Hi this is my new book, follow the link for more information…
‘Pushy parents’ help children make the grade at school
Parents who push their children to work hard at school have a bigger impact on their child’s academic success than their teachers, research suggests.
The effort a parent puts into ensuring their child buckles down to schoolwork has a greater impact than that put in by the child or the school, it says.
Researchers at Leicester and Leeds universities found parents put less effort in the more children they had.
They looked at how much they read to a child and attended school meetings.
And also at teachers’ perceptions of their involvement.
The academics used data from the National Child Development Study for pupils born in 1958.
And to judge how much was down to parental influences and how much was down to pupils being self-starting individuals, the researchers also studied the children’s attitudes, such as whether, at the age of 16, they thought school was a waste of time.
Schools were assessed on how they tried to involve parents, what disciplinary methods they used and and whether 16-year-olds were offered careers advice.
The findings suggest that there is something of a perfect circle. Parents encourage their children to make more of an effort, and then when their child tries harder, the parents put in even more effort.
The background of a family affects the schools’ effort, the study found.
Professor Gianni De Fraja, head of economics at Leicester University, said: “The main channel through which parental socio-economic background affects achievement is via effort.
“Parents from a more advantaged environment exert more effort, and this influences positively the educational attainment of their children.
“The parents’ background also increases the school’s effort, which increases the school achievement. Why schools work harder where parents are from a more privileged background we do not know. It might be because middle class parents are more vocal in demanding that the school works hard.”
The researchers found children were more likely to put more effort into their schooling if their parents showed that commitment too.
Professor De Fraja added: “We found that children work harder whose parents put more effort into their education.”
The report says parents put less effort into their children’s education the more offspring they have.
“There is a trade-off between quantity and quality of children: a child’s number of siblings influences negatively the effort exerted by that child’s parents toward that child’s education,” it says.
The researchers suggest policies aimed at improving parental effort – such as parenting classes – might help to boost children’s achievements.
The research is published in the latest issue of Review of Economics and Statistics.
I am sure that many owners of small businesses (SMEs) are considering what they are about to face in 2011. True, there are doom and gloom messages from the Government, not helped by David Cameron who, in covering his backside, stated that he sees 2011 as very challenging, still singing the same song, “We are cleaning up the mess we inherited.” A bit of the broken record syndrome, I think. My message to those who run a small business is that at this time of year it’s good to have a good look in the mirror and rethink your strategy. May I suggest that whatever plans you are thinking of, don’t – repeat don’t – rely upon government or banks or anybody else to give you ideas? Unless you sign on to the fact that it is you alone that runs your business, you will be going down the wrong road. It’s all about you. Consider why you started your business. I assume it was that you have some experience or expertise in your field, and that is the big point – don’t rely upon anyone else. It’s going to be you who defines the way forward. I am sick and tired of hearing people asking what to do, going to networking meetings and seminars expecting to glean some gems of wisdom. These events are money-making exercises and benefit one party and one party only: the organiser. They have become an escape for people to justify sitting around wasting a day bullshitting with each other while they should be working. You will learn nothing other than that there are another load of people in the same boat as you. Moaning about the banks is another thing that winds me up. Get real! Banks are a business just like you. They are there to make money from their customers and just like you, the more customers they have the more they will make for their shareholders. They are not a charity and they do not have to lend money to any Tom, Dick and Harry. They are not cheap – they’ll charge you to breathe, with arrangement fees and other costs.
They should only be used to your advantage. Consider the cost of money as if it is another expense you have to bear, no different from any other costs you have. But there has to be a reason why you need the money.
Ask yourself why you need the bank for money. What do you need it for? I spoke to a person who ran a dry-cleaning shop a while ago. He had obviously bought all his equipment a while back. His day-to-day consumables are just the chemicals he needs to clean the clothes. Those, plus his utility bills, rent and salaries, are his expenses. He has a cash business and yet he was moaning about the bank not lending to him. When I asked why he needed the money, he said he is in debt. “Why are you in debt?” I asked.
“You are not a shop that has to buy stock, so are you opening other branches? Do you need the money to buy new plant and equipment?” No, it was simple – he was running at an accumulative loss. So simple – his takings were less than his outgoings, and had been for ages. So he wanted the cash to pay his salary and his staff’s salary as his business could not generate it. Sorry mate, you are totally unjustified in complaining about a bank. They don’t back losers. You are insolvent – simple as that. What he needed to do is refocus and see how to start to make money and not just cover overheads.
It is incredible that the simple basics of business go out of the window with all of these modern-day so-called theories and principles. You don’t need spreadsheets and complex business plans; you need a pencil and a plain sheet of paper. Take my example of the dry-cleaner. On a sheet of paper he can write down his monthly costs of rent, utilities staff and consumables. From this he will get a figure that tells him that unless he takes in excess of that each month he will lose money. This is a quick sanity check, a wake-up call that all small businesses should do.
In my book What You See Is What You Get, I explained in detail that when I started my business in 1967, there were no free lunches. No banks lending. You wanted something? You paid for it or got it yourself. And when you could show that you had a good, viable business, then and only then would “come and see me” be the words of the bank manager.
I feel sorry for young people who have lived through the madness of the past 10 years or so and grown up with an expectancy culture. They witnessed irresponsible lending from banks to people who had a whim of an idea. It’s all over folks! Banks are now back to the old days. Forget them unless you have a clear road map of how you will repay them or how you can make money from these expensive loans.
It’s hard for me in this article to cater for all aspects of business. I am conscious that there are service businesses such as recruitment and estate agencies where the only asset is the people. There are people who make things and sell them (not enough I would say) – there are hairdressers, car repairers and a variety of shopkeepers. The principle is the same whatever business you are in.
As mundane as it might sound, I did a health check every week when I started. I was conscious of my expenses, including my pay, as well as the cost price of the goods I was selling.
As mad as it might sound, I wanted to cover my expense by Wednesday of every week so that profits made on Thursday and Friday were going to accumulate to net assets. I needed targets. There were weeks when I didn’t make it and I had to find the determination to step up a gear the next week to try to make up the deficit. You are the only one who knows what to do with your business. There is no shame in looking at your competitors or reading up on what new trends and ideas are around. By all means spend valuable time at exhibitions.
Consider, if you are a shop, for example, that while you have a mass of overheads, any new venture you might wish to diversify into – product- or service-wise – can be done with little or no increment of your existing overhead. Think of expanding your range of products or services. Look at the climate and see what new services are required these days.
Just as one example, if you are in the recruitment industry, health and safety is now a big thing with firms. Trust me, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to gen up on it. Instead of wasting your time at networking seminars, you may as well sit in your own premises and research it, and then perhaps add providing H&S people to companies as one of your offerings.
In my early days, I used my suppliers to finance my stock. The bank would not touch me with a barge pole. First of all, you need to build up trust with your suppliers. Treat them as if you have a tax bill or electricity bill. They must be paid on time. There is nothing wrong in establishing extended terms such as 30-60 or even 90 days. The suppliers will go along with it if you build a history of trust with them.
But never buy more than you would normally buy just for the sake of it. You have to pay and you can only pay if you sell it, and by that I mean make a profit, not just turn over. A retail business sells for cash and if you have suppliers who offer you terms, you can use this cash flow to stock up with a more diverse range. That’s business.
I conclude by saying again that it is you and only you – no one else. You know what to do, otherwise you should not be in business. It’s just down to hard work, discipline and determination combined with your knowledge and experience of your sector. Trust me, you will be satisfied and happy with yourself.
• Baron Sugar of Clapton was Enterprise Champion under the Labour government and is chairman of Amshold Group and Amsprop London.
Business is about getting on with it AND networking and learning new stuff!
There is no room for moaning – but there is room to build relationships with others to help you grow faster Lord Sugar or Sir Alan or whatever your name is :)
I was very sad to see that Aim Higher is to be shut down.
Not because I have worked alot with Aim Higher but for the young people who now have the fees problem to get over too.
It seems to me that higher education is going to becmome eliteist again.
A real shame for our society.
The programme to encourage students from poorer homes to go to university – AimHigher – is to be closed down.
The Universities Minister, David Willetts, announced at the end of last week that funding will end in April and the programme will close altogether at the end of the academic year.
The government argues that AimHigher will be superceded by the Pupil Premium (which will target funding on poorer school students) and by the National Scholarship programme, which all universities charging fees of over £6,000 a year will have to join.
The University and College Union says, coming on top of the ending the Educational Maintenance Allowance for 16-19 year olds and the “tripling” of university tuition fees, this is a “triple whammy”.
The decision has also been described as “deeply disappointing” by the higher education group, Million+.
Its Chief Executive, Pam Tatlow, said: “AimHigher has been successful in raising the aspirations of students as young as 13 and 14, as well as the many older students it has worked with. It has to be a concern that the contribution AimHigher has made to widening participation in university is to be lost at a time when the Government is seeking to require universities to levy much higher fees”.
