Category: Teaching


The summer is over. The jumpers are out and the kettle is working overtime. In school, we’ve re-arranged the classroom, sourced some new equipment and settled into some new routines with a fresh bunch of children. The summer is a distant memory.

I like this time of year. I love any excuse to have a shift around and get the classroom looking fresh, and September is perfect for all of that. We’ve evaluated every aspect of our day and practice, and tweaked anything that didn’t work. We’re jumping on the latest trend of milk as a continuous provision area, which the children can access at any point throughout the day. Of course, it has had its teething problems but on the whole it seems to be working out well. It’s freed up more time for us to use with focus tasks and provision area activities.

Another reason I like September is the chance to meet your new class. So far, they’ve shown themselves to be a well-mannered and fun bunch, and I’m looking to getting stuck into our topic, ‘Famous Faces’, this term. The children shared some fantastic ideas for who we could study (ranging from Neil Armstrong, Ariana Grande and Florence Nightingale…..to the local binman). I’m keen to move away from the traditional figures of study. When I was in primary school I can only remember learning about Florence Nightingale and Emmeline Pankhurst in terms of significant women in history. I want to provide opportunities for the children to learn about a range of famous people, of different genders, race, and abilities. I remember thinking as a child how weird it was that only men seemed to do anything important. I want my class to know that this is absolutely not the case, as I started to learn in secondary school.

Of course September isn’t easy. Our first week back has already been a rollercoaster, from the joy of seeing everyone after the break, to the excitement of the new start, to the hideous anxiety of looking at the calendar for the next term! By Thursday I had managed to convince myself that I can handle the demands the autumn term makes as they arrive, and that over-thinking and over-prepping weeks in advance is unnecessary and draining. Whether or not this continues, we shall see.

What I definitely hope for this year is a year of calm enjoyment. I do believe that whatever I’m feeling effects the children, and as the pressures of the job don’t seem to be easing any time soon, I need to take control of my responses to those pressures and ensure that I approach every challenge with cool composure. I mostly want to show them the spectrum of ability and talent within the world, and have a lot of fun doing it. I’ll get back to you in July!

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This summer I tasked myself with a secret mission. Well, several, actually, but first and foremost I wanted to do the impossible and unwind. I’m not very good at relaxing. I used to be, but I seem to have picked up an annoying habit of filling any ‘empty’ time with jobs. (This is not evident in the current state of my flat….or classroom.) I wanted to make the most of my time off, as I know, (and have been reminded many times this summer!) that I am very bloody lucky to have it. Secondly, I wanted to learn to become my own best friend. I can be hard on myself and I’m working on a bit of self-forgiveness and care. On the back of my travels last year, I wanted to continue exploring and take myself off to somewhere I hadn’t been before (…..in the UK. I’m not financially sound enough to stretch to over-seas travel this year).  I spent the weeks building up to 20th July making sure I had a balance of fun, pre-planned activities but also time at home, to recuperate and breathe. I think I’ve been quite successful in having a holiday that has included the compulsory theatre trips, catch ups with friends, lots of yoga, gym visits, handiwork around the flat, a re-write of a story I wrote three years ago, family time, some amazing food and plenty of laughing. Here are some of the things I learnt.

