Emma Ann Hardy’s top blogs of the week 13 July 2016

Shut your mouth – why I cannot just say what I think

By @OldPrimaryHead1

Once again OPH has hit the nail on the head. At the NUT national education conference last weekend I helped to lead a session on blogging and social media, and one of the fears many teachers had was how much freedom is there to say what you want? Arguably, no one ever has the freedom to be completely honest. How can any of us truly say what we want whether we have a pseudonym or not? As OPH states: “It is because words stick and words are powerful. If I lose myself to my emotions I will not be speaking carefully.” There has been a marked increased in disciplinaries against staff for criticising their school on social media; we all need to be careful what we say.

Crisis what crisis?

By @ChocoTzar

Despite the lack of government figures to prove the recruitment crisis, we can all name local schools that are struggling for staff. The recent definition on “coasting” schools, combined with the ever helpful Sir Michael Wilshaw’s statements on one in four leaders being poor, will not help. Apparently, the economy is picking up and traditionally this means fewer graduates becoming teachers. Combine this with the chaotic and confusing routes in ITT and the problem will only increase.

ChocoTzar highlights the effect this will have on offering children a broad and balanced curriculum: “Do I provide a curriculum that is best for my students – or a curriculum I can staff? Having no sixth form means I no longer have the anxiety of trying to recruit decent A-level physics, chemistry and maths teachers. That I am now struggling to find IT and computing teachers, DT and engineering teachers, drama and humanities teachers, is shocking – and of course it is going to impact on the kids most.”

Transition anxiety

By @JordyJax

It’s that time of year when children nervously find out who their teacher will be next year, when parents gossip in the playground about the reputation of their child’s new teacher and I won’t even comment on teachers’ reactions to discovering their timetables, classes and year groups…

JordyJax looks at transition from the viewpoint of children in pupil referral units. It made me question the impact of “zero tolerance/one-size-fits-all” behaviour policies upon this vulnerable group. “The atmosphere in school is thick with anxiety mingled with fear for the future but we can only do our best to try to minimise these.
Our transition procedures are robust and several pupils will get some support from staff at the beginning of next year. I know mainstream schools have their standards and procedures but I hope they will exercise a little tolerance for our children. Their futures depend on it.”

Engagement, polite civil disobedience or blank piece of paper? #Ofsted

By @LeadingLearner

Stephen Tierney has been at the forefront of questioning how fit for purpose Ofsted is. In this blog he questions whether we should refuse to participate as additional inspectors, engage with Ofsted, or start again and follow my call for “viva la Revolucion”. It is clear that the watchdog is going through substantial changes; you only need to look back a couple of years to see how far things have moved. One of the things I found the most heartening is the presumption that a “good school” remains good unless proved otherwise. Sean Harford’s response to this article on Twitter was, “I am a scientist and it seems to me that evolution has always been more effective and sustainable that revolution. Viva la evolucion.”

Stephen echoes my reaction and personality with this comment, “I’ve always been inpatient; you only have to ask my mum and dad . . . or any member of staff I’ve ever worked with. Further improvements to the inspection process are clearly on the cards. It’s likely the whole accountability structure is moving into a state of perpetual flux in the years ahead, evolution may not be quick enough to keep pace.”