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

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.

Surviving Parents Evening(s) – Top 10 Tips

After 11 years I have mixed feelings about parents evening – sometimes I love them, sometimes I dread them. Parents evenings are not something which you train for, during your training year you will probably observe a parents evening and if you are lucky you may get to speak at one. I recommend if you get the opportunity in your training year, take the bull by the horns and get involved.

Here are my top tips for surviving parents evening.

  1. Formalities – Parents will be at times as nervous at meeting you as you are them. Their children will have told them all about your lessons (the good and bad). Parents will already have a picture of what you will be like from these conversations. First impressions count, I always stand and shake their hand, arrange an extra chair if extra siblings arrive and make them feel at ease straight away by introducing myself with my first name.
  2. What do they want to hear? – They want to know how their child is getting on and if they are making progress. Make sure you are fully prepared and write notes on the name sheets if needed, if it is not a student you know well.
  3. Who starts? – So there is not an awkward silence, if the young person has arrived as well, I start with them. I ask how they are getting on? Are they enjoying the subject? Do they have any concerns? Students tend to be braver with parents and carers with them and you quite often find out a lot of “hidden” information.
  4. Take it to the ‘rents! – Once the young person has had their say, I ask the parents if they have any specific questions. After this I sum up what I know about the child. There are 5 types of parents that arrive and sit in front of you.
    1. The I want to get out of here before the rush parent – they have no questions. In fact they know their child is going to get a glowing report, they are here because they feel they have to and to give their child a bit of a boost
    2. Let me just read the last report The parent has no questions but feels they should ask something and will get a copy of the last report to read. They will decide upon a question after reading it
    3. The prepared list in a notebook You know you have your hands full when this happens. A list of questions to test your knowledge on their child and what you have sent home in the form of reports.
    4. I have no Idea who you are This parent has often appeared solo without their child and keeps looking at their bit of paper to remind them of your name and what subject they teach. They will spend half the time asking questions about the teacher they are meant to see next.
    5. The teacher that wants to know about progress!! You always know when you have a teacher sat in front of you, they either tell you straight away , have there staff ID around their neck or ask about levels of progress or throw in other edu buzz words. It feels as if they are scouting out the school.
  1. Don’t bother with books – back in the day I used to bring the students books in to show parents work. Unless there is a very specific reason for this (good or bad) I would not bother. It does not really add to the conversation.
  2. Get an assessment done in time– Linked to the above really. I always like to make to make when possible to have some relevant and up to date assessment data I can talk about. This can help answer the question I get asked the most. “ what do they have to do better?” / “ how can they improve”. I always pass on a target either academic or personal. This shows you know the student and ultimately care.
  3. What can we do at home? Another question I am asked a lot – so I am now prepared for this question. I bring with me a print out of relevant revision websites (Seneca, bitesize) and log on details for the school on line text books. This always goes down a treat, and is a real winner in my eyes.
  4. What do they need to revise? Again a question I have heard a lot at Y11 / KS4+ parents evenings so I now bring with me a list of topics to hand to the parents and also retrieval practice questions (and answers) they can use to test their children.

10 strategies to involve parents in retrieval practice

9. Data, Data, Data – I have to hand a print out of my excel markbook which has information about homeworks and assessment scores. I makes for a good comparison and it is always interesting to see what students remember about their test scores and if they told parents and carers about them. If there has been a homework set over the parents evening period, I also try an bring a few extra sheets in as well to hand out as and when needed.

Using Plickers to assess for Mastery

10. Rubrics – If like my reports you give a qualitive grade for attitude to learning, I bring with me the rubric matrix for the criteria. IE what it means to be excellent, good, needs improvement etc.

Following these ten rules means I enjoy parents more and I hope parents feel their 5 minutes have been productive and not a waste of time. Of course parents evenings can be very frustrating, the parents that you really want to see, do not book in and you hear yourself repeating what you have written in the latest report. You get the parents that talk down to you and have a dig, but mostly 99% of the time the parents are really supportive and behind you.

If you are not leaving parents evening feeling it has been worth while, you really need to change something. Hopefully one of the ten ideas above will reenergise these evenings.

If you have any thoughts and ideas, I would love to hear them.

Check out these relevant blogs

How To Solve A Problem Like….Homework

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

The image was taken from this blog on a similar topic from teacherhead

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


10 strategies to involve parents in retrieval practice

In recent weeks I blogged about how as a teacher I have embedded retrieval practice into my everyday teaching and also how I have urged students to be independent in their own retrieval.

10 Research Papers on Retrieval Practice.

14 Research Papers on Dual Coding

20 Ideas for student led retrieval practice

10 ways to embed retrieval practice into your lessons!

This led on to me think how I could encourage parents to further support students learning. See here for 10 strategies to encourage parents to become more involved.

Provide Question and Answer banks.

Similar to what calls retrieval roulette however this is not classroom based but home based. I have put a series of questions and answers on the school VLE and made the pages to parents so they are able to self quiz students at home.

A question a day

I have provided 5 months worth of worth of questions (however not the answers) which parents and students are able to use. These have been handed out to students and parents in lessons and at parents evening, they are also available on the school VLE and TES.

AQA Physics

AQA Chemistry

A guest blog written by  explains it well Hexagon and Monthly Revision Strategies

Knowledge organisers & checklists

I have given students knowledge organisers and topic checklists and have asked parents/carers to involve discussions and questions around these points.

How do you solve a problem like….checklists

Sign up to Seneca

I have written an article for the school newsletter encouraging all students to sign up to Seneca and for parents to join them. Many parents have said to me in the past “Physics!, I have not done that since school, how can I help him/her” – well now they can.

Seneca Learning – classroom based Inquiry: The Questionnaire

Seneca Learning: The Start of the Journey…..

Accessible Past Papers

With the new 1-9 spec just started we are currently restricted with the amount of past papers however I have told students/parents where to find out papers such as here and here.

Log into Kerboodle 

I have made sure parents/carers are aware of their child’s log on for kerboodle and have encouraged parents to look around the site and support their son/daughter in using it.

Learning scientists blogs

I have given parents a link to the Learning Scientists blogs so they can better understand how to revise and offer effective support.

Encourage parents to design a timetable for students

I have create a revision timetable for AQA Physics however if parents and students can create one  together – even better. See my example here

Make and quiz each other using flashcards

It is becoming well known now that it isn’t the making of the flashcards that is important but the self quizzing using them. I have asked students to quiz parents as well as parents to quiz students.

See this Learning Scientists blog on how to use flashcards  

Self quiz from mindmaps

Once mindmaps are created parents and carers can help supports by quizzing them on them and allowing them recreate them from memory.

See this Retrieval Practice blog

If you have any other ideas let me know via

Top 10 Teacher Time-Saving Hacks

This blog has been on my mind for about a year now. What are the best simple teacher time-savers? These are little ideas which I have embedded in my practice over the past few years. They all save me some valuable time. I hope they might save you a few minutes as well – remember every second counts.

I have either come up the ideas myself or heard the idea elsewhere so I can not take credit for them all. I will try to justify how and why they have saved me time and I hope like every good #teachmeet you are able to take one strategy away with you.

1.       Number Student Exercise Books:

A simple idea, that I started to do in preparation for (idea 2). I export a class list from SIMS and number the students 1 to 33 (or generate a class list from Plickers and project this as this has numbers as well). Students then put this number on the top left hand corner of their books.

This saves time as I am able to (or selected lucky students can) quickly order the books, so I can see which numbers and so students are missing. Before this, I spent ages checking the register to work out who didn’t quite understand the instruction of “Please leave your books on the desk!” by the time I realised it was Joe Bloggs, they were long gone.

These numbers can also be put on home learning, so again you can quickly order the work and see who has handed in what has been asked.

2.       Using Plickers for Low Stakes Assessment:

I have blogged and raved about Plickers many a time. One successful blog is how I have used Plickers to assess for mastery.

Low Stakes assessment as retrieval practice and quizzing is an area Barak Rosenshine promoted in his “Principles of instruction”

Plickers is very quick and easy to set up and is a great AfL tool to assess students, monitor progress and inform future planning. Once you get the hang of it, it is simple to quiz students. I use it most lessons to recap previous knowledge but every couple of weeks I create a longer quiz, in which I take in the marks.

The time saving aspect of Plickers is that it saves your questions, it is self marking and exports results straight to Excel. You can see which questions stumped the most students to inform future planning and which students didn’t quite perform as per expectations, so you are able to offer a little encouragement. It is very quick and easy to copy and paste in excel, and I do so in to my Excel Spread, which brings me on to time saver 3.

3.       Excel Marksheets

I have marksheet for each of my classes. These contain baseline data from SIMS, to help with seating plans etc. But I also record the day to day goings on. Stuff you think about but forget by the time it comes to report writing and parents evening (time saver 4). It only takes a moment to jot it down. I also record student absence, if they have forgotten their books and lack of equipment. These are updated and added to each term.  The spread sheet is where I record home learning marks & efforts (time saver 5) and scores from Plickers as well as summative end of unit test scores.

excel spreadsheet

I have taught my current Y11 since Y9 – Looking back, it is brilliant to see how some students have progressed along with trends and patterns.

I print a copy out and have it in front of me at parents evening. Talking of which….

4.       Parents Evening

Parents evening as much as they are dreaded by some teachers because it adds another 4/5 hours on to their working day are very important. They are important for parents to meet their children’s teacher, who they are trusting to support their children to get brilliant results and significant for teachers to meet the parents!

I found in my first few years teaching, I repeated myself at parents evening. This frustrated me, as I felt I wasn’t doing students, parents or myself justice. So I now offer up a more detailed analysis of students performance, attitude and attainment using the excel marksheet (time saver 3). This gives evidence to parents and students, suggesting I am not just making it all up.

parents evening

One question I get a lot, so I assume this is a common theme across is “ what can I do to help xxxx” and “what else can they do…” I now produce a simple parent take away slip which logon details for software the department has purchased for students, useful websites and tips. I have now to log on to Kerboodle, Seneca learning and links to exam board specification. Feedback from parents is very positive. This saves you time, as once it is done it is done and printed. It can be edited. It also saves your voice, on an evening when your voice needs to be conserved.

5.       Peer or Self-Marking Home Learning

Home Learning or Home Work is the vain of many a teachers life. I am a believer that any work a student does at home should consolidate learning and not be a filler. I hate seeing students doing a title page or word search because school policy states home learning needs to be set every week.

Home learning could add a considerable amount of time to marking workload. In the past, early in my career I may have done this. I apologise if this was the case. I now make sure every task I set to be completed at home, is relevant, useful and promotes learning.

I use exampro to download past paper questions from AQA and edit them. The questions can then be self or peer marked. Students put their number (time saver tip 1) and adding to marksheets (time saver tip 3). No teacher marking, but when you go through the questions you can give detailed feedback on how to answer questions and those extra snippets of knowledge.

The home learning isn’t always on the topic in hand either. Why not try to set homework from a topic from the previous topic or even year.

6.       Retrieval practice

 Creating a selection of questions that can be used a low staked starter. These are time savers, as questions can be saved for topics and can be repeated at any time. Remember to mix up the questions – they don’t just need to be on the topic in hand. See The Learning Scientists for the latest educational research on this.

Here is a previous blog I wrote on embedding retrieval practice into every day lessons:

7.       Live Feedback

Live feedback should not be live marking……….marking for the stake of it……. or…….. marking because school policy states it should be done!

I am a believer in live feedback during lessons because not only does it save you time but also it saves the students time. Rosenshine states that the more mistakes a student makes the harder it is to reteach it. So why allow students to make the mistake in the first place.

