Some eighty firefighters are tackling a large fire at a school near Preston. The blaze broke out in the science block at Leyland St Mary's Catholic Technical College on Royal Avenue just after 16:00 BST.

Five boys between the ages of 11 and 15 have been arrested by police on suspicion of arson. The school term was due to start this week and parents and children have been advised to check the school's website on Monday morning before turning up. Eye witnesses said parts of the school had been destroyed, particularly the science block.

The Royal Society of Chemistry has launched a photography competition for under 18s to inspire young people to consider the many different careers associated with chemistry.

Photographic entries must show and explain: What chemistry means to me. Pictures can be taken at school, in the community in which you live or the countryside and need to show what is good about chemistry, its use in society, why it is interesting, useful and exciting.

1st - £300 to be shared equally between the student entering and their school.
2nd - £150 to be shared equally between the student entering and their school.
3rd - £50 to be shared equally between the student entering and their school.

The deadline for entries to be received is 2pm on Friday 11 October 2013.

For full competition terms and conditions, details of how to enter and a competition entry form click here.

MoneyA single new pay and grading system will be introduced for all support staff in the Girls' Day School Trust's (GDST) 24 independent schools in England and Wales from September.

The new system will be fairer and simpler for the 2,000 support staff who work as technicians, teaching assistants, librarians, admin staff, cleaners, cooks, catering assistants and caretaking grounds staff. It is being introduced following consultation with the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), the GDST's recognised union...[Courtesy ATL media Office - Published 23/07/13]

WelcomeWell here it is! We are delighted to welcome you to our new look TecHKnow Community website. For the last few weeks we have been both planning and working on a fresh new look for the website with you in mind. Thank you for your patience and support. We hope you like what we have done.  

There are a few new features which will allow you to interact and network with other professional colleagues in a more slicker, easier way. For example, check out the User Activity stream on the right hand panel. As promised, you can now connect with us on most of the popular social media. Don't forget to Update your Profile particularly if you have changed your school workplace or email address. 

If you have any ideas or feedback for us then please let us know. Enjoy!

How do you make Instant Snow This is one of the discussions on our TecHKnow Forums area. Many colleagues give some great advice. Check out what they say and watch a video on the subject as well

There are a couple of ways to get the ingredient necessary to make fake polymer snow. You can purchase the fake snow which is sodium polyacrylate from companies such as Mindset at or alternatively lots of people sell it on ebay and Amazon.

You can find sodium polyacrylate inside disposable nappies or as crystals in a garden center, used to help keep soil moist. However, its questionable whether you will get suffiicent quantities from disposable nappies to make the amount you need!

So now you've got your polymer. All you need to do to make this type of fake snow is add water to the sodium polyacrylate. Add some water, mix the gel. Add more water until you have the desired amount of wetness. The gel will not dissolve. It's just a matter of how 'slushy' you want your snow. Fake snow is non-toxic. However, don't purposely eat it. I'm sure this would not be too healthy for you. When you are done playing with fake snow, it's safe to throw it away. You can add food colouring for visual effects. Fake snow something which is great for Open days or as a woahh type of experiment!! Why not try it out

There is lots of topical and useful news in the November packed edition of Education in Science which should have winged its way to you by now from the the ASE.

Andy Piggott who is an Independent Science Educational Consultant continues his article (from Sept) on the "Standard of buildings..or Ignorance is Bliss?". With Schools facing increasing squeeze on their finance they should be acutely aware that there are several important factors to take into consideration when considering the upkeep, maintenance or restructuring of a school building. As a qualified Health and Safety practitioner I have a keen interest in this area and have found in general that managers either simply do not give enough focus to the many factors that are involved in the maintenance of a school building or simply they are ignorant of the facts. Its a great read and one that I recommend that you study carefully and perhaps reflect on your own building environment.

Are you a school technician? Click here to complete their survey. UNISON is keen to keep in touch with the issues of particular groups of staff in schools. The survey consists of  ten questions and they are designed to improve Unison's feel for life as a school technician, so they would be grateful if you could answer them. Click here to complete the survey
To find out more about UNISON in Schools please go to

First of all let me be honest. Several years ago when my ASE membership lapsed, I refused to renew it. There were several reasons, mostly these were selfish and personal but the overarching reason was that I personally felt that the ASE did not offer me any tangible or intangible benefits aside from that afforded to me by using CLEAPSS, TecHKnow, Scitech-l, Ken Wilkinsons Scitech-YAHOO groups area or indeed anything else.

I have now reassessed the benefits of ASE membership and I now feel that it was worth using my trusty visa card to buy another years membership. I am still not 100% entirely a happy techy. However, I am certain given time that may change.

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