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What is Inclusion?
October 24, 2014
Image found here- http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2014/01/02/inclusion-what-it-is-and-what-it-isnt/Image found here- http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2014/01/02/inclusion-what-it-is-and-what-it-isnt/

My official title is Assistant Head Teacher: Director of Inclusion. However, what does inclusion actually mean… Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 20.13.13The definition to me means allowing everyone equal access to a service, in this context, education. Irrespective of age, gender, race, sexuality, class, status, religion, learning ability, physical ability and so on. It is a term that has increased in popularity over the years, a simple google search for jobs including the term inclusion in it provides us with many, many results!

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 20.24.25

But why the upsurge? Why the new found belief that we should all be treated equally? (I didn’t say treated the same on purpose.) This wasn’t the state of play when I was at school in the late 90s… In this short blog I aim to explain why I love my role and why it is so important. Nature: I think as Human beings (especially in teachers) we are naturally a little possessive, a little territorial. I think we always defend, protect and champion our subjects, our students, our personal classrooms. It is not to say that we do not value, agree or appreciate others and their roles, spaces and beliefs it is just, we simply think ours is… better? (Open evenings or options evenings are a class example of this!)

Our territorial instinct apply to roles in the senior leadership teams too. All of us have very clear roles; Director of Teaching and Learning, Pastoral Lead, Data and Attainment and so on. Therefore during senior leadership meetings, staff training sessions, whole school INSETs, internal/external CPDs and morning briefings. We all promote and seek to push forward our areas of charge. We all want the time/effort/foci to be spearing towards the areas we are leading. However, as with everything in education, all responsibilities fundamentally come down to effective, quality first teaching. If only it was that easy. Nevertheless, why is it that if you are poor, in care or from a certain area you will not do as well as others? You will not be as successful, you will not achieve as highly as others. You will not get certain jobs, go to certain universities, live in certain areas. (I obviously know there are exceptions to this.) I hate this fact. I hate that the actions/prohibitions/inhibitions of others before us can determine who others will/can be in their future.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 10.59.53I do know there are many ‘reasons’ and ‘obstacles’ that students from poor backgrounds, poorer areas or in care face. Natural hurdles that life has thrown at these people to either dodge, jump over, or burst through. However, this influx in jobs, the introduction of Pupil Premium grant and the realisation from many that these obstacles should not stand in the way of young people achieving is what I want to discuss further.

My role: I see my role as advocating for the needs of the ‘others.’ I am not suggesting that my colleagues/teachers do not do this at all. Nevertheless, I see myself as the person with information, advice and guidance about these sub groups I ‘look’ out for. It would be impossible/unfair to assume that teachers can know everything about everything that is happening. Which is ultimately the reason why we have sliced the key areas in education into different leadership responsibilities to give a champion in this area a way of policing(?) their field, their domain, their team? (Coming back to the whole territory point…?) I actively search out information, ideas, think about these students and their well being, attainment and the schools direction in everything I do… if we all do this will we have a rounded school? Or a medley of priorities? (Think school development plan?) The role of Director of Inclusion to me means that I am able to provide a one stop shop for all the staff at my school. (IF they need it.)

With my team (I have to commend my team here- I work with such committed individuals who come together to form an amazing team. My Assistant SENCO is a fountain of knowledge, my nuturing Learning Support Manager provides a calm presence when needed. My SEND Teachers, Literacy Specialists, Education Inclusion Tutor, My Lead TA for Looked After Children, My Physical Disability Lead, My two behaviour unit coordinators, my Teaching Assistants! I can not fault!) With these people I am able to offer training sessions, personalised departmental CPD, online support, representation in meetings, agency involvement and so on. Most importantly I am able to advocate, promote, plead for, hold a torch for, defend, protect, uphold, support, back, espouse, ally oneself with, stand behind, stand up for, take someone’s part, campaign for, lobby for, fight for, battle for, crusade for, take up the cudgels for;  propose, sponsor, vouch for, stick up for, throw one’s weight behind, plug, shout, smile and raise the profile (hate that word) for my students. For the students.

Sir Tim Brighouse stated that he has never been to an Senior Leadership Team meeting that is so in harmony about their vision of inclusion. (We invited him along to hear the action points from our whole school Inclusion review.) He feels that our roles in SLT integrate seamlessly in ensuring we ask for the best in everyone for everyone. This made me so happy to hear. However, why then do our results not show a smaller gap between our students. Don’t get me wrong, we are narrowing and have continued to narrow the gap over the years, this year by 6%. But, I do not think this is enough, nobody can really. BUT, I am in two minds about whether we can effectively ever close the gap entirely. Whatever the state of play all I want is to know that we all have given our students the best possible chance in life by plugging their barriers as effectively as possible.

Taking over the leadership of the Pupil Premium grant has allowed me to be more creative with the ‘plugging.’ I can now designate money we receive to reduce the gaps in English and Maths attainment and socialisation. I have also recently hired a Pupil Premium Lead; a research champion to look into effective ways to use this money. I have read a lot about how others use this money, I have been inspired and dismayed at the same time. For me, whilst at school students are all relatively equal, same classes, same teachers, same books, resources and so on. Their learning and physical abilities obviously differ but I feel the gaps are when they leave school daily, when they are at home/care, around their homes/place they stay, or when they are with their peers. These are the areas I want to develop further… I want to promote a love of learning, a desire to succeed.

Is it simply just instilling aspirations, ambitions and future chances in these young people that will make the difference. Unfortunately, we do not really know yet what some of the many issues are with these students that do not have as much income in their household as others… I am hoping between my Pupil Premium lead and I we can find out. Do you know why there is such a gap of knowledge? This is in contrast to what we know about SEN/D students.

My team and I have for provided all staff with a SEN/D register with information, strategies, advice and information. There isn’t this information for students who have poor parents, or from a ‘rough’ area.

All credit to @ChrisChivers2- original image here- http://www.inclusionmark.co.uk/blog/index.php/send-reform-2014-a-gentle-reminder/

All credit to @ChrisChivers2- original image here- http://www.inclusionmark.co.uk/blog/index.php/send-reform-2014-a-gentle-reminder/

Everything: I have been asked in the past whether a teacher can really be expected to know whether all their students are either/and Pupil Premium, Free School Meals, Looked After, Adopted, have English as an additional language, Special Educational Needs, a young carer and so on…


YES! Yes you are expected to know all that. Not off by heart, but just be aware. Be open to their strengths, areas for developments and the difficulties they face. Daily.

How will we really ever know the real difficulties they face? Maybe if we came from those backgrounds? Had an insight as to what it was like? Differentiation: I have read numerous posts about this recently and lots of posts err on the side of negativity towards the expectation that all students should have equal access to education. I have tried to respond to some of these posts and usually it ends with total agreement that we all want the same thing. We want all of our students to be stretched and challenged. However, due to years of this word being used inappropriately unfortunately it is tarnished with a colour that is hard to see past. I won’t write much more here as I have a post about it here. Below is the training session I recently delivered to some of my colleagues.

Thank you to @FurtherEdagogy for his support and http://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/Differentiation-INSET-6343733/ For support/advice/help with the above presentation. Along with the people referenced on the penultimate slide.
To be continued…
Ten easy ways to demonstrate progress in a lesson
Image by flickr.com/photos/audiolucistoreImage by flickr.com/photos/audiolucistore

This post is a result of my two minute presentation that I recently gave at the Teachmeet at Acklam Grange School in Middlesbrough. It is one of those things that student teachers ask me all the time. How can I show progress quickly when I am being observed? I think that sometimes, people tend to over think this, as progress can be shown in a lesson very easily. So here are my ten easy ways to do this:

  1. Progress Clocks are very simple. Students are issued  with a template of a blank clock. The clock face is divided into four, each quarter represents twenty minutes of the lesson. The first part is to find out what the students know about a topic. This could be a completely new topic or one that you taught last lesson and are going to expand upon. The clock is revisited throughout the lesson and used a mini plenary check. Students use this alongside success criteria so they can see themselves how much progress they are making and what they need to do to achieve the next level.
  2. Mini Mysteries are used when you want the students to learn independently and demonstrate progress. In History, we use evidence packs that allow the pupils to work together in groups – good for differentiation. They are also provided with a key question. For example, “What was happening at Grafeneck Asylum?”. Students then have to come up with an answer and complete a concept map to show their thinking. This allows them to share their ideas with the rest of the group. Based on what is then discussed in the class, groups are given the opportunity to change their original judgment. The answer is revealed and students have to connect the event to their prior learning. I usually do this in the form of a piece of extended writing.
  3. Three Tiers of Progress. This is a visual way for the students to see the progress that they are making in the lesson. It can be a display board in the classroom or simply a template displayed on a power point slide. The board is divided into three horizontal columns, each column containing the title “Novice, Apprentice and Expert”. Students either have small pictures of themselves or just their name and move themselves into the category that best suits them at that particular time in the lesson. Students should be using the success criteria in the lesson to move themselves higher up the tiers – the aim is to become an expert in the topic by the end of the lesson.
  4. Progress Checker. This can be a laminated card that can be issued at any point during the lesson. It contains statements that allow students to comment on their progress at different points of the lesson. Examples of statements are  “I feel confident about my progress in this lesson because….”, “The thing that I have found most difficult in this lesson so far is …..”. Statements can be adapted for any subject. Students complete the statements in their book so there is evidence of clear progress.
  5. Are you making progress this lesson? This is best done with a smaller class or where you have the advantage of having a teaching assistant with you. It simply involves giving a red, amber or green dot with a marker pen in the student’s book against a statement that they have made. It is an excellent way to start the lesson. In History, I use it with the bell activity which is usually the key question. The coloured dot represents correct knowledge – red means totally incorrect, amber, some of it is right but it needs improving and green is correct. Students are obviously aiming towards the green dot somewhere during the lesson to show that  they now fully understand.
  6. Mr Wrong paragraphs. Students are given paragraphs that contain deliberate mistakes. This task is used to check understanding of knowledge or for spotting literacy errors. However, I often use it as a combination of the two as there is so much emphasis placed on improving literacy in every subject. This could be used to check for understanding of knowledge or used for spotting literacy errors (or a combination of the two).
  7. Enquiry Based Learning or KWL Charts. These are similar to the progress clocks in that they check what the students already know, what they would like to know by the end of the lesson and what they have learnt during the lesson. They need to be used in conjunction with the lesson objectives so that the right questions can be asked.
  8. Tactical Titles. What can be easier than having the student write a title in their book such as, ‘What I know now’,   ‘Pre-assessment’, ‘Draft 1’, ‘First attempt’? Students complete the relevant information under each title. The more they are used throughout their books, it becomes very easy to see that progress over time has been demonstrated.
  9. Exit Tickets. Most teachers will have used these in one way or another. Some use post-it notes for a student to write down what they have learnt during the lesson. Mine are a printed ticket for each students that are handed out towards the end of the lesson. They contain the titles, “Three things that I have learnt, Two questions that I would like to ask and one final reflection”. Exit tickets help with the planning of the following lesson as you can get a good idea of which aspects of the lesson the students did not fully understand.
  10. Marking and Feedback . I know – this is what we all hate the most!  Detailed marking is time consuming but I truly believe it is the best way for students to make progress. I use the system of including an empty yellow box after a piece of written work. I give feedback in the form of “What went well” and “Even better if ” comments. It is the responsibility of the student to act upon the comments given and make the improvements in the highlighted yellow box. The box also highlights the progress that the student has made. Students act upon their feedback at the beginning of the next lesson. We call this “DIRT” time – dedicated improvement and reflection time.

So there you have it. Ten easy ways to show progress in a lesson. I would expect that there are many more which we do on an everyday basis without even thinking about it. Why don’t you add to my list?

Gillian Galloway, Head of History, Acklam Grange School.



Values and Education conference
October 18, 2014

Values and Education conference - 20th and 21st November, University of Edinburgh

Hello Pedagoo!

Are you interested in values and education? The Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC)Character ScotlandLearning for Sustainability Scotland and Lifeworlds Learning are joining forces to bring you this two-day event

What does an education system based on “values” and “character” look like? How do we enable good values-based learning? What resources can help us do this? These questions and others will be addressed over two days of workshops and talks, inviting anyone who is interested in, or already applying, a values-based approach to education. Day 1 focuses on practice and day 2 focuses on policy.

There are two main ways you can contribute to the event:

  • Come along! There is a small fee to help cover costs - £25 for one day or £40 for both days - click here to register.
  • Share your idea! Whether you are able to attend or not, you are welcome to send a short video which outlines an idea for character or values-based approaches in education. It could be an example of classroom practice, an idea for a whole-school approach, an extra-curricular or community-based activity or a school/national policy.

In keeping with true TeachMeet style, your clip should last no longer than 2 minutes (countdown timer optional…). You can send your clip using the following methods:

Click here for full conference details. Hope to hear from you soon!


Our learning journey in tracking pupils’ learning journey

Our learning journey in tracking pupils’ learning journey and monitoring skills progression in the Broad General Education

The pipe band welcome to Preston Lodge was an amazing start to an amazing day. My colleague Alan and I were delivering our journey in trying to track learning in knowledge, knowledge based skills and soft skills through the Broad general Education.

The journey started 9 years ago at a weekend for pupils who were underachieving, at this point we were delivering master classes to support them. A maths teacher on a Saturday night was getting frustrated with the pupils and exclaimed “Think” at the assembled group. This “think” started the journey as to what do we mean by “think” what are we asking pupils to do? And how can we help pupils scaffold how to do this?

This led to myself and 2 colleagues creating a booklet in different thinking styles to support pupils

Untitled Untitled1
 Untitled2  Untitled3

With the implementation of CfE a few years later we started to look at both the knowledge and knowledge based transferable skills within our subject area (science). Through this we have gone through many different transitions of how to support pupils and reached a stage where we settled for the last few years. The success criteria grid that we produced and used links knowledge based transferable skills with content, but also allows pupils to track their progress using a star rating.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 18.33.23

This provides a clear progressive framework to show how they can move forward their thinking forward.


Having spent about 18 months thinking about SOLO Taxonomy (Structured Order of Learning Outcomes), we are now moving into a SOLOesque type of grid which shows more progress in learning by linking ideas in a more visual way. We are trialling this at the moment with some  classes but we think it is a better way to support pupils learning and allow them to become more independent in their studying beyond the classroom.

Untitled6 However through all of these changes and refinements the need to develop a structure for social skills and transferable skills for learning and success kept nagging away at us. We have both been to the Co-operative learning Academy and were delighted by the experience but question why give social goals and then not monitor/measure/record these in some way? How do you show progress in soft skills?

This led to a small literature research after which we created a grid of the most common skills pupils could need in order to succeed both at school but also in life beyond school.


After we had shared this with our faculty we decided to focus on one skill from each section this session. This led us to try to find ways to support pupils to recognise when they are using these skills and then also to measure where they are and what they have to do next in order to improve.

This became cumbersome quickly and a bit “ticky boxy” so on Thursday evening Alan produced a framework which we hope will move us forward.


This framework is a work in progress as we now try to answer some bigger questions such as

What if we could teach students a common set of techniques and reflective questions, throughout the whole school curriculum, that will enable them to not only deal with the day to day challenges of life, but to motivate themselves to achieve their potential and succeed, regardless of their interests and ambitions?

The approach includes the use of Metagcognitive Question cards, geared around encouraging students to contemplate the processes they went through during the lesson on both a cognitive and emotional level. Alternatively, students could be presented with common thinking framework as part of their learning task, to help structure their approach.

One of the key problems with attempting to map out a progress path for certain transferable skills, is that they are by nature general and open to interpretation.  Therefore any attempt to create a definitive progression framework for judging ‘mastery’ of transferable skills is ultimately subjective.

Our initial attempt at a progression map has been based on a ‘start with the end in mind’ principle and attempted to work backwards from an ideal, to a fundamental entry point that opens with an initial consideration of the basics of the skill e.g.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 18.34.43The ongoing challenge is find a way to map activities onto these progression criteria in a way that retains the discrete nature, yet lays the foundation for further progress.

One of the ways we are now looking to demonstrating pupil progress is through the ‘motivational interview’ self-assessment approach. As the name suggests, we want to support pupils to monitor and track their progress thus making it more engaging and meaningful than teacher subjective opinion. Within this, two pupils who the teacher perceives to be similar, could ‘score’ themselves very differently, this is OK because the important thing is not the score but the “what are you going to do now?” for both pupils. And like SOLO, pupils can judge their progress by comparing their approach with clear models/or using techniques from different progress levels. This is a work in progress!

So that is where we have got in our thinking about how to support pupils learning of knowledge, knowledge based transferable skills and social transferable skills.

We would appreciate comments and dialogue to help us move forward in our thinking.

Teaching Numeracy Without Numbers…
October 11, 2014
Image by flickr.com/photos/stewfImage by flickr.com/photos/stewf

Well yesterday was an interesting day from both a pedagogy and an understanding point of view.  As a trainee it is all new to me so nothing has become boring or old hat yet.  I get a feeling of surprise in most lessons at what the children do or don’t get.

Yesterday’s numeracy lesson was Probability and Chance.  This is the first time I have attempted to teach any numeracy that did not have any numbers in and also possibly the most rewarding lesson I have taught to date.

Confusion reigned in the classroom – taking such an abstract concept as probability and trying to teach it to a high-achieving, logically minded Year 5 class was a challenge.  Could the children understand that we can use probability and chance to predict futures? This posed a challenge to their logical minds.  Used to performing calculations with a high degree of difficulty is was a challenge to understand the mathematical principles that underpin probability and chance.  Children could agree that there was a chance of certain things happening (roll of a dice, flip of a coin etc) but struggled to see that maths connection with the chances of something happening.  This then prompted an impromptu philosophical discussion on the likelihood of certain things happening.  Linking this to what the children could already comprehend was paramount – children could understand that there was a sliding scale of chance that events could happen but then could not apply this in a real-life context.  In the context of the new National Curriculum this is a vital skill, as we try to enhance the problem-solving skills of our children.  

This is where I took a different tack and linked the learning to something we had looked at in the previous literacy lesson.  The question then became “What do I want to be when I am older?”  By hypothesising about this we were able to look at how we can use mathematical principles to predict futures.  The default 10 year old boy answer of “Professional Footballer” could be dissected as we looked at how seemingly random events can change the path we tread.  Plodding carefully so as not to crush the dreams of the boys, we were able to look at how we use chance in every day life, from supermarkets stocking their shelves to planners building new towns.  Of great humour to the children was the fact that they may live for longer than me!

The real proof of the understanding came in their independent work.  Children were able to order events in terms of chance and look at how the chance of one thing happening could then effect the chances of something else.  After an initial struggle at the lack of number in the work it was amazing to sit back and watch the discussion unfold.

One interesting topic thrown up was time travel, I may have to invite Prof Cox into school to explain that one although looking at whether you would change age as you travel through time was a rabbit hole that I declined to go down on this occasion…

Sociograms – making connections
October 10, 2014
Making connections between poems.

Sociograms are a great way to encourage students to make links. I use them for getting students to make links between poems, but have also used them as a strategy for getting students to make links between characters in a play or novel, or as a basis for student presentations.

In a nutshell, a sociogram is a fun, visual way to explore ideas. It involves little input from the teacher, enabling you to circulate, encourage, intervene or guide according to student need. One of the pleasures of setting them as a learning activity is that students always surprise me with new links and interpretations.

The image above shows some students making links between poems. To set it up, the titles of the poems are spread around a big piece of sugar paper – the bigger the better. Coloured pens or markers are always popular and can be used to separate out ideas so they can be picked out easily.

The students here made connections by drawing images which connected with the link. So, poems that featured the theme of death had the footsteps of a grim reaper connecting them (you can make him out in the right hand corner). Poems with a patriotic tone feature a ‘flags’ link, and so on.

Apart from a useful strategy for linking poems, I’ve used them for learning about the relationships between characters in Shakespeare plays in KS3. Like the poems, the characters’ names are spread out around the sugar paper, and what links them is used as an image to connect them. For example, characters who are in love might be connected by hearts; warring characters can be connected by an image which reflects the nature of their conflict – swords, guns, megaphones – whatever is appropriate.

Sociograms can be differentiated in a number of ways. You can leave students to choose their own connections or provide symbols for them to use as an extra scaffold. Colour coding can be used for different assessment objectives such as themes/ideas, language, structure, form or context, enabling students to work on different aspects of a topic on the same sociograms.

An additional use for them is that they make a great basis for student presentations. The magic of them is that there are few, if any, words, but provoke some analytical thinking. Students who use their sociograms as a basis for presentation cannot simply read what they have prepared, but use the symbols as prompts. This works most successfully when they have a little preparation time to organise a structure before talking to the class.

Finally, students enjoy them and encourage independence in terms of task and thinking.

October 8, 2014

When I came across the @TeacherToolkit #takeawayhomework idea I immediately thought that this would be a great way to enhance the CPD sessions which I run.

Oversimplified the idea is that students get a selection of tasks to choose from which enhance, enrich and deepen their learning around the topics studied.  The choice increases engagement and the variety makes them feel like they had a choice about doing homework.  A wonderful trick as they still have to do their homework; in all of the trials I had read teachers had seen a rise in homework completion without chasing.

If we’re willing to trust students with the maturity to pick and complete tasks which will be worthwhile, meaningful and challenging to them shouldn’t we apply the same respect to our colleagues in their learning journeys.

There’s also the expectation when you attend CPD sessions that you will do something with that learning.  Using the principles of #takeawayhomework means that staff have a selection of activities that will help allow them to easily implement the concepts from their training; this means that they have some practical steps to try out before forgetting what I was rambling on about on a dreary Thursday evening.

I break the takeaway menu into three sections; Starters, Main Courses and Desserts.  Each of these has its own purpose.


These are the quick, easy win activities to get someone started with the ideas from the session.  Most of these will be things which can be dropped straight into their lessons so they can see what it will be like to use these techniques as part of their regular pedagogical repertoire.  Any resources needed are supplied.  Easy to do, easy to implement tasters.  Just like a real meal these tasks are designed to whet the appetite.

Main Course

Most of these will be a more challenging application of the concept or ways to gain deeper knowledge such as a link to a research paper, blog or article on the issue.  It could include watching another colleague who is skilled in this area or trialling methods and getting feedback from students.  If you really want to up the challenge put the mega meal deal of use the technique whilst allowing another colleague to watch and feed back.  The main course is designed to stretch and challenge the professional taking a little more time but more satisfying.  They may not like the concepts or techniques after their main course but you can be reassured they will have had a real experience of it.


Not everyone has space for dessert but these tasks are about connecting, collaborating and growing.  You focus these on feeding back findings to others, tweeting your results on #PedagooFriday, telling a colleague or even writing a blog.  Alternatively it could just be introducing them to an alternative idea linked to the same area, further research or just going to find out what other colleagues have done with the same ideas.  Ideally it helps to keep the learning conversations alive in your school.

The #takeawaycpd menu still relies on commitment, passion and professionalism from your colleagues.  What it does offer is clear steps to take their professional learning forward and demonstrates that you trust staff to make changes in their practice that are relevant to them and the learners in their care.  The accessibility of links, ideas, projects with clear instructions and resources is key to a great menu, make them want to come back for a second helping;)

Barry Dunn @SeahamRE

Missed Pedagoo@PL? Catch up on David Cameron’s introduction
October 4, 2014

[The Real] David Cameron (@realdcameron) launched Preston Lodge Learning Festival in his inimitable style. In a whirlwind session he ranges from Nigerian funk musician William Onyeabor through the social geography of East Lothian and meetings with Professor Tim Brighouse, through to the importance of care, compassion and good teaching, and of one teacher’s practice not being any threat to anyone else’s. Enjoy.

#lovelearning14 R&R Workshop 1
Ped at PL

Following a fabulous day of education and entertainment we gathered to reflect on what changes from the day we would take to our own practice.  This is a summary of our discussions…

What did you most enjoy about today’s sessions?

I’ll not lie lunch and the pipe band were big winners but we also had some positives about the learning too.  People loved that they had ideas that they could take forward to use on Monday, much better than theory only CPD as it was practical, simple tactics to improve learning. Example – R&A Splicing. Variety of ideas, looking at the wider context and the breadth of knowledge shared.

People were also pleased with the enthusiasm and sharing of ideas accross ages; this event was a real lift for people and recharged them.  The fact it was a Saturday was also a positive as it allowed delegates to be out of school without worrying about what they have left behind.

The choice and flexibility of the organisation was praised, Fearghal in particular was singled out for being so helpful.

It was also interesting to discuss comparable developments in England and Scotland.  There will be more on that to follow in a further blog.

Great to see people as passionate now as they were at the first Pedagoo events.

And of course David Cameron “My practice is not a challenge to yours.”

What have you learned from today’s sessions?

The big message was the inspiration.

“Be bold, stick to what you believe in. Don’t lose sight of your values.”

“Build your confidence.”

“Keep Learning.”

“Reaffirm best practice.”

What will you do differently on Monday as a result of today’s sessions?

More confidence and enthusiasm.

Focus on staff development.

Bringing back collaborative culture to schools.

“Don’t adopt somebody’s practice, adapt your own.”

What would you like to be doing differently a year from now as a result of today’s sessions?

More involvement in Pedagoo. (Sales Pitch…You can access it from your computer as well as following @Pedagoo on Twitter.  It’s on Facebook too.  There’s also my favourite bit #PedagooFriday on Twitter.)

Collaborative planning.

Flipped classroom.

What support could our community of educators offer to help you achieve this?

Keep sharing.

What support could you offer others as a member of this community to help them achieve what they want to do?

Offer events (a few seemed genuinely determined to get things moving in their local areas.)

Share practice/Blog.

Talk in staffrooms, spread positivity and collaborate at grassroots.


Culture Shift 2 – The Journey
September 30, 2014

Every school is on a journey; it’s the very nature of what we do that means we’re always looking for more. There’s new specifications and syllabi coming through, new initiatives to drive our students to further success, ever changing targets or even the challenges of special measures.  It doesn’t matter which school you’re in, there is always going to be constant change.  These are just a few of my thoughts about managing that change.

1 – Know WHY you’re going

The reality is that you will generally know where you’re going, there will be targets, action points, strategies and many ways to measure progress. These are important but when it gets difficult looking at numbers and action plans doesn’t relight the fire that’s needed to make real change happen.

The real why is your motivation. We all have different reasons for doing what we do and motivation is rarely about one factor but knowing why you are working towards that goal will keep you going.  You might be hugely motivated by equity and want children to be able to access a better future than they would have had without coming through your school, a real belief that education transforms lives.  It could be pride; just taking real satisfaction is a job well done means a lot to some people.  Others may be motivated by wanting a quiet life and knowing they’ve done what they need to do not to be pestered about it.  It could just be fear of what will happen if they don’t succeed, Ofsted can be a real motivator, rightly or wrongly.

There are many motivators, some noble and some quite dark, but if it drives you to make change for the young people in your care I’ll put aside the moral judgements in exchange for the greater good on this occasion.

2 – Small Steps

Team Sky call it Incremental Gains, Zoe Elder Marginal Learning Gains, the Japanese called it Kaizen, but the idea is the same and a simple but effective one. Excellence comes in small steps, little things making a difference, many little things making a big difference.  Quick wins are great and you’d be wise to get that momentum going but remember that true excellence take a lot of small steps, all of which matter as they all move you forward.  As I was told on my first teaching placement many years ago “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”  Make the small steps and make them count.

3 – Be Like Vanilla Ice

I’m not suggesting that his hair style is going make a comeback. It’s more about the Stop, Collaborate and Listen.

To be more explicit, STOP being busy for the sake of it, make sure the things you are doing to make a change are actually going to make a difference; otherwise you’re just working hard for nothing.

COLLABORATE; there’s no point creating everything from scratch or solving all of the puzzles yourself. For every problem and challenge there’s a fair chance other people have already solved it or are working on the same idea.  I know the depth of the talent pool where I work could have the kraken lurking at the bottom of it, if there’s something I want to improve on I can rely on my colleagues and I’m confident that many schools are in a similar position.  There’s also the wider community of Teachmeets, Twitter and local networks.  We’re fortunate to teach in a time where there is so much access to support you’d be foolish not to use it.

LISTEN because you might be wrong, there will always be someone who knows more than you and new research is going on all the time. Stay humble and be ready to learn.  If you’re teaching the same way in ten years as you were today would you be happy?

4 – Embrace Evil

It might be the parts of the job that you don’t enjoy that are the final piece of the puzzle in making you a truly amazing teacher that changes lives. It might be that you hate marking, but if done well that feedback might be what finally pushes a student to realise their potential.  It could be that you dread the difficult class, your positive attitude towards and influence on them might be the only one they have all day.  Break duty might be when you could have had a quiet coffee or get a bit of marking done, but it makes children feel safe to have you around and cements those relationships that allow you to ask more of them in lessons.  I’m not saying enjoy these things but understand the need to do them and do them well as part of your journey to excellence.

5 – Don’t be a Wildebeest

On the great plains the majestic wildebeest grazes on the grasslands, a lion appears on the horizon, they scatter wildly until one of their number is taken down. After the predator has claimed its prize they return to grazing as if nothing has happened.

In many ways this could describe how some schools deal with stress, it builds, there’s a lot of running around, someone goes under. It’s terribly sad but everyone continues on as normal.

You need to be a seal, and I’m not talking about circus tricks and smelling of fish. I’m talking about the Navy SEAL leave no man behind mentality.  Look out for your colleagues, if someone needs support or help be there for them.  If you’ve got a great resource or idea, share it.  If someone is struggling with part of their practice you’re good at show them your tricks.  Sustainable and significant change happens with people working together and looking out for each other.

Enjoy the journey.

Barry Dunn @SeahamRE