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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.

Week 5 – Reflection

Tuesday I was out and about at Harry Potter Studios and OH MY GOODNESS IT WAS AMAZING. Take a look at my reflection here...

My Wednesday was a harsh start back to the reality of no broomsticks or wands or even magic, just the gorgeous grounds at Moulsford and the fun that awaits each day. I spent my day in and out of classes but my teaching time in phonics had to be cut short because of a test that the boys had to do. This is common in teaching, no matter how hard you try to be prepared and organised, there is nearly always something that you just don’t have the time to do and you have to take time into another lesson to get it done. Furthermore, I fully understand this, especially after reading (Pollard et al, 2008, p.1079) that organisation can lead to more freedom as an educator but often it can also lead to evaporated time. Additionally, on Wednesday I helped a boy in Year 4 to write up their reflection on their time at the Harry Potter Studios. I have written about the work I do with him in other posts and was lucky that he was in my group when going around the tour, so I personally feel I was especially helpful when encouraging him to think of his favorite parts of the trip. Moreover, I acted as a scribe alone and although I discussed the trip and his favorite bits with him, I was only a scribe because this boy is extremely creative and I wanted every idea on the paper to be his own work and reflections. A copy of the work will be in my folder ready for my Viva in only 2 weeks! Additionally, my Wednesday was also spent asking members of staff about the culture of Moulsford for a blog post, as part of the LfL structure to pass, is that we write in pieces about the culture of our placements. The schools staff are so helpful and friendly and were so happy to do whatever they could to help me pass at the end of this module so I was lucky to have loads of input for this blog post. You can read it here….

Image taken from Google – this is a scene in the play that we saw with the actors we saw as well

Thursday was a longer day that I expected when I was asked at break time if I would be available and willing to help out by going on a school trip that afternoon to the theater with the Year 7’s. Naturally, it didn’t take just much to convince me and by 1 o’clock that afternoon I was off on the bus with another 3 members of staff and 48 boys ready to see the Twelfth Night. I’m not ashamed to say I am no Shakespeare buff and to be honest know very little of his work except for Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth (I am terrible for this I know!). The only exposure I’d ever had to the Twelfth Night was in fact through the film She’s the Man with Amanda Bynes which came out in 2006 which was inspired by the play.

Image taken from Google

But, I can honestly say I am really proud of myself for understanding what happened (the majority of the time). The language was slightly daunting and I didn’t understand some of what they were saying but the acting and music that went with the language helped me to really understand what was happening and follow the plot. Furthermore, this trip made me appreciate how important exposing children to acting and our traditional culture of Shakespeare is. The boys all went away from the play discussing the content, the music, the acting and the staging which I think completely shows that the youth today can truly appreciate the beauty of old scripts and traditional story-lines. All the knew writers such as J.K.Rowling and David Walliams and Julia Donaldson are fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but I am just saying that exposing children to old texts like Peter Pan, Shakespeare’s plays and Alice in Wonderland for example can be just as fulfilling. Moreover, Medwell et al concur (2014, p. 31) adding that children may enjoy traditional stories more when studying them as they may be familiar with them through film adaptations and this is also something that could be discussed in the classroom. Overall though, Thursday was a very good day.

Friday brought more planning for next weeks lesson and meeting the groundsmen who work at Moulsford and also the schools matron to seeing the incredible work that they do. I was overwhelmed by their willingness to talk to me and delighted that they answered all my questions in as much detail as they could. Although I have no nursing experience and my fingers are far from green, I do have a new found respect for both these areas of school life which I am delighted about because it is one of my goals and the reason I came to Moulsford. My week next week will be my last here at Moulsford and I will be so upset. I can’t imagine having to drive away from the amazing school this time next week but it has to be done so I can move on to become a fully qualified teacher. Lets hope someday, I’ll be back here teaching and helping out other students like me.

 

References

Medwell, J. Moore, G. Wray, D. Griffiths V (2014) Primary English: knowledge and understanding 

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

 

 

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

 

Week 4 – Reflection

Image from Google – the Year 8 boys have started studying this classic

Most people moan about Monday mornings and having to get up at quarter to 7 to get to school on time, but I am having such a fantastic time that when my alarm goes off I seem to get straight up! Monday of my week 4 was great with me attending an English lesson with the Year 8’s who have just begun the Sherlock Holmes tale “The Sign of Four”. Once again, I observed some fantastic teaching practice where the teacher was getting the children really involved by reading allowed and explaining to them why he wanted them to read certain points. For example, reading one sentence at a time going around the room with all the boys taking a turn, means that the reader is able to see the punctuation and sentence structure a little clearer in certain situations. This is really good practice for me to see and I was especially impressed when the teacher showed some of the film to help the boys imagine the setting etc. When I was at primary school the teachers only brought out films for end of term treats or if they weren’t feeling well, but I can absolutely see the benefits to analyzing films in the classroom with the pupils for English purposes. To continue this, I then went on to a drama lesson with the Year 8’s again. The boys were definitely testing the teachers patience and this is the first instance of anything you could remotely call bad behaviour that I have seen, and compared to what I have seen in other schools or guide meetings, it simply didn’t compare. Not once did the teacher raise their voice throughout the whole lesson, but they used a lot of eye contact with the pupils to make them aware that the teacher was not pleased and when this didn’t work with certain pupils, talking to them individually about their behaviour did. These techniques are things I have read about in many teaching books and is a way I can see me being able to save my voice as a teacher when I graduate where I won’t be shouting to gain attention as much (Hayes, 2009, Chapter 5). The drama lesson content was really active and had elements incorporated that I remember from my own drama school days. Every element of the lesson was explained to the pupils and they were also encouraged to be respectful when watching performances and constructive when giving feedback to peers – all elements which may help them in later life. My day ended with a science lesson which is one of the only lesson the Year 4’s will get before I am teaching them science. I picked up on the children who need some extra support in the lesson, especially as this is the last lesson of a very long day for these boys, and I will factor them into my planning, ensuring that they have the support they need from myself and the teacher. My Monday fully ended with a trip to Tesco to by irn bru and Scottish shortbread for my talk to the boarders the next day.

Image from Google

On Tuesday, I was at the school for in total 14 hours. It was a very long day but I was so excited to be finally seeing the boarders and what boarding life was like at Moulsford. However, I couldn’t do any of that until I had spent a day observing lessons and preparing my own. Although my day began with a history lesson, it was science I was looking forward to the most as I wanted to see how the boys got on recapping what they had learnt the previous lesson the day before. Most of them fared well, needing very little help from me on the whole, but it was still interesting going around the room and observing the way that the boys solve their questions, especially seen as I will be working with this class a lot more, teaching the science and maths in the coming weeks. Tuesday’s school day ended with a trip to forest school when the forest was “alive with faeries” and “a kitchen for wood cookies!”. I love how imaginative the boys are when it comes to forest school, with the forest being something completely different every signal week. Rich (2012, preface) states that spending lessons like forest school outside is not only great for the school because it’s free, but also educational for the children because it enriches their environmental knowledge base. My Tuesday then continued with a fantastic evening with the lovely boarders which I wrote about it Boarding Life at Moulsford. As this was one of my many goals, I was glad to be completing it and answering all those questions I had about whether or not boarding life is just like it was in all those school stories I read as a child. Feel free to read it to find out more.

My Wednesday was tiring, naturally after such a long day previously. I was really pleased in the morning when the teacher for ICT and me had a discussion that in my last two weeks at Moulsford I may be able to teach that class some ICT. The were working with Google Sketch Up which I hadn’t seen before, let alone used, so I may need some practice before I teach a lesson in it. My English lesson was great, with me working with the same child I have mentioned in previous reflections, who I am helping in English lessons for added support. I started to adopt a “you write a sentence, I write a sentence” strategy with them to save time, so they could get more written down, so I was delighted when they expressed their love for writing and how happy they were with me allowing them to write half of the work themselves. I feel this is important to allow the child to take control over their own work and to show the class teacher that all of the work is their own and even though I am there to aid the student, I am only enhancing his education. My day ended with my first lesson at Moulsford and needless to say I was really worried! I don’t know why because I am usually an really confident person when working with children, especially when it comes to social studies subjects, however maybe it was the fact I had all day to worry about it and maybe it was the status of the school, because I was extremely nervous. But, there was no need to be as the lesson went really well with some extremely helpful feedback. You can read about what I did and an evaluation of the lesson here. I was also keen to write the post about history teaching in private schools in England in comparison to those in Scotland. I published this on Sunday night for everyone to read and as it is one of my goals to work with a different curriculum and learn about private schools. Both of these goals, I consider to be completed in terms of history education in this post.

Image taken from Google – I have really enjoyed looking at history education at Moulsford

Thursday was the day of my second lesson at Moulsford, slightly different working with Year 4’s. I wasn’t as nervous as Wednesday, possibly because I had already done a lesson the day before which went well too. The lesson plan and evaluation for the Mathematics Lesson – Year 4 – Week 4 is there if you click on the link. My day continued by attending another Latin lesson were I was a lot more active (yes me, the girl who speaks no Latin, active in a lesson, stop laughing). The children where deciphering a piece of text from Latin into English and this was my opportunity to go around the class talking to the boys about what they had done and how they had done it. The boys were extremely confident in explaining what they were doing and most boys were able to explain to me about the 7 different tenses that Latin has as well as reading out pieces of the text. I feel that the Year 7 boys were able to work with me quite confidently because they trust and respect me which is one of the main sections of the Standards for Registration (GTCS, 2012, p. 5) that we must achieve on this student placement. Furthermore, I would even be as bold as to say that the boys

Image taken from Google – I am thrilled that I am gaining pupils trust and respect when it comes to my lessons and observing lessons. This model shows how trust and respect can be acheived.

throughout the school trust and respect my position as a student teacher from the way they stand up when I enter the room, listen to me when I am teaching a lesson and do not display any challenging behaviour when I am teaching. I have worked hard to get to this level with the boys after I read that trust and respect can come from children on placement when you know their routines and behaviors (Medwell and Simpson, 2008, chaper 3). I did pick up on the trust and respect that the teachers and boys had, as the teachers mostly left the boys to do their work on their own. He was there and walking around the room but he trusted the boys enough to work together and get the work done in the time given, which they did. Trust and respect is a huge thing in this school where the staff members do trust and respect each other massively. There is a huge amount of trust and respect between the staff and parents too at Moulsford, with the parents “paying for a service” which they trust the school with provide. However, on the same point the staff trust the parents to back them up and enforce the schools rules in the home environment as well if a child was displaying challenging behaviour. Thursday ended with another history lesson about the Magna Carta. Some of the boys were extremely off task during the lesson so I was glad to be able to wander around the room and keep the boys on task where I could.

Friday was another lesson day for me where I was teaching science. More specifically, I was teaching about how plants grow and what uses roots have on plants. The children stayed really engaged throughout the lesson and on task which I was delighted with and overall I feel it was a really good lesson. You can read my lesson plan and my evaluation here. After my lesson I attended an English lesson with the Year 8’s where they had a spelling test and continued on with “Sign of Four”. It was clear that very few of the boys had revised for their spelling test and as they are a class full of pupils with places sorted when it comes to private high schools and no more exams to take, it is frustrating for the staff who are trying to teach them when they are

Image taken from Google

not interested in learning. The teacher in this class spoke to the pupils as though they were adults which really impressed me and is something that I see often at Moulsford. Even though the children are from 4-13, they are all spoken to in the same manner rather than being spoken down to because they are children which you see at some schools. Moreover, by modelling this type of behaviour as teachers, it can develop the way that students talk to one another in typical conversation (Cremin and Arthur, 2014, chapter 12). The GTCS (2012) also state in their professional commitment section how vital it is that a teacher demonstrates commitment to their role through collaborative practice, which I feel the staff do here by treating the children like adults, so this could be considered collaborating with them. Furthermore, my afternoon was spent conducting culture interviews for my social justice section of my folio where we need to demonstrate an understanding of the values, role and culture of the placement. I will write a separate blog post on the culture of Moulsford early next week. Next week will also bring a Harry Potter Studios tour with Year 4, more teaching and another bank holiday! I cannot believe there is only 2 weeks left on placement, I am having the time of my life and want to stay forever!

 

References

Cremin, T, and Arthur, J (2014) Learning to Teach in the Primary School. Routledge:

GTCS (2012) The Standards for Registration. [Online]. Available at: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/web/FILES/about-gtcs/standards-for-registration-draft-august-2012.pdf (Accessed on 17th March 2017).

Hayes, D (2009) 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.

Rich, S (2012) Bringing Outdoor Science in : Thrifty Classroom Lessons. Vancouver: Arlington.

Moulsford. History. Common Entrance.

Its no news to anyone back home, at university or even here at Moulsford that I love my history and its definitely an area I am really interested in teaching. Mouslford are about to go through a whole curriculum change which will happen in the next few months, but for the next few weeks I am seeing the curriculum as it stands now which is with the Year 6 boys and up working towards their common entrance exams. Obviously, there are exams in Scotland but not until the children are working towards their nationals and highers etc.

Image taken from Google – Children at Moulsford can take a common entrance exam in history

So how structured are the two curriculum? We all know how much “free reign” teachers in Scotland get under the Curriculum for Excellence. As long as each child in the class hits the Experiences and Outcomes in the social studies subject, the teachers are able to teach what they like, when they like and how they like. Here at Moulsford the same goes for Years 3 to 5. Children study The Vikings, The Egyptians, World War 2, The Aztecs and more with a range of different methods in which they teach it. When it come to Year 6, everything changes slightly as the boys are working towards their common entrance exams for private schools. The history syllabus for common entrance includes Medieval Realms: Britain 1066 – 1485, The Making of the United Kingdom: 1485 – 1750, Britain and Empire: 1750 – 1914 where they must cover topics like the Black Death, Henry VII, American war of Independence, seven years war and the English Civil War. I certainly think there is a lot to cover in 3 years for boys so young, but if the boys are to go onto do history at a higher level, the lessons that they have now will prepare them. The 60 minute common entrance exam for history in compiled of 2 questions, 1 unseen evidence based question and then 1 essay based question from the common entrance syllabus. They would usually have at least 7 questions to choose from. Schools will then take candidates depending on their score, for top school 65-85% or above.

Image taken from Google – I know many teachers who wish the Government had nothing to do with education. What are your thoughts?

More recently in Scotland, there has been a slight shake up in the way history is being taught. Although this does not affect primary schools as much, the curriculum for exams in high schools has in the past few years changed to include a lot more about Scottish history, rather than history of the world. Many have stated that this is just part of the SNP trying to rewrite history books to create propaganda for their pledge for independence. Personally, I agree that if this is the reason they have changed the curriculum, that is utterly unacceptable to teach children based on something that a political party wants, rather than changing the curriculum to benefit the children being taught. Either way and no matter what the reason was for changing it, this does show just how much power the government in Scotland have over the curriculum. My personal feeling on the matter is, no matter where you are in the world, that we should teach children about what they are most likely to be interested in and most likely to equip them for adult life. As a child, I was sick to the back teeth of Culloden by the third time we studied it, let alone the fourth! There was no need for me to learn 4 times about the Battle of Culloden. Yes, it happened only 70 miles away from my house and yes, it is an extremely important moment in history, but 4! Really! When have I ever used my knowledge that I know about the Battle of Culloden in everyday life? I have written about this subject before, explaining my disgust and anger when a lecturer told us that we should only be teaching about Scotland in Is Scottish history the only history that matters in the classroom? So I won’t bang on about it anymore.

Image taken from Google – The famous Battle of Culloden!

To conclude, I am certainly enjoying attending history lessons here at Moulsford and when discussing history with the other teachers feel very enthusiastic about teaching history on the whole. I do feel that there are history subjects out there which are more important to teach that others, especially when it comes to engaging children and teaching them at age and stage appropriate levels. The Scottish curriculum is really basic and allows teachers to teach what they wish up till secondary level when it becomes a more structured tyrant of constant Scottish history, with little scope to go by. At the end of the day though, there is not much difference here at Moulsford. The boys learn a range of historical topics, until Year 6, when everything changes to make room for that dreaded common entrance exam. However, the topics with this are really broad, so do give teachers more scope to play with when planning for the children. At the end of the day, I could write for days about my love of teaching history and the fact that we teach history to equip our children to learn from the past so they can plan for the future, and no matter how much we as teachers may protest, for better or worse, the one thing we can never change is the say that the governments will always have in the way we do this.