  • I can drive – OK, I may have passed my test five years ago but I’ve not had much practise at long distance driving and the terrifying motorways. I drove to Cambridge and Cardiff this summer and lived to tell the tale.
  • Comparing yourself to others is a no-no – I am guilty of this. It’s a bad habit. I look at Instagram and I can’t help but think ‘God, why can’t I have that?’ (this is usually directed at someone’s abs) but I am working on not doing this. We never put the negatives on social media, so everything is filtered. Also, I’m very fortunate in my own life, so I should take more time to appreciate all the cool things I get to do and the awesome people I spend my time with.
  • It’s OK to remember the past, but more important to focus on the future – Alright, I know, this one is cheese on toast, but it’s still important. Another guilty trait of mine is being over-nostalgic or dwelling over things that have happened ages ago. I’ve definitely learnt this summer that we move away from places and people as we get older, and that’s OK. It’s not necessarily a reason to be sad. It should be a chance to appreciate the good times spent and then move on. Go. Get over it. Run into the next phase of your life. (Parmesan everywhere!).
  • I’m brave – This summer I spent a week in Cambridge alone. It was awesome. I saw lots of sights, went to a hot yoga class, met some interesting people, bought some cool things – totally took myself out of my comfort zone – and thought nothing of it until I got home. That whole trip would not have happened a few years ago. This ticks the ‘unwind’ box too as I spent plenty of time in parks, reading a book in the sunshine. Bliss.
  • Seeing theatre is improved when you go in unprepared – I saw booked a few shows at the last minute this summer, without knowing much about them beforehand. Watching shows first-hand with no prior impressions or knowledge gives for a more goose-bumpy (new word) experience.
  • And finally, time out is important, but it’s also important to get back on the treadmill. This last week has been difficult as I’ve been itching to get back to school. We get a lot of flak for our holidays but, honestly, they are needed. It can get so intense that it’s easy to start doubting yourself. I think most teachers will agree that once they’ve taken themselves out of that pressurised environment, where both adult and children’s emotions are stretched, and taken time to relax, we start to feel that excitement again. I’m really looking forward to going back tomorrow, with a new class, and getting back into the swing of things.

So there we go, self-indulgent, cheesey summer post done. To all the teachers, good luck for tomorrow. I’ve made a habit of reminding myself this time of year that it’s important for the children to learn, but it’s equally (if not more) important that they have fun, happy, meaningful experiences.  Let’s start September with a smile and positivity.

A miracle has happened. We were plagued with the familiar panic-stricken reports of impending snowmaggedon but, as usual, we took notice and prepared for normal, dreary British weather. On Friday morning, I arrived to work with a just a small enough dusting of the white stuff to inconvenience my school shoes but by 8.15am the Head was flapping around the school spreading news of a possible closure. The yard was blanketed, teachers and pupils were stranded in their homes and the I ended up with a small handful of breakfast club children taking shelter in my classroom.

Everyone was home by 11am and, as is procedure, staff were encouraged to take work home. It was a nice change to catch up with my incerts and mark my books in front of the TV with the heating on full blast and a cup of hot chocolate on the table.

Our school doesn’t close easily, but we were one of 56 schools in the area to close Friday and Monday. I’ve seen and heard a lot of grumbling online about it being ‘pathetic’ that the schools chose to close up. I don’t envy Heads who have to make that decision. At 8.15am on Friday the snow was coming thick and fast but by 9am, when parents were leaving with their children, it had typically stopped. The Headteacher had to trust the forecasts and think ahead to later heavy flurries (which continued not only throughout Friday but across the weekend). Many cynical comments followed the school closures in our area, with one person asking me ‘Is it a safety thing, or something?’.

Well….of course it is! Believe it or not, the snow isn’t some conspiracy theory constructed by teachers so they can have a sneaky day off (we all took work home and were told not to go out!). Many factors contribute towards a school closure but the main focus of whole decision is obviously pupil safety. The Head not only had to consider staff ratios but judge whether it was worth asking parents to make the treacherous journey to school along icy roads with their children in the car.

Thankfully our parents were very understanding but online comments afterwards did bug me. I remember several snow days when I was younger. They’re memory makers. It might be a pain for adults who need to get to work but, remember, for a child it’s exciting! Going out and sledging with the family or even just staying inside and keeping cosy. It all adds a little bit of magic to the impending festive season.

To put my teacher hat on – think of the learning! Measuring the snow, discussing temperature, forming shapes and letters in the snow, the melting process – the list is endless!

