Review by Gerry Robinson

Executive headteacher, Haringey Learning Partnership

14 May 2022, 5:00


Gerry Robinson’s blogs of the week, 9 May 2022

The positive impact of using British Sign Language in the classroom

Alysha Allen via @OUPPrimary

With deaf awareness week having just passed, Alysha Allen’s post on the Oxford Education Blog is a timely read. As a primary school teacher who is deaf, Allen describes her initial hesitancy at working in a mainstream setting; she wanted to communicate directly with students but couldn’t imagine how this could work in a classroom of hearing children.

Fortunately for all involved, her teacher training placement was in a primary where “inclusivity is an integral part of the school’s ethos” and as a result “every pupil learns British Sign Language (BSL)”.

Allen details the various advantages of using BSL in the classroom – from supporting vocabulary learning to building empathy – and few educators will finish reading it without wanting to explore how they may incorporate BSL themselves.

It is abundantly clear from her post that the entire school community, including Allen herself, has benefitted from her sharing her lived experience. It’s a broader reminder that “inclusivity is a two-way street; we all need to work together to achieve it”.

Building study habits and revision routines


With public examinations upon us for the first time since 2019, it’s comforting to find students surrounding themselves with flashcards and highlighters, practising mnemonics and re-reading core texts. And it’s understandable that we often feel as if there is just not enough time to pause and consider a different approach to revision, especially so close to exams.

However, I guarantee that this post from Louise Astbury is worth taking a moment over. Grounded firmly in research, Astbury identifies the revision routines that work most effectively, steering readers away from strategies that “lull [students] into a false sense of security” and towards admittedly more challenging but also infinitely more productive ones.

Many of the suggestions are not unfamiliar, but everyone will find something they can use, or at least reassurance that their students are maximising their time. Minor tweaks can make a huge difference, even in the last few days and weeks.

A highly valuable read, whether you’re a student, parent/carer or teacher.

5 reasons why subject leadership training is a top priority


Looking beyond exam season, Aidan Severs provides five very good reasons to justify subjects leaders being given every opportunity for professional development they could possibly hope for.

As Severs acknowledges, more cynical school leaders will be convinced enough to provide subject leadership training by the prospect of an Ofsted visit. After all, we know inspectors will expect subject leaders to be able to talk with confidence and insight about their areas as a matter of course.

But Severs makes a more positive case for the advantages of subject leader CPD, including improving students’ educational experience, community cohesion and the careers of staff.

The summer term can be a time when schools, exhausted by exams, feel inclined to slow down. But it’s also a fantastic opportunity for subject leaders to take stock and for schools to support them to continue their journeys. Most would surely relish the time and backing to invest in their own careers and the year ahead for their students.

Reigniting a healthy sense of well-being and belonging in schools

@CaptainsPoets via @DiverseEd2020

In this post for Diverse Educators, Jennifer Johnson explores a question many of us have been grappling with recently: “How do we thrive when the world is in such a state of upheaval?”

With students, staff and families contending with the pandemic, the cost of living crisis and numerous global conflicts, among other things, Johnson reflects on the “unprecedented levels of uncertainty” and the impact this has on young people’s relationships and sense of identity.

Based in Canada, her schools-centred programme ‘Captains and Poets’ is grounded in the concept that thriving requires “inspired action” and “emotional courage” and that we all have a bold ‘Captain’ and brave ‘Poet’ inside.

It’s an honest and empowering reflection on just how tough things have been in recent years (and continue to be) but also a voice of hope that “the cure for what ails us is closer than we think”.

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