Views from the Hill

“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” - Sun Tzu

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I took the long way round to a teaching career. Swapping A-levels for an Army apprenticeship, serving as a mechanical engineer in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, this experience of leadership and training naturally supported a varied second career in logistics management. However, tragic circumstances led to a life-changing decision. In 2013 I quit my job, and went to college with a simple goal - I wanted to find the missing piece in my civilian life. The military gives soldiers opportunities to have an impact in the communities the serve, and I found that again in teaching. 

We walk a tightrope in education, balancing the ideal of students studying a subject they are passionate about and the pragmatics of a student studying because they need to for future employment. There seems to be innate and extrinsic motivation working at odds here, when we can use the extrinsic motivation of getting a college place or earning money to develop the intrinsic motivation that develops a student’s belief in themselves and a positive future.

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As delivered at ResearchED National as part of the "Walking the Tightrope" presentation: Meden quadrants provides a framework through which students can be assessed for their need and suggest the right intervention to be delivered at the right time. Thus supporting a high aspirations culture that seeks to engage all students to meet their career goals.

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After years in education, with roles from Teaching Assistant to SLT, Zoe Enser is stepping away from the classroom - So Long and Thanks for All the Fish. Zoe has been instrumental in encouraging me to blog, and explore things I never thought I would do in education, so with The Bard in mind:

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The issue with class in the classroom is the lens through which we view those we serve, and what is the right route in to the profession. Teaching needs to drop the "them that know best" speaking for "them that know no better" approaches to setting the world to rights.

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After 19 years of teaching, Mark Enser is stepping away from the classroom. This is me paying my respects in a way that I hope Mark will appreciate, and mumble something like "Get the beers in you soft git...".

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High Expectations should be core to school culture; covering everything from behaviour in lessons and around the school, to our community’s expectations of the outcomes and futures our students will achieve. This is something that applies to all within the school community, students, and staff alike. By setting the bar high, students of all abilities feel inspired, motivated, and challenged to be the best version of themselves that they can be. The Early Career Framework covers this in two areas; it is crucial that teachers get these right.

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A reflection on Zoe Enser's "Breaking Out of the Box" blog. Why do we pigeon-hole people, and not make the most of their talents and interests? How can we use knowledge of these biases to challenge our own behaviours?

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If we look at commentators across Twitter, we are told that the academics in charge of these courses know what they are doing, there’s expertise and research that underpins the work being done in their establishments, which feeds into the ITT provided in them. Us teachers on the ground needn't worry about such things, despite many voices saying change is needed, because NQTs (ECTs) aren’t feeling prepared for their first school role, a shared view supported by many mentors. None of this detracts from the hard work being put in by ITT trainers, trainees, and mentors. So why are the voices of those on the chalk-face being ignored, even dismissed in a manner that removes the collegiality of our profession? This is a genuine question – I have no answers for this, just suppositions.

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After what has been a challenging year, to say the least, I am reminded of how morale is key to keeping your team around you pulling in the same direction. In the words of the former Lockheed Martin Executive chair, Marillyn Hewson – “You can’t forget that organizational success flows from the hearts and minds of the men and women you lead”, this is true in any walk of life. However, in education we have been relentlessly beaten up.

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Steve and I spoke recently over the phone and realised; for all the collaboration we do in our work and on NetworkEdEM, we have never collaborated on a blog piece before. We speak often of how life has moved on since our training year, our NQT year and now through the seemingly deep precipice as we approach the dreaded ‘5-year mark’ of our teaching careers that so many colleagues seem not to cross. This can often be attributed to feeling lost, or not knowing where the path lies for your future.

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Is leadership and knowledge in schools as unique as we are led to think? School leaders often talk about domain specific knowledge and how running a school relies on having gathered this knowledge in a school. Some assert that schools provide the domain where the knowledge required to successfully lead in this sector is learnt. This is a premise that I challenge. The school is not the domain, it is the setting in which domain specific knowledge is applied – this is fundamentally different.

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How does sweating the small-stuff make for a better environment for all in our schools? Read on to see how dealing with the broken windows in our school communities with consistency will provide us the breathing space needed to focus on improving our practice in the classroom.

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New Horizons - Careers education provision in areas of social deprivation: a report on efficacy.

My Masters in Leadership in Learning work looked at the efficacy of careers provision in areas of social deprivation. This is a systematic literature review of over 290 schools in the East Midlands and Yorkshire & The Humber regions of England. Shortcomings are caused by a national focus on supporting individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds; resulting in current advice falling-short for those in areas of social deprivation. Conclusions of shared best practice and recommendations for CEIAG provision are made within.

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BakED 2019 (Birmingham)

07 December 2019 - "From Battlefields to the Classroom" - My route in to teaching as a career changer.

ResearchED Surrey

16 October 2021 - New Horizons: How can we improve careers provision in areas of social deprivation?

ResearchED Birmingham

19 March 2022 - New Horizons: How can we improve careers provision in areas of social deprivation?

ResearchED Berkshire

07 May 2022 - New Horizons: How can we improve careers provision in areas of social deprivation? & Thriving as an Early Career Teacher. It was a privilege to not only be asked to speak twice at rEDBerks, but to be invited to help plan this event.

ResearchED Leicester

21 May 2022 - New Horizons: How can we improve careers provision in areas of social deprivation?

BakED 2019 (Birmingham)

07 December 2019 - "From Battlefields to the Classroom" - My route in to teaching as a career changer.

ResearchED National (London)

05 September 2021 - "How to thrive, not just survive in your early career"

ResearchED Surrey

16 October 2021 - New Horizons: How can we improve careers provision in areas of social deprivation?

ResearchED Birmingham

19 March 2022 - New Horizons: How can we improve careers provision in areas of social deprivation?

ResearchED Berkshire

07 May 2022 - New Horizons: How can we improve careers provision in areas of social deprivation? & Thriving as an Early Career Teacher. It was a privilege to not only be asked to speak twice at rEDBerks, but to be invited to help plan this event.

ResearchED Leicester

21 May 2022 - New Horizons: How can we improve careers provision in areas of social deprivation?

Is Gatsby Really So Great?

Is Gatsby Really So Great?

28/01/2022

HWRK Magazine - Views on CEIAG and areas for improvement drawn from my MA research - "New Horizons: Careers education provision in areas of social deprivation: a report on efficacy".

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Booklets: Why they're effective and how I use them.

Booklets: Why they're effective and how I use them.

06/10/2021

TES - A rebuttal to Mark Enser's article "Why I avoid booklets in my lessons".

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Do We Really Need A Shake-Up Of Initial Teacher Training ?

Do We Really Need A Shake-Up Of Initial Teacher Training ?

23/09/2021

HWRK Magazine - In response to the government's ITT review 2021.

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5 ways to 'plan' for January school announcements

5 ways to 'plan' for January school announcements

21/12/2020

TES - Trying to cope with constantly changing Covid guidance is difficult for schools – but here are some tips to help

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The Army was my boyhood dream - but what I learnt in the warzone helped me find my true calling: teaching.

The Army was my boyhood dream - but what I learnt in the warzone helped me find my true calling: teaching.

19/12/2019

The Telegraph - Written from the perspective of a career-changer moving into education.

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  • Mansfield, England, United Kingdom