Despite the temptation to cling to the central heating with a cup of tea, I forced myself to venture to the shop yesterday with my friend. It took us way longer than usual but it was hilarious. And it made the warm flat and hot mulled wine even more luxurious. Yes, it’s a bit of an inconvenience, but if you’re able to enjoy it then do so! We rarely get snow days so my advice is to just make the most of it, stop complaining and take a leave out of the childrens’ book – be excited!

Christmas has arrived in Blwyddyn Un.

On the first of December, our elf arrived with instructions to ‘Christmas-up’ the classroom, and the festive season erupted into our classroom.

So far, we’ve built a toy workshop in the role play, rescued snowmen from a tuff spot and written letters for Father Christmas. It feels like Christmas has been a long time coming, with concert rehearsals being in full swing for three or four weeks now.

Speaking of concerts, we had our first full run through today. The children are working hard at learning their lines and remembering where they need to stand but I think we’ll all be breathing a sigh of relief next Monday after the final performance. I think that is when the Christmas fun will really begin, when all the official business is done and the concerts have finished and we can all relax.

I was thinking about a very special part of the job. It’s lovely to spend Christmas with children. It’s easy to forget how magical Christmas is for children and seeing their excitement every day is bringing back memories from my own childhood. I think that being in the classroom, no matter how rubbish your feeling, can have such an uplifting effect, especially at Christmas. The children’s excitement and wonder at Christmas is infectious. It’s lovely to share their joy when they come in to see which challenge the elf has set them, or listen to their questions for Father Christmas.

No matter how stressful it gets, how exhausted we are or how much we complain, it’s definitely a perk of the job to share the children’s magical memories of the season.

This week blwyddyn un stepped into 2017. That’s right, we have Seesaw.

For those of you unfamiliar, Seesaw is an app designed to make it easier for pupils to share their work with their teacher and their parents. It’s a bit like Facebook for the classroom. I’ve heard whisperings of Seesaw for a few months but it was following a very inspirational ICT course that we, as a staff, decided to bite the digital bullet.

I was nervous at first. I can be a bit of a technophobe and I’m always cautious of over-complicating matters in the classroom, particularly as one lesson generates so much paperwork and admin already, but I can honestly say after the first week of having it in our classroom, Seesaw is a success.

I started off with a class demonstration on Tuesday morning, taking the time to explain and model how children can access the software. The children were in awe as I told them we were going to start using a very special new app and they were immediately enthused when they saw how easy it was to use. Seesaw works by scanning a QR code, which I’d placed in several spots around the classroom to ease congestion. The children can then select their name and add a photograph of their work to their own personal profile. This is automatically shared with the teacher, who can approve posts for those already panicking. A notification can also be sent to a parent’s device once their child uploads a piece of work. There’s also an option to annotate with a caption or recording, giving the children a change to explain their work.

It’s not just a great way of sharing work between student-teacher-parent, but it’s also a good form of reflection and evaluation. We’ve already found ourselves taking the time at the end of the day to scroll through Seesaw and share the uploads from the day. This then gives the children a chance to talk about their work and discuss how they feel about it. As a teacher, I can also comment on pieces of work, similar to comments on social media, but the voice record feature is a great tool to cut down on marking time, allowing me to make clear reflective comments as I would if the child was standing next to me. Parents can also get involved with this, but as we continue to train the children and ourselves on how to use the app, for the time being Seesaw is only being used in-house.

A huge perk is that it’s simple to use. The children are already familiar with uploading work after just a week of getting to grips with the app. It’s also proving very useful in the challenge areas as the children are able to take pictures of their independent tasks, which I can then see at the end of the day. For example, today I asked them to build animal enclosures in the construction area, thinking carefully about measuring out the areas so they were big enough for the animal. It can be a struggle for me to see all of the children’s challenge area work as I’m often pre-occupied with the focus tasks, but today it was lovely to see the children uploading their work proudly to Seesaw which gave me a change to look at it and appraise after school. The children love it and, although I was tentative at first, I’m already pretty confident that seesaw will have a positive impact on the learning in Blwyddyn Un.

It was the first week back after half term so the usual ‘stepping back on the treadmill’ stuff was happening. Planning, prepping, panicking, etc.

Then on Thursday, I was sent on a course at the last minute. It meant driving through picturesque Wales to Llanrwst, taking part in a drama workshop and, the clincher, a free lunch so, of course, I was on board immediately.

The focus of the course was Dorothy Heathcote’s Mantle of the Expert strategy. Having spent a lot of time researching this particular area of Heathcote’s work as part of my PGCE dissertation, I was really excited to see how a school in Brecon had put the strategy and pedagogy into practice. Mantle of the Expert is all about engaging pupils in a task by adding a sense of theatre. Obviously, this was my jam. After some hands-on examples of how this can be implemented, I certainly left Llanrwst feeling motivated and re-energised. It was a much-welcome boost.

The teachers leading the training were inspirational and it was refreshing to hear their realistic opinions and experiences. These were everyday teachers who experienced the same ups and downs as the rest of us, but were enjoying lots of success after taking a risk with their teaching. ‘Mantle’ involves putting the pupil in charge, whilst the teacher takes more of a directorial role. The pupil is given the freedom to explore and lead their own learning, whist in a role as an ‘expert’. For example, their role could be a leader of an expedition to the Titanic wreckage, or a recruitment agent for a Superhero agency. The trainers shared countless examples of how they have used Mantle in the classroom and I was pleased to see some of the techniques were already being touched on in my class. This term I’ve already asked year one to be wedding planners and party organisers, so I felt like a lot of the ideas shared would fit in with my teaching.

So, on Friday I bounced into class with a new idea. I needed to teach ‘Light and Dark’ to the children and I had an idea of how to introduce it. Using a pop up tent, some leaves and plenty of fabric, I built a cave in the corner of my classroom and set up the laptop to play soft snoring sounds into the class. When the children came in I greeted them with lots of ssssh-ing and gesturing to the cave. Straight away they were in total awe and began questioning what could be inside the cave, all through careful whispers so as not to wake our visitor up. I of course feigned ignorance and conjured up a story of how I’d found this cave when I arrived at school and wanted to wait for the children before I went inside as I wasn’t quite brave enough to risk it alone.

I left them hanging for a bit whilst we carried out our usual morning rituals, then got them all riled up by asking them if they’d like to see what was inside. The answer was, of course, ‘YES!’. So, in my most Olivier-worthy performance, I crept over into the tent and performed my side of a conversation. When I emerged, the children were rapt with interest. I explained that inside the cave was a very friendly bear and the reason he was sleeping was because he had such a terrible night’s rest due to his fear of the dark. The children were very sympathetic and before I could explain further they were suggesting ways we could help. Which is exactly what I wanted them to do. So, following ‘their’ suggestions, we researched light sources on the internet and watched a video clip, dismissing sources which we couldn’t use, such as as the sun or car headlights, and made a list of possibilities. We tested a candle in the classroom, but the children were quick to point out that might not be a safe option for the bear. I then gave the children time to, in groups, test out some objects we’d found in the classroom (some handily placed) by taking them into the cave. If the objects helped them see the bear then they were light sources, but if they didn’t then they were not.

I can’t tell you how excited they were. Most notably, the children who are usually less focused and engaged were fizzing with energy and excitement. One boy was so animated, it was lovely to see him dashing around the classroom and testing things out in the cave, keen to find a solution for the bear. He was also using complex, topic-appropriate language within his investigation. It was fab!

The course trainers had shared how Mantle had not only improved standards of work and behaviour in their school but it had also given the children a sense of value. They knew they were being trusted with their learning so they made sure they didn’t abuse that trust. Differing to our usual Topic-based work, which change termly, Mantles can run for any length of time. In this particular school they stressed the importance of allowing a Mantle to run its course and not feel pressured to squeeze as many in as possible. Some Mantles can last for weeks whilst some can run their natural course in just a few days. It all depends on the children’s responses and the ideas they want to explore.

