Wednesday, February 13, 2013

'Everyone needs to hear "No" at some point': The British headteacher who dared tell parents to send their kids to bed

A primary school headteacher - fed up with sleepy pupils - has written an open letter to parents warning of the dangers of online gaming and allowing late night television in bedrooms after children in her school were 'ready for bed' by midday.

Suzanne Morgan, headteacher at Saltdean Primary School in Brighton, East Sussex, wrote a letter on the school website addressed to 'parents, carers and children'.

In the letter she claims some pupils were 'a little more than obsessed' with computer games and admitted to playing them 'late into the night'.

The letter goes on: 'This lack of sleep becomes cumulative and it is very difficult for staff to inspire learning from children who by 12 o'clock are ready to go to sleep.'

She adds that the teachers are greeted with 'tired looks' in the morning.

Mrs Morgan also highlights the problem with allowing children having televisions in their rooms: 'As more children have televisions in their rooms, we are finding that some are also watching TV until late.'

She also writes to parents directly: 'Obviously, we can only talk to children about good habits and about the need for a definitive amount of sleep at their age.

'We need cooperation of parents and carers to ensure that all our children arrive at school in the best possible frame of mind for learning.'

'There are all sorts of things online especially if these children are accessing it in their bedrooms.

'And in the virtual reality world they lose out on interacting with others. If there is no discipline in the home how will they get on in later life?

In her letter to parents she warned of the dangers of online gaming and allowing late night television in bedrooms after children in her school were 'ready to go to sleep' by midday

Mrs Morgan urged parents to 'shut down computers and television at a reasonable time'  'Everyone needs to hear 'no' at some point.'

Primary school children range from age 4 to 11.


Teach engineering not cookery, Sir James Dyson says

Schools should teach cutting edge skills to help Britain compete in the world, as engineers will not be trained by grilling tomatoes, Sir James Dyson has claimed

By 2013 this country will have a deficit of 60,000 engineering graduates.

This is compared to Singapore where applied science is so valued 40 per cent of graduates are engineers - in turn bringing in investors in their droves.

The master of invention believes that the way to combat the deficit is to teach children practical science and maths in design and technology lessons, which he says is essential for training the next generation.

Writing in The Times Sir James said that while Michael Gove may not have started a revolution, he has made progress as “academic excellence is back in fashion”.

Last week the Education Secretary's plan to scrap GCSEs in favour of new academic English Baccalaureate Certificates was dramatically shelved because of significant opposition from the Liberal Democrats.

But despite the u-turn he announced a tougher curriculum where schools must focus on knowledge and key skills, leading Sir James to believe “a whole new generation of mathematicians and theoretical physicists awaits”.

But despite the academic progress there is one area of the curriculum which still “ignores the importance of practical academic excellence”, he writes - D&T lessons.

“Design and technology should be the subject where mathematical brainboxes and science whizzkids turn their bright ideas into useful products.

“Britain needs these practical minds if it is to compete in the world…. But D&T teaching in our classrooms will now bring together cookery, construction and horticulture” Sir James said.

His recommendations to modernise the subject, made in conjunction with the Design and Technology Association, were ignored. Instead teenagers will still be taught skills like how to grill a tomato or replace a bike chain

Sir James said: “This new curriculum will not inspire the invention and engineers Britain so desperately needs. The academic rigour Mr Gove demanded in other core subjects is missing in D&T.”

In maths lessons have moved toward problem solving and tough algebra, and computing lessons have moved toward information technology and comuter-aided design (CAD).

But practical lessons in engineering are missing from the D&T, the lessons which are essential for those wishing to pursue a career in the field.

At the entrepreneur’s company, Dyson, CAD and algebra are both essential tools and engineering is moving toward virtual rapid prototyping. Therefore to stay ahead of the game youngsters “should learn to invent as well as fix”.

To inspire the next generations they need to be excited by developments in technology and allowed to explore it rather then being handed a hammer and a piece of wood, he said.

“All is not lost. Mr Gove has shown he is committed to making education more rigorous and the Government has shown a desire to make Britain a high technology exporter,” he added.

“But Mr Gove has forgotten about design and technology. We have until April to make him change his mind and re-engineer the D&T curriculum. Britain's future scientists and engineers depend on it.”


Teachers at Islamic College of South Australia's West Croydon campus ordered to wear hijab or face sack

SOUTH Australia's biggest Islamic school has warned teachers, including many non-Muslims, that they will lose their jobs if they do not wear a hijab to school functions and outings.

Up to 20 non-Muslim female teachers, who do not wish to be named, have been told they will be sacked from the Islamic College of South Australia's West Croydon campus after three warnings if they do not wear a headscarf to cover their hair.

The order, from the school's governing board and chairman Faruk Kahn, contradicts the policy of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils.

Mr Kahn yesterday referred The Advertiser to AFIC for comment on the matter. "I have no comment ... I think you better go to AFIC, they are the only ones that are to make comment," Mr Kahn said.

School principal Kadir Emniyet did not return calls.

AFIC assistant secretary Keysar Trad said the policy was at odds with the national federation, but it was powerless to intervene.

"I'm aware there's a policy at that school with respect to the scarf," Mr Trad said.

"The AFIC policy is not to require any teacher to observe the hijab. In SA, the board itself has decided they want to operate in their way and we are not allowed to interfere in the matter.

"We maintain that staff should dress modestly but not be required by the nature of policy to wear the hijab."

Mr Trad said that matters of unfair dismissal resulting from teachers disobeying the school's hijab policy should be referred to Fair Work Australia.

"It's confusing for our children to see their teachers wearing the scarf in school and then they take it off when they are out shopping and the children see them there," he said.

"It is also a respect thing for our staff. If they are not Muslim they should not be forced to dress as Muslim."

One long-term teacher at the Islamic College of SA said a new school board was now "forcing teachers to put hijabs back on".

"There's no discussion ... you wear it or you're fired," the teacher said. "The teachers have always adhered to the policies and we are respectful of that.

"We are respectful of their religion but they are not going to respect us."

The college has about 800 students and 40 staff.

Guidelines from the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils to other Islamic schools do not require teachers to wear hijabs.

Glen Seidel, state secretary of the Independent Education Union, said the union was monitoring the policy.

"Essentially it means female staff have to wear a scarf covering most of their hair, and not have legs and arms exposed," he said.

"In 2012, the requirement was being managed moderately, but with a new principal in 2013 enacting the decisions of a very conservative school board, there is no room for compromise."

Mr Seidel said the union's view is staff should be free to decide whether to wear a scarf.

"The ultimate test would be in an unfair dismissal action to see if that requirement would be considered a `reasonable direction' and the termination therefore being reasonable.

"This is not a matter (in which) religious organisations are exempted from equal opportunity legislation in order to not cause offence to the `adherents of the faith'," Mr Seidel said.

"Non-Islamic staff are not being discriminated (against) in their employment as it is the same code for all.

"Non-Islamic staff can, however, feel rightly aggrieved that they are being coerced to adopt the dress code of a religion to which they do not belong."


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