We all know the importance of reading for our students’ futures and life chances. As such, we recently reviewed our literacy policy at Firth Park Academy, a Sheffield inner-city comprehensive rated as ‘Good’ by Ofsted. Our charismatic principal, Dean Jones, wanted our new system to be engaging, relevant and simple to use. This article looks at the process and the next steps, as we look to continually improve our provision.

Step 1: Build a team

A boarding school pupil from Berkshire has become a star in China after appearing on the popular Super Brain 2016 memory challenge show in front of over 100m viewers late last month. 13-year old Henry Bole, a year 9 pupil at LVS (Licensed Victuallers' School) Ascot, narrowly lost out to a 21-year-old Chinese university student in a China vs United Kingdom edition of the programme. Henry had been trained by way of extra tuition from his mentor James Paterson, a teacher at leading independent all-ability school.

I flew for the first time at the age of seven, and have never looked back. The fact that my parents had decided to holiday abroad was a chance to catch the rays and learn the lingo. What they did not know, however, was that our family dynamic would change forever. We were to travel from Romford to France by bus - yes, bus! From Romford market we would spend approximately 20 hours snaking our way across southern England collecting other eager families before finally boarding the ferry to France. What people often fail to mention is that travel was extremely different in the 1980s - the bus had no air conditioning and never a toilet.

A group of teachers are doing their bit for the refugee crisis by volunteering with children in the French refugee camps. The Edlumino team work with public donations to teach in the settlements in Calais and Grande-Synthe to teach the young learners from countries such as Syria, Somalia, Iran, Iraq and Sudan. These teachers focus on an international curriculum of Maths, English, French, Science and Humanities. Those looking to get involved can donate or volunteer at edlumino.org.

On Saturday 5th March, Berkhamsted School in Hertfordshire will host TLAB16, a not-for-profit education conference run for teachers, by teachers. This year’s TLA (teaching, learning and assessment) conference will centre around exploring the importance of imagination and performing at the highest level. Running from 9.00am to 4.00pm, TLAB16’s theme is “Imagine, Believe, Achieve”. The event is now in its fourth year, and welcomes educators from all types of schools. Tickets, including lunch and refreshments, are priced at £50 per person via the TLAB16 Eventbrite page.

The best way to engage kids with History is by immersing them in it. Throwing them in the deep end of the weird and wonderful world of the past, without any armbands and letting them go. That’s where the magic in History teaching happens. Below are my top tips for how to do this. I am not claiming they are my own personal ideas. Many of them aren’t; they are built on the best practice from the last thirty years. NOTE: lots of this comes from a manifesto for decent lessons which my team and I wrote last summer.

Independent learning has many different names - child centred, personalised or self-regulated - but at its core it is the process of shifting responsibility for the learning process from the teacher to the pupil. To achieve this outcome successfully, pupils need to have a deep understanding of their learning, be self-motivated and willing to collaborate with the teacher within the learning environment according to a 2010 white paper presented at the British Educational Research Association (BERA) Annual Conference.

TeachMeets are free-to-attend events and offer excellent CPD opportunities. Here are just a few such events being held in February 2016; all will likely still be accepting presentations, so be sure to get involved.

Schools, academies and colleges throughout the UK are using a cloud-based bookings platform to realise the full potential of their resources. SchoolBooking, an international resource and lettings innovator operating from West Sussex, allows both teachers and students to find available resources and spaces. The platform integrates fully with MIS systems such as SIMS, Bromcom, ARBOR and CMIS, helping to avoid double-bookings and streamlining the learning day.

With Bett taking place this week, schools across the country are once more turning their attention to the opportunities offered by education technology (edtech), looking for the newest innovations in classroom resources to support teaching in the digital age. But behind the excitement of new developments, what are the crucial factors that schools need to consider moving forward with their edtech provisions?

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