5 Things to Think about this Week
Do you have children with speech, language and communication difficulties? Do you find it difficult to find proper support for them? (Yes to both, unless you're in a very unusual setting.) Then get the evidence together and respond to the new Department for Children, Schools and Families Review being led by John Bercow, MP. He has asked for the views of anyone concerned - parents, teachers, health workers, the children themselves. It's clear from everything that John Bercow says, and from what's known about him, that he has a real and abiding concern for children with communication problems.
Key Point. An estimated 1.2 million UK children have speech and language difficulties. For detailed information, look at two charitable organisations, ICan: ican.org.uk, and Afasic: afasic.org.uk
2. Consider the way you welcome the large number of children from overseas
Here's a school that's doing it well."Children expressed their appreciation of the support they have been given at the school by buddies, class teachers, TAs and the EMA co-ordinator". That's an excerpt from a just-published source of practical help in the form of the National Strategies' New Arrivals Excellence Programme. It's a DVD, with a booklet, and consists of six case studies showing good and imaginative practice in a range of primary and secondary schools.
3. Think about cross-phase transition
Yes, the school year has hardly started, but booking has just opened for an authoritative conference - Developing Primary-Secondary Transition - to be held in Solihull on February 28. It will report on a three-year study of transition from the Association of College and School Leaders (ACSL), funded by the Gatsby Foundation. A huge amount of work is being done in many schools across the UK and beyond. Some of them will be presenting at the conference. All welcome, ASCL or not.
4. Rejuvenate your interest in the National Healthy Schools Programme
You can do this by reading about the 2007 winners of the Health for Kids Awards. If you thought it was all about school dinners and PE, you're in for a treat. Creativity, enterprise, curriculum links - all the ideas you could hope for are here. The collaboration between the visually impaired children of Linden Lodge School in Wimbledon and the inmates of Wandsworth prison makes specially inspiring reading.
5. Think about dress code
Embarrassed by bare midriffs? Disturbed by denim? Maybe you need a staff dress policy. A look around the TES staffroom forums reveals there is permanent angst about this issue at all levels. However, if you're seriously considering a dress code, first look at a very useful long discussion (Staff Dress Code) on the management forum. No easy answers, alas, but there's a comprehensive airing of the issues. Remember, there are legal angles to do with various kinds of discrimination, so talk to your association or the authority HR department.
Send your contributions or suggestions for this column to Gerald Haigh at firstname.lastname@example.org.