1. Keep sport safe
Do you have sports coaches coming into school to work with your children? If so, you are already on top of the usual safeguards; but do you know exactly what to look for when checking their qualifications, licensing, insurance cover and such? Would you or your staff know how to monitor the coach's work day to day?
You need the Association for Physical Education's checklist Best Practice Guidance on the Effective Use of individual and Agency Coaches in Physical Education and School Sport, newly available on the association's website.
2. Overseas jobs?
Friends of mine, a couple, recently retired early from teaching but, still with lots to offer, are now thinking of going to work in an international school. They could be on to something.
Rudi Powell taught science in Cardiff for 35 years before going off to Vienna International School, and moving on to others later. "Go for it," he says. "The challenge, the school, the city ... It was a great experience."
Teachers International Consultancy, which recruits for this sector, says applications from senior and experienced colleagues are "especially highly valued".
Key point: There are 5,000 English-medium international schools worldwide; 1,400 have opened in the past year.
3. Explore all options
Ensure your pupils make sense of the increasing range of courses at 14-plus. A report by the Sutton Trust says the disadvantaged miss out on university places because of inadequate advice.
Personal mentoring is the key, but computer software can help. For example, U-xplore is for students to use, and the software firm Perspective is working with one school consortium to provide guided choice through an extensive online prospectus.
Key point: Much of the answer lies in helping children become independent learners who can make good life choices, and that can start in the early years classroom.
'Increasing Higher Education Participation amongst Disadvantaged Young People and Schools in Poor Communities' is on www.suttontrust.com
4. Court a magistrate
Try inviting local magistrates into your school. In Salford, the courts run an excellent scheme for upper primary where magistrates go into schools, talk to pupils and leave them with a role-play scenario. The children then visit the courts and play out their case in the courtroom itself. The activity ticks lots of boxes as well as being good fun.
Other authorities have expressed interest, but not all have made the effort. A little push from schools would help. Find your local contact at
5. Right this way ...
The School Adjudicator's 2007-2008 Annual Report published last month looks at the workings of the admissions system. It highlights some difficulties that schools and appeals panels have had with the complexities of the admissions code and draws attention to the way apparently simple terms ("siblings", "home address", "parents", "distance") can become cloudy.
Read also the wise comments on the report by John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, on his association's website.
Send your contributions or suggestions for this column to Gerald Haigh at firstname.lastname@example.org.