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.

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?)

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

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

Slides from ResearchEd2013: An Intro to The Touchpaper Problems

Presenting at yesterday's ResearchEd2013 was a terrifying, thrilling, exciting experience. The day has already been encapsulated by others so I won't tread that ground here (see Sam's and Debra's blogs for more), but I can wholeheartedly say it was a unique experience and that the quality of thinking in education at present is inspiring. That … Continue reading Slides from ResearchEd2013: An Intro to The Touchpaper Problems

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

Let The Private Schools Take 25% At Random

The FT's Helen Warrell today ran a piece suggesting that momentum is developing behind a campaign to subsidise the cost of private school tuition for the poorest pupils. She wrote: Under the programme, the government would divert the average £6,000 spent on a pupil in the state system to a child from a lower income … Continue reading Let The Private Schools Take 25% At Random

All You Will Hear About Charter Schools Until 2017

This is Figure 1 from the 2013 CREDO Study Executive Summary. Get used to seeing it. I suspect it will soon become a new classic reference in education debate. By matching every student in a Charter School with a similar student in a nearby school, CREDO aims to see if there is a difference to … Continue reading All You Will Hear About Charter Schools Until 2017

Top 5 Myths About TeachFirst

People inevitably differ on opinions about TeachFirst, the training route for "high-achieving graduates". We can debate those opinions all day and I'm happy to do so. But too often those debates are hampered by ideas about TeachFirst which simply aren't true. So, below, I've written out the main ones and tried to put the record … Continue reading Top 5 Myths About TeachFirst

“You get what you Gove”

New teachers quickly learn that demanding behaviour from students that you're not willing to demonstrate yourself is entirely pointless.  Calmness, courage, patience, thoughtfulness - you want them? Model them. Over, and over, and over.* Gove is often a pro at behaving courteously. He compliments question askers in Parliament, charms speech audiences with anecdotes, knows his … Continue reading “You get what you Gove”

Greatness: A List of Education Secretaries

Over the summer my main research project is on the biographies of education secretaries. I'm planning to apply the framework from Dean Simonton's Greatness: Who Makes History and Why, to see if the best remembered among the group conform to his theories. For reference, here is a list of my summer companions May 45 Feb 47 Ellen … Continue reading Greatness: A List of Education Secretaries

The Two Battlelines of Teaching: Which One Are You On?

So I've finished re-reading Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind and I still cannot recommend it enough. He writes in a style similar to Malcolm Gladwell and masterfully curates easy-read summaries of psychological and political research. Thankfully Haidt also summarises the main principles of his book. They are: Intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second  - i.e. we decided what … Continue reading The Two Battlelines of Teaching: Which One Are You On?

Recommended Books on Education Policy

A few people have recently asked about the books I would recommend to get an overview of education policy making. Below are the ones I have found most helpful. I would love for people to add their own recommendations in the comments as I'm always looking to read more on this topic. Reinventing Schools, Reforming … Continue reading Recommended Books on Education Policy

“It’s Not About The Money”: Why did so many ‘Progressive Schools’ of the 1920s close down?

On Saturday I presented at the Research & Creative Activities Forum here at the University of Missouri. It's a competitive forum for graduate students to present their research and the whole day was mind-blowing. Quite unusually I was presenting a history paper and so was in the 'Humanities & Literature' group so felt massively out … Continue reading “It’s Not About The Money”: Why did so many ‘Progressive Schools’ of the 1920s close down?

The “Political Spectacle” of England and New Zealand’s Free and Partnership Schools

Last week I presented a poster at the Comparative & International Education Conference 2013 of some tentative findings from a discourse analysis of education policy implementation in England and New Zealand. The purpose of the analysis is to see what were the reasons given for the policy and whether their use was justified. Finding out … Continue reading The “Political Spectacle” of England and New Zealand’s Free and Partnership Schools

What Might Stop Excellent Academy Chains From “Scaling Up”?

The Coalition's education ministers seem convinced that academy-chains are  "the next big thing". Money is available for academy sponsors to take over failing(ish) schools, and chains are an increasing player in upcoming 'Free Schools'. Theoretically, 'successful' chains will deliver the economies of scale and quality assurance of LEAs, while also being free of unions, pesky … Continue reading What Might Stop Excellent Academy Chains From “Scaling Up”?

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

White Free School Meal Pupils do considerably worse at GCSEs than any other ethnic group

In Thursday's Parliamentary Written Questions, information was released about the GCSE results of pupils who attend mainstream state-funded schools, have no special educational needs and are eligible for free schools. In essence: "poor kids". The results were broken down by ethnicity and show the % of students in each ethnic group who did not get a C … Continue reading White Free School Meal Pupils do considerably worse at GCSEs than any other ethnic group

Teaching Winston Churchill

I note the Daily Mail has led on the story of the new National Curriculum with a triumphant gloat that Churchill is back on the agenda. I am also chuffed that Churchill is back, but not for the same reasons as the Daily Mail. If the National Curriculum is really as 'forward looking' as is … Continue reading Teaching Winston Churchill

‘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.)

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

Why Being Wealthy Doesn’t Mean You Automatically Have More Aspirations Or More Life Choices

One of the things guaranteed to annoy me is when people assume that poor children all have low aspirations, and that 'choice' is something only preserved for the 'middle and upper class' children.  Life just isn't that simple. Reviewing more works from Dora Russell - one of Bertrand Russell's wives and founder of a 1920s … Continue reading Why Being Wealthy Doesn’t Mean You Automatically Have More Aspirations Or More Life Choices

Review of “Progressive School” Movement – Summerhill, Malting House & Beacon Hill

One of my first projects here at the University of Missouri is reviewing historical documents of the 'Progressive School' movement, particularly the 'famous' schools of the 1920s advocated by celebrities (or people who went on to become celebrities). The intial review of documents includes correspondence, minutes, prospectuses and applications for Malting House (Susan Isaacs Jacobs, … Continue reading Review of “Progressive School” Movement – Summerhill, Malting House & Beacon Hill

The Quantum Leap Theory of Education Reform

One of my few creations in education policy is something I like to call the 'Quantum Leap Theory of Education Reform'. It's based on the idea that people reforming education are constantly trying to 'put right what once went wrong' just like Dr Sam Beckett.  It's not necessarily bad and perhaps it is inescapable as we … Continue reading The Quantum Leap Theory of Education Reform

From the 1918 Hansard

Reading the Hansard publications of education debates from the past is a glorious habit to get into (the best links are pointed to via the Living Heritage website).  Not are the debates frighteningly like those ongoing today, but they provide a welcome sense of reality into political debate. In 1918, unafraid of being picked on … Continue reading From the 1918 Hansard

Were O-Levels Harder Than GCSEs?

When answering the question: "Which was harder, O-Levels or GCSEs?" there are two different answers depending on what precisely you are asking about. If you are asking: "Was it harder to get an A on O-Levels compared to GCSEs?" the answer is: Yes, it was harder to get a high grade on O-Levels rather than … Continue reading Were O-Levels Harder Than GCSEs?

The Puzzle of the Free School Teachers (Re-direct)

*This post was originally at the LKMCo website and was published on 17th May 2011*   Recently I’ve noticed a puzzle I can’t solve.  As the writer of a booklet about Free Schools I’ve worked with several Free School applicants and I keep a close eye on who is planning to do what.  Hence I noticed a … Continue reading The Puzzle of the Free School Teachers (Re-direct)

Why (and when) Class Matters

Written as a response to a blog on Informed Education, itself a response to a Twitter debate about whether or not it is acceptable to refer to students as 'working class' Facts about class matter. One particular fact motivated my curiosity all the way through A-Levels, through my UCAS application to study politics and was … Continue reading Why (and when) Class Matters