Friday, March 30, 2007

Great training day

Had great fun today, learning how to use a variety of software packages on the Mac. Very exciting new technology that I will be able to use in school. I've been very excited all day! Have just watched Little Miss Sunshine - very funny, very moving, laughing then crying then laughing again. Highly recommended!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

On the tube

Left around 7am ... no traffic, just the way it is when I'm not driving! Hammersmith and City line had severe delays, so I took District Line to Aldgate East. Waited and waited for H&C while a number of District Lines went past. Eventually there was an announcement, saying that because of delays we should get on next train and change later. Decided to get on the next train and travel to Tower Hill. Changed there, got on the Circle Line, planning on going to King's Cross. Except I went in the wrong direction ... Changed at Monument, had to wait for about 15 mins for another Circle Line train going in the right direction. Eventually arrived at KX, but late. The rest of the journey was straightforward, but I arrived half an hour late. A two hour journey. And haven't stopped since then!

Spent my one free period making multiple copies of marking scripts and schemes for the revision class next week ... and discovered on the tube on the way home that I've made copies of all the Year 10 work instead of the Year 11 work! Oh dear.

Had a good meeting after school (not a school meeting), and am glad to finally be home!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Too tired to write a lot today ... you'll be glad to hear! Woke up about 3.30am, my head full of the things I had to do today. Eventually had to get up and write a list, so that I could sleep easily. But all too soon it was time to get up! Another busy day - and still haven't marked those essays or found a priest. And then I reached my photocopying limit at the end of the day, when I was trying to prepare for the revision day. Hope the Reprographics technician can increase my limit tomorrow ... Classes weren't great today, but they were bearable. Think Wednesday's one of my better days.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Whirlwind Tour of My Day

Arrived at school. Went to staffroom. Started marking. Remembered one member of staff is off school. Went to set up cover. Bell rang for first lesson. Waited in room for supply teacher to arrive. Class arrived. Told them what to do and sat down to try and get some marking done. Teaching Assistant arrived. Went to office to find out if there was any news about the supply teacher. Told that two were late. Went back to class. Helped pupils and marked for about half an hour until supply teacher arrived.

Went to staffroom. Had some computer stuff to do, as well as exam papers to mark, and was then going to phone the Chaplain of another to school to see if he might be able to find us some priests to come to the school for Reconciliation later this week. Five minutes into lesson, the TA found me and told me that five minutes before the end of the last lesson, a couple of the boys had started play fighting, and when they wouldn't stop, the supply teacher gathered up all her things, including all the cover work I'd set for the day's lessons, and had left, in a distressed state. I phoned over to the office, and was told that she was in tears in the office and was going home, and that there was no-one free with non contact lessons to cover. I said that I would go and sit with the class, but I had already spent half of a lesson covering already, and had lots to do, and wanted someone to come and take over from me. She said she'd see, but there was no one available. Since there were other teachers sitting in the classroom, I knew she meant no one who had a period marked as available for cover. Which included both those free periods on my timetable.

Anyway, off I went to the class. About ten pupils were sitting around already, playing cards. I told them to put the cards away, and they ignored me. One girl started muttering comments. No one was remotely bothered. I went out and called the office, asking them to send the on-call person round. I went back to the room. Still playing cards. I handed out the books, and told them to put their cards away, sit on their chairs, get rid of the sweets, and put the mobile phones and iPods away. Would have been as effective if I'd been sitting in the staffroom. Remembered I had a video camera in my bag. Took a video - they hid the cards away and at that point the on-call arrived. He immediatelty took about seven of them away. The others settled a bit, and opened the books. Still didn't do any work.

Break. Off I went to my office, and almost immediately got a call from the on-call asking me to write up the incident, which I duly did, and delivered to the office before the end of break. I then had to stay there for about fifteen minutes, going over the incident with the on-call, who had already arranged for some pupils to be excluded for refusing to follow instructions and playing cards in class. This then meant I was late for my Sixth Form lesson; by the time I arrived back, most had left, so I taught the six or so that were there.

Period four, I had arranged to show a colleague how to access a certain website; just as we started, the office phoned to tell me that someone I had expected to see during lunch had arrived early. Off I went to collect him and bring him back to the office, where we spent the rest of the lesson planning a revision lesson for during the holidays. Walked him back to the office and caught up with my other colleague as the bell rang - managed to show her quickly how to access the website, then we went to the staffroom for lunch.

I was trying to complete some more marking, then suddenly remembered we had a meeting at 1pm. Saw a couple of other colleagues to remind them, then went back to my room at 1pm for the meeting. Discussed quite a bit, including how to make revision cards.

Just before the end of lunch, someone brought the new supply teacher over. I took her back over to the room she was teaching in, at the other side of the school ... she needed a board marker and rubber, so I then had to find that for her, by which time the bell had gone. I rushed over to the other side of the school, where I discovered that the head was in my room with the class. Since I hadn't finished marking the answers (all three of my free periods, during which I planned to mark them, had gone), I then had to quickly plan what to do, so I started going over the questions. They were too chatty, and since I hadn't let them in, I felt not quite in control!

Most eventually did something, though, and we got to the end of the lesson. I then had to rush over to the computer rooms, where I had told my year 7s to meet me. But the room was being used, and the year 7s were getting loud and restless. Fortunately some of the teachers over there helped me out and we found another room, and the pupils then got on with the work I wanted them to do quite well.

Tidied up the computer room at the end of the day, and went straight to the Extended Leadership Team meeting which ended at 5pm.

Whew! A busy day.

Great to be home!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Monday Monday ...

It's that time of the week again ... it's funny, I only teach three classes today, but they are my worse year 10 and my worse year 11, and you all know what my year 7s are like ... and in the three frees that I have, I can never manage to get anything done. Oh well.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


We've been to a baptism today - I think it's the first Catholic baptism I've been invited to since I was about six years old. Not including the baptisms I've witnessed during services. It was really nice, and the church was really something - very minimalistic and light architecture, with a walk in baptistry.

There were four children being baptised, and they were all very well behaved, and very cute! Then we went back to a community centre for some food, music and chat. The sister who comes to school to lead prayers was there - it was nice to get to chat with her, along with other colleagues from school.

Since then we've made some short video clips which I have included in powerpoint presentations for my Year 7s - I hope they work tomorrow!

Alarm Clock

I put the clocks forward around 8pm last night (so no excuse for the late night we had!), so I wasn't late for church because I'd forgotten about it. No. I was late because my alarm went off at 8am, as planned, then switched off instead of snoozing. So I carried on snoozing ... well, no, it was a deep sleep and I was dreaming of singing with a large choir and having to do a solo which I kept on getting wrong, but kept on smiling anyway ... and eventually woke up of my own free will (not sure why - I was still exhausted!) at 8:53am, then had to shower, wash my hair, get dressed and breakfasted and out within 20 mins or so. Was only 5 minutes late - not bad in the circumstances, I thought. Anyway, H said I should mark the occasion of the alarm clock beginning the descent into not-workingness.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Amazing Grace

We went to see Amazing Grace last night. An enjoyable film, well shot, although we agreed that it would probably have made sense to have had more input from black people when it was being planned. However, we also then agreed that if black people had wanted to make a film about the slave trade, they could have done so. If they could get the funding. Micheal Apted certainly focuses on the story of Wilberforce's fight to bring about the Abolition of the Slave Trade, rather than Equiano's story, for example. Interesting to learn that Wilberforce suffered from colitis.

Other than that ... I think some of the pupils still thought that the inspectors were in, their behaviour was so good in the morning. Didn't last all day, though! But not too bad. There were assemblies all day where the head was able to tell the pupils the good news, and one of the AHTs sang "Something inside so strong" with a choir, keyboard, guitar and drums. Really nice, joyful. Very funny, though, when I walked past the hall on the way to lunch and saw the head standing on a chair clapping his hands above his head and getting the year 7s to stand and sing, bemused. Think he may have still been recovering from the night before! Anyway, he's obviously very relieved!

