Does this data show a primary school cheating in KS2 exams?

May 13, 2018

If you have worked in secondary schools, particularly in maths and English, you have probably heard gossip about that feeder school, the one whose kids come through with KS2 results that seem too high and this kid who went there told a TA who told a teacher, who told another teacher, who told you that there was some kind of cheating going on.

I’m inclined to be sceptical about these stories. I’ve heard the same story exactly about too many very different schools. More importantly, while there are definitely kids whose KS2 results massively overstate their abilities, there are also kids whose results are massively understated too, and we tend not to remember those kids quite so clearly as the kid we put in top set maths who does all their working out on their fingers. Inaccuracy alone is not evidence of cheating.

That said, high stakes tests do create incentives to bend or break the rules, and certainly an incentive to ignore mistakes in the wrong direction. And I have seen a couple of posts recently about this issue written by bloggers who work in primary schools:

A few weeks ago, Education Datalab wrote a post about Difficult questions about some schools’ Key Stage 2 results which you should probably read before continuing.

But just in case you don’t, it looks at results like this for students in one school with several different feeder primary schools:

Students who arrived from school H are making far less progress that their Key Stage 2 results would suggest they should. The post notes that children in school H achieved far higher results at Key Stage 2 than expected, compared with the other schools, and asks:

This is a real example. The secondary school is in an Ofsted category, criticised in its latest inspection for the progress of its most able pupils.

School H is rated outstanding.

We need to ask difficult questions about the Key Stage 2 results of School H.

Was it really the case that pupils performed at such a level at School H that they simply could not maintain their progress at secondary school?

Could they have received additional assistance when taking their KS2 tests?

Does test security need to be improved?

I think the blogposts I linked to earlier make a good, if anecdotal case, for improving test security, regardless of this set of data. However, the question that fascinates me here is whether the data does suggest children at school H have received additional assistance, or show any other kind of rule bending or cheating has taken place.

And I’m going to answer “no”, at least not without further data.

I think that if a school is very effective, doing all the right things and not cheating, children will achieve better than expected. However, I’m not sure we should expect them to continue to progress well. Academic achievement is a mix of what a child brings to a school (and I’m not going near the issue of the extent to which that comes from nature or nurture) and the teaching and support in the school; both “in school” and “out of school” factors. A highly effective school will get good results from kids whose “out of school” factors would normally lower their achievement. But the negative “out of school” factors will still exist, and yet their results will see them compared with students who will achieved those same results with only positive “out of school” factors. You would expect them to do less well than other students with the same Key Stage 2 results because you would expect those “out of school” factors to affect their achievement in their secondary school. There’s also room here for some kind of regression to the mean as well, although I’m not going to suggest how that would work.

It is well known in education research that the effect of educational interventions “wash out” (i.e. the relative educational gains will be far less the longer you wait before measuring them). I think the effects of great primary schools will also “wash out” over time. I think there is a general problem here with controlling by results from a previous school that needs to be addressed. We should expect some degree of “washing out” for the effects of highly effective education whenever we control for prior results, and we need a way to predict it.

And by the way, this is not the first time I’ve seen this problem. I’ve also seen people use A-level results as a control when considering how students from different types of school do at university and conclude that comprehensive students do better at university than students from grammars or independent schools. Again, a “wash out” effect for the advantages of selective or private schooling, could explain such data. Controlling for previous results is not straightforward if the same results can have different causes for different children.

And so to conclude, interpreting education data is complicated and we probably know less than we thought we did.

Damn it.


Learning Styles – The fad which will not die

May 5, 2018

Teacher Tapp is an app that surveys teachers every day. While those who answer are self-selecting so it is probably not completely reflective of all teachers, it’s probably going to be biased towards the more informed teacher, rather than the less informed. This makes the following result (reported here last week) somewhat concerning.

That’s an overwhelming vote in favour of learning styles. This is a shock.

I’ve written about learning styles in the past:

A rough summary of the situation is that there is no good research evidence for any learning styles, the most famous types of learning styles are known to be based on pseudo science, and there is still a significant unclaimed reward available to anyone who can demonstrate that learning styles work (details here).

In recent years, although there have remained a handful of true believers on edutwitter, it’s been almost a given that nobody believes in learning styles. I’ve seen traditionalists attacked for daring to point out something so outdated or irrelevant. It’s been described as an easy target and a non-issue that people only raise to signal their own virtue, not a live issue in teaching. And now we see this.

Of course, as was the case with my last blogpost, people who have turned out to be wrong, and people arguing for something that’s without evidence, will always declare unambiguous statements to be ambiguous or find ways to dismiss or attack those who are interested in the truth.

Here are the main excuses given for why this result about learning styles isn’t an embarrassment to the profession.

  1. There’s good and bad learning styles. Like most pseudo-science, the first line of defence is to suggest that’s what has been discredited is completely different to what’s actually still being promoted. And so, there’s been a lot of claims that while the bad, old VAK learning styles may have been discredited, there’s no problem accepting that there may be some new theory of learning styles out there that it’s okay to believe. In the same way one might argue that newspaper horoscopes might not work, but there are still expert astrologers out there who can tell you your future. Of course, nobody can prove that a theory too new or obscure to be tested has been shown not to work, but the burden of argument is on those who put forward new theories of learning. If they haven’t, even with a prize available, then there is an obvious explanation: the theory is not true.
  2. They didn’t actually mean “styles”. For those who really like learning styles, but know they’ve been discredited, there has been a tendency to say one is talking about “learning preferences” instead before saying all the same things again. This is the same trick use by anti-semites, who replace the word “Jew” with “Zionists” before expressing all the same prejudices. Of course, people probably do have learning preferences. They might prefer to learn one way and not another. But this is pretty much an irrelevance if you want somebody to learn effectively. In fact, indulging those who want to learn in an ineffective way might be actively harmful to them; it might develop bad habits that prevent learning in the future. We all know kids often have preferences that damage learning. Think of the kids who revise by covering their book in highlighter pen rather than by self-quizzing. Think of the child who “cannot write” unless their book and their entire body is turned to face their friends (and it is always to face their friends, they never have the same need to face the wall).
  3. It just means children are different. If one is caught making an indefensible statement, it is best to redefine it as a truism. Of course children are different. They different in knowledge, behaviour, personality, and working memory capacity. But, all theses things can be used to some degree, and under some circumstances, to make reliable predictions about learning. The point is that nobody can make reliable predictions about learning based on learning styles theories. If we want teachers to look at differences that matter to learning rather than those that don’t, we can’t simply redefine the latter to be the former.
  4. But what about…? I guess this is down to the fact that a politician shared the results above and said they were “concerning”, but loads of people suddenly found a strong desire to discuss every possible educational issue other than learning styles. This is a bit of a test of what people think the education system is for. If it’s about getting kids to learn, then widespread false beliefs about how we learn should be very concerning. If it turned out doctors were trying to treat cancer by finding the correct balance of the four humours, nobody would say “Who cares? The real issue is NHS funding”. It is only because many of those involved in education, don’t see learning as central to the purpose of schools, that people will can dismiss this as an unimportant issue. If it doesn’t matter what teachers believe about teaching and learning, then we aren’t teachers. If people are to be paid as professionals, we expect professional expertise.

Teacher professionalism has become a bit of an issue lately. A lot has been written about whether teachers need new organisations, more training, or a different career structure in order for teaching to be more professional. Here’s my suggestion: How about we actually train teachers in the facts about learning, not the myths, and don’t let them qualify without passing a test about this? When I trained to teach, I had to sit a skills test assessing that I knew how a spreadsheet works, but nobody ever checked I knew how learning worked.


I told you so: Evidence and the Chartered College of Teaching

April 21, 2018

I wasn’t planning to write about the Chartered College Of Teaching again. Nobody involved seems to care about my criticisms, so I’m sure that when I write about it the only effect is that I publicise them and probably get them a few more members.

But no blogger can resist the chance to say “I told you so”, so I have to comment on the bizarre saga of Greg Ashman’s article on metacognition which has been all over his blog and Twitter lately.

Back in 2014 I wrote about plans for a new professional body for teachers. I discussed at length what it would take for it to be something other than a new version of the despised GTC(E) and the potential problems if it tried to represent too many interest groups, or particular ideologies rather than the profession. Some supporters of the plans suggested that if the College focused on disseminating research and evidence then that could avoid ensure that it wasn’t seen as a partisan interest group. I wrote this blogpost explaining how debates around the use of evidence were actually highly contentious and partisan. I gave examples of views of other people involved in education about education research and concluded:

Now if you know anything about my views, and what I consider to be the evidence that underpins them, I find it impossible to imagine that my disagreements with any of the above can be resolved by reference to evidence. I am not arguing here that I cannot be part of a College of Teaching which includes people with views like those above, but I am certain that no amount of evidence or research is going to allow us all to support a single College of Teaching that claims to be promoting “what the research shows”. Research and evidence are divisive, not unifying, forces in education.

The last few weeks have served to illustrate this. The Chartered College of Teaching has a publication called Impact. According to their website:

 [Impact] supports the teaching community by promoting discussion around evidence in the classroom, and enabling teachers to share and reflect on their use of research.

Some great people are involved with it, and although I haven’t read it, I’ve heard wonderful things about the first issue. The second issue was to be edited by Jonathon Sharples of the EEF (the organisation I blogged about here). Among the topics they requested articles on was “Metacognition, self-regulation” which is one of those broad educational ideas (see “thinking skills”, “oracy” and “creativity” for other examples) which people build all sorts of teaching ideas around, without any teacher ever being clear precisely what it covers. The EEF has been promoting metacognition, for reasons that are somewhat mystifying, for a while now. Teacher, Greg Ashman, pointed out the problems with the EEF’s allegiance to this idea in a blogpost in January entitled Is ‘metacognition and self-regulation’ an actual thing? 

Greg, without hiding his cynicism, suggested that this might end up being the main focus of the issue of Impact and was told “submit an abstract”.

He did so, and the abstract made clear that his view was:

… the category of meta-cognition and self-regulation seems to have been stitched together from a range of different beasts, much like the mythical chimera… Practitioners should therefore be wary of any simplistic claims made for this category of intervention…

(The abstract can be found here). The abstract was accepted, and he was asked to write the article. He wrote it. It then went to peer review. It is at this point things got a little odd. One reviewer, Dylan Wiliam, claims to have said:

“The article is provocative, but essentially well-argued, and worth including as a prompt for debate. It would be great if someone from EEF could respond in a subsequent issue, because then it would mark out Impact as a forum for debate.”

The first sentence of this was sent to Greg. Another reviewer, in another brief comment claimed Greg’s argument was not clear. Another of the three peer reviewers, however, sent two pages largely arguing against Greg’s position on the grounds that a review of the wider literature would find that the approach the EEF had used was well-established, and therefore Greg was wrong to think that what the EEF had done was “astonishing”.

Reading these three reviews (you can find them with 4 other reviews here) you can’t hope but noticing that a lot of the problems are about a lack of clarity about what Impact is for. One reviewer recommended Greg’s article as a provocation for debate. One was scathing that it did not address the wider ideas of education researchers, but addressed only something that had been aimed at teachers. I can see both points of view, it all comes down to whether Impact is for teachers to debate ideas that affect them, or for education researchers to discuss research. I think this reflects the lack of clarity about what the Chartered College of Teaching is for; is it for teachers or for educationalists? Additionally, reviewers do not seem to have been clearly asked whether the article should be rejected, amended or accepted. Had it done so, it would have been 2 to 1 against, and perfectly legitimate to reject it outright.

Instead, Greg was asked to amend his article. He did so. It was then sent out to 4 more reviewers. I don’t know why. Worse, these additional reviewers did not seem to address the issues raised by the first reviewers, but commented on the tone of the piece and raised new issues about accuracy, which Greg didn’t have time to respond to (although he is now of the view that none of the points about accuracy were correct).

As a result, Greg could not address the further peer reviews and the article could not be published. A confused peer review process, and apparent confusion about the purpose of the journal, had served to exclude an interesting article, and a perspective relevant to teachers, from the journal, although not from the website. Greg, who I think had been sceptical from the beginning about whether the journal would ever accept his work, described on Twitter and in blogs what had happened.

Then two further odd things happened.

Firstly, supporters of the College began criticising Greg. It was assumed that he was bitter about rejection, rather than concerned about the process (which seemed to have wasted his time). People implied that Greg was so desperate to be published, that he was a bad loser seeking revenge for a personal blow to himself and his credibility. Given that Greg’s latest book is available for pre-order here; given the number of other people willing to publish Greg’s views, and given the praise from Dylan Wiliam and others for that article, such a line of attack seems implausible as well as unpleasant.

Secondly, the Chartered College of Teaching Twitter account commented on the matter in a long thread. In the thread they falsely claimed “At no point did reviewers take issue with the opinions”.

Since then, Greg has released the peer reviews and proved that this was false, and been attacked for that. Numerous supporters of the College have argued that a publicly funded professional body making a false statement about a teacher is not as unethical as a teacher releasing the evidence that the statement is false.  More bizarrely, others have, apparently sincerely, claimed that the arguments the reviewer made against Greg’s views was not “taking issue with his opinons”.

Yes, really. Highlights of that discussion include people claiming that Greg’s opinions were not opinions but assertions, conclusions or claims and that arguing against his opinions was not taking issue with them, but challenging them, objecting to them or discussing the words used to express them. At times, those who defended the false statement could not even remember which bit of sophistry they were currently using:

These tweets, highlighted by Greg, are by a professor of education

I’m left amazed at the cult-like devotion to the Chartered College Of Teaching that exists among a small minority (many of whom aren’t teachers) who are willing to make themselves look silly rather than admit the College’s mistakes. I’m left appalled that the College has still not apologised to Greg for the false statement. I’m left grateful to Michael Fordham for this Twitter thread discussing the rights and wrongs of peer review in professional publications. But mainly I’m left smugly saying “I told you so”. Interpretations of evidence cannot unite the teaching profession. A professional association for teachers needs something else to underpin it other than research. I would suggest a belief in teacher professionalism would be a far better basis for building a professional association for teachers.


Behaviour change and justice

April 14, 2018

There are two contrasting elements to the way schools respond to bad behaviour and to responses to wrongdoing in society generally.

One is that of justice. Those who cause direct harm to others, undermine legitimate authority, or deliberately violate rules for their own ends, deserve negative consequences for themselves. Criminals deserve to go to prison, or pay a fine or whatever. Those who mistreat or betray those around them, whether that’s their colleagues, friends or family, deserve a diminished relationship with those around them (either temporarily, or in the worst cases permanently). Badly behaved children deserve a detention, or to lose a treat, or whatever.

The other element is behaviour change. We want undesirable behaviour to stop. We want criminals to stop committing crime. We want friends who let us down to become more reliable. We want an inconsiderate spouse to become considerate. We want a badly behaved child to become well-behaved. We also want others, who see the results of undesired behaviour, to be deterred from that same behaviour.

Both these elements are essential.

If we ignore justice, then we undermine the extent to which we are responsible for our own actions. We are not treating people as if they have chosen their actions, if we do not think that they deserve to lose out for deliberate wrong actions. We can temper justice with mercy, but we cannot reward wrongdoing, or punish virtuous acts. Without justice we would also lose all sense of proportionality in our responses. If the only thing that will deter people from dropping litter is the death penalty, then if all we cared about was changing behaviour, execution would be legitimate. Or if the only action that would change a litter bug’s behaviour is chopping off a hand, then amputation would be legitimate. Justice, however, requires some correspondence between the harm (or potential harm) of behaviour and the sanction that it warrants. Justice accepts that it would be better for somebody to continue doing small wrong, and continue to suffer small, but deserved, punishments for it, than for them to be sanctioned so severely that they would be traumatised into the right behaviour, but with a large increase in the overall level of human suffering. Equally, it is justice that tells us that we should not attempt to change behaviour by appeasing or bribing wrongdoers. Perhaps a burglar would change his ways if given a million pounds; perhaps a rapist would stop their crimes if they could be provided an unending supply of consenting sexual partners, but justice demands that those who would harm others should not be “bought off”. There should not be rewards for a willingness to do wrong. Finally, it is through desert – through the notion that some things are deserved – that moral judgements are most clearly communicated. To say somebody can do wrong with impunity is to say the authorities, or the community, does not really believe those actions to be wrong, that either the rules and interests of the community don’t matter, or that violation of them is not a moral matter.

Equally, if we ignore behaviour change then we commit ourselves to writing-off those who once do something wrong. We would not be recognising that to fall short is normal for human beings and accepting that we can all do better. We would be failing to help support those who want to change, despite the common sense notion that our behaviour often becomes a habit and we often need help and encouragement to break free of our bad habits. We would also be ignoring the possibility of reducing the amount of wrongdoing. This would be both irrational (if actions are genuinely wrong, we would want fewer of them) and harmful to the community.

I believe that virtuous, rational, individuals designing a system of criminal justice, or rules for a club, or the behaviour system for a school, would attend closely to both these considerations. We would ask what sanctions are deserved and what systems communicate a clear moral judgement. But we would also ask what is likely to change an individual’s behaviour and deter similar behaviour on the part of others. However, we are not virtuous, rational individuals. We cannot easily separate moral judgements from what they say about ourselves. We are not content simply to aspire to be virtuous, we also seek to demonstrate our virtue to others. We like to show that we are kinder, more merciful, more just, than others and a situation like the above, where we have two aims, gives us that opportunity. When arguing over a system or an action, we can pick whichever of the two aims of justice and behaviour change best justifies our favoured course of action, and ignore the other. In fact, we can go further than ignoring the aim that weakens our position, we can deliberately misinterpret it.

Educated middle class people like ourselves, can easily imagine what it means to be only concerned with justice, but not changing people. We can easily picture somebody with no concept of mercy, no element of forgiveness, no belief in the improvement of the human condition. The political demagogue who has no positive vision of society, and is only interested in settling scores with those they consider to be the villains of the piece, is an archetype liberals can immediately bring to mind. Their “justice” actually causes harm and resentment, all the more so if we think those they target are actually just scapegoats.

However, we are far less adept at challenging those who would ignore justice. Those who would never hold somebody responsible for their actions. Those who would be outraged at continuing to punish somebody when it was clear that their behaviour was not changing. Those who would appease and excuse even the worst among us, rather than denounce them. And most of all, those who would see any notion of desert as indistinguishable from revenge. So pronounced is this tendency, that words such as “retribution” or “punitive” that originally referred to deserved punishment, are now widely understood to refer to revenge.

In schools, this is where a lot of problems lie. It is not universally accepted that children are responsible for their actions. It is not universally accepted that an important part of what needs to be done about wrong actions is moral judgement and punishment. And so, we often try to talk about behaviour without using the appropriate moral terms. Like the rest of society, we no longer know that “retribution” ever meant something different from revenge. Some are so confused about the word “punitive”, a word that literally refers to punishment, that they talk about non-punitive punishments. Some will avoid the word “punishment” or “sanction”, when “consequence” is a far less loaded term. Some will avoid the word “discipline”; why else would the phrase “behaviour management” ever have been coined? The word “sin”, one that so perfectly described the normal moral failings of humanity,  is now seen as a relic of a superstitious part. “Moral” itself is often seen as an inappropriate and emotive term. One prominent progressive does not even approve of rewards, despite rewards being the more positive side of desert. Almost any term can be rejected as “unhelpful” or worse as “a label”, when people are signalling their virtue. And where words are not banned, they can be redefined, with “restorative justice” being one of the concepts most popular with those who oppose justice. And don’t get me started on those who seem to think the whole concept of reward and punishment was invented by behaviourists in the 1950s.

There’s little obvious to be done here, but next time you hear somebody say something along the lines of:

“I don’t believe in X, but I do use Y”

where both X and Y refer to deliberately inflicted undesirable consequences for breaking a rule, challenge it for the pious waffle it really is. Nobody really rejects “punishments” in favour of “consequences”; we just call it a consequence when we do it, and a punishment when somebody else does it. Nobody really eschews “discipline” in favour of “behaviour management”.  Nobody actually replaces “detentions” with “time for reflection”. You either punish, or you let kids get away with it.


OFSTED and triple-marking

April 11, 2018

I’ve written a couple of posts recently about OFSTED (What OFSTED still needs to do and OFSTED and Workload) which brought up the issue of workload. I identified two problems in particular that relate to marking. Firstly, OFSTED look to see if school policies are being followed consistently, even if those policies add to workload. Secondly, OFSTED inspectors look for evidence of students responding to feedback. As a result schools are introducing marking policies that involve teachers having to elicit responses from students when they mark books, then mark those responses. This is often referred to as “triple marking” (as the same piece of work may be visited three times).

While “triple-marking” is not necessarily a bad thing – teachers will legitimately want to help students draft and redraft work on some occasions – having to mark this way consistently has workload implications. Also, for such marking to happen consistently, teachers will have to carry out this process even where they see no benefit for their students. I have seen this happen in multiple schools, and, unlike some fads, it is not simply being done by the worst managers. Even managers who really care about workload and are doing everything they can to make the process easier, are still feeling obliged to introduce such policies because they expect inspectors to be looking for responses to feedback.

According to the blogpost about triple-marking I linked to above (and partially confirmed by the photo caption on this article) at one point OFSTED had clarified this matter and said:

Ofsted does not expect to see a particular frequency or quantity of work in pupils’ books or folders. Ofsted recognises that the amount of work in books will often depend on the age and ability of the pupils.

Ofsted does not expect to see unnecessary or extensive written dialogue between teachers and pupils in exercise books and folders. Ofsted recognises the importance of different forms of feedback and inspectors will look at how these are used to promote learning. [My emphasis]

However, more recent versions of the mythbusting guidance just say:

Ofsted does not expect to see a particular frequency or quantity of work in pupils’ books or folders. Ofsted recognises that the amount of work in books and folders will depend on the subject being studied and the age and ability of the pupils.

Ofsted recognises that marking and feedback to pupils, both written and oral, are important aspects of assessment. However, Ofsted does not expect to see any specific frequency, type or volume of marking and feedback; these are for the school to decide through its assessment policy. Marking and feedback should be consistent with that policy, which may cater for different subjects and different age groups of pupils in different ways, in order to be effective and efficient in promoting learning.

This redraft seems to have replaced a clear statement that triple marking is not necessary with one that emphasises consistency with a policy, and scrutiny of the effectiveness of feedback, which would explain why schools seem to have gone backwards on this issue.

I raised the issue of marking recently on Twitter after I read that education secretary Damian Hinds had called for an end to triple marking. This began a dialogue with Sean Harford OFSTED’s national director of education, which I will reproduce below:

Andrew Old: As long as OFSTED look for evidence of a consistent marking policy *and* students responding to feedback it will continue.

Sean Harford: It’s up to schools to have a sensible assessment policy: inspectors inspect against the policy Andrew. If schools carry on with triple marking policies then that’s what inspectors will look at. Nobody at Ofsted looking for triple marking.

Andrew Old: But you look for evidence of students responding to feedback don’t you?

Sean Harford: Not necessarily written feedback – see para 163 of the handbook, fifth bullet point. That could be ascertained by talking to pupils and teachers.

Andrew Old: But inspectors will be looking for it in books too, won’t they?

Sean Harford: Not necessarily; that depends on the school’s assessment policy.

Andrew Old: So inspectors won’t be looking in books for kids responding to feedback *unless* the policy implies that’s where it is to be found? And there should be no disadvantage in not making that part of the policy?

Sean Harford: Absolutely.

The bullet point Sean referred to is in a section that begins:

Inspectors will make a judgement on the effectiveness of teaching, learning and assessment in schools by evaluating the extent to which:

And then lists a number of bullet points, including the one Sean pointed out:

assessment information is used to plan appropriate teaching and learning strategies, including to identify pupils who are falling behind in their learning or who need additional support, enabling pupils to make good progress and achieve well

I think the problem lies in the very next bullet point:

except in the case of the very young, pupils understand how to improve as a result of useful feedback, written or oral, from teachers

When I had the Twitter conversation, I was delighted; the agreement that “there should be no disadvantage” to schools that are not triple-marking was particularly welcome. That said, it is still going to be down to schools to come up with and enforce marking and feedback policies that fit what OFSTED want when they judge the extent to which “pupils understand how to improve as a result of useful feedback”. While I can be happy that this doesn’t have to be “triple-marking”, I don’t think I know what that would look like.


A Guide To Scenes From The Battleground

April 8, 2018

I have updated this guide for the holidays.

This blog is about the state of secondary education. There is an introduction to it here:

And some reflections on it here:

Here is a summary of my main points:

Here are a few posts written purely for a laugh (although some of them perhaps make a point at the same time):

The following posts sum up what is typical in schools these days in various respects:



Teachers and Managers:

Special Needs:

School Life:


As well as the advice for teachers included in many of the other posts, I have written advice specifically for new teachers:

These deal more directly with my own personal experiences, or the experiences of others:

I have also written a number of posts exploring and explaining how this situation came to be, discussing the arguments in education and suggesting what can be done.


Apologia and arguments:

Progressive Education:



Education Policy and Current Affairs:



The College of Teaching:

Children’s Mental Health

School shamings and witch hunts

Teaching and Teachers:

Educational Ethics and Philosophy:

Education Research and Academics

The Curriculum

Here are some videos I found on the internet which I thought were interesting, or relevant, enough to present in a blog post. Some will probably no longer be available, I hope to correct this where possible when I get the chance.

I wrote about some of the myths that are spread to teachers, often in INSET or during PGCEs:

I have also outlined what I would expect from schools willing to do put things right:

Here are my book recommendations:

This may be of interest if you are considering writing a blog or are looking for blogs to read:

You may also have found me…

Here’s an idea for using Twitter to advertise teaching jobs:

I have also written sections in the following three books:

Please let me know if any of the links don’t work.

Finally, I can be found on Facebook (please “friend” me) or Twitter (please “follow” me).

If you want to keep up with education blogging other than mine, or to see some of these same concerns discussed by others, then you should follow my sister blog, The Education Echo Chamber. The blog is here. The twitter feed is here. The sister blog to the sister blog is The Echo Chamber Uncut which automatically shares all UK education blogs. The blog is here. The twitter feed is here. There are details of some “mini Echo Chambers” here.


Chartered College Of Teaching misses its membership target

April 6, 2018

One of the many educational bodies Michael Gove dispensed with was the GTC(E), a government funded compulsory professional body for teachers, best summed up by Tom Bennett as “an expensive magazine that could sack you”. In line with a lot of the Gove reforms, even before this was carried out, people were already looking for a way to turn the clock back. A movement among the education establishment began, for a new teacher’s professional body, one that was more independent and not compulsory. An attempt to fund it through donations failed to reach a target of £250 000 and only raised pledges for £21000, and before long it was announced that it would indeed be another government funded body, with promises of a frankly ludicrous £5 million from government.

Having blogged a lot during the initial discussion about what sort of organisation it should be, I haven’t had much to say since it became clear that it was not the sort of organisation I thought teachers needed. I would prefer a grassroots organisation, dominated by classroom teachers, steering clear of educationalists and consultants, and concentrating on tapping into the expertise that already exists in the profession rather than looking to the people who already tell teachers what to do for more of the same. There are good people involved, and there are things going on that I can be positive about, but what is being created is still looks to me like what the education establishment thinks teachers should want, not what teachers actually want.

In particular, I remain critical of:

  • the existence of “associate members”, members who aren’t actually teachers;
  • the complete lack of attempts to balance SLT and unpromoted teachers within the organisation;
  • the ongoing promotion of consultants;
  • events that are not conveniently timed or priced for classroom teachers;
  • the development of a category of “chartered teachers”: a generic “teacher status” for some of the profession, rather than a focus on more subject or specialism specific professional development.

So how has the attempt to create a new body gone? Well seven months ago, the NAO published a report on Retaining and developing the teaching workforce which told us the following:

The establishment of the Chartered College of Teaching is an important development. The college opened in January 2017. The Department is providing funding of up to £5 million over four years. In the longer term, it expects the college to be self-sufficient through membership fees (currently £45 per year) and income from its activities. The college aims to recruit as quickly as possible and has a target of 18,000 members by April 2018.

It’s now April 2018 and so I have been asking about membership numbers:

It would appear they would have to grow by 50% just to reach the target they have already missed. And if 12 000 still seems impressive, remember the level of funding of the organisation and please note that it was indicated in January that 1000s of those members were students with free memberships, hundreds were non-teaching “professional affiliates”:

I do wish them well (honest), teachers do need a wide variety of organisations doing different things. I do, however, wonder how this particular organisations merits £5 million of public money.

Here’s my suggestion for how to improve teacher professionalism. Instead of giving £5 million to one organisation, give it directly to classroom teachers in the form of a voucher each for professional development, and let us decide which organisations and events to spend it on. The Chartered College of Teaching could compete for that money, but so could researchED, subject associations or any other group involved in working with the profession. Let’s empower the profession by trusting teachers to decide on their own professional development needs.

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