My Visit to Michaela Community School

(Photo from school website)

Michaela is definitely different. As the electric gates crept open to let me in, I felt more like I was entering a secure facility than a school. At reception, having signed in (I was at a loss for what to write in “Position” and “Organisation” – “soon-to-be (hopefully) trainee teacher”? “currently working in a supermarket”?), I was presented with a booklet of example knowledge organisers (I had been hoping to get a good look at some more of these!) and as we waited for our guides, I chatted with a fellow visitor about what we’d heard about Michaela and speculated about the possible source of its negative press.

We had been asked not to talk loudly in the corridors, but whispering was almost instinctive. The school was totally silent – I felt like I should have worn padded shoes! The corridors were often silent at the secondary school I attended, too, but that’s because they had huge, thick doors that were always closed. Every classroom door at Michaela was at least partially open. Continue reading “My Visit to Michaela Community School”

@Germaine Greer, the ONS aren’t erasing women’s existence, but you are erasing ours

Another day, another Daily Mail outrage. This time it’s over the possibility that the “sex” question in the next UK Census might be optional. This is apparently front page headline news.

Feminists – known transmisogynist Germaine Greer among them – claim that this would lead to an “erasure” of women. Others claim that it will prevent civil servants getting an accurate picture of Britain’s make-up, making resource planning and allocation more difficult.

This, I argue, is nonsense. According to this analysis of research, around 0.4% of the British population identify as neither a man nor a woman. This means that 99%+ of the people filling in the Census will not think twice about ticking either male or female, even if the question is optional. They’re already filling in the form, why would they bother to skip it if their sex is right there, just waiting for a single pen stroke? If anything, the results will probably be more accurate – pretty much every woman will still just tick “woman”, but you’ll no longer have all those neither-men-nor-women who were forced to choose between two incorrect choices screwing up your numbers. Continue reading “@Germaine Greer, the ONS aren’t erasing women’s existence, but you are erasing ours”

A Bump In The Road: On being declined for your dream job

So, as you may remember, I applied to the TeachFirst Leadership Development Programme a little while ago and was invited to the assessment centre. I put as much time and effort into it as I possibly could and I had a great day, but in the end, I was unsuccessful. Apparently that “next to no leadership experience” came back to bite me.

Apparently one of my big issues was not being able to give examples of times I’d made mistakes. That’s fair enough: I think my anxiety prevents me from putting myself in positions where my decisions can result in any kind of major mistakes. I’m very much an ask-first person. They also said I needed better examples of stepping out of my comfort zone. Again, my anxiety means that often just leaving the house is a huge leap outside my comfort zone, but that doesn’t sound very impressive in an interview. Nonetheless, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for opportunities to do these things. At the very least, in future interviews, I can talk about that time I applied to the TeachFirst Leadership Development Programme. Continue reading “A Bump In The Road: On being declined for your dream job”

Infinite Worksheets: Make them once, use them over and over

A little while ago, I was reading this blog post by Hin-Tai Ting and stumbled upon this paragraph:

I’ve uploaded one example of such a booklet, used with a bottom set Y7 class, on TES here. Of course, it doesn’t have to be printed out as a booklet – projecting it also works. Either way, I’d recommend making them using random number generators in Excel, so you have an infinite variety of suitable questions, ready to project at a moment’s notice. And once you’ve gotten the hang of using Excel, and the pupils have gotten the hang of these questions, it’s really easy to increase or decrease the complexity of your question set. Other topics we’ve made booklets for include lots of practice with operations with negatives, decimal multiplication, and fraction operations. Or really, whenever you stumble upon a topic that your pupils keep on forgetting, just make a starter booklet! Give them 5 minutes of practice every lesson for a term, and complain no more.

I’ve been struggling for a while to come up with effective ways of self-quizzing myself on a range of knowledge. I have mostly been using sites like Quizlet and Memrise, but being constantly frustrated by their limits. This idea, though, seemed to me to open up a whole new world of possibilities, especially as my recent data analysis work for my dissertation has meant I’m more confident using spreadsheets now than I have been ever before in my life. Continue reading “Infinite Worksheets: Make them once, use them over and over”

So it begins…

Just over a week ago I submitted my application to TeachFirst, for their 2018 cohort. It hadn’t got off to the greatest start: within the first page I was stumped by a drop-down menu of titles, all of which were either gendered or required certain qualifications. TeachFirst responded brilliantly, though – I tweeted them about the issue, and they got back to me within minutes to let me know that this was merely an oversight on their part (non-binary was offered as a gender option later on) and that if I picked one now just to be getting on with I would be able to change it later.

Not only that, the following day I received a phone call from my recruitment officer, who asked me about it (clearly they’d made a note of my name from Twitter and matched it to my application, so I didn’t have to worry about bringing it up myself – nice work) and kindly removed the title from my name altogether.

Honestly, as a fresh-out-of-uni art/sociology student with next to no leadership experience, I wasn’t expecting to get far. Just trying to find enough examples to answer all the questions on the application form took hours of digging through memories and journals. TeachFirst was my wildcard. My “what would you do if you couldn’t fail?” option.

Continue reading “So it begins…”

Not All Trans News Is Bad News: We Are Family

(Image from

With the current political climate, the airing of the controversial and potentially damaging documentary Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best and already three trans people listed on Wikipedia as unlawfully killed this year, 2017 hasn’t got off to the best start for the trans community.

In such times, it is important to find and share our good news, and remember that there is always hope. Here are three stories of acceptance and love for transgender kids.

Transitioning Together

You might remember Corey House from this viral video from 2015 showing her reaction when her family surprised her with her first dose of hormones. Now Corey is back in the news, this time alongside her father, Eric. Continue reading “Not All Trans News Is Bad News: We Are Family”

Passing Thoughts


What is passing?

“Passing” refers to any occasion where a trans person appears to others to be their real gender, rather than their birth-assigned gender. It’s a controversial word: there’s the connotation to “passing oneself off as” something, giving an impression of deceit and falsehood, as well as the suggestion that not passing must equal “failing” – or doing gender “wrong”. Many trans people now prefer to say “I was being read as X” rather than “I was passing as X”, which alleviates the issues with the language, but doesn’t really confront the problems with the concept in general.

“Trans people are just taking gender roles/stereotypes too seriously”

Trans people hear this a lot. “I’m not a girly-girl either, that doesn’t mean I’m a man” or “Men can wear makeup too, wanting to look good doesn’t mean you’re a woman”. And then, of course, there’s, “trans people try to hard to fit gender stereotypes so they just perpetuate them”. But these comments are fundamentally misunderstanding the source of trans people’s feelings and desires to partake in activities generally associated with a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth, as well as massively underestimating the different levels of acceptance for cis people who question gender roles and trans people who do. Continue reading “Passing Thoughts”