Sunday, 30 October 2011

In the beginning...

Ok, so it's not a very imaginative title but it's apposite so what's it about?

I've not really tried blogging - although many moons ago I used to do websites that I guess would be primitive blogs. However, as part of my MA in education I am just beginning a module on Reflective teaching practice that requires me to keep a reflective journal of my teaching practice :s

Normally I am about as reflective as a brick - which may explain some of the trials and tribulations I have faced in my teaching career so,since they reckon a blog will do I have plunged in. Actually, it's possible that this may have benefit beyond my thinking about my teaching practice. It is not inconceivable that you kind readers may offer feedback.

So where am I at in my teaching career? I have been teaching RE since qualifying in 2001 from the University of Bristol who still acknowledge my existence - often to ask for money though. My formative NQT year and my second year of teaching were spent in a City Technology College in the East of England - or possibly East Midlands. It all depends on who you ask. I then took on the head of RE role at a small-ish secondary school in East Anglia. It was a challenging school in terms of its catchment area and was made even more challenging by the fact that on the first day of my career there I was informed it was due to be merged to form a very large academy. (This possibility wasn't mentioned at interview. Neither was the fact that I would have to apply for my own job there.) Nevertheless on I pressed.

There were many good moments to this. Of these my favourite was having an OFSTED inspector observing a lesson that was disastrous. The students were not accessing the material so I had to throw it out and think on my feet. The kind OFSTED inspector said he couldn't identify what I needed to improve. :D

So I am now head of RE and philosophy at a very large Academy in the East of England. Our current head is committed to quality RE for all students and so we teach KS3 and KS4 RE. We also offer Religious Studies and Philosophy at KS5. In fact, we are the only state school in the area to offer pure philosophy at A-level. The flip-side of this is that we have a large number of non-specialist RE teachers.

I also have the pleasure of being involved with RE teacher training via Cambridge University and am involved with the RE-silience programme. This seeks to challenge extremism in English schools. (

So what is the point of this blog. Actually, at the moment I don't know to be honest. I'm not sure if I'm going to look at the use of eLearning strategies to develop student learning - it is a hobby of mine and I am fascinated by how cloud computing, social networks, smartphones, etc. may be able to transform learning. More immediate, however, is the need to develop and transform my everyday teaching practice in the search for excellence.

The advantage of the former is I am a geek described by our VLE manager as an early adopter. The disadvantage is the amount of time I get in ICT rooms - a luxury in some schools but of limited use. That said eLearning takes place outside the classroom.

Anyway - watch this space.