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.

Trivium Tutor Time Challenges (tutor time activities part 2)

“Trivium: Latin for “three roads” refers to the three stages of learning: grammar, dialectic and rhetoric”


The idea of ‘trivium’ first struck a cord with me after reading this blog from Tom Sherrington. In the article Tom explores the book “Trivium 21c: Preparing young people for the future with lessons from the past” by Martin Robinson.

I was not in a position to implement these ideas across a whole school however I was keen to see how I could embed the ideas of Grammar, Dialectic & Rhetoric into my teaching to raise achievement in my lessons. I was and am still also conscious it should be a skill set that is cross curricular and so as Head of Year I inserted these ideas in my tutor time, in what I named so aptly tutor time challenges.

The vision of these challenges that I have sold to tutors and the year group is that – this is your chance to learn stuff that isn’t always on the curriculum but could win you a fair amount on a quiz show like ‘who wants to be a millionaire. Of course, there is so much more to it than that. I have found it is a brilliant opportunity of students to explore learning (work out which methods of learning really work for them and be able to make mistakes in a low pressure environment out side of the classroom) and to reflect on these mistakes. This links in nicely with our metacognition and self regulation whole school focus. I want tutor time to be organised, productive and worthwhile – this fits the bill nicely.

The challenges have so far initially designed by myself and have included the NATO phonetic alphabet, learning the states of America and capitals of Europe. Topics are also being designed by tutors in their fields of expertise such as PE (Olympic based), History (Kings and Queens)   A period of learning time is given to students in groups and after which they are quizzed on the topic. I then asked tutors to mark the quizzes and I hand out little prizes for the winning group in each tutor group.

So far different students have won, as the expertise can come from anywhere. Some tutors have told me how suddenly some students have really come out of their shell when studying certain topics and others have shone as it is linked to a passion or experience out side of school (Phonetic alphabet for those that go to cadets for instance).

So you may ask how is this linked to Trivium?


  • Tutor group challenges – using Trivium ideas
    • Grammar –> Knowledge –> Teacher Input: The Capital Cities of Europe
    • Logic –> Understanding–>Student discussion, collaboration + learning
    • Rhetoric –> Wisdom–> Output: Application of Logic

We start with the Grammar! The Knowledge this can a be heavy tutor input to begin with however once the students have the notes they move on to the Dialectic. Dialectic, starts with the discussion of how best to learn the information. This dialectic or logic, is when students can really start to independently put ideas together. This needs to be practiced – retrieval practice; self quizzing; group quizzing to gain wisdom or rhetoric.

Today I took a tutor group for registration and went through the current challenge The Capital Cities of Europe. One student knew them all, he printed off a list at home and read and quizzed himself on them. I could not have been more impressed.

See some examples of what I have created so far and use them yourself – including quiz sheets  (downloadable from TES)

Learn the NATO phonetic alphabet

Learn the United States States

Learn the European capital cities

See other ideas to do in tutor time here

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


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