Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Business News Quiz 30/01/13

1.       Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has threatened to sell more of his shares in the airline if it places an order for more aeroplanes. Which airline is he the founder of?
Jet 2 ( )             Easyjet ( )        Ryanair ( )      Spanair ( )

2.       London's Stansted Airport is being sold to the owner of which other airport for £1.5bn, it has been announced?
Gatwick Airport ( )      Heathrow Airport ( )      Manchester Airport  ( )      Liverpool John Lennon Airport ( )

3.       Online grocer Ocado has appointed Sir Stuart Rose as their new chairman, which other retailer did he used to be chairman of stepping down in 2011?
BHS ( )      Primark ( )    John Lewis ( )      Marks and Spencer ( )

4.       Which technology giant is to move its UK headquarters following a £1bn property deal? It has bought a 2.4 acre site at King's Cross in north London and plans to build a seven and 11 storey complex.
Apple ( )           Google ( )      Yahoo ( )      Microsoft ( )

5.       House sales rose by how much in 2012 to five-year high?
20% ( )              15%( )            5%  ( )          105 ( )

6.       Restructuring specialist Hilco has taken effective control, saying they were working closely with Hilco as they "continue to seek a positive outcome for the business"?     

Virgin ( )           Dixons ( )              Jessops ( )             HMV ( )

7.        The number of people out of work fell by 37,000 between September and November to,  what figure, which is the lowest since 2011?

1.49 million ( )          4.49 million ( )          3.49 million ( )            2.49 million ( )

8.       Which company has unveiled what it says is the thinnest tablet computer of its kind. The Android-powered Xperia Z is 0.27in (6.9mm)-thick. That is 0.01in thinner than Apple's iPad Mini despite featuring a bigger 10.1in screen?

Sony ( )                 Microsoft ( )                  Nokia ( )                   HTC ( )

9.       Which football club has topped Deloitte's football rich list for the eighth year in a row, with revenues breaking (500m euros) £420m for the first time?

Bayern Munich ( )        Manchester United  ( )       Chelsea ( )        Real Madrid  ( )

10.   Which technology giant has reported flat profits and record revenues that still fell short of market expectations?

Apple ( )            Microsoft ( )                Nokia ( )              Sony ( )

Donna Jestin

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Business News Quiz 23/01/13

1.       Which retailer has just gone into administration making it the latest casualty on the High Street and putting about 4,350 jobs at risk?
Game ( )             Oasis ( )                HMV ( )             Comet( )

2.       UK consumer prices inflation held steady at what figure in December, official figures have shown?
3.5% ( )            2.7% ( )                  3% ( )               2.5% ( )

3.       The UK economy contracted by how much in the last three months of 2012, according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR)?
1.5% ( )              0.2% ( )                0.3% ( )              3% ( )

4.       Which companies shares hit an 11-month low in New York last week after a report of a cut in orders for their latest phone?

Apple ( )        Nokia ( )       HTC ( )      Microsoft ( )

5.       Which car manufacturer is to cut 800 jobs at its Swindon plant, blaming weak demand in European markets?
BMW ( )             Vauxhall ( )        Ford ( )              Honda ( )

6.       Investigations are under way to try to find out how beef-burgers on sale in UK and Irish Republic supermarkets became contaminated with?  
Horsemeat ( )         Dog Meat ( )              Cat Meat ( )            Fish( )

7.        Facebook has announced a major addition to its social network - a smart search engine it has called…?
Table search ( )      Graph search ( )         Google search ( )       Facebook search ( )             
8.       The construction industry in the UK will not recover its pre-recession peak level of output until when, says a study by an industry lobby group?
2016 ( )        2014 ( )            2020 ( )       2022 ( )

9.       Shares in chocolatier Thornton’s have fallen 7% and fashion chain French Connection 11% after both reported disappointing sales figures. In addition, Dixons has fallen a further ?% on fears the electrical retailer may cut its profit outlook on Thursday?
10.5% ( )         7%  ( )        3.5%  ( )         5%  ( )

10.   UK mobile users will be able to send and receive money by sharing only their phone number by what year, the Payments Council has said?
2014 ( )         2016( )          2017( )          2015 ( )

Answers –

Monday, 21 January 2013

Secondary - Plenary? No problem!

I hate to boast, but I have just been at a brilliant training course. The topic was Literacy Across the Curriculum and I have been truly inspired. The real test comes, though, when you try to put the theory into practice and find precious time to use all the new, whizzy ideas in the classroom. This can become overwhelming but I find that the best whizzy ideas are ones that require no fuss, or preparation, on my part. And most importantly they have to be ones that actually improve the learning of all of my students. Here is one of them: plenary boxes.

The idea: at the start of the lesson, students write down 'Plenary' in their books at the start of the lesson and leave a space of around 10 lines. This then enforces the idea of the plenary as a prominent part of the lesson from the off. At the end of the lesson (or even better, mid way through) students write down what they have learned in this space. They could also write questions that they want to ask the teacher or how they feel they are progressing. These 'boxes' then become the focus of the teacher's attention when checking and marking the books, opening up a dialogue with students about their learning and progress. Simple!

My greatest flaw in the classroom is planning too much and running out of time, which means that my plenaries can really suffer. Hopefully this strategy will focus me and my students on the role of the plenary in our lessons and support me in making time for it. Along with sorting out my poor timing, however, the potential impact on student progress is huge. Firstly, students are forced to engage with their own learning in a structured way; secondly, my marking can become much more focussed on creating a dialogue with students about their progress. Unnecessary marking avoided and Ofsted happy. Here's to more whizz and less fuss!

Naomi Hursthouse

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Secondary Science - What is Ash Dieback Disease?

Ash dieback disease was discovered in 1992 in the remote Polish forest of Zabodny.  There are a variety of methods suggested in order to attempt to deal with the threat to Ash (Fraxinea excelsior).  This disease is associated with the fungus Chalara fraxinea which is thought to be a new species.  Spores of the sexual stage of the fungus are released from fallen leaves and these go on to infect other trees.  There is some evidence that the disease has a higher percentage of fatalities in forests with damper conditions, although in some areas 10-15% of trees do survive.

The methods suggested include:
  • Destruction of trees which show symptoms of the disease
  • Destruction of all trees in an area where the disease has been identified
  • Restriction of transfer of Ash trees from region to region
  • Avoidance of using Ash when replanting
  • Removal of leaves and twigs that fall from established Ash trees
  • Protection of trees by the use of fungicides
Now try these questions:
  1. Why could these methods be effective?
  2. For each method, state the conditions (for example forest/urban location) necessary for the method to be most effective; show your reasoning.
  3. Some scientists have called for restrictions on felling trees; give reasons why this policy could be successful.
  4. Design suitable experiments to demonstrate that resistance to Ash dieback is inherited and indicate the results you would expect if the gene for resistance is:                                                           i.      Dominant     ii.      Recessive       iii.      Not dependant on one gene alone
  1. Indicate the likely proportions of resistant and susceptible F1 and F2 plants with respect to the crosses that you set up in your experiments.
  2. Why should the virulence of Ash dieback disease indicate that the causative organism has recently arisen?
Copyright Jon Bunting
Reading around the subject

Background to the disease:
There is an interesting Wiki article on sex in fungi here:
and in more detail here:
On evidence for some resistance to the disease:

Some aspects of the odd-ball fungi
As you will have found in the articles Fungi are classified on the morphology of their sexual apparatus, i.e. how they do sex.  There are 3 groups:

Zygomycetes (also called Glomeromycetes).  These small fungi produce gametes which fuse inside a thick-walled gametangium thus producing a zygospore (2N).  Under suitable conditions the zygospore germinates, divides by meiosis (now N) and produces new haploid fungal threads which can produce many more spores by mitosis.  The spores are distributed (wind, water animal) and spread the fungus.

