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My first blog- #nurture1314

December 29, 2013

My recent interest has been reading a number of thought provoking blogs from people I follow (and a number I don’t) on twitter. I am keen to enter the blogosphere (even if it is just to clarify my own thinking) and thought the nurture1314 project would be the ideal place to start.

13 Reflections:

1. Completing my first year in senior management. I have been a deputy head for 20 months. It has been an incredibly steep learning curve- a new role in a new school. However, there have been very few days when I haven’t felt like I have the best job in the world. I am also fortunate that I have had a huge amount of support.

2. Completing my first timetable. I had plenty of help from my colleagues (and training to use Nova T6) but this still remains for me one of the hardest undertakings ever. I found it stressful and at times impossible in equal measure but I finally got there despite my doubts. Bizarrely, I am looking forward to doing the timetable for 2014/15.

3. Being part of our Senior Management Team. I have read many blogs about SMT and the errors they make (albeit the blogs can be biased) but I am very proud to be a part of our SM Team. Our headteacher has an incredible ability to see the wood despite the trees and always makes the right decisions for the school. The six in the SMT all bring different strengths to the table and I have learned so much from them all in 2013.

4. Being part of the wider leadership team. Every month we have a wider leadership meeting made up of the SMT, core heads, key stage managers and one of our year heads. This is the team that also meet for the annual leadership conference. This has been a real boost to the school by allowing some more of the outstanding staff in our school to help shape the direction we are taking.

5. Being part of the whole school team. I’m incredibly proud to be a member of staff in my school; full stop. Despite the busy nature of the job we are a team. This was summed up by our other deputy head organising a flash mob for christmas and many staff (teaching, support and associate- like i said, one team) all joined in. My street cred took a bit of a hit but the pupils thoroughly enjoyed it. I also see the hard work that our staff put in on a daily basis.

6. The extracurricular stuff. I have been blown away by the quality of what our pupils produce in a variety of contexts. In 2013 there were two shows, Grease and Honk. Both were simply brilliant and a credit to the talent of our pupils (and staff). The school concerts have been fantastic too. Our PE department continue to offer our pupils an excellent deal (they have helped mould Leigh Halfpenny, Adam Mathews and Eli Walker) and extracurricular sports are a real strength of the school.

7. My wife secured a full time job in September. Our youngest went full time and so it was time to look for full time work. Her work is certainly challenging but (I know I am biased) I think she is doing a fantastic job and I am very proud of what she is achieving.

8. It has been a big year for my three children in terms of their education. Our middle child changed schools a year ago and has settled really well. Our youngest (as I’ve already mentioned) has gone full time and we have been delighted with how he has settled. Half days were hugely problematic but things have gone well since full time. School (and life) is more difficult for him than other 5 year olds but the last few months have been hugely positive. Our eldest continues to thrive in school. He starts comp next September.

9. Inset on teaching and learning. Earlier this month I took a twilight session on teaching and learning. I got a lot of ideas (and support) from colleagues in different schools via twitter (@davidfawcett27 and @HFletcherWood to name but two). It was a great opportunity to reflect on effective teaching and learning. From this inset we have a teaching and learning tip of the week which staff can contribute to (our headteacher suggested flipped learning which was the tip in the last week of term).

10) Taking assemblies. I have always loved taking assemblies. It is a fantastic opportunity to really communicate the ethos of the school. A year 11 pupil wrote a thank you card when she left in July and she said that she found my assemblies inspirational. I think we offer some fantastic assemblies in our school and I spend a lot of time preparing when my time comes around. My themes have included the brain and learning, a back to the future style “your future is unwritten” and why education and learning is vital to cope in an ever changing world.

11) Estyn inspection. In September we were visited by Estyn for their 6 yearly visit. It went very well and they rubber stamped everything we do. Personally I found it a tough week (especially as i had been in post for just a year). I had four interviews but I didn’t have a lesson observed. After the week had finished I felt I knew the school (and my role within it) a lot better. I look forward to the next visit in 2019…..

12. Pupils. Our pupils are absolutely fantastic. We often want some of them to work harder but this is true in absolutely every school. As young people they are a credit to the school, their families and their community. I live in the catchment and thought this might be an issue when I secured the job. It is not. Every pupil I see outside of school, without exception, is incredibly friendly and respectful.

13) Twitter. In the last year I have gained a huge number of ideas, read some outstanding blogs (not that I necessarily agree with every blog but they always make me think) and got in contact with colleagues up and down the country that are prepared to collaborate, share and discuss ideas. We use twitter very well in our school and every department has a twitter account. Some departments have over 500 followers. It is fantastic CPD because as well as the blogs and the T and L ideas it makes you reflect on your own practice. This is never a bad thing. My first foray into a twitter debate was with @ManYanaEd (it didn’t end well for me) and these interactions have been invaluable for reflecting on teaching and learning.

14 Hopes for 2014

1) Improve my teaching. I have always prided myself in being very effective in the classroom but I am conscious that there is a danger that my teaching could slide down my list of priorities. As a curriculum deputy this isn’t acceptable. In the last 2 months I have used the 5min lesson plan by @teachertoolkit for every year 9 lesson that I have delivered. This has helped make the lesson in the scheme of work more personal for the class in front of me. This along with the introduction of bell work has sharpened the T and L in my classroom (at least with my year 9s). I have sent my bell work resource to @ASTSupportAAliI to include in his toolkit. I want to try SOLO and flipped learning with my KS4 class in the new year once the CAT work is complete.

2) Start blogging. This is the start I suppose. I love the blogs of @TeacherToolkit, @headguruteacher, @johntomsett, @chrishildrew, @learningspy and @leading learner in particular. I would like to write and reflect on the teaching and learning in my own classroom (at least as a starting point).

3) Play more golf. And play some decent golf too.

4) Spend more quality time with my family.

5) Produce a better timetable in 2014. I want to learn from the errors I made and improve on my effort from 2013.

6) Work with my colleagues to produce a new teaching and learning policy. My headteacher is keen that we produce an updated version and I am working with a number of colleagues to produce something that will hopefully share some of the excellent practice happening in school to the wider staff. We all have strengths but we also all have areas where we could improve (like every teacher in every school in the world).

7) Work with colleagues to produce a new assessment, feedback and action policy. Again my headteacher wants an updated version that shares the best examples across the school. Our head of English has already presented how they assess in English and how pupils act on the feedback to redraft (very Ron Berger) and these procedures will be at the heart of the policy.
The policy will set out expectations and then different departments will implement them in a way that suits the learners in their subject area the best.

8) Work more efficiently.

9) Help to get the most out of current Year 11. It is a huge few months for them and I need to do my bit to help them achieve their potential and get what they need for the next step in their lives. Last year we had record results and we know this cohort can match them.

10) Make sure my Year 11 teaching group are successful in their applied science GCSE.

11) Continue to use twitter for CPD.

12) Organise internal teach meets in school to better share the excellent practice that goes on (like @BelmontTeach and their magic Mondays)

13) Continue to learn more about our staff. I am still learning about how I can help them and I am also still learning how they can help me.

14) Use iPads for teaching and learning. In 2014 we should be fully wifi in every classroom and we have many colleagues waiting on this to integrate the use of iPads into lessons. We want to build on the work being done by our cluster primary schools, in particular Casllwchwr. My own children use the family iPad to produce homework such as this one. I know they are no golden panacea but I also know they can enhance teaching and learning in the classroom.


From → Nurture

  1. Welcome to blogging. MAKE sure you follow @SLTchat on Sundays at 8pm. Ross

    • Thanks Ross. I look forward to it. Thanks for taking the time to respond. Much appreciated!

  2. Aww love this and love that you mention our #magicmondays, what an excellent year you’ve had.

    • Thank you for the feedback Mrs Jackson. It has been quite a year. I look forward to hearing more about Belmont and the Magic Mondays in 2014.

  3. Love this 1314 blog and like Laura love the mention of our Magic Mondays. we cant wait for what 2014 will bring and I look forward to reading your blogs regularly in the future.

    • Thank you Julie, I really appreciate the feedback. Reading the blogs on Magic Mondays was fantastic. What a great idea to share best practice. I hope we can emulate your school in doing something along those lines.

  4. An enjoyable read, obviously written with a lot of passion and humility. Best wishes for all your forays in 2014

    Don’t forget to tweet if you need anything


    • Thanks Andy. I really appreciate the feedback. I’m going to read your blogs this evening!!!

  5. Jill Berry permalink

    I enjoyed reading this – thanks for sharing it.

    I liked your positivity: ‘There have been very few days when I haven’t felt like I have the best job in the world” balanced with your realism and your humility: “I am still learning about how I can help the staff and I am also still learning how they can help me.” It sounds as if you are benefiting from very good leadership and teaching practice in your current school, and I’m sure this will fit you well for the future and for your own headship in due course, should you decide to take that route. I think you may well have the right temperament and developing skill set for the role!

    Hope you and your family had an excellent Christmas break, and that 2014 is a positive, rewarding and happy year for you all. Keep blogging!

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to read and for leaving such a lovely comment. I’m delighted (and humbled) that busy people have taken the time to comment (and advertise) my first blog.
      We had a great Christmas and I hope you did too. 🙂
      Thanks again,

  6. Kerry permalink

    Just read both blogs. Well done- there’s lots of good stuff!! Loving the RAG123 idea. Totally agree with the issue of balance between teacher time spent marking and impact on the pupils. If there’s no impact, there’s no point spending the time! Would love to get a trial going in our school…. Food for thought, for sure!

    • Thanks for the feedback Kerry, it is much appreciated. I really would recommend trying it out. The feedback it gives me as their teacher as invaluable. At the moment I’ve never been happier with the balance between my (perceived) time marking and the impact it is having on the pupils and the feed forward for future planning.

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