More tests…more testing!!

Tests to check whether eight- and nine-year-olds know their times tables will be trialled in some primary schools in England next month before being rolled out nationally.

The test, which ministers hope will improve pupils’ numeracy, will become mandatory in 2020 for all year 4 students.

Of course, all teachers know where there children are up to on their times tables – so another test that does not in any way benefit the teachers or children whatsoever.

The government says the on-screen test, which assesses knowledge of the times tables up to 12, will last no longer than five minutes and has been designed to avoid causing additional stress for children and teachers.

The Department for Education sought to reassure teachers that the results would not be published and would not be used by the schools watchdog Ofsted to enforce any changes.

So what is the point then?

More tests….

I sometime wonder if the DofE sit around and have a discussion that goes something like this.

‘We need to do something to help improve these children’s education’
‘How about some tests’
‘Great idea’

It seems that way because whilst cutting millions of pounds from schools budgets they just keep on testing, testing and testing. Same old, same old.

Nick Brook, the deputy general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “We’re working constructively with the government on primary assessment generally so it’s hugely disappointing that they are still intent on the introduction of a multiplication tables test, which the NAHT opposes.”

Of course they will go ahead with this because they know best. They are not heads or teachers, have no or little understanding of education but are ministers…so they must know best!

The numeracy skills of students in England lag behind those of their peers in east and south-east Asia so that is why it is happening.

Educations arch enemy Nick Gibb, the school standards minister, said: “Just as the phonics screening check helps children who are learning to read, the multiplication tables check will help teachers identify those pupils who require extra support.

Clearly he is unaware of the difference.

“This will ensure that all pupils leave primary school knowing their times tables by heart and able to start secondary school with a secure grasp of fundamental arithmetic as a foundation for mathematics.”

And does he not think schools are trying to do this already. We have already seen the mess they have made of ‘each child leaving school with a qualification in Maths and English’…how will that happen??

So these test won’t tell teachers and parents anything they don’t already know about their children. Results won’t be published but will end up on Ofsteds desk, just what every school needs.

More targets.




This Government is killing our schools


share_161117Lets just make that very, very clear. If you have a child at school and voted Tory – well done you just voted to take money away from their education.

91% of schools face real-terms budget cuts compared with 2015/16.

£2.8 billion has been cut from school budgets since 2015.

It appears my school will need to save £48,000 over the next two years.

So after 10 years of austerity, funding cuts we are still having to try and find more money from nowhere.

The chances are Teaching Assistant jobs will go. Some schools already have let teachers go as they quite simply cannot afford them anymore.

I don’t know what the answers will be…I may not evening have a job myself soon.

So what?

Well if you have no Teaching Assistants the children who struggle in the class will no longer have any help. As class sizes increase because of the cost of employing teachers is going to soon become to expensive there will be no one to help your child.

So you’d best hope you don’t have a child that struggles (as I do) because any help will be gone. Parents will shout and scream about this but there will be no one to help.

Senco’s will become snowed under unable to cope with the mountain of work which they will have to without Teaching Assistants to deliver interventions.

Don’t look at your teacher as they will not have the time to sit with a child for than a minute or two in a class of 30+.

I find this very depressing but it’s fine for those in government because their children are paid for at private schools with class sizes of 15 with two teachers.

So what’s the answer?

I have no idea…

Maybe a government that does not just cut, cut, cut for ideological reasons but one that actually care about the people they are supposed to serve.

Maybe education not being used as a political football.






Faith School Issues

Faith Schools are again at the centre of controversy as Governors at an Islamic school have lodged a complaint over a highly critical report.

Ofsted found pupils at the independent Olive Tree Primary School in Luton had to ask for toilet paper and wash their cutlery in toilet sinks which is appalling and there is little excuse for this.

_99603340_b27c0aac-220f-4958-8eb3-5ecd06f417efHowever, the Chair of governors Dr Nurul Islam said a number of issues had been “rectified” and a formal complaint lodged over the report’s findings. I find this rather odd behaviour as the asking for toilet paper etc is unacceptable and you will get a critical report if these things are found.

Another worrying aspect of this is that Inspectors found a number of standards were not met, reporting that “inappropriate books” that “did not promote British values” had been found during a previous inspection.

Despite school leaders stating the titles had been removed, the books, including some by a banned author with “extreme views about punishment by death”, were still on the shelves when inspectors re-visited the establishment in November.

