Primary Blogging

Collecting blogs about primary education

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High expectations for all?

Primary Ramblings

This week I’ve worked with a very experienced senior teacher to jointly plan and deliver a maths lesson as part of our school’s peer to peer lesson monitoring. I have also just read a blog post by @nancygedge about differentiation and inclusion (here). The two are linked by the notion of pigeon holing children in the classroom.

When I completed my MA a few years ago, I chose to research and write about children’s perceptions of formative assessment, and ended up getting a little bit sidetracked by learning objectives and sorting children into ability groups. the two ideas have stayed with me as bugbears ever since. At the time, I worked in a school which had very prescriptive “non-negotiables” for every lesson which included children copying out differentiated learning objectives into their books at the very beginning of the lesson, a 3-way differentiated learning objective being practically the first words the…

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guest post #37 – Dr Richard Farrow – @FarrowMr

20 years a teacher


They say when a boxer becomes world champion he adds 25-50% to his performances. The reason for this is not because he is suddenly technically better, but rather that he has the confidence in himself that he can achieve at the highest level of the sport. A prime example of this is a boxer from Sheffield called Johnny Nelson. Prior to winning a world title, Nelson had 12 defeats. After capturing the belt, he made 13 defences, a record that has only just been equalled, and retired without losing again.


I think teaching is similar. When you have confidence that you are doing a good job, you really do it better. But what builds confidence? Little things. Being happy to go to work, not being completely knackered every day, the odd bit of praise here and there, being listened to, success. What damages it? Bad behaviour, bad management, stupid…

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Why I Support Primary School Setting

jonny walker teaching

Nancy Gedge wrote an interesting post this morning about setting and differentiation. What I liked about it was that it accounted for the experience both from the perspective of the parents and of the kids. I find it bizarre that any school who would see the benefits of setting would choose to stream the kids, so there would be a top stream who are in top set both for Maths and Literacy. It makes no sense, as everybody is fairly clear that kids might excel more at one than the other.

The reasons Nancy gives for placing her son into a special school – the fantastic facilities, the dedicated, knowledgeable staff, the high expectations of children living with the greatest of difficulties, the priority placed on learning for an independent life- are pretty close to the reasons why I think setting is effective and makes sense in primary school. With…

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Scrapheap Challenge

The Diary of a Not So Ordinary Boy

Ah, the behaviour of children.  The eternal preoccupation of every parent, and certainly every teacher in the land.  The subject of newspaper headlines, innumerable books, studies, and inspection reports on a local and national level.  It might almost be a national obsession greater than the weather.  Almost.

When we were considering the best place of education for our precious boy, back in 2004, behaviour was one of our main concerns.  As a little one, our son was biddable, if random, happy (mostly) to go where he was put and do as he was told, so, knowing that children learn from each other, the thought of what he might pick up from his classmates was a concern.  ‘We need him to be with good role models, not be the role model,’ we told ourselves, and duly sent him to a mainstream school.

It shouldn’t be too difficult for them to fit…

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Five myths about the old National Curriculum levels

Ramblings of a Teacher

So here we are, four weeks into the new National Curriculum and what’s everyone doing with assessment? In primary schools, it seems that the ostrich approach is the most popular. The temptation to stick with what we know is understandable, but I want to clear up some of these common myths about the old levelling system.

Myth 1: The government set out the assessment programme for schools

Plenty of teachers are concerned that the DfE is no longer going to tell schools how it should assess progress during the Key Stage. In fact, it never did. There was never any statutory requirement for schools to use levels, much less sub-levels, to track progress during the academic year. In fact, the only statutory requirement was to assess using whole levels at the end of Key Stage 2 (and admittedly later using 2c/2b/2a at KS1). Everything else schools did using optional tests and…

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All Change Please!


As I return to London on the train from Bristol, having been to an Ofsted training session, (Assessment without levels and EYFS since you ask so nicely…i bailed before the HMI started talking about 6th Form- I genuinely wouldn’t know my aras from my elbow there, so leave it to my esteemed colleagues who know infinitely more) I find my mind flitting between the mind boggling event that was ResearchEd2014 and an upcoming Optimus conference I’ll be attending in London on 24th September…and I’m struck by just how incredible we are as a profession. I mean, we are currently in the eye of a perfect storm in terms of education…change of almost unprecedented levels and we still find time to go to events at the weekend to search for what works…how can we be better at what we do? Why do we do what we do? Perhaps we should sometimes…

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An Open Letter

Freeing the Angel

As parents and educators we find ourselves increasingly concerned at the pressure that is being placed on our children and young people. We worry about the long term impact that this pressure may have on our children’s emotional health, particularly on the most vulnerable in our society. We are concerned to hear of children crying on their way to school, upset that they will not be able to keep up; of parents worried that their four year olds are ‘falling behind’ or of six year olds scared that they ‘might not get a good job’. And we wonder what has happened to that short period in our lives known as ‘childhood’.

The pressure that is put on schools to achieve results, particularly in the tests that now form such a regular feature of a child’s life, has inevitably led to increased pressure on the children themselves. This is not to…

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Supporting a good cause and having fun at the same time! Sweet dreams charity diary


Doesn’t seem two minutes since @cazzawebbo sent me a message asking me if I would be willing to be involved in a charity diary to raise funds for @famholidayassoc and here we are with the diary almost at completion as Carol tells us in her updated blog

In the year and a bit I have been on twitter, what I have learned it is full of people who are supportive and generous and this project is a good example. Carol herself has worked tirelessly to get us to this point and many other people both directly involved in the diary and indirectly have given their time, support and in many cases contributed financially.

What I also know about the people on twitter is that they like to have fun and having all worked so hard to get the diary together, it is now time to do just that!…

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