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

13 Mar 2021, 5:00


Sonia Thompson’s blogs of the week, 8 March 2021

This week’s top blogs cover children’s books, advice from a leadership dream team, how to knit up a strong curriculum and unpacking educational research


Words and Feelings


This is the best kind of book blog

When Ben Harris recommends a book, I know I will need to seek it out. This discerning teacher reader and writer always tunes into a diverse range of authors and themes, offering his readers a delicious peek inside their pages. This blog is dedicated to Elle McNicoll’s new book, Show Us Who You Are. In it, Harris deftly takes us through this Scottish writer’s second offering. He is honest and raw, describing the difficulties he faces in fully expressing how he feels about the book. Words fail him, he says, but fortunately for us, he tries nonetheless.

This is the best kind of book blog – one that leaves you thirsty for a drink at the literary fountain. As a certified Tsundoku, if my ‘to be read’ pile tumbles and hypothetically crushes me, I will know which blogger to come looking for, Mr Harris!


Stepping up… Advice


You know you’re witnessing an education dream team

When Jill Berry and Mary Myatt join forces, you know you’re witnessing an education dream team. Only magic can ensue! Myatt invited Berry to contribute to her new website, which the latter calls “the place to inspire our professional imagination”.

In this storming blog, Berry takes us through interviews with aspiring leaders offering advice and support about making the move into leadership. She goes on to pull together some of the chat comments and questions and to respond to the ones the interviews don’t cover. Through a series of questions and answers, Berry discusses leadership roles, applying for them, and “the shelf life of a head”, which I read with particular interest. Her years of experience ooze through every response and leave you with a deep sense of appreciation for having such generous people in our profession.


Time to get Knitting


This is a blog full of purls of wisdom

Zoe Enser is a prolific blogger. She just talks sense, and I appreciate that. In this blog, while celebrating the vibrancy of the educational landscape, she shares her concerns about the direction of travel. She praises current pedagogical choices but questions whether in some schools their foundations are firm enough.

I don’t know how she finds the time, but it appears she is also a prolific knitter, and her hobby provides the metaphor for this post. Enser commends us “to knit together all these wonderful threads that have been explored right into the curriculum”. If we don’t, she warns us, we may be left with “hanging threads and holes”. We may need to unravel some of our work to pick up missed stitches, but that process ensures that “what is being learnt is meaningful”. This is a blog full of purls of wisdom, if you’ll pardon the pun.


Why ‘Unpacking?


Given the quality of this blog, I can’t wait to read the book

As the director of an EEF Research School, it is always interesting to read other educators’ perspectives on the role of evidence in education. In this post, Mr Gill Singh – whose new blog, Unpacking Education, follows his research for a book in John Catt Educational’s ‘In Action’ series – sets out to unpack the word ‘unpacking’ itself. To do this, he uses the analogy of building a flat-pack desk to reflect on why evidence needs to be handled with care.

The metaphor will be familiar to Schools Week readers, as will the warning that context is king. In order for research to have relevance, we need to be acquainted with its methods, as that will influence its transference into classroom practice. The nuances of our own classrooms often mean that the best-laid plans go awry but, Singh advises, that doesn’t mean we should abandon research. Instead, we should approach it pragmatically. As the EEF suggests, ‘best bets’ trump no research at all. Given the quality of this blog so far, I can’t wait to read the book.

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