Primary Science Quality Mark (PSQM )Awards Ceremony – Wednesday 21 November 2018


Primary Science subject leaders from seven different primary schools throughout South East Wales, supported by their school colleagues attended an awards ceremony and professional development day at Cardiff Metropolitan University.  The day was organised by Lisa Fenn, Primary PGCE Lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University and PSQM Hub-leader for South East Wales, alongside Dr Sarah Earle, Primary PGCE Senior Lecturer at Bath Spa University and Wales and the West, Senior Hub Leader for PSQM.  The event was funded by Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT) and Royal Society Chemistry, (RSC) to celebrate the tremendous achievements that of all of the schools had undertaken in co-ordinating and recording all of the good learning and teaching in science that has taken place in their schools within the last year; this includes working with parents and outside agencies to enhance all of the pupils‘ science, learning experiences.

science pic

The primary schools in attendance today were: St Philip Evans RC,  Hendredenny,  St Fagans,  Litchard, Tongwynlais, Ysgol Pencae and Ysgol Y Wern. The schools were presented with PSQM certificates by Kin Yu, Head of Department for ITE at Cardiff Metropolitan University.  Presenters at the event included: Nigel Jones from New School of Technology, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Llinos Misra from See Science, (Educational and Enrichment Consultancy) Dayna Mason from RSC,  Liz Berry (Deputy headteacher) of Thornhill Primary school and Dr Sarah Earle co-author of TAPS Cymru; who gave an update  on resources available from TAPS Cymru: the Teacher Assessment in Primary Science project which began its work in Wales in collaboration with Cardiff Met in 2017-8.14 and 15 of the award.   PSQM was founded 10 years ago at University of Hertfordshire (UH) and the schools were from Round 14 and 15.

The Primary Science Quality Mark (PSQM) is a highly successful, unique award programme to develop and celebrate the profile of science teaching, learning and leadership in primary schools. Science subject leaders join a local PSQM hub and are supported by professional development to achieve the Primary Science Quality awards, of which there are three different awards to ensure that all schools can achieve the accreditation.  The three awards are: Primary Science Quality Mark, Primary Science Quality Mark Gilt or Primary Science Quality Mark Outreach.  Primary Science Quality Marks’ provide a framework for improvement and development in leadership and provision, whatever the starting point.




A Good News Story

We were delighted here, at Cardiff Met, to hear some marvellous  news from PGCE Primary alumna, Shelley Hopkins, who, just one year into her teaching career, won Pontypridd High School’s ‘Teacher of the Year’ award.

After spending almost 10 years with the crown prosecution service as an associate prosecutor, Shelley, at the age of 34, quit in order to pursue a career in teaching. She trained at Cardiff Met as a primary teacher specialising in Key Stage 2, and, shortly before graduating, secured a post at Pontypridd High School teaching science at Key Stage 3.

Shelley told us: “During my training I preferred teaching Year 6 to all other years.  I found it easier to engage with older pupils and to facilitate their learning. As such, the prospect of teaching in a secondary school didn’t faze me at all. I was excited to start my new role and I have found that the primary teaching methods, behaviour strategies and pedagogical approaches are easily applicable in secondary education. My grasp and application of the Literacy and Numeracy Framework and the Digital Competency Framework from primary training have benefitted my secondary practice immensely. The progress made by my pupils is clear and measurable, and my (numerous) lesson observations have always been positive. I am pleased to say that my hard work and achievement at this school was recognised when I secured a permanent position at the school at the end of my NQT year.  And now, this year, I am teaching right through to Key Stage 5, something I never thought I would achieve.

I was so shocked and honoured to receive ‘Teacher of the Year’. This has solidified in my mind that I made the right decision in retraining as a teacher. I love my job! I have experienced such a high degree of job satisfaction and am grateful every day that I made the decision to retrain.”

We are sure the pupils at Pontypridd High, who voted for Shelley to receive this award, are happy that Shelley chose to become a teacher, too! Congratulations, Shelley.  We are all delighted to see such success in such an early career.



3D Primary School Printing Project

As students of the Primary Education Studies course, we are keen to gain hands on experience working with learners and to put what we have learnt in University to the test. Therefore, when the opportunity to work with a primary school in Cardiff arose using 3D printers we jumped at the chance.  We collaborated with Year 4 pupils from St Philip Evans Primary School in their design and build project of a 3D alien pet. This project provided the children with a new and engaging opportunity to use technology to develop their creations.

