Monthly Archives: June 2014

Get your skates on!

It’s year 6 induction day today and it’s always an exciting day for their siblings who press their faces to the corridor windows to spot brothers or sisters in the yard, for the new students themselves as they are introduced to their new teachers, new school and meet new friends who may possibly remain friends throughout their life and to our staff who often scan through the names and recall older family members and for myself and just a couple of others-mums, dads and grandparents!

We appointed our final new teacher yesterday and more often than not, NQTs seem to be allocated to year 7 forms and they come in today to their new school. They all look the part, smart and professional and they excite me! I’ve seen them all teach and listened to them on interview and our challenge is to support them through their NQT year and to sow the seeds of great teaching and to ensure that they remain in our profession and that they continue to develop beyond the initial 3 year burst of enthusiasm and energy. Similarly with new colleagues who have joined us throughout the year-Leon, Katie, Sarah, Hollie, Fran-have I missed anyone-the opportunity for leaders to induct colleagues into our collaborative structure and to help them to flourish as teachers, learners and leaders is, for me, one of the main reasons why leadership is such a privilege. Believe me; all of these teachers are the REAL DEAL-they will provide the learning and potential leadership that is the lifeblood of MCHS to sustain what we have already achieved and to take it further.

The new faces do encourage my own reflections on the type of teacher we need, want, appoint and develop at Meols Cop. This school year has continued to see the evolution and development of our teaching and crucially the role of the individual and subject specific contribution to whole school great learning and teaching. I began the September inset with another attack on the nonsense of the power of 1 off lesson observation grades and our discussion developed into what individuals could contribute to great teaching and in faculties, colleagues decided what great teaching should look like in their subject specific lessons so that the focus of observations/learning and teaching was owned by our staff and not necessarily Ofsted general criteria-this has developed via the portfolio, observations, lesson study, shared ideas and so on.

We have now been able to involve 26 colleagues in Lesson Study, all in peer observations, many in informal observations, all in sharing ideas, all in professional reflective self-evaluation-this has almost realised what I set out to achieve as learning and teaching/CPD person many years ago-thank you for your support in helping these professional dreams come true!  What we expect of the students in terms of their learning qualities-marginal gains, growth mind-set [in new money]-resilience, supporting each other, looking honestly at their own performances and accepting/seeking critical advice, knowing where their learning is at, what they need to improve and how to improve-actually applies to us as teachers too! The lesson study idea reinforces this-spotting an area of weaker teaching/student need, gathering ideas to try out, planning together, observing and talking about learning, adapting plans, measuring success etc.

I’m in the midst of collating our latest lesson studies and had written the next section into it but it’s all part of the same reflection that I’ve been focusing on and led to “Get Your Skates On!”

The structure of lesson study –and the time provided-although it is never long enough- gives our teachers the chance to reflect on their teaching and student learning. This doesn’t happen enough and during my many years as a teacher I’m sure that I may well have kept teaching in a way that I thought was great but was probably having little impact on learning. The students may have sat passively as I waxed lyrical, entertaining myself without engaging their minds and their learning. When the results weren’t as expected at the end we traditionally blamed the students and not our own teaching! [bit like SLT blaming the teachers after a bad Ofsted!!] This approach of encouraging reflection, shared planning and observation helps our staff to use the golden opportunity of peer observations to consider what matters most-and it isn’t a lesson grade! Our other volunteers are deliberately looking to improve areas of their teaching that data/professional concern tells them isn’t working as well as it should-this involves a real change in mind-set for some teachers [hopefully noine here!] and is quite threatening and needs professional honesty. I like the questions raised by Robert Coe [below] for our staff to teachers to consider and for me to ensure that the questions are raised and time given to consider. Lesson study is one of the ways of that we can help to ‘reclaim professionalism’

“Slides for my talk at #EducationFest on ‘Reclaiming Professionalism’ are here” …

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In their lesson study, interestingly Emma and Bronagh [I’ll explain their study in detail next week] chose as their enquiry question-‘Is flipped learning/independent learning an effective teaching method compared to teacher-led activities for low ability students?’

I know that some reading this may be thinking that of course teacher led activities will be far better for helping the students [especially very low ability ones] than trendy progressive ideas of letting them teach each other/prepare resources that they can learn from. At this point my colleagues would probably expect me to grab my Hattie or to scour the web looking for research evidence to prove any point I wanted to make-sorry to disappoint-it ain’t going to happen! Of course we use research as evidence to inform our practice, if we get the chance to read it, BUT this is our school and our students-research doesn’t always fit all and our teachers may find that something that others find doesn’t work for them or for the majority, may work here.

Great Jose Picardo blog here on evidence informing practice

I quite like FAIL/SAIL for the students-first attempt at learning, second attempt-and the stress on re-drafting until it is excellent. Isn’t getting our teaching right something similar and something to be encouraged-within reason?

How about FATE/SKATE

FIRST ATTEMPT AT TEACHING using EVIDENCE [trialling new evidence based ideas to support an area of teaching that your evidence tells you needs to improve]

SECOND ATTEMPT AT TEACHING using knowledge and evidence from the first attempt [idea trialled and reflected upon using the knowledge that you have gathered based on student voice, peer observation, data, your own professional judgement] A successful SKATER would reflect on their experience [lesson study in this case] to fulfil Coe’s second slide.

I issued a challenge to our staff;

“Whilst I have a creative mind, I can’t necessarily ‘create’ on posters or arty stuff-Ok I’m rubbish at it-SO-if you can do a better poster-feel free to have a go and I’ll reward the best with chocolate, flowers, booze or a gift suitable to your excellence.” This is one I made earlier!


“I absolutely believe that the brief attributes on the poster summarise 1] the type of teacher we want at Meols Cop and 2] the reason why teachers want to work here and to be developed in a collaborative environment-have I got it right? Challenge me if you disagree-you must-it’s your professional responsibility!”

My FAIL –their SAIL! I’m off to the SSAT Achievement Show at Twickenham tomorrow [and me a rugby league fan too!] to listen to more wonderful ideas from other schools [Alison is sharing ours on pupil premium] which I can bring back to Meols Cop to offer them for consideration and possible adaptation. The bandwagon of new ideas rolls on and on-which ones we take depends on which ones we feel will have the biggest impact on learning and teaching BUT at the heart of our teaching for old and new teachers lies the realistic and pragmatic philosophy of FATE/SKATE- what we have here is special-if you want to join us;


Summer Magic Moments


Not quite time for the long break –still a few more weeks of busy activity including Sport’s Week, work experience and the best classroom display winner for each tutor group’s World Cup team. The teachers are taking the competition really seriously, spying on each other’s rooms and they look great. Year 11 have officially left to return for their leaver’s assembly, prom at the Vincent and last but certainly not least-their exam results! Very recent visitors to school have [or will] included St Michael’s to look at our data, Wellacre to discuss music, Astley Park to chat learning and teaching and Grange and Culcheth to talk about lesson study-hope they all had/have an enjoyable and worthwhile visit. Alison Heaton will speak at Twickenham next week at the SSAT Achievement Show about our use of pupil premium money and we have joined a network of schools-Excellence and Growth Schools Network-who are interested in developing a ‘growth mind-set’ amongst all of their school community. I was delighted to listen to Hannah this morning who had visited a school in Clapham and was really excited by what she had seen [literacy] and wanted to book a time with me to discuss how she could put into action some of her thoughts-a Magic Moment for her and for me to see a teachers so enthused and open to new ideas which she can share with our subject literacy co-ordinators-a great start to my day-thank you!

Celebrating the success of others and supporting each other is a vital aspect of developing a positive mind-set and in this edition of Magic Moments, I’m going to share a mixture of thoughts from a range of adults working in our school-some are funny, some are touching-all represent the caring values and collaborative ethos that we are trying so hard to develop at Meols Cop. Thank you to the contributors-hope our readers enjoy my choices.

It’s always interesting to begin with some lively visual images-here is Claire’s Magic Moment.

“At the end of last term 9(1) made their own revision page in their exercise books. They had to choose the facts that were the most important to them”.

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Equally colourful and a powerful learning experience was Rachel’s Magic Moment.

“My favourite moment of teaching this year was working with a group of Year 7’s (7 set 2) creating a response to our collaboarative ‘Mail Art’ project. We have been working with The Blandford School in Dorset on the theme of World War One, creating collaborative art on envelopes, a project initiated by the National Society of Education in Art & Design. Year 7 created their first envelopes last week, and I was overwhelmed by the quality of their verbal responses, their empathy and understanding, and above all, their incredible creativity.

Students responded to Wilfred’ Owen’s poem, Dulce Et Decorum Est, selecting a line from the poem which inspired them, and an image to accompany it. They then used a range of media to create empathetic  responses, which portrayed the emotion, colours and images evoked. The conversations in the room were electrifying, and all of the of the envelopes were stunning.  I have included two particularly outstanding examples below.

I can’t wait to see how the project continues, and what these brilliantly imaginative students will come up with next.”

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I went up to Emma’s geography room and was met by the light blue and white of Uruguay flags and paper chains-how could you Emma! The luck of the draw I guess but no luck in her magic moments-just creative learning and teaching.

“Year 7 and 8 pupils made models of islands and volcanoes at home after being given this as a project. The dedication and hard work the pupils put into their work made me very proud to be teaching them. Also, recently year 8 have been making products from recycled materials-a group from 8.1 spent over three hours at home making their product and where so pleased with themselves bringing it into school. It’s nice to see students being so enthusiastic about the tasks we set them.”

Jack Pounder made this lovely island cake and took photos of it for his home-learning project.


Jack Kershaw and Caleb Howie made this ‘hoover’ out of recycled goods as part of their ‘WASTE’ topic-‘Dragon’s Den’ activity.


A couple of TA Magic Moment below-anonymised-illustrates the impact their support and guidance can have on individual learners who are often our most vulnerable.


“One of my magic moments was with a year 10 student in Spanish.  He really struggled to accept that he needed to revise at home to prepare for his assessment and not only in school time.  This is partly due to his Asperger’s Syndrome as he feels his ‘free time’ should be ‘free time’ and not ‘school time’.  I created flash cards for him with his work which helped break it down into small chunks.  I set him a challenge to remember 1 flash card every couple of days at home.  He came into school telling me that he just doesn’t have a good memory and his head was like a sieve.  Fortunately the teacher allowed me to take him out of class leading up to the assessment to support him with his revision.  I sat with him and gave him 1 flash card at a time, I let him read it for a few minutes over and over, then told him to read it aloud a couple of times and then I took the flash card off him and he recited what was on the flashcard to me.  I wouldn’t let him move onto the next flashcard until he recited it perfectly.  As we were limited to the Spanish lessons he had on his timetable, it clearly wasn’t going to be enough time to learn it all so I set him a challenge to learn 4 flashcards over the weekend and ask his parents to test him just like I had done.  When he returned the following week, he had managed to learn 3 out of the 4 which I feel was a great achievement as homework is a real issue for him.  Bit by bit it built up to the point where he could recite it from beginning to end and it was clear to see the sense of achievement and his hard work had paid off.  It was such a relief for him when his assessment was completed but, at the same time, it was a real confidence boost for him showing that he CAN do Spanish, it just takes a bit more effort than other subjects where his interest is greater.”


“The student I work with struggles to get his ideas down on paper.  I have created a flip book of sentence starters to help him. Some are subject specific, others can be use across the curriculum. This has worked really well. It has given him more time to get ideas down as he is not taking as long for him to decide how to begin. I have also found that often he only needs to look through for the initial sentence starter and once he has that his work begins to flow. This has helped to get more work down on paper so teachers have a larger quantity of work to mark to ascertain a more accurate level.”

Tim’s moment shared his love of technology that transmits to all of his students! A true geek!

“My most magical moment recently in teaching has to be when the students were using the 3D printer in my lessons. Students were design their own model to print up and attempting to use the cura software to convert it into an appropriate file for the 3D printer to make. We were also printing up designs that students had downloaded from the internet including robots and puzzles. This really captured the imagination of the students. Not only were they learning new skills in ICT but they were inspired by what the technology can do. The conversations around the room amongst the students were all about what will the future be like with ICT and what will we be doing in 20 years. The students will take this inspiration with them. This indeed was a magical moment.”

Not surprisingly Claudio’s Magic Moments also involved his love of technology and soccer.

 1] What has been your favourite moment of the year involving your role-the moment when you feel you made a great contribution to school [don’t be shy!]

 Two magic moments come to mind both of them include things that I feel passionate about. Programming and football, in programming club we all shout out Eureka when we get something to work for the first time. Football is my sporting religion and if I can preach this to both students and staff alike via the Schools Fantasy League then I’m happy. The Staff want to beat the students and visa-versa, a bit of competition is good for us.

2] What has been your Magic Moment involving the students this year-what made it so special?

My magic moment  by far has to be teaching Binary Code to 9 set 6 last lesson on a Wednesday. This lesson can be challenging at the best of times but to make it worse on this day the software I wanted to use was not working properly and I had to think of something fast. I had wanted to try this Binary lesson out for a wee while. The students were getting restless until I showed them this picture.

I then showed them an online Binary Clock.



Then they were hooked, it just goes to show how visual stimulation can aid in the delivery of what could be classed as a boring topic. The rest of the lesson was really good and each student took their turn to come up and answer the binary question at the end of the lesson.

It isn’t always easy to understand how difficult some of our students find socialising and taking part in activities that many other students participate in and take for granted. Our TAs are often involved in breaking down barriers, not just to do with learning but to do with ‘fitting in’.

What has been your magic moment of the year with the student(s) you support? What made it so special for you?

At his child’s review a parent expressed his concern about his son not socialising and not being in any clubs. I thought about what I could do to encourage him to not sit in the LRC every lunch time so I sat down with A and showed him the list of all the activities he could take part in within school. I read them out to him and he said he was interested in playing table tennis, but when I suggested him going he blushed and said no. I asked if he’d go with me as I fancied a game of ping pong and he was really pleased and said he’d go.

We went and we both laughed so much he recommended it to one of his peers who goes as well now. It seems an excellent opportunity to develop his co-ordination, speed and social skills. I put a note to dad in his planner and A said he was very pleased.

What is the biggest impact you have had on student learning this year? How did you make it happen and please explain your evidence for the impact?

One of my students is nervous, has low confidence and poor self-esteem and can display anxiety when presented with literacy based tasks. During our small group sessions he struggles to be as quick answering questions or to complete his work as the others. It is noticeable to his peers and I could tell he is embarrassed about it. A is motivated by success and needs to experience regular success to help build his confidence.

I thought of using his interests to support his learning and give him the opportunity to succeed, especially in front of his peers. This was achieved by ending some sessions playing true or false where each student has one card with true on and another saying false.  I then included many questions about his interests; natural history, animals, and the Solar System.

When I saw how his hand was shooting up to answer and how happy he was I was delighted. What made it even better for him were the boys asking where the old A had gone, (in a nice way), as he got the answers correct before them.

MFL Helen chose Magic Moments with both staff and students-these are 2 of the student ones

“My first  Magic Moment with a student came on Thursday 8th May with my Year 7 set 1 French class.

I was introducing a new topic ‘pets’.  We had looked at the new vocab for 11 pets and I wanted them to be able to say if they have or don’t have a pet at home.

Hannah Brookfield told me ‘j’ai un hamster’ and when I asked her if this was true, she said ‘no’ and we laughed.

Then, another female student told me ‘ je n’ai pas un chien’.

I asked the class if this sentence was grammatically correct.

Declan straight away blurted out ‘ no miss, it should be je n’ai pas de chien.’  I know because you made me  do the intervention on the VLE because I got it wrong on my first test.  (When we were trying to say we haven’t got classroom equipment.)

Yay, my hours of prep putting intervention material on the VLE (and tracking if they do it) has finally paid off!  Delighted.”

2nd Magic Moment – “absolutely perfect piece of writing produced by 7 set 1 student Georgia Mullin during an assessment test.  That made me smile, too!”


And 1 staff moment

“My first magic moment from my role as subject leader came when a lovely box of chocolates and a card arrived on my desk one morning.  ‘Thank you for being a supportive and kind team leader.  We all appreciate it greatly!’

Frequently I ask myself the question ‘Am I doing a good enough job?’  I see a lot of talent around me and want to be able to lead and direct that talent effectively.  Life has its ups and downs and it is really nice to get some re-assurance that you are appreciated from time to time.”


Anne has led our year 11 students and teachers for 5 years and suddenly finds herself in school alone! This is her story;

“My magic moment is not so much a moment, but a reflection on the five years which have led to the year 11 students who are taking their leave of us.

 As year 11 faces their final exams, we see the culmination of five years hard work, monitoring and intervention. We see the fusion of outstanding pastoral care and outstanding learning and teaching unveiled in the Meols Cop High School final product. Not the conveyor belt production of a set of results, but the emergence of individual and various butterflies with confidence and skills from a school where many recognised the importance of ‘growth mind-set’ before that phrase became known.(‘Success comes in cans.’)

Our year 11 have been the first cohort not to have study leave or an official leaving point before the end of the exam season. They have embraced that, attended lessons, many have stayed after school for revision sessions, attended during holidays and on Saturdays. They have not kicked against the traces, there have not been huge behaviour problems; the majority have kept on coming and working and trying and pushing for each possible marginal gain. There has been a striving for success ethos.

I am not going to name individual students, but I am proud that as a school we have motivated so many and some we might least expect have attended voluntary revision sessions. If I were to describe them student by student, I think we would all be amazed at the impact we have all had –learning tutors, support staff, subject teachers, caretakers, teaching assistants, cleaners, kitchen\dining room staff, mentors and the leadership team . Even if that impact has only been really apparent in this final stage for some students, we should recognise that it is better late than never and we should be aware of the knock on effect our intervention can have on society.

As I face the exciting challenge of my new year group, I remind myself that the naughtiest boy in my last year 7, whilst never being perfect; went on to be a prefect and to play a leading role in many drama productions.

I am proud of our school. I am proud to work with so many colleagues who continually and voluntarily give above and beyond for our students – they work with students before school, at break, at lunch time, after school, in holidays and on Saturday mornings.

But for me, the real magic of teaching has been watching, encouraging and supporting my year group, well served by team Meols Cop, as they developed into the lovely young adults who are about to fly free.”

Marion-a great moment-when 2 legends met! “My magic moments have been bumping into and chatting to members of my previous form and former students.   Working in school I think we often feel we have a minimal impact on the students we come into contact with, but our influence is often further reaching than we realise. The former students I have spoken with recently all talked about the kindness and support they received during their time at Meols Cop. They were all grateful for it, remembering very specific things about specific members of staff (teachers, support staff, mentor etc.)They all said how the help and advice they received had helped them during their time at Meols Cop or after leaving.

Another magic moment has been seeing the enthusiasm of the French language Leaders who have given up their time after school on Fridays. They have been so keen to learn extra French and to share their knowledge with other students in the class – it has been a pleasure to work with them.

The last magic moment I had recently was when I attended my husband’s work conference. On the last day the partners and wives were allowed to go along to listen to the special guest speaker, who this year was Sir Chris Hoy. Imagine my interest when he devoted part of his talk to the benefits of “Marginal Gains” and “Growth Mind set”. For me personally it is sometimes  challenging to take on board all the new theories and be a “progressive” teacher but hearing how it had had such a positive effect on Chris Hoy and the British cycling team made it feel  “real” and made me realise that it can be worthwhile.  I’m not a big fan of the celebrity scene so I never wait to have my photo taken after the talk but this time I swallowed my pride and joined the huge queue. As I was the last of the “fans” I was able to have a quick chat to Sir Hoy and told him about Meols Cop and how we have been trying to use “Marginal Gains and “Growth Mind set” with our students. He seemed genuinely interested and even wrote a short message to my form (the grammar isn’t perfect but hey he’s Sir Chris Hoy.). Anyway the experience was great and I have to admit I was a tiny bit star struck!”


Top that Magic Moment if you can!

Hulk Hogan and Chuck Norris are pretty big stars too-Joanne used them in an analogy she made and chose this as her Magic Moment.

“My magic moment was with a year 9 GCSE class which are mixed ability. Some of them were struggling to understand the difference between the Richter and Mercalli scale, so we improvised. Decided to come up with a more visual representation of how they vary thus the idea of bringing in Chuck Norris and Hulk Hogan was created.

The Richter scale is based on actual strength (Magnitude) of an earthquake, whereas Mercalli is based on visual interpretations and varies according to what people’s perceptions are.  

We showed them 2 images and asked which did they think would be stronger based on what they could see- obviously Hulk has more muscles so much stronger, or so it would be assumed. Then discussed who Chuck Norris was (American Martial Arts expert who served in the US Air force and actor), who Hulk Hogan was (WWE fighter and actor) and their legacy. Asked if Hulk and Chuck were to be in a fight that in fact would win- even the girls knew this- Chuck obviously.

This then brought us onto a discussion that just because you look big does it mean your strong and then eventually onto the links with an earthquake- if visually it looks to have been very damaging to infrastructure does it in fact have to be strong.

Penny dropped for the rest.”


Hulk Hogan would be far too big Jo!

Two more TA moments shared with each other to re-tell

1] What has been you Magic Moment of the year with the student[s] you support? What made it so special for you?

A had a special moment with one of the young ladies in year 11, when she noticed her upset in one of the classes she supports. A asked if she could take her out of class and she broke down in tears. A found out that she was worried about something at home, as well as revising for her exams. She told A that she hadn’t been able to talk to any of her friends or family about what was going on but she could tell A. She had been able to trust in A to tell her. A took her for a walk and a chat and explained to her that she would make her progress manager aware of what was going on, and she was happy with that and wanted A to sit in with her in the chat. The outcome was that all was well at home, and her mum wrote a letter in to thank school for helping her as they thought that she was just being a moody teenager and didn’t know there was anything wrong. The progress manager brought the letter to show A as she said it was all down to her that things had been sorted. A feels that having a good rapport with the students is really important so that they feel comfortable with you.

2] What is the biggest impact you have had on student learning this year? How did you make it happen and please explain your evidence for the impact.

Looking at the students’ in year 11s grades, the students A support appear to be on target, however A said that the proof will be in the pudding when they get their results in August!

She also said that having X come into the exams in a positive frame of mind will hopefully help him to attain, if not go above, his target expected. When they first started doing exams in the dance studio, he would often get upset, which disturbed the other students. So they went into the small changing room and this settled him a bit. Once again she said having a good rapport with him helps too!

B’s magic moments

What has been you Magic Moment of the year with the student[s] you support? What made it so special for you?

When B first took over from C with year 7 going into year 8, the group were obviously very familiar with C, and were a bit wary of a new face. But over the course of the year B has built up a good relationship with the group. 2 of the Girls will now talk to B about anything! A young person with anger management issues and epilepsy used to be very difficult and now B can calm them down and take them out of a room without them getting angry and upset.

Also B said she received this message from a previous student,

“Hello, I’m proud to tell you that I’ve just sent off my application for universities and most of it is down to you amazing ladies so I’d just like to say thank you for all the support that you have provided me with when I needed a kick up the ….! :0 I’m so grateful for you two making me realise that I can in fact do it!!!!!”

Sometimes, penny dropping and magic moments take a few years to come to fruition!!

Sandra-our examinations officer and clerk to the governors has been at Meols Cop since she was 11 and has stayed for the next…..years! Our longest serving colleague and expert worrier-Sandra’s Magic Moments;

“I have always struggled with being forward about my contribution to school and am terrible at ‘blowing my own trumpet’.  I have always been happy to be one of the old boilers, happily keeping the engine ticking over in the background.  My role has changed so much over the years and is now quite a solitary job.  When I worked in the main office (many moons ago), I got to know the staff and students very quickly.  I also knew most of the student addresses and ‘phone numbers too (without even having to look them up)!  Nowadays, I don’t really get to know the students (or staff for that matter) that well and only have direct contact with them when I am discussing or issuing examination information.  Students (and many staff) don’t really have any idea what is involved in ensuring that the exam seasons run smoothly. 

The students just turn up, sit the paper and leave the exam room again blissfully unaware of the background work, the behind the scenes working with Janet to free up exam rooms, having Barbara (and now Leon) as my ‘up front’ staff, ensuring that the exams are started, finished and conducted in a correct and orderly way.  The organisation of the access arrangements is a job in itself.  Making sure every student receives their entitlement is so important.  This involves the help and support of ICT Support, the caretaking staff, Nathan, Wes and Mandy, Marie and the teaching assistants and, on occasions, other support staff as well as my team of invigilators.  The exams simply could not take place without all of these people working together.

I live and breathe every single examination until it is over, hoping that I have done everything I could to ensure that it runs smoothly and efficiently and, each time this happens, I suppose this is a ‘magic moment’ to me.

I suppose my biggest magic moment in the exam season is when we have had our spot inspection and the inspector has worked his way through his tick list and all is OK.  The sense of relief I have once he has been is unbelievable – he came today and all was good!!”

History Helen, hasn’t been here quite as long as Sandra, although it feels like it sometimes! Berlin was one of my Magic Moments too-the staff and students were great company and we all would agree with her 2nd moment.

1] What has been  your favourite moment of the year involving your role-the moment when you feel you made a great contribution to school [don’t be shy!]

My favourite moment of the year within my role has been our trip to Berlin. I have never been so proud of a group of students and felt so proud to be part of the school. Their behaviour and attitude towards learning while away was amazing and I will have fun memories for years to come.

2] What has been your Magic Moment involving the students this year-what made it so special?

My favourite moment of the year was students coming out of their GCSE exam so happy and enthusiastic. They fed back and shared what they found good and what they didn’t and by me explaining what they could have put they felt even happier with their exam. It showed that the hard work paid off! Let’s hope it shows in the results J

I received a lovely card from Kelly and Kayley who visited Meols Cop last Wednesday.

“David, we would like to say a massive thank you for welcoming us into your school last week.

You have given us so much to think about and have inspired us to take a very different approach to teaching and learning. Thank you also for breakfast and dinner-we really appreciate how accommodating you and your colleagues were.

Hope to see you soon, thank you once again”

Senior staff should say thank you a thousand times every week but it isn’t often said back to us nor is it expected or sought-nice when it happens though-a Magic Moment! MAGIC Moments is an easy concept for me to talk and write about because they happen all of the time for me during every day. It can be intimidating when senior staff walk into classrooms but I always feel welcomed and able to have some banter with staff and students and to find positive moments of learning or relationships and to catch ‘GREAT’ in action. Colleagues are accommodating to visitors and each other and you do inspire me to rethink and reflect on my own practice. Thank you again for all of your support and encouragement.

Magic Peer Critique Moments

Half term has been and gone and our lesson observations continue to provide a rich source of internal research and ideas for all colleagues to share and ‘magpie’ from. Peer critique/assessment is a continuing source of innovation, intrigue and inimitable ideas and resources and whilst the lesson observations have offered so much more than just PA; I know that many colleague at Meols Cop and further afield, like to see the approaches currently being trialled. I will collate student responses-dialogue/feedback DIRT etc. later in the term in readiness for new teachers arriving in September so that they can see what is expected of their marking. I’ve added other interesting techniques and ideas too!

Karen and I opened our week with a period 1 back to school visit to Lisa and year 7 who were going to;


We both love the ‘Big Thinking Question’ approach shared at the beginning and again when appropriate. It is the central aspect of our quick lesson plans and for me the key to all great lessons-what do you want your learners to know by the end-how you get there is down to your planning and skills as a teacher! You might have to be flexible along the way!


We had a good discussion at the end re reading out aloud in class. Some teachers may let the students read because they are being observed and think that they better not talk too much themselves! Does it have a learning purpose [we teach listening and speaking skills]-if it does, should we teach it as a discernible skill? I have encouraged this before and can see the benefits and in fact opened up a good twitter discussion on the pros and cons-most went for the pros! It’s a very difficult skill or are there more positive aspects to the teacher reading in an engaging manner, perhaps emphasising the important literary devices? It is certainly a skill that frightens students, slows down the lesson and is often done so badly that you wonder why on earth you allowed it to happen. What do you think?

The English faculty are adopting a uniform approach with their bronze, silver gold criteria and Lisa used Katie’s peer critique slide to develop peer responses that have already been established and observed in book monitoring.

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The students responded well and we discussed the time implications-the skill needs perhaps a full lesson at first to work through and model each stage, especially with questions 4 and 5. Photo WAGOLLS with the visualizer and show them to the other classes so that their subject specific examples are more than ‘write more.’ Interestingly one of the students fed-back that robbed, annoyed and exciting were all spelled wrong. This gave us the chance to push the assessor to think about why and the rules of spelling-this needs time and neither self nor peer assessment can be rushed if it is to have an impact on all the learners involved-DIRT please-it is worth the learning time given up to it.

Karen in her own lesson with year 10 was looking at;

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The discussion afterwards is always good fun and I was really interested in her desire to develop ‘Scholars of English’

We discussed the notion of being an ‘English Scholar’-being responsible for their own learning, proud of their ‘scholarly’ status and the status having legitimacy-this is a key element of learning and being a successful learner in your lessons and should be in others too. The students often want to be spoon-fed and it is easy to give in at times, especially when you have a class to take over and results to be achieved!

Developing a ‘mastery’ of a subject is key to our next year’s assessment criteria-Beyond Levels-and key to teacher CPD too! I like the word ‘scholar’-it means slightly different things to different colleagues but it has connotations of high expectations and challenging individual academic hard work-what do others think?


The students worked well together to gather their information before peer assessing other group’s learning, leaving advice on post-its and taking back good ideas that they had spotted. We were both delighted with the response of the students to their 2 medals and a mission feedback after their written task [produced using the group information]. I try to encourage trialling as many different ideas as possible with regards to developing feedback and I had shown some marking ideas from my partner-who I tease about her medals and missions-to Karen who didn’t believe such a daft idea existed! It does and she has nabbed it! She used the second medal to encourage the students to feedback positive comments on attainment and the students provided really specific ‘mission’ advice. We felt this was because the word mission or successful mission, has an expectation of good planning/thorough research/advice-the students told me it was a far more mature word for them to use than ‘wish’ as in 2 stars and a wish, that primary students and some secondary’s use. Wish is ‘wishy washy’ and wishes don’t always come true-missions at Meols Cop support successful learning and learners!

Adele planned a singing lesson for Sophie and me and the lesson began with the song of the week-‘Tell me ma’ This is a routine established in all music lessons-1 a week-and the students know to fill in their thoughts on the song. This encourages immediate reflection using specific musical literacy. Each group has a different key musical feature to focus on e.g. instruments, dynamics and a ‘numbered head’ e.g. no 2 feeds back on the discussion. This supports previous conversations about questioning and musical literacy and works well. The teaching key now is to think how it can work even better! When we have successfully trialled an initiative that has worked well, I encourage colleagues to tweak it at the optimum moment-that has to be when it has shown an impact on learning. When Ofsted last visited, a couple of inspectors were taken aback when after telling teachers that their lessons were ‘outstanding’ they were asked, “so how can I make it better still?” I expect and welcome this conversation; it’s exactly what we want to hear and if I can’t offer advice, I shouldn’t be doing this job!! A new to observations colleague was alarmed when I joined in their lesson and modelled ideas-they thought that they had done something wrong! Observations and feedback are for development-the more people in the room, joining in and offering their professional support-the better!


It was great to see, and appreciated by the students; Adele playing the guitar and singing/modelling for the students and good to know that singing is coming back into the musical curriculum-it didn’t really go away but you know what I mean! The students used the success criteria to self and peer critique-to be continued next week.

Sam and I observed Tom’s indoor athletics [it was apparently too cold for the big fella outside!] and the students worked on a circuit of activities that used some of the skills outdoor athletics requires.


The national statistics, adapted slightly for our small gym, was a nice idea and the students worked very hard. Our discussion afterwards began with Sam raising the issue of how much physical activity should there be in comparison to the AFL aspects of the lesson. PE lessons have changed probably more than any others over the last 20 years and the sharing of objectives, feedback, written aspects of self and peer assessment does eat into the ‘physical’ part of the lesson. The continued national push on fitness and obesity does raise questions-I can’t answer them here!


But you can see that there was a key component of the lesson based around the recording and evaluating of the fitness techniques involved. The students self-evaluated and then peer evaluated and came up with considered answers. I suggested that adding ‘why’, from year 7 onwards, onto the sheets would help them to justify their reasons when they tried to do it orally and prepare them for G.C.S.E PE. The bronze, silver and gold criteria already developed in readiness for next year, links to G.C.S.E. skills and should really challenge the KS3 students to perform to an even higher level from the start.

Sam took the girls outside for rounder’s and Tom and I both felt that the use of, and quality of the year 8 PE leaders was simply outstanding! The 4 girls, 1 in particular, were better than some of the teachers I’ve seen on interview! Most subjects use leaders to differentiate activities and this worked really well in this lesson and again in science with Rachael.  Sam used the new assessment criteria and as with music, and Tom’s lesson, the constant questioning and expectation of subject specific literacy in the oral responses was really pleasing. Rounder’s isn’t the easiest sport to teach and the numbers in the class meant that there wasn’t enough for 2 games and too many for 1 when it came to putting the skills into a larger game situation. We had a good chat about this and came up with a novel rotation of fielder’s idea which sounded brilliant [it was one of mine!]-let me know if it works!

The skill of the leaders in adapting their routines was tremendous and reflected great teaching and coaching upon which the students had obviously modelled their behaviour.

Jen’s maths lesson with year 9 for Alex and me actually challenged my mathematical skills and offered a superb example of a teacher being flexible and changing tactics and her plan when her probing and checking showed that the students were struggling with the concept.


The class were also very quiet in their responses to Miss, although their maths talk to each other was excellent so she used the mini-whiteboards to check their understanding in a variety of novel ways. I haven’t seen a teacher ask the students to write a ? on them to show that they weren’t sure. We loved them being challenged to beat the teacher-Miss gave them a sum with the wrong answer/or not for them to check and correct quickly and we liked the more able writing their own questions for the class, if they finished-they were tough questions [they had to have the answers on!]


The highlight of the lesson was probably the speed-dating and this engendered great mathematical discussions. Alex’s favourite moment was hearing one of the lads with a ‘silent’ date say, “this is supposed to be a trading exchange!”

Katrina joined me to visit Joanne’s year 9 geographers and Jo showed her fast paced, time orientated approach to gathering information, sharing it, using it in a G.C.S.E question and then self/peer assessing-I 1 lesson! It took me a couple of lessons to catch her accent but the students being much younger are always on form and enjoy the challenge and machine-gun patter!


Jo explained that this particular class respond well to visual clues at the beginning of the lesson, which they did before skimming and scanning extracts to find relevant information. The class was split into 2 and then joined up as partners to share key information. Time given was challenging!


Using the information gathered, they then moved to their written task and assessment.


The first of my science observations saw Rachael, fresh from her NTEN lesson study teaching year 7 on graphs that Wendy felt was asking some great high quality questions of their skills and knowledge. The peer assessment aspect, allied to the quality dialogue in her books, showed students being comfortable with the FISH skills of peer critique and being able to provide scientific feedback that bodes well for their learning higher up school.


The overlay worked well to and fitted exactly the evaluations needed to improve their graphs. I haven’t got a photo, but the PA Royals who dutifully wore their crowns with pride, was a great way to use the better scientists-great teaching!


Wendy liked the high level criteria for TEAR where the  gold and platinum expectations took them to G.C.S.E. quality answers and thought.


Joanne’s reciprocal visit to Katrina’s drama lesson gave her the chance to give me some blarney about being an ‘All Ireland’ champion at drama-I knew she had to be good at something! She did join in enthusiastically though, along with Christine and Nemira, the 2 teaching assistants who accompany this particular lower ability year 7 set. Without their help, teaching in the exciting, challenging and group based way Katrina used would be very difficult indeed. All of the students in the class have a ‘special learning need’ and Katrina planned carefully so that they could all access the skills and be successful learners.


Jo and I knew that Katrina was going to try out her ‘Magic Carpet’ prompt mat for the first time and we were really keen to see it in action. The performing arts faculty have been trialling peer assessment prompt sheets which aim to encourage the students to use the relevant key words correctly in their peer critique-this builds up their confidence, creates a much higher quality and accurate standard of peer critique and supports their development of G.C.S.E. key skills in KS3. Katrina had already developed a mat as part of her lesson study but the carpet was adapted slightly differently in its use to cater for our least able students.


Rather than write their responses when they observed each other’s fairy tale performances and freeze frames, they were given coloured sticky dots to stick on the appropriate word when they saw it happening. Miss then followed this up by questioning them to allow them to explain their evidence for their choices. They tried their best to use key words-my feedback suggestions were using a mixture of the more confident students and then the TAs to model good answers with evidence.

difficult with this set to get them to provide the evidence-you could use the TAs at this point to articulate for them-they look out for great expressions/gestures/feedback/discussed evidence and then feedback for the less confident students to begin with to boost their confidence.

Katrina felt that they got a bit mixed up at first with where to put their stickers and decided that they she will make the words bolder to help them when choosing. We both thoroughly enjoyed the lesson and Katrina, like Jo, ended with a thunk to promote more discussion and thinking.

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Our feedback session was made more interesting by having our friends Kelly and Kayleigh from Astley Park Special School sit in on us and they could see my explanation of non-graded developmental feedback in action. Hope we convinced them that our way is the way to go! When I asked Joanne what she had learned most from the lesson, she made the point that literacy and peer critique doesn’t always have to have a written element. The more able can fill in the ‘Magic Carpet’ mat-the least able can use it to support their spoken responses-both are equally valid and worth researching, developing and trialling.

After Martin’s superb silent debate history lesson, Miss Rose had to pull out all the stops for the return history leg. No sympathy for the expectant mum-show us what you’ve got Helen! She didn’t disappoint and we saw a really interesting lesson where the students were asked to consider the individual responsibility of different characters involved in the holocaust. Using some ideas from the holocaust teaching packs, each student had their own character to think about before discussing as a group as you can see below.


Martin and I were pleased to see some great historical conversations happening as the students placed their characters in the zones of relevance and then justified their positioning.


The year 8 students then produced a written task before they were asked to ‘Peer Provide’ Helen prefers our peer verification tactics rather than FISH and I have to say that the quality of the feedback written in Peer Provider red pen was better than Helen normally writes! She will take some snaps of the finished work next week-they have some pretty colours to add as they verify-to contribute to my peer critique/DIRT /dialogue collection of great practice. The work is really worth seeing and sharing and the slide slightly under-sells what was actually achieved. Helen did pretend to be feeling sickly so we would be merciful in our feedback, before skipping off to scoff cakes in the ‘baby shower’ in the staff-room!!

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Transformational Professional Development

The arrival of this lovely plaque triggered a need for me to reflect on how our CPD has developed and where we need to take it next-my reflections are shared and open and responses are welcome!


I have mentioned our membership of NTEN in previous blogs/bulletins and in November we were visited by an NTEN rep and a head teacher [Stephen Tierney] from another school [St Mary’s Blackpool] to interview quite a few colleagues and examine evidence regarding our staff development and training. Our staff also had the opportunity to express their opinions in an anonymous survey organised by NTEN.

I feel I am able to make a difference to the quality of teaching across my school/college

100% agree/strongly agree

My school has a track record of professionally developing staff

100% agree/strongly agree

Staff are supported in developing their practice

100% agree/strongly agree

My colleagues have opportunities to observe my teaching

100% agree/strongly agree

Most of my colleagues welcome others to observe their lessons

100%agree/strongly agree

I am encouraged to innovate

90% agree/strongly agree

Parents in my school are aware of the CPD staff undertake at school

55% agree/strongly agree

I’ve tried to explain our latest inset days and CPD to parents via the website, bulletin and blogs but, of course, our Easter Review Day parental survey showed that some parents are not aware of the bulletin, although it is sent home and even less so of the blog. I have tried to inform them!

The imminent arrival of auditors compelled me to quickly re-consider the purpose CPD should serve in our school. It’s too easy sometimes to grab an ‘off the shelf’ version-CPD needs to be appropriate to the needs of individual schools and individuals within them. It’s always interesting to see what others do and I’ll unashamedly borrow and adapt ideas but I have to be aware of changing circumstances and drivers both internally and externally and the CPD system needs to be flexible enough to try and meet needs whilst watching the pennies! I came up with what I believed in last November was the right approach for us-colleagues may disagree and I might have changed my mind again but it captured a moment in time!

CPD 2013-I believe-do you agree?

Think not what my CPD can do for me; think what my CPD can do for our students!

Adults directly involved in student learning are responsible for analysing and evaluating their own skill needs so that they can continually seek marginal gains in their own performance –result exceptional learning and professional satisfaction and pride. Meols Cop co-educators never stop learning and we are all ‘agents of change’ and lead learners.

Leaders and managers must support and celebrate the process with focused advice, time and constantly model and demonstrate exceptional learning characteristics themselves.

Collaboration and sharing of ideas and pedagogy must include ALL and the opportunities to do so must be created and time to plan and show impact on learning must be given and modelled.

The students need CPD too-key learning characteristics and mind-sets must be encouraged and actively taught

Staff CPD has moved on again with our professional portfolio, explained here and the micro research to tweak/share practice encouraged by lesson study and providing more directed time to research, evaluate and embed; explained with some other examples from other schools and educationalists explained here-


The audit visit raised a couple of challenges for us to consider. 1] How do we get all of our staff interested enough to gather their own bits of research/innovative new ideas to improve their own practice-interestingly some colleagues don’t care for the term most schools use-CPD-continuing professional development-and like PPD-personal professional development [Paul Garvey] or perhaps just PD.  Having the responsibility to be a ‘leader’ of your own learning and to have choices [rather than imposed choices from SLT] about what focus your development should take poses some organisational issues but the principle is something for us to keep moving towards-as explained in the above blogs. Time is the biggest barrier-books have to be marked, lessons planned, reviews written, SOLs up-dated and so on. Other countries e.g. Japan build in more time for teachers to research and continually reflect on their own practice-in the UK we are stuck with a very traditional curriculum and teaching day and although some schools have tried to work around these constraints and have had the great idea of appointing a few pedagogy leaders/research teachers with a day a week to research and feedback or finish early on 1 day to provide inset time-my ambition has always been to involve EVERYONE in their own learning-we are a smallish school-why wouldn’t I want this to happen and want to entice teachers here because we develop them professionally?

I will keep sending out the myriad of ideas and resources that I glean each week—I have the time to do this-it’s my role and I’m delighted that a growing number use the traditional TES resources and are now joining me on twitter with some on Facebook groups to swop and share ideas. The social media sharing and free CPD involved is really useful for subject specific needs-most schools have spent much of the last 10 years trying to develop general, often Ofsted based, pedagogy and there is a real need to encourage ‘subject mastery’ for teachers as well as students. Internally the learning hubs offer a variety of CPD opportunities-some based on school needs, others on volunteer choices. Our latest choices were;

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?

To ensure that hubs are use well and the impact on both learning and teaching the follow up can be accredited and is expected of all in the Professional Portfolio.

Evidence for accreditation-Leading Meols Cop Learner

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

Extract from the subject leader’s Professional Portfolio

CPD Which learning hubs have you attended? What did you trial after the hubs? Which other internal training have you attended? What were the key learning points from this training? Which external training have you attended? What were the key learning points from this training?How have you encouraged and directed your faculty to both internal and external CPD-why was this needed? How have you used research to support your own development?Please give examples.Why did you choose to research these areas?Which CPD activities have had the biggest impact on learning in your classroom? What is your evidence?How have you encouraged and directed your faculty to consider both internal and external research-why was this needed?Have you been able to prove the impact the research has had on both learning and teaching? What would you like next in terms of internal/external CPD?What would your priority be and why?   What do individuals and the whole faculty need for their next CPD-why? Initial plans?Success criteria?

A 2nd issue raised by NTEN was the need to seek best value for our external training-this sounds reasonable-we should be able to use only the very best available BUT as a North Western school we are limited geographically in that much of the inset I’d love to send colleagues to is in London. There are courses we can access in Manchester and Liverpool but my gut feeling is that the South Eastern schools have far more access to quality external conferences, in terms of travel, than we do-I wait to be shot down! There are good quality trainers around our area and a growing numbers of teachmeets and schools willing to share-ourselves included-can we achieve best value-not sure. We can of course join in national discussions on the internet, share internally and collaborate locally across our region.

A 3rd issue was raised by us and that concerned the lack of opportunity for staff other than teachers to be included in the interview part of the day-and the audit wasn’t appropriate for their different needs. Hopefully this will be added next time round but we have shared our ideas re teaching assistant development here and have encouraged the sharing of ideas from all staff via our Magic Moments Friday sharing-

Much of the training and development we can offer teaching assistants is on the job-helping them to look at the impact their actions and support have. An example of our latest work [to be published shortly in an educational magazine] can be seen here

Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; INVOLVE me and I’ll UNDERSTAND [quote borrowed from Zoe Elder-Full on Learning]

How have you helped to involve your students in their learning? Complete the IMPACT table for the subjects you support your student in.  Thank you

Student’s name                                                                                                       TA                                                                                                                                 Date

Subject Target grade Current grade Which of your support strategies have worked best? How do you know-what is your evidence? Which areas do you need to focus on next? How do you plan to do this? How will you measure success by the next progress grades? Any general feelings about all of the grades-attitude, HWK etc. How can you support in these areas? How will you measure success by the next progress grades?

 Teachers would expect to have conversations like this and provide suitable evidence-TA’s aren’t used to this approach and time was needed to be made available to support the process and then share exemplars.

Proving impact and creating time for everyone to reflect on their CPD isn’t easy considering the pressure on a busy colleague’s work load. Stephen Tierney wrote a great post earlier this week raising the weakness most schools have with encouraging colleagues to evaluate the impact of their CPD. In previous years we have used an idea to collate CPD evaluations that I borrowed from Bubb and Eardley[I think!]-time was given in directed time meetings to complete the pro-formas and I was able to collate the responses and present them back to staff [and Ofsted!] Choices were asked for and I was able to meet some of the requests-scrap the 20 minute progress one!!

Spring CPD record


Thank you for all of your responses and for your very positive comments on our internal CPD.  These are just some of the points that you raised giving a changing picture of CPD and its impact over the last term.  Also attached are your requests for the next learning hubs.

CPD opportunities.  Which of these have you experienced internally or externally? Brief evidence. When, where,  who
Theory – where the new approach is explained and justified Most of the explanations of new ideas mentioned, occurred at internal sessions including learning hubs, whole staff or dept inset, dept meetings, subject leader meetings, leadership training, NQT/mentor meetings.  External training mentioned included exam courses, SSAT developing leaders and conferences.Explained theories included Anderson’s taxonomy, questioning, Kagan, VLE, Cool Tools for Schools, learning ladders, ladders of glory, GnT ideas, Dartfish, coaching, AFL, starters, mini-reviews literacy and many more!
Demonstration – to give a model of how this can be put into practice Colleagues appreciated the hub demo sessions and information shared out and also mentioned dept meeting sharing and modelling of ideas and ideas being placed into shared areas, to support the training practically, as being helpful. There are a growing amount of lessons being informally watched for short periods of time to see ideas in action e.g. use of the visualiser or informal demonstrations of new technology e.g. smart tools.
Practice – so that the teacher can try out the new approach Lots of classroom examples given where ideas had been incorporated or adapted and then practised after training sessions or strategies picked up have been tried out on colleagues, such as coaching.
Feedback on how well the new approach is working Feedback came from observations, discussions with colleagues and students and I could sense a growing desire to seek self-evaluation/peer evaluation and perhaps more of an open door approach and a desire to innovate and take risks in front of supportive colleagues.
Coaching – to help the teacher discuss the teaching in a supportive environment and consider how it might be improved. Again there was more mention of informal, as well as formal observations to support your devpt and a desire to develop the coaching element of CPD even more and to have further cross-subject discussions.  Support for NQTs was valued.
Personal benefits –which of these possibilities has this year’s CPD given to you?  Please tick any appropriate ones and give a brief example
thought more deeply about what you are doingenhanced your knowledgedeveloped skillsimproved ways of workingshown a greater commitment to professional and personal growthbecome more resilientgained greater self-confidence

increased job satisfaction

shown more enthusiasm for working with children

shown more enthusiasm for working with colleagues

increased a colleague’s learning

enhanced a colleague’s well-being

enhanced students’ and pupils’ well-being

improved students’ and pupils’ learning

increased other staff’s learning in order to improve things for their students and pupils

any others?


The top and bottom statements won and in fact a couple of the middle benefits provoked sharp responses!  Interestingly quite a few pointed out the pleasure of being involved in the feedback sessions as speakers they felt that it helped them become more self-confident and developed leadership qualities.  Most of you felt that CPD had helped you think more deeply and had helped to develop new skills and this had the knock on effect of allowing you to not only help your own devpt, but that of others and this provided satisfaction for some of you.Too many to mention individual benefits were mentioned and you need to use these as evidence for your performance management and of course for CVs!     






What have you gained most from your learning hubs this year?     The sharing of good practice, dialogue with colleagues facing similar issues, finding out what other depts were doing, listening about/observing different styles of teaching and realising that teaching skills in one subject are transferable were the main gains made by hub participation.  The impact has been immediate with practical use made in the classroom of strategies dealing with literacy, VLE, moodle, AFL, high achievers and lots more.  Thank you to you all for making them work so well and provide such wonderful support.  I will try to build in more time for the making of the resources so that they aren’t on a ‘to do’ list, as someone mentioned.
What have you gained most from any external CPD this year? How have you disseminated info?Did school get value for money?   Exam courses proved to be very useful again, especially for our colleagues new to exam business and new knowledge about moderation, standardisation and mark schemes was used to good effect, you tell me, with our G.C.S.E. students.Subject specific skills and knowledge courses were good and not wasteful this term and were fed-back to depts or relevant colleagues.External leadership courses were praised and visits to other schools always receives good notices and the ensuing information gives food for thought.
What has been the impact so far on the students of any of this year’s CPD? Any measurable evidence would be wonderful!We await the summer results for evidence concerning exam courses but you tell me that you feel confident about the impact that using newly acquired knowledge to support subject VLEs, marking stickers and tactics etc. will have.  The success of mini plenaries/reviews was mentioned a few times, in raising student self-awareness of where they are at, in terms of progress and what they need to do next, was verified by some of your surveys and by my big student surveys-their language for learning is developing with your support and some of you told me that you felt that they could now see the gaps in their own learning, thus helping their independent learning and your planning.More interaction came from your new techniques and there was a feeling that KS3 progress was improving as a result, although you were again waiting for KS4 results to confirm the impact!  Increased levels of participation and enjoyment had been seen in some surveys.
What are you planning to do next with the skills/knowledge you have acquired this year? The answers mainly spoke about further devpt, self-analysis and experimentation.
Do you need any help or support?  There were nice comments from new members of staff about the level of support and others enquiring about external; leadership courses, more observations of others, more dept time and hubs, using data and more ideas for low ability class teaching.
I have been thinking of what we should focus on in our next hubs-what do YOU think that we should share ideas and strategies on? Marking ideas/timesavers 7Enjoyable activities 3How to get them to do HWK 6Cross-curricular 4English support 1Prezi 10Learn more about the VLE 9

Learn more about voting equipment 12

Kagan activities 11

Rally coaches 1

Learning lines 2

Moving activities 2

Different levels ladders 3

Brain breaks 2

Student leaders 1

Coaching 1

Dealing with reluctant learners 9

Punctuality to lessons 7

BFL strategies 12

New behaviour techniques 14

Staff residential to team build 10 [not a Tuesday night!]

Future innovations 6

Coping with changes to qualifications 8

Time for peer observation 4 –will all be watching somebody else after half-term

Showing progress in 20 mins 2

Lesson plans in shared area before Ofsted 4-began today as a result of the request

I was interested to look at our own development [2011-2012] of measuring impact, encouraging dissemination, sharing ideas internally etc. before our current portfolios. I’d obviously read all of the best practice guides from Ofsted and other sources and knew that we weren’t focused enough on thinking about how we could use CPD to have the maximum effect on student learning and pedagogy. I did exert a little more pressure on the request forms and quickly realised that form filling, to aid the reflection I wanted, would need time given and I then collated all of the information provided [chased if needed!] and presented a termly report to all staff based on staff evaluations. 


Before you make your request-have you given your last term’ CPD evaluation/dissemination form to DJ?

This needs to be completed before your request can be met.  Thank you

Which of your performance management/DIP/SIP objectives do you feel that the course will develop?
How will the course directly impact on either improving the quality of care and welfare or raising learning and teaching standards? Will it provide value for money?
Please add an intended timescale for sharing the information with colleagues/intended use in the classroom/evaluation of impact and value for money.
Learning hub strategies I will trial – back to back descriptions– random name questioning– thinking about what strategies they used and how they can apply these strategies across the PE curriculum– word cloud– high questioning skills– 10 second thinking

– strategies for G+T


Date  18.10.11


Impact of trialled strategiesBack to back has helped students describe actions e.g dance movements.  Student s thought all movement had specific names such as pirouette.  This has really developed their vocabulary and understanding of how important providing a example is. What next?Transfer skills into exam questions.                                                                 Date  18.10.11
Focus of Learning Hub drop-inFeedback session with SM Strategies I can trialUse of Powerpoint in teams.  Both students can access computer use at the same time. This can be done in reflection of dance performances.                                                                     

Date  22.11.11


Impact of trialled strategiesStudents enjoyed working on the project together and reinforced the importance of collaboration.Made students presenting skills stronger as they understood all slides, not just their own. What next?Develop the task to peer assessment strategy from the activity above.  Grading each other on power point content and presentation skills.Date 22.11.11


Focus of Learning Hub drop-inCohort SupportStrategies I can trialPeer assessment strategies to develop student friend grading criteria for support.                                        Date  13.12.11 Impact of trialled strategiesPeer assessment is much stronger.  Students prefer peer assessment as they feel that they have more of a understanding of how it feels.  The react much quicker to feedback and act on it.What next?Develop this onto 1-1 peer assessment rather than group work.Date  13.12.11 


Autumn Term CPD



External Course-name , provider, please give it a 1-5 mark [5 being high]  You should also mention any external support provided in school for you How has the course benefited learning/your role/colleagues? How have you disseminated or fed-back information/strategies e.g. dept meetings, hub, cross-curricular, subject leaders, progress managers etc.?


Performance management CPD needs Training that has supported your PM targets this term.Anything else that you need and was agreed on? What impact has the training had in supporting your successful achievement of your target [s]?


Which learning hub are you a member of? Which strategies have you been trialling so far? How have you disseminated or fed-back information/strategies? Which strategy are you planning to observe a colleague or be observed teaching?


It was nice to receive external praise for our staff development and its link to student learning.

This school crackles with ambition. Leadership at all levels demonstrates a unified determination to drive further improvements in outcomes for students.

In addition, a vibrant culture of continuous improvement has been established, which is shared by all members of the school community.  We have moved on rapidly-a Gold NTEN plaque would be lovely but we will have to keep abreast of current thinking and marry it to our needs. Much more emphasis has been based on research in our classrooms and we have a long way to go in this area. I’ve already mentioned some of the latest ideas about engaging colleagues with research and developing CPD with feedback from the York NTEN conference in the lesson study blog-check out- but there have been some other ideas of recent interest, and to be honest, they appear every day-it really is an important and relevant issue.



From David Weston and the TDA the idea of professional development moving colleagues from a surface level awareness to deep learning and change-have I given the time and opportunities for CPD to be embedded and transformational-if I haven’t how can and should I?



I do like Shaun Allison’s shared idea of a layered approach to CPD-I wish I had thought of it! It isn’t any different to our approach but I’m constantly aware of the need to develop the middle ‘Optional’ strand further and continue to push the ‘bottom up’ approach that has proved so successful over the last few years of inset. I will have to lead on some occasions and perform for you all-this was crucial some years ago when the school needed to change direction and needed senior leaders to stand up and sell and model a practical vision. The inspiration and transformation must come from you now! Interestingly this mirrors the change I observe in every lesson I watch-the students often take a huge responsibility for their own learning and have become far stronger learners as a consequence.


They need a strong mind-set to achieve this and so do you when you want to develop your teaching skills. To be truly self-reflective about yourself and your professional needs is crucial and you might like to read this new post from Kate Ward.

  1. Kate Ward ‏@k8lw 8h

NEW POST ‘should we develop teachers mindset before we consider CPD?’ 

What do you think? Are we getting CPD right for you, the students and the school?




Magic Butterfly Moments-an individual teacher’s contribution

My magic moment was watching our year 11 students embrace the butterfly theme.  The theme used the process of metamorphosis to act as a creative way to encourage the students to change.  For each student the changes they were required to make were unique to them.  Once they had faced the changes required to leave the caterpillar world they were faced with the cocoon of decisions.  In this cocoon they were encouraged to imagine how they could progress in R.E with the correct mind-set.  Many were too scared to reach for aspirational targets as they feared failure.  I too identified with that fear as R.E was facing linear changes.  This was a scary concept as we were forced to keep lesson content fresh.  With no controlled assessments to cushion our task we faced the challenge head on.  Each time I paused and worried, I gained a deeper drive which I wanted to pass on to our students.  We all learnt what it was like to live in a NO EXCUSE CULTURE as we took risks ‘together’ in learning and teaching.

Furthermore, our students were challenged to overcome emotional, social and circumstantial difficulties which threatened to interfere with their transformation into powerful butterflies.  The theme was summed up with the quote; ‘If you want success as much as you want to breathe then you will be successful.’ They began to see that despite difficult circumstances, they could hold the tension of the cocoon and fly.  The tension point included dealing with tragic loss and processing grief.  Every child’s journey was unique and each cocoon trial was as valid to us.  I hope for their sake to see measurable results in their GCSE grades.  Yet my personal magic moment was watching glimpses of growth, these images are imprinted on my mind forever.  When fresh challenges arise in years to come I hope they draw from butterfly strength, and this moment will be refreshed again.  The class of 2014 has left a legacy behind with our current year 10 desperate to know their theme.  At the moment all we will reveal is it is certainly not a butterfly!  Miss Heaton is worried Meols Cop will become famous for butterfly exhibitions.

This theme did not emerge from a recent teaching article, or my TES subscription or one of the many ideas sent through from Mr Jones.  All of these play a vital role in raising standards.    Part of me would have loved to have used a theory tried and tested with scholars guiding the way, but my heart ruled my head.  Michael Gove may be busy dusting off old English literature classics to replace American writings in the English classroom, but I doubt backbenchers  could get their head around butterfly wings.  Thankfully for me Meols Cop did, with many staff getting on board and even dressing up!  Thank- you as without that the butterfly would have been squashed.  Meols Cop powered it through as it created a supportive environment for students and staff alike.