Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Top tune of 2006

Well, after a month long survey of the musical tastes of the visitors to this site, it can finally be revealled that... There is a tie!

After a massive... wait for it... 8 votes(!!) the top tunes are:
Joint 4th: Bedouin Soundclash - When The Night Hears My Song
Joint 4th: The Fratellis - Chelsea Dagger
Joint 1st: Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
Joint 1st: Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars
Joint 1st: Scissor Sisters - I Don't Feel Like Dancing

All deserved winners, I'm sure you will agree.

I thought I'd go for a more teacher-like poll for February, but I don't really want to. I wondered whether this might increase the votes (and the number of comments!)

Which subject do you least like teaching?

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Golden Mile Steps

Today we became the first school in the country to trial the new Golden Mile Steps initiative. It involves children walking for 20 seconds, jogging for 20 seconds and running for 20 seconds (if they are able to). The idea is that it gives all the children some exercise to help their fitness and to help their concentration. We will do this early in the morning to prepare them for the day.

I will trial it and let you know how it goes!


The amalgamation of our school with the infants took another step forwards today. I, our Head, the Infants' ICT Co-ordinator and the Infants' Head met with people from the County's ICT department to discuss ICT implications for the amalgamation.

It sounds like there will need to be some work to be done, and it all seems fairly straightforward. Not much can be done, however, until we know who the new Head will be, where the admin offices will be and what the name of the new school will be. Very complicated!

One thing that was agreed was that we will continue to use a company called Red Top IT for our ICT support and maintenance. I defy anyone to come up with a better, more friendly, more flexible service that the one that they provide.

Monday, 29 January 2007

School Newspaper

Something I've been really keen on starting in our school was a school newspaper. Today we issued our second edition! It looks really impressive and the children have worked hard.

Our Literacy subject leader and I have spent a lot of time with the children and it has been rather complicated keeping all the children together. I was wondering if anyone else ran a school newspaper and if they had any tips as to how we could organise it in a more manageable way for the children and ourselves!!

MMU Ofsted

My fellow Trainee mentor and I met up with an OFSTED inspector this morning to discuss how our school prepares trainees. We were awarded Professional Development status from MMU in July and so they wanted us to meet up with the inspector as an example of good practice!!

The inspector was really nice and very interested in all the things we had to say! Good luck MMU!

£50million spent on IWBS?

In today's Daily Mail it reports that 'academics' claim the £50million spent on equiping classroom with interactive whiteboards has been a waste of money!

It says that 'pupils have been reduced to spectators as teachers produced faster and more complicated electronic displays.'

Well I think it's fair to say that whoever these academics are haven't got a clue about being a teacher! Althought one or two were a little frightened at first, all the teachers in our school love using their IWBs. Now Idon't think there's one that likes to spend hours on creating complicated electronic displays! I am confident that every one of us uses the IWB as a teaching tool like any other.

Perhaps the problem is that LEAs and the Primary Strategy are giving teachers so many 'wonderful' examples that they feel under pressure to prepare that is just as good.

Teachers should, of course, try to use the new exciting features of their IWBs to teach the children but I'm sure teachers want to teach first and 'show off' their new IWB skills second. I think it's unfair to say that they are a waste of money.

Having said all this, I still use my regular whiteboard all the time and would feel lost without it!!

Moving House Part 3

Well it's done! We are officially on the market!

We are on Right Move and we have a huge For Sale sign right next to our front window. Now we've got to keep the house tidy in case we have any visitors!! Doh!

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Moving House Part 2

Well - we've done it! We've had our house valued and have placed it on the market for £117500!! In a mortgage meeting, the adviser told us we could get up to £236000!! No way are we going to do that - it would cost about £2000 for the mortgage each month! No thanks - we want to have a life at the same time as owning the house!!

We are going to look up to £160000 and we've seen details of some stunning houses. We aren't going to jinx things by going to view any just yet! We will wait to see if we get an offer!


Well, it was a sad day on Friday as my trainee, Katie finished her placement. It has been a real pleasure to work alongside her.

I just hope it's not a huge struggle to get back into the routine of teaching the class all the time again!

