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In the latest edition

Start later, learn better?

Boy falling asleep at desk© Info

If the school day started later, and you could sleep longer in the morning, would your learning performance improve? A sleep expert thinks so. Dr Paul Kelley believes starting too early deprives children and young people of vital sleep, affecting learning and health. Who agrees? 

Researchers are planning a trial to test the theory. Some 14-16 year olds will start school at 10am. Some will start at normal time and receive ‘sleep education’. Some will simply continue as normal. Some will start later as well as receive ‘sleep education’. Which group do you think will cope with school and personal life the best? Why? 

Discuss the advice likely to be part of sleep education - such as daytime exercise and not using phones and computers in the bedroom. Think of things that aren’t safe to do when you’re tired. Why is it often harder to cope when you’re weary? Are you more likely to take risks if you’re tired?

Jailed for anti-social 999 calls

Young man dialling 999© Info

A man in Northern Ireland was jailed this month after repeatedly dialling 999 when there was no emergency. The judge told him he was a nuisance and gave him a four-month sentence for breaching an anti-social behaviour order. The 24 year old has a history of making confused and outrageous calls to the emergency services, sometimes pretending to be rapper Nicki Minaj.

Discuss how the authorities respond to people who misuse the 999 system. What options do they have to prevent repeated nuisance calls? Why is it important to stop them? What implications might it have on people in real emergency situations? 

Some unnecessary 999 calls sound like jokes - callers complaining that their pizza has no topping or they've been chased by a seagull. How would students explain to someone how to decide if a problem is really an emergency? Discuss the range of medical problems that are important, but which are not emergencies. What might be a good alternative to dialling 999? See our brand new resource for ideas.

Emergency evacuations - which country?

An evacuee from the California wildfires sleeps in the Gym on Camp Pendleton© Info

The past week has seen massive rescue efforts to help thousands of people forced to evacuate their homes in different parts of the world. Where?

In one country, nearly 6000 emergency workers helped after a tropical storm swept away entire homes. In another country, a state of emergency was declared when wildfires destroyed homes causing tens of thousands of people to seek safety. Can young people identify the countries? 

The floods were in northeast Japan. The wildfires were in northern California. Discuss what life might be like in temporary shelters. What common experiences might those evacuated have? What feelings might they share? 

Discuss the emergency workers. In Japan helicopters were used to airlift stranded people. In California, firefighters spent long hours battling the flames. What might these two emergencies have in common? How might those involved in helping feel? Who provides food and shelter for emergency and rescue workers? List the back-up such workers might need.

Previous editions

Theme park injuries 

Roller Coaster© Info

Four teenagers were seriously injured when two cars crashed on the Smiler rollercoaster at the Alton Towers theme park. Twelve others were also injured. Releasing all the trapped passengers took over four hours.

Discuss those hours during which passengers were freed one by one, after being suspended 20 feet from the ground. How might different people - passengers, spectators, staff - have reacted or felt? 

The Smiler has been prohibited from use until the cause of the failure is dealt with. How important is it to find the cause of any injury? What might the feelings be of the first people to try Smiler if it re-opens?

The company that runs the theme park said: "we are doing all we can to provide our support to those injured and their families". Discuss what support someone might need to be able to cope with operations, hospital visits, pain, restricted movement and possible permanent disability. What could others do to help?

See this Emotional support teacher briefing for advice on how to respond calmly and positively to someone who is distressed. A simple classroom activity follows the briefing exploring students' attitude to providing emotional support.

Eliminating nuclear weapons

UN Headquarters in New York© Info

This August is the 70th anniversary of the dropping of atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Discuss what young people know. What events might be planned to mark it? How might they differ from recent World War II remembrance or World War I centenary events? 

Earlier this year a conference was hosted by the United Nations to take forward measures under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. One aim was to reduce and curb the spread of nuclear weapons, but countries involved were unable to agree on key issues. Many organisations and governments continue to work for agreements. What is young people’s view on this?

How might high level discussions between countries reduce suffering? Discuss the effect of other treaties. Laser weapons specifically designed to cause permanent blindness were banned by international agreement before any were used. More than 150 countries are party to a treaty prohibiting production and use of antipersonnel landmines. Who benefits from such agreements?

Laws and treaties are sometimes violated. Does this mean they are worthless? Compare with examples from everyday life such as littering or speeding. Discuss whether laws that are sometimes broken are worth having? 

Click here for a teacher briefing on Weapons of war.

 Trapped under a bus 

London bus© Info

Here's a tweet sent last month: "Cyclist trapped under a bus at #walthamstow 100 people trying to lift the bus to save his life & 200 watching taking photos on their phones".

Can young people picture the scene? The numbers are rough guesses, but do you think the tweeter was making a point by comparing the numbers of helpers and bystanders? Which would young people have been? How might they have felt at the sight of a man whose leg is trapped by the wheel of a double decker bus?

According to reports, some of those who tried to video it were shouted at by others. Can young people explain why? Discuss the concepts of respect and dignity. The scene was chaotic and the driver didn't seem to understand when he was being asked to reverse off the man's leg. Talk about the effect of stress on decision-making and communication.

For more resources on the 'bystander effect' click here.

After an earthquake

A sign reading 'Please help us!' is displayed while children play outside their makeshift tents in rice fields in the Philippines

Children play, hours after a destructive earthquake. What do students want to know?

Read the activities >

Build resilience

School students taking part in a workshop

Students and teachers together reflect, explore and experiment with responses to some form of crisis.

Try the quick activities >


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