Belgian Charlton: it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

CAFC Image

Charlton wrapped up 2015 with another defeat. This time at the hands of a very average Wolves side. Some of our defending was comical and our impotence up front was frankly, pathetic. In my mind, there is no real doubt that the players are trying their best but many of them are simply not good enough and others have had any fragment of confidence they once had, completely shattered.

The situation at The Valley is awful and I fear, will get worse before it gets any better. Not only do we have a dangerously weak squad but also an incompetent ‘Interim Coach’. Karel Fraeye is wildly out of his depth and if he had any real respect for the club, would walk away immediately. Following the defeat at Bristol City, he referred to them as Bristol Rovers and after losing to Wolves, seemed to imply that the hostilities he faced as he left the Valley pitch were actually aimed at the players!

His tenure has been nothing short of shambolic but even if he did walk, what next?

No self-respecting manager would touch Charlton with a barge-pole as things currently stand. The club is rotten to the core with Mr Roland Duchâtelet at the helm. His involvement in player recruitment and team selection means that only his puppets will be allowed to take the job at CAFC. Furthermore, all the signs are there to indicate he is pig-headed and arrogant enough to avoid realisation that his model of running a successful club is simply not working. Surely someone with his business acumen should realise to get the best return on his investment, he needs to invest in the first team squad to the extent they can win promotion to the Premier League? Why is this not happening? According to Katrien it’s because other Championship clubs are willing to invest £20-30million in their squad whilst Charlton ‘are not prepared to do that’.

One theory I overheard in the Upper North vs Wolves suggested that it would be in Roland Duchâtelet’s interest that we get relegated as support would dwindle further. This in turn would lead to our need to stay at the Valley to come into question. He would then be able to move Charlton Athletic to a smaller stadium in the regenerated Greenwich Peninsula site and sell the Valley site for a reported £25million. Therefore, doubling his original investment! This is in complete contradiction to the target 20,000 initiative recently touted by the club but we already know that lying comes very naturally to our owners.

Personally, I can’t see it happening but it is not beyond the realms of possibility. The sheer arrogance and belligerence the Belgians have shown towards Charlton fill me with dread. They talk about business and profit as if that is the point of football. In this interview (at 13:30) Katrien Miere suggests that football fans are “funny’ because they think they have ownership of a club. She goes on to compare running a football club to a restaurant or a cinema! She simply does not seem to understand that football is not like a restaurant. In the dining world, if you don’t like the food you can go somewhere else. True football fans are the lifeblood of a club and do not have that option. However, they can simply stop going and that appears to happening at Charlton. At Wolves yesterday, the attendance was boosted by the kids for a quid initiative – which I took advantage of myself. However, the dross served up by our Belgian leadership team meant that instead of nurturing the next generation of addicks, they may well have put them off for life.

Roland, Katrien and Karel – get out of OUR club.

1:2:1 is Working – The Results Are In

In September 2015, we rolled out 1:2:1 iPads across our Second Form (Year Six). This was a huge step for King’s, a school which only adopted WiFi in 9 months earlier in January.

Learning in action

After the WiFi install, all pupils in the Prep School had access to a bank of 20 shared iPads and although they proved incredibly popular for staff and pupils alike, the limitations of shared devices was somewhat frustrating. Device set ups were changed, work was lost and functional attributes like contacts, calendars and email were unavailable.  Nevertheless, 99% of pupils agreed that lessons had become more enjoyable when iPads were used to enhance their learning experience, yet 90% also agreed that their experience would be improved further still with individual, personalised iPads.

Happily, we were able to respond positively and with a mixture of parent-owned school managed devices and BYOiPads our 1:2:1 vision became a reality in September. Second form (y6) Pupils are now routinely using iTunesU, regularly using Apps like Padlet, Explain Everything, BookCreator and iMovie and even working from digital iBooks and submitting their work via ShowBie. It has been an exciting journey for pupils and teachers alike – lots of mistakes have been made along the way, but we have learnt so much. We have come along way in a short amount of time but before we start making plans for expansion of the project, has it actually made a difference to learning? Does the theory that real change can only take place in a 1:2:1 environment ring true? We put it those in the best place to answer these questions: the students of Year Six…

ipad results.001

The results of the survey are pretty conclusive. The pupils all agree that their learning experience has improved since adopting 1:2:1 iPads. Having access to information at your finger tips has fundamentally changed the dynamics of the classroom and the role of the teacher. However, it must be remembered that although the role of the teacher changes in a 1:2:1 environment, their importance does not.

Teachers get to grips with their iPads

Teachers get to grips with their iPads

Teachers need to know how to create courses, share resources and suggest Apps through which students can both demonstrate their knowledge, understanding AND creativity. Teachers need to know how to set work, collect work, annotate work and return work to students therefore it is imperative that in any 1:2:1 model, teachers are provided with the necessary equipment and training to make the project a success.

Continue reading

Using iPad & Showbie to set, mark and collect Essays

This isn’t one for the iPad = creativity purists. However, it is a post for those who simply want to be able to set their students essays, collect them in, grade them and return their work completely paperlessly. The iPad does creativity amazingly – it also does the functional stuff too.

It’s also a great way of getting started with the iPad and the fantastic Showbie App whilst saving ink, paper and hassle.

As with any digital workflow solution, it may not fit with your schools set up so before you read on, this classroom hack requires the following (Google schools could adjust accordingly):

  • iPads
  • Office 365 account
  • Showbie
  • Microsoft Word App (or Excel/PowerPoint)

I have made four short videos that show how to get started with this workflow, two from the teachers perspective and two from the students that should helpfully provide a full view of how the workflow works.

1 – The first video shows teachers how they can get started with Showbie and set up their classes


2 – The second video shows how pupils get started with Showbie, join a specific class and can see what assignments they have been set


3 – The third video shows how pupils can then write their essays and easily hand-in to their teacher via Showbie


4- Finally, this is how teachers can collect work, provide feedback and return to the pupils through Showbie

Apple TV vs Airserver

A fluid digital workflow between teacher and pupil is essential in a modern classroom. Teachers need to be able to distribute, collect, mark and return work to students easily. Depending on the tech your school chooses to deploy, there are a variety of different models available.  I have constructed a workflow for my school and have attached it at the bottom of the post. An interactive version is available here.

One of the fundamental aspects of Workflow is the ability to cast the screen of your, and indeed the students, iPad/Device onto the class screen/whiteboard. I have used both Apple TV and Airserver in this regard and thought it may be useful to share my findings.

Untitled Infographic-2

As you can see, the Airserver option is by far the most cost effective and practical option in a school setting. Don’t get me wrong, Apple TV is brilliant at home but if you are involved in, or considering a mobile tech deployment at your school – Airserver is the right choice to make.

Workflow PDF

Airserver plays an integral part of the digital workflow at my school.




“Just a shit Andy Carroll”

At the City Ground on Tuesday, the Nottingham Forest fans compared Charlton striker Simon Makienok to Andy Carroll in a less than favourable light. His performance against Forest was distinctly average and he missed two guilt-edged chances to win the match. There were even a few grumblings about him eminating from the 400 or so Addicks who made the 300 mile round trip.

How quickly things can change.

Against Hull City yesterday, the 6’7″ Danish striker was the man of the match, scoring a great header in the 52nd minute following an inch perfect pass from Johann Berg Gudmundsson. He returned the favour in the 8th minute of injury time; teeing up the Icelandic No.7 to head a brilliant 98th minute winner that sent The Valley into scenes of delirium! It was a fantastic end to a very assured performance from the new look Addicks. So much so that manager Guy Luzon was sent to the stands for an over enthusiastic celebration that saw him run Mourinho style down the touchline and disappear underneath a pile of ecstatic Charlton players!

Luzon must take a huge amount of credit for yesterdays performance and indeed, for Charlton’s excellent start to the campaign. When the fixture list came out I was concerned that we would get to the end of August with little to show. Home matches to two of the relegated teams, QPR and Hull City and away games at pre-season promotion favourites Derby and Nottingham Forest looked daunting. However, to take 8 points and remain unbeaten is a substantial achievement. Moreover, the collegiality and work-ethic apparent in the first team suggests a really good team spirit that bodes well for the rest of the season.

Another player who stood out yesterday was new-boy, Ahmed Kashi, who played superbly just in front of the impressive back four. He was a constant nuisance to Hull City and broke down plenty of attacks and distributed the ball with a calm sense of intelligence. Patrick Bauer continued his excellent start to the season and also deserves a special mention as he appeared to dislocate his finger in the second half and the whole crowd winced as the physio popped it back in the centre circle!

After the final whistle, Addicks fans poured out onto the sun-soaked streets in SE7 in great humour and voice. Last minute winners are always special and this was no different. The team deserved the 3 points and the offensive, attack-minded approach favoured by our manager really is breath of fresh air that complemented the glorious August afternoon perfectly.

10 Things I learned from ADE Institute, 2015

Amsterdam, or more specifically Noordwijk, played host to this years ADE (Apple Distinguished Educator) Instiute which welcomed the amazing Class of 2015 to the programme. As in Cork 2013, the best thing about institute is the opportunity to meet like-minded, dedicated educators from across the planet. Of course, Apple provide the opportunity for all attendees to learn a lot about their awesome products and how best we can use them in the classroom but I also learned (or had confirmed) a few other things that I would like to share:

1 – I`m not mad

I work in a school that only had WiFi installed in January this year. Although a roller coaster ride, the thrills and spills were worth it as we are initiating our inaugural 1:2:1 programme THIS September! The details of our journey can be seen in this short film: However, what the movie does not show is the feeling of isolation suffered at various points on our journey. People who don’t get educational technology often look on it (and the people that purvey its benefits)  with cynicism and scepticism.   However, at the ADE institute, every single attendee, ‘get’s’ technology in the classroom. They have seen first hand the difference it can make and help me to realise that I am not a lone-madman hell-bent on a irrational desire to force technology upon schools who ‘don’t do things that way’.

2 – Tech changes lives

One of the greatest aspects of the ADE institute 2015 was the daily round of ADE showcases. ADE’s from all over the World had three-minutes to tell their stories. The school locations, age-ranges, demographics etc. varied wildly but what every story shared was clear and compelling evidence of the difference schools and teachers who embrace technology were making to the lives of their students.

3 – Tech is a tool – it’s teachers that really matter

IMG_1359Great teachers have existed since the dawn of humanity whilst arguably, decent technology in schools is still in it’s infancy. Part of being a great teacher is the ability to adapt your practice and embrace change when it enhances learning. There is NO doubt that technology has changed the potential in and outside the classroom (ask any ADE). However, without proactive and creative teachers forging new ways of using the technology, progress and change would be impossible.

4 – iTunesU Course is getting better

I’ve used iTunes U Course manager a few times, but with shared devices I was unable to utilise it’s full potential. Clearly, with a 1:2:1 project I am already looking forward to harnessing the huge power of the fantastic classroom tool. However, I attended a session where the fantastic new features were shared and we can now enjoy:

  • Homework hand-in
  • Annotation tools
  • Private discussions
  • Integrated grade-book
  • Multiple attachments for assignments

Essentially, this means that iTunesU can now replace Edmodo, Showbie and the like as your complete digital learning environment. However, this is only possible in an iPad 1:2:1 setting and not forgetting a considerable amount of staff training. I’ll be pushing out my first course in September – if you are facing in the right direction, all you have to do is start walking…

5 – Deers and rabbits live on sand dunes 


Nathan Ashman and I enjoy an early morning run

I love running. There is NO better way of getting to know a new place than pulling on your running gear and setting off into the unknown for an explore. I had looked on a map and noticed that we were near a beach but it wasn’t until @coby_mr ran it, that I realised how close it was. Then, during a conversation with @vickiebacondpc, she mentioned another avid runner in attendance – @nathanashman. He told me about the extraordinary 96 mile run he has planned in the next few weeks and we promptly arranged a 5:50am, 9 mile run to the Dutch dunes. It was one of the highlights of the week. The run was brilliant; we even saw a deer and sand-rabbits and although our bromance was short-lived, our conversation will live long in the memory.

6 – Twitter connects people, globally.

The conversations above involved real people. However, I have deliberately referenced their Twitter handles as connected teachers NEED to be on Twitter. I didn’t meet one ADE who was not on the influential social media and when we began work with our communities (like-minded professionals), we all instantly exchanged Twitter handles and have used it as a forum of discussion and collaboration ever since. The collaboration within our groups was truly first class: problems were aired to the table and solutions found within seconds. Imagine every staffroom being that productive. My brilliant group consisted of these fabulous educators, all of whom are well-worth a follow –   nielswijnhoud  However, global connectivity is not simply limited to twitter, it is with great excitement that I am now looking forward to sharing content on the brilliant iPad Educators site founded and run by the inspirational ADE, Steve Bambury (@steve_bambury).

7 – I love creativity

Another highlight was the live demonstration of Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro by two Apple employees, who basically designed them. It was mind blowing. They started with a few pictures and video clips and then, live on stage, cut between the two programmes to produce a stunning short clip, complete with self-composed sound track and 3D titles. Very cool and an idea of how (relatively) simple it has become for students to produce high quality productions if they have the necessary tools.

8 – Profile Manager is getting better

As mentioned before, we roll out a 1:2:1 iPad project across Year Six in September. This is a big deal for any school and we want it to work. We have installed a significant amount of trust in our resellers, Solutions INC from Brighton, and they have recommended we use the Lightspeed MDM version as the original Profile Manager would not be fit for our needs. We have used Profile Manager with our shared devices and it has been OK. However, the session on the Profile Manager updates suggested that Apple were increasingly aware of the drawbacks and were making forward thinking changes that will enable it to be more trustworthy in a 1:2:1 setting. However, I`m going to wait until I hear feedback from other schools before suggesting any form of change…

9 – Photography really is an art


Bill Frakes inspired photography by Gavin Smart

Another highlight of the week was the session by Bill Frakes, a Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer and general fascinating bloke. His photography is stunning and he showed a film that showcased his talents and his focus on the sky. It really was a breathtaking session and reiterated the talent required to spot everyday occurrences, moments in life, and turn them into extraordinary art. After the session, @gavinsmart emulated Frakes with this great shot which, unbeknown to me, featured myself calling home. I did attempt to emulate Frakes myself when I got to the beach after a run, however my work resembled a photograph taken by 5 year old learning how to use a camera for the first time. In fact, that’s probably a disservice to 5 year olds but did re-iterate the talent photographers have.

10 – Every Teacher has a story

People. The abiding memory of the ADE Institute 2015 in Amsterdam is people. From the initial shuttle bus to our hotel, right until my train journey back to London Victoria, conversation was flowing about the fascinating, absorbing and compelling world of education. Meeting so many great educators was a real privilege and listening to each respective story reiterated what a wonderful job we all do. Living during a time of international tension and conflict, it was so refreshing to meet people from every corner of the planet, each with a common goal and a unique story to share.

Interactive Digital Workflow

Its happening. In September, we are initiating a 1:2:1 iPad project across Year Six! Two years of research, planning, hard work and graft have paid off and the school is looking forward to an exciting 2015-2016 full of new and engaging learning opportunities. Considering where the school was a couple of years ago, with regard to tech-infrastructure, it really is a huge step-forward. However, for the project to be successful, a clear and well-structured Digital Workflow is paramount to it’s success. Using the awesome Thinglink, I have created an interactive version for use by our teachers. It gives them an opportunity to learn more about the Apps/Tools and also provides information on how they could be used.


The King’s Prep digital workflow is based on an original by Greg Hughes but adapted to fit the needs of our school. Establishing a digital workflow helps classrooms operate with efficiency and allows teachers to personalise instruction, collect, mark, assess and return  work. Establishing a successful workflow requires careful thought, experimentation, and research into the best apps for accomplishing tasks in the context of your school.

Thinglink Revision Guides

The stress of exams live long in the memory

As an adult, I love Spring and saying goodbye to long, dark and cold nights. However, I distinctly remember as a teenager, dreading what has traditionally been exam season. In an attempt to alleviate some the stress inflicted on our y8’s,  I decided to dedicate the computing curriculum time to revision in other subjects.

