New approach to personalised learning helps to close gap for disadvantaged pupils #sparx #learning #schools #education #homework

A new approach to personalised learning could be the solution to halting the increasing educational gap between under-privileged and privileged children, according to one of the country’s leading education business experts.  

Personalised learning – an approach involving tailoring education to each child’s needs – should be the answer to ensuring every child fulfills their potential. But critics say it has previously done the opposite, with overburdened teachers struggling to differentiate for each and every child and disadvantaged pupils becoming trapped by low predicted grades.

Now Dan Sandhu, CEO of socially focussed learning technology company Sparx, says a new form of personalised learning can deliver the right results: “Sparx has spent 7 years working with schools to research this new approach. The impact on pupil progress, and particularly on disadvantaged pupils, has been staggering in the schools which have adopted it. Free School Meals (FSM) pupils are now making equal progress to non-FSM. As well, a recent test showed one of our schools, with nearly 50 per cent disadvantaged pupils, had the highest rate of progress in Yr 7 and 8 maths among 16 schools across their county.*”

Sparx is working with schools across Devon including many of those in the Ted Wragg Trust and Education South West, and has just started working with Westcountry Schools Trust.

Dan explained: “Together we have developed a platform – initially for maths homework – where the best of modern technology works in harmony with the essential skill of the teacher. The system carefully assesses what level a pupil is at and sets and marks bespoke homework for each student. It adapts to ensure they are being stretched and provides insights for the teachers which help them support each pupil.”

The approach, which involves pupils completing both online tasks and bookwork, is proving extremely popular with teachers and students alike. It is saving each teacher around two hours a week on admin, planning, and marking and students are more motivated and confident in the subject. One school, which had previously reported lower than 20 per cent homework completion rates, saw that figure jump to 98 per cent after introducing Sparx Maths Homework.[1]

Dan, who was voted as one of Education Technology’s top 100 most influential leaders globally, feels confident Sparx’ rigorously tested approach can have a big impact on pupil progress across the ability range. “Our aim is to improve life opportunities for over 5 million learners by 2030. For us there are no shortcuts. We believe in supporting students for the longer term – making a real difference.”

Headteacher Stephen Farmer, whose school Cranbrook Education Campus in Exeter came top in the progress test after piloting the platform, believes it is the way forward in teaching:

“This approach to personalised learning is so much better than anything before. The live nature of it is what makes it stand out from the crowd. It adapts as the pupil uses it, making it harder or easier according to how pupils are doing. With other systems everyone gets the same questions and it doesn’t adapt to get the best out of each pupil.

“Our pupils love it. It’s really built their confidence. And the analytics side of it has been really important for the teachers. It gives them specific detailed information on how each student is doing and what they’re struggling with. We would like a Sparx for every subject!”

Invite the inspirational Hope Virgo to talk at your school about mental health #mentalhealth #anorexia #schools #education #talks

Hope is a mental health campaigner and author and an ambassador for the Shaw Mind Foundation.Hope suffered with anorexia for over 4 years, before being admitted to a Mental Health Hospital in 2007. She lived in the hospital for a year, fighting one of the hardest battles of her life. Since being discharged, she has fought to stay well.

Hope is now at the stage of ‘ongoing recovery’ and wants to use her experiences of mental health illness to champion the rights of others, inspire them to get well, and help break the stigma of mental illness.

Read More about Hope

12 Teaching Podcasts Every Teacher In The UK Should Listen To At Least Once (And 2 To Help You Learn And Laugh Together!) #Teachers #Podcasts #Education

Teaching podcasts – UK, America or wherever you are in the world – are a great way for teachers to gather some free and fantastic teaching ideas for the classroom and for SLT to get advice and guidance from school leaders who’ve been there before them.  

However, the vast library of educational podcasts available nowadays can be a little overwhelming, and as a teacher we know that you don’t have the time to trawl through the charts to find the one you want. That’s why, to save you time, we have taken a look through all of the charts and lists that are out there, and found the 12 best UK teaching podcasts you should be listening to (and have thrown in two that you won’t be able to stop laughing at for good measure!)

Teaching Podcast 1: The Edtech Podcast

Sophie Bailey’s podcast is all about improving ‘the dialogue between ed and tech through storytelling’ with the aim of having an impact to better innovation in UK schools. This dual focus means that she roams widely in both content and guests. One week you’ll hear the thoughts of Geoff Barton, the General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, the next week there’ll be an in depth explainer on the implication of Blockchain technology for learners, education providers and employers. What more could you want?

Need to know

• The length of the episodes are driven by the topic and the setting, so be warned, some of them can run for well over an hour.

• As a listener you will be given the chance to eavesdrop onto round-table discussions with some of the bigger players in education or sessions from education festivals and conferences from around the world.

• It’s often the first place you’ll hear from new teachers and entrepreneurs using technology to improve educational outcomes.

• 2018 also saw the first ever Edtech podcast festival – one to watch out for in the future.

Who should listen?

Anyone who is interested in education or technology! There is a fantastic mix of topics included in these podcasts, so they are great for everyone.

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How to escape education’s death valley by Sir Ken Robinson #Talk #Education #TED #Teaching #Learning

Sir Ken Robinson outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish — and how current education culture works against them. In a funny, stirring talk he tells us how to get out of the educational “death valley” we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility.

HOW TO WRITE AN OUTSTANDING PERSONAL STATEMENT FOR POST 16 STUDY #UCAS #University #Personalstatement #contributedpost

Originally Published and Written by
Write On Ejaleigh!

In my teaching role, I am often asked to assist students in preparing their personal statement for education at 16+. Today’s blog post looks at how you can write an outstanding personal statement. This statement will ensure that you stand the best possible chance in your application. Sadly, I can not write the statement for you, but I am going to try and help you through the process, so that it will feel as if you have your own private tutor!

portrait of young woman against white background
Photo by Pixabay on


We don’t want clunky language. Be clear, simple and to the point. So many students think that they need to be over wordy. You don’t. All you need is to tell the person reading your statement why you would be a good choice. Avoid clichés like, I am a team player, I have excellent communication skills, I have good attention to detail, I am a perfectionist.


Instead of saying that you are something, then show me in terms of your experience. I don’t want to hear you are a team player if you can show me by your experience playing in a football team.

eyeglasses with black frame beside macbook pro
Photo by on


Why have you chosen the college – flatter them – but not too much? Make sure that you can put something in your statement that shows that you have researched the college and its course.

I have chosen Fitzwilliam College since it has an excellent reputation, especially within Science. I particularly like the specification of the A Level courses offered, and I look forward to the residential trip to Lincoln Science Centre, where I would relish the opportunity to make a fieldwork study.

woman standing in hallway while holding book
Photo by Anastasiya Gepp on


Start with your academic achievements over the past two years, your predicted grades and why you want to study at 16+ and possibly where you want to go eventually. If you are not sure then still, try and think of something that you really love, or which enthuses you.

I am currently studying nine GCSES and I have predicted grades of 7 and 8. I aim to study three A levels in my preferred choices of Maths, Biology and Chemistry, as these are the subjects that I enjoy most and in my mock exams, I scored the highest. I aim to go onto higher education where I would like to continue my study of science. I intend to go into science research and aspire to be a forensic scientist. I find the subject fascinating and I read widely on it.

man in black and white polo shirt beside writing board
Photo by Pixabay on


Mind map activities in your past such as hobbies. Explain what you have done and what you have gained from the experience. Again SHOW ME.

I am a keen sportsman. I have always been interested in keeping myself fit and healthy. From a young age, I have been involved in amateur football leagues. I have played in teams from the age of seven. I still play in an amateur league twice a week and in addition, I coach a younger team of seven- and eight-year olds. In this role, I liaise regularly with visiting teams, parents, managers and the children.

close up photo of a soccer ball
Photo by on


Work Experience

This can be anything from babysitting to a week spent helping your Dad at his office. Make it sound realistic but relevant.

I contacted Asda Technology Centre and I undertook work experience there for a fortnight. I learnt how to input data, financial transactions, how to respond to consumer concerns and how to produce literature to explain operations systems.  I used my own initiative to write a help guide for future users.

I also work part-time in a restaurant where I take orders, serve customers and clean tables. I have enjoyed all aspects of working in a very popular and busy establishment.

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Photo by Pixabay on


Any other relevant skills / hobbies? This is just to show that you are human really and it is often something to discuss at interview.

You might not want to write here that you play a computer game for three hours a day, but you certainly should put in any hobbies that you may have that have enabled you to acquire additional skills. For example. visiting old people in a care home, playing the piano for relaxation, learning about a genre of cinema.

I am an amateur stamp collector and my love of stamps has enabled me to meet many people from different cultures and countries. I regularly attend conventions in order to meet other collectors and to buy and swop stamps.

In my free time, I am a huge fan of the Doctor Who series. I regularly go to conventions where I meet other fans and actors from the show. This provides a welcome relief from my studies.

woman lying on green grass while holding pencil
Photo by Liam Anderson on


End your application in a polite and formal manner.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Here is an example of a personal statement for 16+

I would like to apply to study for A levels at Roundhay College. In addition to my application form, I should like to submit the following in support of my application.

