A’ Level Results – how to help your child

Exam results

Here are some top tips on dealing with disappointing 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.

Clearing 2014 – A step-by-step guide

Ucas

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.  Last year almost 52,000 people obtained a university place this way, 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 2014 Vacancy Search goes live at midnight; Track opens at around 8am.

2. Browse courses

You can browse Clearing 2014 vacancies at any time on results day, but you can’t make a formal choice until around 5.00pm 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 2014 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.

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”

Mental health schemes to give early help to teenagers

Funding mental health

New mental health projects across England will help school pupils to deal with their problems and worries after receiving almost £5m of development funding from the Big Lottery Fund.

The funding means that pupils in a number of areas across the country will take part in pilot projects in the new school year. The area partnerships will use this pilot to work up long term plans that could then benefit from a multi-million pound share of HeadStart funding.

The areas receiving grants of £500,000 are Middlesbrough, Cumbria, Blackpool, Knowsley, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Southampton, Kent, Cornwall and the London Borough of Lewisham. The partnerships in these areas will bring together a key mix of young people, youth workers, charities, health commissioners, parents, teachers, GPs and local authorities to address the various factors that influence a young person’s mental and emotional wellbeing.

The statistics on child mental health make stark reading. Among teenagers, rates of depression and anxiety have increased by 70% in the past 25 years while  one in 10 young people – so approximately three in every classroom – has a clinically diagnosable mental health problem.

A previous YouGov survey for the Big Lottery Fund revealed that 45 per cent of children aged 10-14 have reported being unable to sleep because of stress or worry, with fifty nine per cent saying they feel worried or sad at least once a week. However, only around 25 per cent of young people needing treatment for mental health problems actually receive it and usually only once they reach 18.

The HeadStart programme aims to develop ways of dealing with mental health issues before they become deep-rooted problems. Focussing primarily on schools, the HeadStart partners will offer a range of approaches, including peer mentoring, mental health ‘first aid’ training, online portals and special resilience lessons helping pupils aged 10-14 feel they have support at in the classroom as well as at home and tackling the stigma that can often surround the issues of mental health.

Angie Hart, Professor of Child, Family and Community Health at the University of Brighton, co-Director of Boingboing Social Enterprise and HeadStart advisor, said:

“Good mental and emotional health is as important to a child’s development as good physical health. Too often this can be neglected until problems and worries have become much more serious. The key to ensuring a strong emotional resilience among young people is early intervention. This involves tackling the root of the causes, including poverty and discrimination. The importance of prevention rather than the cure cannot be underestimated. The HeadStart programme will help to develop ways of supporting young people’s mental and emotional resilience in a world that only seems to subject them to more and more pressures.”

Junior school assembly on Leadership

I recently led an assembly on the theme of Leadership for one of our local junior schools:

servant leadership

Preparation:

  • A bowl of warm water, towel and flannel.
  • Some feet to wash! This could be a real person (a colleague not a child as this could lead to a misunderstanding, and you could also wash hands instead of feet if that’s more appropriate), but perhaps it would be more fun to use a doll/action man.

Assembly:

Explain that we will be thinking about leaders today – lots of different kinds of leaders in our communities and world. They are people who help shape our lives, give guidance and are meant to be examples to us.

 

Play a short guessing game. Give the initial letters of jobs that involve being a leader and a clue to help the children guess.

 

For example:

  • HT – someone who leads a school? – Head Teacher
  • 
C – someone who is the leading player in a team? – Captain
  • PM – someone who leads our country? – Prime Minister
  • 
C – Someone who directs an orchestra? – Conductor

 

Explain briefly the kinds of things these leaders do. If the school has a school council, talk about the role of school councillors.

 

Democratic countries have elections in order to try to change their countries for the better. We live in one of the world’s oldest democracies. Some historians argue that the first moves towards democracy in this country took place with the signing of a treaty called the Magna Carta in 1215. The treaty required the king of England at the time, King John, to have a duty to protect certain rights of his subjects, and restricted his powers under the law.

 

At the start of this new school year, we want you to think about your likes and dislikes in this school environment. We would like you to have your say. Do you feel that it is an attractive place to be in? Do you have enough computers? Do you have any ideas for improving this school? They will be presented to our school governors and you will have an opportunity to vote on which idea could be put into practice in the future.

 

‘It is the duty of government to make it difficult for people to do wrong, easy to do right,’ William Gladstone, Liberal prime minister of the 19th century.

 

We need good leaders in every area of our society. Without good political leaders, laws would be passed that would make it easier for people to do wrong things and get away with them. Gladstone was right about what governments exist to do – good leaders make it harder to do wrong and easier to do right. Without good political leaders, the country would descend into a very unstable place where the poorest and most vulnerable in society were not being looked after. Many believe a society should be judged on how well it looks after its most needy and vulnerable. Good government frees up people to take responsibility to do good and confront things when they are bad.

 

Explain that Christians believe that Jesus was a very special leader and that he showed his friends very powerfully what it meant to lead. Explain that in hot countries it was a custom that when a visitor arrived at someone’s house they would have their feet washed, because they would be hot and dusty, and this would be done by servants.

 

Tell the children about Jesus’ special meal with his friends, where he, though he was their leader, chose to wash their feet. His friends were not happy about him doing this, because he was taking on the role of a servant. As you talk, demonstrate by washing feet in your chosen way (see Preparation and materials).

 

Time for reflection

Reflection:

Explain that this story does not mean we should all go around washing each other’s feet literally, but that we should have the attitude of Jesus towards other people, serving them, respecting them, not bossing them about; treating each other as special people. Encourage the children to think how they could serve others today, in simple ways such as caring for a younger child in the playground, helping clear the table at home, and so on.

 

Prayer:

Thank you, Lord, for all the leaders in our communities, 
for our teachers, policemen and women, and so many others. 
We thank you for all those who serve with the same attitude as Jesus. 
Help us to serve each other with gentleness and respect.

 

We think of our leaders – whether those with political power or those that volunteer their time as school governors to help run our school. Thank you for democracy which provides a way for us to have our say.

 

Assembly: The Bible is a library

Bible

Today’s assembly was for one of our local Infants school’s and themed around the Bible is a library:

Aims

To help the children understand the variety of material in the Bible.

 

Preparation and Materials

  • A large Bible (you could borrow a lectern Bible from church).
  • Two benches or equivalent, one on either side of you.
  • A4 cards showing the following words, one on each: Stories, Songs, Poems, History, Wise sayings, Laws, and four road signs.

 

Assembly

If I asked you what your favourite book in all the world is – hands up if you would be able to name one straight away? Books are fantastic and the great thing about them is that there are books to suit everyone. Hands up if you like books about cars, wizards, pirates, detectives, cook books?

 

What book am I thinking about now? It’s in two main parts. One part is a special book for Jewish people, Christians and others. The second part is the Christians’ special book. But the whole thing is not just one book but lots of books – it’s the Bible.

 

Does anyone know how many books are in the Bible? The two parts are the Old Testament (39 books) and the New Testament (27 books). So it’s a bit more like a library of books than just one book.

 

Ask the children about going to the library – if there’s a school library you could talk about how we choose different books.   I expect your teachers really like you to choose a wide variety of different books, not always the same kind. That helps us to learn about lots of different things.
So I thought we would create a human library today. I am going to need some volunteers.  Invite a number of children up to represent the different types of books that we find in the Bible library. Don’t go into too much detail – you just want to give them the idea that the Bible is a rich and varied collection. Give them the A4 cards to hold. Put some volunteers on the OT ‘shelf’ (bench) and some on the NT.

 

Christians believe that as we read the Bible we get to know God better. There are lots of great children’s books and Bible stories (you could show some or mention where they are in the school library). Even if we find it hard to read the Bible ourselves at the moment we can listen to others tell us the stories and get to know God that way. Above all, Christians believe that God’s great book, the Bible, is meant to be enjoyed by everyone.

 

Ask the children what each road sign stands for:

  • No entry
  • Stop
  • One way
  • Danger from falling rocks.

 

Show a Bible and point out that Christians and people of other faiths believe that it is a book that contains much wisdom that can help us to live a better life.

 

Show the ‘No entry’ sign. Sometimes the Bible tells us that it is better for us not to follow certain ways of living (such as being selfish and holding on to our possessions). You may wish to draw attention to the Ten Commandments. Christians believe that this is not because God is a ‘spoil sport’ but because God loves and cares for us.

 

Show the ‘Stop’ sign. Explain that sometimes in the Bible there are stories and laws that tell us to stop doing something we are already doing. It may be that we are hurting other people or doing something that we know is wrong. The Bible shows us that we should stop doing wrong and follow a life that is good and helps and cares for others.

 

Show the ‘One way’ sign. The Bible shows us a way to live that encourages us to think of others before ourselves. It asks us to not always put ourselves first and make demands, but to consider other people’s ideas and preferences. We will be happier when we live like this.

 

Show the ‘Danger’ sign. Explain that Christians believe that the Bible is not there to make our lives boring or miserable but to show us a good way to live that makes those around us happy. It shows us that there is a danger of living lives so caught up with ourselves that we end up making ourselves and those around us unhappy too.

 

Recap that the Bible is not just a rule book for Christians to follow; it is full of examples of how we can live our lives for others. Many people find that it gives them direction and provides them with peace and comfort. Some people believe that God speaks directly to them through the Bible and others find it a good source of interesting stories and wisdom from the earliest civilizations. It tells the stories of Jesus and his followers in the New Testament, and of the Jewish people in the Old Testament.

 

Time for reflection

Think about books. What kind of books do you like? Do you have a favourite book and a favourite writer?  Do you know any very old stories such as those you might read in the Bible or from ancient legends?

 

Dear God, thank you for all the different types of books.  Thank you for the joy of reading.  Thank you for the Bible, for the stories, letters, poems and songs, history and more that we find between its pages.  Amen.

Job opportunity at schoolswork.co.uk

Schoolswork.co.uk are advertising a great role to go and work with them:

Job Opportunity - schoolswork.co.uk

Are you passionate about work in schools?
Are you interested in professional development?
Would you like to work within a creative, growing team that works nationally but is rooted locally?

We have an exciting new opportunity at schoolswork.co.uk for someone to join the team and take the work of the Enable Schools Work course to the next level. The job is part time and is available from May/June. You can download the relevant documents below, which should include all you need to know. Please also pass on the word to anyone you know who might be interested in joining us.

If you have any questions not answered in the documents below, please email or call on 01582 748964. We can also send you all of the documents in an email if it is tricky for you to download them here, or even post them out to you. Just get in touch and we’ll be happy to help. The closing date has been updated to Friday, 27th June 2014.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Amy

Read me first: Introduction letter
The Job Description: Download
Background information: Download
Application Form: Download

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How to cope with exams

Under Pressure

Tonight we did a session for our 11-18 year olds on how to cope with exams and stress, the PowerPoint can be downloaded and here are some tips that we handed out for revision and the exam itself

IF I WERE …

Ask the group to sit in a circle. Ask each person in turn what animal best describes them and why. Make sure the leaders join in as well!

WOULD YOU RATHER?

Ask the group the following questions.  Indicate a side of the room for each answer and ask members to move to one side or the other depending on their answer.

Would you rather:

  • Eat a worm or drink the washing up water
  • Listen to an hour of Justin Bieber or never listen to music again
  • Watch Neighbours or watch paint dry
  • Clean the toilets at school or wash all the windows in Buckingham Palace
  • Hold a snake or hold a spider
  • Play rugby or straighten your hair
  • Eat prunes or eat porridge
  • Sing in front of the whole school or dance on TV
  • Walk up a mountain or knit a jumper
  • Take the dog for a walk (knowing what you have to pick up when you do) or clean out the cat’s litter tray

FUNNY ANSWERS TO EXAMS

Watch the funny answers to exams video.

HOW DO YOU FEEL?

Show the picture of an Exam Room to the group.  Discuss: How do exams make you feel?  Explain that today we are going to be looking at how we choose and cope with exams.

CHOICES

Ask the group to reflect on all the different ways they can make choices e.g:

  • The people we might ask for advice – teachers, parents, friends
  • Randomly
  • Thinking through pros and cons
  • Pray

Explain that today we are thinking about exams, and how we choose our subjects and cope with the exams we have to take.

RED OR BLUE

Neo has been seeing lots of strange things recently. He wants to find out about The Matrix although he has no idea what it is. He meets Trinity, who takes him to meet Morpheus.  Neo first meets Morpheus, and is given the choice of whether to pursue his curiosity about the matrix or not.

Neo has a choice to make; to take the blue pill and give up his quest, never knowing what the matrix is, or to take the red pill and find out all he’s been wanting to know.

Discuss with the group:

  • Do you think it’s an easy choice? Why/ why not?
  • Would it have been better for Neo if Morpheus had just offered him one pill as the answer to his quest so Neo didn’t have to make a choice? Why/ why not?
  • What do you think made Neo choose to take the red pill?
  • Do you like making choices? Why/ why not?
  • When it comes to choosing what subjects to take at school, what kind of things influence your choice?
  • Would you rather someone chose for you? Why/ why not?

WHO CARES?

Ask the group what people worry about when it comes to doing exams. Ask them to think not just about what they might worry about but what they think others worry about too.

Write their answers on a flip chart (or get one of the group to write them up).  Discuss:

  • Does God care about any of the things they’ve listed? Why/ why not?
  • Which things does God think are important? Why?

Ask the young people to find Philippians 4:6-7. Ask one of the group to read through the two verses.

Discuss:

  • Look back at the list. Have you changed your mind – does God care about any of the things we’ve listed? How do you know?
  • What do you think we should do if we’re getting stressed about our exams?
  • Why should we thank God when we are praying? What could we thank Him for?
  • What does God promise us when we pray?

If you are coming up to a period of exams, why not organise an exam timetable for the group. This could be a grid showing everyone’s exams. You could distribute it around the group (and throughout the church family) so that people can pray for each other.

If members of the group complain that they find it hard to get down to revision, you could also organise some revision sessions. You, or other leaders, could offer to supervise the sessions (to make sure they don’t just chat!).

CAN YOU TAKE THE PRESSURE?

Exams are important, but they are not the most important things in the world.  I have taken a few exams in my life, some I have passed, some I failed, but I always aimed to give it my best and achieve my potential.

So what pressures do we feel:

From Parents

They want you to succeed but sometimes their “enthusiasm”/help can make you feel under too much pressure.  Often they don’t want you to waste opportunities, but you also need space to make your own decisions.  Communication is key in this area, so talk about it.

From teachers

Teachers want the best for you.  If you are concerned then take the initiative and talk about your worries.  Don’t bottle it up.  Don’t feel you are the only one who doesn’t understand or is struggling – there will probably be others who aren’t brave enough to admit it – so just ask.

From friends

This can be a positive and a negative.  Working together when you are studying the same subjects can mean you help one another.  But it can be negative – trying to live up to someone else’s achievements can be daunting.  It is important you focus on achieving your potential.  Also don’t be put off by the few who think it is cool not to work, to be disruptive – it can seem like fun at the time but you will probably regret it later.

From Ourselves

It is good to have dreams and ambitions, but make sure they are yours and not what someone else wants you to do.  Set yourself realistic goals – not so high that you don’t stand a chance of achieving them.  I wanted to be a lawyer – that didn’t happen!

So what can you do?

Pray

Most people pray at some point in life, and at exam time it is usually “HELP!”.  Pray for peace and calm in the exam.  Pray for discipline to study and ability to achieve your potential.

Prepare

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 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!

Perform

  • 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.

What about the exam results?

If the results are not what you expected – don’t panic – get advice.  It needn’t be the end of the world.  If they are what you hope for – well done!  Congratulations!

PRAYER – WE’RE IN IT TOGETHER

Ask the young people to stand in a circle. Ask them to turn to their right and place their hand on the shoulder of the person in front.  Then ask everyone to pray for the person they are touching – that they would know God’s peace in their worries, and His guidance as they make decisions. You can either ask everyone to pray out loud at the same time, or quietly in their heads.  Then ask everyone to turn around and pray for the person standing to the other side of them.

DON’T WORRY …

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Encourage them to look up the verse above in the Bible and copy it out.  If possible, laminate the cards to increase their lifespan! Encourage the young people to try learning the verse as they write it, testing each other, and to keep it in their purse or wallet to remind them to pray.

The education admission system is broken

School Admissions

Today was one of the two big dates for parents in the education calendar.  Today is national offer day for primary school places.  Parents around the country having been receiving emails notifying them of their child’s place of education for the next few years.  Earlier in the Spring, on 3rd March, parents received notification for secondary school places.

The news has a big impact on the family’s day to day life, and if we believe the media the decision will have long lasting effects on our children’s life chances.  These days, even for primary or infant and junior schools parents do incredible amounts of research.  When I was a child everyone just went to their local school – choice only kicked in for secondary school and beyond.

Now everyone scours league tables, reads OFSTED reports, goes to several open days/evenings, and look very carefully at the class sizes, specialisms and facilities.  Today’s report from the National Audit Office is official confirmation of what many parents have known – or feared – for the last few years: the shortage of school places is reaching alarming levels. The report said one-in-five primary schools was full or near capacity with London accounting for more than a third of all extra places needed.

The current education admission system is broken.  We see families buying that house in the ever-shrinking catchment area to make sure their children get in?  Others employ tutors so their children can pass entrance exams or the 11+?  Others sign in at church every Sunday when they have no sense of faith.

Every parent wants the best for their children.  Whilst most schools within the UK will provide a good education to all children it is hard to avoid the facts - we know that public school educated people dominate the upper echelons of UK society; politics, sport and the arts (The Guardian).  Then there’s selective state schools. 29% of Labour MPs went to grammar schools (The Sutton Trust).

As a children’s and youth worker, and a school governor, I still believe that education is more than just pure academics.  We need to develop well rounded adults, and whilst it is now near impossible to find employment without a GCSE grade C in English and Maths it is important that the education system supports children’s interests, support friendships between different social, economic and religious backgrounds.

Today for me is a reminder that education has become too focussed on a narrow band of results and league tables that cause stress both for parents and teachers.  We need an education system that truly values and encourages children rather than allowing economically affluent parents to in effect gain priority over other parents.

Job opportunity at schoolswork.co.uk

schoolswork.co.uk job opportunity

The fantastic schoolswork.co.uk have a job opportunity:

Are you passionate about work in schools?
Are you interested in professional development?
Would you like to work within a creative, growing team that works nationally but is rooted locally?

We have an exciting new opportunity at schoolswork.co.uk for someone to join the team and take the work of the Enable Schools Work course to the next level. The job is part time and is available from May/June. You can download the relevant documents below, which should include all you need to know. Please also pass on the word to anyone you know who might be interested in joining us.

If you have any questions not answered in the documents below, please email or call on 01582 748964. We can also send you all of the documents in an email if it is tricky for you to download them here, or even post them out to you. Just get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Amy

Read me first: Introduction letter
The Job Description: Download
Background information: Download
Application Form: Download

Easter Assembly 2014

Hudson plane crash

This morning I started a series of five schools that I will be doing Easter assemblies for in the next week:

Show the children the food or images of food and ask them to name them. Explain that these four types of foods are traditionally eaten at Easter time and in some way relate to the Easter story.

Show the children the simnel cake and ask if they have any idea how this relates to the Easter story in the Bible.

Ask them to count the number of marzipan balls on the top of the cake. Can they think why there would be 11? If they don’t know, explain that, traditionally, the balls represent Jesus’ disciples. The Bible talks about Jesus having 12 disciples, but one of them– Judas Iscariot – betrayed Jesus and handed him over to the soldiers, so the cake shows that he was no longer one of the disciples.

Show the children the hot cross buns and ask them what these could represent.

There are various traditions regarding what the buns represent, but the main one is simply that the cross reminds us of Jesus dying on the cross. In the twelfth century, a monk called Father Rocliffe began to make small, spiced cakes, on to which he stamped the shape of a cross. He gave the buns out on Good Friday as Easter presents to the poor people who lived nearby. The idea was so popular that he repeated this each year and gradually other monasteries began to do the same. Over the years, this tradition became more and more popular.

Show the children the Easter eggs and ask them what they represent.

One traditional story explaining the meaning of Easter eggs is that they represent the stone that was put across the doorway to Jesus’ tomb and found to have been rolled away on Easter morning because Jesus had risen from the dead. The idea is that breaking the egg symbolizes the tomb being ‘cracked’ open and Jesus coming back to life.

Eggs are also a symbol of hope and new life. That is because chicks hatch from eggs and, at Easter, this reminds us that Jesus rose from the dead.

Over the years, ‘Easter food’ has become more and more commercialized, with many people simply buying them because it is traditional to do so rather than thinking about or even knowing their significance. In 2013, 90 million Easter eggs were sold in the UK! Christians believe that it is important for people to be reminded of the true meaning of Easter and talking about these foods is a good way to do this.

The last Easter food you have brought is … fish fingers! Bring out the empty fish finger packet. A strange choice – do we normally eat fish fingers on Easter Day?  No, but we do hear a lot about fish in the stories about Jesus, and one famous story about fish tells of something that happened after Jesus came back to life.

Read, or paraphrase, John 21.1–14. Jesus appeared to his disciples and cooked them a breakfast of fish on a barbecue. This was the third time he appeared to his friends after he had died. They were so excited that he was alive again.

End by talking about how at Easter, Jesus died and came back to life. Christians believe that Jesus is with us now as our friend, even though we can’t see him.

Have you ever heard someone say, ‘That’s a job for the plumber’, or ‘the AA’, or even ‘the dentist’! Some jobs need experts.

Has anyone heard of Captain Chelsey B. Sullenberger? His expertise hit the world news in 2009. (Show image.)

Captain Chelsey B. Sullenberger

On 15 January 2009 Captain Chelsey B. Sullenberger III, or ‘Sully’ as he is known to his friends, took his seat in the cockpit of the US Airways Flight 1549. This routine flight was travelling from New York City to Charlotte, North Carolina. There were 155 passengers on board as well as a full crew.

Six minutes after take-off the plane flew into a flock of Canada geese and was disabled by a complete loss of thrust from both engines.

As Air Traffic Control raced to find a nearby airport and runway, Sully glided the plane on to the Hudson River adjacent to mid-town Manhattan. As boats and fire services raced to the rescue all the passengers and crew climbed on to the wings of the slowly sinking plane.

All escaped without loss of life. It was the first time in 45 years that a major aircraft had crash-landed on water with no loss of life. (Show web image of ditched plane on the Hudson River.) It turned out that this plane was equipped with state of the art technology, which assisted the pilot in the very difficult art of crash-landing safely on moving water.

When this event was reported, the media of course focused in on the hero of the day, Captain B. Sullenberger. It was reported that Sully had over 40 years of flying experience. He had trained as a US Air Force fighter pilot and had served as an instructor, safety chairman and accident investigator. In other words, he was extremely experienced!

Captain B. Sullenberger also co-directs the University of California’s centre for Catastrophic Risk Management. This centre researches ways to avoid airline tragedies. And he lectures on emergency landings! One of his colleagues said that there was no one more qualified to land that plane and to help the passengers survive a crisis.

Captain Sully was the right person, in the right place, at the right time.

As we approach the Christian festival of Easter, we learn that Jesus was also the right person in the right place at the right time for the job allotted to him.

Ever since history began, the world has known selfishness, greed, corruption and wars. People of faith believe that this is because people have the potential to do both good and bad things.

Christians believe that Jesus was sent by God over 2,000 years ago to live in the land of Palestine (or Israel, as it is called today). He lived a good life and showed us what God is really like.

Christians also believe that only God’s Son could do that. Jesus was the right person for the job of showing us God.

Time for reflection

Imagine what it must have been like for the passengers on board the plane that day.  Would it have helped the passengers to know the credentials of their pilot?  How does it help us to know the credentials of Jesus?

Prayer

Dear God, thank you for the skill of Captain Sullenberger.  Thank you that he was able to land that aeroplane miraculously with no deaths.  Thank you for Jesus, that he did everything necessary to bring us to you and your love.  Amen.

Prayer Spaces in Schools: Holy Week resources

Prayer Spaces in Schools - Easter Resource

Prayer Spaces in Schools have created 9 prayer stations around the themes of Holy Week and Easter.  They are free to download and great for a youth group session in the run up to Easter:

Stories are more than entertainment. Good stories invite us to join in. These prayer activities invite students to participate and engage in the Easter story as it unfolds, to consider Jesus’ thoughts and feelings, and to reflect on their own thoughts and feelings as well.

Good stories enable us to see our own life-story in new ways. These prayer activities invite students to reflect on the events and relationships in their lives, and encourages them to express their thoughts and feelings, ask questions, and if they want to, try praying.

Nine ideas for reflection and prayer are included in this series, exploring;
+ Palm Sunday – Joy
+ The Last Supper – Friendship
+ Gethsemane – Big Questions
+ Carrying the Cross – Worries
+ Simon’s Help – Helping Others
+ The Cross: “Forgive Them Father” – Forgiveness
+ The Cross – Saying Sorry
+ The Resurrection – Hopes & Dreams
+ The Great Commission – Making the World a Better Place