Bouquet of the week
Bringing out the best in people is part of a headteacher's job. And Irene Robinson's career as a classroom assistant proves the point. For 10 years she's worked at Craven Lodge School, a small special primary school in Leicestershire for children with moderate learning difficulties. Three years ago OFSTED told headteacher Peter Coopey what he already suspected: that the school must take action to improve information technology.
He might have chosen a teacher for the job but, because he knew she'd got a personal interest in computers, he chose Irene and gave her a six-month secondment to promote ICT across the school. It gave her the time to investigate hardware, review software, catalogue materials, maintain licences and, most importantly, work alongside staff to train them.
Craven Lodge pupils have a wide range of disabilities, often made complex by behavioural problems or speech and language difficulties. It also has a special unit for autistic children. Now the curriculum is enriched by materials not dreamed of five years ago.
"Sadly Irene's secondment came to an end," writes Peter Coopey in his nomination for Bouquet of the Week. "Luckily, her commitment didn't." As he says, the flowers are "for all the times we've forgotten to say thank you".
In this week's Friday magazine, several items describe good practice from which other schools can learn. Take Hayesfield Upper School in Bath where a well-developed sex education programme links with a doctor's surgery next door. The enterprising school nurse Viv Crouch gives sensible advice and emergency contraception when it's needed. Teenage pregnancies in the school are at an all-time low - although Britain sits at the top of the European table for schoolgirl pregnancies, with almost one in 100 13 to 15-year-olds conceiving. We need more schools to have the confidence of Hayesfield and the conviction of Nurse Crouch.
Sport and PE is a our subject of the week and includes a story of inspirational work with disabled children. The SportSability programme, funded by the National Lottery, has adapted five different games - including cricket and bowls - to play on a table top. Over the next three years, hundreds of schools should receive free equipment.
Bouquet of the Week is given in association with Marks amp; Spencer. Names, please, on a postcard - and why - to Sarah Bayliss, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY