Category Archives: Professional Studies

Week 1 – Reflection

Each week on my placement I will be writing some short weekly reflections about what I have been up to and what I have learned whilst linking it up to the GTCS (2012) Standards for Registration. My week started out rather nervously on Monday with my first day and I honestly don’t think I have ever felt so welcomed anywhere as I have done at Moulsford this week. I met the headmaster and all 3 of the deputies where one of them kindly showed me around the school so I wouldn’t be too lost. After this it was my safeguarding induction with the deputy for pastoral care for the school. I went on to spent some time with the pre-prep aged children and then with the Year 3’s for maths, but lunch was the biggest surprise of the day where it was family service, my first ever experience of this before. I am much more used to the classic go up to the counter where the dinner ladies serve up the meal rather than the teachers serving the meal at the table and then eating with the children. It is certainly a big difference to anything I have seen before in a government run school and as it is one of my goals to see the difference between the private and government run I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are

Image taken from google – I am used to seeing this kind of lunch service. Family service is a welcome change for me and it is much nicer to see teachers eating and chatting with pupils at lunch!

differences which are quite easy to spot when you are looking for them so completing this goal should not be an issue for me. My day ended with the Year 3’s doing English and coming home to write up Learning from Life – First Day Nerves.

Tuesday was a fantastic day of meeting more of the boys and staff throughout the school and seeing more lessons in action. In the afternoon I set off to my first ever forest school session which I wrote about in The Moulsford Forest School Experience. My main observations from the day were how much play and imagination through nature was key to forest school and a vital part to Moulsford’s ethos as a whole school, with many expeditions and activities for the older children. Jeffery and Craft (cited in Hayes. D, 2010, p. 110) state that these types of opportunities in schools should be seen as an attribute rather than a teaching technique. Moreover, I definitely feel from my observations, that in this particular private school, play and imagination through nature is a key quality that some government run schools are less able to uphold. Additionally, I am definitely seeing the values, culture and role of private education at Moulsford which I am showing through writing about my experiences in regular blog posts which is important for the social justice part to the Standards for Registration (GTCS, 2012, p. 5).

Image taken from google

Wednesday was filled with lessons with many of the older students from Years 4, 5, 6 and 7 many of whom I was yet to meet. In art I was helping the teacher who is also the second master of the school and found that as in government run schools the deputy teachers also have classes of their own to teach. In the french lesson with the Year 5’s I found that a lot of emphasis was put on interactive learning of 5-7 words and revising their meaning for the rest of the lesson by putting them into sentences, playing games and learning the sign language for those words. This similar practice as I have seen in language education in government run schools Scotland and both practices have been extremely interactive. Following this lesson I went on to read Successful Teaching Placement in Scotland: Primary and Early Years (Medwell, J and Simpson, F. 2008, chapter 4) to see the value of interactive language lessons in a classroom and found that teaching in an interactive way can not only address children’s learning through different sensory channels but this also means that you as the teacher are able to make assessments of more children. Modern languages at Moulsford are compulsory as they are in Scotland with Scotland having specific experiences and outcomes (Scottish Government, no date) for children for listening, talking, reading and writing but with schools being able to choose which modern language they teach from first level. Similarly, modern language tuition in England under the National Curriculum (Department for Education, 2017) is taught from key stage two and states that “teaching may be of any modern or ancient foreign language”.

Image taken from google

Additionally, Wednesday evening was a treat for me as I was invited to attend the lion king which was a production put on by the year 7’s. This was AMAZING and treated just as a professional west end production would be with singing, acting, sets and lighting. As one of my goals is to learn about schools as a whole from the kitchen to the classroom I was surprised to find that members of the school from all areas had played a part in the production from the set design and costume, making to the music to the advertisement and selling of the tickets. Teaching staff, office staff, learning support staff and boarding staff all had a part to play and the children that I spoke to at the end of the night said that even with all the work and how tired they felt they had overall enjoyed playing their parts the Lion King and were very thankful to the staff from all areas of the school for what they had done to help them put on the performance. There were 4 shows in total with children taking turn about on each night for the main roles which you rarely see in government run schools. From experience it is usually a fight for the main parts with one performance, but here at Moulsford everybody gets a fair chance at the role they want no matter their background or grades which is able to be done through the amount of performances.

Image taken from google

On Thursday I was working with the year 7s all morning who were naturally rather tired from their performances in the Lion King each night. The teacher had taken this into account and explained to me that their English lesson would be slightly more relaxed than normal but I still observed some excellent teaching practice. Moreover, the children were looking at pictures and explaining what the scene looked like to fit what type of film it may come from (e.g. horror, comedy, fantasy). The teacher used a lot of question and answer for his assessment methods and was extremely positive with the children’s answer using phrases such as “I see this too”, “I agree” and “how does it make you feel”. Pollard, et al (2008, chapter 6) explains that keeping positive praise a constant stable in the classroom and also keeping corrective language positive, is a sure way of keeping challenging behaviour to a minimum. Throughout the school so far I have seen no instances of challenging behaviour, not even just the simplest shouting out in class. Although, the school, like government run schools, has a behaviour policy I am yet to see it needing to be put in action and wonder if the amount of positive praise used by teachers has something to do with the low levels of challenging behaviour in private schools such as Moulsford? I continued my Thursday with a Latin lesson which I reflected on in Cognita De Vita and then ended my day with another visit to forest school with a different age group.

My last day of the working week was Friday and I spent a lot of time in English lessons with Years 3-8. The one exception to this rule was a Learning For Life lesson, something which each class in the school does a the same time where children do different activities from gardening to having visitors in to discuss future job opportunities. This is not a lesson that we have in Scotland and I believe in something that is specific to English education as when doing some more research into it found that RSA Academy (2017) also have this as part of their curriculum. Ending this week on this note was definitely a great way to end the week by learning something new and taking part in some fun gardening activities. I am looking forward to next week where I will be continuing to see the differences and similarities between government run and private education, working with a different curriculum and learning about schools from all aspects from the kitchen to the classroom.



Department for Education (2017) National Curriuclum. [Online] Available at: (Accessed on 18th March 2017).

GTCS (2012) The Standards for Registration. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed on 17th March 2017).

Hayes. D (2010) Learning and Teaching in Primary Schools. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Medwell, J and Simpson, F (2008) Successful Teaching Placement in Scotland: Primary and Early Years. Exeter: Learning Matters. Chapter 4.

Pollard, A., Anderson, J., Maddock, M., Swaffield, S., Warin, J. & Warwick, P. (2008) Reflective Teaching. (3rd ed.) London: Continuum International Publishing Group.

RSA Academy (2017) Learning for Life. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed 20th March 2017).

Scottish Government. (no date). Curriculum for Excellence: Introduction. Edinburgh: Scottish Government [online]. Available at: (Accessed on 14th March 2017)

Learning for Support and Support for Learning

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

If you are keeping up to date with my blog and reading it daily, you will be familiar with my third goal for this placement quoted above. Today’s main learning focus for myself was Learning Support in my fantastic placement school. This is a part of school life I myself have had a lot to do with as a child. Readers for my previous posts will know that I went through the Gaelic curriculum in the Highlands of Scotland but may not know that I actually have severe dyslexia which was discovered at 14. I am very open and honest about it and throughout primary school struggled with reading, spelling and especially Gaelic language. After my father was ill and passed away, a lot of my work slipped further and this was put down to what was happening in my home life. Not till I was 14 did anyone spot that there might be more to it and sent me for a screening. After being diagnosed with severe dyslexia, the only support I was given by the school was extra time in exams even with me and my mother crying out for more support. The exception a was few individual teachers who were kind enough to give up their own time recording notes for me to listen back to and giving me one to one support. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The reasoning the school couldn’t support me further was down to funding and time and like so many others, my schooling may have been so different if this hadn’t been the case. So, my experience was not great, but this was 5 years ago now and times have changed since I was at school. Here is a good video explaining what Additional Support Needs in Scotland are currently recognised to be.

Today, I was able to have a chat with the Head of Learning Support for Moulsford which is where I have received the majority of the information for todays blog post. Moulsfords Learning Support is constantly busy as they have over 50 boys who need support from 4 full time and 2 part time Learning Support teachers. Their work ranges from one to one support to early morning group working interventions and it is massively supported by the other staff in the school and used well. The interventions and resources used vary from child to child but some that we discussed were for reading and maths recovery, group work and extra time in exams. At Moulsford, similar to the practice I am used to seeing in Scotland, additional support can be long and short term. It can range from the child having an additional support need (long term) to a parent being unwell (long/short term) to the child having a broken wrist and being unable to write (short term). No matter what the support is, no child is turned away and every child is catered for. Additionally, the school also have additional language and speech therapists, occupational therapists, school counselors and many other visiting support staff to support the children in any way they may need.

Image taken from TES Resources

Learning Support at Moulsford is well catered for as it is integrated into every classroom as well as 3 individual rooms being used for one to one support. If you go to Moulsford all over the school you will see these dyslexia posters provided by TES, informing staff at the school what to look out for in students work.

But how does all this compare with the Learning Support in Scotland? For a state school in Scotland, they must have support in place for children with additional support needs after The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (and the amended 2009 version) was passed and are currently enforcing it through Getting it Right for Every Child and the Curriculum For Excellence in schools across the country. Iain Nisbet also chairs The Advisory Group for Additional Support for Learning in Scotland, who focus on eight areas related to additional support for learning over a two year period at a time.

Image from google. Scotland are putting great emphasis on GIRFEC at the moment to help children who have Additional Support Needs

However, some may say the Learning Support at a private school like Moulsford also has a serious drawback. Unlike in Scottish/English state schools where any support given via the school or outside support staff (i.e. NHS) is totally free, at a private school, one to one Learning Support is charged on top of the fees their parents already pay. Moreover, I personally see the benefits to this as in Scottish/English state schools and the NHS, money is drastically being withdrawn and children are being turned away constantly and therefore not receiving the support they need. See here for more. At Moulsford every child in Year 3 is screened for additional support needs and then after that teachers and parents can raise concerns where the child may be screened again. Once a child has been screened and an additional support need flagged, the child will have an Individual Educational Plan drawn up for them – similar to the ones I have seen schools use in Scotland. The whole system at Moulsford is amazing, nowhere else have I seen every child being screened for support needs at Year 3 and wonder if I had been given a screening at the same age for my dyslexia, would it have been spotted and schooling made easier for me?

A short quote about individuality which should be taken into account when thinking about learning support from google images

I cannot change my own past and experience through the Scottish education system, but can certainly say that my point of view is that the Learning Support team at Moulsford have absolutely got it right from their screenings to the resources they use to the range of support staff who come into the school. In Scotland, I think we could learn a lot from the Learning Support team at Moulsford and would do well to take on board some of their practices and values. Before my meeting with the head of Learning Support ended, I had enough time to ask one final question which was “What piece of advice would you give to me as a trainee teacher for spotting and then supporting children who have additional support needs?” The advice given was to use differentiation, early intervention and if something doesn’t seem right, to always question it. This is advice which I am sharing so that I can not only enhance my own practice but readers may be able to so as well. I can certainly say that today has been one of the most educational for me so far, definitely hitting one of my goals for this placement. They are a lovely team and I look forward to learning more from the Learning Support team more over the next four weeks.

Learning from Life – First Day Nerves

Needless to say this morning before my first day at Moulsford Boys Prep and Boarding School I was extremely nervous and could not wait to just get there and started. I’m extremely lucky and grateful to be living with family only 25 minutes away from the school itself and I have my car to travel in every morning so except for those first few nerves, getting to the school was a breeze!

Not an actual picture from the school grounds, but this gives a good idea to how magnificent the school’s surroundings are

I found the office and the first few hours of my day were spent meeting and greeting people, inductions and being shown around the school. The overwhelming feeling of welcomeness was incredible. The staff, the parents and the boys themselves were so friendly, kind and showing me where to go. When being shown around the school I was struck by the beauty of the surrounding area, especially as the school backs onto the River Thames and the boys can try their hand at canoeing, kayaking and more. Sports are a major part to life at Moulsford with opportunities to play rugby, cricket, football, tennis and many more with fixtures for teams being frequently held. Overall, I am extremely impressed by the opportunities the boys are given and as my placement goes on, will write some more about this side of Moulsford.

My day was not completely filled with meeting people and learning the geography but I observed pre-prep (or nursery as I would usually call it), Maths and English lessons. The children are all extremely polite and there were no cases of bad behaviour throughout the day, which struck me as quite different from any schools I have ever worked in before. Although I thoroughly enjoyed each lesson and have learned some new games I was slightly taken aback by how advanced some of the children’s English and Maths work is compared to students their age in Scotland through the Curriculum for Excellence. I will be learning more about the specific curriculum that Mouslford runs with and am attending at a good time as they are about to change their curriculum in September, so will be able to write more critically about the differences in the two curriculums.

Another first for me was the fact that I tried my hand at family service lunches where an adult stands at the top of the table and serves the boys their dinner and then proceeds to eat their dinner with them. This was a great opportunity for me to talk to the boys and find out what life at Moulsford is like for them as students. The overall resounding answer with many nodding heads and loud yes’s when I asked “do you like school then?” was astounding. When I asked why answers cropped up like “my friends all go here”, “the sports are really good” and “everyone is really nice and its near my house”. Clearly, the school means a lot to the boys as well as their families and I am looking forward to finding more about the boy’s opinion of the school, private education and boarding life as the next 6 weeks fly past.

I’m looking forward to writing up all about my experience with Forest School tomorrow!

Tomorrow, I am observing science, pre-prep, English, Maths and most excitingly FOREST SCHOOL! I have always wanted to see forest school in action and am so prepared I have even gone to Sainsbury’s and bought some funky wellies to keep my feet dry. Science is very exciting too although not my strong point if I am being honest, but there is always room for improvement and the teacher was extremely enthusiastic about me joining the class for the day. However, now I think I have earned an extremely long lie down and some chill time watching the footie – come on CHELSEA.!

Learning From Life – A New Adventure!

Second year here at the University of Dundee is exciting because our placement is that little bit different than others. We do a placement called Learning from Life where we can go anywhere we want to for 6 weeks and can document the whole journey however we want to! So when considering the possibilities I really struggled. I decided the best thing to do (and the fact we have to do it anyway to pass the module) would to be to create an audit of what skills I have, what knowledge I already have and my personal attributes.

What skills do I have?

  • Confident at working with early years, brownies and guides
  • Good at working in groups, talking to adults and being put in new situations
  • Creative, flexible, good self discipline and good computing skills (especially blogging!)

What knowledge do I already have?

  • I am a peer educator so have a lot of knowledge about health and wellbeing/activities surrounding these also
  • Knowledge from my last professional placement – behaviour strategies, planning techniques and confidence in taking whole classes
  • I have a background of knowledge about the Scottish Curriculum

What are my personal attributes

  • I have a passion for teaching and working with children
  • I enjoy history, reading, crafts and a willingness to reflect (otherwise known as a love of blogging)
  • I am really organised, in fact I’m probably so organised you could say it’s a negative…

So when I had done all of that I had to think about what I wanted to take out of this placement, what goals was I striving to achieve during my 6 weeks? Well, that was relatively easy.

  1. I want to work with a different curriculum (preferably the English curriculum but I’m not fussy)
  2. I want to learn about private boarding schools and government run schools and the difference between them (if there is one). It’s something I have always been interested in and this seems the perfect opportunity to find out!
  3. I want to learn about schools from all aspects from the kitchen to the classroom

I really enjoyed my placement last year, I was in a small school with just over a hundred children and it was open plan which was a whole new experience for me! I was so worried at first because I’m a little on the petite side and thought me in an open plan room with a load of children and other teachers would never work. Lets just say I found my voice (foghorn) during those weeks and I’m ever so glad I did. Although, I was only there for 6 weeks I went back to go on a school trip with my class to the discovery which the children all really enjoyed. I had never been to the discovery and found myself actually learning with the children which was a good learning opportunity for myself. I realised that teachers have to do some research before topics so they know what they are teaching is correct and I’d never really considered this before. I also went along to a couple of after school clubs to see what impact these have on the children in that school. They loved them and the opportunities they got through it. Especially “code club” which involved coding for games and was a perfect mix between learning and fun. The only time that I didn’t enjoy anything was my last day and having to leave – so that must show just how positive the experience really was for me.

Taking into account my previous placement and what I wanted to get out of the next one lead me down the private school route. I’d already taught the scottish curriculum in a state school and knew that my goals included looking into private education. So I’m very excited to be attending a private preparatory school for boys on the banks of the river thames in Oxfordshire. They board their pupils from Year 5 and up and run loads of activities during the week for the boarders they have. I am so lucky to be given the chance to go on my placement and honestly can’t wait to start! I’ll be blogging the whole way through – so keep up to date with my placement on here.


During our mathematics lectures we have been exploring the different words we use as mathematical language in the classroom. One way in which we use mathematical language on a daily basis is through reading picture books. To explain this further I have chosen to look at old time favourite, Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A.Milne.

Image result for winnie the pooh book

Filled with great stories and great illustrations Winnie-the-Pooh has been engaging children for over 90 years but not many people would look quite so carefully at the language it uses. The first page of this book alone which only has 13 lines includes;

  • One
  • Some
  • Down
  • Begin
  • Behind
  • Far
  • Another
  • Bottom
  • First

There are probably more on that page that I haven’t picked up on, but you see the point I am trying to make. Shape, height, pattern and time are also written into the book which anyone not looking for it would miss entirely, but if a teacher was looking to point this out, is readily available for learning opportunities.

Some fun activities that I might do linked to this book are;

  1. Having a honeypot number line in the classroom
  2. Making “woozles” tracks in sand or mud (or snow if you can!) to explore patterns, size and shape
  3. Looking at the map at the beginning of the book to explore numbers, compasses and length
  4. Counting different things on the pages such as honeypots, bees, footprints, words and woodland creatures

There are so many amazing things that I love about this book but one that I really want to point out is the layout of the writing. In each book I have come across the way the words are spread out across the page, in many different directions, sizes, lengths and fonts are really interesting and unique to each edition of the book. The page opposite is from the original by A. A. Milne and E. H. Shepard edition of 1926 and I would definitely compare different editions of the book and focus on these pages when in the classroom.

I think in the short time it has taken to write this post it has become plain to see that mathematical language is featured heavily in this book. This classic book will live of for years to come and be read in classrooms across the country, but it is up to the teachers to point out the mathematical language when reading, Winnie-the-Pooh.

Craft, Design and Hot Glue Guns

Many people that know me would agree that me going near a hot glue gun isn’t necessarily the safest or most sensible option. BUT! On Tuesday I was given my own shot when we made these.. Mother’s Day Plant Pots. Richard (our tutor) basically gave us free rein to create whatever we wanted with the intention that we would make a learning intention and a success criteria to go with it for children in a classroom. The first thing we decided was that we wanted to have as our learning intention;

We are learning to safely use a hacksaw in order to cut a piece of wood into equal lengths.

imageWe then started looking on pinterest on things we could reasonably affordably and quickly make with children in a classroom. Here was our inspiration, which we made into our own idea. A plant pot for mother’s day for the children to take home with them. With that we discussed, we decided how to make the box, who already had experience in this field and who wanted to do which job. Teeny and Skye chose to do the presentation sheet and wrote down our success criteria as well as the learning intentions and the other areas of the curriculum covered in this activity.


Our success criteria was

I can successfully; hold and use a hacksaw safely, measure equal lengths of wood.

After some further thought we realised that really we should have had more of a basic success criteria that the children could easily follow, but we can only learn!


While this was going on we had Jess and Grace doing a fantastic job of sawing our pieces of wood. They all had to be equal lengths for the box to start taking a proper shape so they had a harder job with that in mind. When working with children I think I would want them to have already discussed with me safety whilst using a junior hacksaw and were able to measure properly with a ruler and understand why they were doing it. It could take quite a lot of practice to be able to properly use a junior hacksaw so this would be a good practice activity. image

After this was done we sanded down the pieces of wood and started gluing them together using a hot glue gun. This part could almost be another lesson on craft and design all together depending on how long the children take to do each part of the box making. However, using a hot glue gun is again something that I would be wary of doing with the children without some safety instruction beforehand.











With all this excitement of me and Teeny using (very well actually) hot glue guns and sandpaper, Kathleen and Megan were busy to work making our pretend flower just for show. Although if I was going to do this in a cimagelass my obvious choice would be to use a real plant rather than one made out of wood. We imagedid not have that option available to us so we had to be practical and just made one instead. Using a real plant would get the children thinking about science, looking at the life cycle of a plant, different types of flowers and gardening just as a few examples.

