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  • What everyone is thinking on the first day back at school

    by Ros Letellier

     

    Parents: 7.45 a.m. So, the Age 5 trousers look a little short but the Age 6 trousers are dragging on the ground – which looks least stupid?

    8.15 a.m. Before the summer I had 14 water bottles, now I only have 1… which kid do I like most?

    8.30 a.m. Can’t believe we’re going to be late on the very first day. If I was a pair of black school shoes where would I have put myself for six weeks?

    8.45 a.m. Can’t wait to see my mummy friends again… Ooh, and yes of course, hope you have a lovely first day back, darling!  

    Kids:

    6.00 a.m. Yep, I’m awake. I think I’ll go and jump on mummy.

    7.45 a.m. I want a chocolate biscuit for breakfast. No, not cereals. No, not toast. No, not even Pain au chocolat. I want a Wagonwheeeeeeeeellll!

    8.30 a.m. Why is mummy in such a flap about this? I wish she’d stop asking where I put my shoes – that was like YEARS ago.

    8.45 a.m. Yay! It’s like a giant reunion party.

    9.30 a.m. I miss my old teacher

    3.15 p.m. I LOVE my new teacher!  

    Teachers:

    8.30 a.m. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more

    8.45 a.m. Are you going to be a problem, Mrs Parent?

    8.50 a.m. Name labels. Need name labels!

    10.00 a.m. Blur

    11.00 a.m. Blur

    12.00 p.m. Blur

    1.00 p.m. Blur

    2.00 p.m. Blur

    3.15 p.m. Must match children to correct parent. Aaaarggh, escapee. Back ‘ere, Jones!

    3.30 p.m. Only six more parents in the line to see me.

    3.45 p.m. Shattered!

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  • 10 universal truths about the summer holidays for Primary school teachers

    by Ros Letellier

    1. In a triumph of hope over experience you will be imagining six weeks of glorious sunshine and brilliant blue skies, and will spend most of the break waiting expectantly for summer to actually arrive, before finally admitting defeat on 26 August.

    2. In the first week of the holidays you will get a cold as you finally allow yourself to relax.

    3. Luckily, you’ve got a mountain of chocolate from your pupils to keep your spirits high for at least a couple of weeks. (Oh OK, two nights with the latest box-set on the telly).

    4. The two days where the sun really does put in an appearance you’ll be so unused to it you’ll forget your sun-cream and end up just a tiny bit crisped (in spite of all your warnings to your pupils over the last term!).

    5. If travelling anywhere by ferry you are bound to bump into one of your pupils past or present (and their parents…), especially if it’s a long crossing. Get a cabin!

    6. You will lose track of the number of people who tell you how lucky you are to have such a long holiday, but lose the will after the first one to explain how many extra hours you put in the rest of the year.

    7. No matter how good your holiday was, that first night back in your home and your own bed is as comforting as hot chocolate and marshmallows.

    8. That Sunday evening feeling will probably start somewhere around the time you finally realise that summer’s not going to show. Although if you have children of your own, you may actually be looking forward to going back to work…

    9. You secretly love it when the shops fill up with stationery. Ooh, all those different coloured gel pens, geometry sets and pristine pads of paper... it’s like Christmas, but better.

    10. You’re feeling a little bit sad about the children you’ve just got to know over the past year moving on, but also excited about getting to know your new bunch. They’re the reason you do it, after all.

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  • How Springwood Primary School just made our week...

    by Kate Jolliffe

    Last week we received a video made by the children and teachers at Springwood Primary in Wales. It was a short but exuberant film in which they share some love for our whole school reading programme - Bug Club.

    Made by the children and teachers themselves, it was so natural and honest it couldn't possibly have been scripted. For the Bug Club team, it was so special because it was completely Springwood's own initiative. We never asked them to do it, we didn't give them any discounts for their 'free marketing' - they just made it and shared it to our Twitter feed.

    Pearson is a fairly large organisation but the Primary team here in Oxford is not. Bug Club is created and managed by a surprisingly small team of people whose job it is to keep improving both the printed and online eBooks, ensuring they are as fun and engaging as possible. Seeing the children of Springwood, iPads in hand, speaking so enthusiastically about Bug Club has delighted the team of people who work on it every day.

    Their rather fabulous little video, freely created and so kindly shared, genuinely has made our week.

    We spoke to Justin Dowd, a teacher at Springwood, after seeing the video, and were even more delighted by a comment he made that, ‘he thought Bug Club would improve reading standards, but since getting it in, it’s transformed them!’

