Maths students

It was nice to have a visit from Newcastle Uni Maths PGCE students who were interested in SOLEs and how it could be used. 

They saw two sessions. An Art lesson asking ‘What Makes a Building Beauitful?’ And a T4S session exploring Ideology and Exploitation asking the question ‘Why did Hitler persecute the Jewish?’

Both sessions worked well but were obviously quite different. The feedback in session one created more questions and got them thinking. They found it difficult to come to a final conclusion but had a range of views about what makes buildings beautiful.

The T4S was a little different as the tutor were in designated groups already which may have affected the process. They were able to move around and change groups but it was perhaps not mentioned explicitly. They were exploring a big question that had been inspired by the Anne Frank Exhibition. 


The students raised a lot of great questions about pedagogy and it was interesting to hear their views. 

Thank you for a stimulating morning. Looking forward to hearing back from the students about some of the big Maths questions they’d like to try! 

Ijsselgroup Education Symposium 

I was excited to be invited back to the Ijsselgroup Education Symposium and visit this year and to be able to bring a colleague, Sally Rix, from Newcastle University. 

The trip was an opportunity to share our practice, hear from practitioners and build on connections we have made with like minded educationalists to develop our ideas and collaborate.

The Symposium about learning included keynote speakers and workshops that explored thinking skills, enquiry, learner capability, reasoning skills and the role of technology in learning. 

We also made a visit to colleagues from schools in The Netherlands to share practice about professional development and on learning. We made one visit to wonderful primary school that appeared to develop such independent learners. It was delightful to spend time with the children. They had a shared space where children of all primary ages were working together to explore an idea. This collaborative peer learning seemed to have a real impact.

It was fantastic to meet some of the colleagues we had made connections with already and who had paid us a visit previously at Greenfield and how they are developing ideas in their own context. Having these conversations and seeing practice in action allows you to really reflect. We have made some strong new connections too. Looking forward to more colleagues visiting in April. 

The conference element was held in the beautiful Orpheus Theatre in Appledorn. A really contemporary, creative space. 


Some keys things I have taken away from the symposium /thinking I have been reassured by includes:

  • Learners as producers rather than consumers- the ‘stuff’you know applied with purpose helps create meaning that allows you to secure your knowledge. Encourages capability.
  • Remembering the importance of professional learning, that engages with and in enquiry/research, that is shared learning, has such a significant impact on student learning. 
  • The value of and ways that are likely to promote learning that supports students to make meaning for themselves. 

Thank you to Anne from Think Well and Herman and his team from Ijsselgroup for inviting us to continue to work together and play a role in this international event. 

Anne Frank Programme

We are thrilled to be hosting the Anne Frank Trust Exhibition at both the Sunnydale Campus and Aycliffe Site.

We have developed an exciting programme attached to the exhibitions which include a live performance, drama workshops, primary art sessions, enquiries, workshops and ambassador tours. 

In addition to this I’m really pleased to see so many staff booking SOLE sessions to explore some of the big concepts that Anne Frank’s story encourages us to think about. We are looking forward to the young people exploring in their own way issues such as prejudice, compassion and resilience. 

Some of the questions include:

Who was responsible for the Holocaust?

Who makes the decisions in our lives?

Why are people treated differently?

Should everyone be treated equally and why?

What is a ‘responsible citizen’?

Do we ever have freedom of choice?

Why do people go to war?

Should we all have equal human rights and why?

What are human rights?

Where do human rights come from?

If we are all different then what makes us all the same?

Where do refugees come from?

Who are refugees?

It’s such an important piece of history to keep alive and to continue to learn from. Can’t wait to see what the young people discuss at the end of these SOLE sessions. If the discussions that have been taking place so far, with ambassadors and young people during the gallery tours are anything to go by, the sessions will be rich with very important ideas.

SOLEs for 2016

It was a delight to have Byerley Park Primary come to visit and do a SOLE so early in the term in 2016! We love having a visit from this school as the students that have been working with two particular teachers there, Adele and Rebecca, just get on and are raring to go in Room 13. They didn’t have any teacher involvement at all until the feedback as they told the teacher that they don’t need any help in Room 13, they know what to do. They really thrive in a self organised learning environment and it seems to be second nature because they’ve been encouraged to practice it consistently. It’s brilliant to watch. 

We’ve also got 6 bookings for the next week or two for Art lessons which is exciting.  Looks like staff are still very keen. 
2016 is going to be an exciting year…

We are sharing practice as we fly to The Netherlands this month as part of an educational conference in Appeldorn.  

We will be meeting our 5 partners in India as we travel there to join together at the SOLEs conference. 

We have a visit from 50 students from Argentina planned and SOLEs plays an important role in learning as part of that project.

We have a schools day planned in March. 

We have lots of exciting SOLE sessions in different subject areas to look forward to. 

…and it will be Room 13’s 2nd birthday in February so looking forward to marking that.