innovatED - Issue 2


I s s u e 2 | S p r i n g T e r m 2 0 1 8

Shedding light on hidden learning

Procedural versus proceptual teaching

Mindfulness for teachers

20 years of educational fads

Magazine of the Independent Schools



Maximising your grounds for outdoor education



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Travelling without moving.

It's hard for me to come to any other conclusion after reading

this issue's brilliant article by Ross Morrison McGill on '20 years of

educational fads' that as a profession, we are on a hamster


Stepping off the wheel can be enormously disorientating. For

many months after I left full time teaching, I was gripped by a

low-grade, gnawing anxiety: I felt like I should be busier, that I

somehow wasn't doing my new job properly because I didn't feel

emotionally, mentally and physically wrung out all of the time.

Viewing the initiatives laid out starkly on paper by Ross, it's easy

to see how they have gradually bogged down inspirational and

creative educators, each fad representing a new layer of

quicksand that saps time, energy and quite often the will to live,

irrespective of evidence of impact.

Like a broken watch that tells the time correctly twice a day,

initiatives that work in specific contexts and circumstances are

rolled out far too quickly before evidence of impact and caveats

can be assessed, often confidently peddled by official

institutions who may be wrong, but who absolutely under no

circumstances are ever in any doubt.

As with politics, the competing underlying philosophies of

education are based on principles that are irreconcilable,

which is why all educational debates end up being circular. Like

meteorology and economics, the interaction of genetics,

the human mind and environment is just too difficult to model

with any degree of confidence and then extrapolate. Education is

not physics, with hypotheses that are provable beyond all doubt.

Not that we should stop striving to deepen our understanding, of

course, but perhaps we should stop striving for mythical magic

bullets that cannot exist, because in education, one size never

fits all. And endless differentiation of numerous one-sized

approaches is the surest route to a recruitment crisis as teachers

understandably seek to protect their mental health.

It is in this context that I salute the rest of the contributors in this

issue of innovatED. To find time to put together such practical,

insightful articles in support colleagues whilst holding down such

busy full time careers is inspiring. It is also striking that all of the

guidance is contextual and grounded in specific circumstances.

I do wonder that perhaps we continue

to travel without moving because our

masters keep insisting that we all go to

the same destination by the very same

route? Maybe if we really want to

get anywhere, then perhaps we simply

need to step off the Hamster wheel,

appreciate that less is more and

understand that context is everything.

Have a great term and enjoy the issue.


innovatED magazine


David Winfield


Karen Burns


Lisa Ashes

Stuart Bayne

Maria Brosnan

Karen Burns

Nicola Clifford

Andy Falconer

Ruth Farenga

Monika Fryzicka

Andy Giles

Sonia Gill

Andrew Hammond

Mike Hargreaves

Cathy Lees

Ross Morrison McGill

David Paton

Patricia Watt


Steve Hunt

+44 (0)800 978 8084




Blogs can be submitted by educators

for publication on the Independent

Schools Portal and weekly newsletter

at any time.

The print deadline for the Summer

edition of innovatED is March 31st

2018, but please get in touch as soon

as possible if you intend to submit a

piece. All submissions should be

emailed to David,

innovatED magazine

45, Henry Grove


Leeds. LS28 7FD.

Issue 2 | innovatED | | 3




Shedding Light on Hidden Learning

Unveiling observable indicators of effective learning performance

and finding words to talk about them in non-judgemental ways.

Andrew Hammond.


Procedural Vs. Proceptual Learners








Andy Giles

Nicola Clifford

Lisa Ashes

Phil Garner

Mike Hargreaves

Monika Fryzicka

Andy Falconer




Why we should be teaching children to think creatively, rather than

to simply follow instructions. Andy Giles.

Helping Parents Deal With Loss

How to effectively support parents when they have suffered grief

events. Nicola Clifford.

Growth Mindset & Maths Setting - Mutually


Is it possible to promote a growth mindset in school whilst

simultaneously setting for mathematics? Catherine Lees attempts to

square the circle.

Problem? No Problem!

Teacher in the cupboard author, Lisa Ashes, tackles some real-life

classroom, school and wider-community based problems.




Mindfulness - It Start With Us As Teachers

Mindfulness myth-busting with some practical activities. Ruth


Holmewood House Festival Of Learning

Two days of innovation, creativity and exploring how we can best

prepare the children of today for the world of tomorrow.


Difficult Conversations: Ten Mistakes To


Superb practical advice for all senior leaders, teachers and support

staff. Maria Brosnan and Sonia Gill.


Lily Foundation

The Lily Foundation is the Independent Schools Portal charity of the

year. Karen Burns explains why it was chosen.


Twenty Years of Educational Fads

Plenty of oldies, but not very many goldies. Ross Morrison McGill

ponders the myths, hearsay, fads and gimmicks that have bedeviled

teaching and learning in the UK over the last two decades.

4 | Issue 2 | innovatED |

Breaking news, opinion and research

Stay up to date with the latest education news, views,

regulatory changes, research and resources with the

Independent Schools Portal team

Free, term-time weekly newsletter:











The Benefits Of An International Tertiary Education

Why pupils are choosing to study abroad at University in increasing

numbers and how schools can effectively support them. Phil Garner.

Maximising Your Grounds For Outdoor Learning

Mike Hargreaves provides some excellent guidance on how to

establish a culture of outdoor learning and how to maximise the

space and budget that you have at your disposal.

Residential Field Visit: Boggle Hole

The Secret Teacher guides you through a gentle 'starter' residential

trip for years 3 and 4 on the idyllic East Yorkshire coast.

Recruitment: Help Us To Help You

The Independent Schools Portal is launching a FREE recruitment

website for all schools in February 2018. Monika Fryzicka explains

why, and the benefits it will bring to schools and candidates.

Whose Homework Is It Anyway?

The Secret Parent reflects on multitude of dilemmas when deciding

how much support to give to children when they are doing their


Building Resilience In Children

Headmaster at Radnor Seven Oaks, David Paton, presents some

ideas for parents to consider.

What Does Value Mean For Today's Independent School?

Stuart Bayne of Cundall Manor challenges Independent Schools to

continue daring to be different and offering bespoke education..

New Edtech Project? Just Do It!

Portal founder, David Winfield, reflects on the complexity of school

Edtech projects and how to make them a success.

The Secret Teacher: Seeking Software To Transform Schools

Seven pieces of software that has the potential to benefit to your


The Last Word: Fingerprints

Our uniqueness, the legacy we leave, and developing our character

and behaviour. Andy Falconer.


Issue 2 | innovatED | | 5

World Education News

United Kingdom

After briefly becoming the centre of

political debate during the 2017 general

election campaign, education once again

slipped down the agenda in the UK with

Brexit continuing to dominate the news


There was considerable dismay amongst

many UK educators when Education

Secretary Justine Greening was replaced

by Damian Hinds. Despite her popularity,

there had been murmurs of discontent

surfacing from sections of her party about

her performance. As the first post-holder in

almost living memory not to declare total

war on the profession, she frequently

demonstrated empathy with teachers and

appeared to be listening to teaching

unions, and stridently tried to protect

school budgets from treasury cuts. Mr

Hinds has a reputation for seeking to

improve social mobility and is thought to

favour increasing the number of Grammar


Society magazine, Tatler, laments that the

middle-classes ('people like them') are

increasingly being forced to choose to

educate their children in state schools

because of fee increases and lack of salary


United States

For the first time in many years, the number

of international students at US universities

has fallen, which has been blamed on the

tougher immigration policies of Donald

Trump. There are concerns about the

impact on University finances and for the

US economy more generally, although the

shortfall in numbers is creating

opportunities for students from countries

not affected by the Trump travel ban.

Despite a raft of programs such as No

Child Left Behind, Race To The Top &

Every Student Succeeds Act, many US

education academics continue to the

lament poor performance of US public

education. The culture of 'blaming &

shaming' teachers by politicians and

administrators continues to be cited as a

major issue, along with a narrowing of the

curriculum and the pernicious unintended

consequences of standardised testing.

Moral and salaries in the US teaching

profession remain generally low.

There was further bad news as US

continued to slip in the international literacy

study. Now in 13th place, the US now lags

behind much of Europe. The news

prompted a series of tweets from

Education Secretary of State, Betsy De Vos

and it heightened concerns about the lack

of college-educated pre-school teachers.


There have been calls for more regulation

of international schools in the country given

the increasing numbers of local children

being educated by them. This is in

contravention of Article 26 of the Japanese

Constitution which states that all students

from years 1 to 9 must be educated in state

funded schools.

South Africa

Jacob Zuma and the ruling ANC party have

introduced fully subsidised tertiary

education for poorer students. The South

African Universities are unhappy about the

move because of the lack of clarity around

the actual funding settlement.


From September 2018, all mobile phones

will be banned in French schools for

children under 15. Education Minister Jean-

Michel Blanquer said, "These days the

children don't play at break time anymore;

they are just all in front of their

smartphones, and from an educational

point of view, that's a problem."


India has set an ambitious target of

educating 40 million students in higher

education by 2020. To achieve this goal,

the Government is looking to create 40,000

colleges 400 new Universities. To maintain

quality, the Government is also exploring

establishing foreign University Indian



During the Chinese Communist Party’s

recent 19th National Congress, General

Secretary Xi Jinping stressed the role of

education as a driving force for the

country’s development in the future. He

suggested that education should play a

leading role in spearheading China’s

domestic transformation, boosting it's

international recognition and soft power.

China now sends 800,000 students abroad

and continues to encourage inward

investment from prestigious international

schools. Many in China see Western

education and professional experiences as

a major insurance policy against



Looking to build on the success of it's

Erasmus student exchange programme

and capitalise on Spanish's status as a

global language, Spain is looking increase

it's footprint in international education.

Currently, it's universities attract a small

number of of students from outside of the

European Union, but is now looking at

developing growth from South America,

and from the high number of native

Spanish speakers in the USA and



Michele Bruniges, Head of the Education

Department has identified the structure of

the school day, improving the professional

status of teachers and better use of

student data as ways of arresting the

decline of Australia in international

education metrics. She is also looking to

Finland and Singapore for further


New Zealand

The New Zealand Government has

officially ended the National Standards

programme, meaning schools from next

year will no longer have to report on them

annually. Education Minister Chris Hipkins

says both schools and parents had lost

confidence in them.

The standards have been widely criticised

for narrowing the curriculum, being

inaccurate measures of performance, and

encouraging a culture of blaming and

shaming teachers and schools, often when

they are performing exceptionally well

when other metrics are used..

Future performance measures will focus

on the academic and developmental

progress children have actually made and

there will be no cross-referencing with

arbitrary national standards.

6 | Issue 2 | innovatED |

Hidden Curriculum

Andrew Hammond

We are often told that school is fundamentally about helping students to

make progress. But the word has never sat comfortably with me.

The tomato plants in my greenhouse grow and develop, but in order to

comment on their progress, I need to know the height and yield they are

expected to reach so that I can measure their progress against

expectations – not only my own expectations, but the national standards

for tomato growing. What is the floor standard for tomato plants, below

which I can identify the failures? For plants that grow high and produce

many tomatoes, what was their height when they were 4 weeks old, or 8

weeks? Are mine on track to meet national expectations? How do I

identify the key-marginals? And if I keep measuring them, will they grow

faster? Oh, it’s so worrying. Progress is a capricious term; I prefer the word


The language of assessment that we use in schools is designed to

comment on the measurable progress that children make towards

national expectations for academic attainment. We show that they have

made progress (and that we have done our job) through academic

qualification; and we incentivise children to work hard through rewards if

they do and sanctions if they don’t.

The language used in school reports and parents evenings is also geared

around this concept of making progress towards acceptable standards for

academic attainment. As a consequence, what a child has learned and

retained is held to be an accurate measure of how successful a learner he

is. This is false.

At a parents evening for one of my own children, I remember asking the

question, ‘How has Nell performed this term?’

Her teacher reached for his exam score sheet and said, ‘Nell performed

very well in English, she got an A. She performed well in Maths, she got

another A. In Science, she performed quite well, she got a B.’

I said, ‘Forgive me, I think you have misunderstood my question. I asked

how Nell has been performing, and what you have given me is the results

of her performance. That is not the same thing.’ (Note: I do not blame

Nell’s teacher one bit; I blame the system within which he, and I, are


Trying to elucidate, I said, ‘If we were F1 engineers, we’d know that our

car’s performance cannot be encapsulated by its position on the leaderboard

at the end of a race. That is the result of its performance, which is

bound up with its aerodynamic design, engine, brakes, fuel system, tyres,

steering, not to mention the driver, his or her ability, attitude,

concentration, and so on. These variables cannot – and should not – be

summed up by the word ‘sixth’ or even better, ‘first’. As engineers we need

detailed diagnostics on how everything is working together to produce a

result at the end. We need performance indicators.’

The same is true for learners. If we conflate the word results with

performance, we risk hiding all the learning habits that combine to

produce a measurable outcome. Worse than this, if we focus solely on the

statistical output, we will negatively influence a student’s input.

Children are more than the sum of their grades at the end of term. They

are more than the handwritten work in their books, more than the ticks and

crosses they receive, or the standardised scores they achieve in a verbal

reasoning test. There is more to them than meets the eye.

Every day, in every school, there are two curricula being delivered: a

visible one, shaped by the curriculum, delivered through a timetable of

teaching and learning and measured via academic qualifications; and an

invisible one, shaped by the learning environment, delivered through

attitudes, behaviours and skills, and modelled by teachers in daily

conversations and social interactions.

Both curricula are of fundamental importance and both influence a child’s

development. Both will determine the future life chances of every student

who passes through school; they are inextricably linked. One is seen; the

other is hidden, by which I mean, the language of learning and assessment

used in schools falls short when it comes to describing meaningfully the

deep-down-things that matter.

Trying to describe the attitudes, behaviours and skills for effective learning

using the language of academic assessment is like trying to illuminate a

stadium with a torch, or attempting to describe quantum mechanics using

Shedding Light On Hidden Learning

8 | innovatED | Issue 2 |

Spring 2018

the language of classical science. The hidden curriculum is only hidden

because the language we use in school was never designed to articulate


A quantum revolution is needed in schools today. A new lens is required

to enable us to view what is happening behind the grades. A new

discourse is needed so that we may describe the indescribable.

you have to, but to me they are every bit as hard and as real as the letter

grades and numbers pupils are currently measured by.

Andrew Hammond is a teacher and Director of Research, Innovation &

Outreach at Holmewood House School in Kent. He is an author, CPD

leader and keynote speaker. / @andrewjhammond

The terms progress, assessment, or results are misleading, because they

fool us into believing that they encapsulate a student’s potential, but they


All children have incalculable potential, but such potential is fragile,

impressionable; it is influenced positively by a focus on learning

performance (where a growth mindset lies), but it can be influenced

negatively by a sole focus on assessing and testing for academic output

(where a fixed mindset dominates). Ironically, the more we test for

outcomes, the more we may influence what they will be. Predicted grades

are themselves deterministic.

The hidden curriculum of

attitudes, behaviours and skills

requires a language that enables

us to comment on it in meaningful

ways that inform, scaffold and

facilitate future growth, without

determining it. Whilst we may not

favour sending our students home

with a B- in curiosity, or a score of

73% in resilience, we do need a

script with which we can track,

monitor and report on their

character traits and attitudes as

they develop. The hidden

curriculum delivers attitudes and

skills that remain when academic

knowledge is forgotten, and it can

be commented on if we lay out

key observable behaviours.