Once again, I hold my hand up to this. In the past I have seen a student draw a graph and not put units on an axis label. I have thought, great, I can now highlight this and prove to the powers that be that I am offering great productive feedback. Now, I tell students, as I check and monitor work what they need to do to improve. I am not writing anything in books, I may get students to jot down a self-assessment note, to what they have to do to improve, but this is purely for them, not for “the powers”.

Don’t allow students to make mistakes, this will save you time reteaching in the long run. This is another nudge to read Rosenshine.

8.       Feedback and D.I.R.T

How many times do you write the same comment in students books? Do this…do that…think about this! This wastes time, why not get students to write it?

I jot notes down as I go through students books. Write down students of praise and of concern who made need intervention. I use these notes to inform future planning – for instance if there was a message or comment I would have written in most students books I would make sure I address those issues the next lesson. This is a great opportunity to promote the use of DIRT (Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time) to get students to improve their work.

9.       Student Reflection and metacognition

Linked to live marking (time saver 7) I use this when I have taught sections of work and want some feedback on how students have found it. I have just used this, [today in fact] after teaching alpha and beta nuclear decay equations. After modelling and teaching, I have lots of examples for students to complete on the board. I then went through these and students self assessed their answers. I then asked students to write a brief sentence or two describing the method of how they solved the problems and explain how they felt about the process. This included, how confident they were of their learning processes. You can read more on Metacognition here:

10.       Checklists – referenced through work to aid revision

At the start of every topic I hand out a checklist and knowledge organiser to all students. The organisers contain key words and definitions, timelines and visuals such as annotated diagrams and practical equipment. I have uploaded these to TES and they are free to download.


My checklists have been written in student speak from the exam specifications. I have given each ‘can do’ statement a code. Students use these codes to reference their work as they go through their books. Sometimes I tell students……today we are focussing on F11 sometimes they have to work it out themselves. Students find this a great help in organising their work. Students can tick as they go along, this is also a great visual overview for students who haven’t attended lessons for a while, they can see what they have missed and what they need to do to catch up.

11.       Edu-Twitter

A bonus if you are not already on twitter do it. There are ideas shared a plenty evert day. To those that share, thank you.

Let me know your top teacher time saving tips. 


Stretching higher prior attainers, challenging all students.

A focus of my school, county and its neighbouring is adding more stretch and challenge for the more able students or higher prior attainers. This group of students has been highlighted as underperforming and maybe not making the progress which they should.

Here are some ideas which I have used in the science lab to try and push my students. I do feel however it is one those fads such as closing the gap – don’t we always want to push all our students to achieve their very best? Is this not why we set foot in the classroom and deal with all the pressures it brings? I know I want all students to achieve their target and challenge grades.

So I have used these following ideas not only to stretch the most able but also to challenge the less able. I do not want any ‘ghost’ children in my lessons or school – every child matters and they all deserve to be challenged appropriately. Ghost students can be those that say nothing and those that do really well but actually they could do a bit better.

I am always on the lookout for teaching and learning strategies that support learning these are a just a few I have tried to implement in my classroom.

  1. Retrieval Practice – keep going over previous topics and content. This could be as a starter or homelearning. There are plently of blogs on this around the net – but I think it is important not to overload students (cognitive load). I now have a bank of questions I use as starters – some of which are from past papers which according to the exam reports students have found challenging- focus on these, it will only benefit your students in the long run.

20 Ideas for student led retrieval practice



2.  Home learning – traditionally seems to always be on the topic that is being studied. I         tend to try and vary this and set home learning on previous topics and I never set                project home learning or pointless tasks such as make and colour a title page, or a             wordsearch etc. My home learning will nearly always be past paper questions, with           space at end for students to add their reflections and improvements. This can be self         marked at the start of a lesson and results recorded very quickly. Analysis of these              scores can then inform your future planning as students will be able to work on                 topics that need developing.

