Do you own your own learning & CPD? – the rise of ‘Guerrilla CPD’! @ottleyoconnor

In my 30th year as a teacher, 25th as SLT & 13th as a head teacher, #pedagoohampshire16 will be my first Pedagoo or Teachmeet type CPD.  Although I’ve previously considered participating in this type of event, it took @MartynReah & the #teacher5aday team to push encourage me to engage.


Over the years, I’ve attended countless school based meetings and CPD events; however, I’m scratching my head to remember more than a handful of sessions that really impacted upon my development.  The standard ‘one-size fits all’ approach to CPD is dead…or at least it should be!

I’ve recently come to the realisation that I’m evolving from supporting & perpetuating a ‘spoon-fed’ culture of CPD for the masses to one of ‘Guerrilla CPD’!  If you like, a self-led approach to CPD, often sourced & performed in an impromptu/informal way to really meet the bespoke needs of individuals.

As a head, I thought that I ensured all staff accessed relevant & engaging CPD, until I realised the arrogance of that viewpoint.  I might as well have said to staff, ‘I know what’s best for you & you’’ll take your medicine whether you want to or not!’   Although some whole school CPD (e.g. safeguarding) is essential, it shouldn’t be the dominant approach.

Last week I was privileged to speak at the 3Es Conference @ISHCMC in Vietnam.  Teachers & leaders from SE Asia & Australia came together for CPD to ‘Enthuse, Engage & Empower’ each other.  The 250+ delegates, who approached their own learning with the same gusto & passion that they have to enthuse, engage & empower their students, enjoyed bespoke CPD owned, directed and delivered by participants.  It provided a powerful & multi-faceted blend of ‘Inspire Talks’ & workshops dovetailed with networking & reflection opportunities.  Although the brainchild of Head of School Adrian Watts, a team of talented leaders including @Shettattsam @HelenPhilip & @Suzanne20433725 coordinated an inspirational ‘Google-esque’ participant owned CPD event.

So…without realising, I appear to have migrated from much of my early traditional style formal learning through M.Ed. & NPQH towards the experiential style of SSAT Aspirant, New, Experienced & Executive Head teacher qualifications, to what is now a much more flexible & collaborative bite-sized approach to my own CPD.

My own CPD is now blend of:

  1. Facilitating sessions & programmes for quality organisations such as @FutureLeadersCT & @TeachingLeaders;
  2. ‘Sharing the love’:
    1. by engaging & collaborating with powerful personal learning networks on Twitter such as #SLTchat #UKGovchat #teacher5aday (including its many spin-offs), etc.
    2. by coaching & mentoring many aspirant, new & experienced middle leaders, senior leaders & head teachers
    3. by engaging with online educational research & blogs
    4. …and apparently now dipping my toe into a Pedagoo!

As a head I now try to model learning behaviours to inspire & empower staff to seek the most impactful training opportunities for their own development.  One person’s ideal format for CPD might be another’s nightmare!

Leaders should stop ‘doing’ CPD to staff!  Instead we should establish & communicate a strong values driven vision with clear priorities and then genuinely aspire to enthuse, engage and empower staff to seek the best way to make a difference for learners.  Instead of accepting the spoon-fed diet of a dated ‘one-size fits all’ model, the expectation should be that staff take ownership of their own CPD.

Although my view is still evolving, I believe that the competencies & characteristics demonstrated by a colleague who owns their CPD should be:

Has a values based vision:

  • Has passionate conviction
  • Enjoys personal challenge

Prioritises own learning:

  • Is a strategic thinker
  • Keeps focus
  • Drives self-improvement

Perseveres & is resilient:

  • Seeks disruptive innovation
  • Learns from mistakes
  • Prioritises wellbeing

Has a simple approach of Plan – Do – Review – Repeat:

  • Is analytical & a critical thinker
  • Uses initiative
  • Is a team player
  • Develops own potential

Gathers information & gains understanding:

  • Seeks new learning opportunities
  • Asks questions
  • Makes sense of knowledge
  • Collaborates & shares

Finally, whilst leading an academy out of Special Measures last year (in category for over two years), the HMI wrote in his report,

Curriculum leaders told me that you have ‘liberated’ & ‘freed them’ to lead .” 

