Sometimes I feel it is necessary to state the obvious. Teachers and schools leaders are horribly taken for granted in the political bun-fight. I’ve been out on the road recently and what strikes me is that, wherever I go, I meet the most amazing people. Our profession is packed with such passionate, brilliant, dedicated people.
It is now very firmly one of my favourite things to do to visit a school and hear the Head or Principal, the staff and students talk about what they do; their successes; challenges – their vision for what they’d like to achieve. It’s absolutely inspiring every time. Then there’s the continuing stream of inspiration and intellectual clarity that emanates from the world of blogging and writing – I learn something new every week. I also love the range of educational movements that continue to grow, taking the education system by the scruff of the neck and moving it forward. Thank goodness for all the people who manage to keep their heads above the grindstone to look ahead to something better and share their optimism or share ideas about doing the job even better.
It’s impossible to represent all of this but let me try to capture the flavour with just a few very recent occurrences in my calendar:
Visiting Bedford Free School, meeting the effervescent Principal/CEO Mark Lehain, and the superb Head of School and staff leading on Curriculum and Teaching and Learning – they’ve been on an amazing journey and have put so much thought into everything they do.
Working with the fabulous staff at The Rise School – a school for children with autism in Feltham. The Principal Sarah Roscoe and her Deputy Helen Ralston and the staff were so passionate about what they’re doing in their new school with inspiring ambition for the future.
Meeting Headteacher Rachel Wyles and the staff and students at The Ruskin Priory Academy in Grantham. They’ve been developing a wonderful KS3 Baccalaureate programme (featured here) as part of a wider initiative across their Trust led by the very enthusiastic Steve Willshaw.
Spending another day at Oldham College working with the inspirational, big-thinking Principal Alun Francis and his staff including Rachel Irving, who runs their Teaching and Learning programme. It’s been a real privilege for me to talk to people working in a sector that’s new to me – the world of construction, digital design and hair and beauty, to name just a few of their areas. Their issues about teaching and learning and assessment are very much the same as in a secondary school so we have lots to talk about.
I had the privilege of attending ResearchEd in Oslo last weekend. I haven’t had time to write up my own experiences but take a look at this blog by Kev Bartle: https://dailygenius.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/what-i-learned-as-one-of-the-red-scand-gang/ Spending time engaging in discussions with David Didau, Tom Bennett and Lucy Crehan, amongst others, is a joy – they give so much to our profession adding so much substance to our discourse. We should be grateful. It’s also great to be part of wider international debate. As ever, David continually challenges and deepens my understanding of what teaching is through his blog. http://www.learningspy.co.uk/psychology/summary-arguments-education/
Here are some more reasons to be cheerful and thankful:
The superb work of Dr Becky Allen’s Edudatalab that celebrated its 2nd birthday recently. This recent post is essential reading on the shadow data for this year’s GCSEs – with bonus points for subtle Joy Division references.
The successful growth of the WomenEd movement led by Hannah Wilson and Vivienne Porritt (amongst others) is a superb example of a grassroots movement. These blogs on the staffrm.io site show much this resonates with people: https://staffrm.io/stories/discover?hashtag=womened
The most recent Headteachers’ Roundtable manifesto document is excellent, in my view. It captures the spirit of what we’re calling for across the profession. The indefatigable Stephen Tierney – supported by John Tomsett and Laura Mcinnerney and Shane Mann from Schools Week – has pulled this together from multiple contributions; again, it’s the grassroots having a voice and I love that.
I’ve read some excellent blogs recently. I don’t want to start a giant list here but there are some people who I think are on a roll and are making me think hard:
Harry Fletcher-Wood, writing about teacher development: https://improvingteaching.co.uk/category/cpd/
Michael Fordham, writing about curriculum development: https://clioetcetera.com
I’m also a major fan of every blog written by Kenny Pieper including his latest:
This recent blog by Wellington’s Sarah Donarski is an example of my favourite kind of blog: it’s a serious, interesting analysis of something we do all the time and it makes you think:
Similarly, I found this blog from Summer Turner quite recently and it asks a really important question:
It was fantastic to see that Jo (@mathsjem) Morgan won the UK Blog Award for her amazing Resourceaholic blog. It’s serious treasure trove of material and ideas about teaching maths. Again, a firm favourite blog style – talking about what we actually do in the classroom in detail.
Finally, a superb blogger I’ve enjoyed reading recently is Ben Newmark. I’m sure he’s especially good if you happen to teach History but as a school leader and science teacher I love what he writes. https://bennewmark.wordpress.com
The Twitter Community
I have to say that, in the last few months, I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by support from people within the education twitter community. There was one difficult day in January when I received over a 100 direct messages and hundreds more messages and blog comments as people reached out to give some personal moral support. It was amazing – it still is. I know there are some disputes and debates on twitter than can turn sour but, for the most part, it’s just people offering support, ideas, challenge and plenty of foolishness that is necessary to oil the wheels of it all. In my twitter world I find that most people are kind, generous, funny and interesting.
I made a fab list called ‘Education Commentary‘ that I keep to 50 members; these people keep me in the loop. I’m following nearly 3000 people now which can be hard to keep track of so the micro world of this list is really helpful to check in with every so often.
A final word of appreciation and thanks go to some of my partners in crime – people I’m been working with on various projects – Martin Robinson, Ross McGill, Naureen Afzal, Oliver Caviglioli … It’s just great to work with people who are so passionate and committed to what they do.
Let’s give ourselves a giant round of applause people; we do great work. Let’s say it loud and often.