A Shift from Teaching to Learning 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...
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This is a short blog, reflecting on the first 3 weeks as a Deputy Headteacher.

In August I shared with my readers No Man’s Land, a blog that expressed the anxiety of many teachers who are in-between moving schools. One week later in early September, I offered Back to School advice, which in many ways was an aide memoir to myself – adapted for every teacher – returning back to school. One week into my new job, A New Outlook communicated my reflections and what I had managed to achieve.

The first week:

Some of these include some new-school basics, but pitched more towards senior leadership level.

  • Walking the entire site with the premises staff, unlocking doors, looking in cupboards, walking the perimeter and the local streets.
  • Meeting the local community police support officers; meeting and greeting students and parents at the gate each morning and evening.
  • Walking the school corridors, visiting classrooms speaking with every member of staff.
  • Meeting with line management colleagues and and making a start on CPD (Continued Professional Development) programmes for all staff.
  • Meeting students in my new classes and getting to grips with school terminology and procedure.

The second week:

Into the second week, I anticipated that I would attend and co-lead my first meeting with middle leaders. As well as this taking place, I also attended the first FGM (Full Governors Meeting) and a first departmental meeting which was very memorable. I have now started to get to grips with cover management within the school. This has required me updating my SIMS knowledge, reading up on ‘Rarely Cover’ union guidance, speaking with colleagues and being in at 7am every day to observe the cover line each morning. At the end of each school day, I meet with any supply teachers to gather their feedback and evaluate the arrangements we provide for visitors, our students and the departments. This is work in progress.

As part of my desire to get to understand everyone as quickly as possible, I have positioned myself at the canteen door every morning break and lunchtime to a) get to know all students and staff and b) support colleagues in managing this key aspect of day to day school life. I have to say, it is one of my favourite parts of the day and students are starting to respond with good mornings and good afternoons.

The third week:

Grim Reaper OfstedThree weeks later, I have so far managed to read 10 or so school policies and have many more on my reading list. As well as receiving an Ofsted inspection this week, just 3 weeks into school, I am doing my utmost to keep my short, medium and long term goals set on two of the key school priorities that fall under my leadership. ‘To raise standards of teaching and learning and develop CPD at all levels.’

Regarding Ofsted, I will be blogging about this experience (under the September 2014 framework) towards half-term. To say, a few tweets gathered a bit of attention is an understatement. There are plans already in place to gather teachers and schools together to discuss the latest framework for inspecting schools and to share the benefits (or not) of no more lesson gradings, particularly during an inspection. Watch this space!

So, as for now, I will keep quiet on the matter and below I share my key priorities for the coming weeks ahead.

And next …

This blog is not intended to be a to-do list, but an indication of what lies to come in my role and what you may read on this blog over the duration of this academic year. I have kept the bullet points deliberately short and focused on key priorities.

Teaching and Learning:

  • To raise standards of teaching and learning, which a shift of focus towards the latter and not the former.
  • To ensure assessment is accurate, consistent and robust. Developing an formative and summative model for all staff and students that informs and supports.
  • To encourage teachers to reduce unnecessary workload that impacts on their lesson planning, marking and teaching, empowering our staff to teach, plan and mark with a focus on learning and not on teaching.
  • Implementing, developing and evaluating a reflective lesson observation culture. This will include support from IRIS Connect, IPEVO, The Teacher Development Trust and our Teaching Alliance to name a few …


  • To develop a culture where all staff, at all levels, are engaged with their own CPD.
  • To ensure that every aspect of CPD is linked to teaching and learning and school priorities.
  • To establish a culture of action research, facilitating pathways and funding schemes for staff to commence various qualifications.
  • To raise the profile of CPD for support staff, implementing new pathways and reviewing what works and what doesn’t.

My first whole-school CPD presentation to staff is this week. I will be sharing this presentation on my blog before next weekend. In the meantime, wherever you are teaching, I hope you are still enjoying honeymoon-September.

If you have found any useful blogs and wish to share them, please do so here. I will soon be publishing my October newsletter.




4 thoughts on “A Shift from Teaching to Learning by @TeacherToolkit

  1. Pingback: Education Panorama (October ’14) by @TeacherToolkit | @TeacherToolkit

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