Celebrating Diwali in the Classroom

Creative ways to celebrate Diwali in the classroom

Every year Indian communities come together to celebrate the religious holiday Diwali, the celebration of lights. This year, the five day festival spans from the 4th of November to the 9th, providing a perfect opportunity to educate children with a range of literature, food and values that originate from the Indian festival. The celebration of lights does just that, championing light over darkness and good over evil, lighting up homes across the globe. There’s more to Diwali than just putting up some lights, if you’re looking for creative ways to celebrate Diwali in the classroom, carry on reading as Education Recruitment Agency, Initial Education, have come up with their favourite ways to bring even more magic to the festival of lights.

Host a Mela

A Mela is a type of Indian street fair where local residents come together to sell their home grown produce and handmade goods. Providing the perfect opportunity to ignite student’s creative sides, hold an arts and crafts lesson or day to create pieces that students can later trade in a year group-wide or school wide Mela. Not only does this inspire imaginations, this creative way to celebrate Diwali teaches children about significant ancient artifacts an sculptures synonymous with the religious festival.

A Festival of Lights

You can’t celebrate the festival of lights without a nod to the beautiful clay candles lit by Hindu, Sikh and Jain households alike in honour of the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. Allow students to decorate the classroom with clay tea light holders and LED lights to illuminate the room throughout the 5 day festival. If you want to go a little further, introduce the magic of rangoli patterns to the class, perhaps by using coloured pencils or pens instead of sand at first to keep the mess to a minimum.

Share Stories

Include students in story time by sharing Indian stories behind the origins of Diwali and encourage students to share their own anecdotes of what each tale reminds them of. Ask students to interpret the concept of light over evil and how this occurs in their everyday lives, perhaps even ask them to bring in an object that symbolises that concept most to them. Creating relatable situations, particularly for younger children, during story time can aid in magnifying the impact of the tale you are telling and encourages a collaborative atmosphere that can create personal connections to the legend.

Food!

In line with the brightness theme, sweets are an integral part of Diwali celebrations, with the second day of the festival typically dedicated to the buying and sharing of sweets such as Halwa. Allow children to make their own sweets and take it in turns sharing tasks such as mixing to make sure that everyone gets a chance to be involved. Simple sweets to make include coconut Burfi sweets, made out of desiccated coconut, condensed milk and food colouring. Be careful of allergies as many traditional Indian sweets contain nuts and milk as a base, so be sure to read the ingredients list before sharing.

Other, more savoury snacks include bhajis, pakoras and samosas. Set children the task of going home and baking traditional Indian snacks over the weekend ready to bring in on the Monday.

As an education recruitment agency, we’d love to hear about the creative ways that you are planning on celebrating Diwali in the classroom, whether you’re an experienced teacher, ECT or teaching assistant, just get in touch via email, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter and be sure to tag us!

If you’re looking for a new challenge in Worcestershire or Gloucestershire and love working with children, get in contact with Becky from Initial Education today to hear how we can help find your ideal role.

Black History Month Round Up

As October comes to an end, we have reached the end of Black History Month, serving as a great time to celebrate some of the best dedications and tributes made in an effort to celebrate black history over the past four weeks. Schools across the country have been putting their own spin on this month’s theme and as an education recruitment agency, we’d love to hear how you celebrated in your school, whether you’re an experienced teacher, ECT or teaching assistant.

It goes without saying, that although we have come to the end of Black History Month, this is an issue that extends beyond a dedicated day, week or month and we should continue to devote time to learning about British history from all angles. Without further ado, lets take a look at the October round up…

Jacky Wright tops Britain’s most influential Black Briton’s list

The chief digital officer of Microsoft, Jacky Wright, made waves by topping the list of some of the most powerful figures from African and Caribbean heritage in Britain, coming in first ahead of Marcus Rashford and actress Michaela Coel. The esteemed business woman has called for ‘monumental shifts’ in becoming an equal society in Britain, and received the accolade due to the ‘sheer scale of work she is doing’.

A further influential figure that made an appearance was The Social Chain’s founder and the newest Dragon on Dragon’s Den, Stephen Bartlett. Stephen often recalls on his podcast and in his autobiography the journey from his humble beginnings in Manchester, to the development of The Social Chain (who, may I just add have a projected revenue of £1 billion by 2023) and his meteoric rise to become Dragon’s Den’s youngest ever panelist.

