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SMAART
PARENTSPAPER
PARENTAL ENGAGEMENT AND ADVICE
VOL. 2 ISSUE 1 | SUMMER 2008 | FREE TO PARENTS
HOW TO SPOT IF YOUR
CHILD IS A GENIUS
By: Nicola Honey
As a parent you might think your teenager is a genius, but how do you know if you’re right? And
if you are, what can you do to ‘manage’ their giftedness through to adulthood?
Ultimately, there is no test for genius.
But there are many differing opinions
on what makes a teenager a genius.
According to an article published
in the New Scientist (Feb 2007), “A
genius is a unique person, a one-off.
They may have to go it alone to prove
themselves at first, but after a certain
point there is no doubt they are a
genius. Their work will have a certain
indefinable quality – the ‘it’ factoryou’ve either got it or you haven’t.”
But if you trawl through the Cambridge handbook of expertise and Expert Performance (Cambridge University Press, 2006, ISBN 052184097X)
it seems the ability we’re so fond of
calling talent or even genius arises not
from innate gifts but from an interplay
of natural ability, quality instruction
and a mountain of work.
Anders Ericsson, a Professor of Psychology who edited the book claims
“Genius isn’t magic and it isn’t born.
Genius happens because people have
supportive environments, important
mentors and an incredible investment
of effort.”
So spotting a teenage genius may
be more about spotting the signs of
‘giftedness’ and learning how you as
a parent can maximise a gift that may
be only partially genetic. Take the
example of Tiger Woods. He seems
a genius on the golf course, but he
was swinging a club at 18months of
age and got great instruction from his
father. You could say his genius has
been laboriously constructed.
A sober look at the term genius, therefore should guide parents to realising
that if their teen shows signs of interest
or natural talent for something then
exceptional kids often have exceptional support. A leading Psycholo-
gist, Benjamin Bloom believes that
most gifted children come from
homes where learning of any kind was
revered for its own sake. “Our genetic
potentials are activated and realised
only through environment and experience. Natural buoyancy merely gets
you off the bottom. You rise to the top
by pumping yourself up.”
This all sounds so easy on paper
– your child shows a unique ability
and hey presto a bit of parental support
and a genius is created.
But for parents, it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Add the ‘genius’ label to a teenager
and a whole range of preconceptions
kick in to judge what that child is like.
Some will treat him like an ‘Einstein’,
others will see him as the product
of pushy parents. Most images we
conjure up about ‘genius teenagers’
remind us of the likes of Ruth Lawrence who rose to national fame in the
1980’s when she went to Oxford at 12.
She spent her career under the tutelage
of her father, whom she later moved
away from to the other side of the
world. And Michael Howe, a Professor of Psychology at Exeter University
believes, “If excelling while you’re
young means missing out on friends
and other experiences you need for a
fulfilling life, it’s not worth it.”
How happy you are, how confident
you are, alongside the support you get
at home is what creates this ‘genius’.
For parents, making the most of the
skill and socialising their teenager
properly is a very difficult balancing
act.
most gifted in the class. Children with
special needs, autism or ADHD also
show the characteristics of a gifted
child. We get many parents phoning us for help with a child who is on
report constantly, or a child who keeps
getting caught staring out of the window. These are all signs of a ‘bored’
child, whose potential is not being
fulfilled. They are often frustrated, not
necessarily naughty. But the appropriate socialisation of these children is
paramount”
Ryan Jones - UWIC Sport &
Exercise Science Graduate
- Captain of Wales, Grand Slam
Winners 2008’
BECOME A
CHAMPION IN YOUR
FIELD AT
UWIC
CONTINUES
ON PAGE 10
SEE PAGE ??
About 8,500 students under 18 at UK
Universities are socially immature.
But many experts warn against sending young teens to University.
Denise Yates, Chief executive of the
NAGC (National Association for
Gifted Children) adds “Quite a lot of
giftedness can be misdiagnosed. High
achievers at School are not always the
in the PARENTS PAPER this issue
FEED
YOUR
MIND:
and relieve your
stress?
TEENAGE
SUICIDE:
How would you
know?
DAVID
LAMMY:
We interview the
Skills Minister
PP
JOIN
A PTA:
and make a
difference
the PARENTS PAPER is FREE
2 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
www.getsmaart.com | ISSUE 2 VOL. 1
NCPTA
NCPTA JOIN
IN DAY
TUESDAY 10
JUNE 08
Make a date to support NCPTA join
in day on 10 June 2008. Each year
NCPTA members raise a fantastic
£65 million, making a real difference to the school experience
for many thousands of children.
NCPTA join in day, aims to celebrate this success and raise the
profile of PTAs throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
To help PTAs around the country
to raise awareness amongst their
local community and to recognise
and celebrate your success, the
NCPTA is asking PTAs to join in,
by running a special fundraiser, to
raise money for your school. Don’t
worry if the 10 June is not suitable
- choose another date and make that
a special date to celebrate and join
in.
Join in 50p fundraising trail
Why not consider running a 50p
fundraising trail , to mark NCPTA
join in day? Now in its third year,
this is a simple fundraiser for
your school and it may help to
raise awareness of the valuable contribution your Association makes.
Join in word searches
A series of word searches, suitable
for all age ranges, are now available to download. Simply print and
sell the word searches to pupils
and their families and friends, as a
quick and easy way to join in and
raise money for your school.
For more ideas and to keep up with
all the news visit www.ncpta.org.uk
Workshops
Our free fundraising workshops
give you and your colleagues the
opportunity to gather information about a variety of PTA topics
including:
• Innovative fundraisers
• What events work well and why
• How to get more parents involved
• Legal updates
• Benefits of registering as a charity
You can help to set the agenda so
be sure to let us know what subjects
you would like covered. If you
think your school could host a local
workshop on our behalf then please
contact your regional adviser. The
NCPTA will give a donation of
£50 to your association, for providing the venue.
Training Events
Over the academic year the NCPTA
will hold a series of training events.
These events are longer than the
workshops and therefore give us
more time to explore in greater
details subjects such as:
• Raising money from trusts and
foundations
• Managing Your PTA
• Communicating with the school
community
• Working with local businesses
• The role of the Treasurer
• Legal considerations when holding an event.
2 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
Parents and
the NUT
Strike
Working in partnership with The
Times Education Supplement (The
TES), the National Confederation
of Parent Teacher Associations
(NCPTA) has surveyed its parent
members to gain their views on the
NUT one-day strike and generally
on the quality of education today.
The NCPTA would like to thank all
of its members that took part in the
survey. The tremendous response
to the survey means the NCPTA
was the only organisation able to
comment on the strike on behalf
of parents from a point of real
knowledge.
David Butler, chief executive,
NCPTA said,
“We know from the work we do
with PTAs up and down the country
that parents value the professionalism of teachers and the commitment
they give.
“The survey is very explicit about
parents’ perception of the quality
of teaching today and how much
better this is than when they themselves were at school.
“Equally important is the evidence that the strike action has not
damaged the view the majority of
parents have of teachers. This is
particularly significant given what
we know about the positive value
that strong parent teacher partnerships bring to our children’s experience of school.
“However, it is also clear that many
parents have had to make complex plans to overcome difficulties
caused by the strike including alternative childcare arrangements.”
The key findings of the survey
were:
1. The majority (61%) of parents
reported the one-day strike hadn’t
changed their view of teachers.
2. A majority (60%) of parents feel
teachers should receive a pay
increase either in line with the
original limit on public sector
pay or as being offered by the
Government. A third of parents
support teachers in seeking a
4.1% pay rise.
3. Most parents (37%) will have to
take time off work to look after
children unable to attend school
on the day of the strike.
4. The vast majority of parents
(86%) regard the quality of teaching at their children’s school as
either excellent or good. A further 49% feel that the quality of
teaching their children receive is
better than when they themselves
were at school.
SMAART PARENTS PAPER |3
ISSUE 2 VOL. 1 | www.getsmaart.com
NEWS
2008 GOLD STAR REWARDS WINNERS
Four finalists were selected for the final judging stage, in each Gold Star Rewards Category; in total six
winners were announced at the special Awards Presentation, held on Wednesday 30th April.
Achievement
in Parental
Involvement:
Dorchester Parents’
Group, Hull
Home/School Challenge
Gold Star Winner
A survey of parents indicated that
many were keen to become more
involved with their children’s
homework. So the Parents’ Group
came up with a unique idea;
special homework folders that the
children could take home. To fund
the Home/School Challenge, the
Parents’ Group submitted a successful funding bid to the Community Investment Fund, which
not only covered the cost of the
materials but also released a Year
5 teacher to help set up the folders.
The first topics covered were rivers
and space. A total of 61 children
and their parents were selected
to take part. Parents were then
invited to a special Home/School
presentation event where all the
children who completed the challenge were given a book token and
a certificate. More parents are now
involved in the life of the school,
as a direct result of the project and
due to its success , a second Home/
School Challenge is now planned
on the topic of ‘My Hull’.
Yeo Moor Infant School
PTA, Clevedon:
Parent Helpers’
Handbook
Gold Star Winner
A small community school with
just 153 pupils on the roll, Yeo
Moor has an active PTA and
has always welcomed volunteer
helpers. Keen to reach a wider
section of the school population,
the school and the PTA began
looking for a way to increase
the number of parents involved
whilst recognising and maximising the support given by existing parent volunteers. A Parent
Helpers’ Handbook was suggest-
ed and it was quickly established
that for this idea to be successful
parents, teachers, governors and
school staff would all need to
contribute. At the school’s annual
thank-you coffee morning the
Parent Helpers’ Handbook was
launched, with every existing
helper being given a personalised
copy. Since its introduction, the
school has seen the number of
parents helping in school increase
by an amazing 60 per cent. Plus,
the number of PTA volunteers
and its gross income has almost
doubled.
__________________________
Changing the Life
of the School:
Friends of Madresfield
C of E School,
Malvern: Walking
Bus Project
Gold Star Winner
Madresfield is a small school
situated on a country road which
serves as a cut through for traffic.
The road was becoming more and
more dangerous for pupils being
dropped off and collected. A
Travel Planning Group, consisting of a governor, the Headteacher, parents and members of the
Friends committee, was formed
to discuss a resolution. The idea
of a Walking Bus sounded simple, and was not a new concept,
but establishing a route was complicated by the lack of footpaths
to the school, which backs onto
farm land and land owned by the
parish council. It became clear
that a number of groups throughout the village would need to
work together for the Walking
Bus project to have any chance of
success. All these hurdles were
overcome and the Walking Bus is
now an established part of school
life. It has changed the life of
the school in many ways, not
least the improved relationships
between the school, home and the
local community.
Stanley Infant and
Nursery School PSA,
Teddington: bogbusters!
Gold Star Winner
bogbusters! was initially planned
as a simple re-paint of the school
toilets, to be undertaken by a
team of four mums. On closer
inspection, it soon became clear
that the refurbishment was indeed
a much bigger project that needed
the support of the wider parent
group. The PSA received a huge
response from parents offering
their time and skills, which were
utilised in many ways. In addition to the practical support, the
PSA were also busy fundraising,
to meet the estimated cost of
£13,400. Throughout the project
the PSA noted a genuine sense of
community amongst the parents
and the PSA worked closely
alongside governors, teachers and
the School Council. The pupils
are now far happier using the new
toilets and behaviour in the toilet
area has generally improved.
As a result of the success of the
project an article was featured in
a local newspaper and the Junior
School have now embarked on
their own bogbuster project.
__________________________
PTA Fundraising
Achievement:
Kings Copse
Primary PTA, Hedge End:
Sensory Experience
Gold Star Winner
Kings Copse Primary School is
currently undergoing a building replacement scheme; as part
of this development the PTA is
supporting the school by raising
a staggering £114,000 towards
the cost of a new sensory outdoor
area. This was a massive commitment for the PTA and one that
could not rely solely on financial
contributions from parents. In
light of this, the PTA decided to
take a different approach. Utilis-
ing their new status as a registered charity, the PTA submitted
applications to trusts and grantgiving companies, and developed
partnerships with both private
and public sector organisations.
For a PTA that was only formed
in February 2007, this was a bold
approach as it involved presenting to organisations and pitching
for grants. As a result the PTA
has grown in confidence; it has
learnt that not only can a PTA
maximise the support of their
parent body but there are other
great opportunities to be exploited beyond the school gate. To
date, the PTA has raised a total
of £78,351, with £10,500 coming
from traditional PTA activities;
the equivalent of £470 per child.
Newbridge Primary
School Association,
Bath: ReNewbridge
Gold Star Winner
As a result of the amalgamation
of Newbridge St Johns C of E
Infants and Newbridge Junior
School, the two PTAs merged to
create Newbridge Primary School
Association - NPSA. The new
Headteacher had ambitious plans
for the future; however funds
were exhausted before the plans
for the new school were complete. In response to this, NPSA
launched its ReNewbrige fundraising campaign, with a target of
raising £25,000. The fundraising
centred on the idea that everyone, children and adults alike,
would engage in a sponsored
activity of their choice, to be
undertaken during the set fundraising period. Ideas were many
and varied and included skipping,
scooting, swimming, trampolining and being photographed in
front of as many Bath historical
monuments as possible in one
hour. With everyone taking part
the £25,000 target was soon met
and this amazing achievement
was supplemented with an additional £7,000 from an Auction
of Promises in November 2007.
The NPSA raised a grand total
of £32,000; the equivalent of £70
per child.
2008 GOLD STAR REWARDS WINNERS
SMAART PARENTS PAPER | 3
4 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
www.getsmaart.com | ISSUE 2 VOL. 1
SCHOOL CHOICE
AND YOUR RIGHTS
Admission to primary and secondary schools is not automatic. All schools have ‘admissions criteria’ which the
school’s admission authority uses to allocate places if they receive more applications than they have places
available.
How schools allocate places
Every child aged between five and
16 is entitled by law to a place at
a state school. Wherever possible
you will be offered a place at one
of your preferred schools, but this
can’t be guaranteed.
Many schools receive more applications than they have places to
offer. Every school has an admissions limit, and this determines
the number of applicants they will
accept.
Admissions criteria
Every school has a set of rules,
known as the ‘admissions’ or ‘
oversubscription’ criteria. Schools
that are oversubscribed will follow
these rules when allocating places.
Admissions criteria are set by the
school’s admission authority.
State schools
• the local authority (for 'community' or 'voluntary controlled'
schools); or
• the school's governing body (for
'foundation' or 'voluntary aided'
schools)
Find out about the criteria
before you apply
It’s very important to find out what
admissions criteria local schools
use before you choose which
schools to apply to.
Details of admissions criteria, along
with figures showing the number of
applications schools received the
previous year, are listed in school
prospectuses. This information is
also available in the ‘Information
for Parents’ booklet produced by
your local authority.
Admissions criteria will vary from
area to area and from school to
school, but the School Admissions
Code requires them to be clear, fair
and objective. The code also has a
list of admissions criteria that statefunded schools are not allowed to
use.
Objecting to unlawful admission arrangements
If you think that an admission
authority has unlawful admission
arrangements you can object to
the Schools Adjudicator. There is
a certain time period when you
can do this, so check with the local
authority of the school for the exact
date.
You can make the objection your-
self or contact your local authority
School Admissions Team to object
on your behalf. Information about
what you can object to and the form
you will need to complete are available on the Office of the Schools
Adjudicator website.
qualified teacher to a maximum
of 30. In this type of appeal, the
panel is only allowed to look at
two things:
Whether the admission authority stuck to its own rules which
were published in its admission
arrangements. If the admission
authority broke its own rules either deliberately or by mistake
- then your appeal can succeed,
but only if your child would
have been accepted if the rules
had been applied properly.
Does your child meet the
criteria?
If you are applying to a popular
school, check how closely your
child meets the criteria. Be realistic:
it is possible that not everyone who
applies will be offered a place.
The School Admissions Code says
that children in public care must
be given top priority. Examples of
some other criteria that might be
used are whether:
• your child has a brother or sister
who will be at the school when
they start there
• you live in the area served by the
school
• you or your child has a disability
which makes travel to a distant
school difficult
• (for religious or faith schools),
your child or family is of the
particular religion or faith served
by the school
• (for secondary schools) your
child attends a linked primary
school
• your home is close to the school
Admissions authorities might also
use a system of random allocation
or ‘banding’. Banding helps to
ensure that a school has pupils with
a range of different ability levels.
Certain types of school may apply
other admission criteria:
• church or faith schools may ask
for confirmation of attendance at
a relevant place of worship
• grammar schools, and some other
schools that select a proportion
of their pupils on the basis of
academic ability, award places on
the basis of an entrance exam or
selection test
• schools that award a percentage
of their places to pupils with an
aptitude for certain subjects may
use some form of assessment or
audition where appropriate
• boarding schools may interview
your child to assess their suitability to be a boarder (interviewing
is not allowed for admission into
any other type of state-funded
school)
If your child is in line for more than
one of your chosen schools, you
will be offered a place at the school
you ranked highest on the application. If none of your chosen schools
can offer your child a place because
other applicants met the criteria
more closely, your local authority
will offer you a place at another
school.
If your child is not offered a
place in school
Usually you will be offered a
place at one of your preferred
schools. However, if you are not
offered a place at your preferred
school or if you are unhappy with
the school place allocated to your
child, for whatever reason, you
have the right to appeal to an independent panel.
The letter you receive from the
admission authority for the school
should also provide information
about your right to appeal. This letter will explain what to do next, but
you must make sure you make your
appeal within the deadline given.
The result of your appeal will depend on the strength of your case.
In most admission appeals, the
panel goes through two stages:
The panel hears the case put by the
admission authority explaining why
it did not offer you a place at your
preferred school. The panel decides
whether there was a good reason
for turning down the application
(the phrase sometimes used is
“whether the admission would be
prejudicial to efficient education
or efficient use of resources”). An
example might be where the school
had very small classrooms and
couldn’t fit your child in without
making the space too cramped for
good teaching and learning.
If the panel does decide there was a
good reason for turning down your
application, it will begin the second
stage of the appeal, where the panel
hears your case and why you are
appealing against the decision. You
can mention all the reasons why that
school would be the best for your
child, and what special factors justify
your child getting in, in spite of the
good reason for turning you down.
The panel then makes a balancing
judgement. This is where they decide
whether the benefits for your child
going to the school you are appealing for - instead of the school you
have been offered - outweigh the bad
effects on the school and the other
children of having one more pupil in
the class. If the appeal panel decides
that your case is the stronger, it will
uphold your appeal and the admission authority is then obliged to
admit your child to the school.
Different rules apply if your
admission application is refused
because an infant class has reached
its legal limit of 30.
The law limits the number of
pupils in an infant class with one
Whether the admission authority acted unreasonably. The law
defines “unreasonable” very carefully in these cases. The courts
have said that for a decision or
action to be “unreasonable” it
must be completely irrational or
not based on the facts of the case.
These facts include the published
admission arrangements for the
school, the number of applicants
and the capacity of the school to
admit pupils without breaching
the infant class-size limit.
Please note: you may give the
panel fresh information relating to
your case, which was not available
at the time the decision to refuse
admission was made. However, the
panel can only use this to help it
determine whether, in the circumstances (which at the time of the
hearing will include the fact that
all available places have already
been allocated), the original decision was irrational.
What happens next
If your appeal succeeds, the admission authority must offer your child
a place at the school. If your appeal
does not succeed, you can ask the
school to put your child on their
waiting list (if the school has one),
as places sometimes become free
after the start of the school year.
If you are unhappy about the way
the appeal hearing was carried out,
you could complain to the Local
Government Ombudsman, who
might recommend a new appeal.
If you want to know more about
appeals, contact the admission authority for the school or the school
admissions teams at the Department
for Children, Schools and Families.
Crown Copyright: Reproduced
under the terms of the Click-Use
License
Further information can be found on www.parentscentre.gov.uk
4 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
5 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
8 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
www.getsmaart.com | ISSUE 2 VOL. 1
HOW ARE STUDENT
LOANS REPAID?
The standard repayment process
The student loan becomes due for
repayment in the April following
the date that the loan account holder
completes or leaves their course.
The Student Loans Company (of
whom Student Finance Direct is
a service delivery partner) will
advise HM Revenue and Customs
(HMRC) (formerly the Inland Revenue) that the loan has become due
for repayment. They in turn will
instruct the loan account holder’s
employer to deduct repayments
from their gross income at the rate
of 9% of any income earned in
excess of £15,000 a year, £1250 per
month or £288 per week.
Loan account holders who are in
the UK and are self-employed make
repayments through their HMRC
tax returns.
If an account holder is living
overseas and works outside the UK
tax system, they will make repayments directly to the Student Loans
Company.
How interest is calculated
The interest rate for Student Loans
applies from 1 September to 31
August each year. All student loans
accrue interest which is linked to
the rate of inflation in line with the
Retail Prices Index. This means, in
real terms that the amount repaid
will broadly have the same value as
the amount borrowed, and no profit
is made on the loan itself. Interest
accrues on the loan until it has been
repaid in full.
The interest rate is currently 4.8%.
Voluntary repayments and
early settlement
A student loan account holder can
pay off their loan more quickly
by making voluntary repayments
directly to us, whether or not their
income is above the repayment
threshold. You can also make additional repayments on their behalf,
providing they have given the Student Loans Company permission
to talk to you about their account.
Details on granting this permission
are available through the Student
Finance Direct home page.
If you do choose to make voluntary
repayments, these will be in addition
to any repayments collected through
8 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
the tax system. Any income-related
repayments made in this way will
not be reduced, but the loan will be
cleared more quickly by making
extra repayments. Only voluntary
repayments of £5 or more will be
accepted.
Payment can also be made in full
and final settlement of the loan at
any time, with no penalties for early
repayment. If you would like to fully
settle a loan on behalf of a loan account holder, they should contact us
to obtain a settlement figure. If you
wish to obtain a settlement figure on
their behalf, you must first arrange
for them to give us permission to talk
to you about their account.
You should then contact us on
0870 240 6298 to obtain an up to
date settlement figure. Lines are open
Monday to Friday, 9am – 5.30pm.
Further Information
You can obtain more details about
the repayment of student loans in
the guide ‘Student Loans: A Guide
to Terms and Conditions’, which
you can download from the forms
and guides page on
www.studentfinancedirect.co.uk
HOW ARE STUDENT
LOANS REPAID?
A number of factors come into
play when estimating the cost of a
student’s higher education.
The overall cost will be dependent
upon the student’s chosen course,
institution and household income.
Full-time students who will be
new entrants to higher education
in 2008/09 will be liable for a
fee contribution of up to £3,145
(£3,070 in 2007/08). However
they will be able to apply for a
variable fee loan of up to £3,145
(£3,070 in 2006/07), depending
upon the actual fee charged by
their institution.
Student Loans for Maintenance
have been increased to help students meet their basic living costs.
Interest is charged on student loans
from the moment they are paid
until they are repaid in full. The interest rate for loans applies from 1
September to 31 August each year.
The rate is linked to the rate of inflation in line with the Retail Prices
Index: this means that in real terms
that the amount repaid will broadly
have the same value as the amount
borrowed and no profit is made on
the loan itself. The interest rate is
currently 4.8%.
Entitlement to grants and loans
increases each year in line with
inflation, and your financial contribution is assessed by your Local
Authority.
SMAART PARENTS PAPER |9
ISSUE 2 VOL. 1 | www.getsmaart.com
ADVANTAGE: INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS
Why are more parents than ever choosing private education for their children?
Independent schools have the freedom
to experiment and innovate and many
of them have individual skills and
strengths to complement the general
excellence that is the hallmark of
the sector. The schools appoint their
own staff and develop their own
policies; they have flexibility to adapt
to changing circumstances and to
respond to new initiatives; they can
use their resources to meet particular
needs and to provide facilities in
keeping with modern standards.
Children coming from European and
other countries are welcomed into the
school communities.
A great strength of the independent
sector is the choice and diversity it
offers. Parents can choose single-sex
or co-educational schools, boarding or
day schools, senior or junior schools,
rural or urban schools and schools
that are large or small. Independent
schools provide education from
age 3 to age 18. Many schools are
“all-through” with their own nursery,
primary and secondary departments.
Some preparatory schools have
a nursery department and a prepreparatory department.
Classes in many independent schools
are smaller than in other types of
school, particularly for the younger
age groups between 5 and 13. This
is when children are especially keen
to learn, the foundations of a good
education can be laid, and mistakes
and learning difficulties are recognised
and put right. The ISC Census 2007
reported the lowest ever pupil/teacher
ratio, with one teacher for every 9.7
pupils in ISC schools.
Independent schools have many ideals
in common. The sector has a strong
tradition of academic attainment, good
examination results, sound discipline
and a commitment to a wide range of
sport and extra-curricular activities.
Some are religious foundations, many
have long-established traditions, and
all strive to offer a high quality of
education within a framework where
the focus is on the development and
care of the individual. Pupils are
encouraged to develop their talents
and to pursue new interests through
clubs and societies, sport, outdoor
activities and community service.
Meetings are often arranged between
schools at which pupils can meet and
share interests.
Many schools provide help for
children whose first language is not
English, and special tuition is available.
Guardianship arrangements are
available for those whose families live
outside the United Kingdom, and many
other practical details such as transport
to and from airports are often looked
after by the schools, working in
partnership with the parents.
Independent schools are accountable
to parents. If parents do not think their
children are being educated properly
they will take them away and send
them elsewhere. Because of this,
independent schools have to have very
high standards and most are equipped
with the most up to date facilities
available.
In surveys carried out for ISC by
MORI (Market & Opinion Research
International) , the main reasons
stated by parents for choosing
independent schools include: small
classes with individual attention,
high standards of education and
examination results, good discipline,
encouragement of a responsible
attitude to school work, development
of social responsibility, and extracurricular activities.
Parents are increasingly prepared
to make the sacrifice, because it’s
thought superior exam results in the
independent sector make it more
likely that children will go on to
secure a place at a good university.
And it’s a growing trend. More pupils
today are educated privately than five
years ago. Some 6.7% of parents pay
for their offspring to get a private
education today, compared with 6.2%
five years ago.
Private Universities
The UK has only one private
university; The University of
Buckingham, which was founded
in 1976 by a group of Oxford
academics who “despaired of the way
the other British universities were
going. The other universities are all
funded by the state, and the state is
their customer, so they have to do
what the state says. That is why; to
save money at the students’ expense,
the state spends only half as much per
student as it did 20 years ago”.
Buckingham was the first UK
University to offer the academic
content of a standard 3-year degree
into a 2-year programme, running over
four terms per year. By making full
use of the whole year, including the
long summer holiday period of other
universities, this allows students to start
working and earning one year earlier.
Teaching is generally provided over 2
semesters (2 terms a semester) of 20
weeks.
For more information go to
www.isc.co.uk
SMAART PARENTS PAPER | 9
10 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
...CONTINUED
FROM FRONT PAGE
Denise’s message for parents is
simple. “You know your child best. If
you think they are gifted, stick to your
guns. You are with them 85% of the
time and the teacher only 15%. There
is no shame in being proud of your
child. Have the confidence to encourage them.”
Many believe that the ‘death by
testing’ culture in schools is simply trying to standardise children,
to make them all average. But
parents can change this.
Allow your child to accept ‘difference’ and celebrate their successes with them. Subtle encouragement whilst allowing a ‘normal’
upbringing will provide the most
balanced environment in which a
teenager is most likely to excel.
Your teen may be born with
genetic gifts that make them
elite, but they may only become a
genius if they use that genetic gift
wisely.
Whilst it is clear that most ‘genius’ characteristics may be unique
to a specific child and may well
rely heavily on the observational
skills of the parent, the most common indicators of a ‘Gifted’ child
www.getsmaart.com | ISSUE 2 VOL. 1
HOW TO SPOT IF YOUR CHILD IS A GENIUS
according to the NAGC are:
• Asks lots of questions
• Has a very retentive memory
• Can concentrate for a long time
• Has wide general knowledge
• Enjoys problem solving
• Has an unusual imagination
• Has strong feelings and emotions
• Has an odd sense of humour
• Is a perfectionist
• Displays a superior talent for a sport
or hobby
•
•
•
So What Can Parents Do?
As the parent of a gifted child, it is
important to realise that your child is
exceptional and is likely to have needs
different from those of other children.
Parenting a gifted child can be physically and emotionally challenging
because the child’s developmental
trajectories vary from the norm. The
more gifted the child is, the greater the
variance from the norm.
So, what can you do?
• Read all you can on giftedness
and learn about the characteristics of gifted children. The
needs of gifted young people
are often misunderstood. Read
what the experts say about
various aspects of 'being gifted'
10 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
•
•
•
in the sections on the NAGC
website
Learn about your Local Authority's
gifted and talented policies
Adopt 'gifted-friendly' parenting
strategies. Parenting any exceptional
child has its challenges; you'll find
useful parenting information on the
website or via the NAGC Helpline
(0845 450 0221)
Assure your child that it is okay to
be different. Highly intelligent children often feel very disconnected
from their classmates and other
age peers. Learn about how gifted
children develop friendships
Seek out other families with gifted
children, either through area organisations (such as NAGC branches
and Explorers Clubs - 0845 450
0295) or through your school or
community groups. Make sure your
child has the opportunity to make
friends with children who share
his/her interests
Take the time to develop positive
relationships with your child's
teachers and school administrators.
Recognise that they are often doing
the best they can given the knowledge, resources and the constraints
within which they have to work.
Take your child's complaints of
being bored or under-challenged
seriously. Teachers and schools are
•
•
•
•
•
owed a certain amount of respect
and leeway, but no child should be
subjected to a miserable educational
environment
If your child's education is not a
good match for his/her abilities,
have solutions and ideas before
approaching the school. Explore
options by brainstorming as a family, conducting research, searching
the Internet, and talking with other
parents of gifted children
You cannot rely on the classroom
alone to satisfy your child's desire to
learn. Investigate after-school clubs
and societies, weekend activities,
summer schools, and distance learning experiences
Consider early entrance to university but this needs to be discussed
with the Head of the incoming
school or University well ahead of
time. Highly gifted young people
are often ready for the rigours of
university level material before the
age of 18. One way to explore this
option is for your child to take a
class at a local college or access the
Open University's distance learning
courses for A Level students
Locate a mentor and/or tutor to support the development of your child's
talents and interests
Make a point to stay informed about
your child's educational experience.
Advocate for appropriate placement
and a challenging curriculum if
your child's needs are not being met.
Before asking for a meeting with
your child's teacher, or the Head,
learn how to facilitate a meeting so
that the outcomes are most likely to
meet your child's needs
• Donate above-grade level books that
you have found useful to the local
primary school for in-class libraries
• Counter stereotypes of gifted
students. If parents are talking about
acceleration, for instance, and one
parent says,"I knew a child who
was accelerated two years and was
always miserable", you could bring
up a story of a child who thrived
in this environment, made positive
friendships in his new grade and
was challenged and much happier
(Adapted from Jan & Bob Davidson
with Laura Vanderkam, 2004, Genius
Denied: How to Stop Wasting our
Brightest Young Minds, Simon &
Schuster)
On 9th May, the NAGC are
introducing ‘It’s alright to be
bright’ days into schools and
colleges – see their website
www.NAGC.co.uk for further
details.
SMAART PARENTS PAPER |11
ISSUE 2 VOL. 1 | www.getsmaart.com
HAVE YOU GOT ATTITUDE?
is keen to ensure we recruit
the right people with the right
attitude to join our network
of partner organisations as
Building Controls Engineers.
“Choosing
the right career is one
of the most important
decisions you will ever
make.” No pressure! There
are certainly plenty of
choices out there for young
people who are about to
embark on a career in
the Engineering Industry,
including the Building
Controls industry.
Building Controls is a dynamic,
exciting and fast moving industry
that relies on the latest technology
to manage energy efficiency
and safety within buildings.
Managing energy is one of the
most compelling elements of our
industry – we have the power to
reduce carbon emissions. The
CO2 output from buildings make
up a significant proportion of the
UK Carbon Footprint and the
heating and ventilation of those
buildings accounts for more the
50% of that output.
Trend, the UK’s leading Building
Controls manufacturer, is a global
player in the industry and delivers
technology-led products to assist
leading organisations. Companies,
such as Land Rover, Triumph
Motorcycles, London Eye, TK
Maxx and Sainsbury’s, save money
and operate as good stewards of
the environment by ensuring their
buildings are outfitted with energy
efficient climate control.
To support massive growth in
construction and events such
as the 2012 Olympics, Trend
What is a Building Controls
Engineer?
A Building Controls Engineer
is responsible for designing
and maintaining the control
system within a building,
ensuring comfort of occupants,
while minimising the energy
and financial costs of the
building. A building controls
engineer can have a significant
effect on the country’s carbon
footprint.
What about a future career?
There are a variety of job
roles and opportunities for
career development within the
Building Controls industry
including:
• Service Engineer
• Project Manager
• Project Engineer
• Graphic Designer
• Strategy Designer (Software
Control Strategy)
• Commissioning Engineer
There are also future
opportunities for higher
education, self-employment
and business ownership.
What is an Attitude
Apprenticeship?
The Attitude Apprenticeship
Scheme is a work-based learning
programme where an individual
is employed and participates in
a structured learning programme
– in other words ‘Learning while
you are earning’.
In this programme,
participants work towards a
nationally recognised Advanced
Apprenticeship Certificate in
Building
Controls
Engineering
over a fouryear period. In
addition, they
experience a
comprehensive
range of
Trend Product
Training and
other specialist
Building
Controls
Courses.
If I’m interested what do I do
next?
The Attitude Apprenticeship
Scheme is looking for special
people – People Like You – with
the right ATTITUDE!
We are currently looking for
Apprentices to fill a number of
vacancies across the UK. So, to
learn more or to apply online visit
www.trendattitude.co.uk
Upon
completion
of the Attitude Apprenticeship,
a qualified Apprentice currently
earns a salary ranging from £20k£25k with fantastic
prospects for the
future.
SMAART PARENTS PAPER | 11
14 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
www.getsmaart.com | ISSUE 2 VOL. 1
CAREER GUIDANCE WILL
BE GIVEN PRIORITY
Careers guidance will play a key role in government plans to double the number of apprentices to 500,000 a
year by 2020.
Employers have broadly welcomed
the plans but have called for reform
of the system to raise the status of
those gaining qualifications under the
scheme.
Skills Secretary John Denham has
published a report, World Class
Apprenticeships: Unlocking Talent,
Building Skills for All, which sets out
a wide range of steps which aim to
improve apprenticeships in the future.
These include setting up a National
Apprenticeship Service to oversee the
programme, and creating a ‘matching
service’ to help employers fill apprenticeship vacancies.
CBI deputy director-general John
Cridland said: “We need more young
people taking on-the-job training and
gaining qualifications that provide access to exciting and well-paid careers,
as well as delivering skills that business need to compete.
“But the focus must be on quality as
well as quantity. Reform of the apprenticeship system is vital, otherwise
the relevance and status of apprenticeships will suffer and more employers
will not get involved.”
Manufacturers’ organisation the EEF
called for a “speedy implementation”
of the proposals if the 2020 deadline
was to be met.
Chairman Martin Temple said: “In
tandem with the expansion of apprenticeships, we must ensure that
the careers guidance young people
receive provides adequate information on their benefits along with
more radical action to encourage
employers to establish new apprenticeship schemes.”
The TUC said it was disappointed
the government had ignored the issue of low pay for apprentices.
“Although the poorest paid apprentices, often young women, are now
protected from the worst ravages of
exploitation by an £80 wage floor,
this has not increased since August
2005. Rising prices mean this is
effectively a pay cut,” said general
secretary Brendan Barber.
“The government could further
boost the quality of apprenticeships,
make them more attractive to young
people and improve completion
rates by increasing the wage floor to
£110.”
Under the new approach schoolleavers will be guided into apprenticeships that suit their interests
using a university-style clearing
scheme.
Ministers want the number of apprenticeships for 16 to 18-year-olds
to increase to 90,000, with one in five
young people taking them up by 2013.
Employers will be given incentives to
take on apprentices, including wage
subsidies for small businesses.
Public sector employers, such as
hospitals and schools, are to receive
help to recruit young people on special
training schemes.
Youngsters interested in becoming an
apprentice will enter a clearing system
at school similar to that run by Ucas
for universities, which will channel
them towards a scheme that suits
them.
Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester
United manager, Sir Alan Sugar and
Gary Rhodes, the chef, have also been
enlisted.
Gordon Brown said: “This is my
proposal - a new partnership between
government and employers to create a
Britain of opportunity where everyone
can make the most of their talents, a
new commitment to take the tough
long-term decisions to create the skills
and welfare system we need.”
Describing his own experience as an
apprentice, Sir Alex said: “Apprenticeships were a comprehensive education
which taught young people how to be
part of a workforce.
“It is sad that their demise was so
swift and any attempt to revive their
place in a young person’s training
should be welcomed and will benefit
the economy for years to come.”
The launch includes radical welfare
reform proposals, including plans to
extend the role of the private sector in
finding employment for jobseekers.
The unemployed will be forced to take
a skills test to discover which jobs
they are capable of in a new approach
described by Mr Brown as “carrot and
stick”.
Claimants will have to accept
individual training to learn skills to
enhance their job prospects or risk
being stripped of benefits.
EMA: THE FACTS FOR
PARENTS AND CARERS
If your child stays in learning after 16, Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) could give them up to £30 a
week to help with their costs. It won’t affect a penny of any benefits you get.
Helping your child get on in life
There’s a world of learning choices
out there for your child if they’re 16,
17 or 18 and have left or are about to
leave compulsory education.
Whatever their ambitions, they’ll
find the right course, from office
administration to digital media,
science and technology to travel,
tourism and hospitality.
And they’ll be able to find a way of
learning that’s right for them too.
This might be staying in sixth form,
through a college or at work. Vocational qualifications provide excellent training for work and life too.
Want to make sure you offer the
right advice? There’s lots of help
available. Just call the EMA
helpline on 0800 121 8989, or
contact your local Connexions
service.
How can EMA help your child?
EMA is there to help with some
costs, and to help your child carry
on learning.
If your household income is less
than £30,810 then your child can
get help with £10, £20 or £30 a
week to put towards costs on books,
travel or equipment.
This money will be paid straight
into your child’s bank account. To
get their EMA payments, they will
need to open an account if they
haven’t got one already.
14 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
Check out the table to see what they could receive.
Your household income (financial
year 07/08):
up to £20,817 per year
£20,818 - £25,521 per year
£25,522 - £30,810 per year
more than £30,810 per year
What do you need to provide?
To complete the application form
you will need to provide some extra
information.
You will need to send evidence
of your household income for the
relevant tax year. This might be a Tax
Credit Award Notice (TC602), or P60.
How much EMA your child could get
£30 per week
£20 a week
£10 a week
no entitlement to EMA
There are other criteria which qualify
your child for EMA, including age
and type of course.
What about claiming other benefits?
The good news is that EMA doesn’t
affect any other benefits you may
already claim. So you are still free to
keep claiming child benefit, tax credits
and other types of support. Young
people can still have a part-time job.
Find out if your child is
eligible by going to
www.direct.gov.uk
or phone the EMA helpline
on 0800 121 8989
SMAART PARENTS PAPER |15
ISSUE 2 VOL. 1 | www.getsmaart.com
HIGHER SCHOOL LEAVING AGE
EQUALS MORE CRIME?
Raising school leaving age ‘threatens job prospects’ and could lead to ‘more crime,’ warn experts
Job prospects for young people could be threatened by the government’s plan to raise the school leaving age to 18.
The Policy Exchange, a leading
think tank, claims the government
has also over estimated the benefits
of raising the school leaving age and
under estimated the costs.
Former government advisor Professor Alison Wolf said that faced with
the prospect of inspections and
penalty notices many small employers will simply stop hiring young
people.
“The policy will almost certainly
have a serious, negative impact on
the job market for young people,”
she says in a report. “The large
majority of young people are employed in the private sector, by small
and medium sized companies who
cannot afford to have employees
disappearing on day release, or not
available for sections of the day.”
Wolf said raising the leaving age
could cost £1.7bn a year, rather than
the annual gains of £1.6bn predicted
by the government.
She said: “A policy of coercing them
into continued participation is at
odds with everything we know about
the links between motivation and
learning” firms.
As a result of the legislation, many
such firms are likely to stop employing any 16 or 17 year olds. This
will have a devastating effect on
the youth labour market, and on
the skills and future employability
of many young people. The greatest losers are likely to be the most
marginal and disadvantaged.”
The think tank says that there are a
range of better alternatives including
the using the money in other ways
such as intensive one-to-one reading
tuition for struggling primary school
children and ESOL (English as a
Second Language) tuition.
It also suggests giving young people
guaranteed access to an education
entitlement, to be taken up when and
as they choose.
“All young people, and not only the
advantaged and university-bound,
should have the opportunity to take
up such education and training, but
at a time when they, not the Government, identify and want it. It is a
truism, by now, that more spending
does not necessarily produce better
results. This legislation shows that
more spending may actually produce
worse ones.”
Fiona Blacke, chief executive of The
National Youth Agency (NYA), said
marginalised young people will fall
off the radar if the government plan
goes ahead, and called for a non-formal form of education for 14- to 19year-olds based around youth work.
The Education and Skills Bill proposes that, from 2013, all England’s
16 year olds, and, from 2015, all its
17 year olds as well, must be in education or training, at least until they
have achieved something recognised
as a “full level 3” award.
Blacke said the government’s plans
to make young people stay in education or training until 18 would cause
problems.
If they are in work, they will still
have to receive formal training,
leading to government-approved accreditation. If they are unable to find
employment they will be forced to
attend school or college or a government-funded training scheme.
Youth workers have also given warnings about the proposals and have
called for a greater focus on youth
work as the government presses
ahead with plans to raise the education leaving age to 18.
“When the raising of participation
age comes into force we will probably see a number of young people,
who are already marginalised, disappear,” she said. “If they don’t disappear, the intention from government
is that there will be sanctions for
people that don’t participate. If they
don’t obey it and don’t pay the fines
they will end up in the criminal
justice system. I don’t think the
government wants that and neither
do we.”
Blacke said the NYA wanted a
non-formal education strand for
14- to 19-years-olds, to capitalise on
the success of youth work. Young
people would be able to opt in and it
would be tailored to the needs of the
individual.
Blacke said the bill would not meet
the needs of young people who are
not in education, employment or
training (NEET). “These are often
people with complex needs,” she
said. “We need a non-formal complementary offer for those young
people that don’t fit into the strands.
Otherwise I don’t think local authorities or government will be in a
position to make an offer that will
meet the needs of the young people
they need to serve.”
Susie Roberts, chief executive of the
Association of Principal Youth and
Community Officers, said the bill
needed to focus on what youth work
could bring to education.
“The skills youth work offers to
young people are still seen as nice
add-ons rather than essential work
that helps them into adult life,” she
said.
ALICE AND VICTORIA: ENCOURAGING FEMALE ENGINEERS
Two female engineers have become leading figures in the campaign to attract more women into engineering
and technology careers.
Alice Delahunty, a 26-year-old power
engineer from Nottingham is the
winner of the 2007 IET (Institution
of Engineering and Technology)
Young Woman Engineer award
while 20-year-old Victoria Nicholson
from Colchester scooped the Young
Woman Engineering Apprentice of
the Year title.
Alice, who was selected from more
than 100 entrants, has also become
the 30th female engineer to be
awarded the accolade which aims to
celebrate the best female engineering
talent in the UK as well as highlighting the severe shortage of women
working in engineering and technology.
As an electrical engineering programme co-ordinator for E.ON UK,
Alice spearheads the development of
innovative solutions within the power
industry.
As well as being responsible for driving forward development and promotion of new technology within the
Power industry, Alice is also actively
involved in technical consultancy
and operational support to ensure
the vital role of keeping the E.ON’s
UK’s power station fleet running.
Her responsibilities include giving
advice on how to ensure the stations
continue to supply power in the most
efficient, cost effective and environmentally sound way possible.
Robin McGill, chief executive of the
IET said: “Alice is a very enthusiastic, dedicated and bright young
woman who is passionate about her
job and committed to demonstrating this to others. This year’s IET
Young Woman Engineer of the Year
competition has attracted hundreds
of high calibre candidates, clearly
demonstrating the impressive quality
of young women now following successful careers in engineering.
“However, the IET is concerned
that only 5.4 per cent of the UK’s
engineers are women and more needs
to be done to demonstrate that engineering provides an excellent career
choice with many great opportunities.
“The IET is committed to raising the
profile of engineering and encouraging more young people, including
women, to consider a wider participation within the profession. In particular, we hope the IET Young Woman
Engineer of the Year Awards will help
to address the shortage of female role
models within engineering, especially
in light of the current skills shortages
within the industry.”
Alice has been instrumental in
encouraging other young people to
consider a career in engineering. One
of her most recent ventures involved
suggesting and setting up a sustainable design project for second year
degree students at Loughborough
University to design a radical street
lighting system. Alice is now acting as a technical consultant to the
students who are working to progress
there designs to prototype stage.
Two years ago Alice was also a
presenter for the IET’s Faraday
Lecture 2006, Emission Impossible
Can Technology Save the Planet - an
interactive touring show for 13-15
year olds to encourage young people
into science and engineering.
Alice remembers being told that she
would make a great engineer after
spending an entire weekend wiring
up her dolls house with 15 tiny lights
and a master dimmer switch, despite
burning a hole in the carpet! She later
spent a work experience placement
at a company building armoured cars
for NATO and spaceship parts for
NASA.
Meanwhile her engineering colleague
Victoria beat hundreds of applicants
to claim the title which recognises the
skills and achievements of apprentices and also to raise awareness of the
value of the apprenticeship route into
engineering and technology careers.
An advanced apprentice with BT, Victoria works in BT wholesale in a team
responsible for managing capacity in
the switch telephone network.
Victoria was nominated by a number
of senior staff to appear in advertisements for BT’s Apprentice Attraction
Campaign which aims to recruit more
female apprentices into BT.
In addition to supporting apprentices
in BT, Victoria is also actively involved in visiting schools and careers
fairs to talk to other young women
about apprenticeships.
Robin McGill, said: ”Victoria is a
wonderful role model for other young
women considering entering the
profession through the apprenticeship
route.”
At the award ceremony at the BT
Centre, London, Alice received a
cheque for £1,000 and Victoria a
£500 cheque. Both were also given
an engraved trophy presented by
scientist and TV presenter Dr Maggie
Aderin.
The Young Woman Engineer of the
Year Award is the most prestigious
honour of its kind in the UK and
attracts prominent supporters and
sponsors including BT, Women’s
Engineering Society, Shell and
Arup.
SMAART PARENTS PAPER | 15
16 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
www.getsmaart.com | ISSUE 2 VOL. 1
JOIN A PTA
AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Records show that Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) have been in existence for around one hundred years.
Evolving from these early years the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations (NCPTA) was
founded in 1956 and now provides guidance and support to around 13,000 member associations across
England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Many thousands of parents across
the country are volunteer members
of PTAs at their child’s school;
giving their time and energy to
fundraising and working in partnership with the school.
Recent figures1 show that PTAs
raised over £65 million last year
providing funds to improve the
school experience for millions of
children in both the primary and
secondary sectors.
This amazing achievement makes
a real difference to schools and
their pupils. Providing extra
resources and in some cases making it possible for activities such
as school trips to happen. All of
which is made into a reality by
many dedicated groups of volunteers who make up a PTA.
A successful PTA will bring
together parents and teachers who
are interested in supporting the
school. It provides an opportunity
for everyone to work together and
with a common purpose.
PTA activity will vary from school
to school; almost all PTAs are
involved in fundraising and most
will organise social events for parents and children. Many provide
helpers for outings and special
events and a large number run
clubs for sport, music or drama.
Some PTAs will organise meetings
to inform parents about education
issues; particularly when changes
are taking place.
Getting involved
All parents and teachers can get
involved, even if they only have
a small amount of time available. Parents, teachers and others
involved with the school are free
to decide on what they want to do
and on the framework under which
they will work.
In a world where everyone’s time
is precious getting people to join
a PTA and motivating them to get
involved can be daunting task.
We know from NCPTA research
that the average time commitment
every committee member gives is
five hours per week. This equates
to 195 hours per committee member per year.
“We try and get to know new
parents when their children start
school and encourage them to
come along to a PTA meeting to
find out more.”
Lynne Maguire, Our Lady of
Compassion Parents’ Association.
Fundraising is a key part of life
for the majority of PTAs. This
will involve event organising and
a certain degree of creativity and
innovation.
Others, particularly Secondary School PTA’s may meet less
frequently and fundraise without
ever holding an event. Each PTA
member will know how much
time they can give.
The lifecycle of a PTA committee will vary. Some members may
stay involved for ten years or
more – particularly if they have
subsequent children attending the
school. Others may stay for a few
years and then move on.
Evolution continues
The role of a PTA within the
school community continues to
evolve and this is reflected in the
changing remit and key activities
undertaken by PTA volunteers.
In line with the traditional aim
of improving the experience of
school for their children many
PTAs are looking at how this
might be extended and developed.
An example of this wider view
is evident in the activities of
Trafalgar Schools PTA. Trafalgar
School in Twickenham, Middlesex has 270 pupils and an active
PTA who were keen to increase
the availability of after school
activities.
Following some initial research,
which included surveying the
parents and children, a list of 18
potential activities were identified. The pupils were then asked
to vote on their top three preferred
options. From this a final list of
activities was agreed and the after
school programme was underway. To ensure that all children
could benefit, the PTA agreed to
allocate 10% of its annual income
to fund subsidised places for
children whose parents could not
afford to pay which fully supports
the school’s inclusion policy. The
benefits for the pupils and wider
community have been immense.
The sports after school clubs in
netball, football and rugby have
given the children an opportunity to take part in more borough
sports matches than they have
ever done before. Parents are involved in collecting fees, collating
registers, chaperoning children
and coming along to cheer on
the teams. Ten parent volunteers
now manage and co-ordinate after
school activities for 170 children.
“An unexpected outcome of the
after school club success is that
parents’ perceptions of the PTA
have changed. It is no longer
viewed as a fundraising body; it is
recognised as having an important
role in developing school culture,”
explained Avril Horn, after school
clubs co-ordinator.
In recognition of the good practice in engaging parents achieved
by PTAs, schools minister Jim
Knight MP said,
“Parent Teacher Associations
(PTAs) make an enormous
contribution to the well-being of
our schools. By creating exciting fundraising ideas, developing
extra-curricular opportunities and
fostering greater parental involvement in school life, they play
an essential role in shaping the
character of schools.”
Looking forward
As we look to the future we expect
the role of PTAs will continue to
evolve and change, but change
as part of a more responsive and
evolving environment and strong
commitment to schools, parents
and their children.
One development PTAs will watch
with interest is the move towards
extended schools and the opportunities this will provide for PTAs in
increased involvement with their
school and its wider community.
Whatever the future may hold
for each of us, the role of PTAs
remains an important and significant one for parents, schools and
our children.
Visit www.ncpta.org.uk for information on how to join the NCPTA.
16 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
SMAART PARENTS PAPER |17
ISSUE 2 VOL. 1 | www.getsmaart.com
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SMAART PARENTS PAPER | 17
SMAART PARENTS PAPER |19
ISSUE 2 VOL. 1 | www.getsmaart.com
YOUR CHILD’S EDUCATION:
WHAT’S NEW FOR 14-19 YEAR OLDS
Changes in education and training will mean a wider choice of courses for 14 to 19 year olds, aimed at giving
them the chance to learn in a way that suits them and gain the skills needed for further study and work.
More options for your child
Along with the new Diploma
qualification, there will be changes
to GCSEs and A levels, more Apprenticeship opportunities and a
new programme to support young
people not achieving their potential.
Diplomas for 14 to 19 year olds
The Diploma is a new qualification
for 14 to 19 year olds, designed to
bridge the gap between academic
and vocational learning. It offers
a more practical, hands-on way
of gaining the essential skills and
knowledge that employers and
universities look for.
From September 2008, selected
schools and colleges around the
country will begin offering the
new Diploma qualification alongside GCSEs and A levels.
Changes to GCSEs
There will be changes to the way
GCSEs are assessed from September 2009:
• coursework in most subjects will
be replaced by controlled assessments, supervised by teachers in
school
• teacher assessments will continue in art and design, design and
technology, home economics,
music and physical education
- but with stronger safeguards
• from September 2010, GCSE
English, maths and Information
and Communications Technology (ICT) will put more importance on the essential skills that
young people need to prepare
them for work and adult life
Changes to A levels
From September 2008, the amount
of time students have to spend on
assessment will reduce. Higher
achievers will get more opportunities to demonstrate their ability
– making it easier for universities
and colleges to identify them.
There will be:
• more open-ended questions, answered through extended essays
• a new (optional) extended
project
• a new A* grade for the top performers
More schools and colleges are
expected to provide opportunities
to study higher education modules
while doing A levels.
Help for those not
achieving their potential
Some young people find the mainstream curriculum unappealing and
don't see it as relevant to them.
The new 14 to 16 programme is
aimed at young people who are
unlikely to achieve at Level 1 – including those who have the poten-
tial to do well, but lack motivation.
It shows young people how learning can create career opportunities
and helps them develop basic skills
such as literacy and numeracy,
together with the attitude and personal and social skills important in
learning and at work.
A new framework of qualifications
at Entry and Level 1 will support
this, helping learners to progress
towards Level 2 (the equivalent of
five good GCSEs). Qualifications
recognised under the framework
will include skills for life and
work, vocational and subject-based
learning, and personal and social
development.
WHAT DO THEY ALL MEAN?
National Qualifications Framework
The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) sets out the level at
which a qualification can be recognised in England, Northern Ireland
and Wales.
NQF level
The framework groups together qualifications that place similar demands
on you as a learner. However, within
any one level, qualifications can cover
a wide mix of subjects, and take dif-
Examples of qualifications
ferent amounts of time to complete.
The NQF can also help you see how
one type of qualification can lead on
to other, higher levels of qualifications.
Only qualifications that have
been accredited by the three
regulators for England, Wales and
Northern Ireland can be included
in the NQF. This ensures that all
qualifications within the framework are of high quality, and
meet the needs of learners and
employers.
What they give you
- Entry level certificates
- Skills for Life at entry level
- basic knowledge and skills
- ability to apply learning in everyday situations
- not geared towards specific occupations
1
- GCSEs grades D-G
- BTEC Introductory Diplomas & Certificates
- OCR Nationals
- Key Skills level 1
- NVQs
- Skills for Life
- basic knowledge and skills
- ability to apply learning with guidance or supervision
- may be linked to job competence
2
- GCSEs grades A*-C
- BTEC First Diplomas & Certificates
- OCR Nationals
- Key Skills level 2
- NVQs
- Skills for Life
3
- A levels
- Advanced Extension Awards
- GCE in applied subjects
- International Baccalaureate
- Key Skills level 3
- NVQs
- BTEC Diplomas, Certificates and Awards
- BTEC Nationals
- OCR Nationals
- ability to gain or apply a range of knowledge, skills and understanding, at a detailed level
- appropriate if you plan to go to university, work independently, or (in some cases) supervise and train others in their field of work
4
- Key Skills level 4
- NVQs
- BTEC Professional Diplomas, Certificates and Awards
- specialist learning, involving detailed analysis of a high level of information and knowledge in an area of work or study
- appropriate for people working in technical and professional jobs, and/or managing and developing others
5
- HNCs and HNDs
- NVQs
- BTEC Professional Diplomas, Certificates and Awards
- ability to increase the depth of knowledge and understanding of an area of work or study, so you can respond to complex problems
and situations
- involves high level of work expertise and competence in managing and training others
- appropriate for people working as higher grade technicians, professionals or managers
6
- National Diploma in Professional Production Skills
- BTEC Advanced Professional Diplomas, Certificates and Awards
- a specialist, high-level knowledge of an area of work or study, to enable you to use your own ideas and research in response to
complex problems and situations
- appropriate for people working as knowledge-based professionals or in professional management positions
7
- Diploma in Translation
- BTEC Advanced Professional Diplomas, Certificates and Awards
8
- specialist awards
Entry
- good knowledge and understanding of a subject
- ability to perform variety of tasks with some guidance or supervision
- appropriate for many job roles
problems and situations
- appropriate for senior professionals and managers
- opportunity to develop new and creative approaches that extend or redefine existing knowledge or professional practice
- appropriate for leading experts or practitioners in a particular field
SMAART PARENTS PAPER | 19
20 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
www.getsmaart.com | ISSUE 2 VOL. 1
A PARENTS GUIDE TO RADIOGRAPHY
So, your son/ daughter wants to be a radiographer CONGRATULATIONS!
At the University of
Portsmouth we are
delighted to welcome
parents to accompany
their offspring to open
days and interview
sessions. From experience
we have found that
parents and applicants
have similar interests
and concerns but that the
priority each attaches
to them is likely to be
different.
Students are interested in course
content and delivery, assessment
strategies, halls of residence and
social life, whereas parents tend
to ask:• Are there any jobs at the end of
this course?
• Is radiography a safe
occupation?
• How much will it cost (me)?
• Is this University a good place
to study radiography?
Are there any jobs at the
end of the course?
Undoubtedly YES. Both
diagnostic and therapy
radiographers are essential to
delivering the government’s
plans for the NHS. There remains
a significant shortfall of both
groups. Writing in the Readers
Digest (June 2007) Charlotte
Beardmore- education officer
for the Society and College
of Radiographers described a
current shortfall of 11% in the
number of therapy radiographers
needed to meet the needs of the
NHS. The same situation is true
for diagnostic radiography and
although the number of students
qualifying in the profession has
grown dramatically over recent
years , increases in the demand
for the service allied with
technology changes means that
the shortfall is still significant.
This will further be compounded
by projections of high levels
of retirement within the next
decade. Presently there are
almost 25000 people registered
to practice radiography in the
UK and the normal expectation
is that recently graduated
radiographers enter the NHS.
However there are other options
which include, practising as a
radiographer in the private sector,
the armed forces or overseas.
New Zealand, Australia, S Africa
and Canada are all popular
destinations for Portsmouth
graduate radiographers and
providing their language skills
are adequate the EU is also
an attractive locale. If a time
comes when a radiographer
wishes to change direction
the fact that they are a science
graduate opens all the normal
career doors such as the civil
service, industry, management
and interestingly they qualify
for the fast track scheme to
recruit science teachers. All of
the companies manufacturing
radiography equipment and
ancillaries ( such as Philips,
Toshiba Siemens etc) employ
radiographers as part of their
R&D staff or applications
specialist. A small number of
medically trained radiographers
migrate into veterinary hospitals.
Is radiography safe?
In the early days of the
profession some radiography
martyrs were reported,
variously they suffered from
blood disorders, reduced life
expectancy and the occasional
finger dropping off. Over
the past one hundred years
our knowledge of science in
general and radiation physics
and radiobiology in particular
has grown dramatically. Today’s
radiographers enjoy the same
standards of health and fertility
as the rest of the UK population.
This is attributable to
occupational health supervision,
radiation dose monitoring , strict
adherence to guidelines and safe
working practices. Until they
qualify, students are closely
supervised in all practical
settings thus ensuring that they
can not harm their patients or
themselves.
So the answer again is
Yes, radiography is safe.
How much will it cost ? Student
radiographers ( subject to some
qualifications about residency
and nationality) have their
tuition fees paid by the NHS
and may apply for a means
tested bursary. Compared with
say a traditional science or arts
students this can be worth
£5,500-00 pa.
A significant amount of time will
be spent in clinical placements
which are likely to be remote
from the University’s campus,
students can normally reclaim
the costs incurred for travel and
accommodation related to such
activities. Proposals are presently
being considered ( Sept 2007) to
revise this reimbursement scheme
but the changes are expected to
simplify the system and benefit
students.
A good University for
Radiography?
Within the UK there are 24
Universities offering courses
which lead to professional
accreditation and registration.
So why do we believe that
Portsmouth is a good provider
within this discipline ? Within
the University of Portsmouth
we have adopted a four point
philosophy for educating
radiographers. :• Clinical learning counts
towards degree classification
-our students spend more than
a third of their time in practice
and the skills they develop
are so fundamental to their
professional life that we hold
that assessments of clinical
practice should count towards
final award classification.
• Recurring placements. - Each
of our students will visit
THREE placement sites on a
recurring basis, this ensures
that they build a range of
clinical skills and experience
of practice such that they
are optimally equipped for
autonomous and reflective
practice, be it is a single
handed rural post or in a large
university specialist teaching
hospital.
• Lecturer-Practitioner.- All of
the radiography academic staff
regularly visit the hospital
departments hosting our
students. Whilst in clinical
environments the academic
staff will deliver small group
tutorials to students, provide
pastoral / academic support
and undertake clinical
assessments. In this way the
University strives to support
our students when they are on
sites remote from campus and
as far as possible to promote
cross site consistency for the
clinical learning opportunities
experienced by the student
radiographers.
• Early clinical placement.
About seven weeks after the
start of the course we send our
For more information please contact:
jason.oakley@port.ac.uk or harold.clarke@port.ac.uk
www.ports.ac.uk
20 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
first year students into a four
week clinical placement. This
early immersion into practice
serves, we believe , to confirm
to the student that they really
have made the right career
choice and will benefit from
the confidence which follows
such confirmation. Similarly an
insight into practice is likely
to make lecture based study
more effective. Potentially the
student has the opportunity
to switch to another course
(within this university )
without waiting till the next
academic year.
There are some external
indicators of quality which
parents may consider pertinent in
evaluating course options.
• In 2007 the Society and
College of Radiographers
identified the Portsmouth
Radiography course has having
significantly better completion
rates for both radiography
courses than was the UK
norm.
• During the same period
the Council of Deans and
Heads for nursing and health
courses released tables
showing that Portsmouth
radiography graduates were
more successful at gaining
employment within the NHS
than any other group of
students.
• In September 2007 the Times
Higher Education supplement
in conjunction with the
National Student Satisfaction
Survey produced league tables
showing that Portsmouth has
the most satisfied students
for subjects allied to medicine
(the domain which includes
radiography) within any UK
university.
A good place to study?
You decide.
SMAART PARENTS PAPER | 21
22 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
www.getsmaart.com | ISSUE 2 VOL. 1
THE ACA, GET A CAREER IN BUSINESS
OFF THE GROUND
Is your child making choices that could influence their future career?
Choices made throughout your child’s education
can impact on their future career. Making such
decisions can be hard and stressful especially
when they don’t know which career path to
follow. There is one career choice that allows
students to study the subjects they enjoy and still
have a career with amazing opportunities, rewards
and success. This career is chartered accountancy.
Chartered accountants are professional individuals
whose services are in high demand the world over.
Every organisation across all industry sectors,
from practice, to commerce, the public sector
and not-for-profit organisations all work with, or
employ chartered accountants, their experience,
knowledge and business expertise is invaluable
to any organisation. With an internationally
recognised and transferable qualification such as
the ACA, the opportunities are endless.
The ACA qualification from The Institute of
Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
(ICAEW) is a professional qualification that gives
young people access to a wide range of amazing
career opportunities. This unique, prestigious
and flexible qualification prepares students for a
versatile career.
ACA training
The ACA qualification works on an ‘earn while
you learn’ model. Students will apply for a
training contract (job) with one of the ICAEW
authorised training organisations (employers).
Training consists of classroom tuition as well
as gaining on the job experience. The training
teaches students not only the theory of business
and finance but the practical application of their
learning. Thus creating well rounded experienced
business experts.
With three routes to entry, everyone with the
ambition and drive to achieve a successful career
in business has the opportunity to obtain the ACA.
Routes to the ACA
The three main routes to study for the ACA:
• After A-levels - To study the ACA after
A-levels, takes between three and five years.
Students will gain work experience before
starting the class room tuition, helping them to
contextualise the theory.
• AAT-ACA Fast Track - Students study the
AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians)
qualification and then Fast Track onto the
ACA. Taking four years to complete both
qualifications.
• After University - Students obtain a degree in
any discipline and then enter a training contract
which will take three years to complete.
Whichever route your son or daughter opts
for, they will be earning a competitive salary
managing a full-time job, whilst they learn. It’s
not unusual to double salaries by the time they
qualify, gaining responsibility, knowledge and
relevant skills as they progress through training.
GCSE’s, A-levels and Degrees
Unlike other career paths the ACA does not
require any specific A-level subjects or degree
disciplines. This means students don’t need Alevel maths or a finance, business or accountancy
degree.
Training organisations look at the grades a student
has achieved not the subject they have studied.
The only subject that organisations do not count,
is A-level general studies.
Entry requirements will vary depending on the
employer, the ICAEW suggested minimums are;
• three GCSE’s (A or B grades in maths and
English are preferred)
• two A-levels or their equivalents in any subjects
• a minimum of 240 UCAS tariff score
• if your child chooses to go to university, a first
or 2:1 in any degree discipline (or international
equivalent).
The differences are in the detail
With a host of professional qualifications
available, how does an ACA chartered accountant
stand out from the crowd?
Your child will:
• develop business and finance disciplines that
lead to the ability to think strategically and gain
a career advantage
• learn to lead, the ICAEW have members on the
boards of 89% of FTSE 100 companies
• benefit from the strength and breadth of the
ACA as a business qualification – ACA
training demands a variety and depth of work
experience, providing a strong foundation for a
successful career in business
• make a real difference – ethics is central to the
ACA, students learn to challenge mindsets and
behaviours, influence social responsibility of
their organisation, and understand the legality’s
that impact on business.
If your son or daughter wants to inspire business
confidence and get their career in business off the
ground, the ACA will help them get off to a flying
start.
Some questions you may want
answers for…
What does the career involve?
Chartered accountants provide organisations
with strategic business advice, covering
areas from financial reporting and taxation
to acquisitions and insolvency. Chartered
accountants are valued and rewarded for
the work that they do. Salaries for newly
22 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
qualified ACAs compare favourably to other
professions such as law, general management
and banking.
What is the structure of the ACA?
To qualify, students will complete a three-five
year training contract, dependant on entry
route taken. Whilst working for an authorised
training organisation (employer). Students
gain 450 days of work experience and pass
a series of exams. ACA training also ensures
that individuals develop and demonstrate
strong soft skills such as leadership, decision
making and problem solving.
Find out more
Find out more about a career in
chartered accountancy and the
ACA qualification or search for
organisations who recruit ACA
trainees,
visit www.icaew.com/careers
call: +44(0)1908 248 040
email:: careers@icaew.com
SMAART PARENTS PAPER |23
ISSUE 2 VOL. 1 | www.getsmaart.com
FASHION AND TEXTILES
THE SKILLFAST-UK WAY
As a parent, would you encourage your child to consider a career in fashion & textiles? If not, it might be time to
re-think. The industry here in the UK has undergone huge changes over recent years, and it offers well-paid career
opportunities in areas such as:
Fashion:
The role of fashion designer
isn’t the only career the fashion
industry has to offer. In fact,
the technical skills required by
employers – including patterncutting, pattern-grading, garment
technology and garment construction – are so important they are
jobs in their own right.
For example, a garment technologist supports design and buying
teams on all stages of product
development, providing advice
on garment / fabric performance
and the most effective methods of
production. Whilst a pattern-cutter takes designers’ ideas to create
pattern templates that will give
the correct shape and drape to a
garment.
But if your son or daughter is
set on becoming a designer, they
must be realistic and acknowledge
how competitive it is. And remember that as-well-as clothing,
footwear and accessories manufacturers also require designers.
No matter what their preferred
career, to help ensure success
within the UK fashion industry,
your child is advised to:
• Choose a FE / HE course that
will teach the required technical
skills
• Choose a course that boasts
links with industry
• Consider a course that offers
a work placement or “year in
industry”
To find out about the Top Ten jobs
in fashion, including the skills
required, go to the
Can U Cut It? website, which has
been created specifically for those
interested in a career in fashion.
Footwear & Textiles
Manufacturing:
With a host of careers within the
footwear and textiles sector now
available, there is a job-role to
suit all.
As UK-based companies themselves moved to overseas mass
manufacturing (they could no
longer compete on price), those
that would have done this role
realised that they had to re-focus,
moving into high value added
niche markets in order to survive. And as a result, almost two
thirds of jobs lost in the industry
between 2001 and 2005 were unskilled or semi-skilled operative
jobs mainly in routine manufacturing.
With many textile manufacturers now producing high quality,
luxury goods and working within
the global marketplace, there are
job opportunities requiring craft,
technical and production-related
skills. These include roles in
design, quality assurance, distribution, sourcing, production,
engineering, IT and marketing.
To find out more, including job
profiles, facts & figures, training
and qualification information visit
“Just the Job”.
Technical Textiles:
going onto study science-related
A-Levels and ultimately a relevant
degree.
To find out more about the technical textiles industry, the careers
it offers and to read real-life case
studies, go to the Future Textiles
website.
So as you can see, the UK’s fashion and textile industry is very
much alive and with a breadth
of career opportunities, there is
something for everyone – no matter what their interests.
If you think “textiles”, the
chances are you won’t think of
automotive tyres or aircraft wings.
But the industry has got “technical” with textiles components being used in a number or products
including, yes you’ve guessed
it, automotive tyres and aircraft
wings.
Currently contributing £1.2
billion each year to the UK’s
economy, the high performing
area of technical textiles continues to expand. To clarify,
technical textiles are products or
materials that are manufactured
for their functionality rather than
for characteristics such as colour
or style. There are 12 main areas,
including:
• Medi-Tech (Medical Textiles)
– products include artificial
arteries and woundcare
• Cloth-Tech (Clothing Textiles)
– performance garments can be
waterproof and windproof
• Auto-Tech (Automotive Textiles) – the structure of a tyre
boasts textiles fibres including
cotton, nylon and polyester
All areas of the technical textiles
sector offer a host of well-paid,
skilled professions that require
new recruits in areas such as
design, research & development,
sales and marketing.
So whether your child has an
interest in textiles, design or
science, there could be a job for
them once they have the relevant
skills. There is a real desire for
highly skilled graduates who have
achieved a degree in textile technology and for science / engineering graduates.
Though entry requirements vary
for individual HE institutions,
individuals need to firstly achieve
GCSEs grade A – C in English,
Mathematics and Science before
SMAART PARENTS PAPER | 23
24 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
www.getsmaart.com | ISSUE 2 VOL. 1
SPORTING AMBITIONS AND ACADEMIC STUDY
UWIC’s Cardiff School
of Sport is a recognised
centre of excellence
within the UK. It has
established a national
reputation for the quality
of its academic, research,
sporting and professional
work – a tradition
maintained though the
quality of the teachers
who support our students
in both the academic and
sporting disciplines.
Why Choose Cardiff School of
Sport?
• Rated in Top Sport Science
Degree Courses in the UK.
The Sunday Times University
Guide, Sep 10, 2006
• BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise
Science is endorsed by the
British Association of Sport
and Exercise Sciences. The
curriculum is built around the
core sport science disciplines
of physiology, psychology and
biomechanics and underpinned
by a strong research methods
strand. In addition, we
appreciate that most students
are driven to study sport
and exercise by their love of
practical sport and therefore
the programme allows students
to specialise in two sports
alongside their theory modules.
• Cardiff is the least expensive
•
•
•
•
university town in Britain.
Students in Cardiff will be
more than £2,400 a year better
off than the average (excluding
tuition fees, bursaries and
grants). The Times, Aug 7,
2006
Sporting Excellence Through
a close relationship between
the School and the Athletic
Union, UWIC supports
students in their quest
for sporting excellence in
Team and Individual BUSA
Performance, National League
Profile, Internationals, World
Championships, World Student
Games, Commonwealth Games
and Olympic Games
Research Culture. There
are over 25 research active,
Research Assessment Exercise
returnable, staff in the School
with diverse research interests
High Employability on
Completion of Degree Course.
Over 90% of students are in
employment or undertaking
further study within 6 months
of completing their degree
Extensive Teaching Team.
The 70 strong team’s range and
breadth of experience ensures
that there is expert knowledge
across a vast range of subjects.
Cyncoed Campus
Cardiff School of Sport and
all its teaching and practical
24 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
facilities are situated on the
Cyncoed Campus. The campus
is compact, friendly and within
easy reach of local shops, Cardiff
city centre and road and rail
transport links. There are 520
single study bedrooms on the
campus. All rooms have highspeed, unlimited internet access
included in the halls fees. There
are laundry facilities on site
and the Campus is served by
the university bus service and
Cardiff Bus. Students resident at
Cyncoed are well placed to take
advantage of the extensive sports
and recreational facilities located
at the campus, including The
National Indoor Athletics Centre,
an indoor swimming pool,
Students’ Union bar/disco, indoor
tennis centre and a fitness suite.
Our Facilities
• BASES accredited laboratories
• Floodlit, eight-lane international
standard synthetic track with
field event facilities
• An artificial sand-dressed pitch
• The Wales Sport Centre for the
Disabled
• LTA Indoor and Outdoor Tennis
Centre
• Floodlit Netball Centre
• Dedicated Dance Studio
• Rugby and soccer pitches
• Olympic Gymnastic Training
Centre
• Indoor cricket facilities – UWIC
is an MCC
University
Centre of
Excellence for
Cricket
• 25m swimming
pool
• Sport Medicine
/ Physiotherapy
Clinic
Careers
Opportunities
The careers
pursued by our
sports graduates
including
teaching, sport
management,
sports
development
and the media.
Former UWIC
students are now
Ryan Jones - UWIC Sport & Exercise Science Graduate
in prominent roles - Captain of Wales, Grand Slam Winners 2008’
directing British
gymnastics,
‘Capital City of Learning’. With
British athletics, England and
a student population of more than
Wales cricket and Welsh rugby.
25,000 it is a true student city
offering all the variety expected
Sport Scholarships
of a cosmopolitan centre but still
A very successful scholarship
a surprisingly inexpensive place
programme operates at UWIC
in which to live. Cardiff is home
supporting the development of
to fantastic facilities including
elite performers in a range of
the Millennium Stadium (venue
sports.
for the 2012 Olympic Games),
International Sports Village and
Cardiff, A Sporting City
Glamorgan Cricket Club (hosting
Cardiff has been called the
3rd Ashes Test Match in 2009).
26 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
www.getsmaart.com | ISSUE 2 VOL. 1
SKILLS AND GUIDANCE
says Skills Min
As the new Minister for Skills, David Lammy has a key role in ensuring that the
of UK’s employers. Smaart Advice, Smaart Parents sister paper,
Q: Why is it so important that
we need to train people with the
right skills?
A: I’m a huge supporter of what
Skills for Life stands for and
I sometimes wonder why the
programme doesn’t receive the
attention and recognition that it
deserves.
Skills for Life stands out as one of
the most important programmes
of social change in this country.
Look back in history at periods of
major social change – the kind that
changes a country from one generation to the next – and you will see
that it comes in waves.
• I’m thinking of the 1944 Education Act, that paved the way for
universal free schooling, and
which opened secondary schools
to girls and the working class
• I’m thinking of the great expansion of comprehensive schooling in the 1960s under Anthony
Crosland as Secretary of State for
education
• And I’m thinking of the opening
up of higher education over the
last twenty years – something
that has given more people than
ever before the chance to fulfil
their potential
All of these programmes fed into
– and were driven by – huge cultural shifts.
vital role in workplaces across the
country.
Q: How successful has Skills for
life already been?
A: Skills for Life has a track record
of success. Over the last six years,
4.7 million learners have taken up
10.5m courses, with over 1.7 million people achieving first qualifications. Skills for life is changing
lives. And in some respects, we
need more of the same. We need
those Union learning reps and
employers to continue to work together. We need people working in
FE colleges and training providers
to carry on changing lives. We need
continued investment.
Q: What will the government be
doing to bring about this change?
A: We’ll be spending £850m over
next three years in foundation
learning tier alone.
Each year we’ll be committing over
£600m for basic skills – putting
over 3.6 million learners on Skills
for Life courses. We have set ourselves the goal that 95% of adults
to have functional literacy and
numeracy skills by 2020.
Q: What will do you be doing
about information, advice and
guidance?
They created opportunities for
people as never before – but also
changed the way the people thought
about education and its role in
changing in society.
A: The first thing about accessible
learning is that people have to know
about it. Aspiration doesn’t get you
very far if you don’t have the right
information.
Q: What challenges do we face in
the years ahead?
Some people, of course, are lucky.
They have friends and family who
they can turn to for advice and
guidance. They have peers who are
already in learning. But if you are
new to this country…or if you are
new to an area…or you don’t have
friends already in learning, then
you don’t have the luxury of that
advice.
A: We have to help the five million people who face the daily
struggle of living without being
able to read and write properly so
that 2 million adults improve their
basic literacy and numeracy skills
by 2010. It has proper investment
to match its ambition. Not falling
funding and courses being cut
– as has been the case in the past
– but around £1.5 billion invested
each year through the programme.
It includes a coalition beyond
government. That means all the
employers who are now part of
the skills pledge and who are
committed to helping their staff
learn and develop new skills. And
it means all 18,000 Union Learning Representatives who play that
with dependent children are now
both in work – and they understand
it too.
So it’s important that advice and
guidance helps address people’s
wider concerns, like finding affordable childcare, so that learners
can concentrate on learning – not
have to worry about rushing out of
classes to pick up their children.
Q: What about training and guidance in the workplace?
A: A key part of making learning
more accessible for people is to
take it into the workplace. That’s
why we’re working hard to support
more embedded learning.
We need to end the idea that
workplaces and learning don’t go
together. Good business – and good
policy – brings the two together so
that everyone benefits. We need a
business culture in this country that
sees learning as part of the working
experience. And more opportunities
to pick up Skills for Life through
on the job learning are key to that.
And we also know that unless the
government acts, training often
doesn’t reach the vulnerable. They
don’t get the support and the opportunities to progress like the most
qualified do.
So it’s absolutely right that if we
want to change the country as well
as simply fill job vacancies, we need
programmes like train-to-gain to
make sure that there really is opportunity for all.
The offer that we make to employers, through train-to-gain, is that they
will be given help to identify training
needs and opportunities. And there
will be subsidised training to make
sure we reach those who would not
benefit otherwise. Those people who
can often get stuck in a rut whether
they are in or out of work.
Q: What sort of education and
guidance do you want for your
son?
A: I hope by the time he reaches his
adult life he will be part of a country
where we don’t have millions of
adults struggling each day because
school never worked for them – and
because they were never given a
second opportunity.
His generation will have opportunities that my generation – and
certainly my parents’ generation –
never had. Early years support. New
schools. State-of-the-art technology.
Better teaching. Smaller class sizes.
A: I recently visited BMW’s Hams
Hall plant with the Prime Minister
to see their apprentices programme
in action. What I saw convinced
me we are right to be doubling
the number of apprentices in this
country and making sure all young
people stay in some form of education and training until the age of 18.
The 200 or so apprentices going
through BMW’s programme each
year have achieved a very high
completion rate. They are being set
on their way through top quality
training to good jobs and careers,
armed with the skills employers
need for success.
Q: What else will are you doing?
So for many people the creation of
a new universal careers service for
adults will be a huge help. It will be
a place that they can go to for the
best advice on their own futures.
And if we get it right, that advice
and guidance will help people
overcome some of those everyday
barriers that prevent people from
learning. As someone with a young
child I understand what a difference
childcare can make. 70% of couples
26 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
A: We are introducing Learner Accounts which will not only provide
much needed money and flexibility
– but they will help give people a
genuine sense ownership over their
own learning.
That ownership is vital. It’s the
difference between learning being
something that happens to you, to
experience a journey that you shape
and mark out yourself.
But I want the children of his
generation to enjoy another huge
advantage – parents who can read a
bedtime story to them. Who are not
afraid to go into schools and attend
parents’ evenings. Who can help
with homework in the evenings and
be role models to their children in
learning.
Q: You often talk about the
importance of apprenticeships.
Why?
Apprenticeships have a heritage and
an ethos that pre-dates the emergence of the ‘knowledge economy’,
the rise of India and China, or the
recent political emphasis on education and training.
Apprenticeships represent a tradition of providing young people with
vital life skills. Part of this is the
chance to learn a craft, to build expertise and to excel in a particular
vocation. This is in itself cannot be
SMAART PARENTS PAPER |27
ISSUE 2 VOL. 1 | www.getsmaart.com
ARE KEY TO THE FUTURE
ister Lammy
careers advice, guidance and training services keep pace with the demands
put a range of questions to the Minister and below are his answers.
underestimated as a force for good:
indeed, all the research shows
improved life chances and higher
earnings for those that complete
apprenticeships.
Q: What advantages do apprenticeships have over other forms of
training?
A: When harnessed properly, the
apprenticeship route can be a force
for wider social good. They provide
people not just with skills, but also
with an environment in which to
grow and develop as people. To be
an apprentice is to be mentored, to
learn over time through real life experience, and to build relationships
with those who have something
to pass on. At their best, apprenticeships offer exactly the kind of
structure, routine and the sense of
direction that can be missing in
young people’s lives.
to help them take up that option,
whatever their background. This,
for me, is what Queen’s speeches
are all about – and why they matter
to my constituents, apprentices in
the West Midlands as well as the
Westminster bubble.
Q: What else do apprenticeships
do?
A: They are a prime source of
intermediate skills in craft, technician and associate professional
occupations that are required to
drive forward the skills agenda, create economic growth and provide
the next generation of specialists as
skilled craftsmen retire.
Apprenticeships change lives. A
young person who completes an
apprenticeship at level 3 will earn
£100,000 more during their working life than someone with a level 2
qualification who does not complete an apprenticeship.
Q: What will the Government be
doing to encourage apprenticeships?
Q: What has this government
achieved for apprenticeships?
A: The word ‘craft’ comes from the
German ’kraft’, which means ‘power’ or ‘ability’. Our ambition as a
government is to distribute power
more widely than ever before – and
to develop the talents of young
people as never before. For the first
time ever, every young person will
have the option of an apprenticeship by 2013, with more financial
support going to young people
A: The government is proud that,
since 1997, the number of apprentices has dramatically increased
from 75,000 to over 250,000. 180
new types of apprenticeship have
been developed across 80 sectors of
industry, from construction to IT,
across 130,000 businesses. Quality is improving too. Completion
rates have improved from just 24
per cent in 2001/02 to 62 per cent
in 2006/07 and we are on-trend for
these figures to improve even more.
But we need to do more to reach
the goal of 500,000 apprenticeships by 2020 that Lord Leitch
recommended in his review
of the UK’s skills needs, and
to which we have committed.
This resonates strongly with the
government’s intention that every
school-leaver who meets the eligibility criteria will be entitled to
an apprenticeship place by 2013,
with the aim of reaching our aspiration of 90 per cent participation
by 2015.
Q: What about apprenticeships
in the public sector?
A: For the UK to become a world
skills leader we also need the
public sector to deliver high-quality apprenticeships. Public services represent 20 per cent of the
workforce, yet only 10 per cent of
apprentices are directly employed
in the public sector, take-up of
opportunities is sporadic and the
quality is patchy.
Parts of the sector have a long
tradition of engagement with
apprenticeships, such as the
Ministry of Defence and parts of
local government, particularly in
directly contracted services. Other
areas such as the civil service,
uniformed services, the education
sector and large parts of the NHS
have had little or no involvement
in the programme. There is now a
great opportunity to increase the
supply of apprenticeship places
in public services, in particular
by opening up new career paths
through the programme.
Q: What are your views about
the careers advice currently
available?
A: The support given by careers
advisors is crucial to help people
improve their skills and achieve
their goals and ambitions. I recently
visited Learndirect Careers Advice
to find out more about what is on
offer and listen in on calls.
The telephone guidance service has
made excellent progress and achieved
great results already in the short time
it has been operational. It is a genuine
world-first – nothing like it exists
anywhere else, delivering in-depth
personal careers advice over the
telephone.
It is making a real difference helping
people get their careers on track in
the challenging changing world of
work. People need to be able to take
stock and know the choices they have
to progress in learning and work.
Q: What do you think has been
achieved by this service?
A: The in-depth advice sessions
started out as a trial and we have been
amazed by the response. 100,000
advice sessions in just 18 months
demonstrates the demand for a free,
impartial service.
A recent survey found nearly a third
(31%) of British workers are unhappy
at work and they claimed the biggest
cause of their unhappiness was being
in a ‘dead end’ job through a lack of
career progression.
Learndirect Careers Advice is helping to change that. The advisers are
on hand to help people develop new
skills, improve their job prospects or
even change career completely.
Q: What is being done for people
whose first language is not English?
A: As it’s a personalised service open
to everyone, it is available in eight
different languages. The advisors
help people address any of the obstacles that might prevent them from
finding their dream job. They can
even advise on funding and childcare.
All of the advisers are highly qualified in careers guidance and are not
limited to the amount of time they
can spend with a caller. The caller has
their full attention and will receive
a service tailored to suit their needs.
To help keep people motivated the
adviser will, in some cases, come
up with an action plan and then
arrange to contact the caller to see
how they are getting on.
SMAART PUBLISHING STUDENT TITLES
Courses & Careers for Students
NationalEdition
Volume 6, Issue 2
£2.25 | € 3.40
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28 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
www.getsmaart.com | ISSUE 2 VOL. 1
TEENAGE SUICIDE
HOW WOULD YOU KNOW?
By: Nicola Honey
In households across the country, students are beginning their arduous revision timetables in preparation for
this Summer’s GCSEs, A-levels and finals - their supposed passport to a flourishing future. But at what price?
The demands of trying to succeed in our pressurised culture are leading to fatal consequences for some.
TEENAGE SUICIDE: THE FACTS
And for parents of teens it can seem
particularly desperate. Might your
own teen be suicidal? How would you
know – many parents say they never
saw any real indication that their teens
were on the edge of killing themselves. Most importantly, how can you
make sure it doesn’t happen to your
teen?
day to be successful, but success isn’t
measured simply by exam results. It
is becoming clearer and clearer that
parents can play an important part in
ensuring that their teen understands
that they will NOT be judged on this
alone, perhaps providing mentors for
them who haven’t been high achievers
at school.”
One of the most important things for
parent’s to be aware of is that teenagers usually kill themselves to escape
what they see to be an intolerable and
otherwise inescapable situation, not
necessarily because they want to die.
They see killing themselves as the
only answer to all their problems.
Whilst statistically there is no link between suicide and exam stress, Rosemary adds “We definitely get more
calls around this time of year from
pupils, parents and even sometimes
teachers who have been a shoulder for
some pupils. The problem with the
statistics is that coroners often record
them differently and some suicides
are marked as ‘accidental deaths’. We
know for sure though that revision
time and perhaps even more so, results
time, is key for highlighting personal
failures – so many teens get this so
out of proportion and we urge parents
to give time, listen and to point out
there are opportunities to be successful in life that don’t simply rely on A
grades.”
