Work-Life Balance

Our first six weeks as self-employed.  We are doing pretty well. Better than I thought we would be. Hubby and I quit teaching and in my case I never went back after maternity leave. Over Christmas we had a three week break – a mixture of excitement, celebration then eagerness to get going. Hubby then started canvassing for some students to tutor and I was waiting to hear from a number of sources that I had looked in to for getting work. 

In the last 6 weeks, our weekly routine has transformed: 

1.       Hubby tutors four students every week. He is relishing the joy as a tutor – simply spending time preparing for and delivering lessons.  He has even scheduled in time to take some lessons himself in chess, his obsession (something he has wanted to do for years).

2.       I’ve started my ILM Level 7 Executive Coaching and Mentoring Certificate and am in the middle of writing my first assignment.

3.     I have attended the Diverse Leaders Coaches workshop and am looking forward to meeting my coachees soon.

4.       I have facilitated an NPQSL workshop at the IOE and sent off my first invoice as a businesswoman!

5.       I’ve taken on a coachee through WomenEd/DFE coaching pledge, which is exciting and rewarding.

6.       I have been contacted by a couple of high profile organisations about delivering training to middle and senior leaders.

7.       We spend more time together as a family.

8.       We spend more time together as a couple.


With the help of my coach Charmaine Roche I realise that I don’t need to do everything now. I have always been pretty organised, using a variety of list techniques over the years – must do, should do, could do then on to Stephen Covey’s technique. But in my last job due to the head teacher’s demands everything was important & urgent. Lists became obsolete. It became impossible to prioritise. Working at that level for over 6 months almost ruined me but I also got used to it. 

Now I realise actually, I don’t need to do my course, design my website, create training packages, canvass for coaching clients and do some consultancy all now, now, now! What is the hurry? I can take my time. I can concentrate on getting my assignments done and let the paid work come to me, which it already is. 


Everyday we feel like we are on holiday and can’t believe our lives. We work together to plan out our week cordoning off time for each other to work, study and spend time with the kids. This time with the kids is a revelation because it is dedicated. We are participating, we are actively engaged. Hubby now reads to our eldest every day – he’s never done that before. He never had energy. I no longer feel guilty being away from the kids as I know I see a lot more of them than when I was working full time. We are both loving seeing our baby develop unlike with our eldest who we’d collect from nursery and they’d inform us of his latest development, which was always pretty soul destroying. We are naturally tired from having young children but not completely shattered from both working full time in a school at a relentless pace. 

We have a work-life balance and loving it!




2016, what a year!  I cried a lot watching the news. Brexit, Trump, terror attacks – so many deaths of both ordinary and famous people. 2016 sucked.  But there were major contrasts between national and global news and my own personal life.  It was personally a life-changing year in so many ways.    


1.       February – I went on maternity leave knowing it might be the last time I would work full-time in a school again.  I wanted and chose to see my own kids grow up. 

2.       April saw the birth of my baby – I was worried a new baby would drop a bomb on our perfect little unit but our family feels complete with our two boys who adore each other.  

3.       July we relocated to Dorset from London – I’m a born and bred Londoner but the transience and stress of the city were no longer for us with a young family. We wanted more for our children. It’s the best move we ever made.  We are so close to the beach, not far from the forest, have some family and friends just around the corner. We have strong social interactions again! 

4.       I struggled to do any exercise in London. I was so busy at work the only thing I had time for was to get home and see my boy and hubby. Now I am part of a swimming club and set up a maternity/paternity cycling club!  I lost my pregnancy weight within a few months! bike-beach

5.       November I officially left my job as a senior leader and left teaching but have reinvented myself as a business woman! I started the process of setting up my own coaching & consultancy company. I’ve got my professional mojo back!


6.       December hubby had resigned (KS5 co-ordinator for maths). He is going to set up business as a maths & physics tutor.  We decided to share parenting and both work flexibly so we can actually watch our young family grow up, enjoy living in glorious Dorset and work when we want to, how we want to and love it!  

What am I looking forward to in 2017? Well, lots!

1.       Watching my kids grow and develop Watching my business grow & develop!

2.       Embarking on the Level 7 Executive Coaching & Mentoring Certificate at Oxford Brooke’s University 

3.       Being part of the Diverse Leaders programme as a coach

4.       Teachmeet Southampton, Portsmouth Leicester!

5.       Being 10% braver and not only attending WomenEd conferences but facilitating workshops in Oxford & Coventry and presenting in Bristol!  

6.       Actually having a work/life balance this year.   

With the start of 2017, hubby and I should be terrified. We both start the year without a stable job.  However, we are excited. Excited to spend more time with our kids. Excited to spend more time as a family. Excited with both our new ventures.   

2016 was the best year of my life, and I know that 2017 will be better.

BAMEed or coaching for all?

When I read Amjad Ali’s post about BAME stats, as a history graduate, my first reaction was to question the evidence and the analysis of it. 

Over the last 15 years whenever I have analysed stats at schools, e.g. Panda, raise online etc. Pakistani students have been at the lower end of the progress line and irrespective of how they do academically they leave to enter employment early on because culturally having a stable job is seen as important. The Indian community, however are taught that education is power and encouraged to aim high academically by their parents. 

From my own Indian community of East London, I was taught that education will set you free. The strength of the cultural tradition was evident when I was growing up. Of my Pakistani and Bangladeshi classmates, all the girls had arranged marriages by their 17th birthday and of the boys the majority left at 16 to go to work. Of my Indian Muslim friends they had arranged marriages soon after or during their A Levels whereas my Indian Hindu/Sikh friends waited till after they completed their degree. These cultural traditions are strong as is the perspective of teaching as a profession. For example, within the Indian community teaching isn’t considered a profession worth pursuing. Teachers are highly respected in the community but you don’t want your kids becoming teachers. When I told my dad I was going to read History at uni he thought I had mispronounced the word ‘law’. 

I would argue that the reasoning behind the difference between the number of Pakistani teachers/SLT when compared to Indian communities is heavily influenced by culture. Indian students stay on in education longer so there are more teachers and SLT from this community. But overall the numbers of Asians in the profession are low anyway as many Asians who go into higher education try to pursue medicine, law or accounting. The three pillars of Asian career aspirations!

Personally, my greatest barrier to success was at school being taught by many awful teachers some of whom told me not to bother with university. Also in the community with the National Front marching up our street shouting ‘Pakis out’ and their kids in school violently bullying myself and my siblings. This didn’t support a culture of success and didn’t do wonders for my self esteem. 

Thankfully, as an adult I haven’t experienced this. Brexit made me cry for three hours at the thought of returning to a Britain of the 70s but I haven’t encountered anything untoward in society as an adult….yet. I know that others have not been so lucky. In my career I have been very successful. I have been a member of SLT in a school where we had 80% EAL and the majority of SLT were BAME. I recently worked in a school which was 80% white and I was the only BAME in SLT. I never encountered any prejudices in either school. 

BAMEed sounds like a good idea. So what is preventing me from being so enthusiastic about It? I jumped at the chance of joining WomenEd. Perhaps it’s because as women regardless of our background we have similar experiences. However, as a member of the BAME community each experience is so varied. I hate being put in a box and I worry that joining a group like this does exactly that, puts all ethnic minorities into a box saying we are all the same with the same experiences.  

But I wonder if the focus should be supporting and raising the self esteem of young people rather than adults? As a young person my confidence was low due to the negative messages I constantly received out there that I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t do as well as I really could have academically because I just didn’t believe I could. A mentor/coach would have been invaluable to me back then. As an adult I’d be happy to mentor/coach a young person to help them on the road. 

Perhaps as an adult I had the drive and ambition to get to where I am today. I worked hard to break down the negative messages I had been exposed to as a child. Maybe adults from these backgrounds need the coaching too? 

I would love to coach young people and adults regardless of their ethnic background to inspire, encourage and support them to be the best they can be. 

I will follow with interest to see how BAMEed develops. 

Read Amjad Ali’s post here:

Read Allana Gay’s post here: 

Strength in unity

Reflection on the year 2014-15

Let’s face it, it’s been a tough year for us all.  Starting the year with the pretty awful exam results, then the resignation of the head teacher, followed by an interim head and then finally in the last couple of months a new permanent head…… Not forgetting DFE, Ofsted etc in between………… It’s been a crazy year.  But Stockley Staff have dealt with the highs and lots of lows with stoicism.  It’s a team spirit and resilience that I have never experienced before in any staff community at a school and I’d be surprised if I ever experience it again.  A huge well done to our Teach Firsts and NQTs who survived this year which is the most difficult in anyone’s career let alone with a tumultuous year that we have had.  I am going to miss our wonderful colleagues that we are losing but I am also looking forward to new beginnings in September. What we have desperately needed is stability and I believe we will have this next year. I thought a nice way to end the year would be to ask staff what they have gained from this year in terms of the professional development and support they have received.  So over to them:

CPD training this year (2014 – 2015) has given me the opportunity to liaise with fellow practitioners to share good practice. To feel part of the learning community and being aware of T & L across the school. The impact this has had on my students progress (Significant in KS4)  has been due to gaining confidence through sharing strategies that have been developed, reaffirming my belief in my own practice. The coaching course has also developed skills to recognise strengths in students and staff allowing a firm base in which they can  develop and progress with confidence.                                        Katie Potter – Art Teacher: @potterkatiehook

I really enjoyed the marking gallery this year. It was a new format for T&L and a great way for teachers to pick up new ideas and for the favoured idea to be carried forward as a whole school. The delivery of CPD has been varied and differentiated this year and allowed teachers and their managers to focus on their needs.                                 Laura Liddle – Curriculum Leader for Humanities

The graphic organisers training (led by Laura Liddle) that I went on at the beginning of term has had a huge impact on my teaching especially my exam classes. They have helped me to develop pupils answers and also allowed the pupils to clearly structure their answer before writing this up. I have explored this through group, pair and self-work and it has proved a great success in my lessons, as the pupils have given me some great feedback. The middle leaders training course has really inspired me as second in charge of  the department it has taught me how to  address difficult conversations within the work place and also allowed me to understand not only my leadership style but the leadership styles of others. The external course that I went on this year looked at Outstanding teaching at Btec Level 3. From this course I have changed the assessment layout for Btec at level 2 and level 3. I have adapted schemes of work so that they are more interactive and hands on and I have also developed tasks that allow for more independence at both level 2 and level 3. Overall, all of the courses that I have been on this year have either impacted my teaching directly or inspired me to become a better leader and these will both impact on the development and achievement of the pupils that I teach.                                                                                            Brittany Berry – 2IC PE

It was quite hard for me to think, as a lot of the CPD opportunities that have run this year I have been involved in running/presenting/planning rather than participating in (Marking stalls, session on progress checks with Achita, Teaching tips with other LPs, NQT sessions, CPD sessions after school for staff, RAG123, Literacy CPD with Franki @frankifaux). However, I have racked my brain to think about the sessions that I have been a recipient of, rather than a presenter of, and the following have been of use to me.

  1. Tara Ashe’s session on self-efficacy in September – it pushed me to think about how to plan tasks and activities that raise self-esteem and encourage confidence. In my practice I now ensure I always reflect on prior learning in order to build a sense of confidence before moving onto new learning.
  2. Marking CPD run by Mal Krishnasamy– I plan many opportunities for student redrafting and self-reflection. I use different colour pens to showcase student progress. I use RAG123 to track progress and ensure immediate feedback.

Jen Parkin – Lead Practitioner English @jen_missparkin

I have learnt a lot from you regarding literacy and developing their written communication. Through installing the ‘PEER’ practice in my lessons across the year groups, I have seen a significant improvement in students’ ability to argue and discuss controversial issues. Your resources have really helped me to install in the students that practice and redrafting pays off. I have a much more open mind to teaching – it’s not about the sing song but about drilling the basics and getting them right.

I really appreciate your support Mal and feel that my practice has moved forward.                                   Jenny Hunt – Citizenship Teacher & Head of House

Both my teaching and outcomes have benefited significantly from the T&L sessions this year.  I have been more conscious of structuring my lessons using Bloom’s taxonomy;  ensuring that tasks are graduated to show progression and learning from both questioning and activities.  This has also allowed me to personalise learning more for individual students; differentiating more  effectively for their needs, hence all students making progress.  I am now marking smarter and more effectively, where students are actively responding to feedback and closing the loop to show progress.  I have also benefited from discussions with colleagues sharing behaviour management strategies for whole-class and for  particular students.  As a result, I now have a better working relationship with my year 9 class, and in particular, Yusuf, Sydnie and John, who were of great concern at the start of the year.                                     Michelle Sweeney – English Teacher

I felt I learnt a lot from the NQT training sessions this year.  The training on how to use teaching assistants in the classroom by Tom Killigrew was particularly helpful.  The group session on looking at outstanding marking was also  very useful.  Getting to see how other people mark during the Marking Gallery  helped me to sample different techniques and to find out which suited me the best.  RAG 123 was also good to see, as it was helpful to hear about the different ways that teachers used it and to come up with ways that you could incorporate it into your lessons.                                                              Shona McManamon – Geography NQT

This year as a teacher at Stockley Academy, I have benefitted from many teaching and learning tips delivered by Mal Krishnasamy. Since starting at Stockley Academy, it was made clear to me the importance of showing students progress. However, i struggled a little with this at the start of the year. The first inset training day was extremely beneficial as I was given over 50 different activities on how to show progress with students. I was able to take these ideas back with me to the classroom. From this training, I now have different methods of showing progress readily available for all of my classes. I was also invited to share my marking with fellow teachers at another training session as different stalls were set up in order for teachers to share good practice. I received positive feedback on my code marking, which gave me great confidence. On top of this, I found this session extremely beneficial as I was able to look at other teachers techniques, and apply this to my own marking. 

Letitia McInally – History Teacher & Head of House

One key aspect of training that has really improved me as a teacher, this academic year, are the sessions I have attended on questioning. This has been one of my targets throughout the year and the training has made me approach it from a different perspective. This has had a huge impact on student’s contributions to class discussions as they know when they are picked for a question it will be differentiated. In turn this allows them to be more confident in their answers and encourages them to offer answers more often.

Paul Mulvihill – Supported Curriculum Teacher

The training that has had the biggest impact on my teaching this year was the Literacy CPD that was delivered by Ms Krishnasamy in November. In Humanities, our students have often found discursive writing quite a barrier to their attainment. The session detailed the benefits of giving students a model to work with that can help structure their writing. Particularly we looked at the PEER (Point, Evidence, Explain, Refer) model. On the back of this session I created a Literacy menu to support students in lessons when completing an extended writing activity. As a result of using this menu for the past 6 months, I have witnessed enormous progress in my KS3 classes and every lesson I am seeing more confident writers. literacy menu

James Bate History Teacher, Acting Head of Humanities.

During the NQT meetings and CPD as a whole, I feel I benefited a lot from the different types of marking which was displayed as part of the Marking Gallery. The 5 minute lesson plan and the CPD where Mal Krishnasamy organised T&L workshops that we could opt in to were really useful. For e.g. I remember attending Wajid’s class on literacy and AFL. Here I integrated much of his teachings into mine. His resources were extremely useful, such as tutor2u. The CPD meeting on homework was also helpful with James Bate, another resource which helped with my own teaching.            Sukhi Ranu Philosophy & Ethics NQT

There are a number of different strategies I’ve picked up on my training that I have used effectively in the classroom to improve upon my teaching. These include: Sessions with Ms Faux were extremely useful in improving my teaching and marking of literacy, they made me aware of the importance of literacy in every subject and gave excellent tips to aid in this. I learnt to place literacy ‘challenges’ within science work, pupils found this fun and were enthusiastic about doing them. This contributed to a real literacy focus in many of my science lessons and an improvement in their interpretation of science keywords and questions. Sessions with Mr Killigrew have been very effective at helping to deal with challenging pupils and utilising support staff. This has a great impact on my teaching, allowing me to dedicate more time to other members of the class whilst confident in the knowledge some of the most challenging pupils are on task. This has had an immense impact on both my teaching and the students attitude in my classroom, contributing to a positive learning environment. The introduction and training of the use of RAG123 by Ms Krishnasamy has been extremely helpful in both allowing me to assess the understanding of the pupils, but also to allow the pupils to reflect on their own progress and effort. This lead to pupils taking ownership and responsibility over their own learning as well as allowing them to see the gaps in their knowledge. In addition throughout the training I have picked up a number of different behaviour management strategies, this has allowed me to diffuse potentially volatile situations. The number of detentions and number of ‘exits’ I have issued has dropped due to the behaviour management strategies I have picked up to deal with situations before they escalate. This has helped contribute to a safer and more learning friendly environment within my classroom.                                                                  Ed Campbell Science Teacher

As an NQT this year I have found that the training I received in school has had a positive impact on my practice. For me the marking CPD sessions have had a strong impact on my practise. It has helped me to understand the importance of feedback that is immediate (as immediate as possible) and personalised. Furthermore, AFL sessions from November helped me to realise the importance of a clear success criteria for every task and how it can help to show progress within lessons. Furthermore, with the focus on ‘progress over time’ this year I got the most out of the marking sessions. The NQT sessions on formative feedback and peer/self-assessment have helped me to develop different strategies when it comes to marking now. For example;

  • I now use peer and self-assessment so regularly that students always have a very in depth knowledge of what skills they need to progress. This has ensured that they understand the mark schemes they are assessed against.
  • My pupils now regularly use feedback to redraft different aspects of their work. In this way they can see their own improvements.

Also, the whole school marking CPD allowed me to reflect on how I mark in order to develop new strategies. For example:

  • I developed a marking code that I used to encourage higher standards of literacy. This I found helped a lot of students that were continually making minor literacy errors in their work.
  • Also RAG123 has helped me a lot to mark both effort and understanding and clearly show the students the link between the two. If I know students have been working hard but their understanding is still low then I must go about teaching that topic in a different way.

Farihah Dean – NQT English

  It’s heart warming to read that so many have gained so much from the CPD that has been on offer this year.  Perhaps  more staff would like to add their comments below?

Have a great summer everyone!!


Gallery Critique

Really good advice. I get students to peer assess a lot. This post has made me think about fine tuning that process. Thank you.

Class Teaching

The 15 minute forum was led tonight by English teacher Jo Grimwood.  Jo started the session by sharing with us the concerns she has with peer assessment:

  • Students don’t know how to assess work – we are the professionals, they aren’t!
  • They’re sensitive about their friends reading their work.
  • They’re not sure how to mark/what to say.
  • They’re not clear on what’s good/what’s not.
  • They give vague/unhelpful feedback, because they don’t know where/how the feedback should be focused.
  • It doesn’t help them to understand the important areas of weakness and how to move on.

So as a process, it’s not always that useful.  In fact, it can often be damaging and compound misconceptions.   Gallery critique, where students spend an extended period of time reading and assessing the work of their peers, as well as giving high quality feedback, seems to be a far more purposeful alternative.

Preparing for gallery critique

  • It…

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“To pursue bright spots is to ask the question ‘What’s working, and how can we do more of it?’  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  Yet, in the real world, this obvious question is almost never asked.  Instead, the question we ask is more problem focused: ‘What’s broken, and how do we fix it?’”
–Chip Heath & Dan Heath, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

At Stockley Academy we have a great deal of good practice so I am on a mission to find the ‘Bright Spots’ and celebrate success.  Below are some examples from last half term:

I just wanted to say congratulations and well done to Humanities for organising 2 fab events last half term.  

The mock elections provided a fabulous opportunity for the students to engage with politics. The polling booths made the experience incredibly real. The election manifesto PowerPoint probably helped some swing voters to make a final decision later that day….! Thank you to Jack and Ellen for capturing the atmosphere so well in their very entertaining Stockley News Report. 

polling booths

ballot papers

VE Day provided a fantastic atmosphere and it was an amazing and emotional experience hearing Churchill over the tannoy. Indeed it was very poignant and provided a stimulant for the students to investigate further into their own history. Huge thanks to Cucina staff who really went the extra mile in support. I was also impressed by the work that James Bate put into creating the power-points for form times to inform students and staff of the 2 events.  

Overall a fab couple of days with really well organised events by the hums team and great support by all members of staff.


A couple of weeks ago whilst on Duty Patrol I noticed that Sherish had her yr 11 class in total silence heads down working away.  But the most interesting thing was the fact that each student had a little bag in front of them. I was intrigued.  I actually walked passed a number of times to find the best time to walk in where I wouldn’t spoil the ambience of the room:


Later Sherish gave me details of what was in the goodie bags. The contents were: 3 highlighters, black pen, pencil, post-it notes, a bar of chocolate, a little good luck message for each student, laminated card breaking down each question in the exam, few past papers, and a revision booklet.

 bag contents year 11 goodie bags lot

This pack enables students to work independently on revising for their English exam. The students clearly appreciated the effort Sherish went to and as a result of that were clearly motivated and focussed in the lesson.

This is a great example of a Bright Spot and nice to see. If you have got something you would like me to shine a light on, then let me know.

Encouraging Independent Learning


So, I’ve been thinking about this for a while. Students have so many stickers in their books, RAG123, connectives, my marking codes…. Then their book finishes and they have none of this stuff in front of them or it gets torn, lost etc. So I created a literacy peer/self assessing key chain.

Kids love it! Last week my yr8s were using it to help them write a paragraph in class. Some of them asked if they could take my key chains home to help them do their homework.

Staff love it! At the Marking Fayre I organised for a twilight CPD session, it was very popular particularly with the more practical subject areas.

It’s still early days of using it but so far a big success.

Here’s my prototype:

Here it is with a carabiner!

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#addcym on Twitter

Y Byd a'r Betws - Blog B J Mock

This is a short blog for teachers in Wales, and beyond, about #addcym being used to develop discussion and network using Twitter. There is a real need for teachers in Wales to discuss educational matters, share ideas and network across the nation.

We are entering into an exciting time for education in Wales with a new curriculum being developed following Prof Donaldson’s report.

Twitter and social media offer a superb opportunity to develop our teacher voice during this time and ensure that we are able to respond to developments and support each other during the process.

#addcym is about sharing blogs, information and ideas about education and educational matters in Wales.

#addcym is for all teachers and leaders from both Welsh and English sectors.

#addcym is a supportive community.

We would like to invite you to take at #addcym and use it!


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