Andrew Hammond

Shedding Light On Hidden Learning

But it is a polarising debate.

Mention that you value the deepdown-things

and you are branded

a soft progressive, a romantic; say

that you believe knowledge is

important and you are deemed a


"Children are more than the sum of their grades at the end of term. They are

more than the handwritten work in their books, more than the ticks and crosses

they receive, or the standardised scores they achieve in a verbal reasoning test."

Like so many things in life, it is not either/or, it is and. You raise academic

standards when you recognise and develop the hidden learning that

happens along the way.

We could continue to talk exclusively about academic attainment and

progress while we pacify, or anesthetise, rising numbers of anxious

children with fidget spinners, stress balls and tins of putty. But for real

change, we need to recognise that school is actually about becoming an

effective learner. It is not just what you learn, it is how you learn, how you

think, how you perceive yourself and how you work with others.

Articulating and modelling these hidden aptitudes is the greatest

challenge for us as educators. It will be worth it. In a rapidly changing

world, the obsolescence-proof skills are those which until now have been

hidden behind academic grades, secondary to knowledge retention, it


Such attitudes, behaviours and skills are difficult to ‘teach’, but they can be

modelled, and we can build a new learning environment in which they can

flourish. It’s what EYFS teachers have been doing for years. We just need

to continue their legacy.

As a parent, give me the important stuff! Unveil for me the observable

indicators of effective learning performance and find words to talk about

them in non-judgemental ways – because that is where the growth

mindset and capacity for improvement lie. You can call them soft skills if

Issue 2 | innovatED | | 9

Procedural Vs. Proceptual Learners

Andy Giles

In three hundred metres, turn left and continue to the roundabout. At

the roundabout, take the third exit and park the car, go and open the

gate and drive carefully across the field…..

Are you a blind follower of the sat nav? Even when you actually know a

quicker or more direct route? I have to admit I am totally reliant upon

mine as it gives me a level of comfort. I will even follow it to a destination

and allow it to take me back by a completely different route as it often

directs me to do, even though I know I didn’t come that way!

They are using derived facts from their knowledge (known facts) to solve

the problem. What differentiates them from the process follower

(procedural learner) is that they not only solve this faster and in a more

‘flexible’ way but, in doing so, they also instinctively understand any other

link between the number triple 4, 5 and 9 and know the answer to 9 – 4

despite having never been taught a method to solve it. Children able to

adapt one piece of knowledge (4 + 5 = 9) to solve a different, but related,

calculation, 9 – 4 = 5, without being taught this, are clearly going to

progress more quickly and they are said to be thinking mathematically.

The Difference Between Procedural and Proceptual Learners

The Procedural Learner:

“Follows a set of procedures or instructions to achieve a stated goal. If he

or she deviates from these directions, the chance of returning to the

correct path is severely hampered and success is unlikely”

For you sat nav followers, have you ever finished up on a dead-end road,

got horribly lost, arrived late at the destination or even found yourself at

that gate to the field with a determined whinny voice instructing that you

continue straight ahead, despite your instinct telling you there is a better

way and traversing a field really is not the best option?!

Many children learn in this manner. They can be taught a set of

procedures to achieve and many will do so by following the list of

instructions in the correct order. When learning something new, we would

probably all confess to occasionally writing ourselves an ‘idiot’s guide’ of

steps. But what happens when we miss one out or go wrong?

Mathematically, children might be taught to solve the calculation 4 + 5 = 9

by counting out 4, then 5, and finally counting the total to make 9.

Alternatively, they might count up an additional 5 starting from 4 or they

may see that 5 is the biggest and they count up from there. These

methods can be described as counting up or counting on.

The Proceptual Learner:

Is able to solve our problem of 4 + 5 in a number of different and quicker

ways. Such learners might recognise that two 5s are 10 and so we want

one less. They may double the 4 and add 1, because they know these


From this simple example, it is clear that a proceptual thinker is likely to

achieve faster and further in mathematics. This may well apply to other

subjects and life challenges. As part of my Master’s research, I worked

with a group of nine year olds which confirmed to me that the more able

mathematicians were employing a very different method of solving such

tasks than their less able peers who, on the other hand, were not only

using the simple count-on methods, but were actually working harder

than their classmates because, for our example above, they had to count

out 5, then count out 4 and then count the entire 9. As suggested by Gray

& Tall (1994) “Less able children are doing a different kind of mathematics

that is often intolerably hard.” This only gets further exacerbated as the

years progress.

The proceptual divide:

The children I worked with were just nine years of age; yet there were

already fundamental differences in their approach to simple calculations.

Moreover, as they progress through school, and the mathematics

becomes more challenging, those relying upon procedures will fall further

behind their proceptual classmates. This ‘proceptual divide’ quickly


tips when supporting parents


The plateau:

It may be that the proceptual ‘flexible’ thinkers, our mathematicians,

eventually reach a point where the challenges become too difficult and

they revert to the comfort and reliance upon a set of instructions.

10 | Issue 2 | innovatED |

Spring 2018

If this happens, they have reached a plateau. I consider myself to be a

regular plateau-reacher, particularly when it comes to the sat nav

scenario! Like many of us, I resort to a set of instructions rather than use

the riskier strategy of experimentation. I have then plateaued in that

particular task. We know that children hit plateaus in their learning and

the evidence for this may be a change in their approach to problem

solving and/or a loss of confidence.

So, what does this mean to us as teachers?

Can we prevent the procedural learners from plateauing early in their

school careers?

Can we teach children to be proceptural learners?

Can we diagnose those learning procedurally and encourage a more

proceptural approach?

Should we be recognising when children hit their plateau and encourage

them to progress procepturally?

Perhaps we can teach procepturally…

Andy Giles is a former Headmaster and now a Director with

I am not sure that there are any correct answers but, if we recognise the

way that children are approaching certain calculations, it will help us as

teachers to offer them alternative methods of arriving at the answer and

may encourage mathematical thinking.

In the next edition of InnovatED, I will describe in more detail the types of

methods children employ to solve simple mathematical problems and

how this might inform our teaching •

Independent Schools Portal. For further information or


request his full research around Procedural and


learners, please make direct contact:


Helpful tips when supporting parents

Issue 2 | innovatED | | 11

Helping Parents Deal with Loss

Nicola Clifford

Dealing with loss

I have just returned from a three week trip to Sydney, the circumstances brought about by the

news that my sister who resides there has just had a stillborn baby. This kind of sudden and

unexpected death is a huge shock to any parent waiting to welcome a new baby into their

family but as a society there is little guidance and information on the best way to support

families through 'the worst thing that can happen'. Since my trip I have learned that for every

baby who dies from cot death, there are 30 stillborn babies. As educators we have a duty to be

as informed as possible about the helpful things to say to a grieving family and with the kind

permission of my sister, I am able to share some of her milestone moments.

The first decision was how to tell my three year old nephew Felix about

what had happened to 'baby sister', closely followed by telling his daycare

teachers that the excited countdown to the 'big day' had ended with the

worst possible outcome. We told Felix using direct but simple language

that, “baby sister had died” and we avoided euphemisms such as 'she is an

angel' or 'she had to go to heaven'. This avoids any unnecessary confusion

and is the best possible foundation for future questioning.

Every family is different and their experience is unique. It is most helpful

when supporting a family in this circumstance to ask them, “What kind of

language are you using?” and to find out how much understanding the

child has. We must be mindful not to project our beliefs into this scenario

and avoid saying things like 'things happen for a reason' or 'she'll be

waiting for you'. Thankfully the daycare teachers were able to gauge

Felix's level of understanding very quickly and were prepared if he asked

them any questions about baby sister.

This kind of loss happens in such a public way and it became quickly

apparent that there was no longer a baby bump or a baby. My sister's

friends who were pregnant expressed how guilty they felt that they were

still pregnant and were unsure how to behave around my sister.

Thankfully they were honest with her and she reassured them that she felt

so happy for them and asked them not to act differently around her. Other

people may respond differently and it is always best to be mindful of the

parent dynamics in your class.

On the day that Xanthe should have been born we gathered in a park by

the waterside to light lanterns and around 40 friends and family gathered

to support my sister and her partner to acknowledge that their baby

daughter existed. Everybody expressed how much they appreciated

this opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings and photographs

taken on the day will go into the memory box that my sister created for

12 | Issue 2 | innovatED |

Nicola with her Son, Flynn, at Pownall Hall School,

Cheshire, shortly before he died in a head on car

collision on the way to school.

Xanthe. It is worthy to note that other grievers may choose to isolate in this

situation and this also applies to siblings or other family members such as

grandparents. Siblings may display an inability to concentrate or focus in

class and homework may not be completed on time (if at all). It is

important to maintain contact with families during this time and be flexible

about deadlines etc.

When I returned to work at Pownall Hall School, the compassion shown to

me by my colleagues was gratefully received. It had been some short

weeks earlier that 16 members of staff participated in my 'Helping

Children Deal With Loss' course, little did I realise how much I myself

would benefit from their training! Grief is afterall a normal and natural

response to loss and it was lovely to be able to talk about my story

without anyone 'running for the hills'. In the past I had felt the need to 'be

strong for others' and I could have won an academy award for 'being fine',

but I chose to be honest with my colleagues and say, “I am feeling rubbish

today”. This simple act of honesty saved much needed energy and

brought much needed understanding and compassion •

tips when supporting parents


Do not avoid a bereaved parent

Express your concern with kindness and ask 'what happened?'

Do say 'I want to support you however I can, what can I do?'

Do say 'I cannot imagine how you feel'

Never say 'I know how you feel'' because every loss is unique

Never say 'Will you try again? You can have another one'

Allow as much time as you can for listening

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Your opinion is the one that

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your prefered design, merge

some together, or request

alterations until we get it just

right, for you

Either we can arrange the

items to be printed and sent to

you, or we can send you the

final product digitally. The

finished product is yours to do

with what you like.

Growth Mindset

Director of Teaching and Learning, St. Olave's School, York

Catherine Lees

Growth Mindset & Maths Setting – Mutually Incompatible?

We set in maths. We are a growth mindset school.

Some may question how these two sentences can stand side by side;

surely they are impossible to reconcile? How can we claim that a child

can improve if they try hard enough, while simultaneously telling them

they are only ‘good enough’ to be in the bottom maths set? Are growth

mindset and maths setting not incompatible?

Maths is a subject unlike any other in the curriculum. It speaks a language

which is unlike any other. It seems mysterious and intimidating to many of

us and there are grown adults whose palms start sweating when a

memory of their own struggle in some distant maths classroom are

brought unexpectedly to mind. I’m one of those adults myself. The power

of these emotional reactions to maths can colour our perception of it and

some of the worry we feel about it is probably passed onto our children.

Many schools say they have more queries and questions about maths

than they do about any other subject in the curriculum. Far more than they

receive about English, for example, which underpins most of the rest of

the curriculum. So why is it that schools receive so many requests that a

child be moved up a set?

I wonder whether it comes down to three main issues:

Some pupil feels bad about being placed in a lower set and they think

they will feel better about themselves in a higher set.

Pupils compare themselves with one another and not all these

comparisons are fair or kind.

There is a perception that the higher sets will do topics the lower sets

won’t do.

Teachers can continue to address all of these issues in various ways at

school but they need parents’ help. At St Olave’s our approach to these

three issues is as follows:

1. Feeling bad about being placed in a lower set.

We want pupils to try and separate their ideas of success with ‘doing

better than others’ because constantly comparing themselves with others

will lead to worry, pressure and unhappiness.

Our first and most important consideration when setting in maths is how

fast a child needs the pace of a lesson to be. Some pupils read the

language of maths far more quickly than others. If a pupil needs a bit more

time to translate this language, being in a room with a pupil who always

seems to be a step ahead and is always pushing for things to go faster

can be disheartening and exhausting. Some pupils work fast but

inaccurately. They may need to be taught how to slow down a little to

allow their brain to catch up with their pen. Some pupils feel as if the pace

of a lesson is too slow but are not noticing errors in their work. They need

to be taught how to find and correct these errors, which again takes time.

As children’s most important role models they will take their cue about

how they should feel about their set from their parent’s reaction. If parents

seem upset, disappointed or surprised by the maths set they have been

put in, pupils may well feel that they have let them down in some way,

which will sap their confidence. Feeling confident in maths lessons is

vitally important; without confidence there is no risk-taking. Every hand

raised to offer an answer and every sum written in their book is a risk

Helpful tips when supporting parents

because the pupil knows they might be wrong. A child scared of making

mistakes is a child afraid to learn. This fear can be crippling. If a child

senses there is no point trying hard or taking risks because judgements

about their ‘ability’ has already been made, then they may simply stop


Simply put, if parents worry about which set their child is in, their child will

worry, and this may well affect their confidence and their progress.

14 | Issue 2 | innovatED |

Spring 2018

2. Pupils compare themselves with one another and not all these

comparisons are fair or kind.

We have worked hard to remove as many ways in which pupils can

compare themselves to others as possible. We do not grade work. We do

not rank pupils. We do not compare pupils’ work in lessons. This is

because the only thing that matters to us is how much better each child is

getting at something, not how many people they have out-performed.

However, we know that pupils like to seek out ways of comparing

themselves; one of these ways is comparing maths sets.

We always address unkind words when we hear them (or hear about

them) and we hold assemblies, chapel services, PSHEE, philosophy

lessons and form discussions on these topics and their repercussions but,

again, we need parents’ help.

Part of growth mindset is accepting that there is always going to be

someone with more knowledge, or better skills than you have. That fact

would make someone with a fixed mindset give up. After all, if I’m never

going to be top, what’s the point of trying? The flip side of this is the

acknowledgement that every time I increase my skills or knowledge, by

even a tiny amount, I close the gap between the me I am now and the

best version of me I can be. It isn’t about what they can do, it’s about what

I can do (and what I could do next).

Reinforcing this message at home by refusing to engage in any kind of

comparison between classmates or siblings will help pupils to accept their

effort is important to you, rather than their perception of their position in

the cohort. Let’s not forget that an average year group is not a nationally

average group. An iGCSE is a nationally standardised qualification, so

comparisons to others in our school are pretty meaningless in the grand

scheme of things.

3. There is a perception that the higher sets will get more done.

The bottom sets will work more slowly through the work but they will

cover the same teaching points as the top sets. Those who have worked

faster will cover a topic in more breadth, rather than moving onto a new

topic. All pupils take the same exam at the end of the year. Some

questions in the exam will be aimed at stretching those who are fluent in

the language but everyone will be able to access the vast majority of the


What do we want you to take from this?

A decision on a maths set is not a value judgement. It is not a criticism of

previous teaching (or of your parenting). It is not an indication of how your

child will do at iGCSE. It shows where, right now, your child sits as far as

pace and accuracy is concerned. Those things can change, and so can

sets: when we decide it’s the right time, based on everything we know

about your child. This is how growth mindset and maths setting can sit

comfortably side by side •

Helpful tips when supporting parents

Solution Driven Practice

Problem? No problem!

Teacher, Author & Associate, Independent Thinking

Lisa Ashes

Irritation was creeping like a venomous spider up Jo’s spine. Jaw tight

and eye twitching, the ‘new’ lesson planning policy being introduced

was almost enough to induce chair flipping. No chairs were flipped.

This may be the fourth ‘new’ initiative being introduced this week but

Jo knew to keep quiet and add it to the never ending to do list. With so

many Assistant Heads determined to prove their 'value', Jo had no

choice but to crank up the work and crank down the family life.

Jo’s situation sounds hopeless, doesn’t it? Jo can see the problems

mounting but does nothing to stop the nonsense. Jo is not powerless! Jo

experiences the problems but avoids responsibility. The comfort of victim

is tempting when faced with a problem. If you are a victim to the system, a

cog in its chaotic wheel, you are not to blame… Actually, as a cog, you are

allowing the chaos to continue unchallenged. You are always responsible

for your actions, even if that action is inaction. You know that the marking,

lesson planning or whole school behaviour policies are not working but

you do them anyway, using your energy bitching about them in the

staffroom or to your ever-neglected family.

Problems are a part of the struggle of life. If you dream of serenity in your

situation, walking around in a state of Nirvana as the marking pile

magically decreases, the initiatives slip seamlessly into your routines and

every child succeeds without struggle, you will end your days in

disappointment. Problems exist and, as you solve one problem, another

will appear in its place. Accepting this truth is the first step towards finding

comfort in your reality and becoming active in solution driven (not

deluded) practice.

Being comfortable with the existence of problems does not mean passive

acceptance. The struggle involved in the solutions of problems is richly

rewarding… if we see it through to the end. The struggle can lead to

success and success breeds confidence in tackling the next problem that

arises. To face the struggle, you will need to turn on your inner creativity.

You must get rid of creativity blockers such as, “I can’t,” or “It’s not my

place” or “I have already tried and failed.” There is always another way.

You must look again with fresh eyes and question, “How can I solve this to

improve the current situation?”

Classroom Based Problem – The little things that might drive us crazy

in our own rooms

The problem: There were many persistent absentees in class A. When

they returned, the teacher’s time was taken up with re-teaching sections

of work. The pupils always needed extra support because of gaps in their

knowledge and they were showing a distinct lack of independence.

Potential get out clause: It is their own fault for not turning up to school..

Solution: The super stuck wall was designed to provide information

already taught. Essentially, it was folders stuck to a wall with commonly

asked questions about previous learning linked to each folder. When

pupils asked questions, instead of taking up the teacher’s time in reexplanation,

the pupils would be pointed to the wall and asked to find out

the information for themselves.

Review: It took no time at all for the class to get used to the stuck wall.

Preparing the information in hindsight added to the workload of the

teacher. However, once it was established that this was a successful way

to avoid repeating lessons and create independent attitudes to learning,

the teacher began to have this strategy in the initial plans rather than after

the fact.

Wider School – The bigger issues that we could work together to solve

Problem: The ‘stage not age’ class misbehave for everyone. Observing

Helpful tips when supporting parents

their attitudes, the teachers found that they had poor attitudes to learning.

Phrases such as “what’s the point.” and “I can’t read.” were common

excuses to get out of learning. They had experienced failure for so long

that to protect themselves, they hid behind their past attainment as an

excuse never to try.

Potential get out clause: Don’t worry. They are like this for everyone.

16 | Issue 2 |

Spring 2018

Solution: The cross curricular PLTS (personal learning and thinking skills)

log was created and used by several willing teachers. The pupils were

each given a log and the teachers were on the lookout for positive

learning behaviours. When a positive learning behaviour was observed,

the pupil was quietly rewarded with a sticker in the appropriate section.

For example, if a pupil came equipped with a pen, they were rewarded

with acknowledgement in the ‘self-manager’ section. The log was carried

around from class to class and, after a week, the person with the most

achievements won a small prize. The following week, the most improved

student won and so on.

Review: Pupils felt the reward that came with the effort of learning how to

learn. Once pupils noticed their peers being rewarded for something as

simple as listening to a partner (team worker) they saw how easy the

rewards were to gain and began to copy the good learning behaviours. As

this approach was consistent from class to class, their behaviour began to

improve across the curriculum. This became an excellent case study to

demonstrate to the remaining teachers the benefits of getting on board

with the initiative.

Beyond School – Parents, community and the world beyond

The problem: Pupils are not engaged in reading because there is not a

culture of reading in their home. Parents often pretend to have read with

their children but there is no engagement in reading once pupils leave the


For over twenty years Independent Thinking has been working

across the UK and globally to help schools help children and

young people be brilliant. Established by educational

innovator and award-winning author, Ian Gilbert, Independent

Thinking does what it's name suggests, supporting all those in

education who want to think for themselves. A unique

organisation, we tap into some of the UK's leading

practitioners to help them share expertise across all areas and

phases of education, whether through workshops for young

people, whole-school training days for staff, sessions with

parents and governors, conferences with school leaders or

through many award-winning books.

Potential get out clause: There is nothing I can do

to reach them once they have left school.

Solution: Using a closed app, already being used

to communicate with parents, teachers began to

video the children reading to them. Instead of

simply reading the book with their child, parents

were invited to view their child reading online. The

child would have the book with them and

alongside the parent, would answer pre-set

questions to recall their story, characters and

ideas. Parents would then be invited to share their

discussions via the app too.

Review: Most parents want to see photographs or

videos of their child in school. Thanks to digital

technology, this is very simple to achieve and can

be done at a time that suits them. Using a parent’s

love of seeing their child online and the focus of a

good book, we can make the steps towards

engaging the parent in their child’s reading.


No two contexts are alike. The above solutions

may not work for you if copied verbatim. What

each solution has in common is that a teacher or a

group of teachers decided to take responsibility in

seeking the solution to learning barriers.

A teacher like Jo may feel an avalanche of

problems has left them so buried that they will

never again see light. Choosing one problem at a

time will get you out from under the weight… or

you can always choose to remain buried and

blame your problems for the early exit from a job

you love. That is also your choice.

With every solution you find, another problem will

arise. The more problems you solve, the more

your confidence in finding a solution will soar.

Take responsibility. Start small and feel the

euphoria and release that getting creative with the

small stuff can bring. From the small successes

will come bigger successes and who knows where

your problem-solving capabilities could take you •

Helpful tips when supporting parents

Mindfulness – it starts with us teachers

Ruth Farenga


School teachers often say to me ‘we have to sort out Mindfulness for the kids—they are so stressed!'

Yet these teachers are often themselves stressed, strung out and full to the brim. Now a teacher’s

workload isn’t easily solved, but can we alleviate the pressures we add on ourselves? I’m talking about our thought

patterns, our ruminations and our inner-critic–something that we all experience. Difficult times in our lives may be

unavoidable but do we heap additional pressures on top of the inevitable?

‘Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional’ ~Haruki Murakami.

Mindfulness training can help.

So what really is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is best described as learning to live life more fully in the

present moment. It’s about building awareness and becoming ‘the

observer’ of your own thoughts and feelings. When we train ourselves to

watch our thoughts and feelings as they ebb and flow, we are no longer

captured and submerged by them.

"Mindfulness is paying attention to what’s happening in the present

moment in the mind, body and external environment, with an attitude of

curiosity and kindness.


~ Mindful Nation UK, All Party Parliamentary Group for Mindfulness

However, it is a long-term practice–something we can train on and build

over time.

What are the myths?

There is a lot of incorrect information written (and spoken) about

Mindfulness, so here’s a few to dispel straight away!

Myth number 1 – Mindfulness is about relaxing

Mindfulness is not about relaxing – it may be a welcome by-product, but

that also may not be the experience and that is ok – nothing has gone

wrong. It is more about ‘being with’ our experience just the way it is and

adopting a friendly curiosity and non-judgemental approach.

Myth number 2 – Mindfulness is about clearing the mind of all thoughts

Mindfulness is actually about noticing thoughts and choosing whether to

engage with them: allowing yourself to come back to a point of focus.

Myth number 3 – Mindfulness is passive

It is certainly not! Mindfulness is not about giving in or being weak and airy

fairy, it’s about learning to respond rather that than react, to act skilfully

yet compassionately.

Can you give me something practical I can do?

Yes! What would it be like to press pause, to breathe, to make space?

In our ever-demanding world, there is a danger that we simply squeeze

more in and do things faster.

18 | Issue 2 |

By doing one thing after another after another, we can find that the energy

from one task continues onto the next task, gathering steam as we charge

through our day. Consequently, by the end of the day, we can be

exhausted, scattered and strung out.

By allowing pauses, we can come back to where we are, check in with our

bodies and our minds and allow the dust to settle.

Would you like to pause with me?

If you’d like to pause with me right now then sit upright, with your back

away from the back of the chair if you can.

Feel the weight of your body coming down – feel your feet on the floor

as they connect with the ground.

Check in with your body – ask yourself how you are feeling.

Gently, bring your attention to your breath down in your abdomen.

Without trying to change the breath, allow the breath to breathe itself.

Feel the full sensations of each breath.

If your mind wanders, just gently bring it back to your breath in your


Focus on the inbreath for a few breaths.

And now the outbreath.

And pulling the two together, perhaps for 5 breaths, breathing with the

full sensation of each inbreath and each outbreath.

Widening your attention now and taking it out to your whole body as if

your whole body was breathing.

Breathing through the pores of your skin.

Connecting again with the weight of your body as we come back.

Taking a moment to check in, to just rest in awareness.

So why is looking after ourselves so important?

It’s the old adage – ‘put on your own oxygen mask before helping others’.

By training in a restorative practice such as this, we can ultimately have

more to give to pupils, friends and family.

‘Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves’ ~ Pema

Chödrön •

Mindful Pathway offer Mindfulness training for staff and employees as

well as the public – helping people find their own way to more

happiness and balance in their lives. We are based in St Albans in

Hertfordshire but travel nationwide for training.

More information can be found at




Saturday 27 January 2018

9.00am - 4.00pm

Cost (including lunch): £45 per delegate

For more information, call 01904 527372 or


Registered Charity Number: 1141329

Festival of Learning

Holmewood House

Festival of Learning

14th - 15th June 2018


in association with the

Independent Schools Portal

20 | Issue 2 | innovatED |

Spring 2018

We are living in a time of immense technological

change and the world of education is being asked to

keep up. In truth, we’re being asked to stay one step

ahead, to ensure that the knowledge and skills we

teach our pupils today will not become obsolete


The span of a child’s education from three to eighteen

is short, comparatively speaking. But mapped against

the exponential rate of technological advancement,

fifteen years is a lifetime, an epoch, during which

working landscapes and lifestyles change and new

paradigms open up. Given that so many of the most

sought after jobs today were not even conceived of

fifteen years ago, predicting the future for our

Reception pupils isn’t easy, though we’d all agree there

are still some obsolescence-proof skills worth teaching

(many of which lie in a hidden curriculum eclipsed by

an academic syllabus drawn up a generation ago).

Educational institutions strive to reflect the real world

that hurtles past their classroom windows, a whirligig

world of multimedia, multimodality and multitasking.

Rightly, we aim to incorporate new technologies and

new ways of collaborating, innovating and

communicating into our teaching and learning so that

school remains relevant and meaningful. We worry

about how we will prepare them for a re-imagined

world, for which the blueprint has not been written yet.

Issue 2 | innovatED | | 21

Festival of Learning

But children are of their time, it is their future and many of the skills they

amass outside school through gamification, online socialising and navigating

the myriad ways in which information comes to them, are gearing them up

for life beyond school.

Attention spans aren’t worse than they were, they have evolved. Our

students may still have the thirty-minute attention span we require, but

they’ve learned to divide it up into five six-minute tasks and do them at the

same time. A ten year old child is quite able to play Minecraft, search for

downloadable add-ons, chat with his friend on WhatsApp, argue with his

sister and eat a packet of crisps all at the same time. He does not have

issues with his attention span; he is of his time.

Our current Reception pupils will leave full-time school in 2031. The future

is not over there, or round the corner, or in the distance, it is here –

because the children are here. They are of their time. Perhaps we should

watch and listen and let them show us how they have evolved – because

while we’ve been debating and discussing and hammering out new ways

of making our teaching more contemporaneous, they’ve been steadily

evolving under our noses. If we have trouble with our iPhone upgrades, or

operating a smart TV, or deciphering text-speak, we ask a child and they

sort if for us.

And so the theme for this, our inaugural Festival of Learning, is;

‘The Future is Already Here’.

The obsolescence-proof skills of collaboration, innovation and

communication are guides for how we have designed our festival. There

are no borders or boundaries when it comes to best practice. We wish to

invite colleagues from all sorts of schools in all sorts of settings – because

we all face the same future.

We believe that we can learn a great deal from colleagues in

maintained and independent sector schools. Cross-sector support and

collaboration will ultimately benefit the children and, we hope, support

teacher well-being.

We would like to reach out to creative, imaginative teachers and school

leaders who, like us, share a desire for ensuring that what we do during the

school day reflects, and prepares children for, what is happening outside

our school gates. We want to ensure that we’re ready, and our children are

ready, for whatever is coming. And we wish to do so in a way that is

collaborative and innovative.

We are optimistic for the future of education and we are pleased to host a

symposium for kindred spirits to connect, share ideas and feel re-energised

for the task that lies ahead.

To this end, we have booked some inspirational speakers for our keynotes

and we are staging some highly creative and practical workshops. We have

also invited a wide range of innovative service providers and publishers

whom you can meet, to find out what is out there now to help us in our

teaching, learning and leading.

We would be delighted if you would join us for what we are sure will be an

energising and inspiring festival of learning. We are all model learners for

our children, in whatever setting we teach; none of us have all the answers,

but as a collective, we can probably work it out; together we can probably

articulate an accurate vision of the future; and together we can probably

work out what we’re going to do about it.•

Register your interest at:

22 | Issue 2 | innovatED |

The FREE recruitment website for schools

from the Independent Schools Portal

Launches February 2018

Free Services

Your own school login area

Post and self-manage jobs

Upload your application documents

Track job views & document


Receive direct applications

Tools to help you manage your

recruitment process

Support Services

Job Management Service: Quality assuring

the ad text, pro-active advert monitoring,

additional & extra promotion as appropriate

via the featured jobs box, social media

promotion & Portal newsletter


Short-listing, based on telephone interview

Fully managed senior recruitment

Comprehensive recruitment training

programmes for schools

Why not get in touch with our experienced education Recruitment Director,

Monika Fryzicka, to discuss how you can remove the pain of recruitment?

There is no-risk and you can trial it in parallel with your existing recruitment

channels at no-cost.

Just email

or call +44 (0) 7739 025937

Difficult Conversations

Maria Brosnan

& Sonia Gill

Difficult conversations: 10 Mistakes to avoid

Effective, clear and direct lines of communication are essential for any

high-performing organisation, including schools. One of the most

challenging aspects of this is the ability of leaders to have successful

difficult conversations. Leadership experts Maria Brosnan and Sonia

Gill identify 10 common mistakes, which, if avoided, can help ensure

the smooth running of a school.

1. Waiting too long to raise the issue with the person

Who likes conflict? Pretty much no-one (including us!) So it’s no surprise

that most of us will avoid having a difficult conversation. We wait too long

and it usually makes it more difficult.

When this happens, be honest and start by telling them why you didn’t

raise it before. There could be a range of reasons, such as

- You didn’t want to hurt their feelings

- You thought it was a one-off but now a pattern has emerged

- You hoped the issue would fix itself and because it hasn’t you feel you

need to raise it now.

2. Making excuses for why you don't need to have the conversation

Almost everyone avoids difficult conversations by making excuses. These

may feel valid but they’re not good reasons to avoid the conversation.

Be aware of making excuses and discuss them with your team or

someone else you trust. Hold each other accountable when you might be

using them.

3. Thinking you can't raise an issue about behaviour

Talking about performance is one thing, but talking to a member of your

team about their behavior feels far more personal. They are just as

important, as they can be equally damaging if not managed well.

