Are you finding that your male pupils are getting weaker?

An article in the Telegraph reports on a headteacher who makes the observation that the male pupils at his school are noticeably weaker than they were a generation ago.

Bob Drew, headteacher at Grearies primary school, explains: “We think that is has something to do with having too much access to soft touch like digital technology. They don’t do what boys normally do – throw balls or climb trees.

“This is very recent. We have started to see it in the last two years. (We asked ourselves) why is their handwriting so spidery? When we looked carefully their pencil grip is dreadful. They literally don’t have enough grip to control a pencil properly.”

As a result Mr Drew has set up a new outdoor physical trail where pupils are encouraged to do press ups and other physical challenges to increase their strength.

Mr Drew said, however, that this wasn’t a problem for girls. “It seems to be prevalent with boys because girls like to do a lot more tactile things. They tend to do things like playing with hair, lots of crafts and arty stuff”.

However, not all handwriting problems can be attributed to upper body weakness. To see if your male (or indeed female) pupils might have dysgraphia (a neurological disorder which can be defined as “a disorder in written expression”), Dysgraphia Help offer an online dysgraphia test for pupils over 8 years old for £32 which can act as a preliminary diagnosis.

The online dysgraphia test consists of 50 questions. After completion of the test and submitting a handwriting sample you will receive a report within 72 hours. If we believe dysgraphia to be present you will also receive a number of supporting activity materials free of charge. There is more information at

Link to article:

What is the most effective way of using World Book Day to turn reluctant readers into enthusiastic devourers of literature?

Finding new ways of celebrating World Book Day each year can be difficult – and indeed it is always a fairly safe bet that some of the schools around you will be utilising similar ideas to those which have been used in the past.

But this year there is an approach which will not only engage many children who are not already regular readers of literature, but will also announce to everyone that your school is engaging with literacy in all its modern guises.

The idea is simple: launch an eBook library in your school.

An eBook library means that you don’t have to buy in stocks of library books, check them in and out, attempt to recover lost books, or worry about marked or damaged books.

In essence, pupils simply log in using a tablet or similar device, and then download the book of their choice which they can read wherever they are.

Well over 1000 schools have now moved over to ePlatform’s eBook library – running it alongside the conventional library.  Research shows print and eBooks complement each other to enable more students to discover the joy of reading.

What’s more, reading on devices such as tablets can better engage some children who are noticeably less keen on reading.   This can particularly be the case with children with visual impairments or dyslexia.

Also some children find that the fact that they can add highlighting and notes to what they are reading, as well as instantly look up the definition of a word, is of great benefit.

Research also suggests that reluctant readers are more engaged with an eBook, read for longer with an eBook, and are less likely to become distracted.

In fact, because digital technology is part of their world they actually feel more empowered with reading in this way.

ePlatform has thousands of eBooks available ranging from Roald Dahl to David Baddiel, from Star Wars to Daisy and Jack.  You can see details of our range on the website.

To find out more, please either:

●       Phone 07971 661782
●       Email
●       Or visit

Rachel Lindsay
ePlatform Business Development Manager, UK

Boys don’t cry? Supporting the emotional and mental health of boys and young men

“Teachers should be given training in working more effectively with boys to support healthier mental and emotional development and the skills to manage health services.”

The Mengage workshop  ‘ Boys don’t cry? Supporting the emotional and mental health of boys and young men’ provides teachers, teaching assistants and others involved in work with young males on this concern with a workshop exploring:

  • Act like a boy: what research has to say about the emotional and mental health of boys and young men
  • Issues and concerns: bullying, sexuality, peer pressure, relationships, pornography, body-image, exclusion, pressure to succeed/exams…
  • Being practical: what can schools do to support and enhance the emotional and mental health of boys and young men?  Action planning and implementation.

The 3 hour informal workshop is based on research and proven practical work with boys and young men, providing teachers, support staff, and staff from affiliated professions with knowledge about a concern that not only affects school performance but can have an impact across the lifespan – and an opportunity to consider practical solutions schools can implement to address this concern.

£495 – workshop to be delivered by two facilitators.
♦ 01905 570180
♦ 07788725318


Radicalisation (Prevent Duty)

Using our CPD accredited online training module for Prevent Duty, in just an hour you can ensure you and all your staff comply with Prevent Duty responsibilities.

