Imagine this scene on a typical school day………

Steve Brown wakes up late, doesn’t even have time for a bowl of cereal, rushes out of the house, gets the bus with two seconds to spare and just about makes it to registration…..and then remembers that his school bag is still on the living room table where he’d left it after finishing his homework. It’s got his exercise books, homework sheets, pencil case, pens, pencils etc……….

The chances are that there’s probably quite a few students like Steve……… wondering how they’re going to get through the day without the basics they need for their lessons.

What’s the most effective, low cost solution to this problem ?

The Student Essentials set can help in situations like this. It provides the basic equipment for most lessons and is a convenient way of solving the problem of students not bringing the basic kit to school.

The Student Essentials set contains three quality ballpens (black ink), two full length HB pencils, 15 cm ruler, eraser and a metal sharpener, all packed in a handy, clear “exam friendly,” zip up wallet. It’s a convenient way for students to get the equipment they need, whether in an emergency (like Steve Brown) or under more normal conditions. Schools or departments can order in bulk and resell to students (or possibly even give them away now and again….!) at the start of a school day, at the start of lessons or exams.

Student Essentials sets: 75p (400+) 79p (200+) 82p (1- 199)
prices are for each set and exc vat

Student Essentials sets are available from Signpost Educational Ltd.
PO Box 999, London E14 6SH
You can order via phone on 020 7515 1797 fax: 020 7515 4420 or email:

PS. Also available is the “Value Maths set,” designed for maths lessons and exams. Containing a metal compass and half pencil, 180 degree protractor, two quality black ink pens, a full length HB pencil, 15 cm ruler, eraser and a metal sharpener and are all contained in an “exam friendly” clear PVC wallet with a zip slider.

PPS. If you would like more information, please call Martin Evans on:
020 7515 1797 or email: and he’ll be pleased to help.

How a panto can also be a learning experience

Why a pantomime does not have to be just a pantomime but can also be a learning experience

Because children tend to understand acting and storytelling intuitively, it is easy to assume that they actually understand what pantomime is and why it is there. But, in fact, what generally happens is that they just accept it.

Now that is ok as far as it goes, but there is a benefit from working with children not only for the sake of performing in a panto, but also to understand the context of what they are doing.

Which is why sometimes it is rather good to put on a panto in which the panto becomes not just a performance, but also a learning experience in relation to a significant element in our cultural history.

If we are going down this route, one of the most obvious places to start is with Dick Whittington which as a story has the benefit of being based on a real person, although not necessarily a real cat.

Thus we have a historical plot and the possibility of examining everything that is inherent within the panto. The tradition, the staging, the scenery, the props, the lighting, the use of the provided music against new songs, or new lyrics, dance, movement, acting… all can then become topics for study.

Of course, each topic is an option – it is possible to present Dick Whittington as a pantomime with the normal rehearsals and production to the parents and no further explanation. Or you can take one or more of the issues inherent within the panto and look more deeply at that.

This then is the way that we have approached the publication of Dick Ottington and his famous cat Tommy, by David Stoll and Michael Hinton.

The package includes:

  • a Director’s Script, with detailed page-by-page production notes
  • a Pupils’ Script
  • a Vocal Score containing thirteen new songs with piano accompaniment, as well as an overture and incidental music
  • a complete set of high-quality fully orchestrated backing tracks and sound effects.

The Director’s Script also has an extensive introduction to pantomime itself as a topic for study, including the traditions and conventions of this type of theatre.

There are also helpful notes on all aspects of putting on a school production from casting, organising rehearsals, writing new lyrics, making props and sound effects through to involving the audience. The material, therefore, can be used for a term’s study as well as forming the basis of the end of term production.

David Stoll is a well-known composer and songwriter who has also worked extensively with primary school teachers and pupils on creative projects. His SEALSONGS are favourite assembly material, and his book on how to teach composing at KS2 is acknowledged for its helpful notes and suggestions. To go to his website please click here.

Michael Hinton is a teacher, writer and musician with many years’ experience of writing educational materials for schools abroad and in the UK. He works as Music Director with amateur dramatic societies and children’s theatre groups, helping them to stage musicals and pantomimes, and is the composer of hundreds of educational songs.

There are sample pages at Ottington samples.rar

Dick Ottington and his famous cat Tommy is published as a download so that you can receive immediately a copy onto your computer which you can share with colleagues as often as you want. You can also put it on your school learning platform so all staff can access it.

You can obtain Dick Ottington and his famous cat Tommy by going to

The price for the full package is £24.95 plus VAT (the VAT can be reclaimed in most cases by the school).

Dick Ottington and his famous cat Tommy is published by Novello & Co Ltd and distributed by First and Best, part of the Hamilton House group. If you have any enquiries you can call 01536 399 011 or email or write to us at First and Best, Hamilton House, Earlstrees Ct, Earlstrees Rd, Corby, Northants NN17 4HH.

The full range of First and Best books can be seen at

What do you say to a student who needs to know the basics of a really big subject as quickly as possible?

It could be because the student is thinking about his/her future career.

It could be a topic that has come up and the student just wants to understand a bit more. It could be an option in the sixth form.

Of course students can scuttle off to Wikipedia for a resume which may (or may not) be accurate and suitable. But that’s not always the best idea.

To get to grips with a lot of information in a short time you need a carefully structured, stripped down, read, written by an expert.

If the student can take a look at an authoritative book on the subject and flip through it in 90 minutes that can be enormously helpful.

Which is why we have produced the Quicklook series – a series that is available in paperback format and as e-books.

Nineteen topics have been covered so far from Accountancy to Vets, from Business to Medicine, from Marketing to Police.

Full details of the series are shown on our web site at where for each title you will find a “Preview this book” button, where you can see the full contents of the book as well as some of the pages in full.

Paperback copies of each book cost just £7.99 while e-book copies are £3.99 each.

For more information please visit the web site or email us at

Alternatively you can write to us at Quicklook Books, Weighbridge House, Grittleton, SN14 6AP

Primary schools PSHE projects.

Tip of the Iceberg Theatre Company have been developing and delivering educational shows for over 15 years.

Our creative director began her work with Snap Theatre Company touring to 100’s of schools and theatres each year, running workshops and working alongside teachers to enhance the lives of pupils across the country.

At Tip of the Iceberg we believe in educating and supporting young people through entertaining, enjoyable and informative projects. All our shows have a strong educational theme, covering a range of topics and PSHE issues, so we can take subjects off the page and into the lives and minds of those taking part.

We also believe that the creative experience of all ages should be of the highest possible standard and pride ourselves on bringing theatre quality productions into schools.

We have a range of productions and performance based interactive workshops on offer.

For all age groups we have shows and workshops on the following topics:

Bullying and friendship.

Gnome Alone = yrs 1-6 full length interactive show with optional workshops
“Bullied Britain” production and workshop for years 5 and 6.
“Friendship Workshop” including scenes, puppets and drama games for years 1-4.

Internet safety and awareness

“Connected Britain” production and workshop for years 5 and 6.
Inside out – Looking at the pro’s and cons of technology for years 1-4


“Vote for it” – A short performance and workshops for years 4-6
“Odd one out” – A short performance and workshops for years 1-3


“The Incredible Story by the boy who didn’t like books” = years 1-6. An hour long interactive show. Follow up workshops available.
“Imagination Train” – a journey into story telling . Workshops for all ages.

Health, fitness and safety.

“The National Elf Service” = years 1-6. An hour long interactive show. Follow up workshops available.

Comments on our work

It’s the best show I have seen in 25 years of teaching” (Teacher Icknield Primary School)

The audience have so much fun that they don’t realise how much they are learning, and then we can use the show and carry on the work with the help of the teachers’ pack. It’s brilliant!” Headteacher Whitby

“I like it when we did the play because it was funny and the characters acted like the real people. They used anything to be stuff”. (year 4 pupil)


Performance based projects. (all prices are plus VAT)
½ day projects start at £500
Full day projects start at £750

Workshop based projects. (all prices are plus VAT)
½ day projects start at £350
Full day projects start at £575

An overview of our products can be seen on the following page on our website:

Contact us for any information regarding workshops, performances and how we develop bespoke projects to suit you.


