Archive for January 2008

The Cost of Childcare

A new survey released yesterday by the Daycare Trust suggests that childcare costs are rising above inflation to a total of between £7000-£8000 pounds per year.

If you live in Birmingham then it's not all bad news as the West Midlands apparently offers the cheapest childcare in England. You can read the results of the survey online.

What is Primary Education for?

The latest series of reports from the Primary Review (look at this previous post for information on the project) have just been released. There are four new reports in all, and each of them is connected with the theme of aims and values in primary education. You can read each of the latest reports (and previous ones) in full by following this link.

Outside the Box

A popular term in business nowadays is "thinking outside the box." I always thought that was the definition of creativity and imagination. I just finished reading the new Caldecott Medal winner, "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick. What a great example of thinking outside the box. This is a huge volume of 534 pages! It is very unusual for a book that looks like a novel to win the prestigious award for picture books. That is because there are 284 illustrations in this book! Like a picture book, the illustrations tell a great deal of the story. I applaud the Caldecott committee for thinking outside the box and giving this wonderful volume an award. Take a look at this book and enjoy the journey of being in France during the 1930s.

Children of the World / Child Safety / Extended Schools

There's something for everyone in today's post. First of all, those of you with a historical interest in childhood, or the current ongoing debate over children's safety, may be interested in an article from The Times which looks at how children have been protected over the years. While the article is not a serious piece of research, it does contain some interesting insights as to how attitudes have changed over the decades.

If you want to get your teeth into something meatier, then two new detailed reports from UNICEF and Ofsted should keep you going. The State of the World's Children 2008 is the latest in a series of annual reports from UNICEF, and looks at child survival rates and health care for mothers and their children around the globe.

Somewhat closer to home, How Well Are They Doing? is a new piece of research from Ofsted which evaluates how the impact that services like extended schools and Sure Start children's centres are having on young people and their families.

Child Nutrition

The issue of healthy eating has been back on the agenda this week, first with a story on Tuesday that cooking lessons will shortly be compulsory for secondary school children. This has been followed by today's announcement that headteachers are being asked to design new lunch box policies, which will outline to parents what constitutes a healthy dinner.

To see previous posts and find links to reports about this subject, why not use the 'Child Obesity' and 'School Dinners' links which are in the 'Hot Topics' list on the right of this page? You may also want to look at the 'School Meals' section of the Guardian website, which brings together various relevant news stories from the last year or so.

The Research Informed Practice Site (TRIPS)

If you've ever tried navigating the DCSF website, you could be forgiven for feeling a little lost. The site contains a mass of useful reports, statistics, guidance and much more, but finding the information that you require is often a frustrating process.

There's also a good chance that you'd never stumble across the The Research Informed Practice Site (TRIPS). These pages are aimed at anyone involved with the education of school age students, and bring together research on a wide range of subjects. The digests on this site are especially useful, as they collate different pieces of research on a topic and present it in a clear, understandable format. There is also a glossary of terms if you're puzzled by any of the terms that you come across, while the 'Resources' section serves as a collection of links to other educational research sites that you may find useful.

To keep up to date with new content that's added to the site, you can sign up to a monthly newsletter entitled Schools Research News which provides summaries of new publications and links to the full text where available. Additional features for the site are promised soon.

Protecting and Safeguarding Children

The NSPCC has recently published research on the relationship between schools and local authorities in protecting and safeguarding children. The report draws on surveys carried out between 2002 and 2005 and takes a detailed look at how schools can carry out their role within the Every Child Matters programme, and the support they require to do this effectively. This link will take you to a page with more information on the report, plus links to both full and summary versions.

Find it Quickly!

Have you ever looked at a lengthy web page or Word document that you're sure must contain a piece of information that's relevant to you, but you don't know how to find it quickly? Here's a very simple tip to hone in on the sections that interest you.

