Review by Kate Owbridge

Executive headteacher, Ashdown Primary School

19 Oct 2019, 5:18


Kate Owbridge’s top edu-blogs of the week, 14 October 2019

How to grow a school   


Mark Lehain, the director of Parents and Teachers for Excellence, takes time out from the Tory Party conference to visit MEA Central, a new secondary in Levenshulme, Manchester. I don’t blame him, I’d take time out of any party conference to visit a school! I got a sense of a great school in this blog, like I’d just caught the head at a meeting and asked her how it was going. I liked what I heard too: a new school having grown from the bottom up and expecting “You-Know-Who” any minute. It struck me how similar their story was with schools that have to turn things round to get out of special measures. It was a similar story here, except without the earlier poor practice. Just new stuff. Great stuff!


Diversity in leadership


Hearing from a year 10 pupil, Miya, about what diverse leadership means made me think of it from the kids’ point of view. How much diversity do we want? Miya quotes the question my mum used to ask: wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same? If that applies to who leaders are and what they stand for, I’d say it goes for their leadership styles and ethics too. Reading Miya’s thoughts really resonated with me after Mark Lehain’s blog. There shouldn’t be one size fits all in education. As Miya points out, what motivates one demotivates another. Wise words from one so young.


Why the research movement in teaching is failing


Wow! This one caused some upset on edu-Twitter! Miss Smith lays out clearly how she feels the research movement is letting itself down, what she had hoped it might be and what it’s looking like to her now. She also touches on the trad/prog thing, reminding us that many teachers weren’t around when learning styles and brain gym were being bandied about. If, like me, you worked for a traditional head, then they never materialised at all! This is a useful blog to reflect on the fact that everything in education and life comes full circle – whether that’s Dienes blocks or platform shoes.


When you have to walk away


#WomenEd blogs aren’t always what they say on the tin. This could have been written by anyone for anyone, and it’s a sad old tale that we hear too often. Every school and teacher is different and what suits one doesn’t suit the other (didn’t Miya say that?). What this blog fired up in me was that the longer I am in this game, the more I believe that having a common moral purpose within a school is the most important thing. The advice given to me once was “You have three choices: like it, lump it or leave it”. Someone else once added “or change it”, but you can’t always. I’m glad this person has survived, and I hope she is flourishing as a teacher and that this blog gives hope to others.


Why choose teaching


I loved this. It’s a longer read – take it to bed with you – that charts the highs and lows of a village school headteacher’s career, from the home counties to London and back to rural village life. Gemma Hitch has certainly crammed a lot into her 12 years in the job, but her passion for it is clear and her determination and grit show through. It will make you reconsider why you chose teaching – and why you continue to sign up to it year after year. You will recognise things from your own lives, I suspect. I did. And while we all joke about jacking it all in and going to work in Sainsbury’s, would we really? Gemma ends by asking herself if she’d choose the same career if she were 18 again? Her answer is the same as mine: Abso-flipping-lutely.

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