It would appear that this school does not wish to follow the Ofsted guidelines and therefore it seems rather odd that you would then complain about Ofsted…maybe it is time to shut the school down if it unable to operate within the law.

This really does no favours for all the excellent faith school that we send our children to.

The report also raised concerns about health and safety standards in the school, for which Luton Borough Council has safeguarding responsibilities. There are standards that all schools have to live up to the same framework and standards is there for all schools.

Ofsted said “We do not expect faith schools to abandon their religious principles. “We do, however, expect them to ensure pupils are adequately prepared for life in modern Britain.”

Quite rightly.

Labour councillor Mahmood Hussain said the council had a “high level of concern” over the quality of education and health and safety practices at the school, which it had shared with the Department for Education and Ofsted over “an extended period of time”.

“If [a good a quality education] cannot be achieved at Olive Tree then we would want to see the DfE as regulator for independent schools to take robust action,” he said.

Looking at the Ofsted Report there are many more areas that need attention:

Independent school standards relating to the curriculum were not met at the May 2017
inspection because the curriculum policy did not reflect the practice in the school.
Leaders did not ensure that pupils’ personal, social and health education (PSHE) was
considered in the curriculum plan and the curriculum did not encourage respect for
others, paying particular attention to protected characteristics set out in the Equalities
Act 2010.

Since the inspection in May 2017, the proprietor has reviewed the curriculum policy. A
new policy was ratified in July 2017 but it remains the case that the policy and plans do
not reflect what is actually taught.

Leaders outline their rationale for the curriculum and explain that the requirements of
the national curriculum are followed for the teaching of English, mathematics and a
range of other subjects. However, the policy and the curriculum plans do not take into
account the changes made to the revised national curriculum framework and
programmes of study, devised by the Department for Education (DfE) in 2013 and
implemented in 2014 for all subjects.

The curriculum plans are organised into long-, medium- and short-term programmes but many do not reflect current teaching. Therefore, the plans are out of date. The policy
states that music and dance are not taught to pupils. However, the long-term plan for
pupils in Years 3 and 4 identifies that pupils learn music and are taught to play the violin
and this does not happen. In the class for Years 5 and 6, the plans outline the teaching
of dance in physical education lessons but this does not happen. The headteacher and
pupils confirm that the subjects taught in lessons and the timetables do not reflect the
curriculum plans that leaders provided to inspectors.

Pupils are not taught the hours outlined for each subject in the curriculum policy. Pupils
in key stage 1 are taught physical education, which forms part of PSHE, for 50 minutes
each week. The policy states that physical education is taught for three hours per week,
two of which will happen outdoors, and the policy does not refer to a difference for age

Inspectors reviewed schemes of work that had not been adapted well enough to meet
the needs of individual pupils, particularly those who are the most able and those who
require additional support. In too many subjects, pupils are not able to demonstrate
age-related expectations. Teachers’ subject knowledge of the current national curriculum
expectations is not secure enough to plan learning to meet the different needs of pupils
in their classes.

Leaders say that they provide for pupils to learn aspects of PSHE, fundamental British
values and respect for people with protected characteristics through circle time in key
stage 1. However, from the information provided by the school, there is no evidence to
show when this learning occurs. Leaders’ new spiritual, moral, social and cultural
development plans do not currently include lessons for key stage 1 to show how they
plan to teach pupils these aspects of PSHE separately from whole-school assemblies.

It goes on and on.

These are some of the most worrying aspect for me:

‘Leaders have not ensured that these independent school standards are met’

‘The headteacher confirmed that checks on the quality of teaching and learning have not taken place’

‘there were no resources available for pupils to use to support them’ (in maths lessons)

‘that school leaders do not fulfill all of their duties to keep pupils safe, and the welfare of pupils continues to be compromised’

These are schools you could find yourself working in. Do not get drawn in to protecting anyone but yourself.

Do not put yourself at risk.

The Ofsted Report is here and makes sad and shocking reading.

Any school in which we are likely to work MUST be up to standard.

I hope that this school and any school like this are closed for the good of the community and the children.

A real gift…

This is just wonderful…

A group of children from Dayton Elementary surprised their teacher Monday with a rare surprise — the gift of color.

Beau Scott, the 4th and 5th grade higher ability teacher at Dayton Elementary School, is color blind. At stoplights, the colors look the same.

