Review by Sonia Thompson

Headteacher, St Matthew's C of E teaching and research school

23 Oct 2021, 5:00


Sonia Thompson’s blogs of the week, 25 October 2021

Reading Matters – children’s book news


I know, I know…I’ve mentioned this her blogs before, but I just need more readers (both primary and secondary) to understand how good Anne Thompson’s     weekly round-up of all things reading for pleasure is. She brings news from the world of children’s books with such a gentle ferocity, taking in events, recommendations (hers and others’), competitions, resources, articles and news…all with links…phew!

What I love is the personal touch. You get a sense that all the news must have earned its place. And a particularly powerful feature is her inclusion of diverse news. For me, this speaks volumes about this blogger’s commitment to widening conversations and reflecting reality. So, if you don’t know Library Lady, get to know her – and change your reading life!

Building Leadership Presence through Awareness of Self

@msybibi via @DiverseEd2020

DiverseEd is a grassroots organisation, co-founded by Bennie Kara and Hannah Wilson. One of their missions is to amplify the voice of a diverse range of teachers through their blog. This week’s blogger is English teacher and assistant head Yamina Bibi, who shares how her inner critic threatened her confidence as a leader.

“As leaders, we have a duty to model vulnerability and authenticity,” she states, demonstrating the benefits of the coaching programme that helped her overcome her sense of being a “fraud and failure” by letting go of her perceived “superwoman” persona. The programme allowed her to fully grasp that it’s OK not to know everything.

The blog ends on a challenge for all of us to “share all of who we are, so that we can continue doing what we love without fear”. Now that is one challenge I can get behind.

What was asked at ResearchEd Surrey


Joe Kirby celebrates all things ResearchEd and what he sees as the most “powerful questions and central insights” raised at the most recent event in Surrey. He takes in Rebecca Lee on building teacher knowledge, then reflects on Mark Enser’s “treating teacher learning more like pupil learning”. He then goes on to summarise talks by Josh Vallance on how to build a curriculum from scratch, Becky Allen and Matthew Evans on why leaders do daft things, Heather Fearn on Ofsted’s research reviews and Daisy Christodoulou on what makes good writing?

Each talk is summarised into just four key questions, and what is clear – other than his insight and incisiveness – is Kirby’s respect for the “deep thinking” at these Saturday events. As a speaker at several ResearchEd events myself, teachers’ eagerness to engage and learn on their days off is infectious. Kirby calls it “awe-inspiring”, and even critics can’t argue with that.

Differentiation and Sunday Dinner – Thinking Flexibly


When it comes to simplifying the often over-complicated world of education, the inimitable Emma Turner is the analogy queen. Here, she is at it again, making a challenging topic accessible, yet leaving her readers with plenty of their own thinking to do.

Turner tackles the thorny issue of differentiation, taking us on a journey from its rise to its lethal mutation and its eventual downfall. Turner acknowledges the issues, but makes a convincing case that the concept still has legs. In fact, considering how she needs to present dinner differently depending on her children’s ages, she demonstrates its everyday-ness. They all eat the same meal, “but at different stages of proficiency”.  

With a sharp reminder that very many primaries teach in mixed-age classrooms, Turner wants to “reclaim differentiation as a real and useful tool for meeting the needs of a broad range of ages in our specific contexts”.

This blog makes clear that this is not the old “differentiation by stealth”. Rather, we should be aiming to “get to the stage where all our pupils can access their ‘Sunday dinner’ with little or no help, but we cannot pretend that they will get there just with scaffolding and high expectations alone”.

Some readers may not agree. But for me, this blog is good enough to eat.

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