Posted in Learning

Professionals to drive the Profession


Questions will always arise when you attend courses and conferences; and the chance of ‘Initiative Drain‘ for those unsuspecting staff back at base can always be high, (I mean how many ideas do we bring back, the to do lists……), but I am a great believer in the questions you generate throughout the day.

ResearchED ; a grass-roots, teacher-led organisation aimed at improving research in education held their South West Conference.

I attended.

A vast and diverse amount of questions/wonderings/queries from the day are listed underneath.

  1. What level of educational researcher needs to exists in school for them to succeed?
  2. Does there need to be more of an engaged level of interaction between teachers and pedagogical research in schools?
  3. Do teachers in schools create a high level of aspiration for pupils? Are they learners too?
  4. Do schools need a clear programme of practitioner research for all staff?
  5. Is the Academy an ‘Expert-Led-Sysytem’?
  6. What are the perceived benefits and obvious limitations of school to school collaboration? Here I am led to look at the 4 areas of educational collaboration as hypothesised by Daniel Muijs, (@ProfDanielMuijs
  7. How do you create a self-improving system for teacher CPD?
  8. Are all staff building a picture of the learning in their lessons whilst raising the expectations of the pupils?

And almost certainly the largest and most inflammatory question;

What would your curriculum be if we abolished all external examinations?’



Posted in Learning

Painting on an already wet wall

Credit David Cameron for the title here, (David Cameron @realdcameron the educational consultant, not our Prime Minister!).

We are in a climate of constant self-reflection;

  • Which are your effective qualitites?
  • Are you evaluating the levels of learning successfully?
  • Are you fully engaging the major stakeholders in developing the learning?

These are all relevant and pertinent questions, but as the title states, how much can we ask of teachers and educators before it becomes mixed and clouded, before we are reflecting on the methods used for reflection, before it becomes pointless, and ultimately, the wall never dries before the next coat goes on? We want to ensure that any reflection has a forward direction; it will always lead to improvements and growth for those involve, rather than it being a process the protagonists are asked to do as part of paper pushing exercise, (I’m thinking of pointless perf management tasks and peer/self-assessment sheets you see in books that has had no bearing on the learning). Dave Weston (@informed_edu) talks about creating the correct culture in an establishment to enable staff to excel;

  1. Removing defensiveness
  2. Listening
  3. Relevance
  4. Modelling and Coaching
  5. Providing Time


Reading these, they are not exclusive to just teacher development, they have a clear classroom based link for pupils and their learning. Making any reflection relevant, allowing peer and self-assessment to be performed with the fear of a negative outcome, and demonstrating excellent reflective practice by talking and listening to the pupils about their learning experiences, (Pupil voice is great for this).

As we have looked at before, learning evaluations and learning walks are brilliant for gauging the successful areas of learning and where next steps need to be implemented, and a new idea we will try and pilot will be a variation on this type of evaluative study.

Instead of evaluating and observing the learning over a period of time, it will focus on reflecting on the pupil’s expectation s of learning they have developed with the teacher. We will look to ask teachers to teach the class they were going to observe/evaluate, rather perform a usual learning evaluation. This will reveal the expectations the pupils have for that lesson, what level of learning they have been receiving and methods of practice that are being used. Will this be more powerful have an a higher impact than a usual learning evaluation? Over time maybe, and it also meets point 5 above, it can free that teacher up for a lesson; time being a precious commodity in all educational establishments! This gauging of the level and expectation of learning will contextualise the reflective practice we are all asked to do and make it useable, helpful and inclusive.

Whilst this may seem like another coat of paint, we will look at it more of a touch up to the areas that need it, little tester pots rather than a huge tin!

On a wider reflective scale, I really want to work out a way of using this amazingly honest TEDx Talk from James Schmidt in an assembly about the value of self-reflection;

Talking to People

Appreciating what we have

Leaving a Legacy

Its pertinent and quite poignant point about leaving a legacy resonates with the learning and challenge mindset we all want for our pupils.


Posted in Learning

Learning Language#£$%&###???

What should the language of learning be? Direct? Inclusive? Autocratic? Democratic?

The constructivist view of learning would dictate that the language used should be created with the learner, an inclusive task making it easier to gauge what has actually been learned, what links have been made to prior and post practice. But someone, whether it be the learner or the teacher, needs to create a foundational language that is habitually used across the learning environment. Guy Claxton’s 4 R’s;

Resilience, Resourcefulness, Reflection and Reciprocity

seem a positive place to start when building a consistent language of learning across the learning environment. Our objectives remain the same;

  • To equip pupils with more effective learning skills and strategies
  • To create an ethos of resilience in the learning of all pupils

And it is not something new; it’s now about making it more explicit in the lessons and providing the pupils with the tools to develop their own pedagogical knowledge. As part of our More Able intervention strategies in the humanities dept, we have created a learning evaluation summary sheet, ( and these will be our canaries in the school to what extent the pupils use and apply correctly the language of learning. Dylan William’s paper on ‘Formative assessment and contingency in the regulation of learning processes’ (2014) postulates the importance of regular checks on the pupils language use, and how, through effective formative assessment we can regulate it. We are thinking about being proactive rather than reactive in creating a homogenous language of learning in the school, and will look to using the supplementary language that accompanies the 4 Rs as well as our work on Growth Mindset to really augment the pupils learning taxonomy.

We will also look to utilise the characters to emphasise the different parts of the language, and also to have a bit of fun with it too;

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Posted in Learning

Sir David Carter

I was very privileged to attend Sir David Carter’s (@Carter6D) presentation this evening as part of the Taunton Teaching Alliance program of leadership CPD.

As the former commissioner of education in the SW, and now National School Commissioner, he has a clear aim and goal in  mind, to ensure that every child has attends a good school and that there is a program of sustained school improvement across the country.

Exploring the sequence of structural change though the development of MATs and collaborative partnerships, it seems that we are heading into an age of increased collaboration, a time where schools and academies are no longer islands with single leadership teams and governance.

A release of autonomy?

A way of increasing accountability for the young people’s education?

There will always be caveats that will affect the ultimate goal and strategic priorities, challenges that will ensure we may have to adapt our the direction the South West is heading, but as part of the Somerset Challenge, are in a strong position to lead the way. Feb 12th marks our common inset, a chance for all somerset schools to meet and share an inset day in our subject areas. This is unique to the SW, and in its 4th year, has evolved now to have a Middle school specific day, a real bonus for the middle school colleagues who can sometimes feel neglected what with the noises consistently made towards EBacc/Prgress 8 issues.

Thank you very much for a splendid presentation and a real insight into the exciting direction we are heading in. We seem to be in safe hands.