In my work I get to hear children discuss subjects like gender identity, vegetarianism, doping in sport and free speech. On the one hand, controversial topics like these can stir up, provoke, and engage. On the other hand, they can trigger a defensiveness in students that stifles thoughtful inquiry. Is there a way to keep the benefits without the downsides? Is there a way to support honest inquiry where children can reevaluate their ideas and avoid intellectual stasis?
I started at Dame Elizabeth Cadbury in 2010, in a brand new post as assistant headteacher, and immediately loved it. It’s a happy, vibrant school of, at the time, just over 600 pupils (we’ve since grown!), so has a real family feel. You get to know all the pupils by name, and they all get to know you. It was September and the sun was shining: the new academic year rolled ahead with all its possibility and hope. Crisp new books were opened, dates were written on boards, titles underlined. The children were happy, funny, eager to learn. Everything seemed great. There were the usual issues that crop up when you’re ‘getting your feet under the table’ in a new school, especially as a new senior leader, but all was grand.
We live and work in a society where the emergence of new and specific safeguarding themes are a regular occurrence. Radicalisation is a key priority as noted in the most recent education strategy, and child sexual exploitation remains high on the agenda of local authorities nationally. Indeed, young people, schools and teachers are faced with a range of issues to overcome.
With so much emphasis on academic outcomes and the growing concerns about the mental and physical wellbeing of many students today (as well as some teachers and parents), how can we give young children and adolescents a rich, fully rounded, holistic education that enables them to fulfil their true potential and prepares them well for life as informed, active and dynamic global citizens?
We would like to share with you a brief insight into what children experience when dance is brought into education, with the following based on our own work with pupils in Bath & North East Somerset. Through dance, children are engaged in creative movement within a group setting. The focus of this work is on the wellbeing and development of the whole child, mindful of their cognitive, emotional, physical and social development.
The practice of mindfulness has become incredibly popular in schools. Mindfulness works by creating an environment for learning and allowing for whole-child development of skills such as self-regulation, focus, and empathy. Many schools also include a Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) programme to assist teachers in creating a positive classroom environment and to communicate school-wide behavior expectations. According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), SEL programs should support the development of five key skills: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the road and if you don't keep your feet there's no telling where you'll be swept off to. Do you realize that this is the very path that goes through Mirkwood, and if you let it, it might take you to the Lonely Mountains or even further or to worse places?” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (Frodo Baggins about Bilbo)
How many hours do you spend online? This was a classic question that, not so long ago, was at the heart of any e-safety lessons which took place in a school environment. This question is now awfully outdated because, as a society, we live in an interconnected world whereby we are always at some point in our day connected to this thing we call the Internet. This change in society has progressed at a rate quicker than technology has perhaps progressed, and these changes pose great difficulties for young people as to how they become part of this digital world. For us as educators, we have a fundamental role to play with how we help young people to embrace this digital world in a safe and secure manner.
There is no question that the technological age has changed all aspects of our lives: our constant need to check social media, scroll through our emails and post our whereabouts is almost becoming an obsession. Initially, findings discovered that this phenomenon was mostly prevalent amongst teenagers, however recent research has revealed that middle-aged women too have succumbed to the technological age, perhaps in a bid to ‘keep-up’ with their offspring, or maybe a way to while away a little ‘down time’ – a release from the humdrum of ‘normality’.