When the sun shines through…..

In today’s school visit I had a chance to teach 24 eleven year olds from Niels Steensens.  It was a lovely experience and I had a chance to work with the students for around 90 minutes.  After looking at some images of Australia and thinking about the different perspectives the students had an opportunity to ask questions.  Although this was quite reciprocal as the three of us in the room asked as many questions of them. It was clear fairly quickly that students in Denmark are different to those in Australia.  The respect from the teacher was one of mutuality.  Not once did she make a decision without asking the students if it was OK first.  And I felt silly when I asked her if it was OK to take the student’s photos.  She turned directly to them and and repeated my question. I felt ashamed that I hadn’t considered their voice to begin with.

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Our conversations turned to different rules schools have in Australia and they were shocked to hear that in schools we had to wear uniforms, could be suspended from school and each class had a set of rules, which were strictly adhered to.  It became clear that students here had a huge respect for what their teachers asked of them, which I believe comes from the teachers also having such respect for them.  It was  an expectation that they were responsible for their own learning and that all of the students felt it was important to go to school.

Our afternoon visit was to Gammel Hellerup Gymnasium where we were mesmerised by some of learning spaces. Gammel Hellerup is the former school of the famous Danish architect, Bjarke Ingels, who has recently returned to design the sports hall and field.  Ingels’ designs aim to make the best use of space and even the curved top of the sports hall is utilised as seating in the outside area.   The new football field will form part of a drama and arts centre, where the roof will become the seating for the sports field.  Take a look at the plans here.

Gammel Hellerup

During our chat with teachers from Gammel Hellerup it is clear they have had to deal with lots of changes over the last few years. The 2005 reforms which saw more autonomy for head teachers and a new financial structure has meant the leadership teams have had to deal with new and unexpected issues. I am intrigued how autonomy and choice of schools affects students in Denmark where the welfare state ensures everyone is treated equally.  In Australia I expect the push for more autonomy and school choice because of the traditionally more dog eat dog environment we have but for Denmark it seems to be more traditional for them to prioritise equality.  Maybe that’s for a later blog post!

New Education Adventure

This post is part of a series reflecting on my international study tour to Copenhagen, Berlin and London.

Today I sit at another airport as I write this post.  The last time I did this was May last year as I waited for my flight to Rwanda, which would in turn be the catalyst for many changes in the last 12 months. The first being a new job and a move to Melbourne.  It was Rwanda that really opened my eyes to education being bigger than just my primary classroom.  Don’t get me wrong,  I understood the process education took but to make change in education I knew I needed to understand it well.  From the first years to the years beyond secondary school.  It certainly prompted my move into higher education and I have truly loved the experience (as much as I miss the classroom) and have learnt so much in the past 12 months, all of which no doubt I will use when back teaching in a school.

The second decision, made after my Rwandan trip, was to head back to uni to get my Masters and it is this course which brings me to the airport today.  The International Study Tour is the second subject in my Master of Educational Policy (International).  I really enjoyed learning about China, India, England and Finland in my first subject, Comparative Studies and look forward to seeing first hand how policy effects education in Copenhagen, Berlin and London.

It is hard to know what to expect from schools in these countries, well except England where I taught for 4 years, and that is one of the real joys of learning!  I have over the years visited many classrooms but this trip will be a little different as I have always had my teacher hat on, looking at what I can take back to my classroom.  Tomorrow I will have my policy hat on, looking at how the policy effects education, schools and classrooms.

Part of my assessment is to write a reflective journal on my visits so I look forward to blogging over the next three weeks and sharing my experiences. But for now I have a plane to catch!

Weekly Websites

Initially when I wrote this post I called it International Websites, thinking that the two I chose were from the UK.  When I thought about it though I realised that I don’t actually use many Australian sites! I am not sure of the message this portrays, whether they are not there or I that I don’t chose to access them.

So I am now on the look out for some great Australian websites, that could turn into my weekly website.

If you know any please leave a comment to share the ones you use.

Do you have those favourite websites you use in the classroom which you always keep coming back to?  The trusty favourites you look at every time you do your planning?

After spending four years teaching in the UK I was able to utilise some fantastic resources they have. And even now, back in Oz, I still turn to these websites every week.

My first point of call is Primary Resources.  It is a site full of activities, prinatbles and IWB resources that is organised into subject areas.  Key Stage 1 covers children in Prep to Grade 2 and Key Stage 2 covers Grade 3-6.


I especially like the PSHE section as it mainly looks at SEAL, a program written to implement social and emotional aspects of learning.  I use a lot of these ideas for circle time.

Obviously some of the worksheets will need to be altered as they use UK speak but this is where I first look for PowerPoint presentations.  For those who use Smartboard software there are heaps of files for this too.

Ambleside CE has a number of activities and flash games for the classroom.  This week I used the Look, Cover, Write, Check activity where I typed in the words I wanted the kids to practise and a giant hand comes over and covers the word while you write it.

Look cover write

I also use the function machine, which was made by year 4 students using Spreadsheet.  If you choose the machine to do random functions the kids can guess what the operation is.


The site is broken into literacy hour and numeracy hour and is easy to find anything you need.

Do you have a favourite international website you use in your classroom?

What is your favourite resource on the website?

Leave a comment to share it!