Primary Blogging

Collecting blogs about primary education

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This much I know about…the workload debate


I have been a teacher for 26 years, a Headteacher for 11 years and, at the age of 50, this much I know about the workload debate.

I’ve just completed a 63 hour week; by the time I get to Sunday bed time that figure will be 70 hours plus. I write that as a fact, not a complaint. From doing my bus duty to leading an eight hour strategy meeting with Headteacher colleagues to teaching Economics A level, I love my job.

None of us working in schools goes underground to dig coal. In relative terms, our working conditions are pretty good. We have long holidays. As Shakespeare said, working with young people, Physics the subject, makes old hearts fresh. Every day our teaching always has the potential to be joyous.

It’s a year this weekend since I wrote about how my job has impacted upon my relationship…

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A Positive Meeting with Tristram Hunt


Yesterday I braved foul weather and an incredibly busy M6 to attend a meeting with Tristram Hunt, Shadow Education Secretary at his constituency office in Stoke-on-Trent. We were a small group of Edu-tweeters which I think helped to focus the conversation. Tim Taylor (@imagineinquiry) Debra Kidd (@debrakidd) Lee (one half of @thought-weavers) and myself were the attendees.

Prior to the meeting all I knew of Mr Hunt was his declaration that teachers should be urged to take a ‘Hippocratic Oath’ and also that there would be a teacher MOT every few years under his leadership. I was unimpressed by both of these suggestions so had crossed him off in my mind as a useful Education Secretary. When the opportunity came to meet him I jumped at it because I wanted to see what kind of a man could suggest these things.

We began by asking him his vision for education…

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The Hunt for a better Education!


Education is not for the faint hearted, decisions are all too often made for us and new initiatives are driven by ideology or some would say stupidity.

Last year David and I (@thought_weavers) were fortunate enough to be invited to the DfE for a meeting with Elizabeth Truss and her policy advisors to to discuss he new curriculum. We were also joined by a fantastic bunch of bloggers and together we debated the introduction of the new curriculum. I think it’s fair to say we came away from that meeting utterly bemused.

In the Summer of 2014 the group met with Michael Cladingbowl, the director for inspection reform at Ofsted – a very down to earth and honest character with a vision for Ofsted far removed from the opinions formed up and down the corridors in schools. We felt this was a more successful meeting and many of the new…

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OfSTED Outstanding? Just gimme some truth.


I’m sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth
I’ve had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth

I’m sick to death of seeing things
From tight-lipped, condescending, mamas little chauvinists
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth now

I’ve had enough of watching scenes
Of schizophrenic, ego-centric, paranoiac, prima-donnas
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth

No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky dicky
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of hope
Its money for dope
Money for rope

(A link to The Sean Harford response is in the Update at the bottom of this post. )

Ok, so John Lennon wasn’t talking about OfSTED inspections,  the farce of grading schools or the…

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Great Teaching – Great Teachers

Class Teaching

great teacher quote We spend a great deal of time talking about great teaching at DHS – not outstanding or good teaching, but great teaching. It’s a regular topic of conversation between Andy Tharby and I.  We’ve come to the following conclusions:

  • There’s no prescribed ‘right’ way of teaching.
  • If it gets the right outcomes for the students, then it ‘works’.
  • There’s a great deal to be learnt from those teachers who have truly mastered the craft of the classroom, such as Mr Clarke & Pam McCulloch.
  • There’s a great deal of myths about what works.
  • It’s worth combining the wisdom of these great teachers with the research evidence base about what makes great teaching.
  • From this wisdom and evidence, there appears to be some firm pedagogical principles that appear to contribute to great teaching.  We’ve summarised them here:

expert pub We’ve then tried to come up with prompts for each of these pedagogical principles…

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The greatest teachers are expert at the status game

Mary Meredith

Status: the position of an individual in relation to another or others.

The Status Game

I discovered the status game on a course years ago. Participants were given a secret number, 10 representing highest status and 1 lowest on a ‘status continuum’, and we were asked to mingle (or not) at an improvised party in the manner of our number. I got a 2 and scuttled around, Uriah-Heep-like, asking people if I could take their coats. Not method acting I admit – but then I was a probationary English teacher sent on a drama course.

Despite this memorable training, the little bit of KS3 drama teaching I did was never great. I’d spend so long on icebreaking activities that conditions were positively Mediterranean by the time my classes began any real work. However, I remain grateful for the experience. Not only was the status game always a sure-fire success as an…

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