Dr Marcus Rashford

The man of the moment Marcus Rashford received an honorary doctorate from his hometown university, The University of Manchester, in recognition of his tremendous battle against child poverty in the UK. Indeed I’m sure as you all know, at the beginning the first lockdown in March 2019, the government announced cuts to free school meals for children and Marcus Rashford initiated and was incredibly instrumental in the campaign that forced Boris Johnson to U-Turn on the cuts. The star footballer became the youngest individual appearing on the Sunday Times giving list, and whilst there is still a long way to go in the fight against child poverty, it’s fair to say Rashford has made a life changing difference to many young children’s lives. As an education recruitment agency, ensuring that children are fulfilled both in and outside school life is a top priority for us, you can read more about Rashford’s campaign here.

Stan Horne

On the football theme, the Ex-Manchester City player Stan Horne became the first black football player to win the English Football league in 1965, and, 53 years later this month he was finally awarded his medal. After injury meant that Stan was unable to play in the majority of the championship, Horne was ‘overjoyed’ to have been awarded the medal after rules were overturned. Indeed, Horne reflected on the changing times, recounting how in the 1960s black football players were treated as a ‘novelty’, demonstrating the huge headway we have made in becoming an equal society and we’re not done yet.

Memorable Campaigns

This month the media has been awash with an array of captivating campaigns designed in recognition of some of Britain’s most influential characters. Some of the most notable campaigns that might have flown under your radar are those from Transport for London (TFL) and Google. Indeed, London’s famous tube map was re-imagined in tribute to some of the most critical Black Britons in British history. Each line is dedicated to a specific theme, for example the Bakerloo line pays tribute to the biggest sporting names, such as cricketer Everton Weekes, best known for his part in the trio ‘The Three Ws’ in the West Indies cricket team. Other notable characters include Edmund Jenkins, instrumental in leading the 1919 concert in celebration of Coleridge Taylor and poet Cecile Nobrega.

Its fair to say that this October, Black History has been at the forefront of people’s minds thanks to its increased presence in mainstream media. Without sounding like a scratched record, there is more to be done and this issue extends past the month of October.

We would love to know how you celebrated Black History Month in your school, get in touch today to share your ideas! If you are an experienced teacher, NQT/ECT or teaching assistant we’d love to hear from you.

If you are looking for a new role in Education, Initial Education is an education agency serving a fantastic range of school in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, so get in touch today if you are an experienced teacher, ECT or teaching assistant looking for a new role! Find us via email, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or give us a call on 01452 740 001.

World Mental Health Day – How You Can Help

With mental health awareness becoming an ever-pressing issue in our day-to-day lives, it seems fitting that each year we dedicate specific time to addressing the subject. An issue that extends past one day or awareness week, we discuss what you can do as a teacher to help both colleagues and students alike to raise awareness and help to improve well-being within schools.

World Mental Health Day

Ask The Questions

The stigma around mental health is slowly diminishing, however people are often still too afraid to ask. Get to the root of wellbeing issues in a school by asking the questions, whether that be through online surveys or 1:1 sessions with individuals. Resist the urge to simply ask how you can ‘fix’ the issue and focus on guiding conversations and ask instead how you can improve circumstances or make things better.

This can help pinpoint specific issues and often enables you to resolve them more efficiently than dancing around the subject. From this, you can take the time to talk and utilise school therapists to help get the best out of staff and pupils. For the majority, mental health problems are treatable should they be detected early, so take a time out and make this a priority.

Make it normal to talk

Its often difficult for children to express exactly how they are feeling, so make it easier by naming emotions and feelings in a way that children will identify with. Enabling the development of emotional intelligence will ensure that issues can be raised clearly. Try doing this through photo cards or a range of interactive activities to cement the process. Invite children to talk about how they’re feeling by asking questions such as “you look upset today, how can I help?”.

The organised chaos of a typical school day makes it hard to find the time to assign additional time to speaking to a student or colleague who seems particularly disheartened or low, however this is perhaps a more pressing issue than that never ending pile of marking sat on your desk. Taking the time can really make a huge difference to someone’s day or even week, so this mental health day make it more normal to talk.

Controlling emotions

The journey of learning emotional intelligence isn’t an easy one, but a key element is to develop specific strategies to regulate and control these emotions. This world mental health day, devote a few hours to talk and develop awareness into what your students are feeling and why they feel it. From this, you can assist in establishing a set of exercises that they can do to suppress this, whether that be star jumps or colouring.

“When adults support and encourage young children as they take risks, face obstacles, and grow from failure, young people learn how to bounce back from life’s ups and downs.”

— Marilyn Price-Mitchell, PhD (Quotes About Resilience That Foster Children’s Determination and Self-Confidence).

Make yourself approachable

When it comes to discussing personal mental health, making yourself approachable is pivotal in being able to help someone. Take part in a mental health first aid course and educate yourself around managing each situation, or simply make it known that you are there for students and colleagues should they need you. Encourage activities that allow students to get to know each other and you and make an effort to find out and show interest in what students get up to when they’re not at school. Everyone’s favourite topic is themselves so start the day with an open dialogue to ignite a positive feeling from the outset.

Make Use of Online Resources

As a crucial issue making significant headway in becoming an integral part in the school curriculum, there are some great online resources available that you can integrate into your lessons. Of course, teaching resource site Twinkl features a plethora of free to download activities, from positive affirmations to mindfulness and breathing exercises. Additionally, charities such as Young Minds understand the juggling act that teachers re having to go through on a daily basis and are providing everything you will need to come together for a fundraising day on 8th October 2021 through the #HelloYellow campaign.

We’d love to see how you’re spending world mental health day in school this year, tag us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter!

If you’re looking for a new challenge or change of scenery, Initial Education would love to hear from you so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via email or call us on 01452 740 001 (option 3).

Key Strengths of a Great Teaching Assistant

Teaching assistants form an integral part of our education system and are crucial to supporting both teachers and pupils in and outside of the classroom. Working 1:1 with students that need a little more guidance or working in larger groups in primary and secondary school settings, a great teaching assistant is able to encourage and develop students to get the best out of their learning.

So, we’ve established the importance of teaching assistants, but what really are the key strengths of a great teaching assistant I hear you say, well the team at Initial Education have come up with the key strengths that they look or when hiring teaching assistants.

Building and maintain strong relationships

Whilst maintaining long-lasting bonds with pupils seems an obvious requirement for a good teaching assistant, great teaching assistants are also able to build those relationships with their colleagues and parents to ensure that pupils have a strong support network built around them. Trust is crucial to any successful relationship, so get to know your pupils, their parents, and teachers in order to get the most out of the learning environment.

With relationships built on trust, it’s not uncommon for a teaching assistant to stick with one pupil throughout their primary or secondary school career thanks to the fantastic bonds that are built between themselves and a pupil.

Be prepared to be flexible

Teaching isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach and what worked with one class may not work with the next, meaning that teaching partners should be ready to adapt to different teaching styles on a daily basis. This is particularly pivotal when working in supply contexts as responsiveness and thinking outside of the box is fantastic for personal development.

Teamwork and Communication are KEY

Teamwork and communication are not only buzzwords that you use to bulk out your CV, indeed they are vital strengths to a great teaching assistant. Teaching assistants act as an intermediary between teachers and students, requiring you to relay and explain information accurately in a manner that your students will best understand. As we’ve discussed, it is so important to work closely with teachers and parents to ensure that student needs are correctly addressed and this strong communication skills.

Additionally, as a teaching assistant you will often be required to work with a number of different classes and pupils on a daily basis, amplifying the importance of exceptional team working and communication skills to encourage successful learning development.

Enthusiasm and Passion go a long way

A great teaching assistant will have a passion for working with and developing children, whether that be in early years, SEN or mainstream primary and secondary. An energetic approach will create an exciting atmosphere in the classroom, encouraging students to want to learn. What’s more, great teaching assistants will build on that passion but partaking in online courses designed to improve your competencies as a TA.

 

If you’re looking for a career change and think you would make a great teaching assistant, or if you’re simply looking for a fresh start in a new school, we have a great candidate and client base and we would love to hear from you!

National Fitness Day – 22.09.21

Today is National Fitness Day! We’ve pulled together some information about how fitness can benefit children and given some ideas about how you can weave it in to your school day.

 

Hiring an NQT : What To Look Out For

Hiring a new, inexperienced NQT or member of staff can be a tough decision, and although you may feel yourself gravitating to those candidates offering years of experience, a young or newly qualified teacher can bring so many strengths to your educational setting. Indeed, the drive and passion of new teachers is unrivalled, bringing with them a new approach and energy to the curriculum. Take a look at Initial Education’s key things to look out for when you’re hiring new teachers.

Flexibility and adaptability

At Initial Education we believe that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to teaching and the best teachers are those that are able to adapt to differing and challenging situations on a daily basis without getting flustered. When hiring an NQT, look at whether they have completed supply work previously or worked with both mainstream and SEN schools as this is a clear indicator of an individual’s ability to adapt to alternative environments.

Enthusiasm

Love what you do and do what you love. Teaching isn’t easy at the best of times so when hiring NQTs, look out for those that have a true passion for what they do and why they do it. Passion and enthusiasm go a long way in teaching as a teacher’s energy can easily be reflected onto those in the classroom, creating a great learning environment for all those involved. Indeed, when hiring an NQT you should consider that they are likely to incorporate new technologies into the classroom fresh from training, keeping pupils engaged and reinforcing their love for school.

Patience is underrated

A crucial skill that is often overlooked, educators that display patience and a degree of tranquillity are hugely valuable. Regardless of age group, pupils learn differently, misbehave, or simply struggle to process information in the same way. When hiring an NQT, look for those that are able to remain calm, cool and collected in even the most frustrating of situations in order to get the most out of their students.

Communication

Fundamental to teaching success, look for teachers that are able to effectively communicate with pupils, their parents and other teaching staff. Indeed, contributing to the learning development of students requires exceptional communication with other teachers in order to tailor your approach to each class. Additionally, building trusting relationships with parents and pupils is great for keeping students engaged in their learning, making the best teachers those that are able to demonstrate that they are able to provide effective and constructive feedback.

Furthermore, look at your existing team of staff and take into consideration the benefits that they would obtain from bringing on a newly qualified teacher. Indeed, this provides fantastic opportunities for existing staff to develop their own leadership and mentoring competencies, alongside reflecting on new techniques and practices.

Consider an agency

If you’re worried about the calibre of staff that you bringing to a school, whether they be newly qualified teachers of those with years of experience, consider looking to an agency for assistance. We’ve done the leg work for you and have a pool of the best NQTs and experienced teachers in the area, saving you time and worry. What’s more, we make safeguarding children our top priority, so when taking on a new teacher or teaching assistant from Initial Education you don’t have to worry. All our candidates are interviewed, and references are thoroughly reviewed prior to registration, in addition to an up-to-date enhanced DBS check.

If you’re looking for teaching staff for supply, temporary or longer-term work, we have a great pool of candidates and would love to hear from you, just get in touch.

World First Aid Day – 10th September 2021

Today is World First Aid day (10th September 2021). Take a look at some useful facts below… It’s so important for young people to be taught the basics of first aid for those life saving situations.

 

How to find work in September as an NQT

If you are a newly qualified teacher (NQT) looking to find work in September to no avail, you are not alone. Indeed, the emergence of coronavirus and school closures had an unexpected effect on the teaching profession, with a 17% rise in those applying for teacher training courses in 2020.

Furthermore, job retention is at an all time high thanks to the furlough scheme and the importance of job security during such a volatile time. There are many reasons to be positive, however, as this colossal change in the job market opens up the opportunity to take less conventional approaches into landing your first teaching role.

Whether its primary, secondary or SEN teaching that takes your fancy, here are our top tips for hitting the ground running and finding work in September as an NQT.

Consider Supply teaching

Supply teaching is fast becoming a hugely popular alternative route into teaching thanks to the incredible opportunities and flexibility that it offers. As an NQT, you will have completed several placements, however in terms of experience you will not have had the chance to work in a wide range of schools to find out where you excel best. Supply teaching offers you just this, with the chance to work at a variety of schools, from SEN primary one day to mainstream secondary the next, you could even develop a newfound love of teaching specific year groups that you’ve never given the time of day to before.

What’s more, supply teaching is a fantastic way to get your foot in the door and make yourself heard within the school community – schools are more likely to come to you when longer term roles come about than searching through a sea of CVs. This way of teaching provides many avenues for personal development as it teaches individuals the importance of being organised, adaptive and flexible and this in turn will make your CV stand out ahead of the rest when applying for those longer term roles. Reach out with a copy of your most up to date CV or simply your list of questions and we can help steer you in the right direction.

 

Keep Looking

The tendency is for teachers to hand in their notices in May, fulfilling their terms notice in the second half of the summer term and moving on, meaning that as a general rule of thumb you will see more roles advertised during this time. However, if you are still on the hunt for a September role in the summer, look beyond job boards and browse school websites as if they have not been successful I filling the role you could still have a chance.

Spend some time putting together a unique cover letter and go through your CV thoroughly to make sure that there are no spellng mistakes that will make your claim that you pay exceptional attention to detail look futile.

 

Join an Agency

When it comes to finding a job, sometimes its best to leave it to the professionals. Education agencies have spent years building up their networks and creating relationships with schools that you could only dream of, providing you with that all important ‘in’ that you need to kickstart your career. Recruiters put the leg-work in for you and can be your best chance at securing a role once September comes around the corner.

Agencies are able to find work in supply, temporary and longer term roles, just let them know what you’re after and be open to their suggestions. With years of experience in the education industry, recruitment agencies will often know what’s best for you and your career, so reach out, register and what have you got to lose?

 

Be prepared to travel

Location is a crucial cog to consider when looking for a role as an NQT as your dream job is most likely not going to be on your doorstep. Relocating can open up your reach and availability, however if this is a step too far, consider broadening your commute radius or looking at schools with close proximity to public transport. Increasing your commute to 30-45 minutes can widen the range of opportunities available to you, particularly if you are looking to start part time or in supply.

 

At Initial Education we’re always looking for NQTs, experienced teachers and teaching assistants to join our talent pool, so get in touch with us today!

Education – We’re here for you!

All those working in the Education sector are under a huge amount of strain and pressure during lockdown 3. Adjusting to new ways of doing things, with very little guidance on how, as well as little technological support.

This, for many, is a brand new way of teaching. There are bound to be hiccups and things to test all along the way – it’s more important than ever that teachers and parents work together, with a method for sharing constructive feedback by teachers, parents and students. Listening for all is vital, with adjustments being made as necessary. There is no rule book for teaching in school while also providing a learning provision for those being educated at home! We’re all finding our feet with this.

Many are resorting to Zoom sessions or using Teams as a way of communicating, which means relying on the wonders of technology. Here are our top tips for effective video calls:

  • With distractions in the classroom and at home for students, it’s important that within the classroom setting, you always face the camera with your head clearly in shot
  • Project your voice so you can be heard clearly.
  • Provide supporting documents, so the pupils have everything to hand for each lesson prior to the call.
  • Ask online learners to contribute just as much as if they were in the classroom, to enable them to feel included – you should have a system for taking children off ‘mute’ so they are able to speak, without talking over others.
  • Make lessons fun, interactive and use more visual aids.
  • Record lessons in case pupils are unable to join, or need to refer back to things said.
  • Do bitesize lessons rather than lengthy discussions – it is harder for children to concentrate when following lessons online.
  • Try and provide short 1:1 sessions for each online learner each week – if capacity allows.

We appreciate this is new for everyone. There will be bumps in the road, there will be frustrations, but together we can all find a way through, and we know it won’t be forever.

Ay Initial Recruitment, we remain here throughout lockdown to assist you. If you are struggling to recruit or need additional resource, we can help.

We are able to provide staff in the following areas:

  • 1:1 TA’s
  • General TA’s
  • Teachers for sick cover
  • FTC or catch up sessions

Please contact us for a confidential chat to see if we can offer a cost effective or interim solution.

Becky Oram

Initial Recruitment – Education

Let’s look for the positives

2021, 11 days in, almost half way through the month already. Hasn’t been great so far has it?! January is cold, dark and miserable enough in its own right so Lockdown 3.0 could easily leave us all feeling overwhelmed and pretty fed up.

I’m lucky enough to have great work colleagues who all look out for and support each other. While business continues to go through a less buoyant period, there is still plenty for us to focus on and to work hard towards. The Construction industry for us continues to be business as usual, we have vacancies to fill across the country. The Education sector are facing a challenging time, with additional strains being put on teaching staff to not only educate key worker children within the classroom, but also provide a learning provision for those children home-schooling. Hats off to them, they are working incredibly hard and we want to extend our thanks to all teachers and support staff. Having 4 children of my own now being home schooled, we are getting just a small taste of how tough your jobs really are.

At Initial Recruitment, we will do what we can to provide hints and tips and provide resource information for our colleagues in the Education sector and are open to fill any short or long term vacancies you may have during this difficult period.

The team and I have the greatest sympathy for those industries being directly affected by the economic downturn, especially the hospitality and leisure sector where recruitment is all but nonexistent. I hope that when the time come’s everyone makes the effort to support those businesses.

Let’s look for some positives. The days are still short but are getting longer, which means Spring is on the way and who doesn’t love Spring?

When Lockdown 3.0 comes to an end and some level of normality returns, we will once again be able socialise with friends and family, and go to our favourite restaurants and bars.  Until then, I plan to do my civil duty and follow the rules while doing my best to continue making the business a success and enjoying life at home. Oh, also lose some weight.

Joe Goatley

Managing Director

Initial Recruitment