Literacy – Reading in pairs

Local authorities looking to use paired reading to improve literacy can now access tutor and trainer manuals and a parents’ leaflet on line.

From 2005 to 2008, Learning and Teaching Scotland worked with youth volunteering organisation ProjectScotland and pilot authorities to place young volunteers aged 16-25 in schools to support the development of literacy skills through paired reading.

Reading has become a fun activity by Elizabeth Buie

TESS reports that North Lanarkshire’s literacy strategy is continuing to make significant gains for all pupils, but particularly the least able, an evaluation published last week has shown.

‘A group reading assessment of P3 children showed that those who had been taught by the “active literacy” methodology were significantly ahead of those taught using more traditional methods, thus maintaining the progress observed in the first phase of the programme.

In the P3 control group, 52 per cent of pupils were performing above the expected average age level while 13 per cent of the below average group had a reading age of only around six years. By comparison, in the active literacy group, 72 per cent exceeded the expected average reading level and of the 28 per cent below average, only 2 per cent had a reading age of around six years…’

Free Memory sticks!!!

Memory Sticks 4 Teachers is a major new ICT initiative taking place within the UK education sector.

The project has been developed, in association with LEAs and Teacher Unions, to support teachers and educators in addressing their ever-increasing workloads by funding the provision of 750,000 USB memory sticks across the UK.
Thanks to Lynne for this info.


“Blogs and Online diaries should be part of school curriculum ” says Thinktank

Charles Leadbeater introduced his lecture at the Scottish  Learning Festival on 25/09/08 with a You tube clip of a teenage boy playing guitar in his bedroom. The clip had had 49 million hits!

A report in the Guardian 6/10/08 points out the claims of the Think tank, Demos, (with which Leadbeater is associated), that young people “are being failed by adults who are not paying proper attention to this new medium.”

“The study.. considers how their enthusiasm and skills can be encouraged.”

“The report makes recommendations to help adults cope with the changing online environment and calls particularly on schools to help youngsters understand the long term implications of living their lives in a semi-public way.”

“Schools should prepare young people for an era where CV’s may well be obsolete, enabling them to manage their on-line reputation .” says the report, “we need an educational response that extends beyond the focus of safety towards broader questions of privacy and intellectual property.”

I was personally concerned about the information my teenage daughter was relaying about herself on Facebook, especially when she realised that her boss had added herself as a friend.

Politicians see youngsters as apathetic and unreachable, according to the Guardian.

“The (UK )government is pouring money into this because they feel young people should be making themselves heard”…”but bloggers say it feels contrived.”

Barack Obama in the United States, on the other hand, is said to be the first ‘Youtube politician’ because “he gets that you can’t control it. His campaign team get that its about the enthusiasm”…”he encouraged (young voters) to exercise their creative urges online, instead of simply dictating his ideas to them.”

More support for special needs children

The Government has announced that the rights of children with additional support needs (ASN) and their parents are to be strengthened through changes to the Additional Support for Learning Act 2004.

Parents of ASN children, including those with a co-ordinated support plan (CSP), will now be able to request that their child attend a school in another local authority, through an out of area placing request.

Where a child has a CSP – the educational plan to meet their needs – parents will also have a right to appeal to the ASN Tribunal for Scotland if the placing request is refused. Furthermore, when a child is attending a school in another authority as a result of a placing request they will now have access to mediation and dispute resolution from the new ‘host’ authority.

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Bill – which amends the Additional Support for Learning Act 2004 – will mean that if an out of area placing request is successful, responsibility for the child’s or young person’s education transfers to the new ‘host’ authority. The Bill will also extend the circumstances in which parents can make references to the ASN Tribunal.Todays News – Wednesday 8 October 2008 – Inbox – Yahoo Mail

Mental Health of Young People

Many of the Young People referred for OUtreach teaching in recent years have been diagnosed with Mental Illness of various kinds. It can take some months away from school to recover. Those in school who are anxious or unhappy will find difficulty in concentration.

At the Scottish Learning Festival I came across some useful resources for schools in supporting the Mental Health of all pupils.

The Centre for Confidence and Well being offers the possibility of In-service training for teachers, and resources can be accessed on line at

The Samaritans have produced a DVD resource which can be used in Staff training or with classes. ‘Developing emotional awareness and Learning’ is well worth a look for lesson plans and ideas for PSD classes.

‘Glow’ will be invaluable for pupils who have to take time away from school through illness. The implications are exciting in supporting inclusion.

Relationships and Participation with Pupils and Parents

I listened to Charles Leadbeater at the Scottish Learning Festival and was excited by his notions of :”Learning with rather than teaching to pupils ;the learner as participant not an empty vessel; and community being crucial to the learning process”

I reflected on my work with a P.1 pupil who had cognitive difficulties. Her barriers to learning were compounded by social and emotional deprivation and her family had difficulty in providing an environment to offset some of the disadvantages she was born with.

Unfortunately working and learning with parents is time consuming and costly. Leadbeater says that we may have exhausted other avenues for further development in education except in “Personalisation and collaboration.” A redistribution of resourcing and flexibility of provision might reach pupils currently missed.

TESS (3/10/08), reporting on several speakers at the Learning Festival says the emphasis needs to be on “Relationships”.

Martin Rouse called on schools to focus on “relationships,respect and recognition”  while Professor Teese said that Scotland should be strengthening relationships within its schools.


Court upholds blind girl’s right to attend special school of choice


The Scotsman reports on how a couple successfully sued Argyll and Bute Council to secure their child a place at Edinburgh’s Royal Blind School.

For months, the local authority fought the McCullochs, insisting their visually impaired daughter was able to cope at a mainstream school. The parents strongly disagreed and were forced to take legal action. What ensued were two years of emotional and financial turmoil that almost destroyed the family.

The 15-year-old, who chose not to be named, has a cerebral visual impairment that restricts her peripheral vision and means she struggles to see colours and 3D. She suffers from a rare brain injury, which was not diagnosed until she was 11.  She started at Hermitage Academy in Helensburgh in 2005, but her parents became increasingly concerned she was not getting an educational package tailored to her needs. Worried for her safety after two serious accidents at the school in which she fell down a flight of stairs, they realised she needed specialist help.

In August, the family won the case, held in private at Dumbarton Sheriff Court. Their daughter now has a residential place at the Royal Blind School and enjoys specialist speech and language therapy, returning home at weekends. The case brings into sharp focus the issue of how best to educate children with special needs. While parents naturally want the best for their children, specialist facilities do not come cheap, and education authorities can find themselves facing a bill in excess of £100,000 for each child educated outwith mainstream schools.

Gene link to poor reading skills

A common genetic variant may be partly to blame for poor reading ability, research suggests.

The variant, carried by more than one in seven people, has already been associated with dyslexia.

Tests by the University of Oxford found people carrying the key sequence tended to perform worse than average in tests of their reading ability. But the study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found no impact on general intelligence.  Professor Margaret Snowling, vice president of the British Dyslexia Association, said other genes and environmental factors probably also played a key role in determining reading ability. And she stressed that some people were able to compensate and go on to successful careers even though they carried the gene variation.