Session 58 – Thursday 11th August 2011

Session Title:

How can we improve the teaching community’s relations with the public?

Session Summary:

There were so many threads to Thursday’s discussion, the debate was as vibrant and brimming with ideas as ever, that this has been very difficult to compile, so I hope I’ve done it justice.


One major theme of the discussion was a perceived dissonance between the way people felt that schools and teachers were perceived locally, versus the way they were perceived nationally. Indeed, several people felt confused about the need for this discussion as they felt like they had a good relationship with parents and the local press, and the school had a good reputation locally. It was suggested that the picture painted by the national press was very different, but that this was driven largely by politicians and the media, and not by parents. Most agreed that there was a need for teachers to have a better relationship with national media, amongst the ideas proposed were media ‘champions’ or high profile spokespeople and an ‘Education Media Watch’, which could tackle misrepresentations of education issues by the media.


There was much discussion about whether the professional standing of teachers had been degraded, and many felt that it had been. Whether there is enough public understanding of the role of teachers, and how this could contribute to commonly held misconceptions about the education agenda, was also raised. There was also some debate as to whether the unions act as a suitable platform for teachers views. There were several ideas aimed at ‘demystifying’ teaching, making teaching processes more publicly accessible, such as by providing more detailed information to parents and the community about what goes on in school, as well as the suggestion that we need reality TV shows to show what teaching is really like! It was also suggested that in order to win back public support and/or professionalism, we perhaps need to address directly public concerns about poor teachers by raising the bar to enter teaching and making it easier to sack poor teachers.


There was also much discussion about what schools could do to improve their public relations, which inevitably raised issues about whether schools should be run more like businesses.


Thanks again for letting me host!


Notable Tweets:

@deerwood: If teacher does good work with each pupil and communicates this, then parents feel they have a good teacher despite media view.

@EMathsUK: Teaching unique in that everyone thinks they know what the job is because they once went to school… so all have preconceptions

@passionateaboot: Teachers have good news stories but they never get beyond the confines of the school. How good are you guys at selling yourselves?

@EmTeaches: The ‘public’ perception of teaching from the parents of kids in my class very positive. Media perception is a separate issue.

@deerwood: UK education has a long history of useless ministers in charge. The key is to ignore them and carry on promoting good education.

@mattbuxton10: Perhaps we should put together a renegade curriculum teaching how politicians & journalists are all corrupt/criminal!!!!

@altyapple: Might I suggest that if it was easier to remove poor quality teachers public perception may increase.

@unseenflirt: @genkijen @coopsonia Good point. The pensions issue is evidence of why teachers need the public’s sympathies.

@joanne_rich: Community involvement/local media/student voice etc. all good but drowned out by national message that ‘schools’ are failing

@BernieThomas: teachers are seen as overpaid and underworked

@PivotalEllie: Maybe we need more fly on the wall day-in-the-life-of documentaries that follow teachers and show what they do.

@mattbuxton10: Issue isn’t helped by govt reviews done by celebs as opposed to educators; sends message we aren’t experts but they are!

@robbmonster: Raising perceptions of teachers begins with raising entry criteria for trainee teachers. It should be an elite profession.

@jodieworld: The current government has done a LOT to damage teaching reputation but how much have teachers done to damage that too?

@PivotalEllie: Whose responsibility should it be to ensure nationwide good publicity of the profession? TDA? Ofsted? Unions? Who?

@bigart_jim And edu is constantly seen as a problem to solve RT @tim7168 Politicans have no incentive to portray teachers in a good light.

@EmathsUK Teaching often doesn’t help itself, with the constant “woe is me” voice of the unions. It’s the greatest job on earth!

@rapclassroom: Unless we are happy being reduced to ‘deliverers’ of the Government’s curriculum, we have to engage politically.

@wjputt: Stop getting celebrities to ‘teach’, review or research education. Get ‘top’ teacher to do it & use Web 2.0 techs to share it!


Natacha’s proposal for Ed Media Watch

Britain is not broken


Examples of good press for individual schools:

PSPs at Gloucestershire College


Hard work by teachers, pupils, and staff pays off



Session 56 – Thursday 28th July 2011

Session Title:

“Hard to reach parents” practical help and suggestions that have been successful.


Session Summary:

A very lively discussion; full of very interesting suggestions. Apart from the many practical ideas, themes did begin to emerge including breaking down barriers, mutual respect, opening up schools, holding events and employing outreach workers and mentors. Helping parents who are wary of schools because of their own perhaps negative experiences, are also vital in forming successful links. It is important to remember that good home school relationships help pupils flourish in school. Good schools should reach out to whole community


Notable Tweets from the Session:

@cloud_burst: #ukedchat when speaking to parents be truthful, but positive, foster an equal partnership ethos


@pivotalpaul: #ukedchat ask parents for help and advice, value their expertise, use their skills, start the relationship with humility and an open mind

@rapclassroom: Parents are much more than resources to help us cope with challenging behaviour in class. How do we communicate this to them? #ukedchat

@Mr_J_Light: @ePaceonline we have a successful reading program. Parents come in to chat and listen to our ‘weaker’ readers. Children enjoy the attention

@teachitso: RT Key- @DexNott #ukedchat careful, thoughtful wording about incidents expectations helps. High expectations of youngsters echo with parents

@pivotalpaul: #ukedchat worth remembering that all parents want the best for their children, it is just that some don’t know how to go about it

@DexNott: #ukedchat listen carefully2 child &2 parents we too often want to give advice/lecture just listen and respond kindly thoughtfully tirelessly

@Nic5Harrison: I think our partnership with parents is key to supporting pupils and helping them reach their full potential – I welcome all ideas #ukedchat

@PivotalEllie: @DexNott#ukedchat Send more notes, make more positive phone calls, emails, invitations to parents eve, anything but more persistently

@Mando_Commando: #ukedchat one contact can build a relationship with parents rather than them feeling bombarded by 14 indiv teachers. (secondary)

@mattharding007: #ukedchat We started a topic by inviting parents in to do activities with their children. They also help us get displays up. Everyone wins!

@smurfatik: when in theUSAwe were expected to tell parents how to contact us and what times & be available to any parent at those times #ukedchat

@RossMannell: @serenity100 #ukedchat Training for working with parents is a great idea. We may be there for the children but parental

@ePaceonline: invited a whole group of parents in, mainly parents of difficult children, so they realised their child wasn’t the ‘only one’!

@richards_james: If you make a promise to a parent to do something make sure you do -or else ?

@geraldhaigh: Some success in engaging older women to work on playground games. Interesting with ethnic groups. Get the grans, and mums follow.#ukedchat


Tweet of the Week:

@rapclassroom: See ‘hard to reach’ as a gap that you would like to close. Consider what you could do to move closer, and your motivations. Listen! #ukedchat


Useful Links Highlighted:


Learning Logs and ERIC Time

Car number plate maths


Using technology to engage parents in children’s learning

Meet the parent

Overcoming 10 common barriers to parental engagement

South Rise Primary School’s parental engagement project


developing a department twitter feed



About Your Host:

Your host tonight @ePaceonline Mary Blake, ex secondary English teacher involved in many educational projects aimed at improving teaching and learning, member of multi disciplinary teams and now working as Educational Consultant developing ePace.

Thank you all for your ideas, hope they will help others in ‘bridging the gap’.

Session 35 – Thursday 3rd March 2011

Session Title:

How can / do we enable students to discover the joy of reading? Tips for success?

Session Summary:

Tonight, in honour of World Book Day and World Book Night the discussion was all about reading and promoting reading with students, parents and staff.
We had great contributions from teachers, librarians and education experts about strategies for engaging readers.
Contributors also reflected on the use of different reading materials, encouraging people to read anything – books, magazines, manga comics – anything they wanted to.
Individuality was recognised, with students encouraged to read silently, in pairs or even collaboratively, whatever they preferred.
Contributors also discussed that practitioners should lead by example; discussing their latest read in the classroom, assemblies or even just by carrying a book around in their bag.
And the use of digital technology was touched on, with some teachers encouraging students to read blog or play games.
In all a very positive and motivating session in honour of World Book Day.

Notable Tweets from the Session:

Parents need to model the behaviour of enjoying regular reading, as with all other things! (@informed_edu)
Never be seen without a book sticking out of your bag/in your hand. Talk about books all the time. Be a ‘mad’ enthusiast. (@SusanElkinJourn)
Never never never ‘rubbish’ anything kids have enjoyed – even if you don’t reckon it much. (@SusanElkinJourn)
We now have a few kindles which have really helped with reluctant readers. (@narthernlad)
I sometimes ask kids to give me a paragraph describing the book they would write. then look for ‘books like mine’. (@teachingofsci)
I do read a lot of teenage stuff so I can talk to the kids about it! And make recommendations, e.g Alison croggon from twilight (@hrogerson)
we have literacy days where local people from all industries form a panel and are questioned by students on books, literacy… (@Sport_ed)
Film or TV tie-ins often work well, graded readers can be a good starting point for leading on to the full-blown book (@ColinTGraham)
read up to a cliff hanger then just ‘happen’ to leave the book lying around – always worked with my class! (@JaneWoods3)
I love audiobooks in class – they should hear other voices (@Joga5)
We were asked to begin lessons today by sharing a favorite book. Read ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ to my classes. Awesome! (@Arakwai)
Having the same book in different formats ( and using them side by side) changed the experience of reading into something fun (@playactivities)
Take them to the public library and introduce them to its wonders, including the staff (while they still exist!) (@SusanElkinJourn)
I find some children just don’t like novel style books & will happily read comics, text online, poetry & play scripts. (@ICTmagic)
Run books evenings/sessions for parents & children. Try to persuade parents to understand their job as reading role models. (@SusanElkinJourn)
Reading stories is vital, but ‘telling’ stories is just as important. It fosters creativity and imagination (@acevansIT)
Can have kids/parents/grandparents reading events – lads night with chips & James Bond books, girlie ones with cupcakes & chicklit (@LibWithAttitude)
*So* important to give a choice of books, e-books, magazines, comics etc so they know reading can be about what they want (@misshbond)
Kids that don’t enjoy solo reading often love reading plays in groups , great ones from Rising Stars & others, social and engaging (@LibWithAttitude)
I run a weekly lunch club for yr 7 and parents to come and read, paper, magazine, joke book, car manual whatever they like (@guernseylibrary)
My class blog in school & at home & the kids love to read this in registration. Often put the feed on the whiteboard. (@ICTmagic)
Short stories are a good way to re-introduce disaffected readers. Sometimes the length of longer stories is an instant obstacle (@te_ach_er)
reading together has huge benefits on the emotional development and relationships too (@dhulston)
the power of role model is huge I have photos of staff ‘caught reading’ on Walls to library (@guernseylibrary)
Sounds small, but am going to take a book in tomorrow and read at same time as children do (@TeacherTalks)
designing book jackets can be a way to get the more artistic to develop an interest in books. Also producing comics. (@doc_gnome)
I once did a books version ‘desert island disc’ with my class which worked really well. The group had to agree on 10 books. (@ICTmagic)

Tweet of the Week:

#ukedchat I think it is important that staff model. always have one of the books i’m reading in easy view and talk about it with kids (@curricadvocate)
This is really key for me, modelling best practice. Many contributors mentioned this.

About your Host:

I’m a Skills for Life practitioner who also has a background in producing online learning content. At present I work with The Reading Agency @readingagency on their adult reading projects, support Skills for Life learners in the workplace and develop online learning content for Higher Education learners @succeedatsolent
I’m based in Southampton, but am a Cornish lass at heart.
You can follow me @mushychelle

Session 29 – Thursday 20 January 2011

Session Title
Closing the Gap: Why is the achievement gap between rich and poor children so wide in the UK? What can be done to close the gap?

Session Summary

The UKedchat session this week was suggested by Film Club UK back in November 2010, when they were holding a conference designed to get participants thinking about the educational gaps between rich and poor children in UK society. It proved to be a fully engaging sessions starting off looking at parental involvement, and getting parents more involved from deprived backgrounds. The lack of support some pupils get from poorer families was evident in the discussion, while richer families can afford to pay for opportunities to widen experiences. It was highlighted that there may be deep routed problems which get in the way of pupils from deprived families, however it was acknowledged how some people have such a low value to the education system due to their own poor experiences, accepting their place in the world without constructive challenge.

The discussion moved on to teachers expectations of pupils, and whether the profession being ‘middle class’ was a de-motivator for pupils and parents from a deprived background. The issue of streaming was raised, with the question of whether streaming pupils (in primaries or secondaries) helps widen the achievement gap. A few participants advocated that they would like to fully endorse mixed ability teaching although other contributions noted that streaming can really support those pupils who need that further provision. This is an interesting area as memories of streaming from participants own experiences as pupils were shared, with some admirable stories of achievement despite being streamed at lower levels in their own schooling. Basically, some pupils appeared motivated by this, whilst others go the other way, with more negative outcomes. The importance of personalisation was noted. I liked the question raised; how would you feel being “streamed” in staff meetings. Anyone else think they’d be resentful? – That summed it up for me.
The discussion moved to self-belief and self-esteem. We were reminded that the power of the teacher needs to be remembered, as our comments (flippant or not) can aid or destroy confidence in just one statement, and as a profession can inadvertently classify pupils based on their name, ability, social group and expectations. Some of the answers can be found within personalization, collaboration, peer feedback, and co-construction, so it’s not all doom and gloom, but teachers and the education system still has a big part to play in finding an answer in the closing the gap debate.

The Full Archive is available to view/download at

Eye-Catching Tweets:
@missbrownsword – the gap is already there when the children start school.
@filmclubuk – @colport One of the main things that emerged was the need to provide a range of experiences that kids might not get elsewhere.
@jodieworld – The curriculum needs to change and be flexible so that schools can choose the right approach for them in all areas and parental involvement needs to improve in deprived areas. Often the parents do not have the skills to pass on.
@Creativeedu – I have noticed a huge difference in parental involvement in schools in poorer areas vs richer areas.
@hairysporran – having worked in a school at the bottom of the tables for 10 yrs its stunning the lack of parental support you get. apathy!
@Arakwai – Feel strongly a big part is lack of self belief & low expectations. Heart-breaking to see bright kids not believing they are.
@Creativeedu – There can often be deep problems which get in the way of learning in deprived areas.
@VMM40BUG – Scary how some parents undervalue education, accept their ‘place’ in the world and pass these aspirations onto their children.
@didactylos – parents who had a bad experience of education remain alienated and isolated from its benefits for their kids.
@bevevans22 – @cleverfiend Yes – -if parents found school daunting or difficult they can pass on that vibe to children.
@didactylos – the culture of learning a child may experience in a school is less than 25% of their day’s overall experience… an issue?
@tonycassidy – As a child I sadly experienced the low expectations of some of my teachers, not my parents.
@jimbo9848 – It is at best wrong to trick people into our cultural curriculum models and notions of schooling. There’s a lot of blame going on!
@pete_mulvey – Less well off: Perceived lack of ambition and motivation with lower expectations of success.
@tonycassidy – What are we aiming for with students? Material success, or personal contentment, or both?
@hairysporran – have also found this yr that teaching pupils from yrs 5,6,7,8 in same ability class has helped engage older pupils in lessons.
@bevevans22 – @colport we stream because we get a huge influx of pupils with specific needs due to school reputation in that area.
@DrAshCasey – reading John Medina’s brain rules & he says we need to have smaller class sizes and stop assuming that learning is equal with age.
@tonycassidy – @colport I experienced between grouped by ability in one classroom, whilst I was at primary- hated it.
@ParsleyBill – I failed my 11+ and seriously believe it scarred me for life. Makes you feel inferior.
@phillengthorn – I’m currently teaching bottom Y11 and i think they do set themselves lower expectations.
@jodieworld – there was a study once where a teacher thought he was teaching top set but was teaching bottoms. They did better than the top set!
@Creativeedu – I was at a low achieving primary school. It was very uncool to try hard….
@janwebb21 – @bevevans22 it’s why personalisation is SOOO important – one size doe NOT fit all.
@Kerileef: @colport – remember that ‘closing the gap’ in exam results etc isn’t really the purpose of education, just a proxy?
@Catriona_O – @colport only that we’ve bn trying 4 3 centuries now and still haven’t cracked it. In fact, R we nearer, or further away?

Tweet(s) of the Week:
In such an engaging session, it is difficult to pinpoint just one tweet, so here’s a selection of those which resonated with me:
@jodieworld – how can someone aim for a life they have no exp. of? we need to show them whats out there and let them set their expectations.
@pete_mulvey – Less well off: Perceived lack of ambition and motivation with lower expectations of success.
@DrAshCasey – I wrote once (reflecting on being 11 and in the bottom stream 4 everything) that I had no where to go and nothing to aspire to.
headteacher01 – Surely the key is grounded in our expectations of pupils? If our expectations are limited… then achievement will be too.
jackieschneider How would you feel being “streamed” in staff meetings. Anyone else think they’d be resentful?
@missbrownsword – high expectations, all the time, from all staff in school would be a good start I think
@bevevans22 – @colport Build a community, be supportive, have high expectation for all and make children ready for their future!! #ukedchat

However, I like this positive shout…

@JamiePortman – The gap would be even wider if not for us like minded teachers. Let’s celebrate successes, replicate them & spread the word!

Useful Weblinks Shared During the Session:
@Creativeedu = highlights for anyone who missed it at the time. relevant to #ukedchat
@GiftedPhoenix – Here’s a creative proposal to engage grammar schools more directly in closing the gap – – #ukedchat
@CliveBuckley – The UK is ranked =43 in int table of spending on education (% of GDP) Guess #1? #ukedchat
@hairysporran – if your lookin for models there is some good practice and interesting ideas here #ukedchat
@AndrewManson1 – #ukedchat @Grevster73 @eyebeams – I went to a TeachFirst workshop from Sonia Blandford presenting ace evidence
@Janshs – going to RT this from earlier #ukedchat (re 11 plus etc)
@bevevans22 – Does anyone else here use the PASS assessment scheme to monitor well being? #ukedchat
@Kerileef – @colport – see – challenge 4 on future of work and employment.

Book Highlighted
The Elephant in the Classroom: Helping Children Learn and Love Maths

About your host:
I current teach Year 2 in a primary school in Southport. I am assessment and ICT coordinator. I am studying for my Educational Doctorate…which is great!

Session 8 Summary – Thursday 12th August

Title of Session:
Strategies to Engage Parents in Schools

Session Summary:
The discussion looked at various ways of engaging with parents within school. This included using technology to communicate with parents through email/SMS etc and using tools such as blogs, websites and VLEs. We also talked about non-tech and face-to-face resources and ideas such as coffee mornings, open days, workshops (or BOATS – bring our adults to school), BBQs, and lots of other inventive ways of engaging with parents.
There were some differences between primary and secondary. Primary have more face-to-face time than secondary do and there were HE and FE who have none at all.

Tweets of Note:
shellbelle21:Within the maths department we invite year 7 parents in for a workshop – show them basic numeracy skills and methods #ukedchat
dawnhallybone:at beg/end of day member of SLT always outside the gates – saying bye/hi and being ‘seen’
simcloughlin:My school has a dedicated parents’ room, which the parents are free to use every morning for coffee, chat etc
dailydenouement:Think in Secondary is actually getting hold of parents & getting them in is issue – not a school gate/home time culture
dawnhallybone:when running courses for parents we run them 3x a day am, afternoon and evening enables as many parents as poss
iteachyear4: Our school is starting a drop in room for parents to come in and have coffee etc. Not sure what staff will be there though
TheHeadsOffice: Parents confidence in thier own ability to engage can really be a barrier!
dailydenouement:Then what about having a cultural exchange day – invite parents in to share food/music/language/crafts from home culture?
shellbelle21: We are just about to create our “Parent Portal” – parents can access child’s h/w, report data etc
katie_hague: VLE was a huge help in interesting parents with child’s work – they got much more involved
TheHeadsOffice: Parents can be dubious about being asked for their views unless they see them in action!
primarypete_: we have end of topic open afternoons where parents are invited to share what the children have been learning / doing
dawnhallybone: learning intentions sheet sent home every week to parents detailing what main LOs in each yr gp – also put on vle
daviderogers: Parental engagement is difficult for us 1300 students. Dept uses SMS, twitter feed and emails to GCSE parents
daviderogers: At 2ry I find picking up the phone for positive conversations with parents is a good starting point
cybraryman1: Right from the start of school you have to develop a relationship with parent & find best way they want to communicate with you
bevevans22: Something we’ve done quite successfully each term is have a ‘join your child for lunch’ day with parent workshops afterwards
Cgeo28: postcards home from the teacher to celebrate good work is simple but effective
dawnhallybone: blogging and vle has enabled parents to be more engaged and see photos and info from trips abroad
JustTeaching: Recently had health morning & invited parents for breakfast followed by activities, simple idea but it worked & feedback was good
simcloughlin: All classes in our school have a file listing parents’ skills & expertise,so new teachers are aware in Sept who they can call upon
dawnhallybone:impt to engage with parents with positive news as equally as negative – if not more
kvnmcl:parental engagement is more than a letter home, a phone call here and there. It has to be meaningful with the parents on board
Mr_Thorne: My website shows parents current #phonics methods & how to support their childs reading at home. mmm not ‘muh’
cybraryman1: Occasionally have a parent-child joint project. When you invite parent in have light refreshment available, childcare too
LibWithAttitude:Saw great presentation from schl that did ‘Dads & Lads’ writing – no girls allowed,& had chips!
simonhaughton:#ukedchat I blogged from a residential to keep parents informed. Had lots of thanks for doing it – &
primarypete_: Planning on creating video support for parents explaining maths strats used by the school. Bit like
simfin: If u want 2 have a parents esafety sesh -invite them 2 a ‘celebrate ICT across th school’ session. have coffee in hall & esafety!!
amyxxx21: Home-school agreements are another hot topic! They are called that to make it look like it is mutual, but really…
colport: My approach with parents is that I am a professional, but not too different to them, in wanting the best for their child.
carolinebreyley: Our parent/child workshops always get better attendance than parents only. Feedback is that want hands on/practical workshops
ianaddison: one thing that helped us improve workshop attendance was to make it as informal and fun as poss. It can’t be scary!
alee11: We invite parents to join classes for lessons every couple of months, just an hour, normally Maths or English, works well.
SkoorBttaM: we’re looking to run parent workshops at the same time as children’s discos etc, so that they’re at school killing 2 birds….
DavidPott: being tolerant of pre-school siblings when inviting parents in is v important
simonhaughton: I run a weekly parent/child Internet after school internet club (no focus – just explore) & been v. successful
amyxxx21: Often parents who hated school when they were younger, and found it
challening, bring these same negative thoughts as an adult.
stevebunce: combining school play/performance with informal questionnaires- gets parents thro door,then gets more feedback than a posted out 1
JustTeaching: i know a school that calls workshops BOATS – bring our adults to school.
TheHeadsOffice: Policies etc need to be simple & short (A4) if parents are to
engage #ukedchat some of our policies pages long!
dawnhallybone: year 6 children had out prospectus and show new year 3 parents round school also sit in on meeting for q and a
colport:Technology has its use for Parental Engagement, but we need to remember those digitally excluded, for one reason or another
ianaddison: i had a book, each page had a child’s name, wrote down notes when parents came in,
JamiePortman: Get your school a facebook account. Promote events and encourage parents to attend.
Unbelievable amount use it

Tweet of the Week
Impossible to pick one! There were far too many good ideas.

Links Highlighted During the Session

About the Host Moderator:

So who am I? My name is Ian Addison and I am a primary school teacher and ICT co-ordinator. From September 2010 I will be responsible for the ICT at St John the Baptist Primary School, Waltham Chase, Hampshire.

Why have I got this blog? I started one in December 2009 on Blogger, but I felt I needed more, so here I am –

From 2008-2010 I was seconded to work with Hampshire LA training teachers on using our VLE, Studywiz. We have 400+ primary schools in Hampshire using it and sharing content and ideas.

I have been an ICT Mark Assessor since October 2008 and this involves me supporting and assessing schools that have decided to use the Becta Self-Review Framework for ICT.

In July 2010, I attended the Google Teacher Academy in London and I am now a Google Certified Teacher.

If you want to find out more or listen to what I say, feel free to follow me on Twitter:

Taken from my blog.

Ukedchat session special for 12 August

Over the last couple of weeks, there has been a strong theme through the ukedchat sessions involving parental engagement. Ian Addison is hosting the session on 12 August, and requested that this session focuses on ‘Strategies that Promote Parental Engagement‘.
Every now and then, as the community mood dictates, the poll will not be available for ukedchat sessions, as special sessions like this will be discussed. The poll for the following session will be released as soon as the questions have been received.

The discussion will take place on Thursday 12th August 2010, between 8-9pm (BST) – If you are not familiar with ukedchat, and how to engage, please visit for further information.