things I notice in schools

09 Oct 2016

Look at me

‘‘Look at me" is one of the most fundamental desires of the human heart.

Bertrand Russell

Russell’s observation might have been driven by his childhood experiences: loss of parents at an early age. Home tutored. Cold grandparents, left to his own devices. Or possibly not. Perhaps he said this because he noticed that people want to be acknowledged. So, if we agree with Russell that one of our basic needs is to be acknowledged, what does this mean for our own needs being met and for considering this in the workplace?

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09 Sep 2016

Today is not tomorrow

‘Nobody, ever once, pops to the top. You walk there. Step by step, each a failure until it's not.’

Seth Godin

Seth Godin is a business thinker who delves in to the deepest aspects of human motivation, purpose and success. The quote that nobody pops to the top is from a post about Van Gogh. He discusses a picture of Ramsgate which the painter stitch when he spent time in England in the 1870’s when he was early in his career. Van Gogh’s paintings of Ramsgate are fine. They are functional and recognisably Ramsgate. But they are not high art, nor do they point to the future wild, magnificent brilliance. What, asks Godin, would have happened if the painter had stopped painting in Ramsgate? What if he decided he wasn't that great a painter? Well, the answer is obvious. The Ramsgate paintings were part of the journey to brilliance.

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04 Sep 2016

Workload: the big picture

Nobody has deliberately set out to increase workload. But increased it has. So what can senior leaders do to address the drivers for this and how can they find ways of cutting through anything which is not absolutely necessary? This chapter explores further the three main strands identified in the Government’s Workload Challenge, set out in the previous chapter: planning and resources, data management and marking.

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28 Aug 2016

The Philosopher Kids

I was very enthusiastic about Martin Robinson’s ‘Trivium’ when it was published in 2013 and I wrote a blog about it.  The 'Trivium in Practice’ is the follow-up to the big ideas and here we have the experiences of schools and educators who have worked on the Trivium principles. It makes fascinating reading.

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17 Aug 2016

Assessment for Learning without Limits

‘Tracking is not assessment, learning is not linear and teaching is not easy.’ Assessment for Learning without Limits by Dame Alison Peacock has been worth the wait. It provides a commentary and plenty of examples of how schools are making assessment without levels and limits work. But if anyone is looking for quick fixes, tricks and short-cuts, it’s not for them. It is essential reading, however, for any educator who is thinking carefully about what constitutes progress, how this emerges from the curriculum and how to ensure, in the words of  Tim Oates that ‘every child, with the right support, is capable of anything.' 

Tim Oates

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15 Aug 2016

Big hearted settings

What does it mean to have a big heart, beyond the literal, obviously? It's pretty evident what happens when it stops. I’m not going to get my tape measure out and measure it, for obvious reasons. But in the metaphysical sense, having a big heart means to be prepared to look kindly on the world and on other people. In fact the universe doesn't much care about us. But it is a living thing with the capacity for both devastation and beauty and in order to be fully human, we need to respond to it wholeheartedly. Developing a big heart makes us more alive to the possibilities for growth.

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