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I want to take this opportunity to thank all staff at Acorn House College for their hard work during my tenure as principal; the college is fortunate to have some dedicated teachers and administrators. In particular, my thanks go to the small but outstanding team of people who have supported me and been alongside me whilst I have sought to modernise and raise standards at the college. Together we have ensured that Acorn House is in a strong and secure position for the future.

The inspiring new space in Lab8 has helped to create a culture and atmosphere of independent learning that is so important as our students progress to university and beyond. Our students have been afforded a system of university support and preparation that would be the envy of many schools and colleges, and they have benefitted from some truly inspiring and world-class speakers and advisers who visited the college. Acorn House has modernised greatly and now benefits from up-to-date policies, procedures and systems that will allow it to continue to grow from strength-to-strength and ensure that the college will offer an outstanding experience to its learners and young people in the years to come.

I would also like to thank Acorn House College’s community of parents and students. Your support and good wishes in recent weeks have been both humbling and inspiring. I have alway tried to act with our students’ interests as my first priority. For those of you in the upper sixth and leaving Acorn this year, I’m delighted to have accompanied you on your A level journeys. It has been a privilege to have witnessed you become the self-reliant, mature, confident young people you now are and I am immensely proud of the determination and tenacity you have shown in the run up to your final exams. That is as hard as studying gets! Good luck to you all, I will remember you always and I am proud to have known you. The world needs more people with your values and skills and I look forward to hearing about your achievements in the future.

Finally, I would be delighted to hear from any member of the college community who would like to remain in contact. You may wish to follow me on twitter @johnwilsonedu where I share resources, ideas, and comments on education and teaching and where you can contact me in the future.

I wish the very best of luck to my successor as principal, who will inherit a wonderful college with great potential and look forward to my own new ventures with great excitement.


Addressing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with Technology

A thought provoking article from the Learning Renaissance.

User Generated Education

A major criticism I have of most educational institutions is that their primary focus is on students’ intellectual and cognitive development.  Too often individual learner’s needs do not enter into the equation of their educations.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a useful model for educators to use to help insure that they are addressing more of the whole child.

Applying Abraham Maslow’s theory of a pyramid-shaped hierarchy — physiological needs, personal safety, social affiliation, self-esteem and self-actualization — to education is an ideal way to assess lesson plans, courses and educational programs. By asking themselves whether these needs are being met in their school or classroom, educators can assess how well they are applying Maslow’s hierarchy to their teaching practice (How to Apply Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to Education).

Some general strategies for addressing these needs in the classroom can be found at Addressing Our Needs: Maslow Comes…

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The Purposeful Use of Technology in the Classroom

The Learning Renaissance

I think this might be over-egging the pudding in its assertions as there are limits to how well the technology can be used which reside outside the control of the individual teacher, but for what it is worth, this has some useful pointers to effective learning with technology applied…

artist: Sylvia Duckworth artist: Sylvia Duckworth

Infographic art by Sylvia Duckworth
Source: 7 Characteristics Of Teachers Who Effectively Use Technology | TeachThought

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Cambridge University Summer School (2013)

A great example of a summer well used to explore university life!


Last summer, I went to Cambridge University for a summer school from 12th-16th August.

When applying for the Sutton Trust summer schools, I found that Durham and Cambridge were the universities which offered the sort of courses that I was the most interested in. I’ve never been to Durham before. I had been to Cambridge before (the shadowing scheme in February of that year) but loved it so much that I really wanted to go back. So, I applied for Biological Sciences at Cambridge.

The five days I spent at Cambridge were absolutely amazing. I learnt so much, not just from our lecturer/mentor/supervisor (not sure what to call him – he asked us to call him Paul), but also from the friends I made.

We had breakfast at 7.30am everyday and activities for the day began at 8.30am. We learnt about enantiomers and 3D films, zoology, physiology, drugs and enzymes…

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About John Wilson

John Wilson is the Principal of Acorn House College in Southall, London. He was appointed to this role in January 2015 to lead the College as it begins a new chapter in its successful  fifteen-year journey.

His previous role was as Director of Studies/Vice principal at Ashbourne College on High Street Kensington in Central London, where he led the academic staff and oversaw unprecedented improvement and academic success at A level and GCSE.

John was educated at state schools and colleges in the North East of England before graduating in 2000 from Oxford University with honours in biological sciences.  He has spent a significant proportion of his career as an advisor to students in the UK and throughout the world on making the best possible university choice and the strongest possible application.  Having attained a PGCE in secondary science from Cambridge University he is also a qualified and experienced teacher of biology and science specialising in sixth form/tertiary education at A level.

John is a lay member of the university admissions panel for medical school undergraduate entry at UCL (University College London) and has also performed this role at Imperial College and Queen Mary University in London.

He has been invited to speak on a number of occasions in Hong Kong by the British Council to share his knowledge and experience of the British education system and on making applications to British universities.  In particular he has made presentations on how to choose a university and how to make the best possible application to British universities.

From 2007 to 2010 he planned and prepared Ashbourne College for its inspection by Ofsted and led the College to a judgment of “outstanding” with specific reference made in the report to his “dynamic” leadership.

John is passionate about education and about the opportunities it can create for young people.  He believes fundamentally that academic success can open doors and empower young people and that this success depends not only outstanding teaching but on the delivery of a rounded, holistic education with the learner at its core.

John has completed four marathons in competitive times, is a below-average musician and is happily married with one young daughter. is John’s personal website and the views expressed are his own.