10 “unbelievable” things that used to be common in schools


10 “unbelievable” things that used to be common in schools

Scenes From The Battleground

I asked this question on Twitter:

I have collated the most common responses. They were not necessarily the most unbelievable, to see those you should click on the above tweet and read the responses and follow this link for the “quote-tweeting” replies. (Seriously, I recommend doing this, and find out what a swimming horn was and the horrors of tracing paper loo roll).

I will count down from the 10th to the 1st most popular responses. (For what it’s worth the 11th most popular response was sherry, which was apparently drunk at interviews, when the headteacher offered it, or on Friday lunchtimes.) Numbers are very, very approximate as it’s kind of hard…

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Five Reasons to Ditch Ofsted Grades


Five Reasons to Ditch Ofsted Grades


Some recent conversations have made me want to return to this theme.  I really hope we can build some momentum around this issue. Here goes:

I reckon that in 50 years time, we will look back at the current Ofsted-grading era as one of the big educational blackspots of history.  Serious educationalists and policy makers will laugh in knowing horror (much as they do now about VAK) learning styles)  at the extraordinary folly of a defunct inspection regime that involved sending a tiny team of people to schools they’d never been to before for a day or two to evaluate them against a massively long list of criteria and give them an overall one-word judgement.  All of this while also projecting a national illusion that these judgements made by different people were fair, accurate, reliable and consistent across time and across the nation.  And all of that alongside the delusion…

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Understanding Assessment: A blog guide


Understanding Assessment: A blog guide


In my experience, assessment is widely misunderstood by a lot of people in education – which is a worry given how much of it we do and how high the stakes are with formal assessment issues.  There all kinds of confusions, false premises, false promises and circularities across the system.   There are too many people driving decisions who don’t really understand the mechanisms at work.  That’s what I see.

What we can measure, the meaning of different modes of assessment, the weight we place on assessments and the degree of reliability in data – these are all questions teachers and leaders need to explore.  Sometimes things get so mixed up it’s as if all the tools have got jumbled:

  • Your high jump is Amber; you are developing the ability to secure a high height. 
  • Your art work has a score of  4.7. This represents progress of -0.46
  • Your working-at…

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10 Silver Arrows: Ideas to penetrate the armour of ingrained practice


10 Silver Arrows: Ideas to penetrate the armour of ingrained practice


Harold_dead_bayeux_tapestry One arrow, aimed at the right place…..that’s all it takes.

Silver Arrows?

It’s very hard to change your practice.  We’re all so busy, very often it is difficult to create space to fully explore a set of ideas and to deliberately adapt our teaching routines to absorb something new.  At the same time, we’re often bombarded with initiatives and issues to address.  It can be overwhelming.  I’ve been thinking about the possibility of stripping down each initiative or development area to something very simple; one idea that captures the spirit of a wider set of strategies.  This would be the thing where you could say if you do just one thing, do this.  A Silver Arrow is one that you allow to penetrate your armour; it changes what you routinely do.

There isn’t a definitive research-informed list; I’m presenting a set of ideas that I think make good Silver Arrow contenders…

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Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Why a Knowledge-Based Curriculum Could be the Future


Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Why a Knowledge-Based Curriculum Could be the Future

Class Teaching

Last November at Durrington, we dedicated some of our INSET day to thinking about knowledge organisers: what they are; why they should play a major role in teaching and learning; how to create them; and how to use them most effectively to maximise students’ learning. Since then, departments have been working collaboratively to produce and implement knowledge organisers, and this in turn has brought to light some complex questions and many hours of deliberation. In particular, the process of creating knowledge organisers has meant that teachers have had to consciously justify what knowledge should be incorporated, and inevitably what gets left out. This is proving to be no mean feat.

A golden thread through the labyrinth is offered in a recent addition to the Durrington Research School library. Knowledge and The Future School is a collection of papers written by head teachers and curriculum theorists in which they argue for the merits of a Future 3 curriculum. The…

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“Yes, But Why? Teaching for understanding in mathematics” by @solvemymaths


“Yes, But Why? Teaching for understanding in mathematics” by @solvemymaths

Scenes From The Battleground

Yes, but why? Teaching for understanding in mathematics by Ed Southall

It’s pretty rare for me to use my status as a blogger to ask people for a copy of their book to review. This is because then I’d feel obliged to read it (though feel free to send me your books if you don’t mind the fact it may take me years to get round to reading them). But I made an exception for this book because Ed Southall is the one person I have ever heard talk about teaching for understanding in maths in a useful way, rather than as an excuse for a particular pedagogy.

Everyone wants to teach for understanding, but people assume that the way they conceive of mathematics or individual topics in mathematics is the correct understanding. My degree in Pure Mathematics convinces me that the only people who really understand mathematics are those…

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The five forms of feedback I give to teachers most often…


The five forms of feedback…


In my work I have the privilege of being able to watch lots of teachers teach in a wide range of contexts.  I see lots of superb teachers and lots of great lessons.  Where I have constructive feedback to give, I find that there are a few common areas for improvement that come up time and time again.   Here are the main things I find I say most often under the heading of ‘even better if’:

Behaviour:  Be more assertive; establish what you want to establish

Where lessons do not have impeccable behaviour, most of the time (not all of the time) I find it is because the teacher falls short of absolutely insisting that students meet the standards they would like.  They  might continue to talk when there are clearly students talking in the room, they might allow off-task chatter to go un-challenged; they might let learning drift as…

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