Diary of an NQT Reaping the rewards
“LIKE, RIGHT, but yeah, so she says that I is like a chav, right, but like, I ain’t a chav am I?” Pausing for breath as she came into my room,
the year 9 turned to me before asking: “Sir, I ain’t a chav right, you don’t think I’m like a chav, do you?” No, not at all Joeselle,” I replied
before adding “could you put the gum in the bin, and I’m sure the deputy head asked you to remove all that mascara after assembly so why are you still wearing it?” “Right, yeah, but it’s
like…” began the inevitably long response, which I promptly cut off with a glare (I’ve been working on my death stare glare). “Actually Joeselle, you can
tell me about that at the end of the lesson, now I’d really like you to put the gum in the bin and sit down quickly and quietly. You need to begin the starter that’s on the board, and because you’re already five minutes late everyone else has almost finished so you’ll have to work quickly.” Thankfully, this time she sat
down and got on with task, but when I wasn’t watching her like a hawk, she tried to draw everyone in the class into a debate about her being a “chav”. I’ve been wondering what will happen at the
school now Ofsted has officially graded us “good”. For too long the parents of some of the best and brightest children in the town have been sending their children to other schools. But as standards decline in our neighbouring schools and ours continue to rise, how long will it be until the tide turns and we get rising numbers instead of falling ones?
Teach it like Torno! EBacc to the past
“It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated.” Alec Bourne. The coalition is continuing to wreak havoc
in educational circles. Only the Tories could introduce a new measure of league tables and apply it retrospectively. You know why don’t you? So that next year when they publish it again and results go up they can say what
great job they have done in improving education. According to Michael Gove,
the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is the way forward. It seems like only yesterday that we were celebrating the growth of vocational qualifications as a way of giving everyone a chance to be successful. Now that is out of the window and success will be measured along purely academic lines. Where is the true educational value in this? Moreover, does this mean that those
students who fail to gain C grades or above in English, maths, science, a language, and history or geography will be deemed failures? What does it mean for schools that have been working towards improving the life chances of their students under the current measure, and how is it going to affect teacher morale? One school that I know of
went from 59 per cent of students achieving five A* to C GCSEs (including English and maths) to one per cent under the new measure. Don’t get me wrong. I applaud
any government who sees history and geography as subjects worth studying, but the truth is these subjects are not for all students who may have talents in other areas. Over the past 15 years, I have had the privilege of teaching many students at all levels. One of the situations I come across every year at year 9 options evening is advising students and their parents on whether to choose history or not. This decision is not based on ability, but purely on whether it would be a good decision for that student. Ultimately the choice remains with the student. Added to this, some of my colleagues in the
religious education department are up in arms. Why isn’t RE one of the humanities that students can
choose from? Being a teacher of RE myself (albeit one year 8 class) I can vouch for this argument. Students are encouraged to think deeply about the big issues and the fact that RE encourages debate by the very nature of the subject makes it an ideal choice to be included as a worthwhile humanity. Next, a plea on behalf of the thousands of teachers who have been rewriting schemes of work over and over again as a result of various governments changing initiatives. This must come to an end and soon. It appears that once a course has been taught for a couple of years things are changed with little regard for the hundreds of hours that have been spent constructing the scheme of work itself and the lesson materials needed to deliver it. The curriculum is about to change again over the next two years, and history in particular, it seems will be designed to satisfy the needs of Simon Schama and Niall Ferguson. Once it has been changed please stop tampering and let
teachers teach. Finally, the decision to introduce the EBacc flies in the face of international research on how the best countries perform. One of the key recommendations of the McKinsey Report of 2007 was that the curriculum should be tailored to meet the needs of the individual and should not be set in stone. More importantly it goes against
what students themselves tell us they want. In the Youth Parliament conference of 2009 one of the key messages to schools and
government was to get rid of the hierarchy of subjects. It seems that Mr Gove and his cronies are not interested in listening, but in imposing their
idea of education on the rest of us. We are constantly being told that this is a progressive government that wants to compete with countries in the 21st century. Taking us back to the 1950s is not the most effective way of doing this. Have a great week!
• David Torn is professional tutor and advanced skills teacher at St Edward’s Comprehensive School in Essex. He is the London Secondary School Teacher of the Year 2007 and is passionate that the purpose of education is to change lives. He returns after half-term.
I didn’t have too long to wonder. At the end
of last week I was summoned to a meeting and asked whether my form could take a new, mid-term transfer. I was given a series of glowing, brilliant reports about a new girl. She had high scores in her data and SATs (what little info there was) were high. She participates in sport at a national level and has been quietly tipped as an Olympic hopeful. And she’s really nice too. Apparently her parents were unsatisfied with the previous “wonder school” up the road, which for years had been poaching all the best students from us. Seeing as we’d just been given excellent results, she’d like to transfer to us. Naturally the school
was delighted, facilitating the difficult mid-term transfer as swiftly as possible. I have to say, she’s a nice, polite girl. She asks interesting questions, gets on with work well and even sits next to “the boy that no-one likes” in year 9 without any fuss. She was the first transfer, to be followed by a brother next year, and we’ve already had a string of other requests to visit the school with the
possibility of enrolment. Of course it’s all based on reputation and rumour, which can so often change quickly. By the end of next week, I predict Joecelle will
no longer be worried about being branded a chav, but will be positively revelling in it. The “new girl” will be known by her real name and the school will still be riding the “good wave” and reaping the rewards.
• Our NQT diarist this year writes anonymously and is a teacher of science from a secondary school in the East of England. He returns next week.
RED NOSE DAY Pupils set t
With Red Nose Day approaching, Martha Jennings looks
at what support there is for schools and offers some ideas to get you started
March 18, schools up and down the country are once again being asked to Do Something Funny for Money and make a difference to the lives of vulnerable people across the UK and in Africa. Just £25 could give a secondary school child in
war-affected Uganda the chance to get an education by providing them with enough exercise books to last a year, while £200 could pay for two street children living in Tanzania to attend secondary school for a whole year. To help your school get involved and to make it as
easy as possible, the Red Nose Day Schools Team have produced free fundraising resource packs for schools, with one designed exclusively for secondary teachers. The pack contains a fundraising guide offering
ideas, event posters, a sponsorship form, stickers and balloons – everything you need to put on a successful fundraising event. You can order copies of the pack for your school online (see further information for all referenced weblinks). For the first time, the resource packs also contain an
interactive CD Rom which features short films telling the stories of Lawrence and Rojalba, two young people in Uganda who are struggling to get an education. The films pose interesting questions for teachers
to use as discussion points in the classroom or in assembly. The bright, A1 interactive story posters in the pack, and the learning resources available
CHOOLS HAVE made an enormous contribution to the incredible success of Red Nose Day since it first took the UK by storm in 1988. In 2009 alone, the nation’s children raised a phenomenal £7.5 million in schools and early years settings.
With Red Nose Day fast approaching on Friday,
online allow pupils to explore some of the barriers to education and inspire them to make a difference – and making a difference could not be simpler.
For a start, do not forget one of the easiest way to raise money in your schools is to sell Red Noses. This year’s monster designs will hopefully be as popular as ever and with Red Noses for Schools, a scheme exclusively for schools, ordering them is simple. The scheme allows schools to pay an £18 deposit for 60 Noses, then pay the remaining £42 after Red Nose Day. To find out more about the scheme see the website.
Another simple idea is to wear something funny for money. We know pupils love a chance to not wear uniform for
the day so charging
them to come in fancy dress, or dressed in red or just in their own clothes is a very simple way to raise money from the whole school. One
school which a
Southfields College which
in raised held
non-uniform day was Community
south London just
under £830 in 2009. In addition
to the non-uniform day and organising a cake sale, Alex James and Nicola Carter from the PE department organised a range of activities including a “Dance Battle”.
Posters were put up all over school inviting students to come to the dance studio during break and lunch to practise their own dance routines which they could then perform in the “battle”.
On Red Nose Day, half the school were off timetable for the afternoon to come and watch the event, donating money on the way in. The students performed their routines in front of a large audience after which a winner was judged by staff and awarded a prize.
Alex explained: “As the students were in non- uniform, and many had made an effort to wear red, the room was incredibly colourful, the atmosphere was fantastic.”
Southfields takes part in Red Nose Day because it is accessible. Their students already understand what Red Nose Day is and where the money goes so little time is needed to explain the cause to their students, which means they are quickly engaged. Alex explained that the students and staff enjoy feeling part of
knowing that all over
the countrywide campaign, the country
people are getting involved in Red Nose Day is like feeling part of a “massive team effort”. Someone
understands the need
“team effort” is Kathy Bliss at Parmiters
SecEd • February 3 2011
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