Review by Emma Mattinson-Hardy

10 Mar 2017, 5:00

Emma Mattinson Hardy’s top blogs of the week 6 March 2017

Guest reviewer Emma Mattinson-Hardy takes us through this week’s best education blogs.


We need to talk about the army of elephants

James Mannion asks whether all the reforms we discuss are merely “rearranging the chairs on the Titanic”. First impressions of Twitter appear to show strong entrenched differences in opinion, but there is a surprising amount that we all simply accept as educational truths.

Mannion challenges us to broaden our thinking. “The scope of current discourses around education appears to be broadly limited to sharing good practice, within the institutions and organisational structures of the system that generally pre-date our entry into the profession.

“These discourses take place within a set of assumptions about our education system which – as far as I can discern – have gone largely unexamined since the 1970s.”

He lists the “unquestioned assumptions” about education such as: “We should educate children in batches according to chronological age… Some students need to fail exams in order for others to pass” and finally invites us to answer “If you could design an education system from the ground up, to what extent would it resemble the one we have?”


The glass ceiling in the classroom

If we were to redesign education would we want a mixed system? This blogger presents a persuasive argument for single-sex education.

“No one privileged the boys’ football team over the girls’ one – there were no boys. No one told me I couldn’t take physics because the class was already full of boys – there were no boys. Uptake for STEM subjects was strong. Being vocal was second nature to most of these pupils.”

I believe that gender stereotypes have become more entrenched in the past decade – look at gendered yogurts and pink Duplo!

“While girls may get the better grades on the whole, they are not leaving school as confident as their male counterparts and this lack of confidence is undoubtedly part of the women in the workplace problem.”

This blog offers practical solutions for dealing with the “classroom glass ceiling” and argues that “the expectations and
labels they have of themselves [pupils] are shaped by the way we treat them in schools.”


Statutory relationships (and sex) education. Repeat – statutory!

Perhaps the only thing we can agree on is that all children need relationships (and sex) education (SRE). I remember feeling extremely shocked when a teacher once told me that when he was asked by parents, “at what age should I get my child a smartphone?” his response was, “when you’re happy for them to view porn”.

It is pleasing that SRE was a cross political party amendment and signifies an acceptance that whether we like it or not, the world has changed.

This blog argues that to do SRE well, “it also requires a huge shift in thinking – a reinvention of the purpose of education that goes beyond academic attainment or preparing children for adult life to a new realm of inclusive learning fit for the 21st century.” It provides numerous links to resources and guides that educators will find useful.

“We are thankful that sense has finally prevailed and the value of nurturing good relationships and managing feelings will be taking its rightful place in the national curriculum.”


School leadership and resisting performativity

How radical would your school system be if it was redesigned from scratch? Dr Deborah Netolicky says “‘values schizophrenia’ is experienced by educators whereby they sacrifice their commitment, judgement and authenticity for […] performance.” How many times have you heard teachers say they have to play the game? Deborah states, “It can be daring and dangerous to advocate for an education that does more than pander to market perception, external measures and competitive league tables […] We can choose resistance to performative pressures, although not without a price.”

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