As another year draws to a close I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on some of the wonderful opportunities that have been afforded to me and to my schools this year in terms of the visitors we have had to the Laxey/Dhoon Federation and the visits we have made to other schools and conferences.
Part of being an outward facing leader working in schools that are keen to share experiences is an understanding that school improvement, development and forward momentum only comes from a commitment to collaboration, research, networking and exploration. It is a visit to another school that re-motivates, inspires, challenges and excites. Visitors to your own school see things with fresh eyes and help you refocus and re-energise.
My connections through Twitter, IQM, NAHT and the Isle of Man educational community have made all of this possible; and 2019 has been all the richer for it.
In January 2019 the year got off to an incredibly busy start. @grundleglen led safeguarding training for all of my staff at both schools – really vital CPD. Staff from my EYFS teams attended an @EarlyExcellence conference in the Isle of Man with a focus on their fantastic resources. A big friend of my federation, the wonderful @ShaunDellenty flew over to lead “Inclusion 4 All” training with my entire staff team. My leadership teams and I enjoyed further training from Shaun with our regional cluster schools, arranged by @RGS_IOM
January also gave me an opportunity to chair an inclusion cluster group for @IQMClusters in my capacity as an ambassador for @IQMAward. This took place in the Link School in Sunderland and it was wonderful to meet like-minded colleagues such as @Mr_Nic_Teach from @N_O_P_A
In February I travelled to Wimbledon to attend #BrewEdWimbledon. This was a brilliant event organised by the excellent @MissSDoherty and the wonderful @Paul_Steenkamp – it gave me the privilege of being able to listen to and learn from the likes of @ClareSealy, @Positivteacha, @mrlockyer, @AlisonKriel, @ModernCassie, @jonnywalker_edu, and @rondelle10_b. I was also able to meet with some very influential tweeters such as @MrEFinch @kateowbridge @WalkingHead65 and @AaronWanford, making this a very memorable day.
In March I travelled over to Manchester for the annual #PrimaryRocksLive conference. Surely this is best CPD available with some tremendous speakers on the bill – all of them funny, witty, clever, challenging, thought-provoking and totally engaging. @grahamandre @smithsmm @MrGPrimary and @Keran77 are just some of the speakers I was fortunate enough to hear. I also enjoyed talking to @MrTRoach @johnbryantHT @Elsie2110 @KarlDuke8 @MrsLamprecht @gazneedle @MrsSetto, @Glazgow @Mr_K_Teacher and @Parky_teaches to name but a few.
April provided the opportunity for me to visit the one and only Hillcrest Academy @gainshillcrest. I really wanted to learn from their expertise with making assemblies more purposeful and engaging… but my word, I wasn’t quite expecting what I found! Hillcrest have completely revamped their Thursday assemblies to link directly into the phonics learning in classes, and they incorporate heavy elements of audience participation, staff involvement and plenty of fun and japes to ensure maximum engagement from their pupils. This trip was a real highlight of the year – though I still can’t quite believe I was persuaded to don a safari outfit and eat mealworms in front of the children!
May always brings the annual @NAHTnews Conference, and this year it was staged in Telford. I attended in my capacity as President of the Isle of Man Branch of NAHT and enjoyed catching up with @simonkidwell @jasonferraby and @rob_kelsall. It was inspiring to hear from and talk to the National President @judyshaw4 and General Secretary @PaulWhiteman6. I also had a meeting with the then UK Secretary of State for Education @DamianHinds to discuss the pay dispute between IOM NAHT and the Isle of Man Government.
@MrPranPatel paid a visit to the Laxey/Dhoon Federation in May to conduct a review of the diversity and heritage reflected in our curriculum. He also worked with our children, delivering workshops and lessons on the theme of “diversity” as well as leading bespoke training for my staff teams. I have learnt a lot from Pran this year and he is one of the most prolific and knowledgeable bloggers out there.
Later in May @thesleepgeek worked with Senior Leaders on the importance of achieving quality sleep when you hold a management position in a school, and he gave some great advice as to how to achieve this.
