Top Tips for ‘Back to School’

As the Back-to-school adverts run rampant on the television, and children start winding down from the summer, thoughts turn to the new school year ahead and how parents can properly prepare themselves for the new challenges to come.Vector illustration with hand-drawn words on school bag. Welcome back to school. Calligraphy and typography inscription. Sign painting vintage style. Colorful version

So, got any top tips for parents to get ahead of the curve in preparing their kids for the next school year?

  • Coats, Gloves, Shoes! – While many parents can scramble around in a bid to get a brand new school uniform, items of clothing such as coats and gloves can get pushed by the wayside; particularly as they won’t be needed until winter. Check your coats, shoes and gloves to make sure they are all in good condition, or add a new set to the shopping list.
  • Working Pens, Fresh Pencils, Clean Pencil Case – For some children, nothing feels better than a fresh new stationary set to start off the school year. So many retailers stock a wide range of different pencil cases that you can easily find one cheap. Or why not try making your own?
  • Stylish School Water Bottle – Getting a new water bottle each year is recommended, as even refillable water bottles can start to get stagnant over time, even if you are using them every day.
  • Dinner Schedule! – Even if you only keep to it for the first two weeks of school, getting your dinners sorted out ahead of time will save a lot of hassle in the long run. Try giving it a go, just this once!


Safe Online Learning for Children

The current generation is the ‘plugged in’ generation. Many kids know exactly what they need to do with mobile devices, tablets and PCS better than even their parents. But educating children on safe searching and the potential dangers of the internet will always be relevant. Take a look on our top tips for helping kids stay safe while browsing and learning on the internet.

Protect your Privacy

http-63525_960_720Children aged 12 and under should not really be using social media such as Facebook and Twitter, as there are no ways of actually policing what your children can and cannot see on their pages. It is important to instil a sense of privacy in your pupils so that they do not give out sensitive information online. Remind them never to engage in a private conversation with a stranger and not to give out any personal information; Last names, addresses, age etc.

Education, not Prevention!

Stopping kids from doing a certain thing has never worked out very well in the past; they will find a way, particularly if it is ‘forbidden’. By educating your pupils on the importance of safety online, you can help them to browse safely instead of having them sneak online without your permission, where they have the potential to see something disturbing.

“There are no Stupid Questions”

This is incredibly important when referencing the internet. As a teacher or support worker, if the pupils have a question about something, it is important that you answer them as best you can.

By providing the kids with the relevant information, they will be less likely to attempt to look it up, and they will know more about the internet itself before jumping blindly in online.

Teacher Hacks – Top Tips and Tricks

Everyone needs a hand every now and then. To keep teachers and support staff up to date with the latest hints and tips on teaching, we’ve listed a few of our favourite ‘hacks’ that will help you in the classroom.

  1. Keep it Down

There are noise recognising apps you can install on your phone which sound an alarm when the decibel level goes over a certain amount. If your kids can get excited on occasion, this is a good way of reminding them to keep quiet during lessons.

  1. Prevent Early Finishers from Becoming Class Clowns

Having an ‘I’m Done!’ cup full of extra tasks for early finishers will prevent them from getting bored and trying to distract their classmates. Simple tasks like ‘practice your spellings’ or ‘read a poem from the poems book’ will keep their minds occupied.

  1. Hand Signals Help to Prevent Disruptions

SONY DSCSometimes your kids need a drink, or will want to use the toilet. Creating a series of hand signals designed to prevent disruption will help keep the peace during quiet time. They don’t have to be seriously complicated, but they need to be clear. If you want, you could even incorporate a bit of sign language into your hand signals to keep the learning going.

  1. Home-Made Homework Tray

If you need a quick fix homework tray, try using a simple foil baking tray decorated with some coloured paper. It works and it shows your pupils the power of recycling!

  1. Pencil Dispenser for the Disorganised

Some kids will never remember to bring a pencil. An old straw dispenser will double up as a pencil dispenser for when your pupils forget to bring their stationary. If you want to keep tabs on the number of pencils you have loaned out, attach a coloured strip to the base of each pencil.

The Importance of Mental Health Support

Mental health issues can be a real concern, particularly in the instance where your pupil is in a disadvantaged or toxic environment at home. While mental health awareness has been improving over the last decade or so, teachers have still voiced their concerns that over two-thirds of them are not appropriately trained to provide support for mental health issues.

Easier to Identify than to ‘Treat’

While around 60% of teachers have stated that they felt equipped to identify pupil behaviour that is linked to mental health problems, this is only half of the battle.

It is fantastic that teachers feel they are able to better identify struggling children, but it is also important that they are also given the means with which to help and support these children.


A United Front on All Sides

As with behavioural issues, homework and reinforced learning techniques, it is important that both teachers (and teaching assistants) and parents are all on the same page when referring to the mental health and wellbeing of the child. Mental health is still very much a taboo subject in the family home and it is important that this stigma is removed in order to provide more support to children who need it. An open and honest environment when dealing with such issues will also help to show the child that it can be a common issue and that there is nothing ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ about them.

Get Your Kids to Read! Dangerous Literacy Levels

The National Literacy Trust has warned that low literacy levels could be incredibly dangerous for our children. It will come as no surprise to many teachers and teaching assistants across the UK that some parents and teachers are having difficulty getting their children involved in reading and reading on a regular basis. Low literacy levels and living in poverty combined can create a reinforcing cycle that will be difficult to break if left unaided in adulthood. So why should we be spending more time on getting our kids to read?

Higher Literacy = Better Communication


If you read on a regular basis, your vocabulary increases as does your understanding of certain terms, more complex words and common phrases.

By not reinforcing the importance of reading in our children, parents are starving their children of the opportunity to engage in worthwhile and intelligent conversation.


