More than ever, our Primary and Secondary school children are feeling the pressures of everyday life spilling over into the classroom. This could be peer pressure from friends about having the latest phone or the coolest clothes, or the pressure children are putting on themselves by setting such high standards, or maybe conflict amongst friends which is creating ill-feeling at school.
With annual awareness campaigns such as Children’s Mental Health Week and Mental Health Awareness Week, many schools and adults are focusing their attention on the wellbeing of pupils and teaching them how best to convey emotions. However, this isn’t something which should be actioned momentarily; it’s an important issue, and one that must be addressed all-year round.
Workload, Ofsted, new initiatives, new specifications, changes to external tests, child poverty, mental health issues - it’s enough to make even the hardiest of teachers question whether or not teaching is a career with any longevity. It’s no surprise that there’s a recruitment crisis and even less of a surprise that there’s a retainment crisis. I’ve been teaching for thirteen years and I have no intention of stopping, though I admit the thought has crossed my mind, and I’ve even gone so far as to search for a job outside of education. There’s a lot that keeps me in the classroom, and there’s a lot that I do outside of it that keeps me teaching.
Nottingham Girls’ High School recently welcomed British Olympian Gail Emms MBE as guest speaker for their Sports Awards Evening. Helping to celebrate the athletic achievements of the school’s pupils, Gail spent time training with the school’s budding badminton stars, before addressing the audience and presenting the many awards.
Ayrton Cable, nine-year-old grandson of Sir Vince Cable, has co-founded a new chain of ‘change-maker’ schools in Africa. EnSo is a chain of low-cost private schools in the developing world that will provide high-quality education and affordable essentials (food, water, energy, health and hygiene). The organisation brings together four award-winning and technology-driven companies, already operating in east Africa and other parts of the developing world. Together, they hope to positively impact the lives of 500 million people over the next 25 years.
It’s very difficult to put into words how incredibly important Twitter has been in our practice this year in Primary 1. It was a very new approach for me at the start of the academic year, and I was gently persuaded by my colleague to climb on board the ‘Twitter Train’. Little did I know the impact it would have, not only on the pupils, parents and school, but also on my life! I try to use my camera every day to capture moments of pure educational magic and then spend half my night uploading them with creative hashtags. In fact, I’ve been told by some family members it might become an obsession… and it has! However, it has to be said that this Twitter addiction has had a positive effect on my teaching practice and has allowed me to access areas of communication and learning I hadn’t reached before.
What do you do when a mum tells you that her husband tried to hit her son that morning before school? Do you nod sympathetically and do nothing, or just tell her it’s “just dads and sons”? What do you do when a tearful child tells you that dad shouted at mum again and made her cry? Do you just say “that’s not nice is it?” and get on with your lesson?
BT and Unicef UK recently celebrated their 300th workshop on internet safety in schools as part of their three year partnership, The Right Click: Internet Safety Matters. The programme is designed to help children and their families and teachers to use the internet safely. So far, 7,378 children, parents and teachers have taken part in the sessions at Unicef UK’s Rights Respecting Schools, which put the UN Convention on the Right of the Child (UNCRC) at the heart of their policies and practice. As a result, 90% parents say they will talk to their child more about online safety.