Storytelling is as old as civilisation, which is why the story is the ideal way to learn about Cambridgeshire’s history and characters.

It’s hard to imagine anyone who has not been fascinated by stories, whether told in the traditional manner or in children’s programmes on TV.  Children in all cultures, in all countries, love stories.

Indeed the story is something that never leaves us, whether we are captivated by novels, plays, films, or TV dramas. Most people retain the love of the story throughout all their lives.

And it is this universal love of the story that gives us a hint as to why we should use stories as one of our means of teaching, especially when dealing with local history and events.

Many of the stories we tell in Cambridgeshire schools have to do with local places and characters – indeed, The History Press are publishing these stories as a book, Cambridgeshire Folk Tales for Children, next year.

If you would like to see some evidence of the power of the story in terms of children’s learning and read about the research into why stories work as teaching aids, or indeed if you would like to know more about our work in schools, please click here.

You’ll be able to see just why schools across the county invite us in to tell stories to different classes.

Alternatively, you can call us on 020 328 SNAIL (020 328 76245), or email

Some charging lockers are more suitable for use in secondary schools than others.

Not all charging lockers are suitable for all situations, and there’s no doubt that secondary schools do have very particular requirements when it comes to such equipment.

Which is why we will be at the BETT Show in January at Excel London, on Stand G419, so that if you are at the Show you’ll be able to see exactly what I mean.  (More details at the end of this email.)

But, of course, I appreciate not everyone can get to the show, so I’ll explain further.

Charging lockers such as our LapLockers and BeSmart Lockers have been designed with schools in mind to include safety, security, and accessibility features that resolve the problems that you may well have to consider when it comes to charging and storing the school’s laptops.

And, of course, safety is always a top priority. Which is why our LapLockers have a multiplicity of safety features that go way beyond the legal requirements for charging lockers used in the workplace.

Indeed, these safety features aren’t just limited to electrical safety – our LapLockers, for example, are coated in anti-bacterial powder to reduce the spread of bacteria that populate the typical school setting.

What’s more, given that 43% of school crimes are thefts, our LapLockers have been designed to be particularly robust (with an all steel construction) to reduce the likelihood of your school falling victim to a break in.

The single doors feature a 3 point locking system as standard, and on some models we also have individual locking doors which make the task of stealing multiple laptops ever more challenging and time-consuming – exactly what thieves don’t want.

We also have a choice of locks, including combination locks, digital locks, and key locks – so you can decide which lock is more likely to prevent unauthorised access in the school day.  You can choose lockers that are unlocked with a wristband or with any one of a variety of types of access card, depending on the security level you need.

You can review all the details and see pictures of our LapLockers by visiting the following links – LapLocker8, LapLocker10 and LapLocker15. And you can review all the details and see pictures of our BeSmart Lockers here.

If you have any questions, please do call 01628 666 775 or email me at    And there is more on the Bett Show here. 

Ashley Hutton

“Learning outside the classroom is a great way of helping pupils with SEN to reach their potential, and Ofsted are rather keen on it too”

Elaine Skates, Deputy Chief Executive of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom

SEN Magazine reports on the results of a survey, conducted by TeacherVoice on behalf of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, revealing that 70% of teachers value LOtC over classroom teaching in terms of how effective it is at engaging different learning styles.

The article, entitled ‘Outside intervention’, reports that children with SEN typically learn best through doing, also known as kinaesthetic learning. However, this preferred learning style can sometimes be difficult to undertake effectively in the classroom.

It also highlights that in the school grounds and beyond there are more opportunities for pupils to undertake sensory learning which enables them to see, hear, smell, touch, and ultimately explore the world – encouraging pupils with SEN to “expand their horizons and become more alert and aware of the world around them.”

However learning outside the classroom doesn’t just support pupils in reaching their academic potential, but also support pupils with their personal development, particularly in terms of their confidence levels and communication skills.

Further to this, SEN Magazine states that LOtC is “relevant to demonstrating good/outstanding practice across all four areas of the Ofsted inspection framework”. However, evidence must be collected of such learning to achieve this, such as:

Attainment and achievement – examples of where LOtC can be directly linked to improved attainment.

Quality of teaching – proof that LOtC is well-planned and integrated into the curriculum with the aim of extending the knowledge, skills and understanding of pupils with different learning needs and abilities.

Behaviour and motivation – examples of how different learning environments increase your pupils’ motivation and encourage positive behaviours. It could be argued that LOtC promotes learning that improves pupils’ safety as they’re encouraged to manage risks themselves.

Leadership and management – clear documentation, including: LOtC in the school policy, LOtC evaluation (how has LOtC improved the quality of teaching and learning at the school?), and a development plan (how can LOtC be improve for the future?).

To get notifications of learning-outside-the-classroom activity and location ideas and more on information on how LOtC can be used to benefit your pupils’ learning and development, follow us on Twitter @MinibusLeasing or like our Facebook page – Benchmark Minibus.

For more information about Benchmark Leasing you can go to our website, call us on 01753 859944, or email

Link to article: 

The story is as old as civilisation, which suggests that as a learning tool stories can be very helpful as a way of teaching science.

The story as a means of passing on facts goes back to the earliest days of human society, and for most of mankind’s existence the story has been the key way each generation has of understanding the world.

Indeed before the introduction of the scientific method, there was only the story as an explanation of the world that medieval societies witnessed.

But as experimentation took hold, the story was pushed aside, which, in one sense, is something of a shame because for children it is the love of the story that enhances their learning.

For while some children can have difficulty recalling individual scientific facts, when any of these turn up in a story there is every chance that the facts will slip seamlessly into our long term memories.

With a story, the facts learned through experimentation become even more meaningful, and take on a new importance.

Which is why we travel from school to school telling stories about science.  Stories relating to the solar system, evolution, earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis.

These are the stories children remember.  Stories that can stay with them for years to come.  Stories so powerful that they will still be remembered and re-told when the children we teach come to tell stories to their own children.

If you would like to see some evidence of the power of the story in terms of children’s learning, read about the research into why stories work as teaching aids, or indeed if you would like to know more about our work in schools, please click here.

You’ll be able to see just why hundreds of schools across the country invite us in to tell stories to different classes.

Alternatively, you can call us on 020 328 SNAIL (020 328 76245), or email

Tis the season for A Christmas Carol!

Deck the halls! Hang up the stockings! Roast the chestnuts!

Most families supplement these well-known Christmas traditions with home-grown rituals whose origins have been lost in the family history annals. Ham sandwiches for breakfast; disguising presents in old food packets; a ‘bracing’ swim in the Atlantic Ocean – just some of the Christmas ‘essentials’ practised by team members at ZigZag.

Maybe not your average Christmas… but where did those original festive customs come from? Many people credit the works of Charles Dickens, particularly A Christmas Carol, with helping to shape our ideas of a traditional Christmas.

Classes will love Tiny Tim, jovial Fred and penny-pinching Scrooge’s transformation, and the heart-warming messages of generosity, charity and goodwill are fruitful for group discussion. Simplify your planning with the latest ZigZag Activity Pack:

A Christmas Carol Activity Pack

Available to pre-order (dispatch January) – visit 

Approach Dickens’ well-loved text from a fresh perspective with this comprehensive and highly visual bank of activities.

Carefully considered structure develops understanding:

  1. Build a foundation for learning and get students interested with introductory pre-reading exercises.
  2. Dig deeper with text-based activities. Every chapter is explored through a range of thought-provoking tasks. A focus on close reading, writing style and vocabulary develops essay skills throughout the pack.
  3. Consolidate knowledge with whole-text activities focusing on: Characterisation • Relationships • Setting • Themes • Ideas and Messages • Language • Form • Structure • Context

All activities are perfectly matched to the GCSE Assessment Objectives. Differentiated worksheets provide support for weaker learners and challenge high achievers, allowing your whole class to reach their potential.

Plus! Suggested answers for questions and activities included.

‘This resource is quite simply outstanding! It is clearly written by a talented professional with excellent subject knowledge and a fantastic understanding of the types of activity that engage students.’

L Deighton, HoD and Independent Reviewer

The A Christmas Carol Activity Pack is available to pre-order (dispatch January) as a photocopy master with site licence (£74). Also available in:

  1. Easy-printing PDF files (add 30%+VAT), or
  2. PDF with editable Word files (add 50%+VAT).

Preview and order now at

Preview and order more resources for GCSE Literature here:

ZigZag Education, Unit 3, Greenway Business Centre, Doncaster Road, Bristol BS10 5PY
t: 0117 950 3199 | f: 0117 959 1695 |

Give your promotional code WU97 to get free postage!


Film Trailers and Posters for GCSE WJEC Media Studies

We’ve all seen the trailer for this year’s GCSE WJEC annual topic and it’s going to be a blockbuster. To get you ready for the real thing, ZigZag Education has a boxset of brand-new resources to support the 2016 topic: Film Trailers and Posters.

The nominations for Best Teaching Resource in a Supporting Role are:

  • WJEC Teaching Pack: Bespoke scheme of work with worksheets, handouts and PowerPoints included.  The perfect resources to structure and support your teaching of the annual topic. (WU23/5941, £99) Out Now!
  • WJEC Online Homework: ‘All your homework set and marked’ (P Knowles, Media Teacher & Subscriber) in this four-part quiz/test structure. Gives students a variety of exercises to complete to consolidate their learning, revise key terms and theories, and practise with exam-style questions.  As a teacher, you can track their progress too! (Various packages from £99+VAT for site licence) Release date: January 2016
  • WJEC Revision Guide: Ensure students are fully prepared for the exam, from key terms to pre-production skills.  The workbooks can be used independently, with a variety of activities and exam-style tasks. (WU23/5940, £79) Release date: December 2015
  • WJEC Practice Papers: Original papers in the exact style of the exam. All key concepts tested across a range of exam-style questions.  Detailed examiner commentary on every answer gives students a clear idea of ‘what the examiner is thinking’!  (WU23/6018, £54) Out Now!

All resources are complementary, and can be used either together or independently.  Each resource has been carefully designed so that there is no overlap of content – while still covering the relevant parts of the specification and the core aspects of the topic. 

Here’s what the critics* have to say:

  • ‘This is an excellent resource that covers all aspects of the topic of film marketing. It is challenging yet comprehensive and has a variety of good film examples and has chosen from all areas of the film industry.’ – M Riches, Media Teacher, 2016 Revision Guide (*****)
  • ‘A comprehensive resource, useful for teachers as well as students in flexible ways: for revision purposes, mocks, classroom activities, homework tasks or revision tasks.’ – J Forth, Media Teacher, 2016 Practice Papers (*****)
  • ‘This is a great revision guide and the activities supplement classwork perfectly. I had great success last year with it, and plan on continuing to use it.’ – T Hutchinson, Head of Media Studies, 2016 Revision Guide (*****)

*real bonafide teachers

ZigZag resources are available as ‘copy masters’ or in editable format and come with a site licence, allowing you to pay once and copy as often as you need, or put on your server for multiple use.  The Teaching Pack, Revision Guide and Practice Papers are also available in:

  1. Easy-printing PDF files (add 30%+VAT), or
  2. PDF with editable Word files (add 50%+VAT).

Coming soon…
Don’t miss out! Preview and Pre-Order Now

ZigZag Education, Unit 3, Greenway Business Centre, Doncaster Road, Bristol BS10 5PY
t: 0117 950 3199 | f: 0117 959 1695 |

Give your promotional code WU23 to get free postage!


Free Primary English poster: Direct Speech

You can download a free poster about Direct Speech from a new set of 80 posters for Primary English.

These colourful print-your-own pdf posters reinforce key points and focus on one topic at a time.

They cover grammar, spelling, punctuation and much more.

The visual impact of these posters really helps children remember.

See all the posters, download one free and order here

Ann Batey
Office Manager
Carel Press
(01228 538928)

When it comes to minibuses and school budgets, an “expensive” minibus and an “unaffordable” minibus are two very different things.

It is a fact that minibuses are expensive. And at one point they were expensive to the point of being unaffordable as school budgets quite simply could not accommodate the large upfront expense that buying a minibus entailed.

However, schools have found a way to get around this expense so they can have a school minibus parked in the grounds of their school ready for the next school trip, away game, etc.

They have discovered that a school minibus is usually affordable under a leasing agreement that has been designed specifically with the school (and the school’s budget) in mind.

Through this arrangement the minibus leasing company not only leases out the minibus, but is also fully responsible for the maintenance of the minibus and for keeping the vehicle fully operational at all times.

