In an effort to transform Ireland’s higher educational format the government is asking all institutions to tell them what they do and how they do it. The programme seeks to remove duplications and derive a more meaningful education strategy as part of the commitment announced by the Irish government in 2011. more
Archive for February, 2012
Rick Santorum the Presidential hopeful said a lot of American students do not want a college education. In the wonderful world of politics and presidential elections he had called President Obama a snob by encouraging students to go for higher education. Seems they are playing educational games to score points. The real problem is the element of choice. Every student should have the very best option to pursue to suit his or her aspirations. It must be recognised that in times of recession the job market becomes restricted and students may feel time spent in college or university does not generate the opportunity they need and prefer to opt out. But they must have that option and the resources to maximise their chance of getting the best education must always be in place. more…
The Australian government, concerned over the continuing slippage in educational standards and teaching resources has commissioned a report into the situation by David Gonski a leading Sydney businessman. Published last week the report has been widely acclaimed as addressing the situation. The five billion dollar investment the report recommends probably has something to do with it. But although the recommendations may address the eductaional shortfall it has presented the government with an understandable nightmare.
The federal government has to find the cash and face a sceptical educational market where it recently faced hostile state governments to introduce a national school curriculum. The extra cash is an almost irresistible draw to garner a demand that the cash is invested. Another tricky moment for the already stymied Labor government recovering after the spat between Rudd and Gillard. more…
The ability of Australian schools in raising funds to support improved educational standards has met a backlash. Independent schools already have a proven track record in educational standards but now the government are to play games by reducing their on-going funding. Their academic and financial prowess success could potentially become their downfall. Parents will have to fund the potential increase in fees that compensate for the reduced government funds. More…
Michael Gove is to stem the trend of parents taking children out of school during term time. A tendency by some parents to try and reduce the cost of a family holiday is to be stopped by banning school teaching resources to give permission for the practice.
A key reason for the move is to establish school discipline and reduce absenteeism. Currently head teachers can approve two weeks of absence from school for each child. This gives some flexibility for illness, bereavement or when children cannot get to school because of bad weather. But a growing tendency has seen parents taking children away from school for holidays. The economic situation, increased taxation on flights and a captive market seen by marketing teams has seen holidays during school holidays run up to twice the cost. More….
The continuing educational budget cutbacks in the UK, Europe and the USA will stifle teaching resources and the subsequent learning skill in children. This tactical review by governments attempting to address budgets imbalances could have major strategic implications from the East.
The educational performance from schools in Far East countries are setting new standards in learning that will reinforce their economic growth aspirations. more..
The Bush family in the USA is still evident in extending boundaries. This time the focus is on education where literacy is best taught through a combination of effective teaching resources in school and parental involvement at home. Barbara Bush, ex first lady who has been active in the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy for many years has announced her retirement at 86 from the foundation. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Doro Bush Koch will be taking over as co-chairs. “Education is so important,” Bush said. “It’s the leading indicator of a successful life. If you can’t read, write, calculate maths, understand history, you’re not going to be successful in life.” More…
The effect of schools pressurised to achieve educational performance targets has led to a plethora of exam qualifications that have sneaked under the radar with little academic value. The educational games played by teaching resources in school have left children with vocational courses that fail to provide higher educational benefits or employment opportunities.
At a critical time in a child’s educational journey, confused and bewildered children naturally turn to their teachers for guidance on the best academic option to pursue at GCSE. In turn teachers hassled to perform in school league tables have been coercing children to take the easier options to maximise the grades at GCSE. The fact that it has taken years for the Department of Education to address this issue is almost criminal.
The jamboree of exam results each August has consistently raised concern that the continuous improvement in results was symptomatic of a failing system rather that improved academic ability or teaching resources. But at last the DfE seem to have grasped the nettle and are seeking to remove the soft option exam qualifications they have induced.
