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Promoting Literacy in School Libraries in Sierra Leone

Posted by on Dec 17, 2017 in UK Schools | Comments Off on Promoting Literacy in School Libraries in Sierra Leone

INTRODUCTION

The heart of information literacy is contained within definitions used to describe it. Traditionally librarians have given ‘library induction’ or ‘library skills training’ in a limited role. Library users need to know where the catalogue is, what the services are, and most importantly where the enquiry desk is. This is not to reduce the value of traditional library induction, but libraries and information are also changing. The provision of information through a library in a traditional form has gone through radical alterations. Already in most library and information organisations staffs are adjusting their services with the provision of new media and access to information provision within these organisations. Thus librarians are talking about social inclusion, opportunity, life-long learning, information society and self development.

A plethora of definitions for information literacy abound in books, journal papers and the web. Some of these definitions centre on the activities of information literacy i.e. identifying the skills needed for successful literate functioning. Other definitions are based on the perspective of an information literate person i.e. trying to outline the concept of information literacy. Deriving therefore a single definition is a complex process of collecting together a set of ideas as to what might be, should be, or may be considered a part of information literacy. For example Weber and Johnson (2002) defined information literacy as the adoption of appropriate information behaviour to obtain, through whatever channel or medium, information well fitted to information needs, together with critical awareness of the importance of wise and ethical use of information in society. The American Library Association (2003) defined information literacy as a set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information. While CLIP (2004) defined information literacy as knowing when and why one needs information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner. Succinctly these definitions imply that information literacy requires not only knowledge but also skills in:

• recognising when information is needed;
• resources available
• locating information;
• evaluating information;
• using information;
• ethics and responsibility of use of information;
• how to communicate or share information;
• how to manage information

Given therefore the variety of definitions and implied explanation information literacy is a cluster of abilities that an individual can employ to cope with, and to take advantage of the unprecedented amount of information which surrounds us in our daily life and work.

STRUCTURE OF THE EDUCATION SYSTEM

Sierra Leone’s current educational system is composed of six years of formal primary education, three years of Junior Secondary School (JSS), three years Senior Secondary School (SSS) and four years of tertiary education-6-3-3-4. (The Professor Gbamanja Commission’s Report of 2010 recommended an additional year for SSS to become 6-3-4-4). The official age for primary school pupils is between six and eleven years. All pupils at the end of class six are required to take and pass the National Primary School Examinations designed by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) to enable them proceed to the secondary school divided into Junior Secondary School(JSS) and Senior Secondary School (SSS). Each part has a final examination: the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) for the JSS, and the West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) for SSS, both conducted by WAEC. Successful candidates of WASSCE are admitted to tertiary institutions based on a number of subjects passed (GoSL,1995)

The curriculum of primary schools emphasizes communication competence and the ability to understand and manipulate numbers. At the JSS level, the curriculum is general and comprehensive, encompassing the whole range of knowledge, attitudes and skills in cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. The core subjects of English, Mathematics, Science and Social studies are compulsory for all pupils. At the SSS level, the curriculum is determined by its nature (general or specialist), or its particular objectives. Pupils are offered a set of core (compulsory) subjects with optional subjects based on their specialization. Teaching is guided by the teaching syllabuses and influenced by the external examinations that pupils are required to take at the 3/ 4-year course. English is the language of instruction (GoSL,1995).

The countries two universities, three polytechnics, and two teacher training colleges are responsible for the training of teachers in Sierra Leone. The Universities Act of 2004 provides for private universities so that these institutions too could help in the training of teachers. Programs range from the Teacher Certificate offered by the teacher training colleges to the Masters in Education offered by universities. Pre-service certification of teachers is the responsibility of the National Council for Technical, Vocational and Other Academic Awards (NCTVA). There is also an In-service Teacher Training program (Distance Education Program) conducted for teachers in part to reduce the number of untrained and unqualified teachers especially in the rural areas.

LITERACY IN SIERRA LEONE

In Sierra Leone as it is in most parts of the developing world literacy involves one’s ability to read, write and numeracy. It is the ability to function effectively in life contexts. A literate person is associated with the possession of skills and knowledge and how these could be applied within his local environment. For instance a literate person is believed to be able to apply chemical fertilizer to his crops, fill in a loans form, determine proper dosage of medicine, calculate cash cropping cost and profits, glean information from a newspaper, make out a bank deposit slip and understanding instructions and basic human rights.

Literacy is at the heart of the country’s development goals and human rights (World Bank, 2007). Wherever practised literacy activities are part of national and international strategies for improved education, human development and well-being. According to the 2013 United Nations Human Development Index Sierra Leone has a literacy rate of 34 %.Implicitly Sierra Leone is an oral society. And oral societies rely heavily on memory to transmit their values, laws, history, music, and culture whereas the written word allows infinite possibilities for transmission and therefore of active participation in communication. These possibilities are what make the goal of literacy crucial in society.

In academic parlance literacy hinges on the printed word. Most pupils are formally introduced to print when they encounter schoolbook. School teachers in Sierra Leone continue to use textbooks in their teaching activities to convey content area information to pupils. It is no gainsaying that pupils neither maximise their learning potential nor read at levels necessary for understanding the type of materials teachers would like them to use. Thus the performance of pupils at internal and public examinations is disappointing. Further pupils’ continued queries in the library demonstrate that they do not only lack basic awareness of resources available in their different school libraries but also do not understand basic rudiments of how to source information and materials from these institutions. What is more worrisome is that pupils do not use appropriate reading skills and study strategies in learning. There is a dearth of reading culture in schools and this situation cuts across the fabric of society. In view of the current support the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) to establish literacy standards in school this situation has proved frustrating as teachers do not know how to better help pupils to achieve this goal. Thus they look up to the school librarians to play a more proactive role.

LITERACY DEMANDS ON SECONDARY SCHOOL PUPILS

In everyday situations school pupils are expected to be able to identify and seek information they need. Providing a variety of reading and writing experiences using varied materials in the school library can help develop pupils’ literacy ability (Roe, Stoodt-Hill and Burns, 2004). The mode of assessment in schools in Sierra Leone includes class exercises, tests, written and practical assignments, as well as written examinations to see pupils through to their next levels. These pupils, for example, need to read content books and supplementary materials in school for homework. Pupils have even more literacy needs in their activities outside school. They need to read signs found in their communities, job applications, road maps and signs, labels on food and medicine, newspapers, public notices, bank statements, bills and many other functional materials. Failure to read and understand these materials can result in their committing traffic violations, having unpleasant reactions to food or medicine, becoming lost, losing employment opportunities and missing desirable programs. Equally so pupils need to write to their relatives and loved ones, instructions to people who are doing things for them, notes to themselves about tasks to be completed, phone messages for colleagues and many other items. Mistakes in these activities can have negative effects on them. Good literacy skills are especially important to pupils who plan to pursue higher education studies. The job market in the country calls for pupils to be literate. For instance most jobs advertised these days require people who have completed their JSS. The fact is that workers need to be able to understand graphic aids, categorized information and skim and scan to locate information. Also the nature of reading in the workplace generally involves locating information for immediate use and inferring information for problem solving. The reading and writing of a variety of documents like memos, manuals, letters, reports and instructions are necessary literacy skills in the workplace.

SCHOOL LIBRARIES IN SIERRA LEONE

School libraries in Sierra Leone are perceived as integral aspect of the county’s educational system. These institutions bring together four major components of the school community: the materials, pupils, teacher and library staff. The main purpose for the establishment of these institutions in schools is to complement the teaching/learning process, if not to support the curriculum. This purpose is achieved in two ways: by providing pupils with the means of finding whatever information they need; and by developing in pupils the habit of using books both for information and for pleasure. Pupils need information to help them with the subjects they learn in school. The textbooks they use and the notes they take in class can be an excellent foundation. They may also be sufficient for revision purposes. But these could not be enough to enable pupils to write good essays of their own or to carry out group projects. School libraries then are expected to complement this effort and therefore are perceived as learning centres.

Pupils need information on subjects not taught in school. School libraries are looked upon as places pupils find information to help them in their school studies and personal development. Through these institutions pupils’ habit of using libraries for life-long education is not only developed but also school libraries could be used to improve pupils’ reading skills. In the school community both pupils and teachers use school libraries for leisure and recreational purpose and for career advancement. The culture of society is also transmitted through use of school libraries. Because of the important role school libraries play in the country’s educational system they are organised in such way that pupils as well as teachers can rely upon them for support in the teaching/learning process. Most of these institutions are managed by either a full-time staff often supervised by a senior teacher. Staffs use varied methods to promote their use including user education.