If you’re not ready to start addressing behaviour issues with your staff

then ask them for feedback on your behaviour, this will help break down

the wall that stands in the way of talking about behaviour.

4. Not having specific examples to back up what you're saying.

Whatever issue you are tackling, you have to make sure you have

examples to back this up. If you don’t, then simply don’t have the

conversation until you do. If you never have examples then either you’re

focused on the wrong issue or there is no issue.

If you think someone is lazy or rude, or some other behaviour you need to

address, work out what makes you think this and find three really good

examples that will illustrate this to the other person.

5. Not being clear on the issue

It’s important that we're clear in our own mind what the issue is. If we're

not clear, how can we expect the other person to be? It's unfair on the

other person who is left guessing, or even guessing incorrectly.

Clarity is king. Talk to a colleague and ask them to check if the issue

you’re going to raise is clear to them.

6. Not telling people what you want in place of the problem

This relates to point 5 in that we need to tell people what we want to

happen using specific language and examples.

24 | Issue 2 | innovatED |

When preparing for a difficult conversation, or if you find yourself in one,

try to answer this question: If they were to make the change you wanted

tomorrow, what would be different? Describe this in detail.

7. Thinking you know the best way to fix the problem

Most of us like to solve problems and when faced with an issue that

requires a difficult conversation, we start to think about solutions. The

problem is we only know some of the reason behind the issue, so there's a

good chance our solution won't solve the problem in a way that works for


If you think you have a solution, try to wait until the other person has

shared how they think it can be fixed before offering your solution. If you

find this hard (and lots of people do), try writing it on a piece of paper to

help you manage your desire to tell them. It sounds silly but it works.

8. Not thinking about how you deliver the message

People think about different things before having a difficult conversation,

but most don't think about their non-verbal communication. This carries a

lot of information and can be the difference between a difficult

conversation and a successful one.

Try mirroring some body language, for example sit how the other person

sits. This simple technique will help you both relax.

9. Thinking that having a difficult conversation will damage the


It’s common for people to worry about damaging a relationship by having

a difficult conversation. But often these conversations make relationships

stronger because the best relationships are ones where you can all share

your views, even the hard ones.

Start by explaining your concern for your relationship and why this tough

conversation is so important; this will help you both have a better


10. Talking about the important stuff away from the conversation and

with other people

We’ve all had a tough conversation and not said what was on our mind in

the meeting. We come out and fume to a friend instead!

Speak the unspoken. If you feel something or think the other person does

simply say what you feel or see. For instance, ‘‘Your face has dropped, will

you tell me how you’re feeling?’ ‘I feel upset at what you have said and I

would like to explain why...’ ‘I can see this is an emotional topic for you and

I would like to work with you to resolve this issue.’

Maria Brosnan is an experienced Edtech

entrepreneur and leadership mentor. She will be

working with the Independent Schools Portal at a

number of Network Meetings in 2018.

Sonia Gill is a founder and director of Heads Up

Limited, an education leadership consultancy which

specialises in supporting schools become outstanding.

Their training and coaching is recommended by the

100s of school leaders she has worked with.

To find out more visit

Sonia’s book ‘Successful Difficult Conversations in

School’ is out on 15th January, published by John Catt.

The Lily Foundation

ISP Charity of the Year

you are able to support this amazing charity and Karen's


Journey please visit:


Spring 2018

We are delighted to announce that we are supporting the wonderful

charity, The Lily Foundation, as our Charity of the Year 2018.

In 2017, we decided to appoint a charity of the year for 2018 for which we will raise awareness and try

to raise funds. For our Business Development Director, Karen Burns, there was only one choice, the

amazing Lily Foundation.

The Lily Foundation is the UK's leading charity dedicated to fighting mitochondrial disease. Their

mission is to support people whose lives are affected by the condition, raise awareness and fund

research into its prevention, diagnosis and treatment. 10 million people in the UK suffer from diseases in

which mitochondrial dysfunction is believed to be involved, and every day in the UK a baby is born that

will develop mitochondrial disease. The Lily Foundation is fighting to change this, with their ultimate

aim being to one day find a cure.

Mitochondrial disease is a very serious genetic condition that can affect any person at any time in their

life. The term refers not to one specific illness but to a number of diseases caused by faulty

mitochondria, the tiny batteries present in every cell in our bodies and which are responsible for

generating over 90% of the energy we need to live.

When mitochondria fail it can affect any part of the body. A person with mitochondrial disease may

suffer from poor growth, seizures, muscle weakness, vision and / or hearing loss, learning disabilities or

problems with their heart, lungs, brain or other organs. This makes the condition hard to diagnose, as

the symptoms can mimic other serious illnesses.

For Karen, this is a charity close to her heart as in October 2013, the daughter of some close friends was

diagnosed with the disease, and now age 6, beautiful, smiley Poppy is unable to sit unaided or walk,

finds it difficult to swallow and has lost the ability to speak. It is heartbreaking to see and know that

there is no treatment and no cure.

Poppy is a complete ray of sunshine, despite

being faced with a life limiting, debilitating

condition for which there is no cure.

We will be promoting and supporting the Lily Foundation throughout 2018, at our events and in our publications and Karen is embarking upon the London

Marathon in April in a bid to raise at least £2,500 to contribute to the vital support that the Lily Foundation gives to families affected by Mitochondrial

Disease and also the essential research they do in this complex field, so that one day we can hopefully find a cure.

Any support that you can give to our 2018 campaign will go directly to the Lily Foundation towards funding their absolutely vital work in this field.


Registered Charity number: 1122071

Issue 2 | innovatED | | 25

Educational Fads

20 Years of educational fads

Ross Morrison McGill

Ross is the Managing Director of @TeacherToolkit and was nominated as one of the ‘500

Most Influential People in the Britain’ by Debrett’s for his influence on education. Ross is

also an award-winning teacher, author and blogger. He is frequently asked to speak at

national conferences across the UK and is asked to reflect on educational developments in

various newspapers about education policy.

Over the last 20 years teachers in the UK have been exposed to so much education hearsay – information

received from other people which cannot be substantiated – and gimmicks, fads and myths we’ve all had to

endure in our schools. What follows is a list of 20 fads, in no particular order and sadly, not exhaustive!


Hearsay: A member of the school leadership team attends a conference led by the government or a watchdog organisation. After hearing what the

apparent organisation was looking for to a) raise achievement or b) improve teaching, the aforementioned senior leader would race back into their

school and instruct all teachers to do the following the very next day! This meant an entire change of pedagogy and approach in the classroom for every


Myth: Once the above ‘hearsay’ had caught on and was performed in military precision for observations and the like, visiting teachers would observe

what they see, read or hear and return to their own institution and say: “You should see what they are doing at X school, every teacher is

teaching/marking/planning/analysing in this way and it looks great. Several months later, the school is inspected and OfSTED like what they see;

published their report and quote “X school marks books effectively and all students respond to feedback in a way that aids rapid progress.” Before you

know it, what was said at the original meeting becomes one person’s interpretation and has now become a myth that travels up and down the country.

Fad: As a result of the above mentioned myth, the trend soon catches on and schools, school leaders and all teachers are now jumping through hoops,

performing teaching/marking/planning/analysing in a particular way for the observer or for student progress. This has now become a ‘fad’ that

everyone must be able to do.

Gimmick: Soon the fad because over-egged and flaws in the idea are exposed in inspections, from peers, online or in publications. What was once know

as an ‘OfSTED fad’ has now become a ‘gimmick’ and less than half the number of schools have stopped wasting time on ideas that a) have teachers

jumping through hoops or b) have no correlation to research, effect size or evidence on student progress.

1. Learning styles:

… audio, visual and kinaesthetic learning styles. Research from both ends

of the spectrum state that there is no such thing as ‘learning styles’ (Riener

and Willingham 2010) .

The result? Gimmick.

2. Lesson objectives:

The framing or copying of lesson objectives in still commonplace today;

“All students will; most students will; some students will …” meant that

teachers had to record three variations of their lesson aims on to lesson

plans and on to the blackboard/whiteboard (depending on how long you

have been teaching). The intention meant that you were planning to

‘predict’ differentiation from various outputs from groups of students,

despite having 20-30 students in every class that would produce that

number of varied results. Debra Kidd recently renounced this as a waste

of time in her book.

The result? Fad.

26 | Issue 2 | innovatED |

Spring 2018

3. Learning outcomes:

… once the lesson was

taught, students were

required to write what their

learning outcome was. This

was further proof for the

observer and for the

inspectorate that teaching

and learning were

synchronised in perfect

harmony. However, there is

nothing wrong with sharing

with students where they

should be going. After-all,

which one of us would start

out on our degree or driving

lesson, not knowing what the

desired outcome should be?

The result? Myth.

4. Rapid progress (OfSTED):

… stipulated in the School Inspection Handbook, that students must show

rapid progress, before this myth was busted, school leaders were

interpreting the handbook and teachers were expected to show ‘students

making rapid progress’ in lesson observations. This soon became a

requirement to show in a 20 minute observation! Why? Because this was

the period observers – school leaders and OfSTED inspectors were

anticipated to be in any classroom.

The result? Hearsay.

5. APP (Assessing Pupil Progress):

When I first came across Assessing Pupil Progress in 2008, an enthusiastic

teacher demonstrated how assessment was measured using a fancy

piece of software. I looked on in horror at the countless sub-levels of data,

entered into a database to record knowledge and skills demonstrated by

a single child. APP was developed for use in schools to enable them to

apply Assessment for Learning (AfL) consistently across both the

secondary and primary National Curriculum. . The coalition government

got rid of it in 2010. Good riddance.

The result? Fad.

6. Chinese teaching:

The television series ‘Are Our Kids Tough Enough?‘ was entertainment and

was never going to provide us with a true perspective. Despite research,

high-profile celebrities and politicians proclaiming the wonderful work of

our Shanghai counterparts, at no point does anyone proclaim that in order

to achieve these high-standards, teachers only teach two lessons a day.

Over the past 18 months, I have received frequent invitations to events,

marketed by teaching alliances, MATs and corporate organisers to attend

schools hosting Chinese teachers, teaching in their schools. The promise

of ‘maths teachers and Shanghai teaching methods showcased to UK

teachers in a school near you.’ I kid you not, they all appeared in my work

‘inbox’ on several occasions throughout the year. I eventually did attend

one event. I also sent my maths teachers to 2 or 3 events and we

did nothing to change the work we are already did. ‘We [are] blindly

following the Chinese approach to teaching maths’ said The Guardian. Oh,

and each of these supported by exemplar text books, already handcrafted

for subject teachers waiting to consume another promised silver


The result? Fad.

7. PLTS (Personal, Learning, Thinking Skills):

Consigned to the National Archives – that says it all really – PLTS provided

a framework for describing the qualities and skills needed for success in

learning and life. If only we knew the secret for adulthood, teaching and

successful relationships too? Nice idea, but impossible to put a framework

in place to determine the skills a child needs to become successful.

Maybe now replaced by ‘character education’?

The result? Gimmick.

8. Textbooks:

Nick Gibb is obsessed with textbooks being used more widely by teachers

in classroom, but it was advocated long-before the not-missed-at-all

Elizabeth Truss was given her marching orders. She made a number of

speeches in 2014 in which she advocated a return to the regular use of the

textbook. The problem is, the knowledge-base of most subjects has now

become so extensive, that it has become increasingly difficult for teachers

to cram everything in to the limited number of periods a week they have

with each class! You only need to take a closer look at the publishers and

their relationships with those that promote them to find this ideology is all

a little incestuous.

The result? Fad.

9. iPads:

I’ve yet to find myself working in a school that uses iPads extensively in all

subjects with all students, but that’s not to say I don’t advocate technology

in the classroom. It has a place, but it certainly should not replace the role

of the teacher. Using iPads in the classroom is expensive and I have seen

it work well, but I’ve also seen it lead students down the ‘garden-path’ and

have seen teachers get frustrated with the technology and students turn

to ‘Google’ for the answers all-too-often. Show me the research please.

The result? The jury is still out…

10. Sitting in rows:

I have seen teachers sit students in rows in all sorts of subjects. Maths,

technology, art and English. Some are great, some not-so much. Either

way, whatever works for those teachers and their students is what’s best.

It is the duty of colleagues observing/coaching to intervene if they

believe the techniques a teacher is using in their classroom – even the

seating plan – is detrimental to the teaching and learning of the class.

The result? Fad.

11. Group work:

Every subject requires collaboration. To say a teacher should always have

students working/sitting in groups to explore and discover has a place in

the classroom, but it certainly should not be the default method for

teachers. Direct instruction and teacher clarity has the greatest impact on

student progress. To allow students to discover learning for themselves in

project-based learning serves its purpose, only if students have the

prerequisite knowledge and skills in order to do so. If you first achieve this

objective with students working in rows or groups, that is the teacher’s


The result? Fad

Issue 2 | innovatED | | 27

Educational Fads

12. Zero-tolerance:

Every school should have a behaviour policy that is rational, flexible and

simple enough to cater for all students. Most work on the basis of a ‘ready,

respectful, safe’ methodology which is simple and offers clarity for

everyone. In schools where I have seen over-complicated policies, even

teachers are confused by the rules and the series of consequences to

action! In every school, when not imposing appropriate sanctions, students

will find the gaps and sift out teachers who bend the rules and undermine


If a school promotes a ‘zero tolerance’ approach, how confident are these

institutions in helping young people to learn from their mistakes? How do

their permanent exclusion figures read? Every school should have a

behaviour policy which promotes learning and aims to cull disruption or

defiance. To say you do have a ‘zero tolerance’ approach, or something

quite the opposite such as an ‘inclusive approach’, is just lip-service for

parents and visitors. Every school requires students to learn in a safe and

respectful environment. To promote that a school is tough on discipline,

and better than any other, is in-line with ideologies promoted by those

that look to commercialise education via the academies and free school


Every school wants good behaviour.

The result? Fad.

17. Lesson planning:

Yes, believe it or not, teachers were required to write detailed lesson plans

(2-3 A4 pages) for every lesson and submit them to their teams and/or the

inspectors for lesson observations. Although the myth of writing detailed

lesson plans is largely debunked, there are strong rumours that 1,000s of

primary schools still ask their teachers to submit weekly lesson plans to

their headteachers. The result, teachers spend their entire Sundays writing

weekly planning sheets, to submit on the Monday morning for people who

won’t be in the lesson!

I’d say stop doing it; focus on long-term curriculum plans and let teachers

get on with their job.

The result? Hearsay.

18. Verbal feedback stamps:

Stamping in a student’s book to indicate that verbal feedback has taken

place, adds no value to learning. It has little or no impact! If the stamp is

merely to serve as an indication to an observer when looking through

students books, then those teachers have lost their way in the classroom.

To evidence that some sort of verbal feedback has taken place, is

undermining the value of a teacher’s work. We know verbal feedback

serves an important purpose, but let’s keep the verbal feedback for what it

is intended: teachers having quality conversations with their students.

The result? Fad.

Ross Morrison McGill

13. Brain Gym:

The program, designed by Paul Dennison who worked as a public school

teacher in the 1960s, researching more effective ways to help children and

adults with learning difficulties. It has been criticised as pseudoscience.

The studies themselves have received polemic feedback from supporters

and critics. The consensus is Brain Gym activities are poorly designed and

that the work is not supported by peer-reviewed research. When

questioned, Dennison said that he “leaves the explanations to the experts.”

The result? Gimmick.

14. Four-Part Lessons:

Including 3 and 7 parts or whatever number of parts you’ve been told!

There is little or no evidence to suggest any suitable model works other

than quality first teaching from the outset.

The result? Gimmick.

15. Lollypop-stick questioning:

It is absolutely essential that you ask the correct question in the first place,

and then use a mechanism to find a student to answer. If you do it the

other way round, first, all the other students can relax, and second, you will

probably merely replicate your existing expectations of the student. Used

by many teachers in their fast-track induction, lolly-sticks are a neat little

trick to ensure that every child takes part in the lesson to appease

observers. But, what are they learning and what is the teacher assessing

by doing so? Overall, whatever mechanism you use to ask questions, it’s

the quality of your question – who it is targeted to and why – and the

quality of feedback that counts.

The result? Gimmick.

16. Teacher talk:

I once blogged about teacher-talk; traditional versus progressive methods,

false dichotomies or otherwise, might make for an interesting debate

when it’s underpinned by evidence, but in most classrooms teachers do a

bit of both these days. Put another way, children need facts but also need

to develop the skills to use those facts. We know that it is the quality of

direct-instruction and teacher-clarity that has significant effect on student

progress. Talk badly for a long or short period of time, and you’ll leave

your students with no direction.

The result? Myth.

19. Triple marking:

This idea was originally designed to reduce marking and make more of

key assessments. Step 1: students check work and eliminate the mistakes.

Step 2 – teacher marks! Step 3 – students act. The triple of TIM came from

it being three parts. The other bit came from 2 parts student to 1 part

teacher. Triple marking may have stemmed from some senior leaders

interpretation of the School Inspection Handbook.

After posting this blog, the origins of the idea have come to light and have

been clarified by the person who claims to have promoted the idea.

Thankfully, OfSTED have started to publish their own misconceptions and

they could not be clearer. “OfSTED does not expect to see a particular

frequency or quantity of work in pupils’ books or folders.” Acting on

feedback is yet to stand the test of time and for now, it may have replaced


The result? Fad.

20. Starters, Middles, Plenaries:

We’ve all created them, acted them out for observations and inspections,

when in reality we’d rather just get on with teaching! Why? Because we

have so little time and starters, middles and plenaries stemmed from

OfSTED preferences to engage students in learning from the start and

checking what progress had been made 20-minutes later, or at the end of

the lesson. Typically, teachers use resources that works well time and

time again, and to avoid wasting time planning, often magpie another

person’s resource so that they can satisfy observers. I’m not going to say

anything else here.

The result? Fad. Although the jury could still be out on this …

Ross is a keynote speaker at the Holmewood House

Festival of Learning on the 14th & 15th June 2018.

For more information, visit

28 | Issue 2 | innovatED |

Studying abroad

Phil Garner

The benefits of an interational tertiary education

Having taught in High Schools in the USA, two of my students back in

the UK thought I would know all there was to know about getting into

university in the USA. They were wrong, but over the next few years, by

attending many conferences, courses and seminars, I learned much

about the process and how I could help students get into top US


They need to apply for scholarships, pass the relevant tests, obtain the

necessary visa, participate in a wide range of extra-curricular activities,

write that all important application essay, produce the transcripts and

letters of recommendation and work through the varying requirements of

4-8 chosen universities.

I visited Texas to learn about how to tutor students to do well on the

College Board SAT Test, required by many of the 4000+ degree awarding

universities in the USA. It was a salutary experience as one of the first

tasks was to complete the 3hour 50 minute test and it exposed many of

my mathematical frailties. One week later I was more confident and wellversed

in how to get a perfect score on the SAT.

More and more schools are assisting their students as they look further

afield for their undergraduate study and they are finding the increased

workload somewhat difficult to accommodate in their already overcrowded

schedule. Many students comment that their schools are unsure

of the application process and they are unaware of the varied funding

opportunities that exist. USA Study is an Independent Schools Portal

project and works in a number of schools and with over 50 individual

students each year to ensure that the many complexities of the

admissions process are covered in order to eliminate any increased

workload. We also provide a personalised, holistic service to students,

their schools and their families ensuring that the whole process is smooth

and integrated into the school schedules.

Ben Devaney, a student at Wednesfield High School in Wolverhampton,

turned down offers from Durham, Warwick, Manchester and York to take

up a full scholarship at Colorado College. He said:

"The curriculum encourages genuine academic adventure. Instead of

narrowing down to one subject at a UK university, at Colorado College I

will be able to explore many subjects that I have never tried before."

Ben will most likely leave university debt free. There are many universities

that offer a range of scholarships for international students and we pride

ourselves in finding that college / university that offers the best

scholarships for individual students.

Canada is also becoming an increasingly popular university destination. It's

not only the picturesque backdrop of world-famous mountain ranges,

lakes and beaches that has attracted 350,000 international students to the

world's second-largest country to further their education. Combined with

the friendly Canadian good nature, multicultural provinces and

consistently high standards of research and teaching, heading north of the

USA is emerging as another option and offers an excellent student


Your school will have students keen to explore study in North America

and there is no doubt that internationalising a curriculum vitae adds real

value to a student’s employment prospects and broadens their future


If you'd like to find out more about how my team and I can support your

students in realising their ambitions, please drop me a line at

Phil is the CEO of USA Study & the Independent Schools Portal

30 | Issue 2 | innovatED |

Spring 2018

Phil Garner

Full Sail University: A creative campus near Orlando

Back in September I set off for my first visit to Florida. I was not

heading to The Magic Kingdom but to Full Sail University located in the

fashionable Winter Park suburb of Orlando. I had high expectations of

my visit and was not disappointed by the unique approach to higher

education offered at Full Sail. It was not just the unbelievable facilities

on offer, including a Hollywood style ‘Backlot’ for film-making, the vast

array of recording labs and studios, the incredible variety of media

suites, the animation and gaming labs, but also the passion for creative

careers in the entertainment and media industry.

Full Sail’s mission is to provide students with an innovative style of

education, delivered by a staff of dedicated individuals, that address the

career opportunities available in an ever-growing, constantly evolving

industry. They do this by developing unique curricula that combine

elements of creativity, art, business and life skills, technical prowess, and

academic achievement. Their education is delivered via immersive

teaching methods, both in Full Sail’s real-world production studios and

classrooms, as well as through their impressive online learning


In 2017 Full Sail University graduates were recognised at the 59th

GRAMMY awards ceremony. 12 Full Sail graduates were credited on 8

Grammy-winning projects across 8 categories, including Best Dance

Recording, Best Country Solo Performance and Best Reggae Album. The

University was named as one of the ‘Top Schools to Study Game Design’

by the Princeton Review in 2015 and remains an industry leader in the

expanding world of computer game design.

The university believes that students should approach their education like

professionals because it will increase their chance for success throughout

their careers. There are initiatives woven throughout a student’s

educational journey designed to instill professional protocol, attitude, and

a mindset for creativity and success. These elements are integral to their

real-world educational formula, alongside up-to-date curricula,

professional settings, immersive projects, and experienced educators.

There is a real determination to ensure that graduates from Full Sail are

well prepared to gain employment once they graduate. The courses start

at the beginning of each month enabling students to choose their start

date and allow a degree to be completed within 24 months meaning that

the costs are minimised. You can start anytime and come back anytime!

For students who are passionate about art & design, media and

communications, music and recording, film & television, computer games

and all aspects of technology should consider undergraduate study at

Full Sail University. It is revolutionary, practical and relevant. If you would

like more information about studying just a few miles from The Magic

Kingdom, please get in touch -

Issue 2 | innovatED | | 31

Outdoor Learning

Mike Hargreaves

Maximising your grounds for outdoor learning

This year we have worked with in excess of 120 schools across the UK

and have been incredibly proud to support them on their journey of

taking their teaching and learning outdoors. We are seeing a massive

surge of enthusiasm for this type of pedagogy and for very good


A growing body of evidence is illustrating the many benefits for our pupils

(and staff) of spending time learning outdoors. From engaging learners,

improving behaviour, raising attainment, supporting health and wellbeing,

reducing stress and making learning more enjoyable. Look up the Natural

Connections Demonstration Project to learn more.

This is especially poignant when we consider the average child spends

less time outside these days than a maximum security prison inmate. Not

only this but the average unsupervised roaming range of an 8 year old has

dropped from 6 miles to 300m in the past 100 years.

As educators we may not have had the benefit of being taught outside

ourselves (in fact most teachers we meet would subscribe to this) nor was

our teacher training conducted in this way and so it’s no wonder that

learning outside is not routine among many UK schools.

We’d like to change that and give children the opportunity to learn about

themselves and their school subjects in the setting that Homo sapiens

have always learnt in: the natural environment.

The hurdles

Unsurprisingly we come across a number of very real and almost

universal ‘hurdles’. They fall into 3 main themes:

"Where do I go?' - The need for a 'hub', outdoor classroom or at least a

'meeting and seating area' is essential in order to enable effective outdoor

teaching and learning to take place.

"What do I do?' - A real concern amongst staff is that lots of time and

effort will need to be spent creating new lesson plans and resourcing

effective learning activities that they just do not have in the midst of a

busy teaching schedule.

"How do I find the time?' - A genuine (but dare we say it, often misplaced

view) is that the outdoor teaching and learning sessions will need to take

place in addition to the teaching that takes place in the classroom, rather

than as a complementary element to it. Good quality outdoor learning will

provide meaning and context to the classroom teaching.

Become a hurdler

If you are serious about learning outside

the classroom, then the single greatest first

step that schools can take is to select a site

or for the ‘hub’ in your grounds. It should,

ideally, be easily accessible, well drained

and sheltered, suitable for all ages and

offer the capacity for structured teaching

by having seating and simple, natural visual

aids. This may require some clearance and

preparation but this can be done at very

low cost or even via a parent working


The common misconception is that

significant budgets need to be found in order to create an outdoor

teaching area or classroom. Our hearts often sink when we visit schools

that have spent significant sums of money installing rather sterile wooden

gazebos in the corner of a playground. They can be a little inflexible and

often don’t allow for and encourage outdoor teaching and learning.

Be thrifty

So at one end of the spectrum you can simply place wooden logs or rustic

benches. If funding for such a facility is genuinely non-existent then simply

get children to carry out chairs or gym benches to create the meeting and

seating facility. It’s good to start this way and then see how things develop

in terms of teacher enthusiasm, optimum sites to use and the type of

activities that might take place.

For schools that are teaching and learning outdoors regularly you will not

want to be constrained by rain and inclement weather. Having a canopy or

shelter can be an attractive addition. For quite low cost you can suspend

and tension tarpaulins from trees or poles or even parachutes which can

be purchased for a couple of hundred pounds. As it is conical in shape it

could also be tensioned at its perimeter base using poles and guys to

create greater rigidity.

Get serious

For more rugged and longer term installations you could also consider an

outdoor canopy classroom.

They provide a number of significant advantages over more permanent

wooden structures:

32 | Issue 2 |

Planning permission generally not required

They cost half the price of an equivalent sized wooden structure

They can be raised and lowered for cleaning and maintenance

They provide a rustic and inspiring teaching space for 35 people that is

more in-keeping with the natural environments in which they are

generally placed

Lighting of fires (in specially constructed pits) is generally safer than in

and around wooden structures.

Fit for purpose

The finished canopies create large, natural looking and highly versatile

hubs that allow for most aspects of curricula and extra-curricula teaching

and learning to take place for all ages. The canopies can have a life span

of up to 7 years, after which time they can simply be replaced at a fraction

of the costs of the original installation. Where schools have greater

budgets then obviously the thinking can shift to more permanent

installations through wooden structures.

Inspiring space

Whatever the design we believe that it’s important to get the aesthetic

right to suit the location in which it will be installed. Outdoor classrooms

installed close to the main school buildings may require a more polished

look, whereas those in natural areas and woodland spaces benefit from a

more rustic design and build. For designs of this scale planning consents

and building regulations will inevitably apply.

Keep it portable

We always propose that seating is kept portable

and other useful items such as tables, visual aids

etc. are also capable of being added, removed

and layouts altered to suit the group size and

teaching activity. Walls and protection can also be

removable according to the weather and activity.

Well constructed and rugged gazebos or mini

barn style designs can work really well and look


Open fires are generally not a good idea inside

such classrooms but wood burning stoves

provide a safer option with the right protections

and a flue for smoke and fumes to escape.

You could also consider installing a separate seating area and fire pit

outside the wooden classroom at a safe distance from it.

Spring Term

Expect this event to be fully participative, experiential and entirely

outdoors. There will be numerous opportunities to share best practice with

other passionate educators from your region.

You will come away with pragmatic tips, tools and ideas so you can feel

confident to take more of your teaching outside immediately, be it for

curriculum or character based learning. You will:

Discover the neuroscience behind the benefits of children being taught


Overcome the barriers, blocks and limitations

Gain ideas to maximise your school grounds for teaching at little or no


Learn to teach all subjects outside and link to the curriculum

Explore character development in an outdoor setting

Look at managing risk sensibly whilst deriving the benefits

Find the time, the space and the resources for outdoor learning

Be able to enhance rapport and encourage positive behaviours in your


Develop an action plan to ensure success at your school

Receive free lesson plans and resources* plus much more...

This event is for Heads, Deputies, HoDs, Teachers EYFS/KS1/2 or 3 and

other education practitioners in both independent and state sectors.

This event will not appeal to all teachers, yet it will benefit staff who are

passionate about developing the 'whole' pupil, learning outside the

classroom and innovating their own practice.

£99 + VAT or book before 31st Jan for our early bird rate of £89 + VAT

Spaces are limited •

Learning Outside the Classroom –

Transforming Teaching at Terra Nova School

If you’d like more confidence and skills to deliver

curriculum linked teaching outside then sign up

to our upcoming CPD event at Terra Nova on the

15 March 2018.

Whatever your experience level, this CPD event will help you develop

more confidence to harness the opportunities that the outdoors provide

for teaching and learning.

Vital tools for independent schools

Independent Insight is a new magazine aimed at heads and bursars of independent

schools in the UK. It focuses on the sector’s broad strategic and financial issues with

insight provided by sector xperts. It will also contain scenarios: one for the head, the

other for bursars to guide readers through a difficult situation.

Governance Insight is a termly, scenario-based magazine that leads to best practice in

independent school governance. This subscription-only publication helps to ensure

hat your governors can make your school the best it can be.

The Governors' Toolkit is an online platform that helps support UK independent

schools become compliant with legal and regulatory requirements for an ISI

inspection, following official guidance and supporting best practice. It has been

compiled and validated by a team of ISI inspectors. Subscribers are regularly updated

by email with ongoing changes to ensure that they are kept up-to-date with new

developments and regulations, so that it becomes a living, working document. It helps

schools and their governing bodies identify areas of non-compliance and

improvement, but also provides the key inputs to develop an action plan to remedy

any oversights.

A Year 3/4 Curriculum-linked Residential Field Visit

Residential Visit

Boggle Hole

by The Secret Teacher

The improbably named Boggle Hole is a mysterious old smugglers

cove, situated in a hidden gully, in the middle of Robin Hood's Bay on

the east coast of Yorkshire. It lies between the idyllic fishing port of

Whitby and the busy holiday resort of Scarborough. Boggle Hole is the

perfect 'first residential' trip for children. The history, stunning location

and local myths inspire and capture the imagination and there is also a

huge amount to do. The activities in our field visit centred around Robin

Hood's Bay itself, but Boggle Hole is part of the canvas that makes up

the North Yorkshire National Park, and I've listed some other potential

activities and useful links at the end of this article.