The class of 2014 doesn’t wear watches, doesn’t write in cursive and has no idea why Nirvana is awesome. That’s according to Beloit College’s annual Mindset List, aimed at helping teachers understand today’s cultural references. TIME takes a look at other bygone experiences today’s kids will miss.
What can you add?
I always say in teacher training that my kids have never used a phone with a wire.
I’ve been re-listening to Mark Goodacre’s podcasts on Mark and was sad to hear that he’s now given up using video clips in lectures because they’re too prone to go wrong. I’ve been there, done that and suffered the humiliation. However, when you have a bona fide excuse to a clip from Life of Brian to an audience largely unfamiliar with it, then it’s just a crying shame if you have to pass it up.
As it happens I’ve not been allowed to leave it alone. Aside from my own need to use clips when I speak, part of my paid role also includes doing it for others. And then make it easy for someone non-technical to get it to work on the day. So I’ve had to push on through, and over the last year or two I’ve learnt a lot, made some discoveries and now feel I’ve pretty much honed the process to a relatively easy state. In the, somewhat optimistic, hope that I have I thought I would share what I do so anyone wanting to incorporate clips into future presentations can do so as well. You have to download a few pieces of free software, but once you’ve done that you should be away.
The key trick is to incorporate any potential clips into PowerPoint. I know PowerPoint is the Ryan Air of presentation software (everyone slags it off but uses it anyway) and I know that smug mac types will be reading this safe in the knowledge that everything they do is better than if they did it on a PC, but here’s something for us lesser mortals. I for one actually like PowerPoint. It’s a tool that’s widely abused, and the majority of presentations are just awful, but if you take your time to “get it” then it’s a great, if somewhat flawed, tool.
One of these flaws is that even in the more recent versions of PowerPoint, the only reliable video file type it can handle consistently is WMVs. But it’s well worth doing, because once you’ve set it all up in the relatively pressure free, serenity of your office, then all you have to do is click for the next slide. You don’t have to insert, wait for them to show all the different video logos, trailers, menus etc. (or hope that it’s remembered the correct place to resume from). You don’t have to open a new piece of software and drag the screen into the right place, or change the source on the video projector. You don’t have to make sure you’re alert so you stop it in the correct place. All you have to do is click. Once.
So here’s a quick guide as to how to get video clips converted into WMV files so that you can import them in to POwerPoint and start your clip just by clicking for the next slide.
Rambling over. Useful bit starts now
There are two major ways of doing this. It’s worth getting both in your arsenal in case there’s a problem with one or the other.
Method 1 – Import from YouTube
This has now become super easy thanks to the later versions of RealPlayer. If you don’t have that on your PC already, then you need to download it. RealPlayer, bless ’em, have now incorporated two additional pieces of software into their free version, “Converter” and “Trimmer”. They are both simple and do what they say. It also has a widget so that if you are watching a video in Internet Explorer it pops up to ask you if you want to download it. This means that you can download things off some other sites as well as YouTube. So you need to get Real Player. Generally I use Mozilla rather than IE, but most people have a copy of it anyway, and besides I think RealPlayer also allows you to just type in the URL and it will download it for you, anyway…
So here’s what you do:
1 – Find the clip in YouTube. Watch in IE and when the box pops up (or if you right click) select “Download this video”. The video will begin downloading.
2 – Open RealPlayer Trimmer. Find the video file you just downloaded and drag it into the Trimmer window. You then use the sliders to cut it down to where you want it. You can do this to within a second or two so it’s not a hugely refined editing tool, but for lectures / presentations it’s more than enough. Save this as a new file.
3 – Open RealPlayer Converter and drag the new file into the window. Then in the “Convert to” box select the WMV profile, set where you want to save it and go.
4 – Then open PowerPoint. Choose “Insert” and “Movie from File” (precise wording here will vary depending on version). I tend to use start automatically, but sometimes put a slide in before hand. It saves faffing around with a mouse trying to click in the right place. You can expand the video to a larger size and sometimes you have to change the width relative to the height (click on and drag in one direction only). You can hone this by watching the video through and looking for anything that should be a circle (sun, moon, car tyres etc.).
And there you go. Could hardly be more easy (although I suspect there is the odd short cut). However the downside is that YouTube vids are frequently low quality so here’s a better way for higher quality clips.
