Review by Iesha Small

6 May 2018, 5:00

Iesha Small’s top blogs of the week 30 April 2018

Blog reviewer Iesha Small shares her top education blogs this week


Drop dead, data drops

“When you have three data drops a semester, the term is always ending,” writes Kevin Fulton. Sometimes it feels like data is the one true god of education.

A science teacher, Fulton examines how the generation of internal tracking data affects pupils and teachers. Internal data drops are often considered in terms of increased teacher workload and he certainly touches on that, but he also raises the point that a constant focus on feeding the internal data machine reduces time that pupils have to actually learn.


How to like a class

“We’ve all been there – that knot in the stomach when you have to face 8S again,” says Bristol-based StiPosTeacher.

When I first started teaching, I had a colleague who would separate his class into those who he felt wanted to learn and those who messed around and didn’t seem to care. It was surreal walking into a classroom and seeing several very engaged students working on their maths while a smaller group of children at the back were doing exactly what they wanted and being treated by the teacher as if they didn’t exist.

I thought of him when reading this blog, which advises that instead of dreading teaching a class we can decide to like them, and offers clear and practical steps for how this works alongside maintaining high expectations.


Progress 8: What if we started at the beginning?

“What about those pupils who left schools before January of Year 11 and who aren’t included in Progress 8?” enquires Dave Thomson, a statistician at DataLab.

This informative blog exposes a major flaw in Progress 8. Originally introduced as a fairer measure than the previous standard of five A*- C at GCSE, which made some schools concentrate most resources on pupils at the GCSE C/D borderline and ignore everybody else, especially at the lower end.

Thompson points out that pupils who come off roll or are transferred to PRUs or alternative provision before January of year 11 do not get counted in a school’s Progress 8 scores, thus creating a perverse incentive for schools to shed them. As always, such students are disproportionately from groups already experiencing historical disadvantage. He presents an alternative that would more fairly record some of society’s most vulnerable children.


The problem with physical education just focusing on physical activity and health/sport based curricula

“Have you considered if your curriculum is elitist? Racist? Sexist? Ableist? Classist? Or even healthist?” Shrehan Lynch asks her fellow PE teachers. I’ve heard questions like this asked of English or history curriculums but I must admit I’ve never given any thought to it in the context of physical education.

I’m not a PE teacher but movement is important to me and I often despair that physical exercise is sometimes seen as a more disposable part of curriculum as our young people get older and have to take public exams. I agree with Shrehan’s final point that we are not apolitical as teachers but rather we “are responsible for making the world a fairer place beginning with the confines of your teaching space”.


The slow disintegration of inclusion for children with SEND

“Many teachers believe that schools are informally showing the door to children with SEND who are unlikely to make progress,” writes Bart Shaw, a SEND research specialist.

Shaw explores findings from a recent survey by the NASUWT teaching union. School budgets are tightening at the same time that increasing numbers of children are being identified as having SEND and teachers are feeling ill-equipped and under trained to meet the needs of these pupils. He argues that schools should give SEND the same priority as Pupil Premium and offers suggestions for how to reduce the rising SEND exclusion trend.

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