Boggle Hole at a glance

- 2 Days / 1 Night

- Years 3 & 4

- Estimated cost: £60 per child

- Curriculum covered: English, art, science, geography

Boggle Hole is stunning. However, it's remoteness means that it will take

you some time to get there! The best approach from the south is up the A1

and onto the A64 past York. Your SATNAV will try to take you through the

beautiful national park, but if you go this way, be aware, the winding roads

may mean you need to be alert to green faces and bouts of travel

sickness. The roads veer up and down and around like a 25 miles long

roller-coaster and bitter experience has taught that's it's a much safer

option to go all the way to Scarborough and head up the (flatter and

straighter) coastal road to Boggle Hole.

It's much simpler from the North - just stay on the A171 all the way to

Whitby, and then chug down southwards down the coastal road.

Accomodation - YHA Boggle Hole

YHA Boggle Hole is the perfect place to stay for school parties of

relatively young children. It's fairly small, you can book out areas of the

hostel which are segregated by card activated corridor locks (a

safeguarding dream) and is very competitive on price. In 2016, it cost us

£35 per night, per person (inc. VAT) and this included a hot breakfast, a

prepared packed lunch and an evening meal during our first night. It's also

worth mentioning that YHA apply a 50% discount to food and

accommodation for children who are eligible for free school meals. The

food is perfect - pizza, pasta and potato - carb heavy dishes. Wonderful

when you've spent the whole day outdoors.

We generally pay 50% of the costs upfront, and the rest 12 weeks before

we set off; great if parents are paying in instalments.

One thing to bear in mind though is that you can't unload all of your

clothing and equipment outside the hostel as it is accessed down a

narrow farm track which goes all the way down to the sea. You will need

to unload in the public parking area about a quarter of a mile away and

walk down hill to the Hostel itself. This really adds to the sense of

excitement and adventure with young children. You can either pack light

(definitely recommended!) - or my top-tip is to liaise closely with the

hostel management and kindly ask them to use one of their 4 wheel drive

vehicles to take your supplies to base on arrival!

Booking couldn't be simpler - just visit the YHA website, assess availability,

and then call the sales line.

Tel: 0800 0195 465


34 | Issue 2 |

Itinerary & Curriculum Content

Spring 2018

We always embed our residential trips at the heart of our school curriculum, and this trip was no exception. The focus was:

Science: Inter-tidal zones, ocean food chains & fossils

Art: Landscape Painting

Geography: Coastal Erosion

We also had two other considerations with the trip: We we wanted it to coincide with a particularly low tide so that our rockpooling

would be fruitful and we wanted to run it as early in the academic year as possible so that children, teachers and

accompanying parents would have the opportunity to really get to know each other well.

Day 1

Arrive at the Boggle Hole public car park at 10:15am. The Land Rover

awaits to take all of our equipment down to the Hostel.

After a stroll down the lane, we unload and take everything across the

bridge. We store it away in the hostel meeting room and then catch the

low-tide to go rock-pooling (after a quick toilet break and snack. We're in

amongst the inter-tidal life by 11am )

We had lunch around 1:15pm and by 2pm we were on top of the cliffs,

easels and paints in hand and creating wild landscapes under the tutelage

of a superb local landscape artist. We used watercolours today, and the

children also took lots of photographs on the class iPads to refer to when

they began to use oils in class. Some of the children who finished early

also created a podcast and interviewed their peers - and this was later

used in ICT.

At 4pm we made our way down to the Hostel for a snack and to go

through safety rules for the evening, to unpack, to shower and have some

free time in the rooms.

At 7pm, we begin the evening activities, beginning with a fulsome meal. I

admit it: I went back for seconds. And thirds! We all had a delicious icecream

and sponge dessert too.

By 8pm we were all in the meeting room to complete the follow up

activities, debrief on the day, tweet to parents on the class phone and

have a bedtime story and hot chocolate.

By 9:30pm all the children were back in their rooms for lights out at

9:45pm. One of the boys was homesick - this is where teddy bears from

home come into their own - and all are asleep by 10:15pm (the grown-ups

aren't too far behind)!

Day 2

We search for inter-tidal animals for around an hour and a half. The

children had been introduced to the topic in science, and had completed

some food-web research using our Edmodo learning platform which they

accessed from home. The aim of this session was to create one rock-pool

full of plants and animals - as many as we could tick off our list, so that

when we complete the inter-tidal food web activity in the evening, the

children will have seen (and touched!) many of the creatures.

Around 12:45, we set off up across the beach to the beautiful fishing

village of Robin's Hood Bay. Whilst most of the adults stayed with the

main group, two went back to the hostel to collect the Art and

photography equipment and take it to the top of the cliffs to await our

arrival after lunch, but we made sure that they didn't miss out on the fish

and chips!

Along the way, we discussed coastal erosion; the cliffs often collapse into

the sea during winter storms. You can see that this has happened clearly

from the beach, and you will often find superb fossils. From the top of the

cliffs, you can also clearly see how the sea has eroded the land over time

from the rock formations in the bay itself at low tide. Again, this was a

topic that we began in geography before the trip, and spent some on it


We wake up early before setting off for the Scarborough Sea Life Centre.

We have an early breakfast at 8am whilst some staff load up the Land

Rover again. We collect our packed lunches and by 9:30am we've walked

up the hill, loaded up the minibuses and are on our way! We arrive in the

Sea Life Centre in plenty of time for our VIP tour at 10:30am (the free car

park is enormous!) The price for each child at this attraction was £7 each,

with adults touring for free. For this we received:

VIP Discovery tour

A round of Pirate Mini Golf

Talk and feeding demonstrations

Interactive rock pool experience

Dive adventure quiz trail

SEA LIFE Expert Certificate

Self-guided learning resources

Issue 1 | innovatED | | 35

Residential Visit

We stayed at the Sea Life Centre until 3pm (we could have stayed much

longer) - but we set off home after spending some obligatory time in the


One of the great things about this trip is that it is really gentle - it eases

children and parents into residential visits, it allows you to get an

enormous amount of experiential learning into the curriculum, it bonds

new classes and it really builds the self-confidence of the children and

makes them feel grown up. We were in the region for 2 days and this

limited the amount of activities that we could do, but you could easily give

the trip a more historical (or literary) leaning by visiting Whitby Abbey or

the North York Moors Railway for example; there is so much to do and see

in the area.

Children's Kit List

The Essentials

1 Large Sports Bag / Small suitcase & 1 rucksack

Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, shower gel, shampoo, deodorant,

sanitary products.

Bath towel and hand towel

Socks and underwear - 1 pair each day + 1 spare

Pair of sturdy walking shoes or wellies

Pair of trainers for the youth hostel

2 pairs of trousers / tracksuit bottoms (No denim)

1 Pairs of shorts

Lightweight rainproof cagoule

2 t-shirts

2 hoodies (or jumpers)

Sun hat

Bottle of suntan lotion

Substantial packed lunch for the first day, including snacks

Named water bottle

Optional Items

Disposable or cheap digital camera

A soft toy



Mobile phone

The key thing with fieldwork, especially in windy coastal

environments is layers. Children in all likelihood will need to be

able to add and remove layers during each day, so lightweight

clothing is essential •

Helpful Web Links

If you would like to share a residential visit that you deliver at your school

in the next issue, we'd love to hear from you! Please get in touch with the

editor at:

36 | Issue 2 |



WEBA World Annual Workshops and Fairs

give you the opportunity to meet with top

quality recruitments agents from all over

the world, and also to meet and recruit

international students directly from all

over the world.

Monika Fryzicka

Recruitment: Help us to help you!

In February, the Independent Schools Portal will be launching a jobs board

for schools. The board will cover class teaching and support vacancies as

well as leadership and non-classroom based positions, both in the UK and

internationally. It’s not just another job board – we will use our network

and other media platforms to ensure your post reaches as many target

candidates as we can stretch to. The interesting part? It will be free.

We already have a far reaching network of schools, teachers, leaders and

support staff of course, and we know that recruitment remains high on

the agenda across the board, both for those recruiting and for potential


The birth of the online marketplace has had a huge impact on both service

provision and pricing and during our research period we found that many

schools were no longer sure where would be the best place to attract

candidates or what was the best value for money. There was also

uncertainty about trying something new.

From a candidate’s perspective – where exactly are the schools we want

to work in and how do you make sure you are not missing out on jobs

advertised in new places?

We don’t need you to change your recruiting habits or spend your budget

trying something new and dare we say it, untested. We’d like you to try us

too, because posting a job with us won’t cost you a penny. Let us help you.


For schools -

This is where we need your help. A successful jobs board or online market

requires mass participation – we will help you reach out to candidates but

we need your vacancies to attract them. Register with us and you will be

able to:

Post and self-manage jobs

Upload your application documents

Track job views & document downloads

Receive direct applications

Access tools to help you manage your recruitment process

For candidates -

We will only post real, live vacancies which are linked to a specific school

so you can be confident in the application process. There will be no CV

gathering or database enhancing with ‘speculative’ or ‘unspecific’

roles. However, if you would like to discuss an application, receive career

advice or would like to discuss the possibility of a career move you can

contact us directly an in complete confidence.


If you require assistance with managing your vacancies or with

applications, we offer a variety of support functions, shaped to fit your

needs, including candidate and application management, monitoring and

reactive additional promotion, application long listing / short listing,

interview assistance / guidance, referencing, leadership search and

selection. These services will have a fee, but we will break it down for you

so you know what you are paying for and you decide whether it is

beneficial to your school.

There really is nothing to lose and using Independent Schools Portal

Recruitment could be one of the best decisions you make in 2018, To find

out more about how we can help you transform your recruitment at no

cost, please contact me at

About Monika

Monika has worked in education recruitment and advertising for twelve

years – both on the publication side and working directly with schools and

school groups, managing large scale start-up recruitment and marketing

projects as well as one-off vacancies in individual schools. She has

worked for a Local Authority, in school supply agency recruitment, for the

TES, for a school association and for a leadership search firm. Having been

exposed to most recruitment issues from both the school and the

candidate perspectives, her goal is to create the most effective, time

efficient and value for money recruitment platform.

Spring 2018

Whose homework is it anyway?

The Secret Parent

My son is now entering the stage of school where the level of

homework takes a notch upwards and the work is more varied and

more frequent. As a parent, I begin to wonder, how much should we

help with homework and when does it become almost interfering so

that it doesn’t become the child’s actual work because you have been

overly involved in it?

Of course, we want to help our children, answer questions they have, help

them learn how to research using modern technology and still

appreciating the beauty of finding the answer hidden within a book, help

them do the best that they can. However, sometimes our pride and desire

for them to achieve could possibly have an adverse effect if we don’t let

them make their own mistakes.

I have been speaking to fellow parents about this, to gauge where people

sit on this.

Obviously we can’t sit and write their homework for them, that would be

too obvious and benefit no one, but where do we draw the line? Point out

a spelling mistake, ask them to correct their sloppy handwriting, because

you “know they can do better”, “is that really what you want to give to your

teacher on Monday?” or do we leave it and let them learn by their

mistakes, sometimes at the cost of knocked confidence or genuine

disappointment at not delivering their best work to their teacher? These

are small things but in a younger child’s world, can actually be quite big


But what about the big things? A big piece of work is looming, a lot of

research left to be done and it has been left to the last minute. Do you sit

down and present the child with a series of Google pages and highlight

the relevant bits? Is it important to you that it's good or even perfect,

therefore you have to get involved, whilst cursing yourself for not doing it

sooner? Or, do you just let the child do the best they can, knowing that it’s

not really their best work, or as good as it could be with your input but

cognisant that they need to learn that if they don’t do it sooner and with

more time to give, they won’t get the grades?

Parental pride can form a large part of a child’s finished homework,

parents want to send their child in with a great piece of work, because

they think it reflects on them as parents and their ability to interact, inspire

and help their children. But is this right, or are we just setting them up for a

fall if the teachers are mislead by what the child is handing in?

On many occasions, I’m sure a teacher can spot parental involvement at

50 paces but sometimes, there must be a subtle line where the parents

are really influencing what the child is doing but actually it may not seem

that way.

Competitive parenting can also play a part here. Talking to a friend

recently, her Year 3 daughter had to create a model of a famous world

building for an arts project. They set about to make an Eiffel Tower made

of card and string, lots of glue and a 7 year old’s interpretation of the

French flag atop the delicate structure. The only parental intervention was

some help with the glue and supervising the silver spray paint that they


Contrast that to the Taj Mahal that one of her friends turned up to school

with, which had been constructed from a Matchbox kit with meticulous

detail only possible of an adult and obviously so. Even the parents who

had made it commented on how long it had taken them each evening

accompanied by their glass of wine and a huge amount of patience. So

what message is this sending the children? Is the girl who made the

wobbly Eiffel Tower, proud of her achievement, knowing that in the main

it’s all her own work, or is she left disappointed that hers looks nothing like

the shining beacon of creativity that her friend has turned up with, but of

which she has had nothing to do with. As a 7 year old it’s pretty hard to

understand anything more than face value.

Our son’s form teacher is clear that homework is about embedding

learning that has already taken place in the classroom and practising (age

appropriate) independent learning skills, whilst recognising that most

children will still require support and guidance from parents.

The way I see it, let’s help our children help themselves, but ensuring they

have that support to learn and develop. Making a grand Taj Mahal is not

going to equip them with the independent thinking and practical skills they

will need as they get older, to me it will simply provide a short lived

moment of pride, but possibly at the expense of other children's emotions

and their own development too.

Issue 2 | innovatED | | 39


Building resilience in children

In our modern world, children seem to be growing up with fewer of the

experiences that naturally develop resilience and problem solving


I was discussing the use of mobile phones the other day with a

colleague and we were reflecting that in the past, children had to plan

ahead (when and where to meet, do they have money for the phone,

what to do in case of an emergency etc etc) which taught them to be

self sufficient. Today children know that help is simply a phone call

away and, providing their phone is in range, they can be plucked out of

whatever slightly uncomfortable situation they have found themselves


Those that know me know I'm no Luddite and I'm certainly not

suggesting going back to "the good 'ol days" but what it does show is

that we need to be conscious of actively building in opportunities for

"experiential learning", that is experiences that teach the skills of

resilience and mental toughness.

Stress is caused when the body and mind do not know how to cope

with something challenging, the good news is that psychological

research is now suggesting that, like the research on mindset, we can

teach the personality traits which make children more likely to cope in

the future.

2) Teach children how to reframe challenges - when faced with a

change (perhaps a fixture is cancelled or lunch was not what they were

expecting) children can be taught to reframe this away from

disappointment and towards opportunity. Get them to think "pivot" or

get them to do a mental somersault and think of all the good things

they could either do with the time or the new and unexpected food

they can now eat. This is a difficult one if it has not been used before

because children push back hard but it is a very good one to get right

because life will be full of disappointments and how we adapt to them

will dictate how successful we are as an adult.


3) Encourage good quality risk assessment and risk taking activities -

allowing children to play outside can be hugely rewarding for them.

Equally not picking them up when they fall over teaches them to firstly

assess the risks more effectively next time and also encourages them

to build their own coping mechanisms for overcoming pain or hurt

feelings. All of this needs to be done carefully however but through

conscious parental engagement we are more likely to get the balance


4) As a parent, move from problem-solver to coach - children do not

need someone else to solve their problems but they do often require

someone to point them in the right direction. Avoid rushing in with

solutions but instead simply listen and empathise. Let them develop

solutions and then help them to assess whether they could have done

anything differently next time around.

