Top 10 Tips for writing a successful supporting statement

I have seen lots of teachers say how depressed and disheartened they have become when applying for jobs, so I decided to jot these notes down in the hope they will help someone.

These do not guarantee you the job or an interview but I think they help in the shortlisting process. I am by no means an expert but they may help an NQT

Of course some of your letter will be copy and paste but always make it specific for the post you are referring to.

  1. Get the school name correct and spelt right and refer to it when you can.
  2. Address the letter to Head and make sure you spell their name right.
  3. Read the Ofsted report – which bit is most relevant to the post you are applying for? Quote it and use it
  4. What is your educational philosophy? You need to know this and explain how it links with the role.
  5. Read the job description and person specification. Before you even start your letter I suggest you google this and theogriff to how to lay this out. There are plenty of advice on the old TES forums. Getting these skills down helps focus your letter
  6. Make sure you cover what the school wants from the job and person specification in the letter. Yes, lots will be similar from school to school, but notice the language that is used and replicate this in the letter. How are you skills and experience suited to the role you are applying for?
  7. Is it clear in your letter why you want to work in that school? Think students, culture and community – all headteachers and governors are proud of their schools. Make sure you have referred the school vision, ethos and values.
  8. What makes you special? What is going to make you stand out from the next candidate? This does not mean 3 paragraphs about how you helped a little old lady in Tesco’s when you were 17, but a focus on those skills and how they tie into the job you are applying for.
  9. It is OK saying you are a great at this and that but remember to back it up with evidence and the impact it has on students as well as colleagues and you.
  10. Get a friend, trusted colleague, person in that role to read through and double check for errors. I am terrible at spotting my errors, you have more counted 5 in this short blog. Proof reading is important.


The wait – the wait is horrid and the fact not many schools contact you to say ‘”sorry, thanks but its  a no” may seem a little unfair. Lets be honest an application and supporting statement could take 5 to 10 hours. That is a long time?

Resilience is an import skill for a teacher to have, all of us will be unsuccessful at some point -but we pick ourselves up again. We at least want to transfer this to our students.

I wish you the very best of luck in your next application – and the hardest part is the interview.

These might help as well:

Top Ten Tips for a remote interview

Get that job, interview success – a 3 minute quick read.

Let me know if you found this advice useful

The return of schools after Covid-19

On Sunday 10th May 2020 – The Prime Minister announced that some of the Covid-19 lockdown measures would be eased – this included a possible phased return of primary schools. The PM told the nation that reception, year 1 and year 6 children would be the first to go back on a possible date of June 1st.

Soon after this I asked Twitter if they had a child in those year groups, would they be willing to send their children to school? Is it worth the risk?

So far it looks like most/most parents would keep their children off school


So far it looks like most/most parents would keep their children off school! A few teachers have commented saying they will no choice as they will have to work.

It also brings about many unanswered questioned, which I am sure will be answered in the coming days. Questions like:

How do you manage to tell 5 year olds to keep 2 metres apart?

How will class sizes be managed?

Will students be bused in? how will school transport be monitored to government guidelines?

Will their be staggered times of entry? managed lunch and social times?

Will taking your child to school be optional? What if you have one child in year 1 and one child in year 3 – can you return to work?

Will the keyworker list be extended?

It will also be the start of many secondary schools planning as the PM also said year 10 and year 12 will have some time their teachers before the end of the year (maybe he has forgotten they are still being set work and contacted by their teachers?). Many of the same problems I highlighted for the primary schools will be similar for secondary.

Just like before lockdown when all schools worked independently to quickly make plans for remote learning, with little or no guidance from government it will be the same again for planning for a phased return? Every school will now be planning, yes every school has a difference context and cohort, but would it not be easier for schools to be given basic guidance first and allow them to plan from these starting blocks.

Many schools will start to look at what measures, Europe and the world have implemented, as schools have started to reopen in other nations.


