Exploring what matters

Exploring what matters

Welcome to the IRIS Connect blog space where you can join conversations and discover free resources, tips and summaries. We hope you find something useful for your professional development and learning.

If you have a topic you'd like us to cover or if you're interested in covering one yourself in a guest post, please contact us.


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TeacherTales: From NQT to SLT with Video CPD

Posted by Tom Trower on 2 June, 2021

Guest blog written by Tom Trower @Mr_Trower, Assistant Head, Co-op Academy Woodlands

First of all, let me introduce myself! I’m Tom Trower, Assistant Headteacher at Co-op Academy Woodlands in Leeds and I know it sounds cliché, but I have always wanted to be a teacher… no really, always! For one of my birthdays growing up, I was gifted a school bell and blackboard and so I feel very lucky to be one of the few people who is doing what they have always wanted to do. I have to thank my fantastic Scout Leader who, if it wasn’t for her, I would not be the person I am today. Growing up in Scouting taught me to help others, see the best in people, be honest and caring and to ask for help when I need it.  

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How to support your teachers’ wellbeing through a pandemic

Posted by Alexandra Spalding on 26 November, 2020

As autumn term comes to a close, the terms ‘teacher wellbeing’, ‘teacher self care’ and ‘teacher wellness’ have reported higher than usual results in Google. But it’s unsurprising really, given what 2020 has had to offer. You only have to take a look at the Twitter threads and hashtags to understand how overwhelmed and exhausted the education sector is.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic struck in early March, teacher happiness and wellbeing were already critically low and driving many teachers out of the profession. Unachievable workloads and lack of autonomy were reported as the main factors. But skip forward a few months and teachers now have the added challenge of bubbles, social distancing, pupil absence and continued isolation to contend with. 

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Teacher Tales: Using video to support the recruitment process

Posted by Guest blogger - Chris Harrison on 12 June, 2020

In these most unusual times, school recruitment has had to be adapted significantly, and not only to ensure that schools can still recruit, but to support candidates in showcasing their abilities. Based on a large volume of questions and interactions that have been shared on Twitter, this is clearly worrying both sides when it comes to thinking about how to make it as effective as possible.

As a school we recently faced the same issues and therefore decided to create a streamlined recruitment strategy using our existing systems. Within this blog I will share the template we have created and how the IRIS Connect system has helped to support candidates display their skills, knowledge and experience throughout the recruitment process.

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TeacherTales: How we created a user-friendly curriculum model online

Posted by Guest blogger - Chris Harrison on 12 May, 2020

Moving to a new school or year group can be a huge challenge; you have to learn new systems, structures and pedagogical styles whilst getting to know your class and the rest of the staff. So, having a central system with banks of resources, lesson clips and templates can be incredibly useful as you settle in school-life and get to know how things work. 

With this in mind, we decided to create a number of curriculum groups in IRIS Connect with a view to creating a school pedagogy and curriculum model for our teachers. We’ve gone from recording lessons and running internal film clubs (these were incredibly useful starting points) to now building banks of lessons that help to quality assure the teaching that’s happening in our classrooms. Our teachers can now refer to the platform with approved resources and teaching clips whenever they need it.

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TeacherTales: 6 Tips I wish I’d known before becoming head of department

Posted by Ash Drury on 23 August, 2019

Guest blog written by Ash Drury, Head of Science, York High School.

As I sit here looking around my empty classroom during the final week of term, a lot goes through my mind. 

Most of those thoughts are looking ahead – we have a great teaching team and wonderful pupils, and I am incredibly excited to be working with them in the next academic year. But some of my thoughts invariably drift backwards to the year that is coming to a close, and I reflect (as all teachers do) on the wonderful year I’ve had, but also on the lows, the maybes and the what-ifs. 

If you are anything like me, you will spend the final few months before starting a new teaching or leadership position frantically googling things like, “How to be a good leader”, “What to do before starting as HOD”, or “top tips for new heads of department”. Maybe that is how you found this blog. 

So, below are a number of things I wish I had been told a year ago which would have made my first year as a HOD that little bit smoother.

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5 recommendations for retaining your teachers

Posted by Kate Herbert-Smith on 2 April, 2019

As a school leader, great teachers are your most important asset. But we all know that teachers are notoriously under-compensated and underappreciated. While the work is incredibly rewarding, it can also require more than a 40-hour workweek and excessive workloads, meaning great teachers are choosing to leave for professions that pay more and demand less.  In fact in 2015 social media was buzzing with the news that more than 50% of teachers in England 'plan to quit in the next two years'.

As a result, schools and school leaders are having to work hard at replacing, attracting, and retaining excellent educators. Here are five ways to make your school the kind of place that great teachers want to stay in:

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