Review by Samantha Lauren King

13 Nov 2016, 5:00

Emma Mattinson-Hardy’s top blogs 7 November 2016

This week’s top blogs of the week, with guest reviewer Emma Mattinson-Hardy.

In years to come whenever you are asked a question that starts with, “In which year…” it’s highly probable 2016 will be in the answer. In case you missed it, another trivia answer could be 2016 is also the year in which the ATL and NUT agreed to ballot all members over creating a new National Education Union!

As the education unions show signs of unifying, the government has abandoned its white paper Education Excellence Everywhere. It appears it has decided not to continue fighting a war on two fronts within its own party. As each political party still struggles to come to terms with the impact of Brexit, I wonder if it will be a quiet time for educational politics.


Politics and the school system

Last April, Nick Gibb, a minister at the DfE longer than anyone else since 2010, spoke of “a landmark speech in which Jim Callaghan in many ways set the direction of reform for the next four decades”.

Forty years after this speech is a good time for us to debate how much information parents need about schools to hold them to account and have we all moved too far? “A new Great Debate is needed to check the pattern of English school development – which always reflect revolutionary changes driven by politicians at Westminster. Change is constant, from academies through free schools to grammar schools, and is always driven by the politics of whoever works in No 10. Whether this is tenable or sustainable is the issue to be discussed.”


Pedagogical choices

The idea that there is only one way to teach, as some primary teachers believe, is worrying. Why would you teach handwriting in the same way that you teach art? In this blog Nancy Gedge highlights why we must retain our “good sense”: “you have something that you want to teach your class, and then you think of an appropriate way to teach it to them.

“One of the interesting things about teaching many subjects is the different styles of teaching that you use. A group composition in music works well. Individual practice is the way to go with handwriting. Painting in the junior classroom demands the tables pushed together and children standing if they wish…We plan the lesson around the thing that is to be learned. It doesn’t need to be complicated, and there certainly isn’t any magic involved.

Perhaps, just a little bit of professional confidence.”


Just Google It

I remember being shown the internet for the first time when I was in the sixth form and it taking four hours at university to send the information to my printer. But one thing hasn’t changed and that is the importance of teaching children to be sceptical about what they read. When mainstream daily newspaper headlines scream about the “greatest crisis since Churchill declared war”, our children need to be able to judge the validity of reports such as this.

“The world is accelerating into something that is going to be very hard to deal with. And if we don’t teach our children how to handle the storm that is brewing, we are doing them a disservice.”


Let the Music Play…..

Music brings colour to everything. When I was teaching I allowed my class to choose their “class song”, which we sang as a reward for a hard day’s work. The last class I taught chose the song “Lean on Me – Glee version” and it still makes me smile every time I hear it.

In this blog, Mishwood highlights all the different (and amazing) ways she uses music to bring joy into her school. “When I put the music on in school yesterday morning as I routinely do, I was thinking about…how much we use it for a range of reasons – perhaps even more in a special school than a mainstream setting. So my blog is an account of the different ways we use music and the positive impact it has with our pupils.”

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