Educational leadership & learning

Our Admin Officer and myself are running staff training on General Data Protection Regulations during this coming week.

Attached is the Powerpoint we are planning to use as the basis of this training, although no doubt there will be a lot of discussion and questions.

Please feel free to use, adapt or ignore as you wish.

GDPR Staff training MASTER

With many thanks to Tony Sheppard (@GDPRTiger) for valuable feedback and advice.

Further advice can be found from @GDPRinSchools with the free online resources at:



High quality outcomes?

Eric Halton, who is a colleague from HIAS (Hampshire Inspection and Advisory Service), spoke at the start of this year’s Primary Headteacher conference. As well as celebrating the hard work that takes place on a daily basis in Hampshire schools, through determination and shared expertise, he asked us to consider what we might really mean by high quality outcomes for our children.

  • Do we allow ourselves and our school’s to become too narrowly focused on specific academic outcomes?
  • Do we ensure a curriculum for life, or a curriculum to ensure our pupils are secondary ready in two core subjects?
  • What is our moral purpose to ensure equality and equity for all our children?

Clearly it is not that striving for high academic standards is the wrong approach, but it is about making sure that external accountability pressures (of which Eric acknowledged the Local Authority is part of) do not sway us away from a broad and rich curriculum, that inspires children and sets them up as motivated learners for life

At Cornerstone we have defined the high quality outcomes we want to help all our pupils achieve as:

  • Positive, caring, hard-working, balanced and wise people
  • Sustained and substantial progress with attainment above LA and National
  • Aspirational, courageous, self-fulfilled, collaborative and reflective learners

For me, having this balanced definition empowers us as a staff to argue the case for not narrowing our curriculum or focus. We are also confident that this balance is in the best interests of our pupils, both now and for their future. It is a balance that has the support of our families, staff and governors.

I have read through the latest Chartered College of Teaching journal over the past few weeks. “Impact” shares summaries of some recent evidence based research in education.

I set myself the challenge of picking out just one quote from each article to share with staff at outback school, to ask them to reflect on the one that resonates most with them a task this time. I didn’t quite succeed, but have not quoted from every article, so that there is still  reasonable amount and balance.

If you had to pick one idea, which would it be and why?


“Just as plants can be nurtured through gardening, so the brain can be shaped and moulder through teaching.” Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

“Effective teachers communicate clearly and concisely, with efforts to minimise distraction. For new learning to be acquired in an educational and meaningful sense, it must be connected to prior knowledge, which requires two way communication.” Paul Howard-Jones et al

“When we consolidate our learning, it not only becomes permanent, but accessing it becomes easier and quicker, demanding less conscious effort.” Paul Howard-Jones et al

“The need for engaging opportunities that challenge students to apply and test their knowledge in low-risk tasks that are free from anxiety.” Paul Howard-Jones at al

“In the absence of a one-size-fits-all prescription for effective teaching, teachers must constantly make decisions based on their own ideas of how learning proceeds and what they observe occurring in their classrooms.” Paul Howard-Jones et al

“Teachers can also provide scaffolding to help their students achieve success initially, and then slowly make retrieval more difficult as the students become more comfortable with the material.” Megan A Sumeracki

Cognitive Load Theory: “The cognitive load in a task is the amount of cognitive effort required by a person to perform the task.” Dominic Shibli

Intrinsic Cognitive Load: the inherent difficulty of the material
Reduce: breaking down content, sub tasks.

Extraneous Cognitive Load: the Load generates by the way the material is presented
Reduce: clear instructions, simple to complex sequencing, start modelling examples, students apply to new question / context.

Germane Cognitive Load: the elements that aid information processing

“If subject knowledge is incomplete, the student is unable to fall back on the long-term memory and the working memory becomes overloaded.” Dominic Shibli

“Threshold concepts…portals to new or transformed understanding.” Niki Kaiser

Six ways visuals help learning:
1. Support attention
2. Activate or build prior knowledge
3. Minimise Cognitive Load
4. Build mental models
5. Support transfer of learning
6. Make use of dual coding
Oliver Caviglioli

“To maximise the chance of learning new material, students’ knowledge of past topics should be committed to their long-term memory.” Caroline Creaby et al

“We know that sleep is fundamental for learning, memory consolidation and information processing, alongside restoration and repair of the body…insufficient sleep is associated with reduced attention, impaired learning, poorer academic performance and also mood and emotional deficits.” Rachel Sherman et al

“Students need to try new strategies and seek input when they’re stuck. They need this repertoire of approaches – not just sheer effort – to learn and improve.” Carol Dweck

“A Growth Mindset can make the difference between someone avoiding challenge and failure, and someone embracing it for the sake of learning.” Carol Dweck

“Where grouping by attainment is used, there is often conflation of the concept of ‘prior attainment’ with ‘ability’.” Becky Francis et al

“The goal of guided play is that children take charge of their own learning and teachers use their expertise to scaffold children’s learning by designing materials and providing prompting and feedback.” Rebecca Merkley et al

“Parents and teachers attitudes toward maths can influence their children’s mathematical achievements.” Beilock and Maloney

“Vocabulary is one of the strongest predictors of children’s educational success.” Tanya M Paes et al


Along with a room full of primary head teachers from Hampshire I had the privilege of listening to, being inspired by and entertained by Miles Hilton Barber at this year’s conference. Miles describes himself as a ‘Blind adventurer’ ho has clearly accrued a great deal of wisdom in his adventure through life. He illustrated this with  many short clips, some of which are the end of this blog.

He offered us basic life principles as leaders of schools based on his experiences:

Start with your dreams and ambitions, not your limitations (whether that be budget, external accountability, context…)

Attitude determines aptitude, success and happiness. It’s not your circumstances, so don’t have a victim mentality. What you want to achieve is not impossible, it just might never have been done before.

The importance’s of saying yes to opportunities when they come along. “Give it a go, or you’ll never know.” You’ll either succeed or learn, but all you can do is you best (you’ll never be able to meet the needs of everyone).

Fear often holds people back. But Miles sees fear as, False Evidence that Appears Real. He also discussed the strength that come from a strong and committed team: where everyone strengthens and covers everyone. The way we as leaders cope with stress and pressures is a role model for staff and pupils.

He finished by concluding that life is really about people and relationships. There’s more to life than educating children. It’s crucial to look after ourelves and our families.

Inspiring, entertaining and wise words of insight from a ‘blind adventurer’.



Discussing metacognition

I was pleased and proud to be invited along to a Chartered College of Teaching event at Winchester University last Wednesday (7 March 2018). The focus for the event was discussing ‘The Science of Learning’ and included other presentations about research included in the latest version of ‘Impact’ (The College of Teaching’s regular research magazine).

I shared work we have done at Cornerstone CE Primary, to develop our understanding and use of metcognitive strategies and thinking. We have:

  • looked at and discussed key research
  • given staff time in research groups led by an external NPQH colleague
  • developed out ‘Teaching for Learning Foundations’ and ‘Feedback policy’ to help learners understand clearly what they are learning, how they can be successful, and how we enable them to reflect on their learning / think about their thinking within specific ‘Learning Aims’
  • developed Learning Powers’ (with out Pupil Voice Groups) and use a variety of ‘Learning Journey Prompts’ to ask before, during and after learning sequences

It was useful to articulate this process to other colleagues, and to reflect on the effectiveness and impact of these approaches through the Q&A session that followed.


Teaching for Learning Foundations

Feedback policy



Two years ago I ran a workshop for our parents to explain how we were developing the four calculations with our learners. Parents had the opportunity to try working practically, pictorially and using written methods.

This half term I am running another workshop, but I don’t want to just repeat what I shared previously. I want to explain how our approach to teaching and learning in maths has developed over the past 5 years. So this time we are going to focus on:

  • The National Curriculum: Aims, Domains and progressive objectives
  • Concrete, Pictorial and Abstract
  • Multiple representations
  • Variation theory
  • Question types
  • Use of Pre-Assessments and SOLO Learning Journeys
  • Learn Its (for school and Home Learning)

My aim is to make much of the evening discussion based, with practical examples for parents to try out. My hope is that they find it interesting, informative and enjoyable.

Below is a copy of the presentation I plan to use and a copy of my summary of “Mastering Mathematics” by Dr Helen Drury.

Maths Workshop March 18

Mastering Mathematics




Year 6 aspirations

I would like to start by offering my sincere thanks for the generous and open way  3 schools and particular colleagues within them shared their valuable professional experiences and expertise:

Twyford St Mary’s C of E Primary: Hannah Beckett and Tracey

Uplands Primary: Christina Dalingwater and Sarah Ackernman

Botley C of E Primary: Joe Cooil


The majority of my time as a class teacher was spent teaching Y5 and Y6 (13 years). However the last time I had class teacher responsibility was back in 2011.

Personally I love working with this age group. The questions, the interactions, the curriculum advancing and getting more sophisticated, the greater cognitive independence to generate, adapt and refine ideas, opinions, outcomes…

Our school opened in September 2013 with a YR and a Y1 class, and has grown ‘from the bottom’. So in 2018-2019 we will have our first class of Y6s. This brings new opportunities and new challenges. I am keen it does not also bring an unhealthy amount of stress and pressure, either for us as staff or for the pupils.

All colleagues working in primary are aware of the ‘drop in data’ (not standards per se) in the 2015-2016 with the introduction of the new ‘tougher’ Y6 SATs. We are also aware of how on average schools improved their data last academic year, having reflected and adapted after the first year’s experience.

We are also aware of Amanda Spielman’s focus (rightly so) on maintaining a broad and balanced curriculum across every year group in primary.

Despite a number of years of personal teaching in Y6, I have been keen to visit other schools within our Local Authority (Hampshire) who have supported their Y6 pupils to achieve extremely well over the past 2 years (both in terms of attainment and progress).

At our school we define Inspirational Outcomes (i.e. what we want the pupils to achieve by the end of each year and particularly their final year before transfer) as:

  • Positive, caring, hard-working, balanced and wise people
  • Sustained and substantial progress with attainment above LA and National
  • Aspirational, courageous, self-fulfilled, collaborative and reflective learners

This definition clearly states that although aspirational academic outcomes are very important, they are not the whole picture. Indeed our Curriculum policy Aims (which staff quote correctly like to quote back to me at times) state:

We aim to:

  • Ignite a love of learning in all pupils
  • Encourage empowering partnerships between all learners in the school (pupils and staff)
  • Ensure the statutory entitlement of every pupil to a balanced provision of all subjects within the National Curriculum is met
  • Ensure all pupils achieve well in all aspects of the curriculum, making appropriate rates of personal progress so that they leave Cornerstone fully prepared for the next stage of their education
  • Facilitate children’s acquisition of ideas, knowledge, skills, mindsets and qualities of character, which will help them to develop intellectually, emotionally, socially, physically and morally
  • Develop a range of Learning behaviours with every pupil through the way they uncover and discover the curriculum content to help them grow as ‘Powerful Learners’ and as confident, happy and mature people
  • Grow an ‘Inspirational Learning Community’ amongst both pupils and adults through the way the curriculum is developed, enhanced and celebrated

So I went to visit other schools, to discuss how they have managed to support their pupils to achieve extremely well over the last two years. Below is a summary of some of the main trends, though it was interesting to note that despite commonalities all 3 schools had also had success in different ways.

  1. Focus on developing the quality of Teaching & Learning in all classes
  2. Maintain a positive Growth Mindset, that with perseverance we can continue to improve and the pupils view SATs as an opportunity to proudly show what they have learnt and have achieved
  3. Effective use of assessment information and use of feedback to identify gaps in understanding, enable responsive teaching and inform future planning
  4. The school needs to take ownership of a broad and balanced curriculum, which continue to inspire learners and is exciting and creative, whilst giving numerous opportunities to apply and practice key skills in real and meaningful contexts
  5. Use of targeted and specific cut away groups within lessons and use of registration challenges / daily drips to practice and secure understanding of key basic knowledge and skills to grow the pupils’ confidence

Colleagues also shared many specific ways they have developed to support learning in English, Maths and across the curriculum in Y6.

As I stated at the start I am extremely grateful to these colleagues for the generous and open way they shared their valuable professional experiences and expertise.

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