This is one of a series of posts regarding the College’s upcoming trip to Iceland, the introduction to this trip can be read here.
The weather in Iceland is incredibly variable – within an hour it can change from bright sun, to rain, snow and driving winds.
We will be travelling in February when the temperatures in Iceland vary from between -2 and +3 degrees Celsius – ideal conditions for snow but not as cold as you might anticipate given the proximity to the Arctic circle. At night however temperatures can drop to minus 7 degrees Celsius and standing round, as we will be, can make it feel very cold indeed. In London, by comparison typical temperatures in February are usually between +3 and +7 degrees Celsius.
February is also Iceland’s wettest month so there is a good chance of rain during the month, around 78% likely, so water proofs are essential for the trip.
The key is being able to layer up so you should choose clothes that can be worn on top of one another. This will allow you to add layers when cold and then if the weather improves remove them later. We are likely to be standing around for long periods in the cold and so it is best to be prepared.
- Thermal Wool or synthetic leggings and vest – avoid cotton which takes a long time to dry if wet and becomes a poor insulator (http://besthiking.net/cotton-bad-hiking/).
- Wool hat.
- Wool jumpers.
- Wool or fleece neck warmer or scalf.
- Warm gloves, or warm windproof over-mittens and glove liner. The latter works really well to keep your hand warm but allow you to manipulate your camera by taking off the mitt and using the glove liner.
- Walking trousers.
- Waterproof trousers and jacket (breathable best).
- Waterproof walking or lightweight snow boots (ones you can wear on the plane are best).
- Shoe grips (there is a lot of ice on roads, paths and car parks). I found these Yaktraks very good (https://www.yaktrax.co.uk) but any with metal studs will be fine.
- Walking boot gaiters – idea for on the beach or if we have heavy snow.
- Wool based warm socks.
- A warm coat – a down jacket is ideal but the waterproof coat must go over it.
- Head torch (preferably with a red light setting). The red light protects your night vision (https://briankoberlein.com/2015/04/08/blinded-by-the-light/)
You should avoid bringing jeans or other cotton based trousers as these stay wet and lose their insulating properties very quickly.
In order to capture the northern lights or to take night time shots a camera which can operate manually in respect of exposure, lens aperture and focus is needed. For most of the other photography any digital camera will be fine. The site www.dpreview.com is a good starting place if looking for advice about a camera. The College also has a number of DSLR Canon cameras and some tripods that can be loaned to participants; please speak to a member of staff who can advise.
- Camera bag (preferably waterproof).
- lens cloth.
- Ideally, a camera with an interchangeable lens. A wide angle lens, standard zoom and telephoto will all be useful.
- Tripod – Essential for night photography but also for landscapes to ensure a sharp image that is well composed.
- Rain cover for camera and for its bag (if not waterproof).
- At least two 32Gb memory cards for the trip as they will be hard to find and expensive.
- A laptop (optional) for editing images.
- Spare camera battery and charger (we will be taking a lot of photographs).
- All electrical sockets are European two pin so at least one adapter is essential.
A key instruction to all students at Catmose is to fail more often. In fact, to go out of their way to choose activities that will challenge and they will initially do badly at. It is only by coming to terms with how failure feels is one able to reflect on and improve your performance to be very successful. There are no class room lessons, or lectures from home that serve a student better than a real experience. We all need to learn to fail, to pick ourselves up (not to be rescued by our parents) and to carry on in the face of adversity. It is characteristic of all the most successful people that they have suffered significant failure; people saying they aren’t good enough, or not creative, or not rich or not clever enough. It is equally the case that these successful people have carried on any way, learned from their mistakes and got better until they have achieved their goals.
If you google Andy Murray, Britain’s most successful ever tennis player, so many of the images that are returned show him failing. Each defeat spurring him on to train harder, get better and come back stronger, rather than to give-up, go home or say it is unfair.
He of course ultimately achieved his goal winning both Wimbledon and Olympic gold medals.
Too many people don’t try for fear of failure. They shy away from attending an audition for a College production, to sing in the choir or to interview for head boy out of fear of not being successful. Of course by not applying they cannot be successful.
Steve Jobs, perhaps the epitome of success was also a failure. He was sacked from Apple, was given a huge pay out that should have been enough to retire on, but instead went onto revolutionise the animation industry at Pixar and Disney. He was of course enticed back to Apple when it was in dire straits, ultimately turning it into one of the most successful companies of all times. He never feared failure and in many ways courted it by setting himself extraordinarily ambitious goals. His success by dint of his talent and hard work far outweighed any failure.
I’ve know many failures in my own life. It was my aspiration, from an early age, to join the police, I was thwarted by poor interview technique. I ended up as a teacher, a career that better suited my skills but my early experience of poor interview meant I never again went into one without having done my homework about an organisation and the role I was applying for. In a similar way failing my driving test for being over ambitious in my use of the accelerator has made me a far better driver in the long run.
At the College we offer students opportunities to fail every day. There are the little things like answering a question in class when not sure of the answer. It could be learning a musical instrument, having to practise every day, making mistakes until confident enough to perform in front of an audience. In sport we offer over 20 different sport, plenty of opportunity to win and lose in matches. There is nothing quite like getting lost on a DofE expedition to ensure that next time you’ve planned your route better and listened carefully to the compass skills lesson!
To be successful in life, parents need to let their children make mistakes, get things wrong and to sort it out for themselves. How will these children manage in the adult world of work when they are no longer their to bail them out and they don’t have the skills and experiences to sort issues out for themselves?
There is a difference though between failing and giving up. It is fine to get things wrong from time to time, to fail and reflect on your mistakes. It is an entirely different matter to quit every time this happens.
Fail more, quit less, be successful.
This term I have focused on the cost of trips, which follows discussion with governors last term. Specifically, are there enough trips that are affordable to families, particularly those that are not eligible for FSM but whose disposable incomes are relatively low?
In the case of students who are eligible for pupil premium funding, the College fully or partially subsidises every trip that is offered. We know that students who are engaged in broader college life are excluded less, attend more regularly and ultimately achieve better outcomes compared to similar peers. It has often been the case that pupil premium students were excluded from trips, music and sporting activity because of family financial constraints. This remains so in some cases, but the instances are fewer now as a result of careful use of the pupil premium to subsidise places and through the practice of reserving spaces on trips for this group of students whose parents do not always complete permission slips to reserve places in a timely manner.
The College offers a significant number of trips and visits that have no or very low cost (<£20). There were 58 trips of this nature in 2015/16 and 34 have been planned so far this year. 3,300 places on trips at no cost have been offered. This has included trips to the mosque and gurdwara in Peterborough for all year 8 students; cross country athletics; musical performances with Oakham school; a languages trip for year 9; a trip to Nottingham university for year 9 and a trip for year 7 to Leicester Tigers grounds. All year groups have had access to at least one no-cost trip, albeit that not all students were offered the opportunity on each occasion. This category has the most number of trips and participants in the last two years, although it should be noted that the amount of trips and available places has decreased this year compared to last.
Many trips are also of moderate costing, between £20 and £100. In the last two years 2,435 participants will have taken part in such experiences. The cost of trips covers the price of admission and transport. Staff costs are paid by the College. Every year group has had access to such trips, which are usually UK based and non-residential. This year this has included: The British Library; Hamlet; Workhouse Trip; Burghley House Arts Trip; Royal Albert Hall; Victoria & Albert Museum; V & A Museum Trip; Bosworth Battlefield; Maths in Action; Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; Birmingham Symphony Hall; Harry Potter Studio Tour and Julius Caesar. The amount of trips in this moderately expensive category has increased, as has participation, over the last 12 months. They offer students an affordable way to experience a wide range of cultural experiences that support and supplement the curriculum.
The smallest number of trips and participants are in the expensive category (>£100). There were 25 trips in this category over the last two years, attracting 856 participants. These trips tend to be residential, often abroad. This year this has included: German Exchange; Spanish Exchange; Geography trip to Sheringham; Kingswood Trip; Battlefields Tour 2017; Berlin Tour 2017; Krakow Trip; Venice Arts Trip and New York performing arts tour. Only two of these trips (New York and Sumatra) was over £1,000. All of these trips are linked to a curriculum area and provide students with opportunities that cannot be easily replicated elsewhere. They provide unique opportunities, albeit relatively expensive ones, that broaden and deepen students’ understanding of subjects they are considering as potential careers. They are also attractive to many families who want to ensure that their child has access to a broad range of opportunities that they might otherwise seek from the independent sector.
There are a broad range of day visits which are at no or very low cost to families. However, we need to ensure that these opportunities are not diminished by an increase in the number of more expensive residential experiences which have increased over the last two years. We will monitor the number of trips that are low cost and use the performance management cycle to ensure that staff who lead trips prioritise low cost and high participation rates. The more expensive trips do have an important place in our ethos, however, as they give students once-in-a-life time opportunities that will stay with them for a long time and could influence their future life choices.
We are preparing to take a tour to southern Iceland to enhance our GCSE photography students portfolio. The tour will give students the opportunity to experience a wide range of photography in the desolate but majestic landscapes of Iceland. We will learn techniques including long exposure, astro-photography, wildlife and street photography. This video which consists of hundreds of individuals images of the northern lights stitched together to create the illusion of movement, it is an advanced technique that we are hoping to teach our students.
The slides from this evening can be viewed here, they give an idea of the sort of locations and photography we will be practising during the trip. The full presentation can be downloaded from here (>100 MB) if it is useful.
The following video is from a trip in 2016 which visited many of the same locations and few different ones, it gives a good idea of the conditions in Iceland and the sort of photography we will have the opportunity to try out.
This gallery gives an idea of the sort of scenery and photography we are likely to experience in Iceland during February.
To apply for a place on the trip please complete the form on this flyer:
FOCUS ON SPORT
We have continued to blaze a trail in sport this academic year, competing in a very wide range of competitions which has led to participating in over 100 fixtures. Notable successes so far include:
- Both the year 10 and Year 11 girls Netball team won their respective Varsity Leagues. The year 10 team has since progressed onto the Leicestershire school’s final against Loughborough High School following victories against Ashby and John Ferneley.
- The under 13 boys table tennis team won the varsity competition and thus qualified to represent Rutland at the level 3 final where they came 5th out 10 teams.
- The year 8 boys and key stage 4 girls’ basketball teams are showing considerable promise in the Varsity basketball league both winning their opening 3 games.
- The cross country teams continue to perform well with over 25 students competing at the weekend in the Leicestershire & Rutland Cross Country league. The junior boys are currently joint second, 2 points behind 1st. Best individual position so far has been Marcus Francis, finishing 7th, with most finishing in the top 25.
- Leicestershire & Rutland Cross Country cup the Junior boys finished 4th competing against predominately older teams.
- In English Schools Athletics Association cross country cup the junior boys qualified for the regional round of the traveling to Leeds finishing 7th out of 12 with a number of excellent performances.
- In addition to basketball, indoor athletics and active clubs ran by the sports team this term Ian Bartlett from the English Team is helping to prepare the year 7’s for their first Varsity Rugby by running a rugby practice after college on a Monday.
In the varsity competition we are currently second, which is our expectation at this time of year. We are once again aiming to be varsity champions by the end!
My thanks go to the sports team who give so generously of their time to coach teams to such success.
We are entering a National Spelling Bee competition for Y7 French. We have all pupils competing at a class level at the moment and getting themselves onto a leader board following a series of tests/challenges. The pupils have been learning 50 words in French and have to spell the word correctly using the French alphabet including the correct accents, also said in French. The winners of the class stage will then go on to compete for the top spots in the year group in front of the whole of year 7 with careful coaching given by the year 11 French Ambassadors. The winners of that will get the chance to go to the regional then national finals. This is proving very popular amongst the boys who at the moment are by far outperforming the girls.
TRIPS AND VISITS
There have been a rich variety of extra-curricular experiences this term encompassing the theatre, cultural experiences in Peterborough and hosting students from Spain as part of our first exchange visit. In total around 400 students have had such an experience this term.
|Oakham Castle Trip||Simon Parker||1&8 November 2016||7||120||History|
|Bosworth Battlefield||Judith Green||2 November 2016||8||130||English|
|Spanish Exchange||Claire Dodson||2 – 9 November 2016||9||30||Spanish|
|Cambridge University||Lee Coupe||9 November 2016||10 & 11||30||Careers|
|Active Rutland Awards||Beth Smith||16 November 2016||Selected||5||Sport|
|Oakham School Choir Performance||Luke Donnelly||18 November 2016||7-9||25||Music|
|Royal Albert Hall, London||Luke Donnelly||27 November 2016||8 – 11||49||Music|
|Mosque and Gurdwara||Judith Green||30 Nov & 7 December||8||180||Cultural|
|A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night||Leanne Mitchell||1 December 2016||10 & 11||46||Drama|
|Clothes Show Live||Kim Hincks||6 December 2016||10 & 11||40||Art|
Alongside planning lessons, assessment and how we feedback is the most important activity we undertake to improve student understanding. It has been a long-held wisdom by some in the profession that the only way to do this effectively is by writing very long comments, that students must also respond to followed by a further response from the teacher; the so-called triple marking method. It is not something I have ever subscribed to nor ever done in my own practice. Feedback in this way is very time-consuming and rarely elicits a substantial response from students that improves their understanding of what they did well and how they need to improve further.
Please have a read of this guidance from Ofsted and the outcomes from recent research into this:
Advice to Ofsted inspectors:
DFE workforce reform:
The best feedback from teachers is received immediately after the assessment, gives clear guidance regarding what is wrong and offers advice about how to improve further which students are asked to act upon straight away. This is how our check point system is designed to work. Check point assessments are not tests, they do not need to be carried out under exam conditions. They do not all need to be marked exclusively by a teacher. Check-points are assessments that replace the normal lesson by lesson assessment that a teacher normally undertakes, they are not in addition to it. Each check-point should have the following characteristics:
- assess how well students have understood their most recent work;
- students should know when the checkpoint is, how they will be assessed and have been taught all of the content;
- be based around GCSE skills and knowledge, even in year 7 and 8;
- be carried out in the same way by each subject teacher;
- be the same task for every student in the year group and same tier of entry for the subject;
- be designed to be assessed quickly so that feedback is prompt and useful.
It is good practise for students to undertake peer assessment of some check points, they will need to be taught how to do this accurately; teachers will need to sample and moderate their marking to ensure accuracy, however teachers do not need to mark every piece of work or check point task. Subject teams should also use their team meetings to moderate checkpoint marking across each year group to ensure a consistent approach has been taken.
The variety of check-point tasks therefore that can be undertaken can be very wide and could include:
- spelling tests, quickly peer marked at the end;
- short GCSE style examination questions, carried out as an assessed homework and peer marked at the beginning of the next lesson;
- a student improving on a piece of work or question that the teacher has already marked – the mark awarded being on the remarked work;
- a short GCSE question as a test, following completion of a similar question for which students have received feedback;
- assessment following controlled assessment or other external examination component that is normally carried out;
- a review of the quality of a task that students have been asked to complete, for example: in science drawing a graph; in maths explaining their reasoning behind solving a problem, in English their analysis of a piece of text, in languages a written piece in the target language.
- Give students a piece of work to assess themselves (not their own work) and see how accurately they can do this – the check point score reflects the accuracy of their assessment. Teaching would need to have effectively supported developing in students the ability to assess.
In respect of written feedback i.e. marking, teachers should use their judgement regarding when this is the best way to feedback to students, what can take five to ten minutes to write can be conveyed to a student in a conversation in just a few seconds. Verbal feedback also offers students the opportunity to clarify their understanding whilst written feedback is one way. Students should always be given the opportunity to act on feedback; the assessment could be how they have responded to the assessment rather than the original task.
There is some very good practise that reduce time but increase the engagement of students, consider:
- highlight work that is wrong in a students book, very effective for picking out spelling errors, incorrect answers in maths or science. The highlighting can be done during the lesson as students complete questions or carry out tasks. Give students time in the lesson or for prep to correct the highlighted aspects of their work. Each teacher simply needs a brightly coloured highlighter pen e.g. blue that is used and understood by students. Lessons need to be planned so that students are completing work independently of the teacher in order that the teacher has the time to go round the class and highlight work that is incorrect. Books could also be taken in with this approach taken.
- Provide students with a list of tasks that need completing and traffic light each aspects so that students are aware when they have met or exceeded their target grade (G) are close to it (A) or are significantly below it (R). In the lesson whilst students are working focus your feedback on those students who are red and give them feedback. Ask students to write down the key aspects of the feedback so that they understand what they need to to get better.
- Marking a sub-section of a class, for example, pupil premium students, the most able, the middle ability students, SEN in order to check and focus your teaching to ensure it is meeting a key groups needs. Over time ensure that you check each students work but not every student, every lesson.
- Peer assessment and moderation. Spend time in lessons teaching students how to accurately assess work. We know as teachers that being able to assess work, particularly in more subjective subjects such as English or humanities is a higher order skill that requires very secure knowledge. If students are able to assess work accurately they will have developed a deeper understanding of the material. By asking students to swap with specific students they will also develop a broader understanding of different approaches to answering questions which will further improve their understanding.
In conclusion, our approach to marking and assessment should be as well planned as the curriculum content. The feedback we give should be designed to elicit the best response from students, sometimes this will be through written feedback, on other occasions verbally or by highlighting errors. We will always give students the opportunity to reflect on, ask questions and improve their work. Our check points should replace much of the on-going teacher assessment, reflect the range of skills and knowledge students needs to complete GCSEs successfully and be carried out in a consistent way across the team in order that the information we use for intervention and report home is accurate and useful.
In a time of significant changes to accountability frameworks nationally, the College continues to perform significantly higher than the national average with respect to the progress our students make.
Progress 8 which measures progress from KS2 primary results through to GCSE is set this year to be the main performance measure and replaces the 5 A*-C including English and Maths.
This measure gives parents an indication of the progress a student makes at each school compared to the national average. A score of zero therefore indicates an average rate of progress.
We achieved a score of 0.36 which is significantly higher than the national average of 0, indicating that our students gain over a third higher grade in each subject than a student who attended an ‘average’ school who had similar performance at primary school. Over the 8 subjects counted, this equates to nearly 3 GCSE grades better.
Our disadvantaged students also performed above the national average, with a result of 0.26. We will continue to focus on this group of students in order that their outcomes give them the best possible life chances.
For students with low prior attainment we have done particularly well, with a P8 score of 1.02. Our SEN team is to be congratulated on this performance. For middle attaining students it was 0.35 and for higher ability 0.16. We have appointed a project lead for higher attaining students to further improve the progress they are making relative to their peers nationally.
Further detail can be read by clicking here.
WIDER LIFE OF THE COLLEGE
We continue to focus on the ensuring students receive a broad education at the College alongside a core academic one.
This term we have already had trips and visits that will include:
|Sainsbury School Games||Beth Smith||9||6|
|Sainsbury School Games Media Hub||Beth Smith/Ollie Teasel||7 – 9||10|
|British Library, London||Judith Green||11||80|
|D of E Beaumanor Hall||Simon Mellors||9||75|
|Peterborough Field Trip||Steve Kelly||11||120|
|Chitty Chitty Bang Bang||Leanne Mitchell||7||180|
|Burghley House Arts Trip||Hannah Reeve||7||100|
|Cross Country Athletics||Debbie Powell||All||–|
|John Clare House Trip||Judith Green||7||53|
|Geography Field Trip||Steve Kelly||10||60|
|New York USA performing arts||Laura Hollick||10 – 11|
We have also hosted an event whereby every Year 10 student has been trained in cardio resuscitation and the use of a defibrillator as a result of a partnership with the High Sheriff of Rutland.
The new Year 7 students have settled in well, with 180 of them enjoying a trip to the theatre to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. They will build on this experience to put on their own show to present to parents later in the year.
The Performing Arts team has also begun auditions for High School Musical, which will be our main production later this year.