And finally in May, a great message from @musicmind – “feed the heart to feed the brain” – was given to all of my staff in a fabulous INSET day. Nina led the training and energised everyone with her positivity and powerful messages!
In June a delegation of Welsh headteachers visited on a fact-finding mission to learn about our school self-evaluation system. I really enjoyed meeting with them and talking to @learningspaces5 about his experiences of running schools in Wales. June also presented the opportunity for me to head to London to the House of Commons for a reception with representatives from schools shortlisted in the National @TES awards – it was great to catch up with @MissMcDonaldY12 and @melanie170382
Later on in the month it was my pleasure to represent the Laxey/Dhoon Federation at the TES Awards proper – we were shortlisted in the “Sustainable Schools” category. I was accompanied by @bexleydale and @bronnieward and it was a genuine privilege to help put our schools firmly on the map!
Our Federation didn’t know what had hit it in July when the one and only @JungleMaster14 flew over to the Isle of Man to say “hello.” He was accompanied by @MrLovelidge and we enjoyed showing them around our schools and chatting to them about their approaches to phonics and maths mastery as it helped us to continue to shape our own development in these areas.
The new school year got off with a bang in September – @gdmorewood travelled over to lead a full INSET day with my staff teams on the Low Arousal Approach which is proven to be highly effective especially with children with autism. Gareth is a superb presenter – knowledgeable and entertaining in equal measure. I look forward to continuing to work with him going forward.
@AstinCraig and I also travelled over to London to represent @DhoonSchool and @LaxeySchool at the National Inclusion Quality Mark Awards. I was delighted to act as one of the Master of Ceremonies at this event and as always it was a pleasure to catch up @Joeinclusion.
Losing the Laxey School Plaque by leaving it on the train on the way back from the Award Presentation was not my finest hour. My eternal thanks are due to @DodsworthKate for finding it and then posting it to the Isle of Man. The power of twitter!
The New Voices Conference in London in October was an excellent event and gave me the opportunity to talk to Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools @amanda_spielman.
I really enjoyed listening to talks by @huxleyjudy @MiddletonHist @brown_andrew86 and @amandalecomber. There was also ample opportunity to talk to loads of other fascinating people too at the conference such as @HayleyJanePeace @RLuzmore @charlieroden_ and @andykeegan
In November, together with @rachelanneashl1, I paid a very special visit to the wonderful @ParklandsLeeds to see the one and only @chrisdysonHT and learn about his unique approach to school leadership which is people and community focussed with a heavy emphasis on staff wellbeing and lots of fun. A special thank you also to @f33lthesun for the guided tour of the school and to all the teachers who let me into their classrooms to see what was going on, especially @missnolan91
My federation has worked hard on developing handwriting with its pupils and in December it was lovely to welcome back @MorrellsHand into Dhoon School to start planning some further work for 2020. Watch this space, as they say!
Speaking of 2020, its already shaping up to be another year of collaboration and learning. I’m delighted that @Mr_AlmondED has agreed to visit my schools to work with my staff on developing a “Box Set Curriculum” and @GrandadWheels has agreed to travel over to share his fantastic stories with our pupils. This will form part of our ongoing diversity and heritage work. Children’s author @authorPJMurray has been booked for April to enthral the children with his latest offering “Poppy Warrior.” And @chrisdysonHT will be making an appearance too, to talk to my staff teams about his inspirational work.
And don’t forget, #SharingIsCaring, so if there is anything that you feel you could get out of a visit to either – or both – of my schools, then please do feel free to get in touch with me and arrange to come over. You will be very welcome!
Whenever I write something that name checks a lot of people I am always concerned that I will have forgotten to give a mention to absolutely everyone who deserves one. So please do not be offended if I’ve omitted your name by mistake – as you can see, 2019 has been a very busy year of CPD and learning, but rest assured, if our paths crossed, you certainly added to the rich melting pot of ideas and inspiration that helps shape my thinking and my schools.
See you next year!