• Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • National Numeracy

  • National Literacy

  • School Home Support

Children’s Health and Nutrition

Kids Health and Nutrition

Clare Image OriginalIn our modern society where convenience foods are easily available, demands on working parentsare higher and constraints on family time and budgets are ever more squeezed, it is easy to neglect diet and nutrition. These are so important to all of us, but for children who are still growing, developing, learning and having to cope with the increasing demands of an academic curriculum these are essential. Today your children are striving to achieve high grades to ensure their place in the classroom hierarchy and to secure the grades they need to secure university or employment opportunities.

It’s time we looked at how we can assist them in this challenge. * With thanks to Susan Taylor from Isle Lose it Fitness for her knowledge on health and nutrition and for her permission to share this with you. Sue has been instrumental in our own health journey and I would recommend her services to any of you wanting to consider improving your own/ your families’ health and fitness further. http://isleloseit.com

1) *Diet – This has long been researched but in our modern, quick paced society with working parents and processed food, children are consuming more E numbers and additives leading to reduced concentration. We ourselves have had to review our diet and nutrition recently. Freshly prepared dishes with quality meat as well as fresh fruit and vegetables will result in much better concentration.

2) *Much research has been carried out into the benefits of fish oil for both adults and children. A good quality pharmaceutical quality fish oil is great for brain health, immune system and heart health.

Fish oil– This is NOT cod liver oil Thanks to Omega 3 fish oil, being healthy has never been easier. In addition to other benefits, Omega 3 fish oil helps us to take care of our bodies, our minds and our hearts. What exactly is fish oil? Omega 3 fatty acids. These are essential fatty acids that our body needs in order to function properly. However, our bodies cannot get any Omega 3 unless we get enough of it through a good healthy dietand this is almost impossible without the help of a supplement.

The wonder fish oils – introducing EPA AND DHA What makes these fish oils so special? Well both EPA and DHA are normal constituents of our cells. They are especially abundant in our brain cells (yes, even yours!), nerve stations and visual receptors (retinas). EPA and DHA come from cold water fish. Fish oil is awesome for brain health and studies have shown it to have amazing effects on concentration levels in children. Sue recommends the Eskimo-3 Little Cubs for children up to 12 years of age. It combines natural fish oil with natural plant oils providing a fab balance of omega 3, 6 and 9. Should you wish to order fish oil for yourself or your children we are able to order this through Sue. Please contact us.

3) Vitamin Supplements – Other supplements to consider for children are Vitamin C and Zinc. This ensures a strong immune system. Long periods of illness and absence from school can be detrimental to a child’s learning journey as catching up on missed learning can be very difficult when the curriculum has moved on.

4) *Water – We all know how important water is for health and concentration but many adults and children do not drinkenough. Ensure your children drink plenty of clean, fresh filtered or bottled water to ensure excellent concentration and continued good health. Our body is 75% water and this is vital to the functioning of many of its internal systems.

If your child needs additional learning support to assist them in achieving their learning potential please contact us to discuss our range of learning programmes and how we can help your child achieve their learning goals.

Ofsted chief calls for paid school governors

Ofsted chief calls for paid school governors

The Guardian  |February 27, 2013

Sir Michael Wilshaw

Sir Michael Wilshaw has, once again, criticised the professionalism of school governors by asserting that a lack of pay equates to a lack of ability to carry out the role. Whilst not all school governors consistently work effectively for the good of the schools that they serve this should not be used as a stick with which to beat all the hard-working school governors up and down the country. It is also worrying that he is advocating an increased role for so called ‘professionals’ while simultaneously minimising the use of volunteers from the local community.  In a climate of shrinking community volunteer places on boards of governors through the Coalition’s Academies and Free Schools programme this plan will simply further remove local and democratic accountability in the primary and secondary education system. There is far more to running a school than looking at figures on a  report card; using paid governors who have no wider understanding of the school in question and no long-term interest in or knowledge of the local community is not the way forward.


Businesses should order staff to become governors at their local schools, the Ofsted chief inspector has said.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said more professionalism was needed among school governors, and again suggested that some should be paid for their work.

His comments came as he announced every primary and secondary school in England would be handed an annual report card detailing their exam results and attendance rates.

The one-page overview would be made available to the public so it could be used by parents to compare schools.

The move came amid concerns by Ofsted that governors need more information to hold their schools to account.

