Primary Blogging

Collecting blogs about primary education

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Aiming for – if not quite getting, 100% – what happened when I tried to get all my students doing what I wanted?

Improving Teaching

There’s one suitable percentage of students following a direction given in your classroom: 100 Percent. If you don’t achieve this, you make your authority subject to interpretation, situation, and motivation. Students have cause to ask themselves: ‘Did she mean that? For everyone? Do I feel like going along with her today?'”
Doug Lemov, Teach Like a Champion

I’d had the audacity to help train teachers in using Lemov’s techniques of ‘minimally invasive discipline’ and thought I was fairly effective in deploying them myself.  As I mentioned in a post in December however, the fidelity with which I’d been putting this into practice left much to be desired.  So this has been my main focus this term.

Is it OK to expect 100% student compliance?

I’ve missed most of it, but it appears there has been a good deal of dispute recently about obedience and compliance.  This post fits within this debate…

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Marching to the sound of a distant drum – Behaviour, behaviour, Behaviour, obedience, dis-obedience

By Geoff James

I am cautious about blog discussions on about the behaviour of students in schools.

Tim Taylor has the same sense of caution;

“I, rather regretfully now, joined in: regretfully, because behaviour is an emotive subject amongst teachers and one of the few that is truly divisive. I wrote a blog once about behaviour on the Guardian Network and got dog’s abuse from the commentators, one called me a Judas, as a consequence I generally keep my views on the subject to myself.”

Like Tim, I am not that interested in the recycling of old arguments by a small group of bloggers, but I am deeply interested in the subject of what has come to be known as Behaviour.

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If you’re serious about educational equality, it’s time to bite the bullet.


Britain’s private schools are renowned centres of excellence. They are lauded and endeared internationally. They are central to our culture. And they should be abolished. No education secretary of the last five decades has had the courage – or ideological framework – to suggest this, but the arguments in favour of ending our private, parallel schooling system are powerful.
Before I began my training with Teach First, I had to gain a week’s experience in a ‘challenging school’. ‘Challenging’ meant that over half of the children had to come from homes in the lowest 30% of the socio-economic scale. I duly contacted a primary school in East London that met these conditions and was assigned to observe a year 3 class. On the whole, I enjoy talking to children (who are interesting and hilarious) much more than adults (who are dull and close-minded), and over the first few days I got to know…

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Another Blog on Not Making Obedience a Virtue

By Tim Taylor

Last week I wrote a blog about obedience. I think it is fair to say it had a mixed response. However, I did have some very interesting conversations on Twitter and there were some very thoughtful comments under the line, so I’ve decided to write a follow up.

I’d like to explore in more detail the range (as I see it) of different strategies we can draw on as teachers beyond merely getting the students to obey.

Some might say – “Why bother? Kids should just do what they are told, no questions, then we can get on with the job of teaching them.”

I’d consider this a very low expectation. The very minimum we can ask of our students is to come into a room with their mouths shut, sit where they are told, and do what’s required.

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Freeing the Angel

There was much rejoicing in the primary/secondary sector when Sir Michael Wilshaw sent a letter to school inspectors, insisting that they should not look for a particular teaching style when observing lessons, but focus solely on the outcomes for students. This week a similar letter was sent to early years inspectors. Interestingly, the reaction of the early years sector to ‘their’ letter was very different. To the puzzlement of some commentators, not everyone in the sector sees this message as an entirely ‘good thing’. To help understand why, here are ten practical reasons why it may be problematic to measure early years settings on their outcomes rather than on the quality of their provision. Please note that the word ‘play’ is not mentioned once in this blog (except just then).

1. Given the absence of numerical data from tests such as SATs or GCSEs in the early years, there is…

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I am writing a series of short posts that quote directly from educators who have inspired my thinking about education and more. Here is the first edu-quote for your reading pleasure.

Ron Berger, in his excellent book, ‘An Ethic of Excellence‘, writes about true school improvement. An improvement founded upon building a culture:

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This much I know about…feeling like a dinosaur


I have been a teacher for 25 years, a Headteacher for 10 years and, at the age of 49, this much I know about feeling like a dinosaur.

‘Tis now Spring, and all the pleasures of it displease me; every other tree blossoms, and I wither: I grow older, and not better; my strength diminisheth, and my load grows heavier; and yet, I would fain be or do something; but that I cannot tell what, is no wonder in this time of my sadness. – John Donne

The older I get the less certain I am about anything. I write this neither for sympathy nor reassurance, but because I feel a genuine sense of doubt; whilst I like peaches and I’ll never wear my trousers rolled, I do keep asking myself, am I stalwart or dinosaur?


I’ve never been good about getting older! I spent a great evening recently…

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When we was Phab!

the primary head's blog

It’s good to get away. Not just to get away from the hustle and bustle from your own environment but also to have an opportunity to meet other like-minded (or not) people from your profession. At a time in the academic of year where the promises of Autumn seem to be at their most fragile and you feel success is balanced on a knife’s edge, it’s good to get away and realise that…you are not alone.

It was the annual Phab (that’s Primary Heads Association of Bristol to you) conference in Chepstow. A day and a half of Heads and Deputies talking, laughing, eating, drinking, singing (partly due to the drinking) thinking, supporting each other, reflecting and looking forward.

Listening and talking to other Heads about their schools, achievements and struggles. Not only do you realise that there are situations that are way more challenging than yours but more importantly…

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The opener of doors

The Diary of a Not So Ordinary Boy

I always saw myself as a trusting sort of person.  My friend Pippa once told me, when I asked, that in order to get the family caravan out of the garden they took it to pieces and walked it through the garage, bit by bit.  Because she is such a lovely person I, even though I was a particularly wet-behind-the-ears seventeen, believed her.  I always want to believe the best of people, to think that they are worthy of my trust.  I am always surprised when life turns around and doesn’t behave the way I expect.

But despite my general trust in my fellow humans, I have to admit, and I write this with a certain sense of unease, that I don’t actually feel the same way about my children’s teachers.  My mum thinks I’m completely bonkers.  To her mind, teachers are the professionals, and I should be happy to…

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