Building Confidence…Through Cups!?

During the summer holiday, I was taught by eldest niece how to do the cup song (somehow I’ve missed the phenomenon over recent years!?). I had to learn all of the moves/actions, I grappled with the timing, strained under the pressure of performing it in time with my niece (darn quick hands at the age of 10) and couldn’t resist challenging her to create a sequence / performance that involved us both. I became mentally exhausted after an intense 30 minute period.

I have taken great pride in recent years being part of a PE Department that has created a culture where children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have thrived. As part of my new role, which includes SENCo, I am spending considerable time within the SEND department. As I was thrown into the learning pit by my niece, I made a number of comparisons to PE lessons I have taught in recent years. My brain started to generate ideas about how the cup song could be used as a vehicle to develop learning confidence. 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.

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Senior Leaders – A future gold medalist or removing disadvantage?

Does your school have a successful sport programme?

What does it mean for a school to be successful at sport?

In the build up to the Olympics in Rio, there will no doubt be an increase in articles in the media about how the school sport system is (or isn’t) helping to produce Gold medalists this summer. But is it the role of schools and PE Departments to produce Gold medalists? Should this traditional viewpoint be maintained? Have senior leaders fully considered the potential of their PE Department to support all students to achieve their full potential?

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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

Excellence V Success

In a recent Cabot Learning Federation CPD session on developing a growth mindset, I was introduced to a quote from American Football Coach Joe Paterno (1926-2012).
“There are many people, particularly in sports, who think that success and excellence are the same thing. They are not the same thing. Excellence is something that is lasting and dependable and largely within a person’s control. In contrast, success is perishable and is often outside our control. If you strive for excellence, you will probably be successful eventually. People who put excellence in the first place have the patience to end up with success. An additional burden for the victim of the success mentality is that he is threatened by the success of others and he resents real excellence. In contrast, the person that is fascinated by quality is excited when he sees it in others.” 
– Joe Paterno

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Looking back…

…at posts as far back as 2011, there is evidence of changing the way I teach to promote Growth Mindsets in students (although I may not have specifically used the term back then).

I have been having a look at the archives, in readiness for a CPD session for the PE staff of Academies within the Cabot Learning Federation. I am co-coordinating this termly event as part of my Specialist Leader in Education work.

A range of posts include:

Comfort – Stretch – Panic from December 5th, 2011

A range of thoughts/posts considering Setting in PE from March 2012
I recall writing these early in the morning (5:00am) and early evening (5:00pm), on my phone, whilst turning out and bringing in my horse from the paddock/stable. In particular Part 5, talks about setting by Personal Skills.

This incident from a Waboba / water polo lesson called Man Down, a post from a swimming lesson called I don’t want him in our group and the follow up to both of these. All posted in November / December 2011.

One final post on a tipping point, occurring in November 2011.
On reflection, this behaviour is now an embedded culture; a culture that I am immensely proud of.