And particularly for teens today, who
face unacceptably high levels of mental anxiety associated with bullying,
relationship breakdowns, pressure to
‘have it all’ and exam stress – more so
than previous generations.
But the sad fact is that the consequence of a ‘must have’ culture brings
feelings of inadequacy which can
climax for teenagers when it comes to
taking vital exams which they believe
can make or break their ‘dream’.
Don’t forget, at this age, they lack
the reasoning power that experience
affords us and see the world as less
forgiving. And there is a false perception of exam success being the key to
success in other areas of our lives. For
some teenagers it is this worry that can
lead to depression and suicide.
Rosemary Vaux, Press Spokesperson
for PAPYRUS – a national charity
dedicated to the prevention of suicide
in young people – explains: “There is
so much pressure on young people to-
For parents, it appears that those
teenagers who are perfectionists or
sensitive to criticism may be most
vulnerable to disappointment with
themselves, which they then misconstrue as failure. “These are the
teens to keep a subtle eye on” adds
Rosemary “ but also be aware as
parents that behaviour observed on the
outside is not always what’s going on
on the inside – don’t ignore implied
comments . And remind your child
that whatever they do, you will always
be proud of them. It’s about showing
them unconditional love”
Where can I get Help for
My Suicidal Teen?
YoungMinds
PAPYRUS
Saneline
Prevention of young suicide- a national
charity in the UK | www.papyrus-uk.org
0800 68 41 41
a national charity committed to
improving the mental health of young
children | 0800 018 2138
provides support for parents of children
suffering stress and depression
www.sane.org.uk
28 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
• Each year, between 600 and 800
people under the age of 24 in the
UK take their own lives. There are
no figures for how many of these
cases are exam-related. A review is
looking into whether more information on suicide causes should be
provided to official statisticians
• Suicide amongst teens and young
adults has increased 3 fold since
1970.
• Every year there are about 24,000
cases of attempted suicide by
young people aged 10-19 years in
England and Wales alone – this is
one attempt every 20 minutes.
• In the UK, for people aged 15-24,
suicide is the second biggest cause
of death after road accidents.
• ChildLine, the free, 24-hour
helpline for children, - has seen
an increase in calls about exam
stress alone. Latest figures show
that from 31 March 2003 to 1 April
2004, the number of such calls had
risen to just over 900 - compared to
600 for the same 12-month period
in the previous year.
So how would you know if
your teen was suicidal?
Common behavioural signs
(PAPYRUS)
• Those at risk often have a very
sensitive nature, find it hard to cope
with criticism or disappointment,
or have difficulties finding solutions to everyday problems.
• They also tend to be perfectionists, setting themselves unrealistic
targets.
• Seem unusually quiet, down or
“blue”.
• Are often visibly upset.
• Have trouble sleeping, such as
sleeping too much or not enough.
• Appear listless, uninterested in
normal activities or unable to experience joy.
• Gain or lose a noticeable amount
of weight for seemingly no reason.
• Can not focus on a subject, task or
stay on topic in a conversation.
• Engage in self destruction or self
harming behaviours (driving too
fast, burning themselves, cutting
themselves and more).
• Increase alcohol or drug consumption.
• Mention thoughts of suicide, death
or plans of killing oneself (even
just hypothetically)
HOW CAN PARENTS HELP?
The key to helping is listening and communicating effectively – let them know success is
measured in many ways…..
DO keep ‘ALERT’…
…and DON’T…
Listen - this is the most important thing you can do. Treat them
with respect, and try not to be judgmental or critical.
Abandon or reject them in any way. Your help, support and
attention are vital if they are to begin to feel that life is worth
living again. Don’t relax your attentions just because they seem
to be better. It doesn’t mean that life is back to normal for them
yet. They may be at risk for quite a while.
Ask them how they were feeling before it happened and how
they are feeling now. Talking about suicide does not make it
more likely to happen. Try to be patient if they are angry or
refuse to talk. It may be that writing things down is an easier
way for them to communicate with you.
Empathise by showing that you really are trying to
understand things from their point of view. Words don’t always
matter. The touch of a hand or a hug can go a long way to show
that you care.
Put them down or do things that might make them feel worse.
A suicide attempt suggests that self-esteem is already very low.
Nag - although it may be well meant. Nobody wants to be
pestered all the time. Don’t intrude - try to balance being
watchful with a respect for privacy.
Ignore what has happened.
Reassure them that desperate feelings are very common and
can be overcome. Things can and do change, help can be found
and there is hope for the future. People do get better !
Try to give practical support, and help them to cope with any
extra pressures. It may not be possible to deal with all the things
that are troubling them, but between you agree on what you will
do if a suicidal crisis happens again.
Criticise their actions - however you may be feeling about their
suicide attempt, try to remember the pain and turmoil that they
were, and may still be, going through. Don’t take their behaviour
personally - it was not necessarily directed at you.
Be clear there are always options:For example, if they are at University:
• Leave the course for good. • Have a break from the course
and defer a year. • Change to a university nearer home. • Leave
higher education either for good or pick it up at a later point.
(These suggestions are based on the experience of PAPYRUS members, but you should
always seek professional advice if you are concerned about your child.)
Childline
0800 11111 | www.childline.org.uk
National Youth Agency
Tel: 0116 242 7350 | E-mail:
youthinformation@nya.org.uk
Website: www.nya.org.uk
Can help with all the issues faced by
young people in the UK
Samaritans
Helpline: 08457 90 90 90 (24 hours) |
E-mail: jo@samaritans.org | Website:
www.samaritans.org.uk
S.O.B.S.
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide
was set up to support those left after a
suicide. | www.uk-sobs.org.uk
Youth2Youth
Run a confidential helpline for young
people aged under 19.
http://www.youth2youth.co.uk/
ISSUE 2 VOL. 1 | www.getsmaart.com
SMAART PARENTS PAPER |29
ARE YOU CHILDREN
SINGING UP?
The Sing Up campaign has been launched with £40 million funding
over four years. According to the Music Manifesto Report ‘Every Child
Matters’, singing provides a universal route into participative music
making for every child and builds community involvement at all ages.
The Sing Up programme will provide resources
to help teachers and parents to put singing back
at the heart of children’s lives and its aim is to
put singing at the heart of every primary school
in England by 2011.
The programme will incorporate www.singup.
org, a national singing resource including a webbased songbook of new and traditional songs and
all the resources that teachers need to integrate
singing in their classroom activities. The website
will be supported by a free magazine and CD
materials, which is available free of charge to all
primary schools.
ment’s Every Child Matters framework, which
aims to improve young people’s life chances.
Freeman explains: “Singing helps children feel
more confident and positive. It’s also a great
cardiovascular workout, releasing endorphins
and Immunoglobulin A, which prevent you from
getting ill. And because singing naturally brings
people together, it helps to create community
cohesion ... all of which is important for creating
healthy, happy children and young adults.”
The Sign Up campaign has a wonderful website
www.singup.org full of useful ideas, resources
etc for schools together with a parents and carers
section invaluable for al of you with pre school
children.
Sing Up is led by a consortium made up of the
charity Youth Music along with live music venue
The Sage Gateshead, music publisher Faber and
advertising agency Abbot Mead Vickers. The
aim is to produce a national “songbook” and
provide training for teachers, learning assistants
and other community members to get children
enthusiastic about singing.
According to Matthew Freeman, national development manager for Sing Up, singing “ticks all
the right boxes” for the extended schools core offer. It also meets the requirements of the govern-
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www.getsmaart.com | ISSUE 2 VOL. 1
FEED YOUR MIND
Help them get those grades and help you cope with the stress.
Did you know that by eating a tuna
salad at lunch and a jacket potato
for dinner you might actually be
helping your brain? Yes, eating different food groups at different times
of day can have a big impact on
your level of concentration.
Chocolate bars put
you on a sugary
rollercoaster of high
and low energy
Not only that, but a healthy diet,
regular exercise, enough sleep and
regular mental stimulation really
can help you learn and concentrate.
Stop to think of the benefits of this
in times of stress: a better concentration span and improved memory
are surely good things. Especially
when you realise they’ve got to
cram the contents of an encyclopaedia in two days. Not only do these
things help your mental abilities,
but research suggests doing them
will actually make you happier as
well.
choose. For example, protein keeps
blood glucose levels high, which
leads to increased energy and alertness. Carbohydrate is also a source
of glucose for your body.
Before we give you our tips on
improving mental ability, it’s time
to tell you the key factors that your
brain needs to function properly.
These are glucose (sugar taken
from broken down carbohydrates),
oxygen, blood, and water. Through
a good diet and improved lifestyle,
you can directly increase the provision of these things.
The most important thing to do is to
try and regulate your glucose levels.
Consuming things like chocolate
bars and isotonic drinks may seem
like the easiest solution to providing glucose for your body, but it’s
only a quick fix and your glucose
will come crashing down after, having an adverse effect as your body’s
energy level troughs.
A balanced, healthy diet means
a sensible mix of the main food
groups. These are – say them with
me, people - protein, carbohydrates,
fat, vitamins and minerals, and
fibre. Eat them all and you’re set.
This is how it works: these sugars
easily flood your bloodstream,
which triggers your body to balance
this with insulin, which in turn
causes a drop in sugar level.
However, it is thought we shouldn’t
just shovel these food groups down
willy nilly at whatever time we
While both appear to be beneficial
– and they are – some dieticians
suggest that a more protein-based
lunch is better for concentration
and staying alert when feeding
your brain, and that a carbohydratebased dinner helps you to sleep
better at night as carbs promote
relaxation.
This drop can then result in the
release of adrenal hormones that
forces stored sugar levels back up,
and hey presto: you’re on a sugary
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SMAART PARENTS PAPER |31
ISSUE 2 VOL. 1 | www.getsmaart.com
rollercoaster of high and low energy, irritability and poor concentration.
The foods that release glucose
slowly and steadily are complex
carbohydrates, like whole grain
breads and crackers, potatoes with
their skin, beans & legumes, brown
rice, oats, and whole grain pasta.
The molecules in complex carbohydrates are long, which means it
takes longer for the intestines to
break them down into the simple
sugars the body can use. Consequently, you have a steady source
of energy rather than sugar highs
and lows of artificial sugars.
From sweaty to smart
That’s enough about the effects of a
sensible diet. It’s time to get fit! As
well as keeping you in shape, regular exercise will provide a supply of
oxygen to your brain. Oxygen helps
you to function effectively and stay
alert.
As well as the O2 factor, exercise is
also a great way to clear your head
of those numbers swimming around
your mind. If you can’t bear the
thought of sweating it out jogging
or in the gym, head to a swimming
pool for some exercise that is both
low impact and relaxing.
The last two factors for a happy
brain are sleep and regular mental
stimulation. If you’re studying
seriously, then you should have the
mental stimulation sorted. Which
leaves sleep.
Sleep is needed to regenerate certain parts of the body, especially the
brain. A lack of sleep can result in
a malfunction of neurons, affecting behaviour and thought process.
It is also thought, that your brain
actually sorts information from
the previous day while you are
asleep to help you solve problems.
Wow! Having a lie-in does have its
benefits!
So there you have it: a sensible lifestyle can do wonders for your brain.
If it all sounds a bit too hardcore for
you, why not try changing a little
bit and see how you go? Your brain
will thank you for it.
BRAIN
PLEASERS
To give you a head start, here are
some of the best foods for boosting
brain power…
Strawberries and blueberries
While all fruit and vegetables are good for your mind, strawberries and blueberries are especially beneficial. Fruit provides antioxidants to help maintain
balance, coordination and memory function.
Broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower
These three wonder veg boost neurotransmitters, which pass electrical impulses between brain cells.
Eggs
A good source of a nutrient called choline that also helps to build neurotransmitters. See, just reading this article is improving your brain with all its
intelligent jargon!
Whole grains
Supply antioxidants, B-vitamins (which is one of the best vitamins for your
brain, along with vitamins A, C and E), and steady glucose.
Salmon, tuna and oily fish
Full of protein and Omega-3 fats - protein maintains nerve cell structure,
while Omega-3 fats have a host of benefits. It’s used as a natural alternative
to help improve concentration amongst kids with ADD, boosts your memory
and your IQ and also keeps depression at bay.
Olive oil, nuts and seeds
Are all great sources of Vitamin E, which is considered to have a protective
effect on neurons, while amino acids provide the body with the necessary elements for creating neurotransmitters, the brain’s main chemical messengers.
Ginkgo biloba
Isn’t a food, but you can get these as a supplement and there is sufficient research to suggest it boosts blood flow and increases glucose metabolism. The
brain runs on glucose but doesn’t store it, so ginkgo biloba gives that glucose
production a kick-start to help your brain function better.
Water
A lack of water will affect your concentration.
Milk
Calcium is beneficial for conducting nerve impulses. Remember, kids!
Cheese is also a good source of calcium.
BRAIN
PLEASERS
And those that aren’t so good for
your IQ… sorry, we’re going to kill all
your fun here…
Caffeine
No! Don’t use it to stay awake, get a good night’s kip instead.
Alcohol
Kills brain cells directly.
Nicotine
While not a food, nicotine from cigarettes constricts capillaries, which
restricts blood flow to the brain. This reduces the delivery of glucose and
oxygen.
Simple carbohydrates
Processed flour products (like white bread and white pasta) and sugary food
are easily broken down into glucose, leading to that sugar rollercoaster.
SMAART PARENTS PAPER | 31
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www.getsmaart.com | ISSUE 2 VOL. 1
VOLUNTEERS:
REBELS WITHOUT A CAUSE?
Do foreign voluntary schemes do more harm than good for communities? Some people have
been voicing concerns
Last summer, VSO (Voluntary Service
Overseas) created waves by suggesting
that young people might be better off
solely travelling during a gap year
rather than taking up dodgy voluntary
work.
The international development charity
claimed that there were a number of
badly planned and supported schemes
that benefit no one but the people who
pocket the money.
“Spending your gap year volunteering
overseas has become a rite of passage
for young people and the gap year
market has grown considerably,”
Judith Brodie, Director of VSO UK
explained.
“While there are many good gap
year providers we are increasingly
concerned about the number of badly
planned and supported schemes that
are spurious.”
With 200,000 Britons taking a gap
year every year and the average
expenditure of a gapper being £4,800,
the industry may seem very attractive
to unscrupulous organisers.
“Young people would be better off
traveling and experiencing different
cultures, rather than wasting time on
projects that have no impact and can
leave a big hole in their wallet,” argues
Judith.
Other people who work in the gap year
industry have voiced concerns over
VSO’s claims, however. Tom Griffiths,
founder of GapYear.com, said: “I’ve
been doing this for 10 years now and
hear very few complaints, so can
vouch for the quality of the operators.
