Category Archives: 2.2 Education Systems & Prof. Responsibilities

Religious Instruction

Image taken from Google

Image taken from Google – Moulsford teach morals in every subject throughout the school

Moulsford, as with many other schools across England prides itself in being a Church of England school. This means that during assembly the boys are expected to pray, sing religious hymns and uphold christian values. I have myself observed this in practice and remember prayers and assembly singing, well from my own school days in Ullapool. The children do not only learn about Christianity at Moulsford but all faiths and with a specific Religious Instruction teacher at the school who is also head of Year 7. Morals are also taught throughout the whole school at all times with the every teacher ensuring this is upheld throughout all classes.

Image taken from Google – a lovely example of a wall display for R.E.

With Easter being a large part of the previous term, an Easter service was held with hymns and narratives from the bible read by the boys themselves. The school choir directed the singing with the orchestra playing the music for the hymns and I felt that this was a whole school effort to make the assembly a big part of the school year. Children do also attend regular assemblies every week where praying and hymns will take place in each one. Furthermore, even though the school as a whole caries out some christian practices as a Church of England school, it strives to not only teach about Christianity but about world religions, contemporary issues, historical figures, current affairs and moral dilemmas in weekly Religious Studies classes. As a subject from Year 1, the boys with learn through active discussion, media, ICT, external visits and outside speakers. This continues until common entrance in Years 7 and 8. There is a Common Entrance Religious Studies syllabus which is followed at Mouslford and prepares the boys for their common entrance examination to their senior private schools which is sat at the end of Year 8. I myself have looked at a Religious Studies past paper where the questions follow subjects such as Elijah, the 10 Commandments, Jesus, Cain and Abel etc. They are nearly always from a subject surrounding the bible which interests me as in my opinion, as it is a Religious Studies paper, shouldn’t it have questions from all world religions and not just Christianity?

The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) in Scotland does not have that many experiences and outcomes for religious education and is actually titled “Religious and

Image taken from google – an example of some of the things the children following CfE will be taught

Moral Education“. It focuses on christian beliefs, practices, traditions and values, expecting the children to explore Christian stories, images, music and poems from early to fourth levels. Furthermore, practices and traditions in CfE will include things like Christmas and Easter which is very similar to the practice I am seeing daily at Moulsford. Additionally, having the values of what is fair and unfair and the importance of caring for, sharing and cooperating with others is again, similar to Moulsford’s values and there are certainly some comparisons between CfE and the National Curriculum in the way they teach Religious Studies. CfE do not only focus on Christianity but also all religions, with “World Religions” being the buzzword for this topic, so that teachers can focus in on any religions they wish and again teach about beliefs, practices, traditions and values of other religions. The National Curriculum in England actually sees religious education as another curriculum subject, as opposed to a programme of study by subject, where the subjects are more structured by key stages. There are some guidelines, but there is no specific content which needs to be studied at each key stage. The National Curriculum definitely contrasts with the common entrance exams for private education which do have a syllabus for Religious Studies.

Image taken from Google

To conclude, as one of my goals is to work with a different curriculum, my research into how Moulsford carry out Religious Instruction has been extremely interesting for me. The school as a whole teaches fantastic morals and although practices Christianity through the Church of England, encourages all religions. There is very little difference in the actual teaching of Religious instruction when it comes to the Curriculum for Excellence and the National Curriculum, so it is important the schools feel that they do what is right for their students. With regards to Moulsford, I see how crucial it is for them to stick to a syllabus that will not only enhance their learning but give the boys a better chance at passing their common entrance exams. Overall, I think Religious and Moral education is taught to a very high degree in all curriculum’s I have looked into to write this blog post, and certainly feel we as teachers, are equipping our children to live in the fantastically diverse country that we have in this modern age.

Week 1 – Reflection

Each week on my placement I will be writing some short weekly reflections about what I have been up to and what I have learned whilst linking it up to the GTCS (2012) Standards for Registration. My week started out rather nervously on Monday with my first day and I honestly don’t think I have ever felt so welcomed anywhere as I have done at Moulsford this week. I met the headmaster and all 3 of the deputies where one of them kindly showed me around the school so I wouldn’t be too lost. After this it was my safeguarding induction with the deputy for pastoral care for the school. I went on to spent some time with the pre-prep aged children and then with the Year 3’s for maths, but lunch was the biggest surprise of the day where it was family service, my first ever experience of this before. I am much more used to the classic go up to the counter where the dinner ladies serve up the meal rather than the teachers serving the meal at the table and then eating with the children. It is certainly a big difference to anything I have seen before in a government run school and as it is one of my goals to see the difference between the private and government run I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are

Image taken from google – I am used to seeing this kind of lunch service. Family service is a welcome change for me and it is much nicer to see teachers eating and chatting with pupils at lunch!

differences which are quite easy to spot when you are looking for them so completing this goal should not be an issue for me. My day ended with the Year 3’s doing English and coming home to write up Learning from Life – First Day Nerves.

Tuesday was a fantastic day of meeting more of the boys and staff throughout the school and seeing more lessons in action. In the afternoon I set off to my first ever forest school session which I wrote about in The Moulsford Forest School Experience. My main observations from the day were how much play and imagination through nature was key to forest school and a vital part to Moulsford’s ethos as a whole school, with many expeditions and activities for the older children. Jeffery and Craft (cited in Hayes. D, 2010, p. 110) state that these types of opportunities in schools should be seen as an attribute rather than a teaching technique. Moreover, I definitely feel from my observations, that in this particular private school, play and imagination through nature is a key quality that some government run schools are less able to uphold. Additionally, I am definitely seeing the values, culture and role of private education at Moulsford which I am showing through writing about my experiences in regular blog posts which is important for the social justice part to the Standards for Registration (GTCS, 2012, p. 5).

Image taken from google

Wednesday was filled with lessons with many of the older students from Years 4, 5, 6 and 7 many of whom I was yet to meet. In art I was helping the teacher who is also the second master of the school and found that as in government run schools the deputy teachers also have classes of their own to teach. In the french lesson with the Year 5’s I found that a lot of emphasis was put on interactive learning of 5-7 words and revising their meaning for the rest of the lesson by putting them into sentences, playing games and learning the sign language for those words. This similar practice as I have seen in language education in government run schools Scotland and both practices have been extremely interactive. Following this lesson I went on to read Successful Teaching Placement in Scotland: Primary and Early Years (Medwell, J and Simpson, F. 2008, chapter 4) to see the value of interactive language lessons in a classroom and found that teaching in an interactive way can not only address children’s learning through different sensory channels but this also means that you as the teacher are able to make assessments of more children. Modern languages at Moulsford are compulsory as they are in Scotland with Scotland having specific experiences and outcomes (Scottish Government, no date) for children for listening, talking, reading and writing but with schools being able to choose which modern language they teach from first level. Similarly, modern language tuition in England under the National Curriculum (Department for Education, 2017) is taught from key stage two and states that “teaching may be of any modern or ancient foreign language”.

Image taken from google

Additionally, Wednesday evening was a treat for me as I was invited to attend the lion king which was a production put on by the year 7’s. This was AMAZING and treated just as a professional west end production would be with singing, acting, sets and lighting. As one of my goals is to learn about schools as a whole from the kitchen to the classroom I was surprised to find that members of the school from all areas had played a part in the production from the set design and costume, making to the music to the advertisement and selling of the tickets. Teaching staff, office staff, learning support staff and boarding staff all had a part to play and the children that I spoke to at the end of the night said that even with all the work and how tired they felt they had overall enjoyed playing their parts the Lion King and were very thankful to the staff from all areas of the school for what they had done to help them put on the performance. There were 4 shows in total with children taking turn about on each night for the main roles which you rarely see in government run schools. From experience it is usually a fight for the main parts with one performance, but here at Moulsford everybody gets a fair chance at the role they want no matter their background or grades which is able to be done through the amount of performances.

