The OAKS Experience

Limited places remaining for 2018/19 - Contact us for further details

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

The OAKS New Website & Promotional Video Launching Soon

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

Check out our social media pages - Find us on Facebook (oakspgce) and Instagram (theoakspgce)

The Earls Teaching School CPD Courses - June 2018

The Earls Teaching School would like to offer the following CPD Courses that are taking place over June 2018. They include the following;

Please click on the links above for the flyers associated with the events or alternatively comment below as per usual.

19th June 2018

We want you! Contributions Welcome

We realise that there is a huge amount of great work going on out there within our Partnership. We're looking to continue with the success of this blog and to post information on future events and celebrate our outstanding practice. We'd gratefully welcome contributions from a variety of our readers: OAKS staff, school-based staff, trainees past and present. These could range from a 'diary of a school-based mentor' to showcasing resources and ideas that OAKS trainee have contributed to the school.

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

12th June 2018

Baptism of Fire by Jonathon Biggs

I've just got home from my first day as a qualified teacher. I've been picturing this day for nearly ten months and each time I did, it looked nothing like this! I think the only way that I can sum this up is with the following list:

Things that could go wrong on your first day as a teacher:

1. Laptop doesn’t turn on, so I need paper registers. I went to print them off.
2. SIMS logon doesn’t work - no worries, I’ve got period one free to sort everything out (if I can get through registration).
3. Cover Coordinator doesn’t know I’m supposed to be there.
4. Cover Coordinator finds out I exist and puts me on cover at the other side of the school for period one. Bang goes my sorting out time!
5. Need to teach period two, still no laptop.
6. Late for period two as at other side of the site and had to check status of laptop. joy!
7. Had to wing a lesson without any PowerPoint in Maths (my third subject)!
7. Break duty team leader doesn’t expect me.
8. Need to teach period four. Laptop has only just been fixed, so still no resources.
9. The boss’s son is in period 4 group. Someone is watching after all!
10. Half-way through period 4 there’s a room change that nobody told me about, so period 5 is moving too. This now renders period 5's seating plan null and void!

Apparently, this is what’s known as a 'baptism of fire' and the fact that I’m able to see the comedy in it means I’m going to be OK, mainly because ‘We are The OAKS!’ We’re trained to deal with these things using a cool head, so once again thanks all for a great training experience. I couldn't have done it without you all!

Thanks to Jonathon for contributing to The OAKS Experience! Jonathon only completed his PGCE last week and has jumped straight into the 'deep end' in his new school as of the following Monday. We all hope today goes well. Our advice..... always expect the unexpected!

12th June 2018

2017/18 Cohorts Final Day @ The OAKS

It's with a heavy heart that we say 'bon voyage' to our 2017/18 cohort. We spent the morning together as the trainees received awards and certificates, along with each of the subjects presenting a short piece to their peers and the staff at The OAKS. The awards ranged from the heartfelt to the hilarious, alongside the two trainee of the year awards. These were both peer-based and OAKS staff voted. This year's OAKS award went to Robyn Johnson, with the trainees voting for Jodie Allan-McLean. These well deserved winners can be seen below, alongside 'birthday girl' Lucy Wainwright who came in a respectable third.

As was expected, spirits were high and so were the hopes for these subject-based presentations. Of course, as ever, our trainees went over and above what was expected! These really had to be seen to be believed, with the highlights being the Computing trainees hip hop video, the SRE (Sex and Relationships Education) lesson from the Biologists and the hilarious game show hosted by our Historians and their very charismatic presenter, Eddie Cox. These nudged at the appropriate content boundaries, with the 'spicy' Mr Clifton and other OAKS staff referred to throughout.

We then ended the morning with a lovely buffet provided by The OAKS, with time dedicated to say our fond farewells and to 'preen ourselves' for the trainee-organised get together tonight in the KPA (see previous post).

11th June 2018

What a Year! It's time to say Goodbye... for now!

And so, as we prepare for the final day of the 2017/18 PGCE course, we feel overwhelmingly reflective. What a whirlwind these nine and a half moths have been. I know it's a cliché, but it's true - time has quite literally sprinted by, and somehow we've all managed to hold on for long enough to survive and come out the other end and, let's be honest, exhausted beyond any sort of recovery. However, the teaching profession will have gained has gained another 63 fantastically prepared newly qualified teachers and the world is a better place for it! It's fair to say... you smashed it guys!

This has in no way been a walk in the park, however! Through the hysteria of fatigue and dwindling self-confidence it has been tough, it has felt almost impossible at times I'm sure.

Don't be fooled into thinking this course is the easy route to becoming the next Richard Branson. You will have doubted yourself so many times that you will have lost track of why you applied to the course in the first place. Then you've found that reason (and various others), sometimes appearing when you least expected it. We're sure that this course will have constantly surprised you in terms of your abilities and built your resilience to the ever changing face of the education system, and the skills (and extreme patience) that this requires of you!

For some of our trainees however, this may seem a tad premature, as we do have a small number of them completing slightly later (through missed school time). Your time will come.....please hang in there!

So, as I sat here typing this, I bid (or will soon) farewell to 63 beautiful swans; you have swum gracefully to the finish line, whilst underneath, you have all been paddling frantically for your lives! I'm sure it was worth every minute though as you've made it to the other side in one piece!

As NQT's (Newly Qualified Teacher's), we are here for you all of the way to support your transition and have several sessions planned for you all throughout your induction year. These will be a great way to keep in touch with your peers, whilst assisting professional development even further.

Before even thinking about that though, we'd like to say how proud we are of you all and we'll miss you (even you Tom)! Enjoy the summer and the well earned rest with a nice glass of wine.....just like me!

08th June 2018

Back to Keele...Nearly there!!

It was great to see our trainees returning triumphantly back to Keele today for final tutorials and a short briefing to outline the last two days of the course. Everyone was in high spirits and looking forward to the presentations and awards that will take place tomorrow morning. We're also sure that some of this excitement may also be down to the celebration evening that will be taking place at the KPA (Keele Postgraduate Association) that evening! Of course, with all of this hard work and dedication all year, we could tell that some of our trainees were in need of a well earned rest before tomorrow!

Please can all of out trainees ensure that they complete the relevant documents and evaluations that Rob mentioned in his briefing, as these are used to constantly look to improve our provision for next years cohort. They've got a lot to live up to as this years trainees have been fantastic!

07th June 2018

Final School Day for our 2017/18 Trainees

Well, it's finally here. After months of hard work and meltdowns, the final school placement day is upon us for the vast majority of our 2017/18 cohort. Thanks to all of our partner schools for all of your support and dedication. Also a huge 'well done' for all of our trainees. Enjoy your final day in school and we look forward to seeing you all back at Keele for the final two days!

06th June 2018

50th Post!

Since we decided to create this page back in January of this year, our aim has been to showcase some of the highlights of the course and to give our trainees an opportunity to reflect on their achievements, and those of their peers. We've reached fifty posts over the past six months, with much more to come before our current cohort graduate on 8th June 2018.

We'd like to thank all of those that have contributed to this page. If you wish to be a part of The OAKS Experience, or to simply have your say, please comment below or contact Dave Da Silva (

29th May 2018

It's a wrap!

Today saw day two of the filming of The OAKS promotional video, with a huge thanks going to those involved. Ian Wilkinson (our ever professional and extremely patient videographer) and Design3i, will be creating the final product, which will appear on our brand new website in the near future. It really is a pleasure to be working alongside Ian, with the previewed footage captured on both of the days being breathtaking.

In the morning, we were joined at Keele by Dr. Jo Rowley (member of The OAKS Executive Board and Chair of the Strategic Partnership Board) and Peter Jones (Director of PGCE Programmes), in addition to our Director of The OAKS, Rob Tweats, Andy Clifton and Dave Da Silva.

The remainder of the morning was spent in and around the picturesque Keele campus, with the sun allowing us to make the most of the wonderful surroundings. During this time, we visited several of our landmarks, along with several locations within the individual buildings.

In addition to the university based filming, we also drove over to Brine Leas School in Nantwich. Whilst there, we were able to film two of their excellent subject mentors (Jenny May and Simon Gresty), with their OAKS trainees (Jodie and Louise), along with a very charismatic BL6 (Brine Leas 6th Form) student, who kindly offered to be involved with no prior warning. May we also thanks the fantastic Melissa Allen-Gurr (Professional Tutor at Brine Leas), for assisting with the organisation of this, especially during this busy examinations period.

On our return to Keele, Ian then met with four more of our trainees (Felicity, Martin, Joanne and Tom), who selflessly offered to travel over to Keele after a day's teaching in their schools.

We'd like to reiterate a huge thanks to everyone involved today and watch this space for a preview!

23rd May 2018

Lights, Camera......Fingers Crossed!

Today we are filming again for the forthcoming OAKS promotional video. The weather is beautiful, the schedule is set and we'll update on the progress later.

Thanks in advance to Brine Leas, who, despite exam season, will be hosting us at 1pm today for another of the 'school-based' shoot. We'd also like to thank all of the trainees that are heading over after their school day and to everyone else involved in this today, both in front of the camera or behind the scenes.

23rd May 2018

Getting to know your new school

As we close in on the end of the training year, many of our trainee's already have secured employment for next year, whilst others are busily filling in application forms and securing interviews.

Your first job is a chance to make your mark, but avoid `new broom' syndrome or you may find some colleagues give you the brush off.

James Williams has written an excellent article for the TES, with some excellent strategies and advice to ensure that you make a positive start in your new school. Click here for the article.

21st May 2018

The OAKS Promotional Video - Day Two

We'd like to extend the invite to our current trainee's to join us for filming a short 'Keele based' section of the video. We'll be filming between 3pm & 4pm on Wednesday 23rd May.

If you wish to be involved in any capacity, even if it's behind the scenes, could you comment below or email Dave Da Silva directly (

15th May 2018

Countdown to Completion

Our current cohort of trainees are nearly there! It's been another amazing year here at The OAKS, with our trainee and our partnership going 'over and above' for us. However, all good (well, Outstanding) things must come to an end and our trainees have their final course day on Friday 8th June.

The countdown is on.... These are calendar days, not school days. Oh, and remember you've got a half-term to enjoy before this too!

14th March 2018

A Beautiful Day in Keele

I couldn't resist posting this image of Keele Hall on this beautiful day.

Our trainee's are in school today, however, when you work on such a beautiful campus, it's nice to get out of the office for lunch and enjoy this backdrop.

14th May 2018

Assessment – what are inspectors looking at?

Sean Hartford (Ofsted, National Director, Education) posted a blog yesterday on what Ofsted are looking for in school assessment when inspecting. This is a short piece, and well worth reading (Please click here):

"When it comes to inspection, inspectors are looking to see that a school’s assessment system supports the pupils’ journeys through the curriculum. It’s really important that schools don’t design assessment around what they think inspectors will want to see."

We would echo the approach advocated in the article, where assessment is viewed as an integral part of the curriculum and that "there is too much marking being expected compared with the resultant benefits to pupils’ learning; too much reliance on meaningless data; and too little meaningful assessment of the right things at the right point in the curriculum."

As intelligent and thoughtful teachers, who will be in roles of leadership in the future, consider assessment as part of your curriculum design, and focus on what will demonstrate the extent to which pupils are meeting learning outcomes.

24th April 2018

NQT Interview Evening – West Midlands – 3rd May 2018 – Villa Park

Thursday 3rd May 2018, 4pm to 9pm Villa Park Stadium, Birmingham

As with the previous post, Teach In are running another specialist event for Secondary trainee teachers to meet Headteachers and other SLT members from a large number of schools across the West Midlands, who are recruiting for permanent positions for September 2018.

This event is unique in the West Midlands as it allows you to meet individually with a number of schools and Headteachers who are looking to recruit NQTs for their schools for September 2018, the event is fully scheduled, and they tailor your schedule to the time you arrive for, your preference of school type and location of the school.

Following the event formal interviews are held back at the schools in the week after the event. They claim that it is unlikely you will leave this event without being well on the way to securing your first teaching position!

As ever, if you need any additional information, please comment below and/or visit this link.

19th April 2018


On Thursday 10th May, Teach In are running a recruitment event (4pm to 9pm), where Headteachers from across the North West area are attending to conduct short, informal interviews with trainee teachers for their schools. They run a few of these events a year and they always have successful outcomes for the trainee teachers, indeed at the event at the same time last year the majority of attendees secured full time NQT positions following the event.

The jobs on offer are all permanent positions for September 2018, straight onto contract with the school- NOT agency/supply work. If you're interested, please download the flyer for the event and/or comment below for additional information.

19th April 2018

A guide to surviving your first five years in the classroom

Please visit this link to read how one experienced teacher gives his top tips on how to survive and thrive during your first five years of teaching.

19th April 2018

The Rise of Edtech - The benefits of Kahoot! in the Classroom

There was a time classrooms were a bastion of tradition, dominated by blackboards, chalk and textbooks. But the rapid evolution of technology means there’s a need to advance how education is delivered to young people. Schools now spend £900m on education technology every year, and it is estimated the global market will be worth £129bn by 2020. It’s making a difference – the 2017 consumer digital index suggests that 97% of those aged 15–24 in the UK have basic digital skills – a 4% improvement on 2015.

Among the emerging “edtech” ventures are those helping teachers tackle subjects such as maths and English in a more innovative way. Kahoot!, the top education app on the UK and US Apple app stores, launched in 2013 and now has 50 million users every month. Teachers can create their own games and quizzes on the platform, or choose from a long list of existing games, which are displayed on a shared screen – an example might be a timed quiz based on multiplication tables, learning about flags, or questions about the water cycle. Students participate on their own devices and can earn points and challenge other classes in different locations. An estimated 830 million players have used the app for education purposes, and it’s also growing in popularity with businesses who create their own interactive training sessions.

According to co-founder Johan Brand, the app’s success is down to its ability to create an “inclusive classroom”. The feedback from teachers has been particularly positive – headteachers hearing a class being raucous and presuming they need telling off are often happy to discover the pupils are simply playing a Kahoot game. “All of a sudden being expressive and loud is seen as positive,” Brand says, adding that the technology brings students together, rather than isolating them.

Have you used Kahoot! in your lessons? If not, why not? This free resource is a great way to inject some assessment into your lessons in an enjoyable way that allows you to view the results in real time. Pupils can access these from PC's, laptops, phones and other digital devices. Plenaries have never been the same!

27th March 2018

Lesson Planning Trainee Survey

Yesterday we sent out a SurveyMonkey email to all of our trainees, where they can feedback on the new lesson plan. Please can all trainees ensure that they fill this out and take the time to share their thoughts on it. Can we also request that trainees be as honest as possible, as these comments will feed directly into any changes needed to improve this document. Many thanks to those that have already filled it out.

We will also be sending out a few more survey's over the next few weeks, so if you have checked your spam, trash and all other email boxes, and are still not receiving the survey's, please email Andy Clifton (, who will resend it.

Your title here...

27th March 2018

Clocks Changing & A Solution For Lateness

Yesterday's changing of the clocks provided us with a difficult Monday morning, with the alarm going off essentially an hour early! If you've found yourself late today, then Keele University have posted a video on their YouTube channel that may help.

Please don't try this at home..or at university!

26th March 2018

The OAKS New Shared Resources Folder

If you keep up to date with The OAKS Experience (and let's face it, why wouldn't you), then you'll see that the Department for Education have released a video focused on reducing teacher workload. With this in mind, and as a response from recent feedback from The Voice, we are proud to announce the creation of a shared folder for our current trainees to collaborate on and share lesson resources.

This central resource bank will allow for easy collaboration with our peers, allowing all of this good practice to 'cross-pollinate' across the Partnership. It should also have the potential of reducing the time spent planning and provide easily adaptable strategies that can be used for every subject.

As previously mentioned, we're in the process of creating a brand new website, therefore as an interim solution, we have created a shared Dropbox folder to allow us to assess the level of interest and the exact requirements for the new integrated system. A link to this has been mailed out to our trainees this morning, so watch this space for updates related to this and comment below with any ideas or suggestions.

26th March 2018

Exam boards ask students and NQTs to mark GCSE and A-level exam papers

The call comes after a recent report revealed that 7,000 more markers would be 'needed to cope with exam reforms'

Exam board AQA is calling on both PhD and PGCE student teachers to help mark this year's GCSE and A-level exams in English, Geography, Sociology and Religious Studies.

The OCR board is also seeking current or recent PGCE students, who have completed the classroom teaching element of their course, to be GCSE and A-level examiners this year. The board said it "may" consider non-teaching candidates who can demonstrate a high-level of subject expertise and/or relevant knowledge of assessment.

Meanwhile, Pearson, which runs the Edexcel board, is now recruiting newly qualified teachers (NQTs) to become examiners in the new GCSE in English – which will be taken for the first time this summer.

Click here for the full story and have your say below.

26th March 2018

Working Together on Workload

"Two things are clear. Nobody intentionally sets out to create unnecessary workload, and everybody involved in education – from Government ministers to classroom teachers – has a role to play in reducing the burden.”

The following video was released by the Department for Education and show the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds and key figures in education discussing working together to reduce teacher workload.

As usual, have your say below.

26th March 2018

50 Ways to Use Technology Enhanced Learning by Peter Atherton

The importance of reading is something that we promote with our pupils on a daily basis, with details of the books that are currently being read by individual teachers being posted on classroom doors all across the country.

As teachers, we recognise the need for constant reflection and refreshment of our practice, in order to be more effective as educators. With this in mind, I'd like to strongly recommend reading, "50 Ways to Use Technology Enhanced Learning in the Classroom: Practical Strategies for Teaching" by Peter Atherton. This is great practical guide, explaining the use of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) in the classroom, with areas covered including:

    - Gamified learning
    - Social media
    - Video streaming
    - The flipped classroom
    - Instant feedback tools
    - And many more.

Today there is an increasing need for the effective use of technology in teaching and learning. Often, the use of educational theory to inform the design is not made explicit. In this excellent book, Peter determines how the technology is intended to facilitate learning and explains why some interventions with technology may be less effective compared with others. It also includes guidance on how to use these technologies for learning, complemented by an exploration of their impact on learning. For each example, the opportunities for evidencing progress are also evaluated.

If you are planning pick up one book this Easter, then this is an ideal way to enrich your students learning for the summer term and can be purchased here. Peter will also be speaking at the TEAN Conference on May 10th.

19th March 2018

British teacher wins million-dollar Global Teacher Prize

Andria Zafirakou from London lifts the Global Teacher Prize after beating 30,000 other entries from 173 countries.

We previously posted comments made by Bill Gates regarding our profession during the announcement of the finalists for this global prize, as the announcements for the finalists were announced last week.

Ms Zafirakou used her victory speech to call for more importance to be placed on the importance of the arts, and to describe the students she works with as "phenomenal". She also received a video message of congratulations from prime minister Theresa May, played before the audience of educators from around the world.

After being announced as the winner, Ms Zafirakou said: “The community where I teach in Brent is beautifully diverse and indeed is probably one of the most multi-cultural communities in the world".

“It is also a community where many of our students unfortunately live in deprivation. They have tough lives. They live in crowded homes. They may not eat well because their lunch boxes are empty. Some have been forced to play truant because they share a kitchen with other families and cannot miss their allocated time slot to prepare the family dinner."

She added: "These challenges sound like they come from the pages of a Dickens novel rather than 21st century Britain. Yet, it is amazing that whatever problems they are having at home, whatever is missing in their lives or causing them pain, our school is theirs. I know that if our school could open at 6am, there would be a queue of children wanting to come in at 5am. That is how phenomenal they are."

The other nine finalists for the Global Teacher Prize, drawn from 30,000 entries from 173 countries, came from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, Turkey and the United States.

We should all be proud of the work we do and it's great to see our profession shown in such a positive light. Well done to Ms Andria Zafirakou, however she's going to have some serious competition next year to retain her crown!

19th March 2018

The OAKS Experience Turns 30!

Since we decided to create this page back in January of this year, our aim has been to showcase some of the highlights of the course and to give our trainees an opportunity to reflect on their achievements, and those of their peers. We've reached thirty posts over the last three and a half months, with more to come before our current cohort graduate later in the year.

If you wish to be a part of The OAKS Experience, or to simply have your say, please comment below or contact Dave Da Silva (

19th March 2018

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

Teaching Session @ Keele

Today saw our trainees back at Keele for another session. Rob Tweats (Director of The OAKS) and Dave Da Silva (OAKS Personal Tutor) provided an overview of the third phase of training and strategies for a positive start.

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