EducationFest @ Wellington College

I am sitting in the garden with a pint of something cool in my new Paternal Day pint pot (thanks son no 3 – perfect gift via the PTA), reflecting on a busy few days.

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This was my second visit to Sir Anthony Seldon’s Festival of Education at Wellington College. Last year my deputy and I visited for the day; this year we took the SLT for Thursday and I sneakily headed back on my own on Friday when I heard of the fantastic Friday line up – ticket upgrade! (Upgrading wasn’t as easy as it sounds though, taking many an email over  period of weeks!) This is fantastic value CPD – the highpoint of my year and although Sir Anthony told us that this was the biggest festival yet, I am amazed that so many of my colleagues haven’t heard about it.

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An early start on day one for the SLT, two of us meeting at the Station at 6am and one other joining with us on the tube – an SLT reunited at Paddington. Feeling smug about getting there early we caught the first train to Reading only to find that it was  a slow train, missing our connection to Crowthorne by 2 minutes! Smugness wiped, we missed Nicky Morgan’s opening address (shame!): my question about faith schools will just have to wait! We did, however, arrive to see her jump into her chauffeured car and slip away with her security. What? She’s not staying to hear some of the fantastic speakers?! Missed opportunity to spend some time with those enthusiastic professionals who will be delivering her missives. Hmmmmmm!

And so to our first session, which might not have delivered exactly what we were expecting, but gave us a chance to reflect on the creativity and imagination that our teachers put into almost every encounter with their children in our school.

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We’re lucky – it isn’t unusual to find a group of space explorers in my office wearing colanders and home made breathing apparatus, nor to find them the next day pouring through books about space and making a change to their equipment and then to return half a term later to find that they still remember what they had learnt long ago! That’s creativity and enquiry at its best and it goes on with growing complexity from Nursery to Year 6 in this place thanks to committed and enthused staff who are happy to take risks and go with the flow.

One of the great things that I love about this kind of CPD is that you go in to a 40 minute input slot with an expectation which has has pulled you towards it and you can leave with a nugget or an affirmation that is not why you were drawn there in the first place! Gold dust for the mind!

Now I had been looking forward to Stella Remington’s spot for a good few weeks since I had first heard of her involvement in the line up and I wasn’t disappointed. I could have listened to her for the rest of the morning! Leaving the session, I was reflecting on all sorts of things not least the mums of young families that I rely on to deliver a creative curriculum and an awakened sense of the tensions that many working mums (and dads) face as they balance a hectic passion for school life with the commitments of family life. Stella made me face a few home realities and the dependence that I as a head have on my fantastic wife who as well as being key to so many of the creative and outdoor opportunities at school also is ultimately focused on the three boys at home; her focus means that mine can slip whilst I’m working on this or preparing for that, or at a late meeting here or there (or at an education festival in Berkshire!); how she manages it I am not sure, but without it, I am helplessly hopeless! Thanks N and sorry x

Stella Rimmington was followed by Michael Wilshaw  – HMCI (not HMI as he was keen to correct!) of schools – Head of the Big O. Now I’ve heard him speak before and even if I haven’t agreed entirely with with his sentiments, the lyricism is usually good … and there were a few good soundbytes today! Speaking on the challenges of teacher recruitment, I had hoped to come out of the session with a few new ideas even if not with an outstanding year 1 teacher to fill the last of three vacant positions for September, the jigsaw not yet being complete. Sadly not! In fact, I left feeling somewhat downhearted. I appreciate the difficulty of remote coastal schools in recruiting but attracting staff to an outstanding New Town school isn’t easy either! 2 applications for 1 job at the last count and no appointment. It doesn’t help either when a few miles up the road you can get a fringe allowance with your salary too! We’ve tried many recruitment strategies but I’m still waiting to appoint and no doubt will see a supply teacher in post until a January appointment now. So it is a recruitment crisis!

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As an ouststanding school (March 2013) there are local expectations and I have to make it known to candidates that this comes with a window of the local world on the school, something that I need all staff to want … and if you don’t want that privilege as an exciting development opportunity,  then this really isn’t the place for you! We have spent  much time as a staff of the past three years supporting other schools in difficult circumstances and I really can not understand how Mr Wilshaw can see how a school trying desperately to get to ‘good’, even with a new amazing leader, can spend time and focus on training its own teachers; eye off the ball and all that?! Don’t get me wrong, Teaching Schools are great – we’ve even toyed with the idea of becoming one ourselves – but the effort that is required in transforming graduates into teachers can not be underestimated! I’m not quite sure that Mr Wilshaw’s response to deputies went down too well either – ‘have courage and do it for the good of your soul’ – I’m not sure that he’s got his solution to the headteacher recruitment crisis right either?!

Lunch involved queuing for a fantastic burger before joining a second long queue to pay for it (a situation that wasn’t so bad on Friday I have to say – maybe they were all eating elsewhere or had bought a packed lunch). Fantastic burger though in a classy ciabatta bun! And having eyed up the salmon, decision was made for the following day too!

Gareth Thomas captivated us as we were challenged about attitudes towards sport, education and LGBT issues. Fascinating stuff and a chap that spoke from his heart. A great story also about waking up on Christmas morning that anyone who was there will remember!! Gareth was followed by Steve Wheller who, with standing room only, enabled me to reflect on what’s next for ICT and to consider why I’m setting aside £xK for the summer ICT project. Yes – I do want to be ahead of the ‘school down the road’ but there are also valuable reasons for this major investment in ICT and the main one being efficient learning gains.

There followed a chance to pick up a few more freebies (glue sticks, mugs, sun glasses and lanyards ready to be distributed at home on my return. Its always good to come bearing gifts!!!) before expecting Al Murray but finding John Culshaw in conversation David Aaronovitch. A lighthearted end to a busy day before a train journey home. Managing to catch the early train (as it was delayed), surrounded by many others clutching their Sunday Times goody bags, we found ourselves unpacking the day whilst having an impromptu SLT meeting on the train. By the time we’d reached Paddington the leadership issues for September were solved and a plan was in place. Its funny how a day away from school with colleagues really focuses you, isn’t it? Great to spend some quality time with those that make it all happen too!!! And no phone calls from school and I didn’t even ring in for once which really helped!!!!

Friday – up early again – this time with a different mindset. Whereas Yesterday was about the team, today was about me – headspace time as I think @JohnTomsett calls it. I’d already done my homework and circled those talks to select from – how difficult was that as Friday’s line up was fantastic?!

Getting into Paddington early, I didn’t take the first train (yesterday’s mistake) but waited for the fast one … which was cancelled and threatened me missing the first session again. However, Great Western Railways didn’t let all of the festival twitchers on the platform down and arranged for another train to make extra stops for us. Arriving on time in Crowthorne, this time I managed to catch the courtesy bus which wasn’t stuck in traffic for too long. Talking to an interesting character on the bus, I soon came to realise that she was a good friend of Sir Michael Wilshaw – thank goodness I’d held back on the true story!!!

Alistair Stewart kicked off the day, interviewing Coral Jones (brave mother of April Jones) and promoting the fantastic work of the Missing People charity. I’ve since downloaded the Child Rescue Alert App and have informed all of my friends to do so too. Information ready to be passed on to the rest of the staff, the parents and my feeder secondary colleagues. Great for the Festival to be involved with this key charity who really need supporting. And I will forgive Alastair for the jibe about open toed sandals – it had been a hot day on Thursday and I wasn’t going home with soggy feet on Friday (even if the look wasn’t great!!!???!).

Andy Griffith’s session ’21st Century Thinking’ had a bit of the cringe factor about it as the simple technology of showing the video didn’t quite work which mucked up the whole presentation (we’ve all had that moment – the best teachers can always think on their feet and use it as an opportunity though) and made for itself the really valid point that we’ve all grappled with – until we can get faultless technology and simplified solutions (or maybe learn to utilise expert digital technicians in our pupils) there are some who you won’t be able to convince with the wow of technology. Visiting the Samsung stall later, the technology did work and opened me up to some great future possibilities for digital learning. Maybe we are ahead of the game but I think that we may already have the digital classroom of the future that Samsung are experimenting with … our only difference is that we haven’t thrown out the pencils, with young people making choices about when and how to use the technology to suit their learning. One size definitely doesn’t fit all!

I’ve heard Guy Claxton many times and he is always inspirational. Having read Educating Ruby prior to this event I was coming to this seminar to check that we were still on the right track with Building Learning Power and I think we are. Most recently, end of year reports have been changed to reflect 17 learning habits and targets have been set in relation to these. I wish I was able to hear how the Barrowford pupils were translating Ruby into action (great feedback from others who were there) but I had to head off to hear from Rob Coe, David Didau & Paul Black on ‘What makes great teaching’. An interesting debate and lots of pointers towards further reading; I shall be following the marking thread – yep I’m sure that reducing this workload could increase the quality of teaching particularly now that Ofsted aren’t looking for anything specific other than the impact on learning and progress. Time for a further discussion on the marking policy back at school – something for the 15/16 Development Plan.

And some new reading matter to keep me going ….

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Alain de Botton spoke brilliantly about the impact of culture on living and, although from my faith school perspective I sat a little uneasy with some of what he had to say, I agree that we can learn so much about how to be the best we can be from a  creative approach to the Arts. A fascinating speaker!

Now I had been told by my SLT that I was not to miss Tinie Tempah; I was tempted to simply escape and have a quiet coffee when I saw the queue to get in (fantastic that they let the youngsters in first) – but I couldn’t let my SLT down and needed to tweet a picture for the front page of the website…

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Tine didn’t disappoint, speaking such sense and translating grit, determination and resilience into reality for those listening to him. I was a little disappointed that he didn’t treat us all to a rap sort two – some of us oldies there needed to hear his talent!!!

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Who could fail to be inspired by the great Ken Robinson who made us all laugh whilst thinking deeply at the very same time? Grounded and realistic, he can be on my Governing body any day and certainly needs to meet up with Nicky Morgan pretty soon! I’d love to be fly on that wall!

The big question of the day … it’s 5.10pm … do I stay to hear the great Carol Dweck … or do I just catch that early train and tell everyone that I heard her anyway – we all know what she’s talking about so it wouldn’t be hard to pretend I was there. No – decision made and I’m staying as others depart and her familiar tones are accompanied by a rather unusual powerpoint. But nothing new (except the false mindset which I’d read about the day before!) – what was I expecting – it would be hard to be in education today and avoid Dweck’s theories and practice, wouldn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, I sits right there in my school alongside Claxton’s Building Learning Power and is a key mover and shaker in learning no doubt. But I was expecting a new slant, an invigoration, a sit me up moment at the end of a day and what we got was Homer Vs Einstein.

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I wouldn’t have minded if we’d been sent out with a gift of a crispy cream doughnut to make that learning moment stick! Having waited for the esteemed Carol Dweck to speak, what will I remember her for? Well, Carol is the one that made me miss my train from Crowthorne to Reading and the further connections that didn’t get me home until after 9pm after a long day!!! Maybe though that’s my fixed mindset in action (or is it a false growth mindset?)!!!

A fantastic two days of brilliant CPD and so much to come back to school and unpack. Great value and a wonderful environment in which to learn. I’m looking forward to next year’s already! See you there maybe?

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Dumping a decade of rubbish!

I must begin with yet another apology … no blogging from this account for such a long time – I really am going to have to do better this year …. Let’s see how long it lasts!

Into my 4th year of headship this is the first holidAy when I’ve stayed away from school for (almost) all of it – until I woke up this morning and had an idea….

That cupboard that no one dares to open the door of could be something different … The feeling of eating your lunch in the staff room and wondering whether your pudding will be laminated before you get to it could also be different!

I suppose we’ve all got one of those cupboards where the age old folders from the DFE and its bygone strategies accumulate to collect dust. The sort of cupboard that you daren’t open because if you do you’ll have to spend time cramming it all back in in order to close the doors!

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From national strategies to bin liners and plenty of reminders of the small fortune spent on government driven improvement strategies in terms of consultants paid, volumes produced and teacher hours spent implementing and evaluating them. And now consigned to the bins …..

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A corner of the staff room is reclaimed to house the laminator so that it can be removed from the staff room dining table.

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Just a small move but now Mr and Mrs Bloggs won’t have to worry about having their dinner laminated anymore!

One small step for mankind but a giant leap for the staffroom!

Have a great term everyone. Remember to look after yourself and your colleagues! Wishing your staff room occupants all the best for 2015!

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We have lift off!

So, that new academic year promise to blog more frequently hasn’t go me anywhere yet, has it?! Apologies (again!)

It’s been an interesting start to the year – the new library / central resources area is now almost done now … we’re just waiting on a few more bits of furniture and a light to replace the one the builders smashed with their ladder!

"We have lift off" as my deputy commented

Friday marked the long awaited installation of the lift – we must have all been really tired as it caused great hilarity as we each took it in turns to travel up … down … up … down over the 1m drop! Concerned about its safety mechanisms, these were first tested with my toes, my foot and when I was really sure, my head!… All safe for the children’s return on Monday! My deputy took photos and another member of the SLT stood with her eyes shut!

IMG_2486 And what a week it has been! Last Saturday marked the start of the alarm call out saga – spiders in the sensors or a fault in the mother board (still unresolved)? – where I found myself attending school at a range of times 6am … 8pm … 1.15am … 4.30am over  a period of one week. It also marked the first week of no caretaker following an accident at home involving the telephone, the stairs and an early morning alarm call out (oh dear). He’ll be fine, but possibly 7 weeks without him means that I, supported by a fantastic hands on team, have been sweeping, mopping, fixing broken toilet flushes, filling paper towel dispensers, visiting the loft (have found out that the step ladder needs to be longer!) to reset the water pressure every day (must be fixed!!!) And a hilarious evening whilst three of us attempted to get to grips with the wet and dry hall floor scrubbing and sucking machine! Result: we resorted to a hand mop following excessive bubbles coming from the wrong end, a lack of suction and an even dirtier floor! Even google couldn’t help us!

There have been a few lovely moments this week though – some lovely emails following our presentation at a LA course about building outstanding leadership capacity and as always the brilliant visits from the children with their fantastic work, sticker charts and good news!

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There was also the visit from the two children with their captured and identified Roesel’s Bush cricket (thank you Mrs WigglyPath @Wiggly_Path) which nearly escaped into the goodies box!

Friday was an INSET day devoted to RE as we face a Diocesan inspection at some point this year and are aiming for the allusive 1* in all areas – we have  a cunning plan!

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We began in prayer with the Field of Faith and spent the rest of the morning planning an exciting ‘dump the curriculum week’ in November based around being creative with the ‘Common Good’. This won’t be just about raising money for charity but will involve our pupils, staff and parents thinking about their impact on the wider community. It will be a chance to bring us all together. One of the activities will be be to work in cross phase groups to design a massive backdrop (in seven panels) to our new Year of Faith Altar. This will depict visually our Mission Statemnt and our living Christian witness and action.

The INSET took its own course and allowed us to review our mission statement  and even ended up with the staff sprawled on the hall floor drawing in response to it – not an activity that the SLT had planned but it just seemed to happen – like the outstanding lesson, deviating from the plan and responding to the participants’ needs and learning took us down its own path of discovery. The result is something that will allow us to dig even deeper during this special week of activities.

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A beautiful morning all in all which ended with an hour to start planning and researching for the week. I can’t wait to see the outcomes and feel the vibrancy of the learning that week – I have cleared my diary as I aim to plan my own activities for the week and get my hands dirty. I’m thinking dance, outdoor drama, some super sleuth activities and some venturing out into the community with groups to ‘give something back’ as well as some creative ICT, enabling us to end with a film that sums us up as a community that truly ‘Walk the Talk’.

Friday afternoon saw my local Diocesan Adviser popping in as he “was passing by” as they do! Fortunately, he was pleased with his ‘delicious Friday INSET lunch’ which included a wonderfully baked soda bread from Mrs S’s sister-in-law (must remember to send her a Headteacher’s Award post-card) and some tasty smoked salmon … all in synch with the Friday Catholic obligation! Discussion flowed about Building Learning Power and how we can use it in RE to get the 1* that so many in our Diocese have failed to get recently under a new ‘local’ inspection framework which has – surprise surprise (modelling itself on Ofsted) – upped the anti yet again … watch this space!

And then home (after a few more rides on the lift) to catch up on Bake-off and Educating Yorkshire before an early night after an exhausting week!

So what did today bring? Well … no alarm call outs as there’s an 8hr planned power-cut (he sighs with relief!) but plenty of jobs done: a new shed ordered; tickets for the BBC Good Food Show booked; and a family treat planned for the 5 of us to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in October with some vouchers that had almost (phew!) ran out from last year’s big birthday celebrations.

I wonder what the next three weeks will bring apart from realisation  of that week in Cromer at half term. So there’s light at the end of the tunnel even if I do have a mop and a big bunch of keys in hand! Enjoy your week ahead too!

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I’ve been following not blogging – sorry!

Failed … apologies all round … how long has it taken me to update my blog? I suppose I could have been forgiven if it had been busy term time but this is the big holidays (for the moment at least, Mr Gove) and there should be time … at least I’m here now! My wife commented this morning about how we were going to get school fitted back into our routine after the holidays were over – everything is just so busy! And she’s right – you manage to fill your life with all sorts of fruitful (?) stuff most of the time.

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I’ve enjoyed following everyone else this holiday – I’ve been humbled by @MooreLynne1 ‘s posts over the holidays; have been excited by the changes in @RachelOrr ’s professional life; and have been fascinated by the direction of @Digitalnun. It has also been great to learn from the personal experience of @DiaryAutism who has given a rich and touching insight into loving a child with autism 24-7.

Twitter can be so absorbing; it’s strange getting to know (?) colleagues, acquaintances and passers-by without even meeting them – a bizarre concept but one that has been filling my days recently. You realise just how busy you are at school when you actually have time to keep up with such things as Twitter in the hols.

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Its been a great hols – I didn’t get to read the 7 books but I have managed 2.75 of them – Nicole has kept an educational title under ransom however – she says that the holidays are not for reading about such things – I wonder if she’s secretly getting ahead of me and finishing it first – thanks @fullonlearning (Great stuff for the start of a new year – brilliant presentation – so accessible!

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The building work at school is only 6 days over-running at the moment and I’m not worrying just yet; if this central area isn’t complete it will be access via external doors only which will be a nightmare – but we’ve coped with worse (3 yrs in spare classrooms of a very accommodating local special school whilst wrangling continued about whether to rebuild following an arson attack in 1997!).

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We’d cope with a customary stoicism especially as we won’t be facing Ofsted this year – great to have them out of the way so that we can just get on with what counts. But we’re due a Sec48 (Diocesan) inspection and I’m pretty sure (coded messages!) that we’ll get it in the Autumn Term.

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No pressure on there then – we were chuffed with our Ofsted ‘outstanding’ but it will only be complete with a 1* from the Diocese – Catholicity is our foundation and if we can’t excel in this arena there is something seriously going wrong. However …. Westminster Diocese have been following Ofsted and really upping the game / changing the goalposts so there’s so much more to prove to one inspector in just 7 hours. The plan is in place and the screws are on – October / November would be the ideal time – just a few small changes to make and some embedding to do! Watch this space!!

I’ve been in school today waiting for things but annoyingly (watched kettle?) they haven’t materialised. So where is the new laptop trolley that will streamline our other ICT use alongside the sleek much wanted iPad trolleys; and where is the new furniture for the under-construction-hope-to-be-finished-in-time-libray-cum-central-learning-area? It can’t be filled with the old furniture – I want it to be sued differently – not a space to fill with intervention groups but a space to Build Your Own Learning Power (thank you @GuyClaxtonBLP). If the same stuff goes back it’ll be used in the same way and our dream school (tomorrow’s post maybe?) won’t be realised or at least moved any nearer. It’s got to be brand spanking new and then what goes on in there will be brand spanking new – the clock ticks!

The new furniture may not have arrived but something else very special has – a new Altar – purchased following the production of our ‘Sing with Love’ CD, this marks our commitment to faith, especially during this Catholic Year of Faith and sited at the centre of our school, demonstrates that Christ is at the centre of all that we do – not in any pious sense but in our interactions with others and in our focusing on the vulnerable – not quite the ‘big society’ but more of ‘the common good’.

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It has been great to spend time with family – we had a fantastic time in a beautiful barn in Bodham near Sheringham and even caught a Crab or two … but what my three boys will remember most I guess is the losing of my glasses as I thrust my crabbing line over the quay, followed by a level 6 DT solution to recovering them!

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And now it is almost time to get back to school. Nicole is busy at the sewing machine running me up a few more recycled pencil cases for my HT’s award box, which has been replenished with all sorts …

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… but what will she do with the cheap Asda notebooks to make them into desirable prizes? Any ideas?

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Whatever happens – they’ll be a sought after prize. I could say she’s wasted in teaching when I see her at her sewing machine BUT SHE ISN’T, AS HER TEACHING DAY IS EVEN MORE CREATIVE – follow her @Wiggly_Path where you’ll find her excellent blog (www.wigglypath.wordpress.com )….. Couldn’t do it without her!

And now to put the kids to bed … suppose we’d better bring the bedtime forward next week in preparation for the return.

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I’ve only just got accustomed to lying in this holiday – schools ruin your body clock, don’t they (or is it Twitter that does that?).

Enjoy what’s left of the holiday: enjoy your family, friends and your own company. We’ll soon be in that (exciting) whirlwind again!

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(Apologies to whoever I magpie this image off – sorry?!)

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Bringing the work home

Bringing work home has been a part of the job throughout the years and you can’t really avoid it (even post Ofsted!) … Yep … And it can get in the way of family life particularly on a sunny weekend (?!) … But not this weekend. On Friday I left school with some work that my whole family was happy for me to take home … the seven one day old chicks that had been born in school the night before and throughout Friday.

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What a buzz there has been in school since Wednesday afternoon when 8 eggs and an incubator arrived. We’ve all been distracted in awe and wonder and life has revolved around them ever since: meetings in the SENCO’s room were diverted to elsewhere as the children needed access 24/7 and even a governors’ stakeholders’ committee meeting was cut short with governors desperate to see the progress of the eggs!

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What has been amazing this week has been the merging of new technology and good old fashioned nature. Concerned that we might miss something important, the children set up an iPad mini and used an app to take time lapse photography of the eggs’ progress. Similarly children visited with iPads to take footage that they could then return to the class with to share. The excitement when our first chick hatched was tangible as a ripple of awe and wonder spread throughout the school between pupils and staff! Twitter updates on the school website kept everyone informed and the parents wanted to come in and experience it for themselves!

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… And then came Thursday night … Still only 1 had hatched but the others were wobbling, pecking from within and chirping. Surely they’d be born tonight – what would we do? The iPad could catch the moments with its time lapse photography but we wanted to be there! Camp out or technology to the rescue?! Some frantic googling led me to USTREAM – the chance to create our very own live Internet stream that could be updated via twitter allowing our website to have a live Internet feed thought the night complete with sound – FANTASTIC – 257 hits on the live-stream that evening, with many of us witnessing the miracle moments as chicks were born, engaging whole families in the SMSC elements – what an amazing night!

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Learning point no 1 – click “record” as well as “broadcast” if you want to keep the footage! Although all of the night’s filming is now gone we did still have the time lapse photography which we were able to display on the TV screen in the main entrance to the school throughout the day using an Apple TV box, linking the wider community (postman, delivery people, new parents, couriers etc) to the SMSC events of the day. Isn’t technology just fantastic?!

Then it was time for me to take my seven chicks home along with the live Internet feed (sound turned off so as not to capture my kitchen conversations, karaoke moments, breakfast munching sound effects or telling the children off moments of a usual busy household!) so that all could enjoy the chicks. We’ve turned the sound on a few times and have repositioned the camera from time to time and I’ve even given a live commentary of their activities at different points if you were tuning in! See them for yourselves (at the end of my kitchen) at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/watch-them-hatch1

We’ve had a further 200+ views this weekend!

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I suppose I ought to be getting on with some of the other work that I brought home with me this weekend: Headteacher’s Report for Governors; the School Prospectus; reports to comment on and sign; … etc … etc … but just before that I’ll just check on my seven little chicks!
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It’s a great life!

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The night before

It’s the night before the final half term before the long one! E-mails are caught up on and my priorities are sorted for tomorrow and the busy week ahead. Task lists are updated and action points for this half term are set in stone.

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5 crisp new white shirts are hanging ready – I love starting a new term with a new shirt – they’ve had their first ironing but won’t be ironed again – non iron shirts allow me an extra 10 mins in bed in the morning (just enough time to catch up on my Twittering!) and are worth the extra pennies!

It might be the night before we’re back but there’s no Sunday night blues here – it’s been a great holiday – I’ve avoided work (mainly) until today and have spent brilliant time rediscovering my family. Isn’t it great just to be able to sit and have breakfast with a brilliant wife and three beautiful boys them rather than rushing out before they’re up and coming home to find them in bed!

You’ve got to be a teacher to appreciate the need for our holidays and I’m really grateful for them. Recharging – that’s what we all need to cope with the next six brilliant weeks if we are going to be able to face them (challenge and all) with optimism and a clear head focused on the needs of our fantastic children. My predecessor (a great friend) gave me one brilliant nugget of advice before she left – plan your next holiday as soon as you can. so I’ve now got that wonderful barn conversion in Norfolk in mind and the unpredictable (or is it predictably wet?) weather won’t matter as its big enough for us all to have our own space if we need it – can’t wait!

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I’ve enjoyed pottering around in the garden and counteracting its term time neglect. But most importantly I’ve really enjoyed spending the week with with my wife. Coffee in the garden (weather permitting) a job here and there, share a few tweets, watch the boys and a walk around the lakes: exactly the sort of family life that we often neglect during term time. I’m guilty of this certainly; but N is brilliant – she knows the pressures (she’s a teacher) and she understands the late nights and the distractions perfectly. And she is the reason that I can be who I am and I thank her for it (but probably don’t let her hear it enough); my soundboard, my reasoner, my balancer, my best mate – she won’t forgive me for saying anymore so I’ll leave it there. Thanks N – couldn’t do it without you!

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… And that’s why there’s no Sunday night blues – there’ll be a good few visits to me for HT’s awards, maybe even a few postcards home … and I’ll enjoy getting around the classes to see how they are all doing – it’s always a privilege to be with them as they learn; their engagement and enthusiasm never ceases to amaze me as does the commitment of the adults around them – teachers, TAs, students and volunteers. It’s great to be part of a team – and there’s no i in team as we keep telling them!

There is just a slight blue on the horizon though – that thought of not being at home all day with MrsHTabc123 and the three boys – but there’s always the weekend and 6 weeks isn’t that far off!
We may moan from time to time but its a great job – can Mr Gove say the same thing?!?
Enjoy your last half term and plan that next holiday!!!!

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It’s been too long!

The last time I wrote I was in holiday mode too – this time it’s half term and I’m at home … Catching up on all the jobs that I should’ve done before now. It’s amazing how school life takes over but now that OFSTED aren’t looming I can (for the moment) catch up on some of the holiday jobs.

So … the stairs and landing have been decorated, a new carpet has been ordered, the step has been fixed and four dining chairs have been covered … And tomorrow it will be time to face the dentist (cheque book at the ready). My aim from this point onwards is to blog once a week (fingers crossed). Lots has happened since my last entry – OFSTED may have left the scene but we’re still on the move – the ICT is going places and I’m really pleased that it is supporting learning not just plugging gaps in the curriculum.

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This means that children are enjoying selecting when to use it and when not to. 38 iPads / iPad minis have been fully used throughout the school in so many ways and the learning is buzzing with them.When showing our Local MP around on The Friday before we broke up it was great to meet a Yr 6 child down the ‘wiggly path’ filming a trailer for his movie ‘Bugs’. Others we reflecting on their recent trip to the Museum as evacuees and were writing digital diaries whilst some of our yr 6 children were busy guiding their year 2 partners in researching butterfly media before they ventured outside with them to explore. I have been really impressed with the corkulous app for displaying the learning process and have seen it used expertly in science!

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The teachers all went off happy for half term with their own iPad minis to explore – the deal is they can have it for school and personal use providing they explore new apps, share ideas, use the digital diary and bring it to each staff meeting. Our aim is to be paperless by the end of the autumn term and reduce the photocopying deficit considerably! Watch this space…

And for next half term (the busy homeward straight) – I need to put in an order for the next 20 devices and I’m swaying towards the mini – so much more portable particularly for using outside on the wiggly path.

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Brilliant to hear as I write that one of my teachers is putting her iPad to use and has started a blog about the wiggly path – visit it at  www.wigglypath.wordpress.com – now that’s exciting!

 

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