#aseconf cleapss ideas for primary science

Colour changing uv beads to show uv from the sun.  Bracelets will colour change.  Use sun cream, water, t shirt to show effects on beads. 

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#aseconf ks4 for lower attainers


Context – research shows barriers to learning e.g. poor literacy skills.  Additional resources needed by teachers to support

Edexcel offering 2 entry level qualifications.  Sits below foundation tier. Lots of resources available on line. Gives opportunity to gain qualification to support route to gcse.co teach with gcse course.

Entry level.  Six papers, do as many times as you like.  At any time. Each unit matched to gcse units.  Foundation tier gcse rebranded as a three year scheme of work.

Key ideas for students to understand, can then build on this understanding for gcse content.

Need to consider how to develop skills in working scientifically.  Get the balance between high expectations and appropriate challenge.  Also be aware literacy may not be a strength,  encourage taking rather than writing to help students develop key ideas. Practice scaffolding and redrafting . Focus on shorter answers on gcse paper,  don’t worry about 6 mark answers – they are aimed at more able students.

Use the course to build confidence for students.  Use of short tests to motivate.

All exam board produced materials can be edited in word.  Helpful as at the moment they are very small and wordy.
Entry level papers written to develop confidence with language of questions.  Provide examples of ‘good’ longer answers.

No practical component that is assessed at entry level.  Core practical in gcse, skills need teaching in entry level to support progress to combined science.

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#ASEConf Exhibition 

A busy afternoon at the conference exhibition in Reading, collecting freebies and doing some networking.

As ever,  I’m looking at the stands as a teacher of  students with SEND, and what might be useful on a limited budget with very little storage space.

Cracking stash from ypo, who took the news that their sand timers needed to be a little more robust due to the way they are used in Special schools rather well.

Fab resources as ever from practical action.

Cleapss have some great things for primary (and mugs and cuddly rabbits if you so wish)

The royal society have seeds and,  more excitingly, really simple microscopes that use your mobile phone… how easy to enlarge and point out features.  Love it.

Cgp are giving all this away for free. Need I say more? Their ks1 discover and learn books look particularly interesting.

Collins are also giving away books. I like  the look of their big cat reading scheme,  but they’ve only got the harder books on display.

Other people I visited include

I hope that is of use.  Apologies for quality of photos, I blame the yellow light in the hotel room.

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Keeping a Calm Classroom

Over the years, people have commented on how calm my classroom appears to be. Believe me, I don’t feel that they are anywhere near as calm as I would like them to be at times…

However, I have been reflecting recently on why this might be, and what it is I do when working in a special classroom. These are in no particular order.

Class rules

Keep these as simple as possible. For many years, my class rules have been ‘Kind, Quiet, Work’, and that goes for the adults in the room too!

Keep Calm

Easier said than done, particularly when Mary is trying to throttle Joe, but resist the desire to shout, unless it’s as a safety warning (e.g. ‘That’s hot, put it down’). It doesn’t help students who are probably already feeling anxious, and a stream of angry shouting about why you shouldn’t throw your shoes is not going to sink in.

Mind your language

If you are working with students who have functional understanding at a two or three word level, then that is how much information you should be giving them at a time. If Shane has been acting in an inappropriate manner, it is better to say ‘No, don’t touch Sam’s bottom’, rather than giving a long list of why it is inappropriate and what dire consequences may occur.

Also, be wary of a students’ processing time, and avoid repeating instructions over and over, as this will act to ‘reset’ the instruction, taking longer for it to be followed.

Minimise disruption

Where you have one or two students who find learning difficult and so display some challenging behaviours, it is better to try and remove that particular child from the classroom and to a safe space/outdoor area while they calm down. This means that the rest of the students can stay in their known classroom and get back to the work that has been set without having to walk the corridors looking for another available learning space.

Catch them being good

Goes without saying, doesn’t it? Lots of praise for all sorts of things builds positive relationships which you can then build on further. Students (and adults!) love being told that they are doing a ‘good job’.

Have consistent expectations

Don’t let a student learn that kicking off will get them out of their least favourite activities. If Joan is going to hide under the table every time it’s class reading (even though she is very good at reading), calling you all the names under the sun, work with others who are doing what they are supposed to be doing, while reminding Joan at appropriate intervals that it is time for reading, and when she is ready you will come and work with her.


Establish routines, and stick to them. This helps when support staff (or the teacher) is away, in that students will know what is going to happen, regardless of who is in the room. It might be a routine for the way lessons go, the morning/afternoon ‘circle time’ and/or getting ready to go home at the end of the day.


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#OnFire – Renny Marr

Unedited version of this month’s article. Such a nice chap to interview.


