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Charity highlights the myths students believe about cancer

by Daniel White

Some young people believe that you can “catch” cancer from kissing, using a public toilet, or even from eating jelly babies. Experts say that the lack of

knowledge among students high- lights the need for greater education about the disease. The Teenage Cancer Trust

(TCT) says that many students are unaware of the symptoms of the many strains of cancer that can particularly effect young people and that schools are often scared to approach the subject. Every day in the UK six young

people, aged between 13 and 24 are told they have cancer. Also, one in 312 males and one in 361 females will be diagnosed with can- cer before they are 20. Speaking to SecEd, Nigel Revell, director of education and

advocacy at the TCT, said: “Cancer can be a difficult subject for any teacher to talk about but the lack of knowledge in many students means it needs to be promoted in the cur- riculum. “Most of the cancers when they

affect young people are so much more aggressive and the treatment protocols and the drug mixes they have are unbelievably aggressive. A huge number of our young people will die because of the treatment and not the cancer. If we educate them about the warning signs as early as possible then it can only be a positive thing.” The TCT runs an education

programme which last year visited around 600 schools to help educate students about the facts surround- ing cancer. These events are also important to bust the many myths young people have. A survey conducted by the TCT in November 2010 revealed that

Students want school nurses to text them advice

Schools nurses should be more visible and offer services such as text messages with advice on drugs and other health worries. These are among the findings

of a study involving 1,600 stu- dents across England. Run by the British Youth

Council, the consultation found that 80 per cent of students who had made use of their school nurs- ing service had found the experi- ence positive. However, 73 per cent of the

young people said they had only ever visited their school nurse for immunisations and nearly half of them are not sure who their school nurse is. The students said that while

they value their school nurse, they would like them to be more “visible, accessible and confidential”. They also suggested that

school nurses should use text messages to distribute key health information on issues such as drugs, contraception, STIs, or how to stop smoking. A report on the findings,

entitled Our School Nurse, was launched last month at the Department of Health by the deputy chief nursing officer Viv Bennett and forms part of its School Nursing Development Plan, which aims to develop the government’s vision for school nursing. However, the targets of one

full-time equivalent school nurse per secondary school and its clus- ter of primary schools, set under the previous government, has still not been met. Elsewhere, the study found

that 80 per cent of the students would feel more comfortable if they could choose whether they saw a male or female nurse, or went with a friend. The young people also want

to be able to directly contact their school nurse to make an appointment or ask a question through texting or emailing. Hannah, 17 from

Wolverhampton City Youth Council, who contributed to the survey, told SecEd: “I think that school nurses should speak regu- larly to pupils and staff and be an important part of the school community, but in my area pupils can only see their nurse every fortnight. In order to improve how school nurses work with young people, we need to be able voice our opinions. “It is school pupils that will be

using this service, and ultimately it should be pupils deciding how this can best work for young peo- ple across the country.” Dame Christine Beasley, the

chief nursing officer, said: “I am grateful to the young people and hope they will continue to be champions for the school nurs- ing service and our ambitions for the service. We have used the views of young people to shape the vision and model which is currently being consulted upon with professionals and stake- holders.” However, commenting on

the findings this week, Sharon White, professional officer with the School and Public Health Nurses Association, noted how critical the young people were of the “invisibility” and, in many areas, absence of a service. She added: “The findings

from both must now be used within the current School Nurse Development Programme to ensure provision of a service which has the capacity, skills, knowledge and vision which is clearly desired of and deserved by our young people and, not, as in many examples of participa- tion, pay lip-sevice to them.”

19 per cent of 13 to 24-year-olds believe that if you have cancer when you are pregnant your baby will get it. Other worrying findings include

that seven per cent of young people believe you can get cancer from eating coloured jelly babies; six per cent think you can do so from kissing; 12 per cent believe getting kicked in the testicles gives you testicular cancer; and 10 per cent believe you can catch cancer from toilet seats. The charity also funds and

develops specialist teenage cancer units within NHS hospitals which enable young people to be treated together, by an expert team. Since it was founded in 1990, the TCT has opened 17 units. Last year, the char- ity also sent out 3,000 skin cancer education packs as part of its “Shun Burn” campaign. For information and resources, visit

Life-saving: Nigel Revell leads a Teenage Cancer Trust session with secondary students Welsh NQTs to be offered Master’s

NQTs in Wales are to be offered a Master’s programme as part of their Induction and Early Professional Development. The Welsh government has

worked with Professor Alma Harris, from the Institute of Education, to design a three-year programme which will gain accreditation based on activities and action research rather than a traditional taught, aca- demic approach. The key elements of the Master’s programme will focus on the three national priorities set by education minister Leighton Andrews.

