Thursday, 8 March 2018

Ailie MacAdam - Inspirational Women

Be inspired by the career of Ailie MacAdam who has led some of the world’s biggest engineering rail projects, including the St Pancras International refurbishment, High Speed One (HS1) and Crossrail.

Ailie MacAdam is global rail sector lead for the engineering, project management and construction company, Bechtel. She joined Bechtel as a graduate chemical engineer in 1985 and has worked there ever since. She’s worked at a senior level on Boston’s road infrastructure, led St Pancras International refurbishment and High Speed One (HS1) rail project. She was also Bechtel’s project director for Crossrail.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Invitation to the National Women's Day Twitter Chat - 8th March 2018

Invitation to join a Twitter chat on Thursday 8th March at 7:00pm to celebrate International Women’s Day! This is fantastic opportunity to get our teeth under some of the challenges that Women Leading in Education (WLE) might face in their working environment.

The chat will be led by @TeachSchCouncil and will last approximately 30 minutes. Please follow @TeachSchCouncil if you don’t already!

2018 International Women’s Day theme #pressforprogress is following the report from the World Economic Forum 2017 Gender Gap Report outlining the gender parity is still 200 years away.

@TeachSchCouncil will pose a few questions for the chat to fuel the discussion but please feel free to send any ideas you might have around this topic.

International Women’s Day is also a great opportunity for:
  • People who are interested in coaching women in education to progress into leadership
  • Women in education who are interested in receiving coaching to help them to progress to leadership
  • Anyone who is interested in supporting women in education to progress to leadership.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Google Training Boot Camp - Mead Primary

Our teaching school is delighted to be offering a chance to qualify as a Google Educator! 

Date: May 3rd
Venue: Mead Primary, RM3 9JD


Get Certified

Want to learn new skills and prove your proficiency? The Google Certified Educator Level 1 Bootcamp prepares you to take Google's exam by providing pedagogically sound ideas for the use of G Suite in the classroom. You'll leave with new ideas for using tools across the suite including Google Classroom, Forms, Docs, Sheets, YouTube and more! We'll provide a voucher code so that you can take the exam for free!

Reach the Next Level

Achieved Google Certified Educator Level 1 and want to take things up a notch? Attend the AppsEvents Google Certified Educator Level 2 Bootcamp to learn how to take your G Suite usage beyond the core apps. You'll get experience with add-ons and extensions as well as expanding your knowledge of YouTube, Blogger and more. We'll provide a voucher code so that you can take the exam for free!

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Improving Vocabulary in EYFS

If we want to close the vocabulary and attainment gap that already exists by the age of 3, we need to seriously reconsider our practice. Some children will require a more targeted approach for speech and language development but targeted doesn't have to mean boring. However a huge percentage of supporting behaviour and communication is done by following what a child is interested in and adapting the learning there and then to their specific level of need. When you get down at their level and you follow a child’s lead, you can really enhance their vocabulary / enrich their learning.

Here is a scenario where a great opportunity to develop speech and vocabulary is missed:
A little girl comes into the nursery and finds her name for self-registration (or rather the picture next to her name. She’s only just turned 3.) Her picture is a kite, which just so happens to be the school emblem so we all have one on our t-shirts. 
The EYP says “look what you’ve got! It’s the same as mine. I have one on my t-shirt.” All credit to the EYP, she didn’t ask “what is it?” The staff know I dislike boring test questions. But I was curious, so I asked the girl and of course she didn’t know. Because not once during her self-registration had she heard from her mum, or the EYP “it’s a kite. You’ve got a kite. I’ve got a kite too. It flies in the sky when it’s windy.”

Yes, the EYP was interacting with the child, getting down at her level and even following her interest. But the child left that interaction with no more vocabulary than when she came in.

These tips would be a good starting point:
  • With every nursery activity (such as circle time) consider... is every child benefitting from this activity? Or is it the same chatty few that are participating every time? What changes could be made to ensure every child is included? This might mean smaller groups, shorter time in a circle or adapting your language and expectation according to their need.
  • Does every child start with a clean slate every day? Or does your staff use langauge such as "I hope we are going to have a better day than yesterday."
  • If a child is "misbehaving" (also known as 'has not received the memo of what your expectations are for the day.') was the activity chosen and led by them...or you?
  • If a child is "misbehaving," do they actually understand what is expected of them? Or do you need to support that understanding by using visuals, gestures or simplifying the instruction?
Read the full article here

Child Led Learning & Speech & Language

Friday, 2 March 2018

NPQ Executive Leadership - deadline extension

Dear colleagues

Due to bad weather conditions that caused school closures this week, we decided to extend the registration deadline for the NPQEL course.

We will be accepting applications until Friday, 9 March.

The new NPQ for Executive Leadership is aimed at the growing number of head teachers who are taking on responsibility for more than one school.

The fully blended learning approach with HEI backed content (meaning that participants can go on to achieve an MBA from Liverpool Hope University), combined with executive coaching and enrichment activity from within and outside the education sector, make this an exciting and valuable opportunity for executive leaders.

Candidates working in Opportunity Areas or Category 5 and 6 LA will be eligible for full course funding; you can find more information here.

Please could you share the below link to the registration page within your network:

The National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership

Any questions? Contact us on 0117 9209 424 or email

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Inspiring A Love of Reading

If you ask an adult for their earliest memory of stories, books and reading they will often recall the oral tales told by parents, grandparents or the “classic” stories, which adults read to young children. However, since the Industrial Revolution, governments and some employers are often quoted as seeing a decline in literacy, which in turn affects our nation’s ability to compete with the world. (Brown, 2007).

The development of early language and literacy begins in the first three years of life and is closely linked to a child's earliest experiences with books and stories. Current research demonstrates the critical role of these early experiences in shaping brain development.

Views on learning literacy:
Learners should understand and experience the purposes and functions of language before learning to manipulate its constituent parts. 
Oral and written language have to be learned in meaningful and enjoyable circumstances, and thus children construct language as they use it.
Certain conditions support this approach with children, such as: 
  • immersion in print, 
  • demonstration of how print and books are used,
“Nurture shapes nature”
Giving children an appreciation of a wide range of literature underpins and supports their development of understanding in reading by providing meaningful experience of rhythm, sequence and narrative, tone and intonation, pauses, rhyme, and alliteration. Stories and poems help children understand sequence and narrative, as well as creating meaning, writing sentences, composing their own stories, and making their own non-fiction books based on their interests.

Early literacy research states that:
  • Language, reading, and writing skills develop at the same time and are intimately linked;
  • Early literacy development is a continuous developmental process that begins in the early years;
  • Early literacy skills develop in real-life settings through positive interactions with literacy materials and other people.
Using books:
Children with individual needs will need support in developing a range of appropriate behaviours with books. These will include:
  • The physical manipulation or handling of books, such as page turning rather than chewing, tearing or throwing them;
  • Learning to look at and pay attention to pictures in books;
  • Learning to show recognition of and a beginning of understanding of pictures in books, such as pointing to pictures of familiar objects;
  • Gaining an understanding of pictures, events and story comprehension such as imitating an action seen in a picture or talking about the events in a story; and
  • Verbally interacting with stories and books alongside increasing their understanding of print in books such as babbling in imitation of reading or running fingers along printed words
Encouraging children with special educational needs to enjoy books
A climate of fun and multi-sensory experience that is based in children’s interests is key to making books and reading enjoyable. Ideally practitioners should not be building barriers but breaking them down according to the unique needs of the children. These can be assisted by the following ideas:
  • Encouraging a variety of reading role-models to boost self-esteem alongside skills, e.g. older children and parents.
  • Using books with a range of positive images so children can recognize themselves and children like them, including making books about them.
  • Bringing in real authors, poets and illustrators to share their enthusiasm, having researched their ability to communicate with the children in your school/setting.
  • Providing daily routines such as story times every day in comfortable environments, alongside flexibility (e.g. indoors and outside). Some children with particular needs may need one-to-one stories using such useful tools as multi-sensory Book Boxes in order to understand the concept of story time.

Teaching language and literacy via the use of books demands the highest quality teaching. This in turn requires knowledge, insight and curiosity about how children learn and develop alongside their unique interests and needs. Practitioners need to:
  • display a genuine commitment to holistic learning
  • practise joyful, playful teaching and learning.
  • show a problem-solving disposition themselves and a ‘can-do’ attitude 

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Precise Practice

Have you ever been disappointed with pupil outcomes despite having spent lots of time practising the skills that you thought they needed?

The issue might be that the practice wasn't precise enough, or maybe they were practising the wrong things. So how might we improve this? How can we get pupils to practise the right things? And how can we ensure that teachers are given the most precise and useful information about their pupils’ progress and areas for development?

Sequencing activities:
Pupils sometimes struggle to make connections across whole texts. Rather than waiting until pupils have read the whole story, it is often useful to ask pupils to put events into order even when they only have the bare bones of the story. If they understand the key moments in the text it is more likely that they will be able to then add extra detail and description.

Once they have grasped the sequence of major events in the plot, you can then begin to weave in questions about particular ideas, themes or images in the plot. 

Quick Listing
Sometimes, a good old fashioned ‘mind map’ (or a list if that makes more sense for the content your pupils are studying- I don’t think it really matters) can be a really useful form of retrieval practice, particularly for those pupils who have struggle to think of points to make in their writing. 

These activities test memory, of course, but they also give the teacher a sense of how much pupils know about specific topics. They tell you whether your class are ready to move on, can help to shine a light on misconceptions, and might provide a spring board on which to add further details about a particular idea or topic, as a way to deepen understanding.

Concept Links
In order to develop their understanding of connections between ideas in a text, and to improve their interpretations, pupils need lots of opportunities to think about connections and interpretations. Asking them questions that force them to choose between different interpretations helps to cement their understanding whilst making this visible to the teacher.

As you move forward you can increase the complexity by being less specific, and depending less on the most obvious description of the characters.

Because/But/So sentences:
This idea comes from this book, which is brilliantly summarised here. The idea is that you give pupils the same sentence stem, changing only the final word (to either ‘because’, ‘but’ or ‘so’). For example:
Arthur Birling refers to himself as a ‘hard-headed businessman’ because
Arthur Birling refers to himself as a ‘hard-headed businessman’ but
Arthur Birling perceives refers as a ‘hard-headed businessman’ so

What I particularly like about these questions is that they really force pupils to think about their answers. They have to draw on their knowledge of the plot, characters and ideas. These sentence stems also provide pupils with the opportunity to practise writing out the kinds of sentences they might have to write in an extended piece of writing later, but without having to worry about everything else. As ever, starting with sentence-level drills aids and supports writing further down the line.

Read the full article here

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Primary Assessment - Symphony Updates

We are delighted to be hosting the Symphony Assessment team who are travelling down to Essex to share the updates to the Symphony framework and how it now has a partnership with O Track to provide additional analysis options:

Date: 26th April
Venue: Mead Primary, Amersham Road, RM3 9JD
Time: 9.15am or 1.00pm (session is repeated)
Cost: £75

How to book:
Please send a completed booking form to
Payment as follows:

 Cheques payable to ‘SLT Newcroft Primary Academy’ or,

 BACS: Sort Code 30 94 97 Account Number 65042268

 If you would like us to invoice your school, please provide an order number in your request via email

Monday, 26 February 2018

Tips On Presenting

Presenting is seen as a staple skill for teachers... but it is rarely explicitly taught as such. When you walk into classrooms or staff meetings, often the most basic of rules are ignored

Colleagues reading out irrelevant slides, robotic monotone delivery, over enthusiastic use of animations, tiny fonts, crammed slides: have any of these simple errors ever been seen in your school?

One of the greatest presenters was Steve Jobs - Apple CEO. His presentations appeared flawless and smooth... but this wasn't an accident. Jobs was legendary for his preparation. He would rehearse on stage for many hours over many weeks prior to the launch of a major product. He knew every detail of every demo and every font on every slide. As a result the presentation was delivered flawlessly. 

People will often say, “I’m not as smooth as Jobs was.” Well, neither was he! Hours and hours of practice made Jobs look polished, casual, and effortless.

So painful, awkward presentations don't need to be this way. Here are some simple tips to purge those presentation pains:
  • Practise: how many times will you have read and re read your slides before presenting? Can you ad lib? Do you have to constantly refer to your notes? The more you know your material the more confident you will be... and it means that technical glitches won't throw you off balance.
  • Use the tools available: Google Slides has a great explore tool that will help you lay out text and images effectively (see the video below). That way you can concentrate on the content and not worry about the formatting
  • Make sure you start the slideshow... often presenters/teachers forget to click 'present' which means that slides are much smaller and harder to read. 
  • Use the notes section below each slide to carry your additional information. This helps stop you from just rereading the content on the slide and declutters the presentation.
  • Mix up the layout: include some images (ideally personalised to your school/audience) and ensure that slides look different... this helps to keep it more engaging for the audience

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Sutton Trust: Career Inequality

The challenge for schools based in areas of deprivation are as acute as ever. Data collected by The Sutton Trust from a range of reports reveals that disadvantaged pupils will face significant hurdles if they are to close the gap on their wealthier peers:
  • There is already 19 months gap in school readiness in between the richest and poorest children when starting school. (Social Mobility Report, 2012)
  • Pupils from the highest social class groups are three times more likely to enter university as those from the lowest social groups. (Leading People, 2016)
  • Fewer good jobs are being created than before; for both men and women, upward mobility rates fell for those aged 30 between 1976 and 2004, whilst downward mobility rates rose. (The state of Social Mobility in the UK, 2017)

Despite huge investment in Pupil Premium, Independent schools are hugely over represented in major professions. For schools in challenging areas this poses continued questions about how best to promote career paths and support pupils in not just having a dream, but sustaining it and then achieving it. 
  • What are we doing to tackle the language, behaviour, self regulation and vocabulary gap that already exists by the age of 3?
  • How are careers promoted consistently as part of the everyday curriculum?
  • Is there any way that we can continue to champion and support Primary pupils once they transition to Secondary?

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

OLP Leadership Survey

Outstanding Leaders Partnership launches its first annual school leadership challenges survey today.

Supported by Best Practice Network and the University of Chester, the survey aims to provide a detailed insight into the key issues facing those in charge of schools across the country.

It includes questions on the key challenges you face as a school leader today and how these affect your wellbeing, as well questions on your professional development and support needs, workload and resilience.

The results will help them to refine and develop their professional development programmes and school improvement services so that they continue helping you and your colleagues in your crucial work.

The survey takes just 10 minutes to complete and if you enter your name and school details you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win a package of free places on two of their professional development qualifications.
The survey is open until Monday 16 April 2018 and can be accessed here.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Social Divide Widening

A new report, by the Longevity Science Panel, shows that efforts to close the life expectancy gap are now kicking into reverse. Despite a wide range of efforts and initiatives, the latest data shows that a boy born in a poor neighbourhood today will die 8.4 years earlier than someone from a richer are. Even with improving outcomes for disadvantaged pupils, the gap in life expectancy is still widening.

On average a boy born in one of the fifth richest neighborhoods can expect to live 8.4 years longer than someone born in one of the poorest areas -up from 7.2 years in 2001. The gap is widening for girls too, with poor girls born this year expected to die 5.8 years younger than rich girls - up from five years in 2001.

Researchers said the widening gap is 'mainly about money' and those on benefits and with little cash expected to die younger than their richer counterparts.

Monday, 19 February 2018

NPQEL Registration

There is still time to register for the NPQEL course starting this spring.

The new NPQ for Executive Leadership is aimed at the growing number of head teachers who are taking on responsibility for more than one school.

The fully blended learning approach with HEI backed content (meaning that participants can go on to achieve an MBA from Liverpool Hope University), combined with executive coaching and enrichment activity from within and outside the education sector, make this an exciting and valuable opportunity for executive leaders.

Candidates working in Opportunity Areas or Category 5 and 6 LA will be eligible for full course funding; you can find more information here.

We will be accepting applications until Friday, 2 March.

The National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership

Any questions? Contact us on 0117 9209 424 or email

LEAD!: Middle Leadership Development

Last chance to book onto the first of the Middle Leadership development sessions which start on February 22nd.

This course is broken into three chapters: leadership of self, leadership of others and personal reflection. By the end of the sessions you will have:

  • a clearer sense of your own leadership styles and when to apply them
  • a range of strategies to lead teams more effectively
  • tools and tips to aid your ongoing professional development
Please book your place by emailing:

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Retaining Staff - 3 Tips

At this time of year school leaders will be planning for September. Staff will be thinking of where to be next academic year. As a school leader, have you ever lost a great teacher?

The moment you receive their resignation can take you by surprise. However their thought process that led to them resigning most likely happened months. 

When you are leading an organisation it is all too easy to get caught up in the now... absence, daly arrangements, cover, parents, meetings. But if you allow your head to drop and focus on the now, without paying attention to how some of your staff may be wanting to know about the future you can find that there is an erosion of emotional engagement. 

Staff turnover is costly: replacing someone costs a minimum of 6-9 months’ salary. And that’s just the hard costs. There’s also the cost to morale, the classroom impact, and the burden on the school leader trying to fill the gaps, while key initiatives fall further behind.

What can you do as a leader? A lot, and it starts with language. Employees may say they’re leaving for higher pay. There are funding pressures that mean this is always going to feature. In schools of all sizes there are only so many positions that offer additional responsibility. However there are other factors which can be managed. These can be key to maintaining engagement. 

Here are three no cost ways school leaders can keep people engaged:
  1. Feedback – Employees lose their emotional connection quickly when there’s no feedback from their school leader. Companies that implement regular employee feedback have a 14.9% lower turnover rate (HubSpot). Shouting “do better” six times a day doesn’t count. It’s simple; when an employee does a good job, tell them.
  2. Meaning – If you treat your employees like a number they’ll return the favor. They’ll treat their job like a transaction. Teachers who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their schools — the highest single impact of any variable according to a global study from Tony Schwartz. It costs you nothing to tell an employee how their actions make a difference to the team, your customers, or the world at large... don't take it for granted.
  3. Horizon – When people don’t know where the company is going or where their job is going, there’s no connection to the future. Make a practice of sharing your future vision, and tell your team what’s on the horizon. 

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Greater Depth In Writing - Alan Peat

Are you looking to develop staff confidence with teaching for Greater Depth in Writing?

Would you like to pick up some simple tips on how to implement the 'pupil can' statements into lessons?

Has your school been looking for inspiration to improve writing outcomes for pupils?

On March 22nd we are delighted to be welcoming Alan Peat to the Havering Primary Teaching School to provide an afternoon session on 'Working At Greater Depth in Writing'.

Please see the flyers below for more information and booking details.

Date: March 22nd
Time: 1-4pm
Venue: Mead Primary, RM3 9JD

Lead Like An Eagle

“One man can make a difference, but a team can make a miracle.” 

These were the words of wisdom that Eagles head coach Doug Pederson delivered to kickoff what became his unforeseen – unbelievable – championship winning season. If you weren't aware, this February the Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl... against the odds.

What is particularly interesting about their story is the way in which this championship team, and their leadership, benefitted from the power of emotional intelligence on their road to victory. So how could we learn some lessons from this remarkable achievement, and how could you begin to incorporate them within your own teams to achieve success?
  1. Practice self-awareness in order to achieve emotional intelligence.
  2. Exercise empathy – put yourself in your team member’s shoes, look through their lens.
  3. Create a culture of transparency – stay visible and grow trusted by your team. 
  4. Invest time in the relationships you have with your team members and give freedom for relationships to grow between them. 
  5. Never allow adversity to get you and your team down – change the narrative to see challenges as opportunities.
  6. Provide a purpose higher than self. Give your team the opportunity to align with something mission-driven, it will elevate them.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Lessons from Bookcases

Across our Learning Federation, the mantra is to be continually evaluating practice, looking for marginal gains and trying to be better today than we were yesterday.

One company that has a rigorous approach to reviewing and refining processes to ensure constant improvement is IKEA.
Constant Tweaks
In 2010, for example, Ikea rethought the design of its Ektorp sofa and made the armrests detachable.

That helped halve the size of the packaging, which halved the number of lorries needed to get the sofas from factory to warehouse, and warehouse to shop. And that lopped a seventh off the price.

The Bang Mug
IKEA changed the height of their iconic mug when it realised it could make slightly better use of the space in its supplier's kiln, in Romania.

And tweaking the handle design made them stack more compactly - more than doubling the number you could fit on a pallet, more than halving the cost of getting them from the kiln in Romania to the shelves in the shop.

Billy Bookcase
It has been a similar story with the Billy bookcase. It does not look like it has changed much since 1978, yet it costs 30% less. That is partly due to constant, tiny tweaks in both product and production method.

Click here to read the full article

  • What systems and processes do you have that could be refined?
  • Is there something that is good, that with a tweak, could become great?
  • Do staff waste time on low impact tasks that could be made more efficient?
  • How often do you purposefully audit and review the systems and processes used?

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Purpose and clarity... and impact!

Often our SLEs have worked with teachers who have tried to tackle the issue of engagement in their classes. Often a solution can appear to be having a really WOW activity: slime, chemical reactions, pizzas into fractions... swiss rolls.

However, engagement isn't about having a small fireworks display to start the lesson. It is about knowing the objective that you wish to teach, knowing that it is appropriate and challenging for the class you have and then planning a purposeful activity that will allow the pupils to make progress towards it.

What is incredibly unhelpful is the lesson described below, that at the time was WOW... but no one can remember the point.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Is it really that bad

There are always going to be times when the job seems overwhelming. Quite often it is all too easy to see only the problems and not realise that there is so much more around you that is going well. The image below is a useful reminder that it is rarely as bad as it seems:

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Staff Wellbeing Ideas

Ensuring that you are doing all you can as a leader to recognise the effort your staff are putting in is hard. All day long, tiny acts of kindness and outstanding practice are taking place and you will only see a fraction of them.

How do you communicate your thanks to staff? What do you recognise? Will teams be aware that you do notice?

Here are some simple ideas we have found:

Recognition and rewards:
  • Employee awards – nominated within team from team
  • Recognition of and incentives for achievements – boxes of chocolates, certificates etc
  • Regular praise for good achievements
  • Achievable goals with prizes
  • Always try to relate to and empathise with your staff. This is paramount when working with our clients so it should be with our peers
  • Have a positive part of team meetings – colleagues say something positive or recognise a quality in each other and say it
  • Compliments hour – only give nice comments and feedback
  • Give staff a “voucher” (£40-50) to spend on training & development that is NOT work related and then publicise what they’ve done
  • Listen, ask, keep excellent communications.... buy cake!
  • Thank people – make them feel appreciated.
  • Say “thank you” to your staff when they have done well (even better with a handwritten or at least personally signed note to them)

How do you ensure that staff achieve some semblance of a work/life balance? Is there a way that you can help Middle Leaders take the temperature of their team? Is there a 'staff tracker/bingo card' where you try to encourage them to try a range of wellbeing activities to give them a break and help them unwind?

Can you create some time in the day for individuals or teams to take a break?

Here are some simple ways that staff could try to give themselves a break.

Monday, 29 January 2018

What to do first?

As a leader, the volume of tasks to complete can seem overwhelming. In any one day there can be a succession of decisions to be made on trivial matters up to those which could have real long lasting impact. Making sure that you give each one the appropriate time is quite a challenge, especially when you can feel under pressure to 'always have the answer'.

The diagram below helps to give a very simple framework with which you can review actions and tasks. It is also worth considering some mantras that can help to avoid being swamped:

  • Take your time to really listen to the question and think about your response. Is it something that has to be answered today? Is it you that should be doing the answering? Should you be taking advice? Do you even know the answer?
  • Don't be afraid to say you don't know. No one knows everything. Admitting that you need time to research the issue/question and that you'll get back to the person when you have an informed response isn't weakness.
  • Are too many questions coming to you? Are there systems in place to ensure that class teachers, Middle Leaders and other SLT are clear on their responsibilities?
  • Don't be afraid to stop doing something good so that you can do something great. Often it is hard to let go of something that is working for fear that a new approach won't work out... but if you don't try you'll never know. If we lived our life on that basis we'd still be riding horses to work.

Peer Review - Improvement Workshop

SLEs from our Peer Review cohort led their first session this month at Branfil Primary. In our cohort we have eight Havering Schools:

  • Hacton Primary
  • Broadford Primary
  • Mead Primary
  • James Oglethorpe Primary
  • Hilldene Primary
  • Upminster Infant & Junior
  • Engayne Primary
  • Branfil Primary
Each school undertakes to receive a Peer Review, and then an Improvement Workshop.
It is too early yet to be able to judge the impact that these reviews will have on pupil outcomes, but staff feedback has been very encouraging:

100% agreed that the Improvement Workshop was a positive experience which will help move our school forward.
I felt it was very positive throughout and we gained a lot through it - Branfil teacher
I thought it was very worthwhile experience - Branfil teacher

The SLEs use a range of thinking tools to help promote discussion and help the staff of the focus school tease out ideas and strategies to move forward followings the findings of the review.
Radiant Thinking

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Peer Review: Facilitator Workshop

Facilitated by the Education Development Trust, we had a great training session for our Improvement Facilitators. Our cohort of eight Primary schools have now completed the first two of the reviews in this cycle, with one more to come in January. Having led one Improvement Workshop to enact the findings of the Review, our facilitators were excited to have the chance to meet up with Deanery colleagues who started the Peer Review process a few months earlier.

It was a great chance to discuss ideas, listen to each group's experiences and consolidate our understanding of the techniques and tools we have for the reviews.
T Chappel - Improvement Facilitator

Our two cohorts of schools now have nine facilitators who will be able to support the school improvement process. We hope to add more capacity as the year progresses.

Click here for a link to the Schools Partnership Programme

Google: Culture first, technology second

We were delighted to be asked by Google to present at BETT this year. Our presentation focused on the importance of first building a staff culture before expecting the technology to unleash collaboration.

View the slides here

Across our Federation we have made a conscious effort to build INTELLECTUAL & SOCIAL capital. Google has helped with the first, as they have Educator Level 1 & 2 training which has ensured that our staff are confident with G Suite and all the key apps. However we have worked just as hard on the expectations we have for SOCIAL capital:

  • staff nights out: activity based team events darts, Topgolf, bowling, shuffleboard
  • fun activities and games to start staff/team meetings
  • free refreshments in the staff room to encourage people out of their classes
  • free Zumba sessions every week
  • cake on a Friday
  • joint PPA time with all of the team released at once - across both schools
This meant that when we started to implement G Suite and introduce Chromebooks the culture of collaboration, that was already established, really took off.

Jade then spoke about the practical applications it has to help her lead a team effectively and make a difference in the classroom. The core message behind her part of the presentation was to ensure that:

There have been lots of questions, nerves and doubt over this new way of doing things. But thanks to the effective modelling of our Google champions we have been able to save time, increase engagement, reduce duplication of tasks and concentrate on the main thing... planning, resourcing and teaching great lessons for the children.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Little Things - Huge Impact

The Brailsford mantra of 'marginal gains' has been slightly tarnished with revelations about the use of exemptions and different medications. However the idea that small actions can have a large impact is rooted in history.

What small changes could have a large impact in your setting?
Could you change attainment and progress with a tiny tweak?

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Believe In Your Vision

It might not sound relevant to teaching, but as The Last Jedi reaches over $1billion in takings, it is worth reflecting that the whole story was almost never told.

George Lucas wanted to make a movie with his favourite science-fiction character, but he couldn’t afford to buy the rights. Instead he borrowed a little bit from old science fiction stories, samurai tales, Westerns, WWII pilot adventures…and then set his own story in space. That was only the beginning of the struggle to get Star Wars made. No one wanted to finance the story, the budget was tiny, the skills didn't exist to make it... even the cast and crew were reluctant to take part. They thought George's vision was crazy.

However he persevered, he re shot scenes, he believed in himself and never gave up on the vision he had for the story.

It is an incredible tale of success against the odds. 
  • How would you get staff to buy into your vision?
  • Have you ever been tempted to give up when others just don't get it?
  • Are there factors holding you back from achieving your vision?
Maybe watching George describe what the process was like for him will be inspiring for you!

Click here for the video

Friday, 12 January 2018

Teach London

"London is the greatest city in the world in which to live, to work and to study. It is no wonder that thousands of graduates choose to stay in the capital to teach and to inspire the next generation of Londoners. Teachers have a huge impact on young Londoners’ lives. I urge you to consider London as a place to train to be a teacher and play your part in nurturing and inspiring our capital’s young talent for generations to come." 

If you are interested in finding out more about teaching in London then please look at out local Schools Direct program:

or look at the Mayor's Teach London resource

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Leadership Conversations

A significant part of leadership is all about developing the right habits. One of these is around the types of conversation that you tend to have as a leader. Andy Buck has simplified this for school leaders at all levels - you should only have three types of conversation!

‘Monkey on the shoulder’ conversations

Someone comes to talk to you about an issue and concern. Before you know it, you’ve ended up with a job! Whilst there is a place for ’monkey on the shoulder’ conversations, you shouldn’t have too many.

‘Wise owl’ conversations

These are dialogues in which you end up giving advice, making suggestions or even just telling someone what to do. These conversations don’t build capacity or competence in your colleagues. In fact, they do the reverse.

‘Dolphin’ conversations

The important habit I am suggesting all leaders need to keep developing, is that of ‘asking first’. Here, leaders just ask brilliant questions. It is more about you using a coaching leadership style than it is actually formally coaching. In a nutshell, aim to ask questions that help the other person to:

1. understand the background or situation

2. work out what they want to do or their aim

3. consider their options and work out their strategy or approach

4. decide what they are going to do or implement

5. work out how this can continue as a sustainable solution

As the words in bold highlight, this approach to structuring these conversations uses the acronym of BASIC.

Click here for the full article

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Thought For the Day

On the theme of small changes to make a big difference, the story of how the inspirational quotes seen at TfL stations came to be is a great one.

What is the Quote for The Day?
Passengers using Oval station on the Northern line have come to appreciate the ‘Thought for the Day’ quotations put up by station staff in the main concourse.

The innovative project began in 2004 and has been taken up by several other stations on the Underground network.

It’s a team effort, started by station supervisor Anthony Gentles and looked after on a daily basis by station assistant Glen Sutherland.

Anthony Gentles said: “We are here to provide a service to our customers, not just to sell tickets. We like to provide a happy and relaxed environment, which is why we have classical music playing at all times.”

The idea behind ‘Thought for the Day’ was to give passenger’s something inspirational to think about during their journey.

Click here for the article

  • What small changes could you make in your school?
  • How could you excite staff about new ideas or techniques?
  • How would the 'quote for the day' work in your setting?

Monday, 8 January 2018

Rethinking Giftedness

How are you supporting More Able pupils?
This short clip from Citizen Film was created after hearing from pupils about the labels they had received growing up. Many of the pupils had been labelled as “gifted” or “smart,” when they were in school, and these labels, intended to be positive, had given them learning challenges later in life.

Most people realize that it is harmful to not be labelled as gifted when others are. The labelling of some students sends negative messages about potential. However those labels could be damaging for those who receive them too. 

At Stanford many pupils were labelled as gifted in Kindergarten or 1st grade and received special advantages from that point on, raising many questions about equity in schools. But labels and ideas of smartness and giftedness carry with them fixed ideas about ability, suggesting to pupils that they are born with a gift or a special brain. 

When pupils are led to believe they are gifted, or they have a “math brain” or they are “smart” and later struggle, that struggle is absolutely devastating. Pupils who grow up thinking that they have a special brain often drop out of STEM subjects when they struggle. At that time students start to believe they were not, after all, gifted, or that the gift has “run out” as one of the students in our film reflects.

In the film, which I really recommend that you watch, we also hear from students from a local elementary school who shared their experiences of learning without labels. Their school does not give students the idea that some students are smart or gifted and has instead shared our youcubed messages and videos about the high potential of all students to grow and change their brains. Their math community values all kinds of learners and communicates that all students have interesting and unique ideas to share. The teachers know that careful problem-solving takes time, conversation, and lots of questions from everyone. The fourth graders who are interviewed illustrate the different ideas students can develop when they are given messages of brain growth and high academic potential for everyone, rather than messages of high academic potential for only some students.

Jo Boaler - Youcubed

Click here for the video

Click here for the website

Friday, 5 January 2018

Maths Progression Videos

These video clips may be useful when explaining to staff the progression in maths concepts through the Early Years and Primary phases.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Don't Mention The Nail - Just Listen

Have you ever had a performance conversation with a team member where you felt that there was a very obvious solution?

Have you ever wanted to just 'give the answer' so that you can move forward?

Have you ever felt frustrated that the team member couldn't see the same solution as you?

In order for the issue to be resolved, it may sometimes be better to just listen... however difficult that maybe. Once the team member feels that they have been heard, that a quick fix isn't just imposed on them, it may be more likely that you will be able to agree on a way forward...

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Small Changes - Big Difference

When looking at resolutions for a New Year it is easy to be seduced by the dramatic... a whole new me! Targets set can easily be vague... get fitter, read more. Too ambitious and it is too easy to give up. Too vague and it is unclear if you have achieved them.

Here are some top tips that we would offer - which are good for any time of the year and not restricted to the first week in January:

  1. Be specific. If you are going to get fitter, what do you mean? Is your aim to run without stopping for 10mins? How many minutes can you do now? How do you know? Is your goal appropriate?
  2. Do something today... it is very easy to come up with a target that means you can put off any effort. What can you do today to make a difference to your goal
  3. Build on an existing behaviour - is there a habit you have which you could develop or improve? Perhaps you already walk for 10 minutes... now you can stretch it to 12?
A key question would be... how will this improve my life, my health, my teaching. If you aren't clear on the expected benefits of the change then how will you stay motivated to achieve it, how will you know if you have achieved it?

NPQ Courses - Deadline Extension 26th January

Have you set yourself a leadership goal for 2018?
Would an NPQ help you achieve it?

If so, you will be delighted to hear that we decided to extend the registration deadline for NPQ courses starting this spring.
We will be accepting applications until Friday, 26th January.
Please use the registration links below to ensure you are able to access outstanding leadership training starting in your locality this spring.

For general information on these courses, please visit our website.

Reading Comprehension

What does comprehension require? Broad vocabulary, obviously. Equally important, but more subtle, is the role played by factual knowledge.

All prose has factual gaps that must be filled by the reader. Consider

“I promised not to play with it, but Mum still wouldn’t let me bring my Rubik’s Cube to the library.” 

The author has omitted three facts vital to comprehension: 
  1. you must be quiet in a library; 
  2. Rubik’s Cubes make noise; 
  3. kids don’t resist tempting toys very well. 
If you don’t know these facts, you might understand the literal meaning of the sentence, but you’ll miss why Mum forbade the toy in the library.

In one experiment, pupils — some identified by a reading test as good readers, some as poor — were asked to read a passage about football. The poor readers who knew a lot about football were three times as likely to make accurate inferences about the passage as the good readers who didn’t know much about the game.

Current education practices show that reading comprehension may be misunderstood. It’s treated like a general skill that can be applied with equal success to all texts. Rather, comprehension is intimately intertwined with knowledge. That suggests three significant changes in schooling.

  1. Look at decreasing the time spent on literacy instruction in early years. Early in Primary pupils can spend 56 percent of their time on literacy activities but 6 percent each on science and social studies. This disproportionate emphasis on literacy backfires later  when children’s lack of subject matter knowledge impedes comprehension. Another positive step would be to use high-information texts earlier - historically, they have been light in content.
  2. Second, understanding the importance of knowledge to reading ought to make us think differently about year-end standardized tests. If a child has studied New Zealand, she ought to be good at reading and thinking about passages on New Zealand. Why test her reading with a passage about spiders, or the Titanic? If topics are random, the test weights knowledge learned outside the classroom — knowledge that wealthy children have greater opportunity to pick up.
  3. Knowledge needs to be deliberately built into the curriculum. What are the key facts and understanding that we want pupils to have acquired and how are we planning to deliberately cover it?