1. Don't let your bog standards slip
Think toilets. Bad toilets can affect pupils' wellbeing, ability to focus and their physical health. It is not hard to improve them and children's quality of life - especially for any who are frightened, embarrassed or have a problem. This is a key area for Building Schools for the Future and the Primary Capital Programme. The National College for School Leadership's "Future" website has an excellent article on the subject, "Raising Bog Standards" by Hugh John, with good examples and practical ideas.
2. Dispel the myths of teenage pregnancy
The pregnancy rate among under-16s in the UK, though high by European standards, is below 1 per cent and decreasing. But a recent survey by Brook found that the public and under-16s think it is much higher, and rising. Brook says that if teenagers believe the myth of a high pregnancy rate, they may be complacent about becoming pregnant. Schools have a role to play.
Key points: The recent DCSF commissioned "Review of Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) in Schools" mentions Hertfordshire's SRE document, which specifically links SRE with teenage pregnancy targets.
- Brook survey, www.brook.org.uk
- A conference on Supporting Teenage Parents will be held on December 8 in London. See www.capitaconferences.co.uk
3. Let footballers kick racism into touch
Football is a powerful vehicle for learning and the organisation Show Racism the Red Card is well worth supporting. It has released a DVD featuring interviews with top players. An accompanying DVD covers the history of racism in football. The set comes with lots of support material. Other new DVDs include Islamophobia, also with player interviews. Both make a good starting point for the organisation's 2009 multimedia schools competition, for which details are now available. Register by February 27.
4. Become a dab hand with detentions
Do you use detention as part of your behaviour policy? There are many variations: "private" detentions by departments or individual teachers, "central" detentions organised at school level, and a few schools have Saturday morning detentions.
Does it work? I've looked in vain for valid research on this, but the TES online staffroom discussion of the topic (just search "detentions") is fascinating, if inconclusive.
I do like (but definitely do not recommend) one teacher's practice of giving the choice of detention or 100 star jumps: "They leave the room red in the face and out of breath, giving their friends the impression that something horrible has just happened."
- Official guidelines at www.teachernet.gov.uk
5. Follow the road to the City Gates
If you are in London, Manchester or the Black Country you will know about City Challenge; and if you are somewhere else, it's a good idea to keep an eye on it. Make sure you are up to speed with City Gates, which is the scheme that links City Challenge with the Young Gifted and Talented Programme. It is part of the programme's emphasis on inclusion, and is intended to help young gifted people in City Challenge schools to aspire and progress to prestigious universities.
Send your contributions or suggestions for this column to Gerald Haigh at firstname.lastname@example.org.