Wednesday, 30 April 2014

#UKEdMag - Cut the chat... and have some FUN!

Martin Burrett is a friend as well as an inspiration. Not only is he the expert in all things ICT, he also is involved in a huge number of projects related to UKEdChat. One such is UKEdMag and I was privbiallged enough to be asked to write something... I based it on my TMLondonBus presentation.

To read the article please follow this link:

In the article you can read about Speed Dating, Silent Debates, Role Play, Essay on a Postcard and Online Quizzes.

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

NEW PROJECT: Catholic REsource

Original image by Reuters <here>

Sometimes you look at what's out there and you are not satisfied. You say to yourself, I wish there was something for this, or a place for that... 

Having taught Catholic RE for 8 years now, I look at the available resources and they remain limited. I have a few go to sites, but on the whole there is not a huge amount out there.

For these reasons I have already done a few things:
I also run which is more of a holding site than anything else and which is really just a collection of bits and pieces.

Last week, I was inspired by an email I received at school from Andy McMillan. Firstly he had taken the time to contact Diocese offices to get his project 'out there', secondly he summed up so well what I often feel:

"I myself am a Catholic RE teacher and after a conversation last year with my year 11 tutor group was surprised to know that many students used YouTube for revision videos for other subjects. However, when I asked them if there were any for RS I was disappointed to find there was a scarcity of material appropriate for the Catholic papers. So, rather than bemoan the lack of resources, I decided to do something about it and create my own, which is why I am now writing to you."

This inspired me to revisit a project I dreamed up many months ago. 

I now invite all who are interested to join me in putting together Catholic REsource. This will be a project put together by anyone willing to bring together some of the fantastic things we do. 

If you think you might be interested... please drop me an email to and I'll keep you posted.

The website is starting slowly but surely at - get in touch with you want to help build it! 

Funding Your Own CPD

Image from The Guardian <here>

There are two events coming up in September that I want to attend. The first is ResearchEd and the second SLT Camp. Last year my school paid for ResearchEd and for my travel to the Culham St Gabriel's Weekend; both were are at weekends.

I am about to submit applications to my school for both. I am very much hoping that my school will pay for both, but last night I considered what will happen if they say 'no'; will I pay £140 out of my own pocket, plus travel?

I am interested in EBT and Educational Research, but often feel quite on my own at school. I have attended meetings at the DfE and like reading and trying things out in my classroom. I've tried to sell it to others, but with little success... so far! I won a DragonFly course on Research for Learning (RfL) at TMLondonBus which I will be attending in June; my school have given me the day off thankfully. I don't have much in my Performance Management linked to EBT, nor is it part of my TLR, or obviously exam board related. However, I found ResearchEd inspiring, interesting and gave me ideas for my own teaching in many small and often unrecorded ways.

SLT Camp will be interesting. I am not currently SLT, and can only be considered 'aspiring SLT' (in a few years). I am assistant subject leader in RE, which may or may not even be considered a Middle Leader. I work in a Catholic school which means it is a far greater responsibility than in other schools. I have also lead a number of whole school initiatives such as our Family Learning Project, Open Door Week, Marking Swap Shop. I want to start developing the skills I need, and learning from other SLT members... I also feel I have something to offer!

Ultimately if my school say they won't fund them, I will reluctantly fund myself. I believe that my CPD is now something I can take hold of and control. I largely have Twitter to thank for this; blogs, TeachMeets, online coaching, EduBlog curries and so on have all played a massive part. Thank you to all who have helped, and continue you help me; I'll be seeing you in the Autumn term.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Being Appreciated

"Dear Mr Lewis
The class have made a decision to appoint a new
teacher to carry on teaching us about
RE as you are extremely hard 
on us and so much
homework, and quite frankly, we have had enough"

This was my last lesson before Easter with my 10/4 class. One of the students 'took over' as teacher and this is what she wrote. I think this means I am doing something right?

They then, rather sweetly, admitted that they are glad I am their teacher and that they would want anyone else to be teaching them RE. 

Ahh this is why we love the job!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Come Work With Me? (Advertising A Job)

And so the world of Twitter and blogs continues to open new possibilities... especially in the job market! 

Last year, I was fascinated to read about Ross McGill (aka TeacherToolkit) and his quest for a new job in Scotland via blogging and Twitter - read <here>. Certainly the world of social media and teacher blogging have revolutionised so much of what we do - why not the jobs market too?

Martin Burett (aka ICTMagic) has recently launched a new arm of to help teachers find jobs (see <here>) that has a very different price structure to that of TES Jobs. It will be interesting to see if schools will sign up to this instead - I hope so, as Martin is doing brilliant things via UKEdChat - make sure you are signed up to all their regular bulletins.

TES Job adverts start at £199 and go above £1000 depending on how much space you want. However, how many staff still read the large jobs section? I get emails weekly with targeted ads, I've also started using the iPad app (still a little fiddly!). However there are other options... Guardian Education Jobs continues to grow and searching for 'Education Jobs' in Google throws up an increasing number of recruitment sites.

Some schools are also using various recruitment agencies more and more... not just for temporary positions but for more permanent ones too. I don't think it's a coincidence that these agencies are more than happy to sponsor TeachMeet events where they can speak to staff about their services. They must work, or schools simply wouldn't be paying their fees.

Twitter has also played a large part in this change. Ross started up a Twitter account called @MyEdHunt which retweets jobs and many schools and staff tweet and retweet vacancies in their schools. Martin is also tweeting jobs via @UKEdjobs too. Ultimately the schools' own website can become a vital hub to catch the attention of potential employees.

This is the second time we are advertising this job as unfortunately we didn't appoint first time around. Considering it was very short notice, we managed to get a few applications, some via Twitter. This time we are advertising via the Catholic Teacher's Gazette which is in print and online; this was a cost decision. However it is increasingly hard to decide where to spend your money?

Perhaps, a strong social media presence may be the new way forward for schools.  I'm hoping I can get the job out there again via Twitter and this blog. I'll be sending everyone the way of our school website where all the details are <here>. However, the flip side to this is that there are a lot of good teachers on Twitter but a huge number of good teachers who are not... (yeah and maybe they should be! See <here>)

Do you want a job working with me in an amazing, vibrant and official Outstanding (S48) RE Department? Get involved <here>.

Update 29/4/14:
Also now on TES in the end!! <here>