Teaching Beyond the Subject – Guest Post – Luke Rudge (CLF ITT)

As part of my SLE role, I organised and ran a day for the CLF ITT cohort of First Direct Trainee teachers.

The focus was on the holistic development and pastoral care of children. This tied in nicely with our whole academy ethos.

The day was made up of several sessions with various staff as well as being immersed into a Year 11 #realpe lesson and BCA’s Project Phoenix enrichement programme.

Here are some reflections from Luke Rudge (@linguisticluke) who is completing his Placement A with us.

You can read other posts reflecting on his learning on his Blog.

Thanks Luke.

Teaching Beyond the Subject

It’s not very often that I get reminded of the times in my life that I’d much rather forget. Sure, I get those moments where I remember doing something completely embarrassing and wishing that the ground would open up beneath me, just as we all do (…or at least, I hope that we all do), but this week has made me reflect heavily upon a few key points in my education, and my reasoning for wanting to become a teacher in the first place…

Once again, I felt lucky enough to have my topic for the week (Pastoral Aspects of Teaching) complement my location for observation days – an academy where, just over a year ago, there were threats of closure, significant behavioural issues and a pupil roll so small that many primary schools could outnumber them, with a catchment area of one of the most deprived areas of the UK. While this seemed like my greatest challenge so far, the knowledge I gained – and the opinion of the academy as a whole – were much different to that which I was expecting.

To jump on a bandwagon and call someone, somewhere or something “awful,” “under-performing” or “risky” epitomises the experiences this academy has endured. In a “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it” way, it seems as though the past of the academy continues to haunt its present unfairly. The community structures, language employed, and overall ethos of the academy shows a phoenix that is rising rapidly (which is pretty useful symbolically as the phoenix is incorporated into the logos!) from what was a dire situation. Use of vertical teaching, as opposed to traditional horizontal structures, a behavioural system that focusses on the “self” rather than just the “mind,” and continuity and clarity between staff ensure that all students are taught not just to pass a test, but to make their way after school into whatever they’d like to do.

This holistic approach is employed in a microcosmic fashion into lesson planning. Lesson objectives and outcomes can be the typical “Learn x nouns” or “Understand the difference between imperfect and preterite tenses,” but in a PE lesson (volleyball) I took part in today, the outcomes related to teamwork, communication, and just being a well-rounded person. There was no relation to any volleyball-specific rules or techniques; it just seemed implicit that improvement in the sport would come from being a good team player.

As a bit of background, I am pretty bad with sport. This is not only due to a duff knee, but mostly relating to an experience back when I did PE at Secondary School. In the “Let’s play rugby in the freezing cold without any instructions” method of playing, I was unable to score, let alone get a grasp of what to do. The teacher – feared by most – found the best way to motivate me was to pick me up by the front of my collar and shout at me, with all but a centimetre between our faces, to “get better.” From that moment, I loathed PE, so when I was told we would be doing PE today, I was not only out of my comfort zone, but I was mentally sprinting away from it as fast as my dodgy-knee would allow me.

But, the approach taken by the students and staff at the academy had me wanting to learn and to do more. I was shocked by my willingness to play and, at the end of the session, my desire to keep going and to improve. It was the ethos of community and team-spirit that did this, and where the point of this post comes in – If an ethos this strong and all-encompassing can make me want to continue doing PE, then there are methods at play that I must certainly make use of in my own lessons. While knowledge is a key factor in schooling, it must never, ever be forgotten that a child comes to school to prepare for life after school, and it is our duty to teach the whole child.

How easily I can incorporate this approach into an MFL lesson remains to be seen. Perhaps teamwork can be incorporated in a group translation, or peer reinforcement via a conversation group? Right now, I can’t see my students running around a sports hall, but then, I don’t know what invigorates them just yet. Maybe watch this space for the début of the MFL-volleyball technique…?!

And with that, my initial Uni and CPD block is complete! Now it’s time to dive head-first into my placement A and start trying to amass all of this superb information I’ve been given into a working model; to become a teacher of today, and not one where fear is the teachers’ ally.


BCA reflections – Guest Post – Luke Purnell

Luke Purnell (@PEpurnell) spent a day with us recently as part of the Cabot Learning Federation ITT programme.

Below is a reflection of his day.

You can read more about his learning during his PGCE on his blog.

My journey of becoming a teacher- in school observations

After a day of observations within Bath Community Academy (BCA) my teaching philosophy has expanded and my whole outlook on teaching PE has been strengthened. The PE department have adopted a very innovative teaching style and have changed their focuses within their lessons. Myself and the other trainee were asked to complete a task: we were given 40 cards displaying various physical, personal and sport specific skills, we then had to select the 10 that we thought were the biggest conventions of a successful athlete.

After this process we then were asked ‘which of these are your focuses in your lessons?’ The fact was that none of the selected cards were skill based/ sport specific skills. We were then shown a model that the school use during PE lessons. This model contains 6 qualities the school believe students can posses in order to make them ‘good’ at PE, it was reiterated that the student doesn’t need to be ‘good’ at kicking a ball to be ‘good’ at PE, they can exceed in another area which equally makes them ‘good’ at PE.It was compared with a ‘cog system’, all cogs combine to make the wheel go round. The learning objectives used within the lesson therefore have a main focus upon the ‘cogs’ through the use of an activity. For example a lesson in the gym,  the students were given the objectives to: set independent targets and to work independently to reach these targets. 

It’s my task as a trainee teacher to adopt the magpie approach and start collecting theory’s and experiences and build on my personal teaching philosophy
n.b The “Cogs of learning” approach has been taken from a Create Development product and is not our own work.

Evolving Philosophy – Chris Coombs (CLF ITT) Guest Post

Chris Coombs (@CoombsPE) recently spent a day with us at Bath Community Academy as part of the Cabot Learning Federation ITT Induction Programme.

Here are some of his reflections on the day.

You can follow Chris’ journey by reading his blog

Evolving Philosophy

As part of my PGCE I was fortunate to observe a particular school in Bath on a fascinating journey.
Upon arrival we were informed of the background and the location of the school. This school, although being in Bath is in the bottom 2% of deprived areas in the country. The predecessor school had failed Ofsted and were on the brink of closing before their immense change. 
The school is still in it’s developmental stages but already it is fascinating to see the determination and work ethic of the staff.  I, as a trainee PE teacher, was placed in the PE department and was immediately taken by the philosophy that they’ve adopted and the rationale behind it. 

Although we were merely observing we were asked to complete a card sort exercise. We were given about 40 cards that had desirable skills of a person. Ranging from physical skills to emotional skills and we were asked to take the role of a British and lions coach and chose 10 qualities that we thought would be desirable for a lions player. The outcome was inspirational, we had chose qualities such as passion, growth mindset and inspiring others instead of skills such as passing off both hands, strength and speed!

Upon reflection how many PE lessons are skill based first? A good lesson may include an element of developing the whole child! So if we think that skills are not as desirable as skills necessarily then why are the vast majority of PE lessons skills based! 

My small experience of this school has definitely got me questioning my own philosophy and as a trainee it will constantly develop. I have been truly inspired by this one school and it solidifies my belief that this is such an exciting time to be a trainee teacher

Guest Post – Life on a GTP

Liam St John is currently a trainee teacher on a Graduate Teaching Programme (GTP). He joined the us for 4 weeks during term 4 as his second school placement. Liam has worked at Prior Park College as his home school.

Here is an open and honest account of his time with us, which is taken from his reflective practice assignment.

Soon after meeting Liam, it was that he has the ability to be a very good teacher of PE. His biggest challenge whilst being with us was to adapt his already strong teaching skills to suit the learning needs of our pupils.

Liam showed great resilience during his time with us, an essential characterisitic of a successful teacher. With all the ability and skill in the world, if you haven’t got the drive and determiation to keep going when things get difficult (which they often do), then those skills will not be of much use. Liam was determined to do the best he could and make the lessons as good as possible for the pupils. When encountered with challenges, he thought long and hard about how to overcome them, leaving his comfort zone to do so. A very promising future awaits him.

“Whilst my home school was an independent school with a self-styled “culture of kindness” and a recently graded outstanding ISI report, the second school, whilst only 10 minutes drive away geographically felt a world away in reality, with a large intake of pupils from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds and having recently being placed into special measures by Ofsted.

Although I had never experienced independent schooling myself prior to working in one, having attended a state school and then a Further Education (FE) college in the north of England, I very much felt like a fish out of water upon returning to the state sector in my role as a trainee teacher. From having been a well liked and respected member of the teaching staff at Prior Park College (PPC), I was suddenly the ‘fresh meat’ for pupils at my second school to get stuck into. The challenges were immediate and provided a huge culture shock to me, really testing my ability to think on my feet with behaviour and classroom management skills. I found it a huge challenge to pitch levels at the right difficulty to foster a positive learning environment; too low and boredom would kick in, with pupils entertaining themselves in a myriad of disruptive ways, too challenging and they would disengage, giving up and again reverting to their own source of entertainment [Q30-31].

Day one started with me breaking up a physical confrontation between 2 pupils, resulting in 1 of the pupils becoming so upset that he left the teaching area – “Welcome to the party pal” was the thought ringing through my head as the dread at what next 4 weeks held in store set in. Luckily for me, the PE department at the school was a shining beacon of light, having been noted for outstanding practice within the Ofsted report, with the Head of Department and my mentor being a fantastic role model – he was described as a “Zen Master” by another member of the department, partially tongue in cheek, although entirely accurate in the way he managed the behaviour of the kids seemingly without breaking sweat. 

Having watched the Head of Department in my visits to the school prior to starting placement, he made it look fantastically easy – being in at the deep end made me realise it was anything but. He was a big believer in emotional intelligence and exemplified “demonstrating the positive attitude, values and behaviours [teachers] expect from children” [Q2]– with his support and guidance I learned as much in 4 weeks as I could of learnt in 4 years at other schools. Many times when I felt the ‘red mist’ start to descend as the class teetered on the brink of chaos and my supposed role as alpha male of the group challenged, he would provide a much needed smile or thumbs up to keep me positive – when I thought I had it nailed, he would casually drop in a thought provoking comment to keep me on my toes and challenge me to do better.

Although the second school placement was much shorter than my tenure in the home school and didn’t allow full scope for long term planning and pastoral care, it gave me an absolutely invaluable insight into the realities of teaching and tested my ability to plan, differentiate, implement and manage to the fullest. I fully intend to pay further visits back there to learn the tools of the trade in greater depth.”

Liam St John

Bath Spa University – Extended Professional Development Day

I am finishing off the final touches to my presentation / discussion / practical session for 25 Bath Spa Teachers who are completing an ‘Extended Professional Development Day’ at Culverhay School tomorrow.

The day is titled ‘Practical approaches to behaviour for learning’.  I am one of four staff memebers to be selected to share outstanding practice.

Programme overview

I am going to focus on a multi abilities approach to learning, and how supporting the pupils on ‘how to do’ certain tasks can accelerate learning far more than teaching them ‘what to do’. The main focus will be on social / personal skill development.

Most of the ideas I will be using come from Create Deelopment’s raising the bar and accelerating abiltties wheel.

BSU Saturation Teaching

Had the Bath Spa Teachers (BST’s) in last week for their first taster of life as a PE teacher.

Straight into it (while other BST’s from other subjects were in lectures learning about how to teach) with my classes being split up into smaller groups, being lead by the BST’s.

First up, a yr 7 problem solving lesson, where the BST’s had to assess the 5/6 pupils in their group what level ‘personal’ and ‘social’ they were working at during the tasks. BST’s could talk to the pupils during the tasks, but encouraged to ask questions only (no guidance).

Another lesson – Year 9 Competition. Completing some raising the bar challenge cards (agility reaction/ersponse (12) and Coordination floor movement (10). Lesson asessment focus on peronal (aiming for level 6 or 7) and social (level 6 or 7).

I lead the start, pupils then into 4 groups, lead by pairs of BST’s, overseen by me, prompting the BST’s where needed and praising when deserved (which was pretty high for first week in).

Accelerated learning achieved for both pupils and BST’s, and less work for me with 7 very capable and keen TA’s!

BSU class of 2012

Today I met the new cohort of BST’s.

Each year I take the time to introduce myself, culverhay and what role we will play in their journey towards QTS.

What a year to join the profession as a PE teacher. Hopefully, the experiences they have on placement this year may be more exciting than usual with the Olympics looming. There will certainly be more variety at Culverhay.

I also think how great it is that the (often) young and dynamic trainees have an opportunity to shape their teaching style and personality from a completely clean slate. My advice is usually to think about what your ideal PE teacher would look like / act like and to strive toward being that person.

I look forward to seeing their progress this year.