Although this post focuses on key stage 3 curriculum design around history, there are some really useful pointers for anyone planning their ks3 curriculum in terms of the decision-making around what matters and what you’re prepared to drop. Although the post asks the obvious starting question of “what do you want them to learn?” it doesn’t stop here like some knowledge-rich models – it also asks teachers to consider diversity and representation and makes the critical point that while a good ks3 curriculum needs to build “towards” GCSE and A-level, it should never be “constrained” by that.
This is a heartbreaking account from Jessica Timmis, the mother of a 12-year-old recently bereaved boy, about how isolation booths were used, in spite of his grief, to punish him for minor infractions of school rules (20 isolations punishments for wearing white socks). She speaks of how quickly the situation escalated to the point that her son was left little choice but to be home-schooled. While I understand teachers saying that, sometimes, a pupil needs to be removed from class so that others can learn (and to keep the child concerned safe), it’s clear in this account that there was a lack of care and empathy for a child going through a horrendous experience. It reminds us that kindness should be our top priority in school, for little learning goes on in the presence of high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. It also reminds us how subtle the act of “off – rolling” can be when parents reach a point that their only choice for the mental health of their child is to remove them from school altogether.
Here is a new and mysterious voice on eduTwitter. I was sent this post after I asked for new material and it made me laugh out loud. It’s a light-hearted read that includes some serious points about how the desire to make your mark can lead us to follow fads and fashions that we’ll live to regret. As the author says, somewhat wearily, “A new Hippocratic oath is needed for education: Do No Harm”.
Professor Rachel Lofthouse is one of the country’s leading experts on the coaching and mentoring of teachers and the founder of CollectiveEd at Leeds Beckett University, a coaching and mentoring hub. In this post, she sets out what makes for effective mentoring and the importance of having a clear sense of what works to build an effective and empowering relationship between mentor and mentee. If you’re responsibility for the career development of others (ant that’s not just in terms of mentoring new teachers, but also in terms of leadership roles), I’d definitely have a read.
In the week that I resigned from teaching, I spent 15 hours trying to make a spreadsheet turn green as part of our half-termly data drops. I had put in the data honestly – we’d done a harder unit, the children had tried, but not done as well as they had in an easier unit, so I’d put in truthful marks. All hell broke loose. I was told, kindly, but firmly, that this was not progress and that if I were to insist on all that orange and red, I’d have to write an individual action plan for each brightly coloured child. I re-marked the work and made them all green. And resigned.
So when I read Carly Waterman’s post on how data has become skewed to suit schools and accountability systems with little relevance for the children, there was a strong resonance with my own experience and, I suspect, with the experiences of others. She makes a strong case for professional trust and autonomy and for choosing to act in the interests of children. It sounds so obvious that it’s extraordinary that this is still not the norm, but with voices like hers, I hope things will change.