I am a student at Cornfield Community College where I am studying for nine GCSEs, including two sciences, history and drama. I have taken my mock examinations and my predicted grades are level 5 and level 6. I would like to study at Roundhay College for a BTech in Performing Arts with a view to studying for a Higher Education degree course in acting. It is my intention to work in the theatre or to teach at a drama school. Roundhay College offers a more hands-on course with continuous assessment.

Drama is my passion. Since the age of three I have attended classes at the Pauline Quirke School of Performing Arts. I have performed in many shows organised by the Academy, including lead roles in Oliver, and Annie. I recently passed my Grade VI acting certificate with distinction. I also like to help at the Academy, and I assist the teachers with drama classes to younger children.

In June 2018, I completed a week’s work experience at Roundhay Playhouse, where I worked with the stage manager. I had to source and buy props as well as act as assistant to the stage manager during performances. I was fortunate to be asked to work with the lighting director in designing the lighting for a new production.

I love singing in my spare time and I visit a care home regularly with my friends to perform songs from the musicals. We have relished the opportunity to bring happiness to the residents and it has also helped many who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. I have also been fortunate to be asked to sing at many local fundraising events such as Notwheel Carnival and Bespoken Fair.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Sarah-Jayne Smith

Good luck and if you have any further questions then do feel free to leave them in the comments below.

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Inspiring Young People In STEM: Activities and Improving Communication #Futurelearn #Learning #onlinecourse #STEM

Improve your communication skills and confidence volunteering with young people

Engaging young people through practical STEM activities is a proven way to get young people excited about STEM subjects, a passion that may lead to further learning and greater awareness about STEM careers.

On this course you will learn how to improve your communication with young people as a volunteer. You will build your confidence in presenting and collaborating so that you’re able to carry out activities that help young people develop an enjoyment of STEM subjects.Play VideoDownload video: standard or HD

What topics will you cover?

This two-week, self-paced course will cover:

  • Active listening and an introduction to questioning for learning.
  • Non-verbal communication and running a room.
  • Starting, delivering and finishing a practical activity with young people.

When would you like to start?

  • Available nowThis course started 4 February 2019

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you’ll be able to…

  • Demonstrate effective verbal and non-verbal communication with young people.
  • Demonstrate appropriate use of presentation, collaboration and discussion techniques to inspire young people to continue with STEM subjects or STEM careers.
  • Develop their confidence, skills and ability to do practical activities with young people.

Who is the course for?

This course has been created for anyone volunteering with young people in STEM. This includes STEM Ambassadors in the UK, youth volunteering group organisers, field trip educators, scout groups (and similar), outdoor pursuit centres, outreach from NGOs. You will need knowledge of STEM subjects or experience of working in a STEM environment.

To get the most out of this course, learners should complete the two courses prior to this one in the program:

Who developed the course?


The National STEM Learning Centre provides world-class professional development activities and resources to support the teaching of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.

STEM Ambassador

STEM Ambassadors are volunteers from all STEM disciplines and backgrounds including engineers, designers, architects, scientists and technicians.

Join this course


  • Access to this course for 4 weeks
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes


  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you’re eligible
  • Download and print your Certificate of Achievement anytime

UpgradeWant to know more? Check our FAQs

Do you know someone who’d love this course? Tell them about it…

You can use the hashtag #FLSTEMInspiring to talk about this course on social media.

More courses you might like

Learners who joined this course have also enjoyed these courses.NATIONAL STEM LEARNING CENTREInspiring Young People In STEM: Using Feedback to ImproveLearn how to obtain and use feedback to help you improve your volunteering and STEM activities with young people.2 weeks3 hrs per weekGOLDSMITHS, UNIVERSITY OF LONDONLearn Jazz Piano: II. Improvising on Jazz StandardsExplore improvisation in jazz music and further develop your ability to improvise jazz piano.6 weeks3 hrs per weekUNIVERSITY OF LEEDSInnovation: the World’s GreatestUnderstand what innovation means and consider the history and developments of innovations that are important in our daily lives.2 weeks2 hrs per week

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The Danish Way of Parenting #Books #Parenting #Education

‘A shining alternative to high-stress modern parenting, and families from New Delhi to New York will shout with joy’ Heather Shumaker, author of It’s OK Not to Share and It’s OK to Go Up the Slide


What makes Denmark the happiest country in the world — and how do Danish parents raise happy, confident, successful kids, year after year? This upbeat and practical guide reveals the six essential principles that have been working for parents in Denmark for decades:

– Play: essential for development and well-being
– Authenticity: fosters trust and an ‘inner compass’
– Reframing: helps kids cope with setbacks and look on the bright side
– Empathy: allows us to act with kindness towards others
– No ultimatums: no power struggles or resentment
– Togetherness: a way to celebrate family time, on special occasions and every day

A revealing and fresh take on parenting advice, The Danish Way of Parenting will help parents from all walks of life raise the happiest, most well-adjusted kids in the world.

