penguin

The 2/3 challenge: is it possible to have a work-life balance as a full time teacher?

Moving jobs in September gives me the chance to try to improve my work-life balance. The European Working Time Directive limits the legal working week to 48 hours per week, averaged over 17 weeks. My average working week for the past nine years was well over 70 hours in term time, putting me above the limit even if I did no work at all in the holidays. How much of what I do is above and beyond the basic requirements of the job? Is it possible to be a good teacher without exceeding the directive? Collapse )
penguin

Problems in the proposed National Curriculum

My initial thoughts on the newly proposed National Curriculum. This is currently in consultation, with a view to introducing it from September 2014.

I'm not wholly negative about all aspects of the proposed curriculum. Much of it matches what we do anyway, and I think the inclusion of evolution in primary science has got to be a good thing. The curriculum as a whole is not a patch on the one that Labour were about to introduce when the government changed. But parts of it are functional.

However, there are also some really really bad bits. You'll find them eventually if you look through it all, but bear in mind its a 221-page document. Here are some issues I spotted:

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I would be interested to here others' thoughts on any of these issues. I will be filling in a consultation form (the e-consultation system is apparently temporarily offline owing to 'technical difficulties'). If you care about the future of education in our country, please fill one in too. Even if you just comment in box 3 about whichever subject(s) above you care about, the fact that you respond could make a difference. You should probably also tick 'disagree' in number 13, and you might want to comment about the consultation form's ease of use in question 15...
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penguin

Coalition education cuts

True to form, my job's kept me insanely busy in the last month. In between planning, teaching, assessing, team organisation, school development and training other teachers, I haven't had much time to pay attention to the news. In the background I've been vaguely aware that education policy was being set, as part of the sweep of changes being introduced by the coalition government. None of it's been dramatic enough to grab my full attention, but I have been growing gradually more uneasy each time someone asks me what I think about it all. I guess though it hasn't felt urgent to look into it - after all (said my overly optimistic brain) nothing significant can have happened this quickly, and surely the Lib Dems have the right idea on education?

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This is how it starts.
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penguin

(no subject)

tinyjo and lslaw are promoting a plan to get children to read the original versions of books that have been turned into less-good films. It involves buying a copy of the book and donating it to a local primary school. Whilst I'm certainly not suggesting that people shouldn't donate good books to schools, I can’t help feeling that they’re underestimating the children, the schools and the positive impact of the film by suggesting that this is necessary.

1. Your chosen school probably already has copies of those books (although they won't say no to more / less battered copies).
2. Probably some of the children have already read them.
3. Certainly, when the film of The Dark is Rising comes out, it will increase the number of children who read the book, and will promote discussion of the book amongst the children and within the class.
4. Whether or not it's true, many of the children will also express the opinion that the book is better than the film. This will help them feel good about reading, and encourage them to read even more.

School children read and enjoy good books as much as they ever used to. Many teachers also read and enjoy children's books, and recommend good examples to their class. Some of those examples are recent, and some are older. School libraries keep copies of good children's books, including older books, and display them in prominent positions. The children in my school have certainly had the opportunity to read The Dark is Rising, and some of them have taken it.

Nonetheless, I am sure that more children will read the book in the run-up to and aftermath of the film. When Narnia came out, there wasn't a child in my class who didn't read it or have it read to them. We had a great discussion about differences and similarities between the film and the book (something which is very much built in to the current English curriculum, and rightly so, because it makes people think very deeply about aspects of the story). More recently, five or six children from my class have been reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, some of them in preparation for the film, and some of them as a response to seeing it. Some prefer the film and some prefer the book, but all are happy to discuss their reasons in detail.

So, I have mixed feelings about the upcoming film of The Dark is Rising. Personally, I may be very disappointed by its treatment of my favourite-ever children’s book. From the point of view of a teacher, if it is a well-made children’s film then I will welcome the fact that it raises the profile of the book and provides interesting opportunities for discussion and comparison.