Can I Have a Word? The case for GCSE ICT

I read in the news today that the latest subject to be meddled with is the GCSE ICT curriculum.  It seems that the ‘boring’ lessons (where students learn Word and Excel) are not meeting the needs of businesses and that the qualification is perceived to be worthless in the real world.   I embrace the changes, and the idea of offering ‘computer science’.  However, it isn’t realistic to think that we can do away with Word and Excel.

Basic grasp at the basic level

As a lecturer in ICT in Further Education, I have seen many 16 year olds joining college with at best a basic grasp of Word and Excel, and certainly a limited knowledge of social media.  But Word and Excel are essential tools and I am concerned that they are being dismissed as inconsequential.  I have yet to meet a 16-year old student...

Do you suffer from ‘Clutter-itis’?

Yesterday was ‘National Clean Off Your Desk Day’.  If you are desk-bound and suffer from the highly contagious syndrome of clutter-itis (so common amongst time-challenged people), this was your golden opportunity to make some changes.

If you didn’t know about the NCOYD Day or you decided it wasn’t for you, here are some thoughts:

If you think that putting papers and documents in piles will save you time by avoiding filing, try this: each time you touch a piece of paper or document, place a small mark on the top right hand corner.  Be rigorous about this!  I think you’ll be surprised at how many times you handle the paperwork. 

Sometimes the piles of papers stack up because you have nowhere to put them.  Make some files and folders, even if they are labelled ‘Miscellaneous’.  Use some numbered tabs, write an index at the...

It Ain’t What You Do…… (behaviour management)

Behaviour management: It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it! (and that’s what gets results) (with grateful thanks to Bananarama)

In her book “Getting the Buggers to Behave”, Sue Cowley ( says that we can alter our tone and delivery to increase student engagement.  Here’s a section from the chapter “The Effective Teacher”.

Wonder – putting a tone of wonder and interest into your voice will help you engage a class.

Excitement – an excited tone can help you give pace and energy to a subject or activity, it can help you motivate and inspire learners to participate in the learning.

Deadly – this is a tone that tells your students you are not happy.  It is a cold, calculated sound, rather than one of anger.

Disappointment – when dealing with misbehaviour, disappointment is one of the most valuable tones of all.

A slow pace can be useful for calming down...

Year 10 Work Experience Placements

I’m in the middle of helping my son to organise a work experience placement for July 2012.  In my opinion it’s a crucially important event in the life of a young person, particularly if we give it the importance it warrants.  For some youngsters this might  be the first ‘proper’ reference they might receive.  It’s an opportunity for them to learn new  skills and show their talents.  Not to mention a much-needed quick dose of the real world.

But here’s the frustration; I’m told by the Work Experience Placement Officer at my son’s school that, due to the economic situation, many companies say they are unable to take work experience placements.  This is because of one or all of the following reasons:

  1. Insufficient staff to supervise the placement

  2. Incorrect or inadequate employer liability insurance

  3. Detailed Risk Assessments are mandatory

  4. Job descriptions are...

8 tips to keep you sane around teenagers at the weekend

I’m lucky, I have 4 teenagers around at the weekends, but apart from a touch of laziness they are good kids.  Even so, they can be maddening!  Here’s what I try to do:

1        Allow the lie-in to take place until I ……

2        …. vacuum outside the bedrooms.

3        Put the laundry basket outside their bedroom door in expectation that either:

           -  it will be used for clearing the bedroom floor, or

           -  for one of my teenagers to take to the washing machine.

4        Write a list of chores for them, with an anticipated time for completion (and then expect a mad rush just at the end) in exchange for …..

5        …. agreeing to drive them and their friends to their activities or destinations, on the proviso that they are brought back by the other parents.

6        Smile happily at the grunts as if I...

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