Reading Inspires and Encourages Children to Use their own Skills

As a generation, we often rely a little too much on all the technology available at our fingertips. If we don’t know something, we are likely to Google it. In short we have become a little lazy. Just because all this information is readily available, it doesn’t mean we no longer have the need for books and for absorbing information. There may be a time where we don’t have Google, and this is where encouraging children to read on a regular basis can help. They absorb the information presented to them in books and will learn to rely on their own knowledge and experience, instead of just what they can find on Google.

World War II Air Raid Shelter Found in Norwich

When workmen initially came to fill in a pothole at Bignold Primary School in Norwich, they were sitting on the cusp of a historic discovery. Instead of a mere pothole, they found they were soon faced with a flight of 12 steps descending into the 1940’s structure. Even though it was known that three such structures were built on the school’s foundations, this is the first time any of them has been discovered, and it is causing quite the stir.

Inspiration for Learning History

Some teachers are already taking inspiration from the discovery, with suggestions coming in about dressing up in World War II style clothing and staging a re-enactment of an air raid drill.

Other teachers have used it as a talking point for history class, using a PowerPoint presentation to compare it to older photos of the shelter, while others have launched writing competitions with the shelter as the starting point.

Whole School Abuzz with Excitement

While both the teachers and the pupils are eager to get into the structure and start exploring, as it is over 75 years old the place has been cordoned off until it can be marked officially safe to enter. The teachers are looking into using it for educational purposes while some more inquisitive students are looking at exploring the interior in the hopes of finding a hidden relic.

Breakfast – A Crucial Meal Not to be Skipped!

A recent study carried out by Cardiff University of 5,000 9-11 year-olds has shown a positive correlation between eating breakfast and academic performance. It was revealed that Primary School children who ate breakfast before or at the start of the school day were twice as likely to score highly in tests and assessments in comparison to those learning on an empty stomach at the start of the day.

The Most Important Meal

y breakfastIt comes as no surprise that Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but this is the first time that a study has proved a correlation between eating breakfast and scoring highly in tests. By eating breakfast, these children managed to kick-start their days with more focus, better concentration and a higher eagerness to learn.

Not Just When You Eat

There have also been findings on the scores achieved by children eating healthy breakfasts, versus children who simply eat junk food or fast food for breakfast. Children eating a balanced meal for breakfast scored higher on tests than children who have eaten junk food, with there being no discernible difference in test scores between children who ate junk food breakfasts and children who didn’t eat breakfast at all. So in fact, it is not simply when you eat it, but what you choose to eat that is also important when it comes to learning.

Teachers and TAs Working Together

Whether you work as a teacher with a teaching assistant, or as a teaching assistant to a full time teacher, it can sometimes be difficult to find time to discuss education together. In many schools teachers and teaching assistants do not spend enough time together and often only get to communicate during class. We’ve put together a few good tips to help teachers and teaching assistants to work together to help your pupils.

Working as a Team

At the end of the day, the education and the wellbeing of your pupils is what matters most, so it is important to present a united front in educating your pupils.  Try to add or expand upon points already made and if you disagree or have a different method of teaching, try to discuss it in private instead of talking over the other person.

Communication Is Important

If you don’t seem to have much time to communicate between the TA or Teacher, it is important that you find time outside of school to at least get to know each other a little better. If you are working in close capacity on a long term basis, getting to know how the other person works is always a good idea.

Talk Through Any Issues

If you have any concerns or issues, whether it is with the other teacher or one of the pupils, make sure to talk it out. You can’t make any progress if these problems are not highlighted and if it is causing you unnecessary stress or worry, then it is better to talk about it. You never know, it may just be down to a misunderstanding!

Catholic Schools to Teach Judaism

With 2245 Catholic Schools throughout England and Wales, 1806 of them primary, it is a remarkable step forward that Catholic schools are now going to teach Judaism alongside Christianity for the first time ever. Whether that will affect the way full time teachers teach and prioritise each subject is yet to be seen, but it is certainly a good step towards an altogether more inclusive Britain.

A Necessary Change

The law has recently been changed so that all schools, even faith schools, must teach two religions at GCSE. Until now, Catholic schools teach only one faith, that of Catholic Christianity. Many schools have accepted the change and are working with leaders in the Jewish community to ensure that they are able to teach the religion to a high academic standard.

Judaism In Relation To Christianity

Judaism is often regarded as the ‘mother’ religion of Christianity, with Jesus himself a known Jew. The new law will work in such a way that it incorporates the rich history of both religions and will allow children to learn about the journey both religions have made in shaping the world today. It may also pave the way for children to learn about other religions such as Islam.

Helping Introverted Children Learn Without Pressure

When it comes to introverted and extroverted children, both cases can cause some difficulties for supply teachers in the classroom. However the difference between the two is fairly obvious, and it is so far a fair bit easier to tell whether or not the extroverted child is happy or sad. With an introverted child, you may feel like you’re left guessing.

What is important is that children feel comfortable to learn in their own way, yet can still challenge themselves. You need to be able to get this balance in a classroom filled with both introverts and extroverts!

Give them their space

introvertIntroverted children will often work quietly on their own or in smaller groups with no trouble at all. If an introverted child isn’t taking part in class discussions, it is not often because they are unhappy, but simply that they do not feel they have anything relevant to add. Try not to urge them to answer questions, but praise them when they do in order to give them that confidence to speak up without being pressured.

Group work is still important

While introverted children may feel they work better on their own, encouraging group work is still important and should be encouraged. Team skills and working in a team is important for much later on in life, so it is essential that you cultivate these skills from a younger age. Start off by working in smaller groups and then work up to larger group projects. Your introverted child will soon be off to a flying start!