Review by Iesha Small

Educational researcher, Teacher and Commentator

8 Jul 2018, 5:00


Iesha Small’s top blogs of the week 2 July 2018

Our blog reviewer of the week is Iesha Small, an educational researcher, teacher and commentator



“Budgets have forced pastoral staff, year leaders, safeguarding members into higher contact ratios, more directed time, and less opportunities to proactively address need,” reflects an anonymous designated safeguarding lead. I have never held a pastoral leadership role but my observation is that that they can be incredibly demanding, and that it’s not as easy to have a clear cut-off point as it can be in curriculum roles due as pastoral roles are all about people.

Anybody who works in or with schools knows that budget constraints are really starting to take their toll in various ways, and this post outlines some of the ways that are affecting some of our most vulnerable students as well as the staff who regularly work with them.

Stay and play


Recently it was year 7 transition day at my school and sixth-form taster day. This blog from Mrs P takes us to the other end of the spectrum, with children who are about to enter reception this September. I have a soft spot for early years after serving as a governor for a while and seeing the excellent work that the headteacher of our local nursery school did.

Two of my children are now at the end of their reception year and I have to say that it’s a much underrated stage of education. This is a fun blog recognisable to anybody who has or works with young children, and well worth a read for those who don’t, if nothing else due to phrases like “hours of thought and preparation exploded like a turd hitting the fan, and the classroom was covered in glittery slime and wallpaper paste”…


Cultivating a reading culture


“Teachers cannot afford not to invest time encouraging student interest in reading,” writes English Teacher Melanie Ralph. As somebody who was an only child until the age of 10, I had to learn how to entertain myself as a child and reading for pleasure has always been a huge part of that. I read a lot at home and used to go to the local library once a week so don’t really remember what efforts my school made to try and get me to read.

Melanie believes that schools must not assume that reading happens at home and should create space for classroom reading for pleasure, and not just to cover the curriculum. She also suggests that schools should move away from trying to incentivise reading in any way if they want to create life-long readers who wish to read for its own sake.


Pupil premium the power of 3


Philippa Gawthorpe is a self-identified “geeky teacher”. Here, she outlines her efforts to ensure that the funding her school receives for the students in her school who receive pupil premium is used as effectively as possible. The majority of my teaching career has been spent at schools with a higher proportion of pupils than the national average who receive the pupil premium.

Philippa writes as a teacher in a school with smaller proportions, and highlights the problems with data: “Small sample sizes mean data regularly lets me down or can’t be relied upon to accurately measure the impact we are having.”

Old dog, new trick: My growth-mindset adventure


About a month ago, some of my year 9 students called me over at lunch to show off their speed at solving a Rubik’s Cube. After getting over my shock that Rubik’s cubes are still a thing, I was pretty impressed, some were sub-60 seconds. Jed Stefanowicz had, like me, never been able to solve a Rubik’s Cube but he decided to teach himself how. This is a lovely blog about how as teachers we expect pupils to overcome barriers to their learning, but that every now and again should try to ourselves.

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