How Educational Progressives are still trying to silence those who disagree

May 9, 2017

No doubt what follows will be interpreted as an “attack” on the individuals I quote here. However,this post refers only to the public behaviour of influential individuals and I have removed one name at the request of the individual involved. I am bringing attention to this because a lot of education bloggers read this blog, and I think it’s fair to let them know what they can expect if they dare challenge progressives on social media. No doubt there are those who will point out that not all progressives behave this way, so I’ll acknowledge that now.

I’ve become used to being able to speak freely on social media. I think many other traditionalists have as well. It is easy to forget that many still have to hide their identities. It is easy to forget that if you are new to social media and you challenge the progressive line, (particularly if you are a primary teacher, a woman, or new to teaching), progressives will try to silence you.

There was an example of this, just this weekend.  A (newish) blogger, called Teaching Newbie, had visited a school with a No Excuses discipline system and had been amazed at how well it worked. In a blog post she wrote:

On Twitter, I have encountered noted educationalists such as Sue Cowley and Debra Kidd, at every opportunity sneering at and denigrating the no excuses, high expectations approach espoused by [the school]. And all the while, the most disadvantaged children in the country continue to suffer. Just stop, people, stop! There is a better way. Swallow your pride and open your eyes to the evidence that is right before you, if only you would see it. Discipline works. No excuses works. A focus on knowledge works. Explicit teaching works. Drills and tests work. And no, it does not kill off creativity or oppress children. Quite the opposite.

Rhetorical, and dramatic, but a fair enough comment. Sue Cowley wrote a blogpost that did little more than ridicule Nick Gibb for talking about “no excuses methods” and she has made her opposition to “no excuses” clear on Twitter:

Debra Kidd had been far ruder, writing a post on “no excuses” entitled “Entirely Without Compassion“.

So these high profile ex-teachers have their opinions; Teaching Newbie had a different opinion. People should be allowed to express their disagreement, wouldn’t you say?

Well apparently not, according to the writer of this comment claiming to be Sue Cowley (and this tweet would indicate it was her).

This is odd. You don’t have to be a lawyer to know that it’s hard to libel somebody if what you say about them is demonstrably true, and does nothing to damage their reputation. Disagreeing with progressives is not actually punishable by law. Teaching Newbie was considerate enough to remove the names, but not the post.

This was not enough for Progressive edu-Twitter. Lots of people stepped in to attack Teaching Newbie there. I won’t repeat anything from “the Progressive Trolls“, those accounts that are largely dedicated to abusing traditionalists on twitter, but as you can imagine, they were offensive.

As well as the trolls, at least one progressive, a PGCE tutor whose name I have blanked out in red., supported the idea that disagreeing with named progressives about views they had expressed in public was some kind of libel.



When warning of “danger” did not silence Teaching Newbie, this particular progressive found another way to silence Teaching Newbie. They searched through her blog for what she had written about life at the school where she works as an LSA and found comments that they would not have made about a named school:


Then they claimed Teaching Newbie could be identified:

Although it is unlikely that Teaching Newbie has been identified, this was too much for her to risk, and she deleted her Twitter account and blog. She confirmed by email that it was this implied threat to out her to her employers that had caused her to do so.

I share this as a warning. If you are blogging about teaching make sure you cannot be identified if you are describing what actually happens in your school. If you are challenging any prominent progressives, expect them to try and intimidate you and expect other progressives to support them, no matter how unreasonable their behaviour is. People will claim that disagreeing with progressives on social media, or describing what actually happens in schools, is unprofessional and that action could be taken against you. Be careful. Progressives did not gain the influence they have over education through open debate, but by making it professionally difficult to challenge them. Social media has opened up the debate, and they do not like it. You may think your little blog or a few tweets won’t bother anybody, but if they see a chance to silence you, they will take it.


5 blogposts about 5 things

May 7, 2017

For some reason bloggers have started writing posts that list 5 things this weekend. So here’s my list of 5 blogposts that do that.

1) 5 principles of education by @greg_ashman

2) Five Things I Wish I knew When I started Teaching by @C_Hendrick

3) The 5 worst education arguments by graphics by @JamesTheo

4) Practice vs. talent: Five principles for effective teaching by @DavidDidau

5) 5 education ideas applied to alternative contexts by @greg_ashman


Is obedience dangerous? Part 2

May 7, 2017

In part 1, I considered whether obedience endangered children. In this post, I will consider the down sides of disobedience.

I believe children are in more danger of being abused by each other than by their teachers. Teachers are subject to CRB checks and could be prosecuted and fired if they act inappropriately. Kids have far fewer constraints on abusive behaviour. This blogpost describes what is the daily reality for some girls in some schools:

…in the school I now teach at, sexual assault has almost become part of the furniture. The Head has talked about how much of a problem it is. He sent some staff on a training day about it. He’s kept boys back after assembly and given them a bollocking. He’s kept girls back after assembly and told them he’s given the boys a bollocking. It hasn’t really helped. It’s a culture. A culture takes a lot more than an assembly to change.