Now in his second season with the Blaze, back up netminder Renny Marr has been showing us what he’s made of recently, standing in for Brian Stewart in games against the Sheffield Steelers, as well as starting in the pre-season friendly against Manchester Storm. He has also been a regular on international squads, icing for Scotland U17s, GB U18s and more recently for GB U20s.

How does it feel to be chosen to represent your country? Renny said, “Ever since I was young it’s been a dream to play for the GB seniors, so being able to play for Scotland growing up, and being selected for the GB U20s is always a really proud moment. It shows that the work I have put in is paying off and that I’m getting recognised. To be honest, up until I was 15 or so, I wasn’t really thinking about playing for GB – when you are younger you want to play in the NHL or professionally – but until I was 15 or 16 I wasn’t thinking about that, I was playing for fun. Then it got to the stage where I was training with the Flyers in Fife and getting on the bench, so I really thought that if I was improving a lot that I could maybe make the jump to the Elite league, and luckily two years ago I was able to do that.”

Renny played for GB U20s in a training camp in Slovakia, with Head Coach Tommy Watkins, earlier in the season. It included playing the Slovakia U20 team and a team from OHA Okanagan, Austria. He said “Slovakia were quite a challenge and Okanagan were also a tough challenge. It was a good test for the guys who are hopefully going to be going to the World Championships in December.”

More recently, he played another warm up match to prepare for the World Championships which are taking place in Hungary, and include Slovenia, Poland, Italy and Ukraine in the group. This time, the team took on the Hull Pirates EPL team, where Renny lined up against his brother, Jordan, with both brothers shipping three goals each.

Renny is really positive about the call up to the U20s. He explained, “I feel that it’s given me a lot more confidence, being in the mix with the other goalies. Some play in America, some play in Britain. Within the group of five or six I want to get better every day and make a push for being the number one goalie. I feel like that, along with working with Nathan Craze, the GB goalie coach, has really helped. When we were away for the week I felt like I was getting better every day, and Craze was just helping me out giving me pointers and tips, which I worked on since I’ve come back here to Coventry. Getting the call up was really good experience for me.”

Of course, he’s also working hard week in, week out with the Blaze, learning alongside Brian Stewart. “The work I’m doing with Stewy is definitely helping – it’s not lessons every day, but it’s watching him, speaking to him and learning from his experiences. Even just watching him in practice, I sometimes pick things up and trying them out for myself.”

He has had a couple of chances to put his learning into practice this season, how has having that extra ice time helped? “The first five minutes of the game against Sheffield here weren’t great, but once you get settled in and you’re playing, you don’t really think about that you are playing professional hockey, it’s just another game. I don’t really think about it too much, especially since I don’t have too much experience. It’s good to play games against Sheffield and Manchester who are going to give you a challenge. It means to me, that if I want to play at that level that I always have to get better. It’s shown that I can perform at that level, but it’s always making sure that I am pushing myself to be a starter in this league, to be better and to play more often.”

As well as sharpening his own skills, Renny spends time helping the goalies in the Blaze Academy. “Nathan Craze comes to Coventry with his goalie clinic, so I’ll help him work with some of the goalies,” he said, adding, “I come down and coach the goalies for the Academy sessions once a month or so. It’s good to speak to some of the parents and the kids, to help them get better. When I was growing up, there wasn’t a lot of that help and support for goalies in Fife, so I feel like by giving that to the kids it gives them something to aim for, so they can imagine themselves being like me or other young British goalies that are trying to play professionally.”



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Bjorn Bombis #OnFire

One of my favourite interviews in a long time…


Clutching his post-game protein shake, 33 year old Bjorn Bombis was very open about his hopes for the season ahead. Born in Berlin, he’s the first German player to ice for the Blaze. He’s moved from Bremerhaven, having spent the last four seasons playing for Fischtown Pinguins in DEL2, the second league in Germany, averaging over 40 points a season.

How are you feeling about your move the UK? “I’m really happy,” he said, “and my wife is so happy being here. I’m just thankful that Danny Stewart gave me the chance to enter the league and be able to play for the Blaze. The pre-season is short compared to Germany, so even though we didn’t have a lot of time together so far, I feel like the guys in the room have a good chemistry there are lots of open minded, forthcoming guys. I was very nervous on the way here but it was really easy to come here and we’ve settled in pretty good.”

When players come over from Canada and the USA they are all keen to travel, to soak up the culture and to visit our towns and cities with historic buildings. Bombis isn’t too worried about being a tourist, but he is finding some very significant cultural differences. “Well, first there is the food,” he says, laughing. “I would say that my first impression is people like to communicate more. I feel it’s easier to talk to people here, at least that’s what the dressing room is like. It’s been very easy getting into the groups.”

Anything else? “I’m driving on the left side, and everyone is parking facing whichever way they want. It makes me dizzy when there’s a car on my side facing me! In Germany when you drive on the right side you have to park facing that way also. Oh, supermarkets!” he exclaims. “They are way bigger here. They are huge and there’s way more choice. I got lost in the supermarket! The first couple of days we were here I just wanted to go grocery shopping, I felt it was so interesting and I saw so many products I’ve never seen before. The housing is different too. In Germany we have a lot of flats in a lot of bigger buildings, so the housing is built up to the sky. Here it’s flat (he waves his hand around to show houses) and everybody has a little bit of garden.”

Bjorn’s wife, Jolanda Bombis-Robben, was a Dutch international handball left-winger who played 19 times for her country and scored 11 goals. He explained, “She stopped playing professionally in May, at the end of her season. It was a big day – she had tears in her eyes, and then there was a big party for her with fireworks. She’s stopped so that she can work on her Masters thesis and be here with me. During the last couple of years it was all about sports in our house – we both had games at the weekend and that was the main point in our lives, but now it’s changed a bit for her. She’s good with it, it’s a new chapter for her. I could see the emotions in her last game, and I was emotional too. I could feel that whenever the day comes when I stop playing professional sports, it will be a tough day. I told myself I want to play as long as possible!”

Having two sportspeople in the house makes watching each other play rather tricky. “Last season I watched a handful of her games, and she saw a handful of mine. She was also captain of her team, so she was very busy but we would always talk to each other about our games. The good thing is, we sometimes had the same problems – maybe her coach doesn’t play her as much as she wants to and I have the same kind of situation, so it’s good to have the same things in common and it’s easy to talk to and help each other.”

What was the reason behind wanting to move to the UK Having played almost the whole of his career to date in Germany? “That’s a good question! I played for one year in the Czech Republic, other than that I’ve played my whole career in Germany. I’ve played DEL and DEL2 and won a couple of championships in DEL2. I felt like a needed a new motivation. I played on a really good team for the last four years, we were winning a lot and I just felt like I wanted to prove that I can be a good player in a different league and a different environment. Even though I’m in my 30s I’m eager to prove that I can be a good player in this league. I was basically looking for a new motivation. It’s nice to experience another country and the culture, but that’s not my main thing. I’m not here for travelling or to enjoy my last year playing. I would love to play as long as possible, and maybe I can be here for a few years. That would be nice,” he reflects.

Having spent so long playing in one country, there’s a lot to get used to when you step on the ice in a different place. Are there any obvious differences between the two leagues? “It’s so early in the season that I haven’t played against all the teams, but my first impression is that the league has a lot of players with a better resume than in Germany and that the league is a little bit older. The players are not past their prime, they just have more experience, so I mean older in a good way. There’s not a lot of young players in this league. Maybe in Germany the play is a faster pace, but the hockey here feels like it’s a bit smarter, and it’s also more aggressive.”

Is there a noticeable difference in the training regime between the two countries? “That’s one of the biggest differences,” Bombis explains. “In Germany we have a lot of practices. Usually we have two games a week, then Tuesday and Wednesday we skate twice on each of those days. Over here in the UK we have to play more games in a shorter time, so the practices can’t be as hard, it just wouldn’t make sense. It’s fun to play more games instead of practicing more!”

Observant fans who arrive early might have noticed Bjorn and Jordan Pietrus moving a weighted puck around in their off ice warm up. “I use a weighted puck to practice stick handling, so that when I go on the ice the regular puck just feels very light to me. That means I can move it and I can get it fast into spots and if it’s in an awkward position I can get it into my sweet spot pretty quick. It helps me to activate the muscles for shooting.”

Bjorn isn’t the only hockey player in his family. He clearly caught the hockey bug from his father at an early age, and hopes to keep playing for as long as his Dad has. At 64, Bernd Bombis still ices regularly for EC Celler Oilers, in Germany’s fourth league. Last season he took 15 points from 18 games. Bjorn is clearly very proud of his Dad. “He takes his hockey very seriously. He takes game day naps and is acting like a professional even though he’s 64. For him it’s a big challenge to keep up with the younger guys, and obviously he’s a little bit slower than the other guys. He’s also the coach, so he decides how much ice time he has…. maybe he’s not the most honest guy about that sometimes, he plays a lot no matter what! I think I’m like my Dad. I’m a hockey nerd, I’m addicted. Twelve months a year I need a stick in my hand all the time – ball, inline, pond…I love hockey. No matter if anybody pays me for doing that, I want to play as long as I can.”




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Some useful SEND/Science pages

The good folks at STRATA have finally got around to updating their schemes of work in line with the more recent changes to the National Curriculum. They also have an amazing medium term planning tool now too


The Sheffield Hallam Science for All project has some interesting case studies

Science for all


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