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Educating Cardiff – Ep. 2


This week focuses on Assad and Aaron, two year 7’s and some interesting concepts to discuss! Hope you enjoy.


Assad is a prime example I want to teach year 6’s about. Every school has pupils like Assad. They’re cool, sometimes known for be a tough guy and disruptive in lessons. Sometime’s they’re a class clown etc. you know the type, right? I’d want to teach year 6’s about the pull of desires to be popular and cool and how it can become a self-destructive effort consequence. That is not to say, you can’t be popular and be smart and hard working but be popular for the right reasons, doing the right things.

Many children like Assad seem fuelled by public opinion of their peers and will act accordingly. I was disappointed to see that teacher making a public display of Assad’s lack of work. It’s an amazing difference with pupils surrendered by their peers and when they’re on their own. I also think going at their friends (within reason) can be a way of cutting their legs beneath them but this method would have to be used carefully. For example, separating them within the classroom. Or as that teacher with his report card did and analysed where his issues lie.

I was also disappointed with how they handed the reintegration with his mother. I thought it was painfully obviously that they’re just hanging over the possibility of other schools with no real intention of sending Assad away. I would of had brochures there, contact details of the other schools and not even mention the possibility of staying in the school until they mentioned it. My dear cousin (sorry!) was a smart-ass, popular girl in school with a cocky attitude until they passed her an application form for the other schools, in which she **** herself and I can only imagine, begged to be let to stay in.

The mother shouting was frightening but also a reminder of what can always happen, even in primary. It was very touching to see the head offering a hug and comfort. But he will need a huge shock to his system to get him to behave and I don’t think that is achieved through raising your voice but speaking softly and really getting through to his heartstrings (if he has any, which I’m sure he does). I think the head did this well but I don’t think he was ready to hear it, I still think he was projecting a shield around himself or pretending not to care or that it’s funny etc.

I fear that Assad has more issues beyond what is observable on the screen. We haven’t seen or heard much of a father figure but we haven’t heard that there isn’t one either. But I am glad to see the headteacher to be taking up a more prominent role in his life and finding a way to produce a fresh start by emailing his teachers. Lovely to see and something I will keep in my teaching arsenal. But I do have to wonder by putting so much focus on Assad, who isn’t behaving well, how much attention is drawn away from other children? Not all children can be given as much time as these or handed alarm clocks as in the case with Aaron. I always wondered what is the best way to go about ensuring no children slip through the nets, particularly children like Jessica who is incredibly clever, sweet and hard working but needed a bit of support.


Aaron seems a sweet lad who reads! But although he is turning up late and has behaviour issues I have to question the parental involvement at this point. I know secondary school is a start of independence and ‘taking responsibility’ as the teacher said to Assad at some point, but at the beginning of year 7, parents should be helping with the integration and this includes getting up and in school on time!

I think I mentioned this in my previous review that I am impressed with the systems and interventions the school has, such has dealing with potential issues early. I don’t believe my school had this and we would all rather be lift to our own devices unless we was naughty! But it is fantastic to see the individual attention you see but just like Assad, you wonder if anyone is ever missed out because they rather tow the line between good and bad? But I did lvoe how some of the questions asked involved the time Aaron goes to bed, what he eats and does he have friends.

But another great system is having a head of house work with Aaron as a way of looking in on him and ensuring he is settling in well. For many of us, it is an older sibling, relative etc but not all pupils have them and they do need that kind of support and House Captain Jack was simply fantastic at it. In summary however, I’d look towards his support networks and what kind of attitude he has towards school and himself as they didn’t spell out enthusiastic or committed which seems unusual for an otherwise normal looking boy.

Other notes

I think it’s interesting when schools take on that traditional or ‘private school’ concept of ‘houses’. I would fear it brings in/out groups, us and them etc but as the teacher said, I think it can be supportive towards children’s education and giving a sense of belonging that is a little bit special to them. But I also thought that was the purpose of after school clubs? I think I need to investigate this further!

Unsung Hero

Last week it went (not in this format however) to Mr. Hennesey. This week however it is going to Captain of House Jack for being a great source of support towards Aaron, a good example to set for younger children and is fantastically mature and understanding of the school and how he can play an active role.

Funniest Moment

Easily goes to the moment Aaron told those pigeons to fuck off, as they should. Yes, I do discriminate against pigeons.

Saddest Moment

I think Assad’s mother crying as she seemingly had enough. It is sad to see a mother like that and I can only hope things got better for her.

Happiest Moment

I think it’s hard to tell this week as nothing stuck out as incredibly lovely. I think the headteacher made me smile most but I was also made up Assad had a good 4 days away. I think I have to give it to the headteacher though for being awesome!

That is it for this week’s review. I hope you enjoyed, please feel free to leave a comment and I hope to see you reading my review next week!

Educating Cardiff – Ep. 1


Welcome to my review on the first episode on Educating Cardiff! Great to see another series starting but in words of a tweeter, the format is starting to draw on and we’re not as wow’d and charmed into Willow High School as other schools, perhaps we would of been if it was the first in the series.

Nonetheless, it was a great episode and has taught me much, as often the series do, about secondary teaching and what to prepare my future primary school children for! Tonight’s episode focused on Jessica, a bright mature student who is thought a few social experiences could benefit her. Leah, a seemingly troubled girl with no faith in her own ability and consequently acting out but not without the notice of Mr Hennesey. The focus teacher models a very good approach to dealing with pupils who are skipping school, not always behaving well and most importantly, lacking faith; Mr Hennesey is certainly one to watch this series.

I loved Jessica, she is bright, charming, well-spoken with great vocabulary. Many tweeters regarded as there nothing to be wrong with her personality, and I agree, but in regards to being left alone, not so much. School does reflect the workplace in many ways (except teh whistling girls may not be there among other silly people). But it does involve communicating and working together so as such, the newspaper I felt was a great idea and the results show that! Really made up that Jessica did so well, it was well deserved and I do think these social experiences will aid in her ability to do well. I don’t think any teachers was suggesting a change of personality and it was a clever idea of bringing about that ‘agentic state’ feeling if I’ve used that term appropriately, being someone else as a way of supporting personal development which is not that different to Leah liking drama as a way of being someone else. Speaking of which;


I had quite a roller-coaster ride of emotions towards Leah. At first, I disliked her and just felt like it was a simple procedure, you come to school or you don’t. It may of not been Leah but that girl who said she didn’t want to be there, was then asked to leave and she pulled a confused shocked face?! Just go! But as will come to learn from Mr. Hennasey, it’s important not to give up and help these young adults see their GCSE’s to the end.

I never felt that Leah was running from school as she was, responsibility for herself and her education, a responsibility that is perhaps not shared by her family members that Ms. Joy seemed to suggest in regards to her sibling. I do believe that the fear of failure do leave some children to not to try. But as evident from the program, she does care but is finding it difficult to place faith in herself and having people not give up on her, believe in her and drive some faith and ability to her appears to much as we see emotions flooding out on the playground, accompanied by a not-so-supportive friend and supplements of cigarettes and energy drinks for a sense of comfort.

But eventually we see her reach out to Mr Hennesey (not sure how I feel about the texting) and letting her feelings know, something that is often done to parents, friends, siblings and not often teachers (in my experience). But it would appear this teacher is the single driving force behind this young girls education. So you can’t help but begin to warm up to Leah and hope she does well as we don’t know her whole life and we’re sure there are reasons she is finding it hard. So when it comes to the end and she has 8 GCSE’s, I am very happy for her and wish her well in drama at college.

Mr Hennesey (apologies for spelling)

The rather unsung hero of tonight’s episode, although there was many applauds on twitter for his efforts, I felt the documentary did not catch his efforts enough. Every individual of focus does get some screen time to talk about the background but I felt he needed more. I was rather made up, as someone who only attained one GCSE, to see a teacher I hope I’m half as good as, receive just two. I wished he had a more non-nonsense attitude, I was praying for him to just ask ‘yes or no, was you truanting yesterday’ and not wait so long. It is obvious she was so don’t mess around, if she hadn’t she would no doubt say or even scream in that teenager-way of getting it across she actually hadn’t. Additionally, if someone enters my class with a high-pitched question, I will pointing for them to get out. If someone is poking their nose on the glass of my door, they will be invited in to explain what they’re doing. Mr. Hennesey, I love what you do, you give up so much time, so don’t give up any more then need be.

Just a side note, his phone calls to me at first, appeared unnecessary but they would prove a useful tool. What does anyone else think?

Other notes

Once again I am so interested in how schools have changed and have so many systems in place to catching failing, struggeling or otherwise difficult children as my school didn’t and I simply fell through the cracks. I lvoed how Ms. Joy took the time to sit with the children and make them understand the consequences of their actions (the fines) and just the effort the teachers are going through (3 kids at home). But the best part is making them realise how if they act like this after school, in college, work etc, it will not bode well for them. This is what teaching is suppose to be, in my view, and I am happy to see it. Although, that being said, I do have a non-nonsence approach and I may have already desired to see them out but as stated, I have learn’t a lot from this episode about not giving up.

Funniest moment goes towards that young undercover reporter hanging outside the SLT meeting, very brave and inspired, perhaps it is something we should all do to find insider gossip? If teachers knew a disliked SLT had a fear of snakes, maybe snakes would appear when they keep them in school until 6:30?

Saddest moment is perhaps not Leah crying but just Jessica’s efforts in the classroom being hindered by idiots whistling. It is always sad when learning is prevented or slowed.

Happiest moment? It’s hard to choose, very happy Leah got her grades but I was also made up Jessica did so well on the newspaper so I think I’d call it a draw.

Thanks for reading my review and I hope I improve in it in future, feel free to leave a comment, I love comments and I look forward to next weeks episode!



Good Afternoon,

Not sure why it’s so good, Everton are winning, pfft. But anyway, this week I am going to quickly out and discuss my pre-course Fears! This isn’t designed to put anyone off but I am concerned I may come across one or two points that people may just not of thought of yet. I’ve sort of categorised my fears under two headings; Controllable and Uncontrollable. Controllable means that these are fears that, although I do have my concerns, worries, anxieties, they are relatively in my control and down to me. Uncontrollable fears relates to the exact opposite. Those fears I cannot have much control or perhaps any at all.

It’s important to note, anything and everything you do in life always have some kinds of variables that are out of your control. Nobody can control what kind of customer you get for example or the weather or the commute. So don’t let it worry you if you’re reading this and thinking ‘I could fail based on things out of my power’, it sucks but it’s everywhere. Now, lets get straight into it with controllable.

Controllable Fears

Oversleeping – Think everybody can have this fear, just an worry and I’ve had it my whole life, particularly with exams as many others have. Particularly before I go to bed, if I have something important in the morning. unsettling thoughts can follow me into my slumber.

Just what if, I don’t get up in time?! What if I wake up and look at my clock and it’s 9:30 and I have 2 missed calls? How do I explain that?!

This is controllable as we just need to make sure; a). we set alarms b). We have plenty of sleep c). we stay in some form of consistent routine. That last point is vital as when you are at that stage, you can find yourself naturally waking up before your alarm even sets off! But the main way I am planning to tackle it is by getting up extra earlier and going the gym or a run or doing something that means oversleeping could still mean I can make it to Uni/School.

Workload – This could of also been called organisation, the ability to arrange for myself to get everything done that I need too. But I can do that, I have great organisation skills when I need to have them. But have they been truly tested before like they will be on this course? Who knows. But I do fear I will be overwhelmed and I will struggle and this leads me to my two next fears. But if you was wondering, some of my efforts to tackle this fear can be found here.

Masters Assignments – In some respects, this could be an uncontrollable fear. I can’t control what the assessments are, what they will ask of me etc. But there controllable enough that I can put time and effort to make sure I can do the best I can and since I have just finished a degree in Education Studies, I don’t really have the same issues some of my fellow colleagues may have if they’ve been out of the education loop for a while. Still, I do sometimes sit there thinking, what if it an assignment I simply can’t do? Be it too hard to my workload to high? This brings me onto my final controllable fear; time.

Managing Time – This fear does speak for itself, it’s a fear we all have from all walks of life. What do we do with the time given to us? I’m giving my PGCE all my efforts, but I will not give it my relationship, or my life. At some points I’m going to have to make decisions of how I spend what little time I have. But how many times can I say “Sorry, not tonight” to myself and/or my girlfriend without it having serious negative consequences? I want to be a teacher, believe me, but nothing is worth giving up the things I have/need in my life. But this is why it’s a fear, I hope I can manage time well enough that I can balance both.

Uncontrollable Fears

Mentors – I think we all share this fear if we have spent time reading the horror stories that fill the internet. But can I just say, in general and not directly at anyone or any story particular. In my life and the many jobs I’ve had (8)0, I have come across many people who blame the whole world before recognising their own mistakes. But nonetheless, there are no doubt, some mentors who don’t want to do that job but have had it pushed on them, some who just don’t get on with, don’t connect with and just some who could be not very reasonable/fair/nice to work with.

Since mentors are a big part of the placements, it is a fear of mine that maybe I will get that mentor that will make things difficult for myself, but who knows. I try not to think about it. I am confident in myself to voice my concerns if I have concerns, either to the mentor personally or back to the Uni. In my (8) jobs, I have learn’t the hard way that not speaking up when you feel something isn’t right can simply end up bad for you. Obviously there is a flip side, I could have a mentor who will go all out for me, help me every step of the way, inspire me, motivate me etc. But I could also get the horror stories of never spending time with my mentor, mentor never being there in the classroom when things are going badly, giving me many tasks that take up too much time (I understand we have to do certain tasks but I’ve heard about mentors taking the mick). This latter mentor is what I fear.

Children – To put it quite simply, I don’t fear children, but that one child who tells me to go **** myself when the OFSTED or any other observer/inspector is in the room. Or that child who just makes my placement hell. But at the end of the day, I am teaching primary and I have a tough skin, at least with smaller children, not sure how well I’d fair with a nasty year 11. But my biggest fear isn’t actually the naughty, difficult children, but the unresponsive one. Or frightening enough, an unresponsive class. A class that is unmoved, unconcerned by anything you have to say and just writing this is giving me a child. Just imagine trying to teach the late Ms. Krabappel class from the Simpsons?!

Other Teachers –  I’ve many great teachers, most of which are on Twitter, if you didn’t know, get networking today! I’ve met many in the schools I’ve been apart of and found the majority to be lovely. But the teachers I fear, are those negative teachers. The ones to have so far told me, to not bother becoming a teacher, to do something else, that I will regret it, it’s not worth it, I’ll quit/drop out. Unsurprisingly, these seem to be the teachers that don’t seem to want to be in the job any more but for whatever reason, still have to be (pay mortgage for example). So far, these teachers have actually motivated myself to be the best teacher I can. But I fear if it I have to work closely with these teachers who are negative, demotivating, unhelpful, they will start to get to me, affect me. Somewhat similar to mentors but I assume other teachers will have less direct effect on myself, but I am well aware that my mentor will no doubt be a teacher their self and can hold similar thoughts.

Commute –  Ending on quite a silly fear, as it shouldn’t matter too much and this rather reflects life. But I rather hope I don’t get my placements 90 minutes away, taking 3 hours out of my day travelling. That means 15 hours I loose a week, never mind the additional costs to transport. This is a fear that has been on my mind lately as I try to prepare myself for the day to day of PGCE life. This is quite a serious fear for me personally as it can make so much different. A placement that is 10 minutes away, doesn’t cost me a penny will make all the positive difference! But if it’s the other way around, can have such an adverse effect.

This has been my fears, I apologies for the rather drowning writing, I haven’t been in the mood to blog lately but I will try and get my educational debate written tomorrow about the discrimination some male teachers can experience!

Thanks for reading,

– Josh

The ‘Month of Birth’ Effect


Last week I discussed the possible effects of grouping by ability within the classroom, found here. One of the key areas I picked up on one this notion of a ‘month of birth’ effect as being one of the factors. This was one of my better blogs, not measured by views (as I’m sure many get bored of my terrible writing) but by the amount of comments/messages I received over the blog, Facebook and twitter. Feedback that undoubtedly hit over the 50 mark, which is great as my social network ‘reach’ isn’t great (you can follow me on twitter here, please!). Almost all the messages wanted to discuss this ‘month of birth’ (now MOB) effect, what it was and what it means for the parent, child or, like yours truly, the primary school teacher. Well I’m a trainee, whatever.

