Love what you do, and do what you love. For me, this is a great formula for a happy life, and also for a successful working life. I sometimes joke that I haven't done a day's work in 20 years. The fact is, I get paid to do what I love to do, which is teaching and research. When I was younger, my careers teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I left school. Without missing a beat I replied: 'I want to be an astronaut.' The teacher wasn't impressed.

I was persuaded that outer space probably wasn't where I was destined to be. I went off and did other things for a while which didn't really satisfy my curiosity. But deep down inside, my mind and my heart were committed to exploration, and I began to learn new skills.
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I saw this graphic on Twitter today (via Chris Cline) and it made me think. Are there really two types of schools, or is this really an oversimplification? I would argue from my own experiences of visiting hundreds of schools across the globe, that there is actually a spectrum. Clearly the binary is used as a rhetorical device, and in reality, each teacher is unique in the way they approach and practice their pedagogy. And yet there is a cogent argument in this statement.

One of the first things I ever learnt, right at the start of my teaching career, was that enthusiasm and passion often carry the day. Teachers who are passionate about their subject often infect their students with the same passion. Without some enthusiasm to study, the lesson is dull and dead. Teachers who are passionate usually go the extra mile to find that additional resource, or extra activity that enlivens learning, and enriches the student experience. My main subject is psychology.
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We have known for a while that Sats - or statutory assessments - are there to provide the government with metrics about schools, and have very little to do with children's learning. We need to assess children's learning to ensure they are progressing. But there are several problems with Sats that constantly and regularly rear their ugly heads.

Firstly, there are many better ways to assess children's learning than testing.

It's not an easy prospect to decide who should define the curriculum. Over 150 of my third year education students are grappling with this conundrum as I write. They have to write a 5000 word essay (their final one before they leave the university to take up their first jobs in primary teaching), and they have to try to come up with an answer. It's a tough assignment.

Clearly, there are numerous perspectives on this question.
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Reading through Keith Ansell's blog earlier this week took me a little by surprise. He had casually informed me that he had returned to blogging after a bit of a break, but I hadn't realised the extent to which he had 'returned'. He is prolific. He is also very insightful about what some might consider the more mundane aspects of teaching. Keith has commented on several recent lectures, school visits, and on numerous ideas and teaching experiences from his own work.

Here's another post in my continuing series on teacher voices. I'm interviewing some of my former students who have gone on to become teachers. In this post, we hear from Stew Matthews, who graduated from Plymouth University in 2010. He is now director of computing for the Park Federation where he is responsible for the technology provision of several schools near London. In his busy schedule he still manages to teach specialist sessions in computing.

There's a wonderful scene in the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire. It's where English sprinter Harold Abrahams (who believed he was the best in the UK) has been unexpectedly and soundly defeated by former Scottish international rugby player Eric Liddell in the 400 m.

After the race, Abrahams is sat despondently in the deserted stands, holding his head in his hands. Suddenly, a voice from below interrupts his misery. Down on the track, gazing up at him is the famous athletics coach Sam Massabini.

This is a continuation of my series of interviews with former students who are now teachers. The interview on this page features Kate Bartlett, a teacher at a primary school in Cornwall. You can follow her on Twitter as MissBartlettNQT.

1) What made you decide to become a teacher? What/who inspired you? What were your motivations?

I’d worked so many jobs where I was constantly bored, uninspired and felt like I was just muddling through life.

Do you need thinking space? What kind of space best encourages you to think creatively?

Recently I spent a week working in Singapore with the Lifelong Learning Institute. My base was iNLAB - a purpose built unit designed specifically to promote ideation - creative thinking and innovation. The image on this page is the communal area where students and staff can take breaks.
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