TRUST ME… You gotta believe.


I sat with a group of other heads earlier this week, the main aim was to explore ‘Marking and Feedback’ in our schools and to looking to see what really works. We were all agreed that feedback in lessons was the most effective. The other heads then went onto discuss how this was evidenced. The jist was that any feedback given would be evidenced by something written in the book to show that they had done it.  To me the lack of trust was tangible. ‘If I can’t see it they’ve not done it’ was essentially the thrust of the discussion. I pointed out that evidence of feedback was obvious, if you could see in a child’s work that they could do something they couldn’t before then obviously there had been some kind of teacher intervention. The question came back ‘How do we know?’

As I drove home I couldn’t get the idea of trust out of my head. This prompted me to google the word “trust.” It was a sobering experience, apart from a definition nothing talked about the value of trust. I was more than 20 pages into the results before meeting a single instance of trust in the sense of belief in something or someone.

Trust is fundamental to life. If you cannot trust in anything, life becomes impossible—a constant battle against paranoia and looming disaster. Just watching half an hour of Jeremy Kyle to see the impact of a lack of trust can have. You can’t have relationships without trust, let alone good ones. Intimacy depends on it. I suspect more marriages are wrecked by lack of trust than by actual infidelity. The partner who can’t trust the other not to betray him or her will either drive them away or force them into some real or assumed act of faithlessness.
In the workplace too, trust is essential. A school without trust will be full of backstabbing, fear and paranoid suspicion. The lack of trust can be  prevalent in many schools. Twitter is rife with stories of SLT’s asking for this and that, micro-managing to the nth degree. I know a school where staff are not allowed to leave the building till all their books are marked, I know another where reams of planning has to be handed in every Friday. Schools where performance management is about checking whether staff are doing their job rather than looking to help them move become better at it.

Lack of trust does many things, one is it stops things moving forward, it creates an inertia. My school started to move forward when the staff started to trust me but equally when I started to trust them. Belief stands alongside trust, if someone shows trust in you, you try to live up to that expectation. I have had first hand experience of this, one headteacher who placed trust in me made me fly, another who didn’t made me step out of teaching for a while.  I couldn’t work for someone who didn’t believe in me. It also nearly broke me.

Lack of trust demotivates, it creates the grind, it damages morale. To go into a place where nobody believes in you is immensely harmful.  The impact on staff well-being is immense. Trust makes things happen, no trust puts on the brakes.

Lack of trust of also creates extra work. The checking, following through, doing things ourselves because we don’t believe others will do them properly— or at all. If you took all that way, how much extra time would you suddenly find in your day?  How much of your work pressure would disappear?


I’m constantly amazed when heads claim to be overworked and under constant pressure, yet fail to do the one thing most likely to ease their burdens: trust other people more. They don’t delegate, because they don’t trust people to do what they’ve been asked to do; so they have to take on every significant task themselves.  It’s not the pressure of actual work that’s driving them towards some stress-related illness, it’s their lack of trust in anyone and anything. Is it any wonder they’re close to total burnout?

With the pressures and challenges we face I appreciate it’s not easy. As a new head stepping into my school two and a half years ago creating a climate of trust has been my biggest challenge.

A key part of any heads role is to build the capacity you have in school. Without letting go and trusting you won’t move those people forward. A wise old owl of a head I worked with used to talk about ‘passing the monkey back.’ She was so right. Trust will only happen if your culture is right, expectation is vital, but also the guiding hand when it all goes a ‘bit Pete Tong’, which inevitably at some point it will.

I get that it  isn’t always easy. Trust takes time and is reciprocal in its nature. To make it happen we have to take a leap. If we want to reduce workloads, we have to look at trusting and believing our staff more. Someone has to begin the cycle of trust by an act of faith. It’s no use waiting for the other person to make the first move. They’re waiting for you. It takes a conscious act of unconditional belief in that other person’s good sense, ability, honesty or sense of commitment to set the ball rolling. Will your trust sometimes be misplaced? Of course. Life isn’t perfect and some people aren’t trustworthy. But will increasing your willingness to trust produce, on balance, a positive benefit? Will it make your life more pleasant and less stressful? I believe so. You have little to lose by trying.

Trust has to start somewhere. Why not with you? Why not today? Why not right now?

Priorities…What are yours today?



This is  as really quick post about prioritising what’s important.


So anyway I’m off for a walk on the beach, then I’m going to read, drink hot chocolate, play board games with my family, bake a cake,  get beaten at whatever game my son decides to play on the XBox (unless it’s Rockband, I rock at Rockband), read some more, drink lots of tea, snuggle down and watch a film and whatever else comes up. Oh and listen to the new Elbow album as its just popped through the door.



Look after yourself have a good weekend.



Money makes the world go around.


Most the time I try to be optimistic. Today I can’t be bothered with that. Today I will rant. I Feel we really need to shout about the funding problem before its too late.

Having been a head for three years I think I am finally getting a grasp of finances. Year on year we have just about made ends meet. We have cut things, we have  made ‘efficiencies’ (This is the DfE’s favourite word this week). We have just about kept ourselves solvent.

Each year the challenge becomes harder. Costs in the last three years have gone up and up. My school building is 60 years old, it was due to be updated in 2010, then all that was cancelled by Mr Gove. It leaks, it leaks a lot.  I have had to increase class size  our average is now 29 but in some they are well above 30. While I try desperately hard to reduce workload, there is only so much you can do when a teacher has a class that size.

What frustrates, isn’t the challenges, it’s the downright denial that they exist.




I received a letter from my MP Robert Goodwill. In the letter he claimed the issues were union scare-mongering. My first thoughts were that at least he wrote back. However it turns out he did no such thing. After I posted my letter on twitter people from all over the country have let me know that they got exactly the same letter just signed by a different MP depending on where they are. This attitude and the blatant disregard of the issue is disgusting. Mr Goodwill you haven’t got a clue. Rather than expect people to come and tell you get out there and find out. Even worse you sent me alternative facts, though maybe we should just accept that these days.

I would suggest he sit in my budget meetings and look at the tough discussions we are having, the hard choices we are making, just to make ends meet. The idea that funding has been protected is a lie, anybody who says differently is either ignorant or just plain lying. To try to fob people off is wrong.

I would love him to come and visit my leaky school, my increasingly worn out staff, my high needs children who receive no funding (because getting an Educational  Healthcare Plan is almost impossible in our area for EYFS age children especially if their parents aren’t pushy), my increasingly bare stock cupboard, my ageing ICT equipment, my broken storage, my ageing playground equipment (some of it was condemned last year), my paint peeling walls with frighteningly big cracks in them and my rusty benches. I’ve not even talked about the damp, or the windows, or the roof, don’t start me on the roof.

Each year the costs are more, national insurance, pension contributions let alone access to services which three years ago were part of the offer and are now brokered to schools at significant cost such as support from an educational psychologist.

So  please don’t tell me there is no funding crisis. Please actually get out and into some of the schools in your constituency. Please come and speak to the headteachers juggling it everyday. Please put the needs of the children above your political dogma. It may not be a full on crisis yet, but it is unsustainable in its current trajectory.

I would love to ask him whether he would send his children here. That’s a bad question, of course he would, our school is awesome.

Actually I would just love him to visit so I could discuss the challenges face to face.


A Reading Adventure…All adventures come to an end.


We are avoiding…

We are nearing the end,  we are avoiding…

My Youngest is thirteen, we have read together almost every night since forever. Sharing brilliant, amazing, funny, sad, wonderful books. It is our moment in time together, he will still drag out the old favourites, ‘That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown’  has probably been read more than any other book, it is old, worn and truly loved. I do a good line in military voices even if I do say so myself. The time is precious and important, Snuggled and  shared.


For my son Reading has been a battle, he finds it hard. It is hard work. That he is able at to hold his own and access the reading in school now is testament to his wonderful teachers, who recognised the problem and intervened, not to forget his incredible sticking power. Reading was always hard, it was a battleground. He was just about coping up to year two then it just didn’t get better. In year 3 and 4 he was desperate to read the bigger books his friends were reading, but couldn’t access them. He watched the gap get larger. He began to actively avoid reading. There were tears and tantrums, and on my side a fair bit of damaged pride. He wouldn’t read, didn’t want to read. Then he got resilient, he dug in and he worked really hard. Through all this I still read to him almost every night. The time-sharing a book became even more important, this was his access into the worlds he wanted to explore. We learnt magic with Harry Potter, we tricked Gollum and escaped the goblins,  we frantically ran from Shrike as he relentlessly chased us. All the time he was immersed in story. While he battled with decoding, we still explored and adventured.

We are avoiding…

One set of books have been key for us. Over the last 7 years we have read eleven and three-quarters of the ‘How to train your Dragon’  series by Cressida Cowell. Snuggled in bed, lost in story. If you don’t know them, actually you missed a pretty wonderful set of books.  We’ve laughed at Toothless the cheekiest of dragons, gasped at the fortune and more often than not the misfortune, wondered how on earth Hiccup can escape his latest predicament, wished on hopeless causes and marvelled at feats of daring-do.

But with the final book we are struggling. We are suddenly avoiding reading, not wanting to get to the inevitable end. We have dusted off picture books that we’ve not picked up in a while, we’ve journeyed into non-fiction to find out about something. Always delaying the inevitable.

We are nearing the end…

I’m not sure if it is just the end of the series that we are avoiding. We’ve talked about how none of his friends have parents reading to them. Will finishing the book be the end of us reading together? Are we at an end. The fact that he can now explore these worlds on his own means he doesn’t need me.

I’m hoping we have a bit more time  and a few more adventures.

We both need to stop avoiding  and face it.

If it is an end, its been hell of a ride.



Reflections…Priorities…still not getting it right.


Didn’t know if I’d get round to writing this week, but was then suddenly inspired this morning by the wonderful John Tomsett.  His blogpost about putting family first really hit home.

Maybe its the long silent hours between me waking and the rest of the house stirring. Maybe its the time of year (driving to work in the dark, leaving work in the dark). Maybe it’s just the week (It’s been a tough one). Maybe it’s that my eldest is 17 as is John’s that made it resonate. Whatever it was, I sat and just and… well I just sat and this…

I have been a head for almost 3 years. For the first two years I have to be honest it consumed me. I was getting to work at seven in the morning and leaving at eight at night (I have an hours drive to add to both of those.) In some ways I became a stranger in my own home. My wife has been tolerant, supportive, encouraging… actually she has been amazing.

On Tuesday this week I was visiting another school, the meeting finished at 2:30. I almost drove back to work, but instead I just drove home. The look of surprise on my youngest’s face was both wonderful and heartbreaking in equal measures. I helped with his homework, then we snuggled and watched  Eddie The Eagle. (It’s really good, by the way, and probably a better example of growth mindset mixed with stubborn determination than many examples used.) It was lovely. It was rare. It shouldn’t be. That it’s rare is my fault.

However sat this morning, reflecting on that and John’s blog. I realise how much I’ve missed. The other three people in my home are a real unit. They share common jokes, experiences, they are used to each other, they rely on each other. They have patterns and routines (though none of them appear to involve doing the washing up). I feel outside that. I’ve put myself outside that. The sad thing is that for a lot of the time I didn’t even notice, I was so wrapped up in ‘the job’ that the other stuff just happened around me. Even when I was there often my head was more often than not, in ‘the job.’ Through my own choice I’ve missed big chunks of my family. That it stills rolls on and works is testament to my  brilliant wife. In many ways I’ve probably been more of a hinderance than a help to it working, with them constantly fitting round me.

That these three people let me still be part of this family is wonderful. Do I deserve it, I’m not so sure.

Anyway the silence is broken, it wakes, this family of mine. Almost Bagpuss like, as one wakes up so do the others. Time to be part of it before it’s too late.




YOU ARE NOT ALONE … In your office no one can hear you scream!


Knock, Knock.

‘Come in…’

Having been a headteacher for two years, I feel able to say how lonely the job can be sometimes. A lot  of those moments last year were when the DfE or Local Authority dropped some new-found  horror on you. At times it felt almost daily.  Challenges came flying at schools so regularly, it’s no wonder that headship recruitment is becoming a massive challenge especially in the primary sector.   Every-time the feeling of helplessness was almost overwhelming.

All the time as a head I had to consider the impact this could have on my staff. My job was to be the ‘Crap umbrella’ to deflect the worst from staff and let them get on with doing their job, the most important job in the school…teaching. I think last year I did an alright job at this given all the chaos. We just got on.

In terms of me there were lots of points that were hard.

It often felt that I was


That I was on my own with nowhere to go and often know one to talk to about it. I become so wrapped up into trying to keep my school on an even keel that I forget to look outside.

fortunately I then had a moment…an accidental moment admittedly…but still a moment.

The Local Authority asked us for prediction data for KS2, this was about two weeks after the writing framework and the exemplification dropped. I had one of my silent screams, then I decided to email the local authority with my concerns.


After this I felt a bit better and left it at that.

Now this is a cautionary tale. I would like to warn anybody sending an email to make sure that they don’t click reply all. Always check who you’re sending that email to.

Ten minutes after sending the email my deputy called me into the office…replies-1replies-2replies-3replies-4replies-5replies-6

My computer was running overtime. Smoke was coming out the back. The Whitby internet hamster was running his little legs off. (Our internet is powered by hamster…fact)

I sat and watched as all the heads sat in their offices, breathed out and shouted at the same time.  It felt cathartic and brilliant and for a brief moment I felt supported. Equally it made a difference. We didn’t send pointless nonsense data in. Following the tests I can assure any predictions I might have made would have been quite wide of the mark.

So why am I writing this?

Well really just  to say to others out-there not to forget that  you are not on your own even if it feels that way.

Whatever challenges you may face, there are lots of us in the same boat. We all have the same worries and I know we’re all trying to get it right,

So as I sit and look at the writing framework and scream, I know now there are a hundred Headteachers doing exactly the same. It helps to think that, honestly it does.


‘That’s it  please shut the door when you leave….’




Writing…Honestly, we need honesty.

This is a very quick blogpost.

Just sat here tidying up my hard-drive (in other words, procrastinating and avoiding work). And I found this. It  was written in a SATs test in 2004. No success criteria, no feature list just what he carried with him internally…

Before people get critical I know it’s not perfect, but what it was, was honest. 45 minutes, pen down, packaged and sent.



“Mam,” I said tugging on my mam’s arm, ”Can I go and get my new trainers now? Please!” She just ignored me. Like how rude is that, it was as if she was trying to wind me up. I know the next good thing I see, I’ll plead for her to get it for me. She’s bound to fall for it. So off we went down the heaving high street. “LOOK!” I screamed, “ Look at that game. Mam please can I get it. Please!” I put on my best sad face. She bought it, she bought the act. Yes, yes, yes. I’m getting the best game ever. “But Ben darling there is a big queue,” Mam told me, “So lets get in it,” I replied.

As I stood there it was then I saw this girl, this wonderful girl, this beautiful girl, she looked perfect. I looked at her and smiled. Seconds seemed like hours, me stood there grinning like a loon. Then just as all hope faded, she smiled back, she smiled BACK, BACK AT ME! I was  over the moon. I shouted “Hello,” down the line towards her. A huge grin spread across her face “Hi I’m Jenny,” Jenny, Jenny,  the most excellent name ever. She looks like an angel, a god sent angel. I was oblivious of everything around me, the sound that had grown louder and louder to a deafening roar.

Suddenly without warning the big double doors swung open and I found myself carried away on the wave of people. I tried to back away then realised that I wanted the game and dived back into the ruthless sea of idiots clamouring to get through the door. I saw Jenny disappear through the doors ahead of me. It was like squeezing through the eye of a needle, squashed so tight I almost couldn’t breathe. Then I was through, popping out like a cork. I ran for the games stand, full pelt, straining every muscle. Almost there just a daft lad in the way I barged him out the way and I was there. There at last. I grabbed the last game on the stand, just as someone else did.I tugged hard at the game then looked up. Just as I did so did she. Jenny, Jenny was there, the most wonderful girl ever was staring right into my eyes. I let go of the game and so did she. The stupid game bounced off the cold hard floor.

“You can have it!” I stammered. “No you,” she smiled. Just then a little kid darted between us and grabbed the game “Sorry,” I whispered. She grabbed my hand. “Do you want to get a drink?” she asked. My chin hit the floor, she was here, holding  MY hand! “Yes!” I mumbled. This was the best day of my life. I’ve been sort of asked out by the girl with the cutest smile ever. “Hard luck darling,” sighed Mam. “Shall we get you those trainers?” The trainers, the game, nothing mattered. Just Jenny. “I’m alright thanks Mam,” I smiled as me and Jenny wandered away.

Michael Clark aged 11

Why not give it a go? See what your children do. It could be interesting, maybe we could post some up and compare?

Now I’m not advocating writing tests before people get irate about that, but I am suggesting we give children opportunities to write independently and use that to judge our children’s writing. Not what they can  do with a structure, a success criteria and a checklist but what they do when it’s removed. Truly independent writing.

I am writing this in frustration really… as I look at comparison tables.


Progress for five schools. Mine is the bottom one. (Bottom and middle moderated for writing)



Attainment for the same five schools. Mine is the top one. (Top and bottom moderated for writing)

The first thing that jumps out particularly with writing is what a waste of time the data is. The second and I hate to say this is the dishonesty of teacher assessment.

Ultimately though it comes down to this…


How do we get honesty I wish I knew but these are the challenges as I see it you can probably add many more in your contexts.

Internal (Barriers to Honesty)

  • Performance related pay and performance management
  • Accountability
  • Fear
  • Lack of support
  • Lack of moderation
  • Poor CPD to develop understanding of Assessment system
  • Targets set by Heads/SLT
  • Use of systems and algorithms to decide whether pupils are there or not.

External (Barriers for schools)

  • Ofsted (Not through want of Sean Harford’s Myth-busting)
  • Fear
  • Raised expectations, ever-changing goalposts
  • Lack of consistency in application of framework
  • Threat of academisation/ floors standards/ coasting schools
  • DFE
  • LA
  • MAT
  • League table

I know this is not a very optimistic start to the New Year, but we are in the same place as we were last year with regards to writing, just more time to jump kids through the hoops.

That’s the real challenge for our school system this year and moving forward. How do we create as assessment system that is about improving and supporting the children’s journey through education rather than measuring schools.

If you have an answer please reply,  at the moment I’m out of ideas.





Just before Christmas I had a long conversation  about schools and the experiences we give pupils. Part of it was centered around the lack of experiences some children have had. In most schools I’ve worked in there is no access to art, theatre, music.

I have almost exclusively worked in tough schools in tough areas, firstly in Middlesbrough or Hartlepool and now on the wrong side of the bridge in Whitby. Of the 7 schools I’ve worked in they all have one thing in common. They have all had groups of children who have not had the experiences that many of us take for granted.

I am constantly asking myself the true purpose of what we’re trying to do in school. Obviously the first answer to create Literate and Numerate pupils. Pressure is increasingly on to narrow and focus on the things that are measured, mainly to keep the wolves from our door. I firmly believe however that to do that we have to think bigger, wider and broader.

How we do that is the question? Whether we like it or not we have to fill in the gaps. If a child doesn’t read at home we make sure it happens in school.


In Middlesbrough many children had not been into town (I walked it everyday to get to the station) and they most definitely had not visited the countryside but this in some ways was more understandable. I remember a terrified 11 year old gripping tightly onto my hand as we reached out to feed a cow, they were awestruck by the size.

In my first week at my current school I discovered there were children who had never been to the beach.

‘We’re in Whitby.’

Children who had  never  listened to the crashing of the waves, never felt sand between their toes,  never explored rockpools, never smelt the tangy salty air or tasted it on their lips. I was incredulous and horrified.

‘We’re in Whitby!’

Children who had never built sand castles, collected water in a bucket, dipped their toes in the icy cold sea, screamed and ran back up the beach…Just me on the last one? OK then

I am old enough to remember a SATs writing test that asked children to describe a meal. The mark scheme wanted Marks and Spencers our pupils gave them Aldi. Or as one girl wrote ‘Ba-ba-bah, I’m loving it’

So it comes back to the question of what we are trying to achieve in our schools. If we are talking ‘diminishing the difference’ This is the difference. The difference is in experience, opportunity and aspiration.

Unfortunately creating experiences costs. The bit we shouldn’t be worrying about is the time spent doing these things. If we want writers, or readers then these experiences many of us take for granted can’t be an afterthought. Experiences help children develop language and meaning. Asking children to write without the material to write about, will only get the results you expect. Read Morpurgo’s ‘Giants necklace’ after a morning on a stormy beach and the whole story becomes a much more frightening proposition. (Not a big Morpurgo fan but this story is fab)

Effectively planning experiences and how they enhance and develop the curriculum are key.

Below is a menu of response following a visit to a residential experience. All had been previously taught. The children’s independent responses gave us a much clearer picture of them as writers. More importantly they wanted to write and had something to say. Choice can also be an incredibly powerful motivator.


Experience is not less, it is more. Education is bigger than schooling. The question what roles do schools play in this?

‘Here is a picture of a beach.’ ‘This is a cow.’ ‘This is a castle.’

As a school for  us offering these things  is non-negotiable. It’s part of what we do. These are our pledges. The list as yet isn’t complete.


We will get the opportunity to…..

¨Build a den or a shelter

¨See a show at the theatre

¨Perform on stage to a real audience

¨Take part in a competition

¨Spend time on the beach and dig a really big hole.

¨Go rock pooling

¨Cook a meal and eat it with your family

¨Pay for something real in a shop

¨Spend a night camping

¨Cook on a fire

¨Visit a city

¨Climb a tree

¨Arrange a journey

¨Share work with a real audience.

¨Plant a plant/flower or tree. Look after it and watch it grow. If it’s edible eat it!

¨Go fossil hunting

¨Go fishing

¨Have a water fight

¨Go sledging or mud sliding in a potato sack.

¨Have a picnic which you’ve made yourself

¨Follow a map to go on an adventure.

So again the question is not what we’ve got to do, we all know our endpoints, but rather how are we going to do it?

So to steal from W.B.Yeats  ‘Education is not the filling of a pail but rather the lighting of a  fire.’




…and relax… (Warm glows and reflections)


T to the E to the A to the M

‘The people you work with are people you were just thrown together with. You know, you don’t know them, it wasn’t your choice, and yet you spend more time with them then you do your friends or your family. But probably all you’ve got in common is the fact that you walk around on the same bit of carpet for 8 hours a day.’ Tim Canterbury (The Office)

*names have been changed to protect the innocent

Warning I have been re-watching ‘The Office.’ I currently am sporting a goatee beard. So if this comes across a little David Brent then I’m sorry.

I’m sat this morning feeling pretty damn happy and it’s not just because it’s the first day of a holiday. I have to admit I’m in a good place. Hard to nail it down as to why, but think mainly it’s because this term has been another huge step forward for us as a school. Weirdly it’s not been in the way I imagined or thought it would.


‘What is the single most important thing for a company? Is it the building? Is it the stock? Is it the turnover? It’s the people, investment in people.’ David Brent (The Office)

For me the real difference, the key difference, is the us-ness. (made-up word alert).

It’s not always been that way  since I arrived in school, to be fair I never expected it to be. The real aim of any leader is to build that team, to get them all facing the same direction, blinking  and staring into the glorious sunshine that is the ‘vision’ and working cohesively to make that happen. Great in theory, but in reality there are lots of challenges to that, especially when you step into an established organization.

This term, for all the challenges,  has been a complete joy. School, for all the stresses, is a happy place. Laughter is a regular noise in school, as it should.  My new Deputy has been an important part of that (she also can swear with the best of them). I have to say being a deputy is the hardest job in a primary school and she is doing a phenomenal job.

We seem to have hit that tipping point. We know where we are going. We’re confident enough now to not be pushed off course by the vagaries of outside pressure. We are in a good place.  That we’ve got there without losing a member of staff * is probably my proudest achievement.

(*previous Deputy retired after 39 years in the school. She wanted to leave earlier but I convinced her to stay an extra term.)

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Henry Ford

Sometimes its moments that define it. Our ‘Hope ‘ assembly was one of those. It summed up the togetherness, not just of the staff but pupils as well. My eyes were a little bit sweaty by the end.

The staff Christmas do was another one of those moments. To see all staff from MSAs to SLT out together was just brilliant.  (It also didn’t happen before.)


‘You grow up, you work half a century, you get a golden handshake, you rest a couple of years and you’re dead. And the only thing that makes that crazy ride worthwhile is ‘Did I enjoy it? What did I learn? What was the point?’ That’s where I come in. You’ve seen how I react to people, make them feel good, make them think that anything’s possible. If I make them laugh along the way, sue me. And I don’t do it so they turn round and go ‘Thankyou David for the opportunity, thankyou for the wisdom, thankyou for the laughs.’ I do it so, one day, someone will go ‘There goes David Brent. I must remember to thank him.’ David Brent (The Office)

Not sure why I’m channelling David Brent, not sure he should be my role model but its better than this. IMO

‘If anyone says to you that staff morale is at an all-time low, you know you are doing something right. ‘
Sir Michael Wilshaw

Feeling like a ‘reet good’ point to stop and enjoy the moment. Have a brill Christmas.



Picture This… Why I Love Picture Books.


Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

‘ You cannot write for children… They’re much too complicated. You can only write books that are of interest to them.’

‘I have to accept my role. I will never kill myself like Vincent Van Gogh. Nor will I paint beautiful water lilies like Monet. I can’t do that. I’m in the idiot role of being a kiddie book person.’


‘There’s so much more to a book than just the reading.’

I don’t write for children. I write and someone says it’s for children.’

Maurice Sendak.
OK I admit I’m a bit of a stuck record, but I really do love picture books.

Wonderful, amazing, creative, challenging, funny, heart-breaking, tragic, unbelievable,  fabulous picture books. They are not just a vital stepping stone into higher level reading. They are the missing link. They can develop in all Learners the ability to explore, notice, question, predict, summarise, theorise and analyse. Mary Roche writes wonderfully on this in her book ‘Developing Children’s Critical Thinking through Picturebooks’

Picture book are often dismissed as being for younger children. They’re not! They are written off as easy. They’re not! There are some stunning picture books out there. Many offer us more than first appears. Many require us to bring in our own cultural understanding to truly make meaning of them.  People who dismiss them more often than not haven’t put the time in to understand and explore them.

So the aim of this post is to show  why I think picture books are blummin’ ace


My Father’s Arms are a Boat by Stein Erik Lunde and Oyvind Torseter

They elicit emotion. (often in my case tears)



Visions of Ichabod by Gary Crew

They confuse and challenge.



The Journey by Francesca Sanna

They broach difficult issues in wonderful ways.



Mirror by Jeanie Baker

They open doors to other cultures.



Journey by Aaron Becker

They provide leaps of imagination



A Place To Call Home by Vivian Schwartz and Alexis Deacon


They are wild and playful



We found a Hat by Jon Klassen



They are quiet and thoughtful



Wolves by Emily Gravett

They require the reader to fill in the gaps



Erika’s Story by Ruth Vander Zee and Roberto Innocenti

They are most definitely not for kids

As BridgetBurke2  said on twitter  ‘People who dismiss picture books have no souls, thats a well known fact.’

I‘m going with Bridget on that one.


Just fab books.



2016 faves