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).

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.

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.

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)

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

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 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

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

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”

Why The Grey Matters

A couple of weeks ago I spent a few days in New York meeting people involved in education. The result of what I found is described in my latest LKMCo post here: What If Everything You Thought About Education Was Wrong? In the piece I describe how watching a prescriptive form of teacher training, plus … Continue reading Why The Grey Matters

Rationalising The Blogging

"Have nothing in your house that you do not believe to be useful, or believe to be beautiful" - William Morris Blogging can be fun but exhausting. With upcoming work schedule changes it's time for me to rationalise. So the plan is less random blogs on this site and instead I will share.... Things I'll Write … Continue reading Rationalising The Blogging

Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here?

Just read the marvellous 2011 essay from Mark Edmundson "Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here?" about the purpose of education, especially a degree. There are many wonderful parts, in particular this on why we should read a variety of writers: The reason to read Blake and Dickinson and Freud and Dickens is … Continue reading Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here?

Amazing New Books: May

Once a month I get a series of "new book" lists from Publishers. I usually write out a little list of what I want and then I store them up until I have some free time (and/or until the library can get them for me - new books are expensive). Here's my list for May. Psychocinematics - … Continue reading Amazing New Books: May

What Sosis Can Teach About School Ethos

I am currently re-reading Jonathan Haidt's A Righteous Mind. The book considers why people on opposing sides of the political spectrum fail to see one another's point, and also why they tend to interpret evidence favourably toward their own views. An example given on p.293, however, caught my eye with regard to its importance for schools. My … Continue reading What Sosis Can Teach About School Ethos

Things I Said About Abortion & Faceless Education Secretaries

This week I wrote a piece for The New Humanist about attending anti-abortion rally in Missouri. This is the first published piece I've written as an adult about anything other than education. Though it is still about learning. I attended the rally as part of my studies and, as with most things in my life, … Continue reading Things I Said About Abortion & Faceless Education Secretaries

Why Teachers Leave

Last month the excellent @edutronic_net #blogsync topic for education bloggers was: "Why do teachers leave?"  As someone who recently 'left' teaching (at least temporarily) I wanted to take longer to answer this question than allowed by the group so I didn't join. But here's my belated thoughts. Apologies in advance for the bad photography. Teaching is personal. … Continue reading Why Teachers Leave

Nothing More Important

I wrote a piece for the Guardian's Education supplement this week. It's about the welfare reforms. While we in education have rightly focused on our own battles - Ofsted, the GCSE Fiasco, curriculum, budgets, free schools, academies - and though there is still more to be said about these, I simply couldn't write about education alone … Continue reading Nothing More Important

The Easter 2013: “Well Worth a Twitter Follow” Education List

Twitter is as alive as ever with the chat of those in education - and it's great. Once you’re comfortable on Twitter you will soon end up with a crowd suited to your own tastes. For me, it’s almost entirely education – for other people I know they mix in hobbies (football and cats seem … Continue reading The Easter 2013: “Well Worth a Twitter Follow” Education List

Outwitted

I wrote an article for LKMCo today about Gove's Daily Mail outburst and his misunderstandings about education research. At the end I suggested that instead of drawing dividing lines in education we should draw all-encompassing circles that take in all practitioners who want to become more thoughtful about our practice. The inspiration for this idea … Continue reading Outwitted

Getting Zero

I got zero on a maths test this week. Zero. On a maths test. I'm good at maths, and I've never got zero on anything in my life. Afterwards I was shell-shocked for about fifteen minutes. The tests are given at the beginning of a weekly matrix algebra class I'm taking. Being 30 and studying algebra … Continue reading Getting Zero

“Let’s Talk About Love”

Click if you dare Carl Wilson so hates Celine Dion that he begins his book by arguing she is "bland monotony raised to a pitch of obnoxious bombast”. Harsh. Given his burning dislike, when he's subsequently requested to write a retrospective about Dion's 1998 album “Let’s Talk about Love” (the one involving the nauseating My Heart Will … Continue reading “Let’s Talk About Love”

Helping out @toryeducation

This morning @toryeducation asked me to say "something useful" about a piece of research they sent a link to.  I was surprised to find the piece is about physics lectures for 850 undergrads in a Canadian university. My blogging and tweeting is almost exclusively about secondary/FE education - not least because Higher Education policy is … Continue reading Helping out @toryeducation

The “Critical Three”: 3 Questions To Ask About Any New Policy

Whenever anyone asks for advice  - whether about a policy, opening a new school, starting a business, using a new teaching technique, whatever - my questioning line is always the same: (1) What problem are you trying to solve? (2) What makes you think this particular solution will solve that particular problem? (3) If you're … Continue reading The “Critical Three”: 3 Questions To Ask About Any New Policy

Why do so many boys study physics?

