Tag Archives: priorygeography

End of an era, dawn of something new

August 31st marks the official end of an era for @priorygeography as our once illustrious leader David Rogers has headed off to Patcham High for new adventures and I take over from him. Big shoes to fill, big footprints left to either follow or forget.

I started at Priory as a naive, ‘pink and fluffy’, fairly clueless NQT in 2008. Now, 5 years later, I have just seen my first tutor group successfully complete their GCSEs and leave the nest…and I am sure others’ will testify that I am still fairly clueless, generally pink and fluffy, but maybe a little less naive! It’s been an absolute privilege working with David and the team he has carved out over the years. It’s been a mission as well, but such an amazing learning curve. Two months into my NQT I thought I would be out of there as soon as I passed, that I wasn’t good enough or up to the challenge of what the kids needed. But I’ve never regretted the decision to join, nor the decision to stay so long. There seems to be an unspoken assumption that as soon as a teacher hits the three year marker they should be a head of department. When I attended conferences/CPD, especially being in the shadow of Mr R, I would get questions about why I wasn’t stepping out on my own, as if it was a sign of weakness or inability. Truth is, I just enjoyed being where I was. I loved the team I was in and that is something that is hard to find. We had adventures, played pranks, challenged ourselves, did crazy stuff like chalk graffiti over the school walls, and we were on a mission to improve the department and give learners a better experience. Why move when you can be part of something special?

It’s been a hard but epic few years, and with happy endings. I’m proud of the department and of whatever small part I played in helping to build it, and hope that we can continue to build on this and go from strength to strength while I am at the reins. Luckily I have the immense foundation of Sam Atkins to work with in the next year – though I know it won’t be long before he’s looking to lead his own department.

2013_14 is going to be an interesting challenge. We have a new member of the department fresh over from Canada who will keep us youthful and on our toes I’m sure. GCSE and KS3 changes to consider. There are the usual stresses of improving achievement and results, especially while the whole school goes through turbulent times. I was happy to see our Geography results improve nicely again this summer, with some notable success stories, and we need to build on this. We hope to reacquire the GA SGQM this year, and have been asked to take part in the Global Learning Programme as a leading department. We are also working on the Prince’s Teaching Institute quality mark and I’ve been asked to be a subject leader for this inspiring programme which is exciting. There is the Teaching, Learning and Assessment Conference at Berkhamsted to look forward to (will figure out something to talk about one day hopefully!) in March – see #tlab14 and lanyrd for more info. I’m hoping to get more involved in the Geography Collective and we will be continuing to work with other schools and local teachmeets as well, starting with #tmpompey on 17th September. Sign up here!

I’ll be honest. I’m dead nervous about the next year. It’s a scary thing to keep the momentum on a department that has been so much in the headlights and on such an improving curve. Stepping into those footsteps is a little overwhelming, but I am reminded that those shoes are just shoes, that path just one way of many. I don’t want to be the leader that sees the department I love and helped build slip into decline, but I’m confident we’ll battle through. I’m sad to see the team change, but excited for the new beginnings. I’d better say official congratulations and good luck to the old boss as well 😉

In case you fancy something cheesy, here’s our goodbye video celebrating five years of fun. Thanks for the journey, it’s been intense! Now let’s find the next path.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” (Semisonic, ‘Closing Time’)

Prince’s Teaching Institute – Mobile Device presentation

Prince's Teaching InstituteI’ve just completed the three day Prince’s Teaching Institute (PTI) residential subject Summer School at Homerton College in Cambridge. My mind is buzzing with the whole process and I shall spend the weekend writing pieces to reflect on it all. In the meantime, below is the presentation slides for a talk I was asked to give. It draws heavily on other similar presentations from David Rogers or both of us and was just to summarise the mobile@priory policy, the use of mobiles/technology/BYOD in learning, and to share some example activities. I’ve just added the presentation so that it is accessible to those who were there really, but if you want more information on any of the example activities shown in the slides then get in touch, or see my post on the Bett presentation here .

Cogito ergo sum (Descartes)

Education Innovation Awards Nomination

This week was half term, so a relatively quiet week. But @priorygeography had some good news.

I’ve mentioned the Mobile@Priory project before and it was the inspirational project led by my head of department David Rogers that we pioneered through the Geography department. You can read more about the project on this site or his, or feel free to email / tweet any queries to either of us. The basic premise was the use of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to enable students freedom to learn anywhere, anytime and create a culture of safer and more productive use of online learning and mobile devices.

Excitingly, we found out this week that the project has been shortlisted for an Education Innovation Award . On 8-9th March the Education Innovation Conference & Exhibition takes place in Manchester – see http://educationinnovation.co.uk/cms/ for more details. The mobile@priory project was nominated and has now been shortlisted for the Secondary Schools ‘Innovate my School’ category. At the exhibition,there will be a showcase of those nominated projects and a winner will be chosen – so watch this space for an update after the event!

The project was a team effort that saw the department trial mobile device use first in our own lessons, then spread the word through inset and staff training workshops to encourage other subject areas to take place. It led to the creation of the mobile@priory cookbook which is freely available to others to trial and learn from some of the projects that took place at the beginning.

It is great to see the department, and especially the boss, getting some recognition for all the hard work. We may occasionally ruffle a few feathers in school, and have a little reputation for being trouble makers, but it is all with the best interests of students at heart. So it’s good to know that this project may not just have an influence for good on our own school, but students in a wider context. After all, that’s kind of why we’re here.


“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, then it’s not worth a dime.” Babe Ruth

E-safety week

I struggled with thinking what to write about today. The week that just ended was hard and emotional, with various times of me questioning everything I do and whether I am any good as a teacher. So I didn’t really feel like I could talk about anything inspirational or feel like I have something to share that I’ve tried. Instead this is more of a collection of bits I’ve stumbled upon from others.

Last week was Internet Safety Week 2013, led by www.saferinternet.org.uk . E-safety learning should be integral to all subject areas not just the domain of IT lessons, e.g. in @priorygeography lessons we introduce students to safe practise in the use of personal information and images when producing videos or writing on our trips blogs, or via BBC School Report work. We frequently refer to safety protocols and remind students of the mobile@priory policy. safer internet day

Even simple messages on school desktops like ours (image) could be useful, just little reminders along the way.

Below are some links that might be useful to anyone wanting to find out more about e-safety and where to find resources for embedding into teaching.

1)      http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/ – The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre website with useful tips and tools for parents/guardians and professionals. There are resources available for teachers to aid delivery of e-safety topics.

2)      http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/ – With tips, resources and guidelines. Also well worth following @UK_SIC on twitter for the latest developments and links to websites / video.

3)      http://daviderogers.blogspot.co.uk – Explore David Rogers’ blog for the mobile@priory story, the cookbook & draft policy. Useful for anyone wanting to set up using devices in school.

4)      http://www.olliebray.com/ – Two great posts on Internet Safety Day featuring video links on cyber-bullying and child safety.

5)      YouTube E-Safety (Primary) & YouTube E-Safety (Secondary)  – E-safety videos for primary & secondary schools.

So there we go. Hope some of those are useful. For myself, this next week I need to pick myself up and get back on it. But I came across the quote below that has inspired me a little. It’s always hard coming back to reality from something big and exciting and other worldly like Bett, hearing about great stories from elsewhere and then feeling overwhelmed at not being able to change the world in your own backyard as quickly as you’d like. I’m someone that struggles with patience, and I don’t like doing half jobs. So it’s hard to prioritise and to see the wood for the trees sometimes. But ‘you need a certain amount of dark in order to see the stars’.