Relationships matter

June has started, even though it doesn’t feel like it due to the weather!

I was very fortunate to have a week away with my family in the sun and I really appreciated that quality family time that everybody deserves.

It made me really reflect on a couple of things. Firstly, how important my family are to me. Secondly, how amazing our year 11 students have been during the lead up and as exams had started. One of our key messages we wanted all of our students to know in the lead up and now during their exams, is that we really care about them as individuals. We make sure that we meet and greet them at the beginning of every exam, with smiles on our faces, letting them all know that they are important human beings and we are here to support them and care for them whatever happens.

For me, relationships are absolutely key. The students have sat some of the hardest exams they will ever face and a huge quantity of them too! It is really important to all of us that our students know we are here for them always.

Following the exam, staff are always around to talk to the students and just reassure, support and champion the students so they can relax a little and focus on the next exam. The human touch is incredibly important for us as a school and as a team of staff.

As already mentioned, for me, relationships are absolutely key to successful schools, and staff and student engagement. I was over the moon this week when I was able to shake the hand of a young man who is giving up his time to support other students. With the little interactions such as these I really do hope we can show to all of our students how relationships are important and how to interact with each other to make our world a much better, safer and happier place. Being kind to each other is absolutely essential to our ethos.

To top it all off, as role models, staff from across the school and our Trust completed a physical challenge raising money and awareness for Weston Hospice. I really do hope this sends out a clear message that our staff across the school and the trust really value kindness and charity incredibly highly.

Professional development for free! Oh, and cake!

Today I was fortunate enough to attend an event led by Will Smith. This is only the second event by this organisation called By leaders,for leaders.

It is a unique event for a couple of hundred leaders of schools and MATS. It is held in central London and is a fair old trek for me to attend, especially as we are based in Somerset. Therefore the event needs to be of high quality, good professional development for myself, have impact and also provide useful strategies that I can take back to school and discuss with our teams to improve what we do with speed.

All I can say is, this event ran by Will Smith and By leaders, for leaders definitely was an excellent piece of professional development for all who attended and I thoroughly recommend attendance.

There are various guest speakers sharing their wisdom about their specialist subject areas. For example, we had the pleasure of behaviour expert Tom Bennett, discussing about behaviour strategies and creating habits. Josie Mingay discussed pupil premium strategies that work, we had Phil Stock talking about assessment and using formative assessment to improve our practice . Rachel Warwick shared her approach with regard to a fantastic middle Leadership program that she has developed at her school, and Jeremy Turner talked about developing a culture of improvement at his school and the journey he has been leading.

All of the speakers spoke with passion and clarity and above all, they spoke with experience of actually walking the walk. Their credibility was high and the experiences they shared are extremely useful to any school looking to improve further; supporting the learning and the progress for all of the youngsters we have the privilege to teach.

Will was his usual passionate self and you can see that By leaders, for leaders is very much in Wills dynamic and professional image. The sharing of practice from these experienced professionals is very much welcomed in our educational world and I appreciate spending that time in London with these people and like-minded colleagues listening, reflecting and learning.

The event is free! Top draw professional development with strategies you can implement straight away – for free!

If you get the chance to attend the next By leaders, for leaders , I highly recommend that you do if you are serious about learning and developing yourself and your school further and gaining some real nuggets that you can take back to your schools and discuss with your teams to raise standards. My only concern about writing this blog and sharing the fantastic educational experience, is that all of the places will fill up before I get a chance to book myself on to the next event!

I cannot recommend this By leaders, for leaders event highly enough – an absolute gem of professional development for just the price of travel. If you can attend the next one, I do highly recommend you try and if you do, say hi if you bump into me!

Oh, I haven’t even mentioned the fabulous cake on offer at the break or meeting World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson as I left the building!

Next steps…

Apologies, for not blogging for a little while now.

As you have been doing, I have been working extremely hard on my day job, which is making sure I’m being affective and having a positive impact on the young people I have the privilege to work with everyday.

I have been working exceptionally hard for a number of years to improve myself, to learn more and to become a better leader, and I am pleased to say, this term, I managed to secure a Vice Principal post at a school in North Somerset.

I am incredibly excited about this opportunity. I have been in my current school 10 years now and it will be very difficult to leave such a great school, with great staff, and brilliant students. I have really enjoyed working in my current school and I am very much looking forward to the last half term in my workplace and to make a positive difference.

I can honestly say, every experience that I had in my current school has prepared me for my new role. I have learned from lots of different people, including staff, parents, stakeholders and of course students.

I have learnt from some exceptional leaders in my school and from social media, especially Twitter. I also read various text on education and leadership from different backgrounds, not just education. I do feel very ready for my next step in my career.

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped me, all who I have learnt from, to get to this stage in my career. I very much look forward to further developing and working with my new colleagues, parents and students in my new role and in my new school.

I hope to blog regularly during my first year as Vice Principal. Sharing my journey on the experiences in your first year in the role such as the one I have been fortunate to secure, and also as a great way of personal reflection on my journey to.

I hope you will join me in reading my blogs during my journey in my first year as a Vice Principal , but for now let’s enjoy the last half term in our schools, with our great students, and look forward to a well-deserved summer break.

(This blog was made using voice recognition software. Apologies for any spelling mistakes, typos, or poor grammar).

NEW POST: Learning Passport to success – KS3 theory

Since I have been in my current school (nearly 9 years) we have developed how we teach and deliever the theory components of a healthy and active lifestyle. Supported and endorsed by our county advisor (shared around the area as good practice) we developed a theory homework book for students to complete. However, it was difficult to track as the book was taken home by students and sometimes the ‘dog ate the booklet’. What was the impact? We’re we developing the theory aspects?

We wanted to develop the students theory knowledge base. It was important to us that our students not only could exercise well, but knew and understood the theory aspects of doing so. Components of fitness, heart rates, training zones, diet, the structure of the Skelton, aerobic and anaerobic respiration were just some of the things we felt as a department that our students should know. Lots of what we wanted to help students further understand was being taught in other subjects, such as science. 

We developed themes that we would teach across half terms all throughout ks3. We still teach our practical topics and all the aspects that go with that, but we wanted to develop the theory aspect through the practical theme. It is my belief, and as a school, we are all teachers of literacy. We did this very well verbally but PE departments, in my opinion, are very powerful. We have the ability to inspire and build relationships with those students who find other areas of school too difficult. We decided therefore, we should help develop our students written ability as well as their verbal.

It was important to us we made the booklets straight forward, not too much work where we would lose valuable practical time or put the students off PE. I was also keen not to create too much extra work for my team. Feedback received so far from various sources is overwhelmingly positive.

I must add here, that this works for us – it does not mean it would work for your students, school or yourself.

The booklet, based on the GCSE spec, would also build valuable theory knowledge toward the GCSE exam. This supported further students who would take GCSE PE. Currently, we are considering that all students at the school will do some sort of qualification through their PE lessons, and this system will support this process. Our students will leave the school not only being active, knowing and understanding the impact physical activity has on the body and mind, but with a recognised qualification too.

Once or twice a half term we would use these booklets with our KS3 groups. The rest of the half term we develop the knowledge and understanding then we provide the time to complete the relevant page in the book. It takes around 20 minutes maximum for this to happen (we have 60minute lessons x4 a fortnight). 

Students know when we will complete the page and arrive, changed at the lesson, with their pen. We can discuss the topic with some great feedback and then complete the page. The written aspect is important to us. It develops the PEAL technique, used across the school and other subjects. It improves the students written skills and allows us to support the literacy focus across the school. 

20 minutes a fortnight spent on these books seems like a good pay off to us. The answers we are getting from our youngsters are brilliant. As already mentioned, feedback from students is very positive. Students who perhaps did not see PE as an area they could excel in for various reasons are able to improve their self-esteem and opinion of PE by improving their theory knowledge of the subject.

I produced the original booklets which have now been developed by a member of my team in to the booklets we now use (these are the pictures that I am sharing with you now).

We made the feedback sheet to be time saving yet specific to the outcome the student had produced. Again, with a clear focus on literacy. Next time we revisit these books ( sometime during this half term) students will complete their DIRT before completing the next topic. This may be 20 minutes in November and then 20 minutes in December. Whilst you can argue this eats in to practical time, we believe and feel this is the right approach for our students. We have the balance just right for developing effective, knowledgable and physically active and healthy young people.

We are very pleased with where we currently are with our theory and practical work and hope to further develop in the future. 

If you would like to know more about this or have a question, please feel free to contact me.

Building blocks of the year

I am not sure how you view your academic year, but for me, the first 2 terms are absolutely key (I split the 3 terms into 6 half terms – manageable chunks I suppose).

For year 11, the first 2 terms are the building blocks before an effeective and energy sapping sprint toward May. This year we have a few plans on how to make this ‘sprint’ better organised and have a clear strategy. One focus for myself is for white, British, working class boys – as they are the most underperforming group nationally.

For year 7, the first 2 terms are incredibly important. To settle in, make new friends, set expectations and build relationships with parents. We value relationships with our parents extremely highly and always try to involve the parents with our decisions about the direction of the school. If an ongoing issue arises, we always invite the parents into discuss this. I really like this as a secondary school- very personal.

For year 10, it’s the real start of the official GCSE (I teach the GCSE spec from year 7 onward in lessons anyway – you would be bonkers not too wouldn’t you?). Set the right foundations now, routines, expectations, important deadline dates and I always find that the KS4 years run relatively smoothly (famous last words probably).

Year 9 is important at our school. The students will choose options at the end of term 2. They have internal assessments in the beginning of term 2 as well. Some big decisions need to be made for these students so it is very important we provide the correct and most appropriate information for the students, and parents during this term. 

I love teaching the year 8. For me, it’s really the beginning of the ‘real’ GCSE curriculum. These students have settled in to the school and there is always a danger that these students have a ‘missing year’- not in my subject. We start to crack up the expectations again and we often find that the vast majority of students respond. In fact, the first 7 weeks this year have seen the year 8 I teach really start to stretch themselves. Behaviour, independent learning and clear focus in lessons has improved allowing the progress within these lessons to increase too. 

Overall, its been a good start to this academic year. After last years record breaking results as a school, we need to maintain a the momentum. With our great staff and students, I am sure we can have another successful year.

In addition, we have some very exciting changes afoot, especially in Teaching and Learning. And we all know, if we get this correct, then results will further improve as well as further developing a talented staff.

The best revision tool I have used…….so far!

The best revision tool I have used… far!


Firstly, this is not my idea! @tombrush1982 presented this idea via twitter and I magpied it. Yes, I have tweaked it, but the idea was born by the very creative Tom – so certainly credit where it is due.

Revision Grid - RU 3

Boardrush is a very simple yet very effective learning tool. I have mainly used it for revision, but it could be used with anything and EVERY topic and EVERY subject you can think of.

You create a boardrush template, such as above. I used PowerPoint, but there are other great tools out there too. Questions were created on the topics I had identified with the students on the areas for focus. In total, I have created about 12 of these. All different, with different topics – I will share more as you read on!

I colour coded them, purely to help students make the link between a colour and a topic. For example, all of the above green boxes are components of fitness, either health or skill-related.

I put students in pairs, but any group size will work. Depending on the pair I gave the students an amount of post-it notes. If the pair was more able, I gave them between 10 and 25 post-it notes. Students whose learning was at a slower rate I gave them 5-10 post-its. Students had access to learning materials too, if they felt they needed them. I set a 10 minute time limit, and the students had to complete a ‘connect 5’ type line. If they had 10+ post-its, they were expected to complete a number of ‘lines of learning’.


I used this technique a number of times, and my students absolutely loved it! The boys especially liked the competitive element of who can complete the ‘lines’ first.

I created lots of different templates with different questions, but I needed to develop the students thinking. With some help from my outstanding team at school and Tom, I started to do this.

PE 2015-04-29 14.52.19

Firstly, I created a boardrush which had answers on and the students had to write the questions to match, see below:

QUESTION Revision Grid - RU 6

I explained I wanted all of the squares covered – again, more-able had to complete more. Once the board was completed I turned the presentation off. Students then had to collect 2 questions from the board and complete the answers. This helped develop short term memory and make the link stronger between the question and the answer.

Another technique I used was that students could only complete answers using PEA. Feel free to download our PE specific PEA help here. This helped develop students extended answer writing skills.

Finally, I used a picture boardrush, such as below:

PIC Revision Grid - RU 4

Students were given various topics and challenges using this. Firstly, I gave the students a topic, such as drugs in sport. Students had to write a piece of information and link it to a picture.

We would complete a previous boardrush with questions. Then link that information to the pictures. I was trying to develop lateral thinking. This took a little longer to develop, but we managed to do this, and I do believe we will get great results this August.

Students loved this style, and were even asking for more sessions like this. We were able to develop questioning, answering, extended answer writing and lateral thinking. This is just a tool – but it inspired and captured the focus of our students. I would certainly recommend this and will be using again for our current year 11.

Tough but rewarding year…

Ok, ok – I apologise. I have not blogged for a long time. There are various reasons but I know it is no excuse. It has been important to spend time at home, supporting my wife, who has suffered from an illness for period of time since 2013. I am pleased to say she is much better now.

I am very ambitious and have a clear idea and goal of where I want to go with my career – perhaps I am too obsessed with my goal?

‘Obsessed is what the lazy call the dedicated’

I have applied for a number of roles at senior leadership level during the last 18 months. I have now secured a post at my current school which fits my expertise and skill set perfectly. A huge success for me personally. Everything on the job description excites me, I still get to teach ( a lot!) and I am heavily involved with working closely with colleagues and developing teaching and learning – #mint.

I visited The Sunday Times Festival of Education last week and was blown away by the event and quality of speakers. I saw my good friend @KDWScience at the event and she inspired my to write about the journey I have been on over the last 12 months – so here it is.

At this point, I would like to say thank you to the following for supporting me on my journey so far. My wife and family, obviously, but also @jillberry102 @TeamTait @TeacherToolkit @vicgoddard and the Principal at my college – for the opportunity.

I was applying for various posts from September 2014 onwards. I was not being called for interviews and sought help from various sources including the above. I adapted my letter and kept applying. A role arose at my current school, which I went for. I was up against 3 quality staff members. I prepared well and tried my very best, and was very disappointed not to land the role. Feedback was very positive but the pain of missing out was really tough. Perhaps it is the competitive PE teacher in me, or the feeling of being a failure – but it did really hurt. I could not figure out what I was doing wrong or what I could do next – my feedback was very positive. In hindsight, the role did not match my skill set. And even though I believe I could do that role, my colleague and friend who secured the post, has greater experience and knowledge of that specific role. He was and is the right person for the role advertised.

It was demoralising, but supportive colleagues and friends, and a professional discussion from my seniors made me reflect and focus on the future. If I was serious about my goals and targets, I had to pick myself up and carry on moving forward:


I refocused and made sure I did an outstanding job in my current role. In addition, I picked up a Pupil Champion role to lead on Homework across the college. An area which I had never done before and would allow me gain further experience at a whole school level. I was asked if I would lead on the new Learning to Learn programme our college is starting in September 2015. My passion is teaching and learning and I was (and still am) very excited about this opportunity. It felt great to be approached and recognised as a member of staff that the leadership team felt they could trust with these two areas.

A few weeks on and I had secured an interview at another school. I felt very confident, but after a day and a half of a very tough process, I did not make it through to the final three. I think what I learned from this process was that you just don’t know what schools are looking for. There were eight of us on interview and I identified three others who I thought were strong. Two of the three went through to the final three but the post was secured by neither of them. For me, I learnt that you just had to be who you are whilst on interview, and if you fit, you fit.

Over the next few months I kept working hard and made sure I did my job to the best of my abilities. I also worked hard to make a success of the Pupil Champion role. Whilst we have developed homework and it has improved, there is still lots to do further, but the impact of using a new system and a refined policy has been high.

In late May, came an opportunity that would fit me, my skill set and where I am in my career. I had been told by a number of people that sometimes, you just have to be the right person, in the right place and the right time. I never liked this thought – I always believe in working hard and your time will come, but I found it tough that it was not happening on the time frame I had set myself.

I secured an Associate SLT post alongside some fantastic staff and this post and opportunity really excites me. It feels right too. I am so pleased – I always felt I had the ability to get to this level, and go on further, but just could not make the step. I have found it tough, but as a Growth Mindset fan, it was a case that I had to keep myself focused and moving forward, my time will come and I will get the right post, at the right time. I certainly feel like that now. The Power of Yet suddenly made sense.

If anyone reads this blog who is attempting to move to a new level with their careers my only advice is… never give up. It sounds cliche, it was advice given to me that was difficult to take and wait, but always work hard, and your time will come.

My first Teachmeet – WOW!

WOW, WOW and WOW! I have always loved new teaching and learning techniques, my own personal love for learning, but last week fuelled my learning juices even more so. I attended, and presented, at my first Teachmeet. I had followed various ones of these free CPD sessions via Twitter (THE best FREE CPD platform in my opinion).

The chance to attend and present at one near me was too good a chance to turn down.

Lets deal with my presentation first. I was not sure what to present on, so stuck to my tried and tested ‘foundation’s of my teaching. My nuts and bolts that I rely on for consistently good lessons that have helped produce outstanding results over the last 6 years.

The Memory Game


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Students work in buddies (seating plans and selected buddies are key) to complete the mind map. The information they require is attached to a wall (or window in this case). The buddies take it in turns to leave the room to look at the information. They have to remember it and write it into the correct area of the map. As they return to the room, they discuss with their partner what they have done so the partner does not memorise the same section. The students really like this strategy, but only one memory game per lesson. They last about 10-15 minutes, but are very active and effective. Students make very good notes alongside developing memory skills.

I also presented on card sorts, Exam Grade Boosting and using Edmodo.

TeachMeet Taunton

Organised and led by @MrBAyres, the sessions was brilliant. Incredibly well organised, great venue with some amazing food. The students at the school were exceptional. The evening started and I was not sure what to expect. I was nervous about my presentation – ‘were the techniques I was talking about what people wanted to hear?’

I should not have worried. The presenters were fantastic- all offering different and varied techniques, strategies and information on different aspects of learning and teaching. Pastoral issues were covered alongside technology use, such as ipads, Touchcast, Tellagami (now a personal favourite!).

Twitter handles were exchanged and the feedback that @MrBAyres received from the evening was truly deserved. I have made 3 or 4 really good contacts with people whom see very like minded; whom want to learn from others, share their good practice and further develop their teaching. @mr_pepperell and @MrHistoire are certainly worth a follow. These 3 gentlemen have already had a major influence on developing my teaching further in the last 7 days.

Advice I have received from @unicorn4275 has also improved my teaching  repertoire through the purchase of reusable post its and magic blackboard – a must for any teacher without a classroom base. (

@MrHistoire and I are now working together to setup a teachmeet in North Devon – keep an eye out for it!

After the #TMTaunton, I feel inspired to attend more of these and collaborate with more staff – the ideas out there are brilliant, and I want to be part of that.

If you get a chance, do attend one. Present too – you won’t regret it.

Finally, well done @MrBAyres – a fantastic and inspirational evening. Pencil me for next year now!

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Leaders have feelings too.

It is simple…being a leader is tough! What ever your level of leadership, it is a difficult job. Dont get me wrong, I ABSOLUTELY love being a leader, in fact, my ambition is to become an assistant head within the next 3/4 years.

It is only from being a leader (Head of Faculty in my case) that I have learnt how difficult the job is. Being responsible for the subject, and the subjects in your faculty. For dealing with the incidents with students and interacting with parents; supporting your staff and also not accepting below par performance. But the hardest part of the job is the fine balancing act that all leaders must face. I really enjoy it, and I have learnt so much from being a leader at my current school. They really expect a lot of the middle leaders, and I thrive on this. Yes, I have made mistakes (and still do), but I do learn from them and adapt my practice. I really value my team, and try to praise as often and appropriately as possible – something that I still need to develop.

By far, managing people in an education environment is tough, but amazingly rewarding. Developing the different relationships with different people in the work environment has been a real challenge, but I love every minute. You have to lead from the front, ‘walk the walk’ as they say. You have to develop your team, challenge all staff toward top performance and raise aspirations and standards. This is always tough, and a great element of the job.

It would be safe to say, that I have a real interest in leadership and staff management – both The Schools Network course and my MEd qualifications are both in leadership.

I sought advice from senior staff and other leaders whom I have a relationship with. The advice I recieved was varied, but all was extremely beneficial to me developing my own style. This is key. You can model yourself on anyone you wish, copy as much good practice as you can, but you will always develop your own style – certianly in my experience. My personality and my values and ethics entwine with the leaderships skills and staff management and a new, personlaised leadership style develops – one that is my own.

I do hope that staff know that leaders are people at the end of the day – any leader worth their salt, just wants the best for the students, their staff and the school, in terms of experience and results. Tough decisions have to be made, that not all staff like, and leaders need rhino skin sometimes to get through these times. All staff have feelings, leaders too!

iPads in education – our first few steps.

i thought iPads would be useful, but I just did not realise how much they would assist teaching and learning in moving forward.

After lots of research on the net, discussions with colleagues, and by using he best free CPD tool to date in Twitter, I had found out various bits and pieces about the iPad and how it was being used in education. I asked lots of questions, some which annoyed some people on twitter, but I began to rom a plan.

The questioning was needed; I was starting this process as a complete novice, no experience of the sort of technology that could be useI with apple software. I had an iPhone, but fell out of love with it. Since I have got the iPad for school, I have been blown away by its capabilities. The potential and enthusiasm it can create with the students is incredible. I have become an apple fan once again.

I have been using the iPad in lessons since June. Played with the iPad over the holidays, using apps such as Coaches Eye, and really got used to the interface and the software. Once the new term began in September, I set about using the iPad as much as possible in my lessons. The twitter fraternity guided me toward great apps, and I used various in my lessons.

Something that I never accounted for was the enthusiasm of the students for using the iPad in lessons. The students learnt how to se apps so quickly, the learning they were demonstrating was incredible. I have posted some of their work on twitter and on here.

The power that this device has and the excitement and quality of work it generated with the kids is worth the investment alone.

I thoroughly recommend these devices, and apple software over anything else on the current market. I hope to get a few more iPads and slowly but surely, get more teachers and students developing their learning with the support of these devices.

A class set of 10 of these devices would make a huge difference to the learning experience for ALL students in PE. My next goal is to convince the HoFs to trial them in their lessons ( 3 others are starting using them next week for 4 weeks).

A tide off support is growing and I think that teachers and students who use these devices will produce better, more effective and better results.

More to follow…