So we did all this but what did we actually learn from doing it? Well we learnt about safety in the classroom and why it is important to teach the children the safety beforehand. I also took note that all the things in the room that we used are readily available to us, in a classroom they might not be and you might have to bring something in yourself from home (like a hot glue gun) or even go to the shops and spend your own money on it. Collaboration for us was hugely important. Yes, it took eight of us to make a box which might sound ridiculous but at the same time, children do sometimes work better in teams and I know for a fact I could not have done that without the others! Maybe this is a teamwork task more than an individual task and we would need to assess the different uses for the boxes.

So that was how we made our Mother’s Day flower pot! Here is the finished product!



Health and Wellbeing – One girl’s opinion

In my opinion Health and Wellbeing is one of the most important areas in the Scottish curriculum. It is where students are able to learn about and discuss relationships, physical education and wellbeing, mental wellbeing, emotional wellbeing and social wellbeing just to name a few. In the principles and practice document for the Scottish curriculum it states that Health and Wellbeing is “the responsibility of all practitioners.”

The diagram above is an image similar to the diagram shown in the principles and practice document. It shows us that when teaching children Health and Wellbeing the common goals should be active, nurtured, respected, responsible, included, safe, healthy and achieving. I think this is a good way of looking at Health and Wellbeing in a rounded way and that these are not only things that practitioners should be teaching but they should also be looking out for in pupils of all ages. Watching a child’s health and wellbeing means that you can check if they are healthy or safe etc and as a practitioner you have the responsibility to spot if something isn’t quite right. Asking yourself, is that child safe in this classroom? Is that child being included in that activity? Is that child healthy – why are they always sick? are just some of the ways that back up my point. When I was in school there was a huge change over from teachers not taking much interest in Health and Wellbeing to it being taught in most subjects. This is probably due to the curriculum for excellence being produced, however I remember there being a huge emphasis on Physical Education in primary school and sex, relationships and drugs in high school before the huge change over happened in my last year at school. Maybe it is due to the area I come from but I think that this was more likely at the time a whole country wide shift into seeing the relevance of Health and Wellbeing.

Relationships is a factor which I only took into account recently. Still being a student, I have not yet had my placement and in my previous work haven’t had a huge amount of experience working with families, just the children. But children all have different families not the “nuclear family” that everyone expects of 2 children a mother and a father. We need to teach that this is ok, so that we prevent bullying and children feeling isolated because their family is different to what is considered “normal” these days. I was bullied after my father died and I believe that if the children had been taught that it was ok that families come in all shapes and sizes and if the teachers had been better at looking out for their students health and wellbeing, then I probably wouldn’t have been bullied as badly as I was. There was support out there, but nobody told me until I had left school. As families are different the way that children and adults in families think different too. Here is a video which shows just how differently children think to adults, and how their go to reaction is that they want to be around their family.

I think it is so lovely that these children all want to have dinner with their families but not all children have the opportunity to say that or live in an environment where they could sit down and have a meal with their family like this. Every child’s home experience is different and we need to remember this as teachers and for the 6 hours you have them in your class, make sure they are safe and included. This is all part of looking out for a child’s health and wellbeing in the classroom. I feel it is something we should also teach in the classroom so that peers can spot bullying and report it.

One of the things I have mentioned is P.E. I hated P.E. and have to admit I did anything I could to get out of it (which worked out quite well after I had whooping cough and was left with a back injury when being pushed off a trampoline.. OUCH!). But having worked in the nursery last year and working with children at guides and brownies I am starting to see how important physical education is for children in this country and across the world. The World Health Organisation produced a report in 2009 that stated “43 million children under the age of 5 years will be overweight by 2010”. Now I know that we are 6 years on from this, but if that isn’t a scary enough statistic to prove that children need health and wellbeing to be taught in schools, I don’t know what is. Healthy eating is something else we should be teaching across all stages of learning. This sugar intake video that I posted a few months ago, shows just what goes into sugary drinks and if children don’t know these things, they will not turn them down and go for the healthier options of fruit, veg, milk and water.

So overall, I hope I have put across to you just some of the reasons that I think health and wellbeing is so important in the Scottish curriculum. After all if we don’t teach our children how to look after themselves, how can we expect them to?