Review by Gerry Robinson

Executive headteacher, Haringey Learning Partnership

15 Jan 2022, 5:00


Gerry Robinson’s blogs of the week, 10 January 2022

Creating the safe, happy space where children are inspired to talk


For those who haven’t been paying attention, the clue to the fundamental importance of the Early Years Foundation Stage is in its name. Nursery headteacher Julian Grenier’s excellent blog Inside the Secret Garden blog discusses all things EYFS, and this guest post by Emma Davis drew my attention.

Following the revised EYFS statutory guidance that came into effect in September, Davis offers advice on communication and language development. Having spent the vast majority of my career in secondary education, this blog was an important reminder that while the practical strategies may vary depending according to the developmental age of the children we work with, the underlying principles are exactly the same.

The rest of the sector could stand to learn from our EYFS colleagues, and this post is a great place to start.

Responsive teaching in turbulent times


Chris Runeckles starts this post by rightly reminding us that we “cannot wave the learning wand and solve the problem” of ongoing Covid disruption. He then sets about giving detailed advice as to how we might mitigate the worst of its impact.

Responsive teaching is his preferred approach, and he provides a clear, succinct definition of what it entails, supported by wider reading for those who are curious. And the practical strategies he goes on to recommend are just as research-informed, as well as classroom tried and tested.

None is new, but at a time when staff are overwhelmed grappling with the latest phase of the pandemic, this helpful post reminds us that we don’t need bells, whistles and a raft of new techniques to make up for the dreaded ‘lost learning’. Instead, what we need is to respond to what’s in front of us with approaches that we know have always worked and will continue to do so.

A defence of the profession


The alarming media trend towards using school staff as cannon fodder is the last thing we need at a time when so many of us are on our knees from grappling with Covid’s consequences. This blog provides a reassuring counterbalance.

However, this is no ‘woe is me’ piece either. Secret Headteacher acknowledges that much of the flak we have faced over the past two years has been for things entirely out of our control and situates this as part of an age-old stereotype of teachers who have an easy life and of short days and long holidays.

But the author also accepts the perks of the jobs and downplays the idea that we are anything like heroes. “We are not better than other jobs,” the post states. “Not nobler, not harder working. But, we aren’t the opposite of that either.”

A valuable read for those inside and outside the profession.

Being an ‘out’ LGBTQ+ educator

Vickie Merrick via @DiverseEd2020

It is disheartening that the legacy of Section 28 continues to haunt the careers of those who “began working in schools a long time after its 2003 repeal”. But it is crucial that we are aware of this harsh reality if we are to become truly LGBTQ+ inclusive environments.

Being ‘out’ at work is down to individual choice, and coming out is still far from without its challenges. Here, PE teacher Vickie Merrick looks at these openly and honestly, and the result is a much-needed confidence boost for those who are in a quandary as to whether it’s the right thing for them.

The contrasts between Merrick’s experiences across different schools is fascinating in itself, and provides helpful hints for school leaders looking to be more inclusive. And Merrick does all this while fostering a sense of camaraderie among those of us who are LGBTQ+ educators ourselves.

Merrick now works in Italy, but there are many parallels with UK schools. And while we may have taken some steps backwards of late, this post is a hopeful reminder that there are still pockets all over the world that are leaps and bound ahead, and where staff are willing to lead the way. 

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