David Paton

It is an area I'm increasingly interested in and the following ideas might

be quite useful for parents to consider:

1) Develop children's "executive functioning" skills - put simply this is

how we manage our own behaviour through things like routines,

regular exercise and board games. All of which teach mental flexibility

and working memory. Being conscious of how we are acting and how

we sub-consciously respond to situations is vital in building greater

levels of resilience.

5) Let them know you trust them and their ability to cope - they will

start acquiring the skills necessary to deal with challenges and over

time become more more effective problem solvers with higher levels

of mental toughness.

Adapted from

David Paton is Headmaster of Radnor House School, Sevenoaks

Spring 2018

Stuart Bayne

What does value mean for today's modern

independent school?

In the current economic climate of uncertainty, the phrase ‘value for

money’ is used increasingly by consumers and our parents are no

different. We are supplying a product to them and they want to see a

good return for their investment.

The Independent Schools Association states that independent schools

“share a desire to meet fully the needs of the young people in their care,

treating everyone as individuals and providing a high-quality and personal

education. They encourage pupils to make the most of their talents,

building confidence through academic achievement and offering a wide

range of extra-curricular opportunities.”

Parents often share these values as they tour prospective schools, but

often their motivation to put their children through a private education

may be quite different. Some would like their children to achieve the

highest grades possible at relevant examinations in order to secure a

particular job beyond university. Others feel that their children will have

the best opportunity to meet their business partners of the future by

attending independent schools. Parents may also choose schools

because they themselves attended a particular establishment and

increasingly, parents are escaping the stringent and restrictive education

of the state sector; many making huge financial commitments to do so.

So with the multitude of driving forces for independent education, what is

the correct path for schools such as ours?

Many schools have gone down the route of academic selection as a

means to ensure teaching can be conducted to the high levels required

for top examination results and these establishments work hard to

consistently ensure this is maintained. Other schools are non-selective, but

does that mean the quality of education is any worse?

Not at all. Education is tailored to the needs of each individual. Is every

school right for every child? Again, no. Some schools are deliberately nonselective

and are not driven by grade boundaries, but rather other values

intrinsic to independent education, which may include such factors as

developing individual talents and interests, teaching children to cooperate

and get on with others, being kind and caring, or becoming hard-working

members of society.

Ultimately, governors and headteachers would want all of these to be

present in their school but most accept that they specialise in particular

areas and these are what define their identity

If a parent is dissatisfied with the service they have received, is it therefore

not prudent to explore why this is and perhaps point them in the direction

of a school that may be better suited to their needs without feeling like we

have failed? We simply have a product that did something different to the

perception of the consumer. This is no different to preferring a kindle to an

iPad. Until you have tried them, how can you really make an informed


Do the four walls that surround us make a school, or is it so much more? It

is about the staff inspiring our youngsters. It is about the vision of the

Heads and Governors for the school (what do you want to be?) It is about

the sense of community and the feeling that you are all pulling in the

same direction. It is about the plethora of experiences offered. But above

all, it is about the individual children, helping them to be the best they can

be. Don’t be driven by league tables if that’s not your goal, don’t change

your ethos because a parent suddenly decides the school is not for them.

Continue to provide the unique and the wonderful in whatever form this

takes, knowing that your product is indeed ‘Value for Money’.

Stuart Bayne is Head of Forms 1-4, Cundall Manor School

Issue 2 | innovatED | | 41

BETT Show 2018

BETT 2018

Changing the face of education

The world we live in now is different to that of twenty, ten or even five

years ago. The way we obtain and share information has totally

transformed, and a whole generation of kids are now accustomed to

having incredible computing power at their fingertips. This rate of

change is not set to slow down at any point; in fact, many of the

children in school today are expected to go on to jobs that don’t even

exist yet. So how do we get them ready?

Gathering together to discuss this is a good place to start. Teaching, like

planning for the future, should not be done in isolation. Just as jobs will

demand more collaborative skills, education will become more

collaborative. The community of educators that has developed

around BETT is testament to the fact that teachers, business managers

and school leaders have long recognised the need to come together,

discuss and discover best practices and the best products.

Celebrating education

The role that education plays in helping students prepare

for the future is a key theme for BETT 2018. The event aims to give

teachers the inspiration and the practical skills to help them address the

challenges of preparing students for an unpredictable future. The

community that has been built around BETT over the years helps to bring

technology and its role in the classroom to life. The aim for 2018 is to share

these stories so that teachers have practical tools and insight to help

transform education

Plan your visit

Wear comfortable shoes

Get hands on with the technology

Speak to strangers and make connections

BETT 2018 will be showcasing hundreds of suppliers, bringing together

the most innovative, practical and impactful products. From gamechanging

innovations like artificial intelligence (AI), augmented and virtual

reality (AR / VR) and tech-powered adaptive learning solutions to content

management systems and the latest hardware, the show’s exhibitors run

the gamut of what the market has to offer. Joining the established

suppliers and the tried and tested resources, BETT Futures brings

emerging edtech start-up companies together, celebrating brave thinking,

innovative pedagogy and learning solutions that will improve the lives of

students everywhere.

42 | Issue 2 | innovatED |

Spring 2018

Content and features

The new look content programme at BETT 2018 comes after extensive

consultation and research with visitors and members of the education

community and a move to a call for content model. This has resulted in

a streamlining of content across the event, and a focus on practitioner

led talks and learning. The BETT Arena will host editorially led content

with inspirational talks, big stories and developments across technology

from pupils, practitioners, brands and influencers, and will feature the

highest number of teachers, head teachers and Vice-Chancellors

speaking on the stage ever.

Following the official opening of BETT by Justine Greening, BETT will

launch its new annual temperature check for innovation in education;

the BETT Innovation Index. The project follows a large-scale survey

conducted in autumn 2017 that explored global approaches to

innovation in education, with the intended result being better

understanding of the state of them, from awareness through to

adoption. The results will be presented for the first time to outline the

culture of innovation that develops in institutions who engage with new

approaches to technology. Other sessions at the show will take a look at

emerging pedagogy, global and local education movements, practical

considerations and, of course, inspiring stories.

BETT in figures

Over 35,000 visitors attended BETT 2017 over the four

days of the event

BETT 2018 will be the 34th BETT

The show brings hundreds of suppliers, associations,

government departments and experts together

The most repeated bits of advice for those new to BETT :

Plan your visit

Wear comfortable shoes

Get hands on with the technology

Speak to strangers and make connections

New this year are two sponsored content stages – the Schools Theatre

and Post 16 Theatre, both of which will feature a mixture of brands

presenting practitioner-led sessions. The final stage, called the

Solutions Den, will be an informal area where brands can present

solutions to common school problems and discuss how it might work at

their school.

In addition to the content, BETT's popular feature areas are joined by a

new service to make collaboration and networking with peers and

companies easier. BETT new networking tool, Connect@bett, helps

visitors make the most of their time over the four days of the event,

helping them search for appropriate connections across the events

entire audience, set up meetings and use the dedicated Connect@bett

lounge for meetings or a quiet corner for a coffee.

Following its success in 2016 and 2017, the STEAM Village (science,

technology, engineering, art and mathematics) will return again to play

host to a number of organisations supporting learning in the STEAM

subjects. The BETT STEAM Village is an interactive space for teachers and

students to learn through exploration and play; a place for visitors to try

out STEAM solutions and products while considering how they can be

assimilated into the classroom to enhance education. Experts will be on

hand to guide visitors through key STEAM topics, teaching methods, and

new and emerging technologies.

BETT 2018 will run over four days, from 24 to 28 January 2018 at ExCeL,

London. For more information, to find out more about the programme of

content and to register for your free pass, visit:

Issue 2 | innovatED | | 43






I know from experience that the implementation of educational

technology projects in schools can be enormously challenging, with

success dependent on an dizzying array of factors - and not all of them

are always necessarily under your complete control. This complexity,

along with technical planning and project management inexperience

amongst academic staff, can lead to stagnation, reactive decision

making, higher costs, frustration and poorer learning outcomes. Yet by

doing some initial groundwork and by following key principles, you can

greatly increase the likelihood of educational technology enhancing

the opportunities for high-quality learning experiences in your school.

#Top-tip 1: Leadership must provide active and committed support -

financial, logistical, and moral.

An edtech implementation is only going to succeed when school

leadership teams commit to it in word and deed. That support should take

the form of practical allocations in all terms necessary, including time to

release and train teachers and administrators.

#Top-tip 2: Selling is better than telling. Everyone needs to buy into the

change that technology brings.

Technology should never be forced on teachers; its use should never

come as a mandate from on high. So, teachers must be given the

opportunity to prepare for the kind of change that edtech brings.

Leadership requires enabling teachers to become the best that they can

be through consultation, collaboration, communication, support, respect,

and encouragement.

#Top-tip 3: Invest in, and train, a core team of teachers to be

comfortable using edtech

Most staff-rooms contain members who are committed to using

educational technology, and they need to be given the opportunity to gain

a sufficiently high level of expertise to qualify them to act as role models,

advisers, and trouble shooters. They should be given adequate release

time to fulfill the following roles and tasks:

work with other teachers, as individuals or in groups, introducing them

to new systems, arranging product demonstrations, and helping them

with any technical or pedagogical problems that might arise;

work with administration, planning near and long-range computing

strategies, and mediating on behalf of teachers to help ensure that their

needs are addressed;

work with vendors (suppliers of hardware and software), organising

product demonstrations, making sure products are delivered as

ordered and warranties are negotiated and fulfilled.

Teachers are the ideal people to work with other teachers because they

understand their needs. Teachers who are tech-savvy also have

experience working with novices and are therefore less likely to frighten

off other teachers who might be less confident.

#Top-tip 4: Recognise that technological change is fast. Keeping up-todate

is challenging and essential.

Ironically, preparation that involves technology puts greater demands on

the teacher in terms of time than do more traditional methodologies. That

is because the technology makes possible the preparation of learning

materials, activities, and experiences that are rich in multimedia,

"discovery-style" content. And the possibilities are limited only by the

ingenuity of programmers and teachers. It is important that schools

provide teachers with every opportunity to stay abreast of advances in

technology and, more importantly, must give the teachers time to

integrate teaching and learning technologies into the curriculum.

#Top-tip 5: All teachers must receive ongoing training.

Teachers are the leaders in the classroom, but they need ongoing support

so that they have the knowledge and skill to feel that they are competent

in creating learning opportunities in a technology-rich environment. At the

best schools that I have worked at or supported, weekly or fortnightly

'tech-torials' were put in place by teaching staff, for teaching staff, where

everyone was invited to participate.

44 | Issue 2 |

Spring 2018

The graph opposite is useful for thinking about how

technology projects are implemented, as well as

understanding and managing staff expectations during the


It shows the teacher profile in terms of technology adoption

over time, but it also shows the 'hype-cycle' of the project.

The 'peak of inflated expectations' typically occurs just

before a project goes live - and is quickly followed by the

'trough of disillusionment' as the inevitable teething

problems and frustrations occur during roll-out. This chasm

occurs on every project and is to be expected, but it is the

groundwork covered in these top-tips that allows schools

to bridge this gap and deliver a successful implementation.

Implementations that fail generally do so at this point.

Typical tech-implementation with 'hype-cycle' (red line) overlay

#Top-tip 6: All teachers must receive on-demand technical support.

Technology has the potential to bring learning to life, to foster great

creativity and collaboration and to boost outcomes. It also has the

potential to kill lessons and learning stone dead. All schools should

have on-demand, on-site tech support during school hours: in terms of

impact on teaching and learning, this is a far more efficient allocation of

resources than paying for another teaching assistant, and your staff will

likely weep with joy when that printer / projector / wifi / laptop is fixed

within minutes rather than a fortnight on Tuesday (if there is time).

#Top-tip 7: Use it or lose it.

#Top-tip 10: Recognise that technology is for all, and that it involves all

in the process of lifelong learning.

Children today are growing up with modern technology as part and parcel

of their lives. They are digital natives; they cannot imagine their lives

without access to technology. Learning at school and at home can be

seamless and integrated when the technology is made available in both

environments. Parents, children, teachers, and administrators all need to

work toward making learning something that children do not "switch off"

when they leave the classroom, but rather relish whenever opportunity

allows •

Practice makes perfect. Lack of practice can easily lead to the loss of

previously acquired skills. There's no point in providing training and

technical support if the teachers are not ready and willing to apply

newly acquired skills on a regular basis in their professional lives.

Likewise, there is no point installing equipment such as a SmartBoard in

a classroom if the teacher does not plan to use it with students to help

them learn.

#Top-tip 8: Parents and students must be actively involved in the


There should be continuity between home and school. In the UK, the

vast majority of parents have a computer or tablet with internet access

for their child to use at home. There is enormous value in getting

parents directly or indirectly involved in their child's education and

wider school life by using technology, and schools should actively

explore myriad of tools that facilitate this. Active communication and

engagement enabled by technology can also help remove much of the

uncertainty that surrounds many parents' perceptions of the education

that their children are getting in school.

#Top-tip 9: There must be planned and systematic financial

investment in technology-integrated teaching and learning.

In challenging economic times and shrinking budgets, it is vital that

schools resist the temptation to trim the educational technology

budget. It's a fact of life that technologies rapidly become obsolete, so

an on-going commitment to funding technology-integrated teaching

and learning is a necessity, not an option. The best schools that I have

worked with have all recognised that boom-and-bust capital

investment in tech results in poor strategic planning and ultimately

ends up costing more over the long term and results in poorer


Schools that begin to think of technology as a consumable item that

requires constant renewal, and part of their operating (rather than fixed)

costs, almost always have the most effective and coherent technology

strategy. There are now also lots of superb leasing and financing

options out there for schools to ease any short-term pain, and which

allow schools to plan for regular upgrading of equipment.

Top Educational Software

The Secret Teacher

...Seeking software to transform schools

You can hear a pin drop as the unthinkable question is asked; The question that is not exactly the enormous elephant gallumphing around the

staffroom, but more of an appreciably-sized, sceptical rhinoceros. "So, all of these Tablets / Chromebooks / PCs / Smartboards / Portable Handheld

device thingys... " - wait for it - "They're great and everything..." - wait a bit longer just to ratchet up the tension - "But what, exactly, are we meant to do

with them?" Boom! There it is. Translated into English from Teacherease, this basically means, 'What software are we going to use, are you going to

train me how to use it and will it really have an impact?"

As an ICT coordinator, the question I am most frequently asked by

colleagues (including friends who work at other schools) is, 'What

software can you recommend?'

It's a good question. It takes time to research software, to read the teacher

feedback and reviews. To spend time building it into your teaching plans

and workflows. It takes a certain degree of confidence and faith when you

use it for the first time with your charges, with no guarantee of success.

Even putting aside the reliability or otherwise of the physical equipment,

using new software can be a risky business, and this is why professional

recommendations mean so much, even if we understand as educators

that our culture and contextual situations are different. Even success in

one school can still translate into a complete disaster in another. Look no

further than Class Dojo for an example of software that some schools are

almost evangelical about, but staff at others would quite happily spend

the next 20 years chiseling away at salt in Siberia for a cast-iron guarantee

that they won't have to use it again - ever - and a promise that they can go

back to marbles, star charts and merit badges when they've finished their

hard labour! Recommendations are absolutely vital when it comes to

software, but they are what they are: recommendations, not magic silver

bullets. That said, you could certainly do a lot worse that devoting some

time to exploring the potential benefits of the following...