Ascomycetes.  These are typically dikaryotic in that nuclei from their parents do not fuse until just before reproduction i.e. they are N but carry genes from BOTH parents.  During reproduction a special hook shaped hypha is formed called an ascus, the two nuclei fuse (now 2N) and meiosis takes place to form ascospores (N).  Pressure builds in the ascus which bursts to distribute the spores.

Bascidiomycetes.  These, like the Ascomycetes, have dikaryotic hyphae, but the control of nuclei in each segment of the hyphae is more rigorous through the use of “Clamp Connections” which allow the movement of nuclei from segment to segment as necessary to maintain the dikaryotic state.  The sexual apparatus is different too, with the production of many sac-like bascidia, although the fusion of nuclei and subsequent meiosis to form bascidiospores is similar to the Ascomycetes.  The bascidia are often arranged underneath large specialised structures familiar to us as Toadstools and Mushrooms where the bascidia cover the gills, or in some bascidiomycetes, tubes.

Unfortunately, the method of reproduction of many fungi is not known and such species are traditionally put in a “holding pen” called the Fungi imperfecti until such time as research indicates which of the above groups they should belong to.  This can lead to the same fungus having two names, one (possibly older name) applied before the sexual stage was known and another given to the same fungus as a “newly” discovered species with evidence of its method of reproduction.  Chalara fraxinea is just such an example, with a sexual phase confusingly called Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus (see the pictures in this blog which show the white fruiting bodies of H pseudoalbidus).  There is a good article on this “Dual naming” problem here:

and nice pictures of the sexual stage of the fungus here (remember the notes above regarding dual naming):

Some examples of syllabus content for which the above exercise is relevant:

Exam boardSyllabus nameSection referenceComment
AQAA level Biology3.1.1Fungi as examples of pathogens; Disease
3.2.6Cell differentiation
3.3Analyse, Interpret, Explain and Evaluate
3.4.1Some aspects of variation in population size
3.4.7Some aspects of conservation of species
3.4.8Some aspects of selection
3.6Drawing valid conclusions; discuss and assess the relative effects of limitations in experimental procedures.
3.7Contribution made by scientists in respect of decision making
CIEBiology (9700)HDisease
PNatural selection
QProtecting threatened species
EdexcelA level Biology 8B101/9B1012.3Meiosis
2.4Some aspects of structure of plants, natural selection, conservation
3.3Factors affecting numbers and distribution of a species
3.4Mechanisms of infection
OCRBiology H021 H4212.2.2Some aspects of infection and transmission of disease
2.3.4Some aspects of biodiversity and conservation
5.1.2Some aspects of the effect of the environment on evolutionary changeMeiosisPhenotypic ratiosContinuous and discontinuous variation
5.3.1Factors affecting an environment
5.3.2Some aspects of factors which affect ecosystems (particularly with reference to timber in a temperate climate)

John Giles

John Giles is an educational consultant and author specialising in IT and computing. He works closely with exam boards, and has written syllabuses and exam papers.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

ASE 2013 - Speed Dating for scientists

For years now, one of the biggest events each year in my diary is the ASE Annual Meeting.  This might make me a sad person in some people’s eyes but it’s got to the stage where I should admit it.  I love it.  For three days (four, counting the International Day) thousands of people meet to talk about science education.  These are not only some of the most knowledgeable people but some of the nicest – and the most positive.  Go to a workshop and ask a question: the chances are you’ll get a range of solutions.  The prospectus has dozens of sessions running at any one time; in fact, the biggest headache is choosing which to attend.
The Collins stand at ASE 2013
It’s always the first weekend in the year (unless it would clash with New Year), which means the planning has to be done the year before.  Now that takes some discipline for someone such as me.  This year Collins sponsored a set of workshops I ran, which meant that those of you who came went away with Collins pens, Collins memory sticks and the must-have accessory of the conference, the Collins conference bag. Some people even came to several - evidently the bags were a strong draw.