JUSTIFYING THE LIBRARIAN’S INVOLVEMENT IN PROMOTING LITERACY IN SCHOOL

A pre-requisite for the development of autonomous pupils through flexible resource-based learning approaches is that pupils master a set of skills which gradually enable them to take control of their own learning. Current emphasis in teaching in schools in Sierra Leone has shifted from “teacher-centred” to “pupil-centred” approach thereby making pupils to “learn how to learn” for themselves so that the integration of process skills into the design of the school curriculum becomes crucial (GoSL,1995). It is in this area of “learning” or “information literacy” skills that one can most clearly see the inter-relationship between the school curriculum and the school library. For pupils to become independent users of information and for this to occur it is vital that they are given the skills to learn how to find information, how to select what is relevant, and how to use it in the best way possible for their own particular needs and take responsibility for their own learning. As information literate, pupils will be able to manage information skilfully and efficiently in a variety of contexts. They will be capable of weighing information carefully and wisely to determine its quality (Marcum2002). Pupils do recognise that having good information is central to meeting the opportunity and challenges of day-to-day living. They are also aware of the importance of how researching across a variety of sources and formats to locate the best information to meet particular needs.

Literacy activities in schools in Sierra Leone are the responsibility of content area teachers, reading consultants and school librarians. Of these the role of the school librarian is paramount. As specialist the school librarian is expected to provide assistance to pupils and teachers alike by locating materials in different subjects, and at different reading levels by making available materials that can be used for motivation and background reading. The school librarian is also expected to provide pupils with instructions in locating strategies related to the library such as doing online searches and skimming through printed reference materials. The librarian is expected to display printed materials within his purview, write specialised bibliographies and lists of addresses on specific subjects at the request of teachers. He should be able to provide pupils with direct assistance in finding and using appropriate materials; recreational reading can be fostered by the librarian’s book talks or attractive book displays on high-interest topics like HIV/AIDS, child abuse, child rights, human rights and poverty alleviation. In view of this the fundamental qualities expected of the good school librarian include knowledge of his collection and how to access it; ability to understand the needs of his users more so those of pupils; ability to communicate with pupils and adult users; and knowledge of information skills and how to use information.

ROLE OF THE SCHOOL LIBRARIAN

Pupils’ success in school depends to a large extent upon their ability to access, evaluate and use information. Providing access to information and resources is a long-standing responsibility of the school librarian. The school librarian should provide the leadership and expertise necessary to ensure that the library becomes integral in the instructional program of the school. In school the librarian is the information specialist, teacher and instructional consultant. He is the interface responsible for guiding pupils and teachers through the complex information resources housed in his library (Lenox and Walker, 1993). He is looked up to assist and guide numerous users in seeking to use and understand the resources and services of the library. In this respect the school librarian should inculcate in these users such skills as manual and online searching of information; use of equipment; developing critical skills for the organization, evaluation and use of information and ideas as integral part of the curriculum (Lonsdale, 2003). The school librarian should be aware of the range of available information retrieval systems, identify that most suitable to the needs of pupils and provide expertise in helping them become knowledgeable, if not comfortable, in their use. Since no library is self-sufficient the school librarian can network with information agencies, lending/renting materials and/or using electronic devises to transmit information (Tilke, 1998; 2002).

As information specialist the school librarian should be able to share his expertise with those who may wish to know what information sources and/or learning materials are available to support a program of work. Such consultation should be offered to the whole school through the curriculum development committee or to individual subject teachers. The school librarian should take the lead in developing pupils’ information literacy skills by being involved with the school curriculum planning and providing a base of resources to meet its needs. He should be aware of key educational initiatives and their impact in teaching and learning; he should be familiar with teaching methods and learning styles in school; over all he should maintain an overview of information literacy programmes within the school (Herring, 1996; Kuhlthau, 2004).