Image taken from google

On Thursday I was working with the year 7s all morning who were naturally rather tired from their performances in the Lion King each night. The teacher had taken this into account and explained to me that their English lesson would be slightly more relaxed than normal but I still observed some excellent teaching practice. Moreover, the children were looking at pictures and explaining what the scene looked like to fit what type of film it may come from (e.g. horror, comedy, fantasy). The teacher used a lot of question and answer for his assessment methods and was extremely positive with the children’s answer using phrases such as “I see this too”, “I agree” and “how does it make you feel”. Pollard, et al (2008, chapter 6) explains that keeping positive praise a constant stable in the classroom and also keeping corrective language positive, is a sure way of keeping challenging behaviour to a minimum. Throughout the school so far I have seen no instances of challenging behaviour, not even just the simplest shouting out in class. Although, the school, like government run schools, has a behaviour policy I am yet to see it needing to be put in action and wonder if the amount of positive praise used by teachers has something to do with the low levels of challenging behaviour in private schools such as Moulsford? I continued my Thursday with a Latin lesson which I reflected on in Cognita De Vita and then ended my day with another visit to forest school with a different age group.

My last day of the working week was Friday and I spent a lot of time in English lessons with Years 3-8. The one exception to this rule was a Learning For Life lesson, something which each class in the school does a the same time where children do different activities from gardening to having visitors in to discuss future job opportunities. This is not a lesson that we have in Scotland and I believe in something that is specific to English education as when doing some more research into it found that RSA Academy (2017) also have this as part of their curriculum. Ending this week on this note was definitely a great way to end the week by learning something new and taking part in some fun gardening activities. I am looking forward to next week where I will be continuing to see the differences and similarities between government run and private education, working with a different curriculum and learning about schools from all aspects from the kitchen to the classroom.

 

References

Department for Education (2017) National Curriuclum. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-english-programmes-of-study/national-curriculum-in-england-english-programmes-of-study (Accessed on 18th March 2017).

GTCS (2012) The Standards for Registration. [Online]. Available at: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/web/FILES/about-gtcs/standards-for-registration-draft-august-2012.pdf (Accessed on 17th March 2017).

Hayes. D (2010) Learning and Teaching in Primary Schools. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Medwell, J and Simpson, F (2008) Successful Teaching Placement in Scotland: Primary and Early Years. Exeter: Learning Matters. Chapter 4.

Pollard, A., Anderson, J., Maddock, M., Swaffield, S., Warin, J. & Warwick, P. (2008) Reflective Teaching. (3rd ed.) London: Continuum International Publishing Group.

RSA Academy (2017) Learning for Life. [Online]. Available at: http://www.arrowvaleacademy.co.uk/Departments/Learning_4_Life.aspx (Accessed 20th March 2017).

Scottish Government. (no date). Curriculum for Excellence: Introduction. Edinburgh: Scottish Government [online]. Available at: https://www.education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf (Accessed on 14th March 2017)

Learning for Support and Support for Learning

I want to learn about schools from all aspects from the kitchen to the classroom

If you are keeping up to date with my blog and reading it daily, you will be familiar with my third goal for this placement quoted above. Today’s main learning focus for myself was Learning Support in my fantastic placement school. This is a part of school life I myself have had a lot to do with as a child. Readers for my previous posts will know that I went through the Gaelic curriculum in the Highlands of Scotland but may not know that I actually have severe dyslexia which was discovered at 14. I am very open and honest about it and throughout primary school struggled with reading, spelling and especially Gaelic language. After my father was ill and passed away, a lot of my work slipped further and this was put down to what was happening in my home life. Not till I was 14 did anyone spot that there might be more to it and sent me for a screening. After being diagnosed with severe dyslexia, the only support I was given by the school was extra time in exams even with me and my mother crying out for more support. The exception a was few individual teachers who were kind enough to give up their own time recording notes for me to listen back to and giving me one to one support. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The reasoning the school couldn’t support me further was down to funding and time and like so many others, my schooling may have been so different if this hadn’t been the case. So, my experience was not great, but this was 5 years ago now and times have changed since I was at school. Here is a good video explaining what Additional Support Needs in Scotland are currently recognised to be.

Today, I was able to have a chat with the Head of Learning Support for Moulsford which is where I have received the majority of the information for todays blog post. Moulsfords Learning Support is constantly busy as they have over 50 boys who need support from 4 full time and 2 part time Learning Support teachers. Their work ranges from one to one support to early morning group working interventions and it is massively supported by the other staff in the school and used well. The interventions and resources used vary from child to child but some that we discussed were for reading and maths recovery, group work and extra time in exams. At Moulsford, similar to the practice I am used to seeing in Scotland, additional support can be long and short term. It can range from the child having an additional support need (long term) to a parent being unwell (long/short term) to the child having a broken wrist and being unable to write (short term). No matter what the support is, no child is turned away and every child is catered for. Additionally, the school also have additional language and speech therapists, occupational therapists, school counselors and many other visiting support staff to support the children in any way they may need.