Pressurising teachers to excel through measurement of their school’s position in a league tables has induced all manner of manipulation. Teachers tend to be intelligent, it goes with the job. The fact they have identified alternative ways of maximising the points in exams would appear almost an insult if they did not. Yet the Department for Education seem bewildered this could happen. A senior spokesperson at Edexcel, the key examination board responsible for setting and marking GCSE exams said in confidence that teachers don’t have to teach a lot, and that there was a lot less to learn with Edexcel exams that rival exam boards.
The focus by the DfE is to return to the core subjects that provide children with options for higher educational and employment opportunities. The investigative journalism conducted by newspapers that highlighted the issue and sparked the review needs considerable praise. If left to the DfE, exam boards and the teaching resources in school the whole sorry story may have run for years to come. Although corrective actions are in hand they will take time to effect. In the meantime senior figures in the government past and present, the DfE and exam boards need to take a look in the mirror and reflect on who caused the issue or failed to spot the trend. They might not like what they see. But perhaps the better judgement should be the realisation that hundreds of thousands of children had their educational and employment changes screwed up.
Although developed a few years ago Bounceback 7 educational software featuring a comprehensive range of games for maths is still high on the list of teaching resources used in schools and now at home.
Maths is a critical subject area especially now Ofqual and the government are reviewing the subject areas able to be taken at GCSE. Claims that exams have become dumbed down, teachers coerced into teaching to test and exam boards caught coaching teachers on how to increase pupil’s marks have conspired to force the purge. Using Bounceback 7 as bedrock to learn and practice maths has led to a resurgence it is popularity.
Simple to operate the program covers 15 key areas of maths through a of series games that can be played in the classroom and at home. Multiplication, division, subtraction and addition etc. (see below for a summary) are supported by lesson activities and ideas for homework with printable homework sheets. The CD ROM includes teacher’s notes that include teaching objectives, key vocabulary and notes on teaching points.
The lesson activities include demonstrations of concepts and calculation techniques. The games are interactive to give the student and teacher instant feedback. The tests results can be printed to give the pupil and teacher a record. The homework sheets can be completed and marked on screen, or printed for use as a traditional homework exercise
The maths games ask questions on the area of maths being tested and then marks the answers. It provides a fun base to learning maths for the child and a good indication of their progress to the teacher or parents. A really great feature is just how simple it is to operate. The menu leads straight to the game which includes advice to teachers on the choice and printable worksheets.
Bounceback 7 includes:- Number sequences, Negative numbers , Square numbers, Factors, Fractions, percentages and decimals, Ratio and proportion; Mental and written calculation methods for addition; subtraction; multiplication and division; Calculating with money; Solving word problems involving numbers in “real life”; Units of length; mass and capacity; Perimeter and area; 2D and 3D shapes; Time; Triangle; Coordinates; Line symmetry and reflection; Naming, estimating, measuring, and drawing angles; Interpreting information from tables and lists; Bar charts; Line graphs; Pie charts; Mode and range; Probability.
After years of concern that GCSE and A level exams have been made too easy, now the educational boffins have diverted attention to the International Baccalaureate (IB). This curriculum, which arguably extended the student over a more relevant subject area, is now being criticised for being too hard.
Ever conscious of the impact of exam passes on a school position in the schools league tables, head teachers and parents are ebbing away from the IB. Despite its strong reputation and significance in modern commerce the exam is being phased out or run alongside a reintroduced A level option. The perception the IB exam would deplete the chances of some students because it is a more intense course appears at odds with the very reason it was introduced.
Fewer schools are offering the option with 81 independent and 129 state secondary schools running the IB. Leeds grammar school; an independent day school entered its final tranche of students on the IB last year. The principal, Michael Gibbons cited the drop in students gaining places in leading universities as the principle reason for the transfer back to A level. Mr Gibbons gave a key reason for the decision being the tendency for top universities to make more demanding offers to IB students.
This conundrum takes us back to the start point. If A levels have been historically viewed as declining standard with the exams being too easy, why are universities upping the ante twice. The IB is a far more relevant course and exam. Granted with the more involved subject areas it is commensurately more expensive to teach but the employment market is getting tougher as well. Instead of persevering with the more relevant international standard in a now global job market, the option is to revert to an easier standard and reduced competitiveness with international students seem remarkably short sighted. But of course we have the league tables to contend with.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) has set the scene for sixth form students since the 1970’s. Tougher than A levels the IB educational standards have been consistent presenting a qualification of quality; not the claim that can be easily made by A levels where standards has been questionable.
