Why making thinking visible depends on who you are as a learner

15 Aug

Time Space Education

Using strategies to make thinking visible can be incredibly powerful. Their power, however, hinges almost entirely on how willing teachers are to learn about their students.

Far too often, I see visible thinking strategies used as an “activity” or as a way of decorating the walls. In some cases, I think teachers believe that just by doing a visible thinking strategy they are automatically finding out what their students think and that by displaying the results their thinking has been made visible.

However, in order to make the most of the opportunities that visible thinking strategies provide us to delve deep into the minds of our students, we need to be willing to scrutinize their responses. We need to be incredibly curious about the way they are thinking. We need to probe further when we’re not sure a student has responded fully. We need to try different strategies to see…

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Dumbing Down the Profession… Headteachers in their Twenties!

14 Aug

The Learning Renaissance

One element of the transfer of accountability from local educational authorities to the Multi Academy Trusts has been the appointment of younger and younger heads. There is certainly a recruitment issue as large numbers of headteachers are coming to their retirement age, or are taking early retirement on the grounds of exhaustion or ill health.

On a wider concern, it appears that managerial approaches to running schools mean that the restricted view of what is required of the Head, gather the data and make interventions based on it, means that people are ready to lead in this mode much earlier than standard measures of extended professional competence might require!

The Telegraph reports that there are now over 100 schools in the UK with headteachers in their twenties.

I’m all for appointing talent, but there is no way that a head in their twenties has the life experience, team management expertise…

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School Improvement and Effectiveness

6 Aug

To what extent can a school Governor support and enhance pupil progress, staff development and school improvement and effectiveness?

Set to Fail – The Reluctant Learners

1 Aug

The Learning Renaissance

We’ve all been there as teachers… the Year 9 student who oozes negativity, seems determined to disrupt the learning of others and drives you to distraction with every comment.

My nemesis was a lad in an inner city comprehensive who seemed to know all the buttons to press with me. I considered myself a calm and fair teacher who showed students respect and did not get into conflicts in the classroom, but this student was prepared to push the limits to the point that I was forced to react.

I taught him later in Y10 for History. He was a different lad. Witty and articulate and with a profound sense of fairness and justice, we managed to find the best in each other and we were both really proud of the final History grade he achieved.

He contacted me many years later to say he had a well paid job in telecommunications…

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Secondary school pupil numbers set for 19% rise by 2026 | BBC News

27 Jul

The Learning Renaissance

The number of pupils in England’s secondary schools is set to rise by almost a fifth within the next decade.Government figures show there are expected to be around half a million more secondary age children by 2026.

The increase is being fuelled by the baby boom of the early 2000s, which means growing numbers of pupils moving through the school system.

Overall pupil numbers are expected to increase by 654,000 (or 8.7%) to around 8.1m by 2026.

In secondary schools alone, the overall population is projected to reach around 3.3m in 2026, a 19.1% increase or around 534,000 more pupils.

Read the full story here: Secondary school pupil numbers set for 19% rise by 2026 | BBC News

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Learning Styles Myth Debunked

24 Jul

Thank goodness for that, I thought I was missing the point of highly paid SLT, learning leaders and bought-in advisors; I’m now dis-illusioned on this and many other educational strategies touted as ‘magic wands’ by ‘ex-spurts’

The Learning Renaissance

Photograph: Alamy

Over a decade ago the idea that students exhibited learning styles was gaining ground. The underlying assumption was that students had a preferred learning style with might involve receiving written information or auditory or sensory stimuli. A number of consultants made a good living delivering INSET to staff which changed the ways in which the curriculum was delivered to individual children.

I was always sceptical of the concept of Learning Styles. It seemed pretty deterministic in its outlook.  I remember visiting a school which had invested heavily in the idea – each child had an exercise book which was colour coded to reflect their particular ‘learning style’ and the teacher was working overtime to try and ensure that the student received a learning stimulus in the particular format that applied to them.

Even had the idea that individual learning had preferred styles held water, was the idea to…

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How can we create great school ethos?

22 Jul

Pragmatic Education

Create a summer school with practice routines to automate good habits.


‘Habits are like a cable; we weave a strand every day, and soon it cannot be broken’.

Horace Mann, 1848


‘All our life is but a mass of habits’

William James, 1892


Ever since my Dad gave me a copy of Covey’s 7 Habits when I was 15, I’ve been fascinated in how habits work. I’ve found habits to be cyclical: at times, I’m in a good routine: get to sleep early, wake up early, do some exercise, feel a bit better all day, eat healthier; this leads to a positive spiral where I sleep better that night, wake up feeling better, go and do some more exercise – an upward spiral. At other times, I’m stuck in a rut; getting to sleep brutally late, waking up feeling sluggish, not feeling like exercising, eating unhealthily; this…

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