Image taken from TES Resources

Learning Support at Moulsford is well catered for as it is integrated into every classroom as well as 3 individual rooms being used for one to one support. If you go to Moulsford all over the school you will see these dyslexia posters provided by TES, informing staff at the school what to look out for in students work.

But how does all this compare with the Learning Support in Scotland? For a state school in Scotland, they must have support in place for children with additional support needs after The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (and the amended 2009 version) was passed and are currently enforcing it through Getting it Right for Every Child and the Curriculum For Excellence in schools across the country. Iain Nisbet also chairs The Advisory Group for Additional Support for Learning in Scotland, who focus on eight areas related to additional support for learning over a two year period at a time.

Image from google. Scotland are putting great emphasis on GIRFEC at the moment to help children who have Additional Support Needs

However, some may say the Learning Support at a private school like Moulsford also has a serious drawback. Unlike in Scottish/English state schools where any support given via the school or outside support staff (i.e. NHS) is totally free, at a private school, one to one Learning Support is charged on top of the fees their parents already pay. Moreover, I personally see the benefits to this as in Scottish/English state schools and the NHS, money is drastically being withdrawn and children are being turned away constantly and therefore not receiving the support they need. See here for more. At Moulsford every child in Year 3 is screened for additional support needs and then after that teachers and parents can raise concerns where the child may be screened again. Once a child has been screened and an additional support need flagged, the child will have an Individual Educational Plan drawn up for them – similar to the ones I have seen schools use in Scotland. The whole system at Moulsford is amazing, nowhere else have I seen every child being screened for support needs at Year 3 and wonder if I had been given a screening at the same age for my dyslexia, would it have been spotted and schooling made easier for me?

A short quote about individuality which should be taken into account when thinking about learning support from google images

I cannot change my own past and experience through the Scottish education system, but can certainly say that my point of view is that the Learning Support team at Moulsford have absolutely got it right from their screenings to the resources they use to the range of support staff who come into the school. In Scotland, I think we could learn a lot from the Learning Support team at Moulsford and would do well to take on board some of their practices and values. Before my meeting with the head of Learning Support ended, I had enough time to ask one final question which was “What piece of advice would you give to me as a trainee teacher for spotting and then supporting children who have additional support needs?” The advice given was to use differentiation, early intervention and if something doesn’t seem right, to always question it. This is advice which I am sharing so that I can not only enhance my own practice but readers may be able to so as well. I can certainly say that today has been one of the most educational for me so far, definitely hitting one of my goals for this placement. They are a lovely team and I look forward to learning more from the Learning Support team more over the next four weeks.

Cognita De Vita

Learning From Life…

The title of this post is written in Latin as I am writing today about my first ever experience going into a Latin lesson. It was extremely interesting going into a classroom being totally unaware of what the children were learning about and saying. The teacher was extremely helpful by asking the children to explain what constituted a verb and giving the English before the Latin. Also, the teacher kindly handed me a sheet of the present passives so I wouldn’t be in the dark in what they were saying. I found the experience gave me a slight insight into how it must be for children coming to Britain with English as an additional language or with no English at all. I have had similar experiences going into French and Spanish lessons in previous placements as I have been fluent in Gaelic from a young age but have never had a wish to learn another language as my interests lie in social studies. At Moulsford, the boys learn Latin from Year 5 onwards, however this may change with the new timetable where they may start at Year 6. Latin not only consists of the learning of the language but also about its history as this could be a scholarship opportunity for some boys in the future.

Picture taken from google images

I have said myself that I have never been given the opportunity to learn Latin and that is purely down to the fact I went through state school. Yes, I was lucky in the sense that my parents lived in an area where the Gaelic curriculum was offered and decided that I would go into the Gaelic medium at 3 however, I am aware of the fact that this is not the case in the majority of schools in Scotland, let alone the rest of Britain. Private schooling is certainly one of the only options available if you want your child to learn certain languages including Latin unless you are willing to move, however according to The Independent Latin is said to have made a surprising comeback within state secondary schools over the past few years. I had a look on website for The Association for Latin Teaching where they have a list of all of the schools which offer Latin as a subject and state schools are certainly in the minority. It is clear that if you wish for your child to have any form of teaching instruction of the classics then private or independent schools are the way forward. 

