Lecture Club 2.0 @eggars

Inspired by the wonderful Kat Howard (@SaysMiss) we have developed our Lecture Club at Eggar’s this year. (She had been originally been inspired by @markmcdowell and @AlwaysLearnWeb).

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This was an idea we purloined to develop our Eggar’s Experience (EE) programme https://www.eggars.net/eggarsexperience which in turn was magpied for London Challenge https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/dec/11/london-challenge-turned-poor-schools-around.

This is why I love twitter.

Professionally for 10 years I have shared a few ideas and thankfully received a lot more in return.

Martini CPD.

“Any place any time anywhere” (@leadinglearner).

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Lecture Club involves a series of inspirational speakers sharing their educational and work related stories to our student body. A chance to hear from the outside world about the power of working hard in school and where that can take you. We have had a variety of contributions so far this year, brokered in partnership with our Careers Hub and through our ever expanding Alumni. This sits in perfectly with our extra curricular offer (EE) and our Information Advice Guidance and Careers programme. National Careers week 2019 #NCW2019 got us all thinking about how we can make careers an all year round process as we get ready for #NCW2020 rather than just a one off event.

For next year instead of once every three weeks as part of the EE club night at Eggar’s we are going for a weekly lecture club. If it is good enough for fee paying schools it is good enough for us.

So we need your help.

Eggar’s is in Alton (East Hampshire). https://www.eggars.net/contactus Just over an hour from London (Waterloo) on the train. We would like to collect at least forty speakers for next year to come and share their story for an hour on a Monday, Tuesday or a Thursday next year (2.45 – 3.45pm). The broader the range of stories the better. If you are interested you can email me at mreah@eggars.hants.sch.uk or message me on twitter @martynreah.

Kat has set the standard this year. See below. Hopefully you will help us develop our offer for 2019 – 2020. (And if you are a teacher what is stopping you developing your own lecture club?).

Thanks for reading,

Martyn Reah

#volunteer #learn #connect #teacher5aday

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A Jolly Back is a Healthy Back #teacher5aday #slowchat6 day 5 Lorna Taylor @JollyBack

So, what’s musculoskeletal health and how is it related to wellbeing in schools?

As a physiotherapist it’s something I’m incredible passionate about, simply put, it’s muscle and joint health. Something incredibly important and directly liked to mental health and “wellbeing as a whole”, but a challenge to achieve when adults are working in children’s environments and often overlooked within the education sector.
I first discovered @MartynReah and his #Teacher5aday concept in 2016. One of those “YES moments” and I have been eager to help ever since. The #Teacher5aday concept is based on the “Five Ways to Wellbeing” set out by the New Economics Foundation (yes, it’s about saving money as well as morally the correct thing to do) with areas we can all related to and use to improve our own wellbeing and that of others:
1) #Connect
2) #Be Active
3) #Take Notice
4) #Keep Learning
5) #Give
I am excited to be part of the #PedagooHampshire18 and will be talking about how musculoskeletal health can contribute to your personal wellbeing and your teaching. We’ll look at practical examples, research and explain the new “Musculoskeletal Health Toolkit”, developed by Public Health England and Business in the Community. With permission I’ve been able to tailor it for the education sector. It can be taken away and used straight away but will also benefit from further input! They’ll be plenty of time for discussion and sharing ideas during the session too.

As the school holiday/work/life juggle many of us are familiar with continues, I thought I’d share a short introduction as to how I embrace the Big Five and why I fully support #teacher5aday. I hope you enjoy the read!

1. Connect
As an education-based physiotherapist I love to connect with proactive others, keen to learn more about musculoskeletal health, posture, ergonomics and the benefits it can offer children and staff. For example, how can pupils be seated to engage more fully in learning? how can a classroom be set up to limit back strain to teaching assistants? What support is available if staff are struggling with back health? What resources are available to teach children (and families) safe tech use from a healthy-posture point of view?
Changing lifestyles are affecting growing spines – 10 years ago it was rare to treat a teenager with back pain. They were seen individually on physiotherapy caseloads, now there are so many – back pain classes are set up at hospitals up and down the Country to cope with the growing demand. Children are on painkillers, missing school for appointments and when in pain, concentrating is more difficult.
For adults, it’s now recognised, there are clear links between Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs), mental illness and work loss. For example, pain often causes reduced mobility, limitation of activities and fatigue – leading to loss of confidence, fear of pain, fear of future long-term impact, further anxiety and avoidance behaviours – this chronic pain cycle is not good for anyone.
Likewise, stress often manifests itself as MSD. Physiological changes occur in the body, for example increased heart rate, tightening of muscles and increased blood pressure. At the same time, behaviour is likely to change so individuals may not think about posture or take breaks. This leads to an increased risk of injury and feeling despondent. It may be no surprise to learn that employees with MSDs are at a higher risk of stress, anxiety and depression. Equally depression is 4 times more likely for those in persistent pain (Musculoskeletal health in the workplace: a toolkit for employers, PHE 2017). When supporting improved mental health, we must consider physical/musculoskeletal health too.
As pertinent for all believers in #teacher5aday, prevention is Key, especially when considering the impact teachers have on children’s learning.
In today’s education climate where there are significant workload challenges with retention and recruitment difficulties putting further emotional and physical pressure on existing staff, often compounded by budget constraints and further staff turnover, it’s plain to see how a vicious circle can be perpetuated – all of which will have a negative impact on children’s learning and outcomes.
There has been a 30% drop in teacher applications this year (TES 2018), with the lowest teacher entry rate in 5years. Teachers are continuing to leave faster than ever, especially after 3 years and there are a soaring number of school vacancies. Primaries with atleast one vacancy went up from 6.9% in 2015 to 8.9% last year (DfE School Workforce Census 2016).
In 2015-16, 54% of teachers had at least one sick day, with the average number of sick days 7.5 days. 2.16 million teaching days were lost due to sickness absence (Schools Week, 2017).
“In a climate where recruitment is tough and academic expectations continue to rise, governors and leaders realise that they need to move funding away from ‘stickingplaster’ interventions and into sustained support and development for their most expensive assets, the teachers and other staff who work with students every day.” David Weston CEO Teacher Development Trust (Education Business 2016)
The DfE proposed looking at issues to address teacher workload with Ofsted asking a new question this year to ensure leaders and managers take workload into account. This will create a wider picture of evidence to ensure “everything is being done to ensure that the school has motivated, respected and effective teaching staff to deliver a high-quality education for all pupils” (Tackling Workload together – a new question for staff at the point of inspection, educationinsepctorblog.gov.uk 2017). I’d be really interested to see the outcome of this on the wellbeing of our tremendously hard-working workforce.
Sean Harford, Ofsted National Director of Education believes “If we work together, we can turn a corner and improve the lives of teachers and in turn the pupils they teach.”

2. Be Active
As a physiotherapist, I will always advocate for physical activity. It has so many benefits and is essential for musculoskeletal health – a strong core of muscles and flexibility really do help you cope with the physical demands of the job. I know the pressure of finding time to “fit in exercise” but it helps to think of ways activity can be incorporated into your day. And think, even if I just start with 10minutes – make it manageable, you will enjoy it and the motivation to do more will come. I often think it would be great to have a #Teacher5aday be active 5km Park Run Day when we all run wherever we are in the country on the same day to support each other 😊. For those thinking, “I’d never be fit enough to run 5km”…take a look at the Couch to 5km NHS Plan – it’s phenomenal and YES YOU CAN!! https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-week-by-week/

3. Take Notice
With the increase in awareness about the benefits of mindfulness, I think we are more able to take notice of our surroundings, embrace nature and reflect and in the words of my dear late Gran “always take the time to smell the roses”. Give yourself those moments to stop, breath and inhale, wherever you are – you deserve it and things really do seem better afterwards!

4. Keep Learning
I am an avid believer in personal development and in the development of others. Two of the most useful questions I’ve found to help are “What went well?” and “What would I do differently next time?”. I keep learning and have read several motivational business books recently as I look to expand Jolly Back into the USA. “Productivity Ninja” has been a revelation and I would be interested to know if any teachers have read it as it’s a fantastic management resource. I really have got my inbox to zero and never thought that possible!!

5. Give
And finally, to give. When working within education we all give so much as we serve others and ultimately our children. To volunteer and give time, a finite resource, is a real privilege and to work with others doing the same, really does give pleasure and momentum.

I’d urge everyone keen to improve their wellbeing and that of others to join liked-minded individuals at #PedagooHampshire on the 15th September. It really is going to be brilliant – it feels good just to think about it!
I’ll be hosting Day 5 of #SlowChat6 on Friday 31st August from 7:30am (in between going on a video making course). With that in mind, the questions I’d like to explore over the day are:
1) In what ways do you find your physical health affects your mental health and vice versa? It can be positively and/or negatively.
2) How do you feel your physical health affects your teaching?
3) What advice would you give to colleagues who are finding it difficult to start exercising?
4) Which “must read” book would you recommend to colleagues to help support wellbeing? A summer read, management, cook, craft book or anything else?
Lorna Taylor, Physiotherapist @JollyBack
http://www.jollyback.com

Travel Well, Teach Well #teacher5aday #slowchat6 day 2 @abbiemann1982

I’m fresh off the plane from a five week travelling holiday; I can honestly say I’ve had the time of my life doing exactly what makes me happy: hiking mountains and being in nature. All in all, I visited thirteen different places. My average step count per day for the past five weeks has been around 30,000 steps. I’ve hiked over sixteen mountain or lake trails. It’s fair to say I’m quite tired, especially with the jet lag looming. So, to be writing a blog when I’ve been home for just twelve hours seems somewhat bonkers. However, I agreed to write ahead of a slow chat on Twitter organised by @MartynReah some time ago and it’s illusively crept up on me.