One leader wrote in a leaving card,

“…you are an empowerer & enabler of people to become their wild, courageous, brilliant selves and I thank you for that.”

I like these reflections of my leadership approach to CPD!

I’m optimistic about what I’ll take from #pedagoohampshire16 and hope that it will continue to shape my approach to my own CPD.

I’ve just started as the Interim Principal at Essa Academy, so I hope that the staff will hold me to account for this approach and help create to a bespoke staff-owned culture of CPD!


Patrick Ottley-O’Connor

Founding Director: Collaborative Leadership ltd

Going WALKIES: The Micro-Moments of Supportive School Relationships @SueRoffey

In every institution there are different kinds of capital and varying levels of each. Physical capital is the hardware. In schools this would be the buildings, books and equipment. Human capital is the knowledge and skills that exist within people. A successful organisation needs diverse human capital – from subject expertise to policy awareness to how the white board works. Different people know different things but all are important.


Social capital has several definitions but here it refers to the quality of relationships between people. It is where culture lies and is equally important to a thriving school. Low levels of social capital create toxic environments. Ask teachers what a toxic environment means for them and this is what they say: cliques, bad-mouthing and back-stabbing, favouritism, gossip, verbal and non-verbal put-downs, lack of support, low empathy, judgment, rule-bound conversations, inappropriate use of power, bullying and marginalisation. When asked what a toxic environment makes them feel they say unvalued, anxious, isolated, depressed, enervated, demotivated and sick – the opposite of wellbeing.

Schools are ecologies so what happens in one part of the school impacts on what happens elsewhere. A warm and supportive staffroom reduces stress and promotes more positive teacher-pupil interactions. And strong student-teacher relationships are the key to effective learning and positive behaviour. It is a wise leader that pays attention to relational quality in their school.

So how do we develop high social capital? I have written much about the ASPIRE principles (agency, safety, positivity, inclusion, respect and equality) so this time I am having a go at another acronym for the things that you can do in the micro-moments to grow a culture of wellbeing in your school. Let’s go for the WALKIES! 


W: Welcome: A sense of belonging is a critical component of wellbeing and resilience – so make people feel their presence matters. Just say hi, good morning, how’s it going? Learn people’s names and use them. This is particularly vital now with new staff arriving. How people begin and end their time in your school gives messages about the way people are valued.

A: Acknowledgement: Just a very simple “I noticed that …” makes a difference. It stops people feeling their efforts are taken for granted. Gratitude makes a difference in a school – just saying thank you to a colleague, a pupil or the person who cleans your classroom. It also means that you have noticed when they’re a bit down and perhaps need some extra support.

L: Listen. Time-poor teachers find it hard to listen, but giving all your attention for 20 seconds may be enough to make someone feel heard rather than dismissed. Listening is more than eye-contact: try asking a question to clarify understanding and perhaps not interrupting with something on your own agenda!

K: Kindness. Random acts of kindness are as beneficial for the giver as the receiver. One school I know had a Kindness Board in the staffroom where people acknowledged what others did for them. A kind word is as easy to say as a sharp one and takes no more time. Develop a culture of sharing to reduce workload for each other.

I: Invitation: Make space for others to join in a conversation, ask for their opinion. Occasional whole staff social functions – that sometimes include friends and families – enable people get to know each other outside their specific role. This can leads to broader conversations and greater collaboration.

E: Enthusiasm. When someone has achieved something, give them the credit with genuine warmth. Active constructive responding has been shown to be one of the major factors of a successful marital relationship – surely we can do this for each other.

S: Smile – even if not reciprocated it will make you feel better. Neuropsychology tells us that we don’t only smile when we feel good, the very act can cheer us up.

And Silence. There are times when we need to bite our lip and not say what it on the tip of our tongue. As a general rule ask yourself ‘will it help’ before you put it into words. If it won’t then don’t say it! You can read more about the micro-moments of silence on this linked in blog.

So as this school year begins raise awareness about social capital and what this means in practice for your wellbeing, your colleagues and your kids.

the development of #teacher5aday

It seems a long time since December 2014 and waiting for my turn to talk at the SSAT Teachmeet in Manchester about an idea I had about launching the #teacher5aday hashtag. The original inspiration had come from a presentation I had co-delivered with Tania Harding at TLT14, as a last minute replacement for Mark Healey.


Mark’s presentation, which was based in part on the New Economics Foundation report the “Five Ways to Well-being” (2008) written by Sam Thompson, Jody Aked, Nic Marks and Corrina Cordoniof (, had made quite an impression on me . Probably on reflection, it was one of the most inspirational things I had listened to in a career spanning two decades. It provided me with a positive way to continue the debate about teacher well-being and the positive impact it can have on student outcomes after I had experienced the most negative part of my career to date.

As time has gone by it seems like I am not the only one that had been inspired by Mark’s words .

Fast forward twenty months and #teacher5aday has developed quite considerably.

There have been a number of offshoots in a Damon and Debbie / Brookside style which have been led expertly by a number of amazing practitioners. This is the greatest strength of the community that has developed in my opinion. Teachers have found a way to help each other. People who work in the classroom and understand the daily pressures have shared their views, feelings and opinions and offered their unconditional support.

As September draws near it seems like a good time to reflect on what has happened this year and to think about what might happen next year. A trusted colleague asked me recently how many hashtags had developed since the original #teacher5aday idea was launched. This took me some time to think about and I’ve probably missed out a few but the list below is now quite extensive.

Ideas that run throughout the year (mostly prefixed with #teacher5aday)


#teacher5adayBreakfast @MissVicki_V

HealthyEating @IamMariaAlex @andrew_cowley23

Grow @kohlmand

Write @fabenglishteach @Top_kat1 @rondelle10_b

 Star of the week @MarieP_edu


Sketch @JennaLucas81

Run – @martynreah

5kchallenge – @martynreah

Cook – @andrew_cowley23

SlowChat – a variety of contributors

Read -@LizBPattison @SaysMiss

Retreat – @martynreah

Buddybox -@MrsHumanities

Photo – @Mr_Patel100

Detox – @JosephBaldwin

Student5aday – @JennaLucas81

Monthly Specials

September – September Salubrity – @tinamurray

OutRunSeptember – MacMillan Campaign

October –PE -@MrMcloughlin_PE

November – digital skill share – @MrsHumanities

December – Calendar – @Tim_jumpclarke

January – Pledge – various

February – FitFeb – @MrMcloughlin_PE  @KAB21MAC  @bec_skar

March – MFLmarch – felizzz7

April – Stress Awareness Month – @martynreah

May – OutRunMay – MacMillan Campaign

June – 30DaysWild – The Wildlife Trusts

July – 21daysJuly – @rondelle10_b

August – AugustUnwind – @Vivgrant

The idea isn’t that everyone should do every aspect of the ideas listed above. I was taught the phrase FOMO (frightened of missing out) last term (by a younger colleague), not something that I had been aware, but something I now understand is a concern for others. Instead of thinking that everyone will do everything I hope that people choose to dip in and out of the ideas as and when it is important to them. What I do hope has happened is that there has been an awareness raising of the importance of teacher well-being. That everyone will consider their #teacher5aday every day and not just at weekends or holidays.

The original idea from the NEF report helped people write their original #teacher5aday pledges. Rather than suffering from FOMO I hope teachers choose to consider their #teacher5aday and #connect, #learn, #notice, #exercise and #volunteer when it is right for them.

If you would like to get started and think about how to improve your well-being this might help .

To get some ideas from other teachers working in the classroom day in day out take a look here .

All ideas are welcome so please get in touch if you would like to develop a monthly special or another idea related to #teacher5aday. I’m still practising my ongoing professional learning target of non defensive reactions to feedback.

Healthy regards,


#teacher5aday #run #OutRunSeptember 

See below for the blog I wrote on staffrm about #OutRunMay.

The ideas are the same for #OutRunSeptember.

Hope you can join in next month🙂 

#teacher5adayRun in May?

Last year I braved the shave for MacMillan. A very enjoyable whole school assembly where I was joined on stage by four colleagues and experienced my most public haircut to date.

Ten minutes later we had raised £2500 pounds and the roof, much to the amusement of the students, but less so our HT. As part of the MacMillan family I now receive emails about their upcoming events and have often wondered since last July how our exploits from last year could be bettered. 

We have a house system at our school and last year the staff were invited to take part in OFSPREAD in January to avoid the New Year blues and poke fun at our friends in suits if they decided to make a visit. Miles were logged in our house teams as we ran, cycled and walked our way to a positive start to the year. The results of our daily activity were posted in reception much to the amusement of the students and as the month past we focused less on self evaluations of progress and more on our collective reducing waistlines and the smiles on our faces.

In May this year Macmillan have set their #OutRunMay challenge . One month, one goal and one amazing way to change the lives of people affected by cancer. The idea involves setting yourself a mileage target and then pushing yourself for 31 days to achieve it – one run at a time. I’m sure after watching the London Marathon tomorrow lots of people will be inspired to apply next year.

My question is why wait to pull on your trainers?

I hope lots of you will join in with #OutRunMay and #volunteer and #exercise in May. Why not take an assembly and invite all of the school to get involved? Set some PE hwk for a change? Make it into a house competition and forget about subordinate clauses and spelling tests for a while.

I’m hoping this #teacher5aday inspired event will lead to a few more #connections and I guarantee you will be amazed what you #notice when you are out and about.  Lots to #learn as well about what you are capable of if you set your mind to it.

#teacher5aday #retreat 

Fancy a weekend in Devon 2-4.12.16 or the Surrey Hills 17-19.2.17 for £75 including some CPD with a difference?

Join me and a few #teacher5aday buddies for a relaxing break where you can reflect on your own #teacher5aday with the intention to go back to school refreshed, rejuvenated and re-energised.

A CPD event with a difference the #teacher5aday #retreat will be delivered by (current practising) teachers for teachers and based on the original principles of #teacher5day including the main idea that teacher and student well-being are different sides of the same coin .

Time to readdress the balance?

Based at the field study centre in Slapton Ley  (Devon) and Juniper Hall in the Surrey Hills we will meet on Friday evening for a “social get together” and an introduction to the weekend. Saturday (all day) and Sunday (morning) sessions will be based around the five areas of #teacher5aday –

  • #connect
  • #learn
  • #notice
  • #exercise
  • #volunteer

and will also include time for personal reflection.

Optional running sessions will be available on Saturday and Sunday mornings and a walk around Slapton Ley  (Devon) or up Box Hill (Surrey) will take place on Sunday morning so don’t forget your trainers and walking boots if that’s you thing.

Thanks to the very generous support of the field centres the inaugural #teacher5aday #retreats will cost £75 and will include all meals, bed linen and towels.

Meals included –

Friday:                  Supper

Saturday:             Breakfast, Packed lunch and Supper

Sunday:                Breakfast and packed lunch

Places are limited so ticketing information will be released soon via Eventbrite.

The nearest train station is at Totnes for our Devon venue at Slapney and pick-ups will be organised for those interested. Boxhill and West Humble is the nearest station to Juniper Hall in Surrey which is a mile away from the venue.

Hopefully see you in December and / or February.


Time Out or Time in – Heather Lucas @HLucas8

I will be attending, presenting and (most importantly) conversing at PedagooHampshire2016. My presentation is called Time Out or Time In? which looks at the difference between behavioural and relational discipline and why it matters to teachers.


Last year I had little idea of what to expect when I volunteered to attend and to speak. I’m not a teacher or a particularly experienced speaker as yet (I am a Learning Mentor and Parent Support person who has put herself through a Psychology degree and is a magpie for information relevant to social, emotional and behavioural support in school settings), but I’m so glad I went for it as I found a very enthusiastic, inspired and varied group of presenters and attendees. This year I am proud to be listed amongst so many who have continued to inspire me throughout the year on Twitter and #teacher5aday.

Those who know me know that I can never be given too much time to talk about my topic but the exciting focus of a Pedagoo is the development of a conversation. Even though this is a little harder to plan for (what direction will it take?) I am excited about the possibility of developing thinking that is relevant to you and your specific contexts (and if we need more time please invite me to your school). No two contexts are the same and can also change moment to moment, therefore knowledge increases in worth when it is practically applied. I’ll set the scene with some research based approaches and we will develop the ideas together in conversation. The rest is up to you and – as Vivienne Porritt eloquently highlighted last year – it’s only CPD if we do something with it.

So, in brief, what are the differences between behavioural and relational approaches to discipline (I had an article published in TES back in March if you keep back copies)? Most school behaviour policies are built on a ‘behavioural’ model of ‘choices and consequences’ which place the child as a lone actor (you make the choice, you take the consequence, eg. ‘time out’), despite the fact that research indicates that this is essentially out-dated and has an important but limited effect, (I will explain why). Relational discipline however places the child in the context of the relationship and it is the relationship that is the vehicle for the teaching of a different and generally more useful type of discipline (involving collaborative solutions or ‘time in’).  I’ll give you some of the basics about the differences between the two approaches, which part of the brain is activated in each case and the relevance of this, I’ll touch on some important considerations which are likely to confirm but hopefully also challenge your thinking and I’ll have some practical tips and further resources.

Warning: this presentation is not a quick fix for behaviour management. Like all things worthwhile time, effort and outcomes are always related and we can also only skim the topic in the time available. As teachers however you benefit from the reduced stress and increased outcomes (academic and otherwise) found by always increasing your knowledge and combining it with your existing skills and individuality. With behaviour –  it is self-awareness that is the first step, followed by connecting to the child in that particular moment and then using what you know and who you are to make a difference to benefit you both. It’s a process that can be improved every time.

Please bring an open and curious mind. I am looking forward to meeting you.

You can also Tweet me: @HLucas8

Rocket Boy @campbestival – my weekend of fun and STEArtM activites (@st3amco)

What was obvious after spending the weekend as part of the STEAM Co (@st3amco) crew at Camp Bestival (@campbestival) was that creativity is definitely not dead.

My first question to Nick Corston, the driving force behind STEAM Co ( was , “why spell STEM with an A”?

What become obvious over the course of the next three days was that he is very keen to spread Seth Godin’s message that, “Art is what we call it when what we do might connect people”, something that fits perfectly with the philosophy behind #teacher5aday. This simple modification of traditional STEM based activities allows creative arts an opportunity to contribute. Something in my opinion the government should make a note of.

So what did we do?

We provided the opportunity for children and their parents to create and fire rockets and presented a stage show inspired by ‘Rocket Boys’ written by Homer Hickam.

And it was awesome fun.

A three step guide including a piece of paper and some tape were the resources required to create a rocket. The special ingredient was watching parents and their children working and learning together. Conversations flowed from all concerned about drag, friction, PSI, fins and nose cones. We also laughed and enjoyed each other’s company, celebrating achievements and really learning from our failures. A collection of children and their parents came back every day to build a rocket. Lots modified their designs to make their rockets go higher. Everyone really enjoyed watching the rockets fly.

Nick would like to see the types of activities we provided at Camp Bestival available in all areas of the country. What is different about this project in my opinion is that it is about mobilising the community to lead STEAM Co days. To work in partnership with parents and businesses to provide an adrenaline shot of creativity. A day where thinking and doing activities across the spectrum of STEAM skills engage and excite the students about their possible careers and the opportunities that lay ahead of them.

What Nick is keen to do is create a STEAM Co network. A team of like-minded parents, schools, creatives and local businesses to help roll out the idea across the UK. Building and firing rockets will be part of my curriculum now as my daughters want their own launch pad in our back garden. Could it be part of yours, “because it takes a whole village to inspire a child”. Sponsorship is needed for Pop-Up STEAM Co. Day drop trucks in key locations around the UK which will contain everything you need to run a STEAM Co. Day – just add kids and carers!

Get in touch  with Nick to find out more.