…with binge-worthy tv shows

StockSnap_WYGQKIL5XG.jpgNow it’s summertime for many students it’s time to catch up on your fave boxsets. But we all know what it’s like finding something on Netflix – it can take forever. Here are some current guaranteed winners.


  • Call the Midwife
  • Broadchurch
  • Granchester
  • First Dates
  • Googlebox
  • Car Share
  • The Trip


  • Suits
  • Nashville
  • Schitt’s Creek
  • Orange is the new Black
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Smidt
  • New Girl
  • Brooklyn 99



…with 50 NQT survival tips

If you’re coming to the end of your PGCE read these to prepare for your first year teaching.art-1238602_1920.jpg


  • Use a NQT log as a to do list and then everything you do extra in your first year is recorded as evidence – allocate days for each task so as not to overwhelm yourself
  • Study your year group’s yearly overview and update a termly overview as you go to change things
  • Use a diary and school calendars to set deadlines for paperwork
  • Set up spreadsheets to track reading levels, mental maths and times tables
  • Set up homework records, spelling test records and reading records for TAs to record – keep an eye on these
  • In PPA try to set out every day of the next week so you can be flexible nearer the time
  • Keep up with all paperwork weekly, check pigeon hole, whiteboard and school calendar daily
  • Back up all class photos as you may need them for assembly or school website
  • Make a teaching standards evidence folder for each term and quickly shove things in so when you come to writing reports you have already done the hard work
  • If you buy anything receipts remember to take them to the office and they can also order things for you too


  • Find a morning set up routine and afternoon close down routine for yourself and the children
  • Come up with a ‘I’m done’ strategy so the children become independent after tasks
  • Sort lost property every night
  • Set the children up with a library routine ASAP so they all know how to scan
  • Children to set class ground rules on day one
  • Decide on a way to set noise levels at the beginning of year
  • Collect any spare letters and keep for a few weeks
  • Set up silent signals for toilet and drink to avoid being asked every 5 minutes
  • Make an intervention timetable (for in assemblies etc.) ASAP
  • Use the weekly timetable you are given but change termly to reflect timings, children to have a visual timetable too
  • Set up a way to give good notes home instead of just bad ones
  • Set up a guided reading timetable to use every day and collect verbal reading evidence in folders
  • Get children their own trays to make them tidy and independent
  • Get children to tidy after every activity and also to hand out resources for you


  • Make a new seating plan daily, weekly or termly
  • If it’s raining for outdoor PE, try classroom PE instead
  • Make a boys vs girls changing tally to speed up changing
  • When doing assemblies get children to write their own lines as they remember them better
  • When you go on a trip make an itinerary for all adults and set groups
  • Be strict about no homework or spellings at the beginning and be consistent with this
  • Use a working wall so children are aware daily of the objectives
  • Begin mental maths and handwriting straight away to see progress


  • Have a filing system sorted by day so resources are available separately
  • Get local library loans for each topic to make your book corner interesting/relevant
  • Have a growth mind-set display to encourage school focus
  • Really use the writing wall for enthusiasm
  • Set up a place for blunt pencils to be collected to avoid children sharpening all the time
  • Have a class toy the children have named and ‘respect’ for using in circle time/knowing when to talk and listen
  • Make sure children’s medical notes are on show in the classroom
  • Constantly check TES, topmarks, ictgames, Twinkl, mymaths, nrich, snappy maths and primary resources to save you time


  • Get a pen to wear on your lanyard for register and marking on the go
  • Mark during the lesson to give children instant boost
  • Get children to self-assess and mark own work
  • Mark books in group order for maths answers
  • For tests mark page by page instead of individuals papers
  • Assess objectives quickly by sorting books into red, orange and green piles (children can even do this for you) whilst marking
  • Plan for marking time and spread out some no marking lessons during the week
  • Get a stamp for guided reading and homework to save writing




…with cheap online shopping

I am shopping addict. I admit it. I LOVE buying things but I also LOVE saving money. How can you do both I hear you ask? Well it is possible! Here are my top tips.


First things first is comparison. Always shop around to make sure you have the best deal. Use Google’s shop feature for easy comparison for items such as ‘black skirt’ or ‘red heels.’ Use the MySupermarket App for all beauty products, toiletries and food.


I only buy things online if I have a a voucher. I NEVER pay for delivery costs as they often can’t be refunded, so click and collect or find a voucher for free delivery. If there are no vouchers at that moment in time, I will wait until there is one. Of course check email newsletters for vouchers straight to your inbox but most of the time I find all of my voucher codes on Hot UK Deals or Vouchercloud. If you’re a student use NUS Extra, Unidays or Student Beans to unlock special student voucher codes.

Store Cards

Always take the time to register loyalty cards online so you can earn points on your shops online as well as in store. Remember Boots card, Nectar card, Tesco clubcard.


The best site in the world!! I make a £100 a year for doing absolutely nothing but buying what I would usually buy. Before I get to an online checkout I see if that particular store is listed on Topcashback. If they are: sign in, click the link from Topcashback back to your basket and then in a few weeks you will get an alert that you have recieved a payment through! You actually get paid to do your usual shopping!! There is also a similar site called Quidco but I prefer Topcashback for breadth of shops and ease of use.

For a completely free £5 M&S Giftcard sign up to Topcashback using this link – https://www.topcashback.co.uk/ref/madolyn

…with student shopping

Everything you may need to buy or pack for moving out to university.



  • Wall Planner
  • Books
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Highlighters
  • Permanent Markers
  • Ruler
  • Eraser
  • Sharpener
  • Tipex
  • Pencil case
  • Pen pot
  • Blu Tack
  • Scissors
  • Sellotape
  • Hole Puncher
  • Stapler
  • Staples
  • Paper Clips
  • Post-it Notes
  • Sticky-back Labels
  • Elastic Bands
  • A4 Ring Binders
  • Lever Arch Folders
  • Plastic Wallets
  • Clipboard
  • Envelopes
  • Stamps
  • Calculator
  • Batteries
  • Lamp

Bathroom Items

  • Make up
  • Jewellery Box
  • Jewellery
  • Moisturizer for face
  • Moisturizer for body
  • Nail Varnish
  • Nail varnish remover
  • Hair dryer
  • Straightners
  • Nail Clippers
  • Nail Scissors
  • Nail File
  • Tweezers
  • Hairbrush
  • Comb
  • Hairclips
  • Hairbands
  • Perfume
  • Mirror
  • Bath, flannel and hand towels
  • Wash bag
  • Toilet roll
  • Box of tissues
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Showergel
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Deodrant
  • Hair spray
  • Hairbrush
  • Razor
  • Mouthwash
  • Floss
  • Cotton Buds
  • Cotton Pads
  • Make-up Remover
  • Pads/Tampons
  • Dry Shampoo
  • Air Freshener


  • Sheets
  • Duvet/Quilt & Cover
  • Pillows & Case
  • Mattress Protector
  • Blanket


  • Clothes
  • Underwear
  • Shoes
  • PJs
  • Dressing Gown
  • Slippers
  • Coat, gloves, scarf, hat and a brolly
  • Swimwear

Decorative Items

  • Posters
  • Photos


  • Passport Photos
  • Passport
  • Driving Licence
  • National Insurance Number
  • EHIC card
  • Insurance Documents
  • TV Licence
  • Student Finance letters
  • UCAS letters
  • Uni letters
  • Bank Details
  • Exam Certificates

Electrical Items

  • Alarm clock
  • Laptop/Computer and leads and case
  • USB
  • Printer
  • Mobile and charger
  • Speakers
  • TV
  • Camera and leads
  • Headphones
  • Extension lead
  • DVDs
  • Iron
  • Ironing board

First Aid Items

  • Painkillers
  • Plasters
  • Sudocrem
  • Bonjela
  • Throat Lozenges
  • Safety Pins