Indoor Football competition

Our school football team experienced their first disappointment of the season.

In November we won the Crewe & Nantwich Autumn League competition after winning every single game we played.

In Friday's indoor football competition, sadly it was a different story.

We drew 0-0 with Pebble Brook, lost 1-0 to Wybunbury and then beat Wrenbury. This all meant that we finished third and didn't qualify for the final. Gutting!

I love playing indoor football, but it really is such a different game to outdoors. If only we'd been able to practice then I reckon it would have been a different story. Never mind - like I told the lads, we will just have to win the next competition instead!!

Friday, 26 January 2007

Lost Moment 11

I have added Lost Moment 11!

Blimey - Sawyer and Jin getting drunk next to a van!! How did that happen? I presume this means that Sawyer has escaped from the Hydra Island!!


Only 3 weeks to wait!

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Deputy Heads Cluster Meetings

We hosted a Deputy Heads cluster meeting at our school tonight. This is a group of Deputy and Assistant Heads who meet up, informally, to discuss issues we feel relevant and useful to our schools. This was our third meeting. The numbers have dwindled since the beginning but there are about 10 of us that are 'hardcore' and have been to each one. I hope I can keep attending, but of course it all depends on the result of the amalgamation.

We discussed TLRs. We don't have TLRs in our school so I know practically nothing about them. To be honest I don't even know what it stands for. But it does look like that our new school, which will be large with over 400 pupils, will have to have a very clear management structure. It showed how little I know about the teaching pay scale. UPS? TLRs? I need to find out what the hell all these acronyms mean!!

I was really proud to show round our school. We have made some brilliant changes in the last couple of years and as I was showing people round I realised that we are a very forward thinking school. When I go round to other schools I always make notes on ideas that I can steal. It was great to see others do this in our school!

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Year 6 PSLN Network Meeting

Our Primary Stategy Learning Network year group meetings are now back underway. I think these meetings will prove to be really useful, so I'm glad they've started up again.

This time we went to Shavington Primary School in Crewe. What a fantastic school! A school that is completely centred around the children which tries to enrich the curriculum with visits, residentials and other opportunities that the usual curriculum, perhaps, does not offer, such as cooking lessons (not food technology), Spanish, French and lots more.

I always learn a lot when I visit other schools and I make a list of ideas to develop in my school. This time I plan to ask our Year 3s to draw pictures of the staff for our entrance hall, create a French display, improve our school house point system and look into creating links with schools in other countries.

In our Year Group meetings we plan to look at a different subject each time and share planning, resources and ideas, with ICT in particular. Next time it will be History. We will also share some of the unusual things that have taken place in school (such as guest speakers) and to share useful websites.

Does anyone else have such cluster meetings where you meet with teachers from other schools? What sorts of things do you have on your agenda?

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Headteacher - Job adverts by children

Hornton Primary school in Oxfordshire have allowed their pupils to film their own video for their new Headteacher. They have produced a video called 'Use Your Head - Teach at Hornton' which appears on their school website and on YouTube.

What a fantastic idea! Our temporary governing body which has formed to appoint a headteacher of our amalgamated school in September. I think it would be fantastic to encourage the children to contribute to the advertising and interviewing process. It would allow them to have real ownership of their school.

Our governing body has decided to give the shortlisted heads a 'personality questionnaire' which I trialled yesterday. How do I get roped in to these things?! Well, apparently it would seem that I am normal. Amongst other things, I can remember it revealled that I'm not so confident when I meet new people but that I grow in confidence as I get to know them, I like to involve others in making important decisions and I am good at seeing projects through to completion. The governors apparently thought it described me perfectly and so they plan to go ahead and use it!! I'm just glad it didn't reveal that I was a serial killer or something!!

Indoor Football @ Middlewich

Me, Phil, Rob, Mark, Dave and Mooney - 8 (I scored 2).

Charles, Barton, Cockney Chris, Scott, Ben and Si - 14

Played 4 Won 0 Drawn 0 Lost 4. I'm spotting a theme here.