A minibus which is leased is simply paid for on a monthly basis through a small monthly deduction from the school’s income and some schools are finding that it is possible to fund the minibus without actually taking anything from the school’s capital account.

In cases where trips are paid for by contributions from parents, it is possible to allocate a part of those payments towards the cost of the minibus.

And in other cases, the PTA has agreed to make a monthly contribution.

Benchmark Leasing specialises in the supply and maintenance of school minibuses. If you are interested in the benefits of a minibus do call us on 01753 859944 or click here to see what we can offer.

To get notifications of learning-outside-the-classroom activity and location ideas and how LOtC can be used to benefit your pupils’ learning and development, follow us on Twitter @MinibusLeasing or like our Facebook page – Benchmark Minibus.

What is the most effective way to improve your colleagues’ working efficiency and your pupils’ attainment in literacy?

When you tally it up it is often surprising how much time your colleagues spend each week searching for teaching resources from the various sources so that they can ensure their pupils are able to meet the requirements outlined in the English Programmes of Study.

It is also surprising how much money is spent on purchasing these teaching resources, particularly when you consider that your colleagues might only require one or two sections from each resource.

A more time-effective and cost-effective way, however, of ensuring that your colleagues have all the teaching resources that they require is by adopting a complete or whole-school approach to literacy.

And it is for this reason that we have produced the Complete Spelling and Reading Programme which has proven to improve children’s overall attainment in literacy.

The programme is carefully structured and covers every phonic, spelling choice, word pattern, and spelling rule in the English language through a series of 20 Modules in over 1,000 imaginative structured worksheets.

What’s more, the Record Chart for each Module has been designed to increase motivation by showing attainable goals, revision activities, and space to indicate completed tasks.

You can order the Complete Reading & Spelling Programme in any of these ways:

  • On our website
  • By phone on 01536 399017
  • By fax to 01536 399012
  • By email to   
  • By post to Multi-Sensory Learning, Earlstrees Court, Earlstrees Road, Corby, NN17 4HH

Sex doesn’t change; it is the attitude of young people to sex that changes and that’s the problem

In debating sex and sexuality there are two issues: context and expectation.

Nudity and sex have different meanings in different contexts and as expectation changes following the growth of unbridled pornography available to anyone who seeks it on the internet.

So we may ask, in this era of dramatic change, amidst a million contexts and varying expectations, what determines the appropriateness or otherwise of any picture or behaviour? What makes some contexts more or less appropriate than others?

Considering this topic helps to lead us towards the most effective ways of dealing with sex education – for it suggests that by focussing on a very specific topic or issue it is possible to lead into much more productive and insightful discussion and reflection than through the use of less focussed activity.

Thus in the chapter “Nudity and the Media” in the copiable volume “Sex and Sensibility”, the sex and relationships course for secondary schools, we consider the issue of the cover of a parenting magazine which showed a mother breast feeding a child – a picture which itself brought outrage and opprobrium. Context and expectation appears to be everything.

This is one of 60 such topics gathered together in 12 modules, ranging from the opening section on “Being human” through to modules on “The Right Pace”, “Peer Pressure”, “Sexual Orientation”, “Sex and Language” and “Sex in the Media”.

Each topic contains a whole series of activities for the students to participate in, which can be used as either whole class or small group discussion topics, as research topics and for written assignments.

Each area within the volume is itself used to explore wider connotations – and thus includes such areas as following fashion, one’s own look, influences, being oneself, how we see ourselves and so forth.

There are around 100 pages of activities and materials for the students, as well as over 20 pages of teaching notes and further information.

Sample pages can be viewed at

Publisher’s reference: T1760EMN      ISBN: 978 1 86083 754 8


  • Photocopiable report: £24.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • CD with school-wide rights: £24.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • Both the Ring Binder and the CD £31.94 plus £3.95 delivery
  • Prices include VAT.

You can purchase the report… please quote the order ref: T1760emn

Understanding what dyscalculia is can allow schools to help sufferers improve their maths and obtain reasonable results in their examinations

It is a strange but true fact that while most of us working in schools have come across dyslexic children and adults, many teachers have not had direct contact with anyone who is dyscalculic.

And yet dyscalculia is not only a genetic issue, as is dyslexia, it is also as common within society at large as dyslexia.

So why is it that we don’t come across dyscalculic children as often as dyslexic children?

The reason is probably that many schools recognise that they have a small number of children who are poor at maths because they have missed some schooling or failed to grasp specific lessons.

The nature of the subject, which is of course utterly cumulative, means that some children fail to grasp certain concepts simply because they failed to grasp what went before.

This is, of course, utterly different from English, where the fact that I might not be able to spell “was” does not mean I won’t be able to learn “because”.  In maths, however, if I can’t do division I will struggle to understand fractions.

Furthermore there can be social reasons why children do poorly at maths.  Missed time at school can be more detrimental in maths than in most subjects, and there seems to be a greater tendency for parents to suggest to their children that they never understood maths at school, so it just “runs in the family”.

In short there are many reasons why dyscalculia might not be seen as a special need but rather as a consequence of parenting, poor attendance, etc.  As a result specialist tuition and support may not be given as early as it might be with dyslexia.

Understanding Dyscalculia: An Introduction for Schools examines the five main causes of dyscalculia and sets out the methods of working available which can help pupils overcome their dyscalculic problems. The book contains short sections which can be photocopied to give out to other members of staff in school, to worried parents, and to governors, so that everyone can share in the awareness of what dyscalculia is, and how it can be tackled.

Above all the book shows that once we understand and accept the causes of dyscalculia we can adopt appropriate methods of teaching to overcome the problem. Research suggests that most children who gain appropriate help in school can overcome their dyscalculic difficulties and achieve an acceptable grade in secondary school examinations, thus allowing entry into further and higher education.

The book, which is available in copiable form so that it can be shared with colleagues throughout the school, is published by the Dyscalculia Centre, a leading provider of teaching materials for dyscalculic individuals. The Centre also publishes a range of books for special needs teachers working with dyscalculics, and provides on-line testing facilities for pupils and students who are thought to be dyscalculic.

There is a sample chapter available on-line at

Cat No: 978 1 86083 614 5;  Publisher reference no: T1628emn


  • Photocopiable report in a ring binder, £24.95. plus £3.95 delivery
  • CD with school-wide rights: £24.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • Both the Ring Binder and the CD £31.94 plus £3.95 delivery
  • Prices include VAT.

You can purchase the book…

Free Schools Solar Panels

Our ingenious renewable schools solar programme returns; for another two months . . . giving you a last chance to make immediate savings on your electricity without any costs to the school for the panels.

 Join us.

If you want to have immediate savings on your electricity costs, get renewable power but have no money, act now to secure:

·      Free PV panels

·      Free maintenance

·      Free education

·      Save money from day one by buying low cost renewable power

Join our existing schools network and register today. Over 60 schools have joined us; about 50 have systems from 20kWp to 200kWp.  Find out how you can save on your energy bills.

Our schools say:

“When we first saw the offer we thought it was too good to be true; install free, panels free, upkeep free.  But it’s true . . .”
Oasis Shirley Park – 50kWp

 “We are delighted to have the teaching resource and of course cheap electricity without the worries of capital and maintenance costs.”
                                                  West Park School – 50kWp plus another 100kWp

“The most professional and technically knowledgeable of everyone we have met. That is reassuring when you are about to get solar PV.”
Kingshott School – 30kWp

Our schools enjoy access to cheap power without any risks or responsibilities now or in the future. They see savings from day one.  Don’t miss this opportunity . . . . it will disappear very quickly.

Best wishes

Engynious SEEd Solar Team

07946 245 556

Government warning: Our offer is subject to changes in government support and that change is imminent.  We believe we may have two more months for this offer. Next time, our offer will not give you immediate savings; you will still be able to have panels for free but you will have to buy renewable power at price parity with mains supplies! If you want to see immediate savings on electricity costs join us without delay.

Could it be that the shift in focus from learning to results has hindered children’s ability to think outside the box?

Something that many educators take away from their first few years of teaching is the difference between pupils’ learning and how to get quantifiable results – a well-performing pupil is not always a pupil who has learned, and a pupil who has learned does not always get good results.

It could be argued that learning is flexible, durable, and invisible; however the outcomes are not always immediately apparent. Whereas teaching so your pupils can get good results can be short term and somewhat inflexible, yet quantifiable.

Therefore, as Ofsted and assessments require tangible proof of learning, measured performance is all that one can offer – even though there is minimal comparison between the two.

However, it is the critical thinking that is developed through learning which will better prepare pupils for the more advanced concepts to come and which will also support them in their assessments if a curve ball is thrown in, which it often is.

It is for this reason that we have produced Brilliant Activities to Stimulate Creative Thinking – a book containing over 150 creative challenges that will provide mental stimulation for your pupils, developing their higher level thinking skills and their ability to think outside the box.

These 10-15 minute activities are ideal for PSHE lessons, and, as they require minimal preparation, they are also ideal for first thing in the morning to fire-up your class, to engage fast finishers, or for homework. There are no correct answers and any input is valued.

You will notice that the more activities that your pupils complete, the more they will subconsciously engage with their school work using this critical thinking approach, and so their overall confidence and self-esteem in lessons will improve.

You can order the Brilliant Activities to Stimulate Creative Thinking resource by Brilliant Publications in a variety of ways, including:

  • By visiting the website
  • By phone on 01449 766629
  • By fax on 01449 768047
  • By email to
  • Or By post to Brilliant Publications, Mendlesham Industrial Estate, Norwich Road, Mendlesham, Suffolk, IP14 5ND.

Brilliant Publications,
Mendlesham Industrial Estate,
Norwich Road,
IP14 5ND.


phone: 01449 766629
fax: 01449 768047

It’s well established that song lyrics are the easiest of all texts to learn. Which is why children remember what they sing.

There are many theories as to why all human societies have song as well as language, but the most commonly accepted reason is that it is easier for people to learn song lyrics than to learn words in any other form.

Song, therefore, is used as a way of unifying a society, with everyone easily remembering the words that express the unity of their group.

The technical reason why songs are easy to remember is to do with the way the left and right halves of the brain work – and I’ll happily leave you to look into that at your leisure!  But for now, I’d like to point out the application that this facet of the human mind offers us.

Children can memorise poetry faster than prose and songs faster than poetry.  Therefore, when we teach something as a song, it takes far less effort and time for the children to remember the lyrics.  And better still, those lyrics stay in the memory far, far longer.

Indeed many adults today can still recall the lyrics of their favourite pop songs from their youth – especially if they were in the habit of singing along with them.

It’s for this reason that we have created Chantez plus Fort – a book and CD set containing 20 easy-to-learn French songs written specifically to help children learn French.

They are linked to some of the KS2 Programmes of Study for modern foreign languages but are also relevant for pupils in Years 7 and 8, especially those with special needs.

The songs introduce and reinforce key vocabulary for popular topics, such as greetings, names and ages, time, days of the week, and months, shapes, colours and sizes, family and pets, food and drink, classroom items, and the weather.

Whilst enjoying the songs children will broaden their vocabulary and hone their listening skills and pronunciation.

CD 1 contains all 20 songs sung by French children and mini-dialogues which can be used for listening comprehension and role-plays. CD 2 contains instrumental tracks for the 16 original songs.

The accompanying book contains teachers’ notes with ideas on how to introduce, use, and extend the songs, photocopiable illustrated song sheets, photocopiable music sheets including guitar chords, scripts for the mini dialogues, and English translations of all the songs.

If you are a KS3 (Years 7-9; 11-14 year olds) teacher you may wish to order the KS3 version of this book. And you might like to note that we also have songs for Spanish (Vamos a Cantar) and German (Singt mit uns).

You can order the MFL Songs resources by Brilliant Publications in a variety of ways, including:

  • By visiting the website links above
  • By phone on 01449 766629
  • By fax on 01449 768047
  • By email to
  • Or By post to Brilliant Publications, Mendlesham Industrial Estate, Norwich Road, Mendlesham, Suffolk, IP14 5ND.

Brilliant Publications,
Mendlesham Industrial Estate,
Norwich Road,
IP14 5ND.


phone: 01449 766629
fax: 01449 768047

See whether your school qualifies for a brand new sports facility at no cost whatsoever to the school

This is true – your school can get a brand new sports facility at no cost whatsoever to the school (and indeed many schools already have), but it does require a little bit of planning – which, fortunately, Notts Sport can help you with.

So, the immediate question is, how does it work?

