Teachers to be offered years paid sabbatical to improve retention

This week Damian Hinds unveiled a scheme to help improve retention of teachers.

I am now in my 21st year of teaching and have only ever taught in inner-city secondary schools. Now don't get me wrong, I love my job, the kids and wouldn't swap it for the world.

But after 21 years I am exhausted. ….

When I first started teaching there was very much a big emphasis on CPD and training but there has definitely been a slow decline in the funding for external CPD and opportunities. The last external training course I went on was the brilliant Picademy from the Raspberry Pi Foundation in 2014. Luckily this course is free and the only cost to the school is supply cover for two days.

I appreciate that not all CPD has to be away from school in fancy hotels and I know we do get excited about this as it isn't part of our normal teaching life!

I know there are lots of free opportunities of events to attend such as BETT which usually have a weekend day making it more accessible.

Teaching does seem to be a profession that once you are qualified and in the system no one really seems to care about you any more.

I need investment in my career, I need to step away from the relentless stream of marking, planning, dealing with behaviour issues, marking, assessment, changes to the GCSE spec and focus on what will help me become an even better teacher for the next twenty years.

So yes please, sign me up, help me get a new fresh perspective on teaching.


Making resolutions 2018

What are your making resolutions for 2018?

It is that time of year when thoughts start of New Year's resolutions. I have been thinking about what I would like to achieve during this year.


  • Continue to improve my soldering skills
  • Continue with the dark arts of 3D printing
  • Write my own Python library
  • Get to grips with multi-threading


I am aiming to work on a project every month throughout 2018 each with a practical and useful outcome. Most will be Raspberry Pi based but I will also continue to use other micro-controllers too. This should be an exciting year if I can complete 12 different projects.

What are your plans for 2018? Leave a comment below.


Adventures in 3D printing - rigid.Ink


One of the most bewildering things about 3D printing is buying filament. As the 3D printer market has exploded over the last few years there has become an increasing range of places to buy your filament from. With the addition of eBay and Amazon finding the right supplier can be difficult.

Things I have learnt

  • Cheap (unbranded) filament from eBay is generally a waste of time. Whilst this might be quite cheep it is not going to be of the best quality. Additionally, if you run out of a filament on a project it is going to be hard to get something that will match it.
  • 10m samples are a great way to try out a range of different colours from a company. This is not the best value for money approach but is a good way to get started.
  • Once you have found a company and a brand it is best to stick with it!
  • Print a range of 2cm cubes at different temperatures to find out the best temperature for the first layer and subsequent layers. I generally print the first base layer 5 degrees hotter than the rest of the layers to get a good initial adhesion.

After 5 months I have settled on using rigid.Ink as my supplier of choice and would definitely recommend them.

  • Very reasonably priced PLA
  • Very quick delivery times (usually within two days)
  • Excellent customer service - great humour!
  • Good tips and advice for new people, temperature range printed on the packet with advice that their PLA generally prints at a lower temperature than some of the other brands available.
  • They have a good range of articles to help you with printing with topics here including a customisable cheat sheet tailored to your skill level.

Their website can be found here


The Midas Touch

Over the summer Christopher (going into year 5) has been set some homework to research and present on the Ancient Greeks.

As part of his research he came across the story of King Midas and decided he wanted to make a model showing what would happen when Midas touched things. Christopher was really excited about 3D printing the parts of his model.


Christopher still has to design the background and base of the box and make a cardboard table, but the 3D printed parts are now made.

The links to projects are:





I will add some more photos when it is completed!


3D printing for dummies

Getting started with 3D printing

Back in April I ordered my first 3D printer, I had used several before and thought I knew a little bit about how to use one etc

I settled on the Startt 3D printer from iMakr which comes in at a very respectable £99.99 and can print up to sizes of 14 x 12 x 13 cm of PLA (although I have not printed anything that big yet!).

Startt 3D printer

Building the printer was relatively easy and was completed after a few nights hard work. Since buying the printer they have made a couple of modifications - most significantly being the ABS components. If I had bought the printer now some of the early issues I had could have been resolved with the upgrade.

So after building the printer I expected to be able to print straight away - this really wasn't the case. It took another week of trial, error, frustrations, desperate tweets to friends and tears before I managed to get the PLA to even stick to the bed.

You can guess what the issue was? Bed levelling!

After 5 months, 2 kg of blue PLA and many 10 m samples I can now get it to print perfectly each time. This is mostly in part to me now being able to level the bed fairly well each time and using buildtak!

What have I learnt?

  • 3D printing is a dark art and most definitely not a science
  • There are loads of great tutorial website, blogs and YouTube videos - use them!
  • Cheap PLA is a waste of money
  • Level the bed
  • Don't give up, keep trying
  • Slic3r really is nicer
  • Rigid.Ink has great PLA and awesome customer service
  • Level the bed
  • Have fun

I am now looking at getting my second 3D printer later this year (but don't tell my wife!)