La France en Photos

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Esther's Delayed TES Round Up (17/06/11)

Due to the recent successful yet work heavy French exchange I am behind on my TES reading!

Summaries from the 17 June edition below:

Gove to force the 700 worst performing primary schools to switch to academy status using existing outstanding Secondary Academies as sponsors. However, NAHT is wary of using academies as an over arching solution to improving performance and believes schools that have the opportunity to pair up with other schools on their own terms have more chance of succeeding.

Major unions warning against schools switching to academies as they loose the "safety net" of local authority support.

Gove announced recently that he is raising the floor standard for secondaries so all schools must see 50% of their pupils achieve five good GCSE's, including English and maths by 2015.

BSF (Building Schools for the Future) / PFI (Private Finance Initative):
Despite tighter capital allowances Gove has pledged to rebuild or refurbish around 700 schools since scrapping the £55 billion BSF programme, using PFI. A capital investment programme be set out for 2012-13 onwards.

Search Powers :
Ministers must water down plans to dramatically extend teachers' search powers because they infringe pupil's human rights, a panel of MPs and Lords has warned.

Curriulum Review:

High-performing countries achieve better secondary results by ensuring that primary pupils are not allowed to progress at different rates, according to the Government adviser heading the national curriculum review. They do fewer things at greater depth and don't move on until everyone has "got" it. Their emphasis on thorough understanding challenges the trend here towards accelerating pupils with early exam entries.

The national curriculum review may replace key stages with a year by year structure.


The EBac debate continues with continuous backlash against the absence of Arts subjects. Also fears of social divides where schools may focus on particular pupils to improve their scores.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Croque Monsieur - New Discoveries

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OK I'll finger type from now on (why did I never learn to touch type on French keyboards?? My life takes twice as long now...).

Anyhow - I have great news to empart on my continuous search for the perfect Croque Monsieur to emulate the near paradise experience found in Calais almost 10 years ago now... : They make cheese & ham ("lardons") stuffed baguettes here!!! Oh my it is delicious:

Let's waste no time with the all important Rating:

Location: Elbeuf, Normandy, France, June 2011
Rating: 8/10

Comments: Yes, this new found version of the well known cheese, ham and bread combo started with a sensual delight as the unknown prowess of this baguette was given away by the wonderful waft of warmly cooked ham & cheese from the depths of the surrounding paper bag. Then the next sense was satisfied with the visual delight of a soft bouncy interior, visible as a cut in the "baguette" top side, was complimented by the crusty sides of the "baguette" and the scattered "lardons". Oh my, add to that "salade verte" dripping with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing and a glass of Rosé to accompany in a glass encased with cold refreshing water droplets, and there you have it - the closest thing I have found so far to my near paradise experience in Calais. The only reason why it doesn't get a 9 or 10/10 in the ratings is that it isn't truely a Croque Monsieur. However it is truely worthy of note. Until the next time a gorgeous gastronomic experience comes my way...

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Student "Word of the Day" creativity

Forever trying to make the school blog student centric rather than a blogging tool for teachers only, I've been having fun experiementing with "The Word of the Day" homework. I normally use the word of the day concept in class as an extention tool from which students create a phrase using the word that has been chosen, by a student, for that lesson. The girls have come up with some great photos representing a key word in the target language. Wall displays are also now forming from this concept, and department staff are not being shy in coming forward with ideas. All in all a simple yet creative concept which reinforces the fun in language learning! Check out the creative entries so far.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Esther's TES Round Up (10/06/11)

,Ofsted: (Front page)

Ofsted's new regime, to be introduced in January, will mean harder measures for schools in deprived areas unless they can prove that pupils are "improving steadily", regardless of pupil background."Headteacher Jason Brook is responding by reluctantly introducing BTECs to push up scores. "...We were delivering the curriculum that we knew was right. But I can't afford to do that any longer. I have got to join the game". Union opinion is that "we don't need more perverse incentives to play the league tables. Inspections should be looking at the overall quality of education". Also to be noted is that the English Baccalaureate will not count in Ofsted Inspections.