A return in staged year groups [1]

No more than 15 pupils per class [1]

Parents will not be forced to send their children to school – it will be optional [2]

If classes are oversubscribed keyworker and vulnerable children will get priority [2]

Primary pupils aged 5 to 11 would go back first (12.05.2020) [1]

The following week secondary students would return[1]

Summer holidays will not changed [2]

All teachers and school staff should wear masks. Secondary students also need to wear them. [2]

Teachers with poor health / isolating will continue to work from home[2]

French Education Minister  Jean-Michel  Blanquer said the aim was to have primary school children back in “small groups”, probably of “less than 10 pupils”. The plan is likely to prove challenging for headteachers in public schools, where classes of 30-plus pupils are common. [1]



Primary schools would reopen on 11.05.2020 [1]

Pupils will attend school in rotation. One day for half the pupils the next for the other half. [1]

Half ‘groups will be all day at school the other is at home

Groups are split depending on surname so family groups will be grouped together

Secondary schools would reopen one month later [1]



Smaller classes – maximum of 20 students [3]

Shorter lessons [3]

Assemblies cancelled [4]

Avoid public transport – parents told to collect children by car [3]

Middle are high school students returned first [4]

Students walk past thermal scanners, have masks and screens [5]

All students and staff have had virus tests before turning to school [5]



Primary schools reopened 15.04.2020 [6]

Desks are 1.8m apart [6]

Start times have been staggered [6]

Parents are not allowed in the school building [6]

Try to teach outdoors [4]



Primary schools reopened 27.04.2020 [5]

Maximum class sizes of 15 pupils [5]

Most children kept in smaller groups [5]



Maximum of 10 students per class [5]

Open from 18.05.2020 [5]



Schools remain closed until September[6]



Reopened [6]

Students need to be 1.5 metres apart [6]

Reduced class sizes [6]

Desks spaced apart [6]

Teachers of 60 and those that are vulnerable are told to stay home [6]

Hallways are one way systems [6]

Teachers to wear masks [4]

Students and teachers can be tested twice a week [4]



Schools opened in a staggered fashion [4]

1 class or quarter of the students from each grade [4]



Schools shut until September [6]

These blogs may also be of interest – for lockdown related educational blogs:

Top Ten Resources To Support Remote Learning During Lockdown

Top Ten Tips for a remote interview

Top Ten Reasons why Seneca Learning is awesome.

Trivium Tutor Time Challenges (tutor time activities part 2)

Which measures do you want to see in our schools?












Top Ten Resources To Support Remote Learning During Lockdown

Since COVID-19 has caused schools to only open for the children of keyworkers lots of students are now learning at home. So many teachers have stepped up their game and produced some fantastic resources which they have shared.

This blog is a way of keeping track of the brilliant resources colleagues from the country and world are putting together (and free other learning resources). This blog has a slight science bias.

In no particular order:

  1. The Oak National Academy

  2.  BBC Bitesize Lessons and Resources 

  3. for Kay Science. See links for the website and youtube

  4. The Greenshaw Learning Trust       and

  5.  Kerboodle – is free at the moment

  6.  Seneca Learning    and reasons why you should using it here.

  7. Lewis Matheson  and his youtube channel

  8. Kitt Betts-Masters and his youtube channel

  9. Primrose Kitten  and her youtube channel

  10. And Isaac Physics is brilliant

Let me know if you have more to add

Top Ten Tips for a remote interview

Having a remote interview by Zoom / Skype or Microsoft Teams can be a stressful affair. I am no expert but the following top ten tips may help you.

1. The Email Address make sure the email address the school will use to send you the invite to join the interview is professional and appropriate

2. Location Think where your computer / laptop will be. What else will on view in the background. Think where the light is coming into the room as well. If you a light on, does it reflect in a photo in shot?

3. Prep Do your background as normal and download the programme as part of this. This may help with this. Get that job, interview success – a 3 minute quick read.

