CRB checking the parents – How do you feel about it?

Making sure that children and vulnerable people are surrounded by trusted adults is paramount. CRB (DBS) tests were introduced in schools about 10 years ago to ensure that children are surrounded by trusted and responsible adults who can take good care of them.

But it has now become evident that CRB checks do not guarantee the children’s or any other vulnerable person’s safety and wellbeing.

One should only look back at some of last year’s headlines.  Abuse in care homes still takes place.  And teachers have inappropriate contact with their pupils (A Maths teacher running away with his underage student).

On top of that, I read in the Telegraph that schools require parents to undergo a CRB check for such simple things as escorting their children into the school building or watching them playing sports. According to this article, the continuing use of CRB checks was putting off many would-be volunteers. Quite understandably so…

What are your thoughts? Has the requirement for CRB checks gone a little too far? And has the police check put you off from volunteering at your local school?



On inspiring children

Yesterday I attended my first ever TEDx event at the University of Warwick. The TEDxWarwickEd talks were dedicated to inspiring education initiatives and learning approaches. The common theme that ran through the five presentations was creating inspiring educational environments that cater for the individual learner – this is a huge endeavour and the five speakers presented their thoughts, vision and their innovative ventures on the theme.

As the TED events are all about ideas worth spreading, what I took with me and what I want to share with you is an idea from the presentation of Daniel Scully, PhD candidate in Particle Physics at the University of Warwick and science communicator. His talk explored how we can attract more young people to study science. There is a worrying decline on the number of students taking A level physics. In response to that there are a series of national initiatives aiming to encourage students and in particular female students to take up physics.

So how do we inspire children to study physics? Here is an idea worth spreading in two quotes “… it is not the questions we have answered but what needs to be answered – it is what lies ahead that is important” and “People are not inspired by what you have done, they inspired by what THEY CAN DO.” In other words, science is not about what we have achieved, but more importantly about what we haven’t. This is where the excitement, innovation and rewards lie. So let us sow the seeds of curiosity and hopefully they will grow into a love for exploration and discovery.

Playing maths

Working with Gifted and Talented children can be a challenging experience. My group of G&T Year 6 students are smart, have a range of interests and love challenges, but they are not easily pleased. They know what they want and they expect me to deliver it. And I can tell they have high expectations.

Today I wanted them to work on some fundamental mathematical skills such as logic, memory, spatial recognition and analytical thinking. And what is the best way to introduce those subtle but all important skills to a group of 11 year olds, but a videogame?

So this morning I decided to use “The Clockwork Brain” an iOS game, which consists of a series of well designed original mini-games that encourage players to develop and practice the all-crucial mathematical thinking skills. It is fun and engaging with the level of difficulty linked to the players’ performance.

Train your Brain the Steampunk Way!

My group of Year 6 students were ecstatic and understandably happy to exchange working on problems with playing a game. They soon settled down and I could see them focused on the task at hand, trying to complete the activities before time was up.

They were concentrated and tried hard to improve their scores. To my delight they were also able to reflect on their performance and discuss how they can become better players. I have also encouraged them to discuss strategies and exchange tips.

I can tell they were really pleased and could see that it was a positive learning experience for them.

The good thing about this game is that everyone can play. As it practices mathematical thinking, it does not involve any math work. So even if maths is not your strong suit, you will enjoy it!

The games are accessible to younger children as well as adults. My daughter, who is in Year 3, has been playing the game for about a year now and she still enjoys it. And I have been playing on and off for quite some time now.

I am now on the lookout for some more games to use with primary school children. If you have come across engaging and novel applications/games, please share!