In my previous article for Innovate My School, I talked enthusiastically about the huge benefits that technology such as cloud computing can bring to schools, provided that it’s used effectively to meet real and measurable needs. From a budgetary standpoint, schools can achieve better value for money and improved functionality through tools like virtual learning environments. Innovative pedagogical models such as the flipped classroom are improving teaching and learning even from Primary age. It’s a brave new world for technology in schools, and I’m delighted to see educators reaping the benefits.
When I talk to people about mindfulness, and mindfulness in schools, I find a lot of people know of the idea, but that they don’t really know much about what it means. There’s a vague idea of it meaning you pay more attention to what's going on around you, which seems a fine idea for a teacher, but not much real detail. So, what does it really mean? Is it really beneficial? And if it is, what can be done to get it into the classroom when the school doesn't have a proper mindfulness programme?
Specsavers, City University London and the Tablet Academy have joined forces to offer SchoolScreener EZ, free-of-charge vision screening software to all schools across the UK. This follows a study finding that millions of UK children under the age of 12 have never had an eye test. Thomson Screening, a company formed by the university, has worked alongside Specsavers to roll out this revolutionary new software.
Drinkaware has launched Drinkaware for Education, a set of free, curriculum linked, alcohol education resources suitable for PSHE classes. Tailored for 9-11 and 11-14 year olds, the resources are flexible allowing teachers to mix and match activities to suit their needs. Covering subjects such as an Introduction to Alcohol, Risks and Harms, Emotional Wellbeing and Peer Pressure, the resources consist of lesson plans, videos, presentations and homework activities.
Pastoral care is one of the most important duties a teacher can have within a school. As form tutors, we are given the most amount of time in which we can make a personal difference to a pupil without having to worry about the demands of the subject we teach. So, what does good pastoral care looks like, and what can we as educators do in order to ensure all pupils receive an above-standard level of care across the board?
It is generally safe to assume that in the UK drug and alcohol education is almost universally delivered within secondary schools. What is not universal however is the amount of curriculum time afforded to the subject within individual schools, who actually facilitate these sessions and what they ultimately deliver.
There is a lot of media attention on the mental health of young people. Barely a week goes past without a new article about the mental health crisis. The issue of child and adolescent mental health is of major concern for three reasons. Firstly, although we know that about 10% of young people have a mental health disorder, it is by no means obvious which young people are in that 10%, much less who the 15% who are at higher risk of developing a mental disorder in future (Ibid).
Surely being a teacher has never required a greater skill-set? We’re not just knowledgeable about our subjects, but we’re motivators, evaluators and occasional counselors. We need to teach resilience and grit alongside quadratic equations. That’s why having a good pastoral care provision in place is, in my opinion, a necessary requirement of any school. Student wellbeing should be high on any school’s agenda, as happy students lead to increased learning opportunities and improved performance.