Secondary School open evenings – the application deadline is fast approaching

It’s time to start deciding which secondary school will suit your child best and schedule a few open evenings. You’ve probably got an idea of which schools you plan to look around, but there are a few key pointers to look for beyond the impressive science experiments!

It’s that time of year when secondary schools freshen up their display boards, pick out their best-behaved children and prepare for open evenings.

Here at Boomerang Education, we have put together a few top tips to help you and your child make the right decision and what to look for.

Secondary School open eveningsI

1. Make the most of quizzing the pupils who show you around

Asking pupils can be revealing, here are a few key questions to ask:

  • If they are taught in mixed-ability classes – in all subjects, in some?
  • Are there setting arrangements in the core subjects?
  • What extra-curricular activities are available?

2. Behind the scenes

Schools will want to showcase any newly refurbished buildings or brand-new blocks. But you can get beyond this by asking to have a tour with pupils and asking them to show you behind the scenes and quiz them on everything while you go.

Secondary School open evenings

3. Bring your child to the open evening

Open evenings are not to be missed by your child, the opportunity to visit the school is invaluable. So, go along with your child and gauge their reaction on whether this is an environment in which they’ll thrive.

There will be a lot for your child to take in, so let the visit sink in and see all the secondary school options before having a conversation about what they thought.

Fundamentally it’s about finding the right match for your child.

4. Headteacher’s speech

Listening to the Headteacher’s speech will give you a good feel for the school if you’ve got a good Headteacher everything will flow from their strong leadership. Hearing their vision for the school and gauging if that person will drive the school forward, will give you a good feel for whether it is the right environment for your child.

Make sure he or she is talking about progress and outcomes but equally listen to what else the school offers in terms of sports and the arts. Is the school taking a whole-child approach or is it more focused on the academic achievement?

What strategies have they got to ensure that children learn and achieve well and how do they make their lessons inspiring, engaging and improve progress? Does the speech cover what are they doing with those youngsters who are underachieving, if not ask he or she to explain?

5. The teachers

It’s those inspiring lessons that will have the most impact on your child, good leadership is key but it’s the day-to-day in the classroom experience that will be a key influencer to your child’s future.

Have a chat to the staff on the open evening, are they approachable and do they look and behave professionally?

Parents could legitimately ask about recruitment and retention; how many vacancies are covered by temporary staff and supply teachers?

Secondary School open evenings

6. Visit the secondary school again

It’s worth having a look round on a regular school day, going back when the pupils are going from class to class and moving around the school will give you a good and realistic feel for the school.

7. Don’t forget to apply on time

Deadline dates for places in September 2019 are:
England – 31 October 2018
Wales – 30 November 2018
Northern Ireland – February 2019
Scotland – local authorities must advertise places six months before the start of term

Find out more at https://www.gov.uk/schools-admissions

Stress Awareness Month 2018: 3 Stress-Busting Tips

It’s Stress Awareness Month so what better time to share 3 of our favourite stress-busting tips with you?

We’ve tried to include tips that may not immediately come to mind when trying to reduce stress in the classroom – these will work for teachers and students alike…

1) …Don’t be afraid to say no

This one’s pretty self-explanatory.

Sometimes it’s all to easy to agree to taking on additional work or bringing deadlines forward but this is not good for your stress levels.

If you won’t be able to give the best version of yourself and fully commit to a heavier workload, you’re much better off saying no – without guilt!

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2) …Try switching off your phone

Most of us are probably addicted to tech these days and smart phones certainly make life easier. However if you’re feeling over-tired and struggle to unwind at the end of the day, a ‘digital detox’ won’t hurt.

It doesn’t need to be anything drastic but cutting back on screen time could make a significant difference to your stress levels.

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3) …Read up on growth mindset

Sometimes all it takes is a new way of looking at potentially stressful situations – have you heard of Carol Dweck’s growth mindset philosophy?

Adopting this approach should help you to tackle new challenges and you won’t place so much pressure on yourself to get things right first time. We’ll be including growth mindset tips for the second time in our school planners to show our support for this philosophy.

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What do you think of our stress-busting tips? Have you got any to add to our list in honour of Stress Awareness Month 2018?

Let us know by leaving a comment below, or dropping us a quick tweet 🙂

The Boomerang Team.

Remembering Stephen Hawking: 10 Famous Quotes

In tribute to the utterly exceptional Stephen Hawking, we’ve pulled together just a few of our favourite quotes:

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.”

10 Stephen Hawking Quotes We'll Remember - stars

 “However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.”

10 Stephen Hawking Quotes We'll Remember

 “Although I cannot move and I have to speak through a computer, in my mind I am free.”

10 Stephen Hawking Quotes We'll Remember - freedom

“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.”

10 Stephen Hawking Quotes We'll Remember - earth

“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”

10 Stephen Hawking Quotes We'll Remember - not afraid of death

“Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking…with the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.”

10 Stephen Hawking Quotes We'll Remember - let's talk

“We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.”

10 Stephen Hawking Quotes We'll Remember - crowded

“I am just a child who has never grown up. I still keep asking these ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. Occasionally, I find an answer.”

10 Stephen Hawking Quotes We'll Remember - child

“My ideal role would be a baddie in a James Bond film. I think the wheelchair and the computer voice would fit the part.”

10 Stephen Hawking Quotes We'll Remember - james bond

“Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny”

10 Stephen Hawking Quotes We'll Remember - smile

Let us know if we’ve missed any of your favourites!

Will you be discussing the impact of Stephen Hawking in the classroom? Drop us a tweet here.

The Boomerang Team.

Happy World Book Day 2018! Here’s What We’re Reading This Week

To show our appreciation for World Book Day 2018, we’ve put together a list of some of our favourites – we encourage you to do the same!

So what are we reading at the moment?

Take a look at the 10 books below – courtesy of your lovely Boomerang team 🙂

1) Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz (2003)

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Find out more here.

2) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)

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Find out more here.

3) The House by the Sea by Santa Montefiore (2011)

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Find out more here.

4) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany (2016)

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Find out more here.

5) All the Strange Hours, Loren Eiseley (1975)

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Find out more here.

6) Fantastic Mr Fox, Roald Dahl (1970)

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Find out more here.

7) The Last Wish, Andrzej Sapkowski (1993)

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Find out more here.

8) Sea of Lost Love, Santa Montefiore (2007)

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Find out more here.

9) I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Roisin Meaney (2015)

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Find out more here.

10) The Astounding Broccoli Boy, Frank Cottrell Boyce (2015)

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Find out more here.

Over to you:

Your turn!

What are you reading this week?

Tweet @BoomEdLtd and let us know 🙂

The Boomerang Team.

Christmas Films We’re Watching: Family Friendly

With schools breaking up over the next few days, we thought you might be looking for a good old-fashioned Christmas film to keep the kids entertained (for a couple of hours at least).

This list of Christmas films we’re watching is aimed predominantly at the primary age group but of course can be enjoyed by all ages 🙂

Elf (2003)

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Watch the trailer here.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

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Watch the trailer here.

Jingle All The Way (1996)

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Watch the trailer here.

Nativity! (2009)

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Watch the trailer here.

Dr Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

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Watch the trailer here.

Arthur Christmas (2011)

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Watch the trailer here.

Polar Express (2004)

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Watch the trailer here.

Home Alone (1990)

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Watch the trailer here.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

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Watch the trailer here.

Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

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Watch the trailer here.

Frozen (2013)

Not technically a Christmas film but it does a great job of capturing that feel-good festive feeling and hey, there’s snow!

christmas-films-we're-watching-frozen

Watch the trailer here.

Over to you!

We’ve given you our list of Christmas films we’re watching with the family this December – now it’s your turn! Which films would you add to the list?

Tweet @BoomEdLtd and let us know 🙂

Merry Christmas!

The Boomerang Team.

A Few End of Term Ideas to Help Keep Pupils Focused

As the end of term fast approaches, we’ve put together a few classroom ideas to (hopefully) help with student concentration levels in those last few days…

Musical chairs:

end-of-term-classroom

At the beginning of the lesson, try asking pupils to move to another area of the room and switch seats.

A change of perspective combined with a bit of movement can be a simple but effective way of keeping students alert.

The art of letter-writing:

end-of-term-letter

If you’re looking for a quieter classroom activity, why not ask students to write a short letter to themselves, reviewing the term/year and making a New Year’s resolution?

Encouraging this type of self-reflection can be a beneficial way of rounding up the year and a resolution should help with motivation too.

What have you learnt?

end-of-term-book

The often-dreaded question…however it will certainly boost concentration levels towards the end of term.

At the beginning of the lesson, tell students that they will need to tell you one thing they have learnt before they leave.

Branch out from the usual:

end-of-term-question

Sometimes the change of pace of adding a broader or more general question into the mix can help to keep pupils engaged on the lesson subject matter.

For instance, you could broaden a literary question about a set text by applying it to a recent film or television programme.

Over to you:

We’d love to hear your end of term classroom ideas for both primary and secondary – just leave a comment below or drop us a tweet 🙂

The Boomerang Team.

Oodles! We’ve Just Launched A Brand New Website for Young People

Researching and reviewing the exciting new ‘What’s Next’ content for our school planners got us thinking that young people need somewhere that pulls together and builds on all of these useful resources.

We had so much to say about study options, student finance and youth opportunities that it wouldn’t all fit in our school planners!

This is where Oodles of Info! comes in…

What is Oodles?

Think of Oodles of Info! as a sort of one-stop-shop for young people. At the moment, our brand new website covers 3 main subject areas: youth opportunities, education options and student finance – with plans to expand to include even more beneficial content.

Oodles builds on the content in this year’s homework diaries, from exciting challenges and opportunities, to help with making important decisions about education and career options in school.

Written and designed entirely with students with in mind, this website is somewhere that young people can access quickly and easily, to help them as they start to think about their futures.

oodles-home

What’s Next? Planning for the future:

We’ve already added lots of new content to our What’s Next section because we know that students have so many questions about career options, study alternatives, entry requirements and much more.

Our live chat team are busy responding to the daily enquiries coming through from students so we know we’re onto a winner here!

oodles-gcse-info

Student opportunities:

The Opportunities area of the website showcases the range of competitions and challenges available to young people in the UK. We’ve also included work experience opportunities and youth programmes.

The opportunities available cover a variety of subjects and promote all sorts of skills, so students will be certainly be able to find something that appeals to their interests.

oodles-opportunities

Money, money, money:

Getting young people interested in Finance isn’t always easy, which is why Oodles brings together handy money-saving tips that young people can directly apply to their own lives.

Students thinking about higher education will be able to find clear information on student finance, maintenance loans and the general costs of going to university.

oodles-travel

See for yourself:

Why not encourage your pupils to take a look at the site and see if we’re getting it right? Or have a look around yourself!

We’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂

The Boomerang Team.

National Stress Awareness Day 2018 – 5 Ways To Manage Stress

It’s National Stress Awareness Day 2018 and we’ve put together a few stress-busting tips for you to pass onto students.

Stress comes in all shapes and sizes and pupils will handle it in their own way, which is why the following are five suggestions and may work differently from person to person.

1) Encourage mistakes

Mistakes are a vital part of the learning and development process but lots of students are afraid to get things wrong.

The best way to counter this is to show them that mistakes are important and not the be-all and end-all.

Encourage students to reflect on mistakes with questions such as, ‘What could I have done differently?’ ‘What worked well?’

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2) Time management

It’s no surprise that pupils get stressed if they think they’re running out of time to complete homework tasks. Promoting time management techniques should help them to focus.

Try promoting the use of homework planners to break tasks down into manageable chunks and plan ahead.

Be sure to remind them to allow plenty of time for study breaks, sleep and extra-curricular activities!

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3) Improve understanding

It’s important that students are aware that stress is part of daily life and to be able to recognise the signs in themselves.

This could help them to seek advice if needed and to stay on top of things.

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4) Exercise

You probably already know that exercise can be hugely beneficial for mental health, due to the endorphin release.

Encourage your students to set aside some time each week for moderate exercise and they should feel the benefits in no time.

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5) Look after yourself

This last point is surprisingly easy to forget.

As teachers, you will be used to putting your students first but don’t forget about your own well-being.

One of the best ways to help pupils manage stress and anxiety is to lead by example. So make sure you take breaks from work, reflect on your own mistakes and spend time doing the things you love!

national-stress-awareness-day-2018-teacher

Have you got any other tips for encouraging a positive mindset in students? Have you been doing anything in school in honour of National Stress Awareness Day 2018?

Let us know by leaving a comment below, or dropping us a quick tweet 🙂

The Boomerang Team.

Internet Safety: Britain the Safest Place in the World to be Online

The UK government is cracking down on Internet safety, Britain hopes to become the safest place in the world to be online!

So how has this come about we hear you ask?

Well it’s all due to new proposals announced today by Culture Secretary Karen Bradley.

Internet safety strategy explained

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The Government’s Internet Safety Strategy proposes to target online dangers like cyber-bullying, trolling and under-age access to pornographic material through:

  • A new social media code of practice – addressing bullying, intimidating or humiliating online content.
  • An industry-wide tax – companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google will contribute to raise awareness and counter Internet harms.​
  • An annual Internet safety transparency report – showing progress on addressing abusive and harmful content and behaviour.
  • Support for tech/digital startups to focus on safety first – ensuring necessary safety features are built into apps and products from the beginning.
  • New compulsory school subjects – Relationship Education at primary and Relationship & Sex Education at secondary to provide Internet safety education.
  • Social media safety advice – government will encourage social media companies to offer safety advice and tools to parents.

What’s the aim of all this?

Internet-safety-girl

In the past year, nearly one fifth of 12-15 year olds came across something online that they ‘found worrying or nasty in some way.’

Nearly half of adult users also say they have seen something that has upset or offended them on social media. It goes without saying that something needs to be done here.

It’s not all bad though and the Internet Safety Green Paper aims to tackle the growing dangers, as well as embrace the benefits and opportunities the Internet brings.

The strategy sets out the government’s ambition to create a strong framework which can tackle online harms.

The government also aims to highlight the crucial role that education will play in raising online safety awareness, with a particular focus on children and parents.

Over to you!

Do you think enough is being done? Let us know with a quick tweet or message – we’d love to hear from you!

The Boomerang Team.

Tuition Fees Update: Saving Us Money?

We’re getting a bit political with this week’s blog post and discussing Prime Minister Theresa May’s pledge at the Conservative party conference.

Let’s get into it!

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Tuition Fees: what’s changed?

Well, Theresa May has pledged to save individual students up to £15,700 over the course of their working lives by raising the threshold for university tuition fee repayments.

Currently, the repayment threshold stands at £21,000. This means that university students need to start repaying their tuition fee loans once they reach a salary of £21K.

It’s now been proposed that this threshold will rise to £25,000 per year instead for students, as of next year. We don’t have all the details yet but it is believed that this new threshold increase will only apply to university students who attended from 2012 onwards.

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May has also announced the cancellation of plans to increase university tuition fees from £9,250 to over £9,500.

Fees will be ‘frozen’ to remain at the current amount.

So what does this mean for students?

Typically, this will mean that graduates will pay back, on average, £15,700 less over the 30 years before unpaid loans are written off.

It has been estimated that 83% of graduates will not need to pay back all of their debts.

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Can the government afford these changes?

This is certainly up for debate…

The IFS (Institute for Fiscal Studies) warns that long-term government costs will increase by over 40% as a result of the changes to student finance.

Overall, it is thought that the changes will cost the government an extra £1.2 billion between 2018-19 and that this will increase year on year.

The question many are now asking is, how much will this cost taxpayers?

More changes could be on the way over the next few months, as the government plans to look at the entire student finance system.

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We’d love to hear your thoughts on the latest changes! Drop us a tweet or leave a comment below.

The Boomerang Team.