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5 things to think about this week

1. Support your support staff

1. Support your support staff

1. Support your support staff

You know how to provide professional development for your teachers, but can you do the same for your support staff? The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) is aware of the need to help school leaders with this. It has produced a helpful resource: Unlock the Potential of your Support Staff is a guide through auditing need, recruitment, induction, training and providing career opportunities.

www.tda.gov.ukleaderssupportstaffstaff_development.aspx

2. Foster creativity with primary DT

What's happening to design technology in your primary school? Professor Gareth Roberts at Bangor University's College of Education emails me, calling it "A bit of a Cinderella subject". If he's right it's a pity, because it's an excellent vehicle for creativity and thinking skills. For a good example, go to the Design and Technology Association's website to see key stage 1 children making fantasy cars for cartoon characters. Professor Roberts also draws my attention to Design and Technology in the Curriculum, a new booklet in the university's Education Transactions series, which develops the link between DT and creativity.

www.bangor.ac.uk (search "education transactions". All the titles look interesting.)

www.data.org.uk

3. Open a gateway to the parents

Read Capita's Harnessing Parent Power, a comprehensive introduction to how schools can use technology to improve home-school communication. It makes the point that the close relationship parents have with their child's primary school often fades in secondaries. An online "gateway" between home and school can avert this.

Key point: Capita has a marketing interest in Sims Learning Gateway, but the points the paper makes are generic. In any case, there are statutory deadlines for parents to have online access to children's reports - 2010 for secondaries and 2012 for primaries.

www.sims.co.ukparentpower

4. Charity begins at school

Are your students keen charity fundraisers? On a recent visit to Northwood College, a girls' school in Middlesex, I found huge enthusiasm for Wings of Hope, a charity supporting children in the developing world. An added attraction is that there's a system of achievement awards for individuals and teams in Years 10 to 13, with trophies as well as trips and work experiences run by the charity's business sponsors. Many Northwood girls are involved - one team is supporting an orphanage in Goa in India. Some have even been to the House of Lords to give a presentation.

Key point: Northwood staff point out the many benefits for pupils in developing skills in team-building, leadership, enterprise and giving presentations.

www.thewingsofhope.org

5. Look online for vocational skills

There's a tale that goes round about the young railway worker who, seeing a passenger collapse on the platform, stood looking around, wondering whose job it was to help. The fact that it's repeated so frequently tells us just how seriously many schools take work-related learning. If you're one of them, you'll want to look at Edexcel's new suite of 30 Btec Work Skills modules, available from September 2008.

Key point: The modules are available online from Creating Careers, who tell me schools are signing up at the rate of three or four a week for online vocational courses.

www.edexcel.org.ukqualsws

www.creatingcareers.com

Send your contributions or suggestions for this column to Gerald Haigh at gerald.haigh@btinternet.com.

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