Leadership approaches, support and ideas from Bristol Brunel Academy

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Never Stop Learning

Image by @gapingvoid

Image by @gapingvoid

I am no expert! I am not basing these ideas of MINE on research/theories (that I have read) but on the data of students that I have taught and the outcomesthey have achieved. (I guess, I have just figured these things out…) If you disagree, please do comment with how I can better my practice for the students I am responsible for.

Exam season:

Time to wrap up our delivery of content, vital information, key facts, formulae, dates, people and so on. It is now time to focus (again/more) on ensuring students know everything and anything they will need in order to secure an excellent grade in the exam.

A-C grades are not the only grade our students need to achieve to be successful. Ensure your students know what their personal targets are?

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By definition revision is about updating, revamping, reworking, redrafting, rewriting

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Risking it with Rhetoric: Part One


This in the first in a series of three posts on a teaching experiment this year. The lessons described and the examples used all come from my mixed ability year 8 class.

Risking it with Rhetoric

The last time I taught a year 8 class was in my NQT year, two years ago. The particular topic for the term was on analysing non-fiction, and I spent a great deal of time looking at the conventions of newspaper writing. The final assessment was on comparing the presentation of David Cameron in two different articles, which presented a pretty good level of challenge for the class. Some of the student’s work, I seemed to remember, was really rather good.

But at the start of last term, half-way through my reading of ‘Why don’t students like school’, I felt that the array of newspaper articles I had used two years previously were not…

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Is education in England too easy?


The title for this blog comes from a discussion I had with two girls (twins) who I teach in year 11. Despite being on track to achieve brilliantly in their English GCSEs, they don’t consider themselves to be fluent speakers of English. They are, however, fluent speakers of Italian and Portuguese. They joined the school about midway through year 10, and since then have improved more rapidly than any student or students that I’ve ever encountered before. They work harder, do more homework, organise revision materials better, and their work is more beautifully presented.

On Friday after school, these two students and a couple of others attended a revision session on Romeo & Juliet that I was running. I really like these sessions, especially with smaller groups of students. They seem much more relaxed and informal than classroom revision, and offer much more opportunity to discuss with students their own learning and preferences…

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Risking it with Rhetoric Part Two: Designed to be Spoken


photo 2 (2)

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about my experimentation with teaching rhetoric. The process marked a departure from what I had taught in previous years. My main justification for this was that if my students were going to analyse non-fiction, then certain speeches, packed full of fascinating language and steeped in our cultural history, would be much more rewarding than a couple of newspaper articles.

So, what next? My students (finally) knew that Winston Churchill didn’t work for Direct Line, and we had a pretty good grasp of the Emancipation Proclamation – now it was time to do some writing. The curriculum for year 8 was moving to persuasive writing, and I wanted to try something linked to our study of rhetoric. Here’s a brief outline of my decision:

  • Every student would research, write and deliver a speech to the rest of the class.
  • The speeches had to be about an

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#TMNSL – Micro presentation – ‘Learning Lunches’

Never Stop Learning

#TMNSL - 5 minute mirco presentation #TMNSL – 5 minute micro presentation

As every school does we wanted to improve the quality of T&L and I am a firm believer in doing this through the sharing of good practice, as we have, and had, loads of great practitioners in school in lots of different departments. To share all of the ‘gems’ that everyone had in their toolkits we put together ‘Robert Blake’s Best Bits’ which is a collection of all the bits that make our teaching great. We asked every member of staff to contribute at least one idea that could be used generically by other staff in other subjects around the school, all of which were completed on a common format of a powerpoint slide. These were then collated, organised into different sections and shared with staff. Immediately we had helped create a culture where people were more open about sharing their teaching…

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‘Quick wins’ #15 – Getting students to articulate their learning.

Never Stop Learning

Getting students to articulate their learning by Steve Gill. Getting students to articulate their learning by Steve Gill.

Why? I guess I was never really convinced by the idea of getting students to articulate their learning; I thought it was one of those tokenistic additions to lessons, something that would please the observer rather than having an impact on students’ learning. So, when students were clearly making progress through their written work, I was little concerned if they couldn’t express precisely what they were learning, verbatim, like they had regurgitated every word of the specification. I was also very cautious of time that this took; I feared it would slow down the pace of the lesson, that I would lose the students before I had a chance to engage them.  I was wrong…

Possible solution. I now think that getting students to precisely articulate their learning is integral to their engagement and to their progress. So, what changed? Persistence…

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