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Field Notes

NB. If there any questions regarding the meaning of these notes, or if you feel you cannot find something to assist your section, please text me and I will clarify.

Option Monday French s6

  • Ruth White- watching Tom Pickard
  • White is training coordinator for teach 1st etc.
  • Teacher issues:
    • Complains of ICT issues, email problems. Hamper teaching. Students do not seem to notice overly.
    • No desks in rooms- have to stand all day. Tiring.
    • White teaches all years
    • Feels OM better organised this year. Business and ICT linked into LNC, previously only Literacy and MFL were.
    • ICT included more in second year of programme.
    • Increasingly, specialists take OM lessons for important sections.
    • Staff becoming more comfortable and used to operation of system.
    • Students have a breath of knowledge, little depth.
    • Some students excelling (Lead Learners such as Pickard), others struggle (Leighton). Previously, Leighton could rely on others to help him/ hide is weaker achievement.


·         There is some quiet talking.

·         Hands up are required.

·         Students still call out at times, or speak amongst themselves. Teacher often engages with off-hand comments made by students, and integrates them into the lesson.

·         Light scuffle- boys messing around (immediately visible from table sitting on).

·         Teacher often interrupts students and students her.

  • Tom Pickard sees discipline as important. Students do not seem to see talking as mutually exclusive to hard work.
  • Some girls pull faces


·         There is one table of boys, three of girls. One table of girls is very engaged. Class of 15- teacher is able to monitor easily.

·         One boy, Leighton, is very unengaged. Some of the quiet girls have house captain bages- quietness does not mean lack of work.

·         Tom Pickard enjoys his work. He works independently, filling in the activity sheet as the class discuss it.

·         Teacher moves around classroom checking on interaction.

·         Students claim to like lessons- because you get more done. Do not explain how.

·         Students seem happy to contribute/lead. Some are reluctant, some daydream. One girl adds new material just brought up in a lesson into an activity recently completed. One girl who is quite lively, becomes shy and refuses to engage. Gets question wrong- teacher engages in light humour, suggesting that she has a possible romance with a male student.

  • One lively girl, shy- refuses to engage

·         Students see each other as a resource, to be considered before asking teacher


·         New Books

·         Student cannot answer a question apparently raised in Yr 7 and 8- what replaces a noun in a sentence (a pronoun)

·         Basic French?

·         Tom Pickard feels he is doing better- he has increased from the school assigned Lvl 4 to Lvl 6. He feels he learns more in OM

·         Need some prompting to remember past lessons


·         Leighton, a student with engagement issues, liked the greater number of activities in OM.

·         Found lessons confused- now clearer.

·         Sometimes moved lessons.

·         Students don’t feel they can compare to other schools

·         This lesson felt that teachers were behaving much the same way.

·         OM not missed much.

·         Students feel more mature and developed- have life skills.

·         Did not realise they were learning under OM

·         Like speciality of new lessons

·         Some miss friends they saw in OM classes, now no longer see with new timetables.

·         Claim better with dealing with emotions at home


  • cross- curricular- identify green as positive colour/ publishing strategy of why have green boxes

Speaking to students at Break Time

  • Teachers less comforting when having an issue. Are stricter.
  • Feeling that students who misbehave get more attention.


  • OM boring, didn’t follow parts as not explained. Work like nursery work.
  • Varies with teaching style- e.g. kinaesthetic or visual.
  • Tend to prefer “old” teachers (i.e. OM teachers) over new teachers.


  • Rather than Homework, had extended learning task. Received 5 days of 1 hr detentions if not completed.


  • Long writing tasks
  • Less time to revise- have to learn everything from the beginning.
  • Feel school is prison like. Lack of freedom- find cameras in toilets intrusive.
  • See less students- moved around forms, have fewer friends.

2nd period F5 Digital Communications- English

  • Rebecca Wedderburn – Teaching
  • Dan Attley (DA), Bethan Glover (BG), Sam Aldridge (SA), Danielle Beddow (DB), Shannon Poole (SP)
  • Teacher issues:
    • Low level disruption constant- common in the whole school
    • Teach Yr 8, 9, 11, 10, 13
    • This class louder than others
    • Students ready to enquire, but essays an issue for GCSE.
    • OM in KS4 more difficult to set up- necessities of course should be over OM- GCSEs would need to change first.


·         Backs to Teacher- teacher repeatedly tells students to face her.

·         Are loud, very talkative. Often shout out.

·         Students enjoy group interaction and talking.

·         Some boys seem especially restless. Engage in thumb wars.

·         Tables almost entirely separated by gender.

·         One male table with Daniel and Sam is loud, and keeps having small fights and shouting. Danielle continually talks to friends. Students even walk across room to speak to friends.

·         Teacher agrees to fold paper for a student when asked- seems the student would be able to do this themselves

·         Even otherwise good students such as Daniel are involved in throwing objects. Students call out to bother teacher, and generally seek attention.

·         One attentive table of students- none of those being followed.

·         Teacher makes weak appeals to the class to behave. Prohibits talking, rule frequently violated.

·         Teacher suddenly announces that the class will stay behind for ten minutes because not enough work has been done. Student questions decision and teacher backs down. This is later reinstated later. The quiet, hard working table of girls are shocked at this decision.

·         Next door classroom- students begin to try and enter this classroom. Students burst into classroom, do not wait outside.

·         Teacher comments that the whole group have been too chatty and that no one in the classroom thinks they have done anything individually wrong.

·         Teacher notes that students need to get used to having no break during their afternoon lesson.


·         Argue competences helpful when working in groups, less so individually.

·         One students says they find lessons less fun, but enjoy the new space. Better to have less students in the classroom- 90 students, would often disturb each other.

·         Students dislike this lesson because it is boring- merely copying off the board.

·         Teacher universally disliked.

·         Like new building.

·         Students able to remember and relate back to themes of the beginning of the lesson.

·         The quiet group of hard working girls- one repeatedly tries to answer a question by putting her hand up. Fails to gain attention.

·         activity- Point, Evidence, Explanation paragraph

·         Daniel works hard. Teacher notes he has made good points, and asks him to go further. He is able to do so, and goes up to the teacher for more advice.

·         Many students merely talking. Sam, for example, has written a few lines and is now staring off into the distance. Class seems generally bored with task.

·         Attentive table of girls finished. Proceed to speak to boys near them.


·         Note down aspects of mis-en-scene

·         Try and draw a story board for this effect, from a film.

·         Watch the film JAWS to learn things about the misc-en-scene.


·         Previously able to offer feedback about how to teach better.

·         Less worried about BTECs than GCSEs- no exams for BTECs.

·         Idea of Prison Like repeated.

·         Note that work is not as hard as they feared.

·         Some students feel that the teacher ignores them, does not respect them, that the activity is pointless.

Interview with Daniel Attley

·         Likes ICT, engineering, german (trip). Likes these, and so he chose subjects he enjoys more.

·         Wants to work ICT, or engineer (ideas vague)

·         Likes having specialist teachers and lessons.

·         Feels respected by staff. Claims staff are stricter, but cannot explain how.

·         Credits OM with him hoping to get better grades. Claims he is more ready for KS4 due to OM, but when I ask him why, he does not know.


Shannon Poole Interview

  • OM lessons boring
  • KS4 more work and more joking
  • Tutor- shouts- Mr Carpenter
  • Convinced a teacher bullying her after her brother supposedly punched him in the face. Believes sister will help with any difficult work.
  • Rules- can’t open the door or windows, ask to use loo, take blazer off etc- only water- no food or pop. Disliked.
  • Dislikes maths- just copies off the board.

Tuesday Morning 14.09.10
Yr 7 Opening Minds Class

  • With Anna Williams and ?


  • Shouting out not accepted.
  • Listening to other students expected
  • Class expected to face the front.
  • Problem of children becoming distracted, not paying attention- laptops.
  • Student tries to eat pen-lid. Stopped.
  • Boy randomly moving around- teacher notices, chastises.
  • In response to a student admitting that they did not do the work- Teacher notes that they should learn to manage time, be able to have breaks for a chat and still complete.  


  • Students are quiet and working on task.
  • Like 3 hour lessons, not too many changes.
  • Focused on research. When I couldn’t answer one, student sought someone else.
  • Speak to each other as resource, see above.
  • Group work encouraged- but several groups fall-out. Teacher encourages sharing ideas and working together.
  • Table I am on- do not properly complete group tasks, get distracted.
  • Staff seek to mix-up class, so that they get to know each other, and so groups with a wide variety of skills can be set up.


  • Clarity on competences varies amongst students
  • In lesson: Research countries in continents. Colour in map of world. Watch Buddha clip. 8 wheels of Buddhism. Decide on 10 values of their own. Pick the most important.
  • Students volunteer links between work and competences


  • Don’t like last hour of school- not unusual
  • Divide over difficulty of work


  • 3  Asus notebooks per table to enable research.
  • At the end of the lesson, students note “What went well,” and “even better if,”
  • Each week, this class has a competition with the next door class. This is to create public speaking skills and confidence of work.
  • Overall- group orientated learning, not systematic knowledge. E.g. What is Buddhism, Hinduism etc.
  • Competences are set each term- classes do different lessons at different points to allow the sharing of limited resources. Lessons can be changed to suit the needs of individual groups.

Tuesday Second Lesson- Maths, F10.
Teacher- Patrick Hayes

·         Feels he has to tie in a competency based system of learning

·         3rd Week of Teaching, NQT, teachers yrs 7,8,9

·         Excited

·         Previously little maths at OM- now there has to be 20 minutes at the beginning of lessons.

·         Often not specialists teaching


  • Does not want backs to him.
  • Enforces no talking. Does not want pens being clicked too much.
  • Teaches from Board
  • Teacher doesn’t allow students to correct him- though they do shout this out.
  • Students run a Mexican wave behind the teacher.
  • Students names written on the board if misbehaved- students have a game to see who can get onto the board first. Board used frequently, sometimes arbitrarily.
  • Cameron, a student who was bored and disruptive in English yesterday afternoon, works very hard this lesson.
  • Students demand use of laptops for lessons- Teacher explains that ICT issues (slow boot up) prevent this.
  • Says that students should not be going to the Loo in his lesson- then allows them to anyway.
  • Students told off for not bringing rulers to lesson.
  • Two girls go unnoticed in playing games at the back of the classroom.
  • Chastises students for not being “OM students,” who are enquiring.
  • Discipline gets worse in the last half hour. One boy repeatedly drops calculators on the floor, hoping for attention.
  • Threatens whole class staying behind due to talking- does not follow through with punishment.


  • Louise works very hard. Finishes work quickly. Liam also works hard. Both of them correctly answer questions to class. Liam fills in the exercise sheet before the class goes through it.
  • Teacher mouths the answer to students at one point.


  • Students do make mistakes on decimal points and significant figures
  • Teacher goes through material very quickly.
  • Some students don’t know what an integer is.


  • Liam continually seems to find the lesson too easy.
  • Students complain of going over content again.
  • Lesson has information, a video (with little relevance to lesson), “chill” period, where they are allowed to talk, then more work.
  • Are convinced they are behind and need to catch up.
  • Liam complains that only disruptive students receive attention- feels ignored. Has to ask to be given a +ve on the board. Louise says that Mr Hayes is more concerned with detentions than teaching.


  • Class expected to pass highest tier of maths GCSE
  • 2nd set

Liam Interview

  • Debatemate, triple science, Spanish, humanities, music
  • Feels work is too easy. Resents those in higher set getting more challenging work.
  • Claims use of competencies in life- brothers gig for Love Music hate Racism cancelled due to EDL marches.
  • Competences are linked to lessons better at KS4
  • Says enrichment lessons are payback for 3 hr lessons otherwise
  • Not bothered by transition

Wednesday, Period 1. Humanities.                            
Teacher Liz Boeing.
Danielle Beddow, Liam Salt, Tom Pickard

    • Been at school for three years, shadow head of Yr 7; also organises CAS for sixth form.
    • Students are more confident and active learners. They are more disciplined. They are willing to experiment.
    • Feels best students stretched by OM. In OM, gives SEN students and middle students own reading to ensure that they are not put off by others of differing ability.
    • Theorises some boys might be more disruptive because of a lack of a male influence at home
    • Class not rowdy in her eyes- just need to be used to.
    • Argues this class has produced better work than Yr 11s doing BTECs
    • Older staff dislike larger OM classes- she began with it and has adapted.
    • No real difference between boys and girls.
    • Asks for hands up for those who don’t understand tasks. She asks where she should write on the board.
    • Staff adapting to teaching non-specialist areas. Staff also picked to teach lessons within their skillset- i.e. a music teacher for a music section.
    • 3 hrs has time to show a film, pause, do an activity and finish. For example, Hotel Rwanda.


  • Allowed longer for tasks if necessary. Quite a slow pace of lesson.- Discussion of Spain and the UK goes on for 30 minutes longer than planned.

  • Danielle repeatedly has a pen in her mouth whilst the teacher is talking.
  • Students allowed to write out their work however they think they will learn best


  • Teacher encourages them to work together
  • Many students choose to research with the internet over using books.


  • Learning about spain and comparing it to the UK
  • Do a written practice- cannot talk to each other.


  • Finding work okay so far- feel it will get harder later.
  • Feel prepared for GCSE- cannot articulate.


  • Tom considers going to University. He is not sure of career ambitions, though he is aware of public sector cuts.
  • Boeing argues that there used to be a rotation of competencies everyone hour or so.

Friends of Students

  • Most friends go to the RSA- most friends in the same year . Tom has 2 friends from primary school who didn’t attend Tipton- he keeps in touch with one on facebook, and not at all with the other.
  • Danielle does not have many friends at other schools.
  • They do make friends with other parts of the register, which they like.

Interview with Danielle

  • Worried about her one GCSE
  • Don’t like new, more strict teachers. Likes teachers who know how they learn.
  • Argues competences are good for jobs, boost confidence. Does not explain how.
  • Like longer lessons on one topic.
  • Not yet used to rules.
  • Better than Willingsworth- cousins had attended.

Thursday Period 1 Yr 7 MST Lesson
Helena Jones

Teacher comments

    • Plans given to teachers to broadly follow at OM
    • New TAs being recruited. Some didn’t like OM and left.
    • Maths has been strengthened.
    • Students previously forgot work of Yr 7 and 8 by GCSE- this way subjects are linked better.
    • Teamwork key- emphasis on student learning
    • Assessed in competences and subjects. Subjects are given in levels. Feels somewhat pointless- they have never studied these subjects.
    • Yr 9 do not beneft from traditional teaching.
    • There is an OM award for independent based learning- see handout given by Lesley.
    • Mixed ability groups favoured at OM. Each student has differen skills and strengths. GCSE content means setting is needed to get through it all.
    • Some teachers shocked at subject knowledge. But work by teachers is all tracked- so if students have missed something, KS4 teachers know and are able to compensate.


  • Put hands up, do not talk over teacher. No food allowed, no walking around.


  • Paired work over group work. Consolidation lessons have independent work.

Thursday Music Lesson Period 1
Anna Williams (Teach First)


  • Are practicing, playing, singing etc
  • Music not in OM at all- teacher notes difficulty when students enter GCSE- some have never played an instrument before
  • But do experience drama and music in enrichment to an extent.


  • Too soon to pick options?
  • Students don’t “play up” in lessons that they choose to be in.

Thursday Second Period s15 BTEC Applied Science
Preshant Kundalia. Taught since January, 5 years experience.
Following Shannon and Sam
Teacher comments:

    • Students autonomous and eager to learn. More advanced than Year 11s.
    • Previously cynical of OM, now converted.
    • Notes that local community has little value in education.
    • One teacher refers to BTEC science as “colouring in”


  • Silence expected, face the front. Shirts being tucked in is a recurring theme.
  • No talking allowed except in group work.
  • Repeatedly sends out one student- have strong antagonistic relationship. Others also sent out.
  • OM thing of hands in air to stay silent
  • Students throwing paper around- punished.
  • Teacher asks student if she should deal with issue- implies student should deal with classmates bad behaviour himself.
  • Students asked to stand behind chairs in silence when too loud.
  • Discipline best when group working.


  • Shannon highly engaged, usually gets answer correct.
  • Students very concerned about the time lunch will be.
  • Students seem to be reliant on wikipedia and google for information.
  • Most students unwilling to answer questions and require a significant lead in to answer.
  • Often copy and paste information from website onto powerpoint- then rephrase in “own words.”
  • Teacher notes a table of “academic girls,” but one is just copying off the others.


  • Sets individual tasks to be followed up with work with peers.
  • Two hours into the lesson, students still struggle to name the planets in order correctly.


  • Shannon’s parents don’t like OM  

Teacher Training Day


General Observations

  • Staff to create lesson plans for OM at KS4- are often generic and similar to KS3. Often they are set in the first few weeks of term.
  • Staff groups complain about each other and tasks during feedback sessions. Find that they felt the training was not brilliant.
  • Video- gave general answers. Saw peers as resource, work out problems for selves, then ask teachers.
  • Skills trumpeted as important
  • Year 9 Experiences- includes Tom Pickard. Lead Learners tasked with assisting teachers with implementation in the classroom.
  • Students want more of an opportunity to feedback in lessons (www, ebi).
  • Discussion of Move to KS4:
    • competencies less important
    • like focus and independence
    • some see no difference
    • sometimes the same competences are often picked by multiple members of staff e.g. I1



Staff comments

  • Competencies create a common learning language to motivate and direct students
  • the less able are supported by their peers- its accepted as being okay to make mistakes
  • National Curriculum Overly revisited in other schools
  • Students still don’t retain information- RSA students are able to find it though
  • Problem of process over content- can’t educate for content. Fear it devalues actually knowing things to a degree.
  • Music and Arts at OM- no specialists with serious knowledge or experience,Staff are tired at the end of the week- ten week terms. Little time to reflect.

Eleanor Bernerdes LNC

  • OM students still shy, not ready for Drama- perhaps a bit too expecting of them, could ease them in. Expectations not accurate
  • Students dealing with their characters and who they are- struggling with selves.
  • Streaming causing new issues- mixing people who are loud and those who got by being academically good- not used to other kinds of competition. New environment.
  • Wants to avoid pass/fail learning.
  • Written work- some is excellent- got them to write generic fairytales- about 5 of 30 did not know how to start. Have done this before- just fear. Given out stationary prize for best work
  • Good quality teaching, not curriculum, key
  • www and ebi are reeled off by students- not really though about
  • sets-have own dynamic- issue of standing out in different ways (see above)
  • Length of day- 3 hr lessons. Can’t sit back and do any marking- risking rest of lesson being lost to distraction
  • No time to think
  • Cant repeat anything- have to cram it all in. Students feel different over different days- one off day risks an entire subjects week.
  • Difficult to meet colleagues- little free time. Eleanor has no frees with her team or team leader- harder to plan things.
  • Team mostly young and with no disabilities. Many colleagues couldn’t stand for 8 hours. Need to carry everything around with you, not enough equipment in all rooms.
  • Intensity of day good for some- they see rewards.
  • Students feeling underprepared- theories given by staff- concerns of parents towards OM, now Yr 8 feel better. Also the idea that older students were (either from starting or walking past it every day for a year).

Ruth White-

  • says there is more positive learning, greater involvement in learning, consciousness of the need to learn. Changing the school was a political decision, there was an upturn anyway- 63% A-C Grades. Not disadvantaged enough to warrant the inclusion of TeachFirst- Sandwell brings down local figures. Successes in the past for students- e.g. going to Oxbridge. BUT has instilled a sense of self-belief. Yr 9s have a whole different set of aspirations.

Mr Fellton

  • Triple Sciences- academic- content to cover for exams
  • Not enough content- just teaching it now
  • Fair to say OM merely revising primary work
  • Yr specialise in subjects, don’t need to know everything.
  • 3 hrs allow for proper experimentation
  • Easier to keep track of lesson plans and classes- just two a day