A teacher recounts the activities of consultants who are paid to give advice to desperate school leaders; how this advice has often been harmful and is usually expensive. “They are unaccountable. They swarm over the terminally sick school and when it succumbs, they flee the corpse to infect another host.”
This post by Ofsted’s national director for schools appeared on the “ATL Speak Out!” blog as part of a series of posts debating the inspectorate’s future. The others were less positive about the organisation, but Harford gives some clear indicators of what those leading Ofsted are hoping to achieve, suggesting school leaders stop asking “What do I need to do to get a good Ofsted judgment?”, and instead “think about what you need to do to ensure that every child in your school gets a decent education”.
In a blow-by-blow account, a teacher describes how he was undermined by two of his colleagues. His work was criticised, his professionalism questioned and he was excluded from decision-making. He explains how his confidence suffered and his attempts to repair relationships were rejected. He discusses why he thinks bullying is common in schools and why dealing with it is often a low priority for managers. He considers bullying to be one of the reasons so many teachers leave the profession.
This post discusses the extent to which teaching should be, and has been, seen as about more than just the academic side of life. The writer discusses how the non-academic aims of education seem to have multiplied and the extent to which this area of teaching has become increasingly formalised: “Just to want to teach one’s subject was no longer enough, when the purpose of education had become something between a velvet social revolution and life-coaching for the masses. And since then have been added the institutionalised performance pressures that mean it’s no longer sufficient just to try to change people’s lives; anything short of a fully measurable metamorphosis is just not acceptable.”
The creation and teaching of a unit of work on “similarity and difference” is discussed in some detail here. The successes and failures of the lessons are discussed and, in particular, the extent to which apparently useful advice such as “don’t generalise” can lead to unfortunate consequences. This post is remarkable, not so much for conclusions reached, but for the level of thought with which the author has analysed her own work and attempted to learn from the experience.
A teacher once again deconstructs his own practice: this time it is the use of plenaries. A number of issues affecting their usefulness are considered and the assumptions that lie behind their use are questioned. Are plenaries a result of a belief in easily measurable progress in lessons? Do they take generic forms that are often inappropriate to the topic at hand? Are they often activities that are not best suited to the closing minutes of a lesson? Solutions are also suggested.
In a moving personal account a teacher explains how some bad news changed her life and her outlook. Events that must have been traumatic at the time helped her to see what she wanted from her career. She explains how her response to difficult times has, with hindsight, changed her life for the better.