    Much as we love hearing the good stuff, just like the schools and children we serve we are on a journey of continuous improvement and learning. If you have feedback about any Pearson Primary product please let us know. Use this blog to comment, fill out one of regular online surveys, speak to one of sales consultants or customer service people or use Twitter, Facebook or email us. We value your feedback enormously.

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  • The busy teacher/parent’s guide to the perfect World Book Day costume

    by Ros Letellier

    As World Book Day approaches (5 March for anyone who doesn’t have it etched into their brain yet), our thoughts have turned to the very important issue of The Costume.

    If you want to avoid a class full of Harry Potters and Elsas (not that there’s anything wrong with that per se, but variety is the spice of life) – or indeed an eleventh hour panic about your own costume – the key is preparation. You need to help get your children (and crucially their parents) inspired early and leave plenty of time for charity shop trawling and cardboard painting!

    With this in mind, here are a few costume ideas with literary credibility…

    Lewis Carroll

    Elena Schweitzer. Shutterstock

    Alice in Wonderland is brilliant fodder for fancy-dress, whether it’s the eponymous Alice, the Mad Hatter, Tweedle-Dum and/or Tweedle-Dee, or the Red Queen. While you might not have a sky-blue dress and white pinny in the back of the wardrobe – this could be a good investment for many a Book Day to come. Alternatively you could get creative with a white T, marker pens and felt for a Tweedle-Dum/Tweedle-Dee look. Especially good for twins!…

    Charles Dickens

    debr22pics. Shutterstock

    Tattered trousers, a granddad shirt, braces or a waistcoat, a few smudges on your face, and a flat cap – and you can legitimately claim to be any scruffy Dickensian orphan – from Oliver to Pip to David Copperfield. And for those of you out there with a carefully zipped up wedding dress still in its dust bag, how about layering on a few cotton-wool cobwebs to rock that Miss Haversham look. Or not…

    Roald Dahl

    alexsvirid. Shutterstock

    We may not be able to transform ourselves into Quentin Blake-style illustrations (more’s the pity) but we can accessorise. I fully intend to send my son to school this year with a large cardboard peach. Guess what his name is…

    Alternatively, if you aren’t lucky enough to be called James, you could try a mouse mask to channel Luke from The Witches – or if you’re a grown-up, gloves, wigs, thick makeup and constant remarks about children being smelly would also make for a passable costume from the same book.

    A.A. Milne

    Jules Selmes. Pearson Education Ltd

    Animals are fairly easy to pull off, and Winnie the Pooh has more literary credibility than the majority of stuffed toys. Dress in orange and black, create a tail out of stripy tights, check out the local party shop for a pair of ears and voila – one Tigger ready to go. And if you want to add in a little Buzz Lightyear, who’s to say you can’t.

    Roger Hargreaves


    Mr Bump. Courtesy of Ladybird Books

    The Mr. Men and Little Misses are the Kings and Queens of children’s literature. They’re cute, witty and there’s always a moral to the tale – ergo very educational!

    And with such distinctive characteristics, they’ve each got something to imitate: some blue facepaint and some bandages and voila, one Mr Bump. Admittedly other characters may require a bit more arts and crafts, but a big cardboard box and some poster paint, and you’re just a colourful mess away from the perfect personalised costume.

    Frank L. Baum

    SophieWitch

    Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz… need we say more? There’s so much scope here – some silver spraypaint, corrugated cardboard and a funnel gets you a tinman, a blue and white checked school dress with some plaits and some red shoes etc etc, but we’re rooting for the wicked witch of the West because of the potential for green-face paint. Always a winner.

    And some runners-up…

    • Anything Austeny or Bronte-esque – if you can find or make a dress!
    • The Dictionary/Thesaurus – fashion a cape out of pages from the dictionary, if you can bear to destroy one. A photocopier might help out with this!
    • Gothic Horror – Frankenstein, Dracula (with due care and consideration given to the audience!).
    • There’s this new thing called The Hunger Games apparently.
    • Charlie and Lola
    • Nursery rhymes
    • Narnia
       

    And if all else fails…

    Well, Harry Potter is popular for a reason… and Disney costumes are generally easy to come by. It’s not cheating if they made a book out of the cartoon, is it?!

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  • 10 jobs Primary teachers do as well as teach

    by Ros Letellier

    As you know, we believe teachers are superheroes. There are so many skills that go into being a Primary school teacher that we can't even count them, but here are 10 we thought you might recognise!

    Please feel free to tell us about other skills you'd like to see mentioned.

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  • The Twelve Days of Christmas

    by Kate Jolliffe

    Twelve days of jollity and festive fun? That’s the dream, but in reality, Christmas can be a break that you need a break from.

    It’s not always ‘Ho ho ho’. There, we said it!

    As lovely as it is to see your own children’s excitement at the prospect of the cheery, beardy man popping by with a sack full of presents on the big day, clinging to the childlike enthusiasm you once also used to have can be tough while you’re trying to find a channel for all their energy.

    Call us old fashioned, but we think that a great way to keep little people busy and full of smiles (and you sane) is to give them some good old hands-on, Christmas craft-tastic activities to have a go at.

    So, we’ve gathered together The Twelve Days of Craftmas. Enjoy!

    On the first day of Craftmas, my children made for me...

    …a cute bear made from a woolly glove, for some teddy puppetry

    On the second day of Craftmas, my children gave to me...

    … two hot chocolate reindeer jars. One for lunch and one for tea.

    On the third day of Craftmas, my children cooked for me...

    …three lumps of sticky edible coal – which is every parent’s dream!

    On the fourth day of Craftmas my kids used lots of green...

    …in the nicest crunchy cornflake wreaths that I had ever seen.

    On the fifth day of Craftmas, my children gave to me...

    ...Five snowman lo, o, o, o, o, lieeeeees.

    On the sixth day of Craftmas, empty toilet rolls got used...

    ... to make some elfin tunics for the knives and forks and spoons.


    On the seventh day of Craftmas, my children gave to me...

    ...seven squishy, icing filled, Santa straw-berr-ieeees.

    On the eighth day of Craftmas, my children gave to me...

    …eight pretty, twiggy, fancy stars to hang on the Christmas tree.

    On the ninth day of Craftmas, my children made me laugh...

    ... with nine fun pompom snowmen toys, complete with ribbon scarf.

    On the tenth day of Craftmas, my children made special treats...

    ... from a jar of cookie ingredients, for Santa’s nighttime eats.

    On the eleventh day of Craftmas, my kids had lots of japes...

    ...folding coloured paper squares into eleven Santa shapes.

    On the twelfth day of Craftmas, my children made for me...

    ...twelve festive mini pizzas, which we ate for our tea. 

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  • What I've learned about making your own pizza dough

    by Ros Letellier

    1. Don’t. Buy ready-made bases, packet-mixes, experiment with alternative bread-bases such as focaccia, pitta and slices of baguette – whatever you will. But for the love of all that is good stay clear of making pizza bases from scratch.

    2. If, in spite of the above, you still feel a burning desire to attempt your own pizza bases, then we recommend either a) owning an enormous kitchen with gigantic stainless steel worktops and or b) having staff to deal with the clearing up.

    3. Unless you are Jamie Oliver, we believe it may be a good idea to use a bowl, rather than – as suggested by the aforementioned chef – sieving the flour directly onto your worktop and pouring the yeast/oil/water mix into a well. Flour wells, being particularly granular by their very nature, tend to collapse, thereby enabling sticky, stinky, yeasty gloop to run off said worktop down the cabinets and onto the floor.

    4. DO NOT allow your children to participate. No matter how good a parent you are or want to be, this is not one of those fun, wholesome activities that will bring you and your child closer together while helping them experience independence and learn something educational. Well, it might be for them. For you it will be hell on earth.

    5. When the recipe says you can wrap the dough in cling-film and leave it in the fridge if you do not wish to use it straight away, they are omitting to tell you that you’d better use a WHOLE ROLL of cling-film to try and keep the dough from expanding further in your fridge and enveloping everything around it. Small amounts of cling-film are powerless against the force of the blob.

    6. Do not entertain foolish notions about the size and shape of your pizzas. They will not be round, or even square. There has not been a word invented for the kind of shapes your rolling is likely to produce.

    7. If you have survived all of the above, you will find that home-made pizza bases do taste rather nice, which does to some degree mitigate the pain experienced in arriving at the result. But I’m really not sure if the pain to pay-off ratio is worth it.

    8. Estate agents who recommend baking fresh bread before a viewing are mistaken/off their rockers. The delicious smell emanating from your oven will not offset the floury white residue left covering your worktops and cabinets. This sheen will disappear in time with successive washes but make sure you leave adequate time to accomplish this before you open your home to the viewing public.

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  • 11 ideas about the teacher profile

    by Marta Cervantes

    Sometimes I feel like a treasure hunter when I travel. There are amazing educational jewels hidden in schools, and I love to find them.

    It goes something like this: You visit a school and start to talk to a teacher or a headteacher. Nothing out of the ordinary so far. A normal school in a normal town.

    But suddenly you hear them say something that catches your attention, like the glimmer of a shiny jewel. Just follow it, ask the appropriate questions and…there it is!