Matched to the increasing demands of overseas markets and their students, teachers using following the IB are unable to spoon-feed students as with A level. According to Anthony Seldon, Master at Wellington College, getting three A grade passes is really quite easy especially as papers can be retaken. Not so with the IB.
If the A level is seen as the easier entry route to university then not surprisingly most students and schools will seek the line of least resistance. The lower costs of operating the A level syllabus being a further incentive. The kudos and international relevance of the IB seems to have fallen by the wayside. Adding further grist to the mill are the universities who actually set a higher entry standard for IB students than A level. If instead they sought to generally increase the standard of entry by giving preference to IB students they would benefit from a higher quality of student and stimulate greater interest in secondary schools.
Internationally we cannot rest on our laurels. The OECD has already placed the UK in the mid-twenties position in the world educational standards. Vocational degrees, the relevance of a degree to further training in the commercial world and the attractiveness of UK universities to overseas students all lie in the quality of our education. Yet we seek to lower the bar with A level rather than raise it with the IB.
Michael Gove the Educational secretary has stated that almost every teenager should be able to pass at least five GCSE including maths and English. He also attacked the assumption that some children in school were unable to achieve C grades saying that such views were “acquiescing in failure”.
The new target will place an additional load on teaching resources in many subject areas including maths, English and science. The recently reformatted ICT syllabus also becomes part of the new teaching games that will take some time to assimilate before children can get to grips with the opportunity. Herein lays a conundrum. If the teaching resources are not matched to the needs of students immediately a truanch of children currently passing through the system will not benefit from the new objective. And this is always the case. Countless thousands of children have suffered the throws of political educational initiatives and objectives that have been interrupted, abandoned or superseded. Demoralised teaching resources seek the median in their measured objectives rather pushing the boundaries and learning techniques that could change the way lessons are taught are overwhelmed by the need to hit targets.
In a nominal class of 30 children the teacher aims to get the maximum number of children through the exams and therbye earn the greatest number of points in the schools league table. Sounds laudable but the reality are the gifted children at the top end of the scale, and those at the bottom are often ignored whilst preference is given to children of median ability who will generate the maximum points from exam success. Some of the brightest children drift having switched off through lack of stimulation; those at the bottom of the scale are regarded as needing too much support relative to their chances of success. So where does this leave Michael Gove’s enterprise?
In evidence at the Commons Education Committee the chairman Graham Stuart suggested Mr Gove’s objective appears to raise the bar of academic success further than the current targets. He is concerned that the new target will encourage teachers to further focus on children from better-off families in preference to poor children with lower possibility of exam success. Schools subsequently deemed to be failing measured on the new standard will be caught by the enforced transfer to academy status.
Whilst Graham Stuart questioned the potential of the educational Secretary’s objective, Michael Gove defended his claim that children should not be written off and any school not achieving the standard is not adequately performing. A superb target to set but a greatest concern is where are the teaching resources needed to achieve it.
The new Head of Ofsted has stepped up to the plate and condemned 5,000 schools as being run by poor Head Teachers. Sir Michael Wislhaw means business. After years as a top head teacher himself he can set standards that belay abject criticism. And the main benefactors will be the thousands of children that should ultimately receive a better education.
The poacher turned gamekeeper approach will have a number of heads rocking. Yet the 5,000 failing school heads are the tip of the iceberg. Sir Michael is also to castigate some schools currently wrongly categorised as very good or exceptional. These will be downgraded to “needing improvement” and subjected to renewed inspection by Ofsted inspections.
There are 32,000 primary and secondary schools in the UK; c.23,000 primary schools, 6,000 state secondary schools and 4,000 independent schools. It is no surprise there are a number of failing heads. Ten per cent failing is a normal statistic, but 5,000 poor heads equates to 15 per cent. Additionally we need to add the number of vacant head positions. Research commissioned by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) through the Education Data Surveys (EDS), showed a significant increase in the percentage of headship posts remaining unfilled over the past few years. Teaching is increasing in popularity, as many recent studies from across the UK have suggested. Yet, even though there is often a number of candidates chasing every teaching position, many primary schools in the UK are struggling to fill head teacher positions – a problem that union leaders say was caused by lower pay and higher workloads. Last year, more than one-third of primary schools and nearly one-fifth of secondary schools were unable to fill head teacher positions after advertising the jobs, according to a report. Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the issue could affect efforts to improve the country’s schools.
The task before Sir Michael Wilshaw is therefore huge. To get the correct quality of head teacher that can inspire both teaching resources and children from the current weak base will take an amazing strength of character and determination. But it needs to be done and should have the total unequivocal financial backing of the Department of education. If ever there was a profession that should take precedence it is teaching for this can change the destiny of countess children who could ultimately change the destiny of the UK. Head Teachers should be able to command a banker’s bonus, but as Sir Michael Wilshaw has already indicated the ground rules on how they are measured needs a thorough overall before they can start.
Educational Secretary Asked Twaddle During Commons Meeting
During a recent meeting of the Commons Educational Committee the educational secretary, Michael Gove, suffered a new fate. He was the first cabinet minister to be quizzed by questions submitted by Twitter. Around 5,000 questions were tweeted some of which were selected by the committee to be presented to Mr Gove. Interestingly some maths games were hidden in the delivery.
A recent review of Twitter revealed that 67 per cent of all Tweets were rubbish. Poorly written, lacking relevance and using substandard grammar they were described by the investigators as Twaddle. Using this as the benchmark somebody had to sift through the 5000 tweets to remove the rubbish. This leaves 1650 questions to be asked of the educational secretary that could be deemed sensible. Further review would have rendered the numbers down to list to the ten questions to be paraded before the educational secretary.
Call me old fashioned but surely the Commons Educational Committee would have the ability to formulate the questions they wanted to ask. If not why were they there? One of the downsides of web 2.0 is the predilection to social networks. This has opened the doors to mass of information from a mass of people; like me. Statistically therefore some of the information and commentary is useful, some just plain garbage. But there is third category; the malicious comment. Panorama, the investigative TV programme shown on BBC on 6th February 2012 highlighted devastating instances of cyber bullying of children by people using Facebook as the vehicle. The reprehensible actions of a body of people regarded as Trolls seem to overload the capacity or inclination of Facebook to deal with reported cyber bullying. The downside of the internet is the freedom of access to anyone who wishes to express a malicious viewpoint. This open access cyber-bullying needs to be rigidly controlled. Maybe the educational secretary’s exposure to the flood of useless questions during his interview with the commons educational committe might have opened his eyes to the problem.
The launch of a new form of educational textbook didn’t quite meet the mark. The new iBook from Apple certainly has games and gadgetry on-board but the revolutionary opportunity didn’t materialise. Not yet. Maybe an initial financial blessing to school budgets who would have to buy countless iBooks to capture the benefits. In the meantime Amazon’s Kindle et al will be studying the opportunity in the digital textbooks market. more…
Ed Miliband’s recent comments in Davos suggested 20th century capitalism is failing 21st century society through the adequacies of the educational system. The world is being poorly prepared to operate outside of banking and profound greed.
One of the key roles in government opposition is to say it as it is. But it is a great shame that the current situation follows 13 years of Labour party governance which also failed to address the educational inadequacies despite Tony Blair’s now infamous “education, education , education” chant. The problem now is with a coalition government vast energy is lost to the needs of constant compromise. Ed Miliband should not give up the cause but the solution may be a while away yet in the UK. More…
More games currently being played by the Educational Secretary. Micheal Gove wants any changes to the GCSE programme to ensure that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are offered the same chance to excel. Currently only four per cent of poor children achieved the Government’s new English Baccalaureate, which requires at least a C in English, maths, science, history or geography, and a language at GCSE. This compares to the average of seventeen per cent of pupils nationally. more..
