things I notice in schools

24 Jan 2016

Paying and taking a compliment

An interesting thing about some leaders is that while they are very keen on giving compliments they are less comfortable with receiving them. They understand the power and the generosity of giving an honest compliment and they are well rehearsed in the difference between honest and trite compliments.

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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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