This may sound odd, and neglectful of computing, but my theory is that by using technology to create engaging, interactive revision guides that both bookmarked useful sites and allowed students to create their own content, I would be providing them with the best of both worlds; time to learn, consolidate and revise but also time to create high quality digital content.

The ideal tool to do this is Thinglink. A free resource that allows users to pin links/video clips/images to an image of their choosing.

Example of student description of link

Students were encouraged to pick curriculum areas in which they lacked confidence and then develop their research skills and collate useful and helpful websites. Short descriptions and links were then added to their Thinglinks that explained the resource at the other end of the link.

Once 3/4 quality links were attached to their ThingLinks, students were then encouraged to create their own content. This could take the form of a film, blog post, podcast, popplet, quiz, prezi or whatever students thought would allow them to create content that would be useful for themselves and for their peers.

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 19.32.48

Examples of positive and constructive student comments.

Finally, once completed, the students embedded their ThingLinks onto their year group blog. Each student was also careful to ensure that they categorised their work properly therefore creating what is now a complete revision hub, across all subjects, available to all students locally and indeed, globally! The categories range from German Revision to the Great Reform Act and contain superb links to both web content and self-created content. Another huge advantage of blogging is the ability for children to comment on each others work. This has done wonders for their self-esteem and has also created a great atmosphere of collegiality between the students .

I have embedded a few examples below but please take the time to visit their class page and even better, leave a comment or two!

Maths: iPad & Padlet

I recently ran a CPD session for our maths department and was short of ideas; however I knew I wanted to avoid simply going through times table or division drill apps. A quick text chat with fellow ADE and good friend, Marc Faulder, pointed me in the right direction and I decided to demonstrate how you can use Padlet, and a variety of free maths apps to challenge thinking and use technology to provide stimulating, engaging and fun learning opportunities!

Set up your Padlet and pose a question 

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 16.31.37
Pose your question at the top of your padlet and then invite children to join the padlet on their iPads via the self-generated QR code. They can scan straight from the IAW/screen or from a pre-printed copy or even via a link shared on your school learning network.

Think 3D

The question posed on the Padlet read:

Using the Think 3D App OR Unifix Blocks, create your own cuboid with a volume of 18 cubes. Take photos or screen shots then open the Skitch App and draw the dimensions. How many different objects can we make with a volume of 18? Which is the longest/tallest/widest/highest?

Students can answer the question by either using unifix cubes or the Think 3D App and then annotate over the image using Skitch:


Maths Learning Centre Apps.

The FREE apps from the maths learning centre are a revelation! There are eight available; Number Line, Number Pieces Basic, Geoboard, Number Frames, Pattern Shapes, Number Pieces, Math Vocab and Number Rack. They really are fantastic tools for the classroom and incredibly user friendly.

The example below uses the Geoboard App and the question posed on the Padlet was:

“How many different rectangles can you make with an area of 12cm²?”



Adding Work To Padlet


Once the students have drawn their rectangles, they can save to camera roll by taking a screen shot and the upload to Padlet using the upload button:

From Skitch

Another setting worth noting on Padlet is the ability to change the layout into a grid. This means that when students contribute their work, it automatically goes into a clear and easy to follow grid formation:

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 17.14.45Once the work is on the board, students can be invited to present their work and question their peers understanding. Students work can be enlarger, simply by clicking on it.

Padlet really is a great classroom tool and its use should not be limited to maths. It can be used across the curriculum in a variety of different ways and I encourage you to give it a go!





The Jigsaw of a Successful School

Sometimes things just make sense. Take for example, the ‘Jigsaw of a Successful School’ graphic that was shared at a recent NPQSL seminar; it instantly resonated with me and invited reflection.  The graphic below lays out the elements of a successful school into a 15 piece jigsaw. The pieces are not sequential or expected to be simultaneous. However, according to their author – Professor Tim Brighouse – they are all interrelated and ‘depend on one another to keep a school developing’.

The jigsaw analogy is fully explained in Professor Brighouse’s superb publication ‘Essential Pieces; The Jigsaw of a Successful School’ and certainly supplies a large portion of food for thought for teachers, leaders and indeed all members of a school community.