Archive for May 2008

Foundation Stage

No doubt most of you are aware that the new Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) guidelines are coming into operation later this year. If you still have questions about how this will impact upon your role in the workplace, then you may be interested in looking at two documents which Ofsted have put together, which provide the answers to various questions that have been put to them by practitioners. Follow this link for more information.

Teachers TV

It's been a quiet few days for news so this is just a reminder that all programmes from the Teachers TV channel are available to watch for free from their website. In particular I would recommend taking a look at the Whole School Issues pages, as these are very useful in separating programmes under heading that users should find useful.

The End is the Beginning..

I recently had the son of a friend graduate from high school as the valdicorian

The End is the Beginning..

I recently had a friend graduate from high school as the valedictorian. We always knew he was very intelligent and would do well. I would take Tom to the library when he was young and he would check out 20-25 books. This made me a bit nervous until his dad assured me that he would get through them all during the three-week checkout time. I remember watching a program with him on the History Channel about how thimbles were made. That is the last thing I wanted to know, but I watched it with him as he was so engrossed in the program. I also remember a discussion with him about nuclear fusion and what it will eventually be able to do (something I still don't understand!). Tom was intelligent beyond my abilities years ago. It didn't surprise me that he was first in his class. What I relish is the fact that everyone around him encouraged and allowed him intellectual freedom. He now starts on a new beginning with the help of a full scholarship to a great university. I wish all children had this great support for development.

Parents & Education

The DCSF have recently published Parental Involvement in Children’s Education 2007. This contains the results of a survey to compare how parental (and carers') attitudes towards their children's education have altered since similar surveys were carried out in 2004 and 2001. The key findings from the project are summarised in this briefing.

Personalised Start Pages

Let's be honest, despite the vast size of the World Wide Web, most of us have only 30 or 40 sites which we visit on a regular basis. But even then, we sometimes have difficulties in remembering the addresses of each one, and typing in the various URLs that we need can sometimes be time-consuming. Wouldn't it be better if we had our own personalised web page where all the information we needed was only a click away?

An increasing number of people are starting to address this problem by setting up their own sites with applications like Pageflakes or Netvibes. Basically you set up a free account, and then log in to a page which you tailor to suit your own needs. You can include links to webpages, your email, RSS feeds with relevant news stories, even a window with the weather forecast for your area! As well as choosing the links, you can drag and drop the various elements of the page so that they are arranged however you want them; there really are no progamming skills required.

Start pages like these seem to be something of a Marmite choice - you either love them or hate them, but it's worth spending a few minutes playing with the applications to find out if you're a fan. To get an idea of how such a page might look in practice, take a look at the recently revamped homepage of the BBC, which has many of the features that have been described here.

Parents & Mental Health

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) has recently published a research briefing entitled Experiences of Children and Young People Caring for a Parent with a Mental Health Problem. This document is an excellent summary of the challenges faced by children who find themselves in this role, and contains a useful list of further reading for those with a particular interest in this area.

Further information on this topic can also be found on the website of the Parental Health and Child Welfare Network; particularly recommended is the 'Resources' page, which contains links to numerous useful items from around the Web. If you found the briefing useful then you may also want to take a look at the full list of SCIE briefings, as they cover a range of different social care topics.

Literacy Research

Two reports were released last week which dealt with the subject of literacy. The first of these was published by the Institute of Education at the University of London and looks at the support that children receive through the Every Child A Reader programme. You can read the report in full by clicking here.

The second publication is a briefing paper from Ofsted which discusses the results of a study into how schools are responding to the Rose Review, and implementing the use of phonics as a teaching aid. Once again, you can read the report by clicking here.

Yet More from the Primary Review

Today sees the publication of the final batch of interim reports from the Primary Review. There are three reports in all, grouped around the theme of 'Learning and Teaching in Primary Schools: Processes and Contexts.' You can access all of the new reports, plus all of the previous Primary Review publications to date, by following the links on this page.

All of the information which has been published to date in this study will be used to create the Review's final report. This will appear later this year, and is likely to have a big impact on attitudes towards primary education in the UK.

Violence & Youth Offending

Today's post contains details of two separate reports, although there's a theme of gender as well as violence which links them both together.

'No Recourse' No Safety is a recent publication from the UK branch of Amnesty International. The report details a relative lack of safe refuges for women who have been the victims of domestic violence, particularly those who have recently moved to the UK and so have an uncertain immigrant status.

The Youth Justice Board have just released their latest annual figures on youth crime in the UK. While the overall number of offences has actually fallen slightly, the number of crimes committed by girls has now risen by a quarter in just three years. You can read more about this angle by clicking here.

New Crop

I was excited to run into some of my former students this past month. Most of them were graduating in early childhood and interviewing for teaching jobs. I was excited because last fall I worked with this wonderful group of early childhood teachers. I am encouraged because they know how to be developmentally appropriate in early childhood settings. My hope is that in their new classrooms they can hold onto those important objectives and not buckle under to peer pressure to become ditto factories and assembly lines. It can sometimes be a balancing act, but well worth it if you persevere. Children always learn more in appropriate settings. Research tells us the number one factor for a child learning to read is the attitude of the teacher. I think it works on more than just reading...

Something For Everyone (Part 3)

Thanks to the excellent OnTheWeb service (click here for details), today's post contains links to no less than eight separate reports which have been published in recent weeks. The publications cover a wide range of topics, so without further ado...

Little Britons

The Policy Exchange have recently published Little Britons: Financing Childcare Choice. This report brings together viewpoints from all of the major political parties to examine the question of what families really want from childcare services, and how the State can attemp to fulfil this responsibility.

Learning The Hard Way

Following on from yesterday's post about the Warnock report, the issue of special educational needs is once more in the news with the release of a new report. The CentreForum and Policy Exchange thinktanks have collaborated to produce Learning the Hard Way: a Strategy for Special Educational Needs, which argues that parental choice, rather than 'expert' opinion, should shape future strategy in this area. You can also find out more about the report by clicking here.

Warnock Report

Every year a handful of students ask me for information about the Warnock Report of 1978, which looked at the provision on education for children with special educational needs. And every year I've had to point them towards the relatively restricted number of resources that we have on the topic, given that information from this era is rarely available online.

The good news is that the Teacher Training Resource Bank has now put the full text of the Warnock Report online, and it can be accessed by clicking this link. The document is fully searchable, and forms part of a wider information portal on SEN which has recently been launched, and is well worth a look. For further information on other historical reports, try looking at this previous post.

Look out for EYES!

A few weeks ago I wrote a post (click here for details) about EYES, a search engine which I've been developing. Basically it's a Google-powered search tool which focuses only on hand-picked websites which contain reliable information on the early years, education, social policy and related topics. It's also been programmed so that the most 'academic' pages should appear closer to the top of your results list.

Anyway, having received positive feedback from some of you (three people to be exact...) and tweaked the settings a little, EYES is now ready for its launch. In the right hand column of this screen you should see a search box - simply enter your search terms as usual and your results will pop up in a new window, after which you can work through them much like a normal web search.

Any feedback you have on EYES is still welcome as it's still possible to make alterations to the service if people are disappointed with aspects of it. Also, here's a simple tip for using EYES effectively; if you are looking for reports on something, then try adding filetype:pdf at the end of your search terms. This will make it more likely that you will find the sort of material that you require. Happy searching!