iPad App of the Week Socrative

Socrative enables you to get real time responses from classes.  You can view responses in real time using their app.  There are great features in the app – you get set multiple choice questions, short vigrx results answer questions, team quizes.  It only takes two minutes to set up and you students don’t need accounts to use it.  Have a look at the video below to see how I use it.

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iPad App of the Week – Explain Everything

For starters, Explain Everything is an app that allows you to use the iPad as an interactive whiteboard (with an Apple TV to mirror the display on a projector).  You can import files, such as PowerPoint, Keynote and images, from dropbox and other services.  This is just the start!  You can save your annotations on the existing or blank slides or add a voice over to cialis no rx create a movie.

Example of use in the classroom

Do a maths solution, chemistry question etc on the whiteboards with a voice over.  This can then be uploaded to You Tube for students to review at their leisure.

 

This video is a basic overview of how you can use Explain Everything

This is a video I produced for my Year 13 Economists using Explain Everything.

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iPad Apps for the classroom

I have been working on a Google Doc with my favourite apps for enhancing teaching and learning.  I have also been experimenting with “how to” videos, but more about that in another post…  In this presentation you will find a whole host of different Levitra apps and some examples of how you could use them in the classroom.  At the moment there are a couple of videos embedded that should help you get to grips with some of the apps

You can view the full sized presentation here.

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A Few Good Men

I love everything written by Aaron Sorkin.  The GCSE English retake today reminded me of one of his earliest plays/films, A Few Good Men.  In the film Lieutenant Junior Grade Daniel “Danny” Kaffee (Tom Cruise), is an inexperienced U.S. Navy lawyer who leads the defense in the court-martial of two U.S. Marines, Private First Class Louden Downey and Lance Corporal Harold Dawson, who are accused of having murdered a fellow Marine of their unit, PFC William Santiago, at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, which is under the command of Col. Nathan R. Jessup (Jack Nicholson). In one of the final scenes (below) Kaffee asks Jessup why he needed to give a second order and transfer Santiago from the base if his first order, to leave him alone, would be followed?

If there was nothing wrong with this summer’s English GCSE examination, why do we need today’s extra retake?  “Then why the two orders? Colonel?”

Kaffee: Colonel, I have just one more question before I call Airman O’Malley and Airman Rodriguez. If you gave an order that Santiago wasn’t to be touched, and your orders are always followed, then why would Santiago be in danger? Why would it be necessary to transfer him off the base?
Jessep: Santiago was a substandard Marine. He was being transferred because–
Kaffee: That is not what you said, you said he was being transferred because he was in grave danger.
Jessep: That’s correct.
Kaffee: You said he was in danger, I said “grave danger?” You said “is there another kind?”–
Jessep: I recall what I said–
Kaffee: I can have the court reporter read back to you–
Jessep: I know what I said! I don’t have to have it read back to me like I’m–!
Kaffee: Then why the two orders? Colonel?
Jessep: Sometimes men take matters into their own hands.
Kaffee: No, Sir. You made it clear a moment ago that your men never take matters in to their own hands. Your men follow orders or people die. So Santiago shouldn’t have been in any danger at all, should he have, Colonel?
Jessep: You snotty little bastard.
Ross: Your Honor, I’d like to ask for a recess!
Kaffee: I’d like an answer to the question, Judge.
Judge: The court will VigRX wait for an answer.
Kaffee: If Lt. Kendrick gave an order that Santiago wasn’t to be touched, then why did he have to be transferred? Colonel? Lt. Kendrick ordered the Code Red, didn’t he, because that’s what you told Lt. Kendrick to do!
Ross: Object!
Kaffee: And when it went bad, you cut these guys loose!
Judge: Lt. Kaffee!
Kaffee: You got Markinson to sign a phony transfer order! You doctored the log books!
Ross: Dammit, Kaffee!
Kaffee: You coerced the doctor!
Judge: Consider yourself in contempt!
Kaffee: Colonel Jessep, did you order the code red?!
Judge: You don’t have to answer that question!
Jessep: I’ll answer the question. You want answers?
Kaffee: I think I’m entitled.
Jessep: You want answers?!
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Jessep: You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You?! You, Lieutenant Weinberg?! I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives! You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall! You need me on that wall! We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline! I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said, “Thank you,” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!
Kaffee: Did you order the Code Red?
Jessep: I did the job I was sent to do–
Kaffee: Did you order the Code Red?!
Jessep: You’re god damn right I did!!

Source: http://www.moviequotedb.com/movies/few-good-men-a/views.html

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Mobile technology in the classrooms – Academy Magazine article

I was invited to take part in a round table discussion about the future of mobile technology in the classroom.  It was a very interesting discussion that continued long after the iPhone dictation app was turned off.  It was great to spend time with Graham Brown-Martin, founder of lawyer in virginia winning viagra lawsuits Learning Without Frontiers; Tom Graham and Matt James from Kingsbridge Community College; Lynda Divers from Lincoln Castle Academy and Greg Williams from Aston Manor Academy; Chris Goodrich from The Mountbatten School; and Peter Burgess from GCSEPod.

You can read the full article from page 35 in the latest Academy Magazine

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Presenting at the Frog National Conference

On Tuesday I presented at the Frog National Conference at the ICC Birmingham. This is a copy of my speech.  I will upload my presentation over the weekend

Picture: @pcmarriott

In this talk I will describe how Devonport High School for Boys (DHSB) has undertaken a project with its students to develop an app for use on ipods, iphones, ipads and Android devices.  The app, which is now available in the iTunes store, provides students and parents with a wealth of information about their learning including rewards, sanctions, revision materials, attendance and a homework organiser.

Our Frog VLE updates every day and each night students and parents are able to access updated information about that day’s rewards, sanctions and attendance which enable conversations about learning and school to take place at home (see screenshot below).  This supports our belief in the key tripartite relationship of school, students and parents.

 

It is also a central source for all curriculum materials for each subject and year group.  We have found that providing access to all course materials has enabled parents to better support their sons and students can better engage with their learning outside of the classroom.

 

I was delighted with the impact our vle was having: Ofsted commented that “The use of the ‘virtual learning environment’ is well-established, extends students’ choices and promotes learning autonomy”.  I still felt that the vle should be used more by students, parents and teachers.

 

In investigating ways of making the information more readily accessible to parents and students.  I conducted some research with both groups to find out how we could make it easier to access the information: the resounding answer was a mobile friendly site.

 

Following my research a Year 10 student, James, came to speak to me because he wanted to get involved in developing a mobile vle for the school.  He had some previous programming experience, but he hadn’t worked on a mobile site or an Apple app.  Another student, Ben (Year 11) who enjoyed graphic design, approached James about helping with the design of the site.

 

Together, using the feedback from the vle’s users, we planned what the new mobile site should contain.  James and Ben felt that an app that could be distributed on the Apple Store would be a brilliant solution for many of our users – the only problem was nobody had any coding experience on Apple’s mobile operating system (iOS)!

 

James was determined to look further into how to program apps and within a couple of weeks he had mastered the basics and produced an app with limited features that linked to some pages on the school’s vle.  James had achieved this learning independently with the support of online materials, videos and forums.  Ben then went to work designing graphics to give the site a professional look.

 

In order to allow James to create the required pages for the app I’ve had to give him administrator access to our vle.  This required a leap of faith on our behalf as James could have caused irreparable damage to our vle, but without access this project could not have continued.

 

Since the first version of the app James and Ben have spent countless hours developing it into one that contains numerous innovative features and is genuinely unique.  The app has been downloaded 1,000 times and reached 21st in Apple’s education charts.

They have shown a video, created by the students, to promote the app during an assembly.

 

Since the app’s release the boys have been receiving a great deal of interest from other schools who would like an app developed for their community.  This has prompted the boys to set up a limited company, PixelBit Apps.  To do this they have met and received support from local accountants Francis Clark: Martin Atkins, their Business Services Director, commented that “not only have these boys shown great technical expertise in creating this outstanding app, they have gained the skills and knowledge that will enable them to set up and run a limited company”.  James and Ben are now developing apps for other schools who are delighted with the results.

 

The impact of the app within school has been considerable.  Usage of the vle by students and parents has increased exponentially. Parents I speak to are now used to accessing the vle from a mobile device every evening to check on their son’s day.  Parents are able to access learning materials directly related to their son’s Year group empowering them to support their learning.

 

Students are used to accessing the vle throughout the day – often just to see their timetable!  They are very aware of their rewards and sanctions and we have seen an increase in the issuing of commendations.

 

We have also found that many students are using the links on our vle to support learning and this has helped to push me in a direction that I have been moving in for quite some time: trialling iPads in the classroom.

 

They are presently developing an app that will enhance teaching and learning with iPads in the classroom: Quesco.  This allows students to use their iPad as a whiteboard whilst allowing the teacher to view all of the students’ screens.  There are many other features, such as AfL feedback, saving screens and teacher screen share, that I am sure will make this app an invaluable part of the iPad classroom.  The model of the users of an app designing it is a very powerful one.

 

There has also been a great impact upon the students who have setup PixelBit Apps.  There has been a lot written in the education press in recent months about the advantage students with a private education have in terms of confidence and self-belief.  My experience of this project is that the boys involved have not only had a significant improvement in their computing skills and understanding of business, but their soft skills have also developed tremendously.  They have undertaken meetings with accountants, bank managers and school leaders with great confidence; witnessing this growth has given great pleasure.

 

When Rob Salkowitz stated in Young World Rising that three forces are reshaping the world of the 21st century: youth, ICT and entrepreneurship, I believe he had in mind students such as James and Ben developing themselves and their ideas in this fashion.  They have already equipped themselves for entering the jobs market in a post-globalisation era.  Their website, pixelbitapps.com, has already led to them writing an app for the BBC’s Apprentice’s contestant, Leon Doyle, that allows iPhone users to save money on their phone calls to 0800, 0808 and 0500 numbers. Ben has developed his own graphic design site, benbate.com, and he has undertaken work for clients from around the world – including a multi million dollar US firm.

 

This app exemplifies how our school is fostering a creative approach to learning and placing it into the hands of students.  DHSB has an Assistant Headteacher responsible for Enterprise; he works tirelessly to encourage enterprising and creative approaches to learning and problem solving.  Many other students have been supported to develop their own ideas and take responsibility for their learning, but doing it within the supportive framework of the school.

 

The challenge for the school is how we can further embed these principles into the learning across the school.  We believe we have taken great steps on that journey through our removal of teaching ICT at Key Stage 3 – a decision taken prior to Gove’s outburst!  It has been renamed enterprise and students will tackle programming, app design and editing Frog pages in addition to the ICT skills they require.

 

All of these activities fit within the school’s development plan that highlights the importance of enterprise and creativity; this applies equally to staff and students.

 

 

What next?  PixelBit have recently released a new app designed for the iPad to complement the iPhone and mobile apps.  They are presently advertising for orders that they can have ready for the new academic year.

As a school, we will continue to investigate how we can increase the effectiveness of teaching and learning through mobile technology.  A school-wide Wi-Fi network is being installed over the summer and the iPad pilot will continue.  I have had discussions with Steve Wheeler, University of Plymouth, to look at how we can study the impact iPads are having in the classroom.  We plan to get a formal study underway in September.  The PixelBit app and the vle are central to our future plans to make learning anytime and anywhere.

 

We are very fortunate to have students with the expertise of James and Ben who have been able to support the development of Frog and other areas of ICT use within the school, however I believe that there is a message that other schools can take from this.  I have extended the Frog Champions to include students and we have our own version of the Genius bar for Apple support.  Students are the greatest users of ICT so empowering them to affect its direction of travel is an option open to all.

 

Two key messages from me:

  1. The mobile app has revolutionised the way our vle is used.

Empowering students to play a leading role in developing our vle has enabled it to fly.

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Learning in the hands of students

This post is a copy of a paper I wrote for the iNet Educator Online Conference – the original is available here.  Comments on the paper are available here.

This essay will describe how Devonport High School for Boys (DHSB) has undertaken a project with its students to develop an app for use on ipods, iphones, ipads and Android devices.  The app, which is now available in the iTunes store, provides students and parents with a wealth of information about their learning including rewards, sanctions, revision materials, attendance and a homework organiser.

DHSB has a school development plan that highlights the importance of enterprise and creativity; this applies equally to staff and students.

SDP

The school’s virtual learning environment (VLE) is supplied by Frog and each night students and parents are able to access updated information about that day’s rewards, sanctions and attendance which enable conversations about learning and school to take place at home (see screenshot below).  This supports our belief in the key tripartite relationship of school, students and parents. 

VLE parent view

In investigating ways of making the information more readily accessible to parents and students.  I conducted some research with both groups to find out how we could make it easier to access the information: the resounding answer was a mobile friendly site.

Following my research a Year 10 student, James, came to speak to me because he wanted to get involved in developing a mobile vle for the school.  He had some previous programming experience, but he hadn’t worked on a mobile site or an Apple app.  Another student, Ben (Year 11) who enjoyed graphic design, approached me about helping with the design of the site. 

Together, using the feedback from the vle’s users, we planned what the new mobile site should contain.  James and Ben felt that an app that could be distributed on the Apple Store would be a brilliant solution for many of our users – the only problem was nobody had any coding experience on Apple’s mobile operating system (iOS)!

James was determined to look further into how to program apps and within a couple of weeks he had mastered the basics and produced an app with limited features that linked to some pages on the school’s vle.  James had achieved this learning independently with the support of online materials, videos and forums.  Ben then went to work designing graphics to give the site a professional look.

In order to allow James to create the required pages for the app I’ve had to give him administrator access to our vle.  This required a leap of faith on our behalf as James could have caused irreparable damage to our vle, but without access this project could not have continued.

Since the first version of the app James and Ben have spent countless hours developing it into one that contains numerous innovative features and is genuinely unique.  The app has been downloaded 1,000 times and reached 21st in Apple’s education charts.

Since the app’s release the boys have been receiving a great deal of interest from other schools who would like an app developed for their community.  This has prompted the boys to set up a limited company, PixelBit Apps.  To do this they have met and received support from local accountants Francis Clark: Martin Atkins, their Business Services Director, commented that “not only have these boys shown great technical expertise in creating this outstanding app, they have gained the skills and knowledge that will enable them to set up and run a limited company”.  James and Ben are now developing apps for other schools who are delighted with the results.

There has been a lot written in the education press in recent months about the advantage students with a private education have in terms of confidence and self-belief.  My experience of this project is that the boys involved have not only had a significant improvement in their computing skills and understanding of business, but their soft skills have also developed tremendously.  They have undertaken meetings with accountants, bank managers and school leaders with great confidence; witnessing this growth has given great pleasure.

When Rob Salkowitz stated in Young World Rising that three forces are reshaping the world of the 21st century: youth, ICT and entrepreneurship, I believe he had in mind students such as James and Ben developing themselves and their ideas in this fashion.  They have already equipped themselves for entering the jobs market in a post-globalisation era.  Their website, pixelbitapps.com, has already led to them writing an app for the BBC’s Apprentice’s contestant, Leon Doyle, that allows iPhone users to save money on their phone calls to 0800, 0808 and 0500 numbers. Ben has developed his own graphic design site, benbate.com, and he has undertaken work for clients from around the world – including a multi million dollar US firm.

This app exemplifies how our school is fostering a creative approach to learning and placing it into the hands of students.  DHSB has an Assistant Headteacher responsible for Enterprise; he works tirelessly to encourage enterprising and creative approaches to learning and problem solving.  Many other students have been supported to develop their own ideas and take responsibility for their learning, but doing it within the supportive framework of the school.

The challenge for the school is how we can further embed these principles into the learning across the school.

Below is a copy of a video created by the students to promote the app during an assembly.

iDHSB
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TES and statistics

I love my weekly read, but there is the occasional story that make me think it really must have been a slow news week…

This week’s headline, calls for academy arbitration rise four-fold, informs us:

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas)… has said it has been called in to mediate over employee disputes in 38 academies during the last school year, up from just 10 the year before.”

The article then indicates that there have been a significant increase in the number of academies

with more than 1,400 now open, up from just over 200 two years ago.”

A degree is statistics probably isn’t required to stop the link here.  Thankfully the TES points out that:

the sharp rise in disputes has been linked by heads and unionists to the vast expansion of the academies programme.”

Really? 

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Improving performance and school improvement

image

The above diagram has been produced by the National College for its short course, Managing and Improving Performance.  The following is a copy of a blog post I placed on the National College’s website.

The elements in this diagram will no doubt support school improvement; it links Performance Management (PM), Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and the Professional Standards (PS) with school improvement feeding into each of the areas.  Having school improvement at the heart of the diagram leaves no ambiguity as to the rationale for PM taking place; it is the vehicle by which staff contribute to improvement of the whole school.  I also like the relationship between PM, CPD and PS as these three elements will assist individual staff improvement.

My concern is that there could be a degree of disconnect between colleagues and school improvement.  Whilst it is important for all staff to have a full understanding of the goals for whole school improvement it is far more likely they will be able to connect better with areas directly associated with their day to day role.

This has prompted me to think about the relationship between school improvement and PM in my own school, DHSB.  Having just completed a PM cycle, this is an opportune moment to evaluate the process.

In a post-SEF era we looked to our whole staff (teaching and support) to evaluate the present position to enable us to identify our developmental needs.  Staff worked in groups to identify tasks that different groups would need to undertake throughout the year to achieve whole school improvement in a number of different key areas.  Below is a summary of comments of the first term under the theme of Learning Relationships (LG – Leadership Group).

Brown paper planning

This then enabled LG and our ASTs who ran the session to come up with a summary of our development priorities for the school using the words of the collective staff; our SDP is shown below.

SDP

Departments then worked on their Department SEFs (DSEF) and were able to draw up their own Department Development Plans (DDP); these would be underpinned by the SDP.

PM conversations could then take place with staff entirely connected to the SDP as well as their own DSEF and DDP to set objectives that would support school improvement.  PM objectives for all staff could then be checked with the SDP in mind; this led to a few objectives being tweaked to ensure the drive was towards our agreed goals for the year.

To return to the original National College diagram: I like the acknowledgement that PM, CPD and PS are all intertwined and an essential part of school improvement, but I believe there should be a greater emphasis on the SDP and, in my school’s case, the DDP and DSEF.  I have tried to reflect this in the diagram below.

PM cycle

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VLE: a worthwhile investment?

I wrote about the value of a VLE prior to joining my present school, DHSB, and I was at that point unsure of its long term value.  Now, just over two years into my new role it is time for me to question the value of the VLE again.  We invested in Frog prior to my arrival; this had involved a significant investment in time and money.  The VLE had two login profiles: students and staff.  Neither group used the VLE extensively, it was primarily used by staff for booking ICT rooms and students studying ICT used it to submit work.

We undertook a major rewrite of the VLE two years ago and created separate sites for parents and governors in addition to the student and staff areas. 

I will discuss what information we have available on each of these areas in a future post.

At Frog’s conference earlier this year I remember Dai Barnes asking a developer about pedagogy and the impact of the VLE upon teaching and learning, that is an area I don’t think we have cracked yet.  Google Apps, in my opinion, does this better.

What it has enabled us to do is take great leaps forwards in our parental engagement.  We invested in the parental portal module which Frog states was “designed to engage parents first and foremost”. 

After some quite significant teething problems with the SIMS extractor (we have SIMS hosted remotely and that seemed to cause no end of problems) parents are now able to login after 6pm and see rewards, sanctions and attendance data for that day.

VLE parent view

I read a great post by Scott on his new blog, where he looked at using Google Apps to create a free vle. We introduced Google Apps this year and I have to agree with many of Scott’s points, however the parental engagement aspect of our VLE means that I’m not ready to call time on Frog anytime yet.

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Time to blog again…

image

It has been over two years since I last blogged.  In the month after my last post I secured a new job and became a  dad.  Life was, well, rather hectic.

Now two years down the line I feel far more secure in having made the gains in my new role that I needed to and, even though I now have a second child, it is time to enter the blogosphere again.

Many have written about the benefits of blogging and I feel that this blog will not only enable me to share ideas, it will force me to think about my own practice and leadership.

Future posts I already have in mind are:

  • Overall effectiveness of the VLE.
  • Using SIMS to record and monitor rewards and sanctions.
  • Writing SIMS reports to monitor rewards.
  • Writing SIMS reports to monitor sanctions.
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Transparency – I’m lovin’ it?

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I can’t remember the last time I ate a McDonalds burger; there’s just something about the thought of it…..

The McDonalds website hosts a video that outlines how the”patties” are manufactured.  Do this video make me anymore inclined to eat a McDonalds burger?  Absolutely not.  What would its impact be on a McDonalds regular?  I have no idea, but I don’t think it would be too positive!

Is the increasing movement towards transparency a positive one?  I believe so, but there are some thing that happen that I don’t necessarily want to know the full details of.  Parents want to know how their children are progressing and they should demand to know how they can improve further.  Is the reporting of each and every assessment and their associated criteria necessary and beneficial?  I’m not so convinced.

Interesting, whilst McDonalds show transparency in the making of the patties, they do not show the abattoirs and how the cuts of beer arrive at the factory.  Perhaps that’s where the analogy for education lies and what we can learn from one of the world’s most successful marketing machines; some transparency is a good thing, but each and every last detail is not required.

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VLE – I’m still not totally convinced…..

 image image

Now schools are spending vast sums of money on VLEs I keep asking myself, are schools receiving good value for money from their VLE providers?  What is the opportunity cost of this spending?

When I talk to colleagues, both in my own school and others, many of them appear to use the VLE simply as a on-line storage centre.  Given the wide range of outstanding on-line resources it would appear that schools would be better off utilising a range of these.

I have just read another of Doug Belshaw’s outstanding posts on what are the ‘functional specifications’ of a VLE that drive real learning?  He highlights that the VLE could be used for:

Be a collaborative space where students and staff can collaborate on documents and web pages (like Google Apps)

Enable users to have appropriate contact with others within the Academy and the wider community by a range of methods (e.g. Twitter-like microblogging, instant messaging, shared whiteboards, video conferencing,email, social networking)

Promote learning by have clearly structured course elements, rather than be a file repository.

Process appropriate data quickly in a visually-appealing and easy-to-understand way for Academy staff, students, and parents.

Allow students to publish their work to various parties: peers, teachers, the Academy, the world.

Enable outside agencies to access appropriate data on students, staff and Academy issues.

OpenID login so users have a single sign-on and have more control over their digital identity.

Integration with immersive worlds such as Second Life (as, for example Sloodle does)

If this is how a VLE is to be used, perhaps it is time for a rethink.  In September the school I will be joining uses Frog – I shall keep an open mind.

(image by largo! @ Flickr)

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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.

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

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

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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.

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