Tuesday, 16 February 2016

How School has Changed Since your Day

Not a lot! Apart from the fact that we can no longer beat your child! The day is about the same, most schools run on a five lesson a day – In Secondary – five day week. Dinner in the middle, and the odd break thrown in.

If you remember Grammar Schools and Technical Schools, Comprehensive Schools too, Secondary Schools have replaced them all. Some Local Authorities still have Middle Schools, but the Years 1 to 11 still exist, but in different buildings! High achieving gifted child? (Yes, I know all our children are gifted and talented!) Schools have gone through many styles of streaming children, clever ones at the top, not so clever lower down. Streaming is one term or being put into sets..  How they decide the class a child is in, could be by using information form the Primary School, setting the children tests to decide, keeping them in tutor groups, until the teacher can decide the ability, or sometimes it’s just luck! What should happen, is that the lower the group, the less children in that group to assist the teacher in providing more support. It is important to mention that labelling a child   is helpful for the teacher because they are teaching to relatively the same ability. However, it is also useful to have both clever and not so clever in the same class, in my experience it helps the not so, and if carefully managed can benefit all the children in the class. But that's me!  Sometimes it seems that a child in one set for English, for example, is placed in the same group for Maths.  Which is great if they have the same ability, but the school should provide some flexibility to move children up and down. Insist on it!!

Back to Gifted and talented. Schools should be able to locate those children with gifts and talents in individual subjects. Those children should receive additional support to make sure that they work to their potential.  But if you feel that your child should be included but is not, ask why!  On the other hand the school should also be aware of those children needing additional support. (Please see my chapter on Special needs)

I would love to say how teaching has developed, and I suppose to the most part it has. However, I still remember really interesting lessons while I was at school. (Commonly known as the Dark Ages!) Teachers are more aware of how children learn, of how boys and girls learn in a different way, of providing a positive learning environment....Well at least most schools are.

Different schools will have different ideas. For example one school I worked at had all the desks in rows, facing the teacher. The Head had a longing to get back to the old days of traditionally run schools! Other schools have desks in groups, others in a boardroom style. Horses for courses.

Punishments? You would have thought teachers would have thought of new evil punishments! Lines, yes still used, detention, during school and after school....although we do have to give at least 24 hours’ notice. But we do have an evil short detention, officially we are allowed to hold children for ten minutes after the final bell.  It’s a great threat, and can be a great bad behaviour deterrent. We can prevent children from attending trips, prevent them from taking study leave if work has not been completed, even put them into isolation.   However no beating! 

Mind you the new school rumours? I nearly fell over when I realised the one about heads being flushed down a toilet was still going about! Reassuringly, I have never come across any child having it done to them! Mind you I still remember being terrified when starting school that it was going to happen to me!

And showers? I have yet to teach at a school were children are expected to shower after PE. Thank goodness! Even though it produces some slight smells, I remember hating showers! It was always the most humiliating aspect of school for many children! So at least less time for showers means that it is an improvement!

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