Wilshaw warned some school governors were not up to scratch and would rather spend time “looking at the quality of lunches and not enough on maths and English”.

In a speech to the Policy Exchange in central London on Wednesday, he argued there needed to be a “professional approach” among governing bodies, particularly in the most challenging schools.

He said: “Of course there will always be a place for the volunteer and those from the community who want to support their local school. That will always be the case. But where there is a lack of capacity and where there are few volunteers without the necessary skills, we need to consider radical solutions.

“I have said it before and I will say it again, we should not rule out payment to governors with the necessary expertise to challenge and support schools with a long legacy of under-performance.”

Wilshaw said he wanted to issue a challenge to the public and private sectors to encourage their best people to get involved in school governance.

“For example, all large and medium-sized companies could insist that their senior and middle managers join the governing bodies of local schools. I believe Rolls-Royce strongly encourage their managers to do this.”

The new report card – the school data dashboard – will give information on how well a school is performing in test and exam results, as well as attendance, compared with other similar schools.

Ofsted said it would publish the documents, updated annually, for more than 20,000 state primary and secondary schools.

Wilshaw said governors should have access to the right information to understand and challenge their school, with no excuses for those that fail to do so.

“The school data dashboard I am launching today raises the stakes,” he said. “Many governors know their school well already. But for those that don’t, there are now no excuses. Inspectors will be very critical of governing bodies who, despite the dashboard, still don’t know their school well enough.”

The 6,000 schools currently considered less than good by Ofsted usually have issues with their leadership, including governors, Wilshaw said.

“Poor governance focuses on the marginal rather than the key issues. In other words, too much time spent looking at the quality of school lunches and not enough on maths and English.”

Brian Lightman, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “It is absolutely right that governors and parents should hold schools to account, and access to data is a part of this.

“However, all data, especially ‘simple’ statistics, comes with a health warning. It should encourage people to ask more questions, not to draw premature conclusions. Reciting statistics about how a school is performing is much different from really understanding its strong points and areas for development.”

The last Labour government set out proposals for a US-style report card in a white paper published in 2009. Under the plans, every school was to be ranked on a number of measures and given a final overall grade. The proposals were scrapped after the last election.

Education and skills have long-term effect on cities’ economic well being

Education and skills have long-term effect on cities’ economic well being

guardian.co.uk |by Robert Booth on July 12, 2012

closed coal mine, barnsley

People living in former coalfield communities of Barnsley are facing a battle against poverty today. In 1901, the town was in the bottom 20 for skills levels. Photograph: John Giles/PA

The long-term economic health of towns and cities rests on investment in citizens’ skills and professional qualifications, according to a study published on Thursday examining the effects of 111 years of change in urban life in England and Wales.

Cities with the highest numbers of well-trained and educated residents in 1901 are found to be among the best performing places today, while those with the lowest skills base in Edwardian times tend to be the most vulnerable economies today, according to the research by the Centre for Cities thinktank.

The report’s authors claimed the research has significant implications for policymakers and “illustrates that short-term cuts in expenditure on the policies that support cities to boost skills, from education to transport infrastructure, are likely to result in a big bill for government in the medium to longer term”.

Seven out of eight of the best performing cities today had above average skills levels in 1901, including Oxford, Brighton, Crawley and London, the study found. Meanwhile 80% of cities with struggling economies today fell into the bottom 20 cities for skills levels in 1901, including Grimsby, Middlesbrough, Barnsley, Stoke and Burnley. Figures for 1901 were collated using census data and the figures for today are based on national statistics and government data.

“History tells us that failure to invest in city economies has long-term effects for the UK economy,” said Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre for Cities. “The government needs to preference the policies that support cities to grow – the research shows that skills and transport in particular can shape the economic health of a city. Ensuring the education system prepares children for the world of work when they leave school is vital for those children and for the future health of the UK economy.”

The thinktank is urging the government to combine investment in core literacy, numeracy and IT skills with investment in technical courses such as engineering, a skill it warns is likely to be in shortage over the next decade.

The health of economies was assessed in 2010 using a range of factors including economic output, growth in private sector jobs, unemployment and wages. Skills levels in 1901 were based on numbers in professional occupations such as banking, insurance, accountancy, as well as merchants, and commercial and business clerks.

