Saturday, 25 January 2014

Weekly Update 25/1/14

If I had to pick a theme for this week it would be: "teachers are doing it for themselves".

Alex Quigley started the week by arguing that getting teachers talking to each other about teaching is key to school improvement. Harry Fletcher-Wood's analysis of what teachers can learn from Atul Gawande's brilliant book "Better" likewise insisted that change comes "by dedicating ourselves to relentless self-improvement and the refinement of our practice."

We then saw a couple of superb examples of this in practice. Laura McInerney and Becky Allen - the Thelma and Louise of geekery - hosted a seminar on seven tricky problems in education. Laura's reflections are here and Becky's here. As Becky says these kinds of events are the way forward for professional development: "research summaries that instruct teachers what to do in the classroom are a poor substitute for intense engagement in a research question." 

Tom Sherrington wrote a fascinating blog showing how discussions between him and his staff are driving a paradigm shift in their thinking - and particularly in their approach towards lessons observations. Joe Kirby wrote a powerful piece demanding other schools engage in this particular conversation. Mary Myatt offered some further suggestions on how schools can shift away from reliance on graded lesson observation.

It can be easy when reading about all this research driven change to forget that for most in the profession these kinds of debates and discussions aren't happening. But equally they are proof points for what can happen when circumstances allow. As the writer William Gibson famously said: "the future is already here - it's just not evenly distributed".

Other highlights:

Andrew Old continues his pursuit of Ofsted with "10 questions they must answer".

Cazzypot (not, I assume, her real name) asks important questions about the supposed demise of national curriculum levels.

Warwick Mansell on schools who seem to disappear their underperforming pupils in the run-up to GCSEs. 

Geoff Barton gets grumpy about Anthony Seldon's latest ideas.

Tom Bennett being hilarious about episode three of Tough Young Teachers. (Incidentally someone on twitter this week suggested the follow-up series should be about Ofsted and be called Middle Aged Inspectors. I'd watch.)

Harry Webb points out that left-wingers in the US arguing against a core curriculum are making a free market case without realising it.

David Didau wrote a nice beginner's guide to effect sizes. 

Daisy Christodoulou on why teaching to the test is so problematic.

A helpful note from Fiona Millar on Tristram Hunt's meeting with the Labour left.

Annie Murphy Paul on what we can learn about memorisation from actors.

And the IoE published two important reports on Labour's education record and changes in social mobility over the last fifty years (full report here).


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