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What international schools need right now

07 Nov 2016
Have you ever wondered whether teachers in international schools (those delivering a substantial amount of the curriculum in English) need the same kinds of resources and training as teachers in the UK? Perhaps your business is looking to this growing market as a way of expanding, or perhaps you're a teacher thinking of working abroad. Either way, our latest research report will make interesting reading. It's available free, but here's a quick summary.

School trips: do they still have a place in the curriculum?

12 Sep 2016
Looking back at our school days, the chances are that some of our best memories involve school trips, with the new experiences they introduced outside the confines of the classroom. However, teachers are facing some tough challenges in the current landscape: budgets are being cut; they lack time, and are under ever-increasing pressure to ensure that learning relates to ‘core subjects’.
With this in mind, how feasible are school trips these days, and what are teachers’ preferences for them? Do they still like the traditional model of taking students to an external venue, or would they rather invite visitors into school, or organise an interactive learning experience via webinar / video-conferencing technology?

Textbook thoughts from PA/BESA conference

19 Nov 2015
It's always pleasing to find oneself in good company, as I was today at the PA/BESA annual conference. Good company on two counts:1) lots of clients, some old, some new, some who don’t know they’re going to be clients yet… 2) the PA and BESA themselves. The first group are good company because we always have lots to talk about, the second because at this conference we were roughly on the same wavelength.
That’s to say we, the PA and BESA are all very interested in textbooks and assessment at the moment. It’s not surprising I suppose, given that new GCSE and A-level courses mean new textbooks are needed (two thirds of teachers tell us that) and since the changes to assessment and accountability represent the biggest shakeup to education in schools since the national curriculum.

Who on Earth uses textbooks nowadays?

18 Nov 2015
Well actually, lots of people. At one time, when we delivered training on how to do market research in schools, we used to demonstrate the need for understanding the market before framing the questions, with an example about textbooks. It went something like this: don’t ask teachers whether they use textbooks, because they’ll say “no”; instead, ask them what they like about textbooks and you’ll find they can talk all day about it, meaning “yes”. But times have changed...

School textbooks: plus ša change

13 Nov 2015
This September was a bit of a watershed* for me because I've now been working at schoolzone for as long as I taught science - 15 years apiece.
A lot's changed in 30 years; a lot remains the same. The folk at Schoolzone devote their entire time to keeping an eye on what's changing in schools and this week, two interesting observations popped up

How do we prevent 18 from becoming the new 40?

29 Oct 2015
report by Demos came out yesterday which reveals just how pervasively unhappy teenagers are. The Mind over Matter report concludes, after surveying 1000 teenagers, that self-confidence is slipping between 14 and 18. So much so that 18-year-olds are half as likely to be happy (33%) as 14-year-olds (60%).

A formula for good behaviour

15 Sep 2015
Ah, for the quick fix to classroom behaviour.
 
Everyone seems to say that behaviour gets worse and worse: and you may remember that in June the first behaviour tsar was appointed to try to nationalise the feeling. Now he's been set on looking at the impact of mobile phones on behaviour, among other things. The DfE helpfully reminds us that 'appropriately used, technology can offer opportunities to enhance the educational experience of pupils' but then goes on to claim that 'that the growing number of children bringing personal devices into class is hindering teaching and leading to disruption'.

Question time

03 Sep 2015
What’s the difference between a game of tennis and a game of basketball?

Many things! Yet aside from the most obvious of contrasts, a striking difference is the direction in which the ball can travel. In tennis, it only travels in two directions- back and forth in a rally across the court. Meanwhile in basketball, the momentum moves between players- forwards, backwards, sideways, diagonally…
So what does this have to do with teaching?

My only love sprung from my only hate

30 Mar 2015
Using active methods to teach Shakespeare
A guest post by Dawn McKinley, English Teacher, Bournville School
It seems to be the time of year for teaching Shakespeare and, although many teachers aim to incorporate a diverse range of active methods for teaching Shakespeare’s plays, many of us fall by the wayside and revert to ploughing through the text with line by line analysis. Active approaches are by far the most effective method of teaching Shakespeare, and there is a substantial amount of scholastic literature available illuminating the benefits of using such approaches to teach Shakespeare for all students. If this is really the case, why does there remain such strong reluctance and dogged resistance to adopting these approaches in many secondary schools?

The Creative Classroom part 2

18 Mar 2015
“Some students do not wish to accept more responsibility for their own learning. They… are quite happy to do little more than take notes and read books as directed. The analogy with doctors and patients is quite strong: we even ‘prescribe’ texts.” (David Boud, Developing Student Autonomy in Learning, 1988.)


In light of the above statement, is it preferable for teachers to dictate learning, tell pupils what to think and act the role of omniscient being?
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