Posts Tagged With: inspiring

Relighting the fire of learning: transformation of a school

Take a look at the article entitled ‘Relighting the fire of learning: transformation of a school’ on page 14 in the latest edition of the UKEdChat magazine written by our very own principal, Mr Benedick Ashmore-Short.

‘…as leaders in school, we have a flame to reignite, protect and fan; that is the flame of learning.’

‘Staff need to be self-reflective and own their learning. Too often staff development is something that happens to teachers. It is not based on need and is generic with staff waiting for the next buzz word to appear. We created a learning blog for all staff that is a one-stop shop for all development around teaching and learning. A blog at that staff can dip into, where they will be challenged but with ideas that fuel the learning fire.’

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BETT 2015: finding the inspiration!

Upon trawling through the hundreds of gadgets, gizmos and so called ‘educationalists’ promoting the holy grail to ‘life after levels’ (also known as a ‘missed opportunity’), there were a few ideas at BETT 2015 worth a mention.  Most notable of all was the brilliant Elsium’s iPad band who opened the Saturday with some Guns N’ Roses and Killers all played through iPads – surely a great way to adapt already existing musical skills or inspire those to learn to play an instrument for real!

Firstly, DK’s ‘Find out’ online encyclopaedia. Designed for teachers, children and parents, it has a very user friendly interface, which includes a search engine, quizzes, galleries, videos, fun facts and, soon, a my stuff area for storing favourite sections of the website. Content is currently organised into traditional subjects or themes. Although, still quite limited in its content, it is sure to expand and is free to sign up!  Definitely worth a look if designing web based research lessons.

Google’s vision for education presentation was worth attending. The short video below gives an overview of what it means for a classroom or school to ‘go Google’.  Although maybe not for everyone, it’s worth knowing what and how companies such as Google are supporting education.  The second video outlines some of the specific apps that schools may benefit from.

The Lego Education presentation also made for welcome viewing, however, currently the pricing of the hardware is unfortunately a discouraging factor.

Finally, the most inspiring moment of the day…encountering the Steve Jobs Schools stand! According to their website their goal is ‘to prepare children for tomorrow’s world with today’s tools while focusing on developing their own talents. We encourage children, by means of an innovative new teaching approach and the most up-to-date learning tools, to develop their individual talents and teach them the skills that are crucial for success in the world of tomorrow.’  These are a series of schools based in the Netherlands, but are currently branching out further afield. The gentleman at BETT highlighted how the children have truly personalised timetables created for them based on their previous learning. Needless to say this is all produced on an individualised iPad. When the children need to learn a new skill they can attend a session with a teacher and no more than seven other students.  They then practise the skill in the comfort of the school and at their own pace.  It certainly looks impressive – check out the videos below explaining the rationale, ethos and values of the schools and take a look at the ‘How to build a Steve Jobs School’ manual…you never know!

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Recommended reading

The most effective professional development is often initiated and determined by the teacher themselves. For many, this is achieved through engaging with the ever growing online community such as Twitter, blogs, TeachMeets etc.  However, for others the book (whether digital or old fashioned paper) is still their primary source of furthering their learning and practice.

Click here to see our updated recommended reading page.

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You Can Learn Anything

Check out this video from the Khan Academy highlighting why it is crucial for educators to develop growth mindsets in the children they teach.  We used it to inspire and develop growth mindsets in our staff on training days and the children during assembly.  Enjoy.

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Assessment: from government led to student led

The aim of this post is to challenge and provoke thinking about what quality assessment really looks like.  Currently, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding assessment in education and it has always been a highly charged and debated topic among academics and teachers.  This post should help identify the limitations of levels and, hence, why they have been removed from the new curriculum.  Furthermore, the power of student led assessment and critiquing will be highlighted and why this needs to be developed across far more schools in England.

