Stepping Stones Early Years and Foundation Conference – 30 January, Belfast with Kym Scott


To sign up and provisionally book your space please click on the link below:

Last year we organised an “unconference” to celebrate the good practice of a range of Early Years and Foundation Stage colleagues. It was attended by over a 100 practitioners. We imagine that places will go quickly for a full day conference. Unfortunately, it isn’t a free event but it guaranteed to be an excellent day of professional development with Kym Scott, Early Years Consultant.

Should be amazing…no pressure Kym!



World Teachers’ Day 2016…Special Offer from The Galgorm Resort and Spa

If you read my last post you will know that tomorrow is World Teachers’ Day.

I was delightedgalgorm that the lovely people at the Galgorm got in touch and provided us all with one of their wonderful offers to relax and de-stress

World Teachers Day Offer:

  • Choice of 25 minute Treatment
  • Thermal Village Experience
  • Refreshments including Tea/Coffee and freshly baked Macaroons
  • £10 Spa Retail Voucher
  • Lunch in Gillies Grill
  • Each guest will also take come a complimentary gift bag containing a sample

£75 per person midweek (Mon – Thurs) Minimum of 6 guests

£85 per person weekend (Fri – Sun) Minimum of 10 guests

Guests can book by contacting our Reservations Team – quoting World Teachers Day offer.

This is not a sponsored post…but I can thoroughly recommend it! I availed of it last year with some University friends and it was the ideal way to catch up.


World Teachers’ Day 2016…valuing teachers, Improving their status.


On the 5 October I will celebrate alongside my colleagues “World Teachers’ Day”.


I really value my staff. I respect that many of them go above and beyond the call of duty. I try my best to promote health and well-being by offering the flu jab, cooking the staff breakfast, running staff competitions, providing treats and  the occasional reward bags. World Teachers’ day is my opportunity to say thank you.

As a school leader I believe that part of me role is to develop their knowledge and provide high quality opportunities for continuing professional development. I read Tim Manson’s recent blog  and then looked on the UNESCO website:

This year World Teachers’ Day marks the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. It is also the first world Teachers’ Day (WTD) to be celebrated within the new Global Education 2030 Agenda adopted by the world community one year ago.

This year’s theme, “Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status”, embodies the fundamental principles of the fifty-year-old Recommendation while shining a light on the need to support teachers as reflected in the agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A specific education goal, SDG4, pledges to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.      

Taken from UNESCO website

We are in a bit of CPD wilderness in Northern Ireland. We are left to develop the D.I.Y model of professional development with little or no funding.

There is little or no appropriate investment in CPD/ Teacher Professional Learning in Northern Ireland.   A nice shiny document called ‘Learning Leaders’ came out in March 2016.  But as yet there is no impact in schools. 

Tim Manson

Valuing teachers, improving their status…we have a long way to go! Having the opportunity to access high quality CPD makes you feel like a valued professional. I love going to courses and enjoy hearing about how other people are developing their practice. It reinvigorates me as a teacher and school leader. In the austerity age of school budgets, the EA have started to engage with school principals to find creative ways forward. The old order of Curriculum Advisory Support Service has past and consultation may lead to solutions who knows? If action isn’t taken soon the teaching workforce will continue to feel devalued. With little access to high quality CPD, not only will it leave teachers behind but have a large impact on enriching the achievements of our pupils.

I can’t decide whether I sit tight or continue to plough on with a raft of conferences, teachmeets and clusters to develop teachers in Northern Ireland. Those of you who know me will know that I am passionate about the power of sharing good practice so I doubt I will sit tight but what if we did?

The thought of it should motivate us all to be proactive and take control. Whilst I do feel like I am doing my own job and that of an event organiser, I do see the benefit for my own school and others. My point is I really shouldn’t have to.

Tim, I totally agree with you

Come on GTCNI.  Come on Department of Education – take a lead here and start INVESTING in your workforce and inspire the teachers of Northern Ireland so that they can be making a BIG difference in every classroom across our province.


Smile, Breathe and Be Fabulous. Sound advice for staff and school leaders.

“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor- -Winter is dead.”

Teaching is a people orientated profession. You deal with people big and small daily. You hear and know their stories; you know their strengths and weaknesses; you often are more than just a teacher to our young people. 

I am not going to lie over the past year – I have been stressed. Not because I dislike my job, but because I was allowing other people to give me their stress. Huge boxes of it. 

As I am a fairly caring person, I was allowing myself to focus on someone else’s needs without thinking about what I needed. 

During one particularly stressful episode, I stumbled across Brenda Shankey. She is wonderful lady, whom I have long admired for her style and expertise in the beauty industry. She is a very successful business woman and most recently has devoted her energies into the practice of Mindfulness. Most recently, she has released a book and audio book called Be Fabulous.

After a few initial contacts, I invited Brenda to come into my school before the start of the school year to focus on teaching my staff how to find time for themselves and prioritise their well-being before they can fully discharge their duties.

During her session, she told the staff to think about her mantra. Smile, Breathe and Be Fabulous. Taking responsibility for your well-being and mental health is the key to setting the tone for your classroom or your school.

A mindfulness reflection led by Brenda assisted us on focusing on our goals, our personal targets and helped us to reflect on what makes us happy. It was a team building moment and an experience that we collectively enjoyed together. The feedback from staff has been tremendous.

Thanks to @brendashankey for a lovely morning, learning all about taking control of our inner selves…
I needed to hear this. Thank you for arranging this. I feel happier already.
I really enjoyed that I am giving this a go. Her (Brenda’s) story is inspirational. I need to focus on what is important.

In the run up to opening school, in the stressful moments it has been great to hear the phrases that Brenda used by my colleagues to restore our balance. It has worked for me. I do feel more relaxed and I have slept better. As this term starts I am going to smile, breathe and be fabulous. Thank you Brenda for sharing your journey and inspiring us to take better care of ourselves. 

Brenda will be working with some Year 7 pupils in the autumn term to develop mindfulness for children. I look forward to sharing the outcomes.

You can contact Brenda through her website