Review by Emma Mattinson-Hardy

6 Nov 2015, 6:00

Emma Hardy’s top blogs of the week 2 November 2015

Thinking aloud: recruitment


For those watching Lucy Powell for proof of her strong opposition and momentum in the education debate, then teacher retention is where it seems she will land some blows. To help with this, she could do well by reading this blog.

Amir Arezoo identifies three issues he has with teacher recruitment and what should be done about it. These include, 1. It’s not about the salary. Or it shouldn’t be, anyway, 2. Retain staff in the first place and 3. Where’s the reality?
Amir explores all these issues in detail and gives a provocative recommendation for Ofsted inspections “Simply, Ofsted should be pulling schools up for not following the government’s response to the teacher workload survey.”

There is a workload and funding crisis at the same time as a recruitment and retention one. What strikes me about this situation (pun intended) is how incredibly powerful teachers are!

Mistakes I have made in leadership: the curse of knowledge in education


Once again the common sense of Old Primary Head shines through and makes me wish there were more heads like him and more people in government who listened. In this blog, he gently opens the debate on what is more important: lived experience or knowledge? What happens when scientific or research “knowledge” counteracts your experiences? OPH’s concluding sentence reminds us that what we “know” to be true now might not be the same in the future.

“This curse is a knowledge given to us by others. It is usually systematic and theoretical – an applied body of methods and principles that make perfect sense on paper. When applied in context this knowledge clashes with experience in a skirmish of interdisciplinary bloodshed . . . I will continue to make my way through the world and learn from each and every step but I will tread carefully upon the certainties of knowledge because I know that it is only a matter of time before they fall to experience and are proved wrong . . . by knowledge.”

Ofsted reforms can’t work


I recently tweeted on the danger of observation “tick lists” that senior leaders use to check off what they expect to see in a lesson. It sparked a Twitter blaze as to whether or not such lists are appropriate and I spent the rest of the evening watching the debate unfold. During the discussion this blog was shared.  Surely no one could disagree with it.

“Teachers don’t even agree what the overall aim of school education is. Everyone does agree that education is very important; but this only means that politicians must be seen to be ‘improving’ education. But no one has a convincing narrative of what success looks like, and robust evidence of effectiveness is lacking. This has not prevented politicians from implementing initiatives as if they really were certain of what these would achieve. The result has been an increasingly powerful Ofsted, because high stakes inspections was the easiest way to ensure compliance. One problem is, improvement has been hard to evidence.”

I must have blinked: gender inequality is over, right?


Writing this on the day that the government has decided to continue VAT on sanitary products as “luxury” goods, how could I not recommend this blog?

Sadly I can’t refute the statement made in this blog about women’s activisim in schools, and education, but also more broadly: “The biggest and most worrying trend is that the majority of the criticism I have seen of women’s activism has come from other women . . . there is something quease-inducing when I read comments on Twitter and Facebook on identity politics and watch women seeking approval from men they deem to be powerful – I don’t see reasoned argument.  I see sycophants simpering.”

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