Review by James pope

Director, Whole Education

18 Jan 2020, 5:00


James Pope’s top edu blogs of the week, 13 January 2020

Accountability, complexity and diversity, diversity, diversity are the top picks of this week’s education topics

Time to find and compare Schools – Start Now


Stephen Tierney kicks off the new decade with a succinct description of a perennial problem.   Focusing on a seemingly innocuous date in the calendar, the ‘third Thursday in January’, he sets out the importance of this date for secondary school leaders, their schools and, most importantly, their year 11 students.  Of course, it isn’t the date of the census itself that is important, but rather the influence it has on performance tables and Ofsted outcomes, and the wildly different approaches to inclusion that occur as a consequence.  With a withering eye, Tierney provides an extreme example of how the approaches of two schools can differ, leaving one vulnerable to the vagaries of the accountability system while the other is lauded for its excellent practice.  Coinciding nicely with the publication of Oftsed’s ‘stuck’ schools report, and finishing with a timely call for change, this post is a reminder of the impact of the unintended consequences that mar our education system.


Rethinking Diversity in Our Curriculum


At a time of significant thinking about the design and content of our curriculum, this post explains the importance of diversity and equality to that effort. Starting with a description of the limited opportunities for students to experience diversity in their lessons, Ashish goes on to reason that it is important to embed a global ethos in the curriculum for all students, especially those whose experience outside of school may be limited to extreme views.  Ashish acknowledges this thinking is happening, but fairly asks whether it is consistent and whether it is enough. He makes a strong argument that the role models we present to young people in all areas of study should be diverse, and asks us to consider the impact doing this could have on the engagement, empowerment and ambition of all young people.


Schema-building: A blend of experiences and retrieval modes make for deep learning


The ever-prolific Tom Sherrington kicks off the year with another detailed and insightful post on the process of learning. Here, he highlights the usefulness of conceptual models that help us to understand learning better, before going on to warn of the dangers of over-simplification and divorcing these models from real-world ‘complex’ learning. Sherrington provides us with precise definitions of terms like ‘learning’, ‘remembering’ and ‘understanding’, and explores how they intertwine with student agency, before going on to explain the reasons why students may have knowledge gaps which make the building of effective schema difficult. Finally, he explains how a rich curriculum with teaching approaches that reflect the complexity of the learning process can both avoid a reductive approach and build student learning. One for anyone with a passion for teaching and learning to factor into their own schema!


In education: To whom should we listen


This blog post comes straight from the stage of the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI) which took place in Marrakech at the start of January.  It is a transcript of the eight-minute presentation given by Dr. Deborah Netolicky – a passionate monologue using metaphor to describe the experience of working in education, as a teacher and as a leader.  Touching on performativity and jargonistic buzzwords, then pausing to ask the titular question, it is an important reminder that education can only benefit from the promotion of a diverse set of voices.


Diversity is the key to our survival


Continuing the theme of diversity, this post was written to accompany las week’s Diverse Educators III event. Chapple writes about diversity as a celebration of humanity and the contribution that we can all have in nature’s symphony. The post is lyrical about the need to flip the narrative and the lens through which we observe each other and participate collectively for the benefit of all.  It is not explicitly about education (but of course it is) and I can think of no finer message to start a new decade.

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