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

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

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."

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)

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

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.

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

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

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”?

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?

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

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’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

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…)

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

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.

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…

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

On cheating: in coursework and exams

My Guardian piece this month is on cheating and the temptation teachers face in both coursework and the exam hall to bend the rules. Despite what the commenters think, none of this is based in fantasy. I haven't even used the most egregious examples. As another commenter pointed out, what happens in some places is … Continue reading On cheating: in coursework and exams

What I Learned From Writing About Grammar Schools

My Guardian piece last month was about the assumptions of school systems with 'selection by ability' - e.g. grammar schools or private schools giving scholarships via common entrance exams. I wrote the piece as an experiment. Whenever I read about selective education the debate invariably descends into several choruses of "I went to one, so … Continue reading What I Learned From Writing About Grammar Schools

Releasing the TouchPaper Problems

The TouchPaper Problems are haunting my dreams. Before last Saturday's presentation about the Problems, I already wrote 7 questions - two of which I revealed in the talk. To decide on them I thought back to the problems that frustrated my own classroom practice and the times when I wondered: "How the heck am I going to do … Continue reading Releasing the TouchPaper Problems

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

Of Grammar Schools and Assisted Places

My Guardian column this month slays the assumption that grammar schools and assisted places are the 'only' or best way of improving social mobility. The piece was tough to write for two reasons. One, it's hard to make arguments clear and water-tight when you only have 700 words. And two, talking about grammars/assisted places is notoriously … Continue reading Of Grammar Schools and Assisted Places

The Best BlogPosts About TeachFirst

TeachFirst is a bit like marmite. Those who know it tend to love or hate it. As a TF alumni who went on to teach participants for several years at the Summer Institute, I'm a big fan of the programme. At the same time I realise it's not perfect. For this reason I constantly try … Continue reading The Best BlogPosts About TeachFirst

Following up on Free Schools & Transparency

My Guardian column this week explained why the current lack of transparency around Free Schools is unjustifiable. Several of the best US states have thoroughly transparent systems where the applications and school-granting process is publicly available and publicly consulted upon. Opponents to transparency argue that making the Free School process more open would mean it … Continue reading Following up on Free Schools & Transparency

It’s not “scientific evidence-based policy” until….

A super blog by Jack Hassard describing yet-another-think-tank-report on Science Education, points out that if anyone in an argument says "all the scientific research shows" then it is worth ensuring that what they are pointing to really hits the standard they are claiming. This is not a new point, but what Hassard does give is … Continue reading It’s not “scientific evidence-based policy” until….

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

Before You Declare ED Hirsch’s ‘Core Knowledge’ As Evil, Know This:

As someone who was initially sceptical of the idea, let me reassure you: there is nothing inherently evil about ED Hirsch's "Core Knowledge". Go look at if for yourself. All it consists of is a year-by-year list of things it makes sense for students to be taught during their first 8 years of school. So … Continue reading Before You Declare ED Hirsch’s ‘Core Knowledge’ As Evil, Know This:

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

If Twigg won’t answer Gove’s questions, I will

Earlier this week Michael Gove wrote a letter to Stephen Twigg asking for clarity on a number of issues in his schools policy. Twigg declined with a sassy response. But why? The answers were really not that difficult to give, and if it's because Gove is going to spin whatever is handed to him, Labour … Continue reading If Twigg won’t answer Gove’s questions, I will

On Not Ignoring Ofsted

This month my column in the Guardian Education looks at Ofsted and the problem of being a teacher trying to meet  standards when they seem to be constantly shifting. Writing about Ofsted when you've never been a headteacher is a little tricky, as I didn''t want to downplay the nightmares leaders say they go through, … Continue reading On Not Ignoring Ofsted

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?

Gove’s Visits to Schools

A recent Freedom of Information request asked for the % visits Gove has done to local authority controlled schools versus academy and free schools. When the department finally answered (a long time after the first request), ,the answer was not clear. For secondaries they said Gove had visited 22 local authority schools and 24 academies … Continue reading Gove’s Visits to Schools

The Black Sheep of Ofsted Hope

Having listened to @oldandrewuk's extensive evidence about Ofsted I am happy to accept that   Ofsted has a problem with teacher talk. However, I also have a story that has always heartened me in the face of people arguing that Ofsted don't know good teacher-led learning when they see it. During a recent inspection (last … Continue reading The Black Sheep of Ofsted Hope

“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”

What do we mean by ‘relevance’?

Also cross-posted at LKMCo Relevance has become a bit of a 'sneer' term of late. But what do people mean by it? There seem to be two meanings. One, is when you teach a whole topic simply because you think students will enjoy it or it fits their current preoccupations. That is not relevance. That … Continue reading What do we mean by ‘relevance’?

Labour Teachers Reblogged

The Labour Teachers website has reblogged my post "A Further Word on Educational Inequality" . I know the piece has caused some division. Quite a few people have been offended at me comparing my school only to independent schools, with one person arguing that I should have compared it to the "minimum expected standards" for a … Continue reading Labour Teachers Reblogged

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?

Why did West London Free School change their vision?

Back in November I collected the vision, aims and ethos webpages of all the 2011 Free School cohort to analyse as part of my PhD. Most of them are unbelievably monotonous but I always enjoyed West London Free School's: After all: Who doesn't want their child to grow up to be a world-beater? So imagine … Continue reading Why did West London Free School change their vision?

Timeline of New Zealand Partnership Schools

New Zealand are bringing in US-inspired "Charter" and UK-inspired "Free" schools. For a conference earlier in the year I had to create a timeline of the events leading up to its introduction. It was ridiculously quick. 2012 August 2nd - First announcement of policy. Hekia Parata, the Education Minister, makes a speech announcing that groups … Continue reading Timeline of New Zealand Partnership Schools

The Vocational Education Trade-Off

Some opponents to vocational education suggest that tracking students into vocational pathways early in school life increases educational inequality. Are they correct? Yes. At least according to a new study by Bol & Van de Werfhorst. What did they do to find this out? Using the data for 29 countries (including the UK) the researchers … Continue reading The Vocational Education Trade-Off

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

Wilson: Never Over-Promise on A New School

Wilson's Learning on the Job is the best book for learning about academisation as it has been realised in the US. Once a CEO of an academy chain, Wilson's book functions as a history of the Charter School movement in the US but also looks closely at the successes and failures of each provider. One of … Continue reading Wilson: Never Over-Promise on A New School

A Further Word on Educational Inequality

Yesterday I explained why inaccurate use of the term "educational inequality" makes me uneasy. But then I started thinking about a gross educational inequality that is hardly ever mentioned, and it made me madder and madder. Here is the school building that the teachers and pupils of Rugby School see when they arrive to learn: … Continue reading A Further Word on Educational Inequality

A Word on “Educational Inequality”

The phrase 'educational inequality' has crept quietly into England's edu-policy lexicon and displaced the previously much-used phrase 'educational disadvantage' - but we need to be careful. There is a crucial difference between the two and I'm concerned that the first is being horribly misused. Educational inequality is a salient concept in the US and rightly so. Schools … Continue reading A Word on “Educational Inequality”

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”?

Did Gove Implement Comparable Outcomes?

Part of the furor over the English GCSE Fiasco last summer was the use of something called 'Comparable Outcomes' - a method through which Ofqual limits grade awarding by requiring that the number of grades given are comparable to the previous year's cohorts or to exams the current cohort took when younger. Much was made … Continue reading Did Gove Implement Comparable Outcomes?

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

An EBacc/ABacc English Curiosity

A morning Twitter discussion highlighted this curiosity: In order to count in the EBacc statistics a student needs to get an English Language GCSE or an English (combined) GCSE. English Literature, on its own, can't count. In order to count in the ABacc statistics a student must get three of the Russell Group 'facilitating subjects'. English Literature is one. … Continue reading An EBacc/ABacc English Curiosity

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