A couple of the sessions had a focus on developing literacy skills (one of them on the six mark questions) and a couple on revision strategies.  Participants in one of these found themselves in an activity called ‘speed dating’, in which topic revision is done by asking your ‘dating partners’ scientific questions.  Fantastic tweet the following Monday from @MrsDrSarah, who’d tried it out with Y11 students “who liked it a lot”.

Biggest turn out though was for the sessions on using iPads in science lessons.  Now, this is an idea whose time has come and I’ll return to it in future blog entries.  One of the things that prompted a significant number of questions though was the stand I used.  Rather like a miniature lectern, it holds the iPad above the table and at an angle.  Apart from being convenient, it also means the camera can easily be used as a visualiser.  Any smallish piece of equipment or student’s work is projected for all to see (the iPad will connect to a projector using a VGA-Apple dock lead).  The image can also, of course, be recorded (or videoed in the case of an experiment) for future reference.

If you couldn’t make it to the Annual Meeting, you missed a treat.  In 2014 it’s at Birmingham University from January 8th to 11th.  If you’d like the presentations from the Collins workshops this year, go to

Ed Walsh

Ed Walsh is Science adviser for Cornwall Learning. In the past, he has worked extensively with teachers, schools, local authorities and national agencies in relation to science education

Monday, 14 January 2013

Childcare - Now I Am Two!

The government programme to provide funded childcare places for disadvantaged two year olds will be fully implemented in 2013 and will be extended to 40 per cent of all two year olds by September 2014.
In addition, The Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage places even more emphasis on assessment at this age with the two-year-old progress check. This clearly states that
 “practitioners must review (children’s) progress and provide parents with a short written summary of their child’s development in the prime areas. This progress check must identify the child’s strengths, and any areas where the child’s progress is less than expected”.
Your learners need to be prepared for these new developments, which highlight more than ever the importance of observing the specific needs, interests and development of two-year-olds in early years settings.

Knowledge of children’s development and learning forms a significant part of both the Level 2 Certificate and Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce, particularly:

L2:       Unit TDA 2.1 Child and young person development
Unit CCLDMU 2.2 Contribute to the support of child and young person development

 L3:      Unit CYP 3.1 Understand child and young person development
Unit CYP 3.2 Promote child and young person development
Unit EYMP 2 Promote learning and development in the early years

In addition, Observation, Assessment and Planning for Play and Development also form a whole unit (Unit 9) of the new Edexcel BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Children’s Play, Learning and Development (supported by the forthcoming Collins student textbook). This unit also emphasises the importance of involving parents in observations of children’s development and using information from observations to plan activities for children.

This is a good time to review your learners’ knowledge of the specific needs and interests of two year olds.
DVD clips are always a good place to start. Siren Films ( have a good selection, or you may have your own.) Invite your learners to observe and make notes about the all-round development of two year olds, such as:
  • what can they do physically?
  • how do they communicate and express themselves?
  • how do they play and interact socially?
Follow this up with learners working in pairs to investigate more about development at two years old. The NHS choices website ( provides an interactive birth-to-five development timeline, with developmental milestones at specific ages and a selection of short video clips.
Ask learners to complete the chart “Now I Am Two” (attached), summarising developmental milestones in the prime areas of the EYFS and encourage them to share examples from their placements.
This is also a good time to review the benefits of Heuristic Play for two year olds. Use a DVD clip (or one of several examples available on You Tube) at:

Ask your learners to observe and make notes about how children are using the heuristic play materials to:
  • explore and experiment
  • use problem solving to figure things out
  • be creative and imaginative, use materials in original ways and represent their ideas
Learners could then work in pairs or small groups to devise lists of objects to use in a Heuristic Play session and complete the chart (attached) to outline how Heuristic Play supports the all-round development and learning of two year olds.

The Pre-School Learning Alliance ( )  also has a wide variety of support materials, including ideas for play activities and a downloadable information document about learning through play.

