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The new school year kicks off

Fiona Holmer Fiona Holmer | 17:14 UK time, Monday, 6 September 2010

It's that time of year again. The school holidays that seemed to stretch into the distance just a month or so back, have evaporated surprisingly quickly. There's a freshness in the air, the days seem to be getting shorter and it's time to get the school uniform out again, if your child can still fit into it!

Chances are though, that your child will have shot up over the last six months so that during summer you will have had to invest in some new school uniform. Internet shopping has never been so useful especially if the thought of traipsing down the high street fills you and your child with horror.  

Perhaps your child is moving up a year still at the same school, so the new term is a chance to catch up with friends after the holidays and find out what their new teacher is really like and get used to their new classroom.

One autumn my daughter told me she'd heard there was a ghost in her new classroom, which was right at the top of a Victorian school building so that made the start of term a little more edgy.   

For some families this new academic year will bring huge changes. If you have a child starting in Infants this is a big transition to make for both them and you. At reception level though, it will mainly be learning through play, in a completely different setting from nursery and they will be encouraged to become more independent.

I remember feeling very emotional when my eldest first started at Infants and desperately trying to hide it from him so he would not feel worried. It's worth being honest about it and talking to a friend you trust. 

For others, it might be that you have a son or daughter moving on to secondary school. Your child will probably be both excited and a little fearful about their new start. It's a bit like snakes and ladders, having been the oldest at primary, they will revert to being the youngest again, being jostled in the corridors by teenagers who are almost fully grown adults. 

On the plus side they will be given new opportunities to do subjects in greater depth such as Food Technology, Music, Art, Languages as well as a range of extra curricular activities. I remember my son making lasagne and bringing it home for us to sample. Even though it had been a bit mangled in his bag, it was a big moment.

Having had four children start at primary and now moving on through secondary, I have noticed that each one has reacted differently to the transfer to a new school. It seems like there's no way of predicting how things will be for them. That's why I try to make time in the first week or so for a special outing or activity with each child to mark the new start, even though getting back into the school routine is probably harder for me than it is for them!


  • Comment number 1.

    Almost all children now believe they go to school to pass exams. The idea that they may be there for an education is irrelevant. State schools have become exam factories, interested only in A to C Grades. They do not educate children. Exam results do not reflect a candidate’s innate ability. Employers have moaned for years that too many employees cannot read or write properly. According to a survey, school-leavers and even graduates lack basic literacy and numeracy skills. More and more companies are having to provide remedial training to new staff, who can’t write clear instructions, do simple maths, or solve problems. Both graduates and school-leavers were also criticised for their sloppy time-keeping, ignorance of basic customer service and lack of self-discipline.

    Bilingual Muslims children have a right, as much as any other faith group, to be taught their culture, languages and faith alongside a mainstream curriculum. More faith schools will be opened under sweeping reforms of the education system in England. There is a dire need for the growth of state funded Muslim schools to meet the growing needs and demands of the Muslim parents and children. Now the time has come that parents and community should take over the running of their local schools. Parent-run schools will give the diversity, the choice and the competition that the wealthy have in the private sector. Parents can perform a better job than the Local Authority because parents have a genuine vested interest. The Local Authority simply cannot be trusted.

    The British Government is planning to make it easier to schools to “opt out” from the Local Authorities. Muslim children in state schools feel isolated and confused about who they are. This can cause dissatisfaction and lead them into criminality, and the lack of a true understanding of Islam can ultimately make them more susceptible to the teachings of fundamentalists like Christians during the middle ages and Jews in recent times in Palestine. Fundamentalism is nothing to do with Islam and Muslim; you are either a Muslim or a non-Muslim.

    There are hundreds of state primary and secondary schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion all such schools may be opted out to become Muslim Academies. This mean the Muslim children will get a decent education. Muslim schools turned out balanced citizens, more tolerant of others and less likely to succumb to criminality or extremism. Muslim schools give young people confidence in who they are and an understanding of Islam’s teaching of tolerance and respect which prepares them for a positive and fulfilling role in society. Muslim schools are attractive to Muslim parents because they have better discipline and teaching Islamic values. Children like discipline, structure and boundaries. Bilingual Muslim children need Bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods, who understand their needs and demands.

    None of the British Muslims convicted following the riots in Bradford and Oldham in 2001 or any of those linked to the London bombings had been to Islamic schools. An American Think Tank studied the educational back ground of 300 Jihadists; none of them were educated in Pakistani Madrasas. They were all Western educated by non-Muslim teachers. Bilingual Muslim children need bilingual Muslim teachers as role models. A Cambridge University study found that single-sex classes could make a big difference for boys. They perform better in single-sex classes. The research is promising because male students in the study saw noticeable gains in the grades. The study confirms the Islamic notion that academic achievement is better in single-sex classes.
    Iftikhar Ahmad

  • Comment number 2.

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