It’s as if this whole issue is a pesky mosquito buzzing round his head, that he limply swats at occasionally when it bothers him too much.

When SLT talk about how good a school we are, how we’re aiming for an Outstanding Ofsted next year, how great our progress stats are, I want to shake them and say “how can you apply positive adjectives to a school where girls are just resigned to being felt up now and again? Where pupils with police reprimands and warnings for assaulting girls walk the corridors alongside the victims? Where your own pupil voice survey says that the majority of pupils do not feel safe?”

If we want to protect kids from abuse, then the first priority has to be to protect them from each other. Teacher authority is a help, not a hindrance here. Reducing the authority of adults, does not protect children, it leaves them at the mercy of the mob. Arendt described this situation decades ago:

… there exist a child’s world and a society formed among children that are autonomous and must insofar as possible be left to them to govern. Adults are only there to help with this government. The authority that tells the individual child what to do and what not to do rests with the child group itself–and this produces, among other consequences, a situation in which the adult stands helpless before the individual child and out of contact with him. He can only tell him to do what he likes and then prevent the worst from happening. The real and normal relations between children and adults, arising from the fact that people of all ages are always simultaneously together in the world, are thus broken off. And so it is of the essence of this first basic assumption that it takes into account only the group and not the individual child.

As for the child in the group, he is of course rather worse off than before. For the authority of a group, even a child group, is always considerably stronger and more tyrannical than the severest authority of an individual person can ever be. If one looks at it from the standpoint of the individual child, his chances to rebel or to do anything on his own hook are practically nil; he no longer finds himself in a very unequal contest with a person who has, to be sure, absolute superiority over him but in contest with whom he can nevertheless count on the solidarity of other children, that is, of his own kind; rather he is in the position, hopeless by definition, of a minority of one confronted by the absolute majority of all the others. There are very few grown people who can endure such a situation, even when it is not supported by external means of compulsion; children are simply and utterly incapable of it.

Therefore by being emancipated from the authority of adults the child has not been freed but has been subjected to a much more terrifying and truly tyrannical authority, the tyranny of the majority. In any case the result is that the children have been so to speak banished from the world of grown-ups. They are either thrown back upon themselves or handed over to the tyranny of their own group, against which, because of its numerical superiority, they cannot rebel, with which, because they are children, they cannot reason, and out of which they cannot flee to any other world because the world of adults is barred to them. The reaction of the children to this pressure tends to be either conformism or juvenile delinquency, and is frequently a mixture of both.

From The Crisis Of Education, in Between Past and Future” by Hannah Arendt

As well as the harm disobedient children can do to each other, how often do we give instructions in order to keep students safe? It is very easy to focus on adults who harm children and forget that adult authority protects children from themselves. It is easy to find examples where disobedience has harmed children. The following news stories that I found for a blogpost a few years ago all involve students being killed or maimed in circumstances where students disobeyed teachers:




So, it is not simply the case that obedience endangers kids, it also protects them, from each other and from their own reckless behaviour. Which risk is greater? The risk that children will be harmed by their teachers because of their obedience, or the risk that children will come to harm where their teachers cannot control them? I guess it comes down to your view of teachers. If you trust teachers to protect children, you assume teachers will use their authority to protect their students. If you think teachers don’t care about children, then you assume teachers will use their authority to harm their students.

I trust teachers. Don’t you?



Is obedience dangerous? Part 1

May 6, 2017

A few months ago there were a couple of blogposts trying to link obedience with child abuse.

One post associated child abuse and obedience, implicitly, using an abuser as a model of adult authority:

I do not want every child to be obedient. In fact I would question what kind of society we would have if obedience reigned supreme? Let’s all obey Trump – no questions asked, in fact lets imagine he is never opposed? This is a pretty dangerous road to travel but I think it has much to explore….

I have an issue with the way obedience can used to get children to be compliant.

When I worked in Tower Hamlets (more than 15 years ago) a child protection discloser came in. Four very nervous children disclosed to a Learning Mentor that they had been beaten the night before, at a evening Koran reading class. As deputy I spoke to one boy who was said to have got the worst of it. I knew him well, he was in my class for a second year. He had very severe eczema. The children had told us how they were beaten in certain places. K had been beaten on his feet, and when I spoke to him his shoes were damp with blood. He slowly and painfully took off his socks at my request. His eczema inflamed and bleeding. He could hardly walk and yet he did, even though the pain was terrible. He was 10 years old.

By the end of the day twenty two boys had come forward to say they had received beatings and humiliations from a ‘pop up’ reading school on the local estate. Some only once but a few were constantly hurt. One child had keys held against his face whilst the so-called teacher karate kicked them and another had to crouch in the corner of the room with a broom handle slid over his neