It’s with a tremendous honour that we bring you the Innovate My School Guide 2015/16. Bringing together 21 none-more-enthusiastic teachers, this publication examines 10 key areas of education to inform the year ahead. It discusses the benefits, pitfalls, learning outcomes and future trends of various pedagogic areas, allowing our experienced contributors to share methods and resource beneficial to schools worldwide.

Cambridge-based video production company Mediamerge have been using the new academic year to bring schools the largest collection of professionally-filmed classroom practice in the UK. Aiding teacher CPD, all Mediamerge videos are captured in normal classrooms, with real teachers and pupils. This means that educators are given the most realistic insight into the teaching and learning,without actually being in the room. Early Years, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 lesson resources are now available to watch immediately via IRIS Connect, making them easier to access than ever before.

There is so much that is really urgent in schools that there is a real danger we may lose or sideline the things that are really important. The education system itself is under pressure from recruitment, retention, school places and budget cuts whilst teachers dread ever-changing goal posts – and don’t even mention Ofsted!


This time last year, I was in your shoes; a 23-year-old, fresh-faced former trainee teacher who was jumping onto the relentless treadmill that is the NQT year. Last August, I made a vow to myself: to provide the students in my care with the best education I can provide, but to not completely surrender my life to my career. In this article, I hope to share some of the tricks I deployed in order to help me keep calm and soldier on through my NQT year, hopefully for you to plunder.

There’s a common assumption that in-house CPD (continuing professional development) is the way forward in schools. After years of poorly presented and ultimately fruitless courses on subjects chosen by others, like rootless flowers, it’s probably safe to say that very often the best development opportunities come for the colleagues we work alongside every day. And while swallowing that for some time, I began to realise I was waiting for someone else to do it for me. I’m getting on a bit. I couldn’t wait any longer.

Up until a year ago I was a History teacher, a job I adored. I know this is preaching to the converted, but working with teenagers is just the most interesting, funny and challenging way to spend your time,and I absolutely loved it. However (and I doubt this is particularly surprising to anyone reading), I had grown increasingly frustrated with our system of education.

Schools want to get CPD right, but when you take into account personnel, timing and funds, this can be an area of difficulty. Here, BlueSky MD Denise Inwood answers some frequently-asked questions on the topic of teacher CPD.

1. Is continuing professional development (CPD) in schools becoming more important? If so, why?

CPD has always been an important and central part of the development of any good teacher, precipitated by reflective practice. Teaching is a learning profession; for an educator to develop the resources and strategies to which they need to respond (with an infinite number of variables) on a daily basis, professional learning needs to be part of their daily practice. Professional learning ranges from the more structured and generic to the ‘on the job’ learning that is internalised through reflective practice.

Some time ago, the school I was working in decided to move to longer lessons in order to allow more time for in-depth learning, and to solve some practical problems related to rooming and movement around the school. Initially, these lessons became doubles – two hours – and eventually, the school moved to a three lesson day of 1hr 50 mins per lesson. Many schools are doing the same thing. The problem, though, is that you can’t just roll two lessons into one. You have to start rethinking the way you conceptualise a lesson from start to finish.

Different schools are going to go through different experiences, and therefore will have different ideas for education. Keith Wright, managing director of Bluewave.SWIFT, discusses the problems plaguing school collaboration, and gives his advice on how best to avoid them.

Collaboration is a prominent part of the mission statements of many schools today. Ever since the late 1990s, when the first strategies to organise schools into networks, and promote working together instead of splendid isolation came into being, collaboration has become commonplace.

All school leaders want their teachers to have good-quality continuing professional development (CPD) that develops them as individuals and makes a measurable and significant contribution to school improvement. Clearly a number of challenges get in the way for many schools; budgetary and time restrictions being just a few. Furthermore, research from the Teacher Development Trust shows that, at present, the vast majority of CPD is having no impact in the classroom, and too few schools are bothering to check to see how, if at all, CPD is transforming teaching and learning.

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