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Martyn and I spoke recently as I pondered what to include in the blog and we came up with the idea of using my travels to explore wellbeing.

Since 2014, I have spent my summers out of the country; I’ve trekked across the southern states of America from New York to Los Angeles; travelled to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro and volunteered in the community; train hopped around Europe on a shoestring budget; taught in Zimbabwe whilst living with a host family; and this year I toured California and Canada. Travel to me is an absolute must during the summer holidays. I get to experience some truly incredible things (this year I saw black bears and humpback whales).

It also prepares me for the next academic year in many ways:

  1. I don’t think about work. If I were at home, I know I would. I am able to completely detach myself. If you’re wondering how I manage to go away for so long during the summer and not do any school work, the answer is planning. The new DfE resource ‘Ways to reduce workload in your schools(s)’ states that ‘time investment in planning is key.’ I’m lucky enough to work with a fantastic team of individuals and we were able to plan effectively before the end of the summer term.
  2. Exploring new places and meeting new people makes me a better person and therefore a better teacher, team member and leader. Adapting to new cultures promotes understanding and patience, as well as improving your social skills.
  3. It enhances my tolerance for uncertainty. It’s been wonderful to go from place to place not knowing what to expect. There is always so much change going on in education. Travelling to different places each year allows me to deal with those changes.
  4. It decreases my stress levels. After the build up of hard work throughout the academic year, a good stretch of holiday does wonders for me. I go back to school in September ready to get cracking on a new term.
  5. It makes me insanely happy! I love my job, I really do. It’s the best job in the world and I can’t wait to get started again. But I also love switching off and taking time for my favourite things: hiking, running and mountains.

I could say plenty more and I intend to blog more about my travels in due course but for now my eyelids are heavy and my bed is calling, so I’ll leave you all with some questions to mull over in preparation for my slow chat on Tuesday 28th August.

  1. Do you travel in the summer holidays?
  2. What are the benefits of travel for your personal wellbeing?
  3. Does travel benefit your role/teaching in any way?
  4. If you don’t travel, what do you do to switch off in the summer holidays?
  5. How does it contribute to your personal wellbeing?
  6. Does it contribute to your role/teaching in any way?

Enjoy the rest of your summer break and I hope you can join me for some slow chat on Tuesday.

Abbie

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#livewellteachwell #teacher5aday

#teacher5aday is 2

As part of the next steps for #teacher5aday and the 2nd birthday celebrations I have decided to take the step to move onto YouTube. Running up to the 2017 and the third year of January themed #teacher5aday pledges I thought it would be interesting to try a different way to get the well-being message into more classrooms.

 

2t5adyThe idea involves teachers sharing a 5 minute video with hints and tips on how to improve well-being. A simple and broad brief.

I’m still of the opinion that happy teachers will lead to improved outcomes for students and I hope that as the channel develops the ideas behind the ” Reducing Teachers’ Workload” document

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reducing-teachers-workload/reducing-teachers-workload

and will to include practical ideas shared by teachers for teachers. Ideas to develop the effective use of data in the classroom, real marking strategies (that are meaningful, manageable and meaningful) and ideas to streamline planning  which will hopefully go hand in hand with teachers talking about how they use #teacher5aday to think of themselves first, even if it is just for a few more minutes a day.

To find out more Vicki Vincent @MissVicki_V has kindly created the first #teacher5aday vlog which explains things in a little more detail.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtMKKKxktzjrBXGk_diRXmQ

So far we have 65 #volunteers who are in the process of creating their vlogs to share in January. If you would like to join them and have an idea you would like to share please get in touch (@martynreah).

As we approach the end of our second year can I thank everyone who has been involved in sharing the ideas behind #teacher5day which has now been viewed on my blog over 35,000 times. Hopefully inspired by the new YouTube channel and the teachers who have shared their pledges in 2015 and 2016 I hope I will be reading more pledges in the New Year about how you intend to look after yourself in what is an extremely rewarding and challenging vocation.

2016 pledges

http://wp.me/p4VbxY-dc

2015 pledges

http://wp.me/p4VbxY-7x

 

 

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.

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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

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.

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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 (http://www.fivewaystowellbeing.org/), 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 http://audioboom.com/boos/2575736-teacher-well-being-stress .

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)

e.g.

