Teach Secondary Article


Hot off the latest article for Teach Secondary magazine, around the value of incorporating performance into school.

My thanks to editor Helen Mulley for allowing reproduction, and if you want to know more, details of this and their other magazines and resources are available at:

Read more

Fatso Batso!


Once again, with the government’s new dictum that calories in popular foods must be cut, the issue of childhood obesity is back on the menu.

Like so many aspects of our lives, the focus is on the negative. With this ‘battle’ as with so many others, the tactic is to bring in limitations and regulations for what already exists. First fat was the enemy, then sugar, now just calories in general - and the proffered solution is to try and cap the amount of the enemy in our food rather than look at the bigger picture.

Read more



Recently there seems to have been a flush of television shows, radio programmes and press articles discussing the issue of children’s behaviour. Most of them putting forward the opinion that it is getting worse.

This got me thinking, what do we actually mean when we talk about good behaviour?

Read more

Let Them Eat Cake!


We thought it was bad enough when Mrs Thatcher put an end to free school milk - but now I struggle to think what ordinary sane person can support Mrs May’s proposal to axe free school lunches.

It doesn’t even make economic sense, as the costs of treating those children who are now to subsist without that one wholesome cooked meal inside them every day - not just in childhood, but later on in life when obesity, diabetes and worse catches up with them - must surely outweigh the spend for those meals in the first place.

Read more

It's My Name!


One of our ‘How to Speak Child’ Facebook Community recently alerted me to this post, which highlights a stern rebuke from a teacher to little girl for writing her name in cursive script:

She asked me what I thought about it. Her concerns were primarily around how the teacher conveyed the message.

My reply at the time was as follows:

“Well my first reaction is SHE'S SEVEN YEARS OLD!! I totally agree with you that this is no tone to use, if the girl is a quiet type then it's just food to fuel a lack of confidence, disinterest in learning and limiting self beliefs. If the child is a 'naughty' girl then this is a perfect way to provoke with further ammunition. I know teaching can be frustrating, but when you don't get what you want, you haven't taught it right, and you yourself only learn by asking why. Personally I just don't think shouting at children works. I wonder if the teacher has, ever, asked the child why she persists...gently, without judgement. Find out why there is a problem and you're a whole lot closer to solving the problem.
Since you ask!

Also..I don't really see what the issue says ‘Name’, she wrote her name - it doesn’t say ‘Please Print Name’”

To which the reply came:

“I totally agree. The fact that she writes her name so beautifully. I was never a tidy writer "wrote like a boy" according to some - but that was my way to get things done quick as I felt it was wasting my time! She must have learnt it somewhere and the fact that she has taken pride and time in it shows either a) a love of doing it or b) a fear of not doing it..... either way the way the teacher wrote the comment indicates considerable frustration but I believe not in a beneficial way to instruct the child.... wow.... all of that in little old me! Who'd have thought. It must have hit a nerve!”

Indeed - those put downs you receive in childhood persist through adulthood. The older I get, the more power I see they have. We all carry those judgements of not being good enough, and sadly an awful lot of us pass them on.

Some however are able to shrug them off brilliantly. A friend of mine tells a story of when she first started at school and the teacher handed every pupil in the class a piece of paper and asked them to write their name on it.

This is what my friend did:

Quite justifiably she was most put out when she got into trouble - she’d been following instructions perfectly.

Mel is now an artist and graphic designer… there!