A Christmas Carol: The Exam

I entered a contest to rewrite A Christmas Carol. What fell out of my head has an inconvenient message and it made me cry. But I love it anyway. Merry Christmas

13 Teacher Gift Ideas That Are Cheap, Useful & Unusual

Got to buy a teacher gift? Whether it's a secret santa, a family member, or your own kids' teacher - here are some ideas!

My Year In Books 2017: What I Finished (& Didn’t), and Liked (& Didn’t)

The books I read this year, and what I learned. And the books I didn't finish this year (so you can avoid them too).

Journalists don’t need to self-flagellate about Corbyn, but they should about Grenfell

A reporter's job is Catchphrase: say what you see. But you've got to be looking at the right things to know if Mr Chips is drowning, not waving.

On why I disagree with universal free lunches and scrapping university fees

If my tweets about free primary school meals and uni tuition have annoyed you, maybe read this...

What to do when you feel out of your league – #WomenEd #IWD17

A week ago I gave my first ever talk at a WomenEd conference. I've written before about not particularly enjoying doing things "as a woman". So the talk was less focused on gender, and more on the unifying fact that we all feel out of our depth sometimes - especially in work situations. Feeling out of my league … Continue reading What to do when you feel out of your league – #WomenEd #IWD17

A Love Letter To Miss Watson

Miss Watson emailed me recently. Miss Watson! She was my form tutor in year 9 and 10. I hated Miss Watson. And loved her.

Jesus beat the Devil quicker than the ICO will sort the DfE

We have a new Information Commissioner, and she seems very exciting and hip. She keeps talking about how she wants to expand Freedom of Information laws to any group with a public contract. Which sounds great and everyone is excited. I am not. At the moment, trying to get information from a government department who … Continue reading Jesus beat the Devil quicker than the ICO will sort the DfE

On death, FOIs, and coping at work: A very personal essay

Within days of winning something fantastic, my family lost someone dear. I'm still trying to figure out how to feel about it all. So I blogged.

Do you want to slay dragons? (Aka be Deputy Editor of Schools Week)

We are hiring over at Schools Week. It is exciting. Tell everyone you know!

Think Like An Education Secretary 2015

Another Christmas Eve, another Education Secretary's annual reading list. But this year there's a problem: Nicky Morgan doesn’t seem to like books. She almost never mentions them. Her speeches seldom quote books. She rarely singles out ideas from authors. Admittedly, a few days ago, she asked everyone to buy their children a book for Christmas. But … Continue reading Think Like An Education Secretary 2015

I Trolled A Scam Caller So Hard … HE Put The Phone Down On ME

I hate the sort of scam callers who try to get your computer details. So I decided to play one at his own game.

The Government Department That Stole Christmas

The Department for Education have literally stolen my Christmas. Four times.

After a 3 year battle the DfE now claim they have ‘lost’ 41 free school letters

After three years, two court cases, endless emails, and a new interpretation of the law to try and stop it, the Department for Education have been ordered - yet again - to provide me information about free schools. But there is a new twist....

What I learned wandering around the Conservative conference protests as a journalist

On Sunday journalists were spat at outside the Conservative conference in Manchester for doing their job. At the same time, in the same place, I moved around the protest without experiencing any of this. Here's what I saw.

Rail renationalisation isn’t necessary. Schools have shown that a third way is possible.

Renationalise the railways and bring schools back to local authorities may sound a good idea but there's one killer reason why they are not....

Things you need to hear when amid a social media storm

When people don't like your opinions on social media the backlash can be furious. But Dad McInerney does a good line in advice.

Learning to be homeless

"I was watching learning. I was watching a person learn how to be homeless. It was not something I had seen before, or ever really thought about."

Should I appeal this #FOI about the DfE’s investigation into ‘mass migration’?

"At the time it struck me as strange that a Secretary of State, coming near the end of their term, would order such an inquiry. Especially when immigration has barely come up as an issue in schools."

The Hiding of the Blue Penis – My No. 1 #TeacherBloopers

Everyone has done at least one embarrassing thing in the classroom. Most of us have done more than that.

A bizarre (but truthful) story about Grant Shapps

Whatever was true or not – and that picture is so complicated I’m still not sure – it seemed like Grant Shapps was to be viewed with scepticism. And then I remembered something.

Top Tips For Education Academics Who Want Media Coverage (or REF impact)

It was with great regret that I couldn't attend an Education Media Centre event last week at the University of Durham. I'd been looking forward to it for months, but with the news breaking about the PM's school asking for donations I was simply unable to go. Intrepid senior reporter Sophie stepped in and delivered … Continue reading Top Tips For Education Academics Who Want Media Coverage (or REF impact)

Dealing with obnoxious young people at a concert (or just about anywhere)

Yesterday I went to a concert with my other half. It started about 4pm. Five minutes after we arrived the row in front, behind and to our left filled up with young people who looked like they'd been imported in from The Only Way Is Essex - all hair extensions, checked shirts and screechy vowels. … Continue reading Dealing with obnoxious young people at a concert (or just about anywhere)

Vexatious again: This time, for asking to see the Workload Challenge results

In October, education secretary Nicky Morgan launched the 'Workload Challenge' - a consultation with teachers about their work burden and would could be done to reduce it. The Department for Education tweeted the hell out of it and made a thing about how they were analysing all 44,000 responses. https://twitter.com/educationgovuk/status/545226487046352896 I decided to ask for … Continue reading Vexatious again: This time, for asking to see the Workload Challenge results

A Year in Review – The #Nurture 14/15 Challenge

This year's #nurture1415  blog challenge involves listing 5 highlights of the year and 5 hopes for the next. Right, well... here goes. The Highlights 1. Being opposed in court by the Department for Education That sounds weird, I know. It didn't feel particularly good either. But the farcical situation of defending my simple ask that the … Continue reading A Year in Review – The #Nurture 14/15 Challenge

My 5 Top Blogposts of the year (and the 5 I *wish* had been better read)

A single rule plagues the land of blogging: White’s Law - The number of people who read your work is usually inverse to either (a) time spent on it, or (b) your level of pride about it. So every year I write a list of things that other people liked, and a list of things I … Continue reading My 5 Top Blogposts of the year (and the 5 I *wish* had been better read)

Think Like An Education Secretary: Gove and Morgan’s 2014 Reading List

Another Christmas Eve, another Education Secretary's Reading List. Over the first months of the year I kept my usual notes of what Gove might be reading. And then he left us! Nightmare. Nevertheless, do not fear, the reading list has been revised to account for Ms Morgan, our latest edu-leader. She hasn't mentioned books all that … Continue reading Think Like An Education Secretary: Gove and Morgan’s 2014 Reading List

What I Learned From Good Will Hunting

1. Why "knowing stuff" does not make you the smartest person in the room http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM-gZintWDc 2. How being academically smart, even when your friends are not, is a really useful thing http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=nWoFPcdcA1E&t=6 3. Why you don't owe an education to yourself, but to everyone else http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=8gfipuaIA68&t=8

How unisex toilets helped me win at the internet

I won at the internet last month. They emailed to tell me. 'They' being a company called metr.ic and the email said that from among 150,000 daily news articles, mine was one of the top 100 most commented on. It was clearly a slow news day. That said, the topic of the piece was gendered … Continue reading How unisex toilets helped me win at the internet

What’s wrong with making profits from schools?

Supporting rich people getting richer from education is a tough fight. Luckily, the debate panelists were tough - and like to fight.

Women! Share your numbers! (aka ‘The surprising reason why I give women fewer work opportunities’)

Two common complaints: From 'the public' - "Women aren't asked as often as men to sit on panels, speak at events, write expert columns, etc..." From commissioning editors - "Women are harder to find" Question is: why are they harder to find? A weird answer recently hit me in the face. One morning, I was … Continue reading Women! Share your numbers! (aka ‘The surprising reason why I give women fewer work opportunities’)

The 5 Big Mistakes People Make When Writing (and Talking) About Research

Yesterday was the incredible ResearchEd 2014. If you missed it, have a look at the "day in pictures" over at Academies Week or peruse the #rED14 hashtag on twitter. It was inspiring, incredible, fun and - most of all - reminded me that education is a serious profession. It brings together politicians, policy makers, school … Continue reading The 5 Big Mistakes People Make When Writing (and Talking) About Research

FOI Advice Part II – Especially About Education

Back in May, I explained how to make a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in 8 Easy Steps. That info is good for just about any type of FOI request. In this blog I want to get into the specifics of making requests about education things. And then in a final blog, coming soon!, … Continue reading FOI Advice Part II – Especially About Education

How I Lost A Court Case But Got A New Job

So, the results are in on the Information Tribunal. And... I lost. Frustrating and upsetting as it is, it's what the judge on the day found and so I have to accept that a blanket ask for free school applications and the decision letters has been ruled out. A number of things have been annoying about … Continue reading How I Lost A Court Case But Got A New Job

A Tale For When You Are Missing Out On An Event

As I write this the TES Awards are ongoing and my timeline is full of people I enjoy spending time with having fun, cooing over teaching, and eating great food. It's always disappointing when you can't attend something like that because of another commitment. However, I am always reminded in these moments of a profound day … Continue reading A Tale For When You Are Missing Out On An Event

Why Commissioners can’t just “CALL” for academies

The DfE keep putting out press releases that say the Schools Commissioner, Frank Green, is "calling for more academies". Today he called for more academies in Derbyshire. Last month, in a suspiciously similar press release, he did it for Essex. But, "calling" for things isn't a policy strategy. With apologies to The US Office, it's a bit like … Continue reading Why Commissioners can’t just “CALL” for academies

What I Learned About Teaching at the Wellington Education Festival

Last weekend I attended the Sunday Times Education Festival at Wellington. It was brilliant. Sunshine, nice grounds, hundreds of people chatting about edu-nerdy things. It's basically my nirvana. Busy enjoying myself I didn't take many notes or feel particularly moved to write a blog about it all. HOWEVER, one event stayed with me all week … Continue reading What I Learned About Teaching at the Wellington Education Festival

Why People Are Wrong about TeachFirst’s Name

One of the most common assumptions about TeachFirst is that its name is premised on the idea that participants "Teach First, Then Do Something Later". It's an annoying assumption though, because it's not true. Brett Wigdortz, CEO of TeachFirst, explained how the organisation got its name during the Sunday Times Education Festival this weekend. Back when TF was … Continue reading Why People Are Wrong about TeachFirst’s Name

Less than one week to my DfE FOI Tribunal

  Twenty months ago I asked the DfE for some information about free schools; next week I will be in court for a 2-day hearing. During the hearing, the DfE will appeal a judgement from the Information Commission Office stating that I ought to be given the documents. What did I ask for that was so … Continue reading Less than one week to my DfE FOI Tribunal

Gove, the Kama Sutra & School Places

A bit slow posting this one as I've been on holiday the past two weeks around the country with some US friends (who knew there were so many Harry Potter things to see in England?!) However, last Tuesday I had the great pleasure of finally seeing one of my Guardian columns in print the day it … Continue reading Gove, the Kama Sutra & School Places

Comparing US Charters and English Free Schools

What can England's 'free schools' learn from their US counterparts? That was the central question of a feature article I wrote for yesterday's Guardian. It was an interesting piece to write. I was given 1700 words (that's a lot) and, in order to get accompanying shots for the story, I headed up to a community-created … Continue reading Comparing US Charters and English Free Schools

Kentucky Fried Schools: Are Academies a “trade secret”?

As explained a while back, I am currently in the process of studying academy providers who applied to run schools under the Targeted Basic Need Programme. One of the things I requested under the Freedom of Information Act was the plans submitted by academy trusts as part of their pitch to run schools. In most … Continue reading Kentucky Fried Schools: Are Academies a “trade secret”?

8 Easy Steps To Completing a Freedom of Information Request

A few people have contacted me recently asking how they use the Freedom of Information Act to access documents held by the government or other public authorities (including schools and Ofsted). I'm always delighted to help but I also understand people want to be able to do things for themselves. Hence, I've put together three … Continue reading 8 Easy Steps To Completing a Freedom of Information Request

Students should be able to freely access their marked exam papers. End of argument!

Over the past forever a central concern has driven examination reform: Employers don't think exams are doing a very good job of differentiating students and/or they are not providing the right skills. But behind this claim usually lies a lot of ignorance. Employers are often surprisingly lacking in knowledge about the content of exams that they … Continue reading Students should be able to freely access their marked exam papers. End of argument!

Forget boycotts, get PARENTS to ‘opt-out’ of tests for 4-year olds

Tomorrow the National Union of Teachers will debate whether teachers ought to boycott the government's proposed 'tests for 4-year olds'. But the NUT are missing a trick. Instead of pushing teachers into looking like work-shirkers, why not encourage parents to opt-out of the tests? The opt-out strategy is currently being used, with reasonable success, across … Continue reading Forget boycotts, get PARENTS to ‘opt-out’ of tests for 4-year olds

What E-Coli can teach us about brand-name academy chains

A slightly provocative headline, but in this month's Guardian column I use Jack-in-the-Box's disasterous e-coli outbreak in 1993 to show how easily brand reputations can be tarnished. This is true even if the brand works zealously to overcome it. (JITB became so evangelical fast-food cooking changes that e-coli outbreaks subsequently dropped right across the fastfood … Continue reading What E-Coli can teach us about brand-name academy chains

Serious Questions about the new “HeadTeacher Boards”

Announcements are finally due to be made about the appointment of the new Regional Schools Commissioners. For the uninitated, the Commissioners will work in geographically mad locations (see map) and will oversee all academies and free schools in that area. Essentially, they will act as devolved 'Secretary of States' in their region, but the four … Continue reading Serious Questions about the new “HeadTeacher Boards”

Why Gove Can’t Have It All Ways On Free Schools

Why Gove Can't Have It All Ways On Free Schools Spent yesterday furious about free schools. It began with a press release received last week about one of the few free schools rated Outstanding and continued over the weekend as the Guardian released details of the government "cover-up strategy" for setting the policy back on … Continue reading Why Gove Can’t Have It All Ways On Free Schools

Clarifying IES Breckland and The Free School Monitoring Forms

I've contributed to some confusion today around IES Breckland's pre-Ofsted monitoring visit. Completely my mistake and given that I'm always banging on about things being clear, I thought it best to sort it out. Straightforward facts: Feb 25th - I blog about free schools receiving DfE monitoring visits which result in being given reports that … Continue reading Clarifying IES Breckland and The Free School Monitoring Forms

Apologies! E-Act Storify Now Live…

Apologies for those of you who got eight versions of my blog earlier. Storify won't embed on WordPress but it was apparently trying anyway! If you do want to read about what is happening with E-Act (I would recommend it) I have storified here: http://storify.com/lauramcinerney/what-is-happening-with-e-act

Are Academy Trusts being told to poach high-performing local authority schools?

Given that my study of free school applications has stalled while I await the DfE's legal battle to stop me getting the information I need, I decided to look for an alternative approach. Having stumbled upon the Targeted Basic Need Programme, where funds are given to local authorities for new academies, I began considering how … Continue reading Are Academy Trusts being told to poach high-performing local authority schools?

The Apology That Really *WAS* A Press Release

Two weeks ago I blogged about Michael Gove claiming he had an apology "confirmed in writing" from Action Fraud. The apology stated that Action Fraud were at fault for the mislabelling of a phone call about school fraud as 'information' rather than a 'crime' report. I asked via an FOI request to see the apology. The … Continue reading The Apology That Really *WAS* A Press Release

Are Free School Monitoring Visits going to be published?

I recently shared the results of an information request that revealed how Free Schools were getting monitoring visits from the Department for Education which appear to provide recommendations and feedback that would make the schools "Ofsted-ready". People were outraged that schools who are not paying for such centralised improvement services seem to be getting them … Continue reading Are Free School Monitoring Visits going to be published?

Should we be placing unqualified teachers in Inadequate schools?

One of my fears about Schools Direct - the government programme allowing schools to 'train their own' teachers - was the apparent lack of checks on school-based support and the situations participants might be placed in. I've constantly been told not to worry as only schools with training capacity will use the School Direct system. … Continue reading Should we be placing unqualified teachers in Inadequate schools?

Should TeachFirst add a pre-service year? (And post-programme support?)

Justin "Juice" Fong - Head of Internal Communications at TeachForAmerica (TFA) - yesterday wrote a blog describing upcoming changes at TFA and making his own suggestion for the future.The changes should interest people in England because they echo concerns raised before about TFA's sister organisation, TeachFirst.As Juice explains TFA is making two big changes:Introducing a 'pre-service' year for applicants … Continue reading Should TeachFirst add a pre-service year? (And post-programme support?)

DfE FOI Slipperiness: When an ‘apology’ became a ‘press release’

In a recent letter, Michael Gove claimed the DfE were not to blame for King's Science Academy escaping police investigation for alleged fraud until Newsnight revealed the case. Gove's thorough timeline (p.5-8) explains how the DfE had reported all relevant details to Action Fraud - a central police agency - back in April. Unfortunately, the … Continue reading DfE FOI Slipperiness: When an ‘apology’ became a ‘press release’

The Berlin Wall Manifesto: For politicians serious about private schools

Last month the New Statesman ran a series of articles looking at the "Berlin Wall" divide between private and state schools. The headline essay was by historian David Kynaston, and his son George, who worked as a teacher in a Birmingham state school. Looking back over the past 60 years or so, they berated Labour … Continue reading The Berlin Wall Manifesto: For politicians serious about private schools

What do you notice about this Free School monitoring form?

The Department for Education has always said Free Schools were visited periodically after opening to ensure all was well. It was never clear who was making the visits, or what they involved, or what sort of feedback schools got - but we knew there were visits. To find out more I put in a Freedom … Continue reading What do you notice about this Free School monitoring form?

No Use Crying Over Spilt Dinner Ladies

My Guardian column this week is about the move by one academy chain to outsource its non-teaching services. I'm generally known for being conciliatory and not trying to kick up too much conflict, so writing something which "picked on" a group, and which mentioned a hypothetical situation (that dinner assistant wages might be driven down), … Continue reading No Use Crying Over Spilt Dinner Ladies

What I Learned From Writing About Vocational Education

In last month's Guardian column I wrote about the dilemma facing policymakers deciding how students should progress down 'vocational' or 'academic' routes to qualification.  The problem seems to be that the earlier you 'track' students into vocational routes the more likely you are to reduce social mobility. In England this is because students most likely … Continue reading What I Learned From Writing About Vocational Education

Where is the desk of the new Regional School Commissioners?

A few months ago the government advertised for 8 "Regional School Commissioners". Since then Michael Gove, secretary of state for education, has said several times that the Commissioners with be the eyes and ears of the Department for Education. He will devolve his school monitoring and closing powers to them so they can become a … Continue reading Where is the desk of the new Regional School Commissioners?

How Education Politicking Works

Yesterday I wrote a piece over at LKMCo about the reasons why secretary of state for education, Michael Gove, was right to big up private schools as being better than state schools. (Even though he wasn't correct). Writing the piece reminded me of a diagram I saw a few years ago. The author is Andrew Cooper, … Continue reading How Education Politicking Works

Jesus is the Elephant

"If you tell people not to think about elephants, they will think about elephants. And, in US schools, Jesus is the elephant." Last Friday, the TES published my longest US feature yet: "The Godless Delusion". The piece muses on the fact that American schools are most definitely not allowed to involve religion. Perversely, school leaders spend … Continue reading Jesus is the Elephant

The Jonah Complex: Why We Are Afraid Of Being Brilliant

  The 'lack of wanting to be clever' problem is something anyone working in classrooms will encounter. One of the things I learned to ask disaffected students was: what would you have to sacrifice if you suddenly did really well, academically speaking? This is how the conversation usually went: Me: I'm guessing you don't really want to … Continue reading The Jonah Complex: Why We Are Afraid Of Being Brilliant

Update: DfE start repopulating TBNP site

After my earlier blog post outlining the mysterious disappearance of the DfE's Targeted Basic Need Programme website, two key things happened. One - Adrian Short found a cached version of the original TBNP website  https://twitter.com/adrianshort/status/428108259103232000 And here it is. See its many shiny links!: Seeing the page again made me notice the datestamp. 12 December 2013. … Continue reading Update: DfE start repopulating TBNP site

Why did the DfE delete the Targeted Basic Need Programme website?

