Posted in Learning

Expect the Expectations to be high

If I see some litter I generally (I’m being honest here, 90% of the time!), pick it up and bin it.

I hold the door for people, thank them for those driving pleasantries, say hello with a smile as school starts.

To me this is what we should be doing, modelling a series of high expectations for our pupils in all aspects of life, not just the academic skills and outcomes. ‘But school life is hard for us teachers’ I hear you cry; ‘We have to plan, mark, assess, enter data………’ Well yes, we do, as this is the nature of the altruistic job we are in.  For me what is needed is a consistency in the modelled expectation from all staff; the idea that no barrier should prevent success in some form. Pupils will want to see that their teachers are working hard and more importantly, working smart. We constantly talk about time management to them, how they need to effectively use their time to maximise their opportunities and we should be no different.

A workload survey published in Feb 2017 stated that on average classroom teachers were spending 33hrs a week on non teaching inc. planning and marking; but aren’t these ubiquitous to learning? Well planned learning time, relevant and helpful feedback (Hattie’s postulation that the impact of feedback diminishes the longer we leave it is so true when it comes to formative assessment of pupils learning), all take effort, take time to perfect and nurture to the point where they become habitual and helpful for our pupils. Please don’t think that the expectation is for staff to slog themselves to the point of exhaustion as this is of no benefit to the pupil; what every member of staff focus on, the elements that benefit their pupils. 

We see stories and articles about schools like St Matthias CE Primary and Michaela Academy who have removed planning and marking reducing this perceived workload and stress that teachers may be feeling, but what message is this sending to the pupils? That if someone/small scale study tells you that you are under workload stresses you automatically feel the pressure? Where is the personal professional judgement?  I love the featured image for this blog post (and underneath) because the message is one we should endeavour to consistently apply and exude to our pupils; reality means the journey is tough, but distance is its own reward.

SONY DSC
Distance is its own reward!

I fell proud when I have planned an effective set of lessons, assessed and provided some relevant personal feedback for my pupils’ and their work.

A Professional Pride.

So there you go, pressure, workload, to me its subjective. Whats not is the expectation we have for our pupils, we expect them to work hard, so should why shouldn’t we?

Posted in Learning

Happy Thoughts

A happy pupil is not always a pupil who is learning at a deeper level. We as teachers know this, that the element of stretch and challenge administered in high quality classrooms around the world might not be the aspect of schooling pupils rush home to laud to their parents about, but it has meaning and relevance and ultimately, a positive impact. The recent approach in UK schools towards combating the state of pupil mental health and happiness does stem from an important place as the article in the most recent TES depicts; my concern as a school leader is the perception of school and learning being one of pressure and burden rather than opportunity.

For me my role as an educator and then subsequently a leader has been clear; It’s all about relinquishing pressure at every strata of a school system. Schools are unbelievably complex entities and involve a vast array of components, all of which need maintenance  and care to keep them working, maybe not perfectly, but definitely so they are helping one another. We are there to shield the pressure, and through osmosis, allow our pupils to learn the relevant coping mechanisms to become well rounded learners and members of society .

 Chair of Governors shoulders the external pressure of MATs et al

The Head then looks to share the pressure through system leadership with the senior leadership team, emphasising the importance they all bring to the school

The SLT team then shield any undue pressure from the middle leadership team, who we all know are the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the school, driving new ideas and concepts in learning.

The teachers then make sure that no undue pressure is translated to the pupils, that they are challenged, but do not, in a fight or flight situation, crumble and not perform to the levels we know they can.

To me this is obvious, but this is not what is always exhibited to the wider world when we talk about teaching, learning, assessment and outcomes.

The level of Pupil’s anxiety being perpetuated in the media towards external testing can sometimes be there to distract from the actual meaning and value of summative assessment. Exams, tests, assessments, they are there to present pupils and staff with opportunities to celebrate the successes in learning. Nothing worth having is easy, and a test is there to test. If school leaders ensure that they are not over emphasising the issues around exams and testing, (SATS debacles, wrong GCSE questions, lateness of specs etc.), and model that way to cope with change, external accountability and challenge, the pupil’s outcomes and maybe even their happiness will exponentially increase.

Rather that then have to employ a Head of Wellbeing…..

Posted in Learning

A Teacher’s Reply

I recently read an article written by Caitlin Moran titled ‘Why I should be Education Secretary’ which addresses the perceived failings in our education system and her plan to tackle them. As a teacher, educator and life-long learner I wanted to compose a reply that clearly highlights why we as teachers worry about the perception we have outside of our sector if this is what is being delivered to them through their chosen vehicle of news, (The Times has over 5 million readers both in print and online).

The writer postulates that the plan to tackle under-performance and apathy within the education is based around 2 facts;

(1) the 21st-century job market requires basically nothing of what is taught in 21st-century schools, and

(2) everyone has a smartphone.

Now they are correct in stating that the jobs of the future will require ‘flexibility and self-motivation’ but stating that the composition of the education system will prevent this is wholly unfounded and echoes the age old rhetoric that is peddled by those who desperately but blindly seek to mirror our own education system with that of, say Finland or China (top of the PISA tables does not necessarily mean top learners).

There is a clear focus at the moment on The Language of Learning, and the subsequent skills that are born out of them. No matter what the subject, the topic, the lesson, the teacher is always thematically using the skills of say, resourcefulness to enable pupils to close that learning loop so they can become better individuals. They are there to create a love of learning. Does it always work? No. Does everything in adult life go according to your plans? Most definitely No. No teacher is there to just ‘get through the curriculum’ and focus on the empirical outcomes. Learning is experiential which is why most school leaders try to create curriculum timetables that allow each pupil to succeed in both cognitive and non-cognitive skills. Go to any school and throughout the day a pupil is called upon to evaluate their learning in a multitude of ways, and to then synthesise this into useable and applicable chunks personal to their own abilities. This is why we teach. This is why they want to learn.

I did not become a teacher because I wanted my pupils to get a job.

I think about Simon Sineck’s ‘Start With Why’ structure; Why do we teach? Because our pupils are at the centre of all we strive to do, and because learning is at the root of a successful society. The advent of more cross-curricular learning in KS2 and 3 and the implementation of new assessment structures across all subjects has led to pupils no longer being taught how to pass an exam, they are now becoming reflective and positively interpreting their own learning and how they can use it again.

Yes, if they finish their maths they will receive more maths, but at a more in-depth level so they can test and challenge themselves in a safe but not risk-averse environment. This prepares them for their future and fosters that intrinsic motivation we want them to have. If we focus on that extrinsic reward of a job, then why would they ever want to push themselves further?

Project based learning has many positives, many facets that will develop a learner to understand the importance of skills such as time management, organisation, resourcefulness, but I am unaware of any company who will readily allow employees to, having finished a project early, to then just leave on a holiday, I am almost certain they would be rewarded and then…..given more work?

And finally the smart phone.

Learning is about the journey, it is about building and harnessing the neuroplasticity of your brain and thickening the synaptic density over time. The density increases as we learn more, but plateaus out over time once we reach maturity when the opportunity to learn new things stops. Distance is its own reward, and as Dr R Winston brilliantly states in this video, building up these neural pathways is challenging but rewarding.  If we advocate the use of this ‘instant knowledge’ in our education system we end up with pupils who are not proactive, dare I say it, not very flexible and self-motivated?

 

Posted in Learning, Teaching

5 Elements of Teaching and Learning We Should All Enjoy

Being immersed in pedagogy and practice, reading journals, blogs, tweets and as many relevant academic texts as I can (and those recommended by @teacherhead and @chrishildrew!), I do sometimes forget to take a reflective step back and just think about the initial positives of my role as a teacher I enjoy. Those generic, all encompassing elements we experience across the multitude of establishments we work in/attend.

These are not new to us;

nothing here is innovative or brand new;

hopefully just a catalyst to make the reader take their own reflective step away from the day to day concepts and misanthropes we can sometimes be bogged down by. Now that sounds negative, it doesn’t mean to be, just an honest interpretation that we generally find ourselves in deficit when it comes to personal good will after a day that may include financial pressures, summative assessment changes and shocking pastoral mishaps from agencies beyond our 4 walls.

Here we go…

  1. We Make a Difference; Whether we/they know it or not!

We make a difference in young lives, sometimes not just those in our classes but those we may meet in the corridors. As an altruistic role, we plan lessons and tasks to make that difference a positive one, but I consistently observe that its the smallest actions, the ‘hello’ in the corridor to the Y8 who you know is having a tough time outside of school, making the effort to watch the KS2 netball team even though you’ve already had 3 meetings that week, or focussing a lesson on certain aspects of the pupils lives they may have mentioned before so they can make positive learning links easily are subconscious demonstrations of making a difference. Great learning comes from building great relationships with your pupils, building a mutual respect can only ever put you and them in credit when momentum is needed.

2. Learning is Just Brilliant

Think of the last thing you actually learnt, that you were able to apply correctly after learning it and have since developed it to a greater depth. How long ago was it? I cite my own learning of the new accountability measures for KS4, I spent time learning about them, discussing them with relevant individuals to gain some peer assessment and appreciation, and ultimately augment my opinion. Not too put too finer point on it, but now I feel so much more confident about the measures, I feel a sense of achievement, of ease and, dare I say it, self-assurance when it comes to my learning. If we get it right, we know our own pupils can feel like this, that we can build and construct situations and environments that allow pupil to safely test themselves and develop into mature adults who will want to contribute to our society.

3. Creating Your Teaching Persona

I recently read the article from the TES by Mark Roberts (@mr_englishteach) about ‘Why a popular teacher is the last thing you want to be’. It looks at how a positive teacher/student relationship, one built on mutual respect and high standards and expectations will lead to a productive outcome for all. This relationship is something that a teacher cultivates over their career, they play the joker, the authoritarian, the counsellor, the all knowing-all seeing oracle (!), but they will always ensure that the personality they develop is one that is honest, accepting, patient and self-assured. Building a persona, creating your own space that allows you to offer high quality learning opportunities to your pupils is exciting, and is a dynamic situation, you know that if you are adaptable, you will offer the best deal for the pupils.

4. Reward can come form the smallest places

Routine can sometimes put pay to recognising success and that epiphanal moment in learning. But when we do spot the breakthrough for any learners, be it pupils or staff, the reward isn’t one that remains a personal one; its not something that when you share its because you want the ‘pat on the back’. You share the reward to share the learning, model that it can be done and exemplars of the methodology behind it. This is why Professor John Hattie clearly states that any lesson feedback for a teacher must be given as soon as possible to harness that positive sense of reward, why we continually try and close that feedback loop for pupils by using former success as incentives to create intrinsic motivation. Who doesn’t love that palpable sound in a class of ‘AHHH, thats what it means….’!

5. Every Lesson is Different

Finally the most obvious of the 5, as even if you are on the first day of your PGCE placement or have 20 years under your belt, each lesson will be different, and isn’t that just the best!!

 

Posted in Learning

Faith to Overcome the Fear

Buried deep in the medial temporal lobe, just above the brain stem is the neural nugget called the Amygdala _4755829; a collection of neurons that are believed to play an important role in the processing of fear and threat for humans. As we approach the start of a new term, a term which will include KS2 and KS4 external assessments, how many of our pupil’s own amygdalas will be lit up at the thought of these, and how many of our teachers will demonstrate high levels in activity in their own neural pathways due to the accountability measures we experience here in the UK?

Fear can sometimes be the driver and catalyst to creativity and motivation (how many times have we pulled a late night trying to complete the department evaluation form or school improvement plan!), but the production of cortisol is only a short term fix. Better solutions and coping mechanisms must be intrinsically built so we can cope and develop when facing threat and fear in our jobs. Yet more often than not the first 5 articles that I come across related to teaching are usually about the fear teachers have, the threat of results, of Ofsted, of education itself and where it is heading, and not how we can focus on the positive stories that may help us solve these issues.

Within such articles is talk of teacher retention, (‘Nearly half of young teachers planning to quit over high workload’), of how the percentage of teachers quitting full time work in the classroom has risen by almost 19% in the last 10 years due to mounting pressure and fear of;

  • Ofsted
  • Exam results
  • Workload and marking

But rarely do we read that the top fear for a teacher is that they are worried about the pupils not fulfilling their pedagogical potential. But we do, all the time. I like to think, in my hopeful, helpful way, that no one working in any role in education turns up and purposefully ‘doesn’t care’ about the learning. Its innate within our profession that we are altruistic, that we plan so our pupils receive the bets possible learning opportunities. So using that ethos and moral compass, surely teachers should be held to account over the progress of their pupils in all aspects of school life, both academically and pastorally? Is it this natural professionalism that exacerbates the extrinsic fear and pressure, are we just infuriating perfectionists?!

As a senior leader I am lucky enough to visit a wide range of learning environments not just in my own academy but in a wide range of locations. The success stories, the times when you can tangibly feel the learning taking place and realise that the pupils are developing in their cognitive and non-cognitive skills far out-weigh the times when data targets are not met, or when a perf management objective has not yet been achieved. Why not write about these times, these aspects of our profession we treasure and go back for? An amateur golfer doesn’t continually play because of the bad shots and choices they inevitably make (and my word I make a lot of those on the course!), they go back for the positives, the times when it worked and they applied their skills effectively. We want to retain teachers, then lets focus on all the positives they achieve with their pupils in the classroom and beyond. Accountability measures need to be there to ensure that the pupils receive the highest quality learning and relevant opportunities, but are not there to create fear and threat.

Ultimately, fear is a concept, its not a ‘thing’ in the brain, not a place we can quell and administer chemical relief to change our reaction to it. The change and building of faith in our abilities to deal with threat and fear is born out of our ability to learn, (again, just like we do with its pupils!), and apply that learning in the correct contexts. WE should ask ourselves ‘Am I able to use an experience, a technique I had previously observed to positively solve this problem?’.

 and  are just two mediums I have recently encountered where the positives that are ubiquitous to our profession are shared and enjoyed. What a  hopeful and  way to start the term, starting it with an elevated degrees of faith in our sector to banish the fear.

 

 

Posted in Learning

Relevant Transition Creating Relevant Learning Opportunities

At the start of the Easter holidays I was invited back by my old PGCE tutor at @UWEBristol to talk to the #uwepgce geography students about transition and the need to focus on having high expectations for all our pupils no matter what year group/key stage/ability. I started with a ‘Thunk’,one of those questions created to stop you in your tracks and make you see the world in which you live differently. The thunk, (below), was there to focus the group onto aspects of teaching and learning that we may over look, logistical elements that, maybe as PGCE students/NQTs, they feel they have no impact or say over. This included the use of the KS2 data they, as a secondary school teacher, would need to be aware of and analyse to understand the strengths of the pupils they are receiving into Y7. Too many times this transitional phase and the qualitative and quantitative data is overlooked, not used or not shared appropriately which can lead to the disengagement of pupils in their learning at an early juncture in KS3, and then a complete resource overload geared towards after school/Saturday booster sessions at KS4 and generally creating an imbalance in their teachers’ workload.

Picture1

GCSE booster sessions should not be something ubiquitous to the key stage, clarifying it as a revision session that pupils can attend to deepen their understanding and enjoyment of the subject is an achievable goal, the love of learning and intrinsic motivation, not ‘quick, lets get them through the next topic….’.

How much time are new teaching recruits given to experience learning at another Key Stage, to be part of the learning diet that their new cohort have just finished/still part of? I was asked when I trained, (ahem, a number of years ago) to spend just 2 weeks in a primary setting, a minuscule amount of my time to prepare me for what the abilities of my KS3 pupils would be. How, in that amount of time, were we supposed to gleam and understand the capabilities of our new Y7 pupils?

Expectations at KS2 and KS3 are continually changing and pupils are now developing strong abilities in literacy and numeracy that are not being challenged and used when they reach KS3. I asked the PGCE students if they had ever seen a KS2 SATs question before, knowing that the majority, (through absolutely no fault of their own) would not have done. Realisation of what comes before and what will come next is one of the teachers’ greatest allies, if we know what they can do, and what they need for the next step, closing that learning loop becomes more efficient and relevant.

I find it amazing how many teachers have not read the 2015 publication ‘KS3: The Wasted Years’ from the DfE, (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/459830/Key_Stage_3_the_wasted_years.pdf). It hypothesises from exemplified, routine inspections that Key Stage 3 is not the priority for many secondary schools and that too many secondary schools focus on the empirical side of transition (the data) to the detriment of the experiential side (prior and post learning. By allowing pupils to take an active role in transition, not a passive one, (surely the days of inviting feeder primaries for a WOW day are long over?), it demonstrates to them that we as educators work together for them, and how important it is to learn those skills of collaboration. But it also doesn’t marginalise and categorise pupils based on only their outcomes, we show how all aspects of a pupil’s academic life are important.

Intervention in KS4 can be an enriching experience then, not a program that only focusses on the mythical C/D or 4/5 boarder line. The new P8 measures will surely go some way in abolishing these measures, although having read this earlier today; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39584000 about new grammar schools service ‘ordinary families’ it seems like the DfE have created their very own ‘booster’ group or (worst phrase in education) the C/D boarder line group!!!

If intervention happens early, if data is used effectively and not sparingly, if transition is effectively planned, then pupils will develop their love of learning throughout their time with us.

Uni Presentation exert

Posted in Learning

Intrinsic Expectations

I had originally delivered this session on ‘Improving Opportunities for our More Able Pupils’ at one of our MOT sessions, but upon reflection it became apparent that the following vehicles for improving learning were applicable for all pupils and should not really be isolated to those considered ‘More Able’. That’s the key factor here? Expectations; do we expect the same of all pupils regardless of their ability/starting point?

A skilled practitioner can quite straightforwardly differentiate through a variety of formative assessment methods and discussion with their pupils; dynamically adapting to the needs of the relevant class taking part in the learning. Surely with this confidence in meeting the needs of their pupils no one method should be kept back for those More Able or even Lower Ability pupils, the diet can be a rich a full one no matter the ability. It is mentioned time and time again, closing that learning loop for pupils is achievable as long as our expectations develop their intrinsic motivation.

The focus is on 6 key points that can be used in planning and delivery;

  • Guided Learning
  • Debating
  • Questioning
  • Modelling: (Implicit and Explicit)
  • Motivation: (Intrinsic and Extrinsic)
  • The Challenge Zone

The final point is something I have discussed before here, using work from  ‘The Expert Learner’ (Stobart 2015), about our ‘deliberate practice involving risk taking’, and how excellence is achieved from stepping out of the comfort zone, into the learning zone, (Colvin 2008).

The title of this presentation, ‘Improving Opportunities for our pupils and increasing all expectations’ is just woeful, a mouthful, and, well, just not very good! I was in my panic zone when creating that I can assure you!

Improving Opportunities pupils and ioncreasing expectations

Posted in Learning

World Book Day Fun #shelfie

Reading for me is a funny thing; I never engaged with it at school, I struggled to make the words on the page fit with what was in my own brain, or perhaps what I wanted them to say!

Either way, when I was first informed in Year 3 or 4 I needed to read ‘The Rainbow Fish’ by Marcus Pfister I was very excited, it had colour and light and a storyline about a confident fish who wanted friends, but it took me so long to read it with my mum as I was getting frustrated with my constant stumbling!!

‘The little blue fish darted through the water with a glittering scale. Soon the Rainbow Fish was surrounded by others of all different shapes and sizes. All of them wanted the glittering, shimmering scales!’

I do remember reading ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak,  a book of only 368 words, but with an atmosphere of havoc and mystery! It was the images, the illustrations that really engaged me  and encouraged me to read more and more. I still struggled, through the ‘Silver Sword’  by Ian Serrailier, ‘The Machine Gunners’ by Robert Westhall, with about the influence of WW2 on youngsters; and then came Roald Dahl…….

  • The Twits
  • James and the Giant Peach
  • Danny Champion of the World
  • Matilda
  • Fantastic Mr Fox

Being able enjoy such stories, imagery, metaphors and other such literary techniques made me feel special, like I was privvy to what was in the authors thoughts as they were writing. ‘The Wasp Factory’  by Iain Banks was one book that shocked me slightly as it was dark and had a dystopian theme to it, exposing me to something extremely different to the usual hero-like endings that Dahl wrote for me.

Time progressed and my schooling clarified how important reading would prove to be in my future endeavours with books and adventures like ‘The Go-Between’ by L.P. Hartley, ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ by John Le Carre, and just any Sherlock Holmes story I could lay my hands on, allowing for a degree of escapism and essential day-dreaming. I still struggled, letters moved around and words still confused me, but my lexicon developed and I was able to start applying language into my own contexts, my life, surely one of the major reasons we do encourage reading to such a high and rigorous degree.

I tried the Potters,

Middle Earth,

The Final Frontier,

and the use of magic in the Napoleonic Wars with Mr Strange and Norrell

and vanished within them identifying with those characters who were not always following the correct path, but would always find a way of making a positive impact in the end, (the ‘rebel without a cause/clue streak in my younger self!). But now I find myself encountering a whole new library of knowledge, with my go to books those that will develop my profession, books on pedagogy, practice, how to lead learning and so on. What comforts me, (as well as my infrequent dabbles back into fiction, ‘The Rivers of London’ by Ben Aaronovitch and the somewhat trashy crime thriller by Rowling’s nom de plume Robert Galbraith) is that the effort, resilience and barriers overcome with the Rainbow Fish as my guide have enabled me to still enjoy but most importantly learn through my book shelf.

Oh, and I think I will dress as Johnathan Strange on World Book Day as we should never underestimate the power of the written word as even a grumpy 33 year old assistant head will still want to dress up and play along if he’s engaged by the words…..!

Posted in Learning

An Evolving BUT Involving Industry

Gordon Moore’s observed law (1965), the number of transistors in any integrated circuit will double every two years, is sometimes held up as the how mankind can and will progress to a complete automated system and function with almost inorganic ease. If overall processing power of computers will double every two years, it only seems inevitable that this dystopian prediction is on its way to our own education sector, (although revised targets for the end of Moore’s Law is now somewhere between 2030-35). How we proactively react to the rapid change in technology and its offerings will need to follow the valuable ethics and morals we hold as educators at the current moment, to create an element of curiosity in learning and pedagogy.

I’m unsure of the positive significance and influence of article recently published in TES (10 February 2017) entitled ‘How soon until the robots take over your Classroom’ though. It postulates the theory that holograms, humagrams and other such mediums can create as aspect of ‘blended learning’ to create cost efficient models of staffing and school development here in the UK. Whilst companies like The Bridge International Academies have used, somewhat successfully, integrated technology, scripted lessons etc. in LIC’s around the globe, the potential for the natural erosion (quality geography reference there) of individuality in one of the most important sectors in the country, nay, the world’s social system is surely a worry?

Whist it may only be a theoretical ‘Human Vs. Machine’ battle at the moment, I believe an effective, engaging and proactive practitioner is surely what we should aspire to train, coach and develop to deliver a purposeful and brilliant education for all pupils. INSETs can be a fantastic/fanciful (!) method of achieving this. The Somerset Challenge S4S common INSET this year was spread across 14 establishments and encompassed a vast array of subject material and information, and only with human fallibility and resilience will events like this work.

Case and point; Sarah Todd’s (@SarahTodd10) ‘Improving Feedback’ seminar at the Geography event was a fantastic array of ideas, opinions and information all collated and delivered by professionals who model mistakes, successes and next steps for their pupils. Whilst having scripted lessons and identical delivery may improve efficiency and costs it will not provide that professional, live formative feedback that will endeavour to close the gap between what the pupils have learnt and where they need to go next. That idea of High Tariff Vs. Low Tariff feedback, when to use either and when it will be most effective for each individual pupil.

Moving learning to the top of the pupil’s agendas, making them #proudtolearnis something I believe can only be achieved through influential teachers and educators, someone who, in a complex organisation that, by its very nature is extremely messy, is able to bring some sense of order and ‘anti-entropy’! To extrapolate the best performance from their pupils happens through a teacher’s personality and planning, something we strive to embed in our pupils also.

To evolve with the times, but continue to involve ourselves in the learning.

 

 

Posted in Learning

Intervening the Bleeding Obvious?

Just so much  rhetoric has been written, said, masticated and repeated about the new funding formula for schools, the deprivation weighting for some demographics of pupils, the locational aspects of the overall pot schools will receive, but having read this article in the TES, (subscription needed, or just grab the magazine from the staffroom!), I feel that one key aspect may have been overlooked. And by the tone of Charlotte Santry’s article, so do others because I was unaware that the EEF had cost £125 million of government coffers in its creation, with one of its primary purposes to investigate the most cost efficient way of breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. And their grand findings seem to lean towards;

  • Funding needs to be weighted towards the primary sector as this is where the greater impact can be had rather than trying to play catch up at the secondary level.

Thats right, no more bullet points, just a large obvious one, with their research showing that ‘intervening earlier on in a child’s life is the best way to close any attainment gaps that may exist’. Now whilst the weighting towards secondaries  is all about ratios etc. I can’t help thinking that this most obvious point made by a £125 million governmental think tank could have been come to a lot quicker and cheaper, thus potentially redirecting a large proportion of cash into those areas that need it, namely the primary  sector mentioned where intervention would narrow that gap (a phrase that makes me shiver!). Early intervention will alleviate the pressures felt by the secondary sector, making a more palatable workload and re-energising those staff floundering under the weight of ‘gap-closing’ expectations. With £384 million being withdrawn from school funding 😦  we need all we can get and all educators realise the importance of early intervention.

We give up lunchtimes, after school, Saturdays and even days in half terms to ensure that our pupils make the progress their hard work deserves, but equally we know that if intervention happens early, we wouldn’t have to. Those times could be used to increase pupils learning into that ‘mastery’ level, creating a greater depth of the love of learning.

How many more studies and Emperor New Clothes-like investigations paid for with money that could be used at the coal face will be commissioned before we can move forward? I remain hopeful that the creation of The Chartered College of Teaching will enable the combination of research from practicing teachers and key educational decisions to be united effectively.