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  • Writer's pictureTom Hopkins-Burke

The Weekly Review on Teachers Talk Radio: 28 April 2024

Missed the Teachers Talk Radio Weekly Review - the show where we review the week in education? Catch up with the headlines and the discussion here...


This Sunday, John Gibbs stepped back into the chair to host our review of the week in education. He was joined by Lianne Lax, Kathryn Taylor and Brent Poland to discuss the tragic news of stabbings in a Welsh school, Ofsted's RAAC update, and England's youth alcohol problem.

John Gibbs, Lianne Lax, Brent Poland and Kathryn Taylor

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"Teachers need the right support but we don't always have it" Kathryn Taylor on the Weekly Review

A 13-year-old girl has been charged with three counts of attempted murder and after two teachers and a teenager were stabbed at a school in Wales.

The teenager and teachers Fiona Elias and Liz Hopkin were treated in hospital for stab wounds but have now been released. Elias and Hopkin paid tribute to emergency service works and NHS staff.

Pupils at Amman Valley School in Carmarthenshire went into lockdown just after 11.20am on Wednesday, following the attack at the end of morning break.

Headteacher James Durbridge said that Wednesday was a "very difficult day" for the school:

"It goes without saying that my thoughts are with the three individuals and their families, who have been affected by today's incident. I wish to commend all staff and pupils for their calm and mature response during today's lockdown. We are proud to have witnessed pupils embodying the school's core values while supporting their peers and staff." James Durbridge, Amman Valley School headteacher

The school will reopen to students on Monday 29 April.

What did our panel have to say about this news?

Lianne Lax

"Teachers don't have what they need to support every need in their classroom. If we had the specialists available at primary, we wouldn't be seeing such complex behaviour in secondary."

Kathryn Taylor

"This is an extremely complex problem, and we can't know all the intricacies of what's gone on. There will be emotional and mental health recovery for those involved, as well as physical health. Teachers need the right support but we don't always have it."

Brent Poland

"There's something changing, there's a breakdown in the social contract and in law and order. The people in charge didn't follow the rules - schools are one of the few institutions holding the line with discipline and organisation."


Quality pastoral care in schools

Karen Foster

Pastoral care is vital in schools, especially during serious incidents which leave communities in shock. Nazya and Krupa discussed quality pastoral care with Karen Foster, an Inclusion Lead.


A cross-section of RAAC

"They're only doing this because RAAC has reached a certain level of public consciousness" Brent Poland on the Weekly Review

Ofsted has announced that schools with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) can choose to have their inspections deferred for the rest of the academic year.

The inspectorate has extended the approach taken in the spring term, when schools were also able to defer inspection.

The extension comes after the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) called on the DfE to extend the inspection exemption for RAAC-affected schools.

Schools that do not have RAAC, but host pupils from schools that do have RAAC or are otherwise affected by issues relating to RAAC, are not eligible for deferral on these grounds. Furthermore, schools with RAAC can still be inspected if Ofsted has concerns about the institution.

There are currently 234 schools with RAAC, according to the DfE, and more than 100 schools affected by the crumbly concrete will be rebuilt.

Our panel shared their views on the latest RAAC news:

Kathryn Taylor

"This is good news where the bar is very low. It's sensible, pragmatic and helpful. But wouldn't it be better if Ofsted were not so daunting?"

Brent Poland

"I'm done with it. Just abolish Ofsted. It's rotten to the core. They're only doing this because RAAC has reached a certain level of public consciousness."

Lianne Lax

"It's never straightforward, there's always an if and a but. They're sending students to non-RAAC-affected schools who could face an inspection but the kids haven't been there long enough to know the school's values and systems."


Architecture in schools

Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon

Maud explores the history of architecture in schools.


"A lot of underage drinking comes from the home environment" Lianne Lax on the Weekly Review

The World Health Organisation has warned that alcohol consumption amongst young people in England has been normalised, after one-third of 11-year-olds and more than half of 13-year-olds in England have drunk alcohol.

The WHO report found that girls were more likely than boys to be drinking and getting drunk aged 15 in England, Wales and Scotland.

Study coordinator Do Jo Inchley, from Glasgow University, said that the increased consumption of alcohol could be driven by exposure to more alcohol at home, changing attitudes of parents and the rebound effects after the Covid-19 lockdown.

The report looked at data from about 4,500 school-age children from each country in Europe, central Asia and Canada in 2021-22 on cigarette smoking, vaping, alcohol and cannabis habits among adolescents.

Official advice from the NHS is that children and young people should not drink alcohol before the age of 18 and, if they do, not until at least 15. This is to protect their brains and their bodies, which are too young to cope with it.

The report also found:

  • More boys in Scotland had used cannabis (23%) compared to all other countries surveyed

  • Smoking among children is much less common than it used to be, but smoking rates are still higher among girls than boys in England and Wales

  • Nearly one in 10 11-year-olds said they had used a vape at least once, rising to 26% of boys and 40% of girls by age 15

But what did our panel think?

Lianne Lax

"A lot of underage drinking comes from the home environment. My dad didn't touch alcohol. The same goes for behaviour in the classroom - it's shaped by the home."

Kathryn Taylor

"I'm sure I've seen the occasional sixth former with a hangover after an 18th birthday party. I'm sure it goes on. I'm not seeing as much evidence of it coming into school."

Brent Poland

"I was a PSHE coordinator in my early career. I did some surveys with children and parents and there was a culture of middle-class kids (especially girls) drinking alcohol and hiding it from parents. But where are they getting the alcohol from? From home!"


Vaping in schools: a growing crisis?

A young person holding a smartphone and a vape

Newspaper headlines are reporting a growing trend in underage vaping in the UK. Nathan Gynn discusses the reports and the research and John Dunne, Director General of UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) answers questions about the industry’s part to play in tackling these concerns.


Want to listen to the discussion in full? Catch up with the full show, plus a message from our sponsors Teach Well Toolkit, here.

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