Is segregation in UK schools acceptable?

It surprises me that in the 21st century in the United Kingdom that a school of whatever religious persuasion chooses to segregate. Of course the Al-Hijrah school an Islamic faith school has a policy of segregating boys and girls in lessons, breaks in fact in every aspect of school clubs and has been found to be ‘unlawful sex discrimination’ a court has now ruled ruled.

alThe case was heard at the Court of Appeal as Ofsted challenged a High Court ruling clearing the  in Birmingham of discrimination. Ofsted’s lawyers argued the segregation left girls “unprepared for life in modern Britain” and I tend to agree. It is society and that includes both parents and schools to help shape our children for life living in a modern industrial country and to be able to look after themselves and understand the complex world ahead of them.

Appeal judges ruled the school was discriminating against its pupils contrary to the Equality Act.

Ofstead have known about this for about 20 years but appear to have only now decided to challenge this discrimination. Our children, our boys and girls need to learn how to interact with each other, to be aware of the differences. This is modern Britain and if that is not to your liking then I would suggest that one may relocate to a place where this is still practiced.

The case came to court after Ofsted produced a summer 2016 report that found there was discrimination under equality laws.

At an earlier hearing, judge Mr Justice Jay said books discovered in the school library clearly treated women “as subordinate to men” and this is not acceptable at any level, school or otherwise.

Councillar Bennett said: “The school has, to say the least, a tarnished reputation and, with it once again having been rated inadequate, it is beyond dispute that the council’s efforts have failed to bring about the necessary improvements.

“It really would be in the best interests of all concerned, not least the pupils who have been failed by the school and the council, if the school were closed down in a managed and orderly fashion.”

And I tend to agree. We cannot and shall not treat our children differently because of their gender.

Chief inspector Amanda Spielman said: “Educational institutions should never treat pupils less favourably because of their sex, or for any other reason.

“The school is teaching boys and girls entirely separately, making them walk down separate corridors, and keeping them apart at all times.

“This is discrimination and is wrong.

“It places these boys and girls at a disadvantage for life beyond the classroom and the workplace, and fails to prepare them for life in modern Britain.

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Opening Up

Today, I took one of the children out of class for their daily Maths/English intervention. These take about 15 minutes and the term used for them is Precision Teaching.

627447040However, he decided with children milling around us to tell me something of his life.

The child has been in interventions with me for couple of years. I knew a little of his background but today was the day that I got too know a whole lot more.

Obviously I cannot go into any detail suffice to say it was one of the most moving moments I have experienced in a school or possibly in my life.

I asked some open ended but gentle questions about how the child felt and what did it mean to them and when finished I was told that ‘I was the first Teacher he had spoken too about all this’. I have to say that I had a tear or two in my eyes at the end of it.

It is important that you have no secrets at school, it is part of Safeguarding and with that in mind I spoke to my teacher who suggested that I spoke to the head. I explained everything that was said and because of the nature of it she followed our protocol of writing all the details, signing and dating.

This will also go to the SENCO and will be kept on file.

Days like today make my job worthwhile.

Playground and break duty

The playground.

We’ve all been there.

BDP7AN_restricted_school-xlarge_trans_NvBQzQNjv4Bqeo_i_u9APj8RuoebjoAHt0k9u7HhRJvuo-ZLenGRumAIt is a busy, noisy and dynamic place, it can seem chaotic but in general any school worth it’s salt will have playground staff which is usually (but not always) are the trusty Teaching Assistants.

There are specific rules for the playground. For each KS1 (Key Stage 1) class of 30 children there must be 1 adult.

Interestingly for KS2 (Key Stage 2) there are no set number of adults required!

Our job is to ensure the safety of the children and differing schools have different rules. The school will have a safeguarding policy and it should be on their website, you need to understand the safeguarding rules.

I cannot emphasize how important this is.

Back to the playground though and what to look out for:

Bumps, Scrapes, Grazes and Bruises:
All we can really do is clean with a wet wipe (we are not allowed to use any form of antiseptic) and possibly a plaster but you need to check and make sure the child does not have an allergy to the materials found in the common plaster.

Many will not need anything, so calming the child down, making them feel cared for and distraction can also help.

Head injuries:
There can be very serious and ANY head injury should be treated as such. I look for a mark or a bump, check to see if the child feels sick or dizzy and (at my school and at many) send the child with an older child into the school office when the school staff will make a further assessment of any injuries. The parents will always be informed of any head injury.

Splinters:
We cannot remove them anymore.

Nose bleeds:
Take the child to the office.

Broken Bones:
I have never seen a broken bone in any playground but we never know so any injury must be taken seriously because it does happen.

Calling an Ambulance:
That will most likely be down to  the office staff but as a First Aider (your school should have you trained – I am Level 3 Paediatric First Aider) you should give your opinion.

Rough Play
This has to be stopped as it can escalate and injuries are inevitable.

Bullying
Any form of bullying in unacceptable and should be reported immediately and should be logged on the behaviour log.

Children sitting by themselves
Children tend to sit by themselves for a number of reasons. They may have no one to play, they may be upset, home life may be hard or they could be SEN (Special educational Needs). Get down to their eye level, ask them open ended questions with care and concern and report anything unusual or suspicious.

Hitting or kicking
Physical violence is not acceptable under any circumstances and should be stopped and reported immediately.

Bickering and Disagreements
You will come across many of these and will need to make a decision on what you are told. Most are just silliness and a few words will usually help.

 

Transition to High School

This is an incredibly hard time for children. The move for my eldest, her transition to her secondary school has not been a good one, it has been very hard on her and for myself.

It has raised her levels of anxiety exponentially to the point of upset stomachs, feeling sick and a few panic attacks.

images
It can be such a hard time

To see my beautiful young daughter goes through these agonies is distressing to say the least. It breaks my heart to see her like this and I know she is not the only child out there.

 

These are things my eldest and other children are struggling with a number of different issues:

  • Movement from a small school of a few hundred to over a thousand is overwhelming
  • Movement from a small building to a huge rabbit warren of building is confusing and children are easily lost
  • A growing amount of homework
  • Taking notes of any homework given
  • Lost of new children in their year
  • knowing what to do during break times
  • Walking to school and back

The Transition

The children of year 6 in my eldest’s primary school were helped in this by meeting their teachers and having a day at the school.

But on reflection I don’t think this was enough. I have suggested to one of the governors of her primary school that they work closer with her secondary school to give them a slightly watered down version of year 7…a sort of year 6.5 where they take notes, write down their homework, get detention and more.

So what can done?

Firstly speak to the schools Student Support.

Our new school has been great.

We have a great connection with Student Support and her teachers. They have and are being kind, supportive and patient. I can’t praise them enough, particularly Student Support.

They have met with my eldest on regular occasions, helping her gain confidence, helping her through (what for her) is an overwhelming life change.

I have also suggested the school test my eldest for any form of autism because of several factor which I will not go into here.

So where do we go from here…?

Just a day at a time.

 

 

Homework comes home to roost!

kid-doing-homework-900x599Following from my previous piece on homework my 6 year old daughter has been given six pieces, yes six pieces of homework to do this week. They are:

  • Reading each day
  • Phonics 3 times a week
  • Spellings every night
  • Do one activity from ‘The Grid’. These can include a visit to a zoo, sending an email and researching parts of the brain and heart on the internet/write a story…
  • Revising phonics sounds
  • Download bingo card and play a game

This is actually homework for parents. My daughter is in year 1, and is not yet able to do most of the grid activities!

My wife and I work full time and my daughter goes to bed at 7pm.

Do I really want to spend any time I have with her during the week just doing homework? The answer of course is no.

Reading is what I would expect for year 1, phonic sounds and possibly some simple spellings from the Year 1/2 most frequent words but downloading games, printing them out, showing my daughter images of the heart and brain…hardly appropriate.

So I have asked to speak to the head about this and I hope some constructive dialogue will come of it.

will come of

 

 

Touch Typing…a great free program for schools

Touch typing is a particularity good way for children with special educational needs to take down information and do assignments.

bbc dance matLast year, for several children I used a rather old children touch typing aid called ‘BBC Bitesize – Dance Mat Typing‘. It is as good as it goes but is looking a little dated and tired now.

So, on the hunt for something good and free I came across this little beauty ‘Typing Club’
and it really is very good.

Setup your account within minutes, engage your students with TypingClub’s amazing lesson plans, and track their progress through your portal. Setting up an account is quick and free.

typing clubThe following is a summary of some of TypingClub’s key features:

  • TypingClub’s lesson plan contains over 600 lessons, guiding students from individual keys all the way through numbers and punctuation, and all the way to a goal of 75 WPM.
  • The carefully designed lessons includes instructional videos, educational games, practice of challenging, and commonly misspelled words and other interactive experiences.
  • TypingClub’s district dashboard allows you to easily manage multiple schools and track their activity within a single account.

    You can import and manage your student roster through Clever, Google Classroom, custom CSV files, or an automated SFTP sync. Regardless of the path you choose, we are here to support you throughout the process.

and there is more and this is free. I can’t recommend it enough.

Homework

My lovely 5 year old has now started in year one and she has homework. I found this article on line…it’s a good read.

wp16387a44_05_06Reformers in the Progressive Era (from the 1890s to 1920s) depicted homework as a “sin” that deprived children of their playtime. Many critics voice similar concerns today.

