All posts by kevin

Why we should get our Heads Together in APlace2Be to tackle child mental health issues – with Dame Benita Refson DBE – PP248

Dame Benita Refson DBE

Benita is Founder of Place2Be and a qualified counsellor. Benita was CEO for 20 years until 2014 when she stepped down and was appointed life time President and continues to support the organisation enthusiastically through her role as President.

Benita received an OBE for Services to Children and Families in 2007; was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of East London in 2009; in 2014 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Institute of Education, University of London and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Birthday 2016 Honours List in recognition of services to education. Currently Benita is Trustee of Children of Success Schools, FORWARD TRUST and a Governor at Bridge Academy Hackney.

This week, Mark spoke to Benita about the issues and potential solutions around child mental health. They talk about Place2Be as well as how we should be helping schools to provide as much help as they can.

Benita believes there is a lot of wonderful practice happening today and discusses the current state of collaboration and co-ordination amongst schools and agencies.

Coaching, Mentoring – what’s the difference? Rachel Lofthouse explains – PP247

Professor Rachel Lofthouse

Rachel Lofthouse is Professor of Teacher Education in the Carnegie School of Education. She has a specific research interest in professional learning, exploring how teachers learn and how they can be supported to put that learning into practice. 

Rachel joined Leeds Beckett University in July 2017, and has established the Research and Practice Centre ‘CollectivED: The Mentoring and Coaching Hub’.

Rachel is a teaching educator and researcher. She has a particular interest in how teachers learn through approaches such as coaching, mentoring, lesson study, professional enquiry and inter-professional practice. She marries these interests with a concern for the development of innovative pedagogies and curriculum design. Key to all of these are the opportunities for that professionals at all stages of their career and in all roles have for dialogue and creative and critical thinking.

Rachel works with student teachers and their school-based mentors, teacher coaches, postgraduate students and school leaders as well as a range of educational practitioners, including those interested in community curriculum development and professional coaching for speech and language support in multicultural early years and primary settings.

Mark speaks to Rachel this week about her varied and fascinating background as well as her thoughts on the value of mentoring and coaching – and also what the difference is.

There’s also, of course, time for our favourite question – “What’s the best thing you’ve ever learned from a child” and Rachel’s favourite passage from a book.

Rachel’s Leeds Becket University page

Rachel on Twitter

Give Yourself Permission To Be Playful at Christmas – and At Any Time! Gavin Oattes – PP246

Gavin is a truly motivational speaker. His inspiration for what he does comes from where he started out his career—primary school teaching. He is a firm believer that we as adults can be every bit as inspired by young children as they can by us grown-ups. Gavin transports his audience back to when they were just 5 years of age, a time when we feared nothing and embraced everything. You will laugh, you will cry, you will feel and you will never eat broccoli in the same way again!

Over the past decade, delivering on themes such as Leadership, Engagement, High Performing Teams and Creativity, Gavin has inspired literally hundreds of thousands of people to rediscover and embrace “that wee piece of magic”. Gavin is now regarded as one of the most talented and sought after speakers in the world.

This week, Tara Elie speaks to Gavin about how adults need to be more like children and how we should all give ourselves permission to play and enjoy life.

He offers suggestions for teachers on how to remain sane at Christmas with their classes and also reads his favourite book – you might be surprised to hear what it is!

Tweet of the Week

Tara talks exclusions and crime on Voice of Islam Radio – PP245

This week, Tara was invited onto Voice of Islam Radio to take part in a programme about the link between exclusions and crime, including knife crime.

About Voice of Islam

Voice of Islam Radio
Voice of Islam Radio

Voice of Islam Radio is a new Digital DAB 24hr radio station which offers news, views, discussion and insight on Islam’s Perspectives on the world today.

It is a new channel that will inform, engage and give you a chance to express your views on a range of topics. Broadcasting 24 hours a day the station aims to give everyone a space for discussion, for people of faith, no faith or just those with an interest in social peace and greater justice.

Welcome to Voice Of Islam

Kirstie Mackey – Barclays Life Skills – for life! PP244

This week, Mark talks to Kirstie Mackey from Barclays Life Skills which provides:

Tool tips and learning resources for you to help yourself or to support you in the development of others

Life Skills logo

For students, educators and parents, the scheme provides City and Guilds approved activities and resources covering a huge range of work/life topics. contains an enormous range of help for student and Mark has very positive memories of working with the scheme when he was headteacher of a Pupil Referral Unit.

Kirstie Mackey

In 2013, Kirstie created and launched LifeSkills. From teaching CV writing skills in classrooms to hiring people for her various teams, Kirstie has years of experience in knowing what employers are looking for and how to get ahead in your chosen career. As well as heading up LifeSkills, Kirstie is a champion for young people and is leading the call for businesses to support young people get work ready.

In her role as Head of LifeSkills, Kirstie is also a contributor to publications such as Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan and Glamour.

Listen to the whole, fascinating story of how Kirstie founded and developed the scheme and find out a little bit about the amazing range of activities which are on offer – free of charge!

Technology in the Maths Classroom – helpful or harmful? PP243

This week, Tara speaks to three guests about Maths in the classroom and how technology can help or hinder learning.

Dr Christian Salas (below centre) is a Maths Lecturer from Waltham Forest College, Stephen Farmer (below left), is Headteacher at Cranbrook Education Campus and Dan Sandhu (below right), is from Sparx Maths.

The conversation goes into depth about the Sparx Maths system and its benefits to schools like Stephen’s and Christian presents a slightly different point of view!

As a socially focussed learning technology company, Sparx has spent the last 8 years reimagining the way maths is taught and learnt in schools. Our aim is to improve numeracy, and therefore life opportunities, for over 5 million learners by 2030.

The result is not a short-term, off-the-shelf software product – it is a personalised approach to learning based on strategies that are founded in pedagogy and on the world class maths content that sets us apart. Underpinned by our sophisticated, adaptive technology platform and high levels of support, Sparx not only delivers progress and increases attainment in maths, it is also the catalyst for transformational change in many of our schools.

So what do you think? Is technology beneficial in subjects like maths, is it all just a way to ensure non-specialist teachers can teach maths or is it something different? What’s your experience of using technology in the classroom – Maths or any other?

Behaviour Problems in England with Mary Meredith PP242

Behaviour Problems in England with Mary Meredith PP242
Mary is Head of Inclusion at Lincolnshire County Council

This week, Mark speaks to Mary Meredith, Head of Inclusion at Lincolnshire County Council.

In an engrossing and detailed conversation, they cover many different areas of behaviour in English schools – what’s going well, what’s going badly and what should happen in the future.

Mary’s in-depth knowledge of research combined with her enormous personal, practical experience of education make this episode a must-listen for anyone who is serious about changing the nation’s attitude towards behaviour management for the benefit of every learner and young person.

It’s packed with evidence-based ideas, strategies and advice for teachers – and government.

Visit Mary’s blog

Do you think vlogger Blair Minchin is ‘bad’? PP241

Blair Minchin
Blair Minchin

This week, Kevin and Ollie speak to the talented Blair Minchin, a primary school teacher based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Blair has been teaching for 5 years, having previously worked in law, practising in commercial litigation.

He says he ADORES his job and has a real passion for developing pupil voice inside the classroom and out. He is currently leading a whole school sport house initiative aimed at developing a love of exercise and team sports across his school. Blair is also currently taking part in a practitioner enquiry into outdoor learning in Numeracy.

Blair is a very keen vlogger but the feedback he receives isn’t always positive…

Instagram: Mr_Minchin
Twitter: Mr_Minchin

Mark Bocker – from Head of PE to Pivotal Principal Trainer – PP240

Mark Bocker: Principal Trainer
Mark Bocker: Principal Trainer

Mark has 37+ years’ experience in special, PRU and mainstream education; most recently as a headteacher of a small specialist (ASD/SEMH) residental school and a headteacher of a large pupil referral unit (PRU). Prior to headship, Mark also held positions including Director of Inclusion; Lead Behaviour Professional, Senior Teacher, Head of PE and Classroom Teacher.

Mark has experienced and led through many Ofsted and HMI Inspections gaining excellent judgements with reference to leadership, intervention programmes and schools support. He has achieved recognition for outstanding support of children in Local Authority Care (Ofsted) and inclusion strategies, including significant success in reducing exclusions. He has designed, written and delivered a variety of courses on topics including Safeguarding, Mental Health, Behaviour and Restorative Practice, as well as contributed to delivering the British Council Connecting Classrooms programme.

Mark believes schools should provide life-affirming experiences for children, and that their carers and we as professionals and skilled trainers should enable and empower them to realise their aspirations. Mark feels this goal is reflected in the aims and values of Pivotal Education, and are closely aligned to his own. When offered the opportunity to join the Pivotal team, Mark did not hesitate!

Mark has recently become pro bono Chair of Members of the Formby High School Academy Trust, and holds several accredited memberships, including the Restorative Justice Council.

In this episode, Mark shares three of the Pivotal Podcast episodes which have affected him and tells the stories behind his choices.

Innovation is the name of the game – with David Miller PP239

David Miller, Kelvinside Academy
David Miller, Kelvinside Academy

Tara Ellie enjoyed speaking to David Miller this week. David is from Glasgow’s Kelvinside Academy which opened Scotland’s School of Innovation, the first of its kind in the UK, in September 2019.

“This is a must for Scotland if it is to continue to punch above its weight in the global economy during these challenging times. We truly believe we can and will transform education in the United Kingdom. We live in a rapidly changing world and schools need to provide an education which prepares young people to look at things differently.”
David Miller

Based on an architecture studio model, learning in the new innovation school is focussed on real-world challenges and collaborative problem-solving, rather than exams and results. Kelvinside has an exclusive partnership with the world’s leading innovation school NuVu – Boston-based education pioneers who are at the forefront of creative learning in the US.  Together, both organisations are working to challenge the boundaries of traditional education.

Kelvinside Academy pupils are already benefiting from this partnership, with S4 and S5 pupil teams shadowing Balfour Beatty’s construction and design teams, learning from industry experts from the global construction giant, attending meetings, and providing feedback and input.

Kelvinside Academy is constantly challenging the concept of the traditional education system and pupils are already going off curriculum for two weeks at a time to follow fluid programmes guided by James Addison, the school’s full-time Fellowfrom NuVu, the world’s leading innovation school.

Website of the School of Innovation

Tweet of the Week

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We’re delighted to announce that Holte School, Birmingham, has been featured in the new parliamentary review as a model of best practice! You can read the article here: <a href=""></a> <a href="">@holte_school</a> <a href="">@CPI_Europe</a></p>— Pivotal Education (@PivotalEd) <a href="">September 20, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>