Telephone: 0845 4747907

Mobile: 07519593711

We look forward to hearing from you.

Lisa Schulberg

(Creative Director)

The stories that come from elsewhere

Songs, comedy, dancing and audience participation: British traditions are not always British, but are still good fun!

This Christmas we are in Old Peking, Naples and Cornwall. Although perhaps you wouldn’t know it.

Old Peking is an easy one to guess – if it is Christmas that must be Aladdin, part of The Arabian Book of One Thousand and One Nights (although sad to say there is no real record of it in Arabian literature).

But if Aladdin doesn’t actually come from Arabia, Cinderella is surely as English as English is, except actually the origin of Cinderella is a 17th century Italian folk tale set in Naples.

Which leaves Jack and the Beanstalk, our third pantomime presentation this year, and yes, here we are in the old country with the archetypal Jack stories (like Jack Frost, the House that Jack Built, Little Jack Horner, etc, which all originated in Cornwall).

The great history and durability of these stories is why my colleagues and I believe that it is vital that, when pantomime is offered to children, it should be a pantomime that is performed by the very best performers such as those from London’s West End – to give the children the fullest sense of this very entertaining and very singular tradition.

What is needed, we believe, are actors who will not only act out a traditional pantomime – but who will also engage fully with the children.

This year West End in Schools is offering these three separate pantomimes, Aladdin, Cinderella, and Jack and the Beanstalk, all performed by West End actors in primary schools across the country. I do hope you will choose one of our presentations for your pantomime this year.

You can find more details on our website.

To reserve the best dates or to ask any questions about our work and our productions, please either:

5000 schools now use Musical School

You can find out why by taking a free trial of all the resources they are using.

Musical School is a complete set of resources covering Listening and Appraising; Musical Activities – creating and exploring; and Singing and Performing.

It can be used as a complete Music Scheme or as a set of supplementary resources which you can dip into and out of, as you need.

What’s more, if you are seeking extra ideas for work on a particular topic or musical style, you can find these within Musical School and pick out the items required.

Plus, of course, if for any reason you are not available to teach a class, the materials can be selected in readiness for the covering teacher so that music lessons continue.

Indeed Musical School can be used by teachers without musical training as much as by teachers who have musical experience.

You can either build the lessons as you wish to make your own Music Scheme, or use these resources to supplement your own Scheme and provide extra ideas for specific topics.

The complete set of resources has been written so that it can be utilised to cover the entire 2014 Music National Curriculum from Reception to Year 6.

Over 5000 schools are already using Musical School – and their feedback has shown just how much they value these resources and what a difference they have made to the delivery of the music curriculum in the school.

Which is also why we are making the full set of resources available on a no obligation 30-day free trial. Because we know that when you see them, you’ll immediately want to use them!

There is more about Musical School at

To obtain a free trial of the Musical School programme please click here.

Or if you have any questions please do call 01273 823 900 or email me at

Marina Dussek


Identifying dysgraphia among your students

Perhaps the first step to identifying dysgraphia among your students is by comparing their handwriting to other students’ handwriting of the same age.

Students with dysgraphia will often have unorthodox or poor quality handwriting due to a number of factors, other than because they simply dislike handwriting or/and have no intention of putting effort in to making their handwriting legible for others.

Things to look out for in a student’s handwriting, other than just poor quality, are:

  • Oversized letters and punctuation
  • Inconsistency in the size of consecutive letters
  • Letters and words not written at a consistent angle (straight, then slanting left, then slanting right)
  • Inconsistently spaced letters, words, sentences, lines, paragraphs and margins (even when margins and lines are provided)
  • Letters and words written in the wrong order
  • Inappropriate use of upper and lower case letters
  • Inappropriate use of punctuation
  • Writing is often crossed out
  • Tenses are often muddled up

However, just because a student has poor quality handwriting and may do some or all of the things listed above, dysgraphia can still not be assumed. The cause of the poor quality handwriting needs to be identified and it is only then that a diagnosis can be made.

A student with dysgraphia will very often have problems with their language processing abilities, their fine motor skills, memory retrieval, their pen/pencil grip, handwriting posture and visual spacing.

At Dysgraphia Help we offer an online dysgraphia test for students (over the age of 8) for £36.86.

After completing the test and sending us a sample of the student’s handwriting, you will receive a detailed report on whether or not we believe them to have dysgraphia.

If we do believe that dysgraphia is present, you will also receive some supporting information on dysgraphia and a number of activity materials for the student to work through.

You can find more information about dysgraphia and testing for dysgraphia at: or alternatively you can email

Interactive Physics Curriculum Software

An Interactive PHYSICS Software Free Trial Offer, At An Unmissable Price.
No School Should Miss out On This.
It Is Simply Unbelievable!

This offer for ALL 13 titles is packed with hundreds of stunning curriculum 3D animations describing difficult to understand concepts for PHYSICS, text, voice-overs, quiz zones, drag and drops, multiple choice quizzes and more.

Includes a full school site PC and network licence, nothing more to pay EVER! Free 14-day trial , so if you don’t like it you can just send it back. All 13 of these individual great titles are included in the pack for just £100 for everything:

Electricity and Magnetism; Forces, Motion, Energy Changes; Light and Sound; Circuits; Forces and Motion; Energy Resources, Moments and Pressure; Work Energy and Power; Waves; Light and the Electromagnetic Spectrum; Magnetism and Electromagnetism; Household Electricity; The Earth and Beyond; Radioactivity

Until the end of term only it’s just £100 for all 13 of these software titles in one pack!

Now isn’t that truly staggering value for money for all these titles from the UK’s leading curriculum software supplier? Let’s beat the cuts!

To order your free trial please click here


Create a welcoming classroom

What is the most effective way of making the
classroom a place where pupils want to be and
want to learn?

If a classroom is a place where pupils want to be, it is a place where pupils will want to learn.

But too often, classrooms are painted in a neutral (or boring) colour – appearing unwelcoming, and a place in which pupils would prefer not to spend their time.

However it is not always possible to change the wall colour for a number of reasons (time, budget, etc.), but one solution is using the quick and easy option of wall art stickers.

At Wall Glamour there are a whole range of wall art stickers suitable for any classroom, including alphabet stickers, musical instrument stickers, animal stickers, transport stickers and inspirational quote stickers, among a few.

Help students visualise information

Magic Whiteboard helps students visualise information & remember things

Dragons’ Den Winners Magic Whiteboard allows you to create a whiteboard from a roll anywhere, in seconds (it’s like a reusable and erasable flipchart). See how teachers are using Magic Whiteboard in class. Magic Whiteboard is great for encouraging group work and problem solving, place the A1 Magic Whiteboard sheets on tables and students can write down ideas and solve problems. They can then stick the Magic Whiteboard sheets around the classroom so that the learning can be shared.

Magic Whiteboard clings to any hard flat surface (walls, windows and doors) and leaves no marks on surfaces (it clings using static). You can turn any room into a classroom. You write on Magic Whiteboard with any dry marker, wipe clean and reuse. Here is a 1 min video demo. You can also see one of our customers blogs here that talks about this product in action.

If you want to try Magic Whiteboard – you get 20% off by using discount code HAMILTON20 – next day delivery

We also do an A4 Magic Whiteboard Pack of 20 sheets for £12.99

Best Wishes Neil Westwood, Founder of Magic Whiteboard

NEW – A0 MEGA Magic Whiteboard – 1200mm by 900mm – 10 sheets

A0 MEGA Magic Whiteboard allows you to create a large whiteboard, projector screen, use to wallpaper a whole wall or window in whiteboard. It’s twice the size of A1 (a flipchart).

Laminate walls – an easy way to hold documents in place & to annotate your work

You can use our new Magic Clearboard to laminate whole walls or windows. Use Magic Clearboard to create displays, holds documents in place on a wall without using bluetack, you can then annotate your work using any dry marker. Only £33.49 for 25 sheets. Watch a 30 second video of Magic Clearboard being used

Please order at email or ring 01905 451552. We can send you an invoice.

Don’t forget to use discount code HAMILTON20 to get your 10% discount, schools quoting an order number can be invoiced just email or fax 01905 451552


Neil Westwood
Managing Director

Daily information for teachers in the UK