I’ve seen a few of these so far and although I said I didn’t think I’d do one, inevitably I’ve read through last year’s post and now feel the need to add another one. 

Last year my #nurture1415 goals were:

1) Listen more to others- I like to talk so I tend to listen then join in, rather than listen and digest. I was conscious of times this year when I should listen more and talk less. I want to be better at this. I think I have managed this pretty well. I consciously think about this in meetings, socially and in the classroom. 

2) Digest then react- I can sometimes react quickly to situations without thinking the whole thing through and then afterwards think I could have or should have dealt with things differently. I never give a flying off the handle type reaction but I can certainly take more time to digest and react possibly in a better way. Definitely better at this, there’s only one situation this year I can think of where I thought “you shouldn’t have jumped in there like that” but possibly as I’ve made an effort to jump back rather than jump in, it may have had an impact. Unsure. I know I felt disappointed in my reaction though. 

3) Use Skype more- we Skype an amazing group of students in Canada and I love the reaction from both sets of students. It is an amazing learning experience for all, teachers included. I want to involve this more in the work of the department and use this tool to bring amazing people into our exciting classrooms. Not so good with this sadly, and something I do plan to utilise more in the coming year.

4) Improve- my department at work to make it more amazing than it already is, and my running times set from last year. The level of work, dedication, disappointments, training and effort I put in will lead to the improvements I want. Improvements made but still room for more. 

5) Not to be so self critical- I will really struggle with this. I even don’t take compliments well as in my head the things that didn’t go well/ disappoint/ slipped/ are the things that I remember the most. I really do over think things too much sometimes so perhaps need to learn to brush things off better too? Absolute failure. 

6) Be brave- I’m so much more confident than I was this time 2 years ago but I still become a nervy wreck in some situations. I need to be braver than I am currently. Many situations this year have made me a braver person on the outside, I need to link 5 and 6 together and get my head down. 

So, for 2016….

1) Continue to stimulate my brain- reading, learning, travelling. I love learning and finding out new things. I had forgotten how much until I took an online MOOC through High Tech High and loved the feeling of achievement when I completed, submitted and passed my assignments. I need to re-ignite that part of my brain. 

2) Play my baritone more often- I have performed a lot more this year and had totally missed the feeling of becoming totally absorbed in music. I was fortunate enough to perform with some amazing professionals this year and this made me realise I’m not as far off form as I thought and that I need to keep playing regularly. 

3) Ask for help- It’s not something I find easy. Possibly having moved away from my family at 17 to study, I’m used to figuring out solutions on my own. I know I need to improve this. A colleague recently told me I need to be more like a goose sometimes, they don’t always fly at the front but hang back sometimes, then take the lead for a bit when it’s time again. I need to be a better goose. 

4) Running goals- Marathon-  I want to do 2 in 2016. One entered so far… I also want to complete my 50th parkrun and do some more parkrun tourism. 

5) Memories- I have amazing memories from this year. Make more exciting, fun filled days, weekends, weeks, months for a fulfilling year. 

I’m really looking forward to reading other #nurture1516 posts over the next few days….

Reflections of #TLT15

Almost a week (or nearly two, depending on when I hit publish) and I’m finally getting round to writing my reflection of the brilliant #TLT15.

A 12- hour round trip from Durham with my colleague @JulieRyder2 was considered to be crazy, by some but for us it was just another journey to enhance and develop our knowledge. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m *a bit* enthusiastic about my work, and I was also looking forward to catching up with some Twitter and PBL colleagues I’ve met at various events locally and nationally, or converse with over Twitter.

We had also volunteered to hand out lanyards, so it was a slightly earlier start for us than the rest of the delegates and speakers we had met up with the previous evening.

Lanyards at the ready!

I have to say I love an event and handing out the lanyards to the eager teacher beavers arriving to take in the day made me more excited. As volunteers, we could attend any session we wanted and this caused me much stress and deliberation. The choice and variety was vast, impressive and exciting. Only 5 weeks earlier I had attended ReseachEd so I made my choices based on what interested me most at this current time, in terms of my own teaching, career, department and interests.

Session 1- Jill Berry

Jill is someone I admire so much. She has always given me lovely feedback on blog posts and speaks so much sense and her session on Middle Leaders was just what I needed. My takeaways from her session were:

Departmental and Pastoral middle leaders are often pitched against one another- can you really only progress in one “route”? This really hit home to me after almost taking on a pastoral leadership role this year. Something I really regret from walking away from may not be the “big miss” I thought it was. I still lead a curriculum area, something I love doing. I still have the opportunity to have a positive influence on all the students who are in my curriculum subjects each week, day and lessons and leading music, dance and drama is so rewarding.

It’s important to have the right people on the right seats on the bus. Team. Who are they? By sharing and shaping the vision and looking after the staff, they should in turn look after the students. Focus on the bright spots and develop. “It’s not about you, it’s about the team you lead”. I am well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of my team and made me think about different ways to highlight strengths to support weaknesses. Bright spot intervention.

You need to challenge yourself to remain fresh and energised. I agree. Something I need to address really.

Session 2- Harry Fletcher-Wood

I chose this session as it was looking at mentoring staff, particularly trainees and Teach First. I had a SCITT student last year and although I received brilliant mentor training from the SCITT provider, I was keen to develop this as I knew this session would include high quality, tried and tested information and research. I really enjoyed this session and it gave me plenty to think about, especially for my current trainee. Damian Benney was an excellent role play partner and his “advice” to me as a “trainee” was excellent- particularly the “bottle it” feeling of an excellent lesson. I can definitely use information I found out in this session on my return to school in mentor sessions with my current trainee and also within my department. This session also unexpectedly linked really well with Jill’s session I had attended previously, something I hadn’t expected.

Session 3- Andy Tharby

I chose this session as it was about challenge. I love challenge. I have extremely high expectations of myself, students and my department and I have to say, this session was everything I wanted it to be.

Common sense, expertly explained, backed up by examples and reinforced by a wonderful book. Happy days.

The session confirmed to me that what I do in my curriculum area and department would benefit the students ultimately.

Set the standards high- adjust up and down from the bar. 

If pace is too quick at the expense of learning, this may mean less time for mastery.

Too much focus on progression may mean to too little focus on expansion.

These three points are things we are currently addressing from last year. We planned termly “project” units and thought that we had plenty of time. Music, dance and drama lessons at KS3 share the same theme to allow more leading to take place. Despite having a whole term per unit, we still over planned so are currently “cutting back” the unnecessary content, substituting simplicity (another Tharby statement from the session), as well as tweaking, changing and re planning completely, different elements of our curriculum in our weekly departmental collaborative planning time.

I ordered the book walking to my next session- half term reading for when I return home after my break away. Make Every Lesson Count– also co- written with Shaun Allison and our deputy head Dan Brinton reckons he might have contributed to this too, not that he’s mentioned it ever…

Session 4- Bodil Isaksen

A session on using multiple choice questions was something that really interested me. I love reading Bodil’s blog so I was really excited to find out more about how MCQ’s could be implemented into my lessons, then possibly my subject, then into my curriculum area.

Bodil explained and demonstrated many different ways in which she has used these in her previous school and in her current school, Michaela Community School.

Things I really liked about this is that I could easily develop some of these techniques and that there were many different levels of “sophistication” but all gave the same end result- answers.

I also liked the way she explained pitfalls- using the right “distractor” questions, using more options per question to give a “better” answer, what methods cause too much “faff” at the end etc. Things it would be very easy to overlook as a first time user of MCQ.


I have planned some activities to use some of these methods with my KS4 classes and also Y7 when I return after half term, thanks Bodil!

Closing the day was the inspirational Chris Waugh, who asked “Have we lost our sense of wonder?” before we all decamped to the local hostelry for *at least one drink*.

Oh and I won a book as well! What a treat!


So was it worth it? The 6 hour each way journey? Definitely. As well as all of the above, I met some amazing new people, caught up with plenty of other amazing people and returned to Durham full to the top of enthusiasm once more. It’s the first #TLT event I’ve attended but will definitely be back.

Thanks to Jenn Ludgate and David Fawcett for all their hard work to put on such an exciting, smoothly and well run event.

A Flashback on Thursday.

This was number 1 on 14th March 2004.

Something really strange happened to me this week. Thursday 2nd July 2015.

My current Headteacher is retiring at the end of term and she must have been clearing out her files. She came to me with a blue file. “Look inside,” she urged, her eyes looked knowing.

I opened the file and inside were a collection of papers. On the front sheet was the title “Music Co-Ordinator- Friday 19th March 2004- Interview Arrangements”.

I was suddenly transported back to that day. I remember most of it very clearly. I was late for my interview. How embarrassing. I got completely lost despite doing a trial run the day before. The area was completely unfamiliar to me and my friend’s dad suggested the route I had used the day before would be horrific in the morning. He gave me details of an “easier” route. Easy schmeasy, I got totally lost, had to ring the school for directions and wanted to cry. I arrived 10 minutes late, then was soaked to the skin crossing the car park in torrential rain. The lovely receptionist (who has since retired) helped me dry my hair under the hand drier in the ladies toilets before taking me into the meeting I was currently missing.

Any questions?” asked the deputy head leading the meeting. I piped up “Would I be able to leave by 2pm please? I’m taking students on a trip this evening and need to be back in Liverpool by 6pm”. At that moment I wondered why I had even turned up. I felt like I was nailing my potential classroom door shut, tightly.

Looking through the sheets in the file made me feel strange. It was like looking back in time, because I actually was. Application forms with my Manchester address on it, with details of things I’d forgotten I’ve even done as it was so long ago. Training staff when I worked at Marks and Spencer and being part of the team who helped open and staff the Trafford Centre store. Working as a mentor with Warrington Youth Offending team, something I used to love doing each week. It really made me understand some of the issues that may have had an impact the students I taught and made me a more understanding person.

Reading through my letter of application was strange. When I finished reading it, the thing that struck me the most is that I still write in the same sort of style. If I was reading the letter from a stranger, an applicant for example, I would be struck by their enthusiasm, positivity, commitment to their subject and the students and also that each point was backed up by an example.

In all honesty, if I were to write a letter of application this week, although my development throughout the years of different roles in school have given me a massive variety of experience and have all helped me to develop my skills, knowledge and teaching, my letter would still convey ME in the same way. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not- I come across the same way in person I have been told. I am guilty of letting it all spill out a bit sometimes…

The notes taken by the Head during my interview lesson said that I was “bright and breezy”, a good timekeeper, made good use of peer assessment but I didn’t use student names. I remember the lesson theme given was “major and minor” so enjoyed preparing the lesson for the interview as it had plenty of scope. Would the same things be mentioned in observations now? I’d like to think so, but I’m fab with names!

Reading through the references from my referees was very interesting as I’ve given plenty of references but never seen one of my own. They made me smile to myself with the comments, as the context of them was so long ago, a different life back then.

I think I have changed a lot in some ways, but I don’t think I’ve changed that much either. Do we really change that much personally, or is it the experiences we gain that change?

I remember feeling so disappointed with myself as I left early, I get back to the North West to take my students on a trip to the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool that evening. I felt disappointed that I had ruled myself out with my poor timekeeping in the morning and need to leave early. The students I’d met that day made me feel disappointed; I wanted to work with them and I felt like I’d missed out. As I was driving down the A19, my phone rang so I pulled over. It was the Head’s PA. My heart sunk further, I didn’t get it, they had got the PA to ring. “The Head and the Governors know you are travelling but would like to offer you the post.” My initial reply was something inappropriate- then was told I was on speakerphone. (Another nail in my classroom door!) but I honestly couldn’t believe it. I was so happy. I remember I was listening to “Lord of the Rings- Return of the King” soundtrack and as I pulled off the hard shoulder and put the music back on, the track that was playing was so appropriate for that moment and every time I hear it, I see that moment in my mind like a snapshot.

Reflecting on this day so long ago, on the evening I was given the file made me feel quite sad. I remember the Head saying on the day “This will be my first appointment as Headteacher so I want to make a good one” and I remember thinking that if I got the job, I hope I wouldn’t let her down.

I hope she thinks she made a good appointment on that day.

R.E.A.L Projects Day 3 and 4

I’ve just one of those groggy “Where am I?” moments. I made the fatal mistake of lying beside my little boy when I put him to bed and lo and behold, I’ve skipped an hour and a half but also had a lovely nap…

Day 3 and 4 have been exciting as this is when most of the “nitty gritty” work has been happening. It’s also been when the work is getting pulled together and collated for the exhibitions which will take place tomorrow afternoon (Fri 3rd July).

As I am running my own project, I’ve not got round to see everything as much as I’d have liked and I also know that I am extremely excited to see the exhibitions tomorrow.

Updates on all projects over the last 2 days are:

21st Century Britain– the group visited the Synagogue in Gateshead and a Mosque in Newcastle to find out more information to help them answer their essential question “What is British?”

Heads covered as a mark of respect.

Heads covered as a mark of respect.

Afternoon Tea went fruit picking near Hexham to pick strawberries to make jam with on Wednesday (can’t wait to sample this!) and today went shopping to collect their ingredients for their afternoon tea they are hosting tomorrow afternoon.

Belmont Superhero were busy making their superhero movies when my group returned from our visit today so I am looking forward to seeing some of these action movies.

Community have been redrafting their work using critique and have produced their blogs which will go live tomorrow for all to see. They met with a journalist to learn about interview techniques to help them get the best out of their interview session.


Does Fashion Have a Price have been busy researching and also creating their centrepiece sculpture which will be completed in the morning before the exhibition.


Durham Cathedral is my project so I can add a bit more detail here. Yesterday students took time to respond to their critique and then re drafted their introductions to their guide to Durham Cathedral, before completing their study about their own area of the cathedral. Today we visited the cathedral for the second time to climb to the top of the tower (which was a first for all students except 2, despite them all living in a 4 mile radius of Durham City) and we were also given special permission to take pictures to add to our guides, as well as display as part of the exhibition. One student said the trip up the tower was one of the most amazing things he can remember and that the view made him realise how lucky we are to be based in Durham. Some of the students also contributed to the Open Treasure fundraising project by purchasing and adding pieces to the Lego Cathedral.

LJA arrival LJA lego LJA tower LJA window

Films have been working on their displays for tomorrow based on their research and their visit to the cinema.


Flotsam and Jetsam have been busy designing and manufacturing new products from salvaged material and also investigating ways we can sustain a recycling culture at Belmont beyond this week.

Kidz for Kidz are in the final throes of creating their own books. They have used some of our local junior school students as their focus group and one of the group members said that the highlight of this week so far was being able to read to younger children which I found heart warming.

Mood Music are in the final stages of creating their artefact in response to a piece of music. Students have created mood boards to show the beginnings of their responses and Mr Herbane has been vlogging their journey all week.

Orienteering have created three different orienteering courses in the area local to our school and will be off site again tomorrow at Hardwick completing the orienteering course there, bringing their week to a close. One of the students in this group said he has loved this week because he has helped create something that members of the public can use.

Rock Climbing spent their second day at Sunderland Climbing Centre yesterday and today have been pulling their information together for their exhibition tomorrow. Every student I’ve spoken to on this project loved that they have become skilled in a completely new activity to them and that it was so much harder than they thought it would be. I know just from speaking to some of these students that despite their skill gain, their biggest takeaway will be increased self- confidence.

Set, Props and Costumes have been full steam ahead creating some incredible work for our school musical “Grease” next week and I know when the performance is on next week, the work they have put in this week will add an extra shine into next week’s performances- including our famous Grease car!

JCO Grease

Trashion  have all their “trash” outfits made, accessorised and laid out ready for photo shoot in the morning. Some very excited girls ready to get beautified for their modelling debut tomorrow! I am really looking forward to this!


Travel Tracks visited Durham City this morning to do a treasure hunt style tourist trail before returning to school to complete their app build. Students in this project spoke very enthusiastically about their work and said they knew how to make an app and could re use the information in other contexts as well as build another app, so they have clearly learnt transferrable skills. I am looking forward to seeing their final, working apps.

Vikings have been creating their Vikings- savages or cultured barbarians? display in the Viking style after their visit to Yorvik on Tuesday.

When In Rome managed to squeeze a visit back to Hadrian’s Wall today to create short guide films before returning back to school to edit them. Students were elated that they were getting another chance to visit Vindolanda which they had thoroughly enjoyed on Monday.

Would You Feed Your Hungry Neighbour have been blogging about their findings and also fundraising round school to raise money to buy an online shop for the Durham Foodbank. Students I spoke to today in this project group said they thoroughly enjoyed their work this week and have learnt so much, particularly about poverty in our locality. Tomorrow, members of staff are preparing to be “sponge soaked” all in the name of charity- I’ll be sure to get pictures of this.

Finally Zombie Apolcalypse have been editing their zombie movies and creating their survivor diaries. One student on this project said “It’s the best week I’ve had in school- the best thing I’ve ever created”. Some of the videos I’ve seen in this project are fantastic.

I am really looking forward to tomorrow’s exhibition and seeing all of the work students have created, facilitated by staff, standing side-by-side in our display arena.

Onwards to the final day- although when I say final day, it is just the start of a new adventure!

R.E.A.L Projects- Day 2

Yesterday was just a quick round-up as I had been out of school on my fact finding mission for my own project- “Durham Cathedral through your own eyes”. Today I was in school and as well as developing our Durham Cathedral guides, I got the chance to do a quick whistle-stop tour around school to investigate how other projects were taking shape.

Before the school day even started, there was a real buzz walking along the corridors. I had a few quick chats with colleagues before heading to collect some resources. I noticed Deputy Head Dan Brinton in one of the classrooms, busying himself away. He was very much looking forward to the day ahead and already had the classroom prepared and was raring to go- more about this project later though.

Community project

Community project

In my own project, today we planned the information we were going to use in our “guides to Durham Cathedral” and which method we were going to use to create our guides. Despite being in an age where we are surrounded by technology, I felt pleased that many of the students chose to create a handwritten guide, mostly because they were inspired by the artwork and patterns they saw whilst visiting the cathedral yesterday. I also did a “how to be a good critique partner” session, similar to the one I did with full staff but adapted for my students. They really took to heart the need for kind, helpful specific feedback and I backed this up with Ron Berger’s Austin’s Butterfly. This made our gallery critique session very easy to facilitate and was a positive experience. Tomorrow we are developing specific areas of interest in the cathedral, based on the information students found interesting yesterday, then planning what still needs to be found out in our final visit on Thursday, where we will climb the tower and have been given permission to take pictures, so they can be used in our exhibition as well as in our guides we produce. For me, today was very positive and I was very impressed at the maturity and genuine interest showm by students in something I am very passionate about.

Peer to peer critique

Peer to peer critique

Critique workshop creation

Critique workshop creation

Creating creatures for critique

Creating creatures for critique

In my walk round I popped in to as many projects as I could. Today was the busiest day for visits as well.

Would You Feed Your Hungry Neighbour were visiting the Trussell Trust foodbank in Chester-Le-Street to do some volunteer work to develop a further understanding of how a foodbank works and operates day-to-day.

Making food parcels

Making food parcels

Creating food parcels

Creating food parcels

Flotsam and Jetsam were visiting Seaburn Beach and North Dock to “scrat” for reusable material discarded and washed up by the sea. There was already an impressive array of exciting material in the technology workshop so I am very curious to see the exhibits on Friday.




Vikings were spending the day in York collecting information for their project after their launch day yesterday.

Rock Climbing spent the first of their two day visit to Sunderland Climbing Centre, being given instruction and developing their climbing skills, to help them answer their essential question, “Could you climb Mount Everest?”. One of the students studying this project told me that he really enjoyed his day climbing but “It was so much harder than I thought. I think I’m going to ache tomorrow”. This was a totally new experience for him and he was pleased he had pushed himself out of his comfort zone.

Orienteering spent the day in Hamsterley Forest developing their skills to help them create a community orienteering project during the rest of the week.


Films were visiting the cinema at the Metro Centre to view a film to assist them in their quest to find out “Do Films Dictate Our Morals?”

Seaham were also beach-bound to visit our local beach and finding out facts to enable them to answer their essential question “Will we be able to visit Seaham beach in 50 years?”

The most popular project during student selections was Zombie Apocalypse. Today the group were split, with 30 students visiting Taught in the Wood to take part in bushcraft, survival skills and building shelters. One of my tutor group went on this visit and said “It’s one of the best trips I’ve ever been on” and spoke so enthusiastically about the skills she had learnt today. The other 30 students remained in school to make their survivor video diaries and the groups will swop over tomorrow.

aco 1 aco 2 aco 3

Trashion were busy planning and creating the clothing they are going to make from recycled materials and spoke eagerly about what they were doing. The students were very articulate and used specific terminology for the context of their project.

SRO 1 SRO 2 sro 3

Belmont Superhero students were using their critique to redraft and improve their superhero logo and costume designs- I think every student in the classroom I visited wanted me to photograph their work- they were very proud of their designs and I was proud of their enthusiasm.

rem 1 rem 2

Back to the Community project. One group were working on their interviews skills with Julie Ryder and another group were using the Fox Thinking Tool to help them to develop deeper questioning skills, in preparation for their interview. Dan has recently visited the amazingly innovative XP School in Doncaster and used some of the techniques he saw there in his session. I know how inspiring visits to these schools can be, myself visiting School 21 in Stratford, London earlier this year.

dbr 2 dbr 3

Dan also had an “expert”- Billy Elliott, from Beamish, where the group visited yesterday, in to answer questions and also to perform traditional folk music for the students. My initial reaction to seeing this was “Wow!”

Round the corner I found the When In Rome… project who visited Vindolanda and this was most enthusiastically spoken about by the students. They were begging me to ask their the project leader Lee Ferris to take them back later in the week. They had also been treated to a latin lesson by departing Y11 student Jacob, and used this information to translate and create texts.


Does Fashion Have A Price was a bit further down the corridor and I found project leader Jill Logawood and students beginning to put together her giant sculpture which will be displayed as the project exhibition.


In the LRC, the Kidz for Kidz book project used local junior school students for their focus group, before beginning to plan out their ideas for the books they are going to create. Students were working hard on this and they had some excellent ideas- I can’t wait to see the end products on Friday!


Then it was a quick dash back to the Performing Arts block to my base, where the Set, Props and Costumes project were working hard on their presentations and backdrops for the scenery, while the costume group searched through the archives to see what we had and what would need to be created, found or purchased.


The only projects I didn’t manage to see today were Travel Tracks and Mood Music so I will endeavour to see these tomorrow.

I thoroughly loved seeing the students in totally different contexts today and the enthusiasm and the massive variety and content of each project has really made me a very proud teacher indeed. Not many schools have staff as strong, resilient and creative as ours and walking round the school today, albeit a very quick tour as I wanted to get back to my own project, made me feel as a school, we have created something very special indeed.

I will do a joint day 3 and 4 blog on Thursday as I am at a Teachmeet tomorrow evening.

R.E.A.L Projects- Day 1

Today I had some (small) sort of idea what it felt like being the Head. I had to turn up at school and let staff deliver what they had planned, how they had planned it. It felt very exciting. There was a real buzz around the corridors. Students and staff were excited

As my project- “Durham Cathedral through your own eyes” was out of school on a fact-finding mission today, I didn’t get to see all of the exciting work happening in school. I hope to get round the projects in school tomorrow to see some of the amazing projects planned by staff collaboratively, in action and post a more detailed diary of events tomorrow.

Just some of the work that staff have sent me from today are:

TRASHION: Today students have been very busy sourcing suitable recycled materials for their theme, creating inspirational mood boards and using all of this information to influence their initial design ideas. Lots of creativity, inventive ideas and hard work today.

rashion 3 Trashion 1 Trashion 12.

Set, Props and Costumes: Today students visited the Theatre Royal in Newcastle to have a set and situation workshop, as well as look at set, prop and costume use in different contexts.

Presenting ideas

Presenting ideas

Orienteering in the Local Community: Today was spent investigating possible location for control points for the course that will be created. Tomorrow the group visit Hamsterley Forest to learn and develop orienteering skills.

Orienteering 1 Orienteering 2 Orienteering 3 Orienteering 4

Does Fashion Have a Price: Spent today at Northumbria University in the fashion department meeting the Head of Fashion and viewing some student project collections, as well as visiting Café Royal for afternoon tea.


When In Rome…visited Vindolanda on a fact finding mission to complete research for their projects. This is somewhere I have always wanted to visit and seeing these photos have made me want to visit more. Definitely one for the holiday list!


Community: Today students visited Beamish Museum to find out about the impact the coal industry had in our area, as well as visiting the mine within the museum.


Until tomorrow’s update….

#NRocks2015- My Takeaways.

I started this post 2 weeks ago but became snowed under and didn’t finish it so have started again.

I want to be concise but also comprehensive about my takeaways from Northern Rocks 2015.

I was lucky enough to attend the inaugural event in 2014 and in all honesty, as I booked my 2015 ticket I really thought to myself “Will it be good enough?” as I completely loved the 2014 event. I needn’t have worried- I loved the 2015 event more and Debra Kidd and Emma Hardy should be proud of what they have achieved in such a short space of time- well done ladies!

My biggest takeaway from the event is that I’m so lucky to work at Belmont Community School. From the moment the panel debate started to the moment we got on the train back to Durham, I found strong content and examples of work that links directly to our school’s vision and I felt proud. Lucky. It reinforced that what we do, are doing and are working towards is worthy, true and more importantly, best for our students in the currently ever-changing face of education.

My highlight of the day, and possibly my year so far was the “Learning Without Limits” session I attended held by Dame Alison Peacock. The whole session had my hair on the back of my neck standing up. You know when you have been to a concert and you have one of those “moments”, well this was like that for me.

Listening to the beautiful “culture of trust” created at The Wroxham School, enabling the best environments possible for staff and students together, eradicating labels of “high/ low ability”, using challenges that are right for the students themselves, listening to the students themselves articulating their learning in student led conferences (learning review meetings at Wroxham) and being genuinely excited by their learning made me feel almost elated. The words “assessment” or “level” were not mentioned once by the children, but all were able to explain their learning in a very detailed and enthusiastic way.

Two days earlier we had our very first round of “student led conferences” with parents, following our curriculum re-design last year and although the conferences were successful and parental feedback was very complimentary, I couldn’t help feeling there was something missing. When I was sitting in this session, it was a lightbulb. It was just not there yet. The children on the screen had grown as part of this culture in Wroxham School, we were developing it. It takes me back to the first sentence I wrote- culture. It takes time to grow a culture within a school and that’s what we need. We are on our way in the journey but it will take time.

Other sessions I attended- click on the links for videos of the sessions.

Martin Illingworth-

  • Takeaway- How many “facts” can you remember from school? What do we need to teach our students to allow them to survive in 15 years time?

David Cameron- Lessons from A Small Island

  • Takeway- Contexts to change are vital. Adapt change rather than adopt. Education is moving children from who they are, to who they might become.

David Weston- Developing Great Teaching

  • Takeaway- I am lucky to work at Belmont.

My next steps:

  • Holiday reading- Learning Without Limits.
  • Investigate The Wroxham School further- I love the culture they have created and am keen to find out more about this.
  • Review the progress in my department this year and what still needs to be done- as part of the wider school context- where are we and what do we still need to do to get there.
  • Review my own personal progress this year- update my CPD file.