There are two stages. First, we develop the facility that you require on your school grounds using Fast Track Funding, which means no payment is required until the facility is complete. After that, payment is arranged over a period of time – normally five or seven years.

This is when the second part of the arrangement comes in. Schools are finding that it is not at all difficult to hire out their new facility to local clubs on occasional evenings and weekends, and through that are able to cover all the costs of the development (and more).

And there you have it – a brand new sports facility at no cost whatsoever to the school, all whilst helping to promote sport and healthy lifestyles in the local community which will inevitably create a significant amount of positive PR for the school.

Such sports facilities that we install for schools under the Fast Track Funding Scheme include a new all-weather pitch for football, cricket, hockey, etc., and at the heart of the development plan is England Hockey’s Official Facilities Partner.

Unfortunately our seminars about Fast Track Funding have now finished. However we have created a presentation for those who couldn’t make it to the seminars and are interested in Fast Track Funding. You can view this presentation by clicking here.

We will be doing live Fast Track Funding webinars in the New Year. To register your interest or if you have any questions about the Fast Track Funding Scheme, please don’t hesitate to contact us, either by calling us on 01455 883 730 or emailing us at  

There is further information about Fast Track Funding on our website.

What’s more, you can find out more about the various pitch surfacing systems designed and developed by Notts Sport, by visiting

Discount Sibelius 8 now available

There has never been a better time to upgrade or add seats to your Sibelius License!

Sibelius 8-upgrade from any version £19.00

Add new Sibelius seats £69.00

And how about buying the best and easiest to use sequencer for your Year 1 and 2 classes. (Also suitable to GCSE and A level students)

Acoustica Mixcraft – it really is a fantastic program for pupils learning to use MIDI and Audio to create new music from £20.00 per copy

Typical School License 5-24 copies £26.00 per copy.

Get in touch or send orders to

1 month terms-simply send a Purchase Order.

SOFTPLANET, Greenbank House St Andrews, KY16 8LP

Or call us on 01334 461244

Cover Teacher who thinks a vulgar fraction is a row on ‘Eastenders’?

According to figures from the Dept for Education, the average secondary school teacher has about four working days off a year due to illness.  Of course this incorporates teachers who have a long time out with a serious illness as well as the 44% of teachers who are fortunate enough to go a whole year not getting ill at all.

These numbers show why the need for ready-made materials for supply teachers who cover Maths classes is as vital as ever.   For even when something has been left from the previous lesson, there are always going to be those who finish the work rapidly, and need something else to do.

Which is why the Absent Maths Teacher volume of worksheets was developed.

The worksheets within the volume cover a wide range of topics and range of ability – and are all designed so that they can be used as a one-off in an emergency, or as a series of highly varied tasks over a number of days, should the absence be unexpectedly protracted.

Activities range from drawing Venn diagrams showing the intersection of two sets, to working out profit and loss percentages.

Each topic area is followed by a wide range of questions, an extension task through which (for example) the students are required to balance equations, and a homework task in which the students have to copy a series of diagrams and find the value of angle x.

The volume covers such topics as the rules for algebra, decimals, equations, geometry, powers, statistics, etc. etc.

Each lesson in the volume is printed on a single page and is simple to photocopy instantly for any class that suddenly requires the lesson.

The Absent Maths Teacher Worksheets collection is available from Hamilton House priced at £30 plus £2.95 delivery.

You can order the Absent Maths Teacher worksheets collection by filling in the order form and sending it by fax, email, or post (see contact details below). Alternatively, if you have a school order number, you can order by phone.

First and Best in Education, Earlstrees Court, Earlstrees Road, Corby, Northants, NN17 4HH
Telephone: 01536 399 011      Fax: 01536 399 01      Email:

What evidence do we have exactly to prove that pupils who eat breakfast perform better at school than their non-breakfast-eating counterparts?

For the first time a study has proven what everyone suspected – pupils who eat a healthy breakfast every morning typically perform better at school and thus achieve greater learning outcomes. So now we can ask the question, “to what extent?”

Fortunately we don’t have to look far for the answer as this same longitudinal study, conducted by Cardiff University, also revealed the extent to which eating a healthy breakfast affects pupils’ performance at school and learning outcomes.

The study consisted of asking 5,000 nine to eleven year olds from 100 schools in Wales to keep a list of what they ate in 24 hours. Researchers then collected their results in Key Stage 2 teacher assessments between six and eighteen months later.

They found that pupils who ate a healthy breakfast every morning typically achieved an above average performance in their Key Stage 2 teacher assessments – up to twice as high as those who didn’t eat breakfast regularly or at all.

It’s for this reason that schools that host a Breakfast Club each morning are so valuable, giving pupils who don’t eat breakfast (for whatever reason) the opportunity to not only reap the long term health benefits of eating breakfast, but also to improve their learning outcomes.

If your school already hosts a Breakfast Club or is planning to set one up, it is possible to further boost pupils’ performance at school by offering them a number of activities at Breakfast Club which will warm the brain up before learning commences.

With this in mind Edventure has produced a Breakfast Club Pack, complete with an extensive range of games and activities, including:

  • 1x Chess
  • 1 x Draughts
  • 1 x Giant 2D Noughts & Crosses
  • 1 x Giant Wooden Dominoes
  • 1 x Ludo
  • 1 x Pick up Sticks
  • 2 x Playing Cards
  • 1 x Popular Card Games Pack
  • 1 x Shut the Box
  • 1 x Snakes & Ladders
  • 1 x Wooden Tumbling Blocks

We have also produced a number of free Game Guides:

A Guide to Snakes & Ladders

A Guide to Shut the Box

A Guide to Pick Up Sticks

And A Guide to Tumbling Blocks

The Breakfast Club Pack can be ordered in a variety of ways, including:

  • On our website
  • by fax to 01323 50 10 41
  • by phone on 01323 50 10 40
  • by email at         
  • by post to Edventure Ltd, Hargreaves Business Park, Hargreaves Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN23 6QW.

If you quote HH0515 on your order delivery will be free. Without quoting the code the charge is £3.95 if ordered online or £6.95 if ordered by fax, phone or post.

Link to article:

Online keyboard skills development from the UK’s leading specialists

What provision is your school making for improving your pupils’ keyboard skills?

I expect that, if your school is like most others, you now require your pupils to use a computer for their school work more than ever before.  By learning fast and accurate keyboard skills, pupils work quicker, more confidently and are able to focus more on learning than on text production.  And if pupils are able to type their assignments, their work is more legible for teachers who have to mark them.

Meanwhile, Ofqual has already been making noises about the future computerisation of exams.  When the inevitable happens, and all or most exams are computer based, will your pupils be ready?

As a leading specialist in online keyboard skills training in schools, we can help you.  We have a range of schemes for schools to meet every requirement and every budget – even if you don’t have one!

Our courseware resides in the cloud (i.e., it is Internet based) which means that there is no software to install.  Pupils can use it on any computer with a broadband connection, 24/7, so there is no need to steal time from the school timetable.

All pupils’ progress is tracked, so you can monitor success rates as and when you wish.  And our online service is completely secure – there are no distracting pop-up advertisements and no cookies or other incursions to infiltrate your computers.

Our options include:-

  • A ‘Pay-by-User’ scheme for small numbers of pupils from £6 per head;
  • Annual licence schemes for larger numbers of pupils from just £195 per year;
  • An income generation scheme, ideal if a budget is not available;
  • Electronic typing assessments with customised and personalised certificate;
  • Our ‘total’ service, where we manage and deliver everything for you remotely, from just £595 per year.

We even have a professional course for teachers with the option of online personal tutoring.

Would you like to know more?  If so, please email us with a very brief description of your interest and we will send you a link to our electronic Schools’ Brochure and our Price List.  We would be very glad to hear from you, whether you need keyboard skills training for 1 pupil, or 1001!

Type&Test Ltd
PO Box 479
PE28 0LJ
01480 861867

What is the most effective way of working with students who have English as an additional language?

Students who have English as an additional language now form a majority in one in nine schools in the UK; the number has risen by 20% during the last five years.

Many schools estimate that it takes about a half term for the average EAL pupil to gain sufficient working knowledge of English for them to move into the mainstream classroom, while spending time with the intervention teacher each day.

However, although this seems a simple process there are many issues that arise, ranging from the exact legal requirements in terms of dealing with these pupils through to the best approach for induction and admission of these new arrivals.

There are also issues of engaging with the parents, the question of which teaching and learning strategies are the most effective, and the support and encouragement that should be given to more advanced EAL learners.

Indeed, many schools are now asking what a good induction programme looks like. Indeed when it comes to EAL is one approach as good as another?

This matter was highlighted by the publication of the New Arrivals Excellence Programme which was issued in 2007 and represents a summary of best practice in EAL in the country. It includes case studies and does give a clear source of information on what schools can do in relation to EAL students.

This is not to say that there is a single process and approach which every school should follow, but it is often felt that it is helpful for schools to consider a range of approaches when thinking about their EAL students.

From the sort of approach adopted come the appropriate teaching and learning strategies, and indeed the role of the EAL Coordinator who can ensure that the plan that the school has developed is being followed at each turn, and that any gaps in learning and performance between EAL language pupils and students and those who have English as their first language are narrowed and ultimately removed.

These are the issues examined in the new extensive volume The EAL Coordinator’s Manual.  The 170 page volume comes in copiable form so that it can shared with any members of staff in the school who work with EAL students.

You can see a full contents list and some sample pages at

Publisher’s reference: T1832EMN ISBN: 978 1 86083 802 6


  • Photocopiable report in a ring binder, £29.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • CD with school-wide rights: £29.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • Both the Ring Binder and the CD £36.94 plus £3.95 delivery

Prices include VAT.

You can purchase the report… please quote the order ref: T1832EMN

What are we to make of the student who, at a job interview, checks her mobile for messages?

Most young people who enter the workplace for their first job, are, on day one, utterly bemused. 

Of course, to some degree they will be prepared, for they will have heard stories from parents, older siblings, friends who left school a year before…

Unfortunately, 95% of these stories will be at best irrelevant to the workplace they are entering or at worst utterly wrong in every regard.

For entering work is not just about the skills a young person brings to the job in hand.  It is also about the young person’s attitude. 

If the employer and the staff already in place treat the new employee as a responsible adult who is going to work hard for the company, and the young employee doesn’t realise that when a job is complete he/she should find out what to do next, there is already a significant misunderstanding of how to behave.

Indeed, knowing how to behave in the work place can be the most important issue on day one.  The issue reported in the headline above might look bizarre in the extreme, but it has been reported and is just one very graphic example of students simply not knowing how they are supposed to behave.

The problem is, however, that many employers have themselves not properly thought through how they are going to treat the newcomer.  Which is why it is vital for students to understand exactly what sort of situations they might encounter and what they can do about them.

What Employers Want and Expect deals with these issues, as well as with the new demands that employers, in this post-recession environment, are now placing on staff.

The book recognises that under current legislation, employers have an almost total right to dismiss employees who started work after April 2012 during the first two years of employment for any reason, and notes that the average time people now spend in a job is only two years and four months.

Which means, in fact, that around half of the working population have virtually no protection against dismissal without reason.

The book takes the view that in order to stay in work the vast majority of young employees must help themselves by being aware of the current needs and attitudes of employers.

The volume, which is fully copiable and so can be put on the school’s learning platform, copied to disk or photocopied, covers such issues as reliability, accuracy, punctuality, honesty, smoking, communication, written work, swearing, etc.

There is also a commentary concerning what one can write on social media.  As the book points out, many employers will check Facebook and other sites used by their employees to ensure that no one is saying anything amiss about the company that pays the wages. 

It is, in fact, essential reading for everyone going into a job for the first time.

The volume can be bought as a photocopiable book or on CD Rom.

You can see some sample pages at

Publisher’s reference: T1799EMN ISBN: 978 1 86083 895 8


  • Photocopiable report in a book, £19.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • CD with school-wide rights: £19.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • Both the book and the CD £26.94 plus £3.95 delivery

Prices include VAT.

You can purchase the report… please quote the order ref: T1798EMN

You can now follow us on Twitter and Facebook

How can a school show it is exercising its duty of care to staff who are suffering from work-related stress?

“All employers have legal responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to ensure the health safety and welfare at work of their employees.”

That bold statement comes from the government’s Health and Safety Executive website which lays down the duty of care that all employers have for their employees, and of course it applies to schools as much as any other place of work.

