Teaching community shares record number of classroom resources and ideas using TES Connect

TES Connect, the world’s largest professional teaching community on the web, saw a record five million classroom resources downloaded in March from its teaching resource bank www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resources – equivalent to a single resource downloaded every 2 seconds.

  • A record five million classroom resources were downloaded by teachers in March 2011, from TES Connect
  • That is equivalent to a single resource downloaded every 2 seconds.
  • Teaching materials themed around Red Nose Day were the most popular resources downloaded by teachers during this period
  • Other popular themes were Easter, Top 10 Behaviour tips and resources based on a better understanding of the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.
  • TES Resources is now one of the world’s largest collections of teaching resources with over 60,000 free teaching resources available

Bill Donoghue, Managing Director of TSL Education said, “This is another major milestone in the development of TES Resources and a huge endorsement of our significant investment in Digital technologies for the teaching community. The landmark achievement is even more significant when you consider, the majority of our teaching resources have been contributed by teachers for teachers and fits with our ethos of helping to share best practice and raise standards of education in the classroom”.

Safer texting for children as bullies and predators move to mobile

With bullies and sexual predators increasingly moving from the Internet to mobile phones, the new Simply Safe SIM from Anvil Mobile automatically scans every text message sent and received to identify potential risks to children or vulnerable adults. With some 90% of under 16 year olds now owning a mobile phone and 1 in 7 children aged between 11 to 19 claiming to have been bullied by text, the new Anvil solution sends an alert by SMS or email to a parent, guardian or carer if abusive language and possible bullying or predatory behaviour is detected.

Unlike PCs or laptops that are often shared and in open spaces, mobile phones are very personal devices that can be always on and not easy to monitor physically – making them an ideal target for bullies and predators. Simply Safe now offers protection without intrusion or a breakdown of trust. Only text messages that are considered potentially dangerous can be viewed by the parent or guardian when they are alerted to log-in to the secure TxtSafer message site. Future text messages can be blocked from suspect individuals and also stored for possible investigations by the police or schools.        

Simply Safe is the first SIM-based solution and works on most 3G unlocked phones without the need to install any software. It uses the leading-edge profiling technology from Crisp Thinking that is already trusted by popular online games sites and communities. Rated as the most reliable technology of its kind by the University of Cambridge with a 98.4% accuracy in the detection of online grooming, this is the first time Crisp’s TxtSafer advanced software has been used on mobiles.

More than one SIM can be monitored through the same controls and Anvil can also provide additional protection with mobile phone call recording to capture any abusive or threatening voice calls. In addition, it is possible to assign a local geographic number to the mobile SIM.  By presenting what looks like a home number, potential abusers and predators will be deterred under the belief that the call is more likely to be intercepted.

“Parents are under increasing pressure to provide children as young as five with mobile phones at the same time as there is increasing concern about mobile bullying and grooming,” said Ian Philip, CEO at Anvil Mobile. “Simply Safe provides parents with the safety and reassurance they need while giving their children the freedom to use their phones.” 

“But it’s not just children that are at risk; disabled people along with ethnic, religious and sexual minorities and even certain professions such as social workers and teachers can also be vulnerable,” adds Philip. “Whatever the reason, there is a need for a simple system that protects mobile users and provides the evidence for action to be taken if required.”

Education puts its own stamp on “The Big Society”

If David Cameron’s Big Society is about citizens of Great Britain getting more involved in their community, then he’d be delighted to hear about the buzz travelling around BETT 2011 in London’s Olympia this week!

The Life Learning Cloud was unveiled at the biggest international exhibition for educational technology; (www.bettshow.com), Challenging us all to ‘join in’ and contribute to the education of the next-generation, and empowering children to take greater responsibility for their own learning, The Life Learning Cloud has caused great excitement across the education sector.

In a pre-launch briefing Fiona Aubrey-Smith outlined to Ministers why the philosophy behind Life is so important in The Big Society;

“Why should… where I live, which school I attend, where I work, who I know, where I am, or what I can afford, define the boundaries of my learning, and therefore my chances in life? Education is about Learning; it’s not just about Schooling. So we need to be empowering children to make Choices about when, where, and with whom they learn.  We need to break down the boundaries that locations and buildings put in place, and engender a more Responsibility-Led Learning”.

This new focus where Responsibility-Led Learning takes Education beyond ‘School’, gives us all food for thought. What exactly is our role in the ‘Big Society’ approach to Education? 

From Westminster, Adam Afriyie MP (Innovation & Skills) commented, “I welcome Fiona’s work on this important issue.  Encouraging young people to take responsibility for their lives is at the heart of liberal conservative thought.  If we take on responsibility for our own learning at a younger age we will, not only, be better-informed, we are also likely to live happier lives and contribute to a more productive, fulfilled and prosperous society.”

Matt Clarke, CEO for UniServity sums it up “Mobile phones, internet-tvs and gaming consoles mean that personal devices are now common for the majority of students. The infrastructure is ready to support a new kind of education, led by an ethos of Responsibility. Life, by UniServity, is at the heart of making that vision a reality for every learner”.

Thetutorpages.com teams up with Nextshoot to create video ads

Thetutorpages.com has teamed up with Nextshoot, one of the UK’s leading web video production companies, to create the UK’s first online video ads for private tutors. A wide range of education specialists – from piano and singing teachers to maths and French tutors – can now commission a tutor video to showcase their expertise.

The videos, which are shot by Nextshoot’s network of filmmakers, allow tutors to take advantage of a service that has previously been the preserve of companies. “Video creates instant rapport with potential students and parents,” states Henry Fagg, founder of The Tutor Pages. “It’s the closest you can get to meeting a tutor in person – a real chance for tutors to demonstrate their professionalism online.”

The specially-designed videos – promoted on thetutorpages.com and across other online platforms – are both cost-effective and flexible for tutors. The interview format shows the tutor talking and interacting with students in a natural way, and music teachers can also include footage of themselves playing their instrument.

Cherry Muckle, a London piano teacher registered on thetutorpages.com, sees video as a good way to get an edge over her online competitors. “It looks really professional and I think it is the most effective way of providing what the potential student wants when considering a teacher – to see them play, talk, interact with other students – all the stuff you can’t otherwise get across”.

Private tutors say no to government vetting scheme

Eight out of ten say it will do nothing to stop paedophiles accessing children
Thousands of tutors employed by parents to give their children private lessons are set to refuse to register under a controversial new government safeguarding scheme.
A poll published today, carried out for the thetutorpages.com website, shows that nearly three-quarters of self-employed tutors for whom the scheme is voluntary will refuse to register.
The poll also shows tutors believe overwhelmingly that the scheme, designed to protect children and vulnerable adults from potential abuse, will fail to prevent paedophiles from gaining access to children.
The findings come as the Conservatives published their election manifesto, which includes a commitment to scale back the scheme to “common sense levels”.
Up to nine million adults who work with children or vulnerable adults in schools, colleges, crèches, clubs or community centres will have to register from this summer under the new vetting and barring scheme being introduced by the government’s Independent Safeguarding Authority.
Controversially, it will allow the authorities to make checks into people’s background using information kept on police computers and other databases, in addition to records of criminal convictions kept by the Criminal Records Bureau.
However, the scheme will be voluntary for thousands of private tutors, coaches, nannies and babysitters who are self-employed. Typically tutors are recruited by parents to provide one-to-one teaching for their children in their homes. Only those who also work in schools or other formal settings or activities will have to register.
The survey of more than 500 private tutors, carried out for thetutorpages.com, shows overwhelming opposition to the vetting scheme. Key findings include:
  • 74% of self-employed tutors say they will not sign up for the scheme
  • 70% say it is a waste of resources  and will be a bureaucratic nightmare to administer
  • 71%  say it will create a blanket of suspicion and undermine trust in all adults working with children
  • 68% say it will lead to miscarriages of justice, with innocent people being unfairly barred from working with children and their reputations and careers ruined
  • 76% say there is a real danger that sensitive information will be lost or released in error with the risk that reputations and careers could be seriously damaged
  • 80% believe it is about protecting agencies and schools and will not prevent paedophiles accessing children elsewhere
  • 80% believe it is ‘way over the top’ and needs to be replaced with a simple, common sense vetting system.
The scheme has come under severe criticism from children’s authors, opposition politicians and civil liberties campaigners, including Esther Rantzen and Philip Pullman, author of the best-selling His Dark Materials trilogy.
In a letter sent out to voters last week, the Conservative Party leader David Cameron, promised to review the vetting and barring scheme as part of his campaign to take a stand against the ever-increasing powers of the “big brother” state.
Henry Fagg, director of The Tutor Pages, said: “This survey shows just how strongly tutors feel about this issue. Many already have Criminal Record Bureau certificates and see this extra check as unnecessary, bureaucratic and intrusive and regard the cost of registering – £64 – as a tax on teaching. Very few parents ask to see CRB checks as it is as they prefer to rely on personal recommendations and their own judgement. 
“The very fact that the government has decided to exempt self-employed tutors – who regularly go into family homes to provide one-to-one teaching – from having to register in the first place speaks volumes. The reality is that tutors work very closely with parents and have a relationship built on trust. This scheme is in danger of undermining that bond of trust as it breeds the suspicion that every adult who works with children is a potential paedophile.”