19 May 2017

Time for Exams...

As examination season falls upon us, it is normal for many teenagers and students to feel stressed and under pressure - the pressure often inadvertently coming from the family. The BBC have produced tips on how parents can help children through the anxiety. It can be an equally anxious time for parents - this report indicates that it affects 24% of parents' own mental health. Positive Parenting Project founder, Anita, suggests that creating an environment that is conducive to learning and adopting a positive approach will go a long way in supporting children. There is a useful guide by Student Minds on helping control exam stress.

Childline have an innovative Art Box for expressing feelings and games to help students relax. Meditation is also becoming a popular form of relaxation. MindSpace have created various resources including one-minute podcasts on tackling various issues including anxiety - providing useful introductions to meditation and mindfulness.

12 May 2017

Improving and evaluating performance with the PSS

The Public Sector Scorecard (PSS) is used to measure a number of critical success factors for performance management and improvement in the public and third sectors. An article has recently been published, highlighting the fact that although several research papers have been published describing the problems and pitfalls of public sector performance management, few have offered a solution. 

Here, a case study approach is used to take an in-depth look at the UK Ethnic Minority Employment Task Force and for Sheffield Let’s Change4Life, to address and evaluate child obesity using the PSS. 
An innovative outcome of this study, was the use of a combination of the PSS and the Theory of Planned Behaviour for the evaluation. 

4 April 2017


Interesting article by the Guardian looking at the countries where babies cry the most and least; sadly, Canada, Italy and the UK did not fare well; Denmark, on the other hand, were top of the table for the happiest babies. Coincidentally, the Danish regularly top the chart for being happiest people in the world too ... The question is why?

According to the authors of a new book, The Danish Way of Parenting, it is all down to a happy upbringing and the book contains plenty of practical suggestions; one example is an easy-to-remember acronym for 'Parent' - 'Play', 'Authenticity', 'Reframing', 'Empathy', 'No ultimatums' and 'Togetherness'. Danish policies are also geared toward supporting the family unit; the first year of a child's life is considered of utmost importance, so maternity and paternity leave is generous. There is an emphasis on free play and to accommodate this, school finishes at 2pm for children under the age of ten.

As the author reveals, to discover the way Danish children are nurtured, one has to look beyond parenting and to the very heart of Danish culture. 'Togetherness' or the concept of hygge is ingrained into the Danish psyche and is about making time for families to spend time together. No grand plans required - simply lighting some candles, playing games and singing are popular pastimes...

29 March 2017

Behaviour Management

Poor pupil behaviour in schools has come under the spotlight this past week, following the publication of a  new report by behaviour expert, Tom Bennett. He spent several months meeting classroom teachers and leaders from a variety of schools, trying to identify successful strategies used to tackle disruptive behaviour; he concluded that poor behaviour in schools is not being taken seriously and the extent of the problem has been underestimated by Ofsted. 

His suggestion for funding to provide internal inclusion units to deal with troubled pupils has been widely welcomed. The report also includes case studies of behaviour management practices in improved schools, now rated outstanding. The government has responded to the report by setting out a number of measures to take forward.

24 March 2017

In the news ... Care Homes

This week, a Panorama investigation found that care firms have cancelled contracts with 95 UK councils, due to a shortfall in funding for the services they are expected to deliver. Many home care companies say their biggest problem is recruitment and retention of carers, which has had a knock-on effect with bed-blocking in hospitals; more than 6,500 elderly people are stuck in an acute hospital bed despite being well enough to leave. With demand growing, it is estimated that at least two million more carers will be needed by 2025 in England alone, in both in-home care and care homes. 

The Panorama episode aired on this topic can be viewed onlineThis video gives an overview of the upcoming changes to the social care common inspection framework coming into play in April and the future of social care inspections is discussed here.

24 February 2017

News: Early Years

A recent survey by Save the Children showed that more than a third of parents in England with children under five, don’t know whether their nursery employs qualified early years teachers. They have also produced a briefing paper setting out the impact that a lack of support for children in their early years can have on later attainment; it states that children who do not reach a desirable level of development at the end of the EYFS, are at risk of not reaching expected standards in English and maths by the time they finish primary school. 

In contrast, an LSE study has found that graduate nursery staff make only a small impact on children's attainment, which contradicts earlier research, stating that it is crucial for every nursery in England to have a qualified early years teacher.

As plans are rolled out offering 30 free hours of childcare to eligible families from September, a poll carried out by the Family and Childcare Trust has found that local authorities have concerns regarding the new policy: whether some childcare providers would offer the increased provision and that the change may result in higher fees for additional care.

The Government is also encouraging existing volunteer-led initiatives in early years and youth work, to apply for a portion of a £2m pot of funding to help them expand.