Category Archives: edushare

Mathematics – Year 3 – Week 6

Image taken from Google – The money dominoes from the lesson

Unfortunately, this was my last ever lesson with Year 3N and it was devastating to say my goodbyes to them. I was genuinely nearly in tears when they all started clapping and shouting “3 cheers for Miss Whitham, Hip Hip Horray”. I could sob here and now writing this but I won’t I’ll just talk about the lesson. It did go really well and the activities were all my own ideas. I wanted to do a table rotation style lesson were the boys could practice different activities and do it in a really fun way. They did really well, especially with the games but unfortunately the money dominoes were not as successfull because they didn’t have enough time to complete the full game. However, each game gave me a full insight into how the boys were getting on in each area of the curriculum before their exams and topics that they may need to revisit, even in only 5 minutes an activity! So theis is absoloutely something that I would do again as a teacher, and a teaching method that I think the boys enjoyed because they expressed that they would like to do it again, which I was delighted with.

Class/Group: Year 3N                            Lesson: Mathematics                                        Date:10.05.17

 

Previous Experience

Experience in division, money, multiplication, word problems and shapes.

Working towards outcomes of a National Curriculum

Solve problems, including missing number problems, involving division.

Add and subtract amounts of money using both £ and p.

Recall and use multiplication and division facts for the 3, 4 and 8 multiplication tables.

Measure, compare, add and subtract: lengths (m/cm/mm).

Literacy/Numeracy/ICT/HWB (where appropriate):  Literacy – For games and extension exercises children will be reading the questions and the instructions on the games.
Learning Intentions Success Criteria
Table 1

To know how to divide

Table 2

We are learning to count coins to make a whole number.

Table 3

We are learning about measurement

Table 4

We are learning about different mathematical operations

Table 1

I am able to divide numbers

Table 2

I am able to count coins to make a whole number.

Table 3

I am able to measure objects in cm using a ruler

Table 4

I am able use different mathematical operations

Resources

 

Worksheets, games, dice, projector, online timer, pencils, whiteboards, whiteboard pens, whiteboard rubbers, Smartboard, computer, post it notes, internet access, counters for games, polypockets, toy coins, lego.
Timing   Assessment Methods
 

 

5 mins

2 mins

5 mins

 

 

 

5 mins

 

 

 

 

5 mins

 

 

 

5 mins

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 mins

 

 

5 mins

 

 

 

Total

35 mins

 

Setting the context/ Beginning the lesson (Introduction)

 

 

Discuss the LI for the lesson with the children and explain all of the activities for each table and that each pair will be going to a new activity after 15 minutes until all activities are complete

Separate each table into pairs.

 

Teaching the learning intentions (Development)

 

Table 1

Play the board game. Help with any problems they may have and reinforce the division they do not understand by using Lego and working together in their pairs.

Table 2

Play the dominoes game, each pair using a different set of cards and use the real toy coins with any children/pairs who are having difficulties with the money pictures on the cards.

 

Table 3

Children will go around the room/school measuring objects with rulers in cm and write answers down on worksheets.

 

 

Table 4

Noggle (number boggle). Glue sheet into maths book and by using any mathematical operation (add, subtract, multiply, divide) the solution must make 20 and 36. Write answers into book.

 

Ending the lesson (Plenary)

 

End the lesson by tidying everything away back into their polypockets. Ask the children to sit at their desks.

Go over learning intentions. Write on a post it note about something 3-7 words about something you learnt today. Hand over to class teacher.

Throughout 35 minute lesson class teacher will be working with Child 1 as a TA for differentiation purposes where Child 1 will taking part using Numicon through games etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peer Assessment and Teacher Marking

 

 

 

Observation and Peer Assessment

 

 

 

Observation and Teacher Marking

 

 

 

Teacher Marking

 

 

 

 

 

Teacher Marking the worksheets.

 

 

 

 

 

Observation

 

Success Criteria Results Next steps for the children
From the first game at the first table, I now know that the boys can divide using real life examples

From the second game where the children were learning to count coins to make a whole number, I observed that this was going well for most groups but they would have benefitted from more time.

The scientific measurement game was successful, with correct answers on the sheet after me and the class teacher discussing width with the majority of the class.

The Noggle game was really successful with the boys showing through their sums that they knew their different mathematical operations well enough to create their own sums.

 

Children 1, 7 and 13 need to continue to work with the money dominoes because I was not convinced that they were able to count the coins well enough to play the game.

I am confident for all children to move on to harder division questions except for Child 1 who would benefit from using Numicon further.

 

 

 

EVALUATING MY PRACTICE

Going well (what worked and why?)

The lesson overall went really well with children listening well and there were no behavioural issues. This was most likely down to the amount of activities going on in this fast paced lesson, which allowed the children to be constantly busy, moving around the tables and active.

Most children engaged well with the activities which I think is possibly down to them playing games and not quite realising they’re learning.

Areas for development (what didn’t work and why?)

 

I would in future only do a lesson like this if I had more time. Some of the boys just didn’t have enough time to finish their activities and this was a shame as they could have benefitted with the practice before their exams.

 

Next Steps for Me

In future I will be more aware of what the children have already learned in maths lessons and the way they describe certain methods in mathematics.

I will also try to plan more time into the activities and choose and hour and 10 minutes lesson as opposed to a 35 minute lesson.

The Culture of Moulsford. The Teachers Perspective.

As our placement is completely up to us as students, we do have some structure as to what we have to include in our folios. One of these is a piece on the culture of our placement and how we do this piece is completely up to us. I have decided to conduct interviews and questionaires from various members of staff from accross the school and collate the answers in a blog post on here for confidentiality and fairness. I am aware that I wanted to do these interviews but not name any names as so many member of the school look on my blog frequently, so this is the best way I could think to do it. So what did I ask, and what were the answers?

What would you tell a friend about Moulsford?

The Moulsford sports hall is massive and just shows how serious they are about sports

Most people were really positive saying things like “you do something different everyday” and that the school is amazing for sport/socialising. From my observations, that school is amazing when it comes to sport with the boys doing games/p.e. nearly every day though classes or activities. Sport is something that the school highly values and feels that the children should have regular access too. Additionally, someone told me that the one thing they would tell a friend about Moulsford is how passionate the staff are. From experience in my time here, I was instantly shown just how friendly an environment this is to work in. Everyone is so friendly as well, they are all willing to help and want me to do my best and even with this here, staff that I hadn’t even come into contact with were willing to talk to me and answer my questions. There is such a family feel here and for the time I have been here I have been delighted to feel a part of it. However, with any job there are highs and lows. Some of the staff were not quite as positive, mentioning the fact that the school can become political, feeling that if you’re not in the crowd you’re clearly left out. I have not personally seen anyone being left out, in the staff room everyone is always very chatty and happy to talk to anyone, however I am only seeing a snapshot of life here for 6 weeks.

What would you like to change about Moulsford?

I asked the staff this question, because I feel that there are always ways of improving everything. The staff all said that they would like to see a more diverse range of students i.e. class, disabilities etc. Although you can walk around and in each class there is nearly always a child with a form of disability e.g. dyslexia, I fully see why they brought up class in this questionairre. At least 95% of the boys at Moulsford are English white middle/upper class but this is most likely due to the catchment area and the fact that it is only people earning a certain wage bracket that can afford a private school for their children. Moreover, other things mentioned were the astro facilities, the elitism and the fact that whole school decisions should not be parent led. Some staff members even said that there was genuinely nothing they wanted to see change. Additionally, there was a lot of talk about the amount of support for the pastoral side of the school. With a designated head of pastoral care and also a boarding house, I am seeing a tremendous amount of pastoral care being given to the boys compared to what I see in Scottish state schools. However, I do also feel that sometimes there is a culture in the school of “man up” as an all boys school. If a child falls over I am used to the rush over give him a plaster and ensure he is feeling well. Although here all of the staff are exceedingly caring and kind, there is a man up attitude from most teachers which could be considered harsh for boys of such a young age. Lastly, one member of staff wrote that they would like to see less of the “if your face fits” culture especially in terms of favouritism. Unfortunately, some staff said that they would not be willing to say if there was anything, which did not really help me, however I do understand that some staff would like to keep their ideas private and respect this fully.

Who is the hero around here and why?

There was a huge response to this question, with everyone having different answers, but I couldn’t write everyones names because of confidentiality and the fact this is a public blog. So I am going to write their job title insted.

  • The staff on their Gap Year, because they always goes the extra mile.
  • One of the sports teachers Mr O, because he’s great at teaching sport.
  • Headboy and scholars, “A” team sportsman.
  • Anyone putting their trust in us when we do things differently.
  • Mrs R because she is very calm, takes her time to get to know everyone and always gets involved.
  • Head of pre-prep because they lay the groundwork for future educational sucess.
  • All the staff who come in everyday
  • The sports teachers

What is your favourite characteristic of the school?

Naturally, every single answer to this question mentioned the setting. Just look at it though! There is a beautiful riverside which the school utilise, especially in the summer and not only that it is only an hours drive away from London so the boys can go on loads of school trips to the theatre, museums and art galleries. I wrote about learning support and the amount of work they do throughout the school, so I was glad when a member of staff told me that they felt there was a lot of support for students with dyslexia. Moreover, I have mentioned the family feel before and the homelieness of Moulsford which is down to the friendly staff and the fact that staff bring their pets at school. The pets go on outdoors learning trips like forest school, I have mentioned Bosun the dog before in my posts. Moreover, some teachers felt that the oportunities for academics, sport and other for the students and the staff were their favourite parts to the school.

What kinds of people fail in your organisation? (Students/staff)

Staff felt that it is quite hard for students to fail. This is most likely down to the fact that there is so much support for the boys and everyone will happily rally together to help any child in need. Some said that if anyone was to fail, it would be the less able/academic or non sporty boys who could become overwhelmed by workload and fail at their exams. However, we must think about failure as something with isn’t always academic, and someone can be a sucessful classmate as apposed to a successuful scholar.

Staff wise, those who may fail in this environment would possibly be those with a lack of confidence or anyone that fails but doesn’t try again. Unfortunately, some staff members said that some staff are not given the individual attention they need, so if they were to fail, they didn’t feel supported. This is absoloutley the opposite of anything I have seen here, with the amount of heads of department and a real heirarchy of staff, I think if staff members really felt that they needed support, all they would have to do is ask for it. However, everyone is fully entitled to their opinion and obvioulsy as I have said before, I am only seeing a snapshot of life at Moulsford as a teacher.

What question would you ask a candidate for a job?

Questions were varied and are as follows;

  • What would you bring to the school/staff room?
  • What evidence do you have of team playing?
  • Outside of learning what skills/talents do you have that will enhance the staff body?
  • Describe an aspect of your personality that you feel would benefit the school?
  • Are you flexible?
  • Tell me something unusual about yourself?
  • What do you condider makes a successful teacher?

I think it is extremely interesting to in fact see that the questions here are mostly based around the staff body. This is clearly something that the school feels is important when choosing a candidate for a job, mainly to consider what kind of person this particular school is looking to employ. This will help me in the future also, when I am looking for jobs in this field.

Science Lesson – Year 4 – Week 6

Image taken from Google – The boys really like the Twinkl resources

Monday’s lesson was my second science lesson within the school and I am really confident that it went well and know that the boys enjoyed it. Unfortunately there was no real opportunity for the teacher to observe me but did give me some informal feedback that was really positive. I think something that I can take away from this lesson is that I need to work on my assessment skills throughout lessons and that although there are many ways of assessing children it is best to ensure that you are taking it on board as you are teaching, not after you have taught. Furthermore, the boys have been working with twinkl and I continued this in my lesson by workiing with twinkl resources and teaching them what twinkl feel they should know with the added tweak to make it my own lesson. I really like the twinkl resources and think that when I am a teacher this is a website I would like to use more often.

Individual Lesson Plan Format (Primary)

 

Class/Group: Year 4GS                    Lesson: Science                                Date: 8.5.17

 

  Previous Experience

In previous lesson, children have sorted animals into a variety of groups in lesson 1 using different keys.

 
  Working towards outcomes of a National Curriculum

Pupils should be taught to explore and use classification keys to help group, identify and name a variety of living things in their local and wider environment

 
  Literacy/Numeracy/ICT/HWB (where appropriate): ICT – to work on Ipads for extension, Literacy – for reading work off board and on worksheets, Numeracy – working with classifications keys and tables.  
  Learning Intentions Success Criteria  
  To be able to generate questions about animals.

To be able to use questions to sort animals in a key.

To see similarities and differences between vertebrates.

I can generate questions about animals.

I can use questions to sort animals in a key.

I can see similarities and differences between vertebrates.

 
  Resources Photo cards, worksheets, science books, smartboard, pencils, rubbers, glue sticks,  
  Timing Assessment methods
10 mins

 

 

 

 

5 mins

 

5 mins

 

10 mins

 

 

4 mins

20 mins

 

 

 

 

10 mins

 

Total

64 mins

 

Setting the context/Beginning the lesson (Introduction)

Read the information on the Power Point Presentation to introduce children to the concept of classification and ask questions about it.

Teaching the learning intentions (Development)

Introduce the classifications of vertebrate and invertebrate, asking children to give examples of each. Explain that vertebrates can be further split into five groups: amphibians, birds, fish, mammals and reptiles.

 

Explain the broad characteristics of each, asking children to note their similarities and differences. Explain that we will be focussing on vertebrates only today

 

Hand out Vertebrates Photo Sorting cards one per pair. In pairs, sort the cards into animal groups.

Tidy away cards.

Hand out worksheets, glue into science books, answer, ‘yes or no’ questions to sort the vertebrates into animal groups. When children finish they can do the key questions classification sheet.

 

Ending the lesson (Plenary)

Play “20 questions” game from maths but instead of guess a number its guess the vertebrates.

Question and Answer

 

 

 

 

 

Peer Assessment

 

 

 

 

Teacher Marking

 
Success Criteria Results Next steps for the children
I could see that the boys were able to successfully generate questions about animals after marking their classification keys.

From observation and the boys shouting out answers to questions I can see than the boys can all use questions to sort animals in a classification key.

After going over as a class the photo sorting activity game I am confident that the boys can see similarities and differences between vertebrates as each pair got them correct.

Child 5, 8 and 9 did get at least 1 question wrong in the classification keys and would benefit going over this through revision before the Year 4 exams.

It think as a class as a whole the next steps for the boys would be to create their own classification keys from the beginning by going outside and doing some outdoor learning by exploring the outdoor wildlife.

EVALUATING MY PRACTICE
Going well (what worked and why?)

I am pleased at how well this lesson went considering how unfamiliar I am with this topic. It worked well to use twinkle resources as the boys are familiar with these and the resources are bright, colourful and engaging.

The boys were really engaged throughout the lesson, answering questions when asked and volunteering to read off the board.

The boys all, except 3 successfully reached their success criteria and I would feel confident in them moving on to the next stage which I think is great as I feel that I taught them what they needed to know.

Areas for development (what didn’t work and why?)

The boys were quite chatty throughout the lesson and I did have to stop the lesson to tell the boys they were being too noisy and to quieten down. I think this was mainly due to the lesson being at the very end of the day, however this is no excuse and the boys should be listening from the beginning.

I don’t think the boys really needed to do the first classification key as a practice as it was slightly easy for their level and they already knew what to do. On the other hand, 3-4 boys did find this rather tricky let alone the sheets after but for the bulk of the class in was unnecessary.

Next Steps for Me

In future, I will try to assess the children as I am teaching a lesson, as some children already have a good idea about what I intend to teach them and there is no sense in wasting valuable class time teaching them what they already know.

I will continue to use engaging activities in my lessons as the boys are far more engaged in the lesson.

 

Harry Potter Studios – School Trips

Before I write this blog post there is something I need to confess to. It takes a strong woman to admit to their true secrets but I feel it would not be right to let you continue to read this post with out truly exposing you to what you are letting yourself in for. I am completely obsessed with Harry Potter. Like OBSESSED. I would even go as far as to say that my love for Harry Potter matches that of my love for chocolate. Now that’s a lot of love. So when I found out 2 weeks ago that Year 4 would be going to the Harry Potter Studios in London for their creative writing course, I somehow managed to wangle myself a seat on the bus and a ticket for the tour. To be honest, I would say my level of excitement matched, if not exceeded that of the boys, and whether you think that is right or wrong for a student teacher to be this way, it’s the truth and when it comes to Harry Potter nobody is changing it. I personally think that it is great for the boys to have an enthusiastic teacher, but then I am biased, because I am that enthusiastic teacher and well, of course I think i’m going to think I’m great. Anyway, my intentions with this post is to write it from an educational perspective of taking children on school trips and the educational benefits of teaching children through incredibly stories such as Harry Potter, but if the AMAZINGNESS of the whole day manages to get through a bit then I can only apologize.

Now although I can’t take away from the fact that I was super excited because it was a Harry Potter related trip, I was also intrigued to see how Moulsford do their school trips as one of my goals whilst here at Moulsford is to see schools from all angles, this is certainly one angle that is important to pupils no matter what school they are from. The boys were going, as the trip could aid them in their creative writing topic in English by getting their imaginations going and to see how their creative stories could become loved by many. Before we left the boys were divided up into groups of 10 or 8 and had a designated teacher for the whole day who they would have to stay with during the tour. I was pleased that I had my own set of 8 boys so that I could help out a bit, but I was especially proud that the other members of staff trusted me enough to look after and not loose the 8 boys in my group. So off we went and the boys were really excited on the bus getting there, singing and chatting away and eventually we heard their cries (screams) of joy as we pulled up in front of the building. Everything was really well organised and although we were early, the people that worked there were happy to let us join the cues early and hand out wristbands to the boys and passports to keep them busy by looking out for things like stamps and golden snitches.

From the first word we lost 2 of the other groups completely in the gigantic hangers where the tours take place. At first I was really hard on the boys asking them to stay with me and make sure they were in my line of sight at all times. This was until we met up with the other groups again and I realized that the teachers were wandering round and giving the boys a lot of trust to come and tell them if they wanted to go through to the next bit. I let my boys go off and for the first 5 minutes at least, my eyes were on them. That was until I was distracted by the amazing and gorgeous displays and features from the film started to overwhelm me and I just had to look at them. The boys were completely fine whilst I was looking around that part of the hanger and I have definitely learnt the role of trust in your pupils on a school trip.

Once I had calmed down a little and realized all of this my group all wanted their photos taken riding a broomstick. We went over and they all had their photo’s taken (me too, because you can’t go to Harry Potter Studios and not get your photo flying a broomstick for completely educational purposes…) to which I was handed all of their codes and moved on. I was so worried I would loose them and that would be it for the boys having their photo taken riding a broomstick (spoiler alert, I didn’t loose them). After this we moved on to the new forbidden forest and I was lucky in my group because none of the boys were scared of spiders or to go into this area of the tour. They were all extremely polite and I really did realize that I could completely trust them to run around to look at the sculptures and take photos without bothering any of the other people on their own tours. The boys were so kind, they even insisted taking photos of me with things, which I didn’t say no to, because how often do you get to go to Harry Potter studios!

Lunch was brought with us on the coach and was a delicious decision between pizza slices and sausage rolls. I am sure that I have said before that I love the food here at Moulsford. But I mean it. I LOVE THE FOOD HERE. We ate our lunch outside in front of Privit Drive and the Night-bus as a group as we had all managed to find each other again and the boys were walking around all of the outdoor bits walking in and out of houses exploring. They really seemed to enjoy it with big beaming smiles on their faces and after a 5 minute warning we were off again on the next bit of the tour.

The anamatronics were amazing and so was Diagon Alley, but nothing at all could ever prepare me for the overwhelming feeling I got from seeing the Hogwarts Castle structure up close for the first time in my life. I was slightly teary to say the least to see something that had been with me from my childhood and I could tell that the children were mesmerized by it as well because we were in the room for ages and the boys were just constantly looking and intrigued by this incredible sculpture. It was amazing, and a feeling I doubt I will ever get back again in my lifetime, but it did make me think about the reason I was here and the amazing experience the boys were having on this trip. They were so lucky to go because not only is it a difficult place to get to for most schools, it is also something expensive. There were other schools there at the same time as us but I wounder how many of them were state schools, and how many state schools can actually afford trips like that?

Although the trip ended on a high, there was a lot of hilarity at the end of the day when we realized we had forgotten the packed lunches which hadn’t been eaten and had to send someone to go and get them back. This showed me that you can plan every last detail of a trip, but nearly always, something is bound to go wrong. Moreover, I went back to the Year 4 classes the next day where they were all writing about their experience and putting that creative writing experience to use. I helped the same boy I have been helping for a couple of weeks now, and it was really lovely to see that he completely loved his day and wanted to go back. He wrote down his top 3 favorite things with a little help from me with the scribing part, but everything I wrote were his own words. A copy of this is in my folio. Overall, I truly feel that I have learnt something new from this experience, and no that isn’t how to ride a broomstick although that may come in handy someday. I have learnt that if you want to take children out on a school trip you need to trust them to be able to walk round the place of their own accord and they will in turn respect the trust you give them and come back at the times they are asked.

 

Moulsford’s Matron

Image taken from Google

I honestly have to say, when I was at school one of the places I frequented the most at school was the sick bay what with whooping cough, a bad back and then the general clumsyness of falling over. So when I came to Moulsford and found that they have their own matron, I knew I had to go and speak to her about her job. A matrons average working day at Moulsford is between 9.30 and 5.30, so 8 hours. She has her own office which also doubles up as a sick bay and spends all of her time in there. This is unless it is rugby season and we can all imagine how difficult that must be for a matron with loads of boys crashing into each other and vilontly tackling other players. As everyday is different there are no set number of boys she may see, but an average of around 14 was what she was happy to say. I think thats quite a lot for a school of only 350 pupils. Furthermore, the range of things she may see in a day are massive, from sore throats to bumped heads to cuts that need stiches. Moreover, should any child need further medical attention like stiches, it is school policy for the boys to either have their parents come to collect them or alternatively go to the local A+E walk in centre in Wallingford.

Image taken from Google – just some of the things school matrons/nurses have to do day to day

On the whole the chat was really positive and the matron expressed her love for the job and the school. She said that the only thing that makes her job particularly difficult is when boys do not follow the rules and then get hurt in the process. To be honest, there aren’t even that many rules at Moulsford and what rules there are, are simple ones to follow, but “boys will be boys” as they say. The majority of injuries will happen at break and lunch when boys are messing around so the matron will sit in her office during break and lunch just incase she is needed so that everyone knows where she will be in a crisis. I felt that although it is great to have someone there at all times and you know where they are going to be, it was a shame as the majority of other staff members take their break and lunch at the same time in the staff room, so therefore she is unable to interact as much with other members of staff.

Image taken from Google – definitely my motto when I was at school after I had whooping cough!

To my surprise, when I asked how the matrons job differed to that of a matron in a state school, her reply was that most state schools do not have school nurses or matrons. Even my school, which was in the back of beyond, used to have a school nurse, but apparently down here in England, state schools to not deem it nesesary to have a school nurse or matron on site at all times. It is most likely another expense that governements are trying to iradicate in order to save money in these trying times. However, for me, this is a total benefit to private school, especially if you have a child who is ill a lot or with a weak immune system like I had after my bought of whooping cough. I literally picked up everything going in the 18 months after my whooping cough and was often sent home with bugs or colds or coughs, but without the school nurse there to help my mum out with what to do, my mum would have most likely taken me for emergency appointments at the doctors etc. So I can absoloutely see the huge benefits to having matrons or school nurses becuase they can cut down work for teachers and doctors and make everyones life a lot easier.

My last question for the matron was what advice would you give to a trainee teacher like me. She expressed that being first aid trained was helpful for teachers so that they can spot when children are not feeling very well at all or just pretending for a bit of time of their least favourite subjects. Taking childrens temperature can also be really helpful to see if what they are saying matches up with how they might be feeling and for the children who are younger and less able to explain how they are actually feeling, this can give a better indication that they feel unwell. Moreover, we joked that having a spare bucket on hand was always helpful, especially on school trips, but even though we said this as a joke, I think I will always heed her words and make a bucket my new classroom staple. Additionally, the matron also had some words of advice that were not medical. Working as a team, espeically in this environment is vital and your job can be made so so much easier when you get along with everyone. Naturally, not all of us will always get on with everyone, but trying to be a team player and working together for the sake of the children is vital. I am really pleased I was able to speak to the matron about her job and the amount of work she has to do in a day. It has given me a new found respect for school nurses and matrons accross the country.

Image taken from Google – I have a new found respect for what school nurses/matrons have to do!

Boarding Life at Moulsford

Image taken from Google – what is your first impression of parents who choose boarding schools for their children?

Here at Moulsford, boarding is offered for boys Year 5 and up, Monday to Friday, 4 nights a week. It is flexible and boys can choose to stay for 1, 2, 3 or 4 nights in a row if they choose. There is also the opportunity for some boys to actually stay until 8pm if they’re parents work late as “day boarders” and leave when the other boys go to bed. When I was the boys age now, I was reading the st Claire’s, Malory Towers and Naughtiest Girl in the School books by Enid Blyton and daydreaming about going to a boarding school myself. For a time I was even considering giving up the idea teaching all together when I was told I would never get the grades required, so considered becoming a house mother. However, that dream was shattered when I was (falsely) told I needed a nursing degree of some sort, so gave up the idea and fought even harder to get the right grades needed to become a teacher. This week, I was lucky enough to spend an evening with the boys to talk to them about their experience boarding and also discuss the work needed to be put into making the boarders life as comfortable as possible by the house parents.

Many people that I know, have the opinion that boarding schools are for children who’s parents are too busy to look after them or for children with disciplinary concerns. Now I am here and experiencing the boarding side to private schooling, I see that it simply isn’t the case. I did ask the boys why they were here and received many replies such as “because I enjoy it”, “because its great practice before I go to a full boarding private school” and “because we can use the schools facilities”. The schools facilities are incredible and the boys could truly want for little more each night. The majority of the boys parents live little more than 15 minutes away from the school as well, so if they needed anything or felt home sick they are only a phone call away which is so handy for the boys, the families and the school. Moreover, the boarding facilities not only include activities areas, kitchen spaces, comfortable living areas but also a sick bay run by the matron each night between 5-10pm and after that the boarding parents, who also live in a flat on site. This is rarely used according to the boarding parents, but they are glad they have somewhere that the boys can go should they feel unwell or unable to sleep.

The routine is structured enough that the boys always have free time, dinner, extra prep, free time and then hot chocolate and reading before bed. However, their free time is their free time and the boys change into their home clothes and choose to do whatever they want. The boarding parents put on daily activities for the boys in both sets of free time, however there is not obligation to participate, although encouraged. In the run up to exams and if the boys have a test the next day, like any pupil from a state school, the boys will sometimes choose to revise for that subject rather that to spend time doing activities. There are two communal areas with sofas, TV’s, kitchen area and games tables as well as their own rooms and the school grounds which they can use. The boarding parents like to take the boys down to the sports hall to run around and play active games with the schools equipment and often even join in with their games. No other state schools that I know of run after school sessions where the children can literally do as they please, it is usually a structured activities program, so I quite liked seeing what the boys got up to in their free time after school.

Tuesday nights evening activity was actually run by me. I took irn bru and shortbread for the boys and I did a short talk on Scotland and taught them some words in Gaelic. I wasn’t expecting much as it was only a very short 15 minute talk with some questions at the end so I was really surprised when the boys loved my talk and even asked me to go back. I was quite delighted to say the least that I had successfully run an activity for 35 boys where they all had taken part and enjoyed it. Not in a million years did I think I would have even 10 boys show up to my talk, let alone all of them! I truly thought there would be a certain knack to getting them engaged in participating but after speaking to the boarding master, he said himself that the boys usually choose to go to the boarding house and take part in any activity going, so getting them engaged isn’t as tough as I’d originally thought. This is definitely a difference to what I am used to in state schools. Regularly, there is a battle between teachers and pupils for engagement in activities – even the fun ones – so I would definitely be interested to see what kind of reaction my talk would get in a state school.

Before I left the boarders I was just able to spend some free time down in the games hall with them playing football, wall climbing, playing tennis and talking to them all about boarding life. The boys bed times are staggered by year group and as they each go off they get their hot chocolate as they get ready for bed. Once ready, the boarding prefects go and listen to the younger boarders read, and are often rewarded with a stash of sweeties hidden away in the boarding masters cupboard (I absolutely didn’t have any *cough cough*). So once all the boys were away to bed, that was my evening with the boarders over. Once I would be leaving, the boarding parents would do their usual rounds of checking bedrooms for chatterboxes and any suspicious behaviour before going into their flat and most likely doing marking or lesson prepping themselves for the next day. I asked the boarding parents why they chose to become boarding parents and they said because they loved the school, the pastoral side to education and because it is great stepping stone to go on to greater things in education. They didn’t mention their degrees and especially didn’t mention they had a nursing degree. Further research since then has confirmed that in fact no boarding school dictates that a nursing degree is essential to being given a job as a house parent and only matrons require this on certain applications.

