Digital Newsletter – 7 October 2013 – Moving the curriculum on!


A separate newsletter is out this week to highlight our free unconference in Maidenhead and Manchester on Saturday 23 November, to which Claires Court students and families are invited.

In the meantime…This last week I have been away from my desk, inspecting an all through school elsewhere in the UK.  Now, it may seem a hackneyed phrase, but it’s a great privilege to be admitted to another workplace. Given the opportunity to appraise, and I do so with as honest an approach as I can, I set out on the basis that ‘significant professionals have worked in this school for many years to bring it where it is now, so not so fast Boss with your judgements’.  The good news is that I left with my colleagues with the thanks of the school clear and loud. Advice and guidance, praise and some criticism, and self-respect left more than intact.

So why the warm-up, you ask dear Reader.  Answer, ISI have opened their invitation to senior leaders to apply to inspect once more, and the window opened last Sunday and closes in 4 days time and you need your head’s reference with you too.  Read more from the ISI website here –

In my view, the most important INSET I have ever received is the ISI training to inspect, and since I’ve been in and out of schools now as a TI for over 20 years, I can say that it is remains the single most important activity I participate in outside my school.

What Inspecting has done above all is to hone my perceptions about my own school; mostly for the better is must be said, and to round my views because there is no one right way of achieving a successful school culture.  

Another event requiring application is also coming up, that being the much coveted Google Teacher Academy, and application for that can be found here: The deadline is slightly less tough – 11:59PM PDT,18 October 2013, but the application process is tougher, requiring a 1 minute video to support your on-line application.

What being a google certified teacher has done for me is give me 24/7 access to the most extraordinary stream of focussed advice, guidance and collaborative problem solving I have ever witnessed.  The stream also sharpens up my offer for this newsletter too, so enough reminiscing and on with the business of ‘Moving the curriculum on’.


Moving the curriculum on:  

Apps for Good – at the Senior Boys school today, I introduced those who were interested to the next project we are participating in, and sent emails out to the various age groups from By upwards.  You can see the sign-up form here – 


Using Twitter


You don’t need to apply to the Inspectorate or to Google to join Twitter and enter an amazing source of help and advice. Here’s a quick 10 steps to Twitter, written a couple of years ago by Daniel Edwards, Director of Digital strategy at the Perse Schools Foundation in Cambridge.  I don’t know Daniel, but I can tell you he has over 17,000 followers and he writes well on all sorts of digital matters, and he has plenty of ideas and thoughts for what works well.  His schools use a mix of iPads, Google Drive and Evernote, plus lots of other b&ps.  I know, I know, you need a guide book – so here it is, from the digital mag, mashable –

Learner led learning research


A short summary of Professor Stephen Heppell’s most recent short review on educational research summarising the progress we have made over the 70+ years:


  • children as subjects – done to them – scaled up in the fifties and sixties

  • children as co-constructors – done with them – perhaps late ‘80s with GCSE coursework, but being rowed back now and

  • children led – done by them – the current scaling up of what’s best practice in the world.


Typical Heppell, its funny writing on black, but his website assists in pointing us to the various resources and examples that prove the direction of travel we are on, and where it might get to quite shortly.

Good things from left-field


During the run up to the Olympics last year, most schools got stuck into something from outside that brought the Olympic spirit into the school.  Now the Olympics might be so last year, but I do like the message here emerging from the British Council, to encourage us all in schools to learn 1000 words.  One of their partners, Speak to the Future has a nice website to highlight the challenge, and why not?  1000 words in a new language – I’ll race you!  A couple of year’s ago I learned that Dixie Grammar school had gained the International Schools Award for their work in languages and I covet such an award for our school too.  Here’s the article in the Guardian that captured it all (once my own school had also provided a great highlight by going all foreign on us at assembly on European Day of Languages on 26 September.  