Method 2 – Import from a DVD
This is obviously a little more tricky as DVD companies don’t want their product to be pirated. But if you own the DVD you are using then I don’t think that morally there’s any difference. It’s just a matter of convenience.
But to do this you have to download a few pieces of free software. The first is Handbrake. I have to admit this seems to work better on Macs, but I’ve recently discovered a critical setting I was overlooking before and so I think I should be fine now. However, just to be on the safe side I would also recommend using Freestar DVD Ripper. It’s not quite as good as Handbrake, and sometimes you have to play around with the setting to get rid of unwanted subtitles, but it tended not to have the problem I now hope I’ve overcome with Handbrake. It’s a useful second option.
You also need to download Any Video Converter which out of everything I’ve mentioned today is the software I’ve been using the longest (except for PowerPoint obviously). Once you’ve got those you’re ready to go. Here’s how
1 – Place DVD in drive and open Handbrake/Freestar. Select the chapters you want to rip and any other settings (it’s worth playing around with these). Make sure you go to “Video filter” and select “Deinterlace”. If it offers you a choice fast is usually OK. If you fail to do this it might go all odd looking. It’s also worth keeping the video’s size the same as the original. Click “start”.
2 – Open Any Video Converter and “Add Video”. In the “Video Codec” box on the right hand side choose “WMV V9”. If you have a relatively recent version of this you should be able to trim it to the correct length here as well using the “start time” and “stop time” options on the right. Also worth making sure the video is the same size. If you need more volume this is the time to fiddle with that too (under “options”.
3 – Then, as above, open PowerPoint, choose “Insert” and “Movie from File”. See up their for tips. If you’ve done it this way there should be no problem making the movie fill the whole screen without a drop in quality. Note: for some reason the opening still that PowerPoint shows you when you’ve imported it is significantly lower quality than the film itself so don’t worry if it looks a bit blotchy.
Having said all that here are a couple of other things to bear in mind.
1 – This is an easy process, but it’s not necessarily quick. It’s worth doing it whilst you are doing something else as the various stages take a while to complete once you click go/start.
2 – It’s well worth watching your film before you’re done. I think you end up doing it quite a few times naturally but critically do it once in the context of PowerPoint before you finish it, and once before your lecture in the actual room, this gives you a chance to check that you’ve plugged the sound in correctly and that everything is OK. You can then relax a bit more knowing that it should all be OK. And the beauty of it is that you don’t have to rewind, or hope the DVD player slips into standby and so on. You just return to the relevant slide and click again.
3 – There is, however, one pitfall to avoid, which hopefully these checks will highlight. Unlike picture images, PowerPoint doesn’t embed a copy of the video into the PowerPoint file. It only remembers the link, and how you’ve set it up to run. So if you’re planning on taking your presentation along on a memory stick or a CD, or even if you’ve just saved the video on a drive which won’t be available to you when you give your presentation, be careful. If you forget this you might end with no video.
It’s easy to avoid though. You just need to make sure that both the presentation file and the video file(s) are all on your laptop / memory stick, and that your presentation is looking for them in the place where you’ve stored it. If you prep it all on your own laptop anyway this should be no problem (unless you move everything), but if you are using a memory stick / CD just be aware of that one.
4 – Next – legalities. I’ve written this to help those who are planning on using video clips anyway. But just because you can do it, doesn’t mean that you are allowed to. I have no idea what the legal situation is in most countries. In the UK and many other places you can buy a licence from Christian Video Licensing International (CVLI). It doesn’t cover all films, and technically you are still meant to be using the DVD rather than ripping a clip, but things are different for different contexts and countries so find out what applies where.
5 – Lastly, I have a couple more things to say about the much maligned PowerPoint. Yes, it’s often bad, but it’s also a very powerful tool for something that the average person can do without too much hassle. It’s really worth getting to know. The best piece of advice I know for crafting presentations is to try and think of your slides as a billboard. Use a high impact image a small amount of text. Unlike some, I do think bullet-pointed list have their place – particularly if you are giving out lists, but always include a few high impact images. My mate Lee Jackson is a consultant on this kind of thing, and you can view a presentation of his on designing presentations, with a few top tips at slideshare.net which he’s also had published in PSA magazine. And if you’ve not seen this video yet, then you really should.
The other thing is that very recently someone sent me a link to some new presentation software called Sparkol. There are costs involved with this but it’s for add-ons rather than the basic cost (so you can get a feel for it) and it looks like it might be a good way to progress in the quality of your presentations. I’ve not tried it yet, but plan to do so very soon.
Nice one Matt :)