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GCSE Exams: Keeping a proportionate positive perspective.

Despite the fact that we’ve been running Y11 exams in one form or another for decades, there is always a fairly strong undercurrent in the discourse around the annual exam season characterised by a sense of injustice and unreasonableness.  In relation to GCSEs, the following arguments are rehearsed fairly often: Exams don’t measure everything that … Continue reading

My chat with Craig Barton on the @mrbartonmaths podcast

This week I had the joy of talking to Craig Barton for an episode of his podcast series.  It was such a great experience, having the opportunity to talk about maths, about teaching, assessment data, lesson observations and various ideas from The Learning Rainforest.  Craig is so enthusiastic about teaching, so engaged with a range … Continue reading

Exploring Barak Rosenshine’s seminal Principles of Instruction: Why it is THE must-read for all teachers.

This post is based on a talk I gave at ResearchEd in Rugby.  The paper in question is Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction published in American Educator in 2012, downloadable in full as a pdf here: I first came across if after seeing Oliver Caviglioli’s superb graphic summary for How2 – available here: My admiration … Continue reading

What is a knowledge-rich curriculum? Principle and Practice.

I have found recent discussions and debates about the concept of a ‘knowledge-rich curriculum’  – or knowledge-led; knowledge-based – fascinating.   Some of this has been explored brilliantly in various blogs.  Here is a selection: Summer Turner https://ragazzainglese.wordpress.com/2018/02/14/pub-quiz-or-published-what-are-the-aims-of-a-knowledge-rich-curriculum/ Jon Brunskill  I’m bringing knowledge back. | Pedfed   which is worth reading along with his school’s website info on … Continue reading

The Value of Experience. #respect

It’s inevitable that, over the course of a career in teaching, perspectives change.  If I  could go back and have a word with my young teacher self, aged 22, I’d certainly be telling myself to show a bit more respect to the guys who had been working at it for a few decades.  Listen to … Continue reading

GCSE Revision is Poetry: Intensity, hard work – and so much deep learning.

I know exam pressure is stressful – there are system issues – but my perspective is that, whatever their grades , GCSE revision has been good for my kids. They learned to work super hard for weeks – no bad thing – but mainly they just learned so much. The intensity pays off. — Tom … Continue reading

Is there a right way to teach? Making sense of the trad-prog debate.

(I wrote this in February for Guardian Teacher Network but since they didn’t ever get back to me I’m posting it here instead….) Is there a right way to teach? Making sense of the progressive-traditional debate. Debates about the purposes of education, the influence of social and political values and the role of research evidence … Continue reading

Principles over patch-ups. The power of focused fundamentals – featuring @TurtonSchool

Running a school is complicated: 1000s of individuals; 100,000s of interactions every day – you just can’t control it all.  If you try to micro-manage teachers and students to the nth degree, it can be a recipe for stress and disaster.  Most people don’t do this.  However, when things are in the process of being … Continue reading

How to observe a lesson – and make a difference

This post is based on my discussions with colleagues at Oldham College involved in Advanced Practitioner training.   The context is that the AP role is designed to support the process of improving teachers’ practice.  Their work is explicitly geared towards helping teachers to deliver great lessons and to secure improved learner outcomes based on … Continue reading

Annoying things controlling schools still do that have no basis in evidence:

As trailed on twitter… a short round-up of annoying things controlling schools still do that have no basis in evidence. 1. Grade individual lessons There is no justification for this in terms of professional discourse.  It’s voodoo; a control device. No human observer can reliably maintain graded judgements over time, let alone  ensuring that this … Continue reading

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