#teacher5adayBreakfast @MissVicki_V

HealthyEating @IamMariaAlex @andrew_cowley23

Grow @kohlmand

Write @fabenglishteach @Top_kat1 @rondelle10_b

 Star of the week @MarieP_edu

Sew @KAB21MAC

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 http://wp.me/p4VbxY-76 .

To get some ideas from other teachers working in the classroom day in day out take a look here http://wp.me/p4VbxY-dc .

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,

Martyn

Handwriting: My bad reputation! – by Patrick Ottley-O’Connor @ottleyoconnor

The recent appointment of a new Literacy Team of leaders gave me the opportunity to re-visit some of the issues & demons related to my own handwriting and experience of literacy learning during my primary years.

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I was prompted to write this my second blog as a result of reading this recent blog by @jeanetteww
https://devoil.wordpress.com/2016/02/13/why-writing-standards-are-wrong

I was also prompted to blog (again) by @MartynReah @rondelle10_b #teacher5aday29dayswriting & colleagues driving the #teacher5aday movement.

A renewed focus on literacy at the academy resulted in discussions with colleagues about handwriting & presentation that were wide ranging, in-depth and often passionate. A main theme discussed was the balance between appearance (neatness, legibility, style) vs the content (quality, accuracy, subject knowledge), as well as students writing the expected amount at a sufficient pace.

This led to discussions about the most basic need of any reader ie that s/he is able to at least read the writing. In short, we agreed that teachers need to be able to read their students’ writing & the students’ need to be able to read their teachers’ writing.

As a child, I was always a happy, positive, caring and well behaved boy; however, I had a bad reputation at primary school for my handwriting! All I knew about my work at primary school was that I was judged by the appearance of my handwriting. As a child, technology for handwriting did not exist, unless you count the hi-tech ‘etch-a-sketch’! Word processing, tablets, typing, voice recognition, etc were not an alternative option to replace the use of a pen and paper in the late 1960s- early 1970s. 

As an adult, the thought of using my writing to express my creativity and personality, as a part of my identity, or experiencing the joy of giving/receiving a handwritten letter simply drags up painful memories of my early writing experience. My ‘blogaphobia’  resulted in me taking over 5 months to write a first blog & is a hang-up from my nightmarish handwriting infancy! 

I’ve never found writing things down very easy. It will be no surprise to those who know me that I always contributed to class discussions; however, I slowed right down when I had to write. At school, my teachers could choose to have me write at speed or they could have me write neatly, but not both together. In my primary experience, good handwriting and a culture of caring for work only existed for my ‘clever’ friends and in my experience most girls in my class!

I have many memories of writing trauma, but offer the following two examples to highlight my childhood plight.

Mini pat 2

During year 4 (called J2 41 years ago) I wrote a piece of poetry about the building of the new Humber Bridge. It was decided that it would was good enough to have pride of place on the wall at the front of the classroom. I proudly showed my mum the displayed piece of work when she visited the classroom on parents evening. She smiled & said that she loved it. I remember that she had tears in her eyes. As a result, I also remember it as the first time I’d ever felt really proud of a piece of my written work. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when recounting this story that my mum disclosed that the reason that she had fought back the tears was because my poem had been rewritten by a girl in my class as my handwriting was deemed too scruffy. At the time I thought that this was a normal thing for someone to do!

As a y6 I watched all of my classmates move on from writing with a pencil to being presented with a pen in the special Friday afternoon ceremonies. This meant that they had graduated to adult (or at least secondary ready) writing. As the weeks rolled by, all of my friends made the grade until the Easter break when everyone had made it…everyone apart from me! 

Eventually, two weeks before we left for big school, I was presented with my pen. I didn’t get the ceremony & I was told that I needed a pen to practice before I left school.

Fortunately, my friend’s mum (a teacher) spent time with me in the summer holidays to teach me some basic joined up writing skills with my pen before I embarked on my secondary school adventure. However, I had already been placed in the bottom stream (class 12/13) due to my low ability! Inflexible secondary streaming will probably be the focus of another cathartic blog.

These issues ultimately fuelled my strong moral purpose and drive to challenge inequality and support all learners to achieve their potential. 

I subscribe to the @FutureLeaders mantra of #highexpectations #noexcuses #noexceptions and strive to ensure that no child is left behind.  I champion all aspects of literacy to ensure that learners who have fallen behind are quickly identified and targeted to catch up & keep up at the earliest opportunity. 

I still struggle to write and often quip that my typing is much neater than my writing. I do try to model quick & neat writing with students, but still avoid it, or at least concentrate to do it correctly! 

Thankfully, we now have some great technologies to help make my writing more legible & allow me to write at greater speed. 

 

Patrick Ottley-O’Connor

Collaborative Leadership Ltd

Twitter: @ottleyoconnor