Educational leadership & learning

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Miles Hilton Barber

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’.




Visible learning: staff CPD

I have recently re-read “Visible Learning for Teachers” by John Hattie and have summarised what I think are some of the key points from each chapter.

We are going to be discussing some of these key points as a staff at out INSET day. It will remind us of the rationale behind many of our decisions re. our Teaching for Learning policy, particularly our Teaching for Learning Foundations (Good practice).

Teaching for Learning Foundations

Recently we have also discussed and defined what makes teaching and learning Inspirational (better than Good practice) at our school. We are using these definitions to identify and share examples of Inspirational practice.

  • Irresistible, challenging and promotes choice
  • Empowers all to be the best they can be
  • Collaborative, encourages curiosity and self-discovery, and transforms lives

At our INSET day we will consider how the key points from Hattie’s book link to our definitions of Good and Inspirational teaching and learning.

Below are my summary notes, the powerpoint which share the key points for discussion and the pro-forma for staff to record their thoughts on the INSET day.




GDPR is coming

Probably like every school (and organisation) in the country, we are trying to develop our understanding of the General Data Protection Regulations. We know we need to be compliant with these by 25 May 2018. However we have had to research what the new regulations are, how they differ from our current data protection procedures and what actions we need to take between now and the 25 May.

With thanks to Hampshire Children’s Services, the NAHT and GroupCall (who have published a helpful below is a copy of summary and Action Plan we are sharing with staff and governors. Please feel free to use this, but be please aware this is an internal document I have produced.

GDPR Info Action Plan Master

The DfE have also produced a useful YouTube guide, which can found using the following link: DfE GDPR YouTube clip


Moving forward with Love, Forgiveness & Hope.

Like 48.1% of the UK population I awoke on Friday morning to news which worried me and made me feel quite despondent. As some high profile Leave campaigners seemed to retract on alleged promises made, I began to get more annoyed. I have been annoyed for much of the weekend.

However an interesting conversation with our Senior Leader and Admin Officer about the need for calm thinking and collaborative action, to address potential issues of scaremongering and xenophobia with rational thought and measured actions moved me on in my responses. This opportunity to reflect was continued during our weekly church service this Sunday.

Although I am deeply disappointed by the Referendum result and have concerns about the future of our country for my children (both at home and at work), this is how democracy works, and I firmly believe it is crucial to respect others’ opinions and therefore also the result. The people of the UK have voted and it is important that we come together as a country to make the best of the decision and to move forward positively as a united people.

Having taken control, we now need to show control, co-operation and resolve.

Jo Cox said “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”  In the coming weeks, months and years it would be well for us to remember these wise words from an inspiring MP.

Although much of what follows links to the Christian church service I attended this morning, I hope that the aims, ideas and values expressed are acceptable to others whatever their faiths or beliefs.

In today’s service our vicar, whilst considering the outcome of the vote and the way forward, reflected on our school’s Christian Values:

  • Forgiveness
  • Love
  • Hope

Our children’s thoughts on these Values can be read here:

Love Forgiveness Hope

Rev Philippa shared the following thoughts on these Values this morning:

“We can bring a forgiveness that seeks a will to find new ways to work together in divided communities. A forgiveness that looks to those who voted differently and asks why. A call to look beneath the surface to the reasons why so many were feeling powerless and wanting to take back control.”

“To the deep divisions we can bring love. A life motivated by love rather than a life based on self-indulgence…Use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows….This love would urge us to look for reconciliation between opposing views; this love would encourage us to look out for those who now feel unwelcome in our country and to assure them of our concern for them.”

“To the despairing and bewildered and fearful we can bring hope. Having woken up to the depths of the divisions we turn and look for new ways of working together and new opportunities for co-operation…I have hope that young adults will imagine better and stronger ways of understanding, trade and mutual support.”

Rev Phillipa then shared the Archbishops of Canterbury and York’s statement from Friday:

“We must now unite in a common task to build a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world. We must remain hospitable and compassionate, builders of bridges and not barriers…we must therefore act with humility and courage – being true to the principles that make the very best of our nations.”

There has been much focus in school’s during the last few years about promoting British Values. These include to accept responsibility, show initiative and to contribute positively. To further tolerance and harmony between different cultural traditions, and to encourage respect for others and democracy.

If these British Values are important enough for politicians to insist schools promote, and for teachers across the country to do so with our pupils, then surely they should be good enough for us to follow as adults as we build a new future together.

If we value Britain, and the future of our country for future generations we need to leave the past of the referendum campaign behind us and focus on moving forward with Love, Forgiveness and Hope.



New Year INSET questions & photos

So I’m starting to plan ahead for our INSET day on the first day of next academic year.

Questions I am going to ask staff to consider and discuss include:

  • What do you want to achieve this year? For yourself? For the pupils? For the school?
  • What difference do you want to have made by July?
  • What aspects of your role are the most valuable? Have the greatest impact? The best investment of your time, thinking, energy?
  • What tasks could you do in a minimal amount of time?
  • What could you stop doing this year?

I am then going to ask staff to go on a Photo Mission. To take 4 photos reflecting on last year.

  1. A positive about the pupils’ wellbeing
  2. A positive about the pupils’ learning
  3. A positive for the member of staff personally
  4. A photo that shows the aim for this year

We will then ask staff to share and discuss their photos. The photos for 1-3 will then be displayed on the board outside the staffroom, to remind and hopefully inspire us all of the importance and value of the work we do with our pupils and each other on a daily basis.

Staff will be asked to display the 4th photo somewhere in their room (even if it’s inside a cupboard) so they can see it when they want to.

Do you have any thoughts about this plan? Any alternative questions or Photo Missions to suggest?

#HackTeaching 23.6.16

So on the day that voters in the UK were casting their votes about whether to remain as part of the European Union, with all the positives that collaboration and cooperation with partners can offer, or to vote leave and go it alone, I was pleased and excited to travel to Hedge End in Hampshire for a #HackTeaching Teachmeet orgainsed and run by Henry Penfold (@penfoldno1).

For me Twitter, the internet, and grass roots shared Professional Learning events like these have been transformative for my understanding, approach and practice in schools. Investing the time and focus to listen and learn from others and take the time to reflect on your practice (past, present and future) is invaluable. Personally I think it is a huge shame that some teachers remain behind the closed doors of their classroom or walls of their school buildings, and don’t venture outside to consider the alternative options that may be out there, being shared freely in the real and online world.

Taking time to reflect and remember previous effective practice, and how it can inform future practice was a thread that I kept returning to as I listened to the presentations. Why is it that when we try and take on new ideas we sometimes lose / forget positive practice that has a strong impact.

  1. Times tables practice: Ian Addison (@ianaddison)


Ian shared some ways his school have transformed the teaching and learning of times tables, and hugely motivated their pupils. As part of this he recommended Times Tables Rock Wrangles (which at only £50 for a whole school Ian said is a bargain). He also played part of a clip from YouTube of a teacher using a counting stick to teach a group of teachers the x17 table in under 10 minutes.

He also demonstrated a way to get the pupils to use known facts, adding and subtracting 6 and doubling to work out the multiples of 6 quickly. It reminded me of a method I used to use. I used to start with 2 x the number, 10 x the number and half of that (i.e. 5 x the number). These 3 numbers used to in circles to make them stand out as the ones to remember. My pupils would then add and subtract the multiple we were working on to work out the others. By focusing on patterns, and making it visual, I always found this a useful and memorable strategy.

2. Genius Hour: Graham Andre (@grahamandre)


Graham spoke passionately about how he has developed Genius Hour in his school, and then taken it to different levels, by for example Genius Club (where the pupils can create and organise a club of their choice for the other pupils). He shared how the concept had developed from Google’s concept of 20% time for their employees to follow ideas and questions, which has led to a great deal of innovation.

He then explained how it is such a powerful approach to develop 21st century skills, such as: creativity, innovation, collaboration, communication and critical thinking. He then shared some of the pupils comments about why they value it:


It may me reflect on the work we are currently doing in our school to develop Project Based Learning and the challenge we have found so far in Y2 and Y3 (our oldest pupils at the moment) of getting a balance between a teacher created learning journey (to cover the National Curriculum) and empowering the pupils to take some ownership of the content they are particularly fascinated by and choice over how they might research and present their learning.

I started to discuss with my colleague: Fran Pretty (@francescaprett2) that we consider a ‘mash up’ of Genius Hour and Project Based Learning, by creating a some Genius afternoons with the planned learning journey sequence.

3. Homework: Jenna Lucas (@JennaLucas81)

Jenna shared the frustrations she and her colleagues have had re. issues with homework. From it being very time consuming to prepare and mark, to being unsure whether it was more the parents or pupils work, and the key question of whether it was having any impact on the pupils’ learning and understanding. During this section she referenced Bart Simpson and John Hattie as evidence (and yes in that order)

Jenna spoke about what she believes makes Homework effective.


She shared examples of ‘Takeaway Homework’ which go over a term and enable pupils to choose a few activities from a range of given tasks to undertake. Their work is then brought in for an exhibition at the end of the term, with comments sheets next to them for other pupils and parents to record on. The positives of this approach are: no weekly preparation, greater pupil choice and motivation, no teacher marking, a real sense of purpose for creating and presenting their homework.

At a previous school we used to do this as part of our Projects. It gave the pupils chance to play to and develop their strengths and passions, and always ended with some inspiring and creative exhibitions, which then opened minds and raised aspirations of other pupils.

4. Pride and Priorities: Tim Clarke (@tim_jumpclarke) (Yes me)

Although the aim of the Teachmeet was to share ideas to help teachers save time in the classroom, as someone who last taught his own class in 2011, I decided to share some tips I have found useful in managing my time and workload more effectively, and to take pride in achievements and impact.

Essentially I shared 3 elements:

  • Having an online to do list (in categories of importance) which can easily be accessed
  • Using an online calendar for the regular reminders and to ring fence time for specific tasks
  • Finishing on Friday by spending 5 minutes adding bullet points of that week’s accomplishments to a Proud and Achieved list (which helps me go home on Friday feeling positive, and not being too anxious about my still to do list)

My presentation can be accessed here:

#HackTeaching 23.6.16

5. Kahoot: Henry Penfold (@penfoldno1)

The Teachmeet concluded with Henry sharing (very interactively) how useful and easy to use Kahoot is. We were challenged with a Queen Elizabeth II quiz (unfortunately our team were neither accurate nor quick enough to be able to boast).

Henry explained how this can easily be used as a pre and post assessment to track progress. How teachers can easily create new Kahoot quizzes and how much the pupils are motivated to use them.



I came away with a reminder of how valuable it is to meet, connect with and learn from other colleagues from other schools. We are all doing great things within our own schools, but there are more ideas out there.

To spend time remembering and returning to effective elements of practice we have used in the past, but has maybe dropped from our repertoire.

To concentrate on doing less, but with greater impact. To not rush trying to do so much that we work harder than the pupils, and that they aren’t motivated or learning because of the treadmill of schooling. There is only a finite amount of time we and the pupils have, so it is important we invest it as wisely as we can to have the greatest, most positive and most inspiring impact.

Invest time



NC Parent Overviews

This is neither creative nor innovative. I have merely cut and pasted the National Curriculum objectives for Reading, writing and maths onto a hopefully easy for parents to access document. Currently only done Y1-Y4.

I have shared with local schools, a couple of whom said they would use them, so I thought it worth sharing here as well. I have uploaded them as Word docs so they can be adapted as required.

NC Year 1 Overview for parents

NC Year 2 Overview for parents

NC Year 3 Overview for parents

NC Year 4 Overview for parents


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