Teaching School

Music event

MUSIC NETWORK                   

Thursday February 7th 2019    Balcarras

4.00pm – 6.00pm

 This session will focus on sharing good practice in teaching music to primary and secondary students. We will be joined by Analie Hart and she will be delivering an introduction to Charanga, with an aim to introduce it to primary colleagues who may not have used it before and to inform secondary colleagues of what might be happening in primary schools.

There will also be plenty of time for questions and general discussion - perhaps with a focus on primary transition but not necessarily exclusively

To book a place please email Nicki Harrington

This event is free to all Teaching School Partners

For non-partnership schools there is a fee of £15 per person

An invoice will be sent to these schools (see flyer below)

History Event

Wednesday November 28th 2018    Balcarras

2.30pm – 5.00pm

This session will focus on sharing good practice of teaching GCSE history – focussing on sharing resources and our experiences having seen one cohort through.  The session will be lead by the lead history advisor at AQA but will still be relevant to those following different boards. 

Topics to be covered:

  • What are the key issues and concerns?
  • Advice on key areas for development
  • Sharing resources for different strands and areas of the course
  • Things that have worked!

To book a place please email Nicki Harrington

For other queries please contact Rachael Moore

Upcoming Events

PowWow Maths event (primary)

Date: Thursday November 8th 2018

Time: 2.00pm – 4.00pm

Venue: Balcarras

This session will focus on Mathematical Learning Difficulties and Dyscalculia - supporting all pupils to enjoy and make progress in mathematic. To book a place, please visit



Transition Group Cross Phase Debrief on the 2017-18 work and looking ahead

Date:  Thursday November 15th 2018

Time: 4.00pm – 5.00pm

Venue:  Balcarras, 7B5

Coffee on arrival from 3.45pm.

After a successful second year setting of the project it seems sensible to have some time to reflect on phase two and look forward to phase three.

The topics covered will be:

  • English Hub – Jess Heather, Hannah Wranosky and Jane Avery to discuss the current state of play
  • Foundation subject project – this has been the least progressive project so Liz Cullis will discuss where this might developed in phase 3.
  • Increasing primary liaison opportunities – Liz Cullis will discuss the current state of play here
  • Transition work project. Cath Sunders and her team to reflect on a fascinating year and look ahead towards what comes next.
  • We are aware that the team who have worked on this project may change. We welcome those staff who have worked on the project so far but also new interested parties.
For more upcoming events see the latest Newsletter at the bottom of the page

Seventh Annual Teaching Conference

Date: Friday 30th November 2018

Time: 9.00am – 1.30pm

Venue: Balcarras

This year’s Teaching Conference is entitled:

Stretch and Challenge for all

We are delighted to announce our keynote speaker will be Tom Sherrington, author of the highly successful ‘Teaching rainforest’.

After the introductions, we have a number of exciting sessions to choose from, including  behaviour and classroom management, stretch and challenge of more able students and ‘Knowledge, memory and assessment. Getting the formative-summative balance right’ from Tom Sherrington. This year’s event will also offer the opportunity for department discussion and feedback time.

The sessions are free to members of the Balcarras Teaching Partnership or £120 for the whole day, including one main speaker, two sessions, department time and refreshments. To book a place, contact

Event Reviews

2017 to 2018 has been another successful year for the Teaching School, with new additions to the partnerships and a variety of activities and events being delivered, alongside school to school collaborations. The sixth annual teaching and learning conference was attended by 300 colleagues, with a focus on transformational teaching. Furthermore, we have continued with our successful transition group projects and NQT training programmes, alongside our MFL network, geography network, English events and maths hub events.

This year also saw the introduction of a music network and the popular aspiring leaders programme in conjunction with Pittville School. Moreover, Balcarras invited year 9 students for an English debating challenge day, as well as year 5 students for an exciting stretch and challenge science day.

2018/2019 is set to be an equally busy year for the Teaching school, with our seventh annual conference on November 30th, with the theme of ‘stretch and challenge for all’, as well as many subject, pastoral and leadership events lined up throughout the year. 
Miss R. Adams (Teaching School Assistant Coordinator) 

The first Music Network organised by the Partnership took place on Wednesday 4th July 2018.  Colleagues from both primary and secondary sectors attended.

The intention of this first meeting was to give people the chance to meet and talk and to decide on the way forward for the Music Network. We have agreed to look to meet once a term with the next meeting before October half term when we all start to get swamped by Christmas! 

Possible foci that have been suggested for future sessions include:

  • assessment (perhaps including Ofsted angle and 'building' from KS2)
  • KS2-3 transition including understanding what primaries may be using e.g. Charanga and what inspirational ideas there might be out there to aid transition and so forth
  • General sharing of resources (but perhaps needs a more specific focus?)
  • GCSE and A Level focus
  • Pupil Premium - and maybe differentiation as well?

There is potential for visiting speakers for at least some of the above as well.

Please feel free to 'spread the word' about this network. It would be fantastic if it could grow and include both primary and secondary colleagues. Other ideas for foci for this group are also very welcome.

Please email Helen Chong, Director of Music at Balcarras, with any thoughts, ideas or questions.

'On Wednesday 6th June we were lucky enough to work with Fiona for our department INSET afternoon. The session was superb! Despite initial apprehensions, Fiona made everyone feel at ease and we all enjoyed taking part in a range of exciting, stimulating drama tasks. The thought provoking session focused on Shakespeare's Macbeth (one of our GCSE texts) and really brought the text to life - hopefully something we can take it to our own teaching. There was a real buzz in the atmosphere and we all left feeling inspired and with some engaging, practical ideas to take in to the classroom. '

Hannah Wranosky, Balcarras

‘I thought the session was great, Cara spoke confidently as normal and it was really interesting to hear her views on the new specification. It was also really useful to find out what other teachers thought about the new specification and to discuss ideas’

K. Dowdeswell, Cotswold school

‘The NQT programme has been great - as a group, we met frequently throughout the year to discuss pedagogy but it was also an opportunity to get advice from colleagues. We also met with NQTs from other schools which gave us the chance to find out how others in our position were getting along. In my department, I had weekly meetings with my NQT tutor who helped me survive the year. I gained invaluable advice about how to deal with Sixth Form students, and how to navigate the wider school system’ 

S. Load, Balcarras school

On 17th October 2016, the 6th form network met to discuss Level 3 Value Added and the implications of this data for OFSTED inspections in the area. We looked at a full debrief of a recent OFSTED inspection at a partner school, as well as round table discussions on post-16 curriculum design and EPQ delivery. This network is a great chance for all sixth form and post-16 providers in the area to share thoughts, ideas and best practice. An ever growing group has been joined by schools as far away as Bath.

Brett Jouny

The middle leaders forum met in the spring and summer terms of 2016. During the initial forum middle leaders from both primary and secondary schools decided on their priorities for future meetings and had an opportunity to network across school and phase. The key issues raised were dealing with difficult situations as a head of department and life without levels. The summer forum saw a group of over 20 middle leaders from several primary and secondary schools ask Bob Lacombe, an experienced head of department from Balcarras School, questions about difficult issues they had faced. The group had the opportunity to talk about how they would deal with these situations. A group of middle leaders from Woodmancote Primary School then talked about their experience of life without levels and again the forum had the opportunity to share ideas. In the feedback from these forums the opportunity to find out what is happening both across schools and phase has been highlighted as a real benefit.

Gary Towers

A very informative and exciting presentation from Unifrog and FutureLearn explaining the ways in which we can best support our students’ applications to higher education. Sessions were held on personal statements, the right University choice, online courses (MOOCs) and all they can offer, as well as the importance of destination data and the role we can play in collating and storing this.

Brett Jouny

Sixth Annual Teaching Conference


The sixth annual teaching and learning conference was held on 24th November 2017 at Balcarras School and was attended by over 250 colleagues from our partnership schools. Phil Beadle started the day with his keynote address what makes a transformational teacher? focussing on the five key values that a teacher might want to hold if they were to have a transformational effect on the life chances of the children they teach. Our second keynote address was delivered by Dominic Salles. Dominic’s keynote covered key questions and suggestions for transforming teaching.

There were 11 workshops to choose from this year; the organisers attempted to appeal to a wide range of needs so there would be something for everyone to enjoy. The sessions included an EAL workshop, classroom behaviour management, how to get the best out of your trainee teachers, stretch and challenge, A-Z of pastoral, transition from year 6 to year 7, dealing with the adolescent brain and many more. Feedback from the sessions was extremely positive and it looks like our visitors took something useful away with them to transfer to their classrooms. The seventh annual conference will take place on November 30th 2018,

Balcarras as a Teaching School

Balcarras was designated as a teaching school in May 2012. Our aim is to create and develop a professional learning community where teachers from across the partnership feel able to share practice and learn from one another. To some extent this is inspired by the work of Michael Fullan in Ontario, but it also emerges from the considerable partnerships that have been established between Balcarras and other schools in recent years. Our partnership is genuinely cross phase and we have over 30 schools and various other organisations as members.

At the heart of our partnership is a desire to improve teaching through sharing practice, facilitating opportunities for research, identifying common areas for development and acting as a ‘hub’ to tie all of these different elements together. We want to be action centred so that teachers feel that there is a real impact on the ground. We are open to ideas from all partners and see this as vital in establishing a lasting partnership where all partners feel that they have an input to give, as well as receiving tangible benefits from their role in the alliance.

We have already established a number of projects which have impacted on the quality of provision within our schools. Since May 2012 over a thousand people have attended events organised by the partnership. Below is just a flavour of the work we have undertaken so far.


We have networks established in the following areas:

Hannah Wranosky Literacy Network
Georgina Bruce Digital Technology
Patrick Sexton History Network
Liz Cullis Geography Network and KS3
Catherine Williams SEN Network
Richard Cook Computing Network
Nicola Masters Differentiation Research
Daren Hazael ArtNetwork
Janine Hockenhull MFL Network
Steve Lomax Maths


We have run a number of CPD courses in the following areas:

  • Aspiring senior leaders
  • Improving your teaching
  • Leading a department
  • Lesson observation
  • Literacy in every classroom
  • New heads’ training
  • Promoting higher order thinking
  • Teaching School NQT Programme
  • Pastoral conferences
  • Improving students’ mental health
  • Stretching Gifted and Talented students

Contact Us

Liz Cullis: Teaching School Co-ordinator
Dominic Burke: Headteacher, Balcarras School
Roxanne Adams: Assistant Teaching School Co-ordinator
Nicki Harrington: PA to Headteacher of Balcarras School

School Partnership Contacts 

Balcarras Secondary Liz Cullis
Belmont Special Kevin Day
Cam Hopton Primary Melanie Skidmore
Charlton Kings Junior Lee Pajak
Cheltenham Festivals Phillippa Claridge
Cheltenham Learning Partnership Kate Shepherd
Chipping Campden Secondary Dominic Salles
Dean Close Secondary Mark Tottman
Dorcan Secondary Mrs P Morley
Dormston Secondary Ben Stitchman
Eastcombe Primary Claire Jones
Farmor’s Secondary Steve Shaw
Glenfall Primary Anthony Mitchell
Gloucester Road Primary Gayle Fletcher
Gloucestershire County Council Sandra Parker
Maria Wells
Holy Apostles Primary Gareth Davies
Leckhampton Primary Sam Porter
Maidenhill Secondary Pam Wilson
Naunton Park Primary Richard Humphrey
National Centre for Maths Steve Lomax
Pittville Secondary Karen Foster
Ralph Allen Secondary Sarah Hetenyi
St James’ Primary Lisa Harford
St John’s Primary Juliette Moxham
Swindon Village Primary Johnathan Dyer
Thomas Keble Secondary Chris Patrick
Julia Maunder
University of Gloucestershire Steve Winston
Winchcombe Secondary Sarah Teague
Woodmancote Primary Gary Tucker


If you are interested in the work of the partnership the newsletter, which, are sent out every term will give you a flavour of our work.  See below for the latest edition.

Contact us

If you would like any information about the partnership please contact us. Several schools have joined the partnership in the last year and we are open to the possibility of new members joining. Equally if any of the programmes we run interest you please do get in touch because several of them have been attended by non-partner schools.

Liz Cullis, Assistant Headteacher:
Roxanne Adams, Assistant Co-ordinator of Teaching School:

The partnership has its own website which has more detail about our members and our programme.