Two Great Days at the Office

It has been a great couple of days – days where you remember why you love being a leader of teacher professional development.

Yesterday was our professional learning day. I call it that, others hear me call it that, but they still call it ‘inset’. Oh, well. I can’t have it all my own way. I and my  great team of lead teachers decided early on that we wanted the focus for the day to be subject knowledge: what we teach, and how we teach it. That should be no revolution, but the truth is that, in common with much of the country (as testified by repeated Ofsted reports on PD) subject knowledge development has probably been our weak link in the chain. So, without quite knowing how it would turn out, we decided on a three-part structure to the day:

Teach Meet – where volunteers would share a teaching strategy that was working for them.

Masterclass – where heads of subject were given an hour to deliver some pure knowledge from their subject to their teams, followed by ways of applying it to their lessons.

Faculty Development Time – in which faculty teams worked on an element of their development plan, and focused on standardisation activities.

Though I blush to admit it, I have never attended a teach meet. I have pretended to be at several (through what I call ‘invader tweeting’), and I have close colleagues who have made it their habit to go. So, with blindfold on, we put ours together. We issued minimal instructions to would-be presenters. They had three minutes and one slide in which to be enlightening and entertaining. Sixteen colleagues stepped forward, with only minor cajoling. the-great-chace-teach-meet


Lead Teacher, Louise Legg, talking about clever ways of interleaving the curriculum.


IOE Student Teacher, Jordan Bonner, shows how he uses Kahoot to inspire his A Level Sociologists.

No hour of professional development at our school has been as well received. The school buzzed all day yesterday, and the shine did not even tarnish today (when the students returned).

The Masterclasses which followed were just as good, with the only regret that we could only attend our own. Every subject lead was told that they had to put together a high quality ‘lesson’ for their own colleagues. The topic was of their own choosing; they could lecture, or they could attempt something more interactive; it could – but it did not have to be – related to a scheme of learning. My history head regaled us with stories of historic Whitechapel. Drama teachers worked on key language. English spent an hour on biblical allusions. The PE department fired shuttlecocks at balloons suspended from a high jump bar.


It’s easy to enjoy your professional learning when there are no kids about; it’s what happens the next day that really matters. Several colleagues made a point of telling me what they were doing today that they had learned yesterday. This is the moment when a piece of professional learning starts to become professional development, and it’s great to witness it in colleagues who have been with us one week (new trainees) as well as others who have been in the job a lifetime.

My Day Two was every bit as uplifting as Day One. This was my diary entry for Thursday 26 January:

Lesson 1: peer observation of a History colleague. She is a much-loved senior colleague but, after many years, this is the first time I had actually observed her. I wish I had earlier!

Lesson 2: meeting of the lead teacher team: reflecting on the inset day, planning for the afternoon’s NQT induction.

Break Duty: in the freezing queue to the diner.

Lesson Three: interviewing Katie Wood for the post of Head of Graphics. Katie was an NQT only last year (self-proclaimed the youngest in the country), so it was an especial pleasure to confer this position on her. Read her blog if in any doubt about how good she is.

Lesson Four: teaching my Year 7s about the Domesday Book, while being observed by three visitors on the School Experience Programme. (The SEP, which allows proto-candidates for ITE programmes to spend some time in school, has harvested many trainees for us.) Being science and maths candidates, they were happily wowed by my lesson.

Lunch: I did no work.

Lesson Five: teaching my Year 11s about the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike.

Lesson Six: on-call, escorting reluctant learners into spaces where they could allow others to get on with learning.

After school: NQT induction.


Here, lead teachers Barbara Terziyski and Dan Saunders are helping some of our NQTs to plan round two of their Lesson Studies. We are running four Lesson Study groups to help model good lesson planning, while their focus is engaging some of our recalcitrant boys.

So: a teach meet, a masterclass, a marking standardisation, an observation of a colleague with feedback, a PD planning meeting, two lessons of my own, one of which observed by putative teachers, an internal interview and appointment, and four lesson studies.

Two great days at the office.