things I notice in schools

08 Jan 2016

High challenge, low threat

We are a challenge seeking species. We all know someone, and it might even be us who spends some of their downtime working on a crossword, doing a sudoku, a puzzle or a word search. Why are we spending money and time on things which are essentially 'testing' ourselves? Companies make a small fortune out of the fact that we like 'testing' ourselves. What is that about? Is it because we enjoy the deep satisfaction of struggling with something, thinking hard about it, getting it wrong, going back and correcting it, realising our mistake and then getting it right?

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31 Dec 2015

Radical candour

When the work of any setting is underpinned by the principle of ‘humans first, professionals second’, something interesting happens: people are happy to be held to account. This is because they want to do their best work and because they know that any aspect of their practice can be critiqued because it is not an attack on them as a human being.

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16 Oct 2015

Should I be marking every piece of work?

The mammoth mountains of marking are still piling up. Why on earth is this the case? I first wrote about this two years ago. There is one rule for marking and feedback: if it's not making a difference to learning, don't do it.

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19 Sep 2015

The Hirsch effect

How is it that an 87 year old retired professor from the University of Virginia has had such an influence on the English curriculum? E D Hirsch spoke at the Policy Exchange annual lecture. A series of articles on knowledge and curriculum has been published by the Policy Exchange to contine the conversation. So what are his ideas and how have they had such an impact on education policies? To summarise in brief:

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12 Jul 2015

What students say about RE

There has been plenty of commentary on A New Settlement for RE: Religion and Belief in Schools. The pamphlet by Charles Clark and Linda Woodhead outlines proposals for addressing the needs of the subject and bringing  the underpinning legal stuctures up to date. More than 70 years old, these are welcome, very welcome. So what do students and pupils say that they value in RE? These are some quotes from students in schools which have achieved the RE Quality Mark.

'We get the chance to talk about what people believe and why they do. We understand that people might have different fviews from our own, even within our own traditions. It opens our eyes.'

'We know that beliefs and values sit behind our actions. So we get the chance to looks at some of the things which help people make decisions. In our lessons on Judaism we have been reading the Talmud, the commentary on the Torah.'

'It's great meeting people from different faiths. We have been to the gurdwara where one of the members told us about some of the things he found difficult to believe in. He said how was it possible for Guru Nanak to disappear under water for three days? Could this be true. He found it hard to beieve, but went on to say that it didnt affect his faith. This was so interesting because it made us realise that pelnty of people question their faith.'

'We have to think really hard in RE. And these discussions carry on after the lesson and even at home.'

'I love the connection between RS and the wider world.'

'RE brings religion to life.'

'RE is everywhere in our school, well more than that really.... in RE there are no walls....'

'RE makes you think of questions which you might never have thought of.'

'In RE you get to see the rest of the world.'

'A big question stays with you until you find the answer.'

'RE is like an iceberg – as you unpack things you come to understand deeper meaning as in the parables or considering what truth means.'

'RE helps you to grow in maturity. Seeing the bigger picture helps you to understand things.'

'We get many opportunities to do activities about Religious Studies, like I went on Hope FM radio to have a debate ‘If there was a God why is there suffering in the world?'

So, let's make sure that whatever emerges from the new settlement, the voices and expectations of RE's customers are top of the list.


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