Yet there are many parents who feel that from early on, children need to do homework if they are to succeed in an increasingly competitive academic culture. School administrators and policy makers have also weighed in, proposing various policies on homework.

So, does homework help or hinder kids?

For the last 10 years, my colleagues and I have been investigating international patterns in homework using databases like the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). If we step back from the heated debates about homework and look at how homework is used around the world, we find the highest homework loads are associated with countries that have lower incomes and higher social inequality.

Does homework result in academic success?

Let’s first look at the global trends on homework.

Undoubtedly, homework is a global phenomenon; students from all 59 countries that participated in the 2007 Trends in Math and Science Study (TIMSS) reported getting homework. Worldwide, only less than 7% of fourth graders said they did no homework.

TIMSS is one of the few data sets that allow us to compare many nations on how much homework is given (and done). And the data show extreme variation.

For example, in some nations, like Algeria, Kuwait and Morocco, more than one in five fourth graders reported high levels of homework. In Japan, less than 3% of students indicated they did more than four hours of homework on a normal school night.

TIMSS data can also help to dispel some common stereotypes. For instance, in East Asia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan – countries that had the top rankings on TIMSS average math achievement – reported rates of heavy homework that were below the international mean.

In the Netherlands, nearly one out of five fourth graders reported doing no homework on an average school night, even though Dutch fourth graders put their country in the top 10 in terms of average math scores in 2007.

Going by TIMSS data, the US is neither “A Nation at Rest” as some have claimed, nor a nation straining under excessive homework load. Fourth and eighth grade US students fall in the middle of the 59 countries in the TIMSS data set, although only reported high math homework loads compared to an international average of 21%.

So, is homework related to high academic success?

At a national level, the answer is clearly no. Worldwide, homework is not associated with high national levels of academic achievement.

But, the TIMSS can’t be used to determine if homework is actually helping or hurting academic performance overall, it can help us see how much homework students are doing, and what conditions are associated with higher national levels of homework.

We have typically found that the highest homework loads are associated with countries that have lower incomes and higher levels of social inequality – not hallmarks that most countries would want to emulate.

Impact of homework on kids

TIMSS data also show us how even elementary/primary school kids are being burdened with large amounts of homework.

Almost 10% of fourth graders worldwide (one in 10 children) reported spending multiple hours on homework each night. Globally, one in five fourth graders report 30 minutes or more of homework in math three to four times a week.

These reports of large homework loads should worry parents, teachers and policymakers alike.

Empirical studies have linked excessive homework to sleep disruption, indicating a negative relationship between the amount of homework, perceived stress and physical health.

What constitutes excessive amounts of homework varies by age, and may also be affected by cultural or family expectations. Young adolescents in middle school, or teenagers in high school, can study for longer duration than elementary/primary school children.

But for elementary/primary school students, even 30 minutes of homework a night, if combined with other sources of academic stress, can have a negative impact. Researchers in China have linked homework of two or more hours per night with sleep disruption.

Even though some cultures may normalise long periods of studying for primary age children, there is no evidence to support that this level of homework has clear academic benefits. Also, when parents and children conflict over homework, and strong negative emotions are created, homework can actually have a negative association with academic achievement.

Should there be “no homework” policies?

Administrators and policymakers have not been reluctant to wade into the debates on homework and to formulate policies. France’s president, Francois Hollande, even proposed that homework be banned because it may have inegaliatarian effects.

However, “zero-tolerance” homework policies for schools, or nations, are likely to create as many problems as they solve because of the wide variation of homework effects. Contrary to what Hollande said, research suggests that homework is not a likely source of social class differences in academic achievement.

Homework, in fact, is an important component of education for students in the middle and upper grades of schooling.

Policymakers and researchers should look more closely at the connection between poverty, inequality and higher levels of homework. Rather than seeing homework as a “solution,” policymakers should question what facets of their educational system might impel students, teachers and parents to increase homework loads.

At the classroom level, in setting homework, teachers need to communicate with their peers and with parents to assure that the homework assigned overall for a grade is not burdensome, and that it is indeed having a positive effect.

Perhaps, teachers can opt for a more individualised approach to homework. If teachers are careful in selecting their assignments – weighing the student’s age, family situation and need for skill development – then homework can be tailored in ways that improve the chance of maximum positive impact for any given student.

I strongly suspect that when teachers face conditions such as pressure to meet arbitrary achievement goals, lack of planning time or little autonomy over curriculum, homework becomes an easy option to make up what could not be covered in class.

Whatever the reason, the fact is a significant percentage of primary school children around the world are struggling with large homework loads. That alone could have long-term negative consequences for their academic success.

From The Independent

Personally I don’t really think KS1 should have any homework because they are so young and tired after school.

The homework ends up being done by the parent or carer, if they have the time that is or have any understanding of phonics…simple for some but not for others.

What do you think?