Shifting a culture of attainment to one of progress…in 5 minutes! 

It was another fresh January day, the sun was shining, the temperature close to freezing and students were passing the time during their lunch break. 

As I approached a group of KS 3 students on my lunch time walkabout, they looked as though they could have done with some direction and purpose. As I engaged in conversation with the group, a student reminded me of a chat we had earlier in the year about Parkour. I hope to one day create a Parkour club, but need to ensure I have the capacity to consistently commit to the students each week.

I set down a couple of tokens (used to reward positive behaviours around the school) marking set distances from a low wall that we were standing next to. I demonstrated a simple precision jump  for them from the first level, landing on top of the brick work with control and balance on the balls of my feet. A few students then had a go with varying degrees of success, but there were many that were reluctant to make any attempt. Continue reading

Developing Gymnasts Without a Gymnasium

How can you develop gymnasts without a gymnasium, rugby players without a rugby pitch or tennis players without a tennis court?
The quick answer is to think Physical Education, not sports coaching. Developing the physical fundamental movement skills and wider multi-ability skills (personal, social, creative etc) that every sports performer requires to compete at a high (or any) level, can be developed in a range of ways and in some less obvious locations.

Continue reading

Leaving my jersey in a better place

I have spent this last term in an unfamiliar position. I have handed in my notice, having worked at Bath Community Academy (and its predecessor, Culverhay school) for 15 years. This includes a year of initial teacher training in 2001. I have accepted a new contract at Winterbourne International Academy (WIA) as Assistant Principal – minority / vulnerable groups achievement, including SENCo.

Having seen many staff come and go over the years, I myself, have never experienced working in a school, knowing I was soon to leave. Until now that is. Continue reading

Not just surviving, but thriving in your NQT year

Gone are the days where all of your trainee peers secure full time contracts by the time they have finished their initial teacher training (it’s certainly a different landscape to when I qualified in 2002). I am having more and more conversations with people entering the profession who are unsure about their immediate and long term future. With more people moving to teaching from other careers (as opposed to the more traditional post graduate route) and often with families to support, it can be quite an unsettling time. This may not make you feel any better, but I spotted this quote on Twitter via @growthmindset1



In a recent conversion with a (nearly) Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), I was asked to consider what advice I would give for their first year in post. They have a one year fixed term contract as cover for maternity leave. This post is aimed less at surviving their first year, more about preparing them to be an attractive appointment for a school in one year’s time. Continue reading

Capture the Flag is back

In our Year 10 Core PE lessons, we have offered two main pathways (consisting of two x 1hr 10m lessons a week), with a third lesson on a Friday where students choose from a range of alternative activities.

I lead the performance group, and a colleague leads the (Sky Sports) Living for Sport group.

Every lesson I lead, focuses on developing students to become the best sports men/women, athletes, gymnasts they can be.

The Living for Sport group, aims to inspire students to have positive attitudes to PE and being physically active and engaging students through a wider range of experiences including leading sporting activities.

This term, I am leading six weeks of capture the flag (CtF).

Here are some ideas of how the block may shape up:

Lesson 1 – Getting the basics right.
Aim – establish the rules and code of conduct by which all students will adhere to throughout the term.

I aim to have minimal input in this first lesson (in terms of officiating) and then have no input in the following lessons.

Key questions for me to ask / prompt / facilitate discussion of…

What are the main rules?
How do we sensitively create teams, without humiliating anyone?
When questions about the rules arise in a game, how do we resolve them?
If you are tagged with the flag on the way back to your territory, what happens to the flag (returned to base or stays on the floor).
Can you pass the flag once it is captured?
If you suspect someone of being dishonest, what do you do?
How do games start?
If one team is winning significantly more games than the other team, how can they be challenged?

Lesson 2  -What’s your problem!?
Aim – understand a range of patterns that occur in a game of CtF and know how to prepare yourself and your team to maximise your chances of success.

Having established the rules and ethos in the first lesson, after each game, I will ask/shout:

What’s your problem!?

Students then have to manage a team talk to identify what problems they have (if they had any) and what went well for them. Then plan tactics for the next game.

Lesson 3 – Deal or no Deal!?
Aim – to think creatively about how you can adapt the standard set up of CtF to make it more fun and challenging.
Teams take it in turns to move their own or their opponents flag zone / jail, introduce new equipment (such as basket balls, extra flags), power plays etc.
Once the rule change has been agreed, a negotiation occurs on who scores what points. e.g. if a team is disadvantaged by the changes, they may get double points for a win. Once the deal is made, the game begins.

Lesson 4 – Your call!
Aim – students to create their own learning intentions and success criteria.
They can be individual, team or whole class.
They must be progressive/differentiated.
They can focus on one or more multi-ability (physical, social, personal, creative, cognitive).
They must (if successfully completed) improve students effectiveness in the game.
Between games, students review the progress being made towards their learning intentions and plan what they need to do to improve.

Lesson 5 – CtF on tour!
Aim – apply previously learnt skills in different environments.
During the previous weeks lesson, students highlight potential places the CtF games for the following week. This may include the school field, around the school site, in the woods.
Students have to run a full risk assessment, clearly designate boundaries and agree rules (adapted if necessary). They can then apply everything they have learned in the previous four weeks and apply it to the games today.

Lesson 6 – Competition time!
Aim – Lead your team to victory!
This week is inter community competition. The whole of Year 10 will join us in a CtF tournament. Players from the performance group will have to use their knowledge, skills and experience to get the best out of themselves and their team mates from the other group to maximise the chances of winning the tournament.