Wednesday, 30 December 2015


I thought I'd start by looking at the goals I set myself this time last year:

1. Develop our new link with Argentina. This I did. We hosted a teacher from Buenos Aires in our home and the staff were very welcoming at school. Sadly as I left the school, the link hasn't continued. Something to look into in the future, maybe, 

2. Delegate! Next year I will be handing over the responsibility for our African links to a colleague in Key Stage 1. After having sole responsibility for all of our grant applications and partnership projects for the last few years, I know I'll find this hard. Done! Helped by the fact that I have left the school.

3. Be more organised. I'm a plate spinner. I tend to charge around trying to do everything at once (hence the previous point!). During an assembly a few weeks ago, I asked the children to give my desk a mark out of 10 whenever they come to my classroom. I'm going to try to get 10 as often as I can! Mmm... a work in progress!

4. Prioritise. So that I can focus on my family in the evenings, I aim to get my head down at the end of the school day and take less home. A change in role has meant I take less home - but I'm at work much longer.

5. Walk more. My husband made the mistake of saying publicly in his #nurture1415 blog that he wanted to get fitter and get to know the area where we live better. I intend to make sure that he fulfills this aim so that we can both get fitter in 2015. Again, a work in progress! I've joined the gym (again!) so we'll see if that helps with getting fitter. 

So - aims for this year.

To be honest - much of the same! Goals 2, 3, 4 and 5 can stay. Not that I did nothing towards them this year, but they're still areas to develop.

With a changing role, goal 1 will become much more focused on school leadership. I want to become a more effective Deputy, supporting my staff and enabling them to do the best by our children.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

I wish I knew...

I wish I knew...

...the rollercoaster that lay ahead.


My 5 wish I knew questions:
When I started teaching: lucky I was to start my teaching career in Zambia. It's had a major impact on my life and career. I have established links with schools globally at my previous two settings, and have some wonderful friends as a result. 
On my return to the UK:
...just how hard supply teaching was going to be. I admire anyone who does it for any length of time. I landed in Manchester in December, and began a 6 week cover post at a challenging school in January. Day one I sat with the class and was told that they had had 25 teachers in their Key Stage 2 career, and I wouldn't last. I did, and I suppose it made me stronger. 
In my first permanent post: to listen! I became known for being quite outspoken. If I didn't agree with something in a staff meeting, I would say before thinking. There were times when this was a plus - there were also occasions when I would have been better to keep quiet. I'm getting better at this with age! Two previous Headteachers have commented on this trait and suggested to me that I should move into leadership as a result, so perhaps it's been for the best.
In the tough times:
...that I was good enough. I have a tendency to have a downer on myself. There have been times in my career when things haven't gone well. I've struggled with workload when I was having a difficult time in my personal life, I've had challenging classes and been through Requires Improvement and Serious Weaknesses. I too easily blame myself for everything. Again, I'm getting better at dealing with this thanks, in the main, to my husband @bgoodman 
...what was happening next. New school, new leadership role, lots to do. Maybe I don't want to know what happens next, I'm loving where my career is at now and loving the unpredictability that each day brings. 

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Missing my own class.

So, in a few weeks I'll be starting my new role as Deputy Headteacher. Currently this will involve some teaching, covering Years 5 and 6 for PPA, but I won't have my own class. I have been looking forward to the different challenges that my new role will bring, and the chance to have a more school-wide impact. It has made me, however, look back at what it means to be a class teacher and reflect on the things I will miss.

One of the things I love about teaching is getting to know children. I love the in jokes you can have with your own class by the end of the year. I love the fact, most of the time, that you can hear yourself in their conversations with each other. I love the fact that I know what each child is into, which subjects they enjoy, what they worry about, who their friends are and what life experiences they bring with them. Will I get that as a Deputy?

Coincidentally, my first class at my previous school left this year as well. I taught them in Year 2. I have spent some time chatting to them over the last half term as we were all preparing for a new chapter in our lives. One of the things they recalled about our time together in Key Stage 1 was that I used to tell them stories. Not from a book, but about myself. I think it's important for children to see another side of me, so I've always used those five minutes at the end of the day, wet play times etc to share things about my life. Their favourite story is as follows:

My first teaching post was in Zambia. I was a hostel parent, part time Year 1/2 teacher, Year 7 Form Tutor and horse trainer at a boarding school in a farming district, several miles from the nearest tar road. My flat was the corner of the Senior Boys hostel. One holiday my parents came to visit. We spent a wonderful few weeks exploring the country, and dropped them at the airport at lunchtime. The drive home involved four hours of driving over rough tar roads, negotiating potholes and diversions through the bush - we arrived home at dusk totally exhausted.

After a few minutes of sitting on the sofa staring into space, I heard a strange noise. It sounded like an animal snoring. A neighbours dog had made a habit of visiting regularly, so my first thought was that the sound must be Vonga the dog - trapped in the house for who knew how long. The sound came from a corridor off the living area which led to the empty hostel - our cat went to investigate first. Seeing his bristling reaction, I followed.

What I saw was a black mass in the corner of the corridor - it was too dark to make out a shape properly. The next moment I felt my arms getting wet - what was it? I noticed the mass begin to move, and realised that I was staring at a cobra in striking pose - the wet on my arms was poison!

I grabbed the cat and ran from the flat, with no clue what to do next. I was now standing outside my flat with no shoes on in the dark. I had no idea how to deal with a snake. I called for a guard and explained the situation to him. He asked for a broom to see if he could remove the snake. By this time it had made it's way into a storage cupboard and was hiding beneath a chair. As soon as the door was opened, the cobra made to strike - it was angry. The guard told me that the stick was too small, and proceeded to fetch a huge branch. He tried for several minutes to hook the snake so that it could be removed but unfortunately had to kill it. The snake was about four feet long.

To many of my colleagues in Zambia, this was a non-story. To children in an urban area of Manchester, however, this story seems straight out of the memoirs of Bear Grylls. They love it, and every class I have had have asked for repeat tellings. They feel like they know me - and in return I can get to know them. This story is part of our shared history. Now I just need to figure out how to make the rest of the curriculum as memorable!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Moorside Primary School have been involved in several Online Field Trips this year with Years 3, 4 and a group of visiting European students. Each time we have been impressed with the level of thought and organisation that has gone into making the experience a successful one, from the educational materials provided through the website, the technical aspects, to the deliveries of food to support the session.
Tesco Online Field Trips have been a fantastic way to enhance the curriculum. The interactive nature of the sessions has developed a true classroom without walls experience for our children, and has given them a real experience of the benefits of technology.
There is so much scope for cross curricular links through the sessions - we have used them to provide a hook for writing, maths, science and geography. Each time the experience has provided a genuine buzz for learning. I would highly recommend the experience and look forward to being involved with the project again next year.
The resources, and interest for future field trips, can be accessed through the Eat Happy website.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Comenius visit to the UK

What a week!

We are coming to the end of a two year project funded through the British Council. We are working with schools in Greece, Poland, Spain and Turkey on a project titled "Playground Games". So far children and teachers from Moorside have visited Spain, Poland and Turkey - last week was the time for all of our partners to descend on Manchester.

I inadvertently became the lead coordinator of the project when the original coordinator was forced to move schools due to restructuring in his host country. I had never participated in a Comenius project before, never mind led one. It has been a steep learning curve. Leading meetings which are being translated into multiple different languages, catering for several school timetables and expectations, writing a project which was accessible and relevant in each country, and ensuring that the project is catered for within our curriculum.

As part of the project application we collectively wrote a monthly timetable of activities. It has been my responsibility to ensure that the timetable is adhered to. My role over the last month or so has been to plan and prepare for our international visitors. It's been far more time consuming than I first anticipated.

The first step was to write a timetable for the week, booking activities which all can access and ensuring transport to and from for 21 visitors. This was then sent to the partners along with an invitation letter to support visas. We planned for our visitors to spend two days in school. Alongside that we planned for them to visit Manchester United, visit the Mayor of Tameside and go BMX cycling at the Manchester Velodrome indoor track. I also had to find several restaurants which could cater for such numbers whilst bearing in mind that all partners were working to a budget.

Arrival times can cause a logistical challenge. One group arrived a day earlier than our other partners. I booked train tickets for them to visit Liverpool for the day whilst our other partners were travelling. Another group flew into Liverpool, so I booked coach tickets for them to come to Manchester. We collected others from Manchester Airport using a minibus we hired for the week.

Our group had met before on several other visits, so already work together effectively. The most challenging thing for the week was managing a group with diverse interests as well as managing my class. Once I had ensured all was completed for the day and the following day was confirmed it was 10pm each evening - then I could check books and make final preparations for my class the next day. I have slept well this weekend! Added to this we supported our partners by home hosting children from Poland and Spain with a number of teachers.

We were able to take part in a Tesco Online Field Trip through the Eat Happy Project
At our meeting we successfully shared the work we had done on the project so far, and discussed our final visit to Greece. It takes a lot out of you to run an international visit, but I am thoroughly enjoying the ride, and am already planning the next application.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

#Nurture 1415

Having read a few of the recent #nurture1415 posts I thought it about time I write my own. It has been an eventful year in a number of ways.

Last Year:

1. Last year I moved from Year 1 to Year 3. I have been out of Key Stage 2 for some time, and have thoroughly enjoyed my return. The change of year combined with a new year group partner, and the new curriculum have led me to consider my approaches over the year. I have had the opportunity to experience coaching from a neighbouring Headteacher as part of this process, which has enabled me to grow as a teacher.

2. January was a whirlwind. My husband was taken into hospital after an irregularity in a routine blood test. He spent 15 days in hospital having a wide range of tests, some more worrying than others. He was finally allowed home after no treatment - to this day we think he had had an extreme reaction to a virus. An unfortunate coincidence was that my horse was also ill at the same time. I had owned him for 24 years. For a week I spent my days visiting my husband, the horse three times a day, caring for our two children and working. I had to make the decision to have the horse put to sleep after a week of illness - he was 31 years old.

3. During the Summer term, our school had an Ofsted inspection. We had previously been graded an RI school, and as such approached the inspection with a mix of trepidation and fighting spirit. We were given a judgement of Good by the inspectors. Several factors were highlighted - one being the way our staff as a whole displayed great team work, another being our strong SMSC provision. I am proud to be a part of the staff at Moorside, and the way in which we all responded to the RI judgement from Ofsted. As a team we were determined to prove to the inspectors that we were better than that - to the extent that our HMI now asks us to coach other schools in an RI situation. A large part of the SMSC provision is through our International work, which I am coordinator for. I am glad that I was able to play a part in our positive outcome.

4. Our International work at Moorside has really taken off this year. We are part of an ongoing link with Youfu Primary School in Nanjing, China. This year has seen us host staff and children from Nanjing, and send a group of staff and children to China in February. I was fortunate enough to be invited to be part of the trip this year. This was bittersweet as my husband was due to return to hospital for a lymph node biopsy during the trip. Up until the day before we flew I was still not certain I was doing the right thing.
  We are also in the middle of a Comenius project funded by the British Council. My husband was due to visit Seville at the start of the year as part of the project but his illness prevented him from attending. However, staff and students from our school have visited partner schools in Spain, Poland and Turkey, with myself attending the Poland meeting.
  Our first partnership was with Pelican Park Primary School in Cape Town, South Africa. This developed into a trilateral partnership last year with a new partner school in Namibia. We hosted two visiting teachers in our home in September - which was a delight. My husband and our Headteacher visited Cape Town at the end of October.
  At the very end of the year we had two pieces of excellent news. We were awarded British Council/HSBC Link2Learn Primary School of the year for our International Work. The following week we had notification that our application for a new Connecting Classrooms grant with a school in Argentina had been successful.

5. I am also responsible for leading Science at Moorside, and have been through the Primary Science Quality Mark process this year. I have led Science now since September 2013 and was hoping to use the process to develop my understanding. Due in a large part to the commitment of our staff, we were able to achieve the Gold Award in one year. I would highly recommend PSQM as a way to drive Science and deepen understanding.

Goals for next year:

1. Develop our new link with Argentina. Part of my duties this year will be ensuring that our international links are embedded into the curriculum.

2. Delegate! Next year I will be handing over the responsibility for our African links to a colleague in Key Stage 1. After having sole responsibility for all of our grant applications and partnership projects for the last few years, I know I'll find this hard.

3. Be more organised. I'm a plate spinner. I tend to charge around trying to do everything at once (hence the previous point!). During an assembly a few weeks ago, I asked the children to give my desk a mark out of 10 whenever they come to my classroom. I'm going to try to get 10 as often as I can!

4. Prioritise. So that I can focus on my family in the evenings, I aim to get my head down at the end of the school day and take less home.

5. Walk more. My husband made the mistake of saying publicly in his #nurture1415 blog that he wanted to get fitter and get to know the area where we live better. I intend to make sure that he fulfills this aim so that we can both get fitter in 2015.

I haven't even mentioned the fact that I have started using Twitter this year! If you have got this far, thank you for indulging my reflections. My successes this year have been down to the people around me - many thanks to all of them. Roll on 2015 and the new challenges it will bring!

Happy New Year to you all.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Tesco Eat Happy Project

This week was my first experience of a live connected classroom. We have connected with classrooms worldwide through work exchanges and pupil travel. I have also used Skype with small groups of children, but have never with a whole class.

Through the Tesco Eat Happy Project, we were able to take part in an Online Field Trip to a broccoli farm in Lincolnshire. The project has been developed to encourage children to be more aware of where their food comes from and the processes involved in getting it to their plates.

The first step was to ensure that I had all of the technical set-up required. The online element was run through Google Hangouts and required very little technical skill to operate. There were several dry runs during the run-up to the field trip, and I was expertly guided through the process by members of the Eat Happy team.

The Eat Happy website has lots of resources available for use both before and after the field trip, complete with curriculum links highlighted. The day before the field trip we received a delivery of a range of vegetables for the children to try, along with recipe suggestions. We chose to compare and rate the flavours when the vegetables were raw and cooked.

To prepare us for the field trip, we received a running order which indicated when my class would be required to interact. Children were able to ask Mark the farmer questions during the link. The field trip was presented in a way which would appeal to all Primary aged children.

I would highly recommend staff to sign up for the Tesco Eat Happy Project online field trips. Ours was informative, well-organised and accessible. A fantastic way to introduce class linking and develop children's awareness of food origins.

Go to the page below to sign up for future online field trips: