Assembly: Special names

This afternoon I did an assembly in one of our local Infant school’s on the theme of names:

Preparation and materials

  • You will need some name trays or labels from the new Reception class. If possible, choose children who have the same first name as someone else in the school.
  • Have available a class register from an older class.
  • You will also need a reader for the Bible passage, 1 Samuel 3.4-10 (Good News Translation).
  • Toothpaste, spoon and knife.

Assembly

Welcome everyone back to school after the summer break.

Explain that many new pupils have joined the school in Reception and that others have moved home and schools over the summer. Welcome the new children in particular and say that everyone hopes they will all soon settle happily into the school family.

Introduce a few of the new Reception children. Show a name tray or label and ask the child to identify him or herself. Welcome the child by saying what a lovely name he or she has and ask if anyone else in the school has the same name. Ask those children to stand at the front so that the children who have the same name are standing together.

Show a class register from a more senior class and explain to the new children that their teacher will often call out the names in the register to check whether the children are at school that day. Demonstrate by asking the children in the older class to respond as their names are called out.

Ask the new children if they have learnt the names of all the children in their class yet. Now ask all the children if any of them have found that the teachers haven’t yet worked out who they are. Ask if anyone has been called by the wrong name. Point out that this can sometimes be funny, and sometimes a bit annoying.

Share with the children a brief anecdote from your own childhood, illustrating the anxiety of a new school. Ask if anyone was feeling anxious about the new term, their new teachers or new classes. Explain that often the teachers are also feeling anxious about their new classes and trying to learn all the names!

Tell them that although you know quite a lot of their names it will take you some time to get to know the names of all the new children. Ask the children about their own names. Does everyone have a middle name? Does anyone have more than three names? Try to include a variety of names from different countries and cultures, reflecting the diversity of the school.

Explain that Christians believe that God also knows each child’s name. There is a story in the Bible about a child called Samuel whom God calls by name. Ask if any children in the school are called Samuel. In the Bible story, Samuel was very young when he found out that God knew his name.

Samuel lived with a man called Eli and he worked in the temple of God. Samuel had furniture, lamp stands and plates to polish and errands to run for Eli. It was Samuel’s job to make sure that the lamps didn’t go out before the sun came up. In the morning, it was his job to open the doors wide and let the daylight in. Samuel worked very hard.

As Samuel got older, he began to get to know God for himself, just like you are doing. One night, after Eli and Samuel had gone to bed, something unusual happened. All of a sudden, Samuel woke up. Someone was calling his name.

Ask the reader to read the Bible passage, 1 Samuel 3.4-10.

Ask the children to join in by speaking Eli’s words, ‘No, I didn’t call you. Go back to bed,’ every time you nod your head. When the reader has finished reading the Bible passage, continue the story.

From that time on, Samuel knew that God wanted to speak to him and he always listened. God blessed Samuel and when he grew up, Samuel became a priest like Eli and also a great prophet. God knew Samuel from the moment he was born. God knew Samuel’s name and he spoke to him.

Christians believe that God knows our names and wants to speak to us, too. God wants to tell us his wonderful story and he wants us to learn to follow him just like Samuel did.

Show the Mr Men books to the children and enthuse about them – their names are special because they tell us what kind of characters they are. For example, you could ask, ‘Why is this character’s name Mr Jelly?’ and seek the answer that it’s because he’s scared of everything.

Sometimes, God chooses to change someone’s name, for example, Saul became Paul after his experience on the road to Damascus when he saw the risen Jesus. And Jesus changed Simon’s name to ‘Peter’, which means ‘Rock’.

In Bible times, people thought very carefully when they named their babies, and every name had a meaning. The name ‘Jesus’ was chosen by God himself. It was announced by the angel, who also gave the reason for the name: ‘for he will save his people from their sins’ (the name ‘Jesus’ means ‘the Lord saves’).

Jesus has quite a few other names and titles: Christians call him, Son of God, Christ, Messiah, Lord, Emmanuel, to name but a few. These all tell us something about his nature and his importance to Christians.

Even God has a number of different names. He is called by different names in the Bible (Yahweh, Lord, Father, for example). These names mean different things to different people and show us something of the nature of who He is.