Kitchen Items


  • Small Casserole Dish
  • Frying Pan
  • Tongs
  • Saucepan (with lid)
  • Flat Baking Tray
  • Tin Opener
  • Bottle Opener
  • Vegetable Peeler
  • Cheese Grater
  • Wooden Spoons or Spatulas
  • Masher
  • Microwavable Bowl
  • Measuring Jug
  • Sieve/Colander
  • Whisk
  • Chopping Knives
  • Chopping Board
  • Kitchen Scissors
  • Kitchen Scales


  • Tupperware
  • Sandwich Bags


  • Glasses
  • Cutlery
  • Crockery (Plates, Bowls, Mugs, Cups)


  • Oven Gloves
  • Tea Towels
  • Baking Foil
  • Greaseproof Paper
  • Cling Film
  • Bin Bags

Laundry and Housekeeping Items

  • Febreeze
  • Laundry bag
  • Airer
  • Hangers
  • Dustpan and brush
  • Duster
  • Mr Sheen
  • Kitchen towel
  • Washing powder
  • Fabric Softener
  • Washing-up Liquid
  • Sponge
  • Cloth
  • Hand Soap
  • Kitchen Roll

Miscellaneous Items

  • Storage
  • Weekend Bag
  • Torch
  • Hooks/ door hanger
  • Super Glue
  • Carrier Bags


…with revision techniques

My summers from 2006-2014 were full of exams EVERY year. It was pretty non-stop. Once I had found my favourite revision technique I actually began to enjoy the process.


First at least two weeks before, I would gather together all my notes and sometimes make extra notes from textbooks/online.

Once I had about 10 solid pages of notes, I would go through and highlight the most important vocab/dates/ideas that I didn’t already feel familiar with.

Then I would take these highlighted notes and make new pages notes (maybe 5 pages). Every time I was reading, writing and prioritising information I was sub-consciously remembering it. Use different coloured pens to help with visualising.

I would repeat this process until I was left with one or two pages of the most important and difficult to remember notes.

Then about two days before the exam I would memorize these one or two pages of notes. Sometimes I made up rhymes, songs or mnemonics if it was particularly tricky. This would take me hours of looking at information, saying it out loud, covering it and then repeating it. I would get family and friends to test me on these two pages. I would lie in bed at night and visualise my notes and repeat out loud to test my memory.

This always worked pretty well for me but obviously everyone learns differently. Once I sat for the exam I would spurt out all the information I had remembered. Sometimes before even reading the question I would jot down from memory some of the most important words/ideas/mnemonics just in case.

Another big deal is exam technique – what to do with all the information you have remembered. My biggest piece of advice is read the exam board mark scheme/guidance to understand what should be in each paragraph and exactly what the marker is looking for. GCSE’s are more about recalling information but A-level is all about answering questions so read mark schemes carefully. I never liked to do practise papers as I felt they were a jinx but they are useful if you work on them alongside the mark scheme to see how and where marks are awarded.

Then at university it is different again!! Find out what the question is really asking for, plan relevant schools of thoughts, structure themes and links, introduce context and approach and conclude with a summary that is persuasive and boldly argued. They are looking for creativity, maturity, originality and material which ranges well beyond that covered in lectures.

Best of luck!

…with essay writing


I have written literally hundreds of essays (11 GCSEs, 1 BTEC, 6 A Levels, a BA in History and a PGCE) and I think I now have it down to a fine art. Nobody taught me how to do this I just worked out an efficient method for myself. Here are my ideal steps:

  1. Choose an interesting and open question and write an initial list of key subject words
  2. Search online library catalogues for those key words and draft a bibliography of your findings
  3. Read, read, read and type up all the best quotes you come across (and page numbers) as you go
  4. Sort all of the quotes into common themed paragraphs. Then, arrange these paragraphs into a logical order, with an introduction
  5. Choose your top 2/3 quotes for each paragraph and introduce/link these quotes with your own ideas. Along with Word synonyms here is a transitional word bank to keep sentences unique
  6. Write the conclusion summarising each paragraph
  7. Edit to your hearts content. Every single time I went over my word limit so I religiously used this blog to help reduce  words
  8. Try and get a friend or family member to read over your last edit as by now you’d be bored with reading it

Next Sunday, I’ll be offering revision advice so stay tuned!