These are literacy, numeracy,

and reducing the impact of poverty on attainment. There are also three additional

core areas that have been identified as priorities for NQTs – additional learning needs, behaviour manage- ment, and reflective practice. The Master’s will be support-

ed by a range of online resources which are currently being devel- oped for school-based practitioners. Prof Harris said: “The new

Master’s programme is an impor- tant and timely development which emphasises high quality profes-

sional learning as the cornerstone of system and school improvement. “It is a major opportunity for

those entering the teaching profes- sion to acquire high level skills and practical expertise that are both rec- ognised and rewarded. It signals a major commitment to professional learning and represents a signifi- cant investment in the future of the profession. “It will ensure that NQTs are bet-

ter prepared than ever for the class- room and are more able to achieve improved learning outcomes for the young people they teach.”

Mr Andrews added: “We need

to raise standards of performance across the board in Wales so our learners can reach their potential. “A crucial part of this is ensur-

ing we have highly skilled teachers who are able to deliver effective teaching and learning in the class- room. The new Master’s qualifica- tion will help us achieve that.” The Welsh government said that

the Master’s qualification will not be made mandatory at this stage and that an evaluation will be made before considering making it com- pulsory.

School sets up bank to teach about finance

A school has set up its own bank to try and teach students about the perils of debt and how to be responsible with their money. Marine Academy Plymouth has

launched the MAP Bank for its students during a recent personal finance day and it is aimed at getting them into the habit of saving money. Based in the school library, the

bank enables students to deposit money before the school day begins and they can collect withdrawals at the end of the day.

All year 7 students are being

encouraged to open accounts with just a £1 and account hold- ers will receive their own bank- ing book. Weekly deposits can be as lit-

tle as 10p and students can earn as much as £1 interest each term. If they consistently save money all year, they will be given an extra £2. The school’s business staff

help to run the project along- side the City of Plymouth Credit

Football tournaments hit GCSE results by a quarter of a grade

As the nation gears up for a massive sporting year, a new study warns that pupils who take GCSEs during major international football tournaments get worse results. After analysing the GCSE

records of three and a half million youngsters over seven years, uni- versity researchers found that stu- dents sitting exams in years when there is a big summer football event tend to put in less effort and get worse results than during a football- free summer. The degree to which students’

results suffer obviously depends on their interest in football but the average effect on exams taken dur-


ing tournaments is about a quarter of a grade per subject. Boys and girls are both affected

but boys and more disadvantaged students tend to be affected more. “Time spent watching and talk-

ing about football is clearly time not spent studying – so our findings give an indication of just how much student effort matters for achieve- ment at GCSE,” said Oxford University’s Dr Robert Metcalfe, who conducted the research with Professor Simon Burgess and Dr Steven Proud from the University of Bristol. “It is worth studying hard, avoid- ing distractions and concentrating

on work, particularly last minute effort just before the exams.” The team has suggested a raft

of other strategies to help young- sters during Euro 2012, which will be hosted by Poland and Ukraine between June 8 and July 1 this year. “With Euro 2012 coming up, we

should be aware of this issue and see what kind of support schools can provide to help students’ con- centration,” said Prof Burgess.

“Further out, we should perhaps

try to shift the exams to just three weeks earlier in the year, so that they don’t clash with the big foot- ball tournaments. More broadly, we need to recognise the importance of effort in driving educational achievement. There’s lots of dis- cussion of school resources, class size and family background, but effort is rarely mentioned in policy debates.”

SecEd • January 5 2012

Union, but they hope that business students will take over the running of the bank in future. Headteacher Helen Mathieson

told SecEd: “In these harsh finan- cial times, debt is something that is crippling all communities as they struggle to deal with the aus- terity measures. Teaching children about finance, about how to man- age finances and all aspects of personal finance is an absolute duty of care. “I think the bank will serve its

purpose for students who hope to save for big items such as the ski trip.

“Students will be able to save

weekly and see those savings grow- ing, they’ll be able to pay into a specific account for just such trips and plan their experiences going forward.” Year 7 student Elisha Drage

added: “I think the school bank is a good thing because it allows you to save up money for items which you would like to buy.”

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