1. Class Dojo. Connects teachers, parents and students to improve

student behavior and build character strengths. Free.

though is more nuanced; the children can become obsessed by it, so that

receiving points can easily become the all-consuming goal of learning,

and 'negative' points can quickly lead to unwanted, and frankly,

unnecessary communication with parents who are seeking contextual

information on any slight misdemeanor. This can be time wasting and

makes the space where children can just be children that little bit smaller.

This is why it has divided opinion in my school: it can be immensely

beneficial, but you need to think carefully about HOW you use it before

you use it!

2. The WonderWhySociety. A beautifully illustrated, moderated

learning platform. Free (UK maintained schools) / Paid (everyone else).

The WonderWhySociety is a fully moderated learning community for

schools of Primary age and presents an exciting world of wonders - news,

views and discoveries. The system is wonderful in that it allows children to

follow their own learning journeys, based on their own interests. The

moderators are on hand to guide the children and answer questions

'('wonders') and the resources are aesthetically beautiful. It's also a terrific

way of engaging parents in their children's learning.

Yes, it can seem like educational marmite for teachers, but Class Dojo is

also an online behavior management system intended to foster positive

student behaviour and classroom culture. Students earn ‘Dojo Points’

based on their classroom conduct. Teachers can also use Class Dojo to

keep parents up to date on student progress and classroom happenings.

Teachers set up their Class Dojo profiles is based on 'class values' which

are fully customisable. There is an app as well as website, and using the

app it is very simple for teachers to reward children in all classes for good

behaviours. The power of the system lies is that there are separate areas

and apps for children and parents to monitor what points have been

allocated. The academic research on Class Dojo has been largely positive::

it heightens parental engagement and increases positive learning and

self-regulatory behaviours. Anecdotal evidence from my own school

46 | Issue 2 | innovatED |

Spring 2018

3. The Worrinots. An app designed to help children cope with worries

and anxieties. Paid.

The Worrinots a secure app designed for children from the age of 5 and

has been specifically created to tackle the worrying increase in mental

well-being problems in young children. Each child has a unique login

which they can use to access the single use tablets which are dotted

around school. Developed with the help of child psychologists,

counsellors and teachers, The Worrinots provides children with a safe

place to share their fears and anxieties, which in turn provides them with a

practical and fun coping mechanism for their fears using one of the four

Worrinot characters.

5. Beatwave. Create your own musical compositions, aimed at years 1

-6. Freemium

Beatwave is a wonderful app which supports the National Curriculum for

Key Stages 1 and 2 in allowing children to experiment, create, select and

combine sounds. Children begin to understand musical notation and can

improvise and compose short pieces of music. The real beauty of the app

is that it is set up so that even simple use can produce good results, but

there is scope to extend the more able through increasing complexity.

The interface is simple and children can begin with learning simple beat

patterns before moving onto tuned sounds to explore pitch. The app has

a range of different sounds to vary the feel of a piece of music and it is

easy to create layers of sound. It is a great way for all teachers (no matter

for their individual musical experience) to allow their class to experience

the joys of musical composition in an environment where they feel safe to

explore and feel creative as success is guaranteed.

Worrinots has a superb monitoring system designed specifically to help

teachers and safeguarding officers identify and monitor fears that have

been shared. If a response is required, the safeguarding officer can write a

response that will appear in the child’s private account from The Worrinot

character they originally shared their fear with.

My caveats in the introduction notwithstanding, the Worrinots is an award

winning piece of software that I, my school and the children love. I

strongly recommend taking a look.

4. CodeCombat. A browser-based game that teaches pupils the skills of

computer programming. Freemium.

CodeCombat is a fun way to introduce children to written programming

languages. Users can code either in Python or Javascript, but no prior

experience is needed, as step-by-step instructions and hints are given

throughout. It is most suitable for UKS2/KS3 classes, and pupils would

benefit from having some prior coding experience - block-based (e.g.

Scratch) would be fine. A classroom account can be created with a

teacher email address, and pupils can create their own accounts within

this, so no individual email addresses are needed. Pupil progress is

tracked once they are logged in, allowing them to work through the

activities in stages. Each subsequent level is increasingly challenging, and

new concepts are introduced with each different stage. The first course

‘Introduction to Computer Science’ is free, so you can give it a thorough

trial before deciding if you want to commit further.

6. Cardiio. Measures your pulse using the tablet camera. Freemium.

Blood absorbs light. Every time your heart beats, the blood flow to your

face and finger increases. Cardiio measures this increased blood flow. By

measuring the difference between the light absorbed on a beat or

between beats, the app is able to calculate the heart rate of a person.

We use the software widely across school, such as in logging experiments

in Science, before and after exercise in PE to measure fitness,

and measuring heart rate when doing different activities (watching scary

films, etc.).


Issue 2 | innovatED | | 47

Learning Ladders

Learning Ladders assessment case study - Hyde Park School

Patricia Watt

Hyde Park School is an independent Preparatory school for children

aged 3-11. We are co-educational and non-selective. We get to know

every child in the school well, nurture them and build their knowledge

and understanding so that when they leave us at 11 they are ready to

begin their secondary education with enthusiasm and confidence. We

are in the heart of London, engaging with the world-class museums,

galleries, universities, parks and concert halls that are right on our

doorstep: excellence, ambition and love of learning are in the air we


What prompted you to review your assessment structure?

We felt that our assessments were too examination focused and wanted

to move to something which would enable us to assess the children in the

classroom every day. While we wanted to keep examinations in place for

Common Entrance preparation, we also felt that the percentage or grade

at the end of a term wasn’t particularly helpful feedback for parents and

wanted to invite parents to become much more involved in their children’s

day to day learning journey.

What made you choose Learning Ladders as your assessment system?

A colleague from another school was using it and was very excited about

it. She made me excited about it, too!

How did you get your teachers on board?

It’s never an easy task to implement a new system. With new systems

comes groundwork. We are very fortunate to be blessed with a set of

brilliant teachers who will get their teeth stuck into anything that benefits

the children. Initially, I asked the teachers to visit another school and listen

to a talk about their Learning Ladders experience. We also had the

Learning Ladders team to come in and train the staff which was

instrumental in getting us up and running.

How did you structure your curriculum?

The new assessment structure prompted the teachers to look at the

targets their pupils should be reaching according to the new National

Curriculum framework. In turn, this prompted the teachers to review their

planning in Mathematics and English. We currently only use ladders for

these two subjects.

What has the impact been on your pupils?

Pupils are much more aware of what they are working towards. Lessons

are far more tailored to the needs of individual pupils. It has even been fed

back from one of our teachers that the new assessment system has

revolutionised their teaching!

What are the next steps for assessment at Hyde Park School?

We are just about to launch the Ladders at Home so that parents are fully

aware of what their children are working towards. We have decided to

make the assessments available to the parents. We will allow ourselves

time to fully embed the system into our English and Mathematics planning

and teaching and would consider using it in other subjects in the future.

Patricia is the Deputy Headteacher at

Hyde Park School, London.

Why not take a moment to

see Learning Ladders in


Just email

or call +44 (0)20 3637 0500

48 | Issue 2 |

Spring 2018

Karen Burns

The Portal is here to help

Our aims at the Independent Schools Portal have always been very

simple: Help schools to network and collaborate, support educators

with high-quality CPD, remove the pain points for schools and save

them money.

Based in Leeds, we launched in 2016 to co-ordinate a collaboration

between 22 independent schools in the North West of England and North

Wales, using a series of web-based tools. Since then, we have grown

rapidly and are completely cross-association in the independent sector,

and we now also support UK maintained and international schools. We are

proud to be an organisation that truly brings together state and

independent sectors.

To achieve our aims, we support schools in a number of complementary


Weekly e-Newsletter

The e-Newsletter was launched at the same time as the Portal web-tools

to keep teaching staff abreast of the latest news, regulatory

announcements, research, resources, educational products, services and

events. It has grown rapidly in popularity and has become a trusted,

comprehensive source of information. It is now sent to 11,000+ educators

each week during term time, including to over 1,500 Headteachers. Any

school can write articles in the newsletter, or promote their school free of


To subscribe to the newsletter visit:

innovatED Magazine

innovatED magazine was launched in September 2017 to share more

widely the great blog content that the newsletter was generating. The

printed magazine is sent to 2,200+ independent and international schools,

and the digital app is free of charge to download. We estimate that the

magazine is read by 60,000 educators each term, and we have plans to

begin sending the magazine to UK maintained schools.

To find out more visit:


We began running CPD events in 2016 and we have now have a well

established programme of network meetings that take place around the

country for Headteachers, Deputy Heads, Director of Studies and Subject

Leaders, All of our events are free of charge for the host school and all

delegates, we pay for the cost of the catering and speakers - and the best

part is that we also undertake all of the organisation!

We also regularly support and promote other events run by schools, with

recent examples being Clifton School, York, The Grammar School at

Leeds and Holmewood House in Kent to name a few. is a fully functional recruitment platform for schools. Uniquely,

it is completely free of charge for any UK maintained, independent or

international school! Only schools will be allowed to advertise - so no

agencies or fake jobs. We are already launching with a considerable

number of schools and we expect that will save every single

school thousands of pounds per year in recruitment costs.

To find out more, please visit:

Commercial Partners

We are able to offer these services free of charge because we work with

our commercial partners. Like us, our partners are passionate about

supporting education: they understand that we are now the leading

information and CPD provider to all independent schools, so they choose

to feature in our publications and meet key influencers and decision

makers at our meetings. We also advise and provide consultancy to

partners on ways to effectively engage with schools.

By working in this way, we are able to deliver the highest quality services

to schools, free of charge, whilst also helping companies to engage with

schools in a positive and productive way.

If you represent a school and would like to explore working with the

Independent Schools Portal, please contact our CEO and former

Headmaster of Newcastle School for Boys, Phil Garner:

If you would like to advertise on, please email Monika Fryzicka:

If you are company who would like to discuss working with us to engage

effectively with schools across our channels, please email Stephen Hunt:

2018 promises to be another

exciting year and we are really

looking forward to working with


All the best


Business Development Director

To find out more visit:

As a result of our development, the Portal secured a significant financial

investment in December 2017 to help us to deliver the exciting projects

that we have planned for 2018 and beyond. The first that will come to

fruition is a free recruitment website which we will be launching in

February 2018:

Issue 2 | innovatED | | 49

The Last Word

Andy Falconer

The Last Word

Fingerprints. What jumps into your mind when I say “fingerprint”? Maybe it’s

something to do with crime. The detective who finds incriminating finger prints that

leads them to the culprit? Or maybe it’s sticky children’s fingerprints all over the car

windows or the mirror? Or maybe you’re a bit tech savvy and you’re thinking about

the digital fingerprints that we leave every time we go online?

Take a look at your fingertips. Can you see the tiny lines & ridges that make your

fingerprints different from everyone else’s? Not one other person in the world, and

there’s roughly 7.5 billion people on the planet, has the same finger print as you.

Not even identical twins. Your fingerprints are unique. And of course so are you.

We leave fingerprints every time we touch something, whether we think

our hands are clean or not. They can leave an almost invisible trail of what

we’ve touched since we got up this morning.

I want to talk about the fingerprints we leave. Not on door handles or

mirrors but on the lives of other people. You see there’s another way of

thinking about fingerprints. They’re the little marks that you leave on

another person’s life every time you interact with them.

“You might think that you don’t matter in this world, but because of you

someone has a favourite mug to drink their tea out of that you bought

them. Someone hears a song on the radio and it reminds them of you.

Someone has read a book that you recommended to them and got lost

in its pages. Someone’s remembered a joke you told them and smiled

to themselves on the bus. Never think you don’t have an impact. Your

fingerprints can’t be wiped away from the little marks of kindness that

you’ve left behind.”

It’s all too easy for us to think we don’t matter in this world. Maybe

because we’re young, or don’t feel we have the power to influence big

decisions, or because we compare ourselves to others unfavourably, or

because we’re not awarded a prize at the end of year Speech Day?

However, you do matter in this world. Why? Because we all have an

impact on those around us.

Every time we say something to someone, helpful or unhelpful, it has an

impact. Every time we make a decision to help someone or not help

someone, it has an impact. We all have an impact on those around us,

whether we like it or not. Remember what Dr Suess said: “A person is a

person, no matter how small…”.

The people that impress me most here at St. Olave's are the ones who

quietly live out the seven values of the school, something that can never

be measured by prizes. They are the ones who leave lasting positive

fingerprints on the lives of others because of the way they treat them. It’s

about doing good and making a difference.

Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa all left irrevocable

fingerprints on humanity. But you don’t have to spend your days thinking

that this is the only way in order to make a difference in the world. Of

those seven point five billion people on the planet , what if more of us

gave back, even in small ways? The effect of those fingerprints would be


The idea of leaving a legacy is the desire to be remembered for what you

have contributed to the world. In some cases, that contribution can be so

special that the universe is unalterably changed. However, most of us will

leave a more modest legacy, that doesn’t necessarily change the world

but does leave lasting fingerprints that will be remembered by those

whose lives you have touched. We all hope our life matters in some way.

It’s about doing good and making a difference.

How can we, as educators or as parents, help our children develop an

attitude whereby they are leaving positive fingerprints wherever they go?

1. Avoid using external rewards to reinforce kind behaviour. For

instance, you may want to think twice before telling your children that

they’ll get a special treat if they help you or share, or promising them extra

screen time if they do something kind, as this approach can backfire. They

may learn that kindness is only worth performing when they’ll be given

some kind of prize as a result. Instead, children should get to experience

the feeling that kindness is its own reward and feel good about this.

2. Praise character, not behaviour. Research suggests that children are

more likely to make kindness a habit if they are praised for being kind

people rather than just for doing something kind. For example, saying,

“You’re such a helpful person” may be more effective than saying, “That

was such a helpful thing to do.” Praising their character encourages

children to see kindness as an essential part of who they are and seems to

be especially effective around the age of eight, when children are forming

their moral identities.

3. But do criticize behaviour, not character. In other words, it’s OK to

induce guilt but not shame. Children who feel guilt (“I did a bad thing”)

after wrongdoing are more likely to feel remorse and make amends than

those who feel shame (“I am a bad person”). Criticising a behaviour

conveys that it’s possible for the child to change his or her behaviour and

make better choices in the future. Such criticism may be especially

effective when it also includes positive affirmation (e.g. “You’re a good

person, and I know you can do better.”)

4. Model kind behaviour. Ultimately, actions speak louder than words

when it comes to cultivating kindness. Research shows that when children

witness adults behaving in a kind way, they are more likely to behave

selflessly themselves, regardless of what the adults say to them about the

importance of being kind.

So in summary, remember that:

You are unique.

You do matter.

You leave fingerprints on other people’s lives every time you interact with


It’s about doing good and making a difference •

Andy is the Headmaster at St. Olave's School in York. You can

read more of Andy's writing at

50 | Issue 2 | innovatED |

Holmewood House

Festival of Learning 2018

at Holmewood House School, Royal Tunbridge Wells,


Thursday 14th June - Friday 15th June 2018

Register your interest at



Our Reception pupils will leave school in 2031. What will the world

of work look like then and how can we best prepare them for it


A host of inspirational thought leaders, including:

Ross Morrison McGill, Founder of Teacher Toolkit

Claire Cashmore, MBE, Paralympic Gold Medalist

Jonnie Noakes, Director of the Tony Little Centre for Innovation &

Research, Eton College

Samantha Price, Headmistress of Benenden School

...and many more.

A full range of inspiring workshops on innovation in the classroom

Colleagues from schools across all sectors are very welcome.

For details, contact:

Andrew Hammond, Director of Research, Innovation & Outreach,

Holmewood House School


Tel: 01892 860000

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