Educational leadership & learning

TLT17 Pick n Mix

Chris Moyse (@ChrisMoyse) opened the day, talking about how we need to focusing on “Raising the Bar”.

Chris referenced a range of books he has found enlightening over the last few years, in particular “Legacy” by James Kerr.

In this book the legacy of the ‘All Blacks’ is explored. As the most successful sports team ever, with an 86% win ratio, what is it that makes them so successful. The Haka is well known to be performed by the team before matches, but in New Zealand Chris explained they also perform it at weddings, funerals and indeed assemblies.

It is a chant about character, humility and recognising you are part of something bigger. It’s about leaving the shirt to the next player / generation in a better condition than you found it.

Chris asked us to think about our role as teachers.

  • What legacy do we want to leave behind?
  • What will we leave woven into the lives of other people?

Next Chris asked us who had inspired us? Who it was we wanted to emulate?

He discussed Sergey Bubka, who had broken the pole vault world record 35 times in his career. That Bubka had maintained a very high standard for years, but was always trying to slightly raise the bar.

Chris explained that purposeful practice is when we take control of what we are trying to develop, and we deliberately move out of our auto-pilot mode.

If we were to rate our practice on a range of 1-10, and we were to rate ourselves as a 7 (for example), the question Chris asked is what would it take to get to 7.1? It’s about raising the bar slightly and gradually improving over time.



Gaz Needle (@gazneedle) was the next speaker I listened to. In truth (and with no disrespect to any other presenters) Gaz was the one colleague I was most excited to meet and listen to (and I was not disappointed)

Gaz incredibly openly and professionally explained the journey his career path has been on over the past few years. From being a Y2 teacher, to acting headteacher to substantive headteacher within a short space of time.

Gaz is clearly an inspiring and genuine head, who teachers would love working with.

Gaz believes a headteacher should focus on:

  • spreading their values
  • having a positive impact
  • developing great relationships with staff
  • being empathetic
  • giving staff a second chance
  • recognising that all teachers want to do a good job and get better
  • creating and growing a great team
  • listening to people
  • leading and giving time to people

As a school leader: you make the weather. So smile, be positive, energetic and enthusiastic!

Also: be yourself, know yourself and be authentic.


Next was David Fawcett (@davidfawcett27) discussing Feedback. His focus was on “Less input: more output”.

David discussed the numbers of myths there are about marking and feedback. Some teachers interpret research to back up their theories / personal beliefs.

A key question to keep in mind is: “Is it for the learners or is it for evidence of the policy?”

David referenced Sean Harford’s Ofsted myth clarification documents.

Feedback effects can be variable. We need to consider why it is done? How it is done? What’s the impact?

The aim should be for feedback practice to be effective, sustainable and have positive impacts.


Lisa Jane Ashes (@lisajaneashes) closed the day. She started with the question: “What are you doing here?” (She wasn’t just suggesting that the more intelligent people had already made their way to the pub!)

For Lisa her focus in teaching has always been based around solving problems and being creative. We must think, or allow our learners to think, that there is only one solution to any problem.

She encouraged us to take on some of the ideas from today, put them into action and then to share the process and results with others.

Whatever the problems are in our classroom or school, those problems will always remain if we don’t do anything about them.

So after a day of professional learning and reflection now time for action and professional development.




I was very pleased to invited to #TLT17 at Southampton University on 7 October 2017, to run a workshop explaining how our school have developed and use our Feedback policy. The aim I shared was to maximise learning for the pupils whilst minimising the workload for the teachers.

Our first version came in the autumn term of 2014 (the term when the new National Curriculum came in and NC levels went out). I shared some summaries of research about the value of Feedback, and as a staff team we designed our Feedback policy.

We used this throughout this and the next year, and it seemed to work fairly well. However when the DfE Workload Groups produced their reports we evaluated our policy and practice to analyse whether it was meaningful, manageable and motivating.

During 2016-2017 we were extremely fortunate to have the wonderful Natasha Jones undertake her NPQH project with us. Working with the staff in two groups she helped us reflect on the principles and purposes of feedback and what we wanted it to achieve.

Also in this year I was involved in a Hampshire run project with colleagues from a number of other schools. We visited each others schools and observed and analysed their Feedback policy and practice. It was a reassuring process, as we had many similar elements of practice.

However we plan to continue to be self-critical and reflect on effectiveness and impact of our policy.

Below is the presentation I shared at #TLT17 and a copy of our current Feedback policy.

Feedback TLT 17

Feedback policy May 2017 


Foundation Assessment Journeys

From the start I need to acknowledge and thank some amazing colleagues who worked incredibly hard to produce the first version of this document and then incredibly generously shared it with so many schools within our local area.

Thank you: VikkiBaker-Gunnill, WarrenBeadell, AliClarke, Zoe Evans, Jen Johnson, Clare Slowther and Steve Summerton.

I would also like to thank the staff at Cornerstone CE Primary who have then spent time reviewing the document and adapting it for our use in school.

When you first look at it you might be slightly put off by the number of objectives for each subject in each year group. I encouraged our staff to slim down these objectives, but they said they would rather keep them, as it was helpful for pitching the learning and seeing the progression over year groups.

Staff are able to assess up to about half of the objectives, although less is fine. At the end of the year they all complete the “EYE 1 2 3” and the “Effort / Attitude” columns. This is an overall for each child for the whole year. These overall numbers are the grades that then go on the end of year report for parents. These overall grades are also then used by Subject Leaders to track standards in their subject (the Excel spreadsheet produces the percentages for Subject Leaders).

The 1, 2 and 3 criteria has been created by us as a staff team and is reviewed each year. It is also the same criteria we use for English and Maths.

The aim is to make it helpful for teachers with planning, with a minimum of time recording numbers, and quick and useful for Subject Leaders.

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

Foundation Assessment Journeys master


Subject Leadership

I’m leading a Staff Development Meeting next week on the role of Subject Leadership. My plan is to make this mainly a collaborative and professional conversation around some key questions.



What is the impact we want to have as subject leaders?

What is the positive difference we want to make?



What are the specific actions we should undertake?

What processes do we need to put in place?

How can we collate these ideas into a Role Profile so we have a shared understanding?

How can we make sure that every subject contributes to a broad and balanced curriculum?



What will be the outcome?

What will we all have achieved together?


Subject Leadership

Subject Leader role profile


I have included some quotes from Andy Buck’s (@Andy_Buck) excellent book: Leadership Matters to encourage us to think together about the type of leaders we want to be, and what being a leader means.


If you have any thoughts or suggestions I would be very happy to hear them.









As I listened to a variety of speakers and had numerous discussions with other colleagues I came to some overall conclusions:

  • A common thread from leaders who presented (@AlisonMPeacock, @adven_slearning and @headhighwood) was the power and certainty that came from a passionate ‘why’ (the reason in the hearts and minds) that drove their leadership
  • The importance of school’s taking ownership of how they are teaching, learning, assessing, designing a curriculum… which is right for their learners, staff and context
  • Anything & everything we do in schools has value if we have the right intentions at heart and have thought it through. Even if something we try doesn’t work the way we want, the learners and teachers can still learn and gain something from the attempt or trial. We should not feel guilty if aspects of our work don’t work out as perfectly as we would like
  • Schools, teachers and leaders need to be courageous and focus on long term and sustainable progress: to develop thinking, understanding and passion of all within the school community
  • That professional development only comes when we act. That we need to assimilate and professional learning and prioritise what will make the greatest positive difference for our children


With many thanks as always to the marvellous Martyn Reah (@MartynReah) for organising another fantastic PedagooHampshire. Here are some of my pick n mix takeaways from the sessions I attended.


ALISON PEACOCK (@AlisonMPeacock)

Alison spoke about “Professional Learning without Limits” and how through the Chartered College teachers can choose to share expertise. The College aims to raise our status as a profession, and that part of being a professional is sharing our understanding and practice.

She said that as a profession, “We need teachers who are so passionate they make learners tingle with excitement“.

Alison believes we don’t spend enough time celebrating our successes. We know that teachers make a positive difference in lives, when we connect, listen & inspire.

She finished by encouraging us all to be courageous: embrace what it means to be a teacher. Be proud!


JON LE FEVRE (@adven_slearning )

I have had the privilege of talking with and learning from Jon on a number of occasions. He has been hugely supportive as a more experienced headteacher in listening and discussing mine and our school’s development.

Jon enthusiastically talked about how his school’s curriculum is centred on Learning Adventures.

He discussed Simon Sineck’s ‘Golden Circle’. At Jon’s school the:

WHY: Core vision statement of what the teachers want for their learners.

HOW: Learning Adventures

WHAT: Transformational

Jon shared how an inspector had encouraged him not to aim to be ‘Outstanding’ (as this is predetermined by someone else and is somewhat of a tick box exercise). Jon and his staff aim to be transformational: they are there to transform lives! 

We were invited to discuss how we might describe an adventure:

  • exciting
  • hard
  • challenging
  • not the norm
  • unknown
  • quest
  • exploration
  • freedom
  • independence
  • an exciting or very unusual experience

The Learning Adventures at their school are real learning experiences, which result in high quality thinking and outcomes. The Adventures involve: journeys, guides, problems, solutions, destinations. What was noticeable was that staff and learners were as passionate as Jon about the Adventures.





EMILY SLADE (@emily_slade)

Emily discuss a project she had undertaken looking at how to close the gap in KS4 Geography. She discussed 3 different trials she had undertaken. The conclusion she reached with her classes was that including:

  • teacher modeling
  • joint analysis of a model answer
  • co-planning using PEEL
  • a written assessment with a help station
  • direct feedback during and after the task

had created more sustainable progress and deeper understanding amongst her learners.



LEAH CRAWFORD (@think_talk_org)

Leah led an inspiring introduction to Blended Reading.

With the expertise and skill of an experienced teacher she guided us through discussing and debating a powerful and ambiguous illustration from “The Lost Happy Endings” (a book I am definitely ordering!). She used a set of carefully constructed questions to move us from basic retrieval to inference and evaluative thinking. As a group we began to hypothesise, and create possible narratives that the picture could fit into.

Leah kept asking us to justify our reasoning, and keep searching the evidence base from the text. Throughout the session she was genuine and authentically engaged in listening to our conversation and ideas. She didn’t use overt praise and never gave a hint as to whether any response was right or wrong.

It reminded me of the power of reading illustrations and picture books. Through this type of enquiry approach, we were exploring together and were not quite sure where it was going: which really reflects the point of a good story. Even when reading a book alone there is still an enquiry taking place, as Leah put it:

“Good readers make meaning through internal dialogue with the text.”


MATT HICKEY (@headhighwood)

Matt gave us a whistle stop tour of the range of strategies they have used as a school to agree their vision and develop: teaching, learning, assessment, reporting…

Reflection, perseverance, independence, creativity, curiosity, teamwork are his school’s agreed Learning Skills. They each have a character attached to them, with names and stories that the learners have written. These Learning Skills are central to their School Development Plan, curriculum development…

They focus on planning learning not lessons, as learning doesn’t take place in neat 1 hour time slots. They use Learning Loop Cycles as an enquiry based approach. They identify Key Questions, which are the overarching drive for each class for each term.

At the conclusion of a loop they invite parents in to SPLAT events: stay, participate/play, learn, achieve together.

Teachers take great ownership of developing their teaching and learning. They self-assess and identify aspects of practice they would like support with, and then invite colleagues in.

Targets for learners are set in the mid year report. The children led learning reviews with parents at the end of the year.


VIVIENNE PORRITT (@ViviennePorritt)

Vivienne closed the day with the challenge for us to choose one thing to develop: to focus on it, improve it and show impact by making a positive difference. Focus – Improvement – Impact.

She made it clear that today is about professional learning / thinking. But Professional Development only comes when you act.

We have to ask ourselves, what’s the one thing that will make the biggest difference?

It’s important to prioritise because we learn too much and we don’t do enough with what we learn.


It’s only when professional learning becomes professional development, that it makes an impact: then has an impact on learners.

School’s usually focus on what they do / what they offer. We have to focus on the impact we want to have: what is the difference I want to have?


Actions for our school

  • How do we integrate our English and maths more into our Learning Quests?
  • Create Learning Powers social stories with staff and pupils
  • Pupil partnership of assessment and reports. Y5 lead learning reviews at the end of this year?



As well as starting my first headship 3 years ago, I have also really relished the challenge of being Maths Leader in our small but growing primary school.

We have developed our understanding and practice around how to promote mastery understanding for all pupils and how to stretch and challenge some pupils to think more deeply and apply and enrich their mathematical knowledge, skills and understanding.

I am looking forward to sharing our journey and developments (so far) at #PedagooHampshire17 this September (2017). I am hoping it is useful for those who come to the session, as I am sure it will be for my continually developing understanding.

You can see a preview of my presentation here:

SOLO Maths Learning Journeys

In July 2017 we reached the end of our 4th year as a school (@cornerstonecofe).

Myself and our Senior Leader (Clare) feel fairly confident that most aspects of our work are at a ‘Good’ standard of a regular basis and pupil outcomes have improved over the past two years.

We spent some time discussing how we wanted to continue our development: by aiming for the Outstanding criteria from Ofsted, or by trying to create our own definitions and practice of being better than Good. We choose the latter.

With staff last term we began to unpick what we might think defines Inspirational teaching and learning. What it might look like? how it might feel? What we might see and hear from the pupils? The impact it might have on them? We also discussed teachers we remember both as children and from a career that we thought were inspiring and what made them so.

For me, a lot of the ideas can come down to:

  • How we do what we do
  • The impact on the learners

This week Clare asked us to consider the following two questions in pairs:

  1. My teacher is inspirational when / because…
  2. Inspirational teaching and learning at Cornerstone is…

Our aim is to define Inspirational teaching and learning and then consider, share and develop examples of this in our practice across the school. Below are some of our thoughts this week. The plan is to try to pick the 3-5 that most resonate with us from each list. Which 3-5 would you choose?


My teacher is inspirational when / because…

  1. Enthusiastic, animated, energetic and curious
  2. Nurture high aspirations
  3. We are reflective and responsive
  4. Recognise effort and improvement
  5. We use the language of learning not doing
  6. Giving real choice
  7. Growth Mindset
  8. Encourage and share genuine moments of awe
  9. Environment of positive assurance
  10. Share something we have learnt and be open when we don’t know
  11. Courageously try, even when it’s difficult
  12. Feed forward
  13. Show genuine interest
  14. Give children many chances to speak
  15. We are happy and smiling
  16. We model learning (WAGOLLS) and make mistakes
  17. Invest time in them, will go ‘off piste’ to value their contributions
  18. Build resilience
  19. We reflect their interests in the learning
  20. Have high expectations
  21. Using positive and reinforcing language
  22. No sense of failure
  23. Use visual cues to explain
  24. Use IT to make it real and exciting

Inspirational teaching and learning at Cornerstone is…

  1. Challenging
  2. Children find out/ discover for themselves
  3. Empowering
  4. Irresistible
  5. Following children’s interests
  6. Builds self-esteem
  7. Self-motivating
  8. Seen when children are in the flow
  9. Practical
  10. Courageous and risk taking
  11. Stimulating
  12. Well-chosen concrete resources
  13. Unrestricted
  14. Ambitious
  15. Fun
  16. Promoting emotional intelligence
  17. Varied
  18. Accessible
  19. New experiences
  20. Achievement
  21. Engaging for all
  22. Building confidence
  23. Comprehensive subject knowledge
  24. Collaborative
  25. Valuing

We would be very interested in hearing other teachers thoughts and opinions.

Many thanks.

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