string of data security breaches by government departments and associated agencies.

The kind of information being carried by teachers commuting to and from school is similar, says RM. It includes the names, addresses and birth dates of pupils, contact numbers for parents, sensitive details of pupils' attendance and behaviour, as well as academic records. The discs, memory sticks and tapes on which it is recorded could be lost or stolen from teachers' bags, the firm warns.

In addition to the 49% of schools which said they allowed the data to be taken home by staff, a further 4% said they left sensitive and unprotected data at unsecured locations in the school. Head of RM schools management solutions Paul Grubb said: "Schools may be acting with the best intentions to preserve children's records and ensure information is kept up to date, but they risk breaching data protection guidelines by taking such risks with pupil data. "Unfortunately, the Data Protection Act isn't clear enough on this issue and so schools are interpreting it and making their own decisions. Following our findings we plan to take the matter up with the Information Commissioner to try and establish clearer guidance for schools."

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said schools had to make sure that personal information is protected and looked after fairly in line with the Data Protection Act - as with any other organisation that handles personal information. "The Information Commissioner's Office produces detailed guidance about all aspects of the Act. We also publish specific advice about the data protection issues that schools need to be aware of when collecting and processing personal data about pupils and other individuals," he added.

A spokeswoman for the Information Commissioner's Office said the Act was very clear that organisations which process personal information must ensure its security at all times. "Large amounts of personal information, particularly sensitive information, should only be taken off-site if it is absolutely necessary."

Tuesday, 1 January 2008


3M is a great website to help teach children practical tips on staying safe while out and about. The content of the road safety resources have been written by teachers with the help of the Department for Transport and Brake, the road safety charity. The website covers safety rules for pedestrians, car passengers and cyclusts.

There are free resources to download.

I think this site will be useful for our Junior Road Safety Officers.

Teacher Tube

Teacher Tube is basically YouTube for teachers. Although most of the videos are American, I think it has lots of potential.