2015 was an exceptionally busy work year, even for me.
At school, I completed my first calendar year as Head of History. I oversaw a rise in the number of students opting for History GCSE, nearly launched a new A-level (maybe this year) and brought home GCSE results that bucked the school trend in terms of A*/A grades and 4 levels of progress. We introduced new A-level units, changing board from AQA to OCR. I reworked the program of study at KS3 to reflect the increase in curriculum time from three hours a fortnight to four. I wrote a new KS3 assessment model which I presented to a senior leader panel as part of the school’s Aspiring Leaders in Education program. I interviewed and welcomed an NQT, and an observer in the department who is now going to train with us under Schools Direct next year. I organised a WW1-themed off-timetable day for year 8.
At the exam board, I completed my sixth series as an assistant principal. I completed and passed the three written assignments for the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors’ Excellence in Assessment course I was doing; in October, I sat and passed the exam, so I am now (MCIEA). I also completed the six-module senior examiner training run by the exam board.
I presented at four points this year. Firstly, I reprised my role as the expert examiner for Keynote, at their Medicine Through Time student conferences in the spring. Secondly, I spoke as part of our local Bristol history pizza group (#BristHist, as I like to call it) on assessment after levels at the Historical Association conference in May. Thirdly, I ran a very popular workshop at the SHP summer conference, which I titled “Assessment for the Bewildered.” It was originally aimed at NQTs so I was daunted when a lot of experienced people turned up, but hopefully everybody took away something new to use in the classroom. Finally, I led a training day on preparing to teach the new Edexcel GCSE in London in October, for Philip Allan. I think presenting to my peers is always going to be the thing I find most nerve-wracking and this was no different; but it was a supportive crowd and I really enjoyed the experience. It was also very helpful to have to dig through the rationale for the new GCSE so thoroughly.
There have been some other bits that don’t fit in elsewhere: I am really proud to have been made regional adviser for SHP for the southwest, and taken over as SHP’s web manager. As part of SHP’s new GCSE, I am consulting editor for the team writing the Dynamic Learning package for Hodder, which will support the textbooks that are being written. This is a really exciting set of resources. I’ll be writing the exam advice for them in the coming months.
And finally, the writing. I wrote up my assessment after levels work for Teaching History; this was published in December 2015. And, since the summer, I have been working on Pearson’s Medicine Through Time textbook, for the new specification. I’m currently in the process of completing the chapter edits. This has been really fascinating and I have really enjoyed the opportunity to immerse myself in history books for the past few months.
There was some inset – TLAB in March was a notable highlight. I also managed to squeeze in holidays to Wales, Devon, Budapest and Berlin, an epic road trip around California, and a school ski trip to Italy (the 8th I have organised). It’s a good job I like keeping busy.
For 2016? There are a couple of exciting things on the horizon. We’re focusing on sources at #BristHist for the year. I’m speaking at the SHP day conference in March, delivering a keynote on stickability; I’m likely to reprise my Philip Allan conference in June. I’m going on three foreign visits with school in the next 12 weeks.
Realistically, I’d like to work a bit less. I do enjoy working hard, but it makes the time pass so quickly. I can’t believe how quickly 2015 whizzed by. Now the textbook is done, though, I think that should help me to achieve this goal. I mean, look! – blogging on a Saturday night instead of looking up medieval remedies for the Black Death. Progress!