The study found that cities like Preston, Warrington and Swindon have progressed much more quickly than others. For example, the skills of Warrington’s population are more highly developed now than in 1901, when it was in the bottom 5% of cities. Now it falls within the top 20% of cities for skills and according to the thinktank’s index of economic indicators. The report’s authors attribute the trend to state investment in transport networks, both road and rail.

The balance of power between cities was dramatically different at the turn of the century, according to the analysis. The coastal towns and cities of Southend, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Hastings and Brighton had the highest number of people in higher wage occupations, while Bournemouth, London and Blackpool had the highest property values per member of the population. The city with the most joint stock companies per head of population, a measure of enterprise, was not London, but Cardiff, followed by Bradford and then London. Liverpool, which was described by Benjamin Disraeli as the “second city of the Empire”, was ranked as one of the most economically buoyant in 1901 but by 2011 it tanked among the 20% worst performing in the UK.

Education in brief: are GCSEs the new O-levels?

Education in brief: are GCSEs the new O-levels?

guardian.co.uk |July 9, 2012

  • Warwick Mansell
Pupils sit GCSE exams in a school hall

Exams: should they be GCSEs or O-levels? Photograph: Jim Wileman/Alamy

GCSEs: the new O-levels?

Michael Gove’s leaked plans to reintroduce O-levels to schools, seemingly inspired by the success of an “international” version of the exam operated by one of England’s big three exam boards and taken by teenagers in Singapore, rightly made headlines last month.

But less noticed has been a move by another of the boards, Edexcel, quietly to scrap its own version of the exam three years ago.

Edexcel, owned by Pearson, replaced its International O-levels with its existing International GCSE brand. Intriguingly, a 2009 document for teachers explaining the move described the IGCSE as “the most up-to-date qualification from the UK” and “the same [as O-level] but with modern references”.

How very off-message. Speed Read wonders what Mr Gove thinks. A Pearson spokeswoman says: “The demand internationally is for qualifications which reflect the UK curriculum. With the introduction of the GCSE, the demand shifted to IGCSE, rather than international versions of an old qualification.”

Cheats’ charter

Confirmation came last week, in Peter Wilby’s interview in these pages with Ofqual’s chief executive, Glenys Stacey, that exam board seminars in which senior examiners give teachers advice on how to boost their pupils’ grades are being banned. These advice sessions were, of course, the backdrop to a series of undercover scoops in the Daily Telegraph last December. But is this the end of the matter?

In 2009, BBC Radio Five Live reported on controversial advice being given to teachers at a seminar run not by a board, but privately, by a former languages examiner who guided his attendees on how to “script” pupils’ answers in the oral section of French GCSE.

Would such seminars be banned? Ofqual’s powers are limited, it seems; it says it only has powers to regulate the work of “awarding organisations”, or the boards themselves. So while “face-to-face seminars that relate directly to specific, named qualifications” and are run by the boards themselves will cease from next year, there is no such stipulation on those hosted by private organisations. A loophole, perhaps?

A positive outlook

A fascinating insight into the darker arts of education public relations is provided on the website of the firm Communitas. The company, based in Battersea, south London, sets out how it has secured positive news coverage for its clients, many of them academies.

West London academy, which opened in 2003, had “significant reputation and messaging challenges to overcome in the local community”, Communitas tells readers, not least after Ofsted expressed serious concerns about management and pupil behaviour there two years later.

The company therefore launched a strategy to “limit the damage from the worst critical comments in the report”, and proceeded to “work the media”.

At Eastbourne academy in Darlington, where it created a new “brand identity” for the school, Communitas says “early challenges were around staff management issues that needed delicate and skilled management to avoid unwelcome press coverage”, while the section on Shirebrook academy in Derbyshire says Communitas’s emphasis was to make the consultation process as “easy as possible”, as “creating this ease is particularly vital for communications with any vocal minority who may be unsure about the … founding of an academy”.

Is this a good use of public money? Maybe Speed Read needs a good “working” before we are convinced.

Well-being and education “go together”

Well-being and education “go together”

BBC |July 5, 2012

By Angela Harrison Education correspondent, BBC News

People who are better educated are more likely to say they are satisfied with their lives, a study suggests.

And they are more likely to say that the things they do are worthwhile, according to research by the Office for National Statistics.

The study is part of a £2m project launched by the prime minister to try to measure people’s happiness and well-being.

It does not say education necessarily leads to happiness.

The researchers point out that many other factors affect the way people feel, including someone’s age, health, income and job.

The study also shows that over time, the UK’s population has become better-educated.

Between 1993 and 2011, the proportion of adults aged 16 to 64 without any formal educational qualifications has more than halved from 27% to 11%, it says.

Meanwhile, the proportion with a degree or equivalent qualification has more than doubled from 11% to 24%.

Among people with A-level or higher qualifications, 81% rated their overall satisfaction with life as seven out of 10 or more.

And 85% felt similarly positive about how worthwhile they felt the things they were doing were.

Among those who left school with no qualifications, 64% rated their happiness with life as seven out of 10 or higher.

Poverty gap

The researchers also quote from a study of the British Household Survey which found that people who were learning part-time in evening classes or in other ways were more likely to rate their well-being as high.

And they point out that in England, while three-quarters of children from the richest families achieve five good GCSE passes (A* to C), only one in five from the poorest homes do so.

The report is one in a series about well-being from the ONS.

It is part of £2m national consultation launched by the prime minister in autumn 2010 aimed at working out how best to measure the nation’s happiness.

David Cameron said he wanted more research on what mattered most to people, saying this could help shape future policy and gauge the effect of government action on people’s well-being and quality of life.

The Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair had also looked at the idea of creating what is often called a “happiness index”.

State of Education – Yes, Prime Minister

State of Education – Yes, Prime Minister

An extremely funny clip from the great BBC political comedy.  Check out the last 20 seconds to see where it appears Michael Gove got his centralisation of education powers from!

What’s wrong with education? Teachers reveal all

What’s wrong with education? Teachers reveal all

The Guardian World News

Pupils and teachers at Downhills primary in London protest against plans to turn it into an academy

Parents, pupils and teachers at Downhills primary school in Tottenham, London, protesting against proposals to turn the school into an academy. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Phillip Smith, secondary school English teacher and assistant head, West Midlands

The downgrading of BTecs in league tables affects us massively. As an early academy – we converted in 2009 – with a large intake from socially deprived areas, we’ve had a lot of success offering pupils a personalised curriculum. To be told now that you can teach whatever you like, but only some things will count in the tables, leaves you in a catch-22 situation. There were some Mickey Mouse qualifications, but we tried to steer away from them and offer courses that were of real use to pupils. Now they’re being pushed into doing academic subjects that probably aren’t in their best interests. Couple that with considerable budget cuts, and it limits even further what we can offer pupils. You can make efficiency cuts to a degree, but when much of your budget is tied up in staffing, there’s only a certain amount you can do before you have to look at that. That in turn affects the courses you can offer and class sizes. Gove says he wants teachers to offer a first-class education and be respected, but we’re being asked to do that in a climate of reduced budgets and in which pay and conditions are getting worse. For a lot of staff, the messages simply don’t add up.

Damian Knollys, headteacher, Midsomer Norton primary school, Somerset

Education has been a political plaything for too long; the continual tinkering makes schools very unsettling places to be for teachers. Current inspections are part of a system that seems designed to reduce everything to a label. In doing so they fail to reflect the complex nature of schools. Heads and teachers inevitably try to simplify what they’re doing to meet the latest criteria that Ofsted imposes, compromising their beliefs on what education is about. And the climate of fear and judgment engendered by Ofsted is unhelpful. By Sir Michael Wilshaw’s own admission, staff morale is not high on his agenda, but we know from experience with colleagues and pupils that you achieve progress through sustained challenge and support. We need to move towards such a model, not away from it.

Claire Smith, headteacher, St Werburgh’s primary school, Bristol

There’s an issue around primary places in Bristol; most schools are working with some quite challenging structural issues. My class sizes are relatively small, but that’s changing as we are becoming increasingly popular in the area and the population is increasing, too. Last year, we had 143 applications for the 28 places in our reception class and about 80 families put us as their first choice. It means talking to the local authority about whether we can support this growth in any way without it having a detrimental effect on existing pupils. For heads, another issue at the moment is trying to put policy into practice. We are thinking carefully about what the benefits and implications would be if we used the new freedoms being offered to schools by the government.

Ian Horsewell, Midlands-based secondary school science teacher

Changes to courses or exams are a huge problem. They’re not necessarily bad changes – plenty of teachers like the idea of moving from modules to a terminal exam, but they’re being dumped on us at such short notice. Politicians don’t seem to understand that putting a course together takes a long time. They want things to happen straight away. In science, we still don’t know what to plan for next September’s year 10 groups and that has an effect on pupils, too. It’s incredibly frustrating to be told how to do your job by someone who’s not a teacher.

Andrew Austin, father of four and co-chair, Louth Save Our Schools, Lincolnshire

The unions seems to be willing to strike for pay and conditions, but the biggest threat to those things is the privatisation of education. I think they need to be a little more vigorous about it. As academies start setting their own terms and conditions, we’re going to see an awful lot of disparity between schools and areas. I really can’t see that being good in the classroom. Many teachers decided to become public-sector workers because they had that ethos. To find themselves being almost forced into the private sector by default, at a time of austerity, is petrifying for a lot of them. For children already in their teens, there’s going to be enough of the public-sector ethos left among teachers for the changes not to be too much of an issue, but I worry for the five- and six-year-olds who’ll be heading into their GCSE years in a system that’s been privatised for almost a decade.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector of schools

We talk about problems and challenges, but actually I think these are exciting times in education at the moment. There’s huge political will to make a difference. When I was a young teacher there wasn’t that same drive from the centre. Teaching is now seen as a high-status job in a way it wasn’t years ago. It’s better paid than it was and promotion for good teachers, particularly in challenging areas, is good. I think there’s a new sense of momentum now in young teachers I meet. They really want to make a difference.

The union voice

Mary Bousted, general secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers

Low morale is a really serious problem. We’ve had an absolute barrage of very, very destructive criticism from the coalition government – I call it shouting at the profession. Teachers are being held responsible for all the ills of society. Ofsted is now saying over-detailed lesson planning is focusing minds on activities rather than outcomes, but it’s Ofsted that drove this mania for writing things down. It’s part of this reign of terror on school leaders. They feel it so acutely, it gets passed down to teachers.

Christine Blower, general secretary, National Union of Teachers

Pensions, performance management, professional autonomy, pay cuts and Ofsted. Michael Gove talking about bad teachers sets entirely the wrong tone. It ought to be a case of helping and supporting teachers with their professional practice, not fishing for people you might set up competence procedures against. As Arne Duncan, the US education secretary, said: “You can’t fire your way to the top.”

Chris Keates, general secretary, NASUWT

The move towards the English baccalaureate means a narrowing of the curriculum, so children won’t get broad, balanced learning. For some teachers in non-English baccalaureate subjects, it’s already thrown the notion of job security out of the window. Normally at a time when people are losing their jobs, people turn to teaching. You get an absolute glut of people. But last year the numbers applying to train fell by 30%. Teachers are under siege from this government.

What you told us on Twitter

Co1port, @ICTwitz Headteacher incompetence & paranoia. Accountability agenda getting in way of teaching pupils

Rachel Gooch, @PlaceFarm Proposed free school causing uncertainty when planning for big strategic changes

Daniel J Ayres, @DanielAyres School dinners – avoiding overcooked broccoli

Andrew Bethell, @Andrewbeth Teacher retention. Finland lose 3% of staff after 3 yrs. We lose 25%

Philip Salisbury, @llewelyn20 Behaviour. Definitely. No doubt at all

BrummieMummy, @BrummieMummy Politics getting in the way of education

Debbie Foster, @Goody200Shoes If funding agreed, the arrival of large free school in area where already surplus secondary places

Lonnie2512m, @Lonnie2512 Parental engagement on SRE [sex and relationships education] in 98% Muslim school. We’re failing to quell concerns

J Hobson, @JohnAHobson No clear vision from Gove as to what he expects schools to look like: obsessed with failing schools and failing kids. Why?

AB, @Kiteflyer67 Sourcing quality staff

Lorenza Bacino, @LorenzaBacino How to stay open and prove we are an asset to the community as the smallest school in Barnet

Andromeda, @andromedababe Ill-informed, heavy-handed political interference

Dan Nicholls, @InglishTeecher9 An influx of EAL [English as an additional language] kids, with little staff training and expectation to support their learning and get them a GCSE

kalinski1970, @kalinski1970 The government

Parma Kalsi, @parmachanna We are a primary school being forced into academy status. Ofsted: blatant tool of govt

Nici Scott, @nicionthegreen So many services that supported schools disappearing as a result of LA cuts

%d bloggers like this: