National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership (NPQSL)

I’ve just started on the NPQSL with Leadership East . The programme is licensed by the National College for Teaching and Leadership and involves a 12-18 month school improvement task based on action research with the central component lasting at least two terms. There are 3 learning areas:

  1. Educational Excellence;
  2. Strategic Leadership;
  3. Operational Management;

and these are further divided into 9 key leadership competencies.

Prior to attending the Introductory Day a ‘360º Diagnostic’ online self-review process was carried out to identify areas of strength and any competency areas requiring development.  After completing the self assessment part of the process I asked a total of 8 colleagues to also answer the same questions independently. The final report was illuminating – a far more useful appraisal than any Performance Management (PM) process I have taken part in since its introduction. For one thing the other respondents don’t see either your own self assessment or each others so you get a ‘real’ set of answers. To gain the maximum benefit from the process you do have to choose your respondents carefully however; its no good just asking people who you think will give a ‘glowing report’. I selected an equal mix of male/female colleagues and made sure that the group had SLT, HoY, HoD, Learning Support and classroom teachers represented. I deliberately didn’t ask anyone from within my own faculty because I wanted as objective a view from outside looking in as I could manage. The respondents I selected were also representative of the colleagues I hope to work with most closely on the school improvement task. The process is a little uncomfortable but well worth it from a self awareness point of view. Completing the very detailed follow up Workbook really concentrated the mind. Of particular interest were:

  1. Known Development Needs (where both the respondents and I agreed on less well developed behaviours);
  2. Blind Spots (where respondents scored me lower than I scored myself);

These really flagged up some pretty important elements that I need to keep in mind and the final Summary Form and Action Plan have provided a very focussed baseline from which to move forward.

Talking to colleagues who have come to teaching after working in other fields, business etc. it seems that the 360º Diagnostic Model is quite a common tool. I think it would be useful to have a similar tool within the PM cycle and wonder if there are already schools who have adopted this model?




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Starting the new term – connecting the learning

Three and a bit weeks into the new term and having ‘changed up through the gears’ I’m back into the swing of things again; seen all my classes, starting to match names to faces and just about got my head round the new timetable.
The start of the new academic year is obviously an important time for many reasons but amongst these is the fact that it is an absolutely crucial time for building what I think of as learning bridges. Alistair Smith’s work on accelerated learning describes this as connecting the learning and, after a long summer break, it makes perfect sense that pupils and teachers should invest time reviewing what was being covered in the previous academic year and how it fits together with what is to be covered in the coming year.Connecting
Our KS3 scheme of work is based around five themes: Ideas & Beliefs, Conflict, Empire, Ordinary life and Power. We return to these themes regularly over throughout KS3 with the aim that pupils will finish the KS with a big history firmly rooted in their heads. Where they often struggle however is in seeing the links between the different years of study; they seem to think that just because they are in Y8 they don’t have to think about what they studied in Y7. Well of course they get reminded of previous work as we chart our way through a new year but it’s as well to start as you mean to go on. So, with this in mind, I’ve spent a bit of time getting my classes to review their work from last year and note down the Big Points that they have remembered. Certainly not groundbreaking nor rocket science but hopefully a sound investment for the rest of the year.

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Residual memory, finger tip knowledge and weaving ‘Big’ history

Quite why it took me so long to make space in the diary for the SHP Conference at Leeds Trinity now seems difficult to explain but until 2013 this annual event had been something I had heard a lot about but not quite got around to attending. Having been blown away by the variety of ideas and experiences on offer in last year’s plenaries and workshops I was eagerly looking forward to a second helping this year and I was not disappointed.

I’d kind of chosen my workshops with a common theme and together with a little follow up reading I’ve started an experiment that I’ll be looking at again in the coming academic year. Outlined below are pen pictures of the sessions that provided the inspiration for the activity and brief comments on the task as delivered in a 50 minute lesson with a mixed ability Y7 class. Continue reading

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ICT and the ‘S’ word

Historical Significance

Historical Significance

A great deal has been written about teaching pupils about significance. If you want to get a feel for the extensive work that has been done in this area you only have to look at ‘Teaching History’ to access to a range of excellent articles on the topic.  From the late Robert Phillips ‘GREAT’ mnemonic to Christine Counsell’s Five ‘R’s there are numerous scaffolds that we can use to help children assess the significant of something or someone. Here are a couple of ICT based ideas that have worked for me.

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Active Local History – Restoring Pride in Our Local Heritage

Castle 4Over the last year I’ve been working with pupils in Y7, Y8 and Y10 on a spot of local history. The “Eye: A Castle Connected” project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and Mid Suffolk District Council has involved renovation work at Eye Castle, outreach work with local primary schools and a variety of art, music and ICT workshops here in school. The Y8 and Y10 pupils have been particularly involved throughout the project and have made a significant contribution to the running of workshops, the design and production of resources for primary school children,information boards within the castle grounds anda new smart-phone app which will be available to download in the next month or so.

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Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) 2013 – Cambridge University

HEFA 2You may be familiar with the Channel 4 Time Team programmes which have done a great deal to popularise archaeology since 1994. Although our school site has not (yet) featured in the series it is nevertheless no stranger to archaeological investigations and has ‘turned up’ some interesting finds over the last decade. The building work for new sports facilities necessitated surveys that revealed a fascinating history of occupation from Anglo Saxon times to the present day. I was pleased therefore to have twelve pupils from our Y9 & Y10 accepted on Cambridge University’s HEFA which is run by Carenza Lewis who has also appeared on Time Team.

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iPad in the classroom

I’ve been experimenting with using the iPad in lessons and would like to recommend a nifty timeline application called ‘Timeline Eons’ reviewed by History Today in February. After having played with the free version for a few days I have upgraded to the full version for under six pounds and although there are probably a few fine adjustments to be made the App is well worth the outlay.

Eons – The Spread of the Black Death

It comes with a pre-built “graphic representation of the entire natural and human history” which is fascinating but with a distinct American bias. If you have the free version you’re stuck with this state of affairs but with the upgrade there is the opportunity to add your own events which is great. So far I’ve used it with Y7 and Y9 looking at the spread of the Black Death and significant events from the twentieth century respectively.

I’m playing the image through to a Promethean IWB and the quality is excellent. The only slight problem I’m having at the moment is the hassle of hooking the iPad up to the RGB for the IWB. As well as risking damaging pins with repeated use it also means you can’t change between the iPad and say your PC or laptop as easily as you should be able to during a lesson. The solution is not too far away however as I’ve a KVM switch on order that should allow me to have all three hooked up simultaneously.

So there it is….a great way to use your iPad in lessons and not just for looking good in the staffroom.

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3-D History – Active Revision with Playmobil

It is that time of year again when we’re scratching our heads trying to think of something different to do with revision classes. Well why not get a bit creative, raid the toy cupboard and see what you can find that is relevant to your schemes of work?

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Encouraging independent study – using Wikispaces

 A couple of years ago we re shaped our KS3 schemes of work using a thematic approach to reflect the most recent changes in the National Curriculum (NC). At the same time we were also fortunate to be able to invest in the SHP series of text books by Hodder. The accompanying DynamicLearing networked resources are very expensive but well worth the investment; giving pupils the ability to use an e-copy of the textbook to work anywhere on the school network. Pupils have really taken to using the resources and it has encouraged them to be more independent in their studying without spending a great many wasted hours trawling the internet!  There is a cracking little investigation into the Crusades in the Y7 book. Based around four questions it lends itself to a group task in class but I really wanted to do something a bit different. Wouldn’t it be great to get the kids working together outside class? Enter….Wikispaces.

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Stepping Stones To Excellence

Stepping Stones To Excellence

“Widening access and improving participation in higher education are a crucial part of our mission. Our aim is to promote and provide the opportunity of successful participation in higher education to everyone who can benefit from it. This is vital for social justice and economic competitiveness.” HEFCE (

 If you search Google for the phrase “every journey starts with a small step” you get about 39,800,000 ‘hits’. The fact that you have to start a journey in order to get to your destination is self evident. Often however this first step can be as much about overcoming a psychological barrier as anything physical.

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