Of course, the amount of heavy lifting and the operation of noisy machinery in a school is limited, but there is one area where schools are vulnerable to challenges under the duty of care rules and that is stress.

Schools have a double obligation here: to do whatever is practical to reduce the level of stress; and if there are signs of stress such as anxiety, depression, a decline in work standards, emotional behaviour, time off work, they have to offer support.

But can anything practically be done? 

In fact there are two approaches that schools are using. The first is to look at what aspect(s) of work may be causing stress for that particular teacher and see if anything can be changed (not only for this teacher, but for others who may also be starting to feel stressed within their job).

The other is to offer help and support to the teacher in terms of suggesting a programme of activity that can be used to help overcome the stress.

Of course, the fact that teaching is the profession which now suffers from the third highest level of stress of any occupation in the UK does not make recovery from stress easy.

But if a stress reduction programme is incorporated into the school’s work and is available for any member of staff who is feeling overwhelmed by the pressure of teaching, then it is very possible that some staff who might succumb to serious levels of stress can be helped. The resultant benefits for the teacher and the school are enormous.

By introducing the teacher suffering from stress to various techniques it is quite possible that the teacher will be able to avoid the stress turning into a serious long-term illness, allowing the teacher to make rapid progress on the road to recovery.

Such an approach simply recognises that the only way out of stress is for the individual to undertake the journey of recovery him/herself. That does not mean that the stress-causing factors in the school or elsewhere are ignored, but it is nevertheless essential that the individual teacher is taking the steps to start to deal with stress.

The volume thus helps school managers who don’t suffer from excessive stress to understand what their colleague under stress is going through and to see how she or he can be helped.

It deals not only with ways of reducing the levels of stress that teachers suffer from, but also offers a programme of practical help that can be offered to the teacher who is suffering from stress. The volume also includes a set of templates relating to the school’s policy on stress and a risk assessment programme.

The volume can be bought as a photocopiable ring bound book or on CD Rom.

You can see some sample pages at

Publisher’s reference: T1786EMN ISBN: 978 1 86083 840 8


  • Photocopiable report in a ring binder, £49.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • CD with school-wide rights: £49.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • Both the Ring Binder and the CD £56.94 plus £3.95 delivery

Prices include VAT.

You can purchase the report… please quote the order ref: T1786EMN

You can now follow us on Twitter and Facebook

Reading comprehension is a three step process

1) Reading
2) Decoding texts
3) Reading comprehension

Reading comprehension is a three step process – before your pupils can become proficient with reading comprehension, they must first be confident not only in their reading ability, but also in their ability to decode texts.

Our Comprehension Activity Books for Years 1 to 6 will support your pupils with this transition – all the way from reading and decoding texts to reading comprehension.

The activity books have been designed so that no one is left behind, nor is anyone held back from reaching, or exceeding, their reading comprehension potential. They ensure that each and every pupil is able to progress at the speed and to the level that is right for them.

You can see sample pages from each of the activity books by clicking on the links below:

Comprehension Activity Book – Year 1

Comprehension Activity Book – Year 2

Comprehension Activity Book – Year 3

Comprehension Activity Book – Year 4

Comprehension Activity Book – Year 5

Comprehension Activity Book – Year 6

We have also produced a Comprehension Activity Book for Year 7 which you can use to challenge your Year 6 pupils who have progressed above and beyond expectations.

The activities can either be used with full classes, small groups, or individual pupils.

If you are looking at implementing a whole-school Comprehension programme using our clear, concise, easy-to-follow, and child-friendly Comprehension Activity Books, you can buy all seven books at a discounted price of £112 for the books, £105+VAT for the e-books on a CD, or £84+VAT for the download on our website.

Or if you’d prefer, you can order the comprehension resources:

By post to Topical Resources, P.O. Box329, Broughton, Preston, Lancashire PR3 5L

Why November and December can be good months for the maths department ……

If you’re thinking of ordering new calculators, geometry sets etc then there’s some good news for you. In addition to their already competitive prices, Signpost Educational Ltd are giving away FREE products with qualifying orders during the months of November and December 2015.

a.  With any order of 50 or more scientific calculators you’ll receive a FREE sample of the Survival Pack (a useful set of pens, pencils and rubber, all packed in a handy zip-up polyester wallet…useful for both students and teachers) with a special price if you decide to order them  in bulk.

b.  When you order 100 or more of  the Casio FX 83 GT+, FX 85GT+ or LK 183 scientific calcs you can order up to the same quantity (or fewer) of the Value Maths set for only 95p (usually priced from £1.10 to £1.20 ex vat)

c.  When you order 150 or more of any the above three calculators you’ll get five Value Maths sets completely FREE  ……… so if it’s calculators you need then below are their most popular models:

Casio FX 83GT Plus    £5.49  (100+)  £5.65  (40+)  £5.75  (1-39)

Casio FX 85GT Plus    £6.65  (100+)  £6.75  (40+)  £6.90  (1-39)

Logik LK 183     £3.49  (100+)  £3.55  (40)  £3.59  (1-39)

Texet Albert2     £3.45  (100+)  £3.55  (1-99)

Aurora AX 595   £4.55  (100+)  £4.62  ( 40+)  £4.69  (1-39)

all prices are ex vat.

Check out their website:
You can order by email:   fax on 020 7515 4420
or phone 020 7515 1797 and ask to speak to Martin Evans who will be pleased to help.

Experts (who by and large have never worked in a school) love to say that we should be more efficient in our use of time.

But really, is that practical in a school?  Much of the time we are overtaken by events, meaning we have little chance of planning a carefully laid course towards a better use of each day.

And yet, when one focuses on one’s own use of time, there is often one simple change that can be made and which has an immediate impact.

All one needs to do is take one time-consuming area of work and deal with it once and for all, freeing up time that either can be spent on another activity or indeed on recovering from the trials and tribulations of the working day.

The solution I’ve worked on involves school policies. We know they have to be checked against the latest legislation and government guidance, updated, monitored, and re-worked as circumstances change. But why not let someone else do it?

To see the benefit that could come from this, imagine a scenario in which you have instant access to a fully prepared policy on each and every issue within the school, all on a single website. You could then download it and have it up and running in your school – all within minutes.

But, you might think, what happens if there is a new issue that is only just beginning to impact upon schools?  How would one get access to a policy for that?