    A while ago I found one of these gems in a school called Betania-Patmos located in Barcelona. They had been asked by the regional government what kind of profile a teacher needs in this global era, but they didn’t rush to write down hasty conclusions as teachers.

    They did something smarter. They turned this into a task for their last year high school pupils. This is what they told them:

    “Imagine you work in human resources and you have to hire a teacher. What profile would you be looking for?”

    And those teenagers (you know, the ones everyone describes as being “lost”) worked in teams for a week, and then presented 11 ideas that demonstrate they might not be the ones who are lost after all, but the ones looking for someone who isn’t.

    11 ideas about the Teacher profile required for a global era. Recruiters: Last year High school students.

    This first set of requirements had complete consensus amongst the group.

    1. Teachers commited to helping their pupils, who care for them, are close to them, and instill confidence through respect and generosity.

    2. Teachers with a deep, broad and up-to-date knowledge of their subject area.

    3. Teachers that can express themselves clearly and make themselves understood using structured methods. Good communicators, balanced and mentally organized.

    4. Teachers that exude emotion about what they are explaining, and are enthusiastic and passionate about their subject and respectful of other disciplines.

    Requirements with a very high level of consensus

    5. Teachers who have mastered different types of learning – from paper to the latest generation of technologies (drawing, writing, sound, image, and mixed media), following the idea of introduction not substitution.

    6. Teachers who have mastered different languages, with English being considered absolutely necessary.

    7. Teachers that teach critical thinking and promote alternative ways of doing things.

    8. Teachers with patience, modesty, energy and coherence.

    9. Teachers that promote participation, interactivity and practice.

    10 Fun teachers, with a sense of humour that can make teaching and learning a pleasure.

    Requirements sine qua non:

    11. Teachers that are punctual and don’t miss classes.

    The first time that I read this I was struck by two things:

    • When a teenager says that he is looking for someone stable and mentally organized... it makes you think about what he has seen.
    • Technology appears in a discreet second place. First people, then gadgets.

    So, as you can see here, our youth are just looking for a stable reference in a confusing world. They are looking for educators that can teach their mind and their soul, someone who can maintain the essence of the educational experience even when all the elements keep changing.

    Because essentially, our young generation is alone and we are letting them grow up alone with no tribe to guide them.

    As usual Mafalda said it first and better: “Educating is harder than teaching. To teach you need to know, to educate you need to be.”

    (Originally posted by Marta Cervera on June 16 2014 on the ELT Learning Journeys Blog).

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  • What I've learned about being a parent governor

    by Kate Pick

    I've learned that being both a parent and a governor gives you a very different perspective.

    It seems a bit trivial to complain about the fact that it is impossible to get mud stains out of the new design white PE shirts when you know some of the things your Head teacher has had to deal with that week!

    Here are some of the other things I've learned:

    • I have learned that there are more acronyms in education that I ever thought possible (AWPU anyone?).
    • I have learned that the super-scary interview with the Ofsted inspector that I stayed up late preparing for was in fact not super-scary at all. (He treated me with respect and made me and my governor colleagues feel like a valued members of the school team).
    • I’ve learned that not all governors read (or indeed submit) their reports before a meeting - so it's wise to build in time for everyone to catch up/ask for printed docs/tell us all about the problems with their email/ the shared server…
    • I’ve learned that while some governors may be lacking in efficiency (see above!), they can still be effective and add value to the governing body.
    • I’ve learned that being a governor doesn't involve a lot of thanks and accolades, or bunches of flowers at end of term, but that my Head teacher really appreciates everything I do and that’s quite enough.
    • I have learned that when there are 14 items on a full governing body agenda I really must eat dinner before the meeting.
    • I have learned that in order to become our clerk’s favourite governor I must let her have my committee meeting dates and agenda 7 days before the meeting takes place and then must submit written minutes straight afterwards. Then I’ll get a special mention at the next FBG meeting!
    • I’ve learned that I must stop our clerk giving me a special mention at FGB meetings in future as it winds all the other governors up!
    • I’ve learned that being a governor keeps you busy. As I approach my 8th year in office I must have attended nearly 50 FBG meetings and probably as many committee meetings. I’ve been through three OFSTED inspections, attended 6 rounds of teacher interviews (including  new Head teacher recruitment), been vice chair twice,  chaired several committees and a hundred other things.
    • I’ve learned that that being a governor will never be dull and that every year brings new challenges and rewards.
    • I’ve learned that very small village schools are totally and absolutely wonderful places for children to grow and learn (ok, so I didn’t learn that being a school governor – I’ve always known it).
    • I’ve learned that (apart from being a Mum and wife), being a school governor is one of the most rewarding and important things that I do.

     

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