Review by Laura McInerney

23 Oct 2015, 6:00

Andrew Old picks his top blogs of the week 23 October 2015

Is there such a thing as a crap school?

By @SurrealAnarchy

Sometimes it is the most obviously true statements that are the most controversial. To say that some schools are terrible can lead one to be accused of attacking teachers or children. Here, Martin Robinson describes some schools he’s known where there is no excuse for what happens between their walls.

Discovery learning: the story of the Rubik’s Cube

By @JessicaLundx

This post uses the Rubik’s Cube as an illustration of just how ineffective discovery learning can be. Although it is tempting to think that one might learn how to solve the puzzle from the 1980s by just playing with it, few people do — even after weeks of play. Yet you can be taught to solve it relatively quickly by learning a handful of manoeuvres that you can remember fairly easily. How often do we slow down learning in other contexts because we believe that discovering something for oneself is the best form of learning?

Have we forgotten the rationale for scrapping levels?

By @MichaelT1979

As schools farewell levels, many appear to be creating systems that have the same flaws. If a system of assessment encourages schools to rush through content to show progress, or prioritises students who happen to be on the threshold of an achievement that the system recognises, then that system suffers from some of the main flaws that levels had.

Parents’ evening

By @ZBrownie

This post, by the assistant headteacher of a primary school, made me laugh. Most of it is a list of 30 things the writer has said at parents’ evenings over the years. Perhaps it is because I’m a secondary teacher and haven’t ever had to say some of these, but my personal favourites were:

•”I’d like to talk to you about why your child licks walls.”

•”I’ve been working with your son on using the toilet – perhaps you could work on this with him at home?”

• “How long has your son been eating glue?”

Want to know why grammar schools are wrong? Ask my mum. (You can’t)

By @LeeDonaghy

In this moving post, the author considers the effects that going to a secondary modern instead of a grammar school had on his mother:

“…They assumed she was a bit thick and babysat her for four-and-a-half years and let her leave with nothing but to go to work in a sweet shop. Didn’t push her. Didn’t have high expectations of her. Didn’t fill her head with knowledge as her natural intelligence required and didn’t assume – nay expect – that she would go to university.”

Open letter to Natasha Devon, the new mental health champion for schools

By @Nick_J_Rose

I have to declare an interest: I edit the site where this blogpost appeared. The DfE has appointed a “mental health champion” who happens to be a columnist for Cosmopolitan. This post, by a psychology teacher, discusses the issues around mental health in schools and some of the bizarre ideas this “champion” has endorsed.

“You’ll put them off”

By @HeatherBellaF

Heather Fearn reflects on how, as both a history teacher and a parent, she has often been advised not to risk sapping children’s interest in something educational by giving it negative associations. She observes that, despite these warnings, it is far harder to deter a child from engaging with something of interest than people seem to think.

Therapy Generation


Another post reflecting on the extent to which schools can be expected to be concerned with mental health. Can too much help and too much concern about mental health actually be damaging? Should young children be telling their teachers that they have issues and their brains are different? Are schools too concerned with feelings?

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