A few of his students wanted to do something special for him. Claire De Lon, a 5th grader, and Nori Patterson, a 4th grader, both were trying to raise money for colour-seeing glasses for Scott.  An amazingly thoughtful gift.

“It must be really hard for him to see that way,” Claire said.

Nori said she and her family wanted to do something nice for Scott, and the two girls found out they were both trying to do the same thing.

Scott is one of Claire and Nori’s favorite teachers, so it made sense to do something for him.

So the two joined forces and started to raise money for the glasses.

Claire sold decorative mice with candy cane tails, and students in the class donated anywhere from $5 to $10 each to raise a little more than $300 for Scott’s glasses.

Both Nori and Claire were nervous because, in some cases, the glasses don’t work for everyone.

636491925372539110-IMG-0313-1-The students told Scott they wanted to perform a Harry Potter “magic trick.” So when he closed his eyes, the students gave him a wand, a broom and his Quidditch goggles — also known as the color-seeing glasses.

Then, on the count of three, the kids held up a sign saying “Merry Christmas” on different colors of paper.

At first, he didn’t notice the change, he said. But after lifting the glasses slightly, he could see the difference.

“Oh my gosh, guys,” he said. “Oh my gosh. This is awesome. I can see the colors.”

His wife, Aliya, was in attendance, and the two discussed what he’ll be able to do with the glasses.

One thing he’s looking forward to is picking out clothes for his children, he said with a laugh.

“Now you can see at stop lights,” Aliya Scoot, his wife, said with a smile.

Just the best don’t you think!

Naughty Children

So what do you do with naughty children?

Untitled 1
Typical Classroom Behaviour Ladder

As a Teaching Assistant you will have naughty, willful, obnoxious rude children.

Hopefully not too many but they can be tricky to deal with.

Firstly, you need to familiarise yourself with your schools policy on behaviour.

Every school has a policy (which will differ slightly) and each classroom should have a behaviour ladder of sorts.

Pegs are moved up and down depending on the behaviour of every child in the class.

If it goes beyond the ladder or is in the playground then you need to know who to take the child to. In the classroom, it will normally be down to the Teacher although you should advise the teachers on any behaviour issues anywhere in the school as soon as possible.

If it is serious you may need to write the incident down, sign it and date as part of safeguarding.

Relationships with children are complex and sometimes fraught but in a school every child is treated equally, no favourites and no arch enemies!

In my experience every child has a reason for good or bad behaviour, but I have on occasion (and rarely) seen some children treated poorly by adults, being called stupid or sarcasm used which saddens me but it is a rarity.

My key word is kindness, being kind without being soft.

…continuing from yesterday as campaigners condemn ‘ludicrous’ hijab questioning…

Muslim campaigners have condemned “discriminatory” plans for school inspectors to question girls who wear hijab in primary school.

Yersterdays post explained that the Head of Ofsted Amanda Spielman would be asking why they (the children) wear the headscarf, which “could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls”.

But some have asked why the pupils and not the schools will be challenged. I would take a guess here that because there is no legal basis for any school uniform the schools cannot really be held responsible for what children wear.

hijabs-630x388Oftsed should instead ask “why are primary school uniform policies allowing hijab for girls under the age of puberty when Islamic laws state otherwise,” she added.

Maybe parents should be asked as they, of course, are the one clothe the children. I’m not sure if a child will really understand.

Ofsted said the move was in line with its current practice of assessing whether a school promotes equality.

The hijab is traditionally worn as a sign of modesty once a girl reaches puberty which I would guess most Islamic parents know so I am not too sure why you would want a young child to wear it.

Research by the National Secular Society in September suggested 59 of 142 Islamic schools, including 27 primary schools, in England have a uniform policy which states a head-covering is compulsory. “The hijab in primary schools should be something that is dealt with via the schools uniform policy,” said Sajda Mughal, head of JAN Trust, a charity working with BAME and Muslim women.

She called the move by Ofsted “nonsense and discriminatory” and said it will be used by extremists to advance their narrative of “them and us'” and could fuel marginalisation which seems a little over the top in my opinion.

“I know as a Muslim mother of young girls, I’d be alarmed and horrified if I found that my daughters were questioned if they wore the hijab,” she said.

Surely if you dress your child with a head covering you would teach them why you are doing it, what it is for and what part it plays in your faith?

