things I notice in schools

27 May 2020

Should it stay or should it go?

We find it hard to throw things away: to trim, to prune back to the essential. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes we just don’t notice how things have piled up, we just get used to there being more and more; sometimes we hang on to stuff in case it comes in useful and sometimes it can all feel too much to try and sort out what’s still needed from what can be thrown away.

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14 Dec 2019

Using stories in the curriculum

We need to take stories more seriously. Because stories are enjoyable, we have a tendency to underestimate their power. Great stories are important for their own sake. However, great stories can do some heavy lifting for us.

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07 Dec 2019

The Curriculum: What to Cut?

The curriculum: it’s top of everyone’s agenda right now. And that’s a good thing because the quality of what is offered to pupils is worth thinking about, reading about and talking about.

However, in order to do this work well, we need to think hard about how we are going to make the space and the time for it to happen properly. And that means taking a hard look at anything which is not adding value to learning and being prepared to cut it. There are three main areas which need to be addressed: school feedback and marking policies, the use of data and performance appraisal.

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20 Apr 2019

Useful and Beautiful?

It is as important to think about the implementation of the curriculum, as it is to think about the intent. Schools have spent considerable time and thinking about the vision and purpose of the curriculum in their context. And have followed this with the same exercise about the vision for individual subjects. This is helpful in clarifying the purpose of the curriculum within each setting.

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24 Aug 2018

I might have taught it, but have they got it?

There is a joke about two men in a bar. One says to his friend ‘I’ve taught my dog to speak French.’ ‘Really?’ says his mate, ‘let’s hear him then.’ ‘I said I taught him, I didn’t say he’d learnt it’ comes the response. There is something important in this anecdote and it is this: that the fact that I have taught something does not mean that my pupils have ‘got’ it. And they are unlikely to have really learnt something unless they produce something worthwhile with the material they are studying.


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24 May 2018

Intellectual architecture

It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.

David Allan Coe


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