My EBacc consultation response

Submitted last minute – at 10:45am on Friday 29 January 2016!

Here is the government page with details of the consultation:

(In a large part paraphrasing Tom Sherrington – thanks Tom!) Continue reading “My EBacc consultation response”

Assessment without levels – prologue

My school has produced a first draft proposal for a new assessment framework relating to the new GCSE grades, and looking to move to a system without levels.

The gist of it is: a student comes into school, and based on their prior attainment they’re set a ‘projected grade’. This is the minimum expected GCSE grade (e.g. grade 5).

Teachers will use this to set a professional target.

In each year, the same grading system will be used, so a student should in theory progress from grade 5 in Year 7 to grade 5 in Year 11, with each subject setting the standards against which these judgements will be made.

As I spent some time on my response to this first draft proposal, I thought it would be worth sharing more widely. Below is my response. I’d be interested to know what you think.

Continue reading “Assessment without levels – prologue”

GCSE science revision – ideas

As those exams begin to loom large, here are some ideas on how to support students to develop the skill of active revision.

Ian, a science teacher (in a mystery location!) has shared his ideas for all to see; I particularly like his mneumonic “MORSE” and his ideas on how to get best use out of past papers (see below)

  • M neumonics
  • O rganisation
  • R ehearsal / Repetition
  • S implification / Summarising
  • E xtension

For all of the AQA GCSE science units, there are learning checklists saved in the cloud – on Dropbox (No log in required – you can share these links with students for home access. Note that Dropbox is often filtered by school servers, but I can assure you these are accessible from home or on mobile devices)

Ian’s blog about revision is here: GCSE Science Revision – Teaching of Science, and the page where he described some different ways of using exam papers is here.

He and others have also put together some excellent revision booklets, for students to complete. These can also be found via the link above, or directly via

And if that wasn’t enough, he’s also made a lesson activity to support students’ skill in answering 6 mark questions. He has blogged a lesson plan, and this is the PowerPoint he uses for it, which can be adapted with different questions.

What a generous fellow he is.

Replacing national curriculum levels

Very useful summary of, and links to, various ideas on how to grasp the opportunity offered by the disappearance of ‘levels’ from the National Curriculum

The Wing to Heaven

Life beyond levels? Life after levels? Life without levels?  Lots of teachers, senior leaders and academics have come up with some interesting ideas for what should replace national curriculum levels. Here’s a summary of some of those ideas.

  • Michael Fordham is a former history teacher and now works at Cambridge’s education department. He has written three articles which put forward a possible system for assessing history – one, two, three.
  • Alison Peacock is the head of Wroxham Primary School, who moved away from levels a while ago. In this post she expresses a worry that any list of aims she writes up will become APP under another name.
  • Alison Peacock was also a part of the NAHT commission who recently released a report on this.
  • The NAHT report attracted quite a few comments.  I’m in broad agreement with David Thomas’s post here, particularly the point he…

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Books: “Flow” by Csikszentmihalyi (1990)

The book Flow

“Flow: the psychology of optimal experience”


Harper Perennial Modern Classics, paperback, published 2008 in New York

When I read it

Summer 2009, quite a lot of it in Bristol where I was beginning my SASP course (science additional specialism programme – gaining an official second specialism in chemistry after teaching A level chemistry for 4 years!) Continue reading “Books: “Flow” by Csikszentmihalyi (1990)”

Some quotes – The Streets

“I came to this world with nothing, and I’ll leave with nothing but love. Everything else is just borrowed.”

“It’s not the Earth that’s in trouble, it’s the people that live on it. [No no] Earth’ll be here long after we’ve all gone the way of the dodo”

“For billions of years, since the outset of time, every single one of your ancestors survived. Every single person on your mum and dad’s side successfully looked after and passed on you life. What are the chances of that, like? It comes to me once in a while. And everywhere I tell folk it gets the best smile.”

“Do you what you think’s right, and you will feel alright. ‘Cos when you’re bad you will feel sad. That’s the religion I live by.”

The Streets, Everything is Borrowed

Some quotes – Scroobius Pip

“In this life you can be oh so smart or oh so pleasant; for years I was smart, I recommend pleasant. Being smart can make you rich and bring you respect and reverence, but the rewards of being pleasant are far more incandescent.”

“I won’t attempt to tell you how to love or be loved, because you get a different genie every time that lantern is rubbed.”

“How hard is it to decide to be in a good mood, and then just be in a good mood? That’s all I have to say cos it’s a straight up fact: you control your emotions, it’s as simple as that.”

Scroobius Pip vs Dan le Sac

A (non-fiction) reading list – but no descriptions, yet

More or less in order, these have been read in the last three years or so, and have had major impacts on how and what I think:

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1991) Flow: The psychology of optimal experience

Daniel H. Pink (2009) Drive: the surprising truth behind what motivates us

Matt Ridley (2010) The Rational Optimist: how prosperity evolves

Daniel Kahnemann (2011) Thinking, Fast and Slow

Carol S. Dweck (2006) Mindset: how you can fulfil your potential

Jim Collins (2001) Good to Great: why some companies make the leap… and others don’t AND (2006) Good to Great and the Social Sectors

Patrick Lencioni (2004) Death by Meeting: a leadership fable about solving the most painful problem in business

Daniel T. Willingham (2009) Why Don’t Students Like School? A cognitive scientist answers questions about how the mind works and what it means for the classroom

John-Paul Flintoff (2012) How to Change the World

Read a longer time ago, but had a lasting influence: Continue reading “A (non-fiction) reading list – but no descriptions, yet”

Consultations on new science GCSEs

[I will update this blog post as I spend more time studying the documents, gathering colleagues’ views and drafting a response.]

1. DfE consultation on the content of the new GCSEs

Here are the proposed subject content and assessment objectives for sciences

Here is the main consultation document

And here is the response form, or you can respond online (registration required)

Here is the main page on about this consultation

This consultation closes on 20th August 2013

2. Ofqual consultation on GCSE reform

Here is the consultation document in pdf format

Here is Ofqual’s page about this consultation – there are a number of reports related to the consultation (on GCSE reform, gradingtiering and controlled assessment). You can respond by emailing an amended Word document of the consultation document to, or respond online here.

This consultation closes on 3rd September 2013