Governors: (Editorial p.2)

Are governors more representative than effective? As govenor accountability has risen the lines of repsonsibility have blurred. Can govenors (a body of lay people) cope with being the final arbitrators of budgets, exclusions, curriculum strategies, staff, appointing the head, behavioural and other policies? Potential solution: professionalise the role of chair and pay them.

Pensions: (News p.4)

Heads offering ultimatum. No pensions, no cooperation with the Coalition's educational reforms.

Teacher Training:

Training places for Business Studies, Art, Music and RE falling due to Government cuts, whilst places for the sciences and Foreign languages are rising. Courses closing for the former in a range of universities.

Phonics: (p.12)

Children's laureate Julia Donaldson (of "The Gruffalo" fame) thinks that phonics tests for six-year-olds is too young. Pupils may not be able to read at six and therefore will early on feel a failure.

Creative Curriculum: (P.15)

Independent schools are signing up in droves to the creative curriculum, the very thing that Mr Gove has rejected for the national curriculum, as he has chosen instead to emphasise "essential" subject content.

Building Schools for the Future (BSF): (p.18-19)

Tim Byles stepping down from Partnerships for Schools (PfS), the agency responsible for delivering the BSF programme. Defends himself against critics who believed the money was misplaced (deprived area school knocked down to rebuild when not that bad, whilst better areas had leaking roofs etc... but were in a better area so didn't qualify). Per Tim Byles the deal was "come and sort out BSF and these are our priorities", not, "come and change our priorities". Also whilst the budget swelled from £45 billion to £55 billion, some suggested this was mis management and overspend. Tim Byles said it was due to the additional responsiblities of taking on the delivery of the academies programme and special educational needs schools.

Higher Education:

Suggestions by Harry Judge (former Oxford University admissions tutor and head of both a grammar and a comprehensive school) to simplify the secondary schools / higher education link by offering no places until August results were known. Student applicants would make more informed applications. Universities could make more informed choices. Universities could start in January to ease administration time, also allowing students to settle into their futures or contribute constructively to the Big Society.

Plus the usual weekly "page 3" equivalent sensationalist round up of scandals involving teacher misconduct, identifying those who have been struck off the register. A strangely compelling, yet uncomfortable read.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Esther's TES (03/06/11) Round Up

You see I told you I was always behind. This is the round up for last Friday's TES edition. Anyhow here goes. Esther's TES Round Up number 1:

League Tables:

Future Government league tables will no longer take account of the CVA measure (contextual value added) when comparing school exam and test results... // CVA uses nine contextual factors including gender, first language, post code, ethnicity, deprivation and whether or not pupils are in a local authority care. // Unions warn that abolishing the CVA measure without a replacement will further stack the odds against heads and teachers who choose to work in the most deprived areas. // Performance tables will continue to show how much progress pupils make compared to their prior levels of attainement plus number of SEN students. // The white paper: "It is morally wrong to have an attainment measure which entrenches low aspirations for children because of their background". // Ben Slade, head of The Manor, Cambridge, which as above average CVA said: "It is divisive to remove CVA because it will camouflage coasting schools whether they are oustanding, good or satisfactory.

Academies and finance:

Most contracts with Capita (school admin system) have previously been with local authorities rather than individual schools, but when a school opts out of local authroity control they are forced to pay for an individual licence. // The DfE provides £25k to a school converting to academy status, but many heads say almost all of this is being used up to pay the re-licencing fee for their Sims (school information management system). // When still part of a local authority, secondary schools can expect to pay the council about £3k to £4k for their Sims. // Millions will be going out of the education budgets of schools with no change to the service other than a transfer of the licence. // Dr Bousted, general secretary of the ATL: "This is one of the hidden costs of becoming an academy". // Capita spokes person: "Due to Capita Children's Services' strong standing in the school marketplace it would be seen as using its position unfairly against its competitors if it did not pass these costs onto its customers."

