Teaching out of specialism: does it matter to pupils?
Imagine it’s Monday morning and you are suddenly told you must take a supply lesson. Your teaching subject is geography. Today, however, you will be teaching Urdu. For the few readers among you who speak the language, this may be an exciting moment. For everyone else, it is terrifying. I say this as someone who,…
5.00 Nov. 25th, 2018 | Opinion
GCSE 2018 Variability Charts: Are Your Results Normal?
GCSE results are out. Each year Ofqual produces boring-sounding variability charts. It sounds dull but they show how many centres, i.e. schools or colleges, dropped or increased their results compared with the previous year. This means that if you dropped, say, 25 per cent in one subject, you can see how many other schools also…
10.38 Aug. 23rd, 2018 | Opinion
Let's fix school structures, then we can turn to curriculum
It’s eight years this month since Michael Gove slammed the Academies Act through the Commons and gave us the complicated landscape of academies, free schools and other issues that we all now face. On Tuesday I was asked by the Education Policy Institute to look back across the years and highlight if it was all…
5.00 Jul. 6th, 2018 | Opinion
Without more money, the EHCP dream will become a nightmare
How much does it cost to educate a child? Schools are allocated roughly £5,000 per pupil, depending on location. But is it enough? And, specifically, where is the limit if it isn’t enough? This question particularly matters when thinking about special-needs funding. The new system involves an education, health and care plan (EHCP). Introduced several…
14.24 Jun. 8th, 2018 | Opinion
Sex education reforms: can someone in the DfE give us a straight answer?
In Blackadder: Back and forth, our eponymous antihero runs into Shakespeare after an experiment with a time machine goes awry. “This is for every schoolboy and schoolgirl for the next four hundred years!” Blackadder cries, as he punches the Bard in the face. If I had a time machine, I should like to go back…
5.00 May. 18th, 2018 | Opinion
Cheating at key stage 2 SATs: what does it mean for secondary schools?
What if the reason a secondary school had a poor progress rate was not due to its own teaching, but because the pupils arrived with overinflated results from primary school? Researchers at the number-crunching powerhouse Education Datalab believe this theory holds true, after they looked at secondary schools that took pupils from 30 different primary…
5.00 Apr. 20th, 2018 | Opinion
Fixing the madness of the teacher transfer window
Welcome to recruitment silly season! It is the time of year when everyone wanting to move schools has to do so quickly, because resigning after the end of May means there’s no further option for change in 2018, and where headteachers crumble after months-long negotiations to keep a valuable staff member in their job falls…
10.33 Apr. 13th, 2018 | Opinion
When it comes to teacher pay, we're just like monkeys
In 2012, the scientist Frans de Waal revealed how monkeys go berserk if paid unequally for a task. A YouTube video, watched 13 million times, shows a researcher giving two Capuchin monkeys a food treat in return for handing her a pebble. When the first monkey is given a cucumber, he happily eats it. But…
10.13 Mar. 23rd, 2018 | Opinion
Sue Jay, Head of creative arts, Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee School
Rain is lashing down outside the drama studio at the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee School, but inside there’s a cast of storm troopers, a school-uniformed Princess Leia, and Darth Vader (holding a fluffy unicorn), all prepping for Rock Challenge, a fiercely competitive annual dance contest featuring more than 330 schools. Sue Jay, the school’s…
5.00 Mar. 13th, 2018 | Features
Teachers shouldn't fear a robot revolution
Two conferences this week and I got the now obligatory conference-chat about robots at both. Andreas Schleicer, the head of the PISA tests and a perma-attendee at conferences, showed a slide at the Whole Education Conference stating that “the kind of things that are easy to teach are now easy to automate, digitise or outsource”.…
15.41 Mar. 2nd, 2018 | Opinion
How schools should handle snow days
Every time an English school is forced to take a day off for bad weather, the usual suspects ooze out of the woodwork and make a fuss about the terrible effects of kids missing lessons. So why don’t we follow what they do in the states, and add a day at the end of July?…
5.00 Jan. 21st, 2018 | Opinion