4th July 2008 at 01:00
A school that bartered its piano for a set of steel drums is among the contributors to a national musical festival


A school that bartered its piano for a set of steel drums is among the contributors to a national musical festival. Six pupils from Cove School, in Hampshire, will perform at the National Festival of Music for Youth in Birmingham next week.

Sponsored by The TES, the festival will include performances by 315 school groups, made up of more than 10,000 pupils. They will perform at venues including Birmingham's Symphony Hall, Conservatoire and Town Hall.

The Cove School Steel Band was formed after Jean Medcraft-North, the school's head of music, exchanged an unwanted piano for a neighbouring school's set of steel drums.

The band forms part of a six-day line-up, including more conventional choirs and orchestras, as well as musical theatre troupes and pop and urban groups. The festival runs from July 7 to 12.


Applications for physics teacher training courses have fallen dramatically - far more teachers are leaving the profession than joining.

A report by Alan Smithers and Pamela Robinson of Buckingham University said that applications for next year from would-be physics teachers have fallen by nearly 27 per cent. Added to this, the latest figures show the number of teachers leaving the profession outnumber new recruits by 26 per cent.

The shortage is not explained by too few graduates choosing to go into teaching. Nearly a quarter of the physics graduates who enter the profession train as maths teachers instead. Almost half the admission tutors at teacher training colleges believe the fall can be blamed on the fact that physics is now taught as part of a combined science course, rather than as a discrete subject. Most said they would continue to struggle to fill physics places.

`Physics in Schools: Supply and Retention of Teachers', by Alan Smithers and Pamela Robinson


Seventeen english teachers were awarded a new postgraduate certificate in the teaching of Shakespeare this week. The qualification, run jointly by Warwick University and the Royal Shakespeare Company, requires teachers to examine how they can improve pupils' understanding of the Bard.

During the year of training, six primary and nine secondary teachers learnt how rehearsal-room training could be used in the classroom. They also undertook research projects, examining how effective such practical techniques were for their own pupils.

A survey of the teachers revealed that all felt they had become more creative as a result of their studies. Most also thought their confidence had increased. They were presented with their certificates at a ceremony in Stratford-upon-Avon this week.

At the same event, pupils from nine primaries and secondaries performed their own adapted versions of Shakespeare, including Macbeth, King Lear and Henry V.

Abbotsfield School for Boys, in west London, performed a version of Romeo and Juliet in which the Montagues and Capulets became "emos" and "chavs", acting out their feud in the town of Uxbridge.


Pupils should study philosophy from the earliest years of primary school in order to develop vital critical thinking skills, according to a new book.

In Philosophy in Schools, Michael Hand, of London University's Institute of Education and Carrie Winstanley, of Roehampton University, argue that all children need to be able to reason effectively, evaluate sources of information, judge arguments and defend their own viewpoints.

Dr Hand said: "Critical thinkers are people who reason well, and who judge and act on the basis of their reasoning."

Philosophy also encourages pupils to examine the meanings of the words they choose. The researchers believe this allows them to develop constructive arguments from an early age, in a way they are not able to do in fact-based subjects.

`Philosophy in Schools', edited by Michael Hand and Carrie Winstanley.

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