Read more on Amazon

50 quick lesson ideas for substitute teachers #teaching #learning #lessonplanning #education

If you’re looking for substitute teaching inspiration, look no further! Whether you’re a seasoned sub or a total newbie, we’ve got you covered with these 50 tips, tricks and ideas from our very own WeAreTeachers HELPLINE! and around the Web.

1. Kids getting antsy with those last awkward ten minutes? Try one of these ideas from Love, Teach.

2. Stay on task, and leave a record. “Follow the lesson plans as much as humanly possible, leave detailed notes for the teacher about what got done or didn’t get done, which students were awesome and not so awesome, and leave your number if you really enjoyed the class.” —Dawn M.

3. Need a break? Try one of these quick popsicle-stick time-fillers from Journey of a Substitute Teacher.

4. If you don’t have anything nice to say… “Be pleasant in the faculty room if you eat there. Never say anything negative about the school, teachers, or students.” —Donna N.

5. Kids won’t stop texting? Put their phone in cell phone jail for the period.

Image from Buzzfeed

6. Dress in layers. “Some rooms are freezing and some are hotter than heck!” —Edith I.

7. Don’t be afraid to be picky. “I have a list of teachers I won’t sub for because no matter what, they always seem to have ‘that’ class. In other words, not very good behavior management which means subbing for them is a nightmare.” —Eric D.

8. Subbing for second? Here are some quick and free emergency substitute activity ideas from Second Grade Locker Room.

9. We love these classroom management tips especially for substitutes from The Cornerstone.

10. Bring your own supplies, either in a backpack…

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Ten good reads for teachers #Teaching #Books #Education

Plato’s Republic, Rousseau’s Émile and Dewey’s Democracy and Education – there’s a strong case to be made, as Dennis Hayes has, that these are the only books on education that teachers need to read.

But if I was about to enter the classroom as a teacher for the first time or was looking to improve my practice, I would probably want to read something with more practical advice on what I should be doing and, more importantly, on what I shouldn’t.

Much of what happens in a classroom is highly variable and hard to define, but over the last 10 years a wealth of books has sought to draw together evidence from other fields and provide a series of “best bets” on what might have the greatest impact on student learning. Here are just a few of them.

Read on from The Guardian

Top five qualities of effective teachers, according to students #Teaching #Learning #Education

Students are most affected by the quality of their teachers. Not only do they interact with teachers every day in the classroom, but the quality of that interaction matters for our students’ future. In fact, Stanford University economist Eric Hanushek has noted that the difference between a good and a bad teacher can be a full level of student achievement in a single school year. But students are rarely asked what they think makes a great teacher.

So, we asked. Pearson surveyed students ages 15-19 across the U.S. about what they thought made an effective teacher. Their responses highlight just how important a student-focused approach is to the learning experience. The top five qualities of a great teacher, according to students, are:

1. The ability to develop relationships with their students

The most frequent response is that a great teacher develops relationships with students. The research literature agrees with them: Teachers need to be able to build trusting relationships with students in order to create a safe, positive, and productive learning environment. For example, a student in Boston told us that great teachers are “Willing to listen to students when there is a problem.”

2. Patient, caring, and kind personality

Personality characteristics related to being a compassionate person and having a sensitivity to student differences, particularly with learners, was the second most frequently reported quality. Again, there is research to support that teacher dispositions are strongly related to student learning and development.

3. Knowledge of learners

This is a broad category that incorporates knowledge of the cognitive, social and emotional development of learners. It includes an understanding of how students learn at a given developmental level; how learning in a specific subject area typically progresses like learning progressions or trajectories; awareness that learners have individual needs and abilities; and an understanding that instruction should be tailored to meet each learner’s needs. One student eloquently described it as: “The teacher understands the pace and capacity of the student.”

4. Dedication to teaching

Dedication refers to a love of teaching or passion for the work, which includes commitment to students’ success. Responses often referred to loving the subject matter or simply being dedicated to the work. To a student, this means a teacher should be “always willing to help and give time.”

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