4. App/ Device Sound Levels.  Try the programme out. Zoom has a system where it can test the microphone and speakers. I had to change laptop as the microphone was rubbish.

5. Practice Zooming: Ask a friend / family member to zoom  with you so you can understand how it works/how you are invited/ what happens when you join / how it ends / what the frame on the screen looks like.

6. Practice Speaking / Presentations: I found the ‘record’ option useful on zoom. I had to do a presentation so I found timing it and recording it, and then playing it back very useful.

7. Dress wear what you do if you were going to go to school. Even if you are at home, wear shoes.

8. Water In most interviews you are often water, I found it useful to have a glass water next to me

9. Notes As you are at home, why not have some key notes around the laptop and desk.

10. Camera When you practice see how you look when you look at the camera and at the person. If you look at the camera you are more than likely looking at the person.

I hope you have found this useful. It is also worth having a phone near by just in case.

I wish you the best of luck in your interview.

Let me know if this has helped.



Top 10 principles of having a difficult conversation

Having difficult conversations is a something a leader does on a regular basis. This could be with a colleague, student or parent.

This is a checklist that may help you have these conversations which you can easily shy away from.

What is the purpose?


DC1 What do you want to achieve with the conversation? Have you got data and evidence?

You must have a purpose so make sure you are prepared

Plan it out. DC2 Plan out how you want the conversation to go. Use the evidence you have collated to help form this plan.
Right place, right time DC3 If this conversation is with a parent, I also check with them it is an appropriate time to speak. Likewise for colleagues, make sure you have enough time for the conversation and will not have to much of an impact on what they will do next.
Listen DC4 Say what you have to say, but listen to what they are saying. Write notes if needed.
Be empathic not sympathetic Dc5 Empathy is understanding and connecting with another’s feelings. It is all about listening not trying to put a silver lining on an issue.
Aim for win-win DC6 You want to come out knowing both parties are happy and can work towards a positive outcome.
Be direct DC7 Know what you want to say and say it. Follow your plan, it is the only way to get the win win outcome you want.
Review DC8 Go back through the main key action points and check everyone is happy with it as a record of what has been covered?
Action DC9-1 Do what you said you would do within the agreed time frame
Follow Up DC9 Make sure you get a chance to go over the action points and how they have resolved.

Thank You Postcards for Staff!

Not so long ago,  I was compiling a list of students in my year group that I wanted to contact. I wanted a list of students who deserved praise, some students would get a postcard, some would get a letter and I wanted to phone home for some as well.
It was during this process that I realised how important it was to say thank you. Thank you for all those students that just get their head down and do what is asked of them. Thank you for the students that do the right thing everyday and may not feel they get thanked for it.
I wanted to thank those students and at the same time I wanted the students in the year group to get a chance to thank a member of staff that has helped them.
In a recent year group assembly I thanked all the students for doing ‘stuff’, for taking part, joining clubs, helping others etc.

thank you
I then introduced the “thank you postcard” I was to give each student one postcard. They were to write the postcard to a member of staff during tutor time – tutor, teacher, TA, cleaner, technician, caretaker, catering team, admin/office staff any one they feel has a made a difference to them.

The response was very positive and the students responded well. There were postcards written to teachers, TAs to the caretakers. One of my schools core values is Care, and this surely shows they care.

You can download the postcards for free here:

Let me know if you use them in your school.

Assembly – Tackling Homophobic Language in schools.

As a Head of Year I have recently had a few reports of students describing belongings etc. as “gay.” To tackle this I created and delivered an assembly on the subject.

There are lots of helpful support packages on Stonewall which are well worth a look at such as

and also see

The powerpoint I used can be downloaded for free here

Time will tell how effective the message as been, however I hope the above powerpoint can be used in your schools.

Please let me know any feedback you have.

