Sadness as Primary School collapses during earthquake in Mexico

Very sad news as at least 30 people, mostly children, died at a primary school which collapsed in Mexico City during Tuesday’s earthquake, local media say.

The shallow, 7.1 magnitude quake killed at least 225 people in total and caused major damage across states in the centre of the country.

Desperate searches for survivors under the rubble are continuing.

Dozens of buildings were toppled, much of the electricity supply was cut and broken gas mains sparked fires.

The tremor struck shortly after many people had taken part in an earthquake drill, exactly 32 years after another quake killed thousands in the capital.


What about SATS?

The question I have asked, and been asked so many times is this:

What is the point of SATS?

Quite simply, there is no point of SATS.

SATS do not help pupils one iota, the pressure they cause has led to anxiety and stress for children who do not need it. SATS are used by the government to see how a school is doing and that is it, no more no less. So now the National curriculum tests for seven-year-olds in England are being scrapped, the Government confirmed yesterday. Instead, children will be assessed when they first enter primary school so their progress can be measured when they leave aged 11 which many school already do to help with streaming. Of course they could always look at the mountain of data that teachers have to give but that would be just far too easy.SATS (1).png
The axing of Year Two SATs follows campaigning by teaching unions and parent groups, who argued that children were being ‘over-tested and over-worked’ and quite rightly too. We currently have an education system that is run by people who have absolutely no experience and qualifications, the irony of it is laughable.

Instead, the Department for Education said a new ‘teacher-mediated assessment’ will be introduced in the reception year – for pupils aged four and five – from 2020 which quite frankly is ridiculous.

And the controversial Key Stage One tests and assessments will become non-compulsory three years later, so a great waste of time and money as many schools will drop this nonsense as soon as possible.

In a further change, youngsters will sit a new times tables check in Year Four – rather than in Year Six as originally planned by Ministers – from 2019-20…which most schools already do.

The Education Secretary Justine Greening, who is a trained accountant with no experience in Education whatsoever said yesterday: ‘A good primary education lays the foundations for success at secondary school and beyond. Our reforms are starting to raise standards and these changes will free up teachers to educate and inspire young children while holding schools to account in a proportionate and effective way.’

That remains to be seen, many of the teachers have ridiculous amounts of work leading to a 50 to 60 hour week for which they have been stuck on 1% pay rise for the last 7 years.

The Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign said the assessments were sapping ‘children’s happiness and joy of learning’ because schools were focusing too much on the tests and I tend to agree having seen children in tears because of the pressure on them to do well.

SATS do not count for anything when it comes to streaming or places at secondary schools and I for one will be glad to see them all go and to have a government that listens to head teachers who have the experience that this government clearly does not have.


The Schonell Spelling and Burt Reading Test

Download the Schonell Test here

You will more than likely come across many tests as a Teaching Assistant.

This one is used to measure the age of the child for reading and spelling. The tests are to see how much progress a student has already made and that it may be repeated, say, in about six months to see how much further progress has been achieved.

schonell spelling test

It is easy to do and as with all tests it is important to ensure that the child is at ease, and that the test conditions are as favourable as possible, paying attention to light, comfort and freedom from distractions.

The child does not need to know the score as they will not understand it. So I usually give them a smile with a ‘well done’ and if they ask the score simply tell them you have ‘yet to work it out’ or something similar.

Interpreting scores

The results of standardised tests can be expressed in several ways.

The raw score is the number of correct items.

The standard score relates the raw score to the student’s chronological age. The average or mean standard score is 100. Standard scores within the range 85 to 115 inclusive are usually considered to be within the average range. Most students obtain a standard score within this range.

Percentile scores range from 0 to 100, with the average score being 50. Scores from 16 to 84 inclusive are considered to be within the average range. Most students obtain a standard score within this range.

Stanine scores range from 1 to 9 with 5 being the average score. Standard scores and percentiles can easily be converted to stanine scores using tables published with reading and spelling tests.

Your SENCo will show you how to do the test but it is quite straight forward.

  • You will ask your child to read the words from left to right
  • Proceed until they are unable to read ten in a row
  • You can then stop and work out their reading levels


With the Burt spelling test is similar

  • You will ask your child write the words
  • Proceed until they are unable to write five or ten (check with your SENCo in a row
  • You can then stop and work out their reading levels

Christian couple to sue school for letting a boy wear a dress

From The Express 11/09/2017

inclusive or divisive?

A couple are to sue a Church of England School. Nigel and Sally Rowe said they had been bullied into “accepting a new moral framework which strongly conflicts with what we believe in”.

They raised concerns with the head after a six-year-old boy arrived at the unnamed school dressed as a boy one day and wore girl’s clothes on another.

But the school defended its behaviour, stating: “The refusal to acknowledge a transgendered person’s true gender” was ‘transphobic behaviour’.”

Today, Mr Rowe, 44, from the Isle of Wight, said: “I’m shocked that just because we question the notion that a six-year-old boy can really become a girl, we are transphobic.

The couple’s lawyers are expected to argue the school is discriminating against them by implying their wish to bring up their sons as Christian is transphobic.

Andrea Williams, of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Six-year-olds are far too young to consider issues as complex as gender and sexuality.”

“As Christians, we believe that all people are loved by God. But the school’s behaviour has created a clash between our family’s rights and the imposition of this new ideology.”

What do you think?

For me, a six year old seems far too young to be trans anything, I may be wrong. I am not sure a child of 6 can barely tie their shoes laces let alone have any understanding of gender.

This immediate acceptance of something that we still don’t understand is baffling to me and must be baffling when children are told on one day to treat the child as a girl and then the next as a boy.

Is this really necessary for such a young child?

I don’t really see what this has to do with the faith of this couple but I can understand not wanting to have their child confused in such a way.

I am a little saddened that for a school that claims to be doing this to be inclusive cannot accommodate a different opinion…it doesn’t seem very inclusive to me.

I wonder what the school uniform policy says!

Precision Teaching and Low Working Memory

Precision Teaching is a method of planning a teaching programme to meet the needs of an individual child or young person who is experiencing difficulty with acquiring or maintaining some skills, the child will have special needs.

child-teacher-1236x824In this instance we are thinking about children with memory issues and low working memory.

Precision Teaching has an inbuilt monitoring function and is basically a means of evaluating the effectiveness of what is being taught.

It can be used in early years, primary and secondary settings and can be applied to areas of the curriculum that can be broken down into clear objectives, eg: numeracy and literacy skills.

One area which I have experience with is children with Low Working Memory.

So what does Precision Teaching look like, here’s some examples:

Times Table are the backbone of mathematics but very hard for a child with Low Working Memory. In this instance the teaching is put in place and repetition is the key. So

I will use the 3 times table to demonstrate:

  • Spend 5 to 10 minutes teaching the child.
  • The child is shown a number of squares with a times table on it. 3×4 or 7×4 and using time and patience you help the child work at the answer.
  • When you have been through all the squares which may take some time you will use a timer and a sheet with the different times table in a random order.
  • The child then one minute and you run through the probe sheet seeing how many they can answer.
  • This needs to be done every day, repetition is the key.

Results differ depending on the learning issues with the child. In my experience some of teaching is absorbed, some for a few minutes, some for weeks and some for longer.

Precision teaching was developed in the 1970s to target teaching/learning key skills, it focuses on measuring fluency. Vygotsky suggested that effective teaching should be geared towards a learner’s ‘zone of proximal development’ (ZPD). Precision teaching encourages us to be very specific about the material used with the child, ensuring that it is within the ZPD.

Precision teaching also draws on Haring and Easton’s learning hierarchy which shows us how new learning needs to be fluent before it can be maintained effectively.



The burqa in primary schools…too young?

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What age should a child wear a burqa to school?

Apparently several primary schools allowing girls to wear a Muslim headscarf to class are run by the Church of England and for some this seems a little shocking.

In a survey of eleven areas across England, the Sunday Times found Church of England primaries in six regions included the hijab in their uniform policy.

The covering is only typically worn by girls once they reach puberty in their teenage years and the latest revelations have sparked fears young Muslim girls are being sexualised which to be honest that seems a little far fetched if you ask me.

It is nothing more than a headscarf but is it appropriate for school?

Anglican figures appeared divided over the issue, with former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey telling the Sunday Times such school policies should be “fiercely resisted” but on the other hand the Bishop of Bradford the Rt Rev Toby Howarth dismissed concerns, saying: “This is a matter of religious identity, not sexualisation.”

Ofsted said it is investigating whether head teachers are coming under undue pressure to include hijabs in their uniform policies. The education regulator cited “growing concern” over the trend.

The Sunday Times found 18 per cent of the 800 primary schools it surveyed list the hijab in their uniform policies. Of the 17,000 primaries across England, the overall figure is likely to be in the thousands.

In response, the Department for Education told the paper: “If a school decided to allow a pupil to wear a burqa, that would be up to the school.”

I do not agree with anyone wearing a burqa quite simply because we live in a society when 90% of our contact with someone comes from body language and facial expressions.

What do you think?

Should the Burqa be part of a school uniform?