Review by Debra Kidd

Author and former teacher

8 Jun 2019, 5:00


Debra Kidd top blogs of the week beginning 3 June 2019

A few things to think about for schools holding interviews

Jill Berry @jillberry102

Jill Berry is always a calm and positive influence on Twitter and her advice on leadership is well regarded by many. Here she writes a thoughtful response to someone who unsuccessfully applied for three deputy headships and failed to receive any feedback. She unpicks the interview process and reflects on her own experiences and struggles as she went through some bruising encounters herself. She argues that while interviews need to be probing, they should never be brutal and her comment that even unsuccessful candidates should go forward as ambassadors for the school is a pertinent one. People remember being treated well and fairly – it’s a lesson we could apply to all areas of school life.

Why teach?

Ben Newmark @bennewmark

While our teaching philosophies differ and I don’t agree with everything in this post, Ben Newmark’s transcript of a talk he gave to the CurriculumEd conference recently includes some pertinent observations. He reflects on the myth of meritocracy that drew him into teaching and rightly points out that more and more young people are recognising the problems with the “social mobility” narrative and finding alternative solutions. Newmark asks a question that I raised five years ago in a talk to the RSA: if there simply aren’t enough “good” or well paid jobs for everyone in the future, what is the purpose of education? While I might disagree with some of Newmark’s conclusions, I doubt anyone could argue with this beautiful sentiment: our curriculum should whisper to our children, “You belong. You did not come from nowhere. All this came before you, and one day you too might add to it.”

How SEN friendly schools can benefit everyone

Cassie Young @ModernCassie

In a week in which parents, teachers and children took to the streets to highlight the crisis in SEND funding, Cassie Young’s blog comes as a refreshing, helpful and uplifting example of what can be done, even with tight budgets, to ensure that children are fully included in school. Full of practical advice, her blog illustrates how small alterations can make a huge difference for some of our most vulnerable pupils. She outlines how it is possible to make reasonable adjustments for children while maintaining a safe and orderly environment for learning. From the use of visual cues or social stories to break down the complexity of social interaction for children with ASD, she offers practical ideas for helping children to cope better with school. This blogger is one to watch.

Important curriculum memo

The Primary Head @theprimaryhead

No one can have failed to notice the huge upsurge in blogs, books, conferences and tweets about curriculum since Ofsted used the “C” word. In this funny and irreverent post, The Primary Head picks up on the haste with which we tend to jump on the latest Ofsted bandwagon, even as we complain about the influence that it holds. The blogger uses humour to gently point out that many people have been working on, tweaking and developing their curriculum for many years – my first curriculum design post was back in 2004 – and that perhaps schools shouldn’t panic and assume they should be doing something new.

Beneath the laughter, his anger at the unintended and damaging consequences of the quest for approval from the watchdog comes through. And it acts as a warning too, because if every time Ofsted mentions a new priority we swing all our attention and resources in that direction, we’ll be forever spinning in the winds of the whims of others. The post reminds us that we should seek by all means to improve our practice, but with the needs of our children and communities in mind and not our fears of what Ofsted wants or thinks.

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