Our friends from the Netherlands

It was wonderful to receive two visits from our friends from the Netherlands to talk learning. 

We did a number of sole sessions and the Engineheads even rocked up during their lunch break to suggest that the adults from the Netherlands took part in a SOLE session themselves!

They led the session and asked the question ‘why do we have different accents?’


The feedback session led by the Engineheads was amazing! They were interested in the answers, made brilliant comments and talked about the process of the learning. They discussed how interesting it was that the group had questioned the question they had given. Millie explained that for her it often generates new questions and she is often thinking about the topics/ questions for ages after the SOLE. 


Eileen led a drama SOLE and asked the question ‘why do we laugh ?’ and Michael asked ‘ why is there not one universal language?  We also had 3 different primary school SOLE sessions while our visitors were here.



Both teachers were amazing and talked honestly about their experience of SOLES and the values for them. We talked all together about this and the principles of thinking of learning.

The group were also really interested in the T4S vertical tutoring system. They had a great chat with David Priestley. They also had a tour of the school from year 9’s.  They were interesd in hearing how the students work together across age groups or ability and a community of learners to explore enquiries.

It was a pleasure having our friends here from the Netherlands and to meet new colleagues too.

A visit from Barclays

It was lovely to have some more new visitors to see us in Room 13 recently.

We welcomed Kirstie and Jade from Barclays Life Skills who travelled from their head quarters in London and we welcomed colleagues from The Hermitage in Chester le Street.

The Engineheads did a marvellous job (as they always do and as they have done particularly well all week delivering assemblies) explaining what SOLEs is, what is means to them, what they’ve been developing and the impact it is having on teaching and learning.  

We talked about SOLES and the skills it encourages for life and for developing a career. It was really interesting to think about the skills of resilience, perseverance, independence within the context of careers. It is something we are hoping to explore further.


Staff Enquiry

Our Aycliffe campus staff gathered together recently to share the enquiries they have been exploring for the past term. There were many interesting explorations into learning going on. 

Our staff SOLE team were keen to share their enquiries and hear the views of others but it was interesting for me to hear what this generated for the wider staff who have tried SOLEs, those who are reluctant to and those who use it often and their comments. 

Some of the common discussion points were around the time it can take to get to the subject specific knowledge that is needed for the curriculum or exams.  Some enthused about the information that students found and how it exceeded their expectations and many of the staff highlighted the importance of the type of question you ask.

It’s helpful to keep hearing the thoughts, assumptions or expectations that teachers have. I am also continually aware of the context we are working in to help understand how I can continue to support staff to be creative, effective and engaging so we can develop independent and curious learners.

I’m looking forward to hearing back from my lovely SOLEs staff enquiry team about their mini enquiries when they’ve done a few more sessions and then sharing more of this next term.