Monday, 4 May 2009

Bad Behaviour in class

Q: My son is eight years old and he is in year four at school. Since returning to school in September he has not been doing his work in class and is constantly asking silly questions. He is in the top classes but is not bright enough for the work being set. He doesn't listen to his teachers in any lessons, he is disruptive and lazy. His teacher is new and is getting quite frustrated with him. I have punished him at home in every way I can. What can I do now?Claire, Surrey

A: Dear Claire,Could your son be seeking attention through his bad behaviour? Positive reinforcement - both at home and in school - can be a very effective way of turning around poor behaviour. There's an article about it on the School Gate site - click on Parenting for good behaviour. Positive reinforcement involves trying not to point out ANY bad things he does, and to highlight instead things (however trivial) which he's done well - easy to say, but hard for the adult to do. Age eight to nine is a good time to try this - certainly the younger the child is when you adopt this approach, the better. If it works (and it can be dramatically effective) it will simply become a way of life for you both. This is an approach often favoured by schools too. It may be worth chatting to the teacher - and to the head teacher - if you're going down the positive reinforcement route. Your son's lack of concentration in class suggests that he might be finding the work too easy or too difficult. It would be a good idea to meet with his teacher to get an idea of the work he will be doing in the next weeks. You could then sit with your son to prepare him for his next lessons, going over the new information and suggesting questions for him to ask.Good luck - we hope this helps.

Big Brother and Little Britain 'fuelling bad behaviour in schools'

Televisions should be banned from children's bedrooms by parents because programmes such as Big Brother and Little Britain encourage bad behaviour in schools, teachers' leaders claim.

By Graeme Paton, Education Editor Last Updated: 4:13PM BST 30 Mar 2009
Unsupervised access to TV is leading to a rise in pupils mimicking catchphrases, swearing, storming out of classrooms and answering back, they have warned.
Teachers said EastEnders, The Catherine Tate Show and Hollyoaks were also among the worst influences on young people.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, urged parents to control children's access to inappropriate programmes and stop them "living an isolated existence" in front of the TV.
She said a rise in the number of children with their own TVs was leading to the death conversation in the home and a decline in children's social skills.
Many young people are also "eating TV a dinner" in their rooms instead of sharing family meals, she added.
"Children are coming to school at four and five and they don't know how to have a conversation - their speaking skills are very, very poor," she said. "I do think that the programme makers have a responsibility to think about the effect of these programmes on children [but] I think the bigger responsibility is to the parents.
"More children and young people have TVs in their own bedrooms now, and it is difficult for parents to supervise what they're watching. Parents have a real responsibility here - if it's downstairs it is much more likely that a parent has some idea of what's being watched."
A survey of 800 staff by the ATL found that the vast majority believed TV programmes containing bad behaviour had a negative effect on the behaviour of pupils.
The union warned that access to inappropriate TV was turning children into "Vicky Pollards" - the Little Britain character known for her "Yeah-but, no-but" catchphrase.
Two thirds of those questioned said Big Brother was a bad influence on children's behaviour. Some 61 per cent named Little Britain and 43 per cent picked out EastEnders.
One primary school teacher from Kent told researchers that a pupil bright a knife into a lesson after watching a scene from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Others reported children mimicking guests on the ITV daytime show Jeremy Kyle, including pupils "screaming at each other" and storming out of classrooms. It follows comments from a judge who famously branded the programme "human bear-baiting" after a guest headbutted another man on the show.
Teachers also told of a rise in pupils mimicking the catchphrases "Whatev-ah" and "Am I bovvered" from The Catherine Tate Show.
They also said some music videos - including those from American rappers - gave boys "an unrealistic outlook on females as sexual objects".
In total, 88 per cent of school staff said TV led to general rudeness among children, such as answering back, mimicking and using retorts or catchphrases. Three quarters reported a rise in aggressive behaviour.

Knife Crime on the rise

Police question man over stabbing of break-in teenager

Detectives arrest 22-year-old on suspicion of murder after death of 17-year-old in Nottingham
Martin Wainwright and Haroon Siddique, Sunday 15 March 2009 16.04 GMT
Article history
Police were today questioning a man arrested on suspicion of murder after a teenager broke into a house and was stabbed to death.
Detectives were given extra time to hold the 22-year-old after another man in his twenties and four youths in their teens were released following two days of questioning.
The youth, who was named today as Tyler Peter Juett, 17, from Aspley in Nottingham, was found dying at the semi-detached house on the Heathfield estate in the city's Old Basford area on Friday afternoon. The exact circumstances of what happened remained unclear today but it is understood that he was confronted by a man at the property.
A postmortem examination carried out yesterday showed Juett died from a stab wound.
A broken garden fence and smashed patio door were still visible at the house today, which remained cordoned off as forensic officers conducted a search. Neighbours described the couple who live at the house as "good people", originally from Jamaica.
Nottinghamshire police said attempted burglary was a line of inquiry, although the incident happened in the early afternoon when the house was occupied. Emergency services responded to a call from the house at 2pm on Friday and Juett was taken to the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, where he died soon afterwards. Neighbours also dialled 999 to report a disturbance, as someone inside confronted Juett.
A police spokesman said: "In an effort to establish the circumstances which led up to this death, we would ask anyone who was in and around Heathfield Road at 2pm on March 13 to cast their minds back to see if they can remember anyone acting suspiciously."
Police patrols were stepped up in Old Basford as detectives continued house-to-house inquiries. Officers were also planning to examine CCTV footage from the area. The estate has seen several burglaries recently and the couple from the house helped out a neighbour who was targeted. Fazal Khan, 33, a computer technician, said: "They are good people who live in that house. They are very cooperative and nice.
"When somebody broke into our house the lady came round because we were not at home and called the police, and the police called my wife and she came home.
"This time, we heard there had been a burglary and when we came down here the police had blocked it off all the way. My wife was here and the police told her that the house had been burgled."
Khan said the area was "70-80% nice" but had recently been plagued by vandalism, with garden shrubs and fences set on fire and youths breaking windows.
Nottingham residents are at the most risk of burglary in the UK, with levels 63% above the national average, according to a table produced by Endsleigh Insurance last year. In 2006, the city was named the crime capital of the UK by the thinktank Reform, although officials in Nottingham claimed the study was flawed.

Crime figures show rise in theft as recession bites
Overall crime down 4% but 'snatch and steal' robberies spike by 25%

Alan Travis, home affairs editor, Thursday 23 April 2009 11.00 BST
Article history

An unexpected 25% surge in personal thefts and a 4% increase in burglaries are recorded in the first set of official quarterly crime figures since the economic recession took hold.
A worrying rise in what the Home Office calls "stealth and snatch thefts" is accompanied by a 5% increase in robberies at knifepoint, according to the police-recorded crime figures published today comparing October to December 2008 with the same period in 2007.
The figures show a 16% drop in gun crime and a fall in the number of people stabbed to death from 59 to 52 over the same period. They record that the increase in robberies at knifepoint occurred within the context of an overall 2% fall in the total number of street robberies.
Overall there was a 4% drop in offences recorded by the police. The British Crime Survey, which is based on a survey of 40,000 people's experience of crime, shows that the volume of all types of offences , including violent crime, remained broadly stable during 2008.
The figures contain the first confirmation of Home Office projections that the economic recession and rise in unemployment are likely to be accompanied by an increase in some types of crime, particularly involving theft of property and burglary. The 4% rise in burglary, including domestic burglary, last winter comes on top of a similar increase between July and September and marks the end of a sustained 55% decline in burglary since the mid-1990s.
Home Office statisticians said the 25% rise in personal thefts reported by the British Crime Survey was statistically significant but it was too early to say whether it indicated a change in recent trends. They pointed out that it was not reflected in the police crime figures or other BCS categories of personal acquisitive crime.
The Association of Police Authorities described it as a "worrying development" that would be closely monitored so that any correlation with the economic downturn could be established and action taken.
The Home Office minister Vernon Coaker said: "We know that we are facing some new challenges now and are focusing our experience and knowledge to tackle these head-on." He said ministers were already working with police, charities, DIY stores and insurers to target repeat burglars and help people secure their homes.
The rise in personal thefts was accompanied by falling rates of violent crime, robbery, sexual offences and gun crime, Coaker said.


Kids face all sorts of pressures and it may be that your child is in contact with friends who carry knives. The chances are your child has talked about knives with friends or heard a story about the kid who carried a knife. Whilst many young people do not carry knives – it is still a conversation worth having with your child.
You have a role to play in helping your child make the right choice on this subject. If there is one person your child will listen to, it’s you. They respect you more than you think.
These pages hold practical advice for parents/ carers on what they can do to reduce the likelihood of a child carrying a knife. We aim to give some pointers on what to look for, how to raise the subject and who to contact if you need more help.
As part of this campaign we have talked to a lot of young people about knives. We have also interviewed some young people who felt they needed to carry knives but then decided against it. To give you an idea of some of the issues young people face we have written up some true case studies. Below Ian, 16, talks of his hopes for the future and how the love and respect he has for his mum has guided him.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Norwood Girls School- workshop no1

Norwood Girls School - Brixton - 30th April - 1.00-4.00pm

Last week myself and Monsay were asked to attend another class with BOT at the Norwood Girl School. The group were looking at the play called 'Little Sweet Thing' by Roy Williams and we were asked to perform a scene from it. Monsay had recently performed in a production of this play so she had a great understanding of it. They chose for us to work on a scene between a student and a teacher so they could look at the relationship and discuss it in the session. The section was from page 68- 74 where the teacher Miss Jules has stopped a fight between Tash and another girl. I took the role of Miss Jules, as we had realised earlier on that i was good at authority roles and Monsay was good at being the victim, the person who was being oppressed as the audience could relate to her more. On Wednesday, myself and Monsay met with Zeph, who is one of the facilitators for this group, so he could help direct us in the scene. He guided us with the staging and with the true intentions of each character. It really helped having a direct present as he was able to see what worked and what didn't work, and also gave us confidence. Also before the session we met up with the other facilitator for Norwood, Sheila Preston, who used to work at St Marys University, but now works at Central School of Speech and Drama. She was very friendly and helpful and was looking forward to what we had prepared for the session.

The workshop:

I have to be honest, i was very tired before the session, as I had gotten up at 6am to go to the COLA workshop and was exhausted for the rest of the day. But when we entered the ask i immediately woke up. The girls welcomed us in straight away, all acknowledged us and said hello. There are eight girls in the class, all black. We introduced ourselves and what we were doing, and instantly they said they liked Monsays voice and what she was wearing. They connected straight away with Monsay as Monsay grew up in North London and has a similar background and lifestyle to them. I on the other hand have no similar grounds with them, except that I'm a woman studying drama!

We all checked in, and this time i noticed some low numbers in the group. Most of them didn't want to give an explanation why, just simply said that's how they feel.

To warm up we started off with a name game called 'Budge', where you all sit in a circle, before leaving your chair you have to say someones name and 'budge' then walk towards them. They then need to say someones name to be saved. If you don't say someones name before the person gets to you then your out, and if you leave your chair without saying the name first you're also out. The game was fun and as there was lots of pressure, it helped me to remember peoples names. Zeph then introduced the 'Blind Bottle' game, which was enjoyed by all.

The class was half way through reading Little Sweet Thing, so we continued reading until it got to the scene me and Monsay had worked on. We performed the scene to the class and the response we got was great. They responded well to Monsay's character Tash as they saw a softer side to her and realised she's just in a bad place at the moment. They really liked seeing the relationship between Miss Jules and Tash come alive. It fleshed out the characters for them and it gave them an illustration of the scene to feed off rather than just seeing it as a text. We were then asked to be hot seated, which we weren't prepared for! Monsay went first as Tash. She really captured the essence of Tash and stayed in character throughout. The girls said they learnt a lot about Tash which helped their understanding of the play. Then it was my turn as Miss Jules. I didn't know the background of the play or the character so i just had to think about how i portrayed the character in the scene and work off that. I feel i answered the questions well and i gave a fair outline of Miss Jules. The class were great at asking questions and they were all eager to find out more. The hot seating allowed for them to be experts on the play and ask questions about situations that came before of after the scene. They completely took ownership of the play.

We then continued to read on. I noticed that only three or four members of the class were enthusiastic about reading. Sheila told us that last week a lot more of them read, but maybe they felt a bit shy in front of new people and they may have felt some pressure into reading at a high standard. During the reading, if they don't understand what is happening they will stop and ask Sheila to explain. They will also offer up their own interpretations of the scene and characters. Towards the end of the session some of the girls were becoming quite restless and distracted and started becoming disruptive during the readings.

The group is quite competitive and aren't afraid to say what they are feeling and what they think. The group have calmed down a lot from when they first started out, but there are still some boisterous girls in the class, and you can tell who they are straight away! The group did start off with eleven, but they all selected out as they weren't interested in it. The sessions aren't for everyone and you have to be ready to change and work hard in them. I felt i bonded quite well with the group and me and Monsay were very pleased with the outcome of our work. The group really liked us being there too and have asked us to come back next week. I guess its nice for them to have a change in the group so everything seems fresh and doesn't become stale and boring for them. I really look forward to next weeks session with them., even if i will be very very tired!

Friday, 1 May 2009

Credited Drama Group workshop No 2

Credited Drama Group - Oval House Theatre - 29th April - 5pm-7.30pm

I felt so nervous about leading the workshop today. I find it hard to talk to large groups and give instructions as i get tongue-tied and stumble on my words. I am not a confident talker, i hate speaking on phones to anyone other than friends and family. I panic if its someone else and what they say doesn't go in. My hearing isn't that great so i normally have to ask someone to repeat what they have said. i find it especially hard with names, especially ones from different cultures and religions. But from today's session my confidence is improving as I'm starting to get to know the students more, which puts me at ease.

First of all we went round the circle several times saying our names to remind ourselves of them. I than told the group that we would play the zombie name game, but my instruction weren't obviously clear enough and some people thought it was the other zombie game. Once that was cleared up we began the game, which went well. Its very important to start any drama workshop with games as it warms your body up for the activities ahead and helps get the group relaxed and comfortable with each other. This is what the Pupil Referral Unit group didn't understand, that for them to devise drama, they need to start with a warm up and games. They obviously saw it quite childish and they didn't want to be treated that way.

I then introduced the game 'Cat and Mouse'. Only a few people knew the rules to the game so i performed a demonstration with someone form the group. I made sure the rules were clear this time and that everyone knew how to play. The game went really well, everyone participated and had fun. We didn't have time for the last game i had planned, which was 'Chair Cover' as we had to stop for the break.

For the improvisation, myself and Monsay decided we would follow on from last weeks session on mine. We gave each group a scenario and we wanted them to devise a scene, with a clear beginning, middle and end, all in mime, but also looking at using fast and slow motion mime; decide where and what to apply the mime to in your scene and really looking at the detail of each action and make each action big and exaggerated.

The scenarios were:

A family barbeque

Sports day/ Olympics

Running late to catch a flight

A canteen

Again, my instructions were slightly unclear as i was nervous, but I made sure everyone was clear once i had set up the task. We gave them five minutes to devise a scene. I wondered if they should have had longer to devise as they could have focused a lot more on the mime sections without panicking about the time. Does pressure produce good work? Does a short time to devise help the quality of work? Or would a longer period help with the clarity of the work by producing a polished piece.

I was really impressed with the quality of work presented. Each group really thought about where they would have the mime sequence in their piece and how they would use it. For the group who were 'running late for a flight', they were in a rush throughout the whole scene and came across lots of obstacles that were slowing down, but at the moment where they were allowed to rush and run to board the flight, they chose to run in slow motion. I felt this was very clever, showing the irony of being in a rush and fighting to run fast, but showing it in slow motion. Their facial expressions showed it all, their frustration and anxiety about missing the flight. The group who devised a piece around 'sports day/Olympics' started off very unclear and actions were made unnecessarily, but when they finally got to the race it all became clear. The two boys started the race in slow motion, one of them was very precise in his slow motion mime and the other boy was very expressional and exaggerated all of his movements. They then surprised us by cleverly showing how one person was winning the race: by having the other boy running backwards and the other run forwards. This created a great dynamic to the piece which was helped by their chosen staging. For each piece i tried to give worthwhile feedback that praised their work but also gave a small amount of criticism or something that they could add to for next time.

From observing the group I can see that they have bonded really well. Its a massive difference from the Pupil Referral Unit we worked with, unsuccessfully, the other day. The main difference is that these students want to be here to learn more about drama and to achieve high marks from it. The group support each other and works well as a team. The facilitators are also very supportive of their work and push them to work harder so they can achieve their grades.

Monsay took the supporting role in the workshop today as she also was a bit nervous about giving instructions. So i was the main leader and speaker throughout the workshop. We agreed that next week, before the session we would decide on what games Monsay could lead and what parts she could speak so then the workshop shop is led by both of us.

City Of London Academy workshop No.2

COLA workshop - Bermondsey - 30th April - 8am - 10.30am

I thoroughly enjoy working with the COLA boys in the morning, they participate well in the games and the devising, also their behaviour and attitudes towards the class are positive, but i do understand it has taken them a while to get to this stage. They have been very welcoming to us and they enjoy us being there.

Today we had two boys missing, one of which we haven't met before. We were introduced to a boy who missed last weeks session, who we noticed is quite disruptive in the class. We were told that he only attends a few sessions when he feels like it, and he is still unsure about the whole thing, but his behaviour has improved from his first few sessions. I noticed he found it hard taking in instructions and listening to what is being said by Karen and by the other students.

We started the session with the check-in and everyone gave quite high numbers so the group was feeling very positive today. First of all we played a game called 'Animal Kingdom'. We all had to sit in a line facing outwards and each of us was given an animal, a noise and an action. The animals were given out in order relating to the animal kingdom, ie, a lion being the highest and a mouse being the lowest. One person stands up and does their noise and action, then performs someone else's noise and action, the turn then passes to that person. If you are too slow or get the noise/action wrong then you move to the end of the line and you become the lowest animal. This game required their full concentration and their memory skills as it was easy to forget someones actions for their animal. Everyone really enjoyed this game, especially me!

The next game that was introduced was 'Blind Bottle', where a bottle is placed in the middle of a circle and someone, with their eyes closed, has to try and pick it up. This game is about memory skills, calculating the distance between where you are standing and the bottle. This game worked so well the class wanted to play it again.

As there were two boys in the class who had missed last weeks session, we decided to work on similar scenes as last week, with me and Monsay showing our piece again. The group produced some fantastic work. Two of the boys are so committed and energetic and they really love drama, they even prepared two epic sketches for us. The session really puts them in a good mood for the rest of the day and helps them in their lessons.

After the two groups had shown us their pieces, myself and Monsay performed our piece again about the teacher and student. We performed it through once and then applied the 'feeling angels' to it. This time two of the boys were the angels. Karen stopped us each time we got to a significant point where the feelings and emotions had changed. The group worked well identifying the feelings. Unfortunately we ran out of time so agreed to continue it next week.

They were all engaged with the work and contributed well to the tasks. We all felt the session ended too quickly as we were all enjoying the session and engrossed in the work. You can definitely see that the students benefit from these sessions. We learnt that another one of the boys who opted out of the session a few months ago is doing really well and has not been in trouble since. The system works!!

One important lessions we learnt today was that you shouldn't make the assumption that they know the game. Always go through the rules clearly so that everyone understand. This will help me when giving instruction next week for all the classes.