Shielding Children From Learning


Over the last few months I’ve been working on projects teaching reading and speaking to three very different levels of readers. I’ve worked in a Primary school, with 7 year olds, in a Secondary school with 12 year olds and just recently on an ESOL scheme teaching adults to speak and read English. Reading with an adult is reading with a genuine partner, with a very active learner, who offers ideas and challenges the teacher effectively to improve their learning, even when their language skills are not great. These adults are focussed and learn well.

For too many of both the y3 and y7 pupils reading is an enemy, reading causes anxiety. It involves a lot of failure. Working with the children, you can see how complex it is to learn to read, and to feel powerful. One way we can make the difference is by giving children one to one attention. Not enough schools supply this valuable time but even in half an hour a week, a child can be carefully helped to acquire the  skills that form the basis of all other learning. Working one to one is different to listening to the rising clamour and disorder of the average classroom, with its perpetual restless ‘on the edge of control’ feeling. How can we get more volunteers into schools? The current system puts up barriers to allowing outsiders into schools but we’re also shielding our least privileged children from learning.


Engage event: On becoming a good reader, by Karen Johnson


Engage event: On becoming a good reader, by Karen Johnson.

The Inspiration of Encountering Great Writing by Sandy Braddick


Engaging with Ourselves: The Inspiration of Encountering Great Writing by Sandy Braddick.

I very much enjoyed meeting Sandy Braddick at the Great Writers Inspire event. She is an inspirational teacher of the first class. Yeovil students are very lucky indeed.

Free resources from Oxford University for English Teachers



Wonderful freebies on DH Lawrence, George Eliot, Anglo Saxon, Shakespeare, also Critical Thinking and Philosophy if you rummage around their itunes offering

Turmeric showreel



Counting 1-10 clips available free on the BBC website


You can find all the Counting with Rodd programme episodes here after the transmission on BBC2 on March 13th 2012.

Or you can search BBC Class Clips for ‘Counting with Rodd

Or each episode can be searched on its unique number:

1 13441

2 13442

3 13443

4 13444

5 13445

6 13446

7 13447

8 13448

9 13449

10 13450

New Series: Counting With Rodd from 1 to 10


Turmeric’s latest production. Aimed at pre-schoolers and infants, presenter Rodd Christensen shows us how to play with and recognise the numbers 1 to 10. Each number gets to star in its own 5 minute show teaching us how to form them and how to use them in the right places. With playful activities, movement and lots of comedy, each number also has its own special verse in the number song so we can confidently sing along and count to 10 with Rodd. Commissioned by Katy Jones at BBC Learning with educational advice from Linda Mort.

Ladybirds have 6 legs

Rainbows and days of the week for the number 7

Why use expensive staff? Why pay high copyright fees?


If you come from a non-broadcast business, you may be shocked at the costs of making broadcast TV and the cost of hiring professional crew members. You may be frequently thinking;  “I can find you someone who will work for less than that.”  or “I know someone who can make that cheaper”.

You shouldn’t doubt that there is always someone cheaper, but it’s usually preferable to be interested in having someone more talented, someone with a track record in HD production for broadcast and someone with insurance and a proven ability to deliver on time and on budget safely. If someone is injured or fails to deliver, your production may have to bear the cost.

Handmade, home grown solutions often seem attractive and they are suitable for domestic use but often not for the specific requirements of high quality broadcasters.

You may hear comments like ‘why is the music so expensive – there’s tons of cheaper stuff on the internet?’. Well, it’s true, there is, but unfortunately it’s rarely cleared for broadcast. And even when it is, it’s never going to match up to a piece that’s specially composed to fit your beautifully, precisely edited show. Anyone can plaster a bit of music over a sequence but not everyone can see how much more effective it is to have bespoke music, underscoring the mood and drawing attention where the director wants it, The apparently cheap solution can become staggeringly expensive if copyright is infringed. A professional composer will be on their guard against accidental breaches of copyright. It’s much safer, as well as more creative, to compose specific programme music you know is clear of copyright issues.

The same is true of many other works of art required by programme makers, such as illustrations, book covers, posters, photographs, film inserts, scripts – all of these are much less trouble if specially created for the programme. Then and only then, can you feel safe that there are no copyright encumbrances coming back to bite you at a later, and much more expensive, date.

Another issue you may encounter is zealous,  but untrained enthusiastic volunteers ‘researching’ costs for you and then coming up with domestic/educational rates which look attractively cheap. Many copyright holders will allow schools, charities and home users to have a very cheap licence eg for a font, an image, a piece of music, a piece of film. But if you proceed to broadcast any copyright item of this nature you MUST be very clear that it is for broadcast so that the copyright holder can reflect that usage in the price. A font that costs £25 for a home user can become a £5,000 font if you want to use it for commercial purposes. Check before you use it, not after. You can’t take back a broadcast.

Guardian Teacher Network


Guardian Teacher Network.

Useful resources for the whiteboard

Talkie Time on CBeebies


Our new Talkie Time series for 3-5 year olds is here on the CBeebies website. This series is for home use between children and parents, carers, older siblings, grandparents.