Can you imagine a party without music?


A world without music? Learning without music?

In education today it’s easy to put music to one side – it’s something for the ‘specialists’. We teach numeracy and literacy ourselves – others can do the music.

However, current brain research shows that learning to play a musical instrument creates pathways in the brain that strengthen literacy and numeracy skills and make children more intelligent. The actual size of the brain grows.

At Ocarina Workshop we have known this for over 30 years, which is why we left our regular teaching jobs to develop the Ocarina, Ocarina music and Ocarina teaching resources for everyone to enjoy.

Our award last year for Best Music Education Product is like a lifetime achievement award for us. We’d love to share with you the success of this simple instrument that can revolutionise music-making in any school. Here’s what the expert panel of judges said…

The Ocarina “combines creative potential, ease of use, affordability and practicality” Best Music Education Product WINNER in the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence

So if you don’t know what you are missing… go to to find out more.

Can EVERY Child really play a Musical Instrument in Class?

Yes, especially when Class Teachers do the teaching!

If children see their teachers are uncomfortable with maths, they will be uncomfortable. If children come from homes where reading is non-existent, their reading suffers. If teachers engage happily with music, children ‘catch music’ and all its benefits…

All your children will love the Ocarina and play tunes straight away. And all your teachers can confidently teach whole-class music with Ocarinas, whether they ‘feel musical’ or not.

The Ocarina is child-friendly, the holes small enough to cover, each note is easy to produce with a steady breath, and ocarina music shows exactly which holes to cover. Ocarinas are UK-made, colourful, robust and fun to wear – for boys as well as girls.

Tuned, Accessible, Musical and Ready-to-play

Order an Ocarina Class Set today. Hand them to any teacher and within half-an-hour their class will serenade you with ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ and play eight notes – seven more than they would play in half-an-hour on any other instrument! Or give them to the staff first and let the fun begin!

David Liggins B.Ed (Hons) | Christa Liggins BA (Hons), PGCE | | 01536 485 963

Ocarina Workshop, PO Box 56 Kettering, NN15 5LX

With music, it’s not just the child’s talent and enthusiasm that counts. It’s also the parents’ support.

Well, we’ve all seen it time and time again. The enthusiasm and excitement about the opportunity for the child to learn a real musical instrument.

But when the initial vision of an instant ability to play the instrument fades, the notion of practising at least five days a week loses its appeal – and ultimately another budding musician, who had the ability to achieved a lot as a musician, gives up.

So what, practically, can be done to reduce the drop-out rate?

There’s been a huge amount of research into this issue, and the best answer focuses on giving the parent the tools to motivate and encourage the young musician week by week and day by day.

In this way, “go and practise the violin” becomes an engagement between parent and child.

However, like so many ideas, this is one that can sound great in principle but is not always that easy to put into practice.

Which is why Caswell Strings has developed a series of short articles each of which can help parents to encourage and motivate their children to keep practising and keep playing – no matter what the instrument and no matter what style of music is being taught.

This series of articles is now appearing on the Facebook page of Caswell Strings, and I do hope that you will have a moment to look at them.

Then either print them off to give to parents or you can simply direct the parents to the page, so they can read for themselves.

The first article on “How can I persuade my child to practise?” is now on the site, and new articles will be added each week to build up into a full set of ways of enhancing the enjoyment and success of pupils and students as they learn to play an instrument.

You can find the first article by clicking here.

New Anti-extremism and Human Rights Classroom Software

Free Full Version 14-day trial

Schools and academies are now required to ensure pupils are aware of the risks associated with radicalisation and extremism.

Our new Anti-extremism and human rights classroom software delivers the topic sensitively using stunning 3D animation, professional voice-over and subject specific interactive exercises, quizzes and games. 

All delivered in a controlled environment, avoiding potentially unsafe web searches!

If (and only if!) after your 14 day trial you would like to keep the software, it’s just £199 (rrp £250) for a whole school/academy site licence over a network or on unlimited PCs/Whiteboards. Technical support, should you need, it is free.

The software arrives on DVD. Just follow the simple installer wizard and you will be ready to use the software in your classroom within minutes

To request a free 14 day trial please CLICK HERE


Professional Yearbooks Delivered In 10 Working Days

Get your yearbooks in a flash and make sure your students never forget their time at your school!

It’s not too late to get your yearbooks before term ends and with Leavers’ Books it’s super quick and super easy.

With a huge range of designs and layouts to choose from, you can tailor your yearbook to suit your school. From traditional, formal layouts to fun, quirky designs like our new Superhero theme, there’s something for everyone.

  • Great value starting from just £7.99 with no deposit or pre-payment.
  • Professionally finished and printed in just 10 working days.
  • Service you can trust from your sidekicks at Leavers’ Books.
  • Create your yearbook using our easy online creator.

Request a sample pack and start your yearbook today!

What a complex mess! Solving the Problem of Punctuation

Of the many issues faced by teachers in recent times, it was a tiny punctuation mark that forced the government to make a change!

The traditional media were incensed. The Independent told us the ’excitable, text speaking youth of today are being told to curb their exclamation by the Government’ with ‘strict new rules on use of exclamation marks’.

‘How strange!’ wrote The Guardian, it was ‘…effectively proof that the government wants to penalise enthusiasm!’

The Telegraph described it as ‘Nonsense!’ that would take ‘writing back to the 19th century’.

BBC Breakfast debated the issue with linguistic experts who agreed in their ridicule.

Meanwhile a mighty battle erupted on social media between the punctuation pedants and the grammar anarchists, until both sides realised that neither agreed with the government’s stance.

The mounting outrage drove the Department for Education to issue a ‘clarification’ and just to be sure, the Minister of State for Schools published his personal guidance that:

“the exclamation mark will continue to be acceptable in children’s responses in the test” and “pupils will not be marked down for using an exclamation mark for emphasis”…however should they be asked to write an exclamation using the “correct sentence format, starting with ‘what’ or ‘how’, will be required”.

While the exclamation mark was safe, teachers now found themselves charged with teaching not only exclamative sentences but also the ‘variety of sentence forms’ that might end with an exclamation mark!

For many primary school teachers, particularly those without a specialism in English, the new pedantic code is a complex and scary beast. Thankfully teachers can now recruit their own monster: the Punctuation Monsters!

Designed to help teachers retain an emphasis on creativity while meeting the needs of the new curriculum, the ‘Unpunctuated’ series uses a theme of ‘Mermaids & Water Monsters’ to challenge students to rewrite unpunctuated sentences and then consolidate their learning with further creative thinking and writing challenges.

After completing the Challenge Sheets, students can mark their own work (and their friends) with the ‘Sentence Check’ sheets. The whole class can then take part in class challenges to add their own punctuation and rewrite the sentences using the powerpoint challenges included with each module.

Teachers can take confidence from the simple step-by-step guidance to each form of punctuation and they may take a particular interest in:

I Can Write Exclamative Sentences How to Use Exclamations (which includes a template to create an Exclamation Comic!).

At just £3 each the modules are excellent value for teachers with plenty of activities to use throughout each term. Full details can be found at


Complete Unit: Module 1 Capitals, Full Stops, Exclamations, Question Marks

“A great resource – well differentiated and suits my intended purpose of using with intervention groups in Year 2. I particularly like the ‘unpunctuated’ texts as some of my target children struggle to use capital letters and full stops accurately. This was a great time saver! “

How fully have your pupils mastered the demands of the National Curriculum?

The new, challenging, literacy and numeracy requirements of the National Curriculum mean that it is ever more important to check your pupils’ depth of learning as they progress. With the new curriculum, there is now even less chance to catch up on unlearned knowledge, through remedial teaching.

Which is why it’s essential to check that all pupils are fully engaged with these challenges each step of the way.

To help ensure that this is the case, we have worked with former Chief Examiner, Sue Hackman, to produce the friendly new Annual Primary Tests, from Imaginative Minds.

These pupil-friendly assessment checks are written specifically for the new National Curriculum. As well as helping children get used to working under test conditions, they also help you see what each pupil has learned and needs to learn.

The tests are easy to use and to mark. They will help you crosscheck your children’s knowledge and progress across Reading, Writing and Mathematics.

Using objectives taken directly from the National Curriculum, the tests give you a clear indication of the strengths and weaknesses of pupils and classes, and allow you to confirm on-going teacher assessments.

Additionally, the tests are organised by strand to reveal patterns of strength and weakness in different subject strands, e.g. SPAG, geometry and statistics. This will be beneficial for arranging help and catch-up afterwards.

Priced at only £125 for a year pack covering 35 children, the tests are costed to help you keep your expenses low.

Order the tests today and receive a spare Teacher’s Manual absolutely free.

The Annual Primary Tests cover years one, three, four and five. The tests for years four and five are available now from the Teaching Times bookshop: see Year Four here; and Year Five here.

100% money back guarantee

I am sure that you will find the tests are simple to use, pupil-friendly and easy to mark. But if for some reason you’re not happy with them, simply return them and I personally guarantee you a refund on your purchase.

If you would like to order by email, or have a question about the tests, you can email me at Or call me on my direct line at 0121 224 7584.

Don’t forget: you will receive a free extra teacher’s manual, when you order either the Year Four or Year Five tests today.

I look forward to hearing from you.

James Mason
Teaching Times
Tel: 0121 224 7584 | Fax: 0121 224 7598 | Annual Primary Tests

PS Order today to get the complete test pack for either years four or five, plus an additional Teacher’s manual, at no extra cost

‘University Entrance: a parent’s guide to UCAS and more’

by Jonathan Watts & Cora Saint, Price: £19.99

15% discount code – ucas15

Whilst your sixth formers are grappling with summer exams, many of their parents are already looking ahead to the next hurdle – the university application.

Clued up parents realise the summer will be an essential time for their teenager to polish up their CV, start drafting personal statements, and make final decisions about which universities to apply to, and for what courses.

University Entrance: A parent’s guide to UCAS and more’ is a new guide for parents explaining every step of the university application process together with how, and when, parents can offer useful and supportive advice. 

John McParland, Principal, The John Wallis Church of England Academy, says,

“This book will guide parents to help their children make the correct choice of career path, and to be successful in their UCAS application.  I would recommend all schools and colleges with a sixth form to place multiple copies of this book in their libraries.”

With step by step advice about every aspect of applying to university the guide is packed with practical advice for parents and students, including:

  • What is UCAS?  Key dates in the application year
  • What makes an applicant look good on paper?
  • 10 Do’s & Don’ts for a great personal statement
  • Ways to boost your CV
  • How important is choosing the right subject?
  • What to expect in an interview?
  • Preparing to apply for Oxbridge
  • Preparing to apply for Medicine

The guide also doesn’t hesitate to tell parents when to ‘stand down’, and not to try write their teenager’s personal statement!

To order copies using the discount code please click here.

Please pass the discount code and web link – ucas15 – onto your parents.

To see the full range of The Parent Brief books visit

For more information please email: or call 01983301144

What’s the most effective way of ensuring that no new school equipment is “lost”?

It is strange to think that there is a very simple process which, if carried out at the right time, will eliminate the chance of equipment being “lost” from the school premises.

Strange, because not only is it simple but also very low cost – and yet not every school follows the process.

All one has to do – and this is what increasing numbers of schools do each year – is order enough SILVER MARK security labels ready for the new equipment that arrives in September or during the summer break.

Sadly, what does happen in some cases is that the labels are not ordered until after the new equipment has arrived and been put to use – which can of course be a little too late.

ID SILVER MARK are precision cut stencil labels which are ideal for labelling IT equipment (including iPads, tablets, and mobiles) as no one can remove the label without it fragmenting and even if they get peeled off, the UV paint still shows the school name and postcode.

This system is also ideal for tracking equipment if it goes missing. Thus the ID SILVER MARK enables you to protect your valuable equipment with a permanent visual security mark and to keep a record of each item so marked.

Better still, the police and insurance companies have noted that the ID MARK conforms to Home Office Guidelines – by using your school name and postcode as a way of identifying your property, this helps with item recovery in case of theft.

ID SILVER MARK is available in black or silver materials with permanent adhesive. All Dantech asset identification labels are personalised with your school name as well as sequential numbering.

There is more information on our website.

If you would like to know more please do get in touch – we are very happy to discuss your marking requirements throughout the school. Just call Dantech on 01354 688 488 or email us at for free and unbiased help and advice.

Diagnosing dyscalculia is just the start. It is also necessary to identify the type of dyscalculia the student has got.

Research by the Dyscalculia Centre, which has been published in SEN Magazine, has shown that there are five different types of dyscalculia – although inevitably many young people suffer from a combination of the types listed below.

Type 1 dyscalculics report significant worries about maths.  As a result they feel themselves living in an alien world in which everyone else can grasp maths, but they can’t.  Self-doubt becomes so strong that it gets increasingly difficult to persuade the individual that with proper support they might well be able to undertake and understand mathematical calculations.

Type 2 dyscalculics also experience this deep concern but have found strategies for understanding and coping with basic maths – yet they feel that they don’t have the automatic grasp that others have and often take twice as much time (or more) to do a maths problem as a non-dyscalculic person.

Type 3 students have a profound difficulty in comprehending and dealing with the concept of time.  Sometimes this issue appears on its own, sometimes in combination with types 1 or 2 dyscalculia.  For such people time itself makes no sense and they are quite unable to estimate “five minutes” or any other time length while questions about timetables and the like are also quite meaningless.

Type 4 dyscalculics may not always be dyscalculic in the genetic sense, although they display many of the symptoms of dyscalculic people because they have short-term and long-term memory problems.  These students generally have a problem with all sequences – and this, of course, affects their ability to handle maths perhaps more than any other subject.

Type 5 dyscalculics tend not to see numbers as in any way related to the real world.  In one sense most of us have this problem; after all, what is “six”?   We know what six sheep are.  But “six” on its own is close to meaningless.   For such people, maths can be learned automatically, but when it gets to issues such as fractions, decimals, and percentages then life gets difficult.

Fortunately all these types of dyscalculics can be helped through different types of multi-sensory learning of maths, and this is the approach we have set out in our series: “Dyscalculia Activities”

Each volume contains a vast array of activities which a teacher or assistant teacher can undertake with a small group of students, and involves turning the abstract concepts of maths into physical experiences.  No special equipment is needed, apart from paper, scissors, small cards and some ludo type counters.  (We can supply the cards and counters if you don’t already have them).

Each printed volume is copiable, and so only one copy is needed per school.

There are details here including sample pages

If you have any enquiries please do call 01536 399 000 or email

You can place orders on line (there is a link from each of the above resource pages) or you can go straight to the on-line shop here You can also order by post and fax:

  • By post to First and Best, Hamilton House, Earlstrees Ct., Earlstrees Way, Corby, NN17 4HH
  • By fax to 01536 399 012

The Dyscalculia Centre
Hamilton House Mailings
Earlstrees Road
NN17 4HH