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2013 Highlights and Hopes for 2014

I'm aiming for this to be my first venture into writing about my highlights in 2013 and hopes for 2014.

I'm hoping this will be an ongoing project, an annual event which I hope to inspire my pupils to write their own. Here goes...

Highlights in 2013

1. Gaining a headship. Having come to terms with knowing that one day I'll be leaving the amazing school that is Kings Road Primary School, I began my quest to find the school for my first headship. This wasn't a race, nor did I rush. I was fairly choosy too simply because I wanted to ensure that I could bring something of value to the community and ensure I could make a difference. After visiting Ivy Chimneys Primary School and meeting the governors, staff and children at interview, it was clear in my mind (and heart) that this was the school where I wanted to be the Head Teacher. Make no mistake, this role is an enormous privilege and after just one term, already this feels like home.

2. Surviving Ofsted. In no more than 8 weeks, I received the call from the Lead Inspector. To be fair, this wasn't unexpected. I started in September knowing that an Ofsted inspection was already overdue and that with a new leader in post, the inspection was imminent. Whilst I had been in the job only 8 weeks, others were very familiar with the school and I realised that by working as a team, we could still be successful. We worked hard, defended hard and achieved the outcome which reflected the school and the journey it had already commenced.

3. A bumper year of growing. Well, not so much me, but certainly the fruits and vegetables grown both at home in the greenhouse and garden, and at our allotment. Whilst not everything was a huge success, there was much to be celebrated, consumed and enjoyed! The year started with the harvest of garlic (planted as cloves the previous year during early Winter.) We are still cooking with this garlic whilst this years' crop is already growing. Since then we've grown and eaten potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes, spring onion, parsnip, leeks, radish, beetroot, lettuce, runner beans, broad beans, chard, sweetcorn, grapes, apples, strawberries, raspberries, red currants, blackcurrents, gooseberries.

My wife is a terrific cook not only because she is cooks everything that I grow, but she understands and experiments with flavours and so is very creative in the kitchen. 

However, what I love most is sharing this produce with my friends and family for them to enjoy.

How much growing I'll fit in this year remains to be seen.

4. Travel. I'm very lucky to have a wife who enjoys travel so much. Whilst travel isn't particularly compatible with gardening (especially during Spring and Summer months) it has broadened my perspective on the world on the world in which we live. Thinking back to 2009, Sarah and I travelled to the Middle East and saw some spectacular sights which are simply off-limits to tourists for now. This year we have been fortunate to have visited Las Vegas, Cyprus, Montreal and Antigua. We flown some miles, but we shared some amazing time together too.

5. Raspberry Pi. It has been a stella year for Raspberry Pi development. I'm excited by technology and always have been. The Raspberry Pi computer has unlocked a wealth of opportunities, and not just for the self-confessed geek. The opportunities for children to fully understand computing and programming has returned to the curriculum and this, I believe, is a tremendous step forward. I've attended four Raspberry Jam events, the first of which was held in January in London and where I met new friends, Anne, Jonathan and Maddie. They are now firm friends on the Raspberry Jam circuit and see them at each event. At the most recent event in December, I had 8 pupils from Ivy Chimneys Primary School in tow and they absolutely loved it! Watching them gain so much enjoyment and excitement from programming a Raspberry Pi and switching on and off LEDs was a real highlight.

Hopes for 2014

1. Stay fit and healthy. I may join my super-enthusiastic wife who has managed to squeeze regular gym sessions into her already hectic life. Truth be told, I'm not much of a gym person and would rather have a good workout on the allotment where digging and lugging soil is really quite physical. I miss being on the allotment but as soon as this wet weather moves on, I'll be there.

2. New build. No, not me! We have come to the stage where we seriously need to consider make decisions on an extension to our house. We bought our house back in 2010 with every intention of replacing the not-so-fab single brick extension. It needs to go. We have had quotes and ideas, but none seem to have excited us enough to say 'yes'. It will be the year of the house (and garden) with our hearts set on a bi-fold view onto a cottage garden. Watch this space!

3. Become a better Head Teacher. I know I've only just started in this new role but as someone who has always believed in self-evaluation and reflection, these are the best tools for developing and improving performance. Certainly I have a desire to offer the very best opportunities for our children and to enable them to have a stronger and louder 'pupil voice'. I also want to ensure our staff receive great CPD and work more collaboratively. There are some big developments ahead with the new curriculum and this will need everyone's attention and commitment and if there's one thing for certain, it can't be done alone.

4. Blog and Tweet more. In many of the highlights/hopes blogs that I've read, the common theme amongst bloggers is to tweet less!  However, I know I don't contribute nearly enough about my own practice and this is what I'm hoping to change. Linked very closely to item 3 above, I used to use my blog as an vehicle for reflection and whether it's a lack of time or inclination, I don't know, I've written far fewer blogs than I have done previously. I tweet regularly from the Ivy Chimneys twitter account, but very little activity from my own account. I'm working on it!

5. End by eleven. Last year I spent too many hours working late into the night and early hours of the morning. I'm enthusiastic and passionate about work, I enjoy it, so find it very difficult to put the computer to sleep and myself to bed. I also seemingly get a 'second wind' at about 9pm which means I'm good to go for another 3-4 hours. This is all fine until morning arrives and the enthusiasm to jump out of bed is somewhat nonexistent. Must try harder!


So that's it. Just five of each. What are your top five highlights of 2013 and hopes for 2014?

Happy New Year.

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