Posts Tagged ‘Nick Gibb’

Reading “Adds a Year to Children’s Education’

February 8, 2012

I’m not sure where Mr. Gibb gets his measurements from, but there is no doubt that our children are not investing nearly enough time to reading. Similarly, if children were to radically change their reading habits, strong improvement would surely follow:

Nick Gibb, the School Minister, said that reading books for just half an hour a day could be worth up to 12 months’ extra schooling by the age of 15.

Speaking ahead of today’s announcement, Mr Gibb said: “Children should always have a book on the go. The difference in achievement between children who read for half an hour a day in their spare time and those who do not is huge – as much as a year’s education by the time they are 15.

He added: “There is a group of children who can read but won’t read – the reluctant readers.

Currently, as many as one-in-six children are still struggling to read when they leave primary school, figures show. One-in-10 boys aged 11 has a reading age no better a seven-year-old.

Failure to pick up the basics at a young age is believed to have serious long-term consequences. A recent international report showed that almost four-in-10 teenagers in England never read for pleasure – considerably more than in other countries.

As teachers, we are responsible not only for seeing to it that our students read at home, but also that they grow to appreciate books. It is essential that our primary teachers choose relevant, engaging books to read to their students whenever the time permits.

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The Only Ones Who Should Be Named and Shamed are the Policy Makers

January 22, 2012

Nick Gibb wants to remove incentives to schools that are protecting their league table ranking at the expense of extending bright students.

Secondary schools that fail to push bright children will be named and shamed in a bid to prevent comprehensives from manipulating the league table rankings, the schools minister has said.

Nick Gibb said he wanted to remove the incentive for schools to play the system by focusing only on pupils whose grades will affect their league table ranking.

Gibb said the tables would include additional information to expose schools who fail to push bright students who were capable of performing even better if they had better teaching.

In the reformed league tables, which will be published for the first time next week, parents will be able to compare schools based on the amount of progress made by the top pupils between 11 and 16.

“The way school league tables have evolved over the past two decades can encourage a degree of ‘gaming’ by some weaker schools, desperate to keep above the standard that would trigger intervention by Ofsted or the Department for Education,” Gibb writes in Saturday’s Telelgraph.

“But the purpose of performance tables must be to incentivise schools to raise standards and to enable parents to make informed decisions when choosing a school.”

The reason why schools don’t invest more time into bright students is not because they don’t care. It is because the system was set up to force schools to protect their ranking. It’s these blasted rankings that taint education. Teaching and learning is not a game. It shouldn’t come by way of fear or shaming, but through sound methods and a positive approach,

Policy makers should be named and shamed for changing the landscape of education. No industry is under so much pressure, with so little real reward. Teaching under a cloud of negativity poorly impacts staff and students.

Perhaps there will be more attention to brighter students as a result of these measures. But in the end, nobody wins from negative tactics and a data driven school system.

The System Fails Slow Starting Students

December 15, 2011

As a child who started slow and only came into my own after school, I have always been determined to help slow starting students find their feet as quickly as possible. It is my belief that the classroom teachers can turn the fortunes of a slow starting student around.

This belief however, is not supported by the data:

Three-quarters of children in England who make a slow start in the “Three Rs” at primary school fail to catch up by the time they leave, data shows.

And more than a third (39%) of pupils who make a bright start are no longer reaching advanced levels when they leave.

The government’s school league tables data also shows 9% of primary schools do not meet its floor standards.

Overall 74% of pupils met the required levels in English and maths.

Some of those kids that are allowed to fall through the cracks are victims of poor teaching. Often the slow start comes about because the learning style of the student differs to the way the information is conveyed by the teacher.

I think it’s a major cop-out to let the slow starters continue on their merry way without giving them the intervention they so desperately need.

False Allegations Ruin Teachers’ Lives

October 16, 2011

Teaching is a profession that involves a great deal of responsibility and requires a high level of trust. But that trust is easily eroded.

The risks of teaching for many males outweigh the obvious benefits.  It is a noted fact that prospective male primary teachers often decide not to join the profession because of the fear of a false allegation.  And it’s not only males.  Female teachers are also the subject of malicious accusations.

Figures from the Department for Education show that around 44 per cent of claims made by pupils and their parents were “unsubstantiated, malicious or unfounded”.

In one-in-five cases, teachers were automatically suspended while investigations into allegations were carried out, despite widespread concerns over a wave of false claims.

Fewer than one-in-20 allegations levelled at staff resulted in a criminal conviction.

The Government warned that false allegations had a “devastating impact” on teachers’ lives.

Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister, said: “Every allegation of abuse must be taken seriously, but some children think they can make a false allegation without any thought to the consequences for the teacher concerned.

“When these allegations are later found to be malicious or unfounded, the damage is already done. It can have a devastating impact and ruin a teacher’s career and private life.

“This research shows why the Coalition Government’s plan to give teachers a legal right to anonymity when allegations are made by pupils is so important.”

The Government obtained data from 116 out of 150 local authorities in England.

It found that 12,086 allegations of abuse had been made by schools in 2009/10.

Almost a fifth resulted in teachers being suspended while allegations were investigated. More than half of investigations took longer than a month to complete – beyond the target limit identified by the Government.

Whilst I am a huge advocate for encouraging victims of abuse to go public with their allegations, I am mindful that many innocent teachers tend to be implicated for crimes they never committed.

Captain Phonics to the Rescue!

July 7, 2011

It’s like the pest that wont go away.  Phonics sneaks up on us all the time, with it’s many proponents insisting it is the missing key in getting literacy levels up to standard.  I doubt that is the case.  In fact, while I think phonics has a minor secondary role to play, if you make phonics the key method for teaching reading, you will almost certainly turn your students off literature.

It seems some British MP’s agree with me:

MPs have criticised government plans to test pupils on their reading ability at the age of six, warning that it will put children off reading for pleasure.

The report criticises the government’s focus on phonics – in which children learn individual sounds and then blend them to read words – as a “mechanical” approach and warns that it will contribute to a decline in literacy.

Fabian Hamilton, who chairs the MPs’ group, said: “If there is a central theme to this, that is, reading must be a pleasure. Of course children need the tools to understand what sounds the symbols make, and what those sounds mean. Phonics is only one way of doing it, there are others.”

The MPs’ report says: “The phonics test is likely to demotivate children rather than ensure that they become eager and fluent readers.”The government is facing a backlash over phonics. Critics, including the United Kingdom Literacy Association, have written to education secretary Michael Gove lobbying him to abandon the test.

The schools minister, Nick Gibb, said: “High-quality evidence from across the world – from Scotland and Australia to the National Reading Panel in the US – shows that the systematic teaching of synthetic phonics is the best way to teach basic reading skills, and especially those aged five to seven.

“It is vital that we focus on the reading skills of children early on in their lives, and give those who are struggling the extra help they need to enable them to go on to enjoy a lifetime’s love of reading rather than a lifelong struggle.”

Surely the greatest contribution a teacher of reading can make is helping to nurture an appreciation and fondness of reading.  Phonics is for most students a giant slog.  Even the expression “systematic teaching of synthetic phonics” is a turnoff.

Phonics has its place, but enjoyment of reading is tantamount.  I want my students to enjoy reading about different people and places, connect with well drawn characters and gain insights. I want them to experinece how reading can trigger emotions, form opinions and nurture their imaginations.

I didn’t become a teacher to turn my students off reading.


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