Monthly Archives: January 2014

Chucklevision Episode 1


Welcome to episode 1 of our teaching staff sharing of their visual ideas and resources that they have been using to support learning in their classrooms since Xmas. During the autumn term, teachers, TAs and mentors shared written accounts of moments when their teaching or support made an impact on the learning of students they were working with-To me….To you! This term we thought that we would get our phones and cameras snapping to share current classroom ideas to bring our classrooms into your homes!  Better than the TV!

The first idea to tell you about has already appeared on this week’s bulletin- but if you missed it; here it is again.

Year 11 Special

For mums, dads and carers to see the messages we are giving to our year 11 students in assemblies, form and subjects. Examinations can be very stressful


and the next few months are hard work for all of our year 11 students who realise the importance of their exams and the impact their results will have on the rest of their life. To reassure and help your child, think of and talk about FAME!

F We watched Michael Jordan talking about all the shots he has missed in his basketball career-only by failing and learning from his mistakes, did he become the great player that he was. I said that I wouldn’t talk about FAILURE and FAILING again. Failure is only worth mentioning to say to our year 11 students-what have you learned from any mistakes made in previous assessments/exams? Don’t bury your heads in the sand-go over mistakes and learn from them. A better F to consider is FUTURE-use what you want to happen in the future from exam grades, to college course, to university, to jobs, to a happy successful life-use positive thoughts to motivate yourselves over the next few months-your hard work will be worth it in the FUTURE.

A ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE Who would have thought that humans would ever fly, run the 4 minute mile, transplant hearts, climb Everest and so on. Anything is possible if you set your mind on it and use all of the support, research and technology that is available. All of the adults in school are here to support our students with exam preparation; this may be exam revision classes, preparing revision timetables, revision tactics, health support etc. If you have a very positive mind-set-anything is possible and your teachers are here to make what you might think impossible-possible! Talk to us if you need advice or have concerns NOW.

M There is no need to try to revise or prepare everything all at the same time and panic yourselves into a state of stress. Focus on one small area of each subject at a time that you know is your weakest bit. Don’t hide from this by revising your best bits-work out your weaknesses and one by one improve them. This MARGINAL GAINS approach was made popular by the Olympic cycling team who used all of the data available after practice sessions to seek out weaknesses and work on even the smallest one to create an impact on improving overall performance. Sometimes people talk about the butterfly effect-the effect a tiny butterfly flapping its wings can have on a much larger scale of weather-this is a similar notion. If you look at our marginal gains wheel;


you can see some of the key exam preparation tactics we might talk about at school. Which of these key areas are you weakest at? Work on your red bits NOW! Use the data available to you to work out exactly which types of questions you have performed weakest at, which topics are your weakest and take action NOW. Use the MARGINAL GAINS approach to bring success as it did with our fantastic cyclists.

E You need to be preparing for your exams EVERY DAY from now on until summer. Just by continually reading through and revising short bursts of your subject learning EVERY DAY will have a huge impact on your results. Regular checking and thinking about your learning will make real learning happen e.g. the facts will stick in your head! We talk about PURPOSEFUL PRACTICE and how talented athletes, soccer players, artists, musicians and anyone who appears to do things effortlessly and easily will have spent hours of PURPOSEFUL PRACTICE practising especially the things that they find difficult over and over again until their learning sticks and it becomes the norm. Learning and exam preparation does need hard work and finding the time to get ready properly. By putting together learning from FAILURE, using the FUTURE to motivate and by focusing on MARGINAL GAINS EVERY DAY, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

If parents or carers would like any of our posters, assembly slides and clips-just ask!

They will soon be adorning learning group rooms and corridors.

(Fame) I’m gonna live forever I’m gonna learn how to fly (High) I feel it coming together People will see me and cry (Fame) I’m gonna make it to heaven Light up the sky like a flame (Fame) I’m gonna live forever Baby, remember my name (Remember, remember, remember, remember) (Remember, remember, remember, remember)

Our Year 11 song to be sung in form, assembly and whilst eating breakfast at home-FAME!

 I saw some really interesting teaching in our latest round of observations and have already mentioned our NTEN lessons and a couple of other ideas that I picked up that were definitely helping learning to happen and stick!

During Helen Rose’s history lesson with year 10, I liked the idea of a pair of scales to balance arguments and the way the students physically tried to ‘weigh’ the evidence-forgot to photo so can only show you the scales! Her zone of inference focused the students on the evidence needed as they began to gather information for their controlled assessment on the role of women in both world wars.


Zone of Inference

Of equal interest was how she then developed the peer assessment section of the lesson, which as you know from previous blogs, is an area that we are developing every week! Her notion of being a ‘peer provider’ is something that we can all consider.


Learning mats

Many teachers use ‘learning mats’-laminated A4 sheets of information to support student learning. They usually provide ready at hand key information that will help the students with the particular task that they are undertaking. There are lots of literacy and numeracy ones with important pieces of information to remind the students to use connectives or key data etc. A couple of nice examples I observed in use recently are these;


classification learning mat

In Helen Hallmark’s French mat an image [any image] is place in the centre and the prompts around it are to help the students talk [in French] about the image to one another. Learning conversations and peer assessments/critique are tricky in MFL, if the students are using the target language-this really helps them.

Carmel Manwaring’s classification mat was designed to help lower ability biology students to classify creatures-they can follow the trail on the mat and use the acronym to help their recall.

Art and Design Technology January Sales!

The first faculty to share their visual Chucklevision ideas are art and design technology.

The Task

Flipped Learning Year 10- GCSE Catering

Here is some evidence of what has been going on in Catering for year 10 students who ‘flipped their learning’ and became the teacher for a week.  

At the end of each lesson students have evaluated each group’s lesson, resources and teaching.  

Students will also complete a questionnaire on flipped learning at the end of the unit to see how effective it has been.


Starter Activity:


Blank Lesson Plan:


Student resources:




As you can see the students planned and created some attractive resources and considered the learning styles of the group with questioning techniques and the use of a name generator.

I have a lesson recorded for MCHS TV which Katrina kindly recorded for me today- looking forward to watching with the group to evaluate teaching styles and resources used.  

Thank you to Aimee O’Callaghan for her ‘flipped lesson’ student resources.  A growing number of teachers are using our variation of Meols Cop Flipping Co-construction and our autumn student survey showed us that they too, find the idea really helpful in making their learning more memorable and thus more likely to ‘stick’.

Josie Morgan has been developing Marginal Gains ideas with different year groups and this is her year 8 class.

Year 8 Art students were introduced to the idea of Marginal Gains through a discussion about Those Little Things that can be done to improve work.


Students were given 5 questions to discuss and choose from and decide which one was to be their focus of the lesson and following lesson.


The questions were:

  • Is your information detailed?
  • Have you shown good colour blending skills?
  • Have you used different media?
  • Is your page laid out well?
  • Have you filled all spaces?




You can see the opening questions before the learning conversations took place-there were some other lovely ones too. Josie has also tried out some Bloom’s questioning with her year 7 students-take look below-these are great!

Year 7 have been working on their evaluations in Art using blooms taxonomy inspired questions. This is aiming to develop a greater understanding of what they are doing, why they are doing it and how it can develop their final pieces.

Students were given 4 questions which included remembering, understanding, evaluating and creating.

Students were encouraged to write detailed answers and explain their thinking.



Mark Brownett’s technology class were adding the different assessment strategies of peer assessment, self- assessment and teacher assessment that all lead to effective feedback onto their piece of learning. You can see the different colours of pen indicating different assessors and FISH comments.


Rachel Young moved her year 8 students on to some great peer critique ideas-this is her description and some of the work the students moderated.

 My Year 8 class recently completed a student moderation lesson, moderating their final pieces in groups. They had to work in small groups to place 5 pieces in rank order, level them and explain their thought process. They then shared their ideas with the group, producing a class level ladder, ranging from 4-6+. Finally they turned the work over to read my assessments, and argued their points brilliantly either agreeing or disagreeing with my levels. The students reported that they enjoyed the process and found it useful to see how they marked- they also took great pleasure in proving me wrong!

Art was my worst subject at school so I’m always amazed by the art work that our students are producing in their lessons. Well done to Josie and Rachel.

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21 22

Tony Clarke, although deeply wounded by Tuesday’s 4-0 score-line from Anfield, managed to stop sobbing and Chuckled these devlopmental images of year 11 Kim exlaining the stages in her making of a jewellery box. She told me that she will be marrying a very rich man to fill her jewellery box for her-he definitely won’t be a teacher then! 

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To make Tony and other Evertonians feel slightly happier, I observed Marie Jordan a few minutes ago revisiting descriptive writing with her year 9 intervention class and she used these lovely soccer snaps to engage the lads;

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As a Hyde fan, I feel like this after every game!!

And finally, if you missed the bulletin last week, visitors to our school have been fascinated by Rachel Young’s newspaper dresses-this was the article:


9 set one displayed an amazing ability to experiment with new materials and take creative risks when creating these terrific Trashion triumphs! Their creations were well constructed, imaginative and eye catching and incredibly, were produced in only 45 minutes! In the peer assessment discussion the class achieved levels in excess of their end of year targets and should be extremely proud of their learning progress.


Next week’s Chucklevison will celebrate our English and mathematics teachers sharing their creaive side. Thank you for reading and do contact us if you would like to know more about any of our learning and teaching ideas. We will be welcoming [or have welcomed] visitors from Birkdale, St Michael’s, Halewood, South Wirral, South Shields and Hull to chat about aspects of our work here and extend the warmest of welcomes to them all. Happy collobarative learning!

If You Were the Prime Minister……..


This week we have engaged the whole school in a discussion exercise asking both staff and students [in their tutor groups] some big educational questions. We are always keen to involve our students with discussion topics to help them develop their speaking and listening skills and thought that if we send our views to our community via this blog, we might just get responses from parents, other schools and even other countries, Sir Alex Ferguson, Michael Gove and David Cameron-who knows! The questions asked were;


I know that my photo is outside the White House and not the Houses of Parliament or Downing St but it’s the only one that is almost relevant without superimposing my head onto another picture! It was taken by Mark Brownett when I chaperoned him on a Future Leader’s working break to visit Charter schools in Washington DC. It came in really handy as a Xmas present that I could lavish on my daughter, partner and mum. You can imagine their delight! Hemingway, our house-rabbit made short work of my daughters, my partner’s mother thought it a lovely picture of the Botanic Garden’s Café and my mum just cried. She has always been ungrateful! Enjoy our views and ideas and please respond.  They are all the opinions of the individuals and tutor groups and do not of course necessarily represent my views or the school, should Mr Gove read them. No rabbits were injured in the compilation of the blog!

Some of the students found it difficult to comment on national rather than Meols Cop issues or needs but it was an opportunity to discuss ‘big issues’ that I was interested in developing.

Student views

*         1 To make sure that school delivered the right subjects to prepare students for the world of work and life in general.

*         2 Children should feel happy and safe in their schools. With the same opportunities wherever they are taught.

*         3 Make sure everyone is treated fairly, lessons are fun. Variety of activities more trips out.

*         4 If students are happy and have interesting, varied lessons that relate to work and are fun maybe attendance would be better, behaviour in class rooms, results get better.

*         5 Resources and trips would be expensive and could be funded by raising money for charity or advertising local businesses (newsletter, production programmes etc…


*         1 Fun homework’s that include games or educational activities, less days in school but longer days till 4.30.

*         2 Have the right to eat in lessons, to learn what we want, to have a happy life outside of school and a safe life in school.

*         3 Less strict teachers, explain everything more, more equipment.

*         4 Better education, better grades,

*         5 Taxes, government, lottery funding, retired teachers.


*         1 – Consult teachers, get rid of Mr Gove. Don’t change GCSE’s to numbers not A* to G

*         2 – Everybody should be entitled to the same education; some people can’t get into a good school as limited numbers and have to go to a failing school.

*         3 – Welcoming environment, small class sizes, we like flipped learning, IT access in all classes.

*         4 – Smaller classes’ and greater one to one help!

*         5 – More teachers to employ – Better results!!


To teach students a positive outlook on life and give them free fruit.
To make sure students feel safe in school. 
If students don’t understand, make sure teachers don’t get angry.
Students would be happier.
Not sure.


Less homework, more lessons focused on computer science. 
The right to learn.
Have longer lessons so that we have time to understand.
Students would get better test results.
School fundraising. 


One inset day a week or half day on a Wednesday.  Every two weeks we should get a long weekend (Saturday to Tuesday). 
Learning to read and write.
More laptops and group work games that help us to learn. 
Students would enjoy learning more. 
Fundraising days, donations, come in own clothes day.  
Focus on everyone getting an equal education. 
Be able to read and write.
Make sure all students participate. 
Students would get better GCSE grades. 
Take it out of any spare budgets. 


More woodwork lessons. 
Reading and writing. 
More practical lessons. 
More people entering the engineering profession. 
More learning in schools focused on practical subjects would encourage people to become engineers.  The increase in the profession would increase the economy. 
Less homework, it causes too much stress.
To be safe.
Lessons where it isnt putting you under pressure or stress. 
Better GCSEs.
Ask the government. 


*         1- Bring back modular exams

*         Create rigid grade boundaries so if students achieve top marks they can achieve high grade rather than a percentage of the cohorts.

*         2- The right to learn, and achieve- broaden the variety of subjects available as its too limited

*         3- Make more effective use of new technologies.

*         Appoint TA that are qualified teachers and keep in the subject area.

*         4- Give our students confidence to ask subject specific questions to TAs so that they can progress quicker rather than always needing the assistance of the teacher.

*         5- Approach companies for funding to purchase new technologies.


*changing end of yr11 exams back to c/w and modules in yr10

*start and finish school later (when students are more “awake”)

*let students express themselves through their appearance

  • ·         8RM believe that private schools should be banned because everybody should be entitled to the same education.

*         Shorter lessons because it is easier to concentrate.

*         2 Every child should have the right to learn.

*         Every child should have the right not to be distracted during learning.

*         3 We think smaller classes would mean that we learn more because we could have more support from the teacher.

*         Teaching is in small stages instead of all at once. If we learn things a little bit at a time it is more likely to stick.

*         Lessons should be interesting with group activities, we learn best when we’re interested.

*         4 If we are interested in our learning, we are much more likely to learn. If we learn is small stages we are more likely to remember what we have learned.

*         5 We don’t think our ideas are expensive; they are something every teacher could do for free!


*         1- To have more interactive/practical lessons. For example – more science experiments, poster projects, more trips with geog and history.

*         2 – Our right is to have varied lessons that use different technologies and different skills. We should have good teachers that are exciting and are ready to listen to us and what we want. (Our teachers are outstanding!!) 

*         3- Have more ICT, more PE lessons, and more group work – speaking and listening; let us take responsibility to teach other pupils.

*         4 – Pupils would have higher grades as they are more engaged and willing to learn as their lessons are a lot more interactive.

*         5 – Cake sales, school events, mufti days. Get teachers involved in raising money, go to the local council for their support in improving our education.

  • ·         1- Adding resources, more sports as we are a specialist sports college, add a 6th form.
  • ·         2- That we learn how to read and write. To have a say in matters in school.
  • 3- Use more kinetic (interactive) activities in lessons.
  • 4- Would like to wear own clothes to express personality.
  • 5 Fundraisers such as cake sales, school disco, drama show, sports events



*         1 As prime minister our priority is for everyone to learn and enjoy school. We would like to introduce more technology into the classroom to help this and give every class a TA as they are really helpful and would benefit everyone not just a few people.

*         2 Pupils should have the right to learn and the right to have good teachers who will be nice and help push them to reach their targets.

*         3 Improve teaching with more practical and active lessons with less copying. ALWAYS have a point to the lesson we prefer to do work in the lesson instead of going on a computer or playing a game just for the sake of it, there should be a balance. No homework- we would rather work more in class so we have nothing to do at home. We would like to be able to listen to music in class as it helps us concentrate more. Make MCs clear so everyone knows what is allowed rather than having different rules for different people everyone should get MCs equally.

*         4 Attendance and behaviour would improve as pupils would enjoy school and want to go. They would be more interested in lessons so there progress would improve.

*         5 Save money on lockers-not many people use them. Trade in old computers and laptops as most don’t work anyway for better technology. Have more fundraising activities in school like cakes sales etc.


*         1 More PE lessons/ better facilities

*         2 Choose options end of year 8 rather than year 9 so fully prepared for GCSE exams.

*         3 Make lessons more interactive rather than PP and reading off boards/ text books. Science more practical’s. Parents evening from yr 7 onwards rather than review day. Better facilities in PE because when wet weather always in a classroom.

*         4 Absorb the learning and retain information. Parents evening- get better feedback from individual subjects

*         5 More room options rather than being outside in bad weather. More fixtures that can occur at home rather than away.



*         1. Keep exam grade boundaries the same so we know what a grade C/B/A is!

*         2. Everyone has the right to learn, have water in lessons, go the toilet if needed.

*         3. Make all schools like Meols Cop because it is great! Make lessons little more interactive stuff like, games, white board etc.

*         4. Better results happier students.

*         5. Raise money through schemes like sports of schools. Schools have to bid for the money.


*         1 Things should be related to the wider world so we understand the importance of them.

*         There should be shorter lessons with more intense learning so that students don’t get bored and switch off.

*         We should pick which GCSE’s we want to do in year 8 in order to give us more time to prepare.

*         Lessons should always be creative and inspire us.

*         Work should always be explained in detail and good and bad examples should be modelled.

*         2 Students should all have the right to their own opinion and others should respect this.

*         Students should all feel safe in school and not be bullied

*         Students should be able to access mentors who provide students with support

*         Students should all be treated fairly.

*         3 Students should teach other students and be able to go to other classes to teach younger students

*         Students should do more group work to help with communication skills

*         Students should be taught skills for life e.g. how to budget


*         1Fun Exciting Activities. No Homework.

*         2 Safety. Free Time. Healthy Food.

*         3 Understanding Teachers.

*         4 Improved performance by students

*         5 Sponsored learning days. Cake sales!!


Less exams and more emphasis on what you have done in school. Students feel it is unfair that 11 years of schooling is judged on performance on one day. Maybe assessment against a set of skills listed as to what an individual student can achieve rather than what they can’t do – links to personalised learning e.g. In Drama for example, “ Ben can motivate and inspire a group of students and develop their performance”. Also merit should be given for getting involved in school activities, showing organisational and management techniques useful in adult life. Reduce dependence on academic learning and celebrate emotional and social development.

Make Year 8 related more closely to GCSE, some felt that Y8 was often a review of Y7

1 Be able to pick your own GCSEs not be told what to choose. Choose the options that they want to learn at KS4.

2 Cheaper/free canteen

3 Better facilities in general. PE, Drama, Music, Art, ICT. More investment.

4 More teachers in different areas. More subjects to choose from. Extra subjects offered that are not at the moment.

5 More personal freedoms greater responsibility at a younger age.

More skills based lessons which are relevant to everyday life.

More scope in the curriculum

Smaller classes

*         1- More PE lessons

Fewer restrictions on Options (Ebacc etc.)

Bring back capital punishment!!

*         2- Less homework

More TA support

*         3- More practical work- less writing

More practical subjects- metal work/ motor engineering, etc.

*         4- Students will enjoy learning more!

*         5- Less spending on defence/ war/ bombs etc.




1. More children have access to education.

2 to be treated equally and equally listened to by teachers, to feel safe.

3 students teach the teachers what its like to be a student, students input what would make learning fun, fun homework

4 to see why pupils get bored and how one bad lesson can affect them all, favouritism, students would listen more and be more interactive.

5 fundraising activities, reuse old/ disused resources, make own lunch in food tech


*         – RE Should be optional

*         2- Free periods to study catch up on work

*         3- Uniform should be more casual

*         4- To start later in the day and finish later

*          5- Longer lunch

What would be the most important things you would do to improve learning and teaching?

*         Class sizes should be smaller and more one to one support


Staff views

*         1 My priority for education would be to look at how to raise levels of aspiration. If there is nothing to look forward to or no end goal then it can be hard to motivate yourself to learn ‘just for learning’s sake’. Economic circumstances and community deprivation can lead to an endemic lack of aspiration and we need to tackle that in the community/society as well as in our schools.

*         2 Children should have the right to learn the skills they need to make a positive contribution to the world, they should be able to do this in a safe and nurturing environment where they are free from harm and have the security to exercise their minds, to make mistakes and to learn from them.

*         3 To improve learning and teaching I would create a more flexible curriculum that was reflective of the world that young people will emerge into as young adults. I would focus on the moral and social lessons that can be drawn from the experiences of others and make sure that all items on the curriculum where geared towards learning that could help students to make a positive contribution to society. I would move the focus from examinations and league tables and put it on the positive impact students have on the world (I recognise this would involve longer term monitoring). I would encourage more shared learning and see the role of the teacher as facilitator rather than director.

*         4 I expect my policies would cause something of a stir, the system finds it hard to adapt and my policies cause for radical change but there is a sense in which the current system has failed to respond to the changing world. The curriculum is so very out of touch with the reality of the world young people are being prepared for that I think radical change may not be such a bad thing.

*         5 My ideas do not require more resources necessarily, just a different way of thinking about how we spend them and how we measure our success.

Consistency, stability and an opportunity to imbed, and develop ideas over at least a 5 year period, without the need for constant changes.

To create a level playing field for all students e.g. Getting rid of controlled assessment because there is inconsistency on moderation- maybe turn them into exam style conditions.

The right to good teachers, a safe environment, good quality resources, the right to access the full curriculum and to get advice for careers and social aspects of life

Recognise that some students have gifts and talents that go beyond the current curriculum and value these/ reward them. Make sure that teachers get the appropriate training that they need and are given time to diffuse these ideas amongst the staff.

A fairer chance for students- a chance for them to be judged on what they can do.

Better if;

There were schools where all children have the opportunity to attend-no private, no grammar, no selective, no faith, no gender, no academies, no free schools JUST SCHOOLS! Why do we still allow such a divisive system to exist? Freedom of choice and opportunities for children not parents.

We valued technical and creative education equally with ‘academic’ education. The strongest economy in Europe, Germany, has a strong system of technical schools [as well as others]-why on earth do we insist on a 19th century approach to curriculum and examinations and deny our young people the skills and qualifications that we desperately need for our future prosperity and economy?

We recognised that it isn’t cheating or failure to take an exam again! Most professional qualifications allow for more than one chance to pass. Why do we deny our young people the right?

If the government was totally committed to spending money to eradicate child poverty rather than wasting £20 billion on senseless wars and armaments-perhaps all children and families would be able to access education, that is their right and enjoy the benefits.

We could agree that the strength of any education system is surely how it supports its most vulnerable children who lack parental guidance, interest and aspirations in education. Are the government really doing enough for them with their pupil premium, cutting of funding for vital support agencies and diversion of money towards projects such as Free Schools?

National Curriculum is what is says it is; could we please know why more than half of the secondary schools don’t have to follow it?

Government and media stopped telling the students that their exams lack rigour and are easier than ever. Be proud of our young people and celebrate their achievements and hard-work-they work far harder than I ever did at school!

Mr Gove realised that teachers want to be the teachers they can be [in the world] and our students the best learners in the world. Treat us as professionals, stop introducing retrospective measures and let us take responsibility for our own profession based on collaboration not competition and compulsion and research not political rhetoric.

Test wasn’t best! PISA was a famous tower not acronym that had to be obeyed. Learn from the best in the world rather than hand-picking the bits that fit a political philosophy not an educational one.

Did everything Mick Waters suggested in “Thinking Allowed!”

Make the curriculum less rigid. As teachers, I feel that we are often prevented from delivering inspiring and outstanding lessons due to the constraints of the curriculum. Most of the best buzz moments in the classroom, I find, are when we have stepped out of the curriculum zone. Also the curriculum doesn’t differentiate enough for the different needs of the students. For example, wouldn’t it be more useful and dare I say, enjoyable for some of the less academic students in French/Spanish to focus on functional language and culture rather than struggle to understand what a past particle or a subordinate clause is, when they barely understand what it is in English?


The whole ethos surrounding teachers needs to change. I personally don’t know any teachers (even those who are considered merely satisfactory) who don’t set out every day to improve the life chances of children.  Stop the blame culture and start supporting, respecting and valuing the job that the vast majority of us are committed to doing!


Pay our TAs a salary worthy of the effort and support they give the students and teachers and offer training and a career path.

Put more money into supporting parents. They provide the foundation in the education of children, and teachers who are the building blocks can have little or no effect if they are not given a solid base to work with.

Where is the money coming from?

Every over paid celebrity (including footballers) should donate a significant sum of money based on their earnings every year into an “Education” fund.

Use the ridiculous bonus’ the bankers get.

Reduce the money spent on arms and the military.

I firstly strongly with following the German model for providing training at technical colleges for students to learn a trade. I have long thought that it was the model to follow. I have lost count of the amount of students over the years that I have spoken to that have expressed an interest in learning a trade electrician plumber etc. and have not had a suitable route to follow to pursue this. Germany has long been the most successful economy in Europe and it seems illogical not to follow their model.

I also feel that separating the years 7-9 from the year 10-11 would also be beneficial. Some areas of Britain have middle schools. I think that the years 7-8 especially are too young to be around the influence of the older students. I also feel that their presence somehow helps keep the years 10-11 from fully maturing.

If we are going to measure student’s progress at every turn then we should ensure they are all competing on a level playing field-

End charitable status for fee paying schools

Stop subsidising faith based schools

Bring all schools under LOCAL democratic control of some sort.

End the ridiculous competition between schools and develop a co-operative, complimentary approach to increase the options available for ALL students of ALL abilities.

ALL students should be able to go to Oxford OR the local technical college to gain an apprenticeship.

All education should be provided FREE at the point of need.

Wind up OFSTED and replace with HM schools inspectorate.

All students should receive a high quality education designed to meet their needs and abilities- not one designed to shoe-horn them into whatever meets the current Ofsted criteria.

Access to All aspects of education should be FREE

ALL children should be taught by qualified teachers

They should have the right to access a wide range of extracurricular activities

Greater co-operation between schools should improve the range of subjects offered to all students and by sharing best practice should improve standards.

Make it easier for on the job training to lead to qualified teacher status. Will bring in fresh ideas and different approaches that will benefit all in the profession.

End so called “performance related pay”. Teaching successfully is a collaborative process, the collective success could be rewarded But PRP is a divisive measure that will have a negative effect on children’s education. We are not picking strawberries by the punnet!

This can be difficult to measure! Only in the mid to long term can we see if we have produced a literate, well informed society that values education for its own sake. I would like to see social mobility as a measure of success, as well as the number of adults who continue in some form of education- not because they missed out as children but because they can see the importance of continuous learning.

Pure exam results tell only one tiny part of the story.

Where do I find the money

Easy- we have to end the corporatocracy that we currently live under.

Corporations that make massive profits from our educated society should pay the taxes they are supposed to . “minimising our tax liabilities” is just another way of saying “robbing you blind”.

There would be no need to raise taxation for ordinary hard working people if these corporate robber barons contributed their share. The scale of this theft is staggering!

Ending the free school debacle would stop millions flowing into the pockets of private companies whose interest is in profit – not in education.

The taxpayer is currently being milked for cash by a network of “education suppliers”. Spend this money on students instead rather than on new conservatories for the directors of “consultancies”- many of whom are the driving forces behind “Free Schools

Is this Utopian?

No I don’t think it is. But it does represent a massive change in how we see the whole point of the education service. The authorities often rail against “vested interests”- we should not be afraid to do the same. The “vested interests” of privilege, profiteers and the elite, who are quite happy for our children to know their place- and stay in it.

As a geographer my priorities for the students I teach are a varied curriculum looking at different aspects of our dynamic world, have access to computer systems to further their knowledge and skills that will be required in a geographers line of work in the future and allow pupils to experience the wider world via different activities outside of the classroom.

Pupils should have the right to a good education provided by outstanding teachers that have a love for their subject and want to model this to pupils.

To improve learning in Geography I would want to ensure pupils get a wider insight into the dynamic earth we live in and be aware of their surrounding both on a local and global scale.

If pupils gain this knowledge it will enable them to go out to the world of work with knowledge of where they want to go in life to fulfil their aspirations.

Money needs to come from the school and local governments to provide this education to pupils to ensure they have the education they need to succeed in life and beyond.



Can you hear the tigers roar?


At last!! Hyde has won a game. The 28th league game of the season saw my beloved Hyde FC win 2.0 at Welling, their very first league win of the season. I revealed my support for Hyde to those who though I was merely a Manchester United fan in an earlier blog,, and defeat after defeat has been hard for my dad and me to take. It hasn’t stopped me driving the 50 plus miles to every home game and I was mischievously hoping that the first win would come on Saturday as I sat in the stand at Haig Ave with one eye on Hyde taking the lead against Southport and the other eye, looking left and across the fields, on the other love of my life-our school! Sadly, for Hyde, Southport equalised and we gained our first point since November. For the 20 stalwart fans that made the long journey down to Kent 4 days later, it must have been a tremendous feeling to be there when Hyde actually managed to hang on to take 3 points!

We Brits love an underdog and Hyde’s fame had grown along with support from the international soccer world as their winless record had grown. In terms of fans and finance Hyde are the smallest club in the league; in terms of tweets they now have the largest following! The hang-dog Manc humour has won a host of followers willing Hyde to win from all corners of the globe. Sky’s Saturday afternoon soccer host, Jeff Stelling has taken to donning a Hyde scarf when they score. [This hasn’t been often!] As a football club we will always have the record FA cup defeat-26-0 to Preston for every quiz buff to recall and as a town, Hyde will probably be remembered more recently for the dreadful Shipman murders and the senseless gunning down of police officers, Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes. Soccer is only a game and of course it pails into insignificance in comparison but for the community of Hyde fans, the win does bring some pleasure and plenty of humour. Never stop believing!

As a school we are a small fish in the huge educational pool and not one of the well-known, century’s old public schools, selective grammar schools and not even an academy or free school-simply a humble but very proud little community school. Our results and successes, as with Hyde FC, matter to us and our community and we try our best to contribute to national educational discussions and share our ideas, not because we think that they are the best, but because we think that we should-if all schools would be open and make a contribution, perhaps teachers could actually take the lead and seize some of the initiative in the future of OUR education. Never stop believing!

On Monday this week I spent an enjoyable couple of hours after school watching a live internet broadcast where 4 colleagues from the world of education discussed the utility and future development of lesson observations. I’ve written a couple of blogs of late explaining how we have developed our lesson observations and sharing ideas from them; and was able to share our ideas as part of the discussion afterwards on #lessonobs.  I have strong views on grading lessons and the nonsense of the measuring of a teacher’s worth by 1 lesson observation so guess I’m a bit biased.  I made the point that

 “We know our teachers best and have a variety of ways based on a myriad of information and data to decide how well they are performing-a couple of performances a year tells us they can perform a couple of times a year!”

It doesn’t tell us how their teaching is impacting on learning over time and we have been thinking about a far more thorough system that will fit lesson observations as just one contributory factor towards a teacher’s individual contribution towards learning and teaching.

I’m not going to write a detailed summary of the debate [we have discussed this quite a few times at school] if you are interested you can see summaries, the film and the participant’s slides/views on the mentioned twitter account. A few to start you with might be;

Robert Coe‏@ProfCoe23hVideo from yesterday’s meeting on #LessonObs … (from about 8 mins in) Slides at …

David Didau‏@LearningSpy23h NEW POST How can we make classroom observation more effective? …

David Weston‏@informed_edu17h My slides from last night’s #LessonObs events along with note about what I said.

Mary Myattalso spoke and has an interesting blog. She is an Ofsted inspector and much more.

@ChrisMoyse: #LessonObs You may be interested in how we do things at my school. No lesson grades for 4 years …#lcopp

@Cupacoco@FoxyMusicEd this is a great summary of last night’s #LessonObs discussion – @Aisling3ff@3FFSchools@SLNLinking check it out!

Robert Coe began the discussion explaining his own research and that of a couple of other recent researchers into the validity of using graded lesson observations to measure effective teaching [and learning] and his conclusion was that they are unreliable-experienced heads seemed no more reliable than members of the public at selecting a grade. Alarmingly, he felt that the evidence of the effectiveness of different pedagogies was also limited. As a researcher, unsurprisingly he wanted more research into how observations and feedback can be used to improve teaching and the two teachers, David Didau and Alison Peacock offered some suggestions for the way forward. Alison, the head teacher of Wroxham Teaching School, an outstanding [3x] primary school had given Ofsted a portfolio of lesson study evidence rather than a list of observation grades and they had accepted that and found the teaching to be outstanding. You know what I am trying to develop here but it is a risk-they didn’t like me telling them that we don’t do unannounced lesson observations-we got away with it because colleagues were on great form-can we give them the portfolios we will be developing-YES! Never stop believing!

David felt that lesson grades will go in 3 years and if you read his blog-learning spy-you can see his passionate arguments BUT only a small minority of schools involve themselves in the discussion and although most teachers dislike observations and grades I’m not sure of what others are proposing in their place or even how they are used. David Weston who leads the TDA and NTEN [of which we are part of the lesson study/CPD programme] pushed the case of lesson study and we obviously agree and have explained why we are involved. There are benefits to using lesson observations for both the participants and the observers and if the conversations are developmental, we believe that they are a powerful form of supportive and effective CPD. Alison Peacock spoke of “an intangible sense of optimism” at her school and I would hope that we are using our observations to develop something similar here. If you are reading this and work in a job where your performance is constantly assessed and against certain criteria to determine pay, you might think that we are whinging teachers and should have our teaching measured-it is the most important thing that we do. Our problem is that the measurements used are unreliable [in the opinion of some of us] and this is especially the case, as Coe pointed out at the extremities of the graded measure-1 and 4 [outstanding/inadequate]-we don’t see as many of these grades and the consequence of being graded a 4 can finish your career. This may be based on an unreliable grading. We all want the best teachers possible in our job; observations and measures to determine the most effective teachers and teaching have to be based on research, reliable evidence and be developmental-we might then just begin to hear the teacher tigers ROAR!


We can learn from each other-that’s why we always share our great teaching ideas [internally and now externally in our blogs] and I sent a couple of pictures of Bronagh Dooris’s Spanish lesson I was observing last Friday with Helen Hallmark to pedagoofriday-a site where teachers share ideas every Friday. I thought others might be interested to see what she was doing and it was a colourful and enjoyable lesson and presented nice photo opportunities! Teachers from other schools ‘favourited’ the tweet and the people behind the pedagoo scenes asked if I would give them a quick write up to explain what was happening. I wouldn’t normally share so much of one teacher’s work [no teacher’s pets!] but I have linked this to whole school and faculty issues to show how we develop ideas and react, in this case, to a student learning walk survey.

I ‘borrow’ lots of ideas from sites such as pedagoo to send whizzing around staff emails on our visual learning thoughts weekly spot and thought it only fair that we shared back. I did promise a short blog this week-the attachment does have lots of pictures! Thank you to Bronagh and Helen for their help.




As a school we have worked hard to support our students to make the most of any peer assessment/critique opportunities and to encourage quality dialogue following any teacher feedback [oral or written] Some of our tactics were explained in an article for the Leading Edge schools and we shared more in our blog I’ve ‘borrowed’ lots of ideas to use with our staff for years and the development of pedagoofriday and blogs has given the chance to share back. One idea that raised some interest was a couple of photos that I sent of a Spanish lesson that I had observed earlier in the day. Observing lessons is a real privilege and even more so when the students are really enjoying their learning and the teacher is prepared to try something different to develop an area of pedagogy that has been their Achilles heel.  Enjoyment and engagement may not always be good ‘proxies’ for learning but the relationships built during fun and creative activities surely supports an environment more conducive to good learning and retention in future lessons.

Having realised that perhaps Hattie’s research finding 80% of peer assessment is inaccurate may be an underestimate, we have been developing a 3 pronged approach of supporting any critiques with specific scaffolds, Verifying It Please [learning checked and verified by more than one peer assessor] and encouraging the peer assessor to give specific examples as part of their feedback.


The whole process is supported by stickers and stampers, is monitored via our book monitoring and student surveys and has had an impact on the oracy and evaluative learning to learn skills of our students. They come to us below national averages and have left showing pleasing progress-we feel that our peer critique and development of feedback dialogue is one of the contributory factors. However, MFL, in our school, have always found it challenging to peer assess to the same level of dialogue as other subjects have. They are not comparing like with like of course-it is difficult to comment as fully and leave specific examples in a foreign language [especially for our lower sets] as it is using their own language [yes some still struggle with English!] and responses to feedback probably require more DIRT time to assimilate and respond and rely on feedback question/answers more. The faculty have tried out different ideas and Bronagh, who joined us as an NQT last year, enjoyed reading in our after-school reading club, Zoe Elder’s words from ‘Full On Learning’ and hopefully we are working towards both sides of the learning and teaching drivers.


Bronagh has trialled different peer assessment ideas in lessons and developmental dialogue scaffolds with her marking and feedback. The lesson I observed with her subject leader was in the context of the students having described and compared where they live and she was hoping that their learning would progress to extending and developing their basic descriptions by using connectives and high level phrases. She began by the students forming a human sentence where they each in turn added a word and then set them off with post-its to construct a sentence on their tables.


The success criterion was;

Bien-must give a structured sentence

Muy bien should add opinions to their description

Excellente could use justified opinions and another tense

You may agree with using such criteria-you may not-we use all different ideas at present.

The sentence was then peer assessed according to shared criteria and the peer assessors had to leave their feedback on the table on a different coloured post-it [it had to have two specific examples that could be used on it] and also take away [on a different coloured post-it!] a couple of ideas that they could use to enhance their own sentence. The pairs went back to their own table and read the feedback the peer assessors had given and then amended their sentence accordingly. Bronagh then sent the peer assessors back again to verify that their advice had been taken and used. As her class mascot is Pablo [who gets chucked around in questioning] she can ask the students to PABLO it-Peer Assess Borrow [2or 3 ideas to take back] so you can Learn [from the peer assessment process] and use your learning to improve your Own.

PABLOING it! The peer assessors highlighting where their advice has been used successfully!


A learning conversation followed based on the grade success criteria and I asked where the students felt that their learning should go next to achieve the B and A grades [they are year 9 students]-they were able to work out what was needed next, although Miss would be needed at this point to expand!

Different teachers use different ideas to encourage meaningful conversations and support feedback/PA-FISH, Berger and have scaffolds designed to suit their subject [lots on our blogs] Helen the MFL subject leader uses MONSIEUR in her French lessons.


Bronagh and Rebecca use SENORITA in Spanish with the students when they critique each other’s work and offer feedback advice.


Our 2013 Learning Walks [our walks interview students and not teachers] looked at dialogue and feedback across the school and the whole set of student comments and evaluations showed that they really valued feedback advice, feedback questions that they could respond to, teachers [or peer assessors] checking that their advice had been met and so on. MFL responses showed that they were perhaps behind in their practice, hence the follow up conversations about the difficulties any lengthy dialogue and feedback might present for the linguists. The students felt that their learning benefitted from the left hand side comments and wanted more of the right hand side.

What works best for the students? What do they think would work best if they were the teacher?
Comments to improveMarking my own/peer assessmentTeacher writing comments to improve and teacher checking themThe questionsChallenges

Comments on how to get higher level and spellings





Put comments to improveGive questions to help themPositive commentsGive them a task to do independently and see if they need helpRetry activity after feedback to earn a higher level and achieve your target

2 stars and a wish-children would get more praise

Let peer who gave 2 stars and a wish check it

Peer assessment

Go over everything with a quiz and give challenges on the previous topic

Go over a couple of students books with the whole class so everyone can learn how to improve

There was some good practice with feedback given

Dialogue devpt
Specific feedback the students can understandSpecific feedback in all books but much more developed in someChallenges issued in 1 set [can you still remember what these words mean?]plus ways to improve asked for1 thing we have done well-1 thing to improve upon“Great paragraph with good sentence structure.  To improve say what age your family is and what clothes they wear”

Positive comment and stickers

Evidence that the students have checked the feedback

Most did

We need more time to check

Evidence that the students have successfully responded to the feedback

Miss checks and corrects-gives level


Miss gives us targets to improve-we respond- Miss checks our response

Sir checks for us

The dialogue goes on!!

Not that much with peer assessment

Self/peer assessment
Self/peer assessment related to a specific criteriaNot developed too much-area to considerMark test and swop booksSelf/peer assessment with an explanation/exampleNot done

Swop books and leave a what they have done well comment and target for improvement

Give levels and strengths and weaknesses

The self/peer assessor checks that their feedback has been successfully met

No evidence-to develop

The process is verified

No evidence-area to develop

But more with the use of feedback questions

Questions posed  
Questions are set by the teacher as part of the assessment process and the students answer themTime given to answer e.g. “Can you spot the pattern?” She corrects them if they are wrong.Miss-“How would you say also?” Me-“tambien”Miss checks it-now use it!

“What connectives do you know?”

When we get our books marked we get a question and will answer it-Miss responds

Sir puts “Write this in French for me”

Not all did questions

The questions are specifically aimed at levels/grades/hierarchical skills/misconceptions

Seemed to be at misconceptions or to support the topic/skill

Questions are raised by self or peers and answered

No evidence-to develop

The questions/answers are used as part of revision/written specifically into schemes of learning/used as ‘flipped learning’

Area to develop


The student research provided evidence for Helen and Bronagh to consider and they have responded very quickly to embed peer assessment approaches into their own practice and to share their ideas with other faculty members [and all colleagues.]  You can see that no questions were raised or answered by the students themselves.  This is an area of current interest to me in the midst of lesson observations and book monitoring. For example in science, the teacher’s main emphasis in KS4 marking is on the practice papers and questions and they tend to use feedback questions in books to prompt the students to respond to areas of misconception or knowledge they need to know.  The responses aren’t usually as developed in quality or quantity as some of the ‘written’ subjects-the scientists have thought really hard about developing literacy to improve written answers and I have been suggesting that when they give time for the students to write an answer to the feedback question, they give some extra time to allow their partner to add more to the answer to improve the quality [the all-conquering connective might jump into place!] of the original and then they need to write their own question about the topic, based on the 6 mark questions that they find difficult-thus murdering a flock of birds with the same feedback stone.

No more from me! Back to Miss Dooris and her student’s books to show you the development in action. I can’t show you the ensuing learning conversations but the peer assessor would have to justify and explain their SENORITA choices verbally and with written examples if they could manage it.



Not sure A matches S!






Ashes to Ashes Part 2


From primary school to grammar school-from mixed cricket gear to all white! Still the same game though even if I was carrying a little more hair this time. Note the badge on my sweater -that was for winning the trophy I was holding in Part 1-the Denton Primary Schools Cricket Championship-I still have it! I began Ashton u Lyne Grammar school in short pants in 1969 and left in 1976 with platform shoes, 32” parallel trousers and Noddy Holder sideburns ready for Sheffield University. My mum went to the R.S.P.C.A. the day after and got herself a dog to replace me-probably a fair swap! Part 2 of Ashes to Ashes is a short version of a discussion document the staff received which included all of the latest Ofsted information and some comments about the changing local and national school situation and the future of local authorities and community schools. Bit heavy going so I’ve chopped those aspects to tell you about some of the ideas that are currently in action at school or will shortly be discussed.

Quality of teaching-evaluating the contribution of ALL

I’ve written about how lesson observations have been evolving since 2005 and moving towards a system of discussions about the learning rather than an emphasis on grades. When Ofsted visit they ask to see a list of all the observation grades over the last 3 years for each individual teacher, want to know how the observations have been used to determine pay, what has been done to support those who haven’t scored well as well as having the overall exam results, residuals and data to determine whether or not the teaching is making a positive impact on students attainment and progress. The one –off lesson assumed an importance [and thus stress level] out of all proportion to the hundreds of other lessons that teachers teach. The Super Teacher quiz I explained in September’s blog and talked about at the North West teachmeet was an early testing of the water.

I want to develop a far more detailed and fairer method of evaluating each individual’s contribution to the ‘quality of teaching’ within the school and have been thinking along the lines of a document which encompasses the key criteria of;


Key QT driver
Lesson observations
Book monitoring
Other contributions


Emerging teachers 2-5 years, progress managers, subject leaders

Lesson observations
Book monitoring
Exam residuals
Appraisal targets
Other contributions


Time would be given to complete the evidence and provide a portfolio [as we do already with CPD] and each area would be differentiated as appropriate to experience and role. For example here are different versions of ‘lesson observation’ for an NQT, an emerging teacher and a subject leader. Key descriptors would be highlighted and evidenced and I would be ready to present the evidence to any external visitor. The words in italics represent leadership skills.


Key QT driver Developing Developed Aspirational
Lesson observations One lesson obs at least every half-term   with feedback given.  Advice given has   been acted on-examples please. Mixture of classes observed-examples please.   Teaching standards met and verified-successful NQT year! Lesson plan produced –all key areas   verified by observer. Each lesson observed has shown teaching skill   development based on advice, informal observations etc.-examples please. Which areas of your teaching skills do   you want to focus on next year?Are there any types of classes,   students that you will meet that will bring a new challenge? How can we help?


Key QT driver Developing Developed Aspirational
Lesson observations Two formal lesson obs every year   [unless others are required] with feedback given-1 with the line-manager and   one peer. Triads in most cases. Mixture of classes observed-examples please.   What were the key criteria points for exceptional teaching that was chosen?   Which predicted learning outcomes were different than you expected-why?   Advice given has been acted on-examples please. What was the biggest risk you   took in your lesson obs? What happened! Lesson plan produced –all key areas   verified by observer. Each lesson observed has shown teaching skill   development based on advice from the last observation and have met the   appraisal targets.Which areas of the subject specific   criteria that you are weakest at, have you been working on-any measured   impact yet? Which areas of your teaching skills do   you want to focus on next year?Are there any types of classes,   students that you will meet that will bring a new challenge? How can we help?


Key QT driver Developing Developed Aspirational
Lesson observations Two formal lesson obs every year   [unless others are required] with feedback given-1 with the line-manager and   one peer. Triads in most cases. Mixture of classes observed-examples please.What were the key criteria points for   exceptional teaching that was chosen?Which predicted learning outcomes were   different than you expected-why?Advice given has been acted on-examples   please. What was the biggest risk you took in your lesson obs? What happened!Who did you formally observe?What feedback/advice did you   give?

How will you check that it   has been met and supported?

Have you shared any of the   good practice you observed?

Lesson plan produced –all key areas   verified by observer. Each lesson observed has shown teaching skill   development based on advice from the last observation and have met the   appraisal targets.Which areas of the subject specific   criteria that you are weakest at, have you been working on-any measured   impact yet?After the lesson   observations, did you feedback and develop any responses to great practice or   concerns that you observed? [individual or faculty]



Which areas of your teaching skills do   you want to focus on next year? 






Which areas of the faculty   learning and teaching skills do you need to develop next-why and what are   your initial plans?

Success criteria?


Each area has its own set of developed, developing, aspirational criteria thus I can look at all the areas and work out strengths, weakness and contributions far more accurately and fairly than a few lesson grades! The staff hasn’t seen this yet-it’s just a taster and so for Progress Mangers, this is their criteria for ‘learning’ Plenty of discussion to come!

Collaboration-learning Which lessons have you informally   observed? What did you hope to gain from these obs? What were the key   learning points you gathered from these? Which target groups did you aim your   hub resources/ideas at? Why? Which ideas/resources have you ‘borrowed’ from   colleagues and who did you target them at/why?How have you tracked learning   progress of your students? 

How have you supported the   learning of students in your year group who have fallen behind their targets   for 1] academic reasons, 2] behavioural reasons, 3] attendance reasons, 4]   any other reasons-please explain and explain how you prioritised your   intervention.

How have you tracked and   monitored the learning of the cohorts in your year-any interventions   required?

Have you been able to use the   flight paths to support conversations re learning?

What did you try out in your lessons as   a result of informal lesson obs?What was the impact on learning and how   did you measure it?What was the impact on learning in your   lessons of any hub/borrowed ideas? What is your evidence? Any specific   groups/cohorts of learners?Have you managed to share any of your   ideas in any forum?Can you provide evidence of   the impact of your intervention on student learning? [prioritised students]Can you provide evidence of   the impact of your intervention with students in any cohort?

How actively have you been   able to support generic learning and teaching issues in assemblies, parental   engagement etc.? Please explain and provide evidence of your impact.

How will you take your lesson study   forward to develop your ideas further? Which aspects of our collaborative   work do you need support with or need more of? 


Is the intervention process   working for you-how can you adapt it to suit your purposes-what can we do to   support you?


Collaboration-where next?


In Part 1, I stressed the power of collaboration in shaping learning and teaching here and naturally most of it involved our own teachers supporting each other. We were trying out lots of different ideas and occasionally we would correspond with other schools but the business of Meols Cop was Meols Cop and we had to get it right internally before offering to support others. Since Ofsted we have opened our doors to many schools and I wrote previously of the benefits of this;

“Contact with other schools has confirmed our own practice and given opportunities to our own staff to reflect on their practice and to prioritise the key drivers behind outstanding schools and the transferrable nature of those drivers to others who wish to transform their schools. Potential leaders have emerged after our observation of how colleagues have prepared and have presented their own practice and that of the department and students. This has helped us at a crucial time in the school’s development as we seek to sustain and develop our own leadership capacity and succession planning.

Our students too have benefitted from the chances to speak to visitors-their own language of learning has improved and after making a huge impact on visitors we realised that we should develop student leadership even more. In fact, the visits have helped us to tighten areas that we know will be under scrutiny-the spotlight of other school’s perceptions of our practice has highlighted any issues that are lacking in rigour or not sufficiently supported by evidence of impact.”

The only problem was that our own staff wasn’t able to get out enough to learn from others-we can use conferences, courses and blogs etc. but we need to visit best practice too and learn from the best schools in the country. Joining Leading Edge and NTEN will hopefully help us-we have quite an inexperienced staff that is keen to soak up ideas and need a change from listening to the old ‘uns here!  I f we do become a teaching school, that will be great but in the meantime we have joined forces with other Sefton schools and Edge Hill to deliver NCSL leadership courses and are looking forward to sending more of our teachers out to support further schools. Internally we have continued to work with each other developing lesson study, continuing with new leaders of hubs when we can and bringing in the TAs and mentors into our Friday sharing of ideas. If we are to sustain and improve what we have achieved, everybody must play their part. Our work with TAs has been recognized by Unison and the DFE and by the end of the year; I would hope to have included all of the other support staff in our ‘collaborative sharing’ venture. No volunteers-no hiding from collaborative responsibilities! Our ideas have been shared nationally via our blogs and we will continue to freely give our ideas. I read a blog over Xmas that drew an analogy with some schools behaving like the child, we will all remember from our own school days, which put their arm around their work so nobody else could see it. Please enjoy our ideas and send us some back!

This term’s learning hubs are;

High attaining-strategies to engage our A*/A high fliers-all great tactics for any student

Numeracy, Not much from above on numeracy-Welsh ideas are nice! Designing our own numeracy ideas for use in different subjects


10 markers/bit of morality-The students drop marks on 6, 8, 10 mark questions-lots of different subjects include them on their exam-can we think metacognitively to solve the problem

Bit of everything, Chance to read through our shared resources [there are thousands!] and have time to plan new ideas into lessons

Flipping heck Like-minded colleagues who encourage their students to plan their own learning and deliver the lessons

Literacy, Last session of 3 to incorporate new literacy ideas across the curriculum

SPAG commandos, Spelling, punctuation and grammar mean marks lost, rather than gained for many of our students. Tactics to support across the subjects

Olympic cycling team, Marginal gain tactics increased the Olympic cycling team’s chances of gold-why not use them for our students?

This term’s hubs are all based on practical needs that staff indicated they wanted to have extra planning and discussion time on. They are led by volunteers and all of the staff signs up to be included in one of the groups. Planning time is written into the meeting’s schedule, as are the feedback sessions.  Internal accreditation is given to gold or platinum, standard of our Leading Learners. Part of the platinum award information is below and the whole system links with our CPD evaluation and future quality of teaching self and whole school analysis. There are no paid posts for leading generic pedagogy-the opportunity is open to all and all are expected to participate and can use the experience as part of their appraisal and obviously leadership development/personal CPD.

Effective change is not only led from the top, it is led from many places, including the middle. Andy Hargreaves-all quotes are from the SSAT conference in Dec 2013

What are you currently reading that is making you think about your teaching?

When did you last undertake a piece of classroom research? What was it? Bill Lucas

Evidence for accreditation

This can be provided by your learning hub records, coaching conversations, examples of student’s learning, resources produced, emails sent, courses attended, bullet points of meetings, CPD proformas-anything at all that you  feel is relevant.  Discussing your learning will be equally worthy of points!

Leaders of Learning Platinum Award

“A‘ learning breakthrough’ which requires you to demonstrate deeper reflection and analysis, making reference to relevant sources of knowledge, including effective practice, literature and research findings.  This could be achieved by feeding back and leading inset and staff development based on externally accredited leadership courses or leading and organising a learning hub or introducing new areas of curriculum or pastoral initiatives.  Your evidence must include your evaluation of the impact on student learning.  This will mean collating the views and evidence from other colleagues e.g. evidence about the impact that has been made, using evidence provided by your hub colleagues-this might be a student survey, progress shown by skill/level/measure of your choice-but will need to represent 3 or more colleagues.”


Research shows the thing in education which makes the biggest difference to pupil outcomes is the quality of teaching:

•How you plan your lessons

•How you execute your lessons (what you say and do)


•If the expertise and experience of staff are the schools most precious resource then the training and development they get must have high impact

We must know what the impact of our CPD is on Learners Cramlington School


“Imagine a school in which you taught better, simply by virtue of being in that school. What would such a school be like?”(Judith Warren Little)



Curriculum and assessment

Over the next two terms we will consider the changes in the national curriculum and our responses to the removal of national curriculum grades. Interestingly over the years mentioned in Part 1 and in our NTEN CPD survey, most training has probably been focused on generic teaching skills rather than, as used to be the case, subject specific pedagogy. Will the latter make a comeback as we discuss the particular needs of each subject more than perhaps we have? We began in September having time to talk about our subject needs but since then national concerns about the role of content [knowledge] v skills in subject and whole school terms has raged and whilst some see the imposition of more change as a unnecessary burden, others see it as an opportunity to shape the future of the curriculum and pedagogy as an exciting opportunity.

Some schools may keep NC levels but I would want us to think about bringing together the needs of G.C.S.E students and marrying those with KS3 students to create a subject ‘mastery’ approach that could be individualized e.g. each student had developing, developed and aspirational targets in each subject based on both knowledge and subject skills. I know that some are moving that way now but we will discuss this at our next FOCAL. Hopefully better ideas will emerge and they may be different for different subjects-will this matter?

The exam system constantly changes with the emphasis on 5 A*-Cs in English and maths adding in the Ebacc, to progress 8, to the role of English literature and an uncertain future.  We do have to react with our curriculum [not my area of expertise!] but also have to consider the needs of our students, although it is difficult to explain at times to students and parents. We delayed making moves with the Ebacc and were prepared to have a low percentage in the league tables and in November, when the goalposts moved again, entered students for English and waited with the maths. We try to do the ‘right thing’ but are also aware of the consequences that poor showings in league tables can bring.  I’ll concentrate my efforts, as will all of my colleagues, on trying to get the best possible outcomes for our students in terms of exam preparation, revision and actual results. Our progress measures slipped last summer for the first time in years and we need to be focused on the why, where and how of moving them back to 1030/1040. No complacency.

Student cultivation

I would hope that our student ‘Fight Path’ idea will support the whole process if it develops strongly enough. I mentioned the approach in an October blog and passed it onto our data man and technical expert Mark Brownett to make the most of my original Blue Peter paper version.

“Allied to this will be our Flight Path idea which will allow the students in different lessons to track their progress and explain the impact intervention by themselves or by the teacher has had when their plane has taken a nose-dive! Many schools use the notion of a Flight Path tracker, often with staff only to track progress against targets or when used with the students, it tends to be a graph without much explanation. We will be expecting ‘black box’ explanations to show on parent’s evenings and I hope that rather than the teacher explaining progress to mums, dads and carers, we will be able to let students explain their flight path to progress”.

‘The remarkable feature of [all this] evidence is that the biggest effects on student learning occur when teachers become learners of their own teaching, and when students become their own teachers…Many of the most debated issues are the ones with the least effects.’ John Hattie

I’ve already observed in recent observations, new ideas to make peer assessment even more specific and accurate and the use of marginal gains ideas to hone the students in onto the key areas of examination learning. I mentioned in Part 1 how we had been developing the  ability of students to evaluate their own learning but the key to sustaining great learning is to return to deliberate practice to reinforce skills-selecting what you aren’t good at, reminding yourself of key skills-resilient hard work! I’ve talked before about ‘growth mind-set’, everybody does at the minute! Making it happen though is a different issue and as with developing great teaching and their mind-set to achieve, it takes constant reinforcement and reminders of what is important and must have the aspirational aim of including everybody, whether they want to be included or not! Anything is possible. [Assembly slide]


Our parents

It may be next term before it takes off but hopefully the system will be embraced and successful. Whatever happens we will continue to develop our student voice-the Learning Walk will be ready once observations are over and Anne Pickup is interested in developing our parental engagement more after a visit to All Hallows in Macclesfield. Our parents have been fantastic supporters of our school, attendances at all parent’s evenings, Review Days, exam evenings and so on have all grown and we have tried to make the bulletins more interesting and have even added these blogs! What else should we do? What would you like? Questions coming your way!

It should be another exciting term ahead-new teachers will be joining or being appointed and I was delighted to see 20 colleagues attend our Future Leader Mark Brownett’s Middle Leader’s training before Xmas. I know that a popular aspect of the internal training is when colleagues role play meeting an awkward person [parent, colleague etc.] played by one of our governors, Les Gomersall. When I say popular, it goes down well with the colleagues who are watching another colleague tackle Les in his role! Differences of opinions and views are all part of life and education and I hope that if you have read to this point and have read our other blogs that you have found them honest and interesting. If you don’t agree, or have questions; shout [not too loudly] and I will respond. The last three have been very long to include lots of evidence and I’ll return to shorter ones to share ideas from our observations and general teaching over the next few weeks.

Thank you for reading.

Ashes to Ashes Part 1


One of my guilty bed-time secrets as a young lad was listening to the radio under the sheets when I should have been asleep-nowt better than listening to test match special from down under in the depths of 1960’s and 1970’s winters. My radio is by the bed now and I still flick to TMS when I wake to catch the latest score. Ok it hasn’t been worth waking up early for this Ashes tour; even my mum keeps asking what has gone wrong-why, she asks, have England gone from Ashes heroes to ridiculed frightened rabbits caught in the Aussie headlights. It isn’t unusual for schools to take a similar alarming nose-dive in fortunes perhaps due to complacency, changing Ofsted criteria, changes of circumstances and personnel and so on. The England cricket management will no doubt be thinking back in time to consider what they did right in previous years and as a matter of urgency, how they are going to respond to the current much changed situation and plan ahead for future success.

The New Year and reading lots of blogs and articles with resolutions and highlights of 2013 did make me think that, as a school, we might consider this an apt time to go back 7 or 8 years in time to look again at our learning journey, selecting key moments and decisions which transformed Meols Cop whilst in part 2, looking to the future to invite a discussion from everyone as to how we should respond to the changing demands of education in 2014 and beyond. I did promise never to look back but we have a lot of new staff, parents and students who may not be aware of where we were and how we have moved onwards.  After our 2012 Ofsted lots of schools came to visit to chat to different colleagues about how we had managed to achieve pleasing grades. I produced a presentation covering mainly the quality of teaching aspects to show to visitors or to use at conferences/other schools and I’m aware that I didn’t share most of it within our own community-it does have 69 slides though to cover lots of potential discussion points and give examples-who would want to read it all! I’ll show the key slides and add some commentary and admit, before I get told off for ignoring other aspects of school that, the focus is on learning and teaching, simply because that’s what I know most about and because of the importance the changed Ofsted grading system gave to the quality of teaching, visitors were keen to see what we had been doing.


You can see from the photo why I haven’t shared before! The title came from the words Ofsted tended to use and look for and how we felt that we had developed a kinder version of their demands!

Other schools are always interested to see in terms of national descriptions and data what your school is like.


We had been inspected in 2007 and received a good with outstanding features grading but the vision for our learning and teaching development [and all other factors] had began before this as changes in leadership and the school’s situation occurred. In the early to mid 2000’s the school was struggling for numbers-70 in year 7, and had propped up the 22 schools, then in Sefton, in the league tables, had to make redundancies, needed a fair bit of refurbishment and was finding it difficult to have good quality teachers apply for posts at the school. The numbers situation was eased slightly when sadly Ainsdale High closed and a new influx of European immigrants came to the area-mainly Polish and Portuguese families. There was a challenge ahead and some colleagues would leave, new ones arrived, sleeves were rolled up and the hard work began!


Collaboration-absolutely no 1 for me in developing learning and teaching! Most schools have great teachers and interesting practice-you only have to read blogs, go to teachmeets, check out magazines to see wonderful ideas BUT  often when you check out the schools involved the reality of their data/reports etc. don’t always match what has been read perhaps because there are only pockets of greatness or volunteers involved. How do you get everyone to buy into the vision and by everyone I mean teachers, students, TAs, mentors and all involved on the school. 8 years ago we did have a volunteer group [Teaching and Learning Group-. always LEARNING first now!] who read about new ideas, tried them out and discussed them in an informal setting.  Learning Thoughts went out weekly to all teachers with extracts from the TES, books, web-sites etc. to keep learning and teaching drip-feeding to all-not everybody read them and to be honest not everybody was interested in reading about or improving their own practice-seems bizarre now but most schools didn’t talk too much internally about teaching! I was the first learning and teaching SLT appointment in Sefton and some schools are only just making the appointments now.

Because we are a small school it seemed relatively easy to involve all teaching staff [others would come later] in discussions about learning and teaching-most inset sessions involved sharing ideas, learning hubs led bottom up by teachers not SLT developed, cross curricular meetings [FOCALS] discussed whole school issues e.g. marking and meetings became much more directed in their nature to discuss agreed priorities. The teachers developed their own version of what they believed outstanding teaching should look like [no SLT input] and what outstanding learning should look like too. [Part below] Ideas began to fly around, opportunities to lead meetings and hubs were provided and eventually accreditation was given to colleagues who informally observed others, were informally observed themselves, who led hubs, who feedback ideas and so on. These were all new developments in our profession and our staff probably didn’t [and still don’t] realise that this was different to many other schools. No paid posts were created and our culture expects all to play their full contributory role and to seek opportunities to coach, mentor, lead hubs etc.



Because of our 22% A*-Cs scores we were asked to become part of the RATL conferences that the government had created to share ideas to raise attainment. External ideas from conferences added to our sharing of internal good practice and we began to make gains in the all important exam percentages and we were able to celebrate every ‘marginal gain’-not sure what we called it then [TG perhaps-Thank God!]


Each year our grades moved upwards, we achieved national prizes for improvement and the 2007 Ofsted showed that we were on the right tracks. When the progress tables appeared, we found a table that we could top in Sefton and that showed our teaching was making a huge impact-I don’t like comparative tables-forgive me! BUT teachers and students felt good about our achievements and we felt that we could really push on and set aspirational targets. Our teaching was good-the data was screaming it at us-but would it stand external scrutiny? We were waiting and waiting for Ofsted and when the phone rang to tell us that a history inspector not a whole school team was due to arrive; our hearts sank a tad! The history results weren’t great, the subject leader had been absent after a crash which sadly forced her retirement, the new subject leader was only in her second year of teaching and the other 2 teachers were NQTs [one not a subject specialist!] The inspector more than hinted that a grade 4 was inevitable with our results BUT was prepared to give our teaching a chance before making his decision. As you get a week’s notice before the inspector arrives in a subject inspection, the whole school sprang into supportive action and what happened next was an amazing tribute to everyone and not just the historians. The SLT touched up the department self evaluation and prepared the data, emails of support and offers of help swamped the teachers involved, lessons were covered by colleagues to help them prepare, TAs asked for the lesson plans and how they could best support the young teachers-everybody mucked in as best as they could.

On a personal level, this was the most pressure I had felt in my entire very long career. I was covering a maternity leave [just in case Ofsted came!] with classes I didn’t know well and although I have taught more Ofsted lessons than anyone else in the school, this time it was in my own subject and…. as the learning and teaching bloke! As a senior leader you have to teach well for Ofsted-no excuses and no sympathy from colleagues if you don’t! If you talk a good game to the staff –you have to play one when the time comes and if it had gone badly I had already decided that I would call it a day. It is only one lesson out of a career of thousands but the brutal nature of inspections makes such decisions for you [part 2 will see my aversion to the pressure and nonsense  of 1 off lessons and my solution!] I couldn’t get the lesson plans out of my head, fiddled with them constantly, read and fiddled with my colleague’s plans and tried to rally them and seemed to lose a week of my life-I forgot to turn up to a drama evening and was oblivious to normal SLT duties-the other SLT must have wondered what had happened to their favourite wind up merchant!

The historians performed magnificently, teaching brilliantly and answering their interview questions with subtlety and wisdom beyond their years. They turned a 4 into a 2 and the when they appeared in a question time session in front of the staff afterwards to be interviewed and tormented  by myself, there was a palpable feeling that if our least experienced colleagues could deliver so well in front of Ofsted-bring  them on NOW! We didn’t have long to wait!


Of course I was aware of colleagues counting the times in inset of when the word Ofsted was used and we were prepared to the nth degree and naturally I always began inset by saying that the most important thing in school is the students and not Ofsted-I was sincere but nobody believed me! It’s easy to criticise SLT for using Ofsted as a guide to many of the practices within school but the results of a poor Ofsted can be devastating and I could never let our staff teach in front of an inspector without the full knowledge of the criteria being used to assess them and of very recent reports from other schools or annual reports outlining what they liked to see. We discussed the issues as a whole staff, it was written into plans to support their teaching, it was explained to TAs, we used external inspectors to visit lessons, we always wanted to learn and listen-we tried to use Ofsted preparation as positively as we could alongside the other key developmental work we were trialling.


The systems of monitoring in schools were never as rigorous as I hear friends talking about in other careers. You got the odd observation as a new teacher and I know of schools where the head may have taken in planning books and sets of books here and then-but  not much more in the 80s and 90s. Not so now! We began to have quite detailed reviews requiring lots of answers, data and self-evaluation and accountability from middle leaders some time before it became the norm and our cycle of monitoring of all of the teaching staff included all of the tactics in the slide. Unusually we always gave choices regarding the lesson observations and had very clear criteria shared at the beginning of term for what we wanted to see in books. Our learning walks visited the students and talked to them rather than the teacher and our extensive student and parent surveys were produced by us to match our needs. We never buy anything in, preferring to develop our own monitoring devices and systems. Ofsted, when they interviewed me regarding our teaching and CPD, did say that our system wouldn’t work elsewhere and I guess that if my colleagues hadn’t taught so well the inspectors  may have told us to be more rigorous in terms of unannounced observations and the like-I think that we proved developmental observations sustain great teaching-see part 2!


We have used the Ofsted criteria at different times and have used our own 20 point criteria on what we felt good teaching should be. Grades were used for a time but whatever the criteria used, the descriptors always had teacher friendly examples to support planning and judgment discussions/observer feedback. This gave us the opportunity to provide extensive specific advice and feedback to all the staff on the areas identified as weaker than others.  Strange to see part of the old criteria now, especially for new teachers, but perhaps useful at the time [I think!]


I have blogged elsewhere about using grades for lesson observations and have devised ones for schools who have asked- if they want to use them fine-it isn’t for me to tell them what to do BUT my advice is always to focus on just a couple of key areas at a time [usually the ones Ofsted tell you to!], explain and discuss with all of the staff first so that they understand clearly and are agreed on what each foci needs in terms of practical teaching skills, only plan for the two agreed foci, tell them when you are coming in [no need to plan every lesson and frighten them] and feedback a.s.a.p. only on the agreed areas. Use the grades to inform all staff how much progress is being made and the areas of concern and share all the internal great practice that has been observed.

We introduced peer observations about 5 years ago with volunteers [ish!] and now everyone observes someone else at least once in a formal situation. This was a pivotal moment for me and I worried that it might not take off despite me believing in the benefits and being desperate for it to happen. The feedback forms were too complicated in the early days and the feedback sessions [I was in most of them too] were difficult for some who were more nervous about those than teaching a lesson! The knock on effect of the peer observations led to informal sharing, coaching and mentoring and led to a much more useful discussion of teaching, leading to the lesson study of part 2. We have never encouraged the observer to sit stony faced with a clip board and I model ideas, interrupt frequently and want our observers to be interactive learners too.

On last year’s data we had the lowest percentage of high attaining students in our LA-learning and loving school isn’t necessarily the preferred lifestyle of many of our young people-the same the world over! We needed to make learning relevant to them and to build up a learning resilience in them that would help them to engage with the language and skills of learning so that they could taste success and raise their aspirations. No matter how well we were teaching or supporting them –they needed to want to do well and progress. Blaming them for poor exam results was out-developing them as a learner was in.


We began to use our own very specific surveys to question the students about their learning habits and what they thought were valuable learning traits and skills. Their answers were displayed around school, published on the bulletin and so on to show that their opinions mattered.


Some were designed for a more open form tutor group discussion, as above, whilst most focused on whole school issues as this Learning Walk one shows below. The students responded really well and we began to feel that they were taking their learning far more seriously and we noticed when they were asked to comment on teachers on interview or on learning in surveys, that they were now becoming quite articulate in their views and this was, I felt, a real support to developing better literacy, more accurate self and peer assessment and more confident, analytical learners. Once their confidence grew, they did of course have plenty to say about our teaching-a risk worth taking and one that had to be taken to move ALL learners and teachers on. Many were now confident enough to become leaders in their classrooms and the foundations were being laid for the co-construction of lessons and flipped learning that we would see now.

It was also important to unleash the constraints now and then and to show that
school could be fun and that we trusted them to behave well in different
situations such as Children in Need, Sport’s Week and mufti-days. These hadn’t
happened for some time whilst we brought in a tight BFL system to encourage
great behaviour [to support great learning] but they have been pivotal, I
believe, in developing a strong feeling of loyalty towards school and care for
each other. What do others think? Interestingly when we knew Ofsted had gone well,
the first thing that we did was to thank the students with a mufti-day for
their support. They had rallied to the calls in assemblies on the day Ofsted
rang to show them what our school could do and were equally as nervous as their
teachers were!


There was no escape really for the students to avoid the vision of what great learners behave and think like! Our 6Cs pushing desirable learning skills was launched in year 7 to students and parents and quickly moved on to our lesson plans. Bit of CONCENTRATION below! I wrote the Cs with a nod to Opening Minds, SEAL, PLTS etc. that were current at the time but again made it fit into what our students needed and what our teachers could use practically in form, PSD and lessons.

I begin my learning but can’t resist beginning to chat to others about something else.

I begin my learning but if someone talks to me I can’t resist talking to them.

I am a strong character and if anyone interrupts my learning I politely tell them not to!

We also introduced our BFL policy 8 years ago, beginning with year 9 [who needed it at that time!] and then the staff asked that it be introduced to all students in all year groups. The students didn’t like the MCs [Meols Cops!] and detentions, especially if they felt wronged but they enjoyed the praise system which has been developed by Annette Peet into the Going for Gold system of rewards, culminating each July with free trips. As learning and teaching person, I’m bound to tell you that if you teach well, good behaviour will follow, but I’m not naive enough to think that all students behave well all of the time, even if the teaching is fantastic! I have no regrets about introducing BFL and hope that it has allowed learners to learn and teachers to teach!

I blogged last time about feedback or praise and mentioned our Progress Stars which cover the dining room and corridors with names of students who have achieved a specific learning ‘jump’ Along with the other aspirational posters, I just believe wholeheartedly that they create an environment that celebrates and expects learning success-isn’t that what we should be doing? Visitors [and Ofsted] comment very positively on the displays and posters and often ask for copies/templates to use back at their own school. The very first poster is below-Keri is a bit older now but still a great learner!

The emphasis on dialogue in the books reinforced critical self-awareness and evaluation for the students and the whole data tracking systems supporting individual intervention, the use of mentors and TAs, the commitment of parents and so on, all helped the students to become far stronger learners than before. Year Heads became Progress Managers and the whole school systems began to reflect the changing emphasis on LEARNING rather than teaching. As numbers grew and we became oversubscribed, money was spent on the environment, teachers began to want to come and work here and our 2005 aspirations began to come true.


I’ve covered the story in 14 slides not 69-so much has happened in such a short time that I will have missed key areas and not done justice to the hard work that all here have contributed. I did say that my emphasis would be on the ‘quality of teaching’ and sometimes when you are part of change, you don’t always realise what is happening and what the key factors were. Data has been kind and we had a couple of good days with Ofsted as a result of hours of collaborative energy. Nothing happens by accident!  We have to respond again to the changes in education and the process of following our next vision has already began in earnest. The future will be revealed-see Part 2!

Why Ashes to Ashes? I love cricket but guess what was no 1 in September 1980, when I began teaching and guess what David Bowie’s real name is! Happy New Year!