5 Things to think about this week

4th April 2008 at 01:00
1. Make your staff's maths skills count

How's your maths? Collectively, that is, across the staffroom? If you're in primary, the chances are it's not very good. The just-published interim report of the Williams review of maths teaching in the early years and primaries reminds us that the maths entry requirement for initial teacher training is GCSE grade C. There are also likely to be fewer than 30 hours' maths tuition through the whole training course. The effect on children's attainment and attitude to maths is predictable.

Key point: whichever sector of education you're in, this interim report is worth reading. Look at its recommendations and use the opportunity to respond to the consultation, which runs until April 30. The full report is out in June.

- www.dfes.gov.ukconsultations

2. Keep leadership real with task groups

Many senior leadership teams are perceived by their colleagues to be closed off and out of touch. Frequent and regular leadership meetings to which no one else has access can only increase the air of mystery and separation. One well-tested solution is to create specific task groups drawn from across the whole staff, rather than giving the senior leaders responsibility for everything.

Key point: increasingly, a school will now have a group, separate from the line management structure, made up of teachers of proven high ability, from all levels of experience. They support and advise colleagues in their classroom management as needed. The Teaching and Learning Challenge Group at Minsthorpe Community College in Wakefield is a good example.

3. Book early for summer camps

Make sure your pupils and parents know about the Youth Hostel Association's "Doit4real" summer camps. They run right through the summer holidays in five-night blocks. There is a wide choice of locations and special interests. They're reasonably priced and very inclusive. Importantly, they could be the answer for children whose parents can't manage a holiday this year. There are very significant subsidies for families receiving benefits, but they should book early.

- www.doit4real.co.uk

4. Make briefings more than just a bore

What's your policy on morning briefings? Who's involved? Could these briefings be replaced by internal email? Or is the personal contact important and appreciated? In a fast-changing technological world, maybe it's time at least to look at the whole question of internal communications. There is an excellent discussion on the TES website's staffroom forum (look for the string on "morning briefings"). My favourite post: "I enjoy morning briefing - it is a chance to see everyone and builds the old team spirit. We can all be bored together."

5. Get with the SEN programme

Study the seminar programme for the NASENTES Special Needs North exhibition (Manchester, April 18-19). Even if you don't go, you'll pick up some indications of what's afoot in the world of special educational needs (SEN), and who the experts are. For example, the session for special needs co-ordinators (Sencos) by Carol Frankl, called "Diving in at the Deep End", is based around the creation of a special needs handbook tailored for the school. Do you have one of those? Ms Frankl is a hugely experienced special needs teacher and adviser and an active Ofsted inspector, so she ought to know what's good for your SEN children.

- www.teachingexhibitions.co.uk

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

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