Sunday, 13 April 2014

Not agreeing with the establishment at all...

I read that I don't agree with the 'scientific establishment' at all. 

See this post for details. http://geordiescience.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/why-getting-rid-of-practical-assessment.html

Not true, so I better have another go at explaining myself.

Scientific organisations are very worried about the removal of practical work from the formal assessment of A-level sciences. They are right to be worried. My point is that they should have been worried about the changes long before now. Perhaps they were. 

The changes reflect a broken, unworkable controlled assessment system. They do not reflect the ideal situation.



Ideally we (teachers, researchers, subject organisations, university groups etc) would work on a curriculum that gave the chance to our 18 year olds of leaving school with the knowledge and skills they need to move on to the next stage in their science education. (Lets assume those doing science A-levels are going to be doing degrees with some degree of science - the destination data says they are). After that curriculum was devised we'd work out a way to assess it. 

But we don't. We put in place an assessment regime that assumes all teachers cheat and the proportion of internally assessed marks depends on the classification of the qualification. Then we work back from there to the curriculum. 

Wellcome, the Physiological Society, the Royal Society are right in what they say, we must value practical skills along side knowledge in the science curriculum. Score and the ASE responds can be found here: http://www.ase.org.uk/news/ase-news/dangers-in-a-level-sciences-grading-reform-highlighted/

I agree with what Professor Julia Buckingham, Chair of SCORE, said:
 “We fully appreciate that reform is needed but the current solution is rushed and does not address operational issues. We believe we can develop workable new approaches but Ofqual has decided to go ahead with an inadequate solution.”
Reform is needed. What I disagree with the 'establishment' is that this reform is worse than the status quo. For me, this change will support the potential for good quality practical work to be carried out. 

(Personally I don't believe that score do have a better solution that would be accepted by ofqual or the government.) 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Teachit and their Video Training Day





I have just arrived home after a wonderful training day organised by Teachit. It ticked all the boxes, great venue, nice food, engaged audience and knowledgeable presenters.



In my future list of what makes a good CPD session I need to add 'timely'. Just the previous evening I was discussing flipped learning and getting a lot of encouragement.  (See below).




Prior to that I was being encouraged to use Aurama too. 

All of this is in preparation for the students at my school having to bring iPads to all their lessons as of September. I want to use this opportunity and I want to ensure that the parents don't feel they have wasted their money. So today's conference came at just the right time.

The day started as every truly great CPD session should with coffee and pastries!

We went into Joe Dale's session at 10.15 and were then organised into our subject groups. We were asked to get into groups of two or three. Joe wanted us in groups of this size because he wanted to ensure all participants had the opportunity to take part. 

We started by using popplet to create a storyboard of the film we were to make. I like this app, and it was a good idea to use it as the boxes (popples) are the right sort of dimensions to make you think about a screen. We decided on biology sampling techniques because we were in clifton and had access to the outside and bushes! We then searched the internet for images of things we didn't have because we didn't know to bring equipment, like an image of pooters.

Story boarding took about 20 minutes.

I really liked the idea of storyboarding. I think I would have done it with a class anyway, even without the experience of this session. I have been advised to by my OH. But I appreciated the chance to see how much detail you would want in a story board - not that much - and how it helps your thinking. I would be keen to make students stick to their story board when doing it with them. 

I also thought that he story boarding section of the activity would be great for giving students the opportunity to think before doing an experiment, and possibly help develop the skill of writing methods that we need to build before controlled assessments.

After that we went to film the bits we needed for the short video. We did feel a little silly, but Louisa who I worked with was a great sport and she was prepared to be filmed. I also took a few photos to be used in the film too.

Other groups found they took too much footage and at one point I took footage on my iPhone and then thought 'how will I get it onto the iPad?' I know there are ways, but it did seem much more straight forward to just use the one i-device for everything.

Once everyone had returned Joe gave us a quick tour of iMovie. It does seem pretty intuitive. From the point of view of teaching the students I think it will be more about showing them the possible outcomes and letting them workout how they could do it using the menus on the iPad. 

The editing was straight forward because we had a clear idea of the outcome from the storyboarding. The room was very noisy, so we left to find a quiet spot to do the voice overs. The editing took a bit longer and the session ended up overrunning slightly. But we didn't mind. One group grabbed coffee and returned to complete their movie. 

I can see that offering prizes for 'the best' video might not be productive as it could induce the students to be stressed and change their plan. I would want the video that gets across the message in a straightforward way. I will certainly consider modelling some good and bad examples before letting classes lose on making their own videos.

We also discussed the audience for the videos. (Feedforwardonline might be an answer to that?)

This is the video. If you are reading this and the link is gone - sorry, I may have to clear my youtube account out in the future. 


After the coffee break I went into a session lead by James Rolfe, Head of Science at  Judgemeadow School. This is when I was completely sold on the practicalities of making videos for use by students.

James showed us example video clips he made of demonstrations and explained how spending five minutes taking a quick video of himself demonstrating an experiment had paid dividends in terms of engagement, learning and behaviour. He found that student paid attention to the video, that they all could see, and that they took on board the advice and instructions in the clips. 

Sometimes he would ask a student to video him explaining in class too. Making the taking of videos fairly painless and quick. 

I think that I would get nervous and stumble over my words, but I imagine that after making a few videos I would get used it. I also get a bit paranoid over my accent. "Why aye, champion man" in the middle of a video would mean I would have to leave the students to watch unsupervised as I stand in the corridor and wait for it to be over! However, I am encouraged to give it a try the next time I do a class practical. (Year 9!)

James also showed us videos made by the students. No faces meant they could be shared with the world. The school has the iPods that the students use, and they have a science department dropbox account attached, so the videos can be uploaded from each device allowing the teacher to view them all. I can see how the videos that students make could help to spot misconceptions. 

Having been to a lot of literacy sessions about encouraging students to talk before writing I can see how videoing an explanation of the work that they are doing will really help the students to get their idea straight before having to commit their ideas to paper.

Before the end of the session we had a go at making a one-shot video clip ourselves. That is the clip at the top of this blog post. I can certainly see myself doing that more often. 

After lunch we went into a Q&A session, and then we discussed the resources that people might want to make that could be uploaded to teachit. Interestingly a lot of the discussion in the groups I was in (and I think in others) was about how a lot of the engagement achieved by using videos is from them being of staff in the school of those watching. This is something I want to consider as I make and use videos in class.

I am ver excited now by the prospect of the students having and using iPads in lessons. This is a CPD session that will have a big impact on the way that I teach. Thank you to Teachit, Joe and James.



Thursday, 10 April 2014

Why Getting Rid of Practical Assessment Might not be the Disaster Organisations Believe.

I see the RI, Wellcome Trust and the Physiological Society responding to the announcement that there will not be internal practical assessments in A-level qualifications. http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/News/2014/WTP056222.htm and http://rigb.org/about/news/spring-2014/ofqual-response and http://www.physoc.org/press-release/2014/ofqual-sounds-death-knell-uk-science-education. They are not happy.

I can see their points of view I really can. But I can't agree with them.

I am an educator absolutely determined to create future scientists and prepare them for this career. I am determined that all my students will understand the nature of science. I want them to understand that science is a practical activity as it is the study of the world around us. Even as a theoretical physicist myself, who spent the end of my degree working at a computer, knows that ultimately we need to take observations of the real world to compare our hypotheses/theories to.

I really wish Wellcome, the RI, the members of SCORE and the other organisations and universities that have concerns spoke up before now. I wish they had stopped controlled assessment. This is what destroyed practical work in secondary schools.

I remember the free investigations that our edexcel candidates used to do at the end of Year 12. Some struggled, but most students really got into it. I remember talking to a more experienced colleague about it as you could tell that these investigations often caught her imagination too. She told me of a student who worked out an equation to relate the number of clubs he could juggle with and the height he'd have to throw them. Real science. I remember helping students to clear up after a leak of the oil she was using after school as she was putting in a lot of extra time to complete the investigation to the standard she wanted. Her friends were helping and the passion and enthusiasm were obvious.

That is gone now. All of this was destroyed by controlled assessment. The exam board set a list of practicals, and everything has to be done in class without communication between candidates. It isn't scientific investigation. It is awful. It isn't science, it's hoop jumping.

I didn't want to do an experimental physics degree. I did practical exams for my A-level physics practical assessment. I was put off by the practicals. I must preferred the chemistry project. I used the labs and took responsibility for the way I worked and when I worked. This is what we should be encouraging in our students.

Controlled assessment destroyed all this. Wellcome, RI, Physiological Society where were you when this was happening?

It is obvious that we are not allowed to go back to free investigative work. The government don't trust teachers. Yet, it is also obvious to teachers that the status quo with respect to controlled assessment is not acceptable either.

I say to organisations such as Wellcome, RI and the Physiological Society put your energy into ensuring we have GCSE and A-level curricula that lend themselves to being learned through access to high quality practical work, and support teachers through spreading the message of good pedagogical approaches to practical work.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Teachers and Research

I remember reading something by Lucie Golton about the reason behind her teaching toolkit booklet. She scoured the books looking for the magic bullet and ended up compiling a long list for her own pedagogy strategy booklet. (Unfortunately I can't find a link to it at the moment).

I also spent may career looking for the magic bullet. I like concept cartoons, I love key word card sorts, I like using true/false worksheets and my favourite way to help students learn is by getting them to draw graphs. I have taught CASE, I have taught the Upd8 segue course (http://www.upd8.org.uk/wikid-tick.php), I have taught bonkers courses designed to fit into the timetable more than based on sound pedagogy. I came into teaching during the time of the strategies. I have read books, I have taken advice from ASTs, I have used ideas shared by fellow teachers and I have worked with consultants. In all that time I haven't been able to work out if I am doing the right thing.

Now it seems that we have been doing the wrong things as a profession. If the whole profession has been doing the wrong things then I must have be too.

To solve this teachers need to interact directly with the research.

1. Really?
2. How?

I went to Tim Oates session at the ASE conference about the future of internal assessment in science. I got the gist, don't get me wrong, but as Robin Millar was nodding to the things Tim Oates was saying I was pulling faces in a desperate attempt to understand. The language Tim Oates was using was completely foreign to me, it was specialist.

I can appreciate the need for specific specialist language in education research. I am a scientist, I use specialist terms all the time, and I spend a good proportion of my time trying to get my students to use the language precisely too. The difference seems to me that in educational research there is no common language, like in science.

If I am to interact with research first hand then do I need to learn specialist terminology?

I went to Michael Reiss's session the year before and he said that Piaget style curricula were very effective at promoting learning. (Or something like that, but I did understand what he was saying!) I said this on another teacher's blog in a comment and was shot down because we shouldn't listen to anything we are told, we have to find out for ourselves as respected education researchers can't be trusted.

Do I have to interact directly with the research? Is it enough to interact with the researchers? After reading "Teacher Proof", maybe not is the answer. Someone has to look at the original research because there are some people out there not doing a very god job at carrying out their research and there are others who are simply fibbing as it suits them. Confirmation bias is a big issue in education it seems.

I am going to be honest here, I don't trust other teachers to carry out research (sorry as if you are reading this you are likely to be a teacher). I have seen data for masters projects (and action inquiries) made up. I have seen a school sell ideas to other schools saying it made a difference when there was no causal relationship between the two and months later that school scrapped the curriculum. It makes sense for schools and teachers to be positive about the changes they make. Why make them if they are not going to make a difference to their students?

I am not the only one who felt this. At the ASE January conference I went to a session host by Wellcome and the SLC that was a debate. One of the questions was about research. On our table the SLC employee was determined that the action research she supports through the SLC was valid, I was on the opposite side of that. Another group also mentioned their dubious feelings about research carried out by teachers, although perhaps not so negatively as me!

Perhaps unscrupulous research is just something we have to cope with?

Or perhaps it is enough to interact with the researchers?

I am fortunate in my position to get journals through the post. School Science Review, Physics Education and Science in School.  I am fortunate that my head teacher will allow me to attend ASE conferences. I know some excellent university based educators and researchers. They are very generous with their time. They are happy to share what they know.

I have said this before, Stella Paes said at the ASE summer conference that the UK has world leading expertise in science education. (Granted she may have been talking about assessment of science education as that is what she needs to know about).

Is interacting with researchers through journals and conferences how I should interact with research? What if they are wrong? During my PGCE we were encouraged to look at VAK, it was presented as if it was a good way to differentiate. Should I be put off by this? Trust no one? Or do I have to interact with the research directly? Back to square one.

I do know that there is appetite within the profession to work out what works in the classroom. There are a number of issues with it. Expecting to find something new that will be the magic bullet . Finding the balance between private organisations who have an interest in selling CPD related to research is another. Implementing the pedagogy as the research intended isn't always easy, either.

However, as a profession we have to know that what we are doing and how we are doing it is the best way to get across ideas to young people. Without research and analysis we'll never know. Teaching and research are linked. What that link should look like in practice? Well, it probably needs to be researched.


Nurture 13/14 - update

1: Richard will be 50 in 2014, I want to mark the occasion appropriately, but I don't know what that is yet.

It seems that we'll be going to York that weekend, I hope that our science teacher friends can help Richard enjoy his birthday. The present will either be a Raspberry Pi or a Gaggia coffee machine.

2: I have some tickets for the commonwealth games in Glasgow, I am really looking forward to them as I love watching live sport. I hope we can see some world cup track cycling too, and we aim to see the Grand Depart of le Tour. 

We can't see the start of Le Tour as Richard's friend's son is getting married and the band Richard is a member of are playing. I need to sort the Commonwealth Games situation as there are no hotel rooms left in Glasgow! ARGH. I think we'll be staying in Edinburgh and commuting each day. (Only two, don't panic).

3: We moved into our house in 2011, and we still haven't decorated our bedroom yet (any of the upstairs in fact). I want to at least strip the awful wallpaper in 2014! 

Today we bought a wall paper scraper and some tester pots of paint. I call this progress. 

4: I want to make more of an effort to visit Westonbirt Arboretum more often. I drive past it each day and I have never been during autumn. I must rectify this in 2014.

This has not been achieved. I WILL do better in the summer term. 

5: In 2013 I managed to lose 6lbs during the summer, I have put 2 back on, but I want to lose another 10-12lbs during 2014 to get back to the shape I was once proud of. Will power is necessary! 

I also need to do better at this.

6: I need to save money in 2014 to be able to buy myself a new laptop. I would love to save enough to be able to afford a trip to Hong Kong, but I think this may be beyond me. 

New laptop has been bought, but a trip to Hong Kong won't be happening as we have a lot of other things to spend money on this year.

7: The new national curriculum provides an opportunity I want to make the most of, I just don't known he details yet!

We had a meeting in February half term about this, I was working on it last week and we'll have another get together in May we think. Progress is being made, just slowly!

8: I really hope my A2 physics students get the results they need to get to university. 

Still working on this.

9: The more involved I get in the ASE the more I realise its power and importance. I want to continue to contribute to it, and I will.

I will be writing the clubber's guide in school science review.
I have already worked with Emma on developing an ASE pinterest board. A google+ community and working out how to share teacher made resources is next on my list. 

10: I keep finding white hairs in my brown ones. 2014 is the year that I am going to have to face doing something about them.


I have bought dye this week. It is sitting in a box looking at me. 

