Benidorm, Bars & Education 

I recently went on a 5-night stag-do to Benidorm; not ‘MY’ stag-do I hastened to add! I know what you’re thinking… ‘You’re too old for that’… Correct? Well, yes, you are probably right!

There were 9 of us on the trip and many of us have been friends for many years. However, as with any group of people, we have different interests, listen to a wide range of music and enjoy a variety of social activities. Bearing that in mind, on the first day, we went to a bar on the sea front called Daytona’s. There are hundreds of bars in Benidorm and I have no statistical evidence to say whether this bar is any ‘better/worse’ or ‘more/less popular’ than any other. However, we went back to that bar everyday… and stayed all day… and the decision to do so was unanimous.

So… Why was this?
Well, interestingly, unlike 75% of the bars in Benidorm, there were less ‘stag-do type antics’ in this bar and the beer was slightly more expensive than everywhere else too. Moreover, the toilets were not as clean as they were in other bars and there was a strong smell of vomit near the DJ booth… SO WHY ON EARTH DID WE GO BACK ALL DAY EVERYDAY!?!?

Well… After just a couple of hours on our first visit, the bar staff knew what we were drinking and would have our drinks ready as we approached the bar. On the second day, the bar staff would serve us first, even if we were 2nd or 3rd in the queue. The band (the same one played twice daily) began to play our requests and reply to our banter. On day three, two gentlemen (who were a little worse-for-wear) gave our group some grief and they were asked to leave immediately. On day four, we passed a member of bar staff in the street and she greeted us like old friends.

Put simply, we went back because of how we were made to feel.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

In the context of Sinek’s Golden Circle, this is a bar that understands its WHY. WHAT they do/offer is not that much different to any other bar in Benidorm; in many ways, WHAT they did was less appealing. However, whereas most other bars in Benidorm focus on WHAT they offer and use manipulation (price, offers, deals etc) to draw you in, Daytona’s focus on their WHY: to have fun and enjoy yourself… Moreover, their HOW and WHAT ‘lives, breathes and communicates’ their WHY; a perfect example of how loyalty is formed when people buy ‘why you do it’ not ‘what you do’.

What’s more, this example also perfectly demonstrates the importance of relationships. But, because they started with the WHY, the importance of relationships formed part of their HOW, which in turn sold their WHAT.

If I were ever to return to Benidorm (which is questionable) you would find me in one bar… Rocking out to Dire Straits with a beer in my hand… Having fun and enjoying myself… Why? Because people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. The WHY creates a culture that people want to be a part of; it creates a sense of family and generates loyalty.

If we are honest with ourselves, how many of us (teachers, schools etc) focus on WHAT we ‘do’ (often without a clear understanding of WHY we’re doing it) and use manipulation to get ‘buy-in’ from our pupils? How do we use our WHY to create a culture of learning, that people want to be a part of and that generates loyalty, meaning, excitement, purpose and enjoyment?

Sugata Mitra recently said, ‘the purpose of schooling is to enable people to live happy, healthy & productive lives’. Is this your WHY? If so, do your pupils know? Is it clear? Do the things that you do (your WHAT) represent your WHY?

Not a particularly thought provoking blog-post, I know. Perhaps the biggest question to come from this is… HOW DID I GO ON A 5-NIGHT STAG-DO & COME BACK THINKING ABOUT SINEK’S GOLDEN CIRCLE?


SOLE Part 2

In my last post SOLE Part 1 – I outlined the reason/purpose and methodology behind this study. This week, the sessions were delivered.

Here are the phases/year groups BIG questions and a selection of photographs from the week…

Foundations StageIMG_0387

Key Stage 1IMG_0388

Year 3IMG_0389

Year 4IMG_0390

Upper Key Stage 2IMG_0391

It is possible that this weeks SOLE based Lesson Study has raised more questions than it has answered. However, one thing is certain; if SOLE is to be implemented/used effectively, it requires as much strategic planning and rigour as any other pedagogical method – such as CBL, PBL etc – to be successful.  We have witnessed incredible learning this week, including Foundation Stage children discussing and understanding scientific concepts from KS3 programmes of study. However, we have also encountered difficulties, particularly with regards to individuals’ collaborative skills and reading ability. This is where careful planning needs to take place; what skills do children need to possess to participate/be successful in a SOLE session? This is about developing skills and attitudes that children need to initiate their own learning.

Whether you agree, or disagree, with this…


…or this…


…surely, as a profession, we can agree that developing skills and attitudes that children need to initiate their own learning, is vital… can’t we?!

