Personal and Professional Conduct

I’m quite familiar with the new teaching standards, partly because I’ve blogged about them. To be honest, they’re not bad. I have a couple of concerns, but with the exception of the rather fuzzy ‘fundamental British values’ idea these are fairly minor.

But when I got another copy in my pigeonhole, it occurred to me that there is no reason why teachers should be singled out as examples in the way that “Part Two: Personal and Professional Conduct” suggests.

And so for your interest and amusement, my suggestions for a new code of personal and professional conduct for our elected representatives.

A Member of Parliament is expected to demonstrate consistently high standards of personal and professional conduct. The following statements define the behaviour and attitudes which set the required standard for conduct throughout an MP’s career.

MPs uphold public trust in the government and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour, within and outside the Houses of Parliament, by:

  • treating citizens with dignity, building relationships rooted in mutual respect, and at all times observing proper boundaries appropriate to an MP’s professional position
  • having regard for the need to safeguard citizens’ (physical, emotional and financial) well-being, in accordance with statutory provisions
  • showing tolerance of and respect for the rights of others
  • not undermining fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs (including no religious belief)
  • ensuring that personal beliefs are not expressed in ways which exploit Special Advisers’ vulnerability or might lead them to break the law.

MPs must have proper and professional regard for the ethos, policies and practices of the country in which they were elected, and maintain high standards in their own attendance and punctuality.

MPs must have an understanding of, and always act within, the legal frameworks which set out their professional duties and responsibilities.


Now that you’ve read it, perhaps you might find yourself considering Andrew Mitchell’s recent plebian problems; Michael Gove’s refusal to let Ofqual and Ofsted do their job; Liam Fox and Jeremy Hunt’s use (abuse?) of special advisers, both official and non; Nadine Dorries, who thinks that her religious beliefs mean we should amend the law for everyone… Perhaps you can make more suggestions in the comments? After all, they can hardly object to us holding them to the same standards they ask of us…


Doing an ISA with AQA

I’ve managed not to blog about GCSE ‘reform’ – despite great temptation. If you’ve not seen them, then I suggest comparing three very different viewpoints (in style as well as opinion) from LKMCo, Tom Bennett and NAHT. When I have time I might update my previous post, from the last time Gove announced a major policy by leaking the details to the Daily Mail.

For now, a quick ‘ideas’ post about using ISAs for good science teaching, and hopefully enabling kids to achieve. This is partly in response to questions from @NQT_diary, as it’s spurred me to turn the draft into an actual readable item.

Teachers’ Notes

  • the ISA involves lots of paper – maybe your department will be organised, but double check
  • make sure you practise the actual experiment, if for no other reason than to generate the ‘sample data’ needed
  • remember that the markscheme is now ‘best fit’; compare with colleagues if needed to make sure you are consistent as a centre, as this is arguably the most important aspect come moderation day
  • you can share more than you think with the students


Perhaps somewhat idealistically, I try to use ISA teaching as a way to bring together lots of ‘bits’ of investigative science. Ideally, of course, you will have used all of the skills and language in regular lessons; that after all is the point. Make sure that KS3 pupils are familiar with at least some of the terminology. The practicals are straightforward (sometimes insultingly so) which means students can focus on their explanations and analysis. Make sure you are using the updated language; I have sometimes had pupils create their own version of this using a range of examples.

My Structure

  1. Introduction
  2. Research 1
  3. Research 2
  4. Preparation for planning exam (Section 1)
  5. Section 1 exam inc table
  6. Practical 1
  7. Practical 2 inc graph/chart
  8. Preparation for analysis exam (Section 2)
  9. Section 2 exam

There are lots of issues with the ISA, as I blogged a little while back. It is possible to use it effectively, but in some ways I feel the exam works against good teaching; this wouldn’t be a problem if it didn’t take so long!

Students will need to complete the ‘research notes’ pro forma to take into their Section 1 exam; I had them do a ‘rough’ version which meant they had lots of material to annotate while revising/preparing. How much you direct them to particular sites is frustratingly vague, but in my setting we provided a range of sourses, some deliberately not well-suited, to make sure they had to think critically. Once the table is marked you can provide a replacemetn if that suits the practical better, without penalty. This means they aren’t penalised if a poor table would stop them collecting useful data. After the practical, the data and graph/chart must be collected, and returned for the Section 2 exam. Along with a set of ‘sample data’ (you produce), the ‘Case Studies’ (supplied by AQA) and their Research notes. They need a big table.

While teaching I used GRR principles (skills development from literacy, more info coming soon) which focuses on productive collaborative work. This adds an explicit stage in the teaching of skills (rather than content):

  1. I do, thinking out loud
  2. We do together
  3. You do collaboratively
  4. You do individually

The same structure can be used for the preparation lessons for both exams, and this brings us to the most surprising part of the ISA. We can share the specimen papers with students, and the exams are very defined in style so that in many cases they are effectively identical to the specimen. So they can attempt the specimen questions, go through the markscheme with teacher support, then sit what they know will be a very similar exam about their own research and experiment.

This still seems weird to me.

The preparation for the planning and analysis exams can be done in similar ways:

  • Talk through the specimen context and model a possible question for them, linking to key definitions (5min)
  • Have them predict and write down 2/3 questions that could be asked about experiment or data (5/10min)
  • In small groups, give them part of the specimen paper and have them discuss main points (10min)
  • Write their answers individually to improve accountability (10min)
  • Go through markscheme, comparing good/intermediate answers, having them mark/annotate their answers (15min) If time, they could compare answers from students who had time to discuss with those who answered ‘cold’

This gives them the practice they need, as well as building the skills. Of course ideally we would use all these bits individually in other lessons! I’d love to hear from anyone with thoughts or comments about what I’ve suggested.

CPD Tracker v0.4

So, I’m looking at qualifying for RSci/CSciTeach. Which means I had to look at the CPD I’ve done over the past few years. Which is lots:

  • stuff in school
  • two teachmeets
  • 2012 ASE Conference
  • #SciTeachJC (often)
  • #asechat (sometimes)
  • #ukedchat (occasionally)
  • AQA stakeholder meeting
  • watching/listening to science stuff (Thank you, iPlayer)
  • reading science books
  • reading teaching books
  • and, you know, writing this blog.

The problem is, I’m not particular organised about it. I mean, I do it. I take notes on it, usually on Evernote. But I don’t keep track of it very well. So I started to think, why not use a spreadsheet?

  1. It’s boring.
  2. It’s slow.
  3. Running it out of the cloud is a pain at work.
  4. It’s not easily mobile.

Which is where Google Forms come in. This links quick questions to an automatically updated spreadsheet. Answer the questions in a tea break, and like magic, the CPD is listed. You can then edit the entry to add details, notes, or links to further information.

So here’s a draft version, tweaked after some suggestions from work colleagues and @ViciaScience (thanks, Richard!). I’ve put in a couple of sample lines, to show how it works. You can see the form here, and the spreadsheet here. I’m quite pleased with the standards section; simply tick the standards this CPD is relevant to and they’ll show up, colourcoded in the spreadsheet. (There’s a second sheet with a list of the standards.)

If you want to copy it, feel free – obviously you’ll need to have a Google account. It would be easy to produce a similar spreadsheet in Excel or whatever, but it wouldn’t have the form option.

To do:

  • it would be nice if the timestamp date was automatically added to the ‘date’ column’ if the question isn’t answered.
  • the comments don’t show when you print – should I have the data copied to another sheet for more detailed evidence?
  • It’s not properly formatted to print on A4.
  • A communal version, with a column for identifier (email address? staff code?) could be used to collate and share CPD ideas, with relevant links and reflection, between any chosen group of teachers, locally or virtually.
  • I’m playing with an NQT version, to show how they are collecting evidence to meet the standards – this will be blogged sooner rather than later. If there’s interest.

What else have I missed?

Summer jobs list review

Welcome back! Yes, I know we’ve been back a week or so. I’ve been kind of busy with all that September stuff; introductions, seating plans, lab rules, procedures, blowing stuff up and so on. Which means my blog has been slightly neglected. You’ve probably enjoyed the peace and quiet, but here I am to spoil it.

I have no intention of showing you all the photos I took on my holidays. Because I don’t show up on film, mainly. I also try to keep this blog fairly professional, so here’s my review – with a little reflection – of how I did on the summer jobs I suggested before our break.

I did some of my summer reading, but not as much as I hoped. I’m mostly done with the Fisher and Frey, which means I now have one less excuse to delay a huge blog post. This will discuss how to adapt their Graduated Release of Responsibility) GRR method for the teaching of science practical, rather than literacy skills. I really think this is an important way to consider the often unwritten attitudes and approaches we try to instil in our students, and works as a nice complement to the 5/7Es (explained brilliantly here by @hrogerson). I’ve not gotten as far with the Perfect English Ofsted Lesson, but I will.

It was interesting taking part in the AQA Stakeholder day for AS/A2 Science, but I’m glad I only realised afterwards that I was the only state teacher there. Seriously, where were the rest of you? I found the tension between university admissions and realistic school concerns to be particularly fascinating. As expected, a lot came back to the ubiquitous problem of ‘science for future scientists’ or ‘science for citizens’? Travelling was less fun, and the lack of pay probably contributed to the low teacher involvement.

The YorkTU was great fun. I wittered for a bit, other people spoke much more concisely and informatively, and a good time was had by all. I shared my notes via Evernote and wrote up the event for the Guardian Teacher Network. Lots of great stuff, like any teachmeet, but I’d like to particular recommend @A_Weatherall‘s Science Teaching Library idea, with associated hashtag #sciteachlib.

I spent some time thinking about strengths and weaknesses, partly prompted by my decision to go for RSci then CSciTeach status through the ASE. In the last week this has made me realise that although I of course do plenty of CPD (exhibit A: this blog) I don’t keep track of it as well as I might. Being me, I’ve now written a CPD tracker via GoogleDocs, which will be featured in a post later this week.

(And I’ve done family stuff (festival plus holiday), moved back into our house after major refurbishments, read lots of non-teacher books, built lots of Lego models, and kept the momentum up for a top-secret project to be unveiled later this year…)

So think I’ve managed to do enough homework? How did you manage with the tasks you had set yourself? Comments and ideas welcome, as ever, below…