12 years a blogger

October 30, 2018

Last week it was the 12th anniversary of my blog. It’s been a fairly busy year. Professionally, I worked in a really challenging school for most of that time. I experienced an Ofsted and I also took an A-level class for a year, for the first time in quite a while.

As a blogger, I have mainly followed a few themes and posted on each of them several times. I think this may be for two reasons. Firstly, because there has been a greater level of argument and outrage on social media over everything I wrote, so it often became necessary to revisit topics to set the record straight. Secondly, because there were bigger issues to explore that could not be covered in one post.

So here are my main preoccupations this year:


The EEF and Ability Grouping. For a long time now, the EEF toolkit has been used to claim that mixed ability teaching works best. The evidence behind this was actually very shaky. I wrote 3 posts looking into this.


OFSTED. It’s generally observed that OFSTED are reforming in the right direction. However, the influence it has on the system and people’s individual experiences are still far from positive. I wrote these posts about what problems remain.


Phonics. The use of systematic synthetic phonics to teach reading is now the orthodoxy. But debate continues, usually over the freedom of schools to pretend to teach phonics, while not actually doing it properly. The Phonics Check is particularly hated for this reason, yet pretty much every complaint made about it has turned out to be false.


School Shaming. As progressives have lost ground in the debates about pedagogy, curriculum and the purpose of education, their tactics have changed. Hate campaigns aimed at individual schools for not being progressive enough have become more and more common. Fortunately, mainstream edutwitter has become less tolerant of school shaming, and if the story does not get into the press, the shaming can now be pretty short lived.


Shutting Down Debate. The counterpart to shaming schools, are the Twitter campaigns against individuals for daring to challenge progressive ideology. Normally they consist of either misrepresentation, claims that somebody is not entitled to comment, or just outrage over something that has been said without any coherent argument against it. These edutwitter witch hunts have become common enough that I’ve often felt obliged to blog about them.

I’ve also blogged about other ways progressives try to silence those who disagree, including threats of legal action.


Shaming Education Events. When it’s not schools or individuals coming under fire, it’s education events. I had reason to note that some of the criticisms around diversity in education events seemed selective and self-interested.


Teacher Autonomy. One of the easiest complaints to be made about any education idea, is to assume that its proponents wish to enforce it on everybody. On the other hand, it is far from clear why obviously harmful practices should be tolerated. I discussed the limits of teacher autonomy in these two posts.


Behaviour. Progressives seem convinced that they can halt the traditionalist tide in education by forcing schools to tolerate bad behaviour. There seems an influential movement at the moment, from those outside the profession, to make permanent exclusions unacceptable, alongside many of the alternatives. There has also been increased use of school shamings to deter schools from improving discipline.

I wrote the following posts about the philosophical arguments around behaviour:

I wrote this post when I saw people were denying what happens in some schools:

And I wrote these posts about the issue of permanent exclusions:


The Chartered College Of Teaching. One of the most depressing developments of the past year has been being proved right about the Chartered College of Teaching. After years of its advocates telling me not to worry about the involvement of non-teachers in the organisation as they would not be leading it, it has now ceased even pretending to be teacher led. After lots of broken promises, and a rigged election, it is now led by a MAT CEO; an education lecturer, a consultant and an accountant. It has become another education establishment quango, and as long as it exists there will be a danger that it will claim powers overs the profession.


The best of the rest. These miscellaneous posts are also worth looking at.


Thanks to everyone who has followed my blogging and tweeting this year. And my partner, Gwen. Here’s looking forward to another year of blogging.



  1. Hearty congratulations Andrew. I really reading enjoy your posts – laced with common sense and reasoned argument . Keep up the great work!

  2. Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  3. […] My last “birthday” post is here: 12 years a blogger. […]

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