So this blog is going to discuss just that. But, do not fear any readers I’ve spoken too, I will not feature any names or views you have shared with me unless permission is granted. For those who want to extend their knowledge further or want to validate some of my points raised, the main article I used for this blog and my dissertation research is a 2007 paper by T, Campbell titled ‘In-school ability grouping and the month of birth effect‘. As far as I am aware I am allowed to link to this page that the website offers free to view. I am not making any financial gains from this advertisement and if anyone associated wishes to contact me, they can do via my social media links. Apologies for the lengthy intro but lets get to it.

What is the Month of Birth effect?

We will all know about the MoB effect to some degree but may not know it as such. You may have experienced it yourself or like myself, have a younger sibling who has/does. The MoB effect suggests that the month of which a pupil is born, in relation to their year group, has a ‘a statistically and educationally significant relationship with a variety of outcomes and experiences, throughout compulsory schooling and beyond (Campell, 2013).

In other words and also perhaps the most heard of experience, a child born just after the age ‘cut off’ point of September 1st in England and Wales (sorry Scots and Northern Irish), will have a significantly different educational experience and outcome of those pupils born within the same year group but just before the next cut-of point of August 31st. The age of which a child must enter year 1 ( not reception!) is the age of 5, but some children may of been aged 5 for a good 11 months whilst some may only been 5 years old for a couple of days! In essence, the MoB effect refers to every month holding significant differences, September being considered the most likley to score high and falling gradually to the lowest scoring of August, and it is these ‘summer born’ children that are going to be the focus of this blog.

What does the MoB effect mean for my summer born?


Well, to be honest, this article by the BBC lays it out nicer then I can but I’ll try anyway with a little (ok, a lot) of help from Campell (2013);

“Relatively younger pupils (that is, those born in the summer months in England) tend, on average, to attain inferior academic levels and to score lower on tests of academic performance; disproportionately frequently to be diagnosed with special educational needs; to be more likely to be held back to repeat a grade; less often to progress into further education; and, potentially, to be more susceptible to psychiatric diagnosis, to rating by others and by themselves as having relatively lower academic ability, and to reported bullying victim-hood.”

If you’re a parent or teacher or anyone associated with a summer born or one yourself, reading this blog, don’t be disheartened. The effects suggested by Campell are suggestive of samples and doesn’t mean it’s a concrete guarantee of occurrence. In fact, it’s because of many summer-born children being high flyers that put this theory into doubt! But not to run over my own reassurance, I do always wonder if the high-flying summer born was born in September, would have they better educational experiences and outcomes?! Who knows, the point is, don’t automatically assume a pupil will be bottom if they’re born in the summer, research is disproved all the disputed and disproved all the time!

Why does this happen?

The biggest argument is of course the further down towards the August cut-of point a child is born, the younger they are and argued by many to be, less developed personally, socially, cognitively and so on.

This area could turn into to much of a academic piece if I start to discuss it, so as such, I would strongly suggest Campell’s (2007) paper for reading deeper. But in short, approaches are made from a Biological; Socio-structural; and psycho-social theories. It’s from these approaches that methods of intervention to lessen the MoB effects can be tested as discussed next.

What can we do?


I think as teachers, we should be aware of this effect, even if you may be one of those who reject it’s hypothesis, and try to act accordingly to minimise its effect and offer reassurance that a child may just be behind in class due to an unfortunate birth date and the current school system for admittance. I for one imagine listing the children of my class from youngest to oldest as to get a clear idea from the start. I would not try to act on this knowledge as for observer bias (who thought I’d say that outside a research methods exam) and that might be why it’s worth waiting for a first few weeks.

I think it is important, as said, to not jump to any conclusions when a child is under-performing as there maybe very understandable underlying causes, as such the topic of this blog. I think it would be wise to also consider any ability grouping you may do, as I believe those born in the summer may always be of a disadvantaged educational experience.

Most certainly take care when discussing potential special educational needs. Campbell did also include a disproportionate amount of summer born children had statements of SEN. Being summer born obviously doesn’t mean they will have a SEN but it could be mistakenly thought as so. But just as worse, don’t mistake actual SEN as the MoB effect and ignore it! Has this blog just added onto your already stressful lives? I’m sorry, you can unfollow me here.

As for parents, any reading, I think it is important to be aware of this, hopefully early on and what I’d suggest is getting your child into early years as quickly as possible! Many of the summer born children seem to be lacking in ‘school-readiness’ and getting them in school earlier could be one way of tackling this. Many wish to leave it until year 1, or later in reception as, understandably, they feel the child is too young. But it your call and I know you will make the best decision you feel for your own child. But what you can do is harass your LA and fight for your child to be in the next intake! It does happen as seen here! I am glad that I can leave this blog on a high note as I do like this article.

Thank you those who made it this far without reaching for the ‘x’ button. Thank you especially those who follow me, I know I beg desperately for it and it was no doubt a pity follow, but I do like to network, speak to teachers and parents and just add my learning as a hopeful teacher!

If I can just quickly apologies as I keep going against my own advice and not seeking proof-readers. I am rather free-styling, top of my head, writing at the moment while I enjoy my summer away from assignments. So sorry for the bad writing!

Next week I will be discussing some gender issues for teachers, particularly of men wishing to take part in a ‘females’ job (not my belief) and of females teachers trying to break into the heavily male-orientated male management positions.

Hope to see you again, please feel free to leave a comment!

– Josh

Useful tools for organisation, buying books and update!

It’s been a good few days since my last PGCE diary post but I’ve had nothing really to post about! The only real change is that my DBS and Transcript came through and it meant I could now confirm my place on the course.

Reading Books

As I may have advised, I’m not too sure, I have joined many Facebook groups related to teaching and education, SEN and others as a way of ensuring learning from other people’s perspectives, certain aspects and elements of teaching, schools, education etc.

But what also happened yesterday and today is, I found many students looking to sell their books at much cheaper-than-Amazon prices! So if you’re reading this and about to start your teacher journey (or any course) then get networking with other students!

The books I’ve purchased will be updated here.

Organisational tools

Today I was also looking for ‘digital methods’ of organising myself. At the moment I have this office set up with my other-half;


Except that it actually much tidier than that and my black leather spinny chair has not gone AWOL. The Academic Yearly Calender is coloured coded to highlight my:

  • Uni days
  • Placement days in 3 seperate blocks
  • School-embedded learning days (non-assessed placement)
  • I also mark important dates, like assignment deadlines or when the next Simpsons episode is on

I also have a notice boards for anything I need to pin (Insert Captain Obvious) and the white board, which isn’t as obvious as just writing stuff but practising my marker handwriting and just general practising of doing lessons!

We have a book shelf between us we bought from the lovely people at the British Heart Foundation to house our growing collection of books (nursing has many). We also have a smaller shelf unit for our stationary needs and houses a printer on top if you can see it.

It is great to have an office set up but what I was also thinking is digital organisation tools, so I can organise my assignments, lesson planning and anything else I think needs organising and be accessible via my phone. So I introduce you to ‘Todoist‘ a tool for managing your tasks anywhere! Here is a picture of mine in maximised mode (but I prefer it in the smaller size to just quickly nose at my tasks).


It’s pretty useful for ‘starting a project’ and placing other projects within that project. So PGCE has my Assignments and Placements projects. Inside Personal is Shopping and Movies (These came as default). It is very simple to make a to-do item and attach an alarm to it. Makes organisation so much easier!

What I want to add, although my picture above of our ‘office’ layout shows me having an huge TV for a monitor. That is changing to a two monitor set up, one of which will feature these tools, the next one being the ‘Post-it‘:

Desktop of post itsThe ‘Post-It’ is just sticky notes for your desktop and can be varied in many ways (colour, size) and used in various formats (scribbles, text or check-list) as I have demonstrated above. These can be suitable reminders but I don’t think it surpasses the actual post-it note, this is free and can use as many as you want and doesn’t litter your desk!

That’s about it for this blog and I’m not to sure when I will update on my PGCE! But I am looking at writing another education blog as this one did so well!

Thanks for reading,

– Josh