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Posts Tagged ‘GCSE’

Is There Enough School Support for Children of Divorced Parents?

November 24, 2014

divorce

I can’t help thinking that because divorce is becoming increasingly common that society foolishly assumes children are more than ever capable of overcoming the split of their parents. This is just not true. Children find it as hard as ever to reconcile the breakdown of their parents’ marriage.

The research strongly backs my position and signals a need for greater school support. Perhaps we shouldn’t wait to see signs of distress, and instead offer support as soon as the breakup occurs:

Children of divorced parents are more likely to get bad exam results, drink, take drugs and develop eating disorders, a survey has shown.

Nearly two thirds of children who saw the break-up of their families claimed it had a negative effect on their GCSEs.

One in eight said they had used drugs or alcohol and almost a third said they ate more or less as a result.

The survey – commissioned by Resolution, a group that represents 6,500 family lawyers in England and Wales – looked at the experiences of 500 young people aged 14 to 22.

Resolution chairman Jo Edwards told the Times that the study had revealed just how far-reaching the impact of divorce can be.

She said: ‘The findings underline just how important it is that parents going through a split manage their separation in a way that minimises the stress and impact on the entire family.’ Each year, around 100,000 under-16s see their parents break-up. Many suffer long-term effects associated with the pressure the divorce process puts on them.

Of those surveyed, a third said that one parent had tried to turn them against the other parent and more than 25 per cent said they had been dragged into their parents’ arguments. Schooling is also adversely affected as children struggle to complete their homework.

Around 12 per cent admitted skipping lessons and 11 per cent found themselves increasingly in trouble with teachers as a result of a change in family circumstances.

Siôn Humphreys, a senior policy adviser at the National Association of Head Teachers, said that education was suffering because teachers are not trained to deal with the problem. She told the Times: ‘Teachers see day in, day out, the impact separation can have.

‘It would not be unusual for the school to be the first port of call to support the parent left holding the baby, but it is not necessarily something teachers are specially trained for.’

Last month, EU statistics for 2012 revealed that British children are more likely to be from single-parent families than anywhere else in Western Europe.

One in four now live with a lone mother or father, compared with around one in six across the EU.

The only EU country with a higher figure than Britain was the eastern state of Latvia. We are now ahead of Belgium, Denmark, Ireland and France, where the number of youngsters living with just one parent is dropping – or rising more slowly.

Harry Benson, of the Marriage Foundation, has urged policy-makers to take ‘essential’ steps in limiting the ‘host of negative social and economic implications’ of divorce.

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Teachers Continue to Fail the Common Sense Test

October 28, 2012

Why are there so many immature, irresponsible and downright twisted teachers around?

Two drama teachers were sacked for allowing GCSE students perform in a play involving depictions of rape, oral sex and child abuse within a family in front of their parents and classmates.

The play – which even featured a pupil acting out the role of a father sexually abusing his daughter – shocked teachers, upset parents and left children sobbing and vomiting in distress.

Complaints were made and the two unnamed teachers, who were supervising the 15 and 16-year-olds who wrote and acted in the play, were sacked by the school for gross misconduct.

They are now pursuing unfair dismissal claims – but the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruled this week that a previous decision in their favour was ‘perverse’ and that their cases must be re-heard.

The teachers taught drama at an unidentified school. One was head of the department – and they were responsible for supervising GCSE students in writing, rehearsal, production and performance.

The ‘age-inappropriate’ material included graphic descriptions of sex, rape, oral sex between father and daughter, child abuse between parents and children, and group sex within a family, EAT judge Lady Smith said.

A showcase of the work was held in front of friends and relatives, but the department head failed to warn those invited of the potentially disturbing nature of the production.

Even the headteacher of the school was not told about the content and was unaware of what the students had been involved in until after the showcase, Lady Smith said.

Maths is Taught So Poorly

February 13, 2012

I realise that what I am writing is a gross generalisation, but I believe that maths is generally taught in a very abstract and monotonous way. No wonder the students are not benefitting from maths instruction at the primary level. Traditional maths teaching involves worksheets, a mindless array of algorithms and plenty of other rote styled goodies.

The tragedy of it all is that maths can be taught in a completely different way. I find the basic skills of maths the most refreshing and creatively exciting subject to teach. The fact that maths is a composite of everyday skills means it translates wonderfully to problem solving activities.

The other day, whilst teaching ordering numbers up to 4 digits, I got my 8-year-old students into groups, each given a particular airline to reasearch. The groups had to find the 3 lowest airfares for a return domestic trip between certain dates and times, These prices were then compared and ordered from least expensive to most expensive. Isn’t that the whole point of ordering and comparing numbers?

Whilst engaging in the exercise, the students enjoyed working in groups, competing for a bargain against other groups, learning how to book airline tickets and simply use their imagination by pretending they were actually intending in going on the flight.

Isn’t that more interesting than a worksheet that has numbers on it to order?

This is why I am not at all surprised that British students leave Primary school ‘with the maths ability of 7-year-old’:

An analysis of last year’s SATs results has shown 27,500 11-year-olds are going on to secondary school with the numeracy skills of children four years their junior.

The figures equate to a staggering one in 20 of the total of those leaving primary school. Boys perform worse than girls, with 15,600 behind in their ability.

Separate statistics published two weeks ago also revealed that one in three GCSE pupils fail to get at least a grade C in maths.

The disclosure follows the launch of a Daily Telegraph campaign – Make Britain Count – to highlight the scale of the nation’s mathematical crisis and provide parents with tools to boost their children’s numeracy skills.

It comes amid concerns that schoolchildren are less likely to study maths to a high standard in England, Wales and Northern Ireland than in most other developed nations.

I appeal to Primary teachers to give the text-book a rest and don’t be afraid to try new and exciting ideas to engage your maths students.

Encouraging a Nation of Cheats

December 11, 2011

I am very much opposed to cheating in every form. Teachers are entrusted with the responsibility of imparting the lessons of integrity and honesty. It is absolutely vital that they are practising what they preach.

is right when she argues that the current narrow, test dominated view of education is bringing about dishonest behaviour. This further encourages students to continue the trend of dishonesty. This also prevents students from developing skills in persistence and motivation:

This week, the heads of the four main examination boards and officials from Ofqual, the exam regulator, are in for a testing time. They will be required to explain to MPs why some of their profession have indulged in behaviour that prompted Michael Gove, the education secretary, to call the examination system “discredited”.

The revelations of the past week have only reinforced a profound unease on the part of many that while we may be educating our children, are they actually learning anything useful (except, perhaps, that cheating definitely does not come cheap)? Useful, that is, not just for their future employment prospects, but also to equip them to become rounded human beings who desist from giving up the first time they taste failure or hit a hump on the bumpy road to maturity ?

As Mick Waters, a former director of the government’s exam regulator says: “We need to strip back to the bone and decide what education is for. There are children who learn paragraphs all day, every day, in year 11, just so they can write them one day in June.”

Sadly, stagnant teaching methods anchored in the 19th century are not in the dock this week. Instead, MPs want to learn more about examiners’ “tip offs” to teachers on which questions might or might not figure in exams; the perennial issue of dumbing down of standards and grade inflation and the extent to which the pressure of league tables on headmasters is causing them to bend the rules in ways that Mr Chips could never have envisioned.

Qualifications matter, but our neglect of other facets of learning makes us look moribund for a modern society. Better than obsessing about teaching to the test, why aren’t we probing what stokes motivation? Ask any teacher and he or she will tell you a dozen stories of bright pupils who can’t or won’t stick at it; stymied by their own lack of grit. Given that we have thousands of disengaged young people mouldering in school, why are we not more curious about the positive deviants? Those boys and girls, some with low IQs, and against all the odds, who power ahead of their brighter peers for the simple reason that they refuse to give up?

Why aren’t we telling teenagers, captive in the classroom, an alternative story? Why isn’t there a stronger challenge to a child’s belief that they have been labelled “thick” – by implication, at an early age by a well-intentioned graduate teacher, often from a distinctly different background? And to make them realise that judgment may be far from true and certainly shouldn’t mould a lifetime’s choices?

The rest of her article is well worth reading. She has nailed a major issue which our dysfunctional system has to take more seriously. After all, a system that revolves around a test can be exploited.

A system that revolves around quality education outcomes, engaging lessons, a focus on questions, inquiry and everyday, real life experiences can not be exploited so readily.

 


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