Kuhlthau (2004) opined that information seeking is a primary activity of life and that pupils seek information to deepen and broaden their understanding of the world around them. When therefore, information in school libraries is placed in a larger context of learning, pupils’ perspective becomes an essential component in information provision. The school librarian should ensure that skills, knowledge and attitude concerning information access, use and communication, are integral part of the school curriculum. Information skills are crucial in the life-long learning process of pupils. As short term objective the school librarian should provide a means of achieving learning objectives within the curriculum; as long term information skills have a direct impact on individual pupils’ ability to deal effectively with a changing environment. Therefore the school librarian should work in concert with teachers and administrators to define the scope and sequence of the information relevant to the school curriculum and ensure its integration throughout the instructional programs (Tilke, 2002; Birks and Hunt, 2003). Pupils should be encouraged to realise their potential as informed citizens who critically think and solve problems. In view of the relationship between the curriculum and school library, the librarian should serve on the curriculum committee ensuring that information access skills are incorporated into subject areas. The school librarian’s involvement in the curriculum development will permit him to provide advice on the use of a variety of instructional strategies such as learning centres and problem-solving software, effective in communicating content to pupils (Herring, 1996; Birks and Hunt, 2003).

Literacy could be actively developed as pupils need access to specific resources, demonstrate understanding of their functionality and effective searching skills. In this regard pupils should be given basic instruction to the library, its facilities and services and subsequent use. Interactive teaching methods aimed at information literacy education should be conducted for the benefit of pupils. Teaching methods could include an outline of a variety of aides like quizzes and worksheets of differing complexity level to actively engage pupils in learning library skills and improving their information literacy. Classes should be divided into small groups so that pupils could have hands-on-experience using library resources. Where Internet services are available in the library online tutorials should be provided. Post session follow-up action will ensure that pupils receive hands-on-experience using library resources. Teaching methods should be constantly evaluated to identify flaws and improve on them.

Further the school librarian should demonstrate willingness to support and value pupils in their use of the library through: provision of readers’ guides; brochures; book marks; library handbooks/guides; computerization of collection; helpful guiding throughout the library; and regular holding of book exhibitions and book fairs. Since there are community radio stations in the country the school librarian could buy air time to report library activities, resources and services. He can also communicate to pupils through update newspapers. Pupils could be encouraged to contribute articles on library development, book reviews and information about opening times and services. The school librarian could help pupils to form book and reading clubs, organize book weeks and book talks using visiting speakers and renowned writers to address pupils. Classes could also be allowed to visit the library to facilitate use. More importantly the school librarian should provide assistance to pupils in the use of technology to access information outside the library. He should offer pupils opportunities related to new technology, use and production of varied media formats, and laws and polices regarding information. In order to build a relevant resource base for the school community the librarian should constantly carry out needs assessment, comparing changing demands to available resources.

The Internet is a vital source for promoting literacy in the school library. The school librarian should ensure that the library has a website that will serve as guide to relevant and authoritative sources and as a tool for learning whereby pupils and teachers are given opportunity to share ideas and solutions (Herring, 2003). Through the Internet pupils can browse the library website to learn how to search and develop information literacy skills. In order for pupils to tap up-to-date sources from the Net the school librarian should constantly update the home page, say on a daily basis, if necessary. Simultaneously the school librarian should avail to pupils and teachers sheets/guides to assist them in carrying out their own independent researches. He should give hands-on-experience training to users to share ideas with others through the formation of “lunch time” or “after school support groups”. Such activities could help pupils to develop ideas and searching information for a class topic and assignment.

Even the location of the library has an impact in promoting literacy in school. The library should be centrally located, close to the maximum number of teaching areas. It should be able to seat at least ten per cent of school pupils at any given time, having a wide range of resources vital for teaching and learning programs offered in school. The library should be characterised by good signage for the benefit of pupil and teacher users with up-to-date displays to enhance the literacy skills of pupils and stimulating their intellectual curiosity.

CONCLUSION

Indeed the promotion of literacy should be integral in the school curriculum and that the librarian should be able to play a leading role to ensure that the skills, knowledge and attitudes related to information access are inculcated in pupils and teachers alike as paramount users of the school library. But the attainment of this goal is dependent on a supportive school administration, always willing and ready to assist the library and its programs financially. To make the librarian more effective he should be given capacity building to meeting the challenges of changing times.

REFERENCES

American Library Association (2003). ‘Introduction to information literacy.’
Birks, J. & Hunt, F. (2003). Hands-on information literacy activities. London: Neal-Schumann.
CLIP (2004).’Information Literacy: definition.’
GoSL (2010). Report of the Professor Gbamanja Commission of Inquiry into the Poor Performance of Pupils in the 2008 BECE and WASSCE Examinations (Unpublished).
___________(1995). New Education policy for Sierra Leone. Freetown: Department of Education.
Herring, James E. (1996). Teaching information skills in schools. London: Library Association Publishing.
__________________ (2003).The Internet and information skills: a guide for teachers and librarians. London: Facet Publishing.
Kahlthau, C. C. (2004). Seeking meaning: a process approach to library and information services. 2nd. ed. London: Libraries Unlimited.
Lenox, M. F. & Walker, M. L.(1993). ‘Information Literacy in the education process.’ The Educational Forum, 52 (2): 312-324.
Lonsdale, Michael (2003). Impact of school libraries on student achievement: a review of research. Camberwell: Australian Council of Educational Research.
Marcum, J. W. (2002). ‘ Rethinking Information Literacy,’ Library Quarterly, 72:1-26.
Roe, Betty D., Stoodt-Hill & Burns, Paul C. (2004).Secondary School Literacy instruction: the content areas. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Tilke, A. (1998). On-the-job sourcebook for school librarians. London: Library Association.
_________ (2002). Managing your school library and information service: a practical handbook. London: Facet Publishing.
Weber, S. & Johnston, B. ( 2002). ‘Assessment in the Information Literate University.’ Conference: Workshop 1st International Conference on IT and Information Literacy, 20th- 22nd. \March 2002, Glasgow, Scotland. Parallel Session 3, Thursday 21st March,2002.
World Bank (2007). Education in Sierra Leone; present challenges, future opportunities. Washington,DC: World Bank.

John Abdul Kargbo is Senior Lecturer, Institute of Library, Information and Communication Studies at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. Mail can be sent to him on kargbojohnabdul@yahoo.com

Article Source:
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DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BRITISH AND AMERICAN SCHOOLS (UK VS USA)

Posted by on Dec 3, 2017 in UK Schools | 20 comments

What are the big differences between British and American schools? I’ve worked in both and have several comparisons to make for the UK vs USA education systems.

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A Brief Guide to Choosing a School in Australia

Posted by on Jan 15, 2017 in UK Schools | Comments Off on A Brief Guide to Choosing a School in Australia

One of the most asked questions by migrants moving to Australia is “How do I choose a school for my children?”. Not an easy task when you’re 10,000 miles away so let’s look at some of the things you need to consider.

Private or Public school

This comes down to personal preference and what you can afford. Both my children went through public schools in Western Australia and onto University so for me public schools have been good. Public schools are often very diverse and most draw their main body of students from the local community.

If you go private just beware that some are faith based and follow a religious curriculum with some very old fashioned values, often all girls all boys schools. They do pride themselves on sport and many operate excellent sport programs. They are generally well funded which is something you would expect considering they also receive funding from the government at the expense of public schools. A top private school can command a $ 30,000 fee per year so make sure you understand the impact the school fees will have on your living expenses.

Not all can afford to send their children to a top private school but don’t despair some public schools regularly beat top private schools in the school ranking tables despite the poor funding. You will need to keep in mind though that even public schools are not totally free and top public schools can command fees as much a $ 2,000 per year for a student in year 12. They may say voluntary contributions but if your child is to participate fully you will be expected to pay so you will need to budget for this.

Cost is one factor that will determine where we send our children to school the other factor is where we live. Most parents have to live near where they work and so this will often dictate what schools are available to you. Just remember though the quality of education is not just about results. According to the ACER (Australian Council for Educational research) chief executive Geoff Masters “The quality of education provided by a school is best judged not by its final results but by the difference it makes, taking into account students’ starting points. A school making a large difference ‘value adding’ to students’ levels of achievement and life chances may deliver ‘better education’, despite its lower Year 12 results.” So something to consider rather than just results.

Australia, like the UK, uses a league table system to compare schools. When you use it keep in mind the words of ACER Chief Executive above regarding how schools add value to student education. You can find more information on league tables and compare schools in the area you wish to move to on the myschool.edu.au website. It covers the entire education systems across Australia.

The Myschool website contains quite a large range of information on schools, covering the profile of population of each school of which there is approximately 9,500. The site also lists outcomes of NAPLAN testing performance data, student attendance and school financial figures including capital expenditure and sources of funding. It’s a good source of information and you are able to compare literacy and numeracy standards of local schools to state averages. Whilst this may give an indication of current standards it is important to consider achievements in Years 11 and 12. For example: years 7 and 9 NAPLAN tests may show the majority of students in the lower brackets of the test results. The school however has an excellent achievement rate for both ATAR (university students, more on that later) and vocational studies (non ATAR). This would suggest that the school may have an excellent system to bring those struggling students up to speed by the time they leave. A very important point to consider.

For those who are curious NAPLAN stands with the National Assessment Program – literacy and numeracy (NAPLAN) and is an annual assessment of students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9. NAPLAN has been an everyday part of the school calendar since 2008. Assessments are undertaken nationwide every year in the second full week in May. Tests are made up of four areas or domains covering:

• Reading

• Writing

• Language conventions (spelling grammar and punctuation)

• Numeracy

Now to try and explain this ATAR business which is not an easy task I might add. In short an ATAR score is a percentile score given between “less than 30” up to a maximum of 99.95 (in a minimum increment of 0.05). Clear as mud so far I guess. In layman terms it is a score which denotes a student’s ranking relative to his or her peers upon completion of their secondary education. This score is used by university and tertiary education programs to rank and select prospective students. In short the higher your ATAR score is the more university courses you have to choose from. Most universities will display minimum ATAR scores for entry to all their courses.

The School system in brief

Australia is made up of a collection of states and territories each has its own government which is responsible for its own education. Because of this there are some differences between states in the way schools operate. There is a national framework however which all schools have to follow to try and ensure some standardisation across the nation. Most states operate similar programs with primary school running from kindergarten through to year six or seven. High schools tend to run from year 7 to 10 and then senior high school runs from year 11 to year 12. The majority of schools cater for the full range from year 7 through to year 12, although there are a few specialist schools that operate just years 7 to 10 or years 11 and 12 in all states. In some states schools that operate for just year 11 and 12 are able to specialise in certain areas becoming Regional Training Organisations (RTO’s) allowing students to get involved in pre-apprenticeships.

All states offer their own certification, for example in Western Australia students achieve the Western Australian Certificate of Education at the end of year 12 (WACE). In the Eastern states the Australian Capital Territory students are awarded the ACT Certificate. In New South Wales they offer the Higher School Certificate, in Queensland it’s the Queensland Certificate of Education. In Victoria (yes, you’ve guessed it) it’s the Victorian Certificate of Education or the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning. Moving west to South Australia they have the South Australian Certificate of Education and up in the Northern Territory its known as the Northern Territory Certificate Education.

If you are worried you may have to move states as I did rest assured that all Australian schools follow the Australian Qualifications framework (AQF) which has 10 levels and links school, vocational and university education qualifications into one national system. This does allow for some standardisation across the states and allows students to move easily from one level of study to the next, and from one institution to another. For early years there will be some differences but these will be more operational than subject content. For years 11 and 12 it may be more significant especially for university bound students as specialist areas will vary from school to school and state to state. This is also affected by availability of specialist teachers in your chosen subject area.

In my experience I have found UK school children to be slightly in front in terms of their level of education and maturity. This is certainly true in the early years however years 11 and 12 can be extremely intense especially if they have University ambitions.

Consider their in opinions?

Now many will make the assumption that when choosing a high school you should look for the best. That doesn’t always hold true as I have seen children go through private education only to drop out due to the pressure of the strict regime and work ethic, it doesn’t suit everyone. In our quest to find the best we often forget the feelings of the little guys and girls who will have to attend that institution every day. In short your children’s opinions should count as well. Some children are naturally confident and enjoy tough challenges. Others may like a more relaxed less pressured environment.

Find out what your children’s preferences are, what special talents do they have, musical, mathematical, science, sport and then find a school nearby that fits their needs. Look for the school that best fits your values and children’s needs, not just plum for the best in the areas because that is what other parents are doing. Step back assess what the school has to offer and try to figure out what’s best for your children. By doing this your child is likely to be far happier at school and so will you.

School life

The school year across Australia runs from the beginning of February through to the latter part of December. The school year is normally split into two semesters. Each semester consists of two terms each 10 week long (4 in total). At the end of each term students have a two week holiday. Summer holidays start in December and last until the beginning of February. As states look after their own education holidays can sometimes vary from state to state. You can get a full list of the holidays across Australia from http://www.australia.com

Daily school normally starts around about 8.40 am and finishes at 3.00 pm. The day is split into five periods each lasting around 60 minutes with two 20 to 25 minute breaks in between period 2 and 3 and then period 4 and 5. Extracurricular activities normally run from 3 to 4pm. Again school days will vary from state to state and in some schools they operate the split system where lower school students start at around 7am through to about 1pm. Upper school students attend later in the day and finish around about 5pm. This is only a guide and it does vary from school to school and state to state.

Just arrived

There are some who believe that children should start school as soon as you arrive to help them integrate quicker. I think that is a fair comment as it’s important to get your children integrated into Australian life as soon as possible. Having said that I feel it’s important to give children a little time to recover from their travels and get used to their new surroundings.

Some schools may allow you to preliminarily book your child into the their school before you arrive. Whilst it’s nice to know you have a school lined up in my opinion it may be in your best interests to just wait a little longer until you arrive. We gave our children a couple weeks to integrate and take in a little of the enormous change they had experienced in their lives at that point in time. It also gave us chance to visit the schools with the children in a more relaxed manner. I personally would not book my children into school before I had actually visited and checked out what it was like. Furthermore competition for places in the better schools is often tight so they can afford to be a bit choosy about who they pick especially if you live outside the catchment area. They will probably want to interview you and your children before they allow them to enrol.

Researching schools

If you can afford to come out on a reconnaissance visit before you migrate it helps. It’s a lovely way to assess areas to live in and schools as you are in a far more relaxed mood. Make sure you draw up an itinerary and a plan of where you are going to visit to ensure you give yourself enough time to have a holiday as well.

Contact the school prior to your arrival and make an appointment with the Principle to discuss your child’s proposed enrolment. Yes principles are busy people but they will appreciate that you have taken the time to make an appointment after all you want to make a good impression.

Local knowledge is often the best so get out and about, talk to the locals and get their views on the best school in the area. Visit a few schools and watch the students coming and going. Are they happy? How are they dressed? Are they all in uniform? If any of these are negative then you might to try and discuss this with locals. Yes you will need to mingle with parents and introduce yourself but be brave and ask what they think of the school you may be surprised as to what you find out

Check out the schools social media profile. Most schools have a Facebook page Twitter account or an app to download for your phone. Take a look at these as this will give you an indication as to how the school communicates with the local community. look at how parents discuss the school, do they use positive or negative tones? How does the school communicate back to the parents do they answer all the questions politely and positively.

Most schools have their own website which often contain details of the curriculum they offer to students including a plan of the year. Schools that have this facility are, in my opinion, often very organised and efficient which is good sign. Have a look and see what extracurricular activities they offer outside of school hours. Do they cater for disabilities or gifted and talented students? Remember the article above about adding value to a child’s education. If they have a newsletter sign up for it and get regular updates on what’s happening at the school.

Opinions from message boards

Last but not least the expat message boards. They are useful especially when you have honest opinions from expats that have done it. These people can often be absolute gold mines of information. That said there are those that simply use these message boards to vent off their frustration and anger which is not really what you want. However, if used carefully they can be a rich source of information.

Lastly keep in mind that students do well in schools that are well organised, with teachers that are well-prepared and supported by parents.

Nick Jay
Migration Coach
Remember Australia is not better or worse just different, different values, different beliefs, different cultures and a different way of life, enjoy that difference!

Offering migrants coaching, information, advice, assistance with their move and a Perth Meet and Greet service
http://www.migrationcoach.com

Article Source:
http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Nick_Jay/168363

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How to Obtain a Teaching Qualification and License to Teach in UK Schools

Posted by on Dec 18, 2016 in UK Schools | Comments Off on How to Obtain a Teaching Qualification and License to Teach in UK Schools

The United Kingdom is the native land of English language. However, the UK held colonies in far and distant parts of Europe and Asia. Large groups of people have immigrated and settled down in the UK for many decades now. In addition to that, the UK also hosts some of the world’s best colleges and universities, which have attracted students from all over the world. Hence, a lot of non-English speaking people from all across the world have made it their temporary or permanent homes in the UK.
The UK is also an industrially developed country and is one of the economic and commercial centres in the world. The huge influx of people from various nations has given birth to a sizeable ESL market in the UK. Therefore, there is a huge demand for trained English teachers in UK schools. Those interested in utilizing the ESL job market in the UK must go through a certified English teacher training course.
The Online TEFL course is one of the most popular English teacher training courses and covers the basics of teaching English. This course brings a trainee up-to-date with the latest developments in the techniques and skills of teaching. The Online TEFL course trains a teacher to develop the four basic language skills which are speaking, listening reading and writing and developing vocabulary. Planning courses and confidently executing them are also a part of this course. Aspirants as well as experienced teachers can sign up for the Online TEFL course and do it in the peace of their homes without facing any hassles of traveling and upon completion, can easily get an ESL job. This English teacher training course is recognized and accredited worldwide and therefore, is an easy ticket for those interested in getting a license or a qualification to teach English language in UK.
The other way to obtain a teaching qualification and license to teach in UK schools apart from pursuing a English teachers training course is to sign up for a pre-primary teacher training course. A pre-primary teacher training is of utmost significance because the education and awareness created in a child at this very young age, forms the very basis on which a child later grows and develops. In this course, trainees are firstly made aware of child psychology and the emotional, physical, social and cognitive needs of children. . A proper pre- primary teacher training course trains a teacher to unleash a child’s inherent imaginative skills and help a child in his social interactions and make children learn about the environment through their physical senses. Children of this age are usually restless and yearn for physical activity. A pre-primary teacher training course trains a teacher to utilize this energy of children in a positive way and instruct through group activities like song, games, dance, drama, art and puppetry. A teacher qualified in this course would be easily able to get teaching jobs in UK schools.

TEFL Academy offers Online TEFL Course with courses like business english teachers business English, grammar, phonetics,TEFL Diploma and pre-primary teacher training.
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The Best Interior Design Schools Great Britain

Posted by on Nov 20, 2016 in UK Schools | Comments Off on The Best Interior Design Schools Great Britain

It tears me up reading Christy Admiraals article “The Best Interior Design Schools in the U.K.” on eHow. Her introduction to the article I totally agree to; however the list of schools she presents has absolutely nothing to do with a list of the top schools in the UK. You will find some of the best interior design schools in the world in the UK. and most of them you will find in London as she says; however you will not find them on her list.

Writing a list of the best interior design schools in London without Ravensbourne or Central St. Martins shows that the writer has no knowledge about interior design schools in Great Britain. Bad articles like this should be removed. These are just misleading and will actually hurt the readers more than helping them- which I think articles that claim to list the best schools should do. I even tried to post a comment to her article on ehow, but somehow it was refused. So as a suggestion I posted the article here and hope that the article will be picked up by the same readers.

If I should recommend one interior design school in London it would be Ravensbourne. For ten years I have been working with several institutions in Great Britain, and I have seen how the list of top school has changed. The famous Central St. Martins used to be the top school in many of the design disciplines, but now it has been surpassed by other schools – for instants Ravensbourne that has passed them in interior design and is considered just as good in fashion design.

Ravensbournes undergraduate program BA (Hons) Interior Design and Environmental Architecture is one of the best in the UK, and the only in its sort where you actually can move on to do a Master of Arts in Architecture. Ravensbourne has a lot of the same professors as Central St. Martin especially in the Fashion design department – the professors actually rotate amongst the top three fashion design colleges – the two mentioned plus London College of Fashion. Back to interior design – Ravensbourne has won a lot of the biggest national competitions in the UK the last years like Freerange in 2010; where a Ravensbourne student was voted best in show.

I hope that my response to the article “The best interior Designs Schools in the U.K.” will be read, and I would recommend all of you that consider studying creative arts in the U.K to check out Skillset which is an accreditation agency for design schools in the UK.

Espen is the founder of Uniabroad and recently made a portal called Designstudier.no that offers information on higher creative education to young Norwegians – for instants Interior design and fashion design.

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This is Britain – School

Posted by on Oct 9, 2016 in UK Schools | 20 comments

Odwiedź nas na http://www.anglomaniacpl.co.cc
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