Add your ideas here –


SOLE Part 1

In April 2015, I had the pleasure of meeting Sugata Mitra. As part of the Eos International Conference, I was privileged to observe Sugata Mitra deliver a SOLE session at Harstholme Academy and listen to his keynote at the conference itself. Prior to this, I had also watched all of his TED Talks. Since then, I and other colleagues have experimented with SOLE sessions with our pupils. I have also, via Twitter, read numerous blog posts both for and against this method of learning. To be blunt, SOLE is a bit like Marmite; you either love it or you hate it. When it comes to SOLE, it is safe to say that educators have very strong opinions on both sides!

As a result, I decided to make SOLE the focus of our latest Lesson Study at school. For 2 years now, we have used Lesson Study (with great success) as a way of experimenting with and embedding new ideas and pedagogies.

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Before the study started, I asked staff to peruse the School in the Cloud website and I posed the following questions…

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Although we call what we do ‘Lesson Study’, we do not follow the process set out at to the letter. At our school, teachers (in groups of 4-6) plan, deliver and evaluate a lesson. We conduct 3 studies per academic year and each study has a specific focus – e.g. Math through CBL or Writing through SOLE.

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Today, groups planned their SOLE sessions. In my next post (SOLE Part 2), I will share these sessions and attempt to answer MY BIG QUESTION… Are Self Organised Learning Environments an effective way of learning?

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My Interview with

I recently did an interview for with Kathleen McClaskey and Barbara Bray. You can find it here:


‘Messy Learning: Interview with Chris Edwards


Chris Edwards is a year 2 – Class2CE teacher at Chad Varah Primary School, Addison Drive, Lincoln, England. The school is for children in years F (4yrs old) to 6 (11yrs old) with nearly 500 children in the school. There are 2 forms (classes) per year group with approximately 30 children in each form (class). Before Chris became a teacher, he was a professional musician. During that time, he occasionally worked with children, teaching music. Chris loved it so much that he decided to become a teacher. He has now been teaching six years.

We have been asked by primary teachers how to personalize learning for young children, so we interviewed Chris how he has personalized learning for children 6 to 7 years old.

Q. Why did you decide to personalize learning?
A. I decided to personalise learning in my classroom about a year ago. I watched a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson (the king of creativity) speaking about how he believes that our current education system is killing creativity. What made me think the most was when he said this: “Shakespeare was in someone’s class once, right?” And I thought wow! I have never considered who I may have in my class! I had never realised that in my class could be the next Steve Jobs, the next Prime Minister… What if there is a child in my class now who has the potential to cure cancer… When I started thinking in this way, it changed everything. It made me realise that the most important thing was ensuring that every individual child in my class, realised and reached their full potential.

To make things worse, with that in mind, when I evaluated the teaching and learning in my classroom, I realised that it was not fit for purpose. Regardless of the good observations, I couldn’t, hand on heart, say that the teaching and learning in my classroom inspired and enabled every individual to reach their full potential and develop their individual talents. So I changed it. [Read about how Chris used iPads during an evaluation hiding in his cupboard while his children researched how to bring him home from Greenland.]

I am confident that I now have a system in place that doesn’t kill creativity but rather encourages and engages children in learning. Most importantly I’m confident that we are developing an environment in which all children, supported by me (the facilitator), can begin to realise and reach their full potential.

Q. How are learners in your class changing?
A. The learners in my class are changing in a very noticeable way. The learners in my class are no longer passive. They are engaged in their own learning and are motivated. Most importantly, they are learning to be resourceful and resilient. Learning anything is an inherently frustrating process. How can it not be? If we knew it all already, we would not be “learning”! Therefore, having a personality that is more likely to carry on despite frustrations – that is, being academically resilient – is proving to be a huge success. In the form of the iPad, children have a multi-purpose tool that enables them to problem solve effectively. This is helping children to become resourceful and resilient.

Q. What are you going to do to different this year in your classroom?
A. Over this next academic year I will be carrying out a small scale research project. I have called this project ‘Messy Learning.’ Over the course of the year, I will focus on and try to answer the following questions…
Can we ensure better progress (against nation curriculum targets – movement through lit and num levels) when we engage children in personalised learning using handheld devices?
Are children more likely to discover and develop their individual talents when engaged in personalised learning and are using handheld devices?
Is it important that children discover and develop their individual talents or should we focus on basic skills (literacy and numbers)?

Q. How did you change your classroom?
A. I learned how to redesign my classroom from Kevin McLaughlin. Here are a few pictures of the redesign of my classroom.’