From my initial experiences with Mantle of the Expert I can already see that it is a powerful tool to enhance learning and self-confidence. After last week’s brief session, I’m going to try to develop the ‘bear cave’ idea to incorporate natural and man-made light, shadows and transparent and opaque materials. It was a huge hit in blwyddyn un and from the responses of the children it is definitely something I’ll be implementing more often in the future.

It’s that time of the term again. Just a few days left and we’re all slogging away with the last of our energy, dragging ourselves towards Friday (and I include the children in this. We’re all exhausted.). With the end of term being typically hectic, it’s been hard to pin down any kind of thoughts to blog about. However, there is one thing I’ve been thinking about over the last week or so.

Beliefs. What we believe in is important to us. For a lot of people it gets them through their day. Some have more beliefs than others. Some think it causes a lot of problems. Regardless, what we believe in is an important human trait.

In education, we’re expected to be a whitewashed, stripped down version of ourselves. We’re not allowed to appear to have any kind of life outside the classroom at risk of appearing ‘unprofessional’. In most other aspects, this makes me cross, as I think sharing our true selves is part of being a role model of diversity and reality for young children. However, when it comes to religion, I think there’s a thin line we need to tread.

It’s important for us to get the balance right. It’s OK for us to talk about religion, after all it has been around for a very long time and will continue to be around long after any of us have shuffled off, but to impose a view on others is definite no-no. We wouldn’t do it to an adult, so to push a religious view point on a child is to take advantage of their impressionable position.

My Grandad always says ‘Never talk about religion or politics’ and as I’ve grown up I’ve realised this is excellent advice (unfortunately, a couple of times, I’ve learned this the hard way). It’s a road that can easily lead to trouble. Whether we’re the teacher or the parent, we should be opening doors for children, not closing them. Our role is to present the world with an open mind and allow the child to make their choice. We must only educate. There should come a time when each child should be allowed to explore their own thoughts.

Religion can be a fantastic gateway into exploring other cultures and whether you’re Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Agnostic…whatever, it’s a subject that should be respected and used to educate.  I know lots of people who are agnostic but wouldn’t dream of pushing those opinions on the children. I know some people with strong religious beliefs who wouldn’t do so either. I know some people who are less likely to follow that road. There are even more people whose religion I don’t even know because….I don’t need to! It’s a personal choice that doesn’t necessarily need to be worn on a sleeve.

This might seem like a strange stream of consciousness but the position we’re in, as adults, and the way it can effect children, for better and worse, has crossed my mind a lot this week. It’s a powerful position and one that should never be abused.

Image result for halloween craftWe’ve got a bit of a dilemma in Blwyddyn Un at the moment. Our topic is ‘Celebrations’ and at the start of the term I asked the children what kind of things we celebrate. We had the usuals – Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Weddings etc….

But then came the word we’d been dreading: Halloween. I managed to brush the suggestion off but it kept creeping up.

‘In the craft area, I’d like you to draw something to do with a celebration that we can put on display, please,’ I announced the following week, expecting an influx of birthday cakes and Christmas trees. One boy drew a spider. Another a pumpkin. Another child drew a ghost! ‘What’s this?’ I asked with annoying faux-ignorance. ‘For Halloween!’ they all chirped excitedly. ‘Oh, great,’ was my reply through a very forced smile.

See, personally, I don’t have a problem with Halloween. I love it. And I’m all for any celebration that breaks up the monotony of everyday life. I’m not a horror kind of person but in October I just want to watch American Horror Story, eat lots of chocolate (OK, that’s a constant urge) and dress as a vampire. It just comes naturally this time of year. But, professionally, I’m stuck.

