The OAKS Experience

Good luck to all of our trainees in their Phase 3 placement schools

All course fees for PGCE and School Direct routes remain at £9,000 for 2018/19

The OAKS Promotional Video - Coming Soon

The OAKS Experience - New blog page added in the 'About Us' section. If you wish to contribute, please contact Dave Da Silva (

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Bill Gates - A great teacher can be 'the most important factor'

As yet another cold spell hits the UK, the number of timetabled lessons increase and exam season looms on the horizon, it's not difficult to see why this time of the year can be quite stressful for all teachers. Our trainees are also still 'finding their feet' settling into a new school, so it is easy to feel quite overwhelmed with things at this time of year.

It's important in times like these, to remind ourselves, why we do what we do. The Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates, says having a great teacher can be 'the most important factor' that determines whether students receive a great education.

This week it was announced that a London-based teacher is in the running for the million-dollar Global Teacher Prize. In a video message paying tribute to the finalists, Gates said: “When you think about what drives progress and improvement in the world, education is like a master switch – one that opens up all sorts of opportunities for individuals and societies".

He also went on to say that "research has shown that having a great teacher can be the most important factor that determines whether students get a great education.”

He also added: “Just as important, these teachers are leaders who have innovated in the classroom and mentored their colleagues. They have demonstrated the kind of collaboration – teachers and schools working together – that can give all students the opportunity to get a great education.”

Click here for related video

So as you are cranking up the heating, drinking your twelfth cup of coffee and adapting your lesson plan for the fourth time, remember that you are making a difference to the lives of the pupils that you teach every single day. Who knows, it may be you nominated next year!

17th March 2018

Filming for The OAKS Promotional Video (Day Two)

The OAKS will continue with the filming for the new promotional video over the next few weeks. We are excited to be working with Ian Wilkinson and Design3i again, who have been treating us to 'sneak previews' of the footage captured already.

During the day (TBC), we will be largely centered around the Keele campus, however we may also be visiting other schools within the Partnership.

We are currently finalising the timetable for the day, however if you have any ideas or wish to be involved, please comment below or email Dave Da Silva (

14th March 2018

30th Anniversary of Pi Day

Pi Day is an annual celebration of the mathematical constant π. Pi Day is observed on March 14 since 3, 1, and 4 are the first three significant digits of π. As we are all teachers of numeracy, how will you incorporate this into your lessons today? Visit the Pi Day website or follow the Google link (today only) for more details.

14th March 2018

Mountain Biking With Burton PRU

Yesterday, half of our current cohort of trainees joined the Burton Pupil Referral Unit staff for a guided mountain bike ride at Cannock Chase.

Throughout the day, the group took part in the cycling activity and then attended a 'classroom-based' session, where they discussed the benefits offsite activities bring to pupils and how multiple factors can effect behaviour and engagement.

We'd like to thank both Adrian and Simon of Burton PRU, who provided us with a thoroughly enjoyable and informative experience.

We'd also like to thank one of our History trainees, Ed, for the impromptu 'warm up' and for keeping the others, including Social Scientist, Robyn, 'on their toes' prior to the cycling activity.

08th March 2018

Phase 3 Starts Today!

May we wish all of our trainees the best of luck in starting their Phase 3 placements this morning. We also wish to thank all of our partnership schools for hosting them and for their continued support of The OAKS and our trainee teachers.

We would also like to say a huge thank you to our own Rob Tweats, who supported by Kirsty Pickin, have worked tirelessly to organise these over the last few weeks.

26th February 2018

SEND & Alternative Educational Provision Carousel Week

Last week, our trainees took part in the SEND and Alternative Provision Carousel Week. These short-term placements allowed them to gain other vital school or education related experiences, that differs from those provided in mainstream schools.

During the week, trainees were able to visit a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU), spend time in a special school for SEND experience, have a MAPP (multi –agency placements) entitlement and/or explore EAL (English as an additional language) in multi-cultural partnership schools.

Four of our trainees (Andy, Joe, Neil & Sophie), joined the Burton Pupil Referral Unit staff for a guided moutain bike ride at Cannock Chase. Throughout the day, staff discussed the benefits offsite activities bring to PRU students & how multiple factors can effect behaviour.

Adrian Malone of the PRU, stated that, "all four trainees were keen, enthusiastic, eager to learn & showed professionalism during their 2 days with us".

The SEND and Alternative Provision week has been a huge success, with our thanks going to Gill Hayden, who has worked tirelessly to organise such an enriching experience for our trainees. Thanks to all of the schools and organisations involved during the week, especially Burton Pupil Referral Unit for the poster they created for us. We look forward to seeing you all again in March. Bring on Cardiac Hill!

18th February 2018

Independent Learning CPD @ The Earls High School

The Earls High School wish to invite you to an Independent Learning CPD session on Monday 12th March.

Getting the balance right between covering course content and creating independent learners is a real challenge.

This 2 hour session begins to explore some of the ways we can help our students to develop the lifelong skills of being an independent learner, whilst making sure that course content is not left on the side-lines.

The cost of this session is £25 for the first place, £20 for the second. For further details, please download their flyer and to book a place, please email:

18th February 2018


On a cold, February day, seven English trainees from the OAKS, transported a group of Year 9 boys to an exotic location: a classroom in one of our Partnership schools was transformed into a desert island paradise. There were palm trees, colourful flowers and, playing in the background, soothing, gentle wave sounds: just the thing for a cold, snowy, February day!!

Prompted by the film "Castaway", our adventurous group of seven trainees rose to the challenge and devised and resourced a variety of kinesthetic activities to develop creative writing skills. The boys were treated to different activities: a sand tray brimming with desert island objects; a variety of tropical food to taste: seaweed, mango and coconut milk (not to everyone's liking); computer programmes, a virtual head set capturing what it would be like to swim to the island and a number of other experiences.

Throughout the day, our Year 9 "castaways" visited each trainee's "workshop". They were encouraged, supported and challenged to “have a go" by our trainees, who put in a lot of time and effort. It’s not easy delivering the same fifteen - twenty minute slot seven times throughout the day!! But, at the end of an exhausting day, our trainees were rewarded with a display of impressive pieces of writing. An unforgettable, rewarding (if, at times, tiring) experience for us all - hopefully, one the boys will remember for a long time to come. The castaways from last year, so their teacher said, still talk about the day - one year on!

Our thanks to everyone who took part, and to the staff and Headteacher of Ormiston Meridian Academy for accommodating us. The Castaway creative writing winners are seen receiving their certificates from Jamie Peacock, English Subject Expert for The OAKS (click here).

13th February 2018

Subject Experts Day @ Walton High School

Walton High School recently played host to two of our Subject Expert sessions, namely Music and Business Studies.

Music Subject Expert, Val Lewis, and the trainees explored the common approaches to the teaching of Music within the curriculum and explained how the trainees can use their prior experiences of learning to inform their practice in the future.

Our Business trainees and their Subject Expert, Jade Slater, discussed the practical application of their subject and explored the related pedagogy needed to transfer this knowledge to the pupils.

May we thank everyone involved at Walton High School for kindly allowing us to film during the day.

12th February 2018

History and English at Ormiston Meridian Academy

Ormiston Meridian Academy were the kind hosts of both the History and our English trainees.

English Subject Expert, Jamie Peacock, alongside OAKS Tutor, Mike Bambury, and the English trainees, ran a writing workshop, with pupils moving around the room to different stations developing their creative writing skills. These ranged from the use of virtual reality headsets to pupils tasting foods such as passion fruit and octopus.

Our Historians joined Lee Davies, their Subject Expert, for a trip to Gladstone Pottery Museum. Prior to this, we were able to capture a section of their preparation for The OAKS forthcoming promotional video.

May we thank everyone involved at Ormiston Meridian Academy for allowing us to join them during the day.

12th February 2018

Anyone for Algae?

Beth Collins, our Biology Subject Expert from Sir Graham Balfour, provided our trainees with another practical session, modelling how these experiments would be applied within the trainees' lessons.

May we thank Beth and everyone involved at Sir Graham Balfour for kindly allowing us to film during the day.

12th February 2018

Subject Experts Spotted at Keele

Our Physics trainees were treated to a session at Keele Observatory by their Subject Expert, Jess Turner. Jess, who teaches at Walton High School, discussed how to capture the interests of the pupils and provided practical strategies for learning outside of the classroom.

Other Keele-based sessions included Maths with Holly Morgan (another Walton High School based Subject Expert) and our very own Kate Smith provided a multi-sensory experience for the Languages trainees

Thanks to Jess, Holly, Kate and everyone involved at Keele for allowing us to capture a sample of the wonderful sessions on offer.

12th February 2018

Drama at OSSMA

Our recent Subject Expert day provided our trainees' with opportunity to reflect with their subject-based peers and explore practical advice/strategies gained from the subject experts themselves.

Angie Fleming, our Subject Expert for Drama, kindly allowed us to film a small section of her session at her school, OSSMA (Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews Academy) for the forthcoming OAKS video. Drama trainee Jade, was filmed developing a dialogue with the pupils, who were quick to apply the advice given to their impressive performances.

May we thank everyone involved at OSSMA for all of their help and for allowing us to capture this on camera.

12th February 2018

Lights, Camera and Action!

The OAKS began filming for the new promotional video yesterday. We are excited to be working with Ian Wilkinson and Design3i, who will be creating the final product. Ian and his team have worked with a huge number of educational organisations previously, with breathtaking results as can be seen via their website.

We will be providing a 'running commentary' throughout the process, with additional filming days being planned in the near future. If you would like to be involved in these, please contact Dave Da Silva ( or comment below.

Thanks to all of the schools, staff, trainees and pupils involved for all of their hard work and professionalism during the day. The schools visited during the day were:

Please watch this space for further information on all of the sessions filmed and hopefully, for short previews of the video itself.

08th February 2018

The Training to Teach Roadshow @ Staffordshire University

Last night, The OAKS was represented at the 'Train to Teach Roadshow', hosted by Staffordshire University. The event, which ran between 4pm and 7pm, was extremely well-attended, with a constant stream of visitors inquiring into teacher training at The OAKS.

Our stall was staffed by OAKS tutors, Andy and Dave, assisted by one of our current English trainees, Robyn Johnson. Robyn's commitment and enthusiasm were invaluable as she was eager to speak to everyone and promote The OAKS in the best possible way. Considering she had an interview today, Robyn travelled to the event straight after her Keele PGCE sessions. She was exceptional, undoubtedly enhancing our profile with visitors who were able to gain firsthand advice from one of our current trainee teachers.

The OAKS tutors were extremely proud to have Robyn on-board and thank her for giving up her valuable time to assist them on the night.

01st February 2018

Learning to Love Bloom’s by Evie Ford

Bloom’s Taxonomy – the trainee teacher’s 'Marmite'. Love it or hate it, you won’t stop hearing about it. It goes hand in hand with another stalwart of education today – differentiation. Some of the questions you’ll hear on what feels like a daily basis will include:

“Have you considered using Bloom’s for this?”
“I’ve referenced Bloom’s in my essay”.
“I keep a copy of Bloom’s on my wall”.
“I have a diagram on Bloom’s on my learning objectives”.

The question I personally had was how the blooming hell can Bloom’s actually be used effectively without simply constantly referencing to it as the teaching Mecca. Over the past few weeks I’ve finally managed to begin to use it to not only make my lesson plans look better but to also actually help my pupils understand what they are doing and why.

Ask your pupils “can you analyse something in-depth without knowing much about it”? Follow this up by showing them Bloom’s Taxonomy, going through each step. Explaining why it is important for them to ensure they revise the knowledge they have been taught before they are able to develop their higher level skills of evaluation, critical application, etc. This can help break it down further and explain why we teach the way we do. Pupils often respond well to you explaining why we have to do things the way we do as they appreciate the honesty. Explaining targeted differentiation to my Year 9 quickly whilst my mentor popped out of the room helped stop their questions regarding why they couldn’t choose who answered and enabled me to continue teaching my lesson!

Use Bloom’s for your learning objectives – differentiate them using the differing levels. For example:

    You MUST be able to identify what period A Christmas Carol was written in and three facts about what the conditions were like then.

    You SHOULD be able to apply this knowledge to a question that focuses heavily on social historical context regarding A Christmas Carol.

    You COULD evaluate the importance of the social historical context when analysing a text in response to an exam question.

Use Bloom’s in your verbal questioning – write down on your lesson plan who you will be targeting using what sentence openers based on Bloom’s. For a low-ability student you may ask them to recall something, but for a high-ability student you may ask them to synthesise information from two different texts and compare, for example.

Bloom’s can be a nice, easy theorist to chuck into your essay but it can also help you structure your lesson, differentiate your material, and teach your pupils why they learn the way they do. Time to start loving Bloom’s instead of loathing the jargon-filled posters that the Bloom’s groupies stick on their walls.

Evie Ford is a current English trainee at The OAKS.

30th January 2018

Train to Teach Within the Stoke Hub

If you want to inspire, motivate and shape the intellectual curiosity of young people, then apply to teach within our Stoke Hub now.

If so, please download the latest flyer, or contact us via email (

30th January 2018

Teacher Training within the Stafford Hub

Do you want to inspire, motivate, support, guide, and share your subject passion with young people in the Stafford area?

If so, please contact Sir Graham Balfour, our lead school for the Staffordshire Hub. Please download their latest flyer and/or click here for further information.

29th January 2018

A 'Bit' of a Blast from the Past

Mike Hanson, a current OAKS Computer Science trainee with a background in digital art, has been extremely busy making his mark in his placement school, Sir Thomas Boughey Academy.

Mike has provided us with examples of sample material from a Computing Christmas Fayre exhibit; this stall was created by Mike while getting involved with the school’s extra-curricular activities. Mike explained that, "teaching is not just about subject knowledge and pedagogy. Sharing a love of retro-technology is just one example of the ways in which the OAKS'students can use our interests to interact with their pupils".

Mike has also provided sample material from a Computing Department notice board (see below), stating that, "there are many opportunities for our students to shine. By playing to their strengths their very environment can become a visceral adventure of engagement and learning".

This 'illustrates' the level of creativity and commitment our trainees bring into schools.

26th January 2018

PGCE Sessions @ Keele

Our trainees were back at Keele today, taking part in two separate sessions during the day.

The 'Managing Other Adults in our Classroom' session, delivered by Erica Clifford, guided our trainees on how to engage with other classroom staff effectively to promote pupil progress. This is linked strongly to becoming an outstanding practitioner and is currently a National Priority within Initial Teacher Education.

Gill Hayden's session, 'Vocational Post-16 Courses', allowed our trainees to increase their understanding on the choices facing our secondary pupils at the end of Key Stage Four.

Next Wednesday will again comprise of two informative sessions. Linda Linden, our Subject Expert for Religious Education, will be covering aspects of SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural) Development. Additionally, Erica Clifford will be discussing 'Learning Curriculum Beyond the Classroom' with particular focus on the trainees' subject specialisms.

24th January 2018

The OAKS @ The Train to Teach Roadshow (31/01/18)

Interested in a career in teaching?

The OAKS will be represented at the Train to Teach Roadshow, hosted at Staffordshire University on Wednesday 31st. January 2018.

If you are interested in a career in teaching, come along and find out everything you need to know about teacher training at The OAKS. This is a brilliant opportunity to have all of your questions answered by our team.

Best of all, it's completely free and you can even grab yourself an OAKS stress ball, some post-it notes and a pen!

Please click here to register for the event.

23rd January 2018

The OAKS Resources and Teaching Ideas

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much" — Helen Keller We are accepting invites to The OAKS Resources and Teaching Ideas collaborative Facebook group. This is a space where we can share teaching ideas and resources and is open to all of our Partnership school-based staff and trainees past and present.

If interested, please follow the link above or click here.

23rd January 2018

Preparation for End of Phase

For our current trainees, it will soon be the end of phase two. Whilst it is the responsibility for the Subject Mentors to complete the report, we strongly advise our trainees to take ownership of the report by organising evidence within the files.

Evidence is key! Where does the evidence point to? Ensure that it backs up your Mentor's grading decision.

19th January 2018

Sparking Subject Creativity

On our latest Subject Expert Day, some of the sessions were held at Keele; others were held within the partnership schools of our Subject Experts.

These sessions are always well received by the trainees and the latest session was no exception. Students commented on the overall quality of the sessions, specifically the opportunity to reflect with their subject-based peers and the practical advice/strategies gained from the subject experts themselves.

Beth Collins, our Biology Subject Expert from Sir Graham Balfour, provided our trainees with a session that was 'not for the faint-hearted'!

At the end of the day, Beth said that she had had "a great time with the Biology trainees today. This included a tour of the body systems from your nervous system to your excretory system. We looked at models of the breathing system and of the process of aerobic respiration. We tested our reaction times, made poo, and dissected various items from lungs to Lily’s"!

What's not to like about that!

19th January 2018

Have your say...

We are constantly looking at developing and improving our website further.

We will be sending out a short questionnaire over the next couple of weeks to our current trainees. We would value any comments or suggestions from any of our readers. If you have any suggestions to make, please feel free to comment in the box below.

17th January 2018

Contributions Welcome

We realise that there is a huge amount of great work going on out there within our Partnership.

We're looking to post information on events and celebrate our practice. We'd welcome contributions from a variety of readers: OAKS staff, school-based staff, trainees past and present.

If anyone wishes to contribute to The OAKS Experience, then please comment below or contact Dave Da Silva ( for further details.

16th January 2018

English as an Additional Language (EAL) Day 2018

Our recent, EAL Day was very well received and allowed our trainees to develop an understanding of the challenges faced by children learning English as an additional language. This also provided the opportunity to experience and understand the diverse nature of settings within an urban environment.

The schools which kindly hosted our trainees were as follows;

During the day, students were able to obtain expert, practical advice on how to support second language learners in the mainstream classroom, using a variety of collaborative activities, lesson observations and presentations from staff within the four schools visited.

May we thank all of the schools and their staff for all of their hard work in creating one of the highlights of the course so far. As we know, these events can be a ‘logistical nightmare’, yet each of the providers out performed all of our expectations!

We’d also like to thank all of our trainees who were commended for their professionalism and levels of engagement during the day.

10th January 2018

Social Media @ The OAKS

We're on Social Media.

Please follow us on our social media channels to be the first to find out about all our latest news and forthcoming events.

We're on both Facebook and Instagram

16th January 2018

Welcome to The OAKS Experience blog!

Welcome to The OAKS Experience!

We will be adding some more posts within the coming weeks to highlight some of the fantastic practice and events that are taking place within The OAKS and our Partnership schools.

If you have any comments for us, please use the box below. We hope you stay tuned and enjoy!

09th January 2018