Yesterday the Guardian posted the predictable story "Why don't more girls study physics?"   This story cycles around every few years and it always annoys me. No-one ever asks why anyone should be studying physics; the assumption seems to be that there should be an automatic equality in all subjects. Well, fine. But there are … Continue reading Why do so many boys study physics?

Freedom of Information Release: CapGemini & Ofqual GCSE Fiasco Correspondence

 Data Release is at the bottom of the page - scroll down if you know the background and want to jump straight to the info. I noticed today that @kennygfrederick was tweeting information she'd received via an FOI request about the report CapGemini wrote for Ofqual in the aftermath of this summer's GCSE Fiasco. Ofqual … Continue reading Freedom of Information Release: CapGemini & Ofqual GCSE Fiasco Correspondence

Think Like An Education Secretary: Gove’s 2012 Reading List

Michael Gove is no stranger to literature. Not only does he constantly quote classic authors in Parliament but in a recent Spectator interview Gove lamented that he'd “had it up to here” with people arguing working class kids should be ignorant of the canon. After all, his self-confessed new favourite book - The Intellectual Life of … Continue reading Think Like An Education Secretary: Gove’s 2012 Reading List

Is it a sport or not a sport?

For future reference: If you are ever in an argument about whether or not something is a sport, I suggest using the following chart developed over several days of non-stop Olympic-watching this year. Comments of course welcome but getting an amendment will require a truly strong argument.. (For clarity, the equipment is only referring to … Continue reading Is it a sport or not a sport?

Why I loved (and worry about) FE College

Padgate College was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Like my high school, it no longer exists. Labour tried to shut it down when I (and my friends) were half-way through our first year because it was too expensive and performing poorly. Mostly it provided ‘day release’ A-Level courses for mature … Continue reading Why I loved (and worry about) FE College

Questions That Should Be Asked at the Education Select Committee About KS4 Reforms

Tomorrow Michael Gove is in front of the Education Select Committee regarding the proposed reforms at KS4.  If I were in the room, this is what I would like to know: Are the changes really justified on the grounds of this summer's fiasco? 1. You have argued that problems with the GCSE in the summer … Continue reading Questions That Should Be Asked at the Education Select Committee About KS4 Reforms

Schooling Biography

The more I debate education the more convinced I am that people's own educational biographies impact their idea.  For this reason I am putting together an 'educational biography' similar to the reflections PGCE courses require of new teachers.  Reading it may highlight why I hold some of the beliefs I do and it's also a … Continue reading Schooling Biography

What Hating Alexis De Tocqueville Taught Me About Learning

I wrote a blog for LKMCo today about the work of ED Hirsch and its current use in the UK debate about National Curriculum.  One of Hirsch's principles is that there is a 'correct order' in which ideas should be taught so that children best understand them.  It's a noble idea and for the purpose … Continue reading What Hating Alexis De Tocqueville Taught Me About Learning

Ms McInerney’s “Book of Consequences” Detention System

When I first started teaching I cried at least once per week for three months straight. One day a teacher even found me sobbing on my classroom floor in the pitch black at 3.30pm. The kids - probably thinking it best that no-one saw the mess they had made of me - had turned the … Continue reading Ms McInerney’s “Book of Consequences” Detention System

Total Percentage of Spoiled Ballot Papers in Police Commissioner Elections

** Update 20/11/12: People have been very kind in sending through any new information which I am putting into the figures below as we can find it. That this has been such a ridiculously complex task is making me believe that future elections really should have one central website at which the Results Certificates are … Continue reading Total Percentage of Spoiled Ballot Papers in Police Commissioner Elections

Request for Internal Review of FOI Request for Free School Applications & Decision Letters

Spurred on by many helpful commentors and FoI people on Twitter I have just sent a request for an internal review of the DfE's decision to turn down my request for the sharing of redacted Free School applicants' proposal forms and acceptance/rejection letters.  (I've blogged previously on the content of my original request and their … Continue reading Request for Internal Review of FOI Request for Free School Applications & Decision Letters

Anger not Apathy: Why spoiling your Police Commissioner ballot paper is more important than not voting

If you are looking for the number of people who spoiled ballot papers, I am putting them together in a separate blog here. Several people in my timeline have shown concern about the upcoming Police Commissioner elections on November 15th. There is a general feeling that party politics is an unwelcome intrusion into a service … Continue reading Anger not Apathy: Why spoiling your Police Commissioner ballot paper is more important than not voting

Free School FOI Turned Down….Again

Further to my previous blog pondering why Free School FOI requests are always turned down, I finally got a response to my own request today. The response can be seen in full here, however the main gist is that the DfE feels releasing application forms and/or rejection letters would: Encourage people to 'borrow' from successful … Continue reading Free School FOI Turned Down….Again

Am I being unreasonable about Free School Freedom of Information requests?

I have just started a PhD in Education because I want to build on a pamphlet I wrote called: "The 6 Predictable Failures of Free Schools...and How to Avoid Them"  My intention in the booklet and my dissertation is to start from the premise that Free Schools are a reality of the British education landscape and … Continue reading Am I being unreasonable about Free School Freedom of Information requests?

Things Rich People Never Understand

This list is 'in progress' I will update it if I see any more equally stupid comments. Feel free to send me a tweet @miss_mcinerney if you ever see any. Every year I watch Conservative Conference and every year I find myself shouting at the telly in a vain attempt of educating rich people about … Continue reading Things Rich People Never Understand

Schools, Trains & Franchises: Why Select Committees May No Longer Be Fit For Purpose

Both the West Coast Mainline fiasco and the issues with Ofqual have got me thinking about public expectations on government Ministers and ordinary MPs to deal with an ever-increasing level of complexity across a range of sectors.  I have worked both as a member of a train bid team and as a school teacher, and … Continue reading Schools, Trains & Franchises: Why Select Committees May No Longer Be Fit For Purpose

‘Be Nice’ Friday (Or, When Someone Has A Pot of Gold, Remember: It’s Still Gold.)

In Charles Payne's book So Much Reform, So Little Change he tells the story of a stranger arriving into a school. The stranger gathers all the staff together, stands on a chair and holds above them a giant pot of gold. He says: "This gold is yours, I bring it as a gift." First, there … Continue reading ‘Be Nice’ Friday (Or, When Someone Has A Pot of Gold, Remember: It’s Still Gold.)

A Further Word on Geography in the EBacc

My feelings on subjects included in the EBacc are fully laid out here, but my basic gripe is that the 'humanities' requirement which includes just Geography or History makes no sense.  Humanities isn't defined that way in any major university, in any other country, or in the International Baccalaureate. One argument is that geography is … Continue reading A Further Word on Geography in the EBacc

When We Get Bored of Free Schools & Academies Will We Focus On “The Achievement Gap” Instead?

Out of interest I tracked some words about education reforms in the Google NGram viewer today and found this trend: It looks suspiciously like somewhere around 2000 people gave up on charter schools and vouchers (or even just 'school' reform) as being The Solution and instead started focusing on "the achievement gap".  I wonder if … Continue reading When We Get Bored of Free Schools & Academies Will We Focus On “The Achievement Gap” Instead?

The School Reformers’ Pledge of Good Conduct

In his book "So Much Reform, So Little Change", Charles Payne introduces his chapter on implementation failures with a pledge that every school reformer should take. I wholeheartedly agree: I will not overpromise I will not disrespect teachers I will not do anything behind the principal's back I will not take part in any partisan personal … Continue reading The School Reformers’ Pledge of Good Conduct

Teacher Recruitment AND Retention

At present the government's entire focus on teacher quality is on recuiting 'higher calibre' graduates and in trying to improve professional development through Teaching Schools.  The first is happening through specialised bursaries, the introduction of the Schools Direct programme and a reconsideration of entry requirements for PGCEs. The latter (Schools Direct) is happening in some … Continue reading Teacher Recruitment AND Retention

My Problem with Critical Race Theory (or CFT, or CQT, or any other iteration)

The problem with too many critical race theorists is that they are the equivalent of Statler & Waldorf - the muppets who sit up in the balcony criticising. As someone who spends a fair amount of time criticising on blog posts at LKMCo.org and on here I'm in dangerous peril of needing to remove an enormous … Continue reading My Problem with Critical Race Theory (or CFT, or CQT, or any other iteration)

Ofqual: We will publish all correspondence. We have nothing to hide. …(Really?)

On 11th September 2012, during the Education Select Committee meeting convened to take evidence from key players in the GCSE English 'Fiasco', three members of Ofqual were present and accounted for their role in the situation. During discussion Glenys Stacey, Ofqual's CEO, was directly asked by Pat Glass MP: Pat Glass MP: We accept that there … Continue reading Ofqual: We will publish all correspondence. We have nothing to hide. …(Really?)

Why I Love The Olympics

Growing up in an industrial wasteland taught me that it’s not the industry that bothers you as much as the ineluctable decline. You quickly get used to having chimneys looming over you and you can ignore the daily release of invasive toxic fumes.  More damaging is growing up in a declining area where there are … Continue reading Why I Love The Olympics

A Letter To Future Education Ministers: Could Curriculum Review Look Like This?

Dear Future Education Ministers, Here's an idea.  Why not set up a committee called "The Curriculum Review Panel" [I know it sounds familiar but bear with me].  It would re-write sections of the curriculum each year, or in rolling blocks. For example, for 2 years they could do the curriculum for 9-11 year olds. Then … Continue reading A Letter To Future Education Ministers: Could Curriculum Review Look Like This?

National Curriculum Review Update

Yesterday at LKMCo I posted an update on the National Curriculum Review at Primary level.  The DfE finally released their response to the Curriculum Experts' Review and have also released draft Programmes of Study for consultation. I am not a big fan of constant consultation. In my book if you are going to make a … Continue reading National Curriculum Review Update

The Out-of-Office Haiku (and other email-based rhymes)

For several years I have created poems whenever I have an Out-of-Office replying to my emails.  The first one ever was a haiku. It went like this: Out Of Office Haiku - February 2009 Emails.  Sit in my inbox festering while I sip cocktails abroad. Replies will be sent February Twenty Three Please, friends wait … Continue reading The Out-of-Office Haiku (and other email-based rhymes)

GCSE Revision

GCSE Citizenship for Edxcel revision materials here: Paper1 Key Terms - Section 1 - Rights & Responsibilities Key Terms - Section 2 - Politics Key Terms - Section 3 - Global Development Revision Booklet Part 1 Revision Booklet Part 2 Paper 3 - Changing Communities (Immigration) Revision Booklet

What My Ears Taught Me About Mental Illness

Nothing is better for helping you understand mental illness than waking up to find the floor isn't where you left it.  For years I prided myself on my brain: it delivered great GCSEs, studied for a degree, was uncannily helpful in "Name that Tune" quiz rounds, etc.  Getting it to that state took a great … Continue reading What My Ears Taught Me About Mental Illness

Nandos, Paris

Enjoyed Chris Cook's article looking at the remarkable success of Newham schools in this weekend's Financial Times.  Kingsford and Little Ilford are a fair representation of most schools here and, as with my own colleagues, they do a great job of working in a difficult but completely exhilarating borough. Chris mentions a story I once told him … Continue reading Nandos, Paris

Too busy to listen?

A student once disclosed her shame of the bullying acts she had taken part in when she was younger.  In our sixth form classroom she was a confident young woman well-known for leading youth groups and being a heady mix of popular, fun and hard-working.  But things had not always been so. In her early … Continue reading Too busy to listen?

Resources Repository

Resources (scroll down for Selected Essays) My Education Philosophy: Explained most clearly in a story called "The Watermelon" taken from Nick Owen's "The Magic of Metaphor" Psychology A-Level Teaching: Anomalistic Psychology Revision Guide Anomalistic Psychology Scheme of Work - AQA - A2 Level - Paper 4 Cognitive Psychology Scheme of Work - AQA - AS Level Stress Psychology Scheme of … Continue reading Resources Repository

If only someone had warned them…..

The Guardian today reveal issues with the new college-decided 16-19 bursaries for students remaining in further education.  Predictably not all colleges are playing fair in the way they provide the money nor is it necessarily getting to everyone who needs it.  I say predictably because my New Statesman article last May warned about such dangers.The … Continue reading If only someone had warned them…..

When Dad Met Ahmed – New LKMCo Blog

My latest LKMCo Blog is a different affair to usual. Instead of hard-hitting policy I opted this week for a more inspirational tale.  Teachers should always be encouraged to think about reform and ensure our voices are heard in the political process, but we also face students in our classrooms everyday who need our attention.  In … Continue reading When Dad Met Ahmed – New LKMCo Blog

The Best Learning of My Life

In the last few weeks I have experienced some of the best learning of my life.  Ryan Baker's presentation on educational data mining organised through the #LAK12 Open Online Course not only blew my mind in terms of content (for example: did you know that urban students show more off-task behaviours when online than rural students? me either!) … Continue reading The Best Learning of My Life

The Difference Between Knowledge and Knowing

When an early 20s Matt Damon sat down with his two best friends to write the script for Good Will Hunting I doubt greatly that he thought he'd win an Oscar. I'm also pretty certain he had no idea that one day that film would change my life.  While I credit my own hard work … Continue reading The Difference Between Knowledge and Knowing

Making the Government Account for Accountability

In a recent LKMCo article I suggested that 'accountability measures are eating themselves' as the DfE are poised to introduce a new performance measure designed to correct errors in a previous (yet-still-to-be-published) measure. The problem for the new measure is that they didn't heed the advice of Dr Rebecca Allen who told the government that … Continue reading Making the Government Account for Accountability

The Chilean Change: What happened when they extended the school day?

Michael Gove is either purposely trying to upset the teaching unions or he genuinely believes that a longer school day is essential in ensuring a quality education for all young people.  If it's the latter, one must ask: Is that belief justified? In my latest @LKMCo blog I discuss studies on Chile's 30% time increase … Continue reading The Chilean Change: What happened when they extended the school day?

The Best Books About Teaching

When faced with problems my go-to position is to find a book on the issue and read it.  In teaching I have faced a lot of problems and read a lot of books.  Whenever PGCE students come to me in tears there is usually a book waiting.  Here is a list of my favourites: Teaching … Continue reading The Best Books About Teaching

Does Time Perspective Influence Your Favoured Education Policy?

There are two huge fashions in education at the moment. On the one side there are the Ken Robinson followers waxing lyrical about '21st century skills' which seem to involve being creative, passionate and using lots of iPads.  On the other hand are those tsk-ing at the frivolity of 'creativity' when everyone knows that what you … Continue reading Does Time Perspective Influence Your Favoured Education Policy?

Why I Am Fascinated By Learning Analytics

At the turn of the 20th century, if a person lay dying in bed few options were open to the doctor charged with saving their life.  Though stethoscopes captured some information about the heart and the internal organs that information was extremely limited. The introduction of electrocardiography machines (ECG) in 1904 meant the heart could … Continue reading Why I Am Fascinated By Learning Analytics

2011 Top Reads: Education Bookshelf

I've added a new page to the menu entitled 'Bookshelf'. Click on it and you will uncover a list of books I've read and enjoyed this year.  To be included a book had to either change my perspective on an issue or be one I have recommended to a colleague in the past 12 months. … Continue reading 2011 Top Reads: Education Bookshelf

Books Recommended before 2011

Books Encountered & Recommended before 2011 The Power of Mindful Learning - Ellen Langer : Not quackery or new age. Langer is a Harvard Psychologist after all. The Farther Reaches of Human Nature - Abraham Maslow: Forget the hierarchy, it's a tiny amount of what this man wrote about and not even the best bit. … Continue reading Books Recommended before 2011

Recommended Books From 2011

Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance - Atul Gewande:  Gewande is the rare combination of top surgeon and entertaining writer.  He is brutally honest about medicine and the difficulties inherent in his trade. He is also obsessed with improving his own performance and of his whole profession. Not only is it illuminating but it parallels well … Continue reading Recommended Books From 2011

“How to Set Up A Free School” Book Review

I did a book review of Toby Young's "How To Set Up A Free School" in the Times Ed this week.  It was a tough gig as the space given was tiny and there's a lot to say about this book. At some point near the end of Jan I might release the 'uncut' version on … Continue reading “How to Set Up A Free School” Book Review

The National Curriculum Review in less than 2000 Words

The National Curriculum Review is a great document. Thorough and well-researched. It's also long. Cutting it down to less than 2000 words for the LKMCo Summary was a great challenge, but a thoroughly enjoyable one. The only issue was writing with brevity while not being sarcastic. At times I felt like the interpreter in those … Continue reading The National Curriculum Review in less than 2000 Words