I don’t often get the chance to advocate for great classroom resources let alone the work of friends but when Jane Hewitt kindly gave me permission to use her ‘Boots’ photographer for a prompt on 100 word Challenge, I was happy to do both.
This is her first foray into the world of publishing and what a gem it is!
I was asked to do a review of this book by Crown House Publishing and when they sent me my own copy as a thank you and because many teachers may not think of the potential of using photography with pupils, I want to share it with you.
The book is presented in an organised way, usefully colour coded with basics that include camera settings, the legality of using images and creative ideas outside the classroom at the beginning, followed by a wonderful array of projects that can be undertaken in any educational setting. These learning opportunities cover a wide variety of curriculum areas and stress that you do not have to be a professional photographer to get wonderful results with your class.
Jane talks about Visual Literacy’ and highlights the many apps that are now available for all our hand held devices, many of them owned by pupils. This means exploring a theme such as Street Art is within the reach of most teachers.
My friendship with Jane developed through us both taking part in a Photo A Day challenge when we posted 365 pictures, one for each day. During that year, Jane introduced me to Little People. They are tiny models made originally for use in model railways but my goodness what stories you can tell by using them with everyday objects!
You can see how these shots can make great story starters or more in depth work on creating ‘miniature worlds’ (p.144)
There is so much in these pages that a short post like this cannot do it justice. As I said in my original review, I felt there was enough for two books! It really is a resource that every class should have because it is not time or talent restricted. Giving learners an understanding of what can be seen through the lens will certainly open up their imaginations and give them a wonderful window on their world.
Copies are available via Amazon here ‘Learning Through the Lens’
This time last week I was in Manchester getting ready for Modern Governor’s #GovernorLive event. It was a chance for governors to get together, hear some great keynote talks and share experiences.
I had been given a space in the Governor Hub area to put up a display about 100 Word Challenge to encourage governors to join Team 100 (do read this post to find out how beneficial it could be to your governance work). Whilst I was there I was given this bag and told it was a gift from Clerk to Governors, Shena Lewington.
Intrigued, I opened it to find these items inside! Now, although we are great buddies on Twitter, I have never met Shena in real life so you may wonder what on earth she was doing, giving me these items. No, it wasn’t to help with Shrove Tuesday.
They actually refer to two brilliant posts she has written which are fabulous offering simple but very effective processes for governors.
This post offers questions governors can ask themselves without getting bogged down in long self evaluation forms
This post is aimed at governors of schools in categories of RI or special Measures. Again it is in check list form which cuts lots of reading and focuses on the actions needed.
Shena’s website and twitter presence is invaluable to governors and school leaders. Her simple writing style (including her poetry!) helps to cut through much of the jargon that impedes work in school. Do go and visit. In the meantime, THANK YOU Shena for making me smile.
Now, where are those eggs?
So the DfE wants governing bodies to be run in a business like manner. I see nothing wrong in that providing they are successful businesses that have the best interest of their clients and workforce at their heart.
Of course, most board members will either be head hunted or paid enormous salaries to bring their expertise to the table. Now, as we know governors are volunteers. That means no pay. The discussion as to whether they should be paid will have to wait for another blog post but the fact is once the pool you are taking from is of volunteers, you do get a different group to choose from. That is not to say it will be a bad selection – just different.
So, let’s look at how we can acquire governors. Parents elect their representatives so there is no control over the skills that come with them. Of course the documentation that goes out prior to the election can explain what skills are needed but it does not necessarily hold any sway with the voting parents.
LA governors are agreed by the authority who may not have the time to consider the needs of individual schools. Often it is about the scores on the doors. Our governor service has a role of honour for those schools whose governing bodies are up to full compliment so numbers of bums on seats is still important. It wasn’t long ago that Ofsted criticised schools with governor vacancies.
That leaves community governors who can be filtered out against the criteria of school needs. Of course that presumes there is a choice. As a chair of governors in several schools over the years, I can’t say that I’ve had a huge choice to make. Folks aren’t lining up at the door.
Of course schools need the skills of business to support their many different aspects now and having those skills on the governing body is great. However, they need to be held by people capable of transferring them to the school setting. Schools are not businesses so one quality that is really needed is flexibility. There are similarities that workplace skills can assist but there are also a great number of differences.
The last consideration that has been missed by the latest recommendation from DfE is what do we do with those governors already in place? There are rules and regulations for both the appointment and removal of governors and as far as I know ‘you don’t fit the new guidelines’ is not one we can use to change the skill set of the governing body.
So, whilst we might all want other skills to be available, we need to use what we have got. We need to give those people who have given up many hours and know our schools well, the additional understanding of the changes now expected from them. We are a long way from the Vicar of Dibley scenario in most of our schools but it is important to maintain a group of people who are there ‘for the good of the children’ surely?
As a keen blogger and tweep, I have been saddened by the outpourings from teachers on Twitter and via blogs recently. Nothing in their world seems to be right. Whether it is Ofsted, Michael Gove, licensing, the curriculum or their SLT – life seems to be cruel.
I am no longer in paid employment of any sort but am active in education through my governance work and of course 100 Word Challenge which puts me in touch with hard working, positive teachers who are working their socks off for their children and delight in their achievements.
I’m not saying that those teachers I referred to at the beginning are not hard working. What I do think is that all that negativity is not doing them and more importantly, the children, any good. Some of the pieces I have read have been horrific. If people have been treated in those ways, action should be taken against the perpetrators. It is difficult and may take time but it must be done.
Some posts would indicate to me that teaching may not be the career for some. I worry what impression all this wailing is doing for the reputation of the profession. I read in a blog (apologies for not remembering whose) concern that people considering teaching could be deterred from embarking on a career that is so depressed.
This morning however, I read two posts that have given me hope. In her reflections of her week, Mo Andrews also refers to the negativity and writes a great post in support of SLT. Certainly I can’t believe all leadership teams are as bad as some have been written about.
The other ray of sunshine came from Tom Sherrington and his rallying cry for teachers to do what they know is great. The key there is to the word ‘Great’. I agree with him that focusing on all that is wrong can become a barrier to just doing it.
I was very passionate about my job as a head teacher. I am still very passionate about education and so want it to flourish not only for the children but also for those who work in our schools. We need a bit of balance. We need more positive posts about SLT and being a teacher. Perhaps the reason there appear to be fewer of them is that they are just getting on and ‘doing it’!