All posts by tony_crowther

Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn.

Over the last year, I have developed as a teacher and leader within my school. The work I have done has seen me deliver CPD to colleagues within my school but also in the wider community at feeder schools and other senior schools in the area.

In August of 2016 I successfully completed a course to become a Google Certified Educator Level 2. This course has allowed me to develop some advance practice using and helping to improve some of the features of Google Apps for Education.

As the summer holidays ended, I decided I was ready to undertake the BCS CAS Master Teacher Certificate. This course is designed to stretch and challenge teachers of computer science to go beyond what is required of the various exam board specifications at GCSE and begin to create learning material which can support students to think computationally. There is also an element of the course which examines pedagogy and relies on classroom based research.

The research I elected to carry out in my classroom involved using a paradigm of computer science teaching which in industry is more common. Students were paired and set challenges which required them to support each other, however the student who was identified as less able controlled the computer with instruction from the more able student. I feel the most important aspect of the research study was the reflection that occurred because of the outcomes achieved by the students. Through this reflection I have adjusted the way I approach the teaching of problem solving in the class and it has developed into exercises which involve a higher level of collaboration between students. Access my research study: Classroom_Research_Project_A_Crowther_2017.

Since January 2017 I have been responsible for Careers Education in my school. This has been supported by a course coordinated by TeachFirst (CELP). So far, the course has been engaging and worthwhile, however the level of support in my school has not been what I would have wished for. To date I have written a policy and strategic plan for careers, however the implementation of these documents and the ideas they contain has suffered delays. Some of these delays are because of larger issues within the school. Although I feel the work I am doing is important I recognise the need to resolve whole school direction and policy to lay the foundation for everything else.

This summer will be a short break. The first week I am taking a group of students to the Ardeche for a 5-day adventure holiday. When I return, I will have to motivate myself to prepare for the new academic year. This will involve rewriting whole schemes of work as we move to 100 minute lessons. Added to this my colleague will have left for pastures new so the prospect of writing lessons for another teacher is daunting, especially as I have never taught CiDA and our school was lucky to have an expert with a phenomenal record of results.

It is true that if we continue to act in the way we have in the past then the same outcomes will be achieved. To move forward we all have to seek new methods or adapt so that we can be a force for change in the lives of those we lead and our own.

Summer break 2016

We made it through to summer 2016, but oh what a journey!


Last night a number of staff went out to celebrate the end of the school year and the fact that we have all worked damn hard to keep things afloat. A new management team has been in place since June 2015 and the demands of transitioning into one of the best schools in our area whilst undergoing the transformation that was required when becoming a part of a multi academy trust (MAT), has seen a number of good staff promoted and some who decided it was time for a change. Those that have left us will be missed but we look forward to welcoming the new team and some new perspectives.

It’s been a very strange year. Our Headteacher has been absent due to pregnancy and other issues and as a staff we have missed her. She started well and encouraged everyone to put our best foot forward with an open and trusting culture. In her absence a very capable leader has managed to steer this developing academy through the choppy waters and has inspired a number of us to stretch ourselves to show what we are capable of.


For me the best part of my job is encouraging and inspiring others to reach their potential. Recently this has been realised when I supported a group of students to achieve their ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence), which is the equivalent of a GCSE. The students are expected to have a sound knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. They are tested using an online system which is endorsed by the BCS (British Computer Society). The 2016 cohort exceeded my expectations with a 100% Pass rate and 85% A* – A grades. I am very proud of their achievements and hope that this helps them apply for the courses they wish to study at college.

My plans for the summer are organic in as much that if I chose to have a day out I will, but otherwise there is a mountain of work to do.

  • BTEC Information and Creative Technologies – Resources and planning
  • Business Studies – Scheme of work years 9, 10 and 11
  • Computer Science – New 9-1 course to plan
  • Google Certified Educator level 2 course to complete

Until I write again enjoy your summer break if you can. I am waiting with anticipation for the 25th August and results day.


Learning journeys

Since my last post a lot has changed. I left my previous school with a heavy heart but keen to try new things and ready for a challenge as a Head of Department.

The first challenge I encountered were a group of 60 students who needed help to complete a controlled assessment in less than six weeks. By identifying individual needs I was able to focus their attention and the final outcome was 62% A* – C grades across the department. On reflection this is pretty good as many of the students had been left with little hope of an F grade.

Whilst this remedial work was going on I was approached by SLT to see if I thought I could support 14 students with an additional GCSE. Fortunately they had been studying ICT and making use of MS Office, so with a 6 week crash course in advanced MS Office skills they took the ECDL and I am pleased to say all passed.

When I took the post at my new school I was made aware that the school would soon become part of a MAT (Multi Academy Trust). This did not really concern me too much as I was glad to be working in a school where the students genuinely appreciated the help and support I was able to offer.

On results day in 2015, I sent a short message to my previous HoD to enquire about the students I had supported through their OCR Computer Science GCSE (2 controlled assessments). I am pleased to report that the results were good. 78% A* – C and 24% A* – A. I am proud of them all and sorry I left them with 6 weeks to go, but when it is time to go then you must. Education is a tough sector to up sticks and move jobs with the politics and rules of employment, as there are certain periods when you may resign and move to another job. I realise this is important for continuity for the students and planning within the wider school, but some individuals make it harder than it needs to be.

