Primary Blogging

Collecting blogs about primary education

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Education between Wars and Understanding (1)

Moments, Snippets, Spirals

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” (G. B. Shaw)

It is perhaps our greatest strength and our deepest vulnerability to believe in something. Education makes no exception when it comes to beliefs and values that underpin every single act of our teaching. Those who think that they possess a strong independent mind, unaltered by bias, fall prey to overt or hidden ideologies, even as they claim their neutrality by invoking research. In doing so, they forget that “research and politics are inextricably bound together.” (Cohen et al, Research Methods in Education).

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Progressively Predictable

Love Learning by Debra Kidd

I’m not going to review Robert Peal’s book for Civitas, because if you want to know what I think of its arguments, you can read this on Toby Young’s pamphlet also written for Civitas or this on Christodoulou’s book, published by The Curriculum Centre who are supported by Civitas. All three make the same arguments. All three are published by organisations close to Michael Gove. All three have received acclaim from people praised by Michael Gove as being excellent teachers. Yadda yadda. Talk about framing the debate through your team mates. What it makes me think though, is ‘what’s so wrong with being progressive’? And what does that actually mean? And having done a bit of reading, I think I quite like the idea of being progressive. I think I’m progressively becoming more progressive.

According to cognitive psychologist George Lakoff (you thought that Daniel Willingham was the only cognitive psychologist…

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A Glossary of Questions

Knowing the right question to ask at the right time, one that generates thinking, compels dialogue, and promotes understanding, is a significant part of the art of great teaching. For this reason there are many books on the subject and many teachers have written excellent blogs sharing their thoughts.

My favourite book is ‘Asking Better Questions’ by Norah Morgan & Juliana Saxton. I’ve read it many times and whenever I return I always discover new insights and develop a better understanding. It is a treasure trove of wisdom and practical suggestions. It is still available on the Internet and I would heartily recommend buying a copy.

This blog constitutes just six pages from chapter 7. It is part of a glossary of questions complied by Morgan and Saxton designed to be used as a thinking tool for teachers. I’ve used the headings from the glossary, but changed the examples to ones from the imaginative-inquiry planning unit, ‘The Roman Box’. I hope you find it useful.

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Should school data tracking systems be compared to HS2?

Chrismcd53's blog

The high speed railway is certainly a hot topic – news papers full of the amount of tax payer’s money it would cost and who might and might not benefit. It is a fair question to ask.

Here, maybe, is another: Is it right that schools have spent money developing data tracking systems that quite soon will be of less use then they were without adaption, modification, training and yes, cost.

Unlike a passenger, in 2009, sitting on a slow train who might have wondered why a faster alternative had not been developed – a school engaged in the Making Good Progress Pilot or even a school not engaged in such, could hardly have anticipated such a radical change.

The cost of this transition will not appear in any official government budget projection as the costs will be down to individual schools – but there will be a cost and…

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The Diary of a Not So Ordinary Boy

I love this time of year.  My daughter (she’s 8) would have you believe that it is because it is the season that contains my birthday.  Now that I have entered my 40s, and my age will soon be unmentionable in polite society, I hesitate to agree, but I don’t tell her that.  Instead I give her a little nod, raise my eyebrows and smile what I hope is an enigmatic smile.  No, the reason I love this time of year is the transformation in the countryside from dull, dead brown to vibrant, springing green.

I am particularly lucky in my drive to work.  I don’t work where I live; every morning I drive across the countryside between one town and another, and, along the way, I see the seasons change.  Back in September, the mists glowed, magical across the vale.  Now, the trees are transforming, almost before my eyes…

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Should we be thankful for freedom?

Chrismcd53's blog

An air strip – somewhere:

Instructor: Good morning Sir!
Me: Good morning – I am here for my parachute jump.
Instructor: Ah, I see Sir, your jump – well, if you and your friends would like to hop aboard this plane – we’ll get cracking.
Me: Erm – don’t you need to show us how to operate the parachute?
Instructor: Parachute Sir?
Me: Yes, parachute – you know big piece of billowy material – well known for getting one safely to the ground…
Instructor: Ah yes Sir – well you see – I’m a little disappointed you brought that up – you clearly haven’t embraced the new freedoms. We don’t use parachutes any more – we tended to find the general public didn’t really understand how they worked – plus users were gaming the system…
Me: Gaming the system?
Instructor: Yes Sir, in over 100% of cases a parachute was…

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What lessons can be learnt from Greenwich Free School?


As any decent teacher knows, failure is not something to celebrate. Failure, in whatever form it comes – error, misconception, or simply falling short of a goal or target – is a key part of the process we call learning. If we only succeed, then achievements and progress are woefully constrained. Failure provides the opportunity for reflection, for consideration and for a change of tack.

What, then, are the lessons from the Greenwich Free School, which this week emerged from an Ofsted inspection with the dreaded ‘requires improvement’?

There are few schools that so epitomise the current government’s educational reforms. Lauded by Michael Gove, the secondary school was co-founded by Jonathan Simmons, an adviser to Gove and head of education at Policy Exchange, a think-tank who have long been advocates of free schools. The vice chair of governors is Tom Shinner, now director of strategy at the Department for Education…

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The Ofsted report – Part III: How well does the GFS Ofsted report reflect reality in the school?

Improving Teaching

Are we a successful school?  Let me start with the encouraging words of two teachers whose opinions I respect enormously and who have both visited the school this academic year.  On hearing we were to be inspected, they wrote:

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Are we an effective school?  I have brilliant colleagues.  I teach wonderful students.  Between the two, some pretty amazing stuff happens.  Moonlighting Ofsted inspectors at our Mocksted last summer showered us with praise.  I’ve visited nine schools since we opened, with Ofsted grades ranging from ‘Requiring Improvement’ to ‘Outstanding.’  I’ve learned from all of them; none has shaken my pride in what we’re doing or led me to question our direction.  Like all schools and teachers, there are areas of our practice which are strong, aspects we are prioritising improving, things set aside to improve upon in due course.

Given my limited contact with the team, I struggle to explain what happened.  Perhaps readers should simply rely on…

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