Just hold down the 'Ctrl' key and then tap the 'F' button, and a pop-up box will appear where you can type the word or phrase that you are looking for. Then press return and the computer will highlight this information for you; if the word or phrase appears more than once then just 'click next' and it will highlight where it occurs again. This is a very effective trick which can save you a lot of time when you're reading for an assignment.

Authentic Assessments

I have had the task of looking through current assessment procedures and requirements lately and I am struck again by the critical need to authentically assess a child. It is so important not to use only one way to evaluate the progress a child is making. The teacher must view progress from every angle of the child's life. That is one thing that standardized tests cannot do. Although formal tests might serve a purpose, they are very inadequate for identifying what a child has learned. It is too bad when officials look at those types of scores to assess learning. They represent only a small piece of the pie.

Youth In Mind

A new website containing detailed information on resources relating to children's mental health has just been launched. Youth In Mind contains dozens of book reviews, links to websites covering all aspects of mental health, details of services around the UK and much more, and also has separate areas for teachers, parents, and children themselves.

If you need more information about the rationale behind the site and the current state of children's mental health provision, then this article from today's Guardian is well worth a look.

Research In Practice

The Research In Practice website brings together research on children and families from a wide range of sources, with the intention of disseminating this information so that it can be implemented usefully by (for example) social workers or others working in this field. The website is huge and sometimes difficult to navigate, but is worth persevering with as it contains some really useful reports as well as the details of research carried out by other organisations.

Some areas of the site are restricted to agencies who are part of the Research In Practice network, but you can get access to the Research and Policy updates, which appear monthly and contain details of new publications - click here to be taken to this area of the website, then use the links on the left of the page to navigate through the back issues available.

Seeking Asylum

Barnardos have just published a report which looks at the current provision for asylum-seeking families with children. Like Any Other Child? takes a detailed look at the procedures which are currently in place to deal with these groups, interviews families and children that have experienced the asylum-seeking process, and makes recommendations for future policy in this area. A summary version of the report of the main points is also available.

D is for Digital

A new piece of research from the Joan Ganz Cooney Centre in the US has looked at the different types of interactive media with which children now grow up, and the effect that this can have on their development. In particular, the report looks at the educational value which commercial products are perceived to offer, and whether or not such products actually provide the learning benefits that they claim. You can read D is for Digital online now.

Leadership / Disability

The theme of leadership seems to be a recurring one in the latest issue of OnTheWeb, which contains details of several related pieces of research which appeared in December. The DCSF published a report entitled The Impact of School Leadership on Pupil Outcomes, while the National College for School Leadership released Leading under Pressure: Leadership for Social Inclusion and also Leading Schools to Promote Social Inclusion: a Study of Practice, which is essentially a literature review of the available material in this area.

There were a number of other reports in the OnTheWeb newsletter which students may find useful for their research. One that particularly caught my eye was another DCSF publication entitled A Transition Guide for all Services: Key Information for Professionals about the Transition Process for Disabled Young People, although you should really have a look at the latest issue for yourself to see what it contains. If you're not actually sure what OnTheWeb is, look at this previous post to learn about this excellent service.

Could you be a Supernanny?

A happy new year to everyone, and what better way to start the year than with some good news?

Have you thought about your next career move once you complete your course at the College? Whether you have or not, in the light of a story in the Times on Friday, you might want to consider a career abroad. Apparently, demand for British nannies in overseas countries has never been so high. The article also talks about the excellent salaries available for such posts, and mentions the training routes and agencies that can help if you have an interest in this type of work.

A New Year!

The beginning of a new year provides an opportunity for all of us to make a new start on improvements that we would like to make. My 17 month-old granddaughter has been staying at my house for a couple of days. Watching her explore new things and make new connections has reminded me how nice it is to have a fresh start to parts of our life. Of course I have some of the basic resolutions, such as eating healthier and losing a couple of pounds, but my goal this year is a little more dramatic. I would like to help even more teachers this year become appropriate in their approach to young children. I watch my granddaughter become excited and scream, "Keee," when she sees the kitty. I want to watch teachers and caregivers with that type of excitement when they discover appropriate approaches for children.