Primary Blogging

Collecting blogs about primary education

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Stop Making Sense

Freeing the Angel

Inside every word is a tiny capsule of sense. You can sound words out, you can name their parts, but meaning only comes out when you get them into the right context. Suddenly, the sense goes POP! Let me tell you a story …

Shanghai, China. We have just bought a wooden frog. It makes a croaking sound when you rub its back.

A: [excited] I didn’t know Assassia was real!

S: Assassia?

A: Yeah. I thought Assassia was only in Minecraft. I didn’t realise it was a real tree.

S: [puzzled] Assassia? What’s that?

A: It’s the wood that this frog is made from. See. It says so on the bag.

S: Ah. [smiling] You mean Acacia.

It was a perfectly plausible attempt at saying the word. It might even have passed muster in a phonics screening. If you’re not aware of its Greek etymology, then Assassia is as…

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Managing behaviour in the primary classroom.


Last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting some of the 2014 Teach First cohort. There was an awful lot of experience and expertise in the room, and it was a delight to hear about all of the exciting and inspirational stuff that these incoming teachers had achieved. Thanks, perhaps, to twitter and the blogosphere, most of the people that I talked to wanted to discuss the traditional/progressive divide and what this actually looked like in the classroom. This was interesting to me, and I think that it’s a real success of social media and Personal Learning Networks that PGCE students are engaging with this sort of pedagogic debate. That’s by the by, though, and will no doubt become the subject of a future blog.  

Because I want to write here about the question that I was most frequently asked, which was a variation on: “So, behaviour?” 

I thought that…

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A Festival of Education and a Cross-roads for the Future

stephen perse foundation

The experience of attending the Sunday Times Festival of Education at Wellington College is unique. First, it really does feel like a festival. A bit rock and roll for conventional educational events, delegates are encouraged to dress down and hang loose. Apparently 200 delegates took advantage of “glamping” in the grounds of Wellington. The first keynote session on Saturday morning was perhaps not as well attended as one would expect with Lord Adonis headlining – Sir Anthony Seldon put this down to “glampers” enjoying a lively party late into the previous night.

Whatever the truth of this, it has to be said that the Festival is an event which galvanises real thought about the purpose of education. What is education for? What is learning for? A range of fascinating speakers addressed these and related issues over the two days of the festival. The setting of Wellington College was inspiring against…

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Most Important Question in Education?


What is education for? This is pretty much the most important and least important question that has to be asked and answered. Society needs to answer it, but usually doesn’t. Teachers need to know what they think the answer is, because this will constitute their philosophical underpinnings and determine how they react to every bit of ‘research’ that makes its way into their school. It will also determine how they will react to the politicians that Society elect to oversee the system. It will determine the direction of their cognitive bias. But, there are many, many daily decisions in the classroom that don’t require an answer to the question, and that is why the answer can remain cryptic (hidden within, influencing without revealing itself).

What is the answer to the question? Here are several possible ones:

1. Making children more intelligent.
2. Narrowing the gap between the haves and have…

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A Personal View of the Festival of Education, Wellington College

3D Eye

IMG_9149 [1]

Anyone who is interested in education and has never been to the “Sunday Times Festival of Education”, held at Wellington College, should seriously think about attending next year. There’s an extraordinary amount of speakers – practitioners, politicians and a few famous people or two, all offering their thoughts on education now and in the future. So-called progressives, traditionalists, policy makers, those who have to endure policies – they’re all represented, with a fascinating mixture of attendees both from the public and private sector.

At £75 for two full days, it is truly “value for money”.

The most difficult problem to face at a festival such as this is deciding who to go and see. Having last year listened to and engaged with excellent speakers such as Hywel Roberts (an absolute must if anyone wants to see passion in education enacted), Guy Claxton (a man with a real understanding of the…

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