Changing Schools. Changing Visions. Changing Spaces [updated]

Changing Schools.

On Tuesday I will start work at my new school. This is the first move I have made since graduating 3 years ago, so I’m looking forward to that exciting new start again. I recently saw a letter from the school listing the teaching staff and I was referred to as an experienced teacher. At my last school I sometimes felt like the ‘new kid’ as I started as an NQT and the only one that stayed on as permanent member of staff. I’m pleased to be moving forward and progressing but I still feel like I have so much to learn before I am ‘experienced’. I guess that’s one of the reasons I wanted to come in to teaching in the first place, we are always learning.

Changing Visions.

This summer has been a great one for learning. I spent a week at the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute which was incredible. I worked with a huge array of talented people, The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, Team Duarte and Bill Frakes to name a few of the speakers, but I also met an inspiring bunch of teachers from across the globe. The opportunity to network with teachers who have similar passions and visions is priceless.


After an intense week of learning and sharing, we became Apple’s ADE Class of 2013. Since the Institute I have been chatting to some of my fellow ADEs about the school year ahead. Some of them are moving schools as well so this has helped structure my approach to leading ICT at my new school. John Jones (@mrjonesICT) has been particularly helpful and it was great to meet him at the Institute (and then realising that we had already made a connection on Twitter). John’s blog is and is worth following, I will be sharing his posts with staff over the coming year. There are so many other teachers that I worked with, Carrie Zimmer, Siobhain Kelly, Lauren Young, Graeme McCafferty, and they have all shaped my vision too. I’m looking forward to seeing them again, I hope that I’ll be travelling to see them in their amazing locations!

Changing Spaces.

Moving forward to the new school year starting next week, I thought I would share some photographs of my new classroom. I have noticed that an old post of mine, ‘Changing Spaces’, has attracted a lot of hits this summer so I think it’s time to share some of my new spaces. I will be teaching in Foundation 2 again, in a room which connects to another Foundation 2 room. Therefore we have 2 classrooms, 2 teachers, 2 teaching assistants. It is a strong team and I am lucky to be part of it. I have enjoyed setting up this space as it is different to what I worked with previously. We spent a lot of time talking about shared areas provision across the classrooms during free flow, but also ensuring that each class has access to same resources in both classrooms. It has been a balancing act and I am sure we will adapt it as the term progresses.

Black Board Paint. 

I love black board paint and I have wanted to find a good place to use it. This is how it started. I have this unit in my room. I didn’t like it for so many reasons, but I made it my mission to like it.


I like the solid wood frame, and the deep trays. I saw a use for it to house sand and water provision. It could also act as a partition to the creative area as well. So I backed it with MDF, painted with black board paint and created a mark making wall divide:


I also removed some of the draws to make it easier for the children to see inside and access. I picked up the black board paint from Wilkinsons for very cheap, and the MDF was free from a local joiner.

Storage and Furniture.

Setting up this classroom has made me consider what the best furniture for the job is. After listening to wonderful Alistair Bryce-Clegg last year, his voice always echoes in my mind. When setting up and planning provision, he advises that you always ask yourself the questions ‘why is it here’ and ‘who is it for?’. Here’s another move I made to create more accessible provision.

Art storage to construction storage.

Why is it here?: to store art resources for staff, to give access to art resources for children.


New construction area. I feel this unit is better used for construction as it has deep boxes which can be filled with construction toys (the boxes still need labelling).

The creative area now has a shelving unit with trays containing the resources from the deep boxes.

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It’s a simple change, but an effective one.

Early Excellence.

Last year I visited the Early Excellence centre for the first time, and I returned again this year. They provide training to early years and key stage 1 settings. I first heard of them after hearing Jan Dubiel speak at The University of Derby, so I had to visit the centre. The centre has a a model classroom as well as a resource centre which stocks the best quality resources for early years. The most exciting part of visiting the centre is seeing how they set up a classroom with these resources, and then being able to purchase resources individually (you can order online or from the catalogue but only in bulk packs). Think Early Learning Centre but with a focus on selling to teachers, nurseries and schools. What always strikes me about their provision is that their areas are colour co-ordinated. Each area of provision looks so much more accessible by simply placing resources in colour matching trays. As I have set up my new classroom almost from scratch, I thought it would be a great opportunity to apply this. Take a look at these areas with colour coded containers.

Photo 30-08-2013 04 22 06 PM Photo 30-08-2013 04 24 37 PM Photo 30-08-2013 04 24 53 PM

For me, it makes the resources stand out, as colour coordinated containers are less distracting. The focus of the area seems to make more sense to me, when the containers are the same colour? What do you think?… Not everything is labelled yet, but I’m slowly getting there!

Writing resources.

As mentioned already, Alistair Bryce-Clegg has had a huge impact on my provision. These writing resources were inspired by him. Alistair talks about tapping in to children’s interests and theming provision around this. To enhance the provision linked to their interests, it also needs to be linked to assessment for learning.

Photo 30-08-2013 04 22 33 PM   Photo 30-08-2013 04 23 10 PM

 Photo 30-08-2013 04 24 11 PM  Photo 30-08-2013 04 24 01 PM

The football themed box is available to all children, and contains a variety of writing papers for football kit design and name writing, scoring and mathematics, labelling a football pitch and so on. It also contains activities for fine motor development, such as finger football and football themed mazes.

The Disney box is aimed at fairytale writing, castle planning and formal wear design. This box contains letters and sounds linked to the phase the target children are working on.

I have also created a selection of other boxes: Thomas the Tank, Peppa and George Pig, Mario Kart and Sonic the Hedgehog. Children’s interests are always changing, so it can be hard to ‘keep up’. I feel I have picked wisely, football and Disney are timeless and the rest of my provision can be found at B&M bargains in the form of plastic beakers and snack boxes!

These boxes appear to be based on gender stereotypes, this is not the case though. In my experience all children are initially interested in all of these boxes. Their contents change regularly and I also include resources for other areas of learning, so if a particular group with a similar interest have a need to access the creative table, for example, then a football themed design activity will be inside the box that week.

For more information on gender stereotype and early years provision, see Alistair’s blog.

Last words.

It is a really exciting opportunity to start a new job and apply everything I have learned so far. I am looking forward to collaborating with a new Personal Learning Network which we created at the ADE Institute and these people will help me to lead a vision for ICT in my new job.

On Tuesday I will be working with Liz Kitts from Nottinghamshire LA to launch the new ICT provision (hardware and software) at my school. This is an exciting starting point for the staff and I will also be revisiting blogging in the classroom with them. The school already has a blogging platform in place, I am hoping to move it forward with the staff by discussing the idea of QuadBlogging, and also sharing Mystery Skype (a concept Carrie Zimmer introduced me to this summer) ….check it out!

If you are attending the Nottinghamshire LA Leadership course in the Autumn Term, come and say hello as I will be running a blogging workshop and iPad training there. For everybody else who visits my blog, good luck for the year ahead!

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