Category Archives: Non-art

Grace On Tippy Toes


Nicole Hamill is an ex-pupil who has moved on to greater things. Studying at the Scottish Ballet she has danced with the Manchester City Ballet and studied at the Northern Ballet and the English National Ballet. For me, someone who briefly knew her, but still keeping in touch through social media, it is amazing to see her develop from a student who has a passion; into a proper, professional, creative individual. It is really quite exciting.


She updates her blog very regularly with positive and inspiring posts about her situation and her experiences, as well as frequently posting to her Instagram – amazing photos of her practice and photo shoots.



As someone who knows very little about Ballet, other than it being very competitive, disciplined and painful, it is an eye-opener to see the natural beauty that Nicole shows in her photos and poses that I can appreciate more as it’s removed from the stage. Taken away from the context of a Ballet performance, I, and hopefully you, will not be intimidated to be interested and impressed.

Nicole is able to not only break down the elitest nature of a high art such as Ballet and make it digestible for normal people like me, but her photos and honest nature help us see the fun and immense pleasure that can be taken from doing something that you absolutely love. You can click any of the links above/below to see her blog and Instagram, even if you’re not a fan of Ballet (and I’m definitely not) you will not be able to avoid the beauty and magic that Nicole lets us see by giving us a little glimpse into her Ballet life.



Nicole’s Blog

Nicole’s Instagram

R.E. Please Takes

Religious Education can be a contentious and awkward lesson to teach, and that’s when you have Religious teaching training. It’s even more difficult when you have to take a lesson as a please take.

I have found that a simple exercise of listing ten good things and ten bad things about religion opens debate and thought about the subject and the nature of belief and faith. It can fuel some argument in the class if not kept as a civilised debate, though it can surprise and amaze you at the opinions that pupils will have already formed.

Having taught the lesson in non-denominational and religious schools (Catholic and Catholic/Muslim) it is rewarding to hear of pupils sharing similar likes and dislikes of the ‘religious institution’, as well as discovering about the differences of beliefs among themselves. Sure, there can be disagreements and misunderstandings, though this is an integral part of learning.

Jim Quigley (1946 – 2010)

I attended the memorial and wake of Jim Quigley yesterday. Sadly, his body had given in to terminal cancer, though I was delighted to know that his spirit had not. He had enjoyed his life right up to his last moments, which were spent socialising with family and friends. It was a beautiful service with lots of mixed emotions and truly memorable moments.

I had met Jim a while back at my student placement for my teaching degree at Notre Dame High School. He was a funny and caring man who was looking forward to his retirement and catching up on some fishing, after many years of grafting as a teacher. I remember going for a drink with him on his last day and he was talking about some of the many interesting moments of his career with never a negative word said about any of them. I can only hope that my ongoing career will be as busy and meaningful.

The little fish image above is something I made for him when he was leaving the Notre Dame Art Department. My thoughts are with his family.

Big Issues

Rachel from S4 got the chance to attend the Big Issue for her work experience after I’d arranged it through my sources. She left such a big impression that the Editor had stated that ‘she was one of the best work experience assistants that we’ve ever had’. I was so amazed receiving the feedback from her stay. She not only impressed the Big Issue staff by resourcing a lot of the photos for the issue, she also got a ‘by line’. I’m told that this is a very rare occurrence. A photo of Rachel’s article ‘The Real Lost World’ is below. Congratulations Rachel. You did me proud.



As an art teacher not on a full timetable or a supply teacher you will be faced with the dreaded ‘please take’. A please take is when you have to look after another class in a subject that may not be your own. Teachers have two ways of dealing with these classes, they can:

a) Tell all the pupils to be quiet and have them working some revision questions or watch a DVD.

b) Try and get involved in the subject and make a good lesson out of the circumstances.

I would usually go for the later. One method I have developed for involving myself into the subject is to get the pupils to actually teach you something about the subject. I would usually call this ‘Teach-as-sumphin’ or ‘Teach me something’.

This allows the pupils to pass on their knowledge back to the source. Teaching the teacher. It builds confidence skills, opens debate and you may even learn something you didn’t know. I would usually focus on the pupils that are the noisiest in the class during the please take. It soon quietens them down when they realise that being up front, writing on the board, is not that easy. Below you will find a whiteboard example of an S4 General Biology class.