Thursday, 18 December 2014

Children Should Be Taught... (2014 Edition)

I can take no credit for this list, James Williams has done all the hard work and I urge you to read his original piece of work <here> (it's far better written and entertaining too - it also has all the references if you don't believe them!). James Williams did a Google search for "Children should be taught" over the last 11 months. A substantial amount of these 'ideas' came from ministers... Gove, Law and Morgan.

For me, it highlights the comedy circus that is teaching in 2014, and no doubt 2015. I have been contributing to the new proposal for GCSE and A-Level RS, which will be a lot more content heavy (like all other GCSEs and A-Levels). I am also now a pastoral leader (Head of Y10), am I supposed to fit these 'extras' into our Citizenship and PHSE lessons? I agree that some of these ideas are excellent... I just wish there was time, resources and expertise to do them well. Others are absolutely not the responsibility of schools.

Some people will go mad about this, I just smile. Even in my short 10 years of teaching I have seen things come and go. Most of us literally don't have any more time in our days to teach any more things. It's easy for someone to go to the press and say "Children should be taught..." but the reality is very different; we can't even really listen to the minsters for education and follow their suggestions.

Carry on doing a good job, enjoy your Christmas break and let's wait with anticipation for the new things we'll have to teach in 2015! 

Here is the abbreviated version for those suffering under workload or Christmas exhaustion!

Employment Skills
Online Bully & Sexting

Grit & Determination

Probability & Uncertainty in Maths
Theatre Etiquette
How to Worship & Pray
Meditation, Mindfulness and Buddhist Techniques
Body Image
How To Fail

How to Speak Eloquently

Risk & Survival Skills
How To Ride A Bike

British Values

Cancer Awareness

How To Celebrate Being Gay

Imperial Measurements

Early Warning Signs of Domestic Abuse
First Aid
Nature of Marriage, Family Life & Bringing Up Children
Dangers of Alcohol [Primary]

Finance Management
How to be Rebellious & Break Rules
How to Brush Teeth
Dangers of Gambling

A Visit to the DfE: #REconsult

Image courtesy of The Guardian

Last Friday (12th December 2015), I had my second visit to the Department for Education. Last time was to discuss EBT [Evidence Based Teaching] and this time for the #REconsult, a consultation on the new GCSE and A-Levels in Religious Studies. It has been the only such meeting of the 26 consultations that the DfE have conducted to date; in fact the meeting was held twice, during the day and again in the evening for those unable to get out of school.

During the meeting, I tried to make some notes which will hopefully explain some of the process that have been going on. These are my takes on the day and me sharing the information as best I can; I hope any colleagues that were there on the day can help correct or add to me. Please do this via comments at the bottom or via email

The Aims of the Reform Process (not just RE!):
  • To address size and suitability of content.
  • To ensure appropriate level of challenge.
  • To enable progression to further study.
  • To review number of optional pathways through the qualification.
  • To balance breadth and depth of study.
  • To highlight any equality and diversity issues.
Background to GCSE and A Level Reform:


In 2013, the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove announced the start of the reform process. New qualifications needed to have challenging content with rigorous assessment inline with international expectations. He also highlighted the need to prepare students for further study, and hence the involvement of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Gove also wanted these qualifications to be reliable and stretching, yet remain universal and about the same size.

He insisted that there needed to be a high standard set as a good pass (indications are that this will be above a current C). GCSEs should also be comparable across the suite of qualifications. Exams would be at the end of the course with no modules and only very limited use of non-exam assessment  (Dance, Drama etc) and tiering.

It was pointed out that Maths and English have set the bar high and we need to match. Many concerns were, and continue to be, raised about the time issue that many schools face with RE. How can the subject be comparable on an hour a week?

A Level

A key focus is that students are better prepared for Higher Education and hence a very heavy involvement from HEIs across all subjects. All courses will all be linear and there is to be a complete decoupling of the AS from the A Level. This will include differences to assessment arrangements so AS marks will not contribute to final A Level grade. It is important that the A-Levels are fit for purpose but will not be harder, as such.

Concerns were raised about timetabling and resources for this. Will AS and A-Level students be in the same class? This was an issue for Awarding Organisations (AOs) to address.


Religious Studies is on track. The content will be published Feburary 2015 and exam specs will be ready by Summer 2015. All GCSEs and A Levels will be fully accredited by Autum 2015 ready for September 2016 teaching. The DfE see this as very important to maintain as they want to launch Religious Studies at the same time as other EBacc subjects.

Some attendees suggested waiting another year to 'get it right', while others seemed to agree that getting parity with other EBacc subjects was better overall. On balance, I think the majority did want 2016. Would you want a student getting all 1 to 9s and then one solitary lettered grade in RS?

Another concern raised, linked to time allocation, was that RS was often studied as a 3 year course. Some mentioned that some schools do ALL GCSEs from Y9. The DfE made it very clear that GCSEs are designed as a 2 year course. They did say that Awarding Organisations (AOs) would be producing Specs from Summer 2015 and so those schools who felt the need, would be able to begin teaching in September 2015, with the rest following in September 2016. Ed Pawson of NATRE pointed out that it was their belief that 30% of schools did early start GCSE RS. Ofqual said there are absolutely no plans for a legacy paper and the last exams of the current GCSE will be in Summer 2017.

Processes for Other Subjects

EBacc subjects were drafted by DfE employed drafters while non-EBacc subjects were divided and lead by the Awarding Organisations. Naturally, all final documents were/are to be approved by ministers. Religious Studies and Citizenship were handed back to the DfE by the AOs due to their diverse stakeholders.

HEIs have played a significant role and a Russell Group Advisory Board have fed heavily into A-Level reform discussion. There is currently a sub-class and super-class of facilitating subjects while the DfE want greater comparability. It was clarified that GCSE RS is in Progress 8.

It was made clear that the DfE have now taken the lead in RS, employing a drafter and engaging with a range of stakeholders. It was noted at the time that Award Organisations should have also been added to this list:

Religious Studies Process

With so many stakeholders, the process obviously took a long time. The DfE worked very closely with the REC in initially to begin informal consultations in February 2014.

Someone questioned whether the process for Religious Studies reform fulfils the Cabinet Office Guidance [2013] and the DfE assured attendees that it does and that those guidelines refer to the process as a whole and not just the formal discussions we are currently engaged in. They are clear that all consultations have been proportionate and that everyone has had an opportunity to voice their concerns and suggestions. 

Alongside working with the REC, NATRE and ISRSA were also consulted.

NATRE representatives at the meeting highlighted the fact that they wanted the consultation to be as open as possible from the start. They acknowledged that NATRE cannot reflect every teacher of RE and that the proposals that are currently being consulted upon are not necessarily a reflection of NATREs input.

The DfE pointed out that to date, 12th December 2014, that they had received over 1500 responses since the consultation opened on 7th November. This is probably more than all other 26 consultations that have taken place put together. Some subjects have had less than 50 responses. The DfE are delighted and genuinely overwhelmed by the response of the RE community.

The meeting was the only one of its kind, no other subject had had a meeting, let alone two. The final attendance of these two meetings was around 75 people. Again, it was restated that this was an "unbelievably high level of engagement compared to any other subject".

The time frame for this part of the consultation was slightly on the low side compared to other subjects, but this was a direct reflection of the consultations that had already taken place. It was pointed out that will be a window of 7 and a half weeks, including over a week of school holidays for teachers to make their responses.

The question was asked about what departments were consulted within the HEIs and the DfE assured it was a full range including TRS, Philosophy, RPE, Theology, Religious Studies etc.

The role of ministers was highlighted. Obviously it was noted there has been a new Education Secreaty since the process began, but this has had little effect. Minsters have been very interested and very involved in the RE process, but have wanted the best expert advice too. Nicky Morgan met with religious leaders over the summer, some at the DfE and others she visited in their place of work where necessary. This level of involvement is very unusual. However, it was also noted that a lot of the drive for A-Level came from HEIs.

