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5 things to think about this week

1. Keep your mobile phone policy under review

Many schools have a mobile phone policy that says, essentially: "We don't like them but we can't stop them, so this is our fall-back position..." Meanwhile, on your staff there are teachers who, given the opportunity, would help pupils to use their phones to collect lesson notes, whiteboard presentations and homework assignments. Already there are schools where pupils are using features on their mobiles to cover parts of the increasingly popular diploma in digital applications course.

* For discussions of this issue, see:

2. Revisit your NQT induction process

Now is something of a crunch time for a newly qualified teacher. Prepared material is starting to thin out, just as pupils decide to end the honeymoon. This is the point, too, where the NQT mentor's early enthusiasm might fade as other jobs crowd in. Good mentoring, though, feeds into pupil behaviour and attainment, as well as playing its part in holding on to good teachers. The NUT has an online leaflet with a checklist intended for NQTs that works just as well from the leader's perspective.

* 'A Checklist of Good Practice for NQTs' at: resourcespdfInduction-2007-A5.pdf

3. Look at the Teaching Awards scheme

Nominations for the 2008 awards are open and a pack of details has been sent to all schools. Organisers hope headteachers will draw attention to the awards. There are many schools where a particular staff member is quietly cherished and admired by colleagues, maybe for long, devoted service or for a particular magic touch with children.


4. Add up how much you're asking parents to spend

It might be illuminating to total up a year's worth of demands for uniform, sports kit, trips, photographs, swimming, music and so on. There are two bits of relevant research. Over the summer, the Citizens Advice Bureau surveyed parents as part of its Education Costs campaign. Then this September came the Rowntree Foundation's research on the relationship between child poverty and education, which makes depressing reading.


5. Plump for live accompaniment for your Christmas show

Primary schools short of musicians are increasingly using canned backing tracks for their choirs and musical shows. Meanwhile, in the community there are people willing to help. Try your secondary school, your local authority, local private teachers, local orchestras, pubs where jazz bands meet and local media appeals. "We found a jazz pianist to play Michael Hurd's 'Jonah-Man Jazz' for our choir," said one primary head. "The pianist loved it and it was educative for all of us."

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

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