Learners were taken through the ‘real world’ manufacturing process from designing to bringing the product to life. This project gave us an insight into how the Digital Competence framework (DCF) and how the Areas of Learning and Experience could be developed in schools. We have learnt a lot on our course about the DCF which is being implemented in schools across Wales as part of the new curriculum. Technology infiltrates every aspect of society and it is important that this is mirrored in schools. This project gave pupils an insight into how technology could be used to bring their design on the page into a 3D product.

Firstly, the pupils were put into their groups where they had already started creating their individual designs. They had been given a specific environment to work within. For example, one learner had researched animals who live in the desert and decided that their creation would have a pouch where they could store water to stay hydrated, which was key for survival. This activity demonstrated how design and technology could engage pupils and encourage them to start thinking about what properties existing animals have that allow them to survive in their natural environments.

This activity was cross-curricular and required pupils to engage with design and technology, science, geography, art and English. Learners were required to communicate to develop their designs and to use different processes before the designs were 3D printed. The pupils were given the opportunity to bring their drawings to life using clay and transform them into a 3D alien. This allowed them to see which aspects of their designs worked effectively and helped them pet to perfect their ideas in this format. After completing their clay prototype, they had to look at everyone else’s in their group and then pick a final one to develop further for the 3D printing. Learners evaluated their designs and, through peer review led by the success criteria, chose one design. The chosen design was then placed into Morphi an application on the iPad that would allow the 3D design to be created by the 3D printer. Pupils engaged with aspects of the DCF as they sourced designs, tested and then produced these aliens.

The Year 4 pupils were amazed at the intricacies that went into the creation of a 3D object. The printer lays down thin plastic layers that are built up to make any design their imaginations could create. Pupils were able to reflect on the design process and link this to the ‘real world’ in which a product is designed and brought to life for consumption. Throughout the day, we worked closely with the pupils to assist them with any help they needed, whether it was further developing their ideas, answering any questions raised or challenging their ideas to improve their designs. In our role as facilitators, along with the teachers, we were also able to learn with the pupils as we adapted designs so they could be mapped onto the 3D printer software.

Not only was this project exciting for the pupils, it was exciting for us too as we were given the opportunity to see first-hand how technology can further enhance learning across all areas of development. We have gained some valuable pedagogical skills observing how our lecturer, Jason Davies, and the teachers managed over 50 learners across 3 locations. We also gained confidence working with 3D printing technology which will help us as we progress on our journey towards a PGCE and as a qualified teacher.

Jade Staniforth and Olivia Leonard.

Five top TED talks

TED talks provide insight, inspiration and some very thought-provoking content.   Here are five talks that we think you might be interested in.

Your body language shapes who you are
Amy Cuddy points up that how you carry yourself provides unspoken messages to others.  This is particularly true of the classroom and of interviews.  This talk provides simple advice on giving the right messages.


Five ways to listen better
Listening properly to pupils is essential for understanding their understanding.   Listening is something we may take for granted.  Julian Treasure encourages us to consider how we approach this skill.


The mysterious workings of the adolescent brain

Ever wondered what is going on inside the adolescent brain, and why teenagers act as they do?   An illuminating talk by cognitive neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore provides some fascinating insight, and suggests that it provides real opportunities for learning.


Let’s teach for mastery – not for test scores

Salman “Sal” Khan, founder of Khan Academy, an organisation dedicated to providing a free, world-class education for anyone, considers the concepts of mastery and mindset.  His talk challenges conventional practice in schools.


Teach girls bravery not perfection

Reshma Saujani gives a talk challenging us to recognise how girls are socialised to be perfect, a trait which leads to students who are afraid to get it wrong. We should be teaching girls, as well as boys, to take risks.




Mantle of the Expert: an introduction by Paul Gibbins

paul gibbinsMantle of the Expert is a teaching strategy that gives children practice at real life situations through the creations of fictionalised scenarios.  It is particularly effective at engaging pupils in activities which give purpose to reading, writing, speaking and listening.  It offers numerous opportunities for assessment for learning and was highly commended by Paul Black as an effective teaching approach. It also allows for meaningful progression for MAT learners.