The editorial team from the DfE will analyse the results of the consultation, alongside their drafter, to produce a final document. It will them be put to the ministers for their approval; they are the ultimate decision makers. Ofqual will need to ensure if meets necessary requirements and the AO chief examiners will be involved. It is unlikely that beyond the consultation period that any teachers will be involved. If, and this is a big if, there was an "overwhelming consensus" in the responses that it is nowhere near ready, it could, hypothetically, be delayed, but this is not something the ministers, the DfE or the editorial team want.

RS Content and Assessment Objectives [Ofqual Lead]


We were reminded again that this is a criteria and NOT an exam specification and that final qualifications will look very different. This document sets out the minimum requirements for specifications; these will be set out by AOs including skills for assessment and content. It is also important to remember that this is all taking place in the backdrop of wider reform.

The key concern in RS, and it is also a concern from OFSTED, is focused on the nature of subject and way it is reflected in current form. Currently it is possible to try and engage in debate without knowledge and understanding including that concerned with beliefs and texts. Simply put, there must be more knowledge and understanding of religion [This echo's Alan Brine's 2013 report - see <here>].

There will be a compulsory element (two religions) and an optional element (textual study or RPE). The key is bring together both common and divergent views in religions, enabling more debate about different views, and investigating one or more views in context of modern world. For example, current content at GCSE doesn't reflect the diversity of traditions and now the Islamic Shi’a tradition will now be included.

The current structure will not be how qualifications will look like, the AOs can combine these ideas in any ways they see fit and could be interwoven by the AOs. However it is important to remember the new Ofqual regulations covering GCSEs and these have been an important consideration from the start and will remain to be so for AOs.

This stresses the importance of people concerned with the future of RE and these qualifications to be approaching the AOs and offering their services. Many AOs are already emailing previous markers and advertising through various media to find the right people. Get involved! Now!

It was stressed that as there are so many stakeholders, life is made very complex. This qualification needs to meet the needs of many people in many very different schoools (for example faith schools; 20% of secondaries are Roman Catholic).

AS/A Level

As a primary aim of the reform (in all subjects) was greater progression from school to higher education, the DfE and Ofqual have taken the views of HEIs very seriously.

At A-Level there were originally 8 areas of study [current format] and it will now be reduced to 3 [new proposals], this was key when drafting. The belief is that there will now be enough breadth to focus on any particular route / branch of Religious Studies at university. However there will still be enough depth of content to meet new rigorous demands of A-Levels.

Due to the decoupling, AS content must be specified.

It is vital that students are provided with critical analysis skills and the ability to debate. This has come from HEIs as they see too many students without these key skills.

Content wise, the start point was the GCSE annexes where texts, religion, religions and P&E are to be covered. However the 6 religions [plus one tradition], was not something necessary or desirable to directly reflect at A-Level. It would have also drastically increased the number of routes to qualification.

It was made clear again, the document being consulted upon is NOT an exam spec. The content is not a list of things you will be studying, AOs will be looking at the content to bring things together in an interesting and engaging way for our students.

Routes / Options [Ofqual Lead]

It was clear that there needed to be tightening up of routes and a means to make explict what the intended routes are for any given qualification. We need to be asking, "what does the journey look like?".

In Religious Studies, there are numerous possible routes, with (currently) LOTS of options. This presents many technical challengees; how do we ensure comparibility? The Ofqual requirement is that any B grade is comparable to any other B grade.

The explicit defining of content is part of this. However admittedly, the answer is not always to add things in. We need to consider what the scope and purpose of GCSE RE is. We need to think about how this translate into specifications?

Just because routes are possible in this current document, doesn't mean it will be in specifications as a possible route. Ofqual are pushing for narrower options, this gives greater comparability and fairness as a result.

A question was asked about how GCSE RE is currently marked, is it criteria or norm referenced? It is neither. Using statisitics, judegments are made so that there is a normative distribution of grades, it does depend on how students react to questions. If a question is poorly answered by all, it is unfair to disadvantage that cohort with what has been potentially a badly phrased question. This will be the process for new GCSE so no student, even in first cohort will be disadvantaged. Additional controls will also be brought in; there will be key anchor points whereby roughly the same percentage of students who get C and above, will get 4 and above. We were told the spread will distribute itself correctly and roughly 20% of those who currently get A will get 9.