Linked Blogs

See my behaviour management  5 step appeal on which may help in dealing with such matters


A to Z of Twitter Leaders

See below for those educators on twitter in middle and senior leadership and other leadership, SLE, AST and  coaching positions. They all offer great advice and support

A Amjad Ali   PT AHT & consultant, deliver INSET and CPD, free T&L toolkit @trythisteaching

B Andy Buck Author, speaker, trainer and coach. FCCT. Former geography teacher, head, director at NCSL and MAT MD. Founder of Leadership Matters and The StARTed Foundation.

C Carpool4School Delivering you a selection of educational takeaways, Teaching and Learning ideas, Wellbeing and Workload advice, Special guest appearances

D Drew Povey People. Performance. Potential. A multi-sector perspective of leadership

E Emma Turner Edu research & CPD lead for Discovery Schools Trust & Affinity TSA by day. Chaos coordinator of 3 small children by night.22yrs Primary teach & CoHead FCCT

F Garry Freeman Teacher 42 yrs,SENDCo, SendMyths advocate,National SEND System Leader,author of 6 books, M&W & ProgRock fan. Views ALWAYS my own. I do NOT claim to be a lawyer!

G J. Grocott Primary Deputy and dad of 3 gorgeous children. All views are my own. Also I am the 2019 Edufuturist ‘Wellbeing Ambassador’ winner which is nice. I love my job!

H Hywel Roberts The #travellingteacher, storyweaver, pedagogy of #botheredness
I Impact Providing support to schools that has real impact

J Kate Jones Head of History. Author Love to Teach: Research & Resources for every classroom.

K Katharine Birbalsingh Headmistress/Founder Michaela: free/charter school doing it differently. Freedom from state, truth on race,

L Stephen Logan  Leadership, learning and running / Deputy Head

M Ross McGill  No.1 Education Blog, CPD Trainer, Exp. School Leader

N Niomi CR  Assistant Headteacher Sept 2019, DSL, English Lead, Metacognition, SLE

O Olly Lewis AH T&L, Science HoD

P Alison Peacock   CEO of Chartered College of Teaching Charity. Teacher, Author, Public Speaker, Professor, Hon Fellow Queens’ Cambridge

Q Alex Quigley National Content Manager at the Education Endowment Foundation. Former English teacher. Author: ‘Closing the Vocabulary Gap

R Tom Rogers Assistant Headteacher – teaching and learning / History Teacher / @tes columnist / Founder of @teamtmicons /talk and write about education

S Stephen Tierney CEO of the BEBCMAT. Chair of @HeadsRoundTable & SSAT Vis2040. Focussed on Leading & Learning. Author of Liminal Leadership

T Tom Sherrington Consultant. Author. Speaker. Teaching/Curriculum/Assessment. The Learning Rainforest

U (struggled with U) however John Tomsett Headteacher at Huntington School in York, England. All views are my own.

V Integrity Coaching Director of Integrity Coaching, Author, Education Commentator for @Guardian, Ambassador @LShipMatters, School Leader well-being advocate

W Nick Wood   Maths Teacher. MCCT. Middle School AHT-curriculum. As I learn, I change

X Pran Patel TEDx Speaker-NPQSL-Former AHT Curriculum and Standards-Outward Facing Leader-UKs 1st and only antiracist website (schools)

Y B Yusuf love to teach, lead & learn, Sci&ed tech leader, consultant

Z Zoe Andrews Senior leader. Chemistry teacher & AST status. Doing NPQH, done M.Ed. Enjoy all things data, wellbeing, leadership

Follow me and add your suggestions

Top Ten Tips To Train To Teach: advice for student and newly qualified teachers

“It Is the most stressful year you will ever experience”
                                                                                                           Lots of trained teachers

Was it my most stressful year ever? No! No it wasn’t. Do not get me wrong it wasn’t easy however it should be enjoyable and should not stop you doing what you normally do.

My placement schools could not be further from each other. My first was a tough 11-19 city secondary and my second placement was a small independent school. Throughout my second placement my feedback was mostly ‘it was good’ however on reflection I didn’t want to hear that I wanted to know how to be better and how I could support my students better.

I secured my job for my NQT year and a year later I was the Science Departments ITT PGCE student mentor. I did this role for 9 years and only recently in the summer of 2019 stood down due to a promotion and how it impacts my workload. As I mentor I was not given extra time or any extra money – if you are a mentor, you do a cracking job.

Every student teacher required individual personalised support and feedback just like our students. I have found myself reflecting a lot on the responsibility and feel I could offer some generic tips for all student teachers and also NQT’s.

1. The first is nice and simple: Sign up to the best source of advice and free CPD out there – twitter. Lots of teachers give up their free time to offer support and resources. It really is a no-brainer.

2. I wish I knew about the tonnes of research out there. Maybe I was too naive but there was plenty more than the required course documents. The following might be a good start for you:

A to Z of Cognitive Science

20 ideas & strategies for Student Led Dual Coding

20 Ideas for student led retrieval practice

14 Research Papers on Dual Coding

10 Research Papers on Retrieval Practice.

3. Linked to number 2. – Embrace this research. Spend time reading what interests and what is relevant to you. Use this a discussion on twitter – number 1.

4. Write a blog – reflect. The blog doesn’t have to be read by anyone but you. You will most likely be asked to write a lesson/weekly reflection, this is more than that. This is your career and not a chance just to jump through hoops.

5. Take advantage of the CPD offered. Again maybe it was my naivety and/or just a chance to get out of school for a while but I did not take CPD seriously. I didn’t know how to, I didn’t why I had to. It took me years to see the importance of it all. As a new teacher, you have a lot  more chance of getting on courses that you request to your SLT.

6. Poster lessons are mostly a waste of time – spend the time asking quality questioning and challenging your students. In my early days as a teacher the LA (local authority) had subject advisors. The science advisor had a catchphrase which we laughed off but again it is only now I can see what they really meant when anyone suggested an activity or learning task they said. It sounds good – but “where it’s the learning?” Think about the tasks you offer to students. How and what are they going to learning. Knowledge is far more important than keeping the hardest classes quiet for an hour.

7. You will be expected to plan lessons especially as you start your career – take advice of how to do so effectively and efficiently. I remember taking hours to plan 1 lesson during my training year, only to change the lesson again and again and then go back to the original plan. I scoured the internet high and low for resources – taking the best bits from each to plan a lesson.  It was often  a mish mash which hardly made sense to me. Please don’t spend hours reinventing the wheel however make sure you at least make the lesson your own. I have seen many a student teacher come to stop in a lesson because they have no idea the meaning of the slide. Also please don’t take credit for resources if they are not yours – I once had a student teacher who planned a great practical lesson. The lesson I remember was much better than a previous one. They lost my trust when they said it was because of the investigating planning sheet they had created. Only they hadn’t – I had! They had just downloaded it from my TES account. If you are interested this is what they used:

8. Time management during these years is important. Teaching never ends. You can say you have nothing to do. There is also a lesson to plan or change, always a book that needs feedback and always a parent/carer you can ring. Be prepared to say ‘no’ and be honest about this. What you don’t want to do is make promises to your school, department, mentor and even worse the students only not to do it and you let them down.

9. Arrive organised – most student teachers contact schools before hand. Some want lots of information some of which is now impossible to give under GRDP data protection however if you are request and are given schemes of work etc. look through them. Print of the weekly and lesson observation sheets before lessons. It also goes without saying make sure your lesson resources are pre-printed. Asking the class to go and collect printed doesn’t look good – especially if you are also being observed by the university. Along these lines most schools have their important policies on the internet – safeguarding, teaching and learning and behaviour for learning. Read them – it is also a good idea to read these in preparation for job interviews.

10. Subject Knowledge – never think you know enough. Keep reading and learning.

Above all remind organised and focussed. Enjoy everyday –  and just ignore the moaners. Every profession has its complainers – those that have been around the block and think they know more. Stay away from these and stay positive.

Join me on twitter


A to Z of Cognitive Science

Using research and making use of evidence from cognitive science to inform education is now becoming a hotly debated topic on platforms such as twitter and more and more educational companies are using the ideas to support students. Educational companies such as   who are soon to hit million subscribers are a front runner in using these techniques and not forgetting the team at who post engaging videos, educational blog posts and enlightening strategies that teachers can use quickly.

I have compiled an A to Z to help those that a new to this research and of course those old hands who may need a refresher.

AAce That Test from the Learning Scientists. A team of brilliant cognitive psychological scientists who research the science of learning. Their blog posts are a must read for all teachers as well as parents/carers and students alike. They have a vision of sharing scientific research and making more accessible – they have certainly do that. I have been lucky enough to see them present at a teachmeet organised by the  in 2017 and they completely transformed my thinking around education. The team can also be found on twitter separately – they are all well worth following.

B – Blake Harvard – The Effortful Educator . Blake is an American teacher however has some very useful blog posts on applying cognitive science to education. Blake can also be found on twitter here ]

C – Concrete ExamplesOne of the famous 6 strategies highlighted by as a method to help students to study effectively.  Concrete examples are used when we need to understand an abstract idea.


D- Dual Coding – using visuals and text simultaneously so the information is encoded into long term memory. I have further blogs on this topic:

and recommend you follow on twitter as the dual coding oracle.

E – Efrat Furst – Dr Furst does a fantastic job at communicating and promoting cognitive sciences to education. She teaches out of Harvard University and her research-informed strategies have transformed many a classroom. Follow Efrat on twitter

F- Flávia S Belham PhD– The chief scientist behind applying cognitive science to education. Sign up to Seneca as a teacher/student/parent HERE and follow Dr Belham on twitter

Seneca has a great cognitive science course for teachers that I very much recommend. My certificate for this is proudly on the wall of my classroom.

G – Google Scholar. There are lots of ideas in cognitive sciences and you will have your favourite techniques and strategies. Google scholar searches academia for research and if possible gives a link for a free PDF download. It is well worth exploring this. For example “retrieval practice classroom ” gives some excellent results.

H – Henry Roediger III – Professor Roediger researches aspects of human memory, how knowledge is retrieved and how this can be applied to enhance education. His work on the testing effect with Dr Jeffrey Karpicke has changed teaching for the better.

I – Interleaving – one of the 6 effective study strategies for students by the learning scientists. Interleaving is a method of revision that suggests you mix up topics during your revision schedule and is often combined with spaced practice. There has been lots of debate on best to interleave, Mark Enser does well to explain how to embed this into the curriculum planning as interweaving.

J – Journals – Keep education evidence informed by reading. Research schools do a great job of passing on snippets and research however I believe it is important for all teachers to read and improve, we expect students to do it after all. I currently subscribe/read two accessible journals that are written by teachers for teachers. One of which is IMPACT from The Chartered College of Teaching and the other is ResearchEd – I fully recommend them both.

K – Karpicke, Professor Jeffery Karpicke has researched and written extensively on retrieval based learning, metacognition and cognitive strategies. One of his most ground breaking papers was co authored with Phillip Grimaldi on retrieval based learning

Karpicke, J.D. and Grimaldi, P.J., 2012. Retrieval-based learning: A perspective for enhancing meaningful learning. Educational Psychology Review, 24(3), pp.401-418.

L – Long Term Memory – After we have encoded and consolidated information in the long term memory our ultimate aim would be to retrieve it.

M – Metacognition and Self Regulation  -a cost effective way of raising standards across your school. The Education Endowment Foundation have produced this guidance report to help support teachers in embedding metacognition. Lots of research is being done on metacognition and it is well worth thinking about how you can embed into your pedagogy.