When I first started working in schools I was surprised that the H-word had become so taboo. I’ve got a lot of fun memories of Halloween as a child and a teenager (well, from about 14 onwards. Before that I was actually scared of Halloween, much to my mother’s embarrassment, but I realise I was a minority). I get that the roots of Halloween have connotations to paganism and I’m not saying we should making any sacrificial offerings or anything, but I believe Halloween is a different celebration to what it used to be centuries ago. It’s part of our culture now, whether we like it or not. It’s something that we do. And if it’s true that Halloween stems from Celtic festivals, then shouldn’t we, as descendants of Welsh Celts, be using it as a point of education?

The most obvious change is that it’s now commercialised. Children are unaware of its original meanings and enjoy Halloween just because it’s a bit of fun! We all like a good scare to get the adrenaline going and on these winter nights there’s nothing better than curling up with some sweets and Hocus Pocus. It’s become bigger, even since I was a child. Chances are they’ll be trick or treating with their parents so why should we pretend like it doesn’t exist and ban it from the classroom? I’m not saying we spend weeks preparing for it, like we would Christmas, but I don’t see why we can’t treat it like Bonfire Night and have a couple of Halloween-themed numeracy or literacy sessions. We could base some work on Funnybones or Winnie the Witch. We could design a costume. We could be developing our fine and gross motor skills by pumpkin carving! Oh my goodness, think of the scope for craft activities! Further up the school we could touch on the historical links, more so to the Welsh and Celtic side of things. We’re encouraged to bring the children’s interests into our teaching so it seems ridiculous to just ignore Halloween. I understand it would have to be watered down to suit the age group but, come on, it’s just a bit of hocus pocus! Children learn most when they’re interested and having fun, and I think Halloween ticks both those boxes.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a strong believer in bringing drama in whenever possible when it comes to teaching (and also, when it comes to life). After all, teaching is very much a performance.

Our topic this term is ‘Celebrations’ so, before we hit the traditional up-coming festivities, we’ve been looking at ‘family celebrations’.

Last week, we threw a birthday party for Hilda the Hippo.  The children were visibly excited about Hilda’s birthday and even made cards and presents for her at home. We had a problem solving activity which involved planning the party and dividing party items between the guests. We even wrote a recipe (which linked nicely into our ICT work on algorithms!) for a birthday cake. As a special treat on a Friday afternoon we threw the party for Hilda, which included lots of music, party games, balloons and, of course, pass the parcel.

This week, we moved on to Weddings. Earlier in the week the children received a wedding invitation from Candy and Kevin (two characters we had in the role play area). The children were so excited to be invited to a wedding that they didn’t need much encouragement to get working. First we ‘helped’ Candy and Kevin by designing our own wedding invitations. Then they designed their own wedding cakes and delivered the invitations (using algorithms to find the correct address – It’s all linking in!). On Friday, drama took centre stage in Blwyddyn Un, as we staged a wedding for Candy and  Kevin. Then children took turns sharing roles in the ceremony. We had some super-eager ushers and a very nervous father of the bride. Complete with costumes and traditional music, the wedding was a success and one of those rare moments where you think ‘everything is going brilliantly!’. The children were engrossed in their role play, taking their parts very seriously and needing very little encouragement from the adults in the room. We had loom bands for wedding rings and we even had a wedding cake to cut! (And a couple of guests who were eager to skip the ceremony and get to the reception to eat cake. It was all very true to life.) I felt that by bringing elements of role play and performance into our topic work and actually re-enacting a wedding ceremony, the children really got a feel for the experience and it was an opportunity for some rich learning.

Next week, we’re having a christening in Blwyddyn Un, so let’s hope it’s just as successful!

Somehow the BBC documentary No More Boys and Girls managed to evade me but after a couple of prompts from people who know my interests, I managed to catch it this morning. And I’m so glad I did.

Using a focus group of year 3 pupils in Lanesend Primary School, Dr Javed Abdelmoneim uses a series of strategies to investigate how gender boundaries affect children.

Most disturbing is the opinions girls have of their own gender. The children saw men as strong and powerful whilst women were weak and emotional. According to the children, men could have ‘harder jobs’ – such as authority roles, like policemen or captain – whilst all women seemed destined to be hairdressers. One of the most memorable parts of the programme saw the children draw their own ideas of a mechanic, magician, make up artist and dancer. All of the children associated male characters to the first two professions and female characters to the second two. Of course, their preconceptions were changed when Dr Javed introduced a real mechanic, magician, make-up artist and dancer with opposite genders to the children’s ideas. The girls were in awe of the female mechanic whilst the boys enjoyed a tutorial from a male make-up artist specialising in SFX make-up. It was amazing to see the children understand that ‘anyone can have a chance to do what they like’.

The amount of times the children referred to males as ‘strong and successful’ was shocking, especially as they saw females as the total opposite. It’s sad to think young girls are starting their lives thinking so little of themselves. To show the children that biologically they were all as strong as each other, Dr Javed set up a fairground style strength tester. It was powerful to see one girl cry with ‘happy tears’ after she exceeded her expectations and one boy have a meltdown because he didn’t reach the highest score. It’s important to remember these children weren’t born with these ideas. As adults, we have programmed them to think that boys are stronger than girls. On supply, I’ve visited schools where boys were chosen to move the PE equipment because the teacher needed someone with ‘big muscles’ to help. I’ve seen girls left out of using gym equipment in high school, banished to the dark corners of the sports hall to do some aerobics instead. Is it any wonder the children breakdown when they realise these stereotypes aren’t true?

I’ve talked about my own experiences in school a lot, but it’s still shocking to think that happened just over ten years ago. Split PE sessions with ‘gender appropriate’ activities seems like such an old-fashioned idea but it was happening ten years ago! Although I may have been the victim of a bad careers advisor (and unenthused parents), I remember being told to choose another career path other than one in the theatre. It was heavily hinted at that the theatre was a world for women and, although I would have been happy to be involved in any way (actor, stage-hand, technician…anything!), I was persuaded to keep that dirty secret part of my social life, not my career. What struck me was just how excited the boys were to meet male role models from creative industries, from areas that are usually perceived as ‘female’, and vice versa for the girls. Why should they be denied the chance of following that route just because of the restrictions adults have put on gender? As teachers it’s our job to encourage and nurture each child. Breaking down ridiculous stereotypes and opening those doors to career paths should be part of that.

(As a little side note, I was at a course a few months ago where we were discussing curriculum topics. We were advised to think carefully to ensure the topic we choose inspired all learners and not to ‘choose fairy tales because the boys won’t be interested, or dinosaurs, because we need to keep the girls on board too.’ Well, in my opinion it shouldn’t be a case of choosing the right topic, it should be a matter of delivering the topic in a way that inspires all children. In January our class topic will be dinosaurs and I can already think of many girls who that will appeal to. I had lots of boys last year who loved learning about Little Red Riding Hood. The topic title shouldn’t matter, it’s the activities that draw them in.)

Having a quick scout on Twitter I can see that No More Boys and Girls has come under fire from a lot disgruntled people calling for an end to ‘gender neutral nonsense’. The Piers Morgans of the world are mistaking the programme for encouraging children to choose their gender, when that is not the case. The whole point of No More Boys and Girls is to break down stereotypes that are damaging our children’s view on the World and of themselves. Anyone who is happy for girls to believe they are the weaker sex and live a life feeling second-best, and for boys to live under the impression they must be strong and successful, then break down when they inevitably ‘fail’, needs to seriously consider their beliefs. It’s about raising a generation of confident individuals who aren’t afraid to embrace failures, and who can aspire to be whoever they want to.

Breaking down these boundaries is about nurturing confidence and self-belief, and it starts in the classroom and at home.