Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Public speaking for state schools

Debating skills raise children's confidence and self-esteem, and it pays to start early, says Diane Hofkins

Diane Hofkins

On BBC2's The Speaker, spinmeister supreme Alastair Campbell was hammering home his point: be absolutely clear about the objective of your speech. "Tony Blair was obsessed," he revealed, always asking: "What is the central argument?"



Saturday, 18 April 2009

Why Early Years is an intellectual pursuit

There is a commonly held myth that working with little children is not a job for the brainy. It is thought to suit people who like children but aren't academic.

Yet an ever-growing stack of research shows the importance of children's earliest educational experiences to their chances in life. Overwhelmingly, the best pre-schools have better qualified staff.

One government response to this evidence has been to announce plans for a pilot "Teach First" type of scheme to place top graduates in early years settings in disadvantaged areas. No details are available yet. It sounds like a good idea, but why would someone with a double first from Oxford want to work with under-fives? What makes early childhood education an intellectual pursuit?