#CreativeTheory in pictures by @TeacherToolkit

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
Read more about @TeacherToolkit

This is what @TeacherToolkit has been up to over the past week and why I continue to support three very important issues in education. During the academic year, especially during the summer term, teachers are released from some of their timetabled teaching commitments and as a result, I am now able to gain some benefit from (study leave) examination leave. This time is known as ‘gained time’ and most teachers will use the time to consolidate and plan ahead, or in schools you may have already started the next academic year! For me, this has given me the opportunity to get out of school and speak at a three events over the past week.

They say ‘ a picture tells a thousand words’, so I have tried not to blog about too much here and let the images do the talking.

“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” appears in a 1911 newspaper article quoting newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane

Image: Wiki

Below, is my accounts of three events I attended on areas I feel very passionate about:

  • PGCE Middlesex Keynote
  • Education Guardian Wellbeing Roundtable
  • SSAT Arts Annual Conference

Monday – PGCE Middlesex Keynote:

Back in March, I received an email from Ross Cotter, Programme Leader (PGCE) at Middlesex University. Originally, I was asked to lead a session on ‘what makes an outstanding lesson’, but a) I believe this is an impossible brief for any speaker and b) a far removed expectation for any teacher graduating from a PGCE. We agreed to change the focus and I set about equipping trainees with strategies to ‘save time’ in their NQT year. Here are a few photos.

Educating the next generation of teachers into the profession is a vital responsibility for tutors and universities. University courses are under immense pressure to stay open; lack of funding disappears whilst accountability tightens. What I studied back in 1993 still resonates with me – even though some of the approaches may be now outdated – the theory and pedagogy remains. It is imperative that the quality of teaching and learning in further education is outstanding, so that the next generation of teacher entering the profession, stay in the profession. This was my message.

You can download my similar version of my presentation here.

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I received this lovely feedback:

“I just wanted to thank you for everything… and also say what a great lecture it was on Monday. It was all that the PGCE students could talk about, one of, if not the best lecture we have had throughout the year! A very good way to end the course and prepare us for our NQT, absolutely brilliant! I just wanted to express this to you and explain that through feedback the lecture was enjoyed by everyone.
I … wish you great success in your new position at QK.

Tuesday – Education Guardian Wellbeing Roundtable:

After a full on day at school, teaching; duties and preparing for Investors in People re-designation, I then headed off to Education Guardian for a Rountable discussion on staff wellbeing. I have already blogged the full details: Support teachers in the face of growing challenge and delegate list. The response to this was huge. I even got to meet @ThoseThatCan.

I will be blogging about this meeting next week, as a full report is needed within another dedicated blog about this critical issue. The discussion hinged on accountability versus trust and government meddling versus teacher reputation. Crucially, there were three issues I took away:

  1. Why do 40% of all teachers leave the profession within 5 years (~60% of those in Teach First)?
  2. Existing research, supports wellbeing for staff equates to high academic outcomes for students. I will dig this research document out and blog about this. I believe if this kind of information is more widespread, it could encourage many other leaders to ensure schools place teacher wellbeing at the top of their priorities. After all, it doesn’t take a genius to work out, that happy staff = a happy school. Let’s get rid of bullies in the workplace and inhumane leadership!
  3. I also begged The Guardian to share good news stories with the public.

There will be a publication of this meeting soon. I will aim to blog about this before it is published so that a balanced report is received. The delegate list of those at the meeting is here.

Below are the photos.

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Wednesday – a visit to @QKynaston:

With excitement, I set off early to visit my new school. The traffic on my new route was unexpected and horrendous. I arrived 30 minutes later than planned after 1 hour 15 minutes in the car! Throughout the day, I visited lessons, met with staff and walked the school talking with students. The vast majority of my time was spent with staff I will be working very closely with, particularly regarding whole-school teaching and learning and staff development. It has to be said, the work going on in both these areas are already very impressive and for the first time, the job became real for me. I am back on-site on the 2nd July.

On my departure, I even got a glimpse of the QK school bus!

The QK bus
The QK bus

N.b. take public transport next year.


Back in school. Teaching, meetings, planning ahead for INSET day on Monday, plus more Investors in People preparation. I will blog about the IiP process separately, because it fits in nicely with the wellbeing issues discussed at the Guardian event above and serves as an excellent framework for all schools to use. After school, senior leadership meeting until 6pm and then a webinology practice for this event.

Friday – SSAT Arts Annual Conference:

The importance of arts in the curriculum. I was pleased to be invited to this event. My presentation is here for you to download. The key messages I presented in my own presentation, as well as those I received from other outstanding presentations throughout the day, are this:

  • that the Arts remain shunned by the new curriculum , yet remain a critical aspect of British culture and values.
  • that teachers and department leaders must do all they can to create an ethos of excellence in their own areas to offset any degrading (value) of their subjects by parents, colleagues and leadership teams. And that by creating a long-term vision and standard of excellence, if you continue to meet the needs of your students, then your subject will always remain credible and successful, no matter what government diktat states.
  • that the Arts industry generates £8M an hour in Britain.
  • that the Art Industries, which includes the film, television and music industries, are now worth £71.4 billion per year to the UK economy.
  • that the Art Industries accounted for 1.68 million jobs in 2012, 5.6 per cent of the total number of jobs in the UK.
  • that Ofsted plan to measure student participation in the Arts subjects! I challenged this by stating that ‘reflection’ should be taken into account and that there was a real danger if inspectors intended on doing such.
  • that the Arts were in decline well before the English Baccalaureate was introduced. Who knew?
  • that the Arts continue to be squeezed from school curriculum plans.
  • that there has been an incredible decline in Design Technology examination entries from 2003-2013 – see photos
  • that Lyndsey Turner from the National Theatre speaks very passionately about the Arts in education.
  • that Jonathan Marsden, Director of the Royal Collection is a lovely man.

Programme Arts-Conference 16.06.14.

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It’s been a busy week, but very, very creative. Now, time for me to get back to the classroom and enjoy the last few weeks at my school. Oh! I mustn’t forget to get writing my new book. If only it could be a picture book; now there’s an idea …


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