N – Neuroscience – Neuroscience is the study of the brain and cognition is about acquiring knowledge and developing understanding.  There is a great blog here by   

  has a nice video here

O – Online Platforms –Seneca Learning has been developed using cognitive science and is a platform that many students across the country are enjoying and benefiting from. I have blogged about Seneca here.

Plickers is a brilliant and free quizzing tool in which you can collect in data from retrieval quizzes.

P – Pooja K. Agarwal – Dr Agarwal is an assistant professor at Berklee College of Music teaching psychological sciences. She is also the founder of collaborating with Henry L .Roediger III. Pooja has a great insight into cognitive science and retrieval and can be found on twitter  and

Q – Questions / Elaboration –Elaboration is one of six strategies named by the learning scientists in order to help students to study effectively. Elaboration is adding detail to what you know by questioning yourself. Why has this happened? How has this happened?

R – Retrieval Practice – another of the 6 strategies named by the Learning Scientists.The testing effect has long been researched and the simple conclusion is the more  you self test and quiz the better you will do. This should be done over a period of time (see spaced practice) and is the opposite to cramming and just reading material. I have written further blogs on retrieval practice and ideas of how to implement strategies here.

S – Spaced Practice- another of the 6 strategies named by the Learning ScientistsThis is the opposite to cramming. I have created a few resources for my students to use.

Good flashcard revision will not only support spaced practice but also retrieval.




T- Teachers & Twitter – on the front applying and testing these strategies need to be in the A to Z. Twitter is full of educators that are passionate in the application of research informed learning, some of which are mentioned in this A to Z. Twitter really is the best CPD out there and if you want ideas to implement a strategy, twitter is a supportive environment for you to ask the questions. #cogscisci is a great place to start

U- Untested and Unproven theories  (Neuromyths and Neurononsense)Brain Gym/VAK learning styles/ left and right side of the brain misconceptions – you name them and education has  –Dan Willingham has a brilliant and is active on twitter. See here a collection of articles that Dan has written which really are a must read for any teacher.

V – Volume keep it low. There is lots of conversation at the minute around if student talk is productive. Should students work bu collaborating in groups? is this effective? This is another great blog by Mark Enser “what does learning sound like?” and others from noise” and The power of silence

W – Working memory – working memory is the short term memory that is utilised when we are manipulating data of some kind. Once finished with it is either forgotten or encoded to the long term memory.

X – X-Amples from Rosenshine Principles of Instruction. Another must read for all teachers nicely summed up by in this blog and the research article by Barak Rosenshine 

Y – Years – how long facts will stay in your long term memory if you apply the strategies (hopefully…well that is the idea anyway)

Z – Zest and Zig Zag– From the zest of discovery and knowledge many teachers are now changing direction – zig zagging – in how they approach teaching and learning and their application of cognitive science in lessons.

Happy to take further suggestions – find me on twitter here

Get that job, interview success – a 3 minute quick read.

I have been at my current school for 9 years now and during that time I have had 2 external teaching interviews and a couple of internal promotions [and a couple of external teaching related jobs]. The comments from my early internal interviews where that I had to improve how I answered questions. When I reflect back on the interviews, I was under-prepared and lacked the confidence to answer questions in the required fashion.

I spent a lot of time on how I could improve my technique. I googled and collated a list of questions relevant to the job I was applying for, and thought about I would answer the questions. There was lots of common questions on a general theme, so I created a mindmap for those likewise for my buying buttons [what I can offer the school]. I still have these and it is always good to have a glance over them.

The mindmaps and questions made me reflect more on my impact. What actual difference have I made to student outcomes, staff CPD, schemes of learning, school and departmental improvement and change. This led me to reflect about all the responsibilities I have taken on {and led to this A to Z list]and how they may link to common questions:

• When have you led a project?
• Describe a project you have led, what went wrong and the lessons you have learnt from it?
• How have improved capacity of colleagues?
• What impact have you had on raising standards in Science?

