As the Beast from the East bears down upon us, many schools are forced to close and for others, staff may have to struggle to get into work. Principals and head teachers do not make the decision to close schools lightly.

There are so many factors which must be considered. These include, having the necessary staff to actually teach or supervise students as well as considering the safety of both staff and students while they are on the premises.? Your school employer must also follow a set of regulations when the weather gets too cold. All of these decisions should be made in a reasonable time.

What's the minimum temperature for schools to close?

The minimum temperatures for school classrooms is set by the Education School Premises Regulations 1999. It states that the heating systems must be able to heat rooms to a minimum of 18°C, which must be maintained while the room is in use. This requirement also applies to private study and examinations rooms. But NOT to staff rooms or prep rooms which are covered largely by The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (or Northern Ireland) 1993 If you do have to go into work, then what are your rights? 

[TecHKnow Wiki article| Read more here]

If you are a Science Technician working in Secondary School Science in the SELB board area of Northern Ireland, you may be interested in this

Would you be interested in becoming a member of a Technician’s Networking Group for the technician’s in the “SELB” area. This would be a new group and only comprised of Secondary School Technicians from SELB schools?

 It would involve meeting up once a term and discussing issues and practical’s that we are having difficulty with, and networking with other technicians that you perhaps have emailed or spoken to on the phone but have never met in person!

We can also incorporate small workshops / make and take sessions into these meetings if this is what you would like also.

I would be willing to co-ordinate this group and I would propose that the first meeting could take place on Thursday 15th March in St Patrick’s High School Keady at 4pm to 6pm (time is flexible and open to discussion).

We can discuss the finer workings of the group at this initial meeting. If you are interested in becoming a member of this Technicians Networking Group then let me know by emailing me at the following address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  as soon as you can. Hoping to hear from you all.

 

Funding cuts have forced secondary schools to shed 15,000 staff over two years – as pupil numbers have risen by more than twice that amount, according to unions.

An analysis of government data by the School Cuts coalition of education unions shows that in the two years from 2015-16, when per-pupil funding levels started to fall, secondary schools have lost 5.5 staff members on average.

This equates to 2.4 fewer classroom teachers, 1.6 fewer teaching assistants and 1.5 fewer support staff such as science technicians.

With school leaders having a lack of understanding of the role of science technicians, they usually are considered easy options for cut backs. This is set hard against the tone of recent reports which are encouraging schools to develop policies to improve the effective delivery of science education in our schools


Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, has warned the government that school budgets were at “breaking point”. “School leaders have made every other possible efficiency and now it is impossible for many schools to avoid making redundancies, to continue to keep class sizes at an acceptable level, and to offer a full and rounded curriculum to all pupils. [Read TES - https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/secondary-schools-shed-15000-staff-due-damaging-funding-cuts  (February)]

 

The Practical Work in Science study is nearing the end of its final year of data collection.

The study, funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation with a contribution from the Wellcome Trust, investigates how practical science in schools has been changing during a period of curriculum change and budgetary constraints.

Over 2,000 respondents from 1,220 schools and colleges in England and Scotland took part in the survey this year. We were especially impressed with the response from science technicians: over 1,200 of you gave us feedback about your role and the resources and equipment for practical work in your school.

The findings of the study will be published in 2018.

If you would like to be notified when the report is available, please contact us to be added to the mailing list for this purpose: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you fall ill, you are entitled to take time off work until you recover. There are a number of rules and regulations under the law which determine your rights relating to sickness and leave, and it may benefit you to be fully aware of them.

Your employer should have a policy which explains what to do if you are unable to come to work due to illness. It should include a reporting procedure for letting the right person at work know that you will not be there. They may ask you to contact them by a certain time or in a certain way. If you are not aware of this policy, then find out about it now!

The Association for Science Education is pleased to announce support from The Gatsby Foundation to be involved in a new project producing guidance to enable secondary science departments and school leadership to develop their own written policy for practical science. The ASE will work directly with school leaders, science subject leaders, teachers and technicians to develop, trial, evaluate and refine the guidance and supporting professional learning strategies.  

This project supports benchmark 1 of the Good Practical Science report from the Gatsby Foundation, which indicates that every school should have a written policy explaining the purposes, implementation and outcomes for practical science. The process of creating the policy will be designed as a professional development activity for the staff involved. 

We are inviting expressions of interest from science leaders and science teachers from secondary schools in England who would like to work with ASE in creating guidance for developing a written policy for practical science. If you would like to find out more about taking part in this project please complete our very short form by Wednesday 28 March. bit.ly/GatsbyASE

Download the full Good Practical Science report with it’s ten benchmarks and ten recommendations for schools, government and policymakers.

Schools are struggling to cope with fewer science technicians and more examined practical work. What has led to the shortfall, what needs to be done and how can teachers weather the crisis? School science technicians are often unnoticed by students, or seen as a person in a white coat hidden in the ‘prep room’, a mysterious place students are not allowed to enter. Yet they are an integral part of any school science department. Technicians prepare practical lessons for teachers, ensure secure storage of chemicals and equipment, and oversee laboratory safety. To a science teacher, their technician is often much more than that.

It is hard to imagine a science department without technicians, but that is the reality for an increasing number of schools. Anecdotal concerns from teachers and technicians triggered a closer look at the problem. In September 2017 the Association for Science Education (ASE) released highlights from the ASE Technician Survey [pdf].

Staff at a South Tyneside school beat stiff competition to clinch a national award. Science technicians at Whitburn CE Academy fended off fended off fierce competition from across the UK to win the prestigious Salters’ National Awards for Science Technicians 2017. Whitburn Academy’s Judith McKie and Jade Norris, were recently awarded the accolade for demonstrating that they were outstanding in enabling high quality practical work in science and for their dedication to professional learning and upskilling. The Technician of the Year Award is designed to celebrate the significant role played by technicians in delivering outstanding support, innovation and professional development, and is supported.

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