Oak updates

14 February 2023

I spent a month shaping teaching resources for Oak. Here's what I learnt.

Sarah Barrett

Former Teaching Resource Creator for Oak

Interested in working with our curriculum partners to create new lesson planning and teaching resources with us?

Sarah Barrett, a science teacher, tells us about her experience of creating lesson planning and teaching resources with us; what she did, the learning she took away with her and her top tips for lesson planning.

Be the first to find out about potential opportunities to work with our new curriculum partners as a teaching resource creator: register your interest today.

Tell us a bit about yourself

Prior to working for Oak National Academy on this project, I had been a full-time chemistry teacher and PSHE coordinator in an academy in Cambridge.

I was lucky enough to work in a school that was full of incredibly creative and imaginative teachers, who took immense pride in their resources. Over time, I took morsels of ideas from teachers across a range of departments and learnt the importance of making lessons engaging, challenging and enjoyable.

How did you start making teaching resources for Oak?

I had taken a career break and was looking for ways to use my educational and scientific skills outside of the classroom. One day I came across an advert for a science teaching resource creator role at Oak National Academy.

Before they embark on making new curriculum packages with their curriculum partners, they were looking for a small group of teachers to spend some time making teaching resources with them. They wanted to use this time with us to refine and improve the support they’ll provide to their curriculum partners and teaching resource creators.

As someone who really enjoys making teaching resources, this was the perfect opportunity. When I received the offer to join them, little did I know what an incredible month I was in for.

What did the work involve?

Together with a group of fellow science teachers, I spent a month creating resources for KS3 and KS4 science.

We spent hours making sure each of the resources were up to scratch and when it came to accessibility, we left no stone unturned. From using left-justified text for screen readers to using a palette of accessible colours and dyslexia-friendly fonts, we covered it all. I know this will help to save so much time for teachers around the country.

What was it like starting this new role?

A new job can be daunting, but thanks to the thorough training we received, I have never felt so confident and supported at the beginning of a project and was always made to feel that there was no such thing as a silly question.

Though we were working remotely, the daily drop-in sessions and continuous communication through instant messaging meant I never felt isolated. Often I spoke to more adults in a day than I would have when teaching a full timetable day! Almost everyday I thought: “I can’t believe I am being paid to do this!”.

What would you say to others thinking about creating resources for Oak?

If you’re considering working with Oak’s new curriculum partners to create teaching resources, I can promise you it will be an enlightening and incredible experience.

It will no doubt make you a better teacher full of new knowledge and confidence.

I have so much new knowledge I will be taking with me, from making colour-blind friendly diagrams, to my increased in-depth knowledge of the curriculum. Watching myself back teaching each lesson and listening to myself explain concepts has really improved my clarity and ability to select the correct vocabulary (even if it was incredibly cringeworthy to do at first). I’d say go for it!

What impact do you think Oak can have on teachers?

When I was teaching I used to spend hours creating beautiful slide decks and trying to come up with innovative and engaging ways to teach topics. As time went on and my responsibilities grew, I found I had less and less time to dedicate to my resources.

Oak can help teachers like me to reduce my lesson planning workload.

With Oak, teachers can access high-quality resources for free, easily adapt them for their pupils and context, and come away from the classroom feeling like they have delivered a really good lesson.

Finally, what’s your top tip for lesson planning?

I find it helpful to make a rough outline of my slide deck, such as titles and prompts to myself of what to include. I can then go back and fill in each slide in detail.

One tip we were given during our training was to start with lesson objectives and key points before deciding the names and numbers of learning cycles in the lesson. Chunking the content into learning cycles can help to keep you on track when making slides and ensure you put enough assessment for learning into each lesson.

Become a teaching resource creator for Oak

Do you have QTS and 3+ years of direct experience of teaching in a school?

Over the coming months and years we'll be looking for teachers to assist our curriculum partners in the creation and review of new lesson planning and teaching resources.

You’ll receive expert and in-depth training to develop your existing expertise in lesson planning and resource design that you can take back to the classroom.

You’ll also have the opportunity to collaborate with a wide network of education professionals and teachers from across the country, and be paid for your time.

Find out more and register your interest.