Onwards and Upwards

On Friday, I had the pleasure of working with some student teachers from University of Plymouth. It was all part of their conference ‘Onwards & Upwards’ the theme of which was early career development. I felt very honoured to be in the company of speakers such as Oliver Quinlan and Stuart Ball who gave the keynote addresses.
My workshop, presented three times was entitled ‘Raising Standards in English – blogging with children’. When I was asked to contribute I understood that I just had to tell my story of blogging with classes. As it was, the title given to the workshops fitted well because I have seen some real progress in the work children are now posting.
Having been retired for a little while, speaking in front of an audience is not as familiar as it used to be. Panic set in before I started when my memory stick would not register with the technology available! As the presentation was a series of hyper links to class blogs, this could be a problem! Thankfully, I had saved it to Dropbox and thanks to a wonderful technician called Colin, I was able to set myself up ready for my first delegates.
All three of my workshops seemed to go down well. My audiences were attentive and asked questions. One was around safety of allowing ‘the world’ into the classroom via the blog. In this particular case, the nervousness of the head teacher had led to comments from children being removed from the class blog. We discussed the need for various conversations to be had both with staff, parents and importantly the children so that all understood the responsibility of commenting.
As usual with conferences there was a Q & A session at the end. I was very impressed with the level of questions asked by the students. They had clearly got a great deal from the day with the variety of workshops they had attended.
On my way home I reflected on my day. I had certainly had a thoroughly enjoyable time and meet and chatted with some really focused people. Pete Yeomans had made sure everything that I needed was at hand and I had great support from Becky Allen. The bigger thoughts though were about the young people I had met. Few of them had jobs secured and yet there was a resignation among them that ‘it takes two years to secure a full time teaching post’.
As a head teacher, I was not aware of the number of applications my candidates had written when they presented in front of me when I had an NQT vacancy. Becoming a teacher was always assumed to be safe bet for long term employment but not anymore. I do hope that they are able to get jobs and if they don’t, that the reason is not budget constraints. There are some dedicated teachers-in-waiting out there. I just hope they get their chance to show what they are made of.

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  • Anonymous

    Fantastic Julia – so glad to hear that you’re getting out there and spreading your skills, knowledge and experience. Oh and of course your infectious enthusiasm. I’m not surprised it went down well!

  • Hi Julia,
    Thanks for the mention, it was really great to meet you. I am sorry I was not able to attend your workshop, as I would have been really interested to hear you share the story of the great work you are doing.
    Your last paragraph is interesting, not something I picked up on but then I didn’t have those conversations. I wonder how much of that is due in part to the location, I heard a few times the opinion that it is hard to get jobs in the South West as no one wants to leave there… I do know others around the country who are finding this- it seems that teaching is getting ever more competitive at the moment. Whilst this is a challenge for individual teachers, the potential to drive up the skills and capability of the profession could be great for children.

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