Review by Naureen Khalid

Chair of governors and trustee, Connect Schools Academy Trust

1 May 2021, 5:00


Naureen Khalid’s blogs of the week, 26 April 2021

This week’s top blogs cover leadership lessons from the ‘death of football’, making the most of the final weeks of term, safeguarding and attitudes to disabilities


Gary Lineker is not dead and neither is football – yet


If you follow Daisy Christodoulou on Twitter you’ll know that she is very knowledgeable about assessment. You may also be aware that she is a keen follower of both cricket and football; the latter being the subject of this blog, which contains plenty of lessons for school leaders.

In April 1995, a spoof Channel 4 documentary predicted that in 2019 both Gary Lineker and football would be dead. Obviously, these predictions proved to be incorrect. However, Christodoulou suggests that although these predictions didn’t come about, it doesn’t mean that football will not die at some point.

She advises people to think about the threats that may reduce football’s popularity in the future, and herein lies the leadership lesson. As leaders, heads and governors must keep an eye on the future and consider the factors that could threaten school sustainability, in order to mitigate them. Christodoulou concludes by noting that the biggest threat comes from leaders who are incapable of identifying what the problems are, let alone solving them.


Supporting your GCSE students: how to make the most of the time left


In this very timely piece for the Oxford Education blog, Dawn Cox shares strategies RE teachers can use to support students whose studies have been impacted by the pandemic. She notes that students have had different experiences in striving to complete their GCSE RE syllabus. Some will have had a full timetable of live teaching, some will have been set work to be done independently, and some may not have engaged with their studies at all.

Cox lays out three supportive strategies. Most of us, she argues, love listening to stories, so using narratives is a great way to teach beliefs, abstract concepts and practices. She also describes successfully using concept mapping with her students, and describes the technique. The third strategy involves low-stakes testing. Cox tests her students regularly, but doesn’t call them tests and her students know the ‘results’ have no consequences.

As teachers across the board struggle to squeeze the most into the few remaining weeks, these strategies promise to be helpful far beyond RE.


Recruitment is at the heart of safeguarding efforts


Recent headlines about cases of professional misconduct and the shocking disclosures on Everyone’s Invited have reminded us of the importance of good safeguarding practices. In this blog for Satis Education, Helen Stevenson looks at the role recruitment plays in safeguarding. Governors and school leaders should take heed and make changes where necessary.

Stevenson makes the point that during times of high turnover and when leaders are under other pressures (such as those caused by the pandemic), a consistent focus on safeguarding is all the more important. Many schools are finding it increasingly hard to recruit to leadership positions. But, even in such cases, safeguarding and due diligence must not be neglected. This isn’t something that should be compromised for a swifter or more financially efficient recruitment process. Safeguarding should be at the heart of all we do.


Leave her at the hospital


This is a very moving blog by Ben Newmark that asks searching questions and invites us to reflect on society’s attitudes towards disabilities. Newmark writes about the heartbreaking confessions people have made to him – people who were told not to love their own children or even “leave her and have another one”.

As a society, we are still not comfortable with openly talking about disabilities and, when that happens, we exclude them. Newmark is the antithesis to all that. His openness about his daughter’s diagnosis of Williams Syndrome is the example we all need to move to a place where every parent can be as open and no one is coerced into making decisions they know to be wrong.

We often struggle to find words to reason these situations and, because we ‘lack’ these words, awful things can happen. As educators, we have an important part to play in bringing society to this place, and Newmark is a guiding light.

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