Jump On-line

On Sunday my husband and I sat with our three children and watched live footage of a man jump out of a capsule, 24 miles above the earth, and fall. We saw him step into space, spin, then float  and, 10 minutes after leaving his capsule, land elegantly on his feet in New Mexico.

No matter how great the threats and superstitions surrounding the (relatively) new universe that is ‘the internet’, I can only envy the opportunities my children now have to access the world, past, present and future in a way that I never dreamed of.

I have no doubt that I enjoy my children’s homework more than they do. The one-dimensional historical figures and vague, distant geographical locations I learnt about in black-and-white, have been miraculously brought to life on-line. All aspects of learning can be made interesting and accessible to children of all ages, tranformed by a quick visit to the search engine. Together, my children and I have explored Oceania (somewhere I hadn’t heard of until last year and have just this moment learnt how to spell correctly), mapped the path of the Canterbury Pilgrims on a satelite image, had close encounters with the planets, discovered how to make a rocket with an alka seltza tablet and made an on-line jet engine.

The internet may be a strange and sometimes dangerous place to explore, but it provides access to our world, (and the school curriculum), in a way that can inspire and fascinate our children. If you are reading this, I am probably preaching to the converted, but I urge you to encourage your children to jump – just ‘google’ anything and prepare to be amazed!


Felix plans to jump from the edge of the earth's atmosphere on Tuesday       

Image: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/


Ofsted report damns one in five schools as ‘inadequate for music’

A new report from Ofsted declares that a fifth of schools is providing an inadequate music education.

A damning report, as indicated yesterday in Music Teacher magazine,  also states that there is not enough emphasis on practical music-making in sessions, and that there is a ‘scarcity of good vocal work in secondary schools.’

Amidst a litany of depressing statements, detailing the failures and short-comings Inspectors found in their assesment of music in schools across the country,  one terse fact rings out:

Too often, inspectors simply did not see enough music in music lessons.

Read the report in full here.

New certificate aims at rewarding pupils taking more academic GCSEs

Earlier this month, the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, announced the creation of a new qualification, which will be awarded to pupils who take more traditionally academic GCSEs.

The English Baccalaureate will be awarded to those achieving a grade C or better in five subjects: English, Maths, a science, a modern or ancient foreign language, and a humanities subject.

The move is, in part, attempting to redress the reported rise in the number of pupils taking vocational qualifications. The number taking sciences in particular has also declined.

The results of children achieveing the new qualification would also feed into schools’ league table results.

Read more in the Telegraph article here.

The English Baccalaureate: coming to a school near you.

Romans R Us






Canterbury Roman Museum:


Richborough Castle:




Suffolk school embraces dance and drama to improve standards

As reported in an article in The Independent last week, a Suffolk school has forged links with a local dance organisation; pupils go for weekly dance lessons and attend productions at the DanceEast centre.

DanceEast logo

The move has engaged both girls and boys at the school, as well as parents, who go to productions with their children, with a real sense that the parents are engaging with their children’s education once more. Children are more confident, develop critical thinking as they write reviews of the productions they visit, and have a more positive view of their schooling experience.

With the arts increasingly being sidelined in school curriculum delivery, this step is a positive one; the school’s recent inspection report noticed an imnprovement in achievement and higher standards since the project began.

Speaking and listening skills, in particular, have been improved by developing pupils’ arguments about what they have seen when they act as dance critics. And those speaking and listening skills, according to the recently published review of primary-school national-curriculum assessment carried out by Lord Bew’s inquiry team, are essential to improve reading and writing standards.

Read the full article here.