Today we've done some sewing. I still need to make a baptism card for tomorrow and write an essay for Thursday, so better go.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I work in a Good School!

The pupils have been great, we've all worked hard, the SLT have been out and about during every lesson, pupils have said good things about the school, the lessons have gone the way we said they would go, and the inspectors have been, been impressed, and gone.

We have a Good School, with some Outstanding features! Not bad for a school that yesterday was in the category of Serious Weaknesses. The pupils have been asking if the school was going to be closed, because that was a real possibility, if we had gone into Special Measures. However, our understanding of the school was seen to be Outstanding, as is our capacity to continue to improve, and teaching and learning is good. Results are satisfactory, but progress is good (I think).

The head read out the letter from the inspectors - he started by telling us that we were no longer in a "category", and finished by saying that we are Good. Both announcements got a round of applause, and at the end I felt a tingle of happiness. It's such a relief not to have Ofsted hanging over us any more!

We're celebrating!

(Normal service resumes ... tomorrow?!)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

D-Day minus one ...

Got home around 9pm. Still working hard. Haven't eaten since around noon. Very hungry. Diocese is not now coming to do a full inspection (sigh of relief!), but we could still be observed briefly, and I need to meet a man from the Diocese to discuss students' spiritual, moral, social, emotional and cultural development. So I'm planning that talk now ...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Two days to go ...

The conference was great, but it means I still haven't planned my lessons.

Had a horrendously busy today, meeting with a very nice, helpful man to discuss the progress of the Year 11s, sent six Year 7s to the Referral Room within about ten minutes of starting the lesson because they got involved in a scramble, the Year 11a were quite horrible and I was being observed, and the Year 10s all acted as if they were drunk.

And it snowed. Much more interesting than learning anything.

Hope they've calmed down by Wednesday ...

I'm feeling quite nervous, anxious and panicky. Must plan those lessons.

Friday, March 16, 2007


So, the day has finally come. Ofsted will come to school next week. And, being responsible for RE in a Catholic school, I will have my very own interview, and the department will have its very own inspection, by the Diocese. Fun! I have a busy weekend, then a busy Monday and Tuesday, so I'm not entirely sure when I'm going to finish my marking and make sure I have all the statistics at my fingertips ... I will try and finish one set of marking tonight. And maybe complete a departmental review.

Other than that ... had a good Bible study meeting last night, very informative and interesting, as always. Then H and I went onto an exhibition opening, that we then realised was last week, so we headed home via Canary Wharf.

Today was my first not so great day ... the Year 11s were not too great, and a few of the Year 10s kept talking and interupted the learning of others. Must move them next lesson ... I was yawning during the A2 lesson, so imagine how they felt. My only free was taken with the third cover of the week, and lunchtime was taken up with a nice conversation with an eloquent Year 7, discussing how she feels the walls are closing in on her, her frustration at the continual disruptions of her class in a variety of lessons, and then I went to a meeting about new technology, which is really exciting. But the cover took away the lesson I had planned on having lunch and making phone calls in, so I'm still hungry, and the calls had to take place at the end of the day. Which is how I learnt about the inspection ...

Right. Let's hope next week is a positive one ... and I'm sure you'll understand if you don't hear that much from me until Thursday at least!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Coins, windows, observations

Felt more rested today ... just as well, another busy day!

