8 Things Every Teacher Should Know About Bipolar Disorder

Though children with bipolar disorder are often gifted, they require patience and new approaches to help them learn and grow. Here are eight teaching strategies to help these students excel in the classroom.



#1 Flexibility works best

It is best to adapt a more flexible lesson plan for children with bipolar disorder. Additional time for assignments and tests may be required and understanding given for missed classes due to appointments with health care professionals.


#2 Consistent schedules

Children who live with bipolar require flexibility with their schedules such as incorporating many breaks throughout the day to aid with focus and staying positive. It’s important; however, that this routine stay consistent.


#3 Few distractions

Distractions can cause more disruptive behaviors and can negatively affect the student’s ability to focus. Some students will need to be seated near the front of the room to help reduce the distractions.


#4 Practice patience

Understand that the child’s grades may drop or he could participate less in class activities. Practice tolerance in dealing with minor problems and, instead of focusing on negative conduct, recognize and praise the positive behavior.


#5 Maintain good communication

There should be open lines between educators, the school and the child’s parents/guardians, psychologist or other health care professionals. It is important to practice good communication and be ready to adapt and try different approaches for the child if something is not working.


#6 Have a plan

It’s essential that teachers watch for extreme behavioral changes or any signs of suicidal thoughts. These signs should be taken seriously and a plan should be in place about how school staff should respond to such situations. The plan can be decided ahead between the child’s parents, psychologist and teachers.


#7 Accommodate special needs

May children with bipolar disorder need to visit the school nurse regularly for medication or talk to a school psychologist. And, especially for children taking lithium, they may need to carry a water bottle and have unlimited access to restrooms.


#8 Agree on a safe place/person

Children suffering from bipolar can feel overwhelmed or anxious or they may be unsure of how to deal with their strong emotions and feel out of control. It’s important to establish both a safe place and a safe person they can go to in times of distress. Allow them access to leave the classroom on their own.

Record proportion of women on university courses in UK

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A third more teenage women than men have secured degree places so far, the university admissions service says.

As of Friday morning, 133,280 18-year-old women from the UK had secured a university place in the UK, compared with 103,800 men of this age.

The difference is the largest recorded by Ucas at this stage of the admissions cycle.

The figures come as data shows about 6,600 fewer students have degree places compared with this point last year.

Why do more girls go to university?

Clearing: What are options when grades fall short?

Post A-level scramble for students

The gap of 36% between women and men is an increase from 35% the year before and 31% five years ago.

Across the UK, 27.3% of all young men are expected to go to university this year compared with 37.1% of women.

Ucas suggested one factor contributing to the gap is nursing – there is a 9% increase in UK 18-year-olds placed on nursing courses this year.

Women significantly outnumber men for these degrees, with around 28 women recruited for every man.

Previous figures have shown an overall drop in nursing applications and acceptances this year, but this has been driven by falls in older students rather than among 18-year-olds.

Image copyrightPA
Image captionAbout 46,600 students have found their places through clearing this year so far
Dr Mark Corver, Ucas’s director of analysis and research, said: “More UK 18-year-olds will be starting university this autumn than ever before but large differences in who goes remain.

“Our research has shown that the difference between 18-year-old men and women entering university is now similar to that between the richest and poorest halves of the population.

“The statistics today show the difference between men and women slowly growing wider.”

As of Friday morning, 482,510 students have secured a university place – down about 1.4% on the same point last year, but higher than any other year at this point.

About 46,600 students have found their places through clearing, the largest number ever placed through the annual process at this stage, Ucas said.

Earlier this month top A-level grades increased for the first time in six years.

Some 26.6% of boys gained A* and A grades compared with 26.1% of girls, reversing a 0.3% gap last year.

University gender gap at record high as 30,000 more women accepted

Women are now more than a third more likely to go to university than men, according to new figures that show the gap between the sexes has reached record levels.

About 30,000 more women than men are set to start degree courses this autumn, Ucas data shows.

Figures from the university admissions service also show that around 6,600 fewer students have been placed on courses so far this year compared with at the same point last year.

As of Friday morning, 133,280 British women aged 18 had secured a university place, compared with 103,800 British men of this age.

Ucas said it was the largest gap it had recorded at this point of the admissions cycle, just over a week after A-levels were published.

Its analysis shows that across the UK 27.3% of all young men are expected to go to university this year, compared with 37.1% of young women. That means 18-year-old women are 36% more likely to start degree courses this autumn than their male peers.

Last year they were 35% more likely to enter higher education, and five years ago they were 31% more likely. Ucas suggests one factor contributing to the gender difference is a 9% increase in the number of 18-year-olds placed on nursing courses this year. Women significantly outnumber men for these degrees, with around 28 women recruited for every man.

Previous figures have shown a drop in nursing applications and acceptances this year, but this has been driven by falls in the number of older students rather than among 18-year-olds.

Mark Corver, Ucas’s director of analysis and research, said: “More UK 18-year-olds will be starting university this autumn than ever before but large differences in who goes remain. Our research has shown that the difference between 18-year-old men and women entering university is now similar to that between the richest and poorest halves of the population. The statistics today show the difference between men and women slowly growing wider.”

As of Friday morning, 482,510 students had secured a university place, down by about 1.4% on the same point last year but higher than in any other year at this point.

Around 46,600 students had found their places through clearing, the largest number ever placed through the annual process at this point, Ucas said.

Giving a voice to the “silent army” of education support personnel

In every school teams of education support personnel work alongside teachers to ensure that all students have the opportunity of a quality education, but too often their work and contributions remain out of sight.

“In New Zealand, we often call them the silent army, they really make sure that those in education institutions can operate and children get support to learn,” said Jane Porter, who leads campaigns for the New Zealand Educational Institute – Te Riu Roa (NZEI) and is a member of the Education International (EI) Education Support Personnel (ESP) Task Force.

In Brussels, Belgium recently for a task force meeting where members focused on ways to throw the spotlight on their sector, Porter explained that because ESP are “very broad categories” of workers in education, over 200 categories in her country alone, they are integral but overlooked in the broader debate surrounding public education systems.

“Everyone knows that you go to school and you have a teacher,” she says, but ESP is an area that has developed in an ad hoc way. “It’s a group that’s evolved because of need but not because of deliberate planning.”

Noting what she referred to as the “emerging role” of ESP in helping students with special educational needs, she explained that, while some job categories, such as school psychologists, librarians or school secretaries, find it easy to fall into the education community, for others it is more challenging to find a place in that community.

“We focus narrowly on tasks, and should focus of what ESP bring to learning,” Porter stressed, insisting that the EI task force very much focuses on the angle of learning, rather than teachers. “Support staff are not here to support teachers, they are here to support education, to support learning.”

Developing a strategy

That message was clear when the task force met from 24-25 January at the EI Head Office in Brussels. The task force agreed upon its priorities, activities and working methods. It reaffirmed the need and will to highlight the tremendous work done by these professionals in providing quality education to all students.

“We strongly believe that education support personnel are vital for fulfilling the mission of education and they must be empowered to assert their rightful place in the world education community,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen welcoming task force members.

Van Leeuwen insisted that ESP best contribute to the education, health and safety of students when they are part of a single unified workforce, working directly for the institutions and organisations responsible for the education of students.

“Belonging to this task force is an honour, and a great opportunity to assess, identify and elevate the role of ESP,” echoed Maury Koffman, an Executive Committee member of the National Education Association (NEA) and Chairperson of the task force.

The ESP have an essential role in achieving the sustainable development goals (SDG), especially SDG 4, as they “contribute to an environment that is favourable to quality education and, having a holistic view of the child, they educate the whole student,” he stressed, adding that schools could not operate if ESP were not part of the school environment.

Bringing ESP out of the shadows

Advocating for a “whole school, whole child, whole student approach,” Porter said that “successful learning happens with more than teachers involved.”

Recognising the preparedness of many education systems to work with ESP to really have “consistent policies on ESP,” she said. “We need well supported teachers, but we need to understand that teachers are a part, not thepart of the education workforce, and there are other roles that have to be carefully thought through and planned.”

The adoption of the Resolution on Education Support Personnel at the 7th EI World Congress in 2015 reaffirmed the importance of ESP and EI’s commitment to improving the status, rights and conditions of ESP and to increasing attention paid to the sector.

Finland: new oath for teachers introduced by union

The teachers’ union, Opetusalan Ammattijärjestö, has introduced a new oath for teachers to take. The oath outlines principles of the profession and underscores the value of their work.

Sixteen thousand Finnish teachers have taken the Comenius’ Oath, newly introduced by Education International affiliate Opetusalan Ammattijärjestö (OAJ). The Oath outlines “principles we have to respect wherever we work, such as pledging that education belongs to all children, students and adults”, said OAJ President Olli Luukkainen. “There is no place for a commercial mind set [in education],” he said, adding that the Oath aims to underpin the status of teachers and the value of their work.

