Education Diary: Annual guide to teacher training

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The annual guide to teacher training by Alan Smithers and Pamela Robinson is giving rise to all kinds of generalisations about different school subjects and the personalities they attract. Teachers in the arts, humanities and English are most likely to take up a teaching post on qualifying, the report says. Is this because students of these subjects are sensitive, people-orientated souls who are good at relating to youngsters, while maths and science teachers are dry by comparison? Faced with a class of incorrigible children, the latter soon realise teaching is not for them. A high percentage of PE teachers continue to take up teaching posts, however. How can that be explained? Is it that they have more difficulty finding jobs elsewhere? Ouch!

Despite changing its name to Voice, the Professional Association of Teachers still provides an alternative fare at its conferences. This week, delegates were encouraged to take a break from debate for a seminar in yoga relaxation. The session promised to teach yoga for the classroom: eye and breathing exercises, "mandala" method (whatever that is), yoga warm-ups and postures for balance, strength and flexibility. The teachers would also learn about calming, quietening and talking to children about yoga's health benefits.

Was it just a coincidence that the pier in Weston-super-Mare went up in smoke on one of the hottest days of the year? Not if you're an insurer and risk assessor such as Zurich Municipal. The company recently revealed that last year's cold, damp summer had resulted in the lowest cost of school fires in eight years. Apparently school fires caused just £53m worth of damage in 2007, down £21m on the previous year. The dreadful summer weather last year was, "a significant factor in this decline, with fires less able to take hold and the acute conditions affording less opportunity to would-be deliberate fire-setters". The research comes hot on the heels of Jim Knight's Design for Fire Safety in Schools guide, which announced that all new and refurbished schools would be expected to have sprinkler systems installed. But Larry Stokes, a manager at Zurich Municipal, says: "While the latest figures are substantially down on recent years, the role of last summer's adverse weather should not be overlooked." So what to do Mr Knight? We suggest he don a grass skirt, raise his hands to the heavens and perform a tribal rain dance. Forget bureaucracy!

Back by popular demand: Press Release of the Week. Winner this time is the publishing house Dorling Kindersley, which has come up with a way of making history cool (as if it wasn't cool enough already) with Take Me Back, published this autumn. The book is, we are told, "a newfangled way of looking at old stuff – history has never been so now!" Well omigod! Let's get the girlies round for a Civil War recreation slumber party! The release continues: "Timelines? Yawn. Biographies of kings? Snoozeville." The wordsmiths at DK do get praise for coming up with this gem: "A blast from the past with more front than the Hundred Years War and more pizzazz than opening night at the Colosseum (and the Ancient Romans sure knew how to put on a show)". I smell a bestseller!