Review by Expert Contributor

12 Jan 2019, 5:00


Jon Hutchinson’s top blogs of the week 7 Jan 2018

Reflections of 2018 Pt1: Great Yarmouth Charter Academy: pinnacle of teaching


Like so many of us, Naveen Rizvi has been reflecting on 2018. Giving an insider’s view of the controversial Great Yarmouth Charter Academy, she avoids the bombast and reveals how it was “the best school I ever worked at”. What made teaching there so satisfying? She outlines how she got close to what she calls the “pinnacle of teaching” – “teaching where the highest possible proportion of pupils learn what is being taught on the first attempt”. The key was a combination of “radical transparency” and “pre-emptive planning”, both explicated in the post. I love having a nose in other classrooms to pick out elements that I can pinch and incorporate into my own lessons; Rizvi generously shares video examples to exemplify the strategies discussed.

Who cares how it is meant to work?


Greg Ashman is a prolific writer – he published six blogs In the week-long period that I was reviewing,  which is more than I managed in the whole of last year. It’s fair to say that he has something of a reputation for forthright views on education; he certainly doesn’t pull any punches where bad ideas or dodgy practice are concerned. What’s also undeniable – infuriatingly, for his critics – is his knowledge of research and chalkface experience. The selected blogpost beautifully characterises his academic insight and strident tone, criticises the “unscientific current” and “cultivated incuriousness” found in some educational research. In his crosshairs is a study undertaken by the Education Endowment Foundation, ostensibly testing a knowledge rich approach to the curriculum. I’ll let you read for yourself what he makes of the research design…

Recall: what is it good for? (absolutely loads of things)


With Ofsted’s new inspection framework ready to make “knowledge” the buzzword of 2019, you can expect a renewed focus on the factual recall of students during your observations this year. I’m on record as believing that this is a Good Idea, but we all know that schools have a pretty poor track record when it comes to implementing good ideas (remember growth mindset?) Thankfully, the primary teacher Ashley Booth has written a post full of strategies, games, activities and techniques that will embed retrieval practice into your teaching. From “Just A Minute” to “Heads Up”, he talks through the different approaches that he has tried and tested in his classroom. Why not give one of them a whirl with your class this term?

Making kids #cleverer – chapter 1: the purpose of education


Here’s a question: what’s the purpose of education? Is it socialisation; preparing children for the world of work? Or perhaps it’s enculturing them, whatever that may mean? This may sound like an ice-breaker exercise on the first week of a PGCE, but I’ve been asking everyone I know this question and have been surprised at the variety of responses. I was delighted, therefore, that David Didau begins his new book, Making Kids Cleverer, with a chapter on the subject. In this post, he summarises his thoughts, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of common views before offering his own thesis. The purpose of education? Making kids cleverer. Posts summarising each of the following chapters are a bonus.

Having almost finished the book, I can confidently and enthusiastically recommend it to anyone who works in a school – and to anyone who doesn’t.

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