Review by Iesha Small

25 Feb 2018, 5:00

Iesha Small’s top blogs of the week 19 February 2018

Reviewer Iesha Small shares her top picks from the edu-blogosphere this week


Can we teach curiosity?

“Embedding curiosity as professionals… is about developing an intellectual eagerness within our pupils.” Much is written in educational circles about creativity and knowledge but less about curiosity and the desire to learn.

This post by teacher Sarah Donoski challenges teachers to be eager to know more ourselves so that we can foster this hunger in our pupils. Sarah teaches at a well-known independent school where academic success is assumed by many observers, so it’s interesting that she too has experienced what many teachers in the state sector complain about: a lack desire from some pupils to push themselves beyond the minimum required to get what they consider an acceptable grade. As an insatiably curious person myself, who loves when my classes ask me questions like
“who invented maths, miss?” I enjoyed reading Sarah’s comments about the importance of questions from both teachers and students.


Three lessons schools could learn from my pimp

“School had the potential to be a window to a world that I believed was unavailable to me. Unfortunately, it mostly rubber-stamped my suspicion that I just wasn’t good enough.”

This was Jaz Ampaw-Farr’s experience as a disadvantaged child at secondary school. A former teacher and reality TV show star, Jaz is now an international speaker who I have seen speak movingly about teachers as “everyday heroes”.

Were she at school now, she would almost certainly have been in receipt of pupil premium funding and would have been on the radar of many schools’ designated child protection officers, had any teachers been aware of what was happening in her life beyond school. Despite the potentially NSFW title, this blog is an important read for anyone who works in schools. It is about the importance of relationships over inflexible compliance and raises interesting points around school behavior and inclusion policies. Many of Jaz’s teachers missed the signs of extreme abuse because of (sometimes minor) outward non-compliance, but there were a few who engaged with her as a human being and had a profound impact on her. My natural leanings are towards the “no excuses” end of the spectrum, but I struggle with the lack of empathy that can result if applied unthinkingly at its most extreme so this was a thought provoking read.


So you want to change policy? Six steps for academics looking to achieve policy change
James Lloyd on the LSE Impact blog

Teachers have more agency and direct access to government as a result of social media than ever before.

Groups like Headteachers’ Round Table, ResearchEd and WomenEd are grassroots movements which catch the eyes of decision-makers. Big-name bloggers are read and quoted by politicians but how can we translate this into real change? James Lloyd, a former member of the prime minister’s strategy unit, writes for anybody hoping to impact educational policy.

For part of my working week, I am a researcher and part of my role at the LKMco think-tank involves developing policy which affects the lives of young people in various ways. Some points were familiar but James gives a handy summary and I’ll be sharing it with my colleagues during our Monday’s team meeting.


Times-table tests: a fuss about nothing?

“I’ve taught maths at KS3/4/5 for my entire career, and not having strong recall of times-tables is a huge barrier for the weakest and most disadvantaged,” writes James MacNaughton, who could have taken these words out of my mouth. Times-tables tests have recently been proposed for year 4 pupils. As a secondary maths teacher and parent of a child currently in year 3, I have a direct personal interest. MacNaughton addresses general thoughts and potential fears around accountability well. If you have time, James’s previous blog, ‘Reflections on my first term in SLT’,
is also worth a look.

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