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5 things to think about this week

1. Keep up with e-learning

Applying technology to improve learning is going to be big, especially in the new 14-19 world. On the website of Becta, the schools technology agency, there's the "14-19 e-learning community" and the 2005 publication Using technology and e-learning to support the 14-19 agenda. See: Then there's a course coming up for post-16 leaders and practitioners - "E-Learning: the future of learning", run by the National Institute of Adult and Continuing Education in Nottingham on January 31. See:

To see what a provider has on offer, see for GCSE alternatives in lifestyle subjects including sports coaching and healthy living.

2. Take up twitching

Join the RSPB's annual Big Schools Birdwatch, which asks schools to monitor visiting birds. One school reports from last year that "participating has created a sense of pride in the environment as well as promoting science". This year the Big Schools Birdwatch runs from January 21 to February 1. For more information, see

3. Keeping the faith

If you're in a faith school, you'll know that leadership succession planning is at least as important for you as it is elsewhere. The National College for School Leadership website currently has a downloadable discussion on the subject between representatives of three faiths, chaired by broadcaster Sue MacGregor. See

4. Prepare for National Year of Reading

Officially it starts in April, but if you want to do it properly, consider putting together a planning group now. Try to make the whole thing as inclusive as possible - children, all staff, all your families. Handle it properly and you'll strike a blow for creativity and for the idea of the book as a source of pleasure and delight. Keep in touch with the National Literacy Trust's website as the Year approaches and goes on. See:

5. Look after yourself and enjoy a tipple

Keep moving, especially if you're 50-ish. Research published late last year by the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter proves that people who keep up reasonable physical activity through their middle age are twice as likely to maintain good mobility in later years. The even better news is that this works regardless of body weight. Another study from these benign Devonian profs has the kind of headline you rarely see these days: "No need for reduced alcohol consumption in later life." So keep on walking, cycling and ballroom dancing now, and in retirement you'll be able to stride down to the pub with a clear conscience. For more details see:

Send your contributions or suggestions for this column to Gerald Haigh at

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