Thursday, 25 May 2017

Supporting children through tragic events...

Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the community in Manchester after the horrific and tragic events earlier in the week. We are aware that some children may be upset and quite frightened by it. Therefore, we have attached some resources and guidance (published by different agencies) that may support parents, if your child raises it and you need support:

Monday, 15 May 2017

E-Safety Advice for Parents

We have recently updated our website to include some e-safety resources for parents. You can find a great deal of advice and support from the internet to support you in keeping your children safe. Some sound advice from Internet Matters follows:

Agree boundaries
Be clear what your child can and can’t do online – where they can use the internet, how much time they can spend online, the sites they can visit and the type of information they can share. Agree with your child when they can have a mobile phone or tablet.

Explore together
The best way to find out what your child is doing online is to ask them to tell you about what they do and what sites they like to visit. If they’re happy to, ask them to show you. Talk to them about being a good friend online.

Put yourself in control
Install parental controls on your home broadband and any internet-enabled devices. Set up a user account for your child on the main device they use and make sure other accounts in the household are password-protected so that younger children can’t access them by accident.

Use airplane mode
Use airplane mode on your devices when your child is using them so they can’t make any unapproved purchases or interact with anyone online without your knowledge.

Stay involved
Encourage them to use their tech devices in a communal area like the lounge or kitchen so you can keep an eye on how they’re using the internet and also share in their enjoyment.

Talk to siblingsIt’s also a good idea to talk to any older children about what they’re doing online and what they show to younger children. Encourage them to be responsible and help keep their younger siblings safe.

Search safely
Use safe search engines such as Swiggle or Kids-search. You can save time by adding these to your ‘Favourites’. Safe search settings can also be activated on Google and other search engines, as well as YouTube.

Check if it’s suitable
The age ratings that come with games, apps, films and social networks are a good guide to whether they’re suitable for your child. For example, the minimum age limit is 13 for several social networking sites, including Facebook and Instagram. Although sites aimed at under-10s like Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin also have social networking elements.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Assessment Without Levels Report (NASUWT)

In the midst of a wide consultation over primary assessment, this report sets out the findings of research undertaken by the NASUWT on the impact of the removal of levels from the National Curriculum in England. It also contains a summary of implications of Assessment Without Levels (AWL) for the practice of teachers and school leaders.


A revised National Curriculum for pupils aged 5-16 in England was introduced in September 2014. The revised National Curriculum is substantially different from previous versions. Most notably, while the use of programmes of study, describing what pupils should be taught, was retained in the new framework, the use of progressive level descriptions to assess pupils’ attainment was discontinued. Under the revised National Curriculum, schools are required to establish an assessment system that enables them to check what pupils have learned, whether they are on track to meet expectations at the end of the Key Stage and to report regularly to parents. Schools have considerable discretion over how they meet this requirement in practice, although they can no longer make use of levels set out in previous versions of the National Curriculum. The removal of National Curriculum levels also had significant implications for statutory end of Key Stage assessment. Previously, levels were used to assess and report pupils’ attainment in external tests and statutory teacher assessment. However, from 2015/16, the results of tests have been assessed using a system of ‘scaled scores’, while teacher assessments are made with reference to a series of ‘interim’ performance frameworks in English, mathematics and science.

Monday, 8 May 2017

How are our Schools Financed...?

We recently attended a briefing on school finance by the local authority. While all the information presented is widely available, you have to know where to look and have the inclination to do so! So it was good to have it presented to us in a clear and concise way, particularly in a period of great financial challenge to both schools and local authorities. Funding is allocated and published to each school by a “budget share” which is calculated based on allowable factors set by the DfE. Allowable factors are things like deprivation and English as an additional language. The values and factors used are locally determined and agreed within a 'Schools Forum'. Minutes of recent meetings of this body can be found here: Schools Forum. The case for reform is clear as the current funding system is out of date and based on historic allocations from 2005 - clearly much has changed in the last 10 years. Factor in 150 local authorities making independent decisions and the system is in need of change. For your interest, here are a few of the many acronyms we have to 'master':

ABG – Area Based Grant
AP – Alternative Provision
AWPU – Age Weighted Pupil Unit
DFC – Devolved Formula Capital
DfE – Department for Education
DSG – Dedicated Schools Grant
EAL – English as an Additional Language
EFA – Education Funding Agency
ESG – Education Services Grant
EYSFF – Early Years Single Funding Formula
FSM – Free School Meals
SCC – Southampton City Council
IDACI – Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index
INMSS – Independent & Non-Maintained Special Schools
ISB - Individual Schools Budget
LA – Local Authority
LAC – Looked After Children
LSA – Learning Support Assistant
MFG – Minimum Funding Guarantee
NOR – Number on Roll
PRU – Pupil Referral Unit
SEN – Special Educational Needs
SBUF – School Block Unit Funding

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Learning Times Tables...

A very interesting article from the Primary & Early Years Magazine shared by the NCETM has looked at how children learn times tables. Children need to learn their tables facts to a required level of automaticity which can be challenging - committing a large number of facts to their long term memory which they can then recall to apply in different contexts and solve problems. One of the key messages here is that remembering stuff matters! How do we learn them? We might remember how we did it ourselves - perhaps by 'rote' or repetition? While this is really effective method, the article makes a key point that we need to develop understanding and 'reasoning' alongside the fluency. It's not just about remembering 7 x 8 = 56 but that I've got 7 people and 56 sweets for my party - how am I going to share them? Or what number between 50 and 60 has the factors of 7 and 8?
Here's another suggestion from the article:

Write three or four random numbers on the board. Pupils talk with a partner, using a whiteboard and pen if that helps, to construct three sentences about those numbers, using the words ‘all, some, none?’
E.g. 2, 7, 11
All of the numbers are prime”
Some of the numbers are odd”
None of the numbers are factors of 15”

All these statements lead into some good dialogue about number.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

The Marshmallow Test...

Could you take the

Marshmallow test?
Success in the 'Marshmallow Test' is a significant predictor in how well children will do in school and later life. Often referred to as delayed gratification, it is a key behaviour for learning. Why? Put simply, if you can learn to be patient and wait for something, you’ll often get something better at the end.  For example, if you spend all your pocket money every week, what can you buy?  On the other hand, if you save for a week or even a year, what will you be able to afford?  Children need to learn to work at things before they succeed – they might not be brilliant at first but if they persevere and have patience they are more likely to achieve something better.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

'The Golden Years of Learning'

We were attending a presentation by Alistair Smith ( recently during which he shared some key ideas which will impact on our thinking about learning in schools. This idea of building on the skills that children already know is integral to our thinking. We are fortunate in primary schools to work with children in their 'Golden Years of Learning' - in fact 3-5 year olds demonstrate a rapid growth in certain key skills that indicate good learners. 

  • good working memory
  • inhibitory control and delay of gratification
  • cognitive flexibility

“If I had to reduce all of educational
psychology to just one principle, the most
important single factor influencing learning
is what the learner already knows...”

David Ausubel, 1968