11: I am organising to take the whole school to the Big Bang Science Fair and I hope that the trip is a success that puts science week onto the school calendar as a permanent event. I want to start the engineering education scheme up in school in 2014/15 with year 12. I want to put STEM on a stronger footing within the school and attract more post-16 students who want to student STEM subjects at university. To me the value of studying science is clear and this is something I want to ensure comes across in my teaching and the teaching of the rest of the department.

The trip to the Big Bang Fair happened. It was quite a challenge getting all the reply slips in, but they all came and had a good time.

I haven't yet started to work on the strategic plan of how to encourage more girls to follow the STEM subjects, but this is something that I will do in the summer term with the help of colleagues. 

12: I have no more excuses not to apply for my CSciTeach accreditation in 2014. I should be working on the application instead of writing this. 

I am avoiding completing this as I write this updated blog post. I will have it done in time for the next round of applications, I am about 600 words away from completion. 

13: I want to be more organised, my time, my resources, everything! I want to be organised enough to make the most of all the opportunities I am given. 

I am still really struggling with this. My idea was always to leave it until the summer term to have a look at the resources that I have and the routines that I need to have in order that everything has its own space. 

14: In terms of improving my teaching practice and making resolutions for my department I will wait until after the ASE conference. The event always inspires me and connects me to the right people to point me, my teaching and my department in the best direction. I am especially looking forward to seeing Mary and talking York Science! 

I still haven't really set this goals and I want to do it ready for the summer term so that I can work on things ready for September. It ties in with 13, 11 and 7. 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Research Ed - what I found out

I didn't take many notes yesterday. It is quite hard to take notes and listen, however I will try and recap what I remember and therefore what I take away with me.

John Henry Catholic College looks like a really nice building. Modern, nice corridor spaces and not vast as some West Midlands schools are (the one I worked in was 1400 and only 11-16). The head Jennifer McGuirk welcomed us and I was quietly impressed with what she had to say about the journey of the school. Tom Bennet then made us laugh and implied there was more to come in the Research Ed agenda before sending us off for the day.

I went to see Daisy Christodoulou talk about the "key principles teachers should apply in the classroom". I get the impression memory was a key point in a few talks given during the day (it was certainly in two of the ones I went to) and it took up a good portion of the talk Daisy gave. She started by talking about big data and saying something along the lines of looking at data isn't enough without understanding the underlying theory, and without the theory it is hard to translate into practice. As an avid reader of Glen Gilcrist's blog I would agree that correlation does not mean causation. 

Daisy went on to talk about AfL as an example of something that has struggled to show the impact that research would indicate. She said that there was problems with both the research and implementation. As someone who has been to a session run by Chris Harrison and Sally Howard on AfL I know that she is not the only one who is concerned about the implementation of AfL. 

Then Daisy talked about E.D Hirsch and his principles for good understanding. There were 7 of them. She then did an exercise with us to prove that having our knowledge in our long term memory made things easier to remember. 

I did write down her principles for teaching:
1. Avoid working memory overload
2. Promote long term memory storage
3. Practice to achieve mastery (fluency)

I went in expecting to find out something I didn't know. Although the language was more theoretical than I am used to. I was relieved that I agree with a lot of what Daisy had to say. Not teaching too many new things at once and practising them isn't new to me. 

For the next session I want to the DfE talk about "research priorities: what are the key gaps and questions in education". There was some positivity at the start of the session that the DfE wanted to engage with their own research questions. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/research-priorities-for-education-and-childrens-services The details are here on line. 




We were asked to look at a selection of the research questions and make our own comments about them on post-it notes onto the flip chart boards. I really felt that I couldn't add a lot. In some ways because I feel that the things I could contribute are obvious and I don't have a great deal of expertise to add in a lot of the areas. However, this didn't stop me putting a few post-its onto the boards.

I think that it is important that the DfE use research to help them with policy decisions. However, at the end during a Q&A session concerns were raised about the bias of any research carried out by the DfE. Are the questions being asked genuinely the right ones or are they too politically motivated? However, the DfE are asking for feedback on this and seem to want to engage with teachers. In a way they have to come to terms with this shift as they have scrapped many of the quangos that ran education and LAs are becoming a thing of the past. However, this session didn't do anything to persuade me that the DfE are doing anything other than scrabbling around in the dark taking advice from the wrong place. 

I stayed in the theatre for the next presentation by Louise Stubberfield from Wellcome. I has seen her earlier in the day and wondered why I recognised her, when she was from Wellcome I realised that I will have seen her at the ASE conference. 

She talked about the work Wellcome had been doing with the science learning centres to help with the teaching of primary science.  I know that Wellcome put a lot of money into science education and it was heartening to see that this project had been carried out robustly. It was interesting to hear that those schools not allowed access to the science learning centres courses in order to be the 'control' group were then given access the year after the research programme. I have heard people who talk about RTCs say that it is unfair to restrict schools and their students access to things that might help improve education, but this seems to be a fair compromise to me. 

I was also interested in the comments Louise made about museums and the research they do into the impact of what they do. They measure impact by the number of visitors and not necessarily by the influence it has on the people who visit. 

In January I went to a session at the ASE conference with drinks paid for by Wellcome and also hosted by Science Learning Centres. I can see that Wellcome are interacting with the profession (although not always practising teachers). What was interesting in the ASE session about research was that only three of the attendees were practising teachers. 

I have heard it before, but Louise stated during the talk that those schools who Wellcome have worked with and have not sidelined science to focus on english and maths have had improvements in all three subjects. 

Then it was lunch.

After lunch I went to David Weston's session about "why most dissemination is useless and how we can fix it". I was assaulted again by slides about memory for the first part of the talk. I am not entirely sure why. 


I have to agree with David's assessment of the impact of CPD. I have worked with the science learning centres on a CPD model (when I say 'worked with', I mean I was a 'guinea pig for'). During that time we talked about what made CPD effective and the traditional model of go on a course, come back and share the slides in a meeting isn't it. 



He talked about the inability of CPD to breakdown the current (ineffective?) practices of teachers and replace it with new associations. We don't unlearn the things we do.

David told us the worst ways of transforming practice through CPD are the ways that we use: whole staff lectures, individual day courses and printed guidance.

He asked why is it that the profession most associated with learning is the worst at engaging with it? I still don't understand that.


David then went on to talk about things that do work. Things like lesson study, collaboration with other colleagues, coaching, carefully scripted teacher actions, forms of action research and masters level study. He showed two slides with a list of theoretical principles for good CPD, like evaluating it, it being sustained, aspirational, lead by good leaders, challenging.

David ended with this slide. "Start with the end in mind". Something I hear a lot in education!



Session six was the hardest for me to choose because nothing struck me. I am glad that I went to Joe Hallgarten's session: "if you can't stand the research get out of the classroom?" RSA and BERA are about to publish 10 principles for a 'research-rich, self-improving education systems' and Joe went through the process that lead to these. 


The principles are split into teaching and learning, teachers' practice, school leadership, system-level and research production. 

This session, above all others was of interest to me because I think it got to the crux of the purpose of ResearchEd. Teachers should be engaging with research and researchers should be engaging with teachers. But I do believe there are barrier to this: money, time, expertise, research literacy, bias and the famous SLT mangle. 

I intend to blog again about the issues that spring to mind on the back of this session by Joe, and where I see own practice with respect to research, how I have interacted with it and how I want to interact with it. 

The last session was presented by Michael Slavinsky and Alex Weatherall and started with us all getting a sweet. So far so good. They picked up one of the touch paper questions set by Laura McInerny at the first Research Ed conference. The list is below.


I wish that I had taken a photograph of the axes that Alex and Michael showed to highlight the way they distinguished between difficulty and complexity. It was interesting that they didn't consider the two as the same. On going into the session I has hoped that I would find out something that would help me to understand how we would structure a curriculum with increasing difficulty, but the work these two are doing is more centred on complexity. 

In order to map complexity Alex plans to create concept maps for all the topics in the curriculum, and this would help teaching and help map complexity. http://www.teachmyconcept.net I am interested to see how this goes, happy to help but I am aware of the demands on my time. 

I very much enjoyed the day. Joe's session gave me most to think about and I have come away feeling that the profession can work with researchers more effectively. And that there is a great deal of desire to do that from researchers too. 

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Research and Education - from the point of view of a slightly rubbish teacher

Thanks to Mary Whitehouse I was able to go to the first Research Ed conference in September, and due to some encouragement from @Arakwai I have just come back from the regional event in Birmingham.

As a classroom teacher I haven't been able to take anything from the conferences that I can use in the classroom. So why go? And why go a second time if I didn't think that the first time was relevant to me?

I am curious about the link between research and education. To me there seems to be lot of information out there for teachers to use to help them teach better/differently, but is any of it any good? There are a lot of books by teachers, for teachers, but are any of them based on evidence or just anecdote? Does it matter?

After Brain Gym (which I never did in my own classroom) and Learning Styles (which I was always sceptical of) I am never entirely sure if I can trust anything that comes my way. I wonder to myself what good research looks like and how I can find it. I wonder if through the research Ed conferences  I might come across teaching methods that will help me and my students.

On top of being sceptical about research, I also find it unapproachable. "Direct Instruction" is the latest twitter/blogger buzz phrase. Those that use it seem to know what it means, I am not so sure I do. "Progressive Education", "Constructivist", "Meta-Cognition", etc etc. I saw Tim Oates talk about assessment at the ASE conference, I understood very little of what he said, only those used to the academic talk of assessment were able to follow him. As a scientists I understand the necessity of using technical language that describes exactly what you mean, however the in-context interpretation of the uninitiated could lead to misinterpretation.

I was interested in the session by Joe Hallgarten, who was looking at the relationship between teachers and research. Some of the guiding principles for resarch-rich, self-improvng education systems he showed us were that teaching should be informed by the latest research and teachers should be research literate. I agree with all of this, but how do I get 'research literate'? I can't understand the language, I don't know where to look to find reliable research and what if I don't like what I read or can't change my practice enough to take it on board anyway?

I am always wary of research; I have seen some practices that I would consider to be dubious when teachers have been involved in their masters projects. I have carried out deliberate changes to my practice as a result of some external CPD, and I am not sure if what I did had any impact.

I wonder if Research Ed can help with any of this? How can a teacher carry out a research project in their own school? How can teachers get access to sound research? If they do some research, how do they share it? How do we ask for funding to carry out research? How do we motivate ourselves to continue with changes in practice? What research is going on at the moment into teaching and learning and what can we learn from it?

Then again, I think that showing researchers that teachers are interested in what they are doing can only be positive. That having teachers feeling that they should, and in some cases must, engage with research can only be a good thing. That having the DfE engaged could help to move our 'profession' forward. I also got the impression that the word stills needs to be spread that it is important those who work in schools become engaged with research and Research Ed can only help to do that as word spreads.

I don't have an intention to go to Research Ed in September, I will hopefully be newly married and should spend some time with the husband. I will also have done ASE conference, two teachmeets, pedagoo south west, York tweet up, Wellington Festival of Education and ASE west conference as well as Research Ed Midlands and I think that is all I can spare.

In the mean time, I will take my research distilled by the School Science Review Journal, and by books like 'Good Practice in Science Teaching, what research has to say', 'Making Sense of Secondary Science', 'Evidence based teaching'. And luckily for me I have access to people who can help me understand the implementation of the ideas in these books too.

Thanks to Tom, Helene and the staff of John Henry Newman Catholic College for Research Ed Midlands. All of it was interesting and nothing I experienced was not worth it. A very positive day.