Wednesday, 31 October 2012


I'm delighted to say that I've been accepted on to the NPQH course. I'm looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time!
Here is my feedback from the Gateway Day:

Leader or Manager

I loved this tweet today.

Is your headteacher a leader or a manager?

Ten Qualities that make a good leader

Sue Hoyle, director of the Clore Leadership Programme, highlists ten qualities that make a good leader:
  1. A passion for your job so that you enthuse and inspire those around you.
  2. Proven achievement in translating vision into action.
  3. A self-awareness that allows you to recognise both your strengths and your weaknesses.
  4. Motivation that gives you a strong sense of purpose.
  5. An effective communicator in writing, orally, in the use of technology, as a presenter and as a negotiator whilst always being sensitive to the interests of others.
  6. An enquiring mind that has the capacity to reflect and learn.
  7. Sound judgement that allows you to analyse complex information, assess risk and make appropriate choices and decisions.
  8. A team player who has the ability to motivate and develop others whilst setting high standards and expectations of yourself and others.
  9. Flexibility that enables you to think laterally and creatively.
  10. Integrity so that you demonstrate honesty, authenticity, humility and openness.
Taken from:   

Monday, 29 October 2012

Mission Statements and HUGGS

I recently read The IKEA Story by Bertil Torekull. I really liked reading about the mission statement and values of the company.

The official IKEA mission statement is so large and global that it seems impossible to achieve...

"Our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people." 

This reminds me of Andy Cope's message about setting HUGGS - Huge Unbelievable Great Goals. The vision statement should arch over everything an organisation does. It perhaps will never be achieved - but we work towards it as it guides everything we do. Schools should have a vision statement written as a HUGG.

That overarching mission statement is backed up, however, by a "business idea" which defines the IKEA brand to its customer and makes the IKEA mission attainable with the masses. The IKEA Business Idea is... 

"Offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them." 
I love the idea of setting a business plan so simply like this one. It adds substance and realism to your mission statement.


Kamprad wrote his nine 'commandments' in his book for staff, 'A Furniture Dealer's Testament'. These commandments constitute the spiritual basis of IKEA.

1 The Product Range Is Our Identity

IKEA offers a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices that are so low that s many people as possible are able to afford them.

2 The IKEA Spirit Is a Strong and Living Reality

IKEA builds on enthusiasm, a desire for renewal, thrift, responsbility, humbleness toward the task, and simplicity. "We must look after each other and inspire. Pity the man who cannot or does not want to partake."

3 Profit Gives Us Resources

IKEA will achieve profit - "a wonderful world" - through the lowest prices, good quality, more economical development of products, improved purchasing, and cost savings.

4 Reaching Good Results with Small Means

"Waste is a deadly sin."

5 Simplicity Is a Virtue

Complex regulations paralyze, "exaggerated planning is the usual cause of death to companies," and simplicity gives strength. IKEA people do not drive flashy cars or stay at luxury hotels.

6 Doing It a Different Way

"If from the start we had consulted experts about whether a little community like Almhult could support a company like IKEA, they would undoubtedly have advised against it." IKEA goes its own way, turning to shirt factories to make cushions and window factories to procure good frames for tables, charging more for umbrellas when the sun is shining but selling at bargain prices when it rains.

7 Concentration Is Important to Our Success

"We can never do everything everywhere, all at the same time."

8 Taking Responsibility Is a Privilege

"The fear of making mistakes is the root of bureaucracy, the enemy of development. Exercise your privilege, your right, and your duty to make decisions."

9 Most Things Still Remain to Be Done - A Glorious Future!"

You can do so much in ten minutes. "Let us continue to be a group of positive fanatics who make the impossible possible."

In schools, these nine commandments would be called our school aims. Every person working in the school should have an understanding of the aims and what we want to achieve as a school.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Week 44: A time saving tip for teachers

Think about the way you mark. Consider using coloured highlighters to show how the children have achieved.

Feedback should be given if the children don't meet the learning objective to help them to understand why.

If a child has met the objective, there's no point in writing well done. Tell them why you like it - be specific.

There's no need to mark every book in detail.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

More ways to be Brilliant

More powerful quotes from Andrew Cope's book, 'Being Brilliant: The Art of Being Everything You Can Be!'

Invest in relationships - it's the only way to keep them strong.

Hearing is easy, as it only requires your ears. It's a passive skill. Listening is much more difficult because it's an active skill. To listen effectively you need to use your ears, eyes, emotions, intuition, in fact all of your senses. You can listen at word level. This is when the words go in one ear and out of the other. You can listen at meaning level, which requires interpretation of words and body language. To be brilliant, you can listen at essence level. This requires you to have an excellent understanding of what makes people tick, a real understanding of human beings. What do the words really mean? What is the person really feeling? 

Think of 'efficiency' and 'effectiveness'. Efficiency is 'doing things right' and effectiveness is 'doing the right things'. You are living life as an emergency, trying to do everything properly, but you may be neglecting the jobs that really matter, those that will achieve long-term results. Stop living life as an emergency. Spend time reviewing how you work and ask yourself whether you are being efficient or effective. Do the jobs that matter and spend time with your people. Build trust and respect. Work on skills and attitudes. Support with coaching. Teamwork will naturally follow.

Any business is only as good as its employees. Invest as much time as possible in developing your people. Remember, leadership isn't about how high you can climb, but about how many people you can take with you. Coaching is a great way of drawing out true potential.

Andrew also talks about setting HUGGs! He writes more in his blog:
SMART goals that are basically the same as last year but 5% higher. I’m suggesting you get yourself some HUGGs. Huge Unbelievable Great Goals that stretch you and your team to the limits. HUGGs are eye-wateringly exciting and can only be achieved by creativity, passion, innovative thinking and teamwork. HUGGs require a working environment where people are actively encouraged to be their best selves,consistently. HUGGs are about being world class and, between you, me and the gatepost, that is the only direction to be heading.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Lessons from Apple 2: Quality

When returning to Apple, Steve Jobs insisted that the company drop many of its products and focus on just four great ones - for consumers, for pros, for desktop and for portable devices.

It is this focus on quality that later led to the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Some head teachers seem to go after every quality mark available. How can a school with ten quality marks (Artsmark, Inclusion Quality mark, etc.) be doing every one of those things brilliantly? How can quality be ensured throughout all of those areas. If a school has been awarded a kitemark for so many things, how much extra is expected of their staff? How can staff divide their time up to do every one of those things brilliantly?

No, I'd prefer to focus, like Apple did, on a small number of areas and make sure that they are delivered to the highest standard, than pretend to be an expert on everything.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Week 43: The best bit of advice that you've ever been given

As a teacher, the best bit of advice I've ever been given is:
"Have a conversation with every child every day."
This shows that you value your pupils; it shows that you want to nurture them; that you care.

As a person, the best bit of advice I've ever been given is:
"Do your best."
It's a good piece of advice for anyone.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Leading By Inspiration

I recently read Andrew Cope's book, 'Being Brilliant: The Art of Being Everything You Can Be! '. It really is quite inspiring. It also sums up what sort of a leader that I want to be. The following is an extract from the book which explains it.

Forget 'leading by example'. It's OK up to a point but has some serious side effects. For example, I know lots of managers who take pride in working long hours because 'it sets a good example'. One in particular used to boast about being the first in the car park and the last out at night, as if this automatically made him an excellent manager. Far from it; it just proved that he worked long hours. All he actually achieved was to make his staff feel guilty for leaving the office on time and daring to have a life outside work.

I knew another who made sure she could do all her team members' jobs to prove her worth to them. 'Respect' was her watchword. "I won't ask them to do anything I can't do myself," she boasted. All very laudable but what was the result? She spend so much time doing their jobs that she never actually 'managed' anything at all. Her team was totally reliant on her expertise. 

I'm not saying that 'leading by example' is necessarily a bad thing, just that the modern leader needs more. I believe the elusive ingredient is 'inspiration'. So, supplement 'leading by example' with 'leading by inspiration'. Now you have the ingredients for a mouth-watering leader that the modern workplace craves. This is someone whose presence inspires you to give your best, day in, day out, during good times and bad. They don't necessarily know exactly what you do or how to do it themselves, but they do spend time talking to you. They want to know your ideas for improving performance. They listen, coach and praise. They are calm under pressure. They laugh, sometimes even during the bad times. They have high expectations and you raise your game to meet these. You feel valued and you love your job. Most importantly, you grow.

Someone who 'leads by inspiration' can achieve all of the above and, boy, what a difference it makes to morale and performance.

Friday, 19 October 2012


I love Pinterest. It's a great site for finding inspiration. Usually the ideas are brilliantly simple! You might want to follow some of my boards at

Here are some ideas I have adopted recently:

Homework Bingo
Anyone who hands their homework in on time gets to choose a square for the Homework Bingo game. Each week two squares are chosen at random and the children who chose them are given a reward.

I've added this to the front of my classroom. I use it to add reminders for the children about what they are working on. Like a Working Wall, I guess, but I pick the messages!

Class rules display
This helped to inspire the class rules display in my classroom.

Book recommendations display
We will be adding post-its to our very own book recommendations display in school soon.

Reward chair
Our reward chair is used by the child who wins the class merit. They get to sit on it for the whole week!

Compliment Jar
Using ping pong balls, the class have been given a compliment jar to collect compliments from other adults. They aren't allowed to put in compliments from the teachers and teaching assistants in Year Four - they have to be from other adults, and each adult can only be added once. The compliment has to be directed at the whole class. When a compliment is given we write it on a ping pong ball and drop it into the jar. When it's full (it's likely to take a while) the class will be given a reward.

Effort grade
As part of their self-assessment at the end of the lesson the children also now give an effort grade to say how hard they worked in the lesson. 1 means they didn't really try at all. 2 means they tried, but not their best. 3 means they tried their best. 4 means they tried their best and they were an inspiration to others. It's been a useful way of seeing who is challenging themselves in class.

Rewards Treasure Box
The rewards in our treasure box are used to reward children in Homework Bingo.

Homework Books
When I return from my knee injury I'll be introducing some collaborative homework books. The children will be given a book, complete a piece of homework in it before passing it to another child next week. One of the homework books will be a secret mission book, a bit like this.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Lessons from Apple 1: Philosophy

 I recently read the biography of Steve Jobs. After reading the biography I came to the conslusion that I didn't really like Jobs much. He did some amazing things, but I don't like the way he seemed to treat people. There were a few important lessons I learned from him, lessons that could be applied to schools.

Apple's marketing philosophy is:
Point No. 1: Empathy
Apple should strive for an “intimate” connection with customers’ feelings. “We will truly understand their needs better than any other company,” Markkula wrote.
Thinking about pupils, parents and other stakeholders I think its important to have a real understanding of their needs. Everything we do is for our children. Listening to pupil voice is vital. Knowing the background to the pupils and recognising their needs is way that we can do our best for them.
Point No. 2: Focus
To be successful, Apple should center its efforts on accomplishing its main goals, and eliminate all the “unimportant opportunities.”
Focus means having a clear vision. Focus means all energies should be directed into achieving it.
Point No. 3: Impute
Apple should be constantly aware that companies and their products will be judged by the signals they convey. “People DO judge a book by its cover,” Markkula wrote. “We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software etc.; if we present them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities.”
Impute is a clumsy word, but its meaning is perfect for Apple, and is perfect for schools too. We want our pupils to have the best and so the best must be conveyed in all that we do. It's about trying to make our school look good. But it's also about raising standards of teaching and learning too.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Exciting Sentences

I've recently got into using Alan Peat's Exciting Sentences in the classroom. If you've not read it then it's worth getting hold of a copy. It's a book of sentence types, with quirky names, which children can use to improve their writing.

Here are some resources I've found to help you use them:
This is a great guide to building up a progression of standards of exciting sentences in the primary school.

The Woodfold Primary English Policy has an appendix with a list of the types of sentences. You can find it at

Some amazing videos:

Also, some posters that I made:

Brilliant videos from Davyhulme Primary School

5B Super Sentences adverts from Davyhulme Primary School on Vimeo.

5A Super Sentences adverts from Davyhulme Primary School on Vimeo.

Do you know of any resources to help embed exciting sentences in your children's writing?

Monday, 15 October 2012

Files Not Piles

Here's a simple phrase to help you to keep a tidy classroom: "Files not Piles."

Planning: Never leave planning lying around - it instantly sends a message to anyone in your classroom that you can't keep track of things. It should always be filed. Of course the file can be open and used in the classroom.

Distribution: If you have things to be given out, keep them in letter tray.

Collecting things in: If the children need to hand in homework or anything else, make sure that you have created clear routines for the children to follow. Make sure homework or anything that needs marking does not hang around - show that you intend to action it.

Things to action: You're bound to be given things throughout the day that need attention. Consider organising these into files - things that need doing today, this week and sometime in the future.

Reference: Keep a file of data about the class. You might want to keep in there anything else that's relevant to your role.

Recycle: Don't let things accumulate - if it's finished with, put it straight in the recycling bin.

Always tidy up before you go home. It sends a message to your class that you want things to be tidy. It also means you get to stay on top of things!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Week 42: Something new that you want to try in the classroom

Due to the school's financial priorities being elsewhere, for the time being, the thing I'd like to try isn't going to be possible for a while.

I'm desperate to introduce handheld technology into my classroom, probably using iPads. I'd love the children to be able to access technology immediately, and whenever it's needed. The technology needs to be intuitive, simple and effective for pupils to learn so that the technology enhances the learning and doesn't become the focus for the lesson. Lots of teachers write about the benefits of iPads in the classroom. I want my pupils to find this out too!

One day...


Saturday, 13 October 2012

Reporting Vs Telling Tales

Using I made my own Reporting Vs Telling Tales poster. Feel free to download it.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Class Dojo

Since the start of the year I've been using Class Dojo with my class.

My class love it and I love it! If you haven't tried it yet, you should.

Class Dojo is a free system for recording behaviour in your classroom. It is a web-based tool, which also has an iPhone app meaning that it is really easy to use. When a pupil exhibits certain behaviours, you add it to their profile.

We already have an effective Behaviour Lights management system in school. Because of this, after discussing it with my class, we decided that Class Dojo would only be used for recording positive behaviour.

These are the behaviours we negotiated:

You can see that the Olympic values feature, but also creativity, participation, working hard and helpfulness. All of these were suggested by my class. 

It has made a real difference in the classroom so far, as pupils do their best to have their positive behaviour reported.

Do you use Class Dojo in your classroom? Has it made a positive difference?

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Week 41: Comment on three blogs

Three excellent blog posts:
One of the most inspiring blog posts I've ever read. I learned such a lot about how to show you value staff, how to build a sense of community and belonging and how to look after people; all of which will help to drive a school on.
In a school that's just appointed five NQTs, with three teachers who have just finished their NQT year, I enjoyed reading this blog post which reminds us that we all have something to learn, whether we've been in the job for one week, or one decade. Enthusiasm is the essential requirement to be a teacher.
I loved hearing about the presentation pupils put together for their class. But, I don't just love this post, I love this whole blog! As a fellow Year 4 teacher I learn something amazing every time I visit the blog. If I was a pupil, I'd love to be in this classroom!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

NPQH Gateway Day

Today I took part in my Gateway Day.

It was hard work. All of this before I even get on to the course! I can't discuss the activities I took part in, as we had to sign confidentiality forms.

There's not a lot you can do to prepare, but it might be worth doing these things:

  • Read through your application forms one last time.
  • Meet with your sponsor to discuss what they said about you in their telephone conversation (just for support and inspiration).
  • Look again at the definitions of the NPQH competencies.
  • Think about your senior leadership role - forget about your work with children. On they day they are only interested in how you lead people.
  • Ensure you are familiar with EYFS profiles, RaiseOnline, Ofsted reports.
  • Take a look through your school's development plan.
If you haven't had your day yet - good luck. The assessors were friendly and put you at ease as much as possible. There'll be about 8 of you on the day but you are assessed individually. The assessors told us to 'enjoy it'. Do your best and good luck!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Monthly Review: September 2012

September was a month I'd like to forget. During this month, the baby we were expecting was miscarried. We were around 10 weeks pregnant when things began to go wrong. I'm not going to go into any more detail other than to say that the whole experience, which happened over nearly 4 long weeks, was horrible. I hope none of my readers ever have to go through something like this.

Visit to Chester Zoo
After rearranging our topics, we moved our visit to Chester Zoo to Autumn 1 as it fits better with our Animals Around The World topic. We had a great day, and it's well worth a visit if it's not too far away from you.

School Council Meeting
I love finding out the results of our School Council elections at the start of the year. As the lead teacher for the Council I'm always impressed by the maturity of the councillors in September. To see them grow during the year is a real privilege.

As part of our transition programme we reconsidered how we teach at the start of September. The first few days back do not have any 'proper' lessons as we learn work with the children to set targets, teach how to set out work in books, agree class rules, go over break routines and lots more. Hopefully we'll see the benefit of this over the year.

New teaching arrangements
This year I will only be teaching for 50% of the week. It's going to be interesting to see how this works out. I'm looking forward to having time I can devote to my management duties, but it will be hard to see my class for so little. In fact, with all that's gone on this month, I've hardly taught. Hopefully that situation improves.