Educational leadership & learning

Archive for the ‘Conferences & networking’ Category

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




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.




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?



Powerful presentations

How do people create and deliver powerful and inspiring presentations?


I have planned and taught tens of thousands of lessons during my career as a teacher.

I have planned and delivered hundreds of assemblies to pupils from age 4 to 11.

I have led meetings and presentations to staff, to governors, and to parents.

Most of these ‘audiences’ have been supportive and receptive, with the children usually being the most forgiving. I have made many mistakes and over time I proved my preparation and delivery.


In the last few years I have presented at a few TeachMeets and conferences.

I have found these far more challenging, more nerve wracking and every time feel like a bit of a fraud (who may well be teaching colleagues to suck eggs!)

I have had to think harder, more critically and not rely on natural style alone.

Nor can I rely on audience knowing me and having built up relationships over longer periods of time.

This summer I decided to take some time to research, learn and rethink my style of presenting. A key part of this was reading and reflecting on Talk like TED” by Carmine Gallo. Key points for me were

“Ideas, effectively packaged and delivered, can change the world”

Emotional – Novel – Memorable.

  1. Create a ‘Twitter-friendly’ headline
  2. Support the headline with 3 key messages
  3. Reinforce the 3 messages with stories, stats and examples



  • “Unleash the master within”
  • “You stand a much greater chance of persuading and inspiring your listeners if you express an enthusiastic, passionate, and meaningful connection to your topic”
  • “A passion is something that is intensely meaningful and core to your identify”
  • “The first step to inspiring others is to make sure you’re inspired yourself”



  • “Stories stimulate and engage the human brain…narrative is the most powerful way to break down resistance”
  • “Stories plant ideas and emotions into a listener’s brain”
  • “Stories are central to who we are. The most popular presentations start with a descriptive and rich personal story”
  • “The noise level of modern life has become a cacophony, the ability to tell a purposeful story that can truly be heard is increasingly in demand”



  • Passion – Practice – Presence
  • “Don’t deliver a presentation, have a conversation instead”
  • Pace – Volume – Pitch – Pauses
  • Problems: fidgeting, standing rigidly, hands in pockets
  • “How you say something leaves as deep an impression on the listener as what you say”



  • Twitter friendly headline: What is the one thing I want my audience to know?
  • “Novelty recognition is a hard-wired survival tool all humans share. Our brains are trained to look for something brilliant and new” Dr Pradeep
  • “Relate your topic to the audience by teaching them something new they can use in their daily lives”
  • “Increase novelty in a classroom and you increase the dopamine levels of learners…Dopamine can be addictive – our goal as teachers is to get our pupils addicted to learning”



  • “The jaw dropping moment is when the presenter delivers a shocking, impressive or surprising moment that is so moving and memorable, it grans the listener’s attention and is remembered long after the presentation is over”
  • An emotionally charged event.
  • “The brain remembers the emotional components of an experience better than any other aspect” John Medina.
  • Props – Demos – Stats – Images – Videos – Headlines – Quotes – Personal stories



  • “Over the past century a sense of humour has become a highly prized personality characteristic” Rod Martin
  • “Humour lowers defences, making your audience more receptive to your message”
  • “Humour reduces hostility, deflects criticism, relieves tension, improves morale, and helps communicate difficult messages” Fabio Sala



  • “If you’re really concentrating, critically listening is a physically exhausting experience. Listening as an audience member is more draining than we give it credit for”
  • “The longer the presentation, the more the listener has to organise, comprehend and remember. The burden increases along with a listener’s anxiety”
  • “The rule of 3 simply means that people can remember 3 pieces of information really well, add more items and retention falls off considerably”
  1. Create a Twitter-friendly headline
  2. Support the headline with 3 key messages
  3. Reinforce the 3 messages with stories, stats and examples



  • “Paint a mental picture with multisensory experiences: deliver presentations with components that touch more than 1 sense”
  • Dr Mayer (Professor of Psychology): “Pupils who were exposed to multisensory environments – text, pictures, animations and video – always had a much more accurate recall”
  • “In presentation slides, use pictures instead of text wherever possible”
  • Never use more than 40 words per slide, and always aim for less: 5-15. Key words. 3 short phrases with pictures or a background. 1 theme per slide.
  • “Use visuals to enhance words”
  • “Help the audience to FEEL your presentation. Step outside the slides every once in a while. Build in demos, show products, ask the audience for participation”



  • “Don’t be afraid to express yourself – your authentic self”
  • “An inspiring speaker should move his or her listeners to think differently about their lives, careers or businesses. A great speaker makes you want to be a better person”


With presentations at Pedagoo Hampshire and Teaching and Learning Takeover coming up in the next 2 months I think it is time to return to my drafts, rethink and refine my presentations.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment morning

I am running a free morning of CPD for local primary teachers on Friday 27 January 2017. It is taking place at Cornerstone CE Primary school (PO15 7JH) in Hampshire (Junction 9 off the M27).

I will be sharing our journey so far in developing our Teaching and Learning practice and policy, and linked Assessment procedures (since September 2014). Colleagues attending will hopefully be sharing their ideas, the practice in their classroom and schools, and hopefully we will all go away with more ideas and greater clarity.

I have attached a copy of the presentation below, but undoubtedly the professional dialogue will be the most valuable aspect of the morning.

If you live or work locally and would be interested in joining us, you would be very welcome.

Please contact the school on 01489 660750 or to book a place.

Teaching Learning Assessment 27.1.2017


Top 5 posts of 2016

Below is a list of the most popular posts on my blog during 2016.

#teacher5aday #wintercalendar

My December contribution with @vivgrant to @MatrynReah’s important Teacher Wellbeing initiaive.

Assessment Journeys 2016

The principles and processes behind our school’s developing Assessment practices, whihc aim to focus securely on the learners and making it useful and manageable for teachers.

Learning First

My thoughts about the conference I attended in September orgainsed by @AlisonMPeacock and @JuleLilly to focus on Assessment Beyond Levels.

TLT 16

A summary of the thoughts shared by a range of speakers at this year’s event in September at Southampton University.

Big Ideas in Primary Maths

A summary of our staff’s professional learning and development from a day with @mikeaskew26. Thought provoking, insightful and highly helpful.

Key Values

Below are the Values that define me as a person in my role as a headteacher:


I shared more about how these have been developed over time and with colleagues in our school at Pedagoo Hamphire 16. The presentation can be viewed at:

Pedagoo Hampshire 16



Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: