My educational values

  1. Everyone has the right to their own ambitions
  2. Nobody has the right to define anyone else’s level of ability
  3. Everyone deserves dignity, respect and space to express themselves
  4. A teacher’s job is to teach as effectively as they can
  5. A student’s job is to learn as much as they can
  6. Hard work and grit are to be celebrated
  7. No one should be lazy or rude
  8. Language is powerful and creates our world
  9. There is only one Earth, and we all live on it. Respect it
  10. Think for yourself

If I am to maintain my integrity in my work life, my actions need to match my values.


This is a first attempt at putting those values into language and I hope to refine them and most importantly to act in line with them, without worrying about who might be upset!

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”

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”

Marking without grades

This is the literature review on p5 of this research report called “Focus on Formative Feedback”, published in 2007.

I’ve posted this so I can refer to it if anyone asks me where the evidence comes from next time I assert that students should not regularly have graded feedback!

In a nutshell:

  1. Meta-analyses have shown negative effects of feedback on student achievement in many cases
  2. This is if the feedback is, for example
    1. Seen as ‘critical’
    2. Linked to grades (that allow students to compare performance with peers)
    3. Vague
    4. An interruption

Link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/44460753/Focus-on-Formative-Feedback

Continue reading “Marking without grades”

How can disillusionment be addressed? #BLOGSYNC

Written as part of #blogsync3: “Wasted investment? Why do so many teachers leave the profession in the first 5 years?”

To find other posts on this topic, please visit share.edutronic.net/teacher-attrition/ Rather than write about the reasons that teachers leave the profession, I thought I would suggest how it could be avoided.

Why people leave teaching (paraphrased from another post in this month’s #blogsync by James McEnaney)

  1. They made the wrong decision – teaching is not for them
  2. They find other opportunities more suited to them
  3. A major life event makes it impossible to stay with the job
  4. They become disillusioned because of
    1. Being micro-managed
    2. A lack of support from senior management
    3. Being stifled by systems that put constraints on their creativity and innovation

How the issue of ‘disillusionment’ be addressed?

Middle and senior leaders must find that happy balance between providing guidance and direction, while putting trust in teachers and supporting their ideas.

Continue reading “How can disillusionment be addressed? #BLOGSYNC”

Ideas to improve learning

[Note: This is the text of an email I sent to the science teaching staff at my school in November 2012, after reading one of the school’s weekly Staff Bulletins containing no references to learning. I am pleased to say that these Bulletins now regularly contain references to learning, and to a new teacher-led Teaching and Learning Forum]

What we want: students who are resilient; who carry a ‘growth mindset’; who feel challenged and motivated; who are happy; and who know how to learn.

What this will look like: students are happy

Continue reading “Ideas to improve learning”