One of the biggest changes in the new National Curriculum is the removal of levels and what this means for future assessment.  Watch Tim Oates, chair of the expert panel which informed the review of the national curriculum 2010 to 2013, talk about the purpose of changes to assessment in the new curriculum and rationale behind moving away from levels.

Although having been teaching and researching passionately for many years, Ron Berger’s outstanding findings on student led assessment has only recently become more widespread as a result of his video entitled ‘Austin’s butterfly’.  It does not matter if you have seen this video before, as it inspires every time. Watch and wonder.

The video illustrates the power of Assessment for Learning (AfL), specifically feedback and the use of success criteria (although Ron uses the term ‘critique’ to include all the elements of effective AfL).  Furthermore, Ron’s most recent book entitled ‘Leaders of their own learning: Transforming schools through student-engaged assessment’ is an excellent read and another investment worth making. describes the book as follows: ‘From Expeditionary Learning Schools comes a proven approach to student assessment Leaders of Their Own Learning offers a new way of thinking about assessment based on the celebrated work of Expeditionary Learning Schools across the country. Student–Engaged Assessment is not a single practice but an approach to teaching and learning that equips and compels students to understand goals for their learning and growth, track their progress toward those goals, and take responsibility for reaching them. This requires a set of interrelated strategies and structures and a whole–school culture in which students are given the respect and responsibility to be meaningfully engaged in their own learning. It includes everything teachers and school leaders need to implement a successful Student–Engaged Assessment system in their schools.  It outlines the practices that will engage students in making academic progress, improve achievement, and involve families and communities in the life of the school.

Assessment continues to be an ongoing struggle for many teachers, often causing much anxiety.  With the theory and rationale behind the abolition of levels explained by Tim Oates and the inspiring work of Ron Berger and his colleagues, it is an exciting time to be a teacher and be able to develop a child-engaged assessment system that is grounded in the principles of AfL and tailored to the school, children and teacher’s setting.

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What’s the purpose of education?

Have a look at one of the videos we used to inspire our new curriculum at Hamford Primary Academy.  No more words needed.  Enjoy.

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Do you want to be a ‘Sparky’ Teacher? is an excellent website for inspiring teachers to think about developing the whole child and their learning beyond school.  Their website states:

‘We think that teaching sparkily is about teaching with humour, inspiring young people and doing things differently – not just to be ‘quirky’ but because different things stick with learners.  In fact, if we weren’t called Sparky Teaching, we’d probably be called Sticky Learning.  It’s about seeing the little people who sit in front of us every day as individual characters not numbers or levels, recognising their sparks and what makes them them.’

Their blog is great and they are well worth following on Twitter so you can see all their free and paid resources, as well as how other teachers are using them.  They also regularly tweet inspirational videos like the ones below.



Finally, here is a link to their resources page.  Explore and find out which resources you can download for free.  The school have purchased the Everything Pack as an e-book, so we will all have access to those resources when they arrive.

Now, do you want to be a Sparky Teacher?


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What would be your Genius Hour?

Through the power of Twitter, the concept of Genius Hour has been spreading across the hyperspace education world.  The Genius Hour website states:

‘During genius hour students of all levels are empowered to explore their own passions. Discover how to transform your classroom into a place where students want to come in and learn.’

Watch the video below to see what it is all about and consider how Genius Hour could work at Hamford.


To find out more, click on the web link here.  What would be your Genius Hour?  How would you implement it in your class?


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Creating Hamford’s new curriculum

In light of the new National Curriculum rolling out in September, we are already thinking about making our own version that is more fit for purpose for the children of Hamford.  Be inspired by watching Richard Gerver.

If you could create your own school, what do you think the children should learn?  How should they learn it?

How would you make school like Disneyland (like Richard Gerver set out to do)?


How can we provide a curriculum that motivates and engages every child every day and puts them at the centre?

How can we build children’s learning power, so they become more resilient, resourceful and reflective?

How can we raise children’s aspirations for what their future might hold?

How do we instill a love of learning that prepares them for life?

Please post your thoughts below.

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