Monday, 22 January 2007


We have concluded our look at this topic today. I have really enjoyed teaching this, this year. It's hard to believe how much we crammed in, and yet there's a lot more that we could add. The children took a tour of our school kitchen to look at food safety and had a visit from a GP to talk about bacteria, viruses and fungus. The children designed posters to show good food safety and to show what they learned about useful micro-organisms. They grew yeast and investigated the best conditions to grow mould. The children studied various website.

Here are some of the sites we used:
BBC Science Clips
Microbe Zoo
Bug Investigators
What are bacteria?

Food Standards Agency
Cells Alive!

Next year we plan to set up our own compost. The one thing big missing this year is a good video about micro-organisms. Does anyone know of one?

Moving House

We began the long process of moving house this weekend. In fact, we only went to arrange a few viewings and a mortgage appointment, but I'm really not looking forward to it all. We haven't really much decorating to do, but there is a bit of touching up! I hate decorating!! I will keep you posted!

Sunday, 21 January 2007

Science Virtual Experiments

Another resource I use to plan Science, and one that is especially effective in SATs revision is Collins' Science Virtual Experiments.

Virtual Experiments is a whole-class, interactive teaching tool that contains simulations of key QCA Scheme of Work experiments. Available for Years 1 to 6, it is ideal for helping to explain scientific concepts that are difficult to demonstrate in the classroom, such as the movement of the earth around the sun, and for helping to deliver science in a simple, time-effective way, with no mess and no fuss.

I have found it works brilliantly as a plenary activity and also to revise various topics in the build up to SATs. Recommended.

Exploring Science

I have just finished planning a short unit of Science using a resource I purchased for school with E-Learning credits earlier this year. Peason Longman's Exploring Science series is absolutely to be absolutely invaluable when it comes to planning for science. There is an interactive CD-ROM, and a children's book (although we didn't buy this). We also purchased the Copymaster CD-ROM which is fantastic for getting ideas for lessons. The best buy of all is the Teacher's Guide which covers everything you need to plan a unit of science. It was background information (very helpful!), practical activities, KS3 extensions, assessment and cross-curricular activities.

We purchased a copy for each year group, but of course I use the Year 6 book. There are resources available for Years 3 to Year 9!

It is a superb resource, and I would recommend it.

Saturday, 20 January 2007

Scholastic Quick Fix For Year Six

Scholastic have recently published two books which are ideal for use with Year Six, Quick Fix for Year 6 Comprehension and Quick Fix for Year 6 Writing. They include ideas which can be incorporated into your current planning, or ideal for SATs revision.

Sample pages of the Comprehension book are available here.

I think the books will prove to be useful in the year ahead, particularly in Booster Clubs.

Lost Moment 10

Lost Moment 10 has been added. 24 days to go! It can't come fast enough. This Lost Moment is another funny one with Charlie and Hurley... and Vincent!

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Indoor Football @ Middlewich

Me, Mark, Rob, Cockney Chris and John - 8
Charles, Barton, Mooney, Ben and Si - 13

Bad asthma tonight so not my best performance.

This year: Played 3 Won 0 Drawn 0 Lost 3. Not doing very well...

Andrew has added a link to my blog from his own superb website. If you have never visited his site - where have you been?! It is the best place to go for education news and ideas.

Thank you Andrew!

Monday, 15 January 2007


After neglecting my garden for a few months, I'm getting back into gardening again. I really want to keep it looking colourful and tidy. Does anyone know of a good website that will tell me week by week what to plant?

Break Time Buddies

Earlier this year I set up a Playground Friends scheme which the Year Six children who are involved decided to call 'Break Time Buddies'. I purchased special bibs to make them easily identifiable and they help the teachers and midday assistants on duty by organising games, monitoring the play equipment and demonstrating good manners and sensible behaviour.

We meet up every couple of weeks. In today's meeting we discussed Craze of the Week. This is where they organise an activity which the whole school can get involved in, should they choose to. Our biggest successes have been hulahoops, skipping and basketball so far. However, now we are beginning to run out of ideas.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Clearing out store rooms

At the beginning of the year I listed some of the things I wanted to achieve in school this term. Well, today I can tick one off the list!

We don't have a great deal of storage space in our school. I have begun to realise since I became Acting Deputy that the small amount of space we have got is full of rubbish!! And I mean rubbish!

Our science/ D & T storeroom has long been a hate of mine and so last week our Head and I arranged for a skip and set wheels in motion to have a huge clear out. Our TAs spent this afternoon emptying the storeroom and our staff meeting time was spent chucking out all the rubbish that has accumulated over what appears to be the last half a century.

You have never seen such a mess! The incredible thing is that after climbing over bits on the floor and squeezing past broken TVs, it turns out the room is actually quite big! Now we can find things we need easily!

There are still a few more cupboards left to sort out in school, but I tell you what - throwing things away gives you a great feeling of satisfaction!

Does anyone else's storerooms get into such a state?

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Jamie Oliver: Give us apprentices, not more graduates

The Mail on Sunday today features a report on Jamie Oliver's new programme.

I loved watching Jamie's School Dinners. I thought it was brilliant that someone was actually kicking up a huge fuss about the state of our school dinners. Of course, I'm sure some schools really tried hard to provide decent home made meals for the children before his programme. But he made a real difference and, I guess, embarrassed counties to improve their services.

I cannot help but agree with the chef once again, today, as he has apparently called on the Government to cut the number of teenagers going to university and demanded the return of apprenticeships.

Now I look back at my own time at university I realise that I was very lucky. I left Chester College of Higher Education in 2001 being qualified to teach. I had a profession and I would be able to build a career for myself. I was fortunate enough to have already to have found a job.

When my youngest brother left university in 2004 he had a degree in business management. But could he get a job that deserved his extra three years of studying? Well it proved very difficult. He spent some time in jobs that he could have done without his degree. After 18 months or so he eventually found himself in a job that would set him up for a career in business management.

What concerned me was that he left university without a profession. He wasn't trained to do a job. Now I know other people that this happened to. There must be thousands of graduates who leave university with a degree, but no actual training in a particular profession.

I think that Jamie is talking a lot of sense. If school leavers had more apprenticeships offered to them perhaps there wouldn't be the trade shortage that we have now. Unemployment might fall. Perhaps there would be other gains too. As Jamie says, these days, 'They haven't been taught to have pride in what they do.'

At an INSET day in November, we learned from Richard Gerver, the Head of Grange Primary School, Nottingham. When he arrived at the school it was failing. He turned it around by revolutionising the curriculum and basing it completely around learning life skills, giving children the chance to develop interests and skills that they might never normally have. One way the children do this is through the Grangeton University.

In the summer term we plan to trial our own University idea where we will offer 'vocational' courses to everyone in school. More details on this to follow.

Lost Moment 9

I have added Lost Moment 9 to the site. Can't wait until the season starts again - four weeks to go!!

Friday, 12 January 2007

PE Planning

Have just started to teach Hockey, this afternoon. It's the first time I've taught the sport for a couple of years.

It got me thinking about what I learned on TOPs Games course last year. We were told that PE lessons ought to be planned according to the skills, e.g. invasion, net and wall and striking and fielding. This would mean that skills and tactics from lots of sports are delivered in each unit.

We deliver the skills and tactics according to the game we are working on, in our case, hockey.

How do you plan for PE? Any thoughts on this?

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Tesco Computers For Schools

Today we have received our launch pack for the Tesco Computers For Schools 2007 scheme. The pack includes the collecting box and some community posters. This scheme is well worth getting involved with. We ask some Year Six children to count and bundle the vouchers regularly so that they don't mount up.

We ordered some computer software, a digital camera, a Digi Blue Movie Creator and a metal detector last year. This year we are going all out to collect enough to give each class their own digital camera!

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Boardworks & Can Do Problem Solving

Our feeder high school has recently been awarded Science & Maths College Status. As part of their funding they have to work with the feeder primary schools.

As Maths Subject Leader, I have been involved in a few meetings to decide how the money can be best spent. We have arranged Maths Problem Solving days for Year Five and they have purchased Multi-site licences for Boardworks and are planning to do so for Nelson Thornes' Can Do Problem Solving.

Going to explore the Boardworks soon.

Does anyone know any more about this or Can Do Problem Solving?

