Teaching empathy to move beyond our bubble

The word of the week seems to be  ‘bubble’ Not the soft soapy kind that children play with or that helps us to clean, but a hard, impermeable shell that stops us from understanding and knowing each other. The leaders in two schools, I have worked in this week, have spoken about ‘our school bubble’.  By this they mean that they are a good school in a nice, affluent area and so, for some members of their community, there is no perceived need for change. This ‘niceness’ both prevents the children (and their parents) from wanting to know about the world and creates a feeling they need to be protected from it. Continue reading

What do schools need to do to support children experiencing sexual abuse?

In 2019 schools will be required to teach Relationship Education in Primary Schools and Relationships and Sex Education in Secondary Schools. At the same time, schools are increasingly being expected to support children’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. We need to use these curriculum changes to consider what is needed in PHSE teaching, how it fits into the curriculum and its role in preventing Child Sexual Abuse.  Continue reading

Access Arrangments: Levelling the Playing Field?

Recently, the exam regulator, Ofqual, reported one in five pupils at independent schools benefit from access arrangements for GCSE and ‘A’ levels, which is significantly higher than those who received the special measure in state schools where the figure is fewer than one in eight. For me this raises concerns in 3 areas:

  • An equality issue
  • What is the differences between an access arrangement and a reasonable adjustment?
  • Do access arrangements help to ‘level the exam playing field’?

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Teaching values in the Age of Trump

We are living in a frightening world. Donald Trump offers the world a role model that bullies, trivialises and boasts about the abuse of women. He sees groups of people as stereotypes- ‘as other’, not as individuals. He stops their freedom of movement. Then insults, belittles and seeks to discredit those who oppose him. His conduct could be seen as legitimising threatening and alienating behaviour. This presents a challenge for teachers; how do we promote tolerant, caring and respectful behaviour when the President of the United States models something so different? Continue reading