The vast majority are in it for the right
reasons, which is to make a difference
to the world and the lives of young
people.”
In order to minimise the chances of
having a negative experience while
volunteering, VSO are encouraging
young people to carefully research who
they go with.
Tom agrees with this approach: “If
volunteers ask the right questions
beforehand and speak to those who
have been then they shouldn’t be
caught out. I would take a dim view
of any organisation that wouldn’t let
you speak to someone who has done it
before you.”
This isn’t the first time that VSO
has spoken out negatively about the
voluntourism sector – last year they
suggested that gappers were in danger
of becoming the ‘new colonialists’,
with the gap year market increasingly
catering to the needs of volunteers over
those of the communities they support.
In order to help young people decide
which are the best voluntary schemes,
VSO is currently working with
established gap year providers to devise
a code of good practice to help wouldbe gappers weigh up their options.
They have also devised a checklist
to assist you in assessing providers’
commitment to volunteering, the
communities they work in and the
Izzy Jones
young people they work with.
Izzy Jones, 21 from Hertfordshire, went to Belize with Trekforce in 2005 to work on a
conservation project
Gap year checklist
I had an amazing time building a boardwalk in Belize between some Mayan ruins and a visitor centre with Trekforce.
Over the past couple of years the gap year market has opened up a lot, there are probably companies around that aren’t so
good. I spent a lot of time looking into my scheme, and really liked the sound of Trekforce.
If your child is planning on heading overseas to
volunteer, VSO suggests they ask the organisation they
contact these questions before they decide:
They’re a really small company, so it’s really personal, they’re carbon neutral and all the projects they work on are
requested by people in the countries they work with. Trekforce are a company that I hold very close to my heart and I hope
to work for them one day.
1. Will you be given a defined role and purpose?
2. Will you meet face to face with your provider and attend a selection day to
assess your suitability for the volunteering opportunities and gain detailed
information about the structure of your placement?
3. How much will it cost and what does this pay for?
4. How will you be supported with training and personal development needs
before, during and after your placement?
5. Is the work you do linked to long-term community partnerships that have
a lasting impact? And how do volunteers work in partnership with the
local community?
6. Does the organisation you are going with have established offices overseas
that work in partnership with local people?
7. Can your organisation guarantee you 24 hour a day health, safety and
security assistance?
8. Does the organisation have a commitment to diversity amongst its
volunteers?
9. How does the organisation encourage long-term awareness of real
development issues?
10. How will your work be monitored and evaluated so that others can build
on what you have done?
32 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
It’s really important to research into an organisation before committing to something, but these schemes are great to set
people up for life. It was the most awesome experience of my life, and I gained a lot of confidence. It teaches you to deal
with life, and it’s a lot of fun! And it shows you care enough to do something – I think it says a lot about you if you can be
bothered to go and make a difference.
Hannah Saunders
Hannah Saunders, 19 from London, took up a placement teaching in India with a
commercial organisation
“I paid over £1000 to teach English and maths to children in Pune. I didn’t have any training or preparation from the
organisation before I went, and they didn’t expect me to have any qualifications.
“I had a really tough time and suffered from culture shock, as India is so different from anywhere else, which I wasn’t
ready for.
“I turned up at the learning centre and the teachers didn’t even know I was coming. It was very hard to find out what I was
supposed to be doing. It wasn’t value for money, as there was very little support from the organisation before or during my
time there.”
SMAART PARENTS PAPER |33
ISSUE 2 VOL. 1 | www.getsmaart.com
FEELING THE
STRAIN
ON
YOUR
WALLET?
How to get back on a firm financial footing in 2008
Mounting loans, credit card bills, maxed out overdrafts…all the January bills are in and it is the time when
most of us have to tighten our belts after the excesses of Christmas and New Year. Finding a way out of your
spiralling debt hell can be difficult if your finances are looking sorry as a leftover turkey dinner. But there are
always things that you can do to save money now and get back on track as soon as possible.
• Write down all you incomings and
outgoings to work out how much
money you have after bills and rent
every month
• Check your household bills and
change provider if you are not getting the best deal
• Check your old statements now
and reclaim those now illegal bank
charges
• Cancel the gym membership and
get out running in the park instead
• Hit the sales to make some real
savings...just don’t go over budget!
But if you want to make a real difference to your financial situation
then learning a new skill could make
all the difference to make sure you
are not in same straits this time next
year. Broadening your knowledge
and expertise could see you grow
your income by £2,000 - £3,000 or
more, meaning that next year could
be a different story.
Independent financial expert, Alvin
Hall, agrees and comments: “In our
already hectic lives, we frequently
overlook the fact that developing new skills and acquiring fresh
knowledge helps us to remain valuable. We are our biggest asset, and
it’s natural to want to spend money
on looking good, but if we invest
more on training and learning too,
there’ll be more to spend on make
up and facials! ”
“A Learning and Skills Council study
revealed that half the population believes money would have the biggest
positive impact on their lives. Learning a new, useful skill or enhancing
those you already have is therefore
one of the smartest investments to
increase your worth and to earn more
money.
“Just think, you could increase your
earnings by ten to fifteen thousand
pounds over five years - and perhaps
even more in the longer term. Simply put, the more you invest in and
improve your knowledge, the more
you can earn. It’s a win-win for your
self-esteem and ultimately your bank
account.”
For more information visit www.lsc.gov.uk/inourhands
SMAART PARENTS PAPER | 33
34 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
www.getsmaart.com | ISSUE 2 VOL. 1
FIVE
GCSE’S?
ALMOST A MILLION FAIL TO HIT THE TARGET
An ‘entire generation’ of school children has been let down by the Labour government, a new study has
claimed. The report, by the Bow Group, reveals that almost a million teenagers failed to achieve even the
lowest grade, a G, in five GCSEs since the party came to power.
Over the past decade the number of
teenagers walking away from school
without five basic G grades, including in English and maths, has risen
- despite billions of pounds of investment in education. Almost 90,000
pupils fell into the category last year,
the highest figure since 1998.
The report - which covers English
schools between 1997 to 2007 - also
found there were 3.9 million pupils,
close to 60 per cent of the total,
who had not gained five C grades at
GCSE, including in the core subjects
of English and maths. Although a G
is the lowest pass possible at GCSE,
achieving five C grades is considered
a ‘minimum benchmark’ by employers.
The report, The Failed Generation;
the real cost of education under Labour, which is published by the rightof-centre think-tank, has calculated
that more than £70bn of taxpayers’
money had been spent educating almost four million young people who
fell short of the basic grades.
‘Ten years after “education, education, education” became Labour’s
mantra, millions of pupils have failed
to gain the qualifications they need
under the government’s watch,’ said
Chris Skidmore, chairman of the
Bow Group and author of the report.
‘Last year, nearly one in six pupils did
not even get five GCSEs of any grade
- the highest figures since 10 years
ago. These pupils were five when
Labour came to power. There are
simply no more excuses for this level
of persistent and sustained record of
failure. We have witnessed a decade
of disappointment in which an entire
generation of pupils have been let
down.’
He added “employers have warned
that young people without five good
GCSEs, grade C or above, risk not
getting jobs”. A survey by the Learning and Skills Council found that
more than 20 per cent of employers
would not recruit teenagers without
the grades or a vocational equivalent
while 15 per cent said they would
ignore the CVs completely.
Using data that indicated people earn,
on average, £2,261 more a year with
five Cs at GCSE than those without,
he found the 3.9 million pupils had already foregone billions of pounds. The
figure would continue to rise as they
grew older and their income continued
to trail behind their peers, he added.
The report also highlighted the fact
that spending on each pupil had risen
dramatically since Labour came to
power, from £2,910 in 1997 to £5,080
last year. ‘While spending per pupil
has increased by £2,170 - an increase
of 75 per cent since 1997/98, the percentage of pupils obtaining five good
GCSEs including English and maths
has only increased by 9 per cent,’ the
report states. ‘The cost to the taxpayer
of funding pupils who then failed to
gain five good GCSEs including in
English and maths is extremely high.’
Last week, parent groups said it was
time for ministers to question what
was ‘going wrong’. ‘You could say
that if they were not going to achieve
those grades, why did we try to make
them?’ said Margaret Morrissey, of
the National Confederation of Parent
Teacher Associations. ‘Why did we
not give them a vocational education
that could have helped them life-long?
You could say that the system is wasting taxpayers’ money because we are
giving these children the wrong type
of education.’
Morrissey argued that there would always be some children who were not
‘academically great’ but who could be
successful with the correct support.
‘They may have gone through a traumatic time just to achieve that G,’ she
said. ‘Shouldn’t we be providing an
alternative for youngsters, so they can
come out of school with useful qualifications and a little bit of self-esteem?’
But a spokesman for the Department
for Children, Schools and Families hit
back, pointing to the Labour party’s
successes in education.
‘In 1997 over half of all secondary
schools were failing to get 30 per cent
or more of their pupils to what we now
see as the benchmark for any teenager
- five good GCSEs or equivalent with
English and maths,’ he said.
‘This is now down to a fifth of
schools. If that trend continues, there
should be no schools under this level
by 2012. We now have 70,000 more
young people leaving school with
five good GCSEs including English
and maths than did so 10 years ago.
Schools at the lowest level are receiving intensive support.’
SEX BIASED CAREERS ADVICE
IN SCHOOLS
Schools will be legally required to give impartial careers advice to teenagers, under proposed legislation
currently going through Parliament.
This will ban schools and colleges
in England from “unduly promoting” their own courses or types of
qualification.
There have been claims of biased
advice, such as schools discouraging
their pupils from switching to rival
local further education colleges.
The moves are part of a drive to
improve careers advice before the
school leaving age is raised to 18 in
2015 under the central proposal of
the education bill.
The move follows concerns that
teachers’ “sexist” attitudes are promoting hairdressing courses to girls
and construction apprenticeships to
boys.
The children’s secretary, Ed Balls,
said: “I’d like to see all young people
considering a range of options before
they decide what career path to go
down. I want more young women
being encouraged and supported
to have a career in engineering and
more young men being encouraged
to have a career in childcare.”
The education bill going through
Parliament will also force schools to
promote all qualifications to pupils
equally - including the new diplomas
which ministers hope will eventually
replace A-levels.
Pupils will be offered “taster” sessions in different courses, and schools
which fail to comply with the law
could be forced to do so by their
local authority, and ultimately by the
secretary of state.
34 | SMAART PARENTS PAPER
The way apprenticeships split on traditional gender lines is apparent from
official figures which show only 3%
of apprentices on childcare courses
and 8% on hairdressing courses are
men. In engineering 3% of apprentices are women, (see separate story)
and in construction only 1% are
women.
Ministers are concerned that women
are missing out on higher wages in
the traditionally male arenas of construction and engineering, but also
that there is an urgent need for more
men to work in the teaching and caring professions.
The bill also forces schools to
provide impartial advice over which
qualification pupils do, following
concerns that some schools encour-
age pupils to take courses offered by
their own sixth forms to boost recruitment.
Last year, Balls fuelled speculation that
A-levels could be scrapped by refusing
to guarantee that the exams will still
exist after a review in 2013. He said he
believed A-levels and GCSEs as “the
qualification of choice” for teenagers.
John Dunford, general secretary of
the Association of School and College
Leaders, said it was too early to tell
whether a ban on promoting A-levels
would lead to fewer students choosing the traditional exams. “We have
always been in favour of impartial advice,” he said. “It is not in the interests
of schools or colleges and especially
not the students to be on the wrong
course.”
Maggie Scott, director of learning at the Association of Colleges,
said the clause was “great news for
young learners who deserve impartial, comprehensive expert advice
and guidance”.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Children, Schools and
Families said pupils should have
advice on the range of options,
including diplomas, apprenticeships
and the international baccalaureate
as well as GCSEs and A-levels.
She said: “It is not about promoting
one option over another, since it is
up to individual pupils to decide
the best route for themselves in
discussion with their parents and
teachers.”
ISSUE 2 VOL. 1 | www.getsmaart.com
SMAART PARENTS PAPER |35
CLEARING ‘08
WHAT TO EXPECT
So what is clearing? The first thing to say is what it’s not. It is not the place where all the remaindered courses that
no one wants, are sold off to anyone who’ll take them. There will be excellent courses, some of them at leading
universities in popular subjects, because students do miss their grades and the place has become available.
If students results don’t match up to the
entry requirements of their first choice
place at university they shouldn’t give
up hope of still getting it. They must
ring the university concerned, or look on
UCAS track, and check that they have
indeed been rejected - it’s not uncommon for universities to take people
who’ve achieved a little less than expected, particularly if their initial application impressed. If they are turned down
then they can enter clearing. If a student
is desperate to do a particular course,
there’s sense in resitting, though check
whether the course will consider resits:
medicine often won’t.
Students need to make a shortlist of courses they like and start ringing. They’ll get
through either to a clearing helpline or an
admissions tutor for the course. Remember, many other students will be calling so
they may have to keep trying but they will
get through.
The helpline staff will both ask for their
grades and, if authorised, offer students
with the right grades a place or alternatively, they’ll put you through to an
admissions tutor. Be prepared for a miniinterview over the phone. Admissions tutors will want to hear about their reasons
for choosing this subject at this university.
They will also want to know something
about them. They may also have to explain
why they think their grades were lower
than hoped.
If they aren’t offered the place, or don’t
like the sound of it, they should continue
working through the list until you find
something that’s right for them.
They should think through all their options
before accepting a course; don’t allow panic
to rush them into accepting a course they
have never considered.
Once they’ve accepted, the admissions
officer will need a clearing entry number,
which should have arrived by post, and then
they fill in their CEF, and send it off to the
institution. The institution will confirm to
UCAS that they have offered the place.
Useful websites
UCAS - www.ucas.ac.uk
www.clearingvacancies.co.uk
Our dedicated clearing website with Smaart clearing magazine available the day before
results come out.
BBC ONE LIFE
Open continuously from results day, they can talk to a careers adviser who will have
access to all the latest information on clearing.
scottishclearing.org,
Online from August 7th, the official 2008 clearing service covers every Scottish college
and university. Updated every hour course availability is liable to change regularly.
Search by career area, specific sector or college or university, also find contact details
for each institution, general advice, including funding, gap year, working & studying in
Europe & links to further information
www.scottishclearing.org
Aimhigher
An excellent website with information on clearing, student finance and lots more.The
Aimhigher portal has been developed to provide those contemplating entering HE with
access to the necessary information from which to make effective decisions.
www.aimhigher.ac.uk
The Independent Newspaper has a full listing of vacancies.
SMAART PARENTS PAPER | 35

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