Queen’s Speech – Educational and Children’s Bill

Plus Letter to Local Authorities

In this post is a copy of the text from the Queen’s Speech plus a pdf copy of a letter sent from Michael Gove to Local Authorities today

Letter from Michael Gove to LAs

The purpose of the Bill is to:
Give full effect to the range of programmes envisaged in the Coalition agreement.

The main benefits of the Bill will be:
•To give all schools greater freedom over the curriculum
•To improve school accountability
•To take action to tackle bureaucracy
•To improve behaviour in schools
The main elements of the Bill are:
•To provide schools with the freedoms to deliver an excellent education in the way they see fit.
•To reform Ofsted and other accountability frameworks to ensure that head teachers are held properly accountable for the core educational goals of attainment and closing the gap between rich and poor.
•To introduce a slimmer curriculum giving more space for teachers to decide how to teach.
•To introduce a reading test for 6 year olds to make sure that young children are learning and to identify problems early.
•To give teachers and head teachers the powers to improve behaviour and tackle bullying.
•We expect standards across the education sector to rise through the creation of more Academies and giving more freedom to head teachers and teachers. We will also ensure that money follows pupils, and introduce a ‘pupil premium’ so that more money follows the poorest pupils.

Existing legislation in this area:
•The structure and functions of Ofsted are set out in the Education and Inspections Act 2006. The duty to inspect and report on schools is set out in section 5 of the Education Act 2005.
•The law relating to the National Curriculum, the key stages and testing is set out in Part 6 of the Education Act 2002 and related secondary legislation.
•Much of the law relating to pupil behaviour is set out in Part 7 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 and related secondary legislation. The requirement to set up Independent Appeal Panels is in section 52 of the Education Act 2002. There are provisions about home-school agreements in the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.
•Academies are currently governed by contracts entered into under section 482 of the Education Act 1996 as amended.


Using USB Memory Sticks Safely

USB memory sticks – brilliant concept, easy to use, no problem to transport – a huge amount of memory in a tiny package. But yet they seem to be the cause of endless problems! Data is lost or damaged when the stick is used incorrectly, or lost, or trodden on… If you follow the three simple steps in the diagram below, you’ll ensure that data will be transferred correctly, and even if something happens to your stick, all is not lost!

So THIS is what VLEs are all about – Part 2 – the videos

In her earlier post Sarah gave a great overview of Surinder’s work – here are some more videos.

A year 5 pupil explained to me how to add a hyperlink to an external web page from within his wiki.

The result of about 40 minutes of an unplanned lesson… wow. (This video may take a while to load but it’s worth it! Bear in mind that all of this was planned and carried out by the class. They were told the topic of the book and everything else was left to them.)

So THIS is what VLEs are all about

Yesterday I went to Crocketts Community Primary School in Smethwick, and met Surinder Nandhra, the winner of the Primary Innovative Teacher award. She’s won this through her work with the school’s learning platform – and I was absolutely blown away with it all.

Rather than look at the limitations set by other teachers, Surinder has taken the “this is what I need to do, how can I make use of the VLE?” approach – and it’s produced remarkable results. And this isn’t an ICT co-ordinator with a group of gifted and talented pupils – she’s a normal classroom teacher, with a large class including 13 SEN students, of which two are physically disabled. These two are as involved as everyone else – one is a member of the school council, and proudly told me how he’d been able to teach other students how to create a wiki of the school council meetings. I sat next to the other, and watched him balance a laptop on his lap while sat in his wheelchair, and sign in to the VLE, create a wiki, and upload information he’d found online to this wiki. This created a page in what evolved into an electronic book about plants, with a page by each pupil, all linked together. I was amazed!

The learning platform is used for everything imaginable – spellings are posted; awards for hard work are announced and published; homework can be handed in online; surveys are carried out with both pupils and parents; teachers share learning resources; progress is tracked; announcements are made – the list is endless. Surinder has also recently broken down another barrier by creating a web page which her class collaboratively work on with a year 8 class from a local secondary school – something which she was told beforehand wouldn’t be possible. A group of her year 5 students told me with huge smiles how they’d had to train the year 8s to upload work to the site – what an achievment!

I could go on and on and on! Here’s a short clip of Surinder explaining one lesson she devised within the VLE – where the children experienced a kind of learning which they’d never have achieved from books.

Videos of the childen working are on this follow on post

WordPress keeps getting better!

Another new feature to be added is the ability to insert a slide show into posts – surely this is more interesting than galleries of thumbnails! Here is a handful of photos I took on a recent visit to a local farm.
Wordpress instructions are here

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Another amazing free art package

This one’s aimed more at the younger kids, for its ease of use and creative paintbrushes – although that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy playing with it too!

It’s called Tux Paint, and was created to work with Linux, but is compatible with Windows and Mac too. There are some templates with the package – this chicken is one of them. I coloured it in and added the grass, flowers and rain – I think a four year old could do this in about ten minutes.

To find out more, and to download it free, visit www.tuxpaint.org.

Free photo editing software

As soon as you think about editing images, the first package to come to mind is usually PhotoShop. Powerful? Yes. Expensive? Definitely. Necessary for schools? Probably not. There are plenty of free packages for editing images. I used two of these to play with this image of a bridge in Fosse Meadows, Leicestershire: 


First, I used a package called Gimp GIMP Download page to fix the perspective, and make the bridge appear a bit less crooked. That gave me this: 


… a slightly crooked picture. I could have finished the work in Gimp, but decided to use Paint.Net. I cropped the picture, and played a little bit to give it a run-down feeling. So in less than five minutes I’d turned the original picture into this: 


Imagine the fun to be had with these packages if you have more than five minutes…