As a secure online service accessible from PC, MAC or any mobile device, there is no more cost-effective way to comply with Prevent Duty.

Takes just seconds to access and distribute to your staff.

Prevent Duty falls within Safeguarding, which remains at the heart of the new OFSTED Common Inspection Framework. Our module provides certificated CPD approved evidence of successful completion of the course.

To find out more please click HERE.

How the Government has recognised our pioneering work with storytelling, and how you can build on it in half a day.

Having the Minister of State for Schools attend one of our school-based storytelling events was indeed a pleasure and a privilege.

Then finding him referring to our research in a subsequent speech was not only unexpected, but also a very pleasant bonus for Snail Tales.

There are links to the Minister’s speech and our research below, but please stay with me for a moment as I’d like to tell you just a little about what we can do with you in just half a day.

Research shows that children who love reading outperform their peers throughout the curriculum. And because a love of reading starts with a love of story, Snail Tales visit schools to help develop an enjoyment of stories among all children.

Our repertoire is mind-bogglingly huge and includes topics as diverse as Ancient Greece, what causes earthquakes, and how to deal with bullies. And, of course, that makes it perfect if you’re looking to introduce your children to the art of storytelling!

All you need to do is contact us with a selection of your preferred dates, number and ages of your children, and your aims for the day. We’ll then let you know how your children will benefit from our storytelling in their classrooms.

A typical half-day visit, comprising class workshops for up to 150 children (30 children in each class) and/or assembly-style performances for any number, costs just £250 plus 25p per mile travel from the location of our nearest available storyteller – and there’s no VAT to pay either!

And there is a 20% discount on any half-day visit if you are happy for us to collect data for the research the Minister mentioned related to storytelling.  Plus there are other discounts for booking multiple days and adjusted costs for full-day events.

To get things moving please do click here for our online enquiry form. We’ll be more than happy to help ensure you get the best possible arrangement for your school. For example, some schools take two weeks of our storytelling workshops for the price of one.

Others get between £50 and £90 discount – please do fill in the form and we’ll help you find the best arrangement to meet your needs.

If you would like to see what the Minister spoke about in relation to the importance of storytelling, that is here as well.

For more information, please click here. Alternatively, you can call us on 020 328 SNAIL (020 328 76245), or email 

A Key Stage 3 play for lessons, production and learning about the intricacies of drama

There are plays and there are plays, but sometimes it is particularly helpful to have a play that can not only be developed towards a final production but can also be worked on, in classroom in segments, with each segment making a coherent lesson.

And a play which as well being an event that can be staged in front of an audience can be used in class to examine how the central character (a detective) works and where she is going, as well as how she is characterised, how character motivation is explored, what costumes could be used, etc, etc.

In short, what we have here is a play that can be performed, dissected, re-worked, analysed, considered in terms of its structure, turned into a game, have a different ending (it is a murder mystery, so the outcome is a key element), have audience interaction, become a radio play, and be the basis for research of the genre.

All of these alternatives are available with “Murder at Masons Hotel” a play script complete with associated activities. It is supplied in copiable format so that each student can have his/her own copy of the script, or part of the script, to work on at all times.

The play is set in the 1960s and revolves round the murder of a New York crime boss who is visiting London with his family.  He is shot in his room the night before the announcement of changes to his will, and the play centres around the attempts by two characters to solve the mystery of his death.

An initial investigation by Harriet Hemmings of Scotland Yard fails to make progress until Veronica Holmes (rumoured to be the great great granddaughter of Sherlock) is called in.

The play retains a real sense of drama while also including numerous comic moments.  Many of the characters can be played by either male or female actors.

Murder at Masons Hotel is available as a copiable book, or on CD or as a download.  Each edition comes with unlimited reproduction rights for use within the school. Sample pages can be viewed here

ISBN 978 1 86083 827 9; order code T1838EMN


  • Photocopiable spiral bound book, £16.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • CD with school-wide rights: £16.95 plus £3.95 delivery
  • Both the book and the CD: £23.94 plus £3.95 delivery
  • Prices include VAT.

You can purchase the report…

When ordering the book please quote the reference T1838EMN.