Subscribe to this blog!


Wednesday, 31 August 2016

What if Real Teachers Starred in Films

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The Teacher Workload Survey - Results

For a couple of years, I have been visiting schools all over the country and beyond. I have noticed a growing trend in many schools and it is the workload teachers are dealing with. I may jest about it on my training days however there is a crucial issue facing our profession. The DfE recognise it and have done their own research. You can read the report here. It is clearly having a massive impact on recruitment and retention of teachers.

Teachers in England

87% know at least one person who has left the profession due to workload in the last two years.

90% have considered leaving the profession themselves in the last two years.

96% say that workload has a negative impact on personal life.

(National Union of Teachers, 2014)

I have been teaching for over a decade and the workload has never been as heavy as it is now. I don't even see it having a massive impact on learning. I recently looked at some writing from my class a few years ago and compared it to writing completed under the latest framework. The imagination, creativity, storytelling was miles ahead in the older books compared to the SPaG driven writing produced recently (that is a whole other blog post in itself so let's move on!)

What frustrates me is that the technology at our fingertips should be making our lives as teachers easier, but it isn't.

I make plenty of suggestions on my training days and get teachers thinking about how technology can help them work smarter, not harder. To try and get a bigger scope of the main issues, I created a short survey which I shared online. 

Since the beginning of July, it has had over 4500 responses, so a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who took the time to answer. I quickly recognised that I missed a couple of questions, such as, whether you work full time or part time. Most of the questions were tailored to issues I see in my own school so I apologise if certain issues were not addressed or questions missed out

But here are the responses, I have embedded the spreadsheet of responses at the bottom. 

If we take this as a reflection nationally, 89% of teachers are working over 45 hours a week! 

I knew which would come out on top. Marking is a huge issue in schools and there is a big debate between marking and feedback. Feedback is imperative and schools should be open to how feedback can be given and not focused on written marking in books. The next question asked what is expected when you mark. You can read the responses at the bottom of the post. Plenty of two stars and a wish, pink and green highlighting, triple marking etc to prove hundreds of schools are in a similar position. 

The next three questions looked into time and effectiveness of the marking requirements for each teacher:

Just over half of teachers have to follow the marking policy for every piece of work completed in class.

43% of teachers say it takes less than 2 hours to marks a set of books, however, if you have taught three lessons that day, that could equate to nearer 6 hours. 6.5% of teachers said it takes them 4-6 hours and 2.2% says it takes over 6 hours!

This was the questions which was most revealing. For the methods of marking used only 2.3% feel is is highly effective. 17.6% feel it is effective. 80.1% feel that it is somewhat effective or less! If that is the case, surely discussions need to be taking place as a whole staff to find what is effective. 

I feel pressures of having work in books, evidencing marking in books and what Ofsted will expect to see all play a factor. However, schools need to refer to the Ofsted Inspection handbook.

Here is a clip from the Ofsted Myths YouTube Channel:


What if I was to tell you that there is a way to give feedback that not only reduced teacher's workload but also have a massive impact on learning:

There are ways in which verbal feedback can be evidenced electronically, again something that is discussed a lot on my CPD.

The next couple of questions linked to the second job that takes up most of our time... Planning.

When it comes to planning the Ofsted inspection handbook states,  "Ofsted does not specify how planning should be set out, the length of time it should take or the amount of detail it should contain. Inspectors are interested in the effectiveness of planning rather than the form it takes."

If this is the case, 72% of teachers are still having to follow a particular template. Planning has always been a bugbear of mine. I have never been one to write and write every little thing about a lesson yet I recognise that some teachers prefer and need this. I much prefer spending time making or finding better resources to use in my lessons. In my opinion it should be down to the teacher and what works best for them. The fact 13.3% of teachers are STILL having planning scrutinised weekly is always going to increase workload.

This is possibly the most upsetting question in the survey. The responses didn't necessarily surprise me but made me feel sorry for the poor students in our schools. The increase in workload alongside the standards being raised in the SATs isn't a coincidence. The SATs tests are almost impossible to pass now without prepping for them. As you can see in the survey, 50.2% have spent most of the year with 20.4% spending ALL year preparing for the SATs. Yet, there will be some schools spending most of the year preparing for SATs with half the children not meeting expected standards.

Here are the KS2 SATs results:

– 53 per cent of pupils met the expected standard in reading, writing and maths
– 66  per cent met the expected standard in reading
– 70 per cent met the expected standard in maths
– 72 per cent met the expected standard in SPAG
– 74 per cent met the expected standard in writing

Although I don't agree with schools prepping for the SATs I can understand why it happens. The pressures schools are under to get results and the potential consequences if schools do not obtain the necessary results are enough to drive anyone into a panic. 

My hat goes off to the schools who haven't focused purely on SATs all year. Instead, given their students and more rounded and interesting education. Although the results may not be great, I'm sure the pupils will benefit more in the long term. 

It is an issue that goes beyond this blog post but needs addressing as I do not feel it is fair on the pupils and teachers.

Another issue as far as workload are end of year reports. I recently did a live Facebook video discussing this issue:

This last question is not a personal dig at Ofsted. I don't have any issue at all. What I do see is a lot of worry amongst staff as to what 'Ofsted expect.' I think the responses in the survey reflected this. Again, please have a look at the Ofsted inspection handbook for what they expect as this video explains:

The last question: 'Which issues are the main priority on your school development plan?' had a variety of responses. Here are some recommendations I can make if you need support in the following areas:

Writing: When if comes to writing, Alan Peat has had the biggest impact on my teaching personally and also our school. The improvements made throughout the school was incredible and he has influenced a lot of the training I provide. 

A lot of my training focuses on raising standards in writing through the use of technology. I do not see myself as an iPad trainer, for me the technology is just a tool to help enhance effective teaching.  

Reading: Reading seems to be a big focus in a lot of schools and there are plenty of resources available. One trainer who I highly recommend from seeing the impact in my school is John Murray. His approach to reading, spelling and grammar is fantastic! Visit for more information.

Maths: A lot of my training also focuses on strategies to enrich the maths curriculum through technology. Gareth Metcalfe is another maths trainer that I highly recommend alongside the guys at Their visual calculation policy is doing some fantastic things in our school. 

Whole school approaches: If workload is an issue at your school, my training can provide strategies and approaches to help work smarter, not harder. I am currently developing a course that will be focusing on reducing workload which I am hoping to roll out in the Spring term. 

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Back to School READWRITEPERFORM offer!

To help everyone get back into the swing of things, myself and John are offering the two READWRITEPERFORM packs for half price when bought together until the end of August!

For just £10 you get two units of English that cover every element of the English curriculum. The Battle Cry and Sports Manager pack has already had a massive impact on learning in classrooms all over the world.

While John and I carry on creating more engaging packs, we want to help teachers hit the ground running in September!

Each pack follows the following model:

The pack consists of plans for the following:
  • Comprehension lessons that integrate and develop core reading skills at Word, Sentence and Text Level.
  • Contextualised SPaG within the texts means students not only learn what features are being used but why and to what effect.
  •  Writing lessons that encourage collaborative learning and independent creative writing that embeds grammar in a  meaningful way and helps learners understand what it mean to be a real writer, one who writes for an authentic purpose and with a particular audience in mind.
  •  Performance lessons  that develop reading fluency and a deeper understanding of their own work and that of others, as  well as help improve personal social skills and confidence.  
​By the end of each Unit of Work, teachers will have written and video evidence of each of their learner's work, work that can be shared with a wider audience and be assessed for moderation and inform future planning. 

For example, here is a piece of work created by a Year 6 pupil following ideas from the Sports Manager pack:

For a taste of what each pack entails, we have put together a sample selection of pages:

Please do let us know what you think of the packs, we really appreciate the feedback.

We are working hard on our next pack which will hopefully be ready early September! This is the first pack aimed towards KS1. Watch out for:

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Which events would feature in a Teacher's Olympics?

I am thoroughly enjoying the Olympics in Rio and fully behind Team GB. As I have been watching, I was thinking about what a teacher's olympics would look like and which events would feature? So here are some ideas. Feel free to share and comment on any others I have missed!

Make sure you follow on Facebook and Subscribe on YouTube:

More 360 Videos to Inspire Writing!

There are some brilliant 360 degree videos that are absolutely great and would provide a fantastic stimulus for writing in class!

I have previously blogged about 360 videos here - Facebook 360 videos to Inspire Writing

A 360 video is created with a camera system that simultaneously records all 360 degrees of a scene. Viewers can pan and rotate a 360 video's perspective to watch it from different angles. They can be viewed on a desktop computer or a mobile through specific apps. The videos are very popular on Facebook but most are also on Youtube where you can also view them using a Google Cardboard making the video 3D and truly immersive. I have previously blogged about Virtual Reality and Google Cardboard here: Virtual Reality in the Classroom. To do this, just tap the glasses icon on the YouTube clip:

So here are a couple of my favourites for you can use in class:

Rather than embed all the videos here, I have compiled a YouTube Playlist containing all the videos I have stumbled across. You can find it here:

15 Things Teachers Love about Summer Holidays!

Enjoy the break!

Make sure you follow on Facebook and Subscribe on YouTube:

10 things you say to a teacher that should immediately followed by the Eastenders Theme Tune!

How many can you relate to?

Make sure you follow on Facebook and Subscribe on YouTube:

10 Types of Teachers and their Lunch

Which type of teacher are you?

Make sure you follow on Facebook and Subscribe on YouTube: