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5. Things to think about this week

5 ideas for this week

5 ideas for this week

1. Involve pupils in decision-making

I talked last term to Rory Shanks, a sixth-former at Wolverhampton Grammar, about his school's student parliament. When I asked how much students are involved in real decision-making, he said that debating apparently minor issues is good preparation for deeper involvement.

"They'll talk about not having enough chips, or the mirrors needing to be lower in the toilets. They're small things, but they matter to the students. But they can tackle larger issues when the time comes - they were involved when our new music block was being built, for example."

Whether student voice can be honest and effective is addressed by a Futurelab Conference, "Challenging Learner Voice", at Warwick University on October 23.

2. Take a course to improve lessons

The quality of teaching and learning in geography and history has had its share of criticism. In primary particularly, the curriculum is crowded and subject rigour can sit uneasily with the demand for creativity.

Humanities subject leaders in primary could well look at a National Association of Head Teachers' course on leading learning in history and geography.

Run in conjuction with On Course for Learning, the course consists of two one-day sessions astride an eight week personal subject leadership project.

The courses will be held in London on Tuesday, September 30 and Wednesday, December 3, and in Manchester on Thursday, October 2 and Friday, December 5

3. Explore primary science quality award

If you're a primary head who is proud of the work being done in science in your school, you need to know about the new Primary Science Quality Mark that will stand alongside similar quality awards such as Artsmark.

Funded by the Wellcome Trust and led by the Science Learning Centre East of England, Barnet Local Authority and the Association for Science Education, the project, a pilot up to now, is about to expand nationwide.

The Science Learning Centre East of England is run by the University of Hertfordshire in partnership with the Association for Science Education.

Key Point: The national roll-out starts in 2009 with 400 schools, continuing to grow until 2014. Contact Jane Turner at

4. Ditch inhibitions and create a yearbook

Do your pupils produce a school yearbook? Scrapbook memories, in-jokes, photographs?

We think of it as an American tradition, but now, UK schools are apparently keen on the idea, undeterred by the limitless possibilities for embarrassment.

According to online yearbook supplier Book-Builder, half of all secondaries are compiling yearbooks now, as well as lots of primaries.

Key Point: For the students to take the lead, building the yearbook up online is the creative and educational way to go.

Book-Builder claims to be the leading supplier. Google will reveal others for comparison.

5. Sing a song in sign language

Do you want to be in the Guinness Book of Records? Afasic, the charity for children with speech, language and communication impairments (SLCI), hopes to get people performing sign language to a song, across the country, on October 22. Children with SLCI often seem a forgotten group, and this fund-raising effort is worth supporting.

Key Point: MP John Bercow's review of speech, language and communication needs provision was completed in July. Details of sponsored silence and record attempt, and link to Mr Bercow's report, at

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

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