The Agile Teacher

A virtual event jointly hosted by NAHT and Discovery Education

Thursday 1 October from 10.00am to 10.45am

In this webinar Hywel Roberts, experienced teacher and author talks about the course he has authored and presented for the NAHT Discovery Education Pathway programme. Read all about what is covered in his course and in ‘The agile teacher’ webinar.


‘What teachers do in their classrooms matters. When asked what this is, teachers’ accounts are usually personalised, contextualised and shaped by their professional experiences.

 …..Hence the heart of schooling most often remains hidden and cloaked in personal experiences layered by the particularities of time, location and relationships.’

Hayes et al 2006


The NAHT Discovery Education Pathway programme is offering a different kind of CPD placing teachers and leaders in the driving seats of their own developing practice. Rather than having CPD ‘done’ to them in a cold hall at the start of term, the alternative appears to be here in the form of a wide range of online courses constructed by cutting edge specialists with a view to offering a more human, more exciting, more flexible approach to professional learning. I am privileged to be one of those offering a course.

My name is Hywel Roberts and I have been a teacher since 1992. I’ve spent the last ten years travelling around the world and working with diverse educational organisations at leadership and vision level, whilst also sharing pedagogy and research at classroom level on the carpets of Early Years classes in Shanghai and Sheffield, Primary classes in Barnsley and Brussels, Special settings in Leeds and Somerset, Secondary schools across the world. I don‘t mind getting stuck in. I’m an agile professional, keen to learn but confident in my practice.

One of the things that comes up in professional conversations constantly, is how do we create the teacher workforce who, as well as doing everything we need them to do, also see the big picture that transcends expectations around risk-free classroom delivery and allows the development of rich professional imagination?

My Pathway course THE AGILE TEACHER examines this idea.

Some might say that teaching is in danger of becoming a by-the-numbers, cold and robotic pursuit where the adult is merely a deliverer of content, separated from their class by the dehumanising pressure of faceless bureaucracy. Some might say that. I’ll say that. We’re in danger of losing sight of why we went into the job in the first place. We’re in danger of being part of a profession where simply turning up is seen as the Gold Standard. THE AGILE TEACHER is the antithesis of this. Like all of the excellent courses on Pathway, I’m seeking to reaffirm the teacher’s place as being at the forefront of cutting-edge practice.

Oxford University Professor Ian Menter offers us four paradigms through which to grapple with this idea of teacher identity.

  • Effective teacher – skills, content, measurement, performance
  • Reflective teacher – values, knowledge of child
  • Enquiring teacher – research focus
  • Transformative teacher – looking beyond classroom, social context, moral and ethical, alliances (stance)

These four paradigms can be viewed as beginning with the effective teacher – the teacher who knows what they are doing in a classroom. When we move from the effective, we find ourselves at the reflective level. In one sense, this is like the growing of a second skin; in another, it is a different approach to what teaching actually is.

The third level is the enquiring teacher. Menter describes these as teachers who use research into their own classroom practice as professional development. And finally, we have the transformative teacher. This teacher is contributing to social change and preparing pupils to contribute to social change in society. This latter teacher has ‘stance’ – a genuine agility. Again, on the one hand we could just have four different teachers drinking coffee in a staffroom right here. Or we might have a professional growth model that demonstrates the shift from someone who can deliver a package of learning to someone who completely understands it in the context of the world. So how can we articulate this model as part of Discovery Education Pathway?These four paradigms can be viewed as beginning with the effective teacher – the teacher who knows what they are doing in a classroom. When we move from the effective, we find ourselves at the reflective level. In one sense, this is like the growing of a second skin; in another, it is a different approach to what teaching actually is.

Well, in this course, THE AGILE TEACHER, I will offer some prompts: a regroup with what we hold dear. A re-engagement with our professional imagination. A reinstatement of teaching as art as well as a science. And an affirmation of the importance of stancehow we are when we are working with a class of children or young adults.

Sometimes we need to directly instruct our children from the front of the classroom, perhaps supported by technology. Other times we need to stand with our children, demonstrating and modelling ideas. We need to be agile to this. And that is what this module is about. A rediscovery and charting of the middle ground where teachers and students can meet, build curiosity, and navigate complexity. It’s also a chance for those great but cowed teachers – the sleeping giants – to be reawakened and look at their role with renewed vigour, optimism, and excitement.

I’m thrilled to be able to contribute THE AGILE TEACHER course to this fantastic CPD opportunity. Who’s in?


‘Good teaching blends emotions and feelings with objectivity of observations and measurements and the precision of language. Knowledge of teaching is achieved by classroom practice and experience.’

Allan Ornstein


If you would like further information about the Pathway programme or to register your interest please visit

Hywel Roberts

Hywel has been a teacher for over twenty-five years. His reputation has grown hugely since he stepped out of the full-time classroom. He has found an incredible and innovative niche in the world of model teaching contributing to and advising curriculum designers and innovators from Barnsley to Brussels, from Cairo to Cleethorpes.

Hywel is as at home in front of hundreds of Headteachers on the conference circuit as he is when working with EAL children on the carpets of their classrooms. It is the latter that places him in a position to contribute confidently on this theme.

Hywel contributes to the national conversation around education at school and university level. He is an experienced teacher in Special, Primary and Secondary settings, nationally and internationally. He is also a well- respected author and contributes regularly to a variety of publications. Hywel is a visiting lecturer at Leeds Beckett University teaching at Masters Level, and the University of Huddersfield delivering PGCE Secondary Drama. His work now reaches beyond the world of education focusing on how stories can promote compassionate cultures and humane leadership.

His award-winning book ‘Oops! Helping Children Learn Accidentally’ is published by Crown House Publishing and has proved very popular with educators around the world and now is a feature on the reading list of many university teacher training courses. His book ‘Uncharted Territories’ is written with Dr Debra Kidd and was published in 2018. He writes a regular column for the Times Educational Supplement about his encounters as a ‘travelling teacher’.

His next book is ‘Botheredness’, due in 2020.

He has also contributed fiction to a prison-based literacy reading programme developed by The Shannon Trust.

He was recently described as ‘..a world leader in enthusiasm’.