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Changes to SATs Tests?

According to today's Daily Mail, there is due to be a shake up of the national tests. Education Secretary Alan Johnson is proposing shorter, but more frequent, exams to prevent pupils coasting or falling behind.

This seems to be the government's usual way to 'raise standards' - give more tests.

The thing that really gripes me is that the report says, 'All youngsters would be expected to reach level five by the time they are 14.' In our school, over 50% of the children leave with level 5. Nationally, around about 75% leave with Level 4. Now why are they suggesting that children only need to move up 1 level by the time they are 14? This doesn't seem right to me. If a child makes an improvement of 2/3 of a level each year (like they ought to in primary school), then surely the target must be Level 6, not Level 5.

Are they suggesting that there is a dip in progress at KS3? Any thoughts?

Indoor Football @ Middlewich

Me, Rob, Mooney, Mark and Scott - 10

Charles, Ryan, Barton, Cockney Chris and Ben - 13

I scored two and thought I played well tonight.

Scores this year: Played 2 Won 0 Drawn 0 Lost 2 - Not a good start.

Monday, 8 January 2007

Video to DVD Conversion

In the last couple of years we have been filming our Christmas production in order to sell it to parents to raise funds for the Friends of the School. Last year I tried everything and asked everyone I could think of to try to convert the video on to DVD, but with absolutely no joy. In fact it was absolute agony!

In the end I found a company called Pennylane Video.

Once again this year they have done a brilliant job! All 160 DVDs were returned within 3 days. The copies are perfect and the service excellent. At £2.50 for each DVD and £20 for a master copy, it is well worth it as a money spinner but also one that gives all the children a permanent momento of their special performances.

Sunday, 7 January 2007

Lost Moments

I have added 8 Lost Moments to the site. Lost Moments are tasters of the new season of Lost which is due to begin in February!

Lost T-Shirt: The Numbers

I have treated myself to a Lost t-shirt - well I need something to keep me going until Feb 11th! It has the numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 on it. All real fans need to get one of these! I bought mine at Yak's Shack Ebay store.

Birthday night out!

It was my brother's (Nick) and his girlfriend's (Alex) birthday yesterday. Everyone is always skint at this time of year so I thought I'd book a meal. For some reason, everyone seems to think of me as 'the sensible one' and so it was left to me to make the arrangements. I booked a table at New Village Chinese Restaurant in Tarvin. In the end there were 19 of us! There was me, Lisa, Becky, Kim, Dave, Phil, Gill, Ron, Si, Nick, Alex, Richard, Matt, Charles, Oliver, Ben, Rachel, Rick and Nige!

Had a great time and a brilliant meal. I had my favourite - fillet steak in cantonese flambed sauce. Absolutely delicious.

We went to De Bees afterwards. It's been a brilliant birthday weekend so far!

Happy Birthday to me!

Well, it was my birthday on Friday. I had a great day! I've never known the children at school make such a fuss about my birthday! They must have sang happy birthday about 5 times, I had tonnes of cards, presents, balloons and a brilliant cake made by a couple of girls in my class. I am very lucky.

When I got home, Lisa gave me my presents! She has given me a cool DVD recorder, You, Me and Dupree on DVD and a pair of jeans! Like I said, I am really lucky.

We went out for a meal De Souza's in Northwich only to find it seems to have closed down. So we went to Emperor's Court instead and had a lovely meal - Chicken in Kung Po sauce.

What a birthday to remember!

Thursday, 4 January 2007

I am NOT nearly 30!!

It's my 28th birthday tomorrow. I have been reliably informed by the children today that I look older when I am dressed smartly, but look younger when dressed casually. I argued with them, that I am not nearly 30!! A couple of children made me a card saying 'Now you're nearly 65, you need to get your bus pass!' Cheers kids!!

The children are back...

Well, it is most definitely back to normal now as the children are back in school.
I've actually missed them a lot, but I am SO missing last year's class.
After a quick check today, we realised that it's 14 school weeks until SATs! It sounds like it's such a long time, but, like every year, it will fly.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Giving Blood

Have just been to donate blood in Winsford Civic Hall. That's 6 times now! It's been a year since I last donated. I must try harder this year!!

First Day Back

It's amazing that no matter how long you are away from school, within 5 minutes of walking through the door it's like you've never been away.

Arrived back at school to find that one of my brand new fish (Joey) has died. He was only a month old... We'll have to buy a new one!

Had INSET about the new English framework. It seems to me to be a good thing that there are less objectives for each year group. It's pleasing to see that for Year Six there are 3 revision units which are likely to be the first units we put into operation. Our head suggests that with the amalgamation in September, we should wait until then to try to start using the framework properly.

We also began to use Ros Wilson's VCOP system. We are having some posters prepared for ourselves and the children to refer to in the classroom. All the staff are going to adopt the VCOP Writing Pyramids. We are going to adopt her method of marking for the the Nfer-Nelson tests the children take in February and the other year groups in the Optional SATs.

Have any other schools started to use the new frameworks yet?

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Indoor Football @ Middlewich

Just played indoor footy.

Me, John, Scott, Mark and Rob - 8

Charles, Phil, Cockney Chris, Si and Mooney - 13

Scores for me this year: Played 1, Won 0, Drawn 0, Lost 1

Scored 4 goals tonight though!!

Plans for school this term

There are lots of things that I am going to organise this term:

  • Add displays to the long corridor - Break Time Buddies, Phys Kids, School Council, Attendance
  • Sort out the school House Point reward system
  • Arrange for a skip to tidy out the 'Science' storeroom
  • Keep the Year 6 Blog up-to-date
  • Take some new photos of the school for the website
  • Set up a computer in the staff room
  • Arrange for the disposal of the old Windows 98 PCs
  • Tidy up the PE Storeroom

Now it's on record I guess I'm going to have to do it!!

Back to school

Well, it's back to work tomorrow then. It feels like such a short holiday (it's just less than two weeks). I know us teachers do pretty well for holidays, but Christmas is the one holiday where I don't really get time to do much work but I really need to!

Have done quite a bit. Have just finished preparing an update of the school website which I have posted off to our website designers. Have actually got quite a bit done for school and have even managed to more or less get the house back together after the flood in October.

It will be nice to get back into a routine, but another couple of days would've been nice!!

Peep Show Series 3

I am a massive fan of this show. It is so funny!! Series 3 is just as good as the first two series. You MUST watch this!!

Monday, 1 January 2007

New Year's Eve Party

We held our 4th New Year's Eve party last night. It was really good and everyone enjoyed it. There was Me, Lisa, Nick, Alex, Chloe, Charlie, Phil, Oliver, Charles, Gill, Rob, Mooney, Matt, Frances, Nige, Ryan, Jenny, Becky, Andy, Cockney Chris, Madelaine, Nick, Rach and Tom Barry. Had a right laugh.

I made a DVD of all the funny emailled videos and pictures I've been sent over the last year. Very chuffed with myself.

Damage was fairly minimal: coat rack fell down and there is mud on the stairs. Not bad at all. Lisa and Nick helped me to tidy up so it only took about an hour!

Really good night!

Football @ Middlewich

Played outdoor football yesterday afternoon in the freezing cold rain. It was the last match of 2006.
Me, Rob, Ryan, Some lad who I don't know, Mooney, Phil and Mark - 4

Charles, Matt, Jeff, Some other lad who I don't know, Ben, Cockney Chris - 4

It's the first time in ages that there's been a draw!

Happy New Year!! 2007

Happy new year everyone!
Here are some of my new year's resolutions:

  • Sell all my CDs
  • Get the dishwasher fixed
  • Get a new tumble dryer
  • Get the house numbers re-attached to the door
  • Buy a new laptop
  • Go wireless
  • Buy a new car
  • Spend an hour each week in the garden
  • Bring less work home from school
  • Sort out my job. Beginning to get worried about what will happen this year
  • Go to London again
  • Visit a new country
  • Cook meals from recipe books at least once a week
  • Get the plumbing fixed
  • Get the electricity fixed
  • Fix the chip in the wall that has appeared after the New Year's Eve party

Some of them are great, others are just plain sad.

Hope 2007 is a great year.