Names are special and we should be careful how we use them. We should not be unkind about names, or make fun of people’s names, or give people cruel nicknames. Ask the children, have they ever done things that they knew were wrong but just couldn’t quite stop themselves? Give some examples, such as joining in with name calling, or being silly in class just because everyone else is doing it.

Say that you’re a bit like this with a new tube of toothpaste. You were always told by your mum, ‘Squeeze it from the bottom’, but it’s such a temptation to squeeze it in the middle and watch the toothpaste ooze out like a long worm. Then ‘accidentally’ squeeze the tube. Realize with horror what you’ve done! Oh no! What am I going to do? How can I get it back?

Begin to take suggestions and invite some of the children to have a go at putting it back in. Have a few things ready to assist – e.g. knife, spoon, etc. – plus tissues or wipes!

Realize that it’s a hopeless task – once it’s out, it can’t be put back in easily. The damage is done. Compare this with the idea of saying things we know we shouldn’t – upsetting or rude things. Once the words are out we can’t put them back in. We can try to mend things afterwards but it would be so much better if we thought before we spoke or acted. Before we let the words squeeze out – we should THINK!

Time for reflection

To become a good listener like Samuel, we need to learn to be quiet and still. Let’s be very still for a few moments. What can we hear inside? What can we hear outside?

Think for a moment about your own name. Say it silently in your head. Does it have a special meaning? Are you named after someone in your family? Do your family and friends have a shortened version of your name they like to call you by?

Prayer
Dear God, thank you for a new school year. Thank you for everyone in our school family, from the youngest to the oldest. Thank you that you know our names and they were specially chosen for us. Thank you that we are each very, very special to you. Help us to learn more about you so that we can follow you like Samuel did. Amen.

Archbishop: Church of England schools can help shape ‘hopeful’ society

Archbishop Justin Welby visits St Bartholomew’s CofE primary school, London, 26 January 2016.
Archbishop Justin Welby visits St Bartholomew’s CofE primary school, London, 26 January 2016.

Read the Archbishop of Canterbury’s on the vision for CofE schools in this week’s TES:

Education is at the heart of the work the Church of England does for the common good.  Through its 4,500 primary and 200 secondary schools, it educates around one million children a day. It is estimated that around 15 million people alive today attended a Church of England school.

The fundamental purpose of Church of England education is to nurture people to live life in all its fullness, inspired by Jesus’s message in the Gospel of John: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it abundantly.” Non-church schools also have inspiring visions, albeit articulated in different language; to inspire and educate the whole person, building them up to flourish in the world.

Click here for the rest of the article.

Assembly: The Olympics and Friendship

Here’s an assembly I did this morning in our local junior school on the theme of the Olympics and friendship.  Here’s the PowerPoint if it’s useful.

 

I have loved watching the Olympics. One of the most famous moments was this in the heats of the 5,000m.

 

Runners Abbey D’Agostino and Nikki Hamblin may not have won their 5,000 meter heat in the Rio Olympics, but their attitudes are gold-medal caliber.

 

Hamblin, who is representing New Zealand in this summer’s games, tripped on the packed track partly through the race, taking American D’Agostino down with her.

 

After the fall, a a clearly discouraged Hamblin lay motionless on the ground for several seconds. Get ready to cry, though: D’Agostino instantly helped Hamblin get to her feet.

 

“This is the Olympic Games. We have to finish this,” D’Agostino reportedly said. And finish the race they did. Fortunately, the Olympic dream wasn’t over for either runner. Because they were tripped, both were allowed to run in the final later in the week. But talk about Olympic spirit.

 

The International Fair Play Committee (CIFP) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) presented D’Agostino and Hamblin with the Fair Play award, for their acts of selflessness and exemplary sportsmanship. The Olympic award recognizes the values of excellence, friendship, and respect in an athlete and both runners exhibited those values as they helped each other to the finish line.

 

An International Olympic Committee statement read : “The D’Agostino and Hamblin story is one of humanity and sacrifice which has already captured the hearts of people across the globe.”

 

Then there was the example this week of brothers Jonny & Alistair Brownlee at the World Triathlon Series. Video capturing Alistair coming to the aid of Jonny has gone viral and led to enormous praise for the elder Brownlee, a two-time Olympic champion who sacrificed his own chances of victory to help his sibling.

 

 

Let me share one last beautiful story of two Olympic athletes from Japan who knew exactly how to share with each other.

 

At the 1936 Berlin Games, Japanese pole vaulters Shuhei Nishida and Sueo Oe tied for second place. They were offered the opportunity to compete against each other for the silver medal, but because they were friends and respected each other so much they said they didn’t want to. In order to keep the Olympic rules, Oe agreed to take the bronze medal while Nishida took the silver.

 

When they returned to Japan, the other people in their team decided to do something different. A jeweller cut their two medals in half and put them back together, making two half-silver, half-bronze medals called ‘Medals of Friendship’.

 

The Bible contains a famous quote about friendship. It comes from the book called Ecclesiastes:
‘Two are better than one, because if one falls over the other one will pick him up.’

 

Ask the children what they think this verse means, and then allow them a few moments of reflection to think about how they can ‘pick up’ other people.

 

Time for reflection

Think about the words from the Bible and the words from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

‘Two are better than one, because if one falls over the other one will pick him up.’

 

‘The only way to have a friend is to be one.’

 

Think of a time when someone has been a true friend to you. Maybe you’ve been lonely or sad and someone has looked after you. Maybe you have been stuck with work and someone has helped. Think about opportunities that you may have to be a good friend to someone. Decide to be a good friend today.

 

Prayer

Dear God, thank you for our friends. Thank you for the fun we can have with them and the happy times we spend together. Please help me to be a good friend. Please help me not to be selfish but to think always of other people and their needs. Amen.

More than half of secondary school pupils think people have souls and life has a purpose

secondary-school-pupils

New research has been published showing that more than half of secondary school pupils believe that people have souls, a survey has revealed.

The majority of those questioned (52 per cent) also said that they agreed with the statement “I believe that life has an ultimate purpose” and 45 per cent believe in God.  But a an equal number – 45 per cent agreed with the statement “the scientific view is that God does not exist”.

Prof Berry Billingsley, of Canterbury Christ Church University, surveyed 670 pupils aged 14 to 17 across eight English secondary schools, asking them 43 questions about science and religion.

The survey found that 54 per cent of pupils agreed with the statement “I believe humans have souls”, with a further 24 per cent neither agreeing or disagreeing. The remaining 23 per cent disagreed. The proportion of pupils believing in a “soul” is larger than the number who believed in God.

Prof Billingsley said it may reflect the fact that many people believe there is more to their identity than what they may be being presented with in science lessons. The figure for young people believing in god, 45 per cent, is lower than the proportion of adults who described themselves as religious in the last census – 67 per cent.

The findings are being presented at the British Educational Research Association’s annual conference today.

 

What to pack for university

If you’re starting university this autumn, it may well be your first time away from home.  As you’ll have plenty of things on your mind already – and packing probably isn’t one of them – here’s a simple guide to what you’ll need for your first few weeks. They’re only guidelines – this isn’t a Scouting expedition, after all. If in doubt, check with the university’s accommodation office about what might be provided in halls, or with the landlord if you’re going into private housing. Oh, and don’t go crazy buying everything brand new – beg, borrow and buy second-hand. And learn to love Poundstretcher.

Self-catered essentials

A lot of self-catered halls come with a small kitchen, so students can rustle up food out of canteen hours (never underestimate the midnight munchies). These kitchens are often minimally equipped, however – think hob, microwave, toaster and kettle – so it’s worth bringing some essentials.

  • Mugs and glasses (plastic ones are best to avoid breakages)
  • Cutlery – fork, knife, spoon and tea spoon
  • Crockery – plates, bowls
  • Kettle
  • Plastic boxes/tupperware (for freezing, microwaving, storage)
  • Cooking implements – wooden spoon, spatula, tongs, saucepan and frying pan, sharp knives, chopping board
  • Tin opener
  • Bottle opener/corkscrew
  • Tea towel
  • Kitchen roll
  • Washing up liquid plus sponges/cloths

Other useful kitchen items

If you’re likely to venture beyond beans on toast, some of these items may come in handy.

  • Wok (cooks everything)
  • Oven tray
  • Sieve/colander
  • Grill/toastie maker
  • Peeler
  • Cheese grater
  • Measuring jug
  • Mixing bowl
  • Oven gloves
  • Tin foil/cling film and sandwich/freezer bags
  • (Cheap) wine and shot glasses (packs of plastic coloured ones are great)
Some things such as saucepans are often worth waiting until you get there, it might be supplied by the halls of residence, or other flatmates might have bought them.

Bedroom

It’s worth having a look at the set-up of the room on the university website/prospectus to get an idea of the kind of things they’ll need, and how much there’ll be room for. But you’ll definitely require bedding:

  • Duvet
  • Pillows
  • Bed sheet and pillow cases
  • Blanket/throw (especially for up north!)
  • Mattress protector

NOTE: make sure you know if the room has a single or double bed!

Clothes and laundry

Think about the local climate where they’re headed – if you’re relocating from Truro to Inverness, for example, you’d be well advised to stock up on the woolly jumpers and thick socks …

Other essentials
  • Hangers
  • Washing basket/laundry bin or large bag
  • Washing powder and fabric softener
  • Fold-away airer/drying rack

Bathroom 

Again, it’s worth knowing in advance whether or not you have an en-suite or you will be sharing a communal bathroom.

  • Towels
  • Bath mat
  • Toiletries – toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, soap etc
  • Wash bag/shower hanger (these are particularly handy if using a communal bathroom to carry shampoo, soap etc to the shower)
  • Flip flops – for the hygiene-concerned using communal bathrooms
  • Loo roll (sometimes provided, but better – far better – safe than sorry)
  • Toilet brush

Other handy/miscellaneous items

The bits and pieces which it may not occur to you to pack, but which are guaranteed to come in handy at some point.  Even if you don’t use all of them, they may be someone else’s saving grace.

  • Laptop/computer (as well as, hopefully, being used for work, this can double as a TV using On Demand apps – but be aware of TV licensing for watching live programming)
  • Chargers for all your electricals
  • Extension lead (old buildings; often too few sockets)
  • USB memory sticks
  • Stationery – pens, folders for work, paper etc
  • Alarm clock
  • Bedside/desk lamp
  • Small bin for room (sometimes provided)
  • Disposable anti-bac cleaning wipes (the easiest way to clean)
  • Febreeze spray/air freshener (covers a multitude of sins)
  • Decent-sized bag for taking things to lectures/library
  • Sewing kit, scissors and safety pins (handy for quick fixes and fancy dress)
  • Lighter (useful if using gas cooker and the ignition breaks)
  • First aid kit
  • Rape alarm
  • A few passport-sized photos (sometimes needed for student cards/signing up to societies)
  • Emergency pay-as-you-go phone (in case usual phone gets lost/broken)

Home comforts

  • Photos of friends/family and posters to decorate room (a lot of freshers’ fairs have a poster stall, so you can also buy these once you’re there)
  • Pins (if the room has a pin-board) or blue tack to put up photos, timetables etc
  • Extra cushions for bed
  • Hot water bottle (comforting and good to keep warm if you’re saving money on heating)
  • Door stop (good to have an open door policy in first few weeks – great way to make new friends)
  • Printer, paper and ink cartridges (not essential, as work can be saved on USB or sent to print off at library/print services, but handy for meeting deadlines at the last minute)
  • Speakers for music
  • Playing cards
  • Sleeping bag – handy for when friends come to visit

Clearing 2016 – A step-by-step guide

UCAS clearing

Around 300,000 students will receive their A-level results on Thursday, and like every year, thousands of students will suddenly find themselves thrown into the Clearing system.

If you are among them, remember – ending up in Clearing is no reason to panic. University Clearing is there for anyone who has applied through Ucas but is without a place after receiving their results, whatever the reason.  Over 64,000 students found a university place through Clearing in 2015, according to UCAS – more than 10% of all university admissions that year.  So there is a good chance you will too, provided you are flexible and get your research right.

Here is a simple, step-by-step guide to Clearing should you need to get involved on results day:

1. Check Track

On the morning of results day, log in to Track on the UCAS website to see if you are eligible for Clearing. It’s a myth that Track is updated at midnight on results day. Only the Clearing 2016 Vacancy Search goes live at midnight; Track opens at around 8am.  If you’re eligible for Clearing, it will say so and you’ll be provided with a Clearing number which you should take note of so you can proceed (the universities you call up during Clearing will ask you for this).

