A unique insight: the first few weeks of teacher training with the Alban TSA

I suppose the biggest point that has struck me, having now visited four secondary schools in the Federation, is how widely the schools vary in their philosophy and approaches to education whilst at the same time providing their students with the opportunities essential for success. For example, at Verulam the whole approach (from lesson structure through to behaviour management techniques) is geared towards the school’s understanding of how boys can be engaged in their learning. It was interesting to see the same techniques employed during a boys only PE lesson at Marlborough School. I am looking forward to my visit to STAGS, to see how their understanding of girls’ learning affects their policies and approaches to teaching.  The interesting extrapolation will then be the extent to which gender-led techniques are streamed into mixed gender schools.

The most interesting systemic approach, unique so far in my experience, is St George’s vertical house system. The House is the core organisational and motivational unit through which all facets of non-teaching school life are channelled: behavioural; pastoral; student leadership; and competitive activities. One consequence and major difference from other schools is that there are no Heads of Years – these functions fuse into the Head of House. Fascinating, but at this stage I don’t know enough to weigh the pros and cons of this.

Turning to Beaumont, I want to thank all of the staff, who have been very welcoming and supportive and ready to provide me with opportunities to develop my understanding of the practicalities of day to day teaching. Being able to observe subjects outside of my own speciality has allowed me to see a variety of approaches and methods, and gain insights as to how some can be translated successfully into the music environment. The music lessons I have observed are far and away the most interesting and entertaining I have ever experienced! The sense of enjoyment and humour that pervade classes of any age combined with the practical focus in the lessons themselves create enthusiasm for experimentation, self- expression and recognition of the pleasure available from music even for students who would not otherwise enjoy it.  The challenge for me, which I face with a mixture of relish and apprehension, is finding out if I can deliver anything remotely akin to this when eventually I get in front of a class.

By Jonathan Burrett

Events coming up

If you would like to attend the Alban Teaching School Alliance (Alban TSA) event on Wednesday 26 March (4.30 – 6.30pm) at Beaumont School please book through the Alban TSA website. The event is called the T&L Takeaway and the Beaumont Teaching and Learning Team will be on hand, sharing ideas and talking about some of the ideas we have been working on and developing.

On Thursday 13 March, a SSAT (Specialist Schools and Academise Trust) event is being held at Beaumont from 9am to 2pm, again with members of Team T&L. This event is focusing on how developing a culture of inspiring teaching and improved independence of learners leads to outstanding A level results. It will be highlighting a number of on-going projects at Beaumont and there will be a chance to talk to members of the Beaumont team throughout the morning. To sign up to this event please email accounts@beaumont.herts.sch.uk and places are allocated on a first come, first served basisSSAT logo. Further details can be found here.


2014 – Spring into Action

If the Autumn term in 2013 was full of T&L treats and surprises (see The End of the Term), the Spring term promises to be even better. There is so much on offer this term that you are really spoiled for choice in terms of things to keep your enthusiasm for teaching bubbling  away.

Next week (Monday 3 February) we have our first T&L INSET of the year. Postponed for good reason after the sad news earlier in the term, the session will be on Questioning for Assessment, and promises to be a winner with lots of ideas to try out during the session as usual. The next INSET (Monday 3 March) will be on Marking – ways to cut down on your marking workload, whilst making it more effective – can’t wait!beat the clock

The first Learning Lunch of 2014 will be on Wednesday 12 February. Called “Beat the Clock”, the idea is that staff come along and either get help with preparing a shiny new resource for some lessons, or chat with members of the T&L team to talk through ideas for jazzing up a lesson that is falling a bit flat. There will be another learning lunch in the second half of the term, run by Jo Cavanagh on Revision Games – perfect timing for those year 11 lessons in the run up to study leave.library-card-catalogs

This term will see the introduction of the Teaching & Learning Library. Sarah Lofthouse is looking forward to being the “lady with the stamp” and will issue books to interested staff. Books have been recommended by the T&L team and a full list of those available will appear in a later post. Of course, reviews of any books read will be gratefully received for later posting.


Towards the end of the term, on Wednesday 26 March (4.30 – 6.30pm), Beaumont are hosting an Alban Teaching School Alliance (TSA) event called the T&L Takeaway. The Teaching and Learning Team will be on hand, sharing ideas and talking about some of the ideas we have been working on and developing. On Thursday 13 March, a Specialist School event is being held at Beaumont from 9am to 2pm, again with members of Team T&L. Details of both these last two events will be added as they are finalised, including how to sign up to attend.

Finally, Governors are visiting the school on Wednesday 12 February, shadowing a pupil for a few lessons, and will hopefully be able to see first hand some of the fantastic teaching ideas which we have been gathering on this blog.

It’s going to be a great term, even if a bit short. Looking forward to seeing you at one or more of the events.

Always Learning

By Zoe Shepherd

For the second year I have been working for Herts For Learning  and the Alban TSA as part of their NQT training programme. I find the whole process hugely rewarding and inspiring. This year I led the whole drama programme and relished the opportunity to organise the weekend. I ran sessions on Engagement and Expectations for Key Stage 3, The Importance of Extra Curricular and Social Media in Drama, Time Saving and Survival Tips for the NQT year and Key Stage 5 teaching.  Nikki Ward, a former Beaumont Drama teacher ran a session on fulfilling potential at Key Stage 4 and Emily Gray from Trestle Theatre Company led a practical workshop.

zsh 2

I find that running sessions such as this allows me to reflect on my own work as well as hopefully inspiring the next generation of drama teachers. The 4 teachers I have got to know this weekend are enthusiastic, passionate and determined. Qualities that I hope I still share with them. I have taken away some great ideas and shared some of the things we do at Beaumont in drama and across the whole school.


Sharing good practice is at the heart of teaching and learning at Beaumont. Our first Teachmeet is just around the corner and after a weekend with the fab 4 drama NQTs I am looking forward to making new connections and getting ideas from our colleagues on November 8th.

We are all learners and having opportunities to listen to teachers at various stages in their career is always worthwhile. I will see my NQTs again in March when I look forward to hearing about the next stage of their journey.