National Curriculum Review 1:

Finland's schools system, a holy grail for educationalists worldwide, is actually a "red herring" that cannot be replicated in England, according to the leader of the Government's national curriculum review. // Finland is a devolved system but it achieved its success on the back of a heavily top-down education policy 30 years ago. // Ministers in England and their Labour predecessors have claimed that they are moving from rigid, centralised command and control and now emphasise school autonomy. // However, Mr Oates says we shouldn't compare ourselves with Finland: "It is dark half the year, so they read and talk to each other a lot more during the dark months of the year"

National Curriculum Review 2:

English teachers are concerned that the committee overseeing the national curriculum review could be biased in favour of synthetic phonics and includes a member (Ruth Miskin)with a business interest in promoting the reading method.

Controlled Assessments:

The end of GCSE coursework has "fundamentally" changed English teaching and means pupils no longer learn essential drafting skills, according to an influential academic. // Drafting is an important skill which is used in universities and by professional writers. Pupils were able to assess each others' drafts and suggest improvements. // Controlled assessments, the replacement for coursework, allows pupils to prepare in advance for a piece of work which they actually write in the classroom under controlled conditions. // Dr Marshall writes: "We do not want the first attempts of a student at writing an essay. We want their considered and well thought through opinions".


The EBac requires GCSEs or IGCSEs of at least a grade C in English, maths, a humanity, a langauge and two sciences. - Where the Ibac encourages 8 subject areas, the Ebac favours only five (and is heavily prescriptive within those: no Religious Education in the humanities, no IT in the sciences). // Matt Grists, senior researcher at Demos: "it is only likely to be achieved by a minority of pupils." // Sir Michael Wilshaw (Mossbourne Academy), one of the Government's favourite heads asked the Government to include a "technical and craft-based curriculum option" in its national curriculum review.

Specialist Leaders in Education:

SLEs will be tasked with improving the middle management of schools - classroom teachers are already able to call upon Advanced Skills Teachers and heads can use national leaders of education. // The National College is now consulting on the role, and says the next 12 months will be spent "developing" it. // The specialist areas of expertise will be based on the new key areas of focus for Ofsted.

Esther's TES Round Up - INTRO

It's time to get organised. For too long I have had the TES delivered on a Friday, only to still not have touched it after a month plus. And so they build up. Piles of untouched TES papers, still in their transparent light reflecting plastic covers, getting out of date each day that I don't touch them, and reducing the amount of available sitting space in my lounge. My desire to stay on top of events and changes in the world of educational reduced to a tattered dream.

Then comes some spare time and a morning is spent ripping open the plastic of anything from 5-10 TES copies, sifting through for useful or interesting articles in both the paper and the magazine, throwing out the FE section, deciding whether to route though the job section or not, recycling any paper wastage... and what am I left with? A brain full of information only for 80% to be forgotten by tomorrow, and piles of paper sorted into different themed cuttings from the paper (ICT Resources, MFL teaching ideas, proposed curriculum changes, how the teenagers' brain works, creative teaching and learning theories etc...). And then what am I left with? Piles of paper sorted into different themed cuttings from the paper left to get dusty until I have time "to really digest the information and read in more detail" or "to do something with the information within". Oh so many best laid plans...

So enough.

I shall from hereonin create a regular (?) blog entry called "Esther's TES Round Up" within which I shall store a summary of key points of interest from that edition. This shall therefore remain forever to hand in electronic format thereby reducing the need for extra piles of paper at my home. I hope...

Sunday, 29 May 2011


Finally, finally (!!) I am getting around to merging the sound files from my sessions at the ICT Links into Languages conference with the PowerPoint slideshows that accompanied them. At first glance the slidecasting process on seems horrendously complicated. However, once you have a play and get into the flow (play audio, work out where the end of the first slide is, move the marker there, click on the next slide - repeat process...) it is really simple. Proving once again that taking the time to become familiar with an online tool takes the uncertainty away and facilitates future use. Here are my presentations.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

The Croque Monsieur Challenge

Having had the opportunity to travel to Bruges recently the Croque Monsieur (/Madame) Challenge has had a rebirth. Let's get down to business:

Location: Bruges 7 April 2011
Rating: 5/10
Comments: Hmmm, no bechamel sauce, no wonderful after taste of good French cheese. The salad was 80's -esque and uninspiring. Its redeeming feature was the presentation of the chips. However, being famous for "frites" I was disappointed after the build up. Conclusion: this was a dressed up toasted sandwich at best. The search for the perfect Croque Monsieur experience to match that of Calais back in 2000/1 continues...

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Foreign Exchange Culinary Delights

Are there no end to the benefits of exchange trips? Having hosted one of the French exchange teachers for a week I embarked upon a fresh recipie for the week: Spinach and Goats Cheese Tart! (Does this pass as French cuisine??) Here are my efforts:

OK so a bit overloaded on the goats cheese front, but who wouldn't ;o)

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Bolton Blogging - BBC News Live

BBC News has reported from Heathfield CP School in Bolton (@heathfieldCPS) due to their pupil blogs. Each class has a blog, as well as the teachers, and their website shows examples of pupils work with peer assessment. I look forward to reading it in more detail...

ICT Links into Languages Conference 12-13 Feb 2011

A second fabulous day at the ICT Links into Languages conference at Southampton University. My brain is full, ideas are refreshed, and my motivation is renewed. Everyone was such fun and it was great to be around such inspirational practitioners, some of which I had met for the first time and some I was meeting again after previous conferences or videoconferences. My Flashmeeting for Easy Videoconferencing session went well (thank you to Joe Dale - without your prompting I wouldn't have had the guts to try such a risky adventure!), and the delegates were both attentive and ready to input their ideas. I also have a BIG thank you to make to @josepicardo who patiently sat the otherside of the videoconference link, helping out with the demonstrating of various FM tools on his Sunday. I have uploaded the presentation to authorSTREAM ready for download for reference. It will also be on the Links into Languages conference page with all other presentations from the conference over the weekend.

Well done to Zena Hilton, Joe Dale, Sara Vaughn and all of the Links into Languages team that organised the whole event.

I'm tired now, updating my twitter list of contacts and thinking of the path ahead...

Thank you again for leaving positive feedback:

Saturday, 12 February 2011

ICT Links into Languages Conference 12-13th Feb 2011

What a fantastic first day at the ICT Links into Languages conference. It has been wonderful catching up with MFL Twitterati friends and getting to know new ones behind those avatars. I encourage anyone at the conference who is not already a member of Twitter to join up and begin networking. It has done nothing but enhance my ICT knowledge and confidence to try out new things.

There have been a range of sessions today which have all gone really well and have received good feedback (see Twitter feed #ililc for details). My session entitled "Using ICT to Enhance Teaching and Learning in MFL" went well and the audience was a kind one given the tired brains! Thank you for listening so intently and for your positive feedback. The PowerPoint from the session is saved on authorSTREAM where I have made it available for download for those that requested it if the above stream doesn't work. It has been an honour to speak alongside such esteemed and knowledgeable colleagues. I look forward to tomorrow for more!

Thank you also for the kind feedback that I received after the session:

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

MYLO Teacher Feature

MYLO are encouraging teachers to provide feedback on how they are using MYLO in lessons. CILT are posting a MYLO Teacher Feature on their website which also features on the MYLO Facebook page. Click on the links for updated feedback features.

We are also getting more teachers signed on and creating groups at The Weald of Kent Grammar School. MYLO has a great inbuilt motivation system: avatars which are unlocked the more points the students get, competitiveness between individual students on activities, between classes/teachers, between individuals on a national level and lastly between schools nationally. This multi-layered motivation system drives the students interest to look into more language learning activities. We look forward to higher rankings!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

MYLO's Winning Formula

Well it's a sunny day (what a difference the sun makes!) and time for another MYLO update. Having set up another 2 sets of classes on MYLO recently I have been reminded of it's key to success - competition. Members of one class announced that they had been on it in their own time unprompted, with one girl gaining 700 points within a week! The development of personal avatars is another hit as students gain options for personalising them once they have worked through various stages. Valerie McIntyre, another MYLO ambassador, is using it successfully in her MFL department and has written a comprehensive write up on the Merlin John Online website. See the MYLO site for more information.

Foreign Delights

  • Du vin!
  • Emmental
  • Gratin Dauphinoise

Foreign Favourites

  • Lyon, France
  • Bejing, China
  • Lausanne, Switzerland

Favourite French Films

  • La Haine
  • L'Appartement
  • Ma Vie en Rose
  • La Reine Margot