I honestly had never thought about becoming a house parent or working with boarding houses since the time I thought maybe it could be a career opportunity when I was around 10. However, I can honestly, from the bottom of my heart say that Moulsford has changed my mind about boarding and I might even be as bold as to say that becoming a boarding parent is something that I am really interested in as a career move. They are so close knit here at Mouslford (staff and boys) and I honestly get a strong family vibe from them, as though they are all here for a common reason and just want to enjoy what time they have at the school. It takes something massive and life changing to change my mind about becoming a teacher and I think the boarding staff at Moulsford would be proud to know they have had that lasting impact on me. I am so so looking forward to visiting them again before my time here at Moulsford will be up.

Image of the boarding school itself

 

Maintaining Moulsford

I want to learn about schools from all aspects from the kitchen to the classroom

We all know the above statement is one of my three goals whilst here on placement and today I had the delight of meeting one of the groundsmen and taking 5 minutes out of his day to ask him some questions about his job. He is extremely busy working from 7-4, starting his days off with bus duty and thereafter ensuring that all the grounds are safe for the children and staff. Moulsford is situated in the most gorgeous location with the school backing onto the thames which they can utilise and having acres of land for the boys to play sports on. The groundsmen himself has 4 other groundsmen that he works with but with the amount of ground they have to cover is massive with anything that the school owns being part of what they have to look after. Furthermore, this means that not only do they have the school and sports fields to look after, but also staff accommodation and more recently the Moulsford recreation ground.

The groundsmen I spoke to this afternoon spoke really highly and positively of the staff, saying his job was made much easier when the staff were appreciative of the amount of work the need to do in a day. When I asked if the children were as supportive of their job role throughout a school he responded with the common answer that most members of staff do when I ask this question – that the children are grateful but don’t know how lucky they are. I can second this. My first week here especially, but still 5 weeks into placement I am in awe of the beauty of the grounds and the amount that there are for the boys and staff to utilise. They are so lucky compared to what I had growing up, but when you say this to them, they don’t really seem to take you seriously. Moreover, they are just children and this could be down to the simple fact that they have never known anything else and never attended any other schools, so I am confident that one day they will look back and be appreciative of what they had.

I wasn’t surprised to hear that here in England, in state schools groundsmen are really unheard of. Most schools in England have a caretaker or janitor but when it comes to grass cutting etc., they have people from their local council come in and take care of all that for them. Here at Moulsford, with 5 groundsmen, nearly everything is done by them and there is little else done by other people coming into the school. Furthermore, from the point of view of safeguarding, this is far easier than having people you don’t know coming in and out of the school all the time to do minor jobs. Naturally, with all job roles within Moulsford, communication is absolutely vital and is something that makes the groundsmens job a lot easier when done and a lot more difficult when not. When they know something, most of the time they can get on it right away and fix the problem, but as with everything, when you don’t actually have anyone communicate with you, everything becomes a lot more complicated.

I have come to Moulsford at the best time and as I am sat writing this am overlooking the grounds in glorious sunshine. Summer is the easiest time of year for the groundsmen to work in as their job relies on good weather to get outside as much as they can. As well as this, the groundsmen from what I have seen go around on transport which I can only describe as being similar to quadbikes. Naturally, when they are doing bus duty in the mornings they take the school minibuses and the school matron also expressed how incredibly helpful the groundsmen are if children need to be taken to hospital or home when ill. Overall, the groundsmen other that this, do not have a lot of contact with the children at the school directly, but with a school so small favours are always being done and this particular groundsmen is a keen photographer. Moreover, you can see that although in their job they do not directly come into contact with the pupils, they work in a school and they can never get away from that.

To end this post, the piece of advice I was given by the groundsmen as a trainee teacher was too not expect much spare time when I qualify and to try to look after the grounds as much as possible when I am a teacher myself to make their job a little easier. Although, I think I would always do it, this just means making sure that the children are constantly respectful of the grounds and appreciative to members of staff for what they do. I don’t expect anyone to fully appreciate from these pictures how much effort goes into keeping Moulsford the incredibly beautiful school that it is. I understand that with the lack of private schools in Scotland, the likelihood of me ever working in the private sector for education is slim, even though it is absolutely a dream of mine now, but if I was to be lucky enough to work in this environment again, I will certainly respect the work that the groundsmen put into these schools. I will definitely be looking at these gorgeous grounds in a whole new light after speaking to the groundsmen here at Moulsford.

** I have kindly been given permission to use these photos by Moulsford staff in this post.