Category Archives: Advice For Schools

3 Ways To Support and Retain High Quality NQTs

Acting on behalf of the LA as the Appropriate Body, Services For Education see a variety of approaches to supporting NQTs.

We also see the direct correlation between the quality of development and nurture during the initial years of a teacher’s career, and the retention levels of these new members of staff.

There are a number of constant factors which outline good practice.

1. Honesty

NQTs who have had honest discussions with their mentors have a realistic understanding of their progress and are effectively challenged throughout the induction process.

Concerns can be addressed in a timely manner and this also gives your NQTs the best opportunity to move from good to outstanding.

2. Triangulation

Judgement of your NQT meeting the standards should come from a breadth of evidence bases.

Lesson observations, book trawls and pupil conferencing give an immediate picture.

Data on pupil progress and feedback from the variety of colleagues who have supported the NQT (SENDCo, assessment lead, pastoral team etc.) will demonstrate consistency and impact.

It is important to reference this when writing termly assessments.

3. Documentation

Ensure that NQTs and any other relevant parties sign and counter-sign evidence of meetings, agreed action plans or next steps etc.

This doesn’t seem important when things are going well but unfortunately relationships can change.

If the Appropriate Body or professional associations become involved, this will give you crucial evidence of points agreed and help them to establish a true picture of the circumstances in order to move forward with integrity, but only if both signatures are there.


There is much excellent practice in supporting and developing NQTs.

In recognition of seeing best practice, the Early Career Development Quality Mark was developed to recognise schools who nurture and challenge their NQTs and RQTs.

In the demanding context that schools face in recruiting and retaining good quality staff, this award can set you apart from the competition.

Click here if you would like to become one of the growing number of schools and academies celebrating their excellent practice or would like more information.

3 Data Protection Myths Busted

Data protection law reinforces common sense rules of information handling, which most education settings try to follow anyway.

It is there to ensure schools manage the personal information they hold in a sensible way.

Organisations must keep the information accurate and up to date, they must only keep it for as long as they need it for a specified purpose and they must keep it secure.

Some schools understandably err on the side of caution and do not release information when they could do so.

Here are some common data protection myths and realities:

MYTH 1: The Data Protection Act stops parents from taking photos in schools

Photographs taken purely for personal use are exempt from the Data Protection Act.

This means that parents, friends and family members can take photographs for the family album of their children and friends participating in school activities and can film events at school.

The Data Protection Act does apply where photographs are taken for official use by schools and colleges, such as for identity passes, and these images are stored with personal details such as names. Where the Act does apply, it will usually be enough for the photographer to ask for permission to ensure compliance with the Act.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has also issued practical guidance on this subject.

MYTH 2 – A parent can request that you delete their child’s data at any time

Any request for data to be erased should only be honoured if there is no lawful basis for that pupil’s data to be held.

Secondary schools are legally obliged to retain a pupil’s records until they are aged 25. If such requests as these are made it is important to consult your school’s Data Protection policy or DPO.

MYTH 3 – All data breaches must be reported

A number of schools have been concerned about the new rules around data breaches – namely that data breaches have to be reported to the ICO within 72 hours.

There are a few misconceptions to clear up here. Firstly, the 72 hours only begins once you find out about the breach, not from when the breach happens.

The ICO clearly doesn’t expect you to report things you don’t know about but having a robust data protection system in place will mean that you should find out about any breaches quickly anyway.

Secondly, you don’t have to report ALL breaches to the ICO, just those that might result in a risk to a person’s rights and freedoms (causes harm to an individual).

This can be a tricky line to judge, however the ICO are more than happy for you to use their live chat function or give them a quick call to see if you need to make a formal report.

For an enforcement agency, the ICO are surprisingly helpful and understanding if you’re trying to do the right thing.

10 Tips to Support Children During Exam Season

Most children and young people get super nervous around exam time.

And it’s our job as teachers and parents to keep them calm and help them through.

Dr Sandra Passmore, an Education Adviser for the Health Education Service, has some last-minute handy tips for you to share with your students and children, to help them to survive revision and exam days.

Why not print them out and put them up around your classroom/ on your fridge at home and read one out each day? 

Before major sporting events such as Olympics, athletes train hard but they are also careful to rest their bodies so they hit peak fitness on the day of the key events.

Preparing your mind for exams is the same.

So here are a few tips to help you hit the ground running.

