To infinity and beyond… first steps into Y5 science

Our science topic this half term has been space, specifically the solar system and movement of the Earth and Moon. It has been a fun topic to look at and lots of misconceptions have been addressed. It’s been fun to get them thinking scientifically, though I’ve definitely fumbled my way through it most of the time. I don’t think myself, or my partner teacher, have planned it terribly well, so that has been a major hinderance. Part of the problem is the use of Hamilton planning, but in an inconsistent way – I generally don’t like their planning anyway, but if you’re going to use it you might as well actually include all the fluff from their plans. I didn’t use it at all really, but my partner teacher has, and I definitely got a bit confused by the activities last week. 

The good bits – my stars:

  • The children have learnt about the solar system, and have been able to research a chosen planet in detail.
  • We have been able to address misconceptions – specifically about why we have night and day and why we can see the moon. As part of that I’ve enabled my pupils to look back at what they thought at the beginning of the topic and see if they have learnt something new or changed their mind. 
  • It has been one of the most cross curricula topics so far this year, which is my preferred way of teaching. 
  • They’ve been able to plan and conduct a science investigation. 

The wishes on a shooting star:

  • It has been a little bit rushed and higgledy piggledy. I think better planning and more robust ideas would prevent this from happening next term. 
  • The investigation planning didn’t go very well – I don’t think I set them up for it very well, and I don’t think they have done as much scientific investigation as I thought they had. So I’d put in a lot more scaffolding for them. 

NQT Time

NQT time is both a blessing and an added stress – the stress mostly because I’m a control freak and don’t like letting go of bits of my English planning. Normally this isn’t a problem for me because I’m able to move my English for the day to the afternoon and my NQT cover will teach RE. It works really well, and helps me monitor my children’s progress through the English for the week and ensure that it is taught how I want it done. 

However, this week my cover wasn’t able to do my normal slot, so we moved my NQT time to today instead of Tuesday. The class are currently planning their own information texts about planets, which they made a fab start with yesterday. Today they needed to finish finding facts for the main paragraphs and plan the introduction and conclusion. Unfortunately, my cover has a different idea from me about what should be in an introduction and conclusion; this has resulted in the introductions and conclusions not having the features, or style, that I want them to have, or those that are necessary for the text type. 
I suppose it’s only a small detail, but it’s frustrating that my class will have to recap that at the beginning of a lesson where they should just be able to get down to writing their information text. Fingers crossed we can get it all in before half term!

Planning Problems

I’m lucky enough to have a supportive partner teacher in year five and we share the planning. This term she’s planning the English and I’m planning the maths, and then we take it in turns to plan the topic lessons. It generally seems to work quite well, and I’m mostly happy making the necessary compromises in terms of how I like to plan and how she likes to plan. As an NQT I value any feedback I get about my planning and it’s nice to know that any massive blunders in my planning will be spotted before I teach them. 

On the other hand, I’ve had to plan with reference to LA, MA, and HA children, which isn’t really how I teach – I prefer to use mild medium and spicy to give children an element of choice in their level of challenge and gives them the opportunity to excel beyond any expectations that I may have of them. I find that 99% of the time all the children choose the correct challenge level for them and most know when to ask for help. 

Then there’s what I consider the overuse of worksheets for SPaG lessons, which give no context for the new pieces of grammar that they are learning and are quite frankly tedious. I also then have to decide which children get which differentiated work sheet as printing off enough of all of them so that the whole class gets choice would be an horrendous waste of paper – worksheets just don’t work well with mild medium and spicy teaching, especially when they all need to have individual sheets. 

My final bug bear is how late we seem to be sharing planning with each other – I hate leaving my planning this late, but it always seems to happen this way, and my partner teacher doesn’t seem to be bothered by it given that she often sends me her side of the planning last thing on a Sunday. It means that I don’t have time to really look over her planning before I’m then teaching it and I neglect making the necessary alterations for my class. I’m kind of surprised that it isn’t a problem for her too. 

NQT reflections

So I failed to post anything really during my PGCE – lack of time, but also so many people around me to talk to about my teaching and pedagogy. Living in halls with a group of fellow PGCEs meant that I had a supportive and understanding network of friends to share experiences with. This year I’ve moved back home and don’t have such a teachery network around me to talk to and reflect with. Basically, I’m aiming to keep a regular blog, which I’m aiming to write at least once a week with reflections about how this year is going. 

I’ve got a fantastic first class – my fab fives. It’s been a whirlwind first few weeks and my class have really looked after me. My teacher desk is a lot busier than it was on day one and my class notice board is fuller. I’m glad to say that my Ancient Greek column is still standing, even if it has needed emergency sellotape repair jobs now and again. Teaching definitely has its ups and downs, and at the moment I think the ups are winning for me. Hopefully this blog will help me to focus on the positives and process the downs as well as I can. 

“This year will be a roller-coaster”

It’s been two and a bit weeks since I started my PGCE, and it has been a whirlwind. One of our tutors has told us that this year will be like a roller-coaster…

Initially I had a week long placement in a primary school in my home town. I chose to go back to my old primary school, some of the TAs were still there and they recognised me! It was so weird being back and seeing what had changed. I had to do some observations and generally get involved in school life. The experiences we gained from that initial week will inform seminars etc over the next few weeks. I had an enjoyable time and felt I gained some useful experiences.

I’ve been at uni for just over a week, and I have to say they have truly thrown us in the deep end with the amount of work we’ve had to do – which is why it’s taken me so long to post about it all. We’ve done everything from learning psychology to P.E. I start my first placement in one and a half weeks, and still so much to do!

A sad farewell

I’ve been avoiding thinking about the fact that I’ve left RH Primary School, filling my time with tidying, eating junk, tv, and many other distractions. But after my first Monday not getting up at 7am and getting the bus into school I thought it was probably about time I faced up to it.

I have had the most amazing year at RH, and have learnt an incredible amount about teaching, children, and myself. The difficulties I have faced, and there have been quite a few, haven’t put me off or scared me away from wanting to teach – if anything they’ve made me want it more than before. The children at the school are typically from lower socio-economic backgrounds, there are many children who face child protection issues, and even more have low aspirations/confidence. For some of the children we are the most consistent adults in their lives, and school gives them a much wanted routine. I love RH and I love the children, the staff, the whole school community.

My collogues have been amazing, and I’ve made fantastic friends who are really supportive. I am going to miss them as much as I’m going to miss the kids, and I’ve promised that I will visit when I can. Of course there is a limit to how often I will manage to visit due to the intensive nature of the PGCE course – I’ll make it happen though!

Saying that, this needn’t be goodbye forever – SLT have all said I should come back, and our SENCO never wanted me to leave in the first place, begging me to stay. So I am genuinely considering going back to RH for my NQT year. But maybe I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

Transition Anxiety

I’d wondered how transitions were managed at pupil referral units as the school I work at has had a number of pupils move to one. Seeing how the behaviour of our year 6s has changed over the last couple of weeks highlights how traumatic a time it can be. One of our most confident children burst into tears on her first transfer day and came back to us for the remainder of the day.


I am motivated to blog on a subject which looms large amongst all children at this time of year…..from nursery right up to university and beyond….transition.

It particularly impacts on the children in our PRU because they have already experienced rejection on a cataclysmic scale from their mainstream schools; they are now in a place of safety where their needs are being met and are having to face up to leaving us.

Last summer I blogged on this very subject under the title….’They love us really’…and touched on reactions from children passing through our doors for the very last time….this time we haven’t even finished yet but the angst is more heart-rending than ever. So has anything changed? Worsened might be a better description! We currently have fifteen year 6 leavers out of 37 children ( yes we are over our maximum number of 32) and other assorted pupils are

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6 Profiles Of Gifted And Talented Learners

There’s a girl in one of the year 5 classes who probably fits into the ‘successful learner’ category, unfortunately her class teacher makes a point of singling her out as the brightest in the class and is obviously her favourite- obvious to staff and pupils alike. This has led to her becoming very arrogant, and has arguably contributed to her poor reaction to failure, or not coming first/being the best.

On the other hand the brightest pupils in the other year 5 class are pushed to develop their thinking, will normally give something new a go, and typically keep trying even if they fail the first time.

The More I See...


Do we always recognise the most able in our class?

Below is my quick synopsis of the six profiles of gifted and talented learners as set out by Betts and Neihart (1988). To read their full article click here:
Profiles of the gifted and talented

1) Successful Learners
Bright, motivated achievers. These children are teacher pleasers. They do not strive to develop their high abilities and are risk averse.

2) Challenging Learners
Bored, angry and/or frustrated. These children are rarely identified as gifted and talented. They question authority can be either overly sarcastic or play the class clown. They do not suffer fools gladly.

3) Underground Learners
Insecure, anxious with a strong need to belong. These children conceal their ability because they see it as a barrier to forming friendships. They may then also feel guilty for denying their gifts.

4) Disenfranchised Learners
Intellectually and emotionally divorced. These children can…

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Getting ‘Em Thinking (Philosophy for Children) – Hunting English

This is another article/blog post about P4C that adds to what I posted earlier. I’m only really just starting to learn about P4C, but I know it’s something I would like to include in my teaching.

The Echo Chamber

?Is it OK to deprive someone of their freedom?? ‘Is it acceptable for people to wear their religious symbols at work places?’ ?DO we…

The post Getting ‘Em Thinking (Philosophy…

Continued here

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P4C and its benefits

It was really interesting to find this article in the Guardian. RH has recently introduced philosophy for children (P4C) to the curriculum, with all teachers being trained as moderators for the child led discussion/debate. It’s nice to know that there is evidence to suggest it benefits pupils across a variety of curriculum subjects, including mathematics.

In a discussion the teacher provides the children with a stimulus – which could be a picture, piece of music, story, or anything really. The children are then given a short time to think by themselves about the stimulus and begin forming a question. They are then placed into small groups to form questions in response to the stimulus. Each group puts forward one question and the class votes anonymously on which question to debate/discuss.

The idea being that the teacher merely facilitates, possibly playing devil’s advocate if necessary, and the children lead the discussion. Even if the question seems stupid go with it – the theory being that even the silliest question have depth to them. For example, if this is the stimulus –

Dog Cat Photography German Shepherd,Gifts under 25,friend,buddy,cuddle,gray,kitten,sleeping dog and cat,adorable pair,cat snuggling with dog

– the children may vote for the question of ‘is the dog a boy or a girl?’ or ‘what is the cat’s name?’ Both of these questions have deeper issues that as a facilitator it is the teachers job to pull out.

Of course on the other hand they may choose a very deep question; for example, one year 5 class voted for the question ‘are we all capable of murder?’, which the head thought was too deep.

Either way P4C is only going to have the effects listed in the article if it is implemented consistently to good a high standard, which it currently is not. When the children are engaged in a really good discussion, being facilitated properly, they come alive, and even the quietest of children suddenly find that they have a lot to contribute.