Given that the Department for Education have asked for a Tribunal to keep free school information a secret, you might think they are in the habit of hiding things. But I'm generally an optimistic soul, and I don't think that. Not least because the majority of people I meet in edu-policy are thoughtful, and interesting, … Continue reading Why did the DfE delete the Targeted Basic Need Programme website?

What Academies should and shouldn’t do with their cash….

After the recent Guardian story about academies paying millions of pounds to private firms for educational services there has been a surge of interest in the way schools are spending taxpayer money. It is important to remember that academies are not alone in spending tax-cash with private firms. Every school will buy items from private companies … Continue reading What Academies should and shouldn’t do with their cash….

Subject Associations should approach government about EBacc inclusion

One of the most annoying policies of the past few years was the "EBacc", a list of subjects the government put together as a league table measure, with the aim of encouraging students to take these preferred subjects. The list was annoying because the subjects included made little sense (see why here). What was further … Continue reading Subject Associations should approach government about EBacc inclusion

What Happened at the TouchPaper Problem Party?

Saturday was the scene of the first ever TouchPaper Problem Party, and it was amazing. It was, quite literally, a super fun nerdy education party! The story of its genesis is remarkably simple. A few months after I gave a talk at the ResearchEd conference in which I laid out 7 questions that I thought … Continue reading What Happened at the TouchPaper Problem Party?

TouchPaper Problem #7 – Memorising information (for up to 6 months)

This is the seventh blogpost expanding on the TouchPaper Problems first discussed at #Researched2013 and due to be tackled at the first TouchPaper Problem Party. Question #7 - What is the optimal number of times for a student to (a) read, (b) hear, or (c) say information aloud if they are to retain for 1, 3, & 6 month intervals? … Continue reading TouchPaper Problem #7 – Memorising information (for up to 6 months)

What’s Next For The Free Schools #FOI Battle?

Yesterday’s response to my Guardian article about battling the DfE to release secret Free School applications was overwhelming and unexpected. Given that I constantly talk up the kindness of people on social media, it probably shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it was quite something to be inundated with tweets, DMs and emails offering support, … Continue reading What’s Next For The Free Schools #FOI Battle?

What Michael Gove Could Learn From The Lion King

Tomorrow's Guardian is carrying a feature-length story about my FOI battle with the Department for Education. It's the first time I've written about the process in full, though I'm currently unable to talk too much about the Tribunal appeal. There's one point about Free School transparency, though, that keeps being raised by the government and … Continue reading What Michael Gove Could Learn From The Lion King

TouchPaper Problem #6 – Teacher Perceptions of Behaviour

This is the sixth blogpost expanding on the TouchPaper Problems first discussed at #Researched2013 and due to be tackled at the first TouchPaper Problem Party. Question #6 - What rule best predicts teacher ‘behaviour’ ratings of pupils? Teachers are often asked to describe student behaviour: to their parents, on report cards, even to students themselves. But is it the child's … Continue reading TouchPaper Problem #6 – Teacher Perceptions of Behaviour

TouchPaper Problem #5 – Getting Classes To Enter Rooms Effectively

This is the fifth blogpost expanding on the TouchPaper Problems first discussed at #Researched2013 and due to be tackled at the first TouchPaper Problem Party. Question #5 - What are the necessary and sufficient conditions under which students will enter a classroom and most speedily engage in productive problem-solving? Education is a zero sum game. We have a finite … Continue reading TouchPaper Problem #5 – Getting Classes To Enter Rooms Effectively

TouchPaper Problem #4 – What determines the complexity of a concept?

This is the fourth blogpost expanding on the TouchPaper Problems first discussed at #Researched2013 and due to be tackled at the first TouchPaper Problem Party. Question #4 - What determines the complexity of a concept? In my estimation, this is the hardest of all the problems, but it's also really important. As a teacher I was constantly trying to … Continue reading TouchPaper Problem #4 – What determines the complexity of a concept?

TouchPaper Problem #3 – Effective Homeworks for Memorizing Things

This is the third blogpost expanding on the TouchPaper Problems first discussed at #Researched2013 and due to be tackled at the first TouchPaper Problem Party. Question #3 - If a child needs to remember 20 chunks of knowledge from one lesson to the next, what is the most effective homework to set? One of the most frustrating moments as … Continue reading TouchPaper Problem #3 – Effective Homeworks for Memorizing Things

The HeartWarming Tale of Jacob the Goldfish

There's a story I occasionally tell about teaching that raises people's spirits. It's the story of Jacob the Goldfish. So as it's New Year's Eve, I thought I might share. I actually mentioned Jacob right back in 2010 when I first got Twitter and appear to have thought it was Facebook: https://twitter.com/miss_mcinerney/status/9479704772 The Happy Birthday … Continue reading The HeartWarming Tale of Jacob the Goldfish

My Top Posts of 2013. (And the ones I *wished* were top…)

One of the rules of blog writing is that the posts you most lovingly craft are rarely the ones that get most readers. Alan White first brought this to my attention after he wrote a nuanced book review about Nick Ross' controversial crime book. While the newspapers were hamming up Ross' phrase that 'rape is … Continue reading My Top Posts of 2013. (And the ones I *wished* were top…)

Think Like An Education Secretary: Gove’s 2013 Reading List

Michael Gove has been hiding lately. Could it be that he has run out of steam and is looking for another job? Or perhaps he is out back reading a few more books? This time last year he was busy telling the Spectator all about his desire that working-class children read 70+ books a year. In … Continue reading Think Like An Education Secretary: Gove’s 2013 Reading List

MASSIVE YAWN: DfE Have Appealed My Free School FOI Judgement

To those not up to speed: Last year I put in a Freedom of Information request to the Dfe for Free School Application Forms & acceptance/rejection letters. The DfE turned down my request, twice. After an 11-month consideration the Information Commissioner's Office said, under the rules of the law, the DfE had to release the … Continue reading MASSIVE YAWN: DfE Have Appealed My Free School FOI Judgement

Why Can’t We Have Local Hearings For Free Schools?

Zoe Williams has written a piece for the Guardian about the current Free Schools debacle. Discovery Free School has been given notice it must close. Al-Madinah Free School is still in disarray. And though there is notable quiet about King's Science Academy there appears to be movement in the background over it, and a few … Continue reading Why Can’t We Have Local Hearings For Free Schools?

The 12 Most Critical Findings of the NAO Free School Report

The National Audit Office have published a report scrutinising the DfE's Free School policy. No doubt the government will trumpet the headline that most primary Free School places are in areas of high need (which is good), and talk lots about how much better the process now is (which it is), but buried in the … Continue reading The 12 Most Critical Findings of the NAO Free School Report

How speed-dating on the Isle of Sheppey might save education

In last week's Education Select Committee, an issue was raised regarding the spread of highly effective teachers. Loic Menzies raise the point that teaching in London schools serving the most disadvantaged pupils is commonly rated as good or outstanding. Schools serving disadvantaged populations elsewhere in the country, however, have much lower rates of good or … Continue reading How speed-dating on the Isle of Sheppey might save education

Announcing: The 1st TouchPaper Problem Solving Party

Back in September, the ResearchEd conference hosted a vast range of speakers suggesting how research might be more effectively used in education. My own contribution was a presentation of 7 problems which, if answered, would help teachers understand important things about their job. (See the full talk here) The list was called the "TouchPaper Problems" - … Continue reading Announcing: The 1st TouchPaper Problem Solving Party

I Won. DfE Must Release Free School Application Forms.

In October last year the DfE refused my FOI request for (a) Free School application forms, and (b) the acceptance and rejection letters sent to applicants. After a long and ludicrous battle (started here), the Information Commission Office have released their Decision Notice about my case. In sum: I won. The ridiculously lengthy 17-page judgement demonstrates … Continue reading I Won. DfE Must Release Free School Application Forms.

The Very Few Thoughts I Have About “Being A Woman Blogger”

99% of the time, I forget I am a woman. At least, I think about it no more than I think about my being short, or Northern, or a Leeds Rhino fan. Other people might think about it. And because I'm not completely naive: I'm certain all kinds of subconscious cues affect my behaviour in … Continue reading The Very Few Thoughts I Have About “Being A Woman Blogger”

Should teachers publish the test scores of their classes?

I am currently being forced to read shedloads of papers about “Total Quality Management” – both in engineering and in education. Much of it is soporific management speak. But every now and then something catches my eye. Here’s today's: Having charts showing defect rates posted on the shop significantly predicted company improvement Among a bunch … Continue reading Should teachers publish the test scores of their classes?

The Quick, The Weird, and The Thorough: How I Mark Student Work

Bit late on this month's blogsync but better than never, right?... Topic (last) month was: Marking With Impact. Having taught several subjects across KS3 - 5, my marking techniques have varied. Here are just three which I think had impact even if they're not faultless. The Quick In my first year I taught 580 students per week. … Continue reading The Quick, The Weird, and The Thorough: How I Mark Student Work

Why Obama Keeps Disappointing American Educators

This was my first rodeo. Having traversed a ridiculous number of dead-ends to even find the rodeo (it was out in a field, which the facebook page gave no address for) we seated ourselves at the top of a rickety bleacher. Sun streaming, cowboys swaying, we had absolutely no idea what to expect. The mandatory … Continue reading Why Obama Keeps Disappointing American Educators

5 Lessons From Derby: The Significance of Al-Madinah Free School

Any government spokesperson who says the failures of Al-Madinah Free School do not tell you anything about the wider policy, is entirely wrong.  The gaping and problematic holes in the free schools policy have been apparent ever since Michael Gove pushed through the free school legislation in a 5-day procedure usually reserved for terrorist threats, and anyone pretending otherwise is … Continue reading 5 Lessons From Derby: The Significance of Al-Madinah Free School

Why Open University Matters

In 2004 I wanted nothing more than to stay at university and continue studying for a Masters degree. But it wasn't to be. There wasn't any clear way I could pay for it, I didn't really understand how to apply for one, or what difference it would make to my future. So I got a … Continue reading Why Open University Matters

What I Learned From Writing About Exams….

In last month's Guardian column I made a plea for better whistleblowing procedures around school examinations and coursework. The piece was inspired by the number of politicianss I've heard saying that getting rid of coursework will restore rigour. Thing is, teachers can - and do - cheat in exams. And if you really want to … Continue reading What I Learned From Writing About Exams….

An Exam Invigilator Speaks Out…

Last month I wrote about the problem of teachers in exam halls. Several people were unhappy with me. Commentors argued I was deluded, or I must have taught at "Waterloo Road". By contrast, my email and twitter private message box filled with  people who agreed with the piece because they had seen these exact same … Continue reading An Exam Invigilator Speaks Out…

TouchPaper Problem #2 – Productive Emotions

This is the second blogpost expanding on the TouchPaper Problems first discussed at #Researched2013.  2. How can one invoke in a class the emotional state most productive for: (a) prosocial behaviour, (b) evaluative thinking, (c) memorization, (d) creation? One of the things we do as teachers is plan activities. We figure out what students should be  know or … Continue reading TouchPaper Problem #2 – Productive Emotions

Over at LKMCo…. Facilitating Subjects & The RG Group

My puzzlement over the EBacc is not new.  I have explained what it is, why I dislike the reasoning given for the subjects included, some oddities of its use, and its potential for detrimental impacts on A-Level choice. But I've always believed I could be wrong. From the very outset I wanted more information about … Continue reading Over at LKMCo…. Facilitating Subjects & The RG Group