Homework in Primary Schools

In 1998, the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, produced guidelines for homework for children of primary and secondary age. It was recommended that children in years 1 and 2 should have about 10 minutes of homework a night, rising to about 30 minutes for children in year 6. Homework guidelines were abolished by Michael Gove in March 2012. It was not that he was against the idea of children doing homework but that he felt the responsibility for homework should be placed on schools and headteachers, rather than being a government directive. However, with schools under pressure to achieve good Statutory Attainment Test (SATs) results for their pupils, the vast majority... Read More »

2016 Key Stage 1 SPAG tests cancelled

For many parents with school-age children, education can seem a quagmire of acronyms. Key Stage 1 refers to Year 1 and Year 2 in English and Welsh primary schools; in other words, children of 5-7 years of age. At the end of Key Stage 1, children are assessed in maths, reading and writing, speaking and listening. Some of these tests are official tests and all children will sit the same test across the country. However, although these tests are set externally, they are marked by the child’s teacher. Writing, speaking and listening are teacher-set and teacher assessed. New for this current year are the SPAG tests – Spelling, Punctuation And... Read More »

My child will have lessons in phonics. What does this mean?

If your eldest child is due to start to primary school in September, you should soon hear whether or not they have a place at one of your three choices of school. During the Summer term, most schools will then invite parents to at least one parents’ evening to talk about the school day, routines, the reception year curriculum, uniform and hot dinners, amongst other things. This may be the time when you find out that your child will start to learn about phonics. According to the Department for Education’s information leaflet, “Phonics is a way to teach children to read quickly and skilfully”. Children will start by learning the... Read More »

A levels or BTECs?

If your 16 year old is sitting GCSE exams this Summer, they are probably also considering their next moves for the following 2 years. It’s no longer possible to leave school at 16 and enter the world of work. Students today are expected to stay in some kind of education until they are 18. For some, the prospect of studying 3 academic A Level subjects for a further 2 years, fills them with dread. However, there are alternative options available in the form of BTECs. An 18 unit Level 3 BTEC is considered to be the equivalent of 3 A Levels and therefore is often an alternative valid entry requirement... Read More »

Helping a young child with maths

Along with literacy, maths is an essential subject from Reception class to GCSE. Developing an interest in maths can start quite young, even before a child starts school. There are many board books and lift-the-flap books which toddlers and young children can enjoy which may involve numbers, whether they are rhyming stories about 10 little ducks or picture books which involve counting skills. There are also plenty of nursery rhymes and songs to share with your child which will help to develop the concept of numbers – “Five currant buns in the baker’s shop” or “One, Two, buckle my shoe”, for instance. It is really important to make maths fun,... Read More »