Posted in curriculum, education, Government stragegy, parents, Uncategorized

Can grammar schools really improve social mobility?

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Image credit: Pixabay

Within hours of its publication on 12 September 2016, the DfE’s consultation document ‘Schools that work for everyone’ was at the centre of a political storm regarding its aims to “relax the restrictions on selective education”.

The opening sentence of the Green Paper sets out “the government’s ambition to create an education system that extends opportunity to everyone, not just the privileged few”. Can the grammar school renaissance really improve social mobility for all? Continue reading “Can grammar schools really improve social mobility?”

Posted in communication, education, leadership, parents, social media, training

How to help pupils with eating disorders

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Image from lizlovespink

The number of people in the UK battling eating disorders is rising, resulting in many children, young people and adults being admitted to hospital, or at increased risk of suicide. While recovery rates are optimistic, if young people do not overcome an eating disorder, it can stay with them into adult life, at which point it becomes much more difficult to cure. Continue reading “How to help pupils with eating disorders”

Posted in education, parents, policy, schools, Secondary, Uncategorized

The rise of free schools?

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Could Theresa May’s government herald the rise of free schools and a return to widespread selective education?

Since the Prime Minister’s inaugural speech, delivered outside Downing Street on 13 July 2016, speculation in relation to the role of free schools and the return of grammar schools has swept through the sector, prompting emotive statements such as: “If you’re a white, working-class boy, you’re less likely than anybody else in Britain to go to university. If you’re at a state school, you’re less likely to reach the top professions than if you’re educated privately”, it is unsurprising. Continue reading “The rise of free schools?”

Posted in communication, education, parents, tablets, technology

Mobile apps: The secret ingredient for improving pupil outcomes?

Government research has shown “the more intensely parents are involved in their children’s education, the more advantageous the effect on pupil achievement”.[1] What’s more, “schools which successfully engage parents make use of a broad understanding of parental engagement, and their parental engagement strategies accord with the interpretations and values of the parents they are aimed at”.[2] In other words, schools who successfully engage parents/carers, do so with parents/carers in mind, reaching them in a way that works for them.[3] Continue reading “Mobile apps: The secret ingredient for improving pupil outcomes?”

Posted in communication, leadership, parents, Primary, school business management, school governance, school leadership, schools, Secondary, technology, Uncategorized

Why should you consider using technology in the education boardroom?

The use of technology in the boardroom is fairly commonplace in the private sector; however, it is yet to make a significant breakthrough in the education boardroom. A look at the key benefits will get you asking: “why not?”

A hub for all strategic conversations

Typically, board packs are shared by email or post to school directors, leaders and governors. In practice, this means wasted time prior to or, more frustratingly, during meetings to find the right email in order to print off reports, presentations, etc. I’m sure we’ve all asked the question, “Was I sent that?” to be met with the reply, “You were cc’d into the email sent on the 13th, would you like another copy printed now?”

In schools, where personal email addresses are often used for communication with governors and academy directors, this also relies on individuals creating methods to filter out school documents from the latest Tesco delivery email and Netflix offer.

An online board hub makes it easy for everyone to access the same document at the right time in one consistent, secure place.

Last minute amendments, updates or reports can be shared instantly to all attendees, meaning everyone has the latest report for the start of the meeting, and making mid-meeting print-outs a thing of the past.

Fewer interruptions. Less distraction. Better board meetings.   

We’ve all been there, silently flicking through a ream of
paper to find the specific section of a report being referred to, or just the right report amongst the pack, whilst trying to listen and contribute to the conversation taking place.

A board hub that supports electronic documents can be searched, categorised and filtered to make finding the right information quick and easy, allowing you to concentrate on the matters at hand.

Quicker decision making

The ability to access more information in meetings results in decisions being made quicker, rather than extending into the next committee or board meeting.

This is perhaps one of the biggest benefits of introducing technology into the education boardroom, where the ability to have impromptu catch-ups or meetings just isn’t to the same degree as the private sector.

The right board hub will be a point of reference for all school conversations and will be accessible by everyone.

This blog was brought to you by our communication experts:


“SchoolCal makes it easy for education leaders, directors and governors to concentrate on what’s important.”

Web, mobile and app based: access documents, minutes and agenda’s anywhere, on any device, and at a time to suit everyone. Easily review papers, open links and share with colleagues.

Everything exactly when you need it: quickly search, filter and bookmark content. Easily access past papers, meetings and documents.

For in-between meetings: share news, updates and key information all year round, providing leadership teams with important updates throughout the year − perfect for multi-academy trusts who operate across multiple sites and meet infrequently with directors and governors.

