In a year when people started revolting against the opinion writer and calling for ‘safe spaces’, Schools Week continued bringing thought-provoking content – even when it caused some opposition.
Here’s the 10 pieces this year which garnered the most attention.
10. If I were education secretary – Debra Kidd
In our most read of the ‘If I were education secretary’ series, author and former teacher Debra Kidd explains that if she were education secretary she would make herself redundant. But who would she put in charge instead?
9. You’re not the ‘mastery’ of me – Jane Manzone
Never one to understate things, primary teacher Manzone’s invective against the ‘mastery’ movement – an idea in education that children should learn knowledge through strict routines – flared tempers and drew plaudits. Worth re-reading now that everyone has cooled down.
8. How do examiners decide grades? – Alex Scharaschkin
Once exam papers leave schools – what happens next? Alex Scharaschkin from exam board AQA breaks open the exam grading process for those curious about the letters that make or break pupils’ future.
7. With GCSE resits vanishing, are functional skills exams a better choice? – Charlotte Bosworth
Just 7 per cent of GCSE resits convert into passes. Given this, OCR’s Charlotte Bosworth questions whether schools might be better off putting pupils in for functional skills exams. Snobbery still persists in this realm but readers seemed persuaded by some of her arguments.
6. What should I spend my pupil premium on? – Marc Rowland
Over two years, Marc Rowland visited 150 schools observing their use of the pupil premium funds provided for poorer pupils. In this punchy piece he details the best things bought with the cash.
5. The job that we love is being undermined – Ros McMullan and Vic Goddard
Can the government really limit the number of top exam grades while simultaneously whacking schools over the head for not increasing their results? They’re going to. But headteachers McMullan and Goddard put up a valiant fight as to why it’s a bad idea, and why it will drive leaders away from the very schools that need them most.
4. The good, the bad, and the teacher recruitment stats – Meenakshi
Teacher vacancies up. Temporary teachers up. Free schools using unqualified teachers? Up. In a treasure trove of stats edu-researcher Paramshwaran gave the fullest picture of the teaching workforce so far.
3. My school put in an email curfew and reaped the benefits – Mark Steed
Bored of answering emails all night and all weekend too? Headteacher Mark Steed describes how his school instituted an email curfew, and helped staff get their personal time back.
2. The complicated truths of the SATs resit debate – Laura McInerney
From next September pupils who ‘fail’ their primary school tests will need to ‘resit’ them at secondary school. It’s one of the more bizarre Conservative policies, with still no clear plan for implementation, but editor Laura McInerney took a long look at some of its potential advantages.
And the most read opinion piece of the year?
1. Reduce teacher workload? The answer is simple… – Ross Morrison McGill
As the government grapples with teachers drowning under their workload, deputy head McGill offered a very simple solutions and questioned why ministers are so loathed to consider it.