What are your highlights from this academic year?
I’m going to try and let the photographs do the talking!
This academic year, I’ve written 161 blogs, published 60 resources and am lucky enough to have 780,000 website users this academic year – totalling 18.6 million readers! I’ve led 38 physical training sessions and 88 webinar sessions to work with approximately ~5,000+ teachers, potentially impacting 150,000 students! At the same time, I’ve managed to write another book!
Almost one year ago, my first job of the academic year was working at the International Community School in Amman, Jordan. I had such a fabulous time, and the teaching and support staff made me feel so welcome.
As soon as I landed home in England, I travelled immediately to an independent sixth-form college in Oxford – the first I’ve ever experienced – before heading up to a further education college in Lancashire and then down to Herefordshire to work in an 11 to 16 secondary school. I then reached Peterborough, Shrewsbury and Hayling Island (never been there before) before the physical demands of my teacher training slowed down a little.
September is always a very busy time of year, with teachers full of enthusiasm to see students return to schools and colleges. I then led a keynote with a large group of early career teachers for Northamptonshire Teaching Hub; it is always fantastic to see new teachers enter the profession.
As soon as the peak time of back-to-school INSET passes, I get some downtime back at my desk. This is when I tweak any material to suit new book publications, plus when I start putting pen to paper for the netbook to publish one year later!
October got off to an exciting start as I returned to Northern Ireland for the first time since COVID; travelling over to Ballymena to work with teachers at Slemish College. The head teacher, Michael Bennett, had organised teachers and leaders from all across the area and on the day, there must have been about 300 people in the room, including six former students. What was memorable about this particular event is that the students wanted to become teachers, so from being exposed to my training materials at an early age, fingers crossed we’ve hooked them in!
I then travelled to work with teachers at Parkstone Grammar School in Poole on the South coast of England. I believe they have one of the best art departments I’ve ever seen! the school has. The school has been working really hard to understand metacognition, developing their performance management appraisal systems and teacher training. I cannot wait to go back in September …
At the end of the month, I travelled to Queen Elizabeth School in Cumbria to support the teaching staff who had already been working on The Revision Revolution. I then finished the term working (again) with the wonderful staff at Joseph Cash Primary in Coventry, before leading a conference to over 200 teachers for Empower Trust in Shrewsbury. I got to catch up with the lovely Rachel Higginson again…
After the half-term break, I travelled to London to work in a very familiar environment to my last senior leadership role; I spent most of this academic year working with the teaching staff at Marylebone Boys’ School; they are doing some fantastic work in teaching and learning. I’ve copied a couple of videos here (and one below) so that you can see the teaching staff articulate some of the ideas that I shared with them, translating them to suit their subject context.
I then travelled from Yorkshire to Haverfordwest on the West coast of Wales. I have to say, I do get around a little bit, and our country’s scenery is beautiful, although I wouldn’t recommend driving over the Brecon Beacons in the middle of the night. and then travel back to Lancashire to work with teachers and lecturers at Nelson College. I then returned to Ysgol Henry Richard in Ceredigion before finishing the month with another keynote. in front of three or 400 teachers, sharing the science of learning, finishing off the month in north London (close to where I first trained as a teacher) with Hasmonean School in Mill Hill.
From a teacher training perspective, this is always a quiet time of year. If I have one or two events in the first week of December, this wouldn’t be unusual despite it not being peak time to deliver any teacher training in schools. However, this doesn’t mean that work slows down in schools. For those who work in schools, you will know there is no such thing as a ‘quiet term’ for teachers. I typically use this time to return to my writing for my next book …
I managed to reach Northumbria and work with primary teachers at Staindrop. I’m always reluctant to do any training on the last day of term, but they were insistent, and I wasn’t disappointed. The teaching and support staff, as well as teachers from the local area were fully engaged and were keen to learn more about the science of learning. I also did some online work with Tiffin Girls’ School, and this continued throughout the academic year. Assistant head teacher, Rachel Smith recently posted this video review.
The first week back to school in the New Year is always busy! I travelled to Shifnal to work at Idsall School before returning to Hull (again). For the last seven years, I’ve been invited back to Yorkshire and Humber Teacher Training provider in Hull. Although I play a tiny part in this process, I must’ve supported 300 new teachers to the profession in this one location alone.
I then returned to Southwest Wales (Carmarthen) and, inbetween pit-stops at home, reached Kent Showground for a keynote with trainee teachers from across Thames Gateway and once again, back to Marylebone Boys’ School.
On returning home from a keynote in Kent, I popped into Primrose Hill Primary School. What a fantastic building!
In the spring (and increasingly into the summer term), I worked with more and more further education colleges, keen to explore the science of learning. In early February, I worked again with colleagues at Barnsley College before heading over to North Wales to work with teachers and lecturers at Coleg Cambria in Deeside and Wrexham. This will be the first of three physical training events this term; I’m always fascinated by the breadth and depth of courses that colleges provide to students. It really makes you question teaching and learning …
March and April this academic year proved to be an interesting challenge. Whilst I was incredibly busy online, it was the first time in seven years I had little or no physical commitments. This isn’t strange at this time of the year, because almost every school turns inwards to focus on the revision and exam season. This isn’t a bad thing, as we often face some travel difficulties with snow disruption which makes things tricky to reach schools across the country; plus train strike action makes things challenging.
However, I was blessed to work with Holywell School in Bedfordshire, one of only 23 middle schools (years 5 – 9) left across England. I used what time I had at my desk to finish the last big chunk of research and writing for my new book.
In May, I was physically working back in North Wales (Coleg Cambria and St Brigid’s) and Marylebone Boys’ again, including many online training sessions. I found myself back in Northern Ireland at Ulster University in Coleraine – a beautiful part of the world.
June is always my busiest month. It’s conference season, plus as exams ease off, schools open up for teacher training and planning for the year. I’ve easily clocked up 10,000 miles this academic year, and in June, I reached Dollis Primary in North London (see video) and then drove all the way to Clacton on Sea to work with Whitehall Academy – it was a fantastic set up there.
I led a couple of online keynotes for Bristol Council, before travelling to St John’s in Cambridge, then back to Coleg Cambria in Deeside for our final event of the year. I also had the privilege of working with teachers and lecturers at Tameside College – they really know how to celebrate and look after their teachers there! I had a fantastic morning.
In between physical commitments, what little time I had at my desk, I spent editing the final parts of my new book, Guide To Questioning.
My last two training commitments of the academic year found myself working with colleagues at the University of Chichester, to help them move forward in their academic journeys. I was also blessed with one last (local) physical commitment at Bury College. This is my third time there, and it’s always nice to be asked back because you see familiar faces and you can add much more value …
Finally, last week that was the small matter of a book launch party at home, with many guests. It’s a lovely way to end the academic year.
I’ve not even mentioned webinars, blog post, resources, online training events through The Toolkit membership platform, as well as academic research and book writing. Then there are all the amazing conversations I’ve had with educators worldwide.
The Spring Term was particularly tough, but I’m grateful that I end this academic year on a high I look forward to working with everybody in the New Year.