1. Have a revision plan

It may sound obvious but planning can make a huge difference and make sure you revise the subjects/topics you don’t like as well as the ones that you do like.

The annoying thing about knowledge is that it’s all tightly rolled up inside your head; you can’t just spread it out on the floor, like a rug, and see where the gaps and threadbare bits are.

In terms of revision, however, your job is to try to achieve this overall picture, to identify not just what you do know, but what you don’t.

2. Sleep

Nothing can relax your mind better than a good night’s sleep. Sleep can make your memory function better, as it helps to boost long-term memory.

Avoid studying late in the night.

Not getting enough sleep make sure more likely to be anxious and stressed and cannot perform well in exams.

Teenagers need 8-10 hours sleep a night – make sure you get this.

3. Eat breakfast

Meet breakfast, your new study buddy.

While much is said about the reasons to eat breakfast, less known are the best ways to eat smart in the morning.

Coffee and a doughnut just don’t do the trick.

So, a bowl of cereal with milk or toast and glass of milk or fruit juice.

Try these healthy breakfasts (for people who hate breakfast).

4. Take regular breaks

It is very important to make a study plan before your exams start. In this plan, include small breaks after every study session.

For instance, take a break of ten minutes after studying for an hour.

This break can be used to spend some time with your family, eat, watch television or just to chat with friends.

These breaks rejuvenate the mind and prepare you mentally and physically for the next round of studying.

5. Go outside

Get some fresh air. Get regular exercise. It may not be possible to go to the gym when you are busy studying.

However, you should take out half an hour a day to keep yourself fit.

Moreover, it has been scientifically proven that exercise acts as a stress buster by releasing endorphins in the body.

So, whenever you get sick of studying, take a small exercise break and rejuvenate your body and mind.

6. Remember to breathe

When you get panicked or too stressed just sit down and take six deep breaths in through the nose (both nostrils) and out through the mouth.

Imagine you’re inhaling knowledge and expelling doubt.

Then pick up your pen and make your parents and yourself proud.

7. Eat at regular intervals 

Eating regular meals helps keep nutrient and energy levels more stable, curbing the temptation of empty-calorie snacks in the vending machine.

8. Be nice – to yourself, your parents and your friends

Keep in touch with friends (but not to compete about how much revision you’ve done).

Don’t isolate yourself as this will add to your anxiety.

Remember that it is just an exam. Life still goes on no matter how well or badly you do.

9. Drink lots of water

Drinking water is very important for maintaining your body’s equilibrium.

Water not only keeps you mind and body healthy!

Try to consume a minimum of eight glasses of water every day.

10. Say no to caffeine and alcohol

Many students drink huge quantities of coffee to stay awake at night, but the caffeine present in coffee increases stress.

Avoid caffeine, especially at night.

Similarly, alcohol has a negative effect on the physical functioning of the body, and it makes you sleepy.

The Future Of RSE Is Changing

I would like you to cast your mind back to the year 2000…

The UK fuel protests took place, with refineries blockaded, and supply to the country’s network of petrol stations halted.

The new Millennium Bridge and London Eye opened, and the UK was hit by one of the worst snow storms in the last 50 years. At the cinema, we were watching Billy Eliot and Erin Brockovich.

And we were all jolly chuffed that the millennium bug hadn’t brought the whole world to a standstill.

The Daily Mail was reporting that sales of the much-hyped WAP phones, which allow users to access the internet on their handsets, had flopped – after all who would want to access the internet on their phone? Phones are for calling people, and sending little messages, oh yes and playing that game where you chase the snake around the screen.

Then in July 2000 the last guidance for schools on sex and relationships education was published.

I’m sorry – did I read that right?

The last guidance for schools to deliver an essential curriculum area was published 18 years ago?

Hard to believe but true.

The guidance that schools have been using to shape policy and practice was published 4 years before Facebook was launched, 5 years before civil partnerships in England became legal, and 7 years before the iPhone brought the computational power of the first moon landings into our pockets.

Thankfully this is finally being addressed.

Relationships Education for the future.

In 2020 Relationships Education will be compulsory in all primary schools and Sex and Relationships Education compulsory in secondary schools, and a consultation on the guidance on what schools should do has been launched.

Schools must have regard to the guidance so it is imperative that it is right (after all we might have to wait another 18 years till the next one).

We believe high-quality Relationships and Sex Education and health education is integral to safeguarding and wellbeing, and as such is an entitlement for all.

How can you really claim to safeguard children if they don’t understand ‘healthy relationships’, are not able to correctly name their body parts including their genitalia, understand consent, or realise the risks and consequences of sexting or their digital footprint.

Children and young people from all communities and parts of the country are faced with sexualised images in the media and in popular culture. They need the understanding and skills to navigate their way through to ensure they enjoy positive and healthy and respectful relationships of all kinds. High quality and relevant RSE is one means of enabling this.

We encourage as many people as possible to take part in this consultation.

Find out more here.

The Daily Mail also reported that leading economists were providing fresh evidence that the economy is running out of steam – so some things never change.

10 Top Health and Safety Tips

I know… health and safety isn’t the most glamorous of topics.

But it’s something that at some point is bound to be a part of your agenda…

So here are 10 Top Health and Safety Tips for you this week.

  1. Do Your Risk Assessment. Decide what could cause harm as a result of what you do and decide what precautions you need to take, if you write it down this will be your risk assessment.
  2. Create a Health and Safety Policy. Decide how you will manage Health and Safety within your business and write it down this will be your Health and Safety Policy.
  3. Show Your Credentials. Display a current Employers Liability Insurance Certificate and the Health and Safety Law Poster.
  4. Train People. Provide the appropriate Health and Safety Training for your staff; this should be based on the findings of your risk assessment.
  5. Ask Around. Ensure you have sufficient competent Health and Safety advice from an employee, an external consultant or a mixture of both.
  6. Keep the Conversation Going. Keep safety and health on all school meeting agendas.
  7. Keep it Up. Consult with your staff about matters, which may affect their Health and Safety.
  8. Have the Right Processes. Make sure you know what incidents, accidents and diseases need to be notified to the HSE and set up a procedure for doing so.
  9. Maintain a Duty of Care. Don’t forget vulnerable members of staff/vulnerable children – an additional duty of care is owed to them.
  10. Remember the Essentials. Asbestos management (if applicable) and fire safety are both critical to safety in your settings. Make sure you have plans and assessments in place.

One of the main things to remember is to keep the conversation going. Your health and safety concerns will change over time and it’s important to keep your policies and procedures updated.

Mental Health Awareness Week – The Sooner the Better

Was it planned or is it just a coincidence that Mental Health Awareness Week coincides with SATs week?

The week beginning 14th May fills both pupils and teachers with trepidation.

So if the government insists on putting children through these periods of, for some, extreme anxiety, schools will have to take it upon themselves to manage those feelings and the subsequent behaviour and reactions of children as a result.

And the sooner the better.

When do we start to introduce children to their inner world? 

Indeed, do we?  Do you in your school? 

Where to start?

Even our youngest pupils can begin to learn the vocabulary of feelings and emotions and use it when talking about themselves.

We need to give children permission not only to talk about their feelings, but to actually have them – and let’s face it they are going to have them whether we give them permission or not.

Help Children to Access Their Inner World

But by giving permission, by recognising and acknowledging that these feelings are real, by not shutting them down with a quick “don’t be silly” or “there’s not need to worry”, we can begin to help children to access that inner world and to understand the part it plays in their lives.

Once we have helped children to identify their inner world of feelings and thoughts we are one step closer to them seeing the connection to and making sense of their behaviour.

And also to developing those skills of empathy because if I have feelings and thoughts then others are having them too.

These are complex but accessible ideas and a current research project into an emotional health resource which tackles this learning is producing remarkable results in schools in Birmingham.

Our Current Project

Whilst the final report on schools using ‘Ruby Rafa and Riz. Feel Think and Do’ is a few weeks away, schools have been recording some wonderful results and classroom experiences.

‘really helped them to understand their emotions and others’ emotions’

‘pupils with behaviour issues were engaging in whole class activities’

‘Year 2 discussions went on so much longer than we expected’

‘really enjoyed talking about others emotions and their own’

‘Yr 2 really looked forward to it – it’s so significantly different to anything else’

‘there is not another resource like it – written specifically for the purpose of exploring these issues’

‘Year 5 have become much more accepting of others’ opinions’

‘rather than teasing they are more careful of what they say’

‘there is less fighting outside the classroom’

‘if someone says something inappropriate they apologise to the whole class’

So if you want to start sooner rather than later, start with Ruby Rafa and Riz.  Feel Think and Do’