“In Finland, we have highly educated teachers and they are very deeply committed to their work, and that was why we wanted to be the first country to launch this oath.”

The Comenius’ Oath

All Finnish teachers present at the annual OAJ Educa Fair, held in Helsinki, from January 27-28, took this teachers´ oath:

“As a teacher, I am committed to educating the next generation, which is one of the most important human tasks. My aim in this will be to renew and pass on existing human knowledge, culture and skills.

“I shall act with justice and fairness in everything that I do, and promote my students’ development, so that each individual may grow up as a whole human being according to his or her own aptitudes and talents. I shall also strive to assist parents, guardians and other responsible people working with children and young people in their educational functions.

“I shall not reveal information that is communicated to me confidentially, and shall respect the privacy of children and young people. I shall also protect their physical and psychological integrity.

“I shall endeavour to shield the children and young people under my care from political and economic exploitation, and defend the rights of every individual to develop his or her own religious and political beliefs.

“I shall make continuous efforts to maintain and develop my professional skills, committing myself to my profession’s common goals and support my colleagues in their work. I shall act in the best interests of the community at large and strive to strengthen the respect in which the teaching profession is held.”

An oath for teachers globally

The Comenius’ Oath was designed by an independent ethical panel working with OAJ which comprised top Finnish experts of education and philosophers. Its name comes from the 16th Century international advocate for education who identified education at vital in achieving  sustainable and peaceful societies and demanded education for all.

In the wake of the Educa Fair, all teacher students in Finnish universities, as well as qualified teachers at several OAJ events, will be taking this oath.

“The OAJ´s wish is that this oath goes into the hands of all teachers all over Europe and across the world,” Luukkainen insisted.

Along with the OAJ President, Hanan Al Hroub from Palestine, the recipient of the Global Teacher Prize from the Varkey Foundation, attended the Fair and also took the oath, promising to have the oath implemented in her own country.

Educa Fair

A record 16,000 Finnish teachers attended the 2017 Educa Fair. This annual training event for professionals in the education field, the Educa Fair gathers teachers and school leaders from different educational levels, and offers them inspiration and ideas. It includes various seminars taking stock of the education and schooling situations in the country. This year, this event also offered OAJ an opportunity to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence.

Canada: school counsellors take on a central role within school communities

From emotional support to preparing students for future careers, Canada’s school counsellors are experiencing a shift in school practice to see them increasingly become more integral to the lives of young people.

The days when school counsellors were primarily called upon to help a student on an ad hoc basis have been relegated to a bygone era. Today, school counsellors play a central role in students’ development throughout their primary and secondary school lives.

“The role of the school counsellor is changing to include leadership in the promotion of educational reform, as well as healthy and safe schools,” says Janice Graham-Migel, a school counsellor with the Halifax Regional School Board and Chair of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) National School Counselling Committee. The CCPA is a national bilingual association that provides professional counsellors and psychotherapists with access to exclusive educational programmes, certification, professional development and direct contact with professional peers and specialty groups.

Graham-Migel, who completed a PhD in Educational Administration from the University of Toronto and studied distributed leadership as part of her doctoral studies, explained to Education International (EI) that “the school counsellor plays an important role with interagency and interdisciplinary collaboration, focusing on the removal of barriers that impede student achievement.”

A former teacher and current member of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), Graham-Migel says that there has been a shift in counselling from a position to a programme, with school counsellors now expected to assume a leadership role, in addition to “nurturing leadership in the school community.”

Although education in Canada is organised under provincial authority, this shift has occurred in many regions across the country. In several school boards the recommendation is one counsellor for every 500 students. In the case of Nova Scotia, for more than 20 years its Comprehensive Guidance and Counselling Programme has developed to focus on four central areas in order to best address students’ needs: guidance curriculum; professional services; life and career planning; and program management and system support. The programme focuses on the personal, social, educational, and career development of students.

Educational planning and career development

“In a rapidly changing workforce environment and an increasingly mobile society, educational planning and career development continues to be an essential component of a school’s Comprehensive  Guidance  and Counselling Programme,” says Graham-Migel. “Supporting students with their life-planning and goal-setting, assisting them with transitioning to new labour and employment realities in Canada, and raising preparedness for postsecondary education, training, and careers is significant in a school counsellor’s scope of practice.”

A whole child approach

With the vast majority of school counsellors coming from the teaching ranks, the CTF, a partner of the CCPA since 2015, supported and promoted the recent 4th annual Canadian School Counselling Week to highlight the profession’s crucial contribution to the education community and to students’ wellbeing.

“Students and families face increasingly complex challenges. Schools are facing a variety of moral, ethical, legal and medical issues, as well as mental health issues,” said CTF President Heather Smith, highlighting that “the counsellor works together with the school community to solve problems at school in partnership with other professionals and organisations as needed.”

The importance of counselling has received added attention over the past year after Canada welcomed more than 40,000 Syrian refugees. Even though the needs of young people vary from one province to the next, certain common needs have been identified and information is being shared across a country that opens its doors to immigrants.

From conflict awareness, supporting students displaying symptomology consistent with frustration, anger, depression, dislocation, and post-traumatic stress, to poverty and language issues, the role of counsellors is instrumental to helping newcomers adapt.

Addressing mental health

However, another area in need of greater resources is mental health, which can be addressed at early stages.

“At any given time of any given day, approximately one in seven Canadian children and youth under the age of 19 are suffering with a serious mental disorder that hinders their ability to perform basic tasks, disrupts day-to-day activities, and diminishes their opportunities for educational success,” said Ariel Haubrich, President of the CCPA School Counsellors Chapter. “As we increase our understanding of the deleterious effects of mental health issues on social-emotional development, educational success and career planning, early intervention and ongoing support by trained professionals can have a significant impact on positive outcomes for school-aged children and youth.”

The issue of wellbeing was the focus in Montreal last July during the CTF AGM, where educators and leaders in health convened to tackle mental health issues. To continue the conversation, the CTF VOX-Hear My Voice campaign permits individual teacher voices to join with colleagues across Canada to advocate on behalf of children and families. The CTF toolkit Hear My Voice – Advocacy to change “what is” into “what should be” can be downloaded here.

Iraq: building peace and understanding through art

Education union members in Kurdistan’s Iraqi region have shown their willingness, through a joint teachers’ and students’ art and handicraft exhibition, to work together towards building peace and understanding across their region and country.

An innovative art and craft exhibition by education union members in Kurdistan promises to have far-reaching consequences for peace in the region. The department of arts and handcrafting of Kurdistan’s Education Ministry, with the help of Education International’s affiliates, the Iraq Teacher’s Association (ITU) and the Kurdistan Teacher’s Union (KTU), opened an exhibition of teachers’ and students’ drawings and handicraft on 4 February in Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan’s Iraqi region. The department of arts and handcrafting from education ministries in Kirkuk, Baghdad and Diwanyah also participated.

Continuous collaboration

Both the KTU and ITU presidents highlighted their unions’ continuous efforts and collaboration to enhance teachers’ capacity and skills in all Iraqi areas. They also stressed the need and opportunity that education offers to highlight teachers’ and students’ talents. Participants agreed that such activities must be continued.

“These activities, beyond showing arts and imagination in handcrafting, are a great push towards bringing all of Iraq’s tribes and nations together, therefore building peace and living together,” KTU President Abdulwahed Muhammed Haje said.

He emphasised that KTU and ITU are collaborating and helping each other on “all areas serving humanity, justice and democracy in the nation”.

Education International: Inclusive education

Education International’s Shashi Bala Singh added: “I am very glad to note that KTU and ITU joined together to build peace and inclusive education.

France and Canada: 58th and 59th countries to endorse Safe Schools Declaration

Education International has welcomed the move by France and Canada to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, committing themselves to protect students, teachers, schools, and universities during times of war.


Education International (EI) and its affiliates congratulate the French and Canadian governments for becoming the latest countries to endorse the international political commitment known as the Safe Schools Declaration.The commendation was issued by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack(GCPEA), an inter-agency coalition formed in 2010 to address the issue of targeted attacks on education during armed conflict.

Safe from attack

Keeping education safe from the types of attacks the GCPEA works to highlight is the other dimension to the EI/United Nations Girls’ Education school-related gender-based violence initiative.This initiative seeks to keep schools free from violence that can be committed by students, teachers and education support personnel, who can also all be victims of such violence.

The endorsement came during the international conference on the protection of children in armed conflicts being hosted by the French foreign ministry in Paris on 21 February. This conference marked the 10th anniversary of the Paris Principles and Commitments, dedicated to protecting children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces or armed groups.

International support

Fifty-nine countries have now endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, including most of the European Union and NATO member states. The Safe Schools Declaration is an inter-governmental political commitment that facilitates countries to express support for protecting students, teachers, schools, and universities from attack during times of armed conflict. It stresses the importance of continuing education during armed conflict.

By joining the Declaration, countries pledge to restore access to education when schools are bombed, burned, and destroyed during armed conflict, and undertake to make it less likely that students, teachers, and schools will be attacked in the first place. They agree to deter such violence by promising to investigate and prosecute war crimes involving schools, and to minimise the use of schools for military purposes so they do not become targets for attack.

Zimbabwe: Union backs new focus on minority languages

Zimbabwean educators have welcomed the introduction of minority language exams in 2017, acknowledging that teachers were involved in the curriculum review process and indigenous languages are part of the national teacher development programme.

This year sees the introduction of exams in minority languages by the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council. This move is part of the new curriculum spearheaded by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

“We have three minority languages that are now going to be examined,” said Zimbabwe’s Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Dr Lazarus Dokora.

At advanced level, ChiTonga will be examined for the first time this year, and ChiChangani, Nambia, Venda are now at Grade Seven, he said.

Dokora stressed that introducing the learning of indigenous languages at a very young age helps children to grasp concepts easily, while promoting their identity.

“It has been shown by psychologists that if you teach the child in its mother tongue and it masters that mother language, you can teach it any other language,” he added.

Union consultation

He also noted that his ministry had consulted with stakeholders, as confirmed by the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Union (ZIMTA), an Education International (EI) affiliate.

“Indeed, ZIMTA has been involved in the curriculum review process since 1998, under the guidance of its 1996 and 1997 Conference resolutions seeking to encourage the review of the content and structure of the Zimbabwean curriculum,” said ZIMTA Chief Executive Officer Sifiso Ndlovu.

ZIMTA, as part of its trade union training, developed and then trained curriculum writers, and this can contribute to language development, he added.

“We’ve been instrumental in pushing for the current government-funded teacher development programme, the Teacher Capacity Building programme,” Ndlovu said, adding that the programme has resulted in the training of at least 2,000 educators at state-funded local universities. “Some of these educators have already focused on new curriculum areas, including indigenous languages, mathematics, science, and information and communication technology, just to name a few,” Ndlovu outlined.

A ‘woman’s place’ is…in her union for economic justice and empowerment!

The statement affirms that “human rights are indivisible; unless all of the human rights of girls’ and women’s are robustly promoted and defended, their right to education can never be fully realised, and vice versa. When girls and women can access and fully participate in quality equitable and inclusive education, their options for earning a living that is not restricted to poorly paid, casual jobs on the margins of the labour market are vastly improved, and must be made a reality”.

The statement further notes that more than 20 years after the adoption of the most far-reaching internationally agreed instrument on women’s rights to date – the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action –global commitment to achieving gender equality has never been greater. For the first time ever, governments have set a deadline for ending gender inequality, including in education.

In 2015, world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), placing gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Achievement of the goals, which include ending poverty (SDG1), ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promoting lifelong learning (SDG4), achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls (SDG5), promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth (SDG8), and reducing inequalities within and between countries (SDG10), which depends to a large extent on unlocking the full potential of women in the world of work.

Fewer jobs and lower pay for women

In 2016 only half of women and girls over the age of 15 were in paid employment, compared to three quarters of men; women continue to do as much as three times more unpaid work than men; and 700 million fewer women than men of working age were in paid employment. This is the reality one decade into the twenty-first century despite the fact that, in many countries, more women than men complete tertiary education, often outperforming their male counterparts.

When women do find paid employment, and perform the same jobs as men, or perform jobs of equal value, on average, they are paid less than men. This is the case even in professions like teaching where women are usually in the majority, but the gender pay gap persists. Notwithstanding variations in the size of the gap in different regions, there is not a single country where the gender pay gap has been closed.

Recognising the centrality of women’s economic empowerment to the 2030 agenda, the then UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, established a High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment in 2016, which “seeks to corral energy, commitment and action to accelerate the economic empowerment of women across the world”.

An important role for trade unions

With more than 1.3 billion women currently employed in the global economy and more than 70 million women organised in trade unions today, it is clear that their economic empowerment depends on also securing their right to education, as well as their labour rights, including the right to work, the right to assemble, organise and form trade unions as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and in a number of International Labour Organisation’s agreements.

As education unions, EI member organisations are uniquely positioned to highlight the links between fulfilling the right to education for women and girls, and ensuring that education leads to real advancements in their economic empowerment. The SDG4 in the 2030 agenda must be fully implemented by governments to ensure that over and beyond their right to education, girls’ and women’s rights within education are also fulfilled.