Picture taken from google images

Professor Dennis Hayes believes that Latin should be taught in every primary school (no matter whether they are private or state) and be taught throughout school, not limited to the middle and upper years. He suggests that it would transform education in English schools and that subjects should become more accessible to children in state schools. Furthermore, I agree with Hayes that children should have the opportunity in all schools to access classic languages, but that I feel this only a dream. The current state education system in Britain is underfunded and the Financial Times recently produced an article stating that English schools will face a 6.5% cut in funding and expect it to happen by 2020. Therefore, the likelihood of the government spending a drastic amount on Latin teachers and a new curriculum for Latin is low when they are taking away money from other departments.

Some readers may ask why Latin, but I ask why any Language? Surely there is a benefit to children learning a language no matter what. I have had people say to me that Gaelic is a dying language and should be left to die instead of pouring money into it when there are more important things to be spending money on.  However, my argument to this is that I have used Gaelic throughout my life to converse with friends, as an extra exam on my University applications and most importantly in my job when I worked as an early years practitioner in a Gaelic Nursery. Furthermore, the same could be said with Latin with other students. Half of our English vocabulary is made up of Latin words and roots, it is argued that Latin is the most efficient way to learn English grammar and it is a part of our history as a country. Each language has its positives and negatives but I feel that Latin is a good language to teach children and should be taught in all schools. I look forward to observing more Latin lessons at Moulsford and hopefully learning a few Latin words myself. Today’s lesson certainly gave me something interesting to think about.

Gratias ago vos pro lectio!

 

My Peer Education Story

img_3056As an avid Girlguider I was delighted to get a place on the Peer Education training course last weekend. Peer Education is Girlguiding UK’s innovative programme that trains members of The Senior Section (14-25 year olds) to empower themselves and others to make a difference in the lives of girls throughout the UK through different “training sessions”. During the course of the weekend, we were trained to run fun, safe and challenging sessions on many different topics which are tailored to an age range of 7-25 year olds, and which have the right activities and content to make a difference in young people’s lives. We can deliver sessions on Think Resilient – mental well-being, Free Being Me – growing girls’ body confidence and self-esteem, Healthy Relationships – being good and safe friends and being able to tell whether a romantic relationship is healthy and lastly Youth Health – being aware of the effects of alcohol, smoking and drugs. The weekend was truly so much fun and the ladies training us were the most enthusiastic, funny people around – really adding to the atmosphere and learning. And the food was great which was a huge bonus.

I signed up for the Peer Education course initially to make a difference to young people who have been bullied after my own experiences, feeling a strong will to do something to help young people in a way I was never lucky enough to have in my school. This will to help children who have been bullied almost expanded my will to become a teacher far stronger to stop children having the same treatment from teachers I had. Although I feel really let down by the way the school I went to dismissed the way I was bullied I was lucky enough to have a weekly guides group with amazing leaders I am now lucky enough to call friends. Girlguiding has been there for me on two occasions in my life where I felt I had nowhere else to go and got me through, so naturally I feel heavily in debt to the charity and Peer Education seemed like the way for me to repay this at this stage in my life. However, on the course I found that Peer Educators have a far bigger job than just helping young Girl Guides understand365-2 the effects of bullying but that they help children to find coping mechanisms with this mental health and their body. In 2013 7,800 girls had been seen by a Peer Educator and there were over 500 peer educations in the UK.

 

Some of the techniques and activities I learned linked in heavily with many of the subjects I will be teaching in the future as a part of Health and Wellbeing. As exciting and fun as the weekend was it really hit home to me that some of the topics we were discussing would actually be happening to some of the children in my classroom. Although we see children smoking at an early age in the news and hear children say they think they looked fat in those pair of jeans in primark as we walk past them in the shopping center, we soon forget that we ever saw it and do nothing about it. But what kind of a society have we become that this is the norm? What kind of example are we setting for our children in the future if we do nothing about it? This was when it clicked that actually – teachers might have a far harder job in terms of pastoral care than I initially thought…
peer-educatorNow I’m trained up with these techniques I feel a lot more confident to go out into a classroom and talk to children about all sorts of these things. Activities that I learnt on my course like breathing techniques/emotions bucket to show children that even though your emotions overflow sometimes, you can always share feelings with someone/people mind map to show the people the children can go to if they are feeling down to talk are extremely versatile and can be run with children in many different settings – not just at Guides. I honestly cannot wait to start my peer education sessions though and am already taking bookings to run sessions so it looks like I’ve got a busy year ahead of me. Although I’ll be extremely busy it keeps me going to think about the good I will be doing for children across Dundee and the Highlands and just wish there was a way of expanding it to help more children in need of these techniques. But in the mean time I suppose I have to settle with the fact I’m a university student and taking Peer Education all over the world my just be a little too much for my tiny little brain to manage.

Part of a Peer Educators job is to inform the public of the amazing things we do in Girlguiding and spread the word about the sessions we teach so, after reading this if you feel inspired to find out more about the sessions we run and what we do please contact me by commenting below or go to www.girlguiding.org.uk and share this post so more people can know!!

This years newly trained Scottish Peer Educators - a very proud bunch!!

This years newly trained Scottish Peer Educators – a very proud bunch!!

A schools intake of children – It’s not for all!

I am back fresh from Florida and thought that on the train I would get familiar with the goings on in the UK since I was away. So, apparently according to the BBC education section online, the biggest thing that has happened since my departure 10 days ago is that children are missing out on places in the schools in England that are considered “better”…  And you can pretty much bet that if it is happening is England it is happening elsewhere in the UK too. Scotland in my case.

It got me thinking, should it really be that much of a battle to get into a decent school these days? Have we still not passed the years where all the schools are teaching different levels of education? If every school in Scotland (or England/Britain in general) is now teaching the Curriculum for Excellence (or the equivalent) then why are parents so unhappy when their child is accepted into a school? Why do we think certain schools will be detrimental to a child’s learning, where I came from in the highlands of Scotland it was that school or another on 45 miles away! Every teacher in Scotland has to  go through the same rigorous and expensive 4 years of University Education (plus probation if you want to be picky), and pass too. Even with that, most schools are given the same amount of money to run their school annually. So what makes the standard change from school to school? In the article Councillor Marland from Milton Keynes even goes as far as to say..

“Unless schools, or someone, steps into coaching the poorest families on admissions, then it’s those from affluent backgrounds that will get the good places.”

Well it is well known that every teacher is different and not every teacher will put the same amount of effort and time into the lessons to make them at a good standard. It’s a tricky subject to write about too, but we also need to face the fact that some people are very judgemental about people even if they don’t say it and poorer families just don’t get a look in because of prejudice. Have you ever seen a child from a poor background go to a school like Harrow? Now that is just my opinion based on some of the things I have seen during my practice that people are judgmental about the way people live their lives. I have no physical evidence to back up what I have said so please feel free to disagree but most people will read this and say – yes I have or know somebody who has judged someone before, even if it is nothing to do with education.

Do we really want subject all the children in the education system to this??

For some reason Nicola Sturgeon and her Government have decided that testing every child in Scotland will close the vast attainment gap that is quite the problem here in Scotland. Yes – because putting a poor 7 year old in front of a test when they are having a bad day is going to close the attainment gap and solve the problems this country has. Come on Nicola? Surely you can come up with something better than that? Teenagers in S4, 5 and 6 all have to go through the rigorous examination system set out by SQA year after year and it’s nearly impossible for them to change their score if their having a bad day. Thats a lot for a 15-18 year old to handle let alone 5-11 year olds! I still remember that feeling of impending doom getting a D in my Gaelic test when I was 9 and having to go back and tell my parents (although there were very caring and loving and just happy that I passed, but that isn’t really the point). We are asking children to go through a lot to close an attainment gap when they might have teachers and schools who are not prepared to go the extra mile to help them towards that grade – and that’s if they even get into what society considers a decent school in the first place!

