things I notice in schools

26 Mar 2015

Mastery - some considerations

There is a great deal of discussion about what 'mastery' means. The new national curriculum which came into effect from September 2014 is underpinned by the concept of mastery. This has a number of implications for lesson planning. The draft performance descriptors for use in key stage 1 and 2 statutory teacherassessment for 2015/2016 refer to four performance descriptors: mastery, national, working towards and below national standard.

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23 Jan 2015

Sensational SEN

Over a third of special schools received an outstanding grade in the Autumn term 2014. Writing in the Guardian, Laura McInerney was surprised that there hadn't been more publicity about this good news. It's a great article with insight into what it might be like for parents with a child in a special school and her observations from talking to heads of special schools. What is shameful is how little publicity this remarkable achievement received from politicians and officials.

 This is my take on why so many special schools have been rated as outstanding.

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18 Jan 2015

Data discussion: behind every statistic is a child

First of all the limitations of data: The figures can't tell us everything. They are usually out of date. And sometimes they are wrong. Which is why the data always, always needs a conversation around it. The main source of information for how well students are doing are in RaiseonLine. For each school there are six sections: context, absence and exclusions, prior attainment, attainment, progress and closing the gaps. Looking at a school's RoL helps to identify some lines of enquiry - namely, where a school is getting it right and where it might need to focus additional effort and resources.

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10 Dec 2014

Why box ticking British Values is a bad idea

There are three reasons why box ticking British values is a bad idea.

1 Capturing evidence for promoting British values doesn't work like this

2 It will annoy teachers, because of number 1

3 Ofsted teams don't look at tick boxes

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22 Oct 2014

Literacy policies: more than SPAG?

There's a great missed opportunity with literacy policies. They mostly focus on SPAG. And with good reason because spelling, punctuation and grammar are essential for clarity and consistency. The problem is that literacy has a bigger canvas than capital letters and full stops. Too few schools are looking to scope what high quality literacy looks like across different subjects in the curriculum. If being literate means being proficient and competent in reading, writing and oral expression across a range of disciplines how is this reflected in literacy policies? And how are these expectations shared with learners?

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10 Oct 2014

More on marking

It appears marking has replaced progress in lessons as the latest pressure point for teachers. I first wrote about marking overload a year ago and it's as urgent and live now as it was then. Ofsted has produced clarification on expectations here.  It makes it clear that Ofsted does not expect to see a particular frequency or quantity of work in pupils’ books or folders. Nor does it expect to see unnecessary or extensive written dialogue between teachers and pupils in exercise books and folders. Ofsted recognises the importance of different forms of feedback and inspectors will look at how these are used to promote learning.

There are three references to marking in the Ofsted Inspection Handbook. The first reference places marking in the context of what constitutes teaching; the second in terms of evaluating learning over time and the third is in the criteria for outstanding quality of teaching.

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