Once I had examples in my head – I tried to get as much data as I could regarding student outcomes and I felt far more confident. Getting all this right, then led to answering it with the star technique.

S – Situation – context and background.
T – Task – my/role in the situation/within the team
A – Action – what you did! Do not undersell yourself here.
R – Result – the impact you had. This could be data and what happened. Also reflect on what went well and how it could be improved.

Lots of further advice here:

I also needed to work on my confidence in answering ‘future’ based questions, and answering with a strong moral purpose. If the school/interviewer doesn’t like the answer at least you are true to yourself, which is the most important thing. I knew I had to think about, what I had to implement along with time frames and how I would measure impact – again something I was unprepared for in my first interviews.

Over the past few years I have been successful in some interviews (county subject network leader, SLE) and have been unsuccessful at others. My two AHT interviews, however feedback has been positive on my actual interview it has just been lack of experience as the reasons given why I didnt get the job.
When applying for jobs, the process takes over my week prior to the interview. I end up writing notes and ideas on anything, post-its, bits of paper, my phones and anything I can get my hand on [including my hand]. This can be for the actual supporting statement but also for the actual spoken interview, so I created a 5 minute planning sheet to jot my thoughts all on one page (or two). I could then throw (recycle) all the other bits of paper.

The sheets are free to download on TES. There is two, the second more relevant for a leadership post (middle or senior)

Create a CPD Library in your staffroom

To help raise standards and improve teaching and learning with my school, I wrote to the head and governors to ask for a small amount of budget to purchase various educational books. The request was granted and the books arrived a little while later.

CPDbook.jpgI produced a ‘sign out’ sheet if colleagues wanted to remove a book to keep track of their whereabouts.

I then asked colleagues if they had any ‘edu books’ that they no longer use that they would be willing to donate. lots volunteered and the CPD library is just growing and growing.

Beginning my leadership Journey (A to Z)

In recent months I have been planning my step up from middle to senior leadership. I have purchased a few books on the matter, read blogs and asked many current senior leaders their thoughts.

To help get some of my thoughts in order I thought I would create my own personal leadership A to Z. I am sure I have missed something out and I certain that your A to Z would be different however if you are starting or settled in to senior leadership you may find some of these ideas a refresher. (I apologise if some letters have more than one word – When I review the post I will decide on the more important, however I don’t think it hurts at this stage).

I would be interest to hear your thoughts and your A to Z

A Accountable & Approachable to all – aids Alignment

B Belief the why behind the strategy, the passion for moving forward

C Conversations & Communication including the difficult ones

D Delegate in order to COACH and Develop for Direction & PURPOSE

E Encouragement praise and support to get the best from people

F Future read & keep an eye out on education developments & changes

G Good role model for all staff, students and the community

H Honesty, Humanity & Humility show I care and TRUST others

I Inspire teams through Integrity & Innovation & Impact

J Jocular be myself and keep my sense of humour when things go wrong

K Know my school vision & know my team(s) vision

L Leadership Styles know my style! Autocratic, Democratic (Plant)

M Moral Purpose/Compass be fair for what is right & wrong

N Nourish to raise standards for students and CPD for staff

O Organise know my own and teams strengths and weaknesses

P Proactive & Pragmatic be visible, walk to not away from trouble

Q Quo, Status Quo think ouside the box how to solve problems

R Risks continue to take risks but with Respect

S Strategic Leadership know the plan, share the vision

T Trust The Team and focus on improvement and development

U Useful & Unassuming treat others how I like to be treated

V Vision be clear on the why and where! make it visible to all

W Why? what is the belief and vision behind the change?

X Xenial be proud and be welcoming

Y Yearning keep desiring to learn and improve

Z Zenith always strive to be better and improve

If you are interested in school leadership and on twitter, I will be posting more about my journey if and when I get there:

I also recommend following: