Total Pageviews

One of the Top 100 Education Blogs

View All 100 Blogs

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Maths - A Whole School Approach

As educators we are constantly striving to improve not just the performance of our pupils but their engagement in their learning. This results in research,  CPD, discussion with other professionals both in person locally and via social media. Keeping in touch not just with changes to the curriculum but also with good practice is essential. 

As part of this process myself and our Deputy Head were lucky enough to be invited to observe 'maths' in an outstanding school. The format of the morning was a quick presentation followed by observation. It was interesting and in parts inspiring, so much so that we were keen to return to school to implement some of what we had witnessed in our own school, which we felt would have an immediate impact. 

Daily Calculations

The format - Every morning from 8.55 until 9.15 all pupils from years 1 to year 6 open up their calculation books which are on tables ready to go as soon as they enter the room. They begin by completing a 'strip' of 10 - 20 questions depending on their year group which consists of a mixed diet of questions ranging from time, to shape and number. These questions are assertive mentoring in style and take about 5 minutes to complete. They then move onto a selection of calculation questions using the four operations, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. 

Marking takes place immediately with pupils marking their own books using purple pen. If a question is wrong they mark it with a cross and put in the correct answer next to it. Whilst this is going on the register is taken, lunches counted. No time is wasted. Feedback from pupils has been very positive, they enjoy the fast pace, self marking, high success and no fear of failure culture. 

The result - end of year Arithmetic scores across the school improved massively. 

However, after analysis of  both KS1 and KS2 papers it was clear that problem solving was to be our next focus. 

Problem Solving - There has been much discussion in the press and on Social media about the merits of Singapore maths. So, intrigued, I researched, attended conferences, spoke to fellow professionals and finally both myself and the deputy again set off to observe the teaching of Singapore maths in several local schools. 

On return many discussions ensued and in brief we concluded that we loved the main principles of Singapore maths,  C.P.A, real life 'scenario' at the beginning, whole class together and the problem solving. What neither of us liked was the 'scheme', the textbooks but perhaps more importantly for us the scripted approach. We are as a school committed to both collaborative learning and active learning so from this and our research we developed a new maths lesson format. 

Daily Maths Lesson Format 

The lesson begins with a real life problem/ scenario, these can be linked to topics, Christmas, things going on around school such as the pond, our chickens the new library etc. 

Next some whole class discussion/teaching working towards solving the whole class problem. 

Then short group or paired exploration/discussion based on the teaching. 

Mini plenary check/sharing  of what has been discovered so far. 

Then it's time for the main group/paired problem solving with a link to the scenario. This may be conducted in differentiated or mixed ability groups and should include both collaborative learning and an Active Maths element which is taken from Maths of the Day which is a series of lessons linking maths and P.E. 

Mini plenary check - common misconceptions, discoveries, sharing. 

Finally whole class back together to discuss/solve whole class scenario problem using what they have learned. 

CPA runs throughout the lesson as well as keeping the whole class together, something I am particularly passionate about. 

The result - it is too early in the process to see any results in tests, though we should see some at the end of Autumn 2. However, the results in lesson observations is clear. The pupils are all engaged and enthusiastic about their learning. There is a mathematical vocabulary rich environment with pupils discussing ideas and solutions as well as pupils not afraid to make mistakes but learning from them. 

Maths has been reinvigorated and there truly is a buzz about the teaching and learning of maths. Result!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

The KS1 Standardised Scores are in so What Next?

If you are a year 2 teacher you will have recently administered the new KS1 SATS. They were very different in format this year but the biggest change was the administration of the tests which was a lot more rigorous and not far removed from administering KS2 Sats which is odd as at the moment KS1 Sats tests are part ot teacher assessment and not, like KS2 based on test alone. 

But whatever  your opinion of them one good thing we can say is that they are, for this year at least, behind us and our wonderful children. 

So tests administered, papers marked and the standardised scores finally in so what next? We know which pupils in our classes have achieved the 'expected standard' we know which pupils who are 'below the expected standard' but what we don't know is which pupils are at 'working at greater depth.' Yet we have to report to our LAs what percentage of our class are at each of those standards. 

As there is no real guidance I have come up with my own plan which is based upon discussion with SLT but more importantly based upon lots of moderation with fellow professionals within our local cluster. If you think it's helpful please feel free to use it, adapt it to inform your own TAs.

Step 1: look at the top scores available for reading and math. Make a list of those who achieved the full marks available  and those up to two marks off a full marks score. I think if you go lower than that the pupils will not be working as securely within 'greater depth.'
Step 2: Using the interim framework statements for each of these pupils look for evidence that the pupil has met each of the expected standards, then move on to greater depth. As there are probably only about 10-15% of your class this shouldn't be too onerous. 

For Reading evidence - use reading journals, running records and book bands, guided reading records, comprehension answers in English books, termly test results, PIRA tests, etc. Often termly tests come with detailed coverage analysis which should help. 

For Maths evidence - mental math test scores, times tables secured, calculations books, maths books, mathletics and RM Easimaths results as well as termly assessments tests.

The guidance suggests 'secure fit' not 'best fit' so you will need to be thorough when looking for evidence. My personal time of thumb is is to err on the side of caution. 

I hope this helps and wish you all good luck in ensuring our pupils are given the most accurate assessment that truly reflects there hard work throughout the year. 


Sunday, 1 May 2016

A Tale of the Two Childhoods

The 1970-1990 childhood 
Once upon a time there were two children called Janet and John. Janet and John were brother and sister and lived at home with their Mum and Dad and baby brother Michael. Mum worked some shifts as a nurse, with the help of Grannie and Grandad, who helped out with Michael. Their Dad worked in an office and went to work everyday on the bus. Gran and Grandad, their Uncle Simon and Auntie Susan all lived locally. 

Their friends all lived on the same housing estate and they all played out in the street after school, at weekends and during the summer holidays. During the long summer holidays they would go out with their friends all day returning only when they were hungry. On wet days they would play board games, draw, make up plays and watch a little t.v. If they had fall outs with their friends they were told to sort it for themselves, parents didn't get involved. 

Their primary school was within walking distance and all of the local children went to the same school. When they left primary school they would all go to the same local comprehensive. Janet was in the infants and John was in the Kat year of juniors.  Their were lots of children in their classes, Janet's class had 38 children and John's 40. The teachers were strict but nice and generally the children behaved well. Their headmaster was a bit scary and they had to stand up when he came into their class, one thing you didn't want was to be sent to his office for misbehaving because he would make them feel like they had let him, the school, their parents and themselves down, he was really good at that. If they got told of in school they knew they would also get a good telling off at home. They were responsible for their own actions. 

Janet and John both loved school, Jon loved maths, reading and p.e. and Janet loved story time and playing in the outdoor area. Playtime was great, Jon loved having races with his friends and playing football on the field and Janet loved doing cartwheels and making daisy chains. When it rained they still played out on the playground with their coats on and everyone would jump over the puddles or huddle around telling stories and laughing. There were always two staff on the playground drinking their tea or coffee and chatting. But the children didn't bother them they all just played and sorted out their own squabbles. If they fell over they would get up and carry on playing unless they were really hurt and the teacher would take them into the school medical room to sort them out. 

Assembly was held everyday and the whole school would get together and sing hymns from a big flip chart while the headteacher pointed at the words with a big stick and sang in a deep voice really loudly, which was really funny.  One of the teachers played the piano and all of the teachers joined in the singing too. Harvest Assembly was their favourite because they took in baskets that mum had made up at home full of tinned peaches and corned beef and sometimes some fresh fruit, then they would all walk down the aisle and place their own basket on the display in front of the whole school. Once John,s friends mum didn't send a basket in and he felt bad but the teacher gave him one she had made and he took that to place onto the display. 

Sports day was always great fun, the whole school would line up with their class on the side of the field and each class then took turns to do the sack race, the two legged race and Janet's favourite the egg and spoon race. The juniors also did a relay race and Jon even won one year! The winners got a medal and a big clap and then the headteacher treated all of the children to an ice lolly. 

P.E. lessons were held in the school hall when they did dance or gymnastics and out on the school field for games lessons. John loved it when they got the gymnastics equipment out because he could hang upside down off the big metal bars and jump over the pummel horse. They never, ever forgot their p,e. kit because they knew if they did their teacher would make them wear the smelly spare kit that they kept in their stockroom, boy it stunk! The infants would be made to do p.e. in vest and knickers if they didn't have kit! 

Every class did English, maths, topic, art, music and cookery. John was learning the recorder in music and the whole class used recorders which were dipped in disinfectant, it smelled and tasted really weird but nobody minded. Art was great, they got to mix their own paint and take pictures home at the end of the day. They all wore aprons because the paint never washed off and Mums were not happy if they got it on their uniform because that would mean trying to wash and dry it in time for the next day. One day Janet forgot to put her apron on and got covered in paint, Mum washed it but because it was wet she couldn't get it dry and Janet had to go to school the next day in a wet uniform. 

Some children were good at everything but everybody was good at something, reading, writing, maths, art, running, singing, acting in the play, recorder ... One year the school held a reading aloud day and the best readers in the class read out a poem that they had to learn off by heart. The winner got a prize which was a book signed by the headmaster. They also had a yearly spelling competition and every day, when they fit into juniors they had to stand up and say their tables off by heart. 

Class photograph day was organised by the caretaker who would march them into the hall class by class making sure brothers and sisters were photographed together. The teachers would straighten their ties and comb their hair with a comb which was kept in a jar of the same white smelly solution they used for the recorders. 

Once a year they all had a visit from Nitty Nora the nit nurse who would go through everybody's hair with a nit comb. If you had nits they were given a note for their Mum and would have to have this really stinky stuff on your hair for a couple of days. 

Janet and John got a school report at the end of the year and parents were invited in once a year for parents evening. The report showed their attendance for the year and have them a grading a-d for every subject for effort and they also showed the position of each child in the class, in Janet's case out of 38 and John's class out of 40. There was a section from the teacher about friendship groups, general behaviour and what they had a flair for. 

School was were they went to learn, play, grow, develop.

The 2000-2016 childhood 
Once upon a time there were two children called Emily and Jacob. Emily and Jacob were brother and sister and lived at home with their Mum and Dad and baby brother Liam. Mum worked full time as a nurse and Liam went to nursery. Their Dad worked away and Gran and Grandad, their Uncle Paul and Auntie Linda lived about an hours drive away and they went to see them during school holidays. 

Some of their friends from school lived in their street but a lot of them lived about a 20 minute walk away. They were driven to school by Mum on her way to work and went to the school breakfast club. They didn't see their friends out of school unless there was a party or they went to the same after school clubs, Beavers or swimming lessons. They weren't allowed to play out in the street. After school they would go to after school club and then go home to do homework and have tea, they both had lots of homework but Jacob had the most because he had to do Sats practice and he also had a tutor who gave him even more. If he finished his homework he could watch t.v in bed or play on his tablet. During the long summer holidays they would go away for two weeks holiday with Mum and Dad often abroad and then maybe go to see their Grannie and Grandad for a couple of days. They didn't get to see their friends much at all unless there was a party or they bumped into them in the supermarket when they were out shopping with Mum. On wet days they would watch dvds, play on their Xbox or do some homework. 

Their primary school was within walking distance, though they went in the car. The children in their street didn't all go to the same school, some went to the one on the next estate. When they left primary school they would have lots to choose from but Jacob would have to sit an entrance exam this year to get into the grammar school. Mum said he had to work hard because the local high school didn't have a good reputation. The day the schools were announced was always upsetting because everybody was split up and some people didn't pass. 

Emily was in year 2 and Jacob had just gone into year 6.  Their were 30 children in Emily's class and Jacobs class had 32 children. Emily's class had a teacher and a teaching assistant all day because they had a child who needed extra support. He misbehaved a lot but their teaching assistant looked after him. Jacob's class had a teacher and a teaching assistant in the morning when they were set for maths and English. The lowest set were taught by the TA. He was happy because he was in top sets but he did miss being with his friends all morning. The homework in top set was really hard too. Their headteacher was nice and they saw him once a week in assembly or sometimes he came in to check on the progress in their books. Behaviour was O.K but there was lots of talking in class, particularly in Jacob's class as well as tapping of pencils and throwing rubbers. In Emily's class the boys were silly on the carpet. If they got told off in school they knew their parents would get informed and often they would then come into school to have a chat with the headteacher to find out what had gone on. Mum would then tell them not to worry because it was all sorted out. 

Emily and Jacob both enjoyed school, Jacob loved maths and p.e, when they got to do it, and Emily loved story time and topic. Playtime was great, Jon loved playing football with his friends on their football cage days and Janet loved playing with the outdoor play equipment. When it rained it was 'wet play' Emily's class went into the hall with the rest of KS1 and sang songs while Jacob stayed in his class and played wet play games. There was always two staff on the playground supervising them at all times and they would sort out the fights and squabbles that happened. If they fell over the staff would take them into the school to clean them up and give them a note to take home to their parents. Sometimes Mum would ring up to ask what happened. 

Assembly was held once a week with the whole school when the vicar came in to do an assembly, they would sing songs with a backing track on a Cd and the words were displayed on the whiteboard, some of the teachers came in but some stayed class. Sometimes year 6 didn't come in because they had to do more work and some children in Emily's class were kept out for 'interventions.' Usually the deputy came into this assembly and the headteacher did an assembly on a Friday for KS1 in the morning and KS2 in the afternoon. For Harvest Assembly they were asked to bring in an item for the Harvest display or their parents could make a donation on Parent Pay. 

Sports day was good but would often get called off because of bad weather and the headteacher would say it was too dangerous to do it even if it wasn't raining, they might slip and hurt themselves he would explain.  When it was on it was always KS1 in the morning and KS2 in the afternoon so Emily and Jacob didn't get to see each other in school much. Sports day for KS1 and KS2 was non competitive team games, like throwing hoops and swapping places on a bench. They didn't do any races. The teachers made it as much fun as they could by squirting them with water if it was hot. The team with the most points got a a big clap but everyone who took part got a medal because that was fair. When it was finished the PTA sold drinks and crisps.

P.E. lessons were held in the school hall when they did dance or gymnastics and out on the school field for games lessons. You did P.E in the hall if it was cold or had been raining. The gymnastics equipment was mainly benches and mats and everyone was taught how to carry benches safetly. If you forgot your kit you didn't have to do P.E. You just sat at the side and watched. Some children didn't get to do P.E at all because they had 'interventions' in year 2 and year 6 didn't really do P.E. much until after the Sats because they were too busy. Jacob hated it but Mum said Sats were very important. 

Every class did English and maths in the morning, due to setting, with topic and ICT in the afternoon. Jacob loved ICT and was learning to code. Emily loved ICT too because they got to use the apps on the iPads. Jacobs class had an Art and DT day once a term because that was the only way his teacher could fit it in because of Sats. 

Ofsted had been into their school three times while Jacob was there and he noticed how cross the teachers and head were just before they arrived, all smiley  while they were there and tired and grumpy when they left. His Mum said they were a good school but if it didn't get outstanding next time Liam would be going somewhere else. 

Some children were good at everything in Emily and Jacobs school but Jacob knew he could do better at writing because that was always his target and Emily found SPAG hard, her class did SPAG everyday except the children who still did phonics. Once a year after Sats KS2 had a talent show and although you had to audition everybody got to take part because the teachers knew the parents would complain otherwise because it wasn't fair. Jacob was good at his tables but his teacher said he didn't really know them fast enough. Emily was now learning her tables in year 2. 

Class photograph day was organised by the photographer and Emily and Jacob had their photograph taken together. Their teachers were a bit stressed though because they both missed some of their maths lesson.

Emily and Jacob got a school report at the end of the year and parents were invited in twice a year for parents evening. They were also kept up to date with regular updates on their child's individual targets. They used to have assessments at the end of each term but recently this had become every half term and Jacob said all they did was tests. Emily said they were lucky because they got to do quizzes but some of them were really hard, particularly the SPAG quizzes. The end of year report showed their attendance for the year as well as a detailed summary of their progress and attainment which was compared to other schools locally and nationally. The reports were based upon English and Maths and Science. They also showed Emily and Jacobs next steps. They reports didn't really mention Art, Music, Topic or social skills because the information about progress and attainment was more important. 

School was were they went to learn, learn, learn in Maths and English. 

Monday, 22 February 2016

40 Things I Love about Teaching

There is lots of negativity surrounding education at the moment so in order to counteract that I started to think about all of the things I love about my job. I got to 40 and here they are in no particular order:
1. Meeting my new class for the first time on induction day.
2. Seeing my new class on the first day of term, all smart in their new uniform, shiny shoes and excited faces.
3. The look on a child's face when they have had that penny dropping moment.
4. Listening to children read.
5. Reading stories to my class.
6. Getting dressed up on World Book Day.
7. Choosing parts for the Christmas play and making sure everyone has a part. 
8. Christmas play rehearsals.
9. The look on the parents faces as they watch the Christmas performance. 
10. Making cards and decorations on Christmas Crafts Day.
11. Meeting the parents on Parents Evening and spotting which parent the child looks the most like.
12. Teaching Maths.
13. Passing on my love of maths.
14. Helping pupils who thought they were 'rubbish' at maths grow in confidence and change their view of themselves as mathematicians to 'good'
15. Listening to the children talk and reason during problem solving lessons.
16. Making Mothers Day, Fathers Day and Easter cards.
17. Observing friendship groups and the group dynamics at playtime.
18. Watching the children play at playtime.
19. Chatting to the children in my class at playtime listening to their funny stories, jokes and stories about their families.
20. D.T. lessons and observing the roles the children take within a group.
21. Teaching English, Geography, History, Art and D.T. through Topics.
22. Introducing a new topic via an 'excite' lesson.
23. The end of topic celebration which for my class includes setting fire to London, having a teddy bears picnic and Katie Morag Day.
24. Listening to the pupils class talks about their favourite animal, their pet, an after school activity or hobby. These are very cute and often hilarious.
25. Themed Days such as Maths All Around us, Creative Arts week, Anti Bullying Day, Safer Internet Day.
26. Class Assemblies where the children show their families what they have been learning.
27. Reading the children's writing especially stories which give away family secrets.
28. Spotting the children's spelling mistakes which are often hilarious.
29. Seeing children developing their own writing style.
30. Watching my class dance during brain breaks, the class Christmas party or in the school disco, boy do they cut some shapes!
31. Teaching P.E., especially things like catching and throwing with year 2s who couldn't catch a cold and teaching the games I loved in school such as benchball and dodgeball.
32. Art lessons, the mess, the relaxed atmosphere and the opportunity to chat.
33. Singing together.
34. Listening to music together.
35. The queue of children on the first day back after a holiday to tell me what they have been up to.
36. Past pupils coming back to school to say hello.
37. Watching the children in my class grow in height, confidence and ability from the beginning of the year to the end.
38. Writing the personal statement on the end of year reports.
39. Meeting with my class's new teacher and telling them how wonderful they are, their strengths and and weaknesses and how much I will miss them.
40. Making a difference!

I really am lucky to be doing a job I love so much.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Education has gone mad!

Teaching is my job, it is what I do, it is what I have done for nearly 20 years. I love my job and to a certain extent it defines me, it is a big part of who I am and I would say it is my passion. 

Over half term like lots of teachers I still live teaching. If I'm in a book shop I find myself searching for books about teaching, books for my class library and books linked to my topic. When browsing on eBay my thoughts turn to world book day and I bid for an outfit to wear. At the end of a busy day out with my other passion, my grandchildren, I settle down to Twitter to keep up to date with education. I think you can spot the pattern ... 

At the end of every very half term I break up feeling absolutely exhausted having chased my tail just to keep up. Then during my break I reflect. 

I have recently been filling my mind with all manner of projects including studying Budhism, completing courses on Coursera and Udemy and making tentative steps to write a book.  All of this is in an effort to keep my mind busy, to stop myself getting dragged down and depressed, you see I was depressed and whilst it was not all down to my job, it was a big part of it. 

Teaching is ingrained in me, it brings me lots of joy but also lots of sadness and stress. I cannot imagine doing another job. However, education is, in my opinion and from my experience, broken and what saddens me the most is my genuine belief that we have got it that wrong that our pupils, our precious next generation are being let down, damaged even. They are to the government merely a number, a statistic, a political football and my main problems with this is the obsession with measuring, testing, data, narrowing of the curriculum and the obsession with evidence and progress, two of my most hated words in education which I think sum up the root cause of the rot. 

I have for a longtime felt helpless, complicit even, going along with this madness. That was until the worm turned! I made the decision to have my own one woman revolution! Have I gone mad? What forms the basis of this revolution? 

I have decided to get on with my job, doing what I know is right for the pupils in my class. You see like all good teachers I know my class inside out, I know their family circumstances, I know their friendship groups, I know their hobbies, what subjects they excel at and the ones they need to work more on. I know their strengths and weaknesses, I know when to push them out of their comfort zone and when not to. I know which question to ask them, where they are and what they need to do next.

So armed with this knowledge I teach a broad and balanced curriculum, ensure all of the objectives I am meant to teach are taught. I engage, enthuse, encourage, nurture, push and extend. I get on with what I need to do remembering that they are, in my case, 6 and 7 years of age. 

This means I protect them from the nonsense, I make sure they enjoy learning, playing, making friends, working together, being independent. I try to encourage them to become more organised and to be all I know they can be. We laugh together, we  dance, play games, we read books and above all we learn together. Learning is at the centre of    everything we do, it is fun and child centred. 

Since this one woman revolution I find myself less manic, I enjoy my job and my pupils enjoy learning. This was very evident in parents evening before half term with parents reporting how happy their children are in school and most importantly how well they are doing and how much they enjoy learning. 

We owe it to ourselves as professionals to do what we know is important, to do what is best for the pupils in our care and protect them as best we can from the current madness that is education. 

Sunday, 17 January 2016

The Brain - The Final Frontier

The brain, it's functions, structure and how it works is a source of fascination for me. This is due mainly to two things.

Firstly as a teacher I am fascinated about how we learn and remember things because I want to help my pupils to become effective learners. 

I have read many articles and books written about learning styles which have caused me to consider my own 'learning style.'Am I a visual learner? I sometimes like to see things written down before I can understand them or remember them, spellings for example, but not all of the time. I also like to write things down as an aid to remembering them. I used index cards with key words as a revision tool. I also like diagrams and illustrations alongside text to help me figure things out and used Tony Buzan's Mind Mapping and colour methods during exam revision. However I certainly don't fit the spatial understanding part of this style as maps remain a mystery to me. Am I an auditory learner? I would have initially answered emphatically no to this but on reflection I do have songs in my head most of the time, often on a loop, which is infuriating and music plays a big part in my dreams and I do like putting things that I need to remember either to music or at least to rhyme or does this make me a verbal learner?  I could go on and on but my own conclusion to this is that I, like many learners, have a selection of learning styles and that as a teacher I need to .understand learning styles, be aware of them and try to use a variety of learning style approaches in my teaching. What It doesn't provide me with though is a definitive answer to how people learn. 

Ok so what about left brain right brain? You see my problem is I am a pragmatic so whatever comes along I 'give it a go' and yes that meant I stood there in front of my class during 'brain gym' doing figure of eight exercises, the cross crawl or swapping from left to right hand holding my nose with one hand and ear with the other. The principles behind brain gym came from Jean Piaget, Maria Montessori and Anna Jean Ayres to name a few and were born out of lots of research and experience. Did it help my pupils to learn I can't say I noticed any huge improvement but the exercises were fun and did provide brain breaks but that is another story... Am I left or right brained I pondered? I tried this simple test and learned I am 78% right brained,  I would describe myself as creative but also as I have got older have developed a love of maths which whilst it does have its creative side is actually very logical. I'm also not really sure how it helps me understand myself as a learner or how I can use this knowledge to improve my pupils as learners. In fact it provides more questions than answers? I am hoping, or was hoping, to write a book about teaching and I really do wonder if I am logical enough? I find the creative side of my brain means academic research bores the pants off me and I tend to go more from personal experience and rhetoric than academic research after all the research is only as good as the person doing it and is often countered by others anyway.  Or does this just mean I'm a cynic? Who knows but I can see how over reliance on one type of brain research can hinder rather than help providing self limitation.

Next comes memory, a huge topic which is so important to teachers because learning and memory go hand in hand. I would, like most people, describe myself as having an appalling memory and have again used, pragmatic style, many of the memory techniques. I have found these useful but not life changing. This in fairness is due more to the lack of consistency to which I apply said methods than the effectiveness of the methods themselves. I do use some 'memory techniques' in my teaching including again mind maps, story journeys and mnemonics. 

Secondly as someone who has lived with 'hypopituitarism' for over 10 years I am now fascinated about the many other functions of the brain that affect memory, learning and emotion. The pituitary gland which is located at the base of the brain produces a number of hormones or chemicals which are released into the blood to control other glands in the body. If the pituitary is not producing one or more of these hormones, or not producing enough, then this condition is known as hypopituitarism.

To say it was a shock when I discovered I suffered from this condition is an understatement. I was very poorly and glad to finally know what was wrong or at least put a name to it but after 10 years I still don't fully understand it so complex is it. This makes it difficult to manage but I am proud to say I have never let it define me. In fact this is the first time I have discussed it outside of friends and family. I have defied the odds and worked through all of the difficult times determined to not let it defeat me. Pituitary disorders are considered rare. It is estimated that there are between 50,000 and 70,000 pituitary patients in the United Kingdom, which equates to 0.08% - 0.11% of the population. 

I never realised that hormones played such a huge part in the functions of the brain or in fact that the brain played a role in releasing hormones around the body which affect so many parts of our daily lives. 
So what role do hormones play in memory? Because hormones are often more concentrated in the brain, any hormone imbalance can affect brain function dramatically. In The Hormone Solution, Dr. Thierry Hertoghe notes that deficiencies in cortisol, DHEA, estrogen hormones, melatonin, pregnenolone, testosterone, thyroid, and vasopressin exhibit the most common brain-related symptoms, including memory loss, poor concentration, and confusion.

My conclusions? Without even considering trauma, psychology, experiences ... I think (get the pun) that the brain is truly the last great frontier of discovery. We know some things but by no means all. I will I am sure remain as pragmatic as ever and give anything a go when it comes to new 'brain and learning' research and true to form will also retain and use the ones that I find most effective in my day to day teaching as aids and tools to facilitate and enrich the learning experience.