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Learning Journeys for All

Last academic year, my school @rodbournecheney (proud member of WhiteHorseFed) launched our aim of creating a ‘learning journey for all’ approach with great success.

  

The desire to embed this practice came from a range of ideas, thoughts and processes. As a profession, we always compliment EYFS for their excellent recording and acknowledgement of the whole child through their rigorous record keeping and the collating evidence for their learning journeys. In addition, as a parent I was thrilled when I received my EYFS daughter’s books/ learning journey as it was a real heartwarming keepsake. I also loved the fact it felt as if the teacher, and the school, really knew my daughter and captured her whole learning in depth. With this is mind, it seemed to make perfect sense to use this approach for every child.

This was something we wanted to complete for the whole school. As we move more towards a mastery approach, this format also seems an ideal way of showing all types of learning, including SMSC development.

  

At present, we collate a range of information and work. We have two main books :

1. English and curriculum

2. Maths and reasoning 

We believe these books are more evidence books rather than just work books. We collect lots of information, photos and gather a range of evidence. These include :

  • Written work
  • Whiteboard work
  • Self and peer marking strategies
  • (Lots of) photographs that are annotated 
  • Observations from both teachers and TAs (all the way up to year 6)
  • Parent contributions to their child’s learning 

We also cross reference evidence, for example we will add science and PE to maths.

Our teachers and support staff are fantastic at recording children’s responses on post-it notes and sticky labels and adding them to children’s books. These observations play an important part in gathering evidence of the learning of that  child. This ensures no WOW learning moments are lost. 

  

The children are extremely proud of their learning journeys, this ensures the children are able to talk about their learning and with much enjoyment and enthusiasm too. Due to this the children are also more meticulous and neat with their work. It is always so heart warming to see all of our children (no matter what ability) who are excited to ‘show off’ their learning journeys with others and their peers.

We have parent sharing events where parents come in to look at the books with the children once a term; these are extremely well received and enjoyed by children and parents alike. During these events, parents complete their own contributions on what their child has learned, developed and enjoyed that also go in their learning journey. 

Parent contribution is very important to us. We also ask for responses for academic performance and enjoyment of learning parents see at home. This helps us record how that child is showing a love of learning and how they are mastering their learning in other contexts.

 We also ask parents to include values that we are learning e.g. Friendship. Parents write how children have displayed the quality of friendship at home, such as played nicely with siblings, played with a lonely child in the park, made a get well card for their best friend etc. Parents can write about this or bring in photographs (or both) if they prefer. 

We include evidence from :

Literacy

Maths

Scientific

Physical development

Social, moral

Values

Behaviour 

Outside of school learning

  

The children love looking at photos of themselves as these really capture learning and a range of emotions. Our KS2 children take ownership of taking their own pictures to go in their books. They are also fantastic at taking photos of each other.

  

We are proud of our ‘learning journeys for all’ approach. If you would like more information on this, then please contact me through Twitter @lisiedavies 

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Once a Teacher Always a Teacher

Liskd's Blog

How Teaching Stays in Our Heart

I was holidaying in the truly beautiful North Wales last week with my family. We stayed at the heart of Snowdonia, and was blown away by the autumnal magnificence of the place, even though it is the area I grew up in.

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It was whilst we were in a cafe in one of the villages in
Snowdonia, we met a truly remarkable lady. Meeting her warmed my heart and put a smile on my face like no other. In that short space of 10 minutes, she made me feel inspired and proud to belong to the wonderful world of teaching.

The lady was a local lady and I would say she was in her seventies, perhaps even older (us Welsh have good genes so it is often hard to tell!) She started making a real fuss of my two year old, and even though…

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Once a Teacher Always a Teacher

How Teaching Stays in Our Heart

I was holidaying in the truly beautiful North Wales last week with my family. We stayed at the heart of Snowdonia, and was blown away by the autumnal magnificence of the place, even though it is the area I grew up in.

IMG_0159.JPG

It was whilst we were in a cafe in one of the villages in
Snowdonia, we met a truly remarkable lady. Meeting her warmed my heart and put a smile on my face like no other. In that short space of 10 minutes, she made me feel inspired and proud to belong to the wonderful world of teaching.

The lady was a local lady and I would say she was in her seventies, perhaps even older (us Welsh have good genes so it is often hard to tell!) She started making a real fuss of my two year old, and even though he is often wary of strangers, he warmed immediately to her, chatting away and eventually residing himself on her knee for a cuddle.

She explained to us that she was a now a retired teacher, so couldn’t resist talking to little ones as they are part of who she is. She went on to tell us that though she has been retired a long time, she still misses teaching every single day.

She informed me that when she is around young people she feels alive again as they are such ‘innocent, beautiful things’ and hearing their laughter warms her heart. I was totally moved by the serenity and joy that she had gained from giving my son a cuddle and asking him
questions and knew that she was a truly wonderful teacher who must have inspired so many and made them feel special and loved.

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After explaining that I was a head teacher too, we got chatting. The pain in her eyes was instant when she explained that she was a head teacher too at the end of her long career, but it destroyed her when she found out a member of staff had been molesting children, the anguish in her voice was immediate and visible and was hard hitting to see.

She composed herself and continued to talk about how her job was her- that teaching was her destiny. She told me to enjoy every single day -with tears in her eyes- as no job could be better; that teaching is a gift and should be seen as the most magical career in the world. That little ones are the light of life and what a wonderful opportunity teachers have in playing a small part of their journey in life.

The ten minutes I spent with this lady was a magical opportunity itself. She made me reflect on the beauty of our job, and though I didn’t need any convincing, she really brought it home to me. Our job is tough, we face challenges every day but the lady was right it really is the greatest job in the world.

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Thoughts on Leadership

After seeing a Tweet by @jillberry102 I have decided to add my own thoughts on school leadership and what it means to me.

I am currently a headteacher for a Swindon primary school. I simply love my job. It is truly the best and I love the fact that I am still learning every day.

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What is the most memorable experience of leadership whilst still at school? 

My earliest memory of leadership wasn’t in school but when I was made a Sixer of the Pixies in Brownies. Still feel proud of that achievement today! And of course, I can still recite my Brownie Promise! 

 What is your earliest experience of being a leader as a teacher? 

In my first year of teaching, I directed the school play. This was an exciting opportunity and one I loved! I was also RE coordinator and this was my first real taste of leading others. I organised RE assessment, experience days, trips and had the task of leading book scrutinies.
I was absolutely thrilled when I was made year 4 leader in my third year of teaching, taking the lead for the development of the curriculum for our 100 year 4 pupils. This is what started my love affair with curriculum development. I also became literacy coordinator and that was equally as exciting. 

 Which of your leadership roles has given you the greatest satisfaction? 

 It is hard to say because I have honestly loved them all, learned so much from my earliest leadership responsibility, to being assistant principal (primary) in a large 2-18 academy to being headteacher.

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Think of the BEST leader (at any level) and list their qualities. 

1. Give you freedom to grow and develop, and most importantly, trust you

 2. Put the children at the heart of everything

 3. Inspirational and motivating. I’d also like to add I’m in awe of NQTs who are leaders in their own right, who show tremendous resilience, dedication and passion every day. 

 Think of the LEAST EFFECTIVE leader (at any level) you have ever worked with. Name their three greatest mistakes

 1. Micromanagement 

 2. Jumping from idea to idea- never seeing anything through 

3. Lack of direction and purpose.

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Describe succinctly the type of leader you want to be 

 Inspirational, motivational, visible, influential, insightful and creative. 

  Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.
John Maxwell 

 What is the best book you have read on leadership? 

I have read many but can’t chose one particular one. I also think blogs are equally inspiring. I personally found my NPQH a great help in making me more reflective as a leader. I believe reflection is an essential tool in leadership.    

Finish this sentence. Leadership is…Steering the ship but allowing everyone a piece of the journey.

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Who I’d like to complete these questions
Everyone who is interested in leadership! Thank you once again @jillberry102 for sharing this questionnaire. I would also love to see other people’s responses and reflections

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The Diary of the (Nearly New) Wimpy Kid

So, after ten years in my job I had made the important decision to leave and spread my wings to pastures new. Eek!

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These decisions are never easy, especially when you have a family as it is not just yourself that is affected but also you to consider the impact it has on the other little people you have in your life.

But I knew deep down my time was over at my last school, I had milked any new learning and experiences I was going to get from my time there; and after returning from maternity leave, having had my little boy, and also completing my NPQH (the best course I have ever done), I had a new fire in my belly. I felt a new thirst and desire that made me want to learn, learn, learn! I knew this in turn would make me the best I could be. I do honestly believe that this is one of the greatest aspects of our job- the fact that we are learning every day too. If we don’t think we have anything to learn, then it is time to move on to another career!

No jobs I saw were inspiring enough to make me want to pull away from my then school where I truly loved my wonderful colleagues and great friends and of course all of the children who I simply adored. I felt safe there, comforted by the support of some of the best teachers and support staff I have ever come across. I was really looking for a job that just screamed out, ‘I-must-apply!’ I am a great believer in trusting your gut reaction, sometimes you just know!

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Well, I knew the time was coming when I dyed my (very) blonde hair bright red. Yes, the time for change was coming … Or I was indeed just approaching a mid-life crisis! But I could feel it in my toes, change was around the corner. Then I saw the advert for an Assistant Principal for Primary for a large academy. The area is deprived, with the school having more than 50% FSM; the results were improving but were not up to speed; the school had gained the infamous RI in its recent inspection. Yes, I found my job! This place had my name written all over it.

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I am a great believer if you can teach in certain schools, then you can teach just about anywhere. Surely this must apply for leadership too… My new school leadership journey had begun. I had a mixture of feelings, but the main one I was feeling was complete excitement. I was going to embark on a completely new learning experience, and I for one, could not wait.

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Supporting Vulnerable Children

Making a difference
We all came into teaching to make a difference didn’t ŵe? And though we have had it all drummed in to us that getting children to be a certain level is of incredible importance, we also know deep down that that isn’t the difference we were really thinking of! So how can we make a difference …

Pupil Premium

An education inspectors’ report last month stated that even though many schools are being extremely creative with their pupil premium, there are a significant minority of schools in England that are still not spending extra funding for poorer pupils effectively. We are all very aware  how important and crucial it is to support our FSM children, so making sure that we have a tailor made support programme is key to ensuring we raise standards in our schoool.

So how are you closing the gap in your own school? Many schools are providing free breakfasts, paying for extra-curricular activities, others are creating nurture rooms  ( see how to develop one in your own school with this TES article http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6090228 ), others have developed sound learning support programmes in order to really drive forward standards. This OFSTED document shows the many different ways you can spend your Pupil Premium to ensure that we are closing the gap and raisng attainment of our FSM and is well worth a read. See link to be able to read the document.  http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/pupil-premium-how-schools-are-spending-funding-successfully-maximise-achievement

Beyond Pupil Premium

The other night myself and a fab friend were talking about Pupil Premium over a drink (or two!) and discussed about schools that receive very little money, yet have children who are equally, or if not more so, vulnerable but just in different ways. How do we go about, with a limited budget and decreasing outside agencies and services, supporting the vulnerable non FSM child in our class who, for instance, may have a  relative battling against cancer, parents desperately going through a tricky divorce, a sibling diagnosed with ASC, a parent who has to work extremely long hours and has little ‘family time’ together. The list to actually what is a vulnerale children is endless with many diffrent agencies and organisatons having their own criteria.

Examples of Good Practice

We all know that EYFS has some excellent practices that we should all develop throughout the primary phase but for some unbeknown reason we don’t follow through. One of those good practices that we can take from a nursery setting is the importance of providing children with a  key worker.  This works so well in the foundation setting, when a toddler is given a key worker to help them settle into nursery life. So why not take this good practice and put it into place into other key stages for our vulnerable children who may need just that little extra support, encouragement and  adult contact. It’s a good idea to use someone  who is not the class teache, but another adult who comes into contact with the child and has a good relationship with them, this could be the class TA, libririan or even a MDSA.  Get the key worker involved in supporting the child emotionally. It is essential to provide talk opportunities , after all most of our vulnerable children thrive from spending quality time with an adult.

Outside Support

There is so much good support (even though many services are rapidly decreasing) out there that we often forget about contacting other support groups to help our children. Young Carers is a great example. How many of us seek support of young carers if a parent has depression or suffers from alcoholism? Yet, these are all illnesses where children are potentially supporting parents in a caring capacity. The NSPCC is a great resource in helping children. Look out for the clubs and support they run in your area. They also may be able to provide domestic violence counselling for children, which we know has incredible impact on their social, emotional and behavioural development and therefore on their academic performance. Also, the Team Around the Child (TAC) is a great way of multi agency working (I’ll be discussing this in more detail in my next blog)

Support in School 

Peer support has worked extremely well in some schools. It costs very little and has high impact on the child’s development. It is a fantastic way where children can support each other, for example if the children have a disabled sibling this can seem quite a lonely place. However by opening this up into a school child led group the children can support each other. You just need to provide them with time to meet up and maybe an adult to over see it. Children can even write a piece for the school newspaper explaining things from their point of view, lead an assembly. The list is endless!

Thinking on your feet!

Sometimes things suddenly happen or a child becomes more aware of a previous situation and have difficulty controlling their feelings. W e have to think quickly on our feet for a quick fix solution to help a child feel safe and secure. Take the sudden death of parent, we all rally round at the beginning but we know the grieving process may take a long time, especially in a child. Try creating a special place for the child where they can come and remember and reflect when they are finding things difficult,perhaps planting a tree or having a special rose pot that they can nurture and take reposibility for. You’ll be amazed at the impact a small gesture like this can have to help support the emotional needs of a child at a particularly vulnerable time in their lives.

Keep sharing!

I know that you will all have many experiences and ideas that you will have for supporting children with vulnerable needs in your own education settings. Please feel free to share them with me as I would love to hear all about them and magpie them to help support the children in my own school.

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The Trial and Tribulations of a Working Parent

I absolutely love my job as a Deputy Headteacher and I absolutely love being a mum to my two gorgeous kids. So to combine them both together, surely I should be quite literally running barefooted through meadows, doing cartwheels down the street or hanging off a relatively large ship shouting ‘I’m the king of the world!’ 

In reality, it is all a little somewhat different. Most of the time I look like an extra member of Fraggle Rock; wide eyes, crazy hair and a permanent demented grin on my face that could give Tony Blair a run for his money.  I think it is fair to say a lot of the time I feel frazzled, harassed and fraught even if the outside world can’t see it.

I am not saying however that I would like not to work. My job is certainly precious to me and also I know I am not the stay at home type of mum as I need work for my brain to function correctly.  This was proven to me the first day I came back to work after my maternity leave from having my daughter, when as I walked around the corner I bumped into another member of staff. Now most sane types of people would have simply said ‘hello’ or ‘nice weather we having’ but oh no not me. Before I could even engage my brain in remembering I was now a professional back in the work place, I greeted my colleague with a rather loud ‘Peepo!’ The confused look of her face was priceless and I simply just blushed, put my head down and scampered off quickly to the toilets to have a quiet word with myself.

Sleep deprivation, alongside the well documented postnatal baby brain does not help the matter.  A classic example was when I was in the process of potty training my daughter. I was teaching my class and rather than say ‘now children let’s all come and sit on the carpet’ I shouted out ‘now children, let’s all come and sit on the toilet!’ This was met with many sniggers, whilst my TA almost cried with laughter. 

Another trial and tribulation of a working parent is that you no longer look clean and pristine anymore no matter how hard you try. I recently purchased a very smart looking dress. To be honest it fitted really nicely and I thought I was looking a bit of the bee’s knees as I rocked up for work, confidence oozing out of me as I sashayed across the staffroom.  People smiled and nodded at me, and I was feeling pretty good! My new found poise soon came crashing back down to earth when another person whispered sympathetically to me that I had a nice pile of crusty baby sick all down the back of it!

At times I have the ‘mum-guilt-dark-cloud’ hanging over my head,  feeling like I don’t see enough of my children or I am rushing putting them to bed as I know I have four sets of books to mark that evening.  As with all other parents I know, I also don’t feel we see the best of our kids as they are whingy from being hungry or tired after a day at school or nursery.  However, when my children give me a beautiful smile or say they are proud of me for working hard I realise that I am doing the right thing. This also is true when I receive that warm, glowing feeling from teaching my class something new and worthwhile and hearing the buzz and excitement of the classroom.

I also hand on heart believe that being a parent makes me a better educator. And being an educator makes me a better parent. So maybe I will take it all back… yes I am indeed the King of the World!

 

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