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In the Covid-19 landscape, belonging is more important than learning.

“You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place...like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you'll never be this way ever again.” Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

As a geographer, I can speak with confidence about belonging to a place. Belonging is entwined with the places that we visit and interact with. Every one of us views every place in a slightly different way. Belonging to a place; belonging to a community is an essential human feature.  In the current situation, we ignore nurturing bonds of belonging as we lurch and strive toward online learning at our peril.

During the Covid-19 craziness, take 10 minutes. Pause. Reflect on where you feel belonging.

What did you come up with? For me, I belong to:

my family, spread all around the country. (For clarity this includes Leah Moo as she's bound to ask and the Dog Tryfan). I am separate from my son a…
Recent posts

Looking in on learning: a six step cycle

Trying to take the temperature of how teaching and learning is going is no simple task. This is mainly because there are many proxies for learning and that learning takes place over long periods of time, rather than within observable, neat chunks. This post has come about after a conversation with my brilliant colleague Mark where he wondered how we could get rid of lesson observations all together.

Whilst the measurement of lesson performances has always been bonkers, there is a need to check the quality of what goes on around school so that senior teams can support and stretch teachers. Indeed, monitoring is important in order to support high quality teaching and learning.  Personally, I think the main mistake made when looking in on lessons is that the observer focuses on the teacher rather than the student. This causes teachers to perform when someone drops in, when they should perhaps create moments where conversations with the young people can be had.

Anyway, here is a suggesti…

Nurture 16/17? It's time for trust, faith and hope.

Forgive what many may consider to be a self indulgent post (I got a bit distracted) but, over the ten years that I've been writing here, I've been known for the occasional run and beer induced waffle and, in any case, it is my blog and I'll do what I want to.....  This is an attempt at a look ahead to the new year ( I'm always reminded of Dawn Hallybone's words that teacher have two New Years).  I've endeavoured, perhaps rather ambitiously,  to suggest some undertakings for teachers and myself. I'll have to get some help in making it all into a diagram to stick on my fridge, office wall and car windscreen. The basis for the structure comes from this post about growing grit.  In the month where this blog turned ten, I must acknowledge that I may have done more falling this year. But, I rise. And will continue to do so.

You see, although I am no music buff, it plays an important part in the way I think. See my leadership playlist, for example.  I also listened…

Post 1000 and 10 years of blogging: #growinggrit, an update and challenge

Well. Blimey. It's been ten years of blogging. Ten years from this rather pants post  (together with an horrendous selfie - what was I thinking?!). Ten years and I still haven't made a proper site. 10 years of poor grammar, spelling and typos. Well, actually, it was 10 years a couple of weeks ago but I was busy teaching. Anyway, instead of a review of those 10 years (tantrums and tears, some geography and awards, sharing teaching stuff and plenty of rants) here's a post on what I'm working on at the moment. And, if you fancy marking 10 years, take part in the #growinggrit spring term challenge by filling in the form at the bottom of the page. You can then ignore the rest of the drivel!

You can catch up with the idea of Grit here and find out the initial stages, including the small scale action research here. In a nutshell, I've used Pupil Premium funding to create a culture of action research in school. The impact of these on CPD and school culture has been signif…

It's TeachMeet #GAConf17 time!

Apologies for putting this here rather than the TM wiki, but the storage limit has been reached there!


Following the success of TeachMeet #GAConf16, we are proud to present the 2017 TeachMeet
Proudly Sponsored by:






Exact location to be confirmed but will be at the University of Surrey, Guildford. Followed by informal networking and the famous #beermeet
This is a free event open to all - no need to be a conference delegate.
The GA Annual Conference takes place from Thursday 20th - Saturday 22nd April. Further details can be found on the GA Website

A TeachMeet is an informal gathering of like-minded teachers coming together to present to, and learn from one another's classroom practice including practical innovations and personal insights in teaching. Participants volunteer to demonstrate good practice they've delivered over the past year, or discuss a product that enhances classroom practice. TeachMeet events are open to all and do not charge an entry fee. For further information on T…

So, you're designated safeguarding lead. 7 lessons I've learnt so far.

In the 15 years that I've been teaching, I've been given many roles. Since September 2016 I've been the school's designated safeguarding lead. This post shares some reflections, one term into the role, with the aim that others in the same situation may find it useful.

No training ever prepares you fully.

Like every role within a school, CPD is vital, especially around the latest guidance. Of course, any Ofsted inspection will pull apart a school's safeguarding routines, policies and systems, but no course really prepared me for the mental and emotional investment that the role demands.  When a member of staff turns up at the door with an issue, a trip leader contacts you from a different country or a student is in school but in tears and self harming, there isn't anything that could have prepared me. What does help is being a father and trying to make the best decisions. Vitally, the role is about supporting staff and not only students. What has struck me about…

Growing grit: a plan that doesn't involve the classroom

I believe that the most important time in school is in the classroom and that teaching and learning is at the heart of all school decisions. However, I am also an advocate of extra-curricular provision and outdoor education, in particular the ability of expeditions to develop personal attributes in young people. Indeed, my own experience of education was shaped and saved through the Air Training Corps rather than anything that happened within the school's walls. It may not be fashionable not to champion a narrow range of research-backed teaching and learning methods, but I believe that schools are far more than teaching and learning factories.

It's from this experience that I have never advocated that schools, individuals or government can teach character, nor grit, nor mindset. What we can do through is create the conditions in which grit can be grown. In other words, modelling grit and resilience ad providing opportunities for young people to overcome difficulty. Bearing in…