5 things to think about this week

22nd February 2008 at 00:00
1. Tune in to TED

Thanks to the Government, culture and creativity are back in the news. But if you want an alternative to official pronouncements, you will find some of the best and most inspirational talk about creativity on the Technology, Entertainment, Design website, which started out as an annual conference and features speeches from the movers and shakers of these three worlds. In particular, Sir Ken Robinson's lecture on creativity in school is not to be missed. And one that could usefully be shared with children of any age is Gever Tulley on "Five dangerous things you should let your kids do" (for example, play with fire and own a pocket knife). It is a witty argument for giving children rather more freedom than is currently fashionable.


2. Consider the digital disability divide

Are you working towards getting a laptop for every child? The advent of low-cost educational laptops certainly makes it more achievable. But David Baines, chief executive of the charity AbilityNet, wonders whether this trend might create a digital divide because children with disabilities often need more power and features than a "cut down" machine can provide. "Does this mean that a few children will need more expensive machines than others are using? Will their laptops be different from everyone else's? It's something to think about," he says.


3. Help more women become heads

Are there women in your senior leadership team who are hesitant about going for headship? In secondary schools, 70 per cent of heads and deputies are men, and in the biggest schools the figure is 85 per cent. Some local authorities run conferences and seminars intended to encourage women to apply for headship, so it is worth asking about. And the National Association of Head Teachers is running a course called Wholehearted for Headship in several venues across the country this year (first in London, on March 18). It will be led by independent consultants Meg Maunder and Eve Warren, aiming "to support aspiring women to get their first headship".


4. Beware of pupils mobilising parents

If you thought you had seen everything in your long and distinguished career, read the TES staffroom thread that's headed - and this tells you all you need to know - "Pupils phoning parents from lessons to complain about a teacher". The really scary thing is that it doesn't seem to be uncommon. Still, it's not happened in your school yet ... or has it? Do you have a teacher who might not own up to it? Either way, it is something you need to be ready to deal with, both in terms of an immediate response and finding a way to prevent it from happening.

5. Cook up a Pi-themed day

Every March 14, mathematicians celebrate their own belated sort of Valentine's Day by expressing their love for their favourite number, Pi. It is a good opportunity for primary pupils who are keen on maths to shine in a Pi-related (lots of pie puns, please) assembly and to run some relevant activities and competitions. Good stuff can be found at


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

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