Applications at UK universities have taken a tumble. Not from a lack of interest in further education but a deep routed concern over the implications of the tuition fees. The government’s strategy that the £9,000 per year tuition fee would not be repaid until the graduate is earning has taken its toll as existing graduates fail to land the jobs they wished for. This significant negative input has swayed many would be university applicants. Not having the right degree from the right university in a tough job market is a huge deterrent to invest in the first place. More….
The world is dominated by new forms of communication that have emerged and swept into global application within the space of eight years. Why are we then seeing governments still unable to introduce the radical reforms needed to turn maths, English literacy and science education into a similar success story?
The World Wide Web, Twitter, Facebook, Google and Apple et al. have fundamentally transposed our accessibility to knowledge and communications. What we need now is an entrepreneurial eureka moment that will lay the foundation stone to a revolutionary method of education and learning. Maybe as elusive as the Higgs Boson particle and could be the subject to an incentive reward, we need a clever group of individuals to evolve a form of learning with global application. The effect could revolutionise our world of learning and generate massive wealth for the developers. more…
Whilst school performance is measured on league tables the chances of some form of exam manipulation is extremely high. Teacher’s remuneration, head teacher kudos and Ofsted storm troopers are all focused on the position of the school relative to its contemporises and DfE criteria. The flaw in this approach is the children being educated appear as a secondary consideration. Often maths English and science have been sidelined.
No wonder the intelligent schools have spotted loopholes in the system. Enrolling children in esoteric exam subjects to improve the schools’ pass ratings can leave the students with worthless qualifications to support higher education or have any vocational relevance. At last the department of education is to close this door and give children access to core subjects that are crucially in their centre of learning. No longer will bricklaying with dance be regarded as a worthwhile exam course. More….
Letter cubes is a new teaching resource pocket word dice that helps with English literacy in an educational game that can be played by any number of players or teams. It consists of 12 letter dice, each with a score value. Each player takes a turn to throw the 12 dice then composes one or two words from the letters on the upturned faces. The score is added up from the points on the letters used. For the more advanced game points can be taken away from unused letters.
The class-pack is supplied as 6 packs of 12 dice and has the advantage of variations on the game that allow you to choose to allow players to compose words crosswords-style, by crossing words. When adding points, letters used twice are counted twice. OR After throwing the dice, each player writes a list of words using the letters. The player with the longest list wins the round. OR having chosen a topic such as animals, countries, makes of cars, roll one die or several dice. The first player to call out a word starting with the letter or one of the letters on the dice gets a point. OR after throwing the dice, each player composes a sentence or poem using words starting with the letters available. All letters must be used.
The list is growing and can be extended with your own ideas. The fun helps stimulate children to learn.
The ever popular Talking Dice series from keen2learn has been extended to include a new selection pack. This range of teaching resources is designed to stimulate talking, discussion and story writing in children and adults. A real benefit is this can be achieved in any language.
Developed by teachers as a quick and enjoyable way to get students practicing their language skills. A simple throw of the picture-based dice gets your students instantly speaking, thinking and listening. You can add more dice based on the ability of the group. The dice can be used to teach any first or second language in a variety of ways. The range extends across a wide selection of curriculum based topics. Students roll the dice and say what they see in the target language. There is no other product that matches Talking Dice’s Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic properties. Talking Dice are used by thousands of language teachers, primary school teachers and speech therapists worldwide. Talking Dice can fit into your current lessons plan in minutes and the variations are almost endless.
Young children often struggle to understand their feelings and insecurities when dealing with other children. A key is to encourage them through educational Feel Good Board games which open up with a chance to express themselves and see they are not that different from other children. This reassurance and encouragement is an important part of PSHE teaching resources for younger children.
The games have been developed to make learning easy. With a little patience and practice by parents and teachers the involvement and confidence of children is easily achieved. The Feel Good board game is a non-competitive team game for use as a PSHE teaching resource in the classroom or at home. By helping children become familiar with different feelings and emotions and ways of expressing them they will learn to be sharing, caring, laughing and smiling whilst focusing on their own and others unique qualities. A fun way for children to gain confidence and boost their self-esteem.