Honywood Community School

logo-mainToday, I visited a school in Coggeshall, near Colchester, Essex, called the Honywood Community school. Uncharacteristically I hadn’t had the time or the opportunity to do my research before the visit, normally I read the most recent Ofsted report and look at the headline figures posted online. This normally provides context to what I observe.

Meeting the headteacher James Saunders, who talked through his, sorry, their vision for the school and how this is decimated into capitals, socially, cultural, knowledge and organisation and professional (for the staff and pupils). Capital is a great analogy because for me any capital (business or personal) affords you opportunities and all of the above are required to seize all that is given to our pupils.

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School vision-editable master

We talked about James’ own children and their love of learning, which has been nurtured through enrichment, I really got the sense that he wanted to give his pupils the same life chance as his own children.

In my tour around the school, I was shown a multitude of lessons. The most pupils seemed completely engaged in most lessons, but what really struck me was how happy the pupils were.  All the pupils, I spoke to, could articulate the why, what and how they were learning and how much they enjoyed the subject and the aspect of the lesson they particularly enjoyed. With P8 being a prevailing factor in many schools I have visited, it was refreshing to see such appreciation of the arts and the open bucket subjects. Pupils are actively encouraged into these subjects;

‘You serve the children first and foremost.’

Observing Science, Music, Maths, English, Humanities lessons they were in the form of different shapes and sizes; different styles and structures. James assures me that he works on a trust basis, teachers are the professionals in the classroom and make decisions as professionals in their lessons.

Continuing professional development, at Honywood Community school all teachers will visit another school as part of their development and bring back an idea or stimulus to impact their classrooms and teams this includes the headteacher and his senior leadership team. This will form an action research style project where the aim isn’t necessarily success in the classroom but the learning and development of the teacher.

This outward facing element of development is rarely utilised. It will be fascinated to see the gain when I next visit.

Finally Honywood’s use of Edtech. Every pupil is provided with an iPad. In the lessons I saw these were used in a variety of different ways, most impressive was the way a young science teacher has built his resources and round their virtual learning area. If you want to see something innovative around Edtech and something that has an impact on pupil outcomes I would advise a visit.

I’m glad I hadn’t looked at the data or Ofsted report pre-visit and I’m not going to either. Today, I visited a school where the
pupils and teachers were both respected, were happy and their well being was
valued. Take a bow Honywood Community School, today you taught an old dog new tricks.

You Are Who You Meet…

Yesterday, I delivered a session to a group of BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) leaders at Aureus school, we were warned that a dance school is also at the venue and apologies were made about the noise. Through the session, I was particularly amazed at the content of the experience of the delegates and their personal drive to make change for the pupils they serve.

During the session, a tiny, young face appears, not two feet tall, in the glass panel next to the door. As everyone one is a teacher, we all stop, wave and welcomed our young visitor into the room. Yes, I was also thinking about safeguarding, then I spotted an adult standing behind her.

During the session, a tiny, young face appears, not two feet tall, in the glass panel next to the door. As everyone one is a teacher, we all stop, wave and welcomed our young visitor into the room. Click To Tweet

Hannah Wilson (Executive Headteacher) goes to the door and greets our visitor.  Angel who is the sweetest year 2 pupil and also happens to be BAME (or part Global Majority), looks absolutely perplexed. We all introduce ourselves as teachers and tell her that one day we may end up teaching her, yet look of pure confusion doesn’t budge.

Has this child ever seen a BAME teacher? When asked if she had she promptly said no, she didn’t shake her head and the expression on her face is unchanged, she is shocked, and this broke my heart.

It took me back to another scenario, at a similar session but this time there were 50 BAME leaders in a room, in a venue near London. Where a group of boys congregated at the door and were continually ushered on. As teenage boy do they asked “what was going on?” when told followed the same look of confusion rode across etched across their faces, “but they are… They are …” the conversation trails off” until a teacher ushering says… black?

I have to say, to the absolute credit, Jon Chalenor (CEO of GLF Trust) he opened the blinds to the room and celebrated the event with the pupils.

These pupils had never seen such a concentration of BAME leaders in a room, and to these pupils (also BAME), the scene challenged their internal workings. How do you aspire to something that you cannot see?

‘How did we become so god damn invisible? Because If you don’t see yourself represented outside of yourself you just feeling F***ing invisible’

John Leguizamo (Latin History for Mor*ns)

‘How did we become so god damn invisible? Because If you don’t see yourself represented outside of yourself you just feeling F***ing invisible’ John Leguizamo (Latin History for M*rons) Click To Tweet

In conclusion, if pupils don’t see people in power that look like them? Along with a curriculum which mainly ignores the achievements of members of the global majority. They not only feel invisible they end up feeling inferior, and even more dangerous their white counterparts superior.

Change comes through actions. If you are a part of a marginalised group know that celebrating your successes has a wider impact, you owe it to those boys and you owe it to Angel.

The Best Job in the World – Changing Lives and getting Paid for it.

I want to share with you my journey into teaching. An honest version of this journey because in this career you will face different challenges to any other career you undertake. Never doubt however that this is the best undertaking you will ever have.

My name’s Pran and I’m currently a leader in an Inner London academy. The son of two immigrant parents, one from the West Indian state of Gujrat and the other hailing from the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

After graduating from the University of Birmingham with a Bachelor of Science in Physics, I flittered from a variety of career options until, by chance, I ended up supporting in a secondary school for a day. At this point for me, it clicked. I’m changing lives and getting paid for it, does it get any better than this?

Born in a typically British Asian household I was always pushed to excel; be successful in every aspect of my life from academia to career. The day I told my father I wanted to be a school teacher, he looked down, disappointed. I’m pretty sure he cursed under his breath in Gujrati. “Why have you worked so hard? Don’t you want to be a REAL success?” he asked.

Real success in our household, like many BAME, would experience, meant careers of high money and status. My response at the time was that I just wanted to make a difference and cause ripples of good karma in the world (I thought I’d sweeten him up with a bit of our culture).

Undeterred I went to a secondary state school in Wolverhampton for my teacher training. This was hands down the best experience of my twenties. It felt like I was bettering the community that raised me.

During my NQT year on our food shopping trips in our local town centre, week after week I was greeted with “Sir! Sir!” This was the moment my father recognised the value of what I do; when he finally told me how proud he was and saw that my success wouldn’t be measured in just money, but in the commodity of deeds.

This is my core purpose. The reason I teach is to serve the pupils in my care; to give them the best possible start in life regardless of their background. This I have taken with me to every lesson in every classroom I have ever taught in. When you choose to teach, choose your core purpose and it will serve you well through the years of your career.

Teaching has taken me to three continents and now to the hustle and bustle of the capital. I have given students a taste of culture similar in some cases but very different from the stereotypes in others. I am the purveyor of so much more than a curriculum. More than this I would say teaching has taken me to back to myself, my true calling and a place I call home.
In recent years I have developed myself as an educational leader to extend my impact on pupils to outside my classroom and outside my school. Last year I achieved my NPQSL (National Professional Qualification in Senior Leadership) with a focus on Teaching and Learning coaching.

My focus is about impacting on as many teachers’ practice as I can, then, in turn, this will impact on as many pupils as possible. My ultimate aim is to lead a school and propagate my vision to teachers and pupils alike.

To get there I will continue to use those sources of support that have taken me to this point now. One of these has been #BAMEed network. There is currently inequity between ratios of BAME pupil to BAME teachers and senior leaders. As such the support of others to engage more BAME into the profession is as important as the support to keep them positively progressing.

I work with the BAMEed network to ensure our diverse communities are represented as a substantive part of the education workforce for teachers and leaders in education. Fundamentally it’s about making school leadership reflect the communities they serve and letting our students see the leaders they want to be.

When you decide to join us in this fantastic career then do join our network. That is ALL of you, all the colours of the rainbow including you, wonderful allies. Diversity benefits us all.
Pran @MrPranPatel

This is part of a blog I wrote for UCAS earlier this year.


Think Pair Share – Propagation of a Teaching and Learning Tool


Think Pair Share, TPS, is a proven tool to embed information into pupil’s memory. Recently there has been a whole school drive using TPS. Problems arising with such drives is the lack of buy in, although most teachers are engaging with it;

Are they embracing it for the furtherment of their pupils or is it included because they feel it’s what SLT want to see?


TPS is an advanced structured form of pupil talk. A bit like Ronseal it does exactly what it says on the tin.

The question has to sufficiently open enough to let pupils think through its different facets.

e.g. What colour should you wear on a hot summer’s day?

The think phase is done in silence, but to reduce apathy, we have decided to make all pupils commit their ideas to paper.

Pair is all about discussing, justifying and evaluating their ideas with their partner, again committing to paper. We have also started to think about incorporating active listening skill into this process;

Share phase is where pupils are cold called to relay the shared ideas and the collective result of their pair phase.


The team leadership already really valued TPS, this made it much easier to start the propagation. The real challenge was to embed it into the daily teacher’s practices.

Step 1 : Talk about it extensively with your team. 

Advantages, disadvantages, how we currently use it, how we could incorporate into our subject, make pupils accountable, etc.

Step 2: Act on the talk.

Together we created an artefact to solidfy the talk, to make it real, to start owning the process.

See the TPS sheet (above) which was a culmination of the all the team talk.

Step 3: Trial and refine.

Every teacher tried it out and we refined together. Made our sheet better. This has the impact of keeping the tool current and increasing the sense of ownership.  (Thanks Tom)

Step 4 : Revisit and evaluate impact regularly.

This is the most important step we keep the dialogue going. I believe the only way to include something new into practice is through systemic coaching / mentoring.

Gender: Girls in Science Day – Equality in the Classroom

“On this International Day, I urge commitment to end bias, greater investments in science, technology, engineering and math education for all women and girls as well as opportunities for their careers and longer-term professional advancement so that all can benefit from their ground-breaking future contributions.” —

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres


In 2008/9 I was invited to complete some action research after reading the ‘Girls into Physics’ report from the Institute of Physics.

“I don’t treat girls any different to boys in the classroom, I’m a feminist. Surely this will be reflected in my practice.”

This was the first thing I said post report. Being a scientist I don’t operate on conjecture.


I completed a quick video analysis of over 5 classes. All I did was complete a tally of interactions with girl and boys. Shockingly my interaction totals were 90% boys 10% girls.



What is going on? Regardless of the quality of the interaction (I’ll blog on this later) I was favouring 50% of the class. This can’t be fair;

Post analysis I now plan my quality interactions with girls and complete a video analysis at least once a term. Last set of results boys: 60% girls: 40%. Not their yet but battling this unconscious bias.

Try it out … If you don’t have recording equipment just get someone use a tally chart in the classroom.

There is more to come but I’m getting this out there 🙂

Multi-Placement Initial Teacher Training. 13 PGCES, 2 Terms, 1 Department in an Inner London Academy

The Scene

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In September I moved to a new school and role, mainly because I wanted to develop my skills as a ITT mentor and add this to my CV. Through a wonderful collaboration with Goldsmiths, a University in South East London, in the autumn term we received PGCE students with a relatively small science department.

School experience one was all about co-teaching and success. PGCE students were paired and allocated a diverse timetable across our 3 key stages, students were expected to observe and take on as much as they wanted on their own time scale.

Initially teaching was like a tag-team match, discrete learning episodes lead by each student while the other circulated. This evolved naturally into parallel teaching (student teachers teach the same material to different groups at the same time), station teaching and ultimately team teaching.

The Magic

Image result for two heads are better than one
Two heads are better than one

This is where the magic began. The expectation was that students observe and take on parts of lessons in initial weeks. Their progress was massively accelerated, a pair (here’s a shout out to Lauren and Isabel) were teaching the main bulk of their timetables within their second week.

In the classroom, behaviour management and presence developed at a break neck speed. This development was also seen in the level of quality of their planning; really innovative, they often tried multitudes of different activities without a second thought.

As soon as week 2-3 critical analysis between students started to occur. Mentoring became a dream; students came to meeting with alternate views of the lesson, constructive feedback and even actions to take forward.

It was obvious that students seem more confident in the classroom. I could harp on about my brilliant mentoring ability here but there was something else. Their self efficacy was boosted by the fact that there were 2 of them.

What is Self Efficacy?

Image result for self efficacy#

“It’s okay if I mess something up, Lauren will chip in and save the day and vice versa. We can really do this.”

Well, I define it the feeling or the belief that you can do something well, it’s well documented that teachers with high self efficacy are more effective in the classroom. Teacher’s taking more risks with the curriculum (Guskey, 1988) to using new teaching approaches (Gibson & Dembo, 1984) and increasing pupil’s motivation (Midgely et al. 1989) and consequently their overall achievement (Brookover et al. 1979).

We can increase our self efficacy through (Bandura 1997),

  1. Mastery experiences (repeated successful experiences doing it- this is the most powerful)
  2. Vicarious experiences/Role modelling (seeing other do it and learning from that experience)
  3. Verbal persuasion (being told that they can do it)
  4. Controlling Physiological arousal (controlling your emotional states such as anxiety, etc)

All PGCE students would lack in their own mastery experiences being new to the classroom, their only real source of self efficacy would be gained vicariously through the initial observation of experienced practitioners. With our program all student teachers were observing and teaching simultaneously and further to this critically analysing each other’s practice (verbal persuasion). Leads to a triple whammy of “I can do this and I can do this well”.

Where to now?

Two of our PGCE students were interviewed and offered positions. I firmly believe that all of our cohort are better for the experience and they all have the potential to be amazing teachers.

Well I now have the second cohort, starting to adapt the model for team teaching, by experimenting with split pairing and triplet teaching. This is week one, you’ll get an update soon.


Guskey, T.R. (1988). Context variables that affect measures of teacher efficacy. Journal of Educational Research, 81, (1), 41-47.

Brookover, W., Beady, C., Flood, P., Schweitzer, J., & Wisenbaker, J. (1979). School social systems and student achievement: Schools can make a difference. New York: Bergin

Midgely, C., Feldlaufer, H., & Eccles, J.S (1989). Change in teacher efficacy and student self- and task-related beliefs in mathematics during the transition to junior high school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81 (2), 247-258.

Gibson, S., & Dembo, M.H. (1984). Teacher efficacy: A construct validation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76, 569-582.

Bandura, A. (1997), Self Efficacy: The exercise of Control. New York. W. H. Freeman & Co.

Teacherist or Teachernots

Teachering or Teaching

Well it’s the Christmas break 2015-2016 and I promised myself that I’d do something useful with the time. As well as mark, plan and most importantly rest.

So this is the beginning of my education blog . Now I’m not the expert on anything, after years and years in the classroom I feel as though I should at least try to share my experiences.

Well here it begins.