2. Browse courses

You can browse Clearing 2016 vacancies at any time on results day, but you can’t make a formal choice until around 3.00pm when, if you’re eligible, an “add Clearing choice” button appears on your Track “choices” screen. However, you should call universities or colleges much earlier in the day to secure a provisional offer. Discuss your options with those who know your academic background and have been advising you up to this point. You might also find it helpful to talk to careers advisers on the Exam Results Helpline (0808 100 8000).

3. Be ready to act fast

Vacancies can be filled extremely quickly, and if you’re not around at the start of Clearing places on your chosen courses may have gone by the time you call the universities or colleges. Admissions staff will want to speak to you, not your parents or advisers.

4. Prepare to contact admissions staff

When you have found a course you like, call the university’s admissions office to confirm that places are still available and discuss the course demands. You should prepare for that phone call as seriously as for a job interview. Be ready to ask tutors intelligent questions about the course requirements, and make sure you are a good fit for them. You might want to ask how the course is taught, what assessment model is used, what materials you’ll need to supply, and about the accommodation arrangements. Admissions staff will ask for your personal ID and Clearing number to confirm they can consider you in Clearing (you’ll find these on the “welcome” and “choices” pages in Track). They can then view your complete application immediately on Ucas’s secure online system.

5. Add a Clearing choice in Track

If an admissions tutor offers you a provisional place, you’ll probably be given a deadline for making a formal commitment to the course by adding a Clearing choice on Track. You can only make one choice at a time. Before accepting an offer, research the course requirements and university carefully. You are committing to years of study and should feel confident that you’re doing the right thing.

6. Confirm or pick another course

Ucas tells the institution that you have entered its details on Track. If you are successful, you will see the acceptance in the “choices” section and Ucas will send you a letter confirming your place and giving further guidance. If you aren’t successful the “add Clearing choice” button will be reactivated so you can add another choice, and still more if necessary up until October 22. Vacancies in Clearing are a shifting landscape as people turn down offers and places are filled, so keep looking at the lists.

7. Consider applying again next year

If you can’t find a course in Clearing that matches your aspirations you can always apply again for next year. Courses for 2017 are already available to browse on the Ucas website. You can start work on your new application right now, although you won’t be able to submit it until mid-September.

8. Finding university accommodation

Once you’ve found a place through Clearing, the next challenge is sorting your university accommodation. This blog post from NUS will give you some tips on how to get applying (and why you really don’t need an ensuite bathroom…).

John Orchard a friend who is the Education Outreach Officer at the University of Essex, wrote some comments from his perspective as someone who works at a university and will be answering clearing phone calls this week:

  • It is SO important to read up on courses and universities BEFORE making any phone calls. We don’t mind answering specific questions but it’s really important that students have a good idea of what they’re applying for before they ring.
  • If you’re applying to a university through clearing find out if they have a clearing open day or tours running and make it a priority to go if at all possible.
  • Please be patient with us. We will process applications and get a response to you as soon as we can Sometimes taking time out to reflect and re-applying the following year is the best thing. Rushed decisions are more likely to be wrong decisions.
  • Please be patient with us. We will process applications and get a response to you as soon as we can”

A-level results – how to help your teenager

Exam results

Here are some top tips on dealing with A’ level results:

For parents:

  • Don’t be afraid to talk about the results, either before or after.
  • Don’t shy away from the disappointment your child is feeling. Encourage him or her to talk about it.
  • Keep talking about the many possible future paths available.
  • Emphasise how hard they’ve tried and the work they’ve put in – and why this shows they have qualities that can take them far.
  • Explain – preferably with real examples – that many successful people have taken “a zig-zag route” to reach their goals.

For students:

  • If you’re worried, don’t wait till the last minute. Ring up and ask for an appointment with your tutor or careers adviser to look at options in case you drop a grade, so you have a real plan B. Find out too if there’s someone you can talk to at school or college in the days and weeks after results.
  • Be aware of the hype around A-levels day – TV images of ecstatic students, for example – which can inflate the importance of the results beyond the reality.
  • Develop a broader perspective on your future – talk to your friends, your family and especially your teachers or tutors, who may be well placed to help you think about alternative but equally rewarding ways forward.
  • Plan to do something positive on results day, whatever your grades. And stay in touch with people, to remind yourself that there is more to life than A-levels.

Google Glass app helps kids with autism see emotions

Stanford University researchers are testing software that is meant to help autistic children with social cues. The Google Glass software reads the emotions on people’s faces, then tells the user what those emotions are. Early research is yielding positive results:

 

Take part in the British Film Institute Consultation

 

The British Film Institute (BFI) is running a new consultation presenting opportunities for teachers and youth leaders to give their views on the value of film and education. The feedback you give will inform the BFI’s future strategy. So have your voice heard, the consultation survey goes live on 24 June, don’t miss out!

 

Take part in the BFI Consultation Survey

Helping the victims & perpetrators of girl bullying

Child psychologist and former teacher, Dr. Sam Littlemore, offered some advice in the recent ATL magazine on helping the victims and perpetrators of girl bullying.  Littlemore is the author of Girl Bullying: Do I Look Bothered?

Bullying is a problem across the gender divide, but while there are girls who bully physically, it is the way in which girl bullies scan for weakness in social status, and thus vulnerability to manipulation, that can prove particularly problematic to deal with. Because of a perceived lack of evidence, it can be denied by perpetrators; supported by a lack of witnesses willing to stand up; or dismissed as false allegations, a victim mentality or a friendship issue.

Here are some reactive intervention strategies.

  • With the perpetrator, use a timeline to track when the bullying behaviour happens. List the rewards she feels she gains when she uses power over someone and find a way to achieve them in a pro-social way instead. Indirect, psychological bullying is about redressing gains and rewards.
  • Discuss with her the idea of power, gain and control. Work with her to focus on the impact of her behaviour on others.  You could use familiar soap-opera scenarios as examples of bullying behaviour and behaviour change.
  • Spend a few weeks keeping the pack and perpetrator busy during free time. Engage them in social roles at school, but as individuals rather than as a group: the girls learn that there is a different way to build an identity and gain respect.
  • Staff members can support the victim by noting down any incidents, but don’t encourage the student to keep a record herself, or she could keep going over incidents again and again. A staff member can look after the record and talk incidents through with her.
  • Ask the victim to draw around her hand and write the name of a supportive member of staff on each finger. This shows that there is a team willing to help her. This intervention can also be used for the perpetrator, who needs a support team to help her change her behaviour.
  • Help the victim to regain confidence within another friendship group. Also help to give her a focus at school, especially in free time.
  • Encourage all bystanders to take the responsibility to integrate an isolated student.  They should involve her in their social activities and play an active role in reducing indirect bullying.

Help students learn about healthy and unhealthy relationships, but allow them to generate the definitions. This can empower them to make better choices in their friendships. Children learn to bully. Bystanders learn to stand by. They can also learn that bullying is normal behaviour if there is no intervention. No one person can socially isolate another; it takes a whole playground to join in and adults to turn a blind eye. It’s everybody’s responsibility to prevent this.

Whilst obviously focussed on an education setting, there is many ways these tips can be used in youth work settings.

Acne and exam stress key factors that lead young people to suicide

Exam stress, acne and asthma are among the anxieties affecting children and young people who kill themselves, according to the first ever detailed national investigation of these cases.

Between January 2014 and April 2015, there were 145 suicides in England by children and young people aged 10 to 19. An inquiry looking at 130 of the cases has found some common factors, or “antecedents”, which the researchers hope may help families, friends, teachers or others to become aware that a child is struggling.

More than half (54%) of the 130 had self-harmed and 27% had expressed suicidal ideas in the week before they died, while in 16 cases (12%), they had searched online for information on it. But 43% had not been in contact with the health service or any other agency.

More than a third (36%) had sought help for some sort of medical condition, the most common being acne and asthma, while 27% were dealing with academic pressures, says the report.  Of the 20 young people facing current or pending exams or awaiting results, 11 were known to be stressed by their exams and four died on the day of an exam or the day after.

More than a quarter of the young people (28%) had recently experienced the death of somebody close to them, and six had lost more than one. Nine had lost a parent, while 17 (13%) had experienced the suicide of either somebody in their family or a friend.

More than a fifth (22%) had been bullied in previous months, mostly face to face (93%). Eight had been targeted by online bullying – as well as face to face or instead of it. Mostly the bullying had occurred more than three months before the person died, but in eight cases it was more recent.

The findings come from the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness, a collaboration of academics and other experts, who have collected data from Coroners’ inquests, official investigations and other case reviews.

The report, summarised in a paper in the Lancet Psychiatry journal, is the first of its kind.  Prof Louis Appleby, director of the inquiry at the University of Manchester said

“There haven’t been very systematic studies of a very young group.  Suicide is one of the main causes of death but it is not at all common. What is happening in their lives? That is the question we started with.”

The suicide rate is very low among the youngest children – there were 11 cases under the age of 15 in the year. But Appleby said: “Something happens to them in that five-year period from 15 to 20.”  At each age after 15, there is a significant jump in the numbers, reaching 49 at the age of 19. Most – 70% – are male.

Do read the rest of the Guardian article to understand the reason for this significant jump.

Exam tips for young people

Here’s some tips we’ve put together for young people and parents for dealing with revision and exams.  You can download a pdf version here.

Revision

As Benjamin Franklin said: “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”

 

  • Have a revision timetable but make sure it is realistic!
  • You need a balance of revision and relaxation. Always take one day off a week from school work, no matter how much pressure you feel, God     designed us to have one day’s rest per week.
  • Split the day into three: morning, afternoon and evening – use two of the three for focussed study and revision – the other is for relaxing and exercise.
  • Revise for an hour and then stop. Have a break, have a kit kat!  Then come back to it.  Take time to switch off and do something completely different.

 

  • Organise your place of revision – make sure you have your notes, text books, writing implements, computer, drink and nibbles etc. all in easy reach.
  • Create a playlist of motivational music to get you going.

 

  • Ensure that you have regular food and drink, and exercise breaks – exercise helps to release endorphins – the feel good feeling and is an important stress factor.

 

Different ways to learn include:

  • Going through past papers (and model answers) is often very helpful.
  • Read it, doodle it, hear it, write it, speak it, etc, the more different ways you find to express it the more you will remember – also be aware that your teacher’s favourite teaching style may not be your best learning style.
  • Use different colours so you can quickly scan the really important stuff.
  • Make short notes, revise them the following day, then a week later. Repetition transfers info from short to longer term memory.       Cramming is not productive.

 

  • Stop all electronics at least half hour before bed.
  • Make sure you still make time for the one thing you love, the thing that fuels your energy rather than just saps it.
  • Get your parents to chill a bit!

 

The Exam

  • Get a good night’s sleep, set your alarm, have a good breakfast and give yourself plenty of time, allowing for traffic hold ups, etc.
  • Check you have all your necessary stationary and equipment, including a watch!

 

  • Know exactly where the exam is going to be held – I still have nightmares about not being able to find the right room and I left school a long time ago!
  • Go to the toilet before the exam.
  • Avoid talking to people about the exam, what you have revised etc., while waiting to go in as it can make you feel nervous that you haven’t revised enough – instead make plans for fun things to do after the exams or chat about last night’s TV!

 

  • Listen carefully to any instructions, read the top sheet and complete it properly.
  • Know your candidate number.

 

  • Always take a deep breath before you start and know that people are praying for you
  • Go for it – if you don’t know the answer go onto the next one – don’t sit there panicking.
  • Read all the questions and make sure you know what you are being asked. Possibly start with stuff you are comfortable with, which may not necessarily be the first question.
  • Know how much time to spend on each question. Time is crucial in exams – don’t waste it.  If a question is only worth a few marks don’t spend ages on it.  Always answer multiple choice questions even if it’s only a guess.
  • If something is not clear then ask (just not the person sat next to you!)
  • Check all sides of the paper – don’t miss a back page!
  • Label all answers clearly and be as neat as you can. Show all working out and attach any notes made on questions you fail to complete.
  • Leave 5 minutes at the end to go through and tidy up.