There is more on this <here>, which suggests, broadly, the same proportion of students will achieve a grade 7 and above as currently achieve an A and above. For each examination, the top 20 per cent of those who get grade 7 or above will get a grade 9, the very highest performers.

There are the same issues at a level which is something for AOs to address. There will be fewer possible routes, and again, Ofqual see as not a bad thing as better comparability. It is important that when you encounter a student with an A Level grade you can ascertain what they know and what they can do.

There is no "magic number" for routes, but 3 seems to work well. To add a 4th, would add a significant number of extra routes.

From an assessment point of view, it was pointed out that the 40/60 split at AS and 50/50 split at A-Level could cause issues for co-teaching. This was something still in review. 

Ultimately they admitted that they won't keep everyone happy at the end of the day.


The morning was incredibly informative and the people leading session were prepared to have the 'big questions' asked, and had information and answers to hand. Some will be forever skeptical of 'Government' and the DfE, but I felt I trusted the people leading us and they took extensive notes during the day about our comments, questions, objections, fears and criticisms. I feel much better informed of the backdrop in which this consultation document has emerged. Ultimately we remain, rightly or wrongly, at the mercy of the ministers and what the government want RE to look like.

As I've said before, I keep the faith. Good RE will remain Good RE, and it's the Bad RE we all need to keep addressing and challenging! 

The rest of the day was spent in smaller groups feeding back on specifics. 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Purpose of RE: #REconsult

If nothing else the #REconsult process has made us confront some fundamental questions about RE. It has an individual place in our schools being compulsory, but not in the National Curriculum, with syllabuses agreed locally or taken from faith traditions. Perhaps more so than with any subject it’s quality and purpose varies greatly.

Charlotte Vardy has been very actively involved on Twitter and in Blogging about her thoughts on the #REconsult process. I do genuinely share her belief that if something is worth doing, it should be done well. However it is also important to remember that we are at the absolute mercy of the DfE and ministers appointed to Education. Michael Gove has gone, but Nicky Morgan has not made any radical changes to the whole reform process, and who knows what happens if Tristram Hunt takes over in May. Education is not apolitical.

Charlotte has put together an interesting list of 10 purpose of RE. These form the basis for complex discussion about what we are aiming to do:
  1. Religious Studies is where we teach young people about their own religion, which includes reference to other religions and non-religious world views. 
  2. Religious Studies supports young people in their quest for personal meaning. 
  3. Religious Studies supports the school ethos, provides a “hub” for SMSC learning and a good opportunity to tackle many current issues of personal or social concern – from cyber-bullying to charity campaigning. 
  4. Religious Studies is just another academic humanities subject, like History or Geography 
  5. Religious Studies is what we call History of Ideas and/or Theory of Knowledge in the English education system, which otherwise lacks a philosophical core 
  6. Religious Studies provides the best opportunity to teach higher level skills such as critical analysis, evaluation and argument, which all students need for university and which other subjects often fail to deliver 
  7. Religious Studies courses prepare young people to take degrees in Theology and Religious Studies 
  8. Religious Studies is just what we call certificated courses in statutory Religious Education; these courses measure how much young people know and understand about the 6 major world religions and aim to promote religious tolerance and community cohesion. 
  9. Religious Studies is a sociological exploration of the phenomenon of Religion, comparing different traditions and showing them to be essentially similar responses to the human condition. 
  10. Religious Studies is the main opportunity for young people to address ultimate questions and moral issues which affect people of all faiths and none. (C Vardy)
These have been a great source of reflection for me today. 

I think there could be more aims added to this list, and I would have perhaps written a different list (and maybe Charlotte would have on a different day, in different circumstances).  It is certainly a reflection of how Charlotte, and many others, perceive the #REconsult process to have unfolded. I do get their concerns, I really do, yet try to remain positive and optimistic - as those who have seen Charlotte and I exchanging debate on Twitter will testify! 

As pointed out by Charlotte, the new reforms will never be able to reflect all of these 10 aims. She believes that the new GCSEs and A-Levels will focus primarily on Aims 1, 7, 8 and 9. 

I teach confessional RE in a Catholic school; Aim 1 is therefore vital to me. There is part of my job which is that of primary educator of the faith; however despite different content, and with more time, I believe that I deliver good, analytical and critical RE. To claim that Aim 1 is all that goes on in Catholic schools is naive and totally incorrect. I've learnt a lot from RE teachers who work in non-faith schools, and I bring this into my classroom. I'd like to hope the opposite has also happened, and I welcome those teachers into my classroom, any time.

Any decent RE teacher will obviously address Aim 2 in their lessons; the young people we teach wouldn't have it any other way, it's why they often love the subject. I worry about Aim 3... some schools do see RE as their vehicle for box ticking, particularly given the current OFSTED climate. This is where RE teachers need to be strong; there may be some connections, but don't allow your subject to be watered down into a PHSE/Citizenship lesson. Fight the good RE fight, there is help and support out there.

I also don't believe that RE has quite hit such an identify crisis that it is simply a HoI or ToK just yet; nor is it just another humanity subject (Aim 4 and 5). I think this is due to Aim 2 and Aim 10, which is why they are so important. In all those other subject areas, there is not the personal investment and connection; religious or not, everyone faces the 'big questions' and that self examination and reflection. 

I love the fact that we address Aim 6 in our subject, I really do. It is also vital for the world of employment and dealing with everyday ethical and moral dilemmas. Philosophical enquiry (including P4C etc) are powerful tools that should be embedded in good teaching rather than an add on. Ask good questions and you're students will be 'lead out'; Socrates knew what he was doing even 2500 years ago.

I have also confessed to being a TRS boy (Aim 7). Having studied at the Divinity Faculty at Cambridge, I love my biblical studies (as well as my world religions studies!). However I am unsure as to why A-Levels need to be this direct step to degrees? Yet I do want my students to be able to do a TRS degree if they wish, or Biblical Studies, or Philosophy! I coped well as I did John at A-Level and loved it. My current Y9s are working on a Gospel unit that they don't want to finish. I do want any of my students to have as many doors open as possible and I do wonder if my current Philosophy and Ethics (EdExcel) ALevel does this? Although I am not convinced, without some creative work by the exam boards, that the new ALevel will either. I makes me wonder if we are asking the right questions about the purpose of ALevels, and I don't just mean in this subject.

The RE and RS debate is, I guess, one I am less involved in (Aim 8). I've not taught in a school where they are separate. I often talk about RE when I mean RS and it infuriates some! GCSE is compulsory for all, so there is no distinction for me. We do have General RE in 6th form for all students (1 hour per fortnight), but my ALevel classes call my lessons RE too. This distinct position of RE makes things tough for colleagues in other schools... do we abandon compulsory RE for all (and risk the potential implications of ignorance and prejudice in society)? Do we put all our efforts into an attractive academic GCSE that more people want to take? Do we continue to try and balance the two? There is a whole other discussion to have here.

Phenomenology is a word that divides the RE world (Aim 9). Some claim it leads to simple sociological or anthropological study of RE where we do a lot of compare and contrasting. This isn't enough for me and leads to 'Bad RE', often in thematic style. Phenomenology can be good, but it's hard to get right, and I'm not sure many teachers have the skill set to get it right. The need for better RE training and support is well documented.

I presume Charlotte left Aim 10 until last as she, like me, loves this aspect of RE. It's what makes it special, it's why I love my job and it's why I have got myself so involved in the whole #REconsult process. 

Charlotte has raised some excellent questions in this post, and finishes with this final remark: "It is not just a matter of deciding which visions of Religious Studies to go with, but also of ensuring that those chosen cohere and do not leave the subject as confused, or more confused than it ever was!". This is why I urge as many people (and I mean good RE teachers!), to offer their services to the exam boards to help get it right. You know what works, what engages and what interests.

I do not think RE will find a consensus.; it will never have fully shared aims. This presents many, many challenges, not least for the army of committed, dedicated, excellent RE teachers out there. If nothing else, these people have begun to emerge; Save RE, #REchatUK, #REconsult have started to bring us together. The revolution may not be won or lost in this consultation process, but perhaps we can still build a better world of RE together regardless. Our exam specs will guide us, but not define us, nor limit our lessons.

There may come a time where we may have to accept what the DfE and ministers put in front of us. We may not be happy, but at least I can say I put my suggestions forward, I shared my ideas and worked, and thought, very hard about my responses. I have tried to be constructive throughout, and remain hopeful and optimistic. I still beleive that the exam boards, for monetary reasons, or for love of RE, will produce engaging and interesting routes of study. We won't loose student numbers, because we are good teachers and we can engage our students regardless.

Read Charlotte's post in full, plus loads of other stuff about RE <here>

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Teaching The Nativity

Image courtesy of UKEdMag

I had the privilege of being asked to write something on the Nativity for the Christmas special of UKEdMag. This came during 'busy season' with Y11 Mocks looming, various reports needing writing, short, dark days... 

However, it was a joy to revisit the story of the Nativity that has so much to it, it really is the 'greatest story ever told' (coined by the 1965 film, see <here>). I love the cultural, political, historical aspects alongside the miraculous and joyful. I could teach a whole unit it on, and have indeed moved some of my Nativity work to January so we can study with freshness rather than tired, end of term eyes.

I asked for teaching ideas from Save RE (FB group) and via #REchatUK and have collated them in the article. Thanks to all who contributed.

Read the article <here>
Order a FREE printed copy of the magazine (just pay postage) <here>

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Bad RE: Own Up!

Image courtesy of Deadline

"Religious studies teaching is pathetic – either improve it, or ditch it" reads the headline from Giles Fraser's Guardian column (see <here>) . He describes the subject his children study where "religion is transformed into a calendar of funny festivals, lighting candles and distinctive headgear". RE teachers either recoiled in horror at the sensationalist attack on their profession, or quietly admitted that actually we could, and need to, be better.

"Bad RE" fascinates me. I've seen it too many times, it makes me laugh, but it also makes me want to cry. A subject that could be so exciting, interesting,  relevant and topical can too often become boring, dull, superficial and, as Fraser suggests, 'glorified colouring in'. I regularly worry about the opportunity cost of teaching ideas I see on Twitter, Save RE (on Facebook), TES and even in published resources. If you only have an hour a week, can you really afford to be doing 'that'? What exactly is your intended lesson outcome?

However, it is vital that we make it clear that there are plenty of excellent, passionate, interesting, dynamic RE teachers. I have the good fortune to work with them both in my school and with the numerous RE projects I am involved in. It would have been nice of Fraser to better recognise these (but that wouldn't have achieved 400+ comments on the Guardian and such debate on Facebook and Twitter!). Great work has been done and in many schools RE/RS has become high profile, academic and popular. Sometimes this is to the credit of the teachers in spite of GCSE syllabi (and it's why I have got myself so involved in the RE consultation, to make RE better!). 

Yet are we really naive enough to claim that RE is all great and has no room for improvement? Who are we protecting and defending to take this stance? I very much hope that for every outraged RE teacher there is a classroom over flowing with the great RE I have highlighted above. However, it is also entirely possible that Fraser hit a nerve because deep down, we know that the examples he highlighted are possibly still happening in classrooms. Maybe the most outraged felt guilty as they knew they are selling their students short? Controversial claims I am fully aware.

The GCSE and A-Level need to be improved because RE needs to be improved, Ofqual are trying to ensure this. It was with a saddened (but accepting) heart that I read Andrew Smith's tweet:

Maybe it's too easy due to circumstances? If teachers need to deliver a GCSE in 1 hour a week compared to 4/5 for other subjects, of course something needs to give. Maybe it's because we have gone down a route where we end up doing too much PHSE / sociology / anthropology / community cohesion / 'British Values' type stuff? Remember this is not my view that GCSE RS is too easy. Read away at the #REconsult blog <here>, many seem to make the claim.

In 2013, RE Today published a APPG report indicating a lack of subject specialist knowledge, training, timetable time (see <here>). There have been further reports and articles widely published indicating too many poor activities and not enough rigour and challenge. Is what Fraser is saying anything really new to the RE community?

After the outrage discussed in the Save RE group on Facebook, Giles Fraser posted this:

He is clear that Bad RE needs to be challenged. Why is that so hard for some in the RE community to accept? We must have the confidence to admit our subject is not as great as it could be, but we have the potential to change that, we really do.

Fraser concludes, "RS lessons could be a tool for helping children to do precisely that: to think, to question, to argue. It could be a place where the adolescent philosophy of “that’s just my personal opinion” is challenged and moved on. It could be a place where children begin to discover why it is that some will live and die for their belief."

Let's be the ones to ensure that happens.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

No Time, Too Busy...

Image courtesy of Nomindsvision

I really do love to blog, especially about recent CPD I've attended, ideas I've had and read and generally my life as teacher. It helps to take stock, to reflect, to see who agrees and who will do battle with me via Twtiter.

However, I am really struggling for time at the moment and I suspect I am not alone. I write this reluctantly knowing I should still be powering on with my Y11 mock marking. I've decided to treat myself as I am half way through... yet my classes return on Monday after two weeks and really my 'half way' point should have been last weekend. Ah there's the guilt.

A few things I've done and not really had time to write about:

  • SLT Camp - A really, fun inspiring weekend in the middle of Cambridgeshire. Amazing hosts, great food, excellent company, interesting content... I am not SLT and I think it may be a few years off yet, but I'm learning and getting ready for when the day comes. I've always said that "I'll walk before I run" and if/when I make the transition, I want to do it well.
  • NATRE: Improving RE through coaching and mentoring course - A fantastic day in Canary Wharf with some exceptional RE teachers learning the basics of coaching and mentoring. Plus discussing the merits of 'Save RE' Facebook group and eating amazing cake.
  • TM Havering 3 - Me and Martin (ICT Magic) pulled this off in an afternoon after Andy (aknill) was sadly taken ill. It was a brilliant evening; thanks so much to all who came and made it happen. Any takers for TM Havering 4? I really can't do a 4th...
  • CatholicREsource - This site feels like a strange thorn in my side. I passionately believe in it and the feedback I have had has been truly humbling. However, it seems to be hard to get off the ground without the time and resources. I really believe in teachers helping teachers, yet it's hard to get the word out, and hard to get people to contribute. I guess everyone is just as busy as me... A slow burner maybe.
  • The London RE Hub - This project is going to be amazing. Even without publishing any speakers, we have sold nearly 20% of the tickets for the March conference. It's going to be focussed on subject knowledge and improving RE in the London area. It has to be good, and the RE people I am getting to work with are truly brilliant.
  • Staffrm - I have finally blogged! This site is a really nice addition to the blog circuit and I think that it will compliment, my sometimes long, sometimes project promoting, sometimes 'not really contributing anything to the blogging community' posts on here. Stephen (MrLockyer) says he can post during a break time?
  • #REconsult - The new GCSE and A-Level RE consultation has been crazy and I set up a blog to try and share views. Plus try and keep up on Twitter. RE teachers care a LOT.
  • UKEdMag - I've written an article on teaching the Nativity. The December Issue will be published very soon... 

I have also frequently struggled in my role as Head of Year 10. There has been laughter, tears, impossible situations and yet so much joy and reward. I'm also a busy 2nd in RE, and the charity initiatives and events in this term are never ending. I have realised that my time in school is not my own, and my marking and planning is hard to fit in. I get in to school at 7am and leave (when kicked out) at 5.45pm and I am now doing more work than ever at home.

Would I change any of this?

I don't think so. In all the projects I work on outside of school, I am fortunate to be working with amazing people. They keep me going and make me a better teacher. Could I do with a bit more sleep? Sure! A little less stress? Naturally.

You just may have to wait a little longer between blog posts.