But prejudice against childrens families and how much they earn doesn’t just stop there! Oh no, once you get out of school it continues to the colleges and universities with certain courses only being for students who come from a “poor” catchment area. Everytime I think about this my brain instantly screams WHAT! Are universities and colleges seriously taking students just because of where they come from! With the drop out rates the highest they have ever been and some students going through an absolute battle to get into university, should universities and colleges not be taking students in who actually want to learn and have a passion for that course. I tried for 3 years to get into teaching and that is one of the hardest things I have ever been through. I am also happy to write that when I went to an interview at Glasgow University I was asked what my parents did for a living! One year later and I am still furiously wondering what my parents have to do with me being desperate to become an educator. I should be taken on my credits as my own personal achievements – not the fact my mother is an administrator and my father a musician and shop owner. I could rant about it more – but I won’t for your sanity as the reader.

We can all dream about a prejudice free system – I frequently do but right now I must get off this train to be back to the freezing Scottish weather, my holiday blues and accept that for the moment, it’s just a dream.

Health and Wellbeing – One girl’s opinion

In my opinion Health and Wellbeing is one of the most important areas in the Scottish curriculum. It is where students are able to learn about and discuss relationships, physical education and wellbeing, mental wellbeing, emotional wellbeing and social wellbeing just to name a few. In the principles and practice document for the Scottish curriculum it states that Health and Wellbeing is “the responsibility of all practitioners.”

The diagram above is an image similar to the diagram shown in the principles and practice document. It shows us that when teaching children Health and Wellbeing the common goals should be active, nurtured, respected, responsible, included, safe, healthy and achieving. I think this is a good way of looking at Health and Wellbeing in a rounded way and that these are not only things that practitioners should be teaching but they should also be looking out for in pupils of all ages. Watching a child’s health and wellbeing means that you can check if they are healthy or safe etc and as a practitioner you have the responsibility to spot if something isn’t quite right. Asking yourself, is that child safe in this classroom? Is that child being included in that activity? Is that child healthy – why are they always sick? are just some of the ways that back up my point. When I was in school there was a huge change over from teachers not taking much interest in Health and Wellbeing to it being taught in most subjects. This is probably due to the curriculum for excellence being produced, however I remember there being a huge emphasis on Physical Education in primary school and sex, relationships and drugs in high school before the huge change over happened in my last year at school. Maybe it is due to the area I come from but I think that this was more likely at the time a whole country wide shift into seeing the relevance of Health and Wellbeing.

Relationships is a factor which I only took into account recently. Still being a student, I have not yet had my placement and in my previous work haven’t had a huge amount of experience working with families, just the children. But children all have different families not the “nuclear family” that everyone expects of 2 children a mother and a father. We need to teach that this is ok, so that we prevent bullying and children feeling isolated because their family is different to what is considered “normal” these days. I was bullied after my father died and I believe that if the children had been taught that it was ok that families come in all shapes and sizes and if the teachers had been better at looking out for their students health and wellbeing, then I probably wouldn’t have been bullied as badly as I was. There was support out there, but nobody told me until I had left school. As families are different the way that children and adults in families think different too. Here is a video which shows just how differently children think to adults, and how their go to reaction is that they want to be around their family.

I think it is so lovely that these children all want to have dinner with their families but not all children have the opportunity to say that or live in an environment where they could sit down and have a meal with their family like this. Every child’s home experience is different and we need to remember this as teachers and for the 6 hours you have them in your class, make sure they are safe and included. This is all part of looking out for a child’s health and wellbeing in the classroom. I feel it is something we should also teach in the classroom so that peers can spot bullying and report it.

One of the things I have mentioned is P.E. I hated P.E. and have to admit I did anything I could to get out of it (which worked out quite well after I had whooping cough and was left with a back injury when being pushed off a trampoline.. OUCH!). But having worked in the nursery last year and working with children at guides and brownies I am starting to see how important physical education is for children in this country and across the world. The World Health Organisation produced a report in 2009 that stated “43 million children under the age of 5 years will be overweight by 2010”. Now I know that we are 6 years on from this, but if that isn’t a scary enough statistic to prove that children need health and wellbeing to be taught in schools, I don’t know what is. Healthy eating is something else we should be teaching across all stages of learning. This sugar intake video that I posted a few months ago, shows just what goes into sugary drinks and if children don’t know these things, they will not turn them down and go for the healthier options of fruit, veg, milk and water.

So overall, I hope I have put across to you just some of the reasons that I think health and wellbeing is so important in the Scottish curriculum. After all if we don’t teach our children how to look after themselves, how can we expect them to?