Tes 29 October 2021

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in this issue

2 min

As a tear tumbles down my face in the darkness, I tell myself that crying is a perfectly natural response to great works of art. If you’ve seen Toy Story 4, then you’ll understand. A stealthy glimpse around the cinema confirms I’m not the only parent having a cathartic moment, although the small children in the room are resolutely dry-eyed. When it comes to crying, we all have different triggers, and mine can be unpredictable – in this case, the cue comes from a disarmingly cute animated plastic spork named Forky. But while some people’s thresholds are higher than others, shedding tears to express emotion is an entirely normal reflex for us humans. It is, in fact, a trait that separates us from all our friends in the animal kingdom. So should we…

3 min
holding the line: is behaviour the key to playing catch-up?

The ‘catch-up’ narrative has so far centred on academic intervention, with mental health and social development getting a look in every so often. But the head of England’s Social Mobility Commission, Katharine Birbalsingh, apparently thinks behaviour should be the thing we all focus on. Speaking at a pre-appointment hearing with the Women and Equalities Committee, the head of Michaela Community School in North London said: “I promise you, if we were to have excellent behaviour across all of our schools suddenly, if we could just wave a magic wand and go bam and it happened, we would all catch up on the losses from the pandemic very quickly.” Birbalsingh suggested that this was unlikely to happen because teachers, in her view, don’t like being “mean”. “The reason why people shy away from having…

4 min
plotting a course towards disciplinary knowledge

Since spring 2021, Ofsted has been publishing research reviews into different subjects. These research reviews draw upon writing on curriculum and pedagogy from within subject communities and input from teachers in the classroom. It’s been refreshing to see the differences between subjects acknowledged and explored. For example, the research review in history focuses on the use of substantive concepts, something highly relevant to this discipline but of less utility elsewhere. The science review, meanwhile, discusses the role of scientific enquiry as distinct from enquiry-based approaches to learning, as well as the implications of this for practical work. One common thread running through these different reviews is the role that different forms of knowledge play in the curriculum. When reading the research review for geography, my own subject, I was particularly struck by…

7 min
10 questions with… michael rosen

Author Michael Rosen has been writing books for children for the best part of four decades, from classics such as We’re Going On A Bear Hunt and Quick, Let’s Get Out of Here to You Can’t Catch Me! and Mustard, Custard, Grumble Belly and Gravy. He also served as Children’s Laureate from 2007 until 2009. He spoke to Tes about his memories of his own school days and the teachers he recalls best, and about why he’s written a new book that chronicles his recovery from illness with a walking stick with the eye-catching title, Michael Rosen’s Sticky McStickstick: the friend who helped me walk again. 1. Where did you go to primary school? I went to Tyneholme Nursery School in Wealdstone and then I went to Pinner Wood School, from the age…

6 min
state of pay: why schools should be checking out the jobs competition

The UK job market is a funny place right now. A shortage of workers is pushing starting salaries up in many private sector industries such as retail, hospitality, logistics and food processing as firms compete for staff. This means workers have a lot more choice about where they want to work based on the salaries available – something that has not been quite so available to them before after years of fairly unexceptional economic growth in the labour market. The extent of this boost to salaries was made clear in a recent report from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation that found, based on a survey of 400 UK recruitment and employment consultancies, starters’ salaries for both permanent and temporary roles rose at the highest rates for 24 years. The impact of this is…

2 min
supply cover falling short as teacher covid rate doubles

The number of teachers testing positive for Covid has more than doubled this term, with headteachers warning that schools are already facing a shortage of supply cover. The latest figures from the Department for Education show that 1.3 per cent of teachers tested positive for Covid-19 this month. This is up slightly on two weeks earlier, but more than twice the rate in the middle of September, when 0.6 per cent of school leaders and teachers had a confirmed case. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The rise in staff absence is causing real headaches. This is happening despite staff being vaccinated, with the issue exacerbated by an acute shortage of suitably qualified supply staff.” Covid rates among pupils have continued to rise in October but…