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Showing posts from November, 2012

This engine runs on hope: why schools need to defy the destiny of data

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Chris Cook has written an excellent sidebar to Fraser Nelson's enthusiastic love letter to the Swedish model (and if that doesn't make you wave a pretend cigar and wag your eyebrows like Groucho, then there is no hope for you). It's a cautionary note to the symphony of success that the Swedish Free School system, running parallel to the state sector, seems to exemplify. In summary, he advises that its benefits, while statistically significant, aren't exactly enormous. At the heart of this, and in other good pieces he's written, he describes how a huge part of a child's success is down to where they're from, not where they're at.   Its a topic I often think about: what does it matter what we do? As Christopher rightly says, aren't the historical and economic narratives of the children's background the real levers of destiny? And in many senses they are, of course. But to be a teacher, it's vital that we....almost ignore this. I wrote about i…

London Festival Of Education Part 2: Teacher Training, Flirtgate, and The Pale Rider

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From the rural womb of Wellington, a post-modernist cement baby is born. If the Summer Edfest is James Blunt, the London Festival is Tuliza. Even the banners and livery of the event were spraypainted, Banksy style, on tarpaulins reminiscent of a CND march. If it had been any more metropolitan it would have had a roundabout.

After Gove, I bolted to see Charlie Taylor take part in a panel discussion about the future of teacher training. The former behaviour czar has been reincarnated, like the Doctor, as the head of the Teacher Agency in charge of the stuff, so I imagine this panel wasn't too taxing. 'Yeah,' he could say. 'It's like that. Touch me.' Taylor's a rare thing: a man up to his armpits in the education business who actually knows which way up a child goes. Everything he did and said as behaviour advisor was intuitively and demonstrably sensible, and I expect he'll be no slouch in training reform either.

He talked about School Direc…

The London Festival of Education: Good, with Outstanding Features. Part 1

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London's first Festival of Education roared into Russell Square this weekend, hosting the capital's yoorban answer to Wellington College's fragrant mother ship. The Institute of Education, which hosted the event, is a great college inside a building that makes the elephant house at London Zoo look like the tea rooms at Kew Gardens. Stalin would have taken one look at it and said, 'Blimey, that's a bit brutal.'

I'd been invited to do my monkey dance in a Q&A on behaviour which gave me the double pleasure of participating and observing. Apart from comedy support acts like me, the organisers had pulled their fingers out and hustled up the biggest names in education- Sir Michael Wilshaw, Adonis, Charlie Taylor, Hattie- and even the Lord of Sanctuary House himself, Gaffer Gove. The headline act opened the show, in an inversion of normal rock gig chronological taxonomy. Logan Hall was packed to the rafters in a manner that normally only happens when PGCE stu…

The Empire Strikes Back: Ofqual, and the omnishambles of assessment

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The edu-interwebs were crackling with fury this morning. Glenys Stacey, Head of Ofqual, has published her report into this season's controversial GCSE results, where accusations of dumbing down and political expediency have been volleyed back and forth across the net. Ofqual's response has been the equivalent of two neighbours arguing about each others' dogs, and one of them goes, 'Ah, but you've been burying postmen under your patio!' Ladies and gentlemen, this hoe-down just got interesting again. The claim, in summary, is this: some teachers in some schools have been routinely over-marking coursework in an effort to obtain higher grades. My poor iPhone nearly melted through Earth's crust when I turned it on; the most common response was that of 'teacher bashing.'

Let's take a closer look at that. What did she actually say?

"Children have been let down. That won't do. It's clear that children are increasingly spending too much ti…

What do we want? More rigour! How do we want it? We don't know! Leaky cauldrons, draughty doors and the English Curriculum

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There's a draft English curriculum floating around, in advance of actual proposals in the next few months. How do these things escape from the laboratory? They should frisk everyone leaving Sanctuary House. Or just stop telling people, which ever's easier. If there's a draft, shut the door.

As usual with such things, a bunfight has emerged. Dame Gove has been castigated by Stephen 'Equaliser' Twigg for, among other things, an apparent lack of rigour. It is, La Twigg claims:
'..preparing to introduce a narrow and out of date curriculum that will take us backwards.' What definition of narrow he's using, I'm not sure; the curriculum is, if anything, becoming more fluid and open to interpretation and personalisation. It's becoming less prescribed. If that's narrow, then I wouldn't like to see him reverse a Transit Van backwards into a parking space. And 'out of date'? Please, God, don't let this be another allusion to the apparen…