Core elements of the ‘Mantle of the Expert’ approach to Learning

Adapted from:

Heathcote, D. & Bolton, G. (1995). Drama for Learning: Dorothy Heathcote’s Mantle of the Expert

Approach to Education. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann USA

  • The learners gradually take on responsibility for running an enterprise in a fictional world
  • The learners care enough about the long-term goals of a fictional client that they engage in activities through which they begin to imagine the fictional world
  • Learners and teacher together:
  • interact predominantly as ‘themselves’
  • imagine that they are interacting as experts who run the enterprise
  • imagine that they are interacting as other people in the fictional world with whom the experts are concerned
  • Over time, the pupils engage in activities that at the same time are both curriculum tasks and that would be professional practices
  • in the fictional enterprise
  • The teacher must share power to position the students

(individually and collectively) as knowledgeable and competent colleagues and ensure that children position one another similarly

  • The children must reflect to make meaning.

For more information on Mantle of the Expert visit the website:

NQT makes her mark

AbbAbbie Cooper graduated last year from the PGCE English course here at Cardiff Met, and moved into her first teaching post at Orchard School Bristol.  Not only has she successfully settled into teaching, but she has also delivered a workshop at her school’s conference.   Delivering to your peers can be daunting for any teacher, but particularly when you’re newly qualified.

Abbie writes about the workshop in the school’s blog – and it’s worth reading not only to find out about her experience, but also because she has some very interesting ideas on making marking more effective.

Her workshop focused on using marking crib sheets to improve her feedback to learners.  She explains how they have transformed her approach to assessment: ‘I am spending less time marking and more time planning the next steps in each pupil’s learning journey.’

Her article is helpfully illustrated and is of interest across the curriculum.  It’s well worth a look.

(Thanks for sharing, Abbie.)

School Experience Room

You’ll find the SER on the first floor of the library, and it’s there for you.  Do take a look at what the SER has to offer:

(Use Chrome or an alternative browser if IE doesn’t work)

Catherine Finch, Academic Librarian (CSE), is always on the lookout for your ideas and suggestions, so do contact her if there is something that you’d like to see in the SER.

Introducing the Primary Science Quality Mark

The Primary Science Quality Mark (PSQM) is an award scheme to enable primary schools across the UK to evaluate, strengthen and celebrate their science provision. Schools can achieve bronze, silver and gold awards.

The main aims of PSQM are to:

  • raise the profile of science in primary schools;
  • provide schools with a framework and professional support for developing science leadership, teaching and learning;
  • celebrate excellence in primary science;
  • work with existing, and facilitate new, networks across the UK and wider to provide local support for primary science;
  • assemble and make accessible to the wider science education community a rich database of current practice in primary science.

In December, 2015, Cardiff School of Education Senior Lecturer, Bethan Jones, arranged an initial CPD opportunity for PSQM training at Cardiff Metropolitan for university staff, members of professional associations in Cardiff, and consortia.  Ruth Coakley then began the first hub (Round 12) and as a result four schools have submitted for the award.  Popularity has since grown with a new cohort of nine schools beginning their PSQM journey in March, 2017 (Round 14).  Six of the current PSQM schools are also involved with the Teacher Assessment in Primary Science (TAPS) project from the Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT), working in collaboration with Bath Spa University.

Day One of Round 14 PSQM training included talks from Linda Curwen, who is a Primary Science Teaching Fellow, and Dr. Liam Thomas from the Royal Society of Chemistry.  Linda’s presentation gave information about how schools can gain fellow status from the PSTT through the Primary Science Teacher Award and Dr.Thomas discussed how to incorporate chemistry into the primary curriculum

Continue reading “Introducing the Primary Science Quality Mark”

Spotlight on research – Paul Warren

PaulWarrenPhotoProfessional doctorate student, Paul Warren,  is a busy man.  Not only is he currently studying for an EdD here at the Cardiff School of Education, but he has just started a new job as Strategic Lead for School Improvement in Caerphilly LA, a key role which focuses on quality assurance of the advisory service across all 91 schools in Caerphilly. Before this, he was an executive head of two primary schools having previously worked in schools  in Caerphilly and Barnet, north London.

Boy-friendly reading

Paul’s research for his EdD explores the value of comics in supporting literacy. This focus arose from a concern between the disparity between boys’ and girls’ attainment. The received wisdom talked about making classrooms boy-friendly by, for example, having books about sport and football available to boys, measures which did not seem to make any real difference. (Paul’s interviews with pupils found that many boys did not actually like sport!)  Paul set out to test the commonly held belief that any reading is better than nothing, and turned his attention to a genre of reading that gave him pleasure as a child – comics.  He wanted to find out if they can actually support the development of reading skills in the classroom.

Teaching with comics

Comics do not appear to be commonly used for teaching in schools and a review of the literature together with his own survey of teachers suggested that female teachers, in particular, may not personally value comics, which may account for the paucity of comic use of the classroom.   With his school colleagues, Paul reviewed different types of comic and they recognised that different types might be good or bad for the classroom.   They went on to plan a series of lessons involving comics, and they have been measuring the impact of the intervention on all readers but particularly on reluctant boy readers.

Promising outcomes

The research is ongoing but it promises to have some interesting findings.  It appears to show, for example, that comics have a number of features that really help children to engage with texts, such as visual support, the use of colour, the development of character (e.g. through facial expressions) and the focus on action in a comic.   Such aspects help support engagement, and improved engagement appears to be leading to improved attainment.   In particular, there is evidence of some pupils making good progress, especially in writing.

Benefits for all

It is not just the pupils appear to be gaining from Paul’s research. Teaching staff have also been developing a better understanding and appreciation of different types of text, and it has enabled the sharing of good practice.

And when Paul completes his research, within the next couple of years, it should add a considerable value to the limited amount of research that currently exists in this area.  So watch this space!

High quality educational videos available for streaming (but only until the end of May)

Like to use video or music in your studies or teaching?  Then check out this!

Academic Video Online delivers more than 62,000 video titles spanning a vast range of subject areas including teaching, education, film, theatre/drama, sociology, business, counselling, health, history and music. It is easy to use and accessible.  You can add playlists, create clips and easily insert them into your teaching.  Most videos in the collection are subtitled or have transcripts.  There is also a high quality music archive that covers a range of genres from classical to jazz.

Cardiff Met Libraries are trialling Academic Video Online until the end of May. The advantage of using this resource is that content is suitable and copyright cleared for teaching and study in higher education.   If you like the resource and want the library to subscribe, then please contact Education Librarian –

Click here to get into Academic Video Online.  If you are off campus, or are using a mobile device with wi-fi, you may be prompted for your student/staff number and password.

academic video online image

World Book Day library events

Reading for pleasure has a positive impact on education, literacy and emotional health (see reading list below to explore this claim in more detail).

So over the course of two weeks, Cyncoed Library focussed on World Book Day as a way of promoting the benefits of reading and literature to staff and students here at Cardiff Met.  Sport was the theme for our WBD this year.  And to share the love (of reading), we invited two writers and journalists, heavily involved in the world of sport to talk about their work and inspirations.


Jos Andrews

Experienced educator, television producer, researcher and writer, Jos Andrews gave a great talk about her sport broadcasting and writing career.  She initially trained as an English teacher and was head of department in a school when she got summer holiday experience as a runner for a TV production company in London.  Meeting people in the profession who were willing to give her a chance was key to getting a wealth of research and television production experience.

Career advice

Through her many anecdotes, Jos told students how hard work, flexibility and networking was important to building a career…

She recounted her experiences of filming cricket being played in Crompton – an area of Los Angeles beset by poverty and violence.  The game was strengthening community ties, helping people improve their life chances and sense of belonging.  Despite their background, the players treated the crew with kindness and respect.  So no matter where you are, always think the best of people.  Most will be respectful and bend over backwards to help.

Continue reading “World Book Day library events”

TeachBites: Technology

Cardiff Met has hosted an insightful technology event for teachers and trainees to showcase and share the latest and most beneficial technology being used in classrooms across the country.

The first TeachBites event also highlighted the need for teaching digital skills to be given as much focus as numeracy and literacy skills in Welsh schools.

One hundred leading sector teachers, forty Cardiff Met students and students from University of South Wales attended the event to share best practice in teaching, practical innovations and personal insights in teaching with technology.

Latest technological innovations presented at the event at Cardiff School of Management with Achievement Services (EAS) included a variety of multimedia such as augmented reality, Virtual reality and the latest innovations from Google Classroom.  These were shown as effective ways to bring a digital aspect to teaching to help incorporate the new Digital Competency Framework into classrooms.

The event was led by practitioners within the South-East Wales region who have both attended and facilitated on the Excellent Teacher Programme, where participants are expected to lead and inspire others in excellent teaching within their own school and across primary and secondary schools in South East Wales. A question and answer panel led by practitioners answered questions relating to the Digital Competency Framework, and a presentation on ‘Growth Mindset’ revealed how one pedagogical principle suggests that organisations will need to adopt such a mindset in order to successfully integrate the changes of the new curriculum.

Continue reading “TeachBites: Technology”