Professional design, simple to use: set up takes seconds.

For organisers to:

  • Share information with specific groups, committees or individuals.
  • Easily plan, schedule and communicate with everyone from a consistent platform.
  • Schedule meetings in advance and edit to add documents, new attendees and location details at any time.
  • Message and send reminders to all or specific delegates.
  • Send unlimited messages, reminders and contacts.
Posted in curriculum, education, learning, opinion, parents, policy

Sex in class

Thursday saw relationship education at a technology college in Accrington eclipse England’s Ashes victory and the London tube strike on Twitter.

It appears that, for a nation notoriously tight-lipped about sex and relationships, we were all very interested in what Godedle Liekens, a sexologist and UN goodwill ambassador, had to say on the matter.

In an effort to promote her proposal that British sex education be revamped to include lessons on pornography and sexual pleasure, Channel 4 filmed Liekens as she spent two weeks giving Year 11 pupils a comprehensive sex and relationship education (SRE) course, similar to those in Belgium and other central European countries.

With British teenage pregnancy rates still ranking among the highest in Europe, and the documentary’s featured headmaster claiming that “without a shadow of a doubt, the biggest single influence on children is pornography”, the suggestion that a more comprehensive SRE course be rolled-out in secondary schools seems sensible.

After watching the documentary however, many were quick to realise that this is not only sensible, but very necessary.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the documentary was the deplorable attitude displayed by the majority of the boys towards consent in particular, and women in general. It seemed that, even taking into account teenage bravado, the boys’ SRE had been co-opted out almost entirely to the porn industry. Without a hint of irony, the boys fervently outlined the sexual acts and appearance they would expect (not appreciate, not prefer) from a female partner because: “respect, innit”.

The divide was pointed out by Liekens, who noted the lack of participation from girls in the class. In an uncanny parallel of the pornography industry, the boys discussed in great detail what they expected and required, and the girls, for the most part, sat meekly by and accepted this.

The microcosm of society played out in their classroom was shocking. It spoke not only to parents who, before the documentary, may have been ignorant of the fact that over 90 percent of UK children have viewed pornographic material by the age of 10, but also to women and girls about the way they continue to be viewed and what they are valued for in Western society.

For all the gender equality battles won via the UN’s “HeForShe” campaign, the Everyday Sexism Project, the UK’s recent global summit to end sexual violence, new police powers to end FGM etc., others are lost in the education (or lack thereof) of the men and women of the future.[1]

Even from the teachers, a degree of embarrassment was displayed as Liekens suggested SRE include topics such as consent and sexual pleasure. Yet if pupils aren’t going to learn about these important topics in school, and parents are ill-equipped to do so too (evidenced by one parent who confessed herself ‘naïve’, and another who called Liekens to complain about her lesson on female anatomy), their education will come from ill-advised peers and porn.

The need for SRE education isn’t just about intimate relationships, it’s about the gender divide and, in particular, the way our society teaches men and boys to view women and girls. 10-year-olds and teenagers viewing porn and other hypersexualised media are not doing so with the critical thinking skills an adult might approach these with.

The adults’ embarrassment in the documentary is misplaced – ignoring our sexualised and often gendered media is no way to tackle it. The boys’ calls for “respect” are perhaps fuelled by porn, but they are reinforced elsewhere too, in social as well as traditional media. Just because schools are not discussing the fact that threatening a woman with rape is now a frighteningly common way to shut-down her arguments over Twitter, doesn’t mean that pupils aren’t reading this and learning that this is an appropriate way to silence female voices.[2]

Sexual violence and the gender divide are complex phenomenon, but they stem in part from ongoing, misplaced notions of male superiority and power. If young people are exposed to these notions day-in-day-out by the media, why shouldn’t SRE combat this in the same way that promoting British values has been introduced to combat other kinds of misinformation learned outside the school gates?

If we’re not actively teaching young people that men and women are equal, that sexual pleasure is a non-gendered notion, then we’re letting the media teach them otherwise.

What emerged from Liekens lessons, more than anything else, was the empowerment of the girls and the boys. The concept that knowledge is power was very clear in their new found confidence, with the girls finally speaking up and one of the most outspoken boys admitting that he “didn’t know that’s what girls wanted”. Overall, all the pupils came out of the lessons with a new found respect for themselves and each other.

[1] Home Office (2015) ‘2010 to 2015 government policy: violence against women and girls’ <; [Accessed: 10 August 2015]

[2] Michael Asimow, Kathryn Brown, David Papke (2014) ‘Law and Popular Culture: International Perspectives’, p.86