Amina Lone, from the Social Action and Research Foundation, was one of those who lobbied Ofsted to take action.

“As a second generation Muslim woman and a parent, I have huge concerns about the increasing encroachment of gender inequality in public spaces for women of faith,” she told the BBC’s Asian Network. “The hijab is absolutely not required for children.

“Gender equality was hard fought for in this country and we shouldn’t be diluting that.”

She said it was “absurd” to be having this debate in 2017 and stressed this was not about secondary school children or adults.

There is no ban on Islamic dress in the UK, but schools are allowed to decide their own dress code.

Current government advice states: “Pupils have the right to manifest a religion or belief, but not necessarily at all times, places or in a particular manner.”

Shereen, a hijabi, said the choice should be between the parents and the child.

The mother-of two, whose own daughters do not wear a hijab, said the headscarf has been misrepresented.

“It has nothing to do with sexualising children. That claim is ridiculous,” she told the BBC Asian Network.

Vlogger and mother, Nilly Dahlia agreed. She started wearing hijab aged 22.

“Hijab is not about sexualisation. It is a sign of submission to our faith,” she said.

“I do feel like the government are trying to control Muslims.”

But blogger Hifsa Haroon-Iqbal said the issue was simply a school uniform one.

“If schools do not want young children in primary education to wear hijabs in school, this needs to be made explicitly clear within the school uniform policy.

“This is not about racism, being islamophobic or discriminatory. It is common sense,” the mother-of-three wrote. “To subject a young child to questioning about why they are dressed in a particular way is ludicrous as it will always warrant the same response, ‘because my mother dresses me’.”

Then maybe the parents will need to asked why they are not following their faiths rules?

Ofsted inspectors to quiz schoolgirls in hijabs

I saw this on the BBC today.

Apparently Inspectors will question girls who wear hijabs in primary school to find out why they do so, head of Ofsted Amanda Spielman has said. She said creating an _98820290_8191dc4a-d80f-44d5-aabc-7025e2cc7267environment where Muslim children are expected to wear the headscarf “could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls”.

She may well have a point as the hijab is traditionally worn as a sign of modesty once a girl reaches puberty.

And as far as I am aware it is not uncommon for young girls to marry older men. This certainly happens in other countries but is illegal here although why make your child wear a hijab when she is so young.

But the Muslim Council of Britain said Ofsted’s policy was “deeply worrying”. The announcement comes after Ms Spielman met campaigners from the Social Action and Research Foundation think thank on Friday.

In September, the foundation’s head, Amina Lone, co-ordinated a letter to the Sunday Times from campaigners arguing that the hijab has “no place in our primary schools”, and demanding action as Muslim girls as young as five were “increasingly veiled”.

Of course, evidence needs to be produced if this is the case. At my school no child wears a hijab and seeing as you can legally send your child to primary school in any clothes I am not sure Ofsted has a leg to stand on, unless they change the law – which of course could happen.

“This is an affront to the historical fight for gender equality in our secular democracy and is creating a two-tiered form of non-equality for young Muslim girls,” the letter said.

Explaining her decision to act, Ms Spielman said: “While respecting parents’ choice to bring up their children according to their cultural norms, creating an environment where primary school children are expected to wear the hijab could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls.

I believe we should and can bring our children up with our, that is British cultural norms which no longer includes head coverings. If you wish to do that as an adult then great but not as a child.

“In seeking to address these concerns, and in line with our current practice in terms of assessing whether the school promotes equality for their children, inspectors will talk to girls who wear such garments to ascertain why they do so in the school.”

She urged parents concerned about fundamentalist groups influencing school policy or breaching equality law to complain to the school or to Ofsted.

Muslim Council of Britain secretary general Harun Khan said: “It is deeply worrying that Ofsted has announced it will be specifically targeting and quizzing young Muslim girls who choose to wear the headscarf. “It sends a clear message to all British women who adopt this that they are second-class citizens, that while they are free to wear the headscarf, the establishment would prefer that they do not.”

I don’t believe that this is the case because we are talking about primary school children NOT adult women.

He also said many British Muslims who wear the headscarf have done “extremely well” in education. “It is disappointing that this is becoming policy without even engaging with a diverse set of mainstream Muslim voices on the topic,” he said.

Mr Khan urged Ms Spielman to reverse the decision and said it risked being “counter-productive” to Ofsted’s promise to uphold British values.

It will be interesting to follow this.