CrossTeach banned from Church primary school for being ‘extremist’

A primary school in Kent has cuts its ties with a Christian group after parents complained of religious extremism and claimed children had been distressed by comments about gay marriage and a demonstration of “God’s power” in assemblies.

Dan Turvey, the headteacher of St John’s Church of England primary school in Tunbridge Wells, told parents in a letter that he was ending invitations to the charity CrossTeach to lead school assemblies and take lessons, after what he called a campaign by parents.

One parent said children were being told ‘they would not go to a good place when they died’ if they did not believe in God, according to the Telegraph, and another said her son had been told ‘men can’t marry men’, according to the Guardian.

The parents group said in a statement:

‘We recognise and respect the school’s Christian values but think there is a brand of Christianity that is abusing that respect. The basis of [our] complaint relates purely to concerns over the welfare and safeguarding of children who we believe are being exposed to potentially damaging ideology.’

In a letter to parents on Monday Turvey said he was ‘deeply saddened’ to be severing ties but acknowledged children had been ‘upset and disturbed emotionally’.  He wrote:

‘After careful consideration I have decided that we will end our regular commitment to CrossTeach and that they will no longer lead assemblies or take lessons.’

But he added: I do not believe CrossTeach has done anything wrong.’

He said the group would continue to run a voluntary after school club. ‘They do not deserve the tarnishing of their good name and allegations of extremism that have taken place over the last few months,’ he told parents.

One parent who asked not to be named said:

‘I didn’t pull my mine out because overall I think it would do more harm than good to segregate them.

‘But I do know some of the children have been upset by what they have heard. No one minds Nativity plays and Bible stories but considering most of the parents at the school aren’t practising Christians I think the feeling is that it’s all too much.

‘In Tunbridge Wells the vast majority of primary schools are affiliated with the church so it’s not like you have a choice whether you expose your children to this.

‘Personally I want my children to learn about all religions. If you want them to be raised as Christians there are plenty of Sunday schools.’

But Turvey hit back at the parents’ complaints and said: ‘It is my view that the use of social media can be destructive and counterproductive. In this case I believe that the damage caused by the use of this media will take a very long time to repair.’

He added ‘relationships have been soured and trust eroded’, telling parents ‘the past few months have been stressful, tiring and a distraction from our focus’.

Wayne Harris, the national director at CrossTeach, said the group was a charity and worked with schools under constant supervision, observing school policies and national guidleines, where applicable. He added:

“Whilst we note the strong comments made by Mr Daniel Turvey, Headteacher, in support of our workers and activities, Crossteach is very disappointed that, after 16 years of supporting the school, our work will no longer be available to young people at St Johns CE Primary School, Tunbridge Wells.

“Wherever possible we work in partnership with local churches and we reflect their teaching, always aiming to be sensitive to the local context, and recognising that churches vary. We teach mainstream Christianity.

“In 16 years of Christian schools work no teacher has ever raised a concern that something has been said that could be interpreted as in any way ‘hateful’ or ‘extremist’.”

Every school should have a therapist

Lord Layard also wants government to assess how much value schools add to pupils’ happiness.
Every school should have an on-site therapist, according to one of the country’s leading economists and wellbeing experts.
Lord Layard, director of the wellbeing programme at the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance, has also called for all schools to employ a senior teacher in charge of mental health.

He wants child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) to provide therapeutic services in schools. “Extra money for child mental health should be devoted to building a school-based wing of Camhs,” he said.

Lord Layard said this should include trained therapists in schools. “I would use the word ‘therapist’, rather than ‘counsellor’,” he said.

He suggested that the government should assess how much value schools add to pupils’ happiness. “If the only thing measured is exams, we will never get anything else given equal importance to that,” he told a conference on wellbeing and mental health in education, organised by the International Positive Education Network.

“Happiness and wellbeing should be something that the school uses, to see how well it’s doing. How well does a school do in changing the happiness of its children?

“Eventually…every school will have a senior teacher in charge of mental health.”

Speaking at the same conference on Friday, Mario Piacentini, of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), spoke about the organisation’s new ranking of developed countries by pupils’ levels of happiness.

“The number-one driver of dissatisfaction is anxiety,” Dr Piacentini said. “More than one in two students in the OECD worries excessively about the difficulty of exams. They get very tense, even if they perceive they’re well-prepared for the exam.”

But, he added, teachers are able to allay this anxiety to some degree.

“Whenever students feel support from their teachers – if the teacher adapts the lesson for the class’s skills and knowledge – there is a reduction in anxiety.

“But, if there are problems of communication with teachers, the level of anxiety jumps up.”

Photos of children taken on their first and last day of school

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Parents always remember their child’s first day of school and their last, but they rarely have the foresight to recreate the first day photo some thirteen years later on their last day of school.

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If the child was being held by their mum or dad in the first day photo it will naturally be much harder to replicate, but this strong dad powered through the last day photo shoot for the sake of posterity.

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Bored Panda asked people to submit their first versus last day of school pics in honor of kids going back to school, and most of the submissions they received were surprisingly creative.

Some used Photoshop skills to create a time travel paradox so they could stand next to their first day of school selves.

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Something tells me people are going to start doing this a whole lot more now

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.

Band of Brothers Suit Up to Protect Bullied Kid

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Danny Keefe, a 6-year-old boy at the Mitchell Elementary School in Bridgewater, Massachussetts, is disabled because of a brain hemorrhage at birth and has a speech impediment problem.

Regardless, Danny is a cheerful – and dapper – water boy for his Bridgewater Badgers peewee football team. We say “dapper” because Danny always wear a suit and tie, as well as a fedora, to school.

The football team’s coach always remind the team that they’re a “Band of Brothers,” and that despite his disability, Danny is one of them and that they should treat him as an equal.

So, when the football team quarterback Tommy Cooney heard that Danny was getting bullied because of the way he speaks, he rallied the troop to do something: they arranged a “Danny Appreciation Day,” where every boy in the team came to school dressed up like Danny.

Children can be mean, but these kids are awesome! Watch the video clip below by WCVB Channel 5 Boston that will reaffirm your faith in humanity:

[youtube id=”Gq7ZgXz_YLc” width=”580″ height=”337″]

UFO Crashes at Primary School

UFO in school

Students at North Harringay primary school in Geater London, England, were surprised to find that a flying saucer had crash-landed in the school’s pavement. It had apparently landed so hard that it was half-buried in the asphalt!

A forensic officer was spotted inspecting the UFO while police closely guarded the scene, which was roped off while investigations took place.

The whole event was just the inspiration pupils needed for a creative writing day at the school, and was orchestrated by Emma Hassan, its literacy leader, with the help of one very creative parent and a local PC.

A parent had built the spacecraft for the school and also showed up dressed as a forensic detective. A police constable was also recruited to lend authenticity to the stunt. Many examples of creative writing were accomplished that day and a good time was had by all.

Questions for choosing a school for your child

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Loved the post Questions for choosing a school for your child that Hannah wrote.  Here’s a snippet:

Daniel started back at pre-school last week and continues to love it.  I have been very aware over the last few weeks that this time next year Daniel will be starting school.  Believe it or not, it will soon be time to start thinking about applying for his school place.  Like many parents up and down the country, over the next few weeks Chris and I will be visiting some of our local schools to make a decision as to which school we put as our first choice for Daniel.  In preparation for this, I have made a list of things to consider and questions to ask to help us make our decision.

  1. How near is it?  We will aim to walk to school as much as possible and there’s only so much walking Daniel’s legs can manage!  If you intend to drive to the school then you may want to consider how easy it will be to park nearby during peak times at the beginning and end of the school day.
  2. What catchment area are you in?  Just because you live near to a particular school doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily in the catchment area for it.  In many places, not being in the catchment area can be a real hindrance when trying to get a place at the school of your choice.
  3. What is the school’s admissions criteria?  As with the above question, living near a particular school does not guarantee you a place there.  Different schools have different admissions criteria.  For example, some give preference to children from particular religious denominations.
  4. How did they do in their Ofsted report?  To me, an Ofsted report does not represent the sum total of how good a school is.  However, it is a good starting point.  Reading through an Ofsted report can give you a good indication of some of the school’s strengths and weaknesses.  Do bear in mind, though, that an Ofsted can only give a narrow snapshot of a school.
  5. Where are they in the league tables?  If there is a limit to what an Ofsted report can tell you, then this is even more the case with a league table.  However, it’s worth a look nevertheless.
  6. What do other people say about the school?  You will find a parent from every school who says their child is bullied there.  In the same way, you will always find some parents who like the headteacher and some who don’t.  By asking around you will be able to get a good feel for what the school’s general reputation is like.

I think you can tell a lot from your gut feeling when you look around a school.  Do the children look happy and is it a bright, colourful and inspiring environment?  Can you imagine your child there?  Hopefully most schools should tick all of these boxes.  Despite this, though, I find it hard to imagine my little boy going to school and, to be honest, I hope this next year goes by very slowly!

Do go and check out the full post to see all 15 questions.

Poverty in schools

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UNISON has published the results of a survey of 3,000 school support staff. Key findings include:

  • 87% say children are coming to school tired
  • 85% say children are coming to school hungry
  • 80% see children coming to school without proper uniforms or in worn out clothes
  • 73% believe that poverty has a negative impact on the education of the children in their school
  • 57% see the children in their school in poor physical health
  • 55% believe that some children at their school appear to be suffering mental health issues as a result of rising poverty levels
  • 55% have seen an increase in the number of children who rely on breakfast clubs in this school year

11 year old fakes being kidnapped to avoid parents evening!

A boy in Spain was dreading a planned parents evening.  He had not done well in school, so he anticipated a bad meeting. Fortunately, he came up with a brilliant solution:

Early on Monday afternoon the unnamed 11-year-old son of a Spanish police officer stationed in the north-western town of Xinzo de Limia sent a text message from his mobile phone to tell his father he had been kidnapped.

When his father phoned back, the boy confirmed the worst. He had been snatched off the street as he was putting out the rubbish, he said, and was locked in the boot of a car. He had no idea where his kidnappers were taking him, but knew that the car he was in was a blue Seat. […]

It was only two hours later that the boy’s father noticed the keys to a spare flat owned by the family were missing.

The child was soon discovered there and reportedly explained that he had been terrified by the prospect of his parents going to school to speak to his teachers.

Read the full story here