A week in primary
Teachers have raised concerns about the future of small primary schools in the light of the government’s plans to turn all schools into academies. Small rural schools are facing a squeeze on funding and are struggling to meet the cost of covering long-term staff illness, the ATL teaching union’s annual conference in Liverpool heard. Trevor Cope, an ATL branch secretary from Devon, said that the union should investigate what he described as a “rural crisis”. He said that school closures had caused “untold damage” to communities, leaving villages with “no heart”.
An infant’s choice of whether to write with their left or right hand may be linked to their risk of developing language problems, an academic has said. Gillian Forrester, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Westminster, is investigating whether there are links between a child’s choice of “handedness”, around the age of four, and their language development. She said research had suggested that children who were strongly left- or right-handed had “typical” language development. But those children who did not choose a dominant hand were more likely to be “linked with atypical development of motor and language abilities”.
Teachers have called for more primary schools to use gardening to combat obesity. Members of the ATL teaching union said that a “planting to plate” philosophy could address poor diets and add a creative twist to science and maths lessons. Andrew Bradley, chairman of governors at a Derby primary school, told delegates at the ATL conference: “Within certain areas, obesity is an accepted part of living. However, such areas often have allotments where people can grow things so they can provide their families with healthy foods.”