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.
CONTENT & DESIGN EDITOR
Ross Morrison McGill
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BLOG & ARTICLE
Blogs can be submitted by educators
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Issue 2 | innovatED | www.innovated-magazine.com | 3
Shedding Light on Hidden Learning
Unveiling observable indicators of effective learning performance
and finding words to talk about them in non-judgemental ways.
Procedural Vs. Proceptual Learners
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.
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 | www.independentschoolsportal.org
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 | www.innovated-magazine.com | 5
World Education News
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
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
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
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 | www.independentschoolsportal.org
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 | www.independentschoolsportal.org
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. www.andrewhammond.org /
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.
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 | www.innovated-magazine.com | 9
Procedural Vs. Proceptual Learners
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
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
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 | www.independentschoolsportal.org
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
Can we teach children to be proceptural learners?
Can we diagnose those learning procedurally and encourage a more
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 | www.innovated-magazine.com | 11
Helping Parents Deal with Loss
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 | www.independentschoolsportal.org
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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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
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 | www.independentschoolsportal.org
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
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
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
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 | www.independentschoolsportal.org
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
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
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
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 | www.independentschoolsportal.org
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
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 www.mindfulpathway.co.uk
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
Festival of Learning
14th - 15th June 2018
THE FUTURE IS ALREADY HERE
in association with the
Independent Schools Portal
20 | Issue 2 | innovatED | www.independentschoolsportal.org
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 | www.innovated-magazine.com | 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
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: www.independentschoolsportal.org/events
22 | Issue 2 | innovatED | www.independentschoolsportal.org
The FREE recruitment website for schools
from the Independent Schools Portal
Launches February 2018
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
or call +44 (0) 7739 025937
& 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
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 | www.independentschoolsportal.org
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 www.ukheadsup.com.
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:
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 | www.innovated-magazine.com | 25
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 | www.independentschoolsportal.org
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.
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.
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 | www.innovated-magazine.com | 27
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 | www.independentschoolsportal.org
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 | www.independentschoolsportal.org
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 - email@example.com
Issue 2 | innovatED | www.innovated-magazine.com | 31
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.
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.
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.
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
32 | Issue 2 | www.independentschoolsportal.org
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
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.
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.
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
A Year 3/4 Curriculum-linked Residential Field Visit
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 | www.independentschoolsportal.org
Itinerary & Curriculum Content
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.
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)!
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
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 | www.innovated-magazine.com | 35
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
1 Large Sports Bag / Small suitcase & 1 rucksack
Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, shower gel, shampoo, deodorant,
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 hoodies (or jumpers)
Bottle of suntan lotion
Substantial packed lunch for the first day, including snacks
Named water bottle
Disposable or cheap digital camera
A soft toy
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
36 | Issue 2 | www.independentschoolsportal.org
CONNECT, COLLABORATE & LEARN
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.
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.
HOW WILL IT WORK?
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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
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 | www.innovated-magazine.com | 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
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.
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 http://www.heysigmund.com/building-resiliencechildren/
David Paton is Headmaster of Radnor House School, Sevenoaks
What does value mean for today's modern
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 | www.innovated-magazine.com | 41
BETT Show 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.
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
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
42 | Issue 2 | innovatED |www.independentschoolsportal.org
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
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: www.bettshow.com
Issue 2 | innovatED | www.innovated-magazine.com | 43
NEW EDTECH PROJECT?
JUST DO IT!
FORMER HEAD OF IT, POWNALL HALL SCHOOL
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,
#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 | www.independentschoolsportal.org
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
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
#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 | www.independentschoolsportal.org
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
5. Beatwave. Create your own musical compositions, aimed at years 1
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
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
Issue 2 | innovatED | www.innovated-magazine.com | 47
Learning Ladders assessment case study - Hyde Park School
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
or call +44 (0)20 3637 0500
48 | Issue 2 | www.independentschoolsportal.org
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
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
To achieve our aims, we support schools in a number of complementary
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: bit.ly/portalsubscribe
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: www.innovated-magazine.com
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.
ed.careers 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 ed.careers will save every single
school thousands of pounds per year in recruitment costs.
To find out more, please visit: www.ed.careers
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 ed.careers, 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: www.independentschoolsportal.org/events
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
Issue 2 | innovatED | www.innovated-magazine.com | 49
The Last Word
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 www.andyfalconer.net
50 | Issue 2 | innovatED | www.independentschoolsportal.org
Festival of Learning 2018
at Holmewood House School, Royal Tunbridge Wells,
Thursday 14th June - Friday 15th June 2018
Register your interest at
THE FUTURE IS ALREADY HERE
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