Primary schools

‘Schools are killing curiosity’: why we need to stop telling children to shut up and learn | Education

Young children sit cross-legged on the mat as their teacher prepares to teach them about the weather, equipped with pictures of clouds. Outside the classroom, lightning forks across a dark sky and thunder rumbles. Curious children call out and point, but the teacher draws their attention back – that is not how the lesson target says they are going to learn about the weather. It could be a scene in almost any school. Children, full of questions about things that…

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‘It happens to real people’: how to help children grasp the horror of the Holocaust | Michael Rosen | Education

As a very young child, the only inkling I had of the Holocaust was that every now and then my father would say that he’d had two uncles in France who were “there before the war and weren’t there afterwards”. I’d wonder, how could they have just disappeared? How could there only be a nothing? At weddings and wider family gatherings, we would meet his cousin Michael and later we would be told that Michael had been “put on a…

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When school is an isolation cubicle with three toilet breaks a day | Education

Six days a week Brendan, 17, leaves at six in the morning for his job on a building site and doesn’t get home until tea time. It’s his first job and he is loving it. “I am very, very proud of him,” says his mother. But it could have turned out very differently. Brendan left his academy trust school in Normanton, West Yorkshire, without any GCSEs, having spent much of his time in an isolation cubicle, banned from talking to…

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London council launches free school meals pilot scheme | Education

A scheme to offer pupils free school breakfast and lunch irrespective of income has been launched in an attempt to tackle the growing food poverty crisis in parts of the UK. Hammersmith and Fulham council rolled out the scheme in west London on Wednesday. It said the national free school meals system was not working, leaving many children going to school hungry and remaining hungry throughout the day. Officials say the threshold for families to qualify for free school meals…

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‘Every moment here is magical’: Essex school wins dementia award | Education

A primary school in Essex has won a national dementia award for an innovative intergenerational project, which brings together isolated older adults and children in need of additional support with extraordinary results. The project at Downshall primary school in Ilford is one of a growing number of intergenerational initiatives in the UK designed to bring benefits to both old and young, while helping to fill the gaps left by cuts to local community support services. At Downshall, older adults experiencing…

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Everyone welcome: inside the schools that haven’t expelled a child since 2013 | Education

Jason Thurley, headteacher at Beacon academy, near Grimsby, leans across the table explaining why yet another of his pupils was excluded before joining the school. “He’d brought in a £1 potato gun. It was at the bottom of his bag and so he goes up to his form tutor and says, ‘I don’t want to get into trouble with this, sir, can you take it?’ And he gets permanently excluded. The school said ‘we have a zero-tolerance policy on firearms’.”…

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Leaflets falsely claim pupils taught masturbation in relationship classes | Education

The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, has said all schools will be given support to teach relationship education, after leaflets suggesting that lessons encourage primary school children to masturbate were handed out in London. Other material seen by the BBC said parents “will be questioned on the day of judgment” if they do not challenge the lessons on compulsory relationships education in primary schools in England and relationships and sex education (RSE) in secondary schools from September 2020. The leaflets were…

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A delightful day with David Bellamy | Letter | Education

I have very happy memories of David Bellamy (Obituary, 13 December) visiting our first school (for children aged four to eight) in Binley Woods, Warwickshire, in 1983. A letter from the children asked him to visit their small copse in the grounds they cared for and a pond they had created. He came for two, but stayed for three hours, talking to all 150 children and sharing their enthusiasm for natural history. He lay on the floor with the reception…

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Headteacher Judy Shaw: ‘My staff are fantastic but they can’t fight poverty’ | Education

On Judy Shaw’s first day as a headteacher, a man came to show her one of the school’s vast brick walls. She recalls: “He said, ‘Is that pointing all right for you then?’ and I stood there and I thought, this job is not what I thought it was going to be.” But 14 years later Shaw is still headteacher of Tuel Lane infant school in Sowerby Bridge, a town nestled along the River Calder in West Yorkshire. In that…

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‘Many of our children don’t get presents’: schools open over Christmas for families with nothing | Education

Sammy will wake up on Christmas morning with little hope of a visit from Santa. He didn’t get a present last Christmas and it is unlikely he will get one this year, because his mother struggles just to put food on the table. But it is not all gloom for the lively eight-year-old. Next Monday, 23 December, his school will reopen and the teachers and support staff will return, unpaid, to organise a huge “Christmas Eve Eve” party for the…

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Take our Sats maths quiz to see if you’re smarter than an 11-year-old | Education

On Wednesday and Thursday year 6 children in England’s primary schools will take their Sats maths test. If you haven’t had children in the English education system for a while, or even at all, you might be curious about what 11-year-olds are expected to know about maths. So below is a sample of the types of questions they will face. Pupils will take 110 minutes of tests, divided into three papers over two days and containing a total of 83…

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Academies and free schools underperform in Sats, figures show | Education

Maintained schools in England outperform academies and free schools in national exams taken at the end of year 6, and pupils in multi-academy trusts do worse on average, figures show. The data released by the Department for Education (DfE) at the end of the election purdah will be a mild embarrassment for the government, which sees conversion from council-maintained status to academy or multi-academy trust governance as its key method of school improvement. The DfE report said 64% of pupils…

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Free breakfasts to form part of Labour plan to ‘poverty-proof’ schools | Politics

Labour is to promise free, healthy breakfasts for all primary-age children as part of a multibillion pound plan to “poverty-proof” England’s schools and boost educational standards. The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, will on Thursday pledge to recruit 20,000 more teachers, cap secondary class sizes at 30, and spend £7bn on repairs and upgrades to England’s crumbling school buildings. As well as expanding the provision of free breakfasts to all primary schools across England to help combat hunger, Labour would…

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Leaked documents reveal Tories’ dramatic plans for schools | Politics

A raft of dramatic and controversial education measures including billions of pounds in new funding, a crackdown on student behaviour and a further wave of free schools are to be announced by the government within days, according to a confidential briefing paper seen by the Guardian. The briefing document, dated 22 August and marked “Official-Sensitive”, details policy proposals for schools in England designed to be rolled out over the coming weeks in an attempt to seize the initiative on education…

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Children should learn mainly through play until age of eight, says Lego | Education

Parents are squeezing the role of play out of their children’s lives in favour of the three ‘R’s as they try to prepare their offspring for a competitive world, according to the head of Lego’s education charity arm. A lack of understanding of the value of play is prompting parents and schools alike to reduce it as a priority, says Hanne Rasmussen, head of the Lego Foundation. If parents and governments push children towards numeracy and literacy earlier and earlier,…

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One in five teachers using own money for school supplies – report | Education

One in five teachers are spending their own money on classroom supplies, while nearly half say they buy food, clothes and even soap for poor pupils, according to a report charting the effects of austerity on schools. Among the more than 4,300 teachers who responded to the NASUWT education union, 20% said they paid for resources such as paper or books used in their lessons at least once a week, with half of those saying they did so “several times…

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