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  • Using Artworks in the Classroom

    Published 23/06/22, by Asha Nathwani

    My name is Grainne Purkiss and I am Curriculum Lead at Oakley Vale Primary School. I have been working in education for over 25 years and prior to my “calling” I worked as a menswear fashion buyer for the long-dead Burton Group.

    Once upon a time, and it really was a very long time ago, a very posh lady came to talk to my class about art. At the time I worked in one of the most deprived areas of Leicester (in fact one of the worst five in the country). The very posh lady proceeded to show, on an old slide projector, in the blacked-out music room the picture Titian’s “Bacchus and Ariadne” and I held my breath awaiting the oncoming car crash because the very posh lady asked my children what they could “see”.

    “A monkey”. They replied. And “why are they dancing?” she said. “They’ve been drinking vodka”

    The very posh lady brought the children up to the screen and asked them to show how they thought the artist painted the picture, providing them with an artist’s palette and paint brush (and beret!) and wham, those children were hooked. Hooked because none of their answers were deemed “wrong”, hooked because – posh lady reasons - and hooked because they were given a chance to enjoy stillness and quiet, calm reflection.

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  • Use of puppets and Makaton within the class

    Published 08/06/22, by Asha Nathwani

    My name is Claire Farthing and I have worked within the early years sector for over 20 years now. Within that time practice has evolved along with the curriculum and research. However, one teaching tool that I consistently use is the use of Makaton and puppets within the classroom.

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  • Effective Use of Libraries to Support Reading

    Published 14/03/22, by Admin

    “I don’t like reading” or “I can’t read properly”.

    How many times have we heard this when asking children to read? Especially after covid lockdown when children have lost that reading habit?       

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  • Oh no, not fractions!

    Published 04/03/22, by Admin

    When I cheerfully announced to my Year 4 class at the end of a Maths lesson that we would be starting fractions next week, it’s safe to say that their reaction was rather… lacklustre. This piece of information was met with groans, a few theatrical gasps and so many nervous glances around at their peers that you’d think I’d just announced the not-so-untimely demise of TikTok. Alas, all it took was the very mention of the word ‘fraction’ to strike fear, trepidation and teenager-like sullenness into the hearts of my usually enthusiastic 8-9 year olds. Funnily enough, I’m sure I would have received a very similar reaction had I made the same announcement in the staff room at lunchtime. In fact, upon realising that fractions were fast approaching when discussing planning with a colleague, my own reaction was not dissimilar. This led me to ask myself why teachers and pupils alike often have a less positive attitude towards fractions than other areas of Maths and, put simply, it is this: fractions are HARD.

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  • Developing Rosenshines Principles in the Classroom

    Published 01/02/22, by Admin

    There are many different routes in teaching these days, and my journey was certainly an interesting one! Having spent a couple of years volunteering (which was only ever meant to be two weeks) and a couple more years working as a teaching assistant at Beanfield Primary, I successfully qualified as a teacher on an EYFS focussed school direct programme. This involved spending the majority of the year in a year 2 classroom with a fantastic mentor, an incredibly enjoyable ten week placement in a nursery and occasional study weeks with an EYFS focus. What I discovered in the subsequent early years of my career is that as useful as ‘learning on the job’ was, I had been taught very little about the science behind teaching. In my fourth year of teaching, I participated in the ‘Developing Outstanding Pedagogy’ programme provided by the BWT Primary Training Hub which focused on implementing Rosenshine’s principles in the classroom.

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  • Should Phonics be taught in Nursery?

    Published 20/01/22, by Admin

    From a young age I always knew I wanted to work with young children.  During sixth form, I spent time volunteering at a local nursery, and this confirmed my passion for Early Years. I knew then that teaching in early years was the path I wanted to follow.

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  • Transition of Role from Nursery to Reception

    Published 07/01/22, by Admin

    If you had met me a year and a half and ago and asked me to tell you some things about myself, ‘nursery teacher’ would have most likely been top of my list. Ever since I set foot in a nursery on my second teaching practise I knew that I loved it and that it was the year group for me.

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  • An honest guide to finding your feet in the first few years of teaching

    Published 17/12/21, by Admin

    I opened this document 2 weeks ago and writing the title above was about as far as I got. It’s now 4 P.M on a Tuesday afternoon and after a fortnight spent procrastinating on how to put all of this together I think now might be a good time. That being said I’ve promised to treat my self to an hour of marking at 5 P.M so let’s hope things go well this next hour otherwise this could be a rather short read.

    Finding your feet in the first few years of teaching seems a strange concept to offer advice on. I’ve been asking myself “is it even possible to ever truly find your feet in teaching?”. Just when you think you have nailed it, something new gets thrown into the mix, and you can find yourself back to square one again.

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  • 'Is it choosing time yet?'

    Published 07/12/21, by Admin

    When I started teaching in Reception at Oakley Vale Primary in April 2021, this question was commonly asked in the middle of a lesson. I was told that the previous teacher had banned the question completely. I understood, as it was disheartening to notice that children were thinking about playing instead of engaging with what they were supposed to be learning. However, when so many children were asking, I wondered what they were really telling us. I also questioned what it could do to their well-being if I continued to ban it.

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  • Reading for Pleasure

    Published 02/12/21, by Admin

    When thinking about my love of books, I am compelled to draw upon a comparison to magnets. Magnets, I hear you say? Let me explain…

    I would say my hands (led by my heart and head) are the North pole and books are the South pole. Whenever I am around books, I am instantly pulled in their direction! Whether it’s walking into a library, a bookshop, going to a car boot (to name, but a few), I will immediately be pulled to books. I have even been known to completely ignore my friends when I am in the presence of a well-organised bookshelf.

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  • Forest School Development at Gretton Primary School

    Published 26/11/21, by Admin

    After helping out with Forest School 15 years ago, I knew that was where I belonged - outside, exploring and surrounded by laughter and wonder.

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  • From part-time Learning Mentor to Lead DSL/SLT/Trust Advisor

    Published 10/11/21, by Admin

    ‘Ah, you’re just the person I need….’ Quite often the phrase I hear walking through the corridor, or ‘I don’t know who to ask, so I’ve come to you’, that’s another.  Reflecting on my time at Beanfield and thinking about the somewhat challenging times, they are certainly outweighed by far, by the most rewarding times. I’m grateful to hear those comments.

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