‘Absences leave holes in learning’

“Most school systems are based on the assumption that learning is sequential and successful outcomes are the result of regular attendance.”  John Howson in TES (14/01/11)

The disruptions in attendance experienced by teachers and pupils due to the recent weather and now flu viral outbreaks have brought this home only too well. The coming months will demonstrate how well  teachers and pupils are able to bridge the holes.

Howson’s analysis of available data suggests that “the percentage of special educational needs (SEN) pupils who are classified as persistent absentees is always higher than the average for all pupils.”

“..for those who want to come to school but cannot do so, often for reasons of illness, we need to find a way of ensuring technology can help.”

Not every home is equipped with the technology to ensure all young people are included even when they are ill but many do. School edubuzz blogs had some lovely suggestions for activities during the snow closures. Teachers and pupils can keep others informed and included while they are absent with illness through the use of imaginative Apps/ photos /videos,etc. Try www.wallwisher.com ; www.glogster.com. Any other ideas?

Help at hand for pupils and parents

 A new national campaign has been launched to encourage and empower parents to find out about the help available to support children through difficult periods in life. The Just Ask campaign aims to raise awareness of the rights of parents to ask for additional support when something is affecting their child’s learning. Children may not be reaching their full potential due to a diverse range of issues and the situations that lead to pupils needing extra help can also include many social and emotional factors.

Developing successful learners in nurturing schools: the impact of nurture groups in primary schools

This publication is designed to stimulate debate on nurture groups in primary schools. It is part of a series of reports which is intended to promote improvements in Scottish education by illustrating effective practice, raising current issues, and stimulating reflection and debate. Another important purpose is to relate existing pedagogy and curricular provision to the aspirations of Curriculum for Excellence.
This report is based on evidence obtained from:
  • information gathered during the period 2006-2008 from general inspection visits where a nurture class, group or approach was being used;
  • questionnaires received from a number of EAs across Scotland;
  • detailed, structured interviews with senior staff in six education authorities;
  • EAs which had adopted nurturing approaches in their schools;
  • visits to schools with nurture groups which had been recommended by education authorities during 2007-2008; and
  • observation of children on split placement in both their mainstream school and within their off-site provision.
Inspectors focused on the quality of learners’ experiences, their attainment and achievements and how well their needs were met by the nurturing approach. Three case studies describing good practice are provided at the end of this report1. In addition, hyperlinks to inspection reports with good practice entries in reports or on the HMIE good practice website are included.

Book festival event is a reminder of children’s real life trauma

Children in Scotland announces that Bronwen Cohen, Chief Executive of Children in Scotland will chair an event at this years Edinburgh International Book Festival on Sunday 23 August.
‘As research regularly shows that stress, family trauma and the effects of poverty are taking their toll on the mental health and wellbeing of Scotland’s young people, an event at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, chaired by Bronwen Cohen, Chief Executive of Children in Scotland, will generate a timely discussion about the value of featuring these real-life situations in works of fiction aimed at younger readers.
Children in Scotland has a long-standing commitment to researching and promoting the role of the arts and developing emotional literacy in young people, and the Book Festival event, ‘Compelling Novels, Vulnerable Children’, taking place on Sunday 23 August 2009, at 6.30pm, will examine whether the experiences of a variety of children at risk, including runaways, orphans and young carers, should be used for entertainment, and to what extent authors treat such subject matter with the sensitivity it merits.
The panel of young people’s authors – Anne Fine, Melvin Burgess and debut novelist Rachel Ward, will spark what is set to be a candid debate.
Speaking ahead of the event, Bronwen Cohen said: “The arts in all its forms plays a vital part in the development of creativity, emotional maturity, and wellbeing for young people. Works of fiction, such as those we will be discussing, can offer new perspectives, and allow young readers to deal with difficult situations in their own lives. But, authors must take responsibility, treating the subject matter with sensitivity, not sensationalism.”’

Under-5s with mental health issues slipping through the net

Disturbing evidence that under-5s are not being monitored for mental well-being by statutory services has been highlighted by the Health and Sport Committee in its report published today. The committee’s inquiry into child and adolescent mental health and well-being evaluated mental-health services for these groups in Scotland. The committee was very concerned about the extent of problems provoked by recent changes to the health-visiting profession. For more information see the news release

No advantage to setting – experts say


The BBC reports that setting in primary schools by ability has no clear advantages, but can have a detrimental effect on children in the bottom groups, a new report says.

Setting is when children are in ability groups for different subjects. Those in the top group work faster and have enhanced learning opportunities, with teachers expecting more from them, a team of academics from London said. But those in the lower groups can be stigmatised, and often have their activities restricted, the report said. The findings come nearly a decade after then prime minister Tony Blair said schools needed to “take account of different abilities, for example by setting”. Another finding of the paper, published as part of the Primary Review – a wide-ranging examination of primary school education – suggested class sizes should be cut to a maximum of 25 to help young children who struggle with reading. It also suggested that smaller classes could help children in the first year of secondary school.

Survey finds 1 in 4 teenagers depressed


The Guardian reports that a mental health crisis in Britain’s secondary schools was revealed in a survey showing a quarter of young teenagers are frequently depressed.

The Children’s Society charity, which carried out the poll, said young people were being ground down by multiple pressures at home and school.

Its inquiry into what it feels like to be a child at the start of the 21st century found most young people want to be free from worry. But many said they were subjected to academic stress at school, peer group pressure from classmates and high expectations within the family. Bullying and an inferiority complex about the way they look were also cited as problems among children contacted by the inquiry. The charity questioned a representative sample of 8,000 children aged 14-16, and found 27% agreed with the statement: “I often feel depressed.”

en ICT, libraries

Mental Health and Young People: All In The Mind?

Children studyingWe all meet  some brilliantly inspiring characters in East Lothian Schools  and I don’t just mean teachers.

Some of the young people we teach are struggling to come to terms with illness and become anxious about falling behind in school work.

Occasionally they look well  but their illnesses are of a psychological nature and they need all the help we can give to ensure that they are well supported to achieve and reach their potential. Continue reading