The answer in this case is simple: if the policy doesn’t exist already, it will be created to your order.  And as legislation and expectations change, so the policies are always updated without you having to re-write anything at all!

Fortunately, this scenario is not a fantasy. There is a website that hundreds of schools across the UK use in this way.  It is called Policies for Schools. It has over 280 school policies, and you can see all the policies that are available and some sample school policy documents by visiting our website.

So if you wish to subscribe to our service, or would like more information, please:

£300 worth of complimentary books and career resources for your school

How2Become Ltd, an Award-Winning careers specialist, is currently working in partnership with a number of universities and schools, including the University of Central Lancashire and the University of Kent, to provide free books and online testing for students and pupils looking to get a career.

To help your students get a job when they leave education, we are offering to send you £300 worth of free career resource books and free access to our online testing suites from the website

There is no catch – we are simply trying to grow the awareness of our books amongst students and teachers.

To take up this free offer, or to find out more, simply contact our education coordinator, Gemma Butler, at: 

Full details of all our resources can be found at

Richard McMunn
Managing Director
How2Become Ltd

How2become Ltd, Suite 2, 50 Churchill Square Business Centre,
Kings Hill, West Malling. ME19 4YU

Pupils, parents, and teachers can all be on the same page with an easy-to-use homework solution

It can be difficult to keep parents as informed as they’d like to be with their children’s homework. With all your school’s homework posted in one clear online calendar, parents can see the teacher’s task description for themselves without having to rely on what pupils have written down. With our free iOS and Android apps, parents can effortlessly view their child’s to-do list whenever they like.

Show My Homework was created by an Assistant Headteacher to solve the homework problems he was facing every day – getting a quick, accurate summary of school-wide homework and involving parents in the process.

This is why SMHW was built to be quick and easy-to-use and to provide a single place where everyone knows the homework is available all of the time. Parents are included and engaged, SMHW enables them to see what’s been set and when it’s due for all their children.

Show My Homework is now free for your KS1 pupils – click here for more info

Kind regards,


Transforming your pupils into citizen scientists with The Woodland Trust

The Woodland Trust is asking for more people to become citizen scientists and help them with their quest of studying, observing, and recording the natural world.

This is a great opportunity to get your pupils involved in spotting and recording critical pieces of information in your school’s local area which “simply couldn’t be collected via conventional science alone.”

You can register to participate in The Nature’s Calendar Survey[1] where your pupils can “record and view seasonal events that show the impact of climate change on our wildlife”, or find out which trees are infected with pests and diseases and how you can help by applying for a Disease Recovery Tree Pack[2].

It is also worth noting that some schools are eligible to receive free tree packs[3].

Likewise, The Pod also runs a citizen science programme with which you can get involved[4]. Once you’ve signed up you’ll have access to supporting resources, including: a presentation, lesson plans with curriculum links, an information pack for background information on birds and climate change, a data sheet, and identification posters.

Benchmark has created a Facebook and Twitter page especially for schools where we post and tweet a constant stream of activity and location ideas for learning-outside-the-classroom in your school’s grounds, local area, and further afield.

To get notifications of learning-outside-the-classroom activity and location ideas and how LOtC can be used to benefit your pupils’ learning and development, follow us on Twitter @MinibusLeasing or like our Facebook page – Benchmark Minibus.

For more information about Benchmark Leasing you can go to our website, call us on 01753 859944, or email

[1] The Nature’s Calendar Survey

[2] Disease Recovery Tree Pack

[3] To see if your school is eligible to receive free tree packs, visit

[4] Get involved in The Pod’s citizen science programme by visiting

Inspire your future doctors with a Gap Medics adventure this February Half Term.

You can help your gifted and talented students get ahead of the game and gain valuable experience, that is sure to help them stand out from the crowd, by talking to them about a Gap Medics experience.

Competition to get into medical school and university is fierce. Your aspiring doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives are invited to join us in Poland, Croatia, Tanzania or Thailand this February Half Term to find out what working in medicine is really like. But they will have to move fast as bookings close soon!

Our students receive 23 hours of shadowing by an expert mentor in their chosen field, alongside global health tutorials and experiential learning in small student groups. They will go on ward rounds, talk through cases and see treatment first hand in the operating theatre, delivery room or clinic.

Not only that, we run our own Gap Medics houses which means we are able to ensure that every student has a safe, secure and comfortable stay with us, while making friends to last a lifetime.

“Extremely valuable for so many reasons – the privilege of seeing and learning a lot, medically and culturally.” Student, 2014

To find out more, visit our website, give us a call on 0191 603 1111 or email us at We would love to hear from you.

What is the most effective way of reducing the likelihood of opportunists stealing your school’s laptops, Chromebooks, iPads and tablets?

A couple of month ago a School Crime Report was released revealing that in 2014 30,000 crimes were reported in schools – 43% of which involved theft.

As with most crimes, the culprits were opportunists. And your school’s ICT classroom, where portable, high value items such as laptops, Chromebooks, iPads and tablets are stored, presents the perfect opportunity for thieves.

One way that you can protect your school from these crimes is, of course, by improving security with, for example, CCTV and burglar alarms, but the most effective (and least expensive) way to protect your school from opportunists is by removing the opportunity.

This can be achieved by ensuring that at the end of each day your school’s devices are out of sight, housed in a charging trolley with a secure locking system which can then be taken to a location within the school which either has heightened security or is unlikely to be sought out as a source of IT equipment – or, indeed, both.

Our charging trolleys are ideal for housing and charging an array of school devices for not only are they secure, but they are also safe in terms of the reduced risk that they pose to your pupils and colleagues compared to other traditional charging trolleys.

This is because the trolley’s robust ABS plastic shell (which is, of course, non-conductive) will ensure that electrical faults are isolated at once. And as the trolley is 70% lighter than a traditional metal charging trolley, it can also reduce the risk of injury when it’s being wheeled from A to B.

Our plastic charging trolley is also safer for the environment, as the built-in Power Management system features an energy-saving timer module which will help to reduce your school’s carbon footprint. Not to mention that the trolley is 100% recyclable.

To review all the details and see the pictures, please visit our site at

Just choose the device that you think is right for you, click on that trolley, and you will be able to see a full description, including the dimensions. You will also be able to download the product specification and device compatibility sheet – in fact, everything you need to know.

If you have any questions please do call 01628 666 775 or email me at

Ashley Hutton