As early years settings prepare for the influx of vulnerable two-year-olds, many local authorities are responding by developing training packages and support materials for early years practitioners. Cheshire East Council ( have produced a best practice toolkit entitled “Are You Ready for Me-Now I’m 2?”  This guide provides a scaffolded approach for evaluating and improving current provision for 2 year olds, to meet the requirements of the revised EYFS and also has some useful material to use in your classroom.

Janet Stearns, Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies, former Lead Examiner for CACHE

Friday, 11 January 2013

Alex's Chinese Challenge – Week 2

I've now come to the end of the second week of my Chinese Challenge, and I'm quite happy with my progress so far! I've completed the first CD of the Collins Easy Learning Mandarin Audio Course, and had a little chat with Lin, a native speaker, to get used to the tone system and work on my pronunciation. I'm hoping that next time we speak we’ll be able to have a bit more of a conversation! The writing system is proving to be challenging, but I've found that I can remember characters more easily for words that I've already learnt, so I think I'm going to try and focus more on building my vocabulary first, and then make a bigger push for writing later on in the challenge.


  Chinese seems to be gaining every day in its importance as a world language. The New York Times recently launched a Chinese language site, joining hundreds of other Internet companies lining up to try and crack the Chinese market. Maybe we will see a day when Chinese leapfrogs English as a lingua franca, and maybe that day’s not as far away as we think. Here’s even more motivation to get learning!

The New York Times Online in Chinese

HSC: Disembodiment, relationships and social networks

The recent case in which a senior politician was named as a paedophile is a symbol of the power of the internet to bring out into the open issues of public concern that would otherwise have been hidden or confined to gossip and innuendo. Few if any of the finger pointers knew him personally, and yet they did what they did. 

But what were their motives? Was it revenge, or the desire to put information into the public domain, or was it to punish someone/ anyone – this individual being a proxy for some wrong that they heard had been committed?

I think it is likely that most posters of this false accusation were not really aware of their motivation or what drove them to collectively libel this individual.

It seems that this is becoming an increasingly worrying trend in the new world of online technology and one that everyone involved in education at whichever level should keep their eyes on. 
A news item last week reported on the abusive manipulation of vulnerable individuals with eating disorders who use online chat forums by urging their suicide. What is the motivation for individuals in urging others to kill themselves? We can argue that needing to use an eating disorder chat room is an indication of vulnerability.

So what motivates a person to abuse another’s vulnerability in this way? Perhaps the anonymity that technology permits is out of step with the social possibilities of the internet.

The use of online discussion forums in health and social care are not new. A quick search can identify numerous examples of online forums and bulletin boards for individuals with a wide range of diagnoses and support needs hosted by reputable organisations and others. The number of postings indicates that they are successful in attracting comment and discussion.

However, there are particular ethical considerations raised by using online forums. They have the potential for blurring of boundaries in relationships where there is contact between individuals who might be vulnerable to abuse and exploitation by others who are perceived to be in a position of authority or having some special or extra knowledge.

With the lack of face to face contact and no physical presence the issue of crossing relationship boundaries with individuals seems less likely. However, online forums can still provide the medium in which boundaries are crossed. The nature of online communication invests manipulative participants with power which they can use to exploit others, a risk that has been highlighted with young people with mental health problems.

Adults might also be vulnerable to psychological exploitation. This can be in the form of persistent emotional maltreatment such as conveying the individual is worthless or unloved; that the individual is inadequate or valued only in so far that he or she meets the needs of another person; or that the individual is required to meet expectations that they cannot meet. They can also be threatened, intimidated and egged on to self-harming behaviours.

Below is an activity that can be used at diploma level to help learners develop their knowledge and skills around relationships. It can be used to provide evidence for the HSC Diploma in Adult Care Level 2 and Level 3 that takes into account the increasing use of online social networking as a way to establish and maintain relationships among many people today.