As a southerner I sat and watched the tweets stream through for Northern Rocks last year and was amazing by the incredible energy and positivity that exploded from my phone and the ORRsome singing at the end. So when tickets were released late last year I was encouraged by Crista Hazell to come along I dutifully purchased my ticket and thought nothing more of it. Until about a month before when a buzz started again thorough Twitter and the reality of a 6-7 hour car journey loomed on the horizon.

So Friday arrived and luckily I only had to drive the two hours to Gloucester after seeing my year 11s into their final science exam. I met up with Crista and another car full of eager not so sothern teachers and we set off on the road trip from hell. Through torrential rain with two coffee stops on the way eventually reaching our destination. Crista doing a Stirling job.

I got to share a room with @Chocotzar and @betsysalt two amazing Bristol heads whose conversations about what they do on a daily basis leave me speechless. We made our way to the bar where we met up with other northern rockers Rachel Orr, recognised by her shoes of course, Rachel Rossiter, Tim Taylor and many others who my tired brain couldn’t remember. Conversations were started like old friends even though we’d only just met, this is the testament to the power of Twitter. “It was well late miss” when we retired.

Saturday started with an amazing panel of speakers who discussed questions that even though I’ve only been teaching for four years as a late comer to the profession I am already relating to. The struggle between accountability and performance. Creative arts versus traditional subjects, age, OFSTED, curriculum changes. All these were delivered with insight, passion and a real belief that we need to remember why we are here and what our real role is. To teach.

I attended four workshops, who will have been blogged about by the presenters themselves and some much more eloquent bloggers than me, but will include links to videos and presentation.

Martin Illingworth @MartinIllingworth


Rory Gallagher @EddieKayshun

Staff Room Blog on NRocks2015


Chris Waugh @ Edutronic_Net


Website/Blog the reason he exisits

John Tomsett @johntomsett



The final debate of the day was between Stephen Harford from OFSTED and Mary Bousted, I felt this was even and well balanced. Who won, well I’ll keep that to myself.

My overriding takeaways from the event is about the connections we make with other educators who remind us what the most important part of our job is.

We are teachers of children who are looking to us to provide an environment where they can flourish, struggle, fail, succeed, expand thier mind,  test their meetle, shrink and hide when they need, buck the rules but realise that they are there for a reason, ask them to look beyond their room, home, town, push them to be more than they ever thought they could be. We are not there to tick a box, fill a basket, meet a requirement of some arbitrary organisation sent i to to inspect us. Because if we are doing the first things then the rest will take care of itself.

I have reclaimed  pedagogical techniques that I can use in my classroom now that will make a difference to my learners today. I have shared over various forms of beverages ideas for teaching, from differentiation, to challenging pupil premium students, to raising expectations of gifted and talented, to the merits of curriculum change that I have no influence over. Plus I have listened bizarre for me I know to wiser more experienced teachers talk of their solutions, struggles and how it’s the same for them.

Northern Rocks reminded me that I am a teacher first and I have come away with some real pedagogical strategies that I can implement straight away into my teaching that will make a real difference to my pupils.

The connections that we make with like minded educators at these events help us to remember that we are responsible in ensuring we prepare our pupils for a future.

I am renewed in my belief that I’m not just a biology teacher but my job is to stretch and challenge my pupils, encourage them to test their meetle, fail, succeed, push them beyond their limits so their brains hurt and they moan about it being too hard, remind them that I have an unwavering belief in them that they can be the best them they can be, support them to have opinions even if they are different to others. Challenge the status quo in a mature and well argued fashion. Be creative, innovative, numerate, literate, articulate. Be respectful, kind, aware humans. But above all be themselves, individuals who all have a potential to fulfil no matter thier start and finally a true sense of themselves.

Ultimately the North does rock and roll ( thanks to David Cameron) with apologies for my bad jiving (blushing). It was worth the long drive up and thanks to @chocotzar for the return drive back to Gloucester.

Keep Rockin’