A report from Helen Jones, PGCE Primary student teacher.

One of the best days so far of my Primary PGCE! Oldcastle Primary School was taken over for a STEM week and we gave Year 6 the eggstraordinary challenge set by the Welsh Space Agency.  After being shown the recent disastrous Mars Rover landing, Year 6 needed a better design to safely land an eggstronaut, of course to budget and time!  The challenge had three part: firstly the survival of the eggstronaut; secondly the quickest rescue; and, lastly, the cheapest design. The countdown started and the construction began in earnest to protect their eggs with paper, balloons, string, cups and plastic bags.  Mission Control launched the eggstronaut from the third floor window and we waited with bated breath…..

Every eggstronaut landed safely, although a few did not survive an overzealous rescue!  The energy and learning in the room was second to none and with memories like these, I can’t wait for STEM week next year!

‘Egg-siting science! No yolk!’

Picture a cold and windy week in November 2016. Three intrepid PGCE students – Helen Jones, Liam Coupland and Amy Griffiths – and two tutors – Julia Jenkins and Lisa Fenn – were no longer linked to Cardiff Met. They, along with Sally Bethel (Head Rocket engineer) and Paul Herrington (aka Commander X), were security authorised personnel of the highly secret ‘Welsh Space Agency’ for Oldcastle Primary School STEM week. What followed was an assignment which could have been dangerous, groundbreaking…. but was incredible fun! For three days they worked with the children on ‘flight and space’ related problem solving tasks: Amy and Julia with Year 4 making kites; Liam, Julia and Lisa with Y5 building and firing gas powered rockets; and Helen and Julia with Year 6 aiming to safely land an ‘eggstranaut’! Will the ‘Welsh Space Agency’ return for another episode next year? You bet! We can’t wait!

Why become a teacher?

If you are struggling with planning, marking and behaviour management, you might well be asking yourself this question a lot lately!

But at Cardiff Met we are interested in what makes our next generation of teachers tick, so the November student poll asked about the factors that have attracted you into teaching.

The results are rather heartening.

The kids are okay

The number one reason is because you want to work with children and young people (66% of you).  Whilst young people and teaching often get a bad press, you clearly recognise the reality that working with young people is a valuable and rewarding vocation.

This top reason is closely followed by wanting to make a difference (65%).  Thinking back through your own experience of school, you’ll know the truth of this.  Teachers make a difference without even realising it much of the time.  If you want a fabulous example of how teachers make a difference, take a look at how Mr Burton made a difference to Musharaf’s life in Educating Yorkshire:

why-teach

Inspired by others

We can all think back to a teacher who made an impression on us, and just over half of you have been encouraged into teaching by an inspirational teacher (51%).  Interestingly, about a fifth of you clearly have teaching in the blood and come from a family of teachers (and it didn’t put you off!).   A considerable proportion of you are inspired by wanting to pass on your enjoyment of a particular subject (45%).

Prospects

You perceive teaching as a profession with a good outlook, as many of you see it as a stable job (41%) and a respected career (37%). Interestingly, pay and holidays are not big motivations with just under a fifth of you citing these as reasons for choosing a teaching career.

Here are some light-hearted reminders as to why teaching is the best job in the world. Click below:

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why-become-a-teacher

Top Fiction for Christmas

Sharne Watkins

There can be no better time to snuggle up with a good book than Christmas.  Whether you are looking for a book to share with pupils, a gift to buy a loved one, or looking for a treat for yourself, you can’t go too far wrong with any from the following selection.  Now pick a book, take time to relax, savour the moment and envelop yourself in the wonder of the festive season.

1

Clement C Moore’s timeless verse, beautifully illustrated by Christian Birmingham, is the perfect book for bringing the awe and wonder to Christmas Eve.  Many include this book as part of their family tradition over Christmas, and it’s not hard to see why.

2

This Kate Greenaway winning Christmas classic details the poignant tale of Jonathan Toomey. An expert woodcarver, he is always alone and no one knows why.  His lonely existence is gradually and convincingly transformed through his friendship with a little boy and his widowed mother and is a beautiful read.  A true Christmas classic.

3

It is hard to imagine Christmas without the extraordinary tale of Scrooge and the spirits that visited him that very special Christmas.  A story that deserves to be read by all!

4

The cover says this book is ‘for children everywhere’ and that includes children aged 1-101!  The reader is invited to journey with the jolly postman as he delivers the letters that you get to open!  Some pages double as envelopes and in each one is a wonderful surprise to read and enjoy. This is an interactive book guaranteed to engage the most disinterested of readers.

5

A beautiful book from Wales’ very own Dylan Thomas.  This book recalls memories of heartfelt, joyful childhood Christmasses.  It is written with lyrical prose and is a great read for those with a nostalgic nature.

6

Seen the movie?  Now read the book.  There can be few books more beautifully illustrated than The Polar Express.  Join the journey to the North Pole and find out what is waiting there.  For those of you stopped believing.  This will convince you to change your mind.

 

Achievement of 15 Year Olds in Wales: PISA 2015

Key outcomes for Wales

(as taken from the Executive Summary)

Achievement in science

The average PISA science score for Wales in 2015 was 485. This is 20 points lower than the average in 2006 (505).

Achievement in mathematics

The average PISA mathematics score for Wales in 2015 was 478. The average score has fluctuated over the last decade, but is at a similar level in 2015 as it was in 2006 (484).

Achievement in reading

The average PISA reading score for Wales in 2015 was 477. This has remained stable since 2006 (481).

Although there are clear socio-economic differences in 15-year-olds’ PISA scores, socio-economic inequality is actually much lower in Wales than the rest of the UK, and compared to most other countries across the world. In Wales, the gap between pupils from the most and least advantaged 25 per cent of families in Wales is around 50 test points in science. This is much smaller than the average across industrialised countries (88 points). However, this small gap is at least partly driven by the comparatively weak academic performance of pupils from the most advantaged socio-economic backgrounds in Wales relative to their equally advantaged socio-economic peers in other industrialised countries.

Read Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams’ response here:

http://gov.wales/newsroom/educationandskills/2016/161206-wales-will-have-the-courage-to-deliver-national-mission-of-education-reform/?lang=en

Access the PISA Report here:

http://gov.wales/docs/statistics/2016/161206-pisa-2015-en.pdf

“Successful Futures” Meeting Professor Graham Donaldson

kris
Kris Evans PGCE Primary Student

Spanning 68 separate proposals, ‘Successful Futures’ proposes vast changes to the Welsh curriculum. As a student teacher looking to enter the profession, Professor Donaldson’s report caught my attention before I even started the course. It would seem impossible for anyone remotely interested in education in Wales to not have heard of it. So, when the opportunity arose to attend a lecture led by Professor Donaldson himself I was eager to take part and find out more about the proposals.

Early on in the seminar it became clear that the reform seeks to raise the standards of the existing practice within Wales.

“The current curriculum is getting in the way of good practice, not supporting it”.

It asks teachers to be leaders and not just followers. The reform also weighs in heavily on building upon the recently implemented Digital Competency Framework (September 2016) and the Welsh Assembly Government’s vision for expanding the number of Welsh speakers within Wales.

Continue reading ““Successful Futures” Meeting Professor Graham Donaldson”