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A life in the week of Tim Caldwell, head of boys’ games and junior phase leader at The Elms Junior School, Nottingham




I wake with a start at 6.30am knowing that this is going to be an exciting week ahead. We have our inaugural U10 rugby festival on Wednesday afternoon and everyone involved in the planning and organisation of it is constantly checking the forecast. Currently, it’s looking like a whiteout. I arrive at work to the usual buzz of excitement and busyness. I always greet the children on the playground each morning and deliver any pertinent information to them, usually reminding them about lost property. My first lesson of the day is year 4 games. Our boys have made a tentative but enthusiastic start to the transition from tag to contact rugby and it’s my job to help them bridge that gap safely and confidently. Next, it’s chapel assembly where I present achievement certificates and keep the whole school up to date with our success in the previous week’s fixtures. After a quick lunch, I have my weekly check in with our midday supervisors about pupil conduct and other issues. Then, for the rest of the afternoon I am engaged in several meetings, including with the infant phase leader and the headmaster. I work with our administrative team on a set of inspirational posters for the pupils’ changing rooms, which supports our school-wide focus on developing pupils’ growth mindset. After school, I deliver an after school rugby club. We spend time warming up and working on leg strength, before focusing on our use of the ball in open play. When I leave work, a gym session awaits as I look to complement my passion for running with some strength work for my core. Feeling tired, I head home to catch up with the many emails I’ve missed while I’ve been away from my desk for most of the day.




This morning sees one team drop out and another team fill their place within the hour for our rugby festival tomorrow. I check and re-check the actions list to ensure there’s nothing we’ve overlooked. I now feel quietly confident that tomorrow’s fixture afternoon will be a roaring success. The weather forecast has even changed to dry and sunny. Here’s hoping. I spend part of my morning and most of my afternoon delivering gymnastics lessons to year 5 pupils. I am impressed with their focus and attitude as we explore balance and movement and work on core strength exercises. After school, I meet with boys’ games staff to discuss this year’s development plan and future actions. We have a constructive meeting and realise how much we’ve achieved already with new policies relating to pupil and spectator codes of conduct, selection policy documents, motivational posters in changing rooms and enabling pupils to practise skills more independently in lessons. This evening, I take the opportunity to get a run in on the way home. It is one of those rare occasions when you run fast and it seems to take such little effort. You glide along at a speed you can’t normally maintain and I find I want to run longer than planned. After dinner, I check the email I sent to all concerned staff regarding arrangements for tomorrow. I don’t want to leave any of the ‘controllables’ to chance. Feeling reassured, I head to bed knowing that tomorrow is a big day.




Festival day has arrived. Last minute details are finalised, programmes are printed and games lessons continue as normal. We take it easier with year 5 this morning given that it is their festival in the afternoon. Pupils discuss tactics and we concentrate on our support play and forward momentum. I’m excited about the afternoon, hoping that everything comes together as planned. After lunch, we head out to the pitches. The grounds look fantastic and, with clear skies now, I enjoy welcoming teams from as far afield as York. Fortunately, everyone has arrived in good time. The matches are well-supported by parents from all the schools and the general atmosphere is one of celebrating the sport. Our refereeing team includes student volunteers from our senior school, a great practical experience for them. It couldn’t go better. The pupils involved (all 100 of them) enjoy an afternoon of rugby, finishing with a presentation of medals and goody bags. Our ethos for the festival is to reward participation in line with the RFU Kids First programme. Events like this are so worthwhile from a teaching and learning point of view. Pupils have the opportunities to learn from mistakes and apply new ideas immediately in an environment that isn’t purely results-driven. The smiles on faces say it all. This evening, I reward myself with a night off from the computer and instead, my partner and I watch a couple of episodes of House of Cards – our current TV-based obsession.




Today starts with a meeting about after school clubs’ facilities. After our leadership team meeting, I quickly get changed ready for my year 1 games lesson. Today is a short lunch break as year 4 swimming starts early. Today we work on engaging our arms fully in the water for backstroke. Following this, I spend time investigating some pastoral issues with children and make some calls to parents. When I finally get back to my office, I sift through my emails before heading out for my after-school care duty. To take my mind off my expanding ‘to-do’ list, I enjoy an 8k ‘fartlek’ run around the local streets. Now that it is so dark in the evening, I need to stick to well-lit roads to be sure of my footing.




It’s an early start at school as I have arranged a meeting with a parent. After reporting back to relevant staff, I take the opportunity to enrol on a safeguarding course as I’m part of the child protection team at The Elms. I prepare for my year 6 games lesson with a focus on ball carriers ‘hitting an edge’ and support players making decisions about their own positioning. After breaktime, I teach year 1 games and help them develop their throwing and catching skills in various fun activities. They are always so enthusiastic. Infant assembly takes place just before lunch. In the dining hall, I sit with our prefects as usual on a Friday and talk about the forthcoming prefect treat to Laser Quest (a thank you for all their hard work this term). After my staff drop-in session, I confirm team selections for next week’s matches and send out an agenda for our junior phase meeting. Next week, we’ll be looking at developing our outdoor education curriculum.




I forgo my (quite) regular Beeston or Long Eaton parkrun start to the weekend for something a bit different. Today, we’ve taken the brave decision to take the children ice skating at Nottingham Ice Arena. We have a brilliant time which is largely accident free. A few bumps and bruises will no doubt appear, but we enjoy slipping and sliding round the ice together and someone enjoys going too fast without the skills to stop independently.




We enjoy a lazy morning at home, playing with fancy dress clothes and toys with the children. After lunch, I take the children to their swimming lessons. It takes a lot of effort to stop myself from diving in and having a swim myself. After the children have gone to bed, I prepare for the week ahead at work and look into booking myself on to a hockey umpiring course ahead of next term. Planet Earth II completes the evening brilliantly and I even manage to iron a few shirts. Who says men can’t multi-task?