On our return after my first summer break as a Head of Department the Trust had decided that there needed to be a restructure of staff within the school. It was clear that a number of roles within the school needed to be streamlined and others needed more autonomy. The role of Head of ICT was one such role that needed to be consolidated. I applied and was successful in becoming the Head of Faculty for Computing and Vocational Studies. This means I am now responsible for:

  • Business Studies
  • Media Studies
  • Computer Science
  • Information and Creative Technologies
  • Certificate in Digital Applications
  • ECDL
  • Travel and Tourism
  • E-Systems

Year 11 have had their prom and now we wait for the results in August. Fingers crossed for this group as their success will have an impact on all of us. At least another group have passed their ECDL and if the moderators/assessors are fair our ICT and Computer Science students should do well, as should the CiDA group whose controlled assessment results have been returned already.

As this academic year draws to a close the pressure remains as constant as ever. Our school is working hard to improve outcomes for all it’s students and the staff are doing an amazing job with limited resources. Everyone working in the school is supportive of each other and we learn from one another. To arrive in this school at a time of change for long standing members of staff has at times been difficult, but we are moving ever closer to getting a positive endorsement from OFSTED and our student numbers are growing.

Throughout this journey I have been continually learning: perfecting my teaching; adapting to my new role; engaging with an additional responsibility as a member of the Extended Leadership Team; being part of the Teaching and Curriculum panel; becoming a Google Certified Educator and learning how to train experienced educators in the use of Google Apps for Education. Who knew I could cover so much ground in 15 months. bring on the next promotion!

Here’s to a restful summer and positive health for us all!

Looking forward

It’s been a while since I posted on this site. In fact far too long and I will endeavour to post more often in the future time permitting.

What’s been happening

I successfully completed my PGCE and was fortunate to secure a great job at a local school teaching Computer Science. The team I work with are dedicated and as in other schools stretched to capacity, although I am sure others would argue with that point.

My first year of teaching was a roller coaster ride, which left me in no doubt that I had made the right career choice, despite some of the lows. The people I work with are supportive and full of advice, it’s up to you to ask the right questions and disseminate what will be useful. As in all walks of life you must take responsibility for your own choices and actions. I don’t and won’t pass the buck, taking care to offer the same level of professional advice that I have benefitted from.

The training I have been given on the job, I am sure will see me through the toughest of situations, although I am hoping that in the future things will be a little different. To elaborate my future is looking bright and hopefully I will begin to rise through the ranks within the education system in the near future.

Computer Science is rapidly becoming a high demand subject and schools are struggling to fill vacancies, with ICT specialists feeling that they can’t cope with CS. In my opinion if you have taught ICT for more than a few years you have the skills to teach CS, you just have to remember the basics. Logic is at the top of the list, with function a close second. The hardware scheme of work is not so tough and I think the majority of ICT specialists can work their way around networks and protocols, so really that leaves the programming discipline to understand before you can teach it. The only way to secure this new skill is to practice it, in any language you like, although I would recommend Python as a first step. There are plenty of online tutorials to help you master the skills and many of the kids are pretty good at working things out, so challenge them to write the next bit of code and then get them to teach others.

My longterm goal is to manage a department and then become a Senior Member of the Management Team in an expanding school. With this in mind I aim to continue my professional development and begin a Masters Degree in Education as soon as possible. My special interest is ICT in the classroom for the less able, which could be something as simple as a Wii controller to interact with the whiteboard to allow students to participate more effectively with the content of a lesson.

Best get back to the marking and writing of lesson plans.

If you would like any help with Python drop me a line:

Overdue Update

The PGCE is going well to date. I am currently on my second placement school and enjoying the experience.

I went for an interview this week for my first teaching post which is due to begin in September. I was lucky enough to be offered a position now I just need to complete the PGCE.

First week in school

Feeling completely overwhelmed by the entire prospect. The teaching of languages has never been a strong point for me. I know what I know about computing but the number of different languages and the level they are being taught at is surprising. Hardware I can do, networking yeah ok, HTML love it, the whole idea of learning Java and Python in a matter of weeks to a level that I can teach it is scary. Flow diagrams and solutions I can do, putting this into a syntax that works for the purpose of demonstration is another thing entirely.

BYOB what the hell is this.

Scratch – I have had a quick browse of this but where do I begin to be able to teach what needs to be known.

MS Access at a level above me – MySql is where I am comfortable.

Think I have bitten off more than I can chew!!!!

Summer Break

I made it through!!

Graduation was a great day (17/7/2012) I achieved a First Class Honours BSc Computing and Society.  It was great to see fellow graduands and their families enjoying the day and reminiscing with tutors and lecturers.

I would like to acknowledge the help and support I received from friends and family as well as the professional help from the lecturers and tutors, without whom I would not have achieved all I did.

Student Research Conference 2012

Today (14 March 2012) I will be presenting some of my research at the University of Portsmouth.  The event is organised by the School of Computing every year and local business leaders are invited to attend to review the work being done by students within the University.  This year I have been invited to participate and present findings from a pilot study that I have conducted as part of my final year project.  I took part during my first year when I demonstrated a web-based portfolio of my work and assessments.

Poster for Student Research Conference
Poster prepared for Student Research Conference 2012

The event will take place at Lion Gate 2.4c from 14:00.  I am hoping to collect some additional data whilst talking to other students and delegates that are attending.  A questionnaire based on the Google Forms questionnaire will be distributed to visitors in the hope that they can spare a few minutes to support the project and add to the sample that has been collected already (64 up to 14/3/2012).