Hayesbrook School visit

I had the great pleasure of visiting the outstanding Hayesbrook School on 19th and 20th March 2009.  The co-heads, Nigel and Debbie, and their staff were extremely generous with their time in showing us around.

Hayesbrook School is an all boys non-selective school in Tonbridge, Kent. It is located literally, but certainly not metaphorically, in the shadow of the Judd School, a local grammar school.

Co-headship with an emphasis on distributed leadership – Nigel and Debbie. Co-headship started when Nigel was asked to run another school and Debbie became acting head – this continued for 18 months. When Nigel returned he was unknown by 2 year groups and some staff and Debbie had a desire to continue with headship.

Led to a model of co headship being adopted. Questionnaires have confirmed that the majority of governors, staff and students belief it has been an improvement on the previous model.

They describe the SLT as being HOT – honest, open and trust. Focus upon the importance of open discussions remaining within SLT.

Preference for schools is set after results of 11 plus is known. Just had a survey ofsted and it looked at the impact of leadership in each area of the school.

How do boys learn best? Teachers don’t sit down! Staff must use their full repertoire of skills to ensure the boys are compliant. One hour lessons are split into small chunks. Many activities ensure busy and compliant boys.

DVD has been produced by students that has been a vehicle to promote student achievement. Display everything!

ICT young leaders in addition to sports leaders. This is on the verge of being accredited. Also leaders in languages, literacy and humanities. They take sports leaders out to Thailand through the dreams and teams project run by the British Council.

Effort league tables are shown throughout the school for each of the years. End of year raffle for top students. League table based upon effort. Letters home for improvement and absolute positions. Areas on league are based upon football leagues.

Unsung heroes’ lunch with parents invited. The task is to raise self belief; this is vital after the failure to get into the grammar schools. Sports presentation evening takes places annually.

All staff are given the option to be a mentor and the local lions club are invited to be mentors as well.

Litaracy leaders spoke about working with Tower Hamlets primary schools. Introduced secondary school life and then played a variety of games, for example, line up the leader based upon how old they were – the moral being not to judge a book by it’s cover. Next they will be working with year 7 students who are C/D borderline with the aim of improving literacy skills.

Watched a drama group that were unsupervised as teacher was assessing a group in a side room. All boys were on-task despite being left alone. On the wall in the drama classroom was a board that gave clear indicators of the progress of each student. This was found to be a great motivator.


In each room there are key words, level descriptors, GCSE coursework chart, results that celebrate success, topics that will be taught in each year.


On tutor board there is: our vision learning together, how your tie must look.


Maths is the top performing department. Business and PE are the most popular subjects.

Subjects are taught differently to the various sets. English lessons were observed – sets 1 and 2 were being taught in lines with fairly traditional teaching. A set 4 group were taught with all tables pushed to one side acting out a section from the book.

Interestingly, there are two female teachers in the PE department!

Points are awarded onto the students’ smart card for healthy eating choices. These can then be converted into free meals or saved up for cinema tickets.

There is a focus upon improving literacy for the boys.

Boy specific teaching activities have been identified.

FFT data is used as a baseline to provide targets.

Learning support assistants rather than teaching assistants.

The sports specialism is embedded throughout the school. It is also used with the student leaders. Subjects use their notice boards to highlight the links with sport.

Applied learning specialism is design to ensure learning is applied, not just the applied courses. Timetable is suspended for 5 days a year for each year group.




I often use short clips from a variety of television programmes; there is no shortage of business and economics shows at the moment.  I recently showed a clip of James Seddon, owner of eggxactly, from the 2006 series of Dragons’ Den when discussing research and development.  Keen to find out how he was getting on, I dropped him an email.  Here is his reply:

Hi Steve

Thank you for your email. I’m afraid things didn’t work out with the Dragons, and I have carried on with the development on my own. We have experienced a major problem in mass-producing the heating elements, which is now resolved. We plan to start production here in the UK in the next few months.

Kind regards

James Seddon

I can only wish him the best of luck.


Yacapaca and Google Docs?

I received an email from Ian Grove-Stephensen this evening outlining the exciting possibility that the fantastic Yacapaca could be integrated with Google Docs.  Only one small problem – Google need to be persuaded!  If you would like to contact Google’s education boss Jeff Keltner keltner@google.com and explain how useful this mash-up would be please do.  He is expecting our emails – here’s my thoughts:


Hi Jeff

I would consider myself to be an early adopter of many on-line technologies – I love hearing in the months (and years!) after using various products/sites about this "new **** that really helps my teaching and learning in the classroom".

I wrote some of the first courses on Yacapaca and have been a great advocate of the site, for example:

As you will be able to tell from my apps sent email, I am also a great fan of everything Google.  I’m becoming more and more reliant upon Google docs to collaborate with teachers around the world.  It also allows students to work together in real-time projects which has been a great leap forwards for my classroom practise.  I’m finding that Yacapaca and Google Docs assist me in enabling deep learning to take place within the classroom.

A mash up of Yacapaca and Google docs would be a wonderful educational tool.  I am presently working in collaboration with a group of teaching across the South West on producing a complete set of resources for the new Business, Administration and Finance Diploma; I would be very interested in piloting this new resource on "Gacapacle" (excuse me) as I expect it to be a very popular, given that it will be distributed free of charge.  The possibilities of having students being able to work on spreadsheets on-line would revolutionise the way I could teach the finance and accounting modules.  Presentations would be another invaluable addition to the present text only entry.

One of the unique features of the new diplomas is that students will travel from their own school to a central school or college where they will undertake the main learning.  They will then return to their own school to complete further work – being able to continue to collaborate would be of great benefit to students and staff alike.  As students learning away from their main institution is becoming more the norm.

I also believe this would go along way to helping students move away from believing they have to have the prohibitively expensive Microsoft Office suite.  By encouraging students to work on spreadsheets and presentations within Yacapaca would make your suite of free programmes appear to be the norm.

If you would like me to expand upon any of these points or would like to discuss education and technology further I would be delighted to talk to you.

Kind regards

Steve Margetts


So much to try

I’m trying to complete an A2 Economics text for Nelson Thornes at the moment; the deadline is fast approaching.  I’ve just sat down ready to start a marathon session of typing and I see twitter has been  a bit busy over the past couple of hours.  Drew Buddie made a request for indispensible ICT tools for teachers.  The net result for Drew and his collaborators is this wiki and, no doubt, many hours wasted for me.


The header and Windows Live Writer

The first two emails I received were asking me about the header picture.  It’s not a picture of a snowy scene, it’s just off the Tioga Pass Road in Yosemite National Park, California and it was over 100 degrees at the time!  The hills are bare granite, which gives the appearance of a Christmas snow scene. 


After reading this article on lifehacker, I decided to give Live Writer a go.  It allows you to write your blog posts in a user friendly programme; it even automates the round edges for the photographs.  Will I continue to use Live Writer?  The jury is still out; I suspect that I will still use my web browser or iPhone for simple text posts.

Technorati Tags: ,