Had a really nice AS lesson ... shame the attendance was rotten. We were learning about Utilitarianism and I think the students would find it much easier than some of the other ethical theories we have studied. Year 7s were (trying to) complete the work we started yesterday ... I wish they'd realise that it would be so much easier if they stayed in their seats and listened quietly to the instructions. Sent three to the Referral Room, because they were throwing coins about. Then I had my Year 10 class ... very little work done, but I then refused to let them go for lunch until they had completed a certain amount of work. It took some of them 15 minutes, some almost half an hour, because of their procrastination. One boy climbed out of the window, fell and got covered in dirt, the rest of the class got up and laughed at him, I pointed out that that was an automatic letter home, he said that was okay, his mum was late in on Fridays, when the letter would arrive, so he would get it first, I commented that in that case I would need to phone his mum to check she had received the letter, he looked sheepish while everyone laughed again, so I suggested he come back round (through the door this time) in order to complete his detention and we'd forget about it this time. So he did, and stayed for half an hour, which also gave me the opportunity to talk to him about the sort of support he'd like me to provide for his writing in class. There were about five boys who pushed their way out of the door ... I followed them up later with extra homework, and tried to call home, but couldn't get through to any of them. I've written up so I can discuss it with their Head of Year tomorrow ... I will keep on at them until I can crack them! (That's the plan, anyway!)

Also observed another lesson, my second this week. It's really hard giving feedback, especially when it's on the borderline between two "judgements". Lots of good things happening in the lesson, but could there have been more? At least it's done now. I should have two more observations tomorrow, but I think one of the teachers may still be off. Then I'll just have a couple left ... and someone should really observe me. But I'm keeping that quiet for now ... ! (I hate being observed!)

Must go now ... I have to plan my Year 11 lesson, a Year 10 cover lesson (for when I'm observing another teacher), and I need to read some documents and write a report for a meeting I can't go to tomorrow, and do some reading in preparation for the meeting I am going to go to tomorrow ... Must also get the salmon on the grill, and peel the potatoes!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Monday Monday ...

Parents' Day yesterday ... an opportunity to meet the parents of the pupils in my tutor group, and to hand over their most recent results and to set targets to help them improve.

Of course, a longish gap in the middle, then everyone arrives at the end and I'm there until after 5pm. Exhausted.

Then another tiring day today ... one member of the department had to go home, so I ended up with covering that lesson, and my other non contact was used up observing another colleague. Great lesson, though! Once again, some of the Year 7s ended up in detention at the end of the day ... I wish they would learn that it's better to be quiet. Leadership meeting after school, once again a tiring day. Came home and slept for an hour! Dinner is on the go now, so I'll be off to look at that. (Rice and beans.)

Another wish ... I wish the Sixth Formers would leave their phones at home, or at least leave them switched off in their bags. Really annoying.

Let's hope I'm a bit brighter tomorrow!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Oh What a Beautiful Morning ...

Oh what a beautiful day, I've got a beautiful feeling, everything's going my way!

Well, it was a lovely walk to church this morning, with the sun shining and not a cloud in the sky.

Very cold, though!

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Visited Westminster Cathedral today. There was a service on, so we didn't look round too much, but it is quite a beautiful building. I wonder what it would have looked like if they had managed to complete the interior ... the marble only reaches part of the way up the wall, and the domes, that presumably should have been as awe inspiring as St Peter's, are instead like dark holes ... but very imposing nonetheless. And the exterior, although not pink and green, reminds me of the Duomo in Florence.

We were in that part of the city in order for me to pick up a book from St Paul's bookshop next to the Cathedral. Afterwards we stopped by Pizza Hut for lunch, and the only seats were at the edge, on a bench. Anyway, in the end it was good we were sitting there, because it meant we got ringside seats for the "entertainment". At first, we noticed a few men in traditional outfits standing by the traffic lights but not crossing, whom I at first suggested were Chinese. H pointed out that they weren't, which was then obvious to me too and a bit embarrassing to have thought that, and we then went through our knowledge of Asian countries. I suggested possibly Tibetan or Nepalese, H wondered about Malaysian. Then some policemen began to gather. We didn't, at first, put the two sights together. But as more and more police began to arrive, we wondered if some important person was about to pass our way.

I was the first to see the beginning of a march coming round the corner. The complete "Free Tibet", "Stop torture now", "China must leave" protest march made its way along the road in front of us. Unfortunately we couldn't hear anything, but it was interesting to see the mix of Tibetans in traditional costume, those in jeans and Tibet t-shirts, white "ethnic bohemian" students, white middle class people, and a variety of others, waving flags, wearing Tibet hats, holding up banners and probably making a noise through their loudspeakers. All surrounded by what H pointed out was a very undemographically representative large number of policemen. There must have been at least forty police, mostly men, wholly white. Just an observation ... H reckoned there were more police than protestors! Probably not, but it still seemed somewhat excessive! Anyway, it all passed off without fuss, and about half an hour later, the marchers dispersed back down the road and off individually home.

We decided to head back to our abode too.

Friday, March 09, 2007

A Good Week

It's nice to celebrate a good week once in a while! Although there has not been any one particular event that has been the highlight of the week, or anything particularly good that has happened, it has been a good week. I have sent pupils to the Referral Room, handed out detentions and made phone calls, but in the main I have stayed calm while those things have been happening, and overall my impression is of a good week, a fairly non-stressful week, and a week when I've had a few good conversations with pupils and have seem some achieve a little bit.

Here's to a great weekend and another positive week!

Thursday, March 08, 2007


A couple of fine days, partly because of the support I have received from other members of staff in helping get classes settled. With the new Year 10 groups, it's important that they follow the rules from the start, and see that they will be able to learn in the lesson, so it was great to have people around at the start of the lesson as I placed pupils in the correct seats. Hopefully pupils will eventually get the message ... I had to send one pupil to the Referral Room because he moved seat after being told not to. They don't seem to understand the concept of a seating plan ...

Other than that, the highlight of today was chatting well into lunchtime with a few Year 10 boys. There had been a very small class because most of the class were sitting an exam, so we used it as an opportunity for them to ask questions, and for us to discuss such issues as "Why did Jesus not come down from the cross?", "Why are we here?", "Are ouija boards 'real' in some way?", "What will happen to good people who do not believe in God when they die?" and "What if Jesus had got married and had a child?" One boy sort of pulled me up when he said that I hadn't once said, "I don't know" - I'm not sure if he meant it as a criticism or a compliment, but I used that opportunity to point out that I (obviously) don't know the answers to these questions, but since I'm interested in them anyway, I've spent a lot of my time reading up on and finding out about the alternative answers.

My Year 11 class was also quite focused (well, some of them were for most of the time, which is saying something ... and those that weren't were sleeping or simply staring straight forward with a blank look on their face, so at least they weren't disturbing others!).

I hope Friday passes smoothly ...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Another relatively uneventful day

Had a good meeting with the parent that I had expected yesterday. Today's year 10s also didn't sit in the correct place, but at least they seemed more wanting to work. The year 7s were dreadful - 4 were removed fairly early on, then another 2 were sent away for fighting. Had an interesting - sort of - curriculum meeting at the end of the day. Have book sampled four members of staff so far. The beef stew is in the oven. My year 7 and 10 lessons for tomorrow are planned, because we didn't manage to complete them today. And I think that's it!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Parents? What parents?

So, I expected to see two mothers today. Turns out I got the day wrong for one of them - she is coming tomorrow - and the other one couldn't come because of back injuries. Which was a shame really - the Head of Year came to join us for the lesson, and it was the best lesson we've had in a long time. And she had a really nice way with them, which gave me more ideas on how to deal with that class (and others). A very positive lesson - about sin!

I had my new year 10 group for the first time today. Most were fine, but a few (about five) spoilt it for the rest of them ... we couldn't get anything done because of those few. Refusing to sit where they were supposed to, continually talking and so on. I sent one girl to the Referral Room because she shouted at me. I must try to see her in the next couple of days. One left via the window. Must arrange another detention for him. Another four or five left before being dismissed. Must follow all of them up. Must get on top of them now, so we can proceed. I have my second new group tomorrow. Let's see what happens there! Can't remember if that side looked "harder" or not!

Then I had a SACRE meeting looking at the Agreed Syllabus. Very interesting. It starts at KS1, so I am interested in seeing the sort of progression that will lead up to Year 7 pupils.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Eclipse of the Moon

Like many other people, last night we watched the eclipse of the moon. Not continually ... unlike some lucky people, who could see the moon from the warmth of their living room out the window, we had to go outside to see the changing state of the moon, so we went out from time to time to see how it was getting on. I took a few photos ... unfortunately I forgot we had a tripod, and when I remembered, it seemed to much hassle to put it all up just before going to bed! So the photos are very blurry, and the moon, of course, was very far away ... I'm just downloading them just now, and it looks like I've taken loads of tiny pinpricks of light on a black rectangle! They are all very similar. Ah well!

It was a nice day yesterday. I got my new glasses, and had no problems exchanging my trousers. In the afternoon I went through some admin I had to do ... data, statistics, that sort of stuff ... and in the evening we read a bit.

This morning I had a nice walk to church, and we had coffee and cakes afterwards, which is always nice. H bought cream cakes yesterday which we had this afternoon - delicious! It's ages since I've had a cream cake. Today has also been productive - H has been writing and editing, and I've inputted all the data from my questionnaires onto an Excel spreadsheet, so I can begin analysing the findings. Still have some lessons to plan, though.

And we had stovies (and salmon) for lunch!

Saturday, March 03, 2007


I now have a beginning picture of Romania ... in the north it is more mountainous that in the centre and south. I picture a house on the top of a hill, surrounded by hills, an hour's walk from a main road ... Lots of land for children to play in ... all the houses in the town with large plots of land. Children leaving home to go to colleges in nearby towns at 14, four years of college before exams and university. Hot summers and winters where snow sometimes falls so much that it gets almost shoulder high. Children have to swim through the snow, pushing the snowdrifts out of the way, to get to school. Summers where all the local children have barbecues in the hills, the older ones chasing the little ones who pinch the sausages ...

I had a lovely lunchtime conversation with a couple of year 11 girls yesterday. It was really interesting, and poignant, to hear their tales from home ... and it was moving to be thanked for my time, to sit and talk with them. It was such a pleasure for me, and reveals the side of school life that we don't get to see very often. Pupils do appreciate it when teachers can have a moment to sit and talk about their lives. And so often we are all too busy, rushing around getting things done, to actually stop and talk. That's why whenever it happens, it stands out.

Fat, juicy red tomatoes

Another vivid dream last night ... I dreamt that I sent all the teachers in the union at my school tomato seeds, and we grew tomatoes. They were all huge ... my tomato grew very quickly, within a couple of days it had filled the pot where I had planted the seed. A huge, red, ripe, juicy tomato, with a long green stalk that must have been a couple of feet high. Woke up thinking it would be good to get one of those tomato growing bags!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Meetings etc.

Turns out that last night I spoke to the same girl who had the phone out in class! Wasn't her sister after all! Anyway, phoned her mum today and had a good chat - she was really nice, friendly and supportive.

After school I had a meeting with a woman from the TDA, asking me why I was doing a Masters. Nice to talk about the academic side of teaching, and the research, which I enjoy. That meeting was followed by Year 9 Options Evening, so I'm just in, at 8pm.

On a brighter note - one pupil had asked if he could interview me about my religion as part of his ASDAN course. I'd said yes, so today he gave me a questionnaire that he'd written for me to fill in. I laughed at the question at the bottom of the page - "Write down everything you know about your religion." With three lines to answer it!!! Apart from the fact that I teach him RE, and therefore surely must know everything in the RE textboook that he has to learn for his exam ... !!! Still trying to figure out how to answer that without sounding too facetious! "Bob, I have a degree in Biblical Studies ... !!!"