How To Solve A Problem Like….Homework

3. Really go to home on calculations, in physics I make sure students can rearrange and give lots of examples that get progressively harder. Give time for students to reflect on what it is they are struggling with – rearrangement / converting / units etc.

4. After feedback make sure students are given some time to improve their work. This could simply be self marking with students filling in the correct answers and making sure they know why they get it wrong in the first place, improving their understanding.

5. In mixed ability groups – get the more able to help the least able. A simple strategy that is often used however I think the important bit of this is a conversation after. What did the student get out of it? how did it help them?

6. Before a practical – show students some equipment and give them a hypothesis/aim/focus and get them to design a method. I have also given a method before that I have edited mistakes into and got students to work out what is wrong.

7. Make KS3 as challenging as possible – talk to your primary schools and build the curriculum from KS2 to KS4.

I also have a blog – 20 starters to challenge your students

Enjoy, let me know if you think you can add to this list or have used any ideas.

10 Activities for tutor time (part 1)

Many tutors are short of time to think of activities to do with their tutor group. Below are 10 ideas that you could pick up in a seconds notice.

  1. There are some amazing Ted-Ed videos each 5 minutes (ish) long and could provoke discussion and extension work after they have been watched. The videos are on a wide range of subjects, I would be surprised if there was not a clip that does not spark interest in a student. Check them out here
  2. Linked to crime, punishment and citizenship – these scenarios could take a week ot so to go through and discuss
  3. Newsround quiz of the week
  4. Learn and master this  trick
  5. Use this amazing website
  6. Get students in pairs and they create a ten question quiz they present to the rest of the tutees – keep a league of results.
  7. Plenty of riddles and optical illusions here
  8. Again linked to crime, punishment and citizenship – you be the judge is brilliant interactive website that will engage all learners
  9. Linked to Geography – memorise all countries in the world – why not start with Africa?
  10. Linked to the above! challenge your tutor group to memorise the periodic table – learning to learn will use skills students will use for life

See Part two here Trivium Tutor Time Challenges (tutor time activities part 2)


Featured image thanks to

10 youtube channels every science teacher needs to be aware of (part 2) the last few years I found youtube to be invaluable in my teaching and learning toolkit. There are not many lessons that cant have a decent youtube clip embedded into it, or a flipped learning activity based around a youtube video. I imagine most science teachers are aware of most of these, but they are well worth checking out to help engage learners in this modern world. In no particular order – part 2 channels include: (part 1 here)

  1. Naked Scientists 
  2. Acapella Scientists
  3. Helen Arney
  4. The Royal Institution
  5. Institute of Physics
  6. Brit Lab and Greg Foot
  7. Mr Parr Science Videos
  8. Steve Spangler Science
  9. Medical Mavericks TV
  10. FuseSchool

10 youtube channels every science teacher needs to be aware of (part 1)

Over the last few years I found youtube to be invaluable in my teaching and learning toolkit. There are not many lessons that cant have a decent youtube clip embedded into it, or a flipped learning activity based around a youtube video. I imagine most science teachers are aware of most of these, but they are well worth checking out to help engage learners in this modern world. In no particular order – part 1 channels include:

  1. Lammas Science – In my opinion the best resource out there.
  2. ASAP Science – another brilliant, quality modern resource. 
  3. Smarter Every Day – can be used for tutor time stand alone videos 
  4. Veritasium – Quality videos covering a wide range of topics 
  5. Ted Ed – Great talks,  mostly under 5 minutes covering most topics
  6. Periodic Videos – Brilliant chemistry videos
  7. Minute Physics – not all a minute long, but snappy and detailed.
  8. SciShow – Hank and crew for the crashcourse! Also great for tutortime 
  9. Crashcourse – I find more detailed /In depth than SciShow. Covers more than Science.
  10. V sauce – Lots of subjects here. Again good tutor time videos.

Part 2 here

10 youtube channels every science teacher needs to be aware of (part 2)