Archive for the ‘Of Interest’ Category


The #OFSTEDMyths Videos

January 21, 2016

A post to the OFSTED blog about myths yesterday, included three videos in which OFSTED luminaries sought to set the record straight about inspections. I thought I’d publicise them and, just in case you can’t be bothered to watch them, or your school blocks Youtube but not my blog (what are you thinking?), there is a transcript below each one.

London Director of Schools, Mike Sheridan on preparing for inspections:

When we go into great schools, we tend to see that they are focused on the young people that they serve. They’re not looking to see what Ofsted wants. They’re looking to see what their children need and this is really refreshing and inspectors are very capable of really recognising the difference that those processes and systems make for the young. It’s rare that we go into a school and we find that superficial and so we don’t want schools to be worrying about the process of want schools to be going through ‘Mocksteds’. Of course you want schools to understand where they are. We want them to be able to evaluate where they are. We want them to be able to use this evaluation to be able to improve further. There’s no one way of doing things and it’s really important that teachers and leaders find the best way for the communities that they serve.

Deputy Director for Schools, Joanna Hall on feedback:

There’s no particular expectation about seeing written records from oral feedback. The most important thing is, do the pupils understand the feedback, do they act on the feedback, and how does that have an impact on their learning?

Deputy Director for Schools, Joanna Hall on grades:

Ofsted doesn’t grade lessons anymore. We might visit a whole range of lessons, talk to leaders about the quality of teaching, talk to staff and talk to pupils. The most important thing is: what’s the impact of teaching, learning and assessment on pupils’ progress.

The blog post and youtube pages also link to the updated OFSTED myth-busting document.

I think most of this is stuff that schools need to get the message about. There’s still too much nonsense imposed on schools on the basis that OFSTED will want to see it (some recent examples here and here). However, there is one bit of these videos that worries me: the part in the second video where Joanna Hall asks “do they [students] act on the feedback…?”. While, technically, students improving and not repeating mistakes is evidence of acting on feedback, schools now seem utterly convinced that the only way to demonstrate student response to feedback is to have “interactive” marking policies that involve students responding to teachers. I don’t think that OFSTED require this sort of “triple marking” or the multi-coloured pens it so often involves (see here) but that comment in the video is only going to encourage schools to introduce such policies. I think greater clarity about how OFSTED will look for evidence of students acting on feedback would be useful.


A twitter response from OFSTED national director, Sean Harford, which will hopefully come as a relief to a lot of teachers:

Screenshot 2016-01-21 at 18.32.44


Vote For Me in the Edublog Awards

December 10, 2015

I don’t have a particularly good track record for this sort of thing, and there’s often something of a hidden agenda behind awards for blogging of any description, but I’d be silly not to at least ask people to vote in the online poll for the Edublog Awards.

The voting form is here.

You can vote once a day per IP address (hmmmm… can anyone see a flaw in this?). You should be able to find me under “Best Tweeter” (as @oldandrewuk) and “Best Individual blog” (as You may also want to consider the Labour Teachers blog I edit as best group blog. Also, in a spirit of patriotism, I should probably point out some other British entries listed. and are available to vote for under “Best New Blog”., and are under “Best Teacher Blog”. is listed under “Best Administrator Blog”. Let me know if there are any other British bloggers included in categories where they are not up against me and I’ll add them to this list. You do not have to vote in every category.

Thanks for your support.


The Mixed Ability Debate

December 5, 2015

My debate from the event a couple of weeks ago at Michaela School is now up.

The posts I wrote about it can be found here and here.


Share Advice For Trainees and New Teachers on the Starter For Five Blog

October 28, 2015

Can’t we have one meeting that doesn’t end with us digging up a corpse?

Mayor Quimby, the Simpsons.

I think my equivalent to Mayor Quimby’s question would be: “Can’t we have one discussion on Twitter that doesn’t end up with me setting up a new blog?”.

Last night I attempted to start a conversation about useful facts for new teachers and trainees to know. Instead of facts, I got opinions. Lots of opinions. So many opinions that I abandoned the facts conversation for another time and started to discuss what could be done with all this wisdom from experienced teachers that they were happy to share on Twitter. And so “Starter For Five” was born. This is a blog that will post advice for new teachers, collected around particular topics, and limited to 5 short pieces of advice per teacher per topic (each piece of advice is only a little longer than a tweet). You can look at it here. The idea is that (as it fills up) trainees and new teachers will be able to find advice from several experienced teachers on topics of their choice, by looking for the tags, categories or by searching.

If you would like to contribute (thanks), you can submit your 5 pieces of advice using the form below (or follow this link):


Please don’t expect your advice to appear on the blog immediately; that will take longer and we will have to check it follows the format (i.e. that it is about one specific topic). If you are not sure your contribution was submitted, just get in touch.

Thanks to (for creating the Google Form), (for designing and working on the blog) and (for coming up with the name of the blog).

Hopefully this will become a useful resource for new teachers. If you have any questions about it, ask in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them where everyone can see them.



My post for @LabourTeachers : When Shadow Education Secretaries Lose the Plot

October 15, 2015

I have written a post for the Labour Teachers Website:

Andrew is a teacher and editor of Labour Teachers (and writing in a personal capacity).

A little over a month ago, Lucy Powell MP became Labour’s fifth shadow education secretary since the 2010 election. Of her four predecessors, only Ed Balls, who skewered Gove over the botched cancellation of the BSF, acquired any glory from time spent in that role. Messrs. Burnham, Twigg and Hunt, despite all starting in interesting ways, all ended up with little to say other than some subset of the following points, which I hope Lucy Powell will avoid:..

Continued here.


For Your Information

September 27, 2015

Just a round up of a few items of interest:

  1. For the first time in ages I got mentioned in a minister’s speech. Nick Gibb MP mentioned me in his talk at ResearchED, quoting the statistics from Changing Schools:

    According to the veteran teacher blogger Old Andrew, there are 1,237 active education blogs in the UK and many of them, I can testify, have directly influenced government policy. Education provides a case-study in the democratising power of new media, providing an entry point for new voices to challenge old orthodoxies.

    Still no sign of me getting quoted by any politician in my own party.

  2. My ranting about trendy maths teaching got picked up by Schools Week in an online article about Jo Boaler’s latest effort to spread bad practice. It’s well worth reading. Odd to see myself quoted under my real name.
  3. I wrote a blogpost for Labour Teachers responding to Corbyn’s election, that I haven’t shared here (as it’s not about education).
  4. I can’t resist sharing Tom Bennett’s blogpost about the College of Teaching.
  5. A BBC programme maker is interested in making a programme addressing the issue of violence against teachers. Details below:

    False allegations of assault is a growing issue for teachers – the latest ATL survey on the subject suggests that 1 in 5 teachers have been the subject of false allegations. Has this happened to you? The BBC is looking to make a fact-based drama about the story of an allegation, and we would very much like to hear your story.

    Our intention is to highlight this issue by making a drama that amalgamates real-life cases. Your identity will not be compromised in any way in the film – all the names of the characters and the location of the drama will be fictional, and the scenario will include a variety of incidents from different stories. If you are happy to help with our research, please get back to Marco Crivellari in the BBC Factual department on


The OFSTED Teaching Style R.I.P. (Part One)

September 18, 2015

I can’t resist passing on Sir Michael Wilshaw’s latest denial of the existence of an OFSTED teaching style as it seems particularly clear. The chief inspector appeared before the education committee of the House Of Commons on Wednesday, and was quizzed by Suella Fernandes, MP for Fareham (who I believe was chair of governors at Michaela Community School).

Suella Fernandes: Very quickly, just in terms of inspection. The guidance from Ofsted states that there is no preferred Ofsted teaching style. Do you agree that that is the case?

Sir Michael Wilshaw: Yes.

Suella Fernandes: There are different teaching styles that we have seen. There is more progressive teaching—with child-centred, facilitating, group work, a bit more independent learning—and, on the other hand, there is more traditional teaching, of a teacher standing at the front and desks in the row, and teachers giving out information. Do you honestly think that inspectors do judge teaching method fairly and not prefer a more progressive child-centred teaching style in schools?

Sir Michael Wilshaw: Inspectors admire the 1960s ideology? No. If we have any inspectors who prefer one style of teaching over another, where they see little or no impact? The important thing is impact, as far as we are concerned, the impact of teaching on progress and outcome. If you are saying to me, “Do we have an inspection workforce that prefers group work and uses the phrase “independent learning” more often than they should?” then, no, we don’t. If they did exist, they have been removed from the inspection workforce.

Suella Fernandes: Because, looking at Ofsted reports, it is clear there is a trend that favourable reports do praise independent learning and critical reports tend to criticise more traditional styles of education. There was a book recently written a few years ago by Daisy Christodoulou—“Seven Myths of Education”—and she is an expert in teaching and curriculum and an experienced teacher herself. She had 228 best practice Ofsted lessons set out. None of them were based on a traditional teaching method and were all along the lines of progressive child-centred, facilitating, more children teaching each other, progressive learning styles. The facts suggest otherwise, don’t they?

Sir Michael Wilshaw: If that was a culture that predominated in Ofsted years ago, we have changed it. We have changed it. I have made it my mission as chief inspector to change it. I want inspectors to see what impact teaching is having. If you have somebody standing out in front of the class and teaching well in a very didactic way but it is making a difference and children are learning, that is fine. If somebody is standing up in front of a class and lecturing children and they are not engaged, then that is not fine. If we are seeing group work, which is producing good outcomes—the best teacher I have ever seen in East London used to jump on her desk and teach from the desk and teach groups of children. The big issue for her was when she said, “Stop” the children stopped. She was very interventionist and because the school was a good one—the one I led—the discipline was so good that the children obeyed the teacher. The disciplinary structure supported the teacher. That is the issue. If any inspector at Ofsted favours one particular teaching style over another, they will not last long in our organisation.

Suella Fernandes: I urge you to look at the—I am sure you do, but—

Sir Michael Wilshaw: I know it is a big issue and it is a political issue. That may have been the case with a few inspectors years ago but is certainly not the case now. If I found any inspector that preferred one teaching style over another, they would not last long.

Please let me know if you have experienced something different.


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