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

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

Looking for a magic wand: Labelling children.

In my SEND work, I often have to discuss with parents the possibility that a diagnosis might help support their child and signpost them to professionals to manage this. Many are grateful to have the opportunity to discuss their concerns about their children. Some are in denial and refuse to consider that there might be anything ‘wrong’ with their child. But increasingly, I am meeting a third group of parents who come in and demand that their child is diagnoised and labelled. Continue reading