Brightening up the offer


Most people who know me recognise that I like using presentations that surprise and do different things. A few snappy pictures or a short movie (see last week’s Yes minister for example) and suddenly you have your audience engaged and on message. Here’s Gavin McMahon on how to choose great pictures –  As a reminder just how excellent thinking differently can be, here’s the excellent “What if animals were round” video from the FMX film festival –


Here’s a nice poster making tool, that will allow you to make a big jigsaw out of an image or digital collage you like, and be able to scale it up to fill a wall –



Unashamedly, I am readvertising Movenote.  Works on all kit, from PC to tablet and is fabulous.  Make your presentation, capture the video of you talking about it, and you’ve got flipped lessons anytime you want one. here’s one someone has already done – using movenote to promote movenote.

Keep up the good work, one and all,


James Wilding

About jameswilding

Academic Principal Claires Court Schools Long term member & advocate of the Independent Schools Association
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2 Responses to Digital Newsletter – 7 October 2013 – Moving the curriculum on!

  1. Sam Sethi says:

    Hello James

    My daughter is in year 9 and I am keen for her to get into computing. Sadly the College seems reluctant to adopt the new GCSE IT qualification or offer any real world skills like digital photography, web design and photoshop to go alongside/replace fine art. This is rather disappointing given that Adobe’s European headquarters are in Maidenhead less than 2 miles from the college and I am sure they would be keen to support and sponsor this type of schools partnership. You talk of teacher qualifications but how about offering the children the opportunity to attain non-GCSE qualifications.

    You mention twitter in your post and you may have read this week about their IPO but more importantly did you note the furore about the lack of diversity of the twitter board and the need for more women in IT.

    The 21st century women has all the opportunities to succeed in IT given the opportunity and has several wonderful female role models to follow – Marissa Mayer at Yahoo, Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook, Joanna Shields at TechCity and the list goes on but sadly I am not sure my daughter or her peers would even be aware of these women or their achievements.

    Today’s employers are looking for more than robotically generated grades which are going backwards in my opinion with the return of the pure memory testing O levels.

    As a forward looking school I am hoping that the college’s curriculum can be expanded to include more real-world skills and to offer the pupils entrepreneurial projects like ‘make your mark for a tenner’

    I hope that in your travels you saw that school needs to move on from producing the battery hen 20th Century Victorian bureaucrat to work in the empire’s factories and offices –

    and instead equips our daughters and sons for the real-world of creative thinking, entrepreneurship and globalisation.

    “The illiterate of the 21st Century are not those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
    ― Alvin Toffler, Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth, and Power at the Edge of the 21st Century

    • jameswilding says:

      Interesting insights into how our work runs parallel to those expectations you highlight.
      Last year we trialled student engagement with Google Certified individual training and exams, and I’ll certainly look at the Adobe assessments you suggest. The PC suite at College has been upgraded so it hosts the Adobe photoshop tools, and the Apple Mac machines in Music host the Logic audio suite. On Twitter, you’ll note we don’t use Twitter as a social tool, but educators across the world do, and it seems to have become one of the great tools for research, as opposed to say Google+ which is a great networking tool.
      Year 10 Girls provision includes the fab EPQ, allowing for original research and independent enquiry, and our implementation of Google Apps for Edu is certainly in line with Professor Mitra’s findings that ‘just give the children the tools’; and we do, and from the youngest age we can. The GCSE in Business Communication Studies has provided the girls with the mix of business meets digital skills that they seem to support with their choices at this level; the previous ICT course left them cold; however as we implement new programming activities such as Apps for Good, led by and Iris Lapinski, CEO and Debbie Forster, COO – more here – hopefully we will model even more successfully that girls as well as boys can code, design and implement apps for business.
      This week’s bulletin highlights two inclusive digital events the school is running to advise and inform. The first, a Saturday ‘Unconference’ on the 23 November spent looking at Cloud computing, Tablets and achievements with GAFE, and the following Monday (25 November) an ICT Safety evening for Parents interested to learn more about the issues around safe digital engagement. The bulletin also carries information on a training course we have built over the list 3 years to promote Digital Literacy using Google Apps, 30 November, being hosted at Eton College, with the follow-on at Claires Court early in the New year for those that prefer to stay at home.
      Your more general philosophical thoughts fit really well with most of the things I write about – here’s my short piece on Rosa Luxemburg from March this year –, coupled with my writing about our digital provision in the same month –
      In short, a fascinating discourse and I look forward to working hard to prove we are really on top of our brief here.

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