1. Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman begins an article on the safety culture in schools like this:
In the run up to the summer holidays, the streets around Ofsted’s offices were awash with eager young children on school trips. Like scores of children before them, they came into London to learn about their nation’s capital. What marked these children out from the generations that preceded them were the hi-vis jackets they were sporting, now standard issue for many school trips, like troupes of tiny construction workers – minus the hard hats. Now, I understand why schools might find it convenient to spot their pupils easily, but the message these jackets send about youngsters being at risk makes me uncomfortable and more than a little sad. Children around the country walk to school every day without hi-vis jackets. Why do they suddenly need them on a trip to the library, zoo or museum? And surely if every child in the street is wearing one they are less useful than a school uniform for keeping track of a group?
The Ofsted message is that teachers should stop over-protecting children with over-the-top health and safety policies. It is to prepare new guidance for schools inspectors in England, making sure schools are properly focusing on pupil safety, but not at the expense of opportunities to broaden and enrich young minds.
2. Half Term activities at London’s Natural History Museum. NHM says:
“Let the trail begin … . Set sail on our oceans trail and take your family on a journey to explore 200 million years of life underwater. This trail should last approximately one hour.”
3. The Forest Education Network is producing a Primary Forest & Woodland Teaching Resource pack. FEN says that if you are looking for lesson ideas and activities you can deliver in a forest or woodland environment, then its resource packs will help inspire you. FEN says that the pack will be equally useful for those new to using woods and forests as a place for learning and those with more experience who wish to try something new. The pack aims to help you plan curriculum linked activities from a few minutes long to a one-day visit to the woods. Some ideas will help children to adjust to the new, and perhaps unfamiliar, environment. Others support sustained learning in this natural classroom. Overall, this pack offers a range of activities to enable teachers and pupils share a memorable few hours of learning and fun with the trees as your teachers. Packs will be available later this autumn, but can be pre-ordered. Find out more about the pack here and more details of FEN here.
4. FACE has a panel of expert teachers willing to help with your questions. Are you working for an organisation thinking of introducing a new countryside resource? Are you a farmer needing help with how to improve your offering to schools? Are you a teacher wanting to find out how others incorporate farming topics into the curriculum? If so, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the title Teacher Panel Request and they’ll look into finding helpful responses from their experts.
5. The Tree Charter website has a range of blogs that are mostly about trees and how good they are for us. There are 85 blogs with an education focus alone. But restricting yourself just to the education ones might be a mistake as other categories (Health and well-being for example) are both equally interesting and often have a strong learning element.
6. The Field Studies Council has been awarded £1.23m from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a BioLinks project that will:
“support, signpost and mentor existing and new natural historians who volunteer their time … to help them to become more proficient biological recorders. It will provide more taxonomic training for underrepresented species, especially those that are difficult to identify. Species focused on will include beetles, snails, true flies, ants and wasps.”
Over five years, BioLinks will work across the West Midlands, London and the South East to engage with 2,500 volunteers, delivering 480 training courses and 33 events that will include community bioblitzes, visits to national collections, volunteer celebration and knowledge sharing activities.
7. Here’s the latest from Primary Stem Learning where you can “browse our resources to refresh your lessons or keep up-to-date with the latest news in your profession.” There are features on the STEM clubs, digital magazines, Project X, and Roald Dahl. See how much you can find about the environment or environmental eduction, for example, the Darwin Award feature.
8. Circle of Life says:
“This is the perfect time to get outdoors, explore the changing environment and play amongst the crisp leaves on the ground. Ever made waxed leaf mobiles? See details of our training, forest school sessions and bespoke courses available to you. If you are interested in forest school sessions for your nursery but not sure where to start, please contact us and we will visit your setting to discuss a suitable programme for you.
9. If you didn’t manage to get to the Teacher Education for Equity and Sustainability Network (TEESNet) Annual Conference: ‘Making the Sustainable Development Goals Real: the role of teacher education in promoting quality education for sustainable development and global citizenship education in schools‘, you might like to click here to read what Harriet Marshall had to say about it. It’s also full of useful links.