5 things to think about this week

2nd May 2008 at 01:00
1. Give gifted pupils a helping hand
1. Give gifted pupils a helping hand

Explore sources of help for your gifted and talented cohort. In June, for example, the National Association for Able Children in Education (NACE) is celebrating its 25th year with a special conference. NACE grew out of the Gifted Child Project, an initiative of the Schools Council (remember it?). Its mission is to help classroom teachers to do their best for their able children. Some reassuring names are involved - Sir Mike Tomlinson, Gervase Phinn, and John West-Burnham, among others. Check the range of support services and resources.


2. Job titles can emphasise status

It's now common to find school business managers, or bursars, established as full members of the senior leadership team. Some schools, though, have gone a step further and reinforced the position by levelling up the team's titles. So instead of deputy head, assistant head, and finance officer, you find, for example, director of studies, director of pastoral services, and director of business and finance.

Key point: Job titles might not seem important, but where a person who is not a teacher is in a leadership position, their status sometimes has to be emphasised to teachers, whose perceptions can be rooted in an earlier era.

3. Families can cross digital divide

Where are you on progress towards online reporting to parents? Don't forget that secondary schools should have real-time data access for parents by 2010. For primaries, it's basic access by 2010, real time by 2012. But is that enough? I've talked to teachers and heads who are thinking much more in terms of home-school collaboration - children having full access to their work from home, so that their family and friends are drawn into the learning community.

Key point: Schools are finding that the "digital divide" (between families who have or don't have ICT) is as much a matter of commitment and attitude as it is of cost. The collaborative approach - families involved in learning and not just in looking at data - goes some way to address this.

4. How to be a good sport

Readers of this column know already of my respect for the Association for Physical Education, which is appropriately energetic in giving practical advice to teachers that often goes beyond the core subject area. They have just announced a new, and completely rewritten, edition of Safe Practice in Physical Education School Sport. It'll be available in July, but you can pre-order it online now.


5. Make a home for learning support

Does your Learning Support Unit have a home? Sir Alan Steer, head of Seven Kings High School in Ilford, Essex, has just published a behaviour review, commissioned by the Government, which recommends that all new school buildings should have dedicated space for learning support (LS). They were thinking of space for pupils, but I've been in a school where a strong LS team of experienced teaching assistants, with their own admin staff, were housed together in one large office. This had enabled them to build a give-and-take team approach, responding quickly to problems. It helped them become a powerhouse within the school, crucial to its work in a very deprived area.


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

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