Archive for March, 2007

Lyneham up!

| March 31, 2007 | 0 Comments 

I am lucky enough to visit lots of great schools during my travels. I am always impressed by the amount of care and imagination shown by staff in the way that they present the excellent work produced by the children of the school.

From the moment you enter Lyneham Junior school in Wiltshire, you are met with a huge welcoming wash of colour, original art work and imaginative displays. The entrance hall alone reminded me of an environment from one of the Myst games. There are some stylish stained glass windows awash with light.

Displays in all the classrooms showed a love for words, and a neat yet quirky style of presentation of content.

So too, did the children’s books.

It is always exciting to work with classes of children who are willing to pick words up and juggle with them.

Every class I am doing lessons with, take to this and explore the possibilities and magic that words and sentences contain.

I also love the humour that children generate in our lessons.

Mr Walker, my trusty companion, who I can always lean on for a bit of support, has been feeling a bit dodgy recently.

He had an argument with something heavier than him, and lost.

Nevertheless , he still makes a really good conversation starter.

I had some gloriously “silly ideas” (…”and I LOVE silly ideas”) These are springboards into our discussion of simile and metaphor, even with children in foundation stage.

I think that ideas such as: the holes in Mr Walker are really there “to help him to breath” show some imaginative and inventive thought…

When I picked one lads book up and pretended that I had written the superb prose it contained, I then placed the book, closed, back on his desk in order to read his name and give him the praise he deserved. It was a new book and his name wasn’t yet written on it. We all had a good laugh when we realised we were in the presence of greatness: the celebrated poet, author and songwriter “Anon” Someone even said “Are you still alive?! You’ve been writing superb stuff, like the bit Mr Rylands read out, …for years!”

Thank you to Karen and her colleagues for a fun visit to your colourful school.


| March 29, 2007 | 1 Comment 

Run out of steam so will be updating today’s (and Tuesday’s!) entries when I… well, Samson grew some hair… maybe I should try that!

I had a superb day today at Lyneham Junior and look forward to telling you all about it, meanwhile…


WATCH THIS SPACE ——————————>


| March 27, 2007 | 0 Comments 

Another thoroughly enjoyable and fruitful day, this time at Pil Primary, Bridgend.
We started with a morning of exploring Revelation with Year 5, whilst 15 primary and secondary colleagues observed and, more importantly, mucked in! We had our own revelations as these children were really up for creative exploration.
(I was impressed with many aspects of  Pil Primary and feel that head, Ben Blackall, and his colleagues have a school to be proud of: from smiling, sparky children who hold doors open etc with genuine charm and write with great pride and imagination, to the open approach to the curriculum.

(Crumbs! Playing outside when it’s snowing!! 🙂 )

… all of these elements meant that the year 5s at Pil maintained superb concentration and imaginative effort for two consecutive lessons.

Our meeting with Yeesha showed that all of the children were capable of some excellent empathetic thought and writing.

I had great fun too!

My journey home was a bit too familiar! The last time I was in Wales, it took me over 5 hours to get home because of heavy snow. This time, the whole of the M4 was closed between two junctions. I moved 100 metres in 50 minutes on the M4 and then had to follow others on a huge, but scenic, detour around Bridgend. Typing on my BlackBerry was THE only thing to do apart from EyeSpy (and I kept guessing what I was thinking of!)

This journey did not detract from a VERY enjoyable day with Head, Ben Blackall and his colleagues, and also our colleagues from surrounding schools and those from Cynffig Comprehensive. I look forward to the opportunity of working with you again in the future on the ideas that were generated in the after school session.

Thank you all.

Cornwall: Heads together…

| March 23, 2007 | 1 Comment 

What a fun way to end my trip to Cornwall this week.

I was invited to open the annual Cornwall Association of Primary Heads (CAPH) conference at the Mylor theatre in Truro College. Maybe it was because a group of heads together feel a combined release of pressure and tension, being away from their responsibilities, but I haven’t heard so many people laugh (at the right things and in the right places I assure you) and so heartily, for a while. 🙂

To the children, schools, teachers and heads I have had the pleasure to have met this week: I have worked with the Cornish Cream.

Thank you.

Cornwall: Lights! Camera! Upton!

| March 22, 2007 | 0 Comments 

school_exterior_med.JPGUpton Cross again, and, Years 5 and 6 are a lucky lot.

“Mrs E”, their teacher is an imaginative, spirited soul with a great sense of humour.

As do all her colleagues.

We had a superbly creative, fun day today developing the ideas for some short films with a powerful message. I often find that the most effective way of motivating involvement in a lesson is generating a sense of ownership and enthusiasm for a subject. The theme of “Teamwork” seemed to spring naturally from our opening discussions. Some excellent thought about when teams might be needed/ beneficial; the qualities of a team member; and the features of a good team. It didn’t take much to spark a conversation about the conflicts that might arise, but, more importantly, how the strengths of a group could be used to resolve them.

logo.gifWe didn’t even get on to the possibility of making a film until the idea was mentioned by “M” as the optimum way of getting our message across. There was still no access to the internet so I wasn’t able to show them some examples of public information films, from the National Archive, as planned.

It turned out to work well, as, when we looked at a couple of examples of “public information films” children have made with me in the past, the “Upton Cross film school crew” showed some good critical skills in analysing the way that those films had effectively portrayed their powerful messages in under 30 seconds. There lay the seeds of a “self generated” challenge building on “M”s idea.

“The Hat” chose some groups and we were off!

It may have to be a case of watch this space for the end results to be able to be broadcast on the “interweb” but it will be well worth the anticipation.

Thankyou indeed, to ALL of the staff at Upton Cross, and our visitors, for a memorable couple of days.

Tim – I just wanted to thank you for baldly going into the infrequently explored wilds of Upton Cross, nestled as we are on the inhospitable nomansland at the edge of Bodmin Moor, to bring your magic to both staff and pupils. ICT to inspire? Well that is only one of your skills and qualities that inspired us and I think ICT should be exchanged for ‘everything’, as the depth of your inspiration was only equalled by its breadth. A great couple of days where pace and purpose were explored critically and were found to be (in the words of Goldilocks) just right.
Thanks again – til we meet again!

Cornwall: UPton Cross. (sic)

| March 21, 2007 | 1 Comment 

Now that I have the internet again, I have the pleasure of telling you about the last couple of days. What fun!

I have been made to feel very welcome at Upton Cross primary school

The staff, and the visitors who came to join our lessons, are an imaginative and creative group, and they took to the ideas for developing literacy, and other elements, with great enthusiasm.

Wednesday was a memorable day of exploration. When I was pretending I was thinking of a way to remember where we were visiting in one of the computer games, “E” in class 2 (R, Y1 and Y2) amazed me, and all those present by saying “Well, better than any photograph, why don’t we write about it?! That way, it will really stay in our minds because we will have thought about it carefully.” What perceptive thought.

Another young traveller sat, and transported all of us, to a world of warmth, sea spray and “strings of sea-weed wrapped around my legs, warm and…oooh… lovely actually.”

In fact all of the classes, through to Years 5 and 6, showed themselves to be used to, and capable of, some philosophical and questioning thought. Their use of descriptive imagary developed rapidly through the time we were together, and they kept up impressively with the challenging pace that developed in the lessons.

I have been really reminded of the warm and motivating atmosphere of Chew Magna school, home for the last 6 years. The school is a similar size and full of equally supportive and encouraging colleagues.

It is always special to find schools up for creativity and challenges, who also smile. 🙂

Cornwall: Across the Moor and carried on to the Caradon

| March 20, 2007 | 0 Comments 

Now on the edge of Bodmin Moor and staying at the homely and welcoming Caradon Inn.

Georgina has just told me 3 good jokes and I want to share them with you. They really cheered ME up so I would love to share them with you.

185bsy-0.jpgGeorgina’s jokes: What do you call a dear with no eyes? No idea!
What do you call a dear with no eyes and no legs? Still no idea!
What do you call a dear with no eyes and no legs on a trampoline? Still no flippin’ idea!
Thank you Georgina! 🙂

Cornwall: Indian Queens, and some exploring of rockpools… in the snow!

| March 19, 2007 | 0 Comments 

I have said it before but I will say it again: I am a lucky man!

I also have to say, that the element I enjoy most, as I travel all over this country and beyond, is working with children and exploring the world of words.

So today I had real fun!

I did think, when I was booked for a week in Cornwall by a cluster of schools who got together to organise a week with the bald bloke, that I might get in a bit of surfing (dream on Rylands!) or, at least, a beach saunter or two. In reality, I had to battle my way through incredible hail and snow bombardments!

I have been staying at the delightful Plume of Feathers in Mitchell. (A place I can heartily recommend to anyone visiting the Newquay or Truro area of Cornwall: delicious food and a room worthy of Homes and Gardens or Country Living magazine.)

I spent the day doing three demo lessons at Indian Queens primary school, with years one, two and five. What a delight! It was fascinating to see the progression through the year groups, both in the way that they responded to the challenges available, but also in the outcome of their discussion and writing.

A few children surprised themselves, and their teachers, I believe.

With year one and year two, I went back to what is, for me, turning into a favourite location to visit within Myst III:Exile: the beach in J’Nanin. I would definitely not visit the opening scene, in the study of Tomahna, with children of this age as, while it is a really powerful and captivating experience for older children, it may be more than a little “memorable” for younger classes.

(A “walkthrough” and preparing games beforehand can by-pass this “hairy moment”. There are very few, if any, in any of the games. They have a 3+ or 7+ rating, but it is still worthwhile exploring, on your own, as a teacher first, and storing “good places” to visit as “Saved games”. For those of you who have been on courses, training days etc with Baldylocks and the Three Hairs; you know the password to the locked area of the main site ( and there are saved games and walkthroughs galore waiting there for you to explore!)

One young lad, recently reintegrating back into the classroom, was an absolute star! We had some sand for them all to feel as we stood on the edge of the sea, and some water to dip their hands into when we found the rockpool under the bridge (positionals galore of course, and an interesting investigation of “shade” and “shadow”.) Our brave traveller came up, and, when I asked him what the water felt like, he very astutely said “Well, the water in this glass is cold, but the water in that rockpool there is lovely and warm, because of the sun shining on it all day.” That taught me!

In the year five class, we did experience Saavedro throwing a fireball at us, and at Atrus, but only after a very thoughtful wander through the greenhouse in Tomahna, and meeting the gracious Catherine.

The school is going to scan some of the work that the children came up with through the day, and we will hopefully be able to put links to them here.

My second day at Indian Queens was fun too and I, after a day of not feeling too spectacular, felt more up to pace with years 3, 4 and 6. Some of their writing had me welling up. I had an interesting chat with a group of the older lads, as they were writing, about the fact that it IS O.K. to cry. They showed some real maturity and agreed that, sometimes, you can cry because you are sad. Sometimes because you are happy…and sometimes because you are… “full”

I enjoyed working with these open and creative children and their teachers.

Thank you to Jane for organising the days, and the twilight session with staff from schools in the area.

I am looking forward to some more journeying tomorrow as I head off across Bodmin Moor to Upton Cross school.

Thankyou for all those who have sent such lovely feedback e-mails over the last few days. Much appreciated.

Odd cog signs at Whitesheet*

| March 16, 2007 | 0 Comments 

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Whitesheet school in Wiltshire today.

Whitesheet is a delightful, small village school and, at the training day today, we were joined by staff from nearby schools.

During our “planning” session this afternoon, I was fascinated to see one group working using the early learning goals which they, quite rightly, suggested could be used across the key stages.
Personal,social and emotional development
Communication, Language and literacy
Mathematical development
Knowledge and understanding of the world
Physical development
Creative development

It was International “Take your Neighbour To Work Day” today. This fact was slightly swamped by Red Nose Day but I celebrated in style by inviting my dear friend and next door neighbour, Richard, to join me at today’s event.

Despite telling us all that the last time he had been in a school was in 1957, Richard threw himself into the day, even putting his love of classical music into play by conducting a piece of improvised soundtrack!

















A glorious




Canadian exchange teacher, Karen, went for a jazz style to her piece. Great fun.

Thank you to Ben and the staff of Whitesheet for a superb day.

*Yes. There is an anagram in there. Get your glasses on and look closely at the pics above.


What can I say? It was fantastic. Everyone who was there today was most certainly inspired and I know will go away with a wealth of ideas and inspiration. Even the most the most sceptical of adults could see the potential of the games and what they may be able to do with children. I have never known one idea be able to be used in so many areas across the curriculum from year 6 to foundation. From those ‘sodding cogs’ (frustration and PSE) via every imaginable genre of literacy to art ideas that made me itch to be back in the classroom teaching everyday. I know that from today the lives and thoughts and experiences of the children in our school will change and the only limitation is ours and their imagination. The music at the end of the day was fab too. It is not often that we have the chance to just let go and create (well that may be stretching it a bit!) Thanks again and I can’t wait for the next installment.

Speak soon.


Travel troubles…

| March 15, 2007 | 2 Comments 

Had a spot of bother on the return trip from Germany today. I have covered a fair few thousand miles over the last couple of years and, thankfully, have been blessed with smooth journeys.

Had a spot of bother with vehicles today (STRETCHED LIMO PICTURE …VANISHED)

(No I don’t travel in a stretched limo – Pretentious?! Moi?!! 🙂 Saw this glorious sight when being taken to Dusseldorf airport by Dave Lowe, from SCE, yesterday.)

However, things didn’t go quite to plan on this trip. We reached Amsterdam without problem but the onward journey was, at first, delayed, and, finally, cancelled due to “Technical problems” (I wonder whether that technical problem was that they technically forgot to book a plane! )

A long night and a KLM “Stranded Travellers care bag” later and, sadly, I had to postpone my trip to Lyneham. (The first time that that has happened.)

There is often an unexpected flipside to adversity and I had great pleasure in meeting two fellow “strandees” Dr Paul Crocker and Simon Parker. Thank you, gentlemen, for making an unexpected stop over in Holland an enjoyable one.

I am glad to have been able to rebook my trip to Lyneham juniors. Karen even offered to book a trip via the Red Arrows! I think I’ll stick to the yak though. 😉

Don’t ask about the cheese!

(Always a cue for some questions!)

Sorry to hear about your cancelled flight. Maybe we should have borrowed the stretch lim and I could have driven you all the way home!! Thanks for an inspiring session earlier this week. I think you have made a considerable impact in SCE, a positive one of course!
Keep on rockin’


Absolutely inundated with magical comments from your session on Wednesday – a big thank you once again and feel sure we will see you again in the not too distant future.


Hamm-ing it up!

| March 14, 2007 | 2 Comments 

Presented at the Service Children’s Education conference in Hamm, Germany, today. This is a really well run and interesting conference, with forces school staff from all over Germany, England, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Brunei and beyond. I had the challenge of opening the conference with a two and a half hour session! I know I had fun!

I was also lucky to sit in on a couple of interesting and informative sessions. I was particularly impressed by the presentation by Wendy Collins and Fiona Aubrey-Smith, from Ranvilles Infant school in Fareham. They are using a VLE to enhance the curriculum, but, originally, have started their approach based on children exploring the potential rather than mainly focussing on their staff’s use. I was impressed that Fiona, only in her third year of teaching, presented (and answered challenging questions) in an assured and informed way whilst always having a smile on her face. She portrayed a clear understanding of the impact their innovative approaches have on the achievement of children.

I am near R.A.F. Lyneham tomorrow. Shame we couldn’t have sorted out a direct flight between the two. 🙂

Hi Tim, 

I’d like to say a very BIG thank you, on behalf of us all, for your input at our conference last week. According to the evaluations, you offered us the perfect start for the two days and folk from the Falklands and Cyprus commented that your session alone was worth every hour of the journey. Everybody there was clearly inspired by your work and creativity and, as you know, it’s the greatest teacher who inspires! 

Myst3 did eventually arrive and has been sent to the folk who were at Hamm, so no doubt we’ll see some of the fruits of your labour when we visit schools. One teacher, who was only able to be at the conference on the Wednesday, got the ball rolling on the Thursday with the class he was teaching! 

Sorry to learn from your blog that the journey home was less than smooth and straightforward but glad to see you at least made some new friends to share the frustration! 

No doubt we’ll be in touch again Tim and we’ll look forward to working with you again. 

Very best wishes, 


You are welcome. You and your colleagues run a fine conference sir!