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Union repeats call to delay curriculum

by Sam Phipps

A teaching union has repeated its demand that Scotland’s curricu- lum overhaul be delayed to give secondary teachers more time and resources, after education secretary Michael Russell confirmed it would be implemented in September. The Scottish Secondary

Fall-out: A union has called for teachers stranded by the ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland not to be punished for missing school

Stranded teachers could face penalties for missing school

A teaching union is warning local authorities not to punish teach- ers who were unable to return to work because of the volcanic eruption that grounded flights across Europe. Chris Keates, general secretary

of the NASUWT, said she had seen a “steady stream of advice from local authorities, seemingly focusing on ways to make life dif- ficult for teachers who have been stranded as a result of the disrup- tion of travel arrangements”. Ms Keates said there were

suggestions that teachers could be hit by a number of penalties, including: • Having to work the time lost, during holidays or evenings or providing additional tuition for pupils.

• Having their salaries docked to supplement the school’s budget if supply cover is too expensive.

• Losing pay if teachers have not been able to contact the school to advise them of their circumstances. Ms Keates also expressed con-

cern that some schools might be seeking to “circumvent the con- tractual provisions on cover” for those teachers who did make it in to work. She added: “Employers are

clearly spending hours of time producing lists of ways to ensure that teachers, who have been victims of circumstances beyond their control, are penalised in one way or another. “It is times like this when

teachers have the opportunity to see whether the dedication and commitment they give day-in, day-out and year-in, year-out is valued by their employer. Sadly, the conclusion in all too many cases is that it is not.” However, Ivan Ould, chair-

man of the National Employers Organisation for School Teachers at the Local Government Association, said local authorities were not solely responsible for any action taken. “Our advice is that teachers

should not face the additional stress of losing any wages because of these exceptional circumstances, but such decisions are not always in the hands of the local council. Individual schools may make their own decisions about budgets, and about making up on missed class time,” he said. “Headteachers will be work-

ing hard to reduce the impact any absences have on students, and now that airports are reopening the priority is to get schools operating as normal as quickly as possible.”

Teachers’ Association (SSTA) gen- eral secretary, Ann Ballinger, said: “The current and long-standing SSTA position was reiterated: there must be a delay in the introduction of Curriculum for Excellence. A delay in the introduction of the new examination system would inevita- bly follow.” Concerns about content have

marred the introduction of what would be Scotland’s biggest edu- cation shake-up for more than a generation. An SSTA survey published last

month found 89 per cent of teachers wanted more resources before they began teaching the new curriculum and 78 per cent said it was essen-

tial to clarify content. However, they were “behind” the principles of greater flexibility and autonomy for teachers. The EIS, Scotland’s biggest

teaching union, also wants a delay. Larry Flanagan, education conven- er, said: “I do think one of the key issues for teachers is workload. The answer to that is simply to apply our own contracts and work a 35-hour week and limit the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence by using that mechanism.” Last week, Mr Russell said the

overwhelming majority of manage- ment board members had advised against any further delay, hence his decision. The EIS was the only group on the board seeking a one- year delay. “Curriculum for Excellence is

making a real difference in our classrooms at primary level and it will be of great benefit in secondary schools. There should be no further doubt about what is going to hap- pen,” Mr Russell added. “I also concur that we need to continue to build teachers’ confi-

dence in the process of change. I think the evidence from the primary sector is that when teachers are involved in delivering the curricu- lum they very quickly gain exper- tise. I will continue to do everything I can to ensure secondary teachers get the same positive support and experience the same benefits.” He added that he would be ask-

ing the EIS to enter into construc- tive and detailed dialogue as soon as possible, saying there was “time and opportunity” to address the issue of exams, which are some four years away. Mr Russell appealed to

headteachers to embrace the chang- es and motivate staff. “We are entering a crucial

period with further implementation of Curriculum for Excellence this August, and effective headteachers, who lead by example, are essential to help drive forward the improve- ments to Scottish education we all want to see.”

• See pages 8 and 9 for an update on Curriculum for Excellence.

Pupils on track for Diplomas

Students from across London have been helping to develop London’s railway network as part of their Diploma studies. More than 60 youngsters, who

are studying Diplomas in engi- neering and construction and the built environment, worked on train station development programmes across the capital, learning about the challenges of developing trans- port in a busy city. As part of the Transitions pro-

gramme, the young workers visited Paddington, Tottenham Court Road, Whitechapel, and Canary Wharf stations, all of which will form part of the new London Crossrail line. On Friday (April 23), representa-

tives from all of the participating schools came together at the London Transport Museum to present videos that they had made detailing their experiences, featuring interviews with senior engineers, vox-pops with the general public, and anima- tions to help explain some of the processes they were taking part in. Miranda Housden, London

director at the Institute of Civil Engineers, which helped to develop the programme, said: “It has ena- bled 14 and 15-year-old engineering

Rail education: Sudha Jani (left), a teacher from Croydon College, and James from Edenham High School, Croydon, chat to the BBC’s Alice Bhandhukravi at the event

students to build on their communi- cation and technical skills using digital technology that previously they were unlikely to have thought of using in their classroom. The pilot project has been a huge suc- cess and we look forward to devel- oping the workshops further, bring- ing industry closer together with schools and supporting teachers as they demonstrate how exciting it is to be an engineer in London.” Rob Griffin, a teacher at Sawyers Hall College in Brentwood, Essex,

added: “The project has helped to bring aspects of Diploma units to life. I have witnessed my students thinking imaginatively while explor- ing different ideas for dealing with the unique issues they faced on-site. They have also become more confi- dent working with others.” For more about Transitions,

which has been developed by the Institution of Civil Engineers, BBC 21st Century Classroom, and the London Transport Museum, visit

Recession refocuses children’s attitude to money

Britain’s teenagers are emerging from the recession with something positive – more money sense. Findings from NatWest’s 2010

MoneySense Research Panel reveal that over two thirds of the 10,000 teenagers surveyed believe their money management skills have improved because of the economic crisis. They said that this is because of

the profound effect “adult” money issues were having at home, with factors such as attention to budg-

SecEd • April 29 2010

eting, awareness of unemploy- ment, and parents’ money concerns changing their attitudes. The survey also found that teens now receive just half the allowance they were entitled to each month last year. Head of the MoneySense panel,

Sarah Neary, said the research shows that there is a refocus among children’s money attitudes. She told SecEd: “Children are

having to confront adult issues which they haven’t been exposed to previously. On the positive side,

they are learning how to manage money more carefully.” The NatWest MoneySense pro-

gramme runs in 60 per cent of UK schools. It provides free online resources,

enabling teachers to deliver cur- riculum-linked financial capability lessons in conjunction with visiting NatWest staff. The lessons dem- onstrate important lifeskills so that teenagers are better equipped to handle their finances. Ms Neary said that people

are often fearful about discussing money, and believes that the key was breaking down these barriers and increasing confidence. However, she acknowledged

that work remains to be done as the research also highlighted a gulf between expectation and reality in young people’s financial planning. It showed, for example, that

more than a third of young people expect to owe £10,000 by the time they leave university when in reality this amount could well be double.

Furthermore, young people expect their salaries to be around £31,000 by the age of 25, when in fact they are more likely to earn £20,000. Other findings in the research

show that boys are more frugal than girls, with 33 per cent saving most of their money, compared to 24 per cent of girls, while teens in the North East are the greatest sav- ers, and those in the East Midlands worry most about money. For more information, visit


In brief

Young Darwin Prize

London’s Natural History Museum is running a competition which encourages pupils to make film reports about their involvement in school science projects. The Young Darwin Prize is open to key stages 2 and 3 and community groups of ages seven to 14, and is supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for the International Year of Biodiversity. From May 22 to August 31, groups of up to 10 children can submit a short video reporting on their local biodiversity project. The winners will receive £500 to visit a local biodiversity site and will be invited to their film’s showing at the Natural History Museum. Visit:

Red Cross awards

The British Red Cross is searching for young people across the UK whose selfless actions have had an impact on others. The charity’s annual Humanitarian Citizen’s Awards acknowledge the role that under 25-year-olds have towards helping people. Last year’s winner was 24-year- old Vikki George from Surrey, who set up a charity called “Post Pals”, sending cards and gifts to seriously ill children. Nominations are arranged into four categories: first aid, volunteering, community action, and fundraising, and can be made on the website until July 23. Visit: uk/theaward

SATs boycott

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) and National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) have agreed to boycott this year’s key stage 2 SATs. The decision comes after primary members voted in support of action, as reported last week (Secondaries

urged to back SATs boycott,

SecEd 246, April 22, 2010). The national tests, given to 10 and 11-year-olds, are planned to take place in schools from May 10, but members who take action will refuse to administer them. The unions say that the tests disrupt children’s learning.

Geography toolkit

The Geographical Association has launched a series of books intended to re-ignite GCSE geography teaching. The association says there is a need for teachers to take a fresh look at geography with the new GCSE specifications. The new approach is designed to connect with and inspire students into “thinking and acting as geographers”. Books within the range include

Is the Future Sussed? A study of urban living and For Richer and Poorer? A study of uneven

development. Visit: www.

Holocaust guide

A guide to help when teaching about the Holocaust has been launched by the Holocaust Educational Trust. The booklet, authored by historian Professor David Cesarani, was developed in response to teachers’ demands for a resource that would provide appropriate Holocaust pedagogy while recognising the limits on teachers’ time. It provides an overview of the key historical events of the period, as well as offering discussion topics, maps, and photographic evidence. The booklet costs £2. Contact: info@

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