Author: Rachel Andersson

Mental health: is it time we addressed this topic through formal education?

Although exam season may not be the most opportune moment to take a measured view of the overall state of our children’s mental health, it provides a timely snapshot of the sorts of pressures our current education system seems to expect students to absorb: • Required levels of achievement are poorly defined as new qualifications and grading systems are introduced without time for teachers and students to prepare adequately • Students’ futures still depend on performance in high-stakes academic exams rather than on broader measures of achievement across a range of life skills • Increasing youth unemployment drives more...

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SATs stress: mental health first aid is not the answer

Mental health in schools is a hot topic. Recently, there have been calls for schools to introduce policies to foster good mental health and free CPD courses are available in “mental health first aid”. In SATs week and at the onset of the GCSE and A level exam season, it’s timely that our approach to testing students is being blamed for contributing to the burgeoning mental health crisis in schools. It was therefore interesting to read Mark Lehain’s recent article in The Telegraph, “It’s time to stop demonising SATs – we need to test 11-year-olds”. He may, arguably, have...

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Where Next after the Government’s U-Turn on Nursery Staff Qualifications?

There’s no doubt that the Government’s announcement of a U-turn on its requirement for newly recruited nursery staff to hold at least a C grade in GCSE English and Mathematics (first introduced in 2014) is very welcome news. From this coming April, equivalent functional skills qualifications will also be accepted. The requirement for staff counting towards a nursery’s qualified staff to children ratio to hold GCSE qualifications has undoubtedly contributed to recruitment problems in the nurseries sector. Although nurseries were still allowed to employ those who did not meet these minimum requirements, they did not count towards the ratios....

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“Be Bold For Change”: Five Initiatives Widening Girls’ Educational Horizons

“Be Bold For Change” is the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day (8 March), its aim to “forge a better working world – a more inclusive, gender equal world”. The news is full of stories about the gender pay gap, the glass ceiling and under-representation of women in key areas of the workforce, so this particular peon for change seems timely. Yet if change is really to happen – rather than just be talked about – it must be driven not just through the world of work but through our education and values systems, too. With this in...

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Five Reasons Why You Should Consider Joining a Teachers’ Union

Media coverage of trade unions – teaching or otherwise – might seem off-putting, but there are several important reasons why all teachers should at least consider joining one. Forget portrayals of hectoring union chiefs urging strident teachers to take industrial action that affords them (yet another) day off from the classroom while hard-pressed parents struggle (yet again) to reconcile the conflicting demands of childcare and holding down a job. Union membership isn’t just about having the right to strike if the terms and conditions of the job become untenable. Arguably for many members the right to take industrial action...

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