A text-based curriculum

It started with a tweet . . .

Ian Addison (who if you are not following I really recommend you do) posted a tweet about a text based curriculum.
@ianaddison: New Blog Post: A Text-Based Curriculum http://ianaddison.net/a-text-based-curriculum/ Please read the blog post. Our Director of Studies has used this approach before and we re-visited it.

We would like to suggest Land of the Neverbelieve

The Land of Neverbelieve by Norman Messenger. It is an exciting, inspiring and creative book suitable for KS2 pupils that could provide significant cross-curriculum links. Perhaps one for you to explore? Along with Ian we would be interested to hear other suggestions – what do your recommend?


IAPS Heads’ Conference 2013 – Day 2

Reflections from today, what stood out for me:
Brian Ashton – Performing at the highest level when it counts
. our mindset is all important, whether pupils, teachers or senior leaders
. set timescales for dreams (vision/mission)
. if you don’t take risks you won’t be anywhere in life
. be a 360 degree person – see things from all sides/all stakeholders
. be a pioneer rather than someone who rules
. be prepared to be controversial
. it’s fine to fail, but fail fast, get back up and learn from your failures quickly
. create family/school community
. ask your staff 5 key things that would make school better
. be prepared to ‘defy the impossible and shock the world’, Muhammad Ali
. never settle for the status quo

Excellent seminar covering on-line safety from Karl Hopwood. Too much to share! . . .
Key message – focus on behaviours not technology, as technology will keep changing.

The business connection – Lara Morgan
I agreed with her points that we need to be:
. ‘Out the box – original’
. connecting in real life learning
. ensuring schools are the best places they can be
Lara reminded us of the importance of:
. having the right people in the right roles
. rewarding staff – with things they like, rather than what we think they like/should like
. seeking staff’s views and feedback, e.g. ‘what do you think we waste money on’/’what could we save money on?’
‘Do not stand still, have the desire for new ideas’

View from the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London

IAPS Heads’ Conference 2013 – Day 1

What has stood out for me today is that we need to ensure that our young people:
. Adopt active lifestyles as young as possible; national obesity figures give great cause for concern. Let children experience a wide range of sports so they can find 1 or more that they are keen/happy to participate in regularly and on-going
. Have genuine, unshakable ‘self belief’ – ‘I can do it’ – otherwise a lack of confidence will limit their potential, academically, socially and in sport and music etc
Sally Gunnell – fitness for children through sport

. Keep to identified/maximum times set by parents when playing computer games and using social media – otherwise their social skills and ability to empathise with be negatively impacted in a very significant way; supported by medical research
Aric Sigman – Parenting and the 21st century child

More general reflections:
. I appreciate the diversity within IAPS
. I am reminded what an amazingly beautiful/historic capital city we have!

Unconferences – #SLTcamp

Unconferences – why I am looking forward to #SLTcamp
The positive impact of unconferences e.g. Teach/KidsMeets and Edu/SLTcamps, cannot be underestimated both in terms of moving teaching and learning forward and promoting best practice in schools.

I love the selfless heart at the core of such events (if run true to the concept) of putting on an event, not seeking to make a profit but purely to make a difference – to share, collaborate and energise those who attend.

In my experience such events tend to attract passionate professionals, generous givers and non-judgemental forward thinking individuals; people who are keen to network, to share, to reflect and grow.

The inclusiveness in the room is tangible; you will know what I mean if you have attended an event, it cuts across all sectors and phases of education so that everyone feels equally valued. I love the fact that people of all ages and levels of experience are encouraged to contribute.

The status quo is challenged; the air is full of … ‘what about, this worked well for us, has anyone tried/found a way to, what if, maybe’ … rather than ‘this is how we do things and we are not about to change anytime soon’. People are not precious about their initiatives or ideas but are happy to share and help encourage others.

By cascading ideas back at school and via blog posts, viewed globally, unconferences send out ripples of change to a far wider audience than just those who attended the event.

It is for these reasons that I am already looking forward to #SLTcamp in November, a weekend of ‘participant-driven and participant lead CPD, aimed specifically at SLT and aspiring SLT. The focus of the weekend will be sharing the challenges and experiences of being a member of SLT and working together towards finding new and exciting ways forward. We hope to ignite change and spark inspiration over the course of the weekend.’ The aim of the weekend and the energy behind it from @MrLockyer and @MsFindlater is indeed inspiring and motivating before we have begun!

I am very keen to hear and reflect on the ideas and thoughts of aspiring and current SLT members, to contribute and to challenge some of my viewpoints and priorities. It is really positive that this weekend will give quality time, in an enjoyable environment, through discussion and workshops to consider ‘being the best we can be’ and ‘what next’ for our schools.

SLTcamp can be found on Twitter as @SLTCamp #SLTcamp and at the following website: sites.google.com/site/sltcampuk/ It will be exciting to see how this unfolds and develops!

Pupils as news makers, contributing tweets

I am keen to get our pupils involved with and contributing to our school tweets. From September there will be a box for their suggestions. I wanted something different from a regular box so I thought …’tweets’ … a bird box. I recently found the box below which I thought fitted the brief. We will see how things develop in September.

Tweet box

Making education relevant to the 21st century is leading to a lack of basic skills

This post is in response to #edchatsa 29/7/13 – Debate: The focus on making education relevant to the 21st century is leading to a lack of basic skills.

Here is my contribution to the debate . . .

I can see that the statement could be true but equally it need not be the case.

Firstly one needs to explore and establish what we consider to be a) educationally relevant to the 21st Century and b) basic skills.

What are we terming as educationally relevant to the 21st Century, greater emphasis on ICT skills and competencies and/or linking the curriculum to life beyond school generally and the world of work?

What are we calling basic skills, reading, writing and basic number skills or something different?

My viewpoint is, a holistic and carefully structured curriculum can be both relevant to the 21st Century and enhance basic skills. Basic skills in the 21st Century needs to include, reading, writing, basic number, ICT skills and competencies and social and life skills. However, as well as these skills it is fundamental that children are curious and motivated to explore their world; developing an understanding and appreciation of science, art and music as well as social responsibility and ‘green’ skills (eco/sustainability).

The challenge is making this all fit together so that no component detracts from another one. This is where collegiality across the whole staff team is so important in sharing ideas and initiatives so that a truly holistic curriculum in established, reviewed and updated and the best possible outcomes in teaching and learning (relative to the specific learning community) can be achieved.


There have been a number of very well thought out and constructive posts on CPD today, shared via Twitter e.g @joe__Kirby ‏pragmaticreform.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/cpd/ , @MrNickHart thisismyclassroom.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/improving-teacher-quality-with-vision-must-come-action/ … , @tomboulter Practice Perfect for Teachers – deliberate practice as CPD: http://thinkingonlearning.blogspot.com/2013/06/practice-perfect-for-teachers.html

The posts highlight different approaches and what professionals feel are key areas to include in CPD. Posts have referenced research, which adds to the validity of the observations. Plus they have highlighted the importance of feedback from staff in relation to CPD, which is importance to inform future decisions.

My viewpoint is that CPD needs to have two intertwined strands. The first strand covers the needs of the school – statutory/legal requirements and key/central initiatives and priorities of the whole school, departments, year groups, Houses/pastoral system, at any given time. The second strand is the unique professional development of the individual member of staff which will relate directly to their experience, their needs (relating to personal strengths and areas for development) and their career aspirations.

The challenge for schools is how they facilitate both strands to enable a positive, cohesive, holistic and meaningful outcome for all! The needs of an NQT for example will be very different to those of an aspiring middle leader or a colleague seeking Headship.

CPD must relate to teaching and learning/what happens in the learning environment. What is shared needs to cover national and international/global ideas, initiatives and developments if it is to have true/holistic value. However, CPD also needs to embrace pastoral areas, staff team building opportunities and e.g. the work-life balance of staff.

Other factors to consider in relation to CPD will be the costs involved and time (e.g. INSET days, cover for staff during the working day, twilight sessions and weekend training/conferences). Different schools will have different priorities and viewpoints on what is beneficial and reasonable to facilitate for their staff. In the current climate, some schools may be cutting back on CPD, although research would indicate that this is ill-advised as the CPD of staff is central to school improvement.

I think it is positive if staff are invited and encouraged to make suggestions regarding potential CPD sessions/input. Equally we all need to embrace the school agenda. I concur feedback from staff is vital; through reflection we can improve and refine what is delivered and how it is facilitated.

Increasing I wonder how much CPD will be facilitated in face to face training sessions and how much will be via web seminars, YouTube videos and blog posts etc. The shape and feel of learning and CPD is changing.