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We need circle time in primaries and secondaries, expert says

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Circle time needs to be a fixture in both primary and secondary schools, but the practice is at risk of falling out of use, according to a former government adviser.

Jenny Mosely wrote the circle time guidance for the ­Department for ­Education’s Seal (social and emotional aspects of learning) and Sead (social and emotional aspects of ­development) programmes. In the 1 May issue of TES, she says that circle time is often sacrificed in an increasingly crowded curriculum.

“In primaries, weekly circle time is much more common with younger ­children – perhaps because their teachers have more timetable flexibility,” she writes. “But in the older years, it tends to happen only after a problem has occurred between students. As for secondaries, I’m not sure if circle time is now used ­regularly at all – other than by a few brave and enthusiastic PSHE or special educational needs teachers.”

The reason for this is partly a lack of understanding about the benefits circle time can bring to students of all ages, but it is also, she says, a failure to properly train teachers in the technique.

“There is strong evidence that strategies such as ­circle time are incredibly ­effective – not just for student well-being but for achievement, too,” she says. “So how can we bring circle time back to the forefront of what we do in schools? The answer lies in keeping to the vision of holistic education, which demands that we maintain a balance. And we also need to address teacher training: I regularly meet teachers who have never been taught how to implement circle time or active group work of any kind.”

To bridge the training gap, Mosely provides a six-step plan for effective circle time in the 1 May issue.

For the full story, get the 1 May edition of TES on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.

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