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Calling all teachers!

JanF | Posted in General Discussion on

Oh dear – its always fatal for me to be stuck at home with the internet/Gatherings available (sorry – not skyving off work, but recovering after having a camera down the old neck to see why my stomach is giving me gyp!hospital says I have to rest for 24 hrs.and today I need it!)
I was wondering if you all would like to think about my(and any other D and T teachers too!)situation.
I have to teach a class of about 24(some groups are 25/26) [boys and girls] aged 11/12 yrs(Key Stage 3). I see them for 1hr twice a week for about 12 weeks. Few of them have used machines before – indeed most of them have never done any textile work ‘cos not all primary schools have any facilities or indeed any desire to do textile work and you all know how little some parents know of textiles these days.
I have 11 sewing machines.
I have to cover a) Health and Safety b)using the equipment and c)research, design and make something – leaving time to do interim assessment and final assessment and evaluation of outcomes, design ideas and making skills.
Then I will change groups to get 2 more groups this year(to repeat the process).
I then dont see this present group until yr. 9 (13/14yrs.) by which time I will then have them for 3 separate, 1 hour lessons for 6 weeks. I will have to recap skills and H and S to ensure quality and safety for whatever they do, but they do all design and make!
I will still have to do assessments and evaluation lessons.
By this stage they are deciding on subject options for KS4 -Yrs. 10 and 11(exam years)and this is when they have to study the exam curriculum.(Too much to go into details here and now!)
If you were in my shoes – what would you teach them at KS3?
To say nothing about having to include Curriculum Cymraeg (Welsh influences!!) and the 3 key skills identified -Communication, application of number and use of IT!!
At the moment I teach Sashiko work, and applique/reverse applique/ block printing/free motion embroidery/some CADCAM and using some kind of fastening as the main thrust of KS3 with the emphasis on acquiring the skills of using the sewing machine.
The kids sometimes produce brilliant work – sometimes rather crap(not an educational term I hasten to add!)as all my classes are mixed ability and usually I do not have any help. If I have a group with a large proportion of identified pupils with special needs in it i can be lucky enough to have 1 helper – but she has to go to the group with the most needs and at any one time there are usually 5 corresponding groups learning food, resistant materials etc.so i have a 1 in 6 chance of getting a hand.(Just imagine what it can be like when something goes wrong with a machine and it becomes contagious – headless chickens have nothing on me going from 1 to the other)
Please dont think i’m moaning – in fact I think I don’t do so badly really! Most of the time my groups seem to enjoy the subject and have an end product to show for it.
However I cannot change the rotas or time allocation and occasssionally I do wonder if I’m working in the most productive manner. I want them to enjoy the subject and learn life skills too, but I accept that not all pupils are always 100% engaged in my lessons – if Miss is busy there will always be some who lag behind – or worse – try to stop others from achieving.
I think Ive reached the mid-life crisis and have accepted that sometimes I could do with new ideas and also accept that after days when I sometimes see 5 different groups for 5 sep. hours each day – I’mm too knackered to do the after hours groups which I used to do when I was younger.
Where would your priorities be?
Acquiring x number of skills doing lots of paint/surface decorative stuff/creative and forgetting about the machines to give myself an easier time?
Concentrating on use of sewing machines for as many skills as poss(which at the moment is my choice)
Going back to the days when everyone made a useful item from scratch? Please dont advocate that I teach them to make their food tech aprons – that way leads to me shooting myself!
Also bear in mind that I usually have about £40 to spend on each year group for materials/threads etc and a year group can be 250 pupils!
and my head of faculty is not in favour of asking pupils to pay for their stuff!!
Anyway – thats my scenario for you!
I look forward to any comments -even criticisms – cos I accept that sometimes I might not see the wood for the trees when in the middle of a situation and I can always be improved upon.I genuinely wonder what other people would see as their priorities – you are all textile workers to differing degrees – some of you are parents – or grandparents, and if we want youngsters to enjoy textiles, and get some use out of its study, perhaps you could give a hand to us beleagered teachers and make workable suggestions?
Please dont suggest a technician to help me – those are a myth!
Also – asking parents to help is a no no – school is paranoic about pupils’ safety and every person has to go through checking via police etc. if they would like to work in schools – even after hours!
Thanks for taking time to think about this
Jan Fletcher


  1. User avater
    Becky-book | | #1

    Paying for our own 'stuff' is part of 'real life' and students will need to learn that too.  Maybe the students could be allowed to bring their own stuff if they want to do something special.


    1. JanF | | #2

      That does happen higher up the school - as the students have opted to study the subject knowing that they will have to supply some of their own fabrics etc. However - its a school policy lower down (KS3) that no child should be disadvantaged because they cannot bring in stuff to use, because they do not have a choice - they have to study it!! I do have some that will bring in extra stuff - and I do ask for small "donations" to help towards replacing stuff they have used - some give - some don't.
      That again is life I think!
      Thanks for your reply

    2. thehat | | #3

      the skills you are talking about is for students that are of a slower mind or just kids not taught learning to do felting as one group is working the other could be making a pattern

      1. JanF | | #4

        I'm sorry to mention the dreaded "money", but over here, materials for felting are quite expensive. I have done it before now - the kids seemed to enjoy it - but I could not afford to do it a lot - so I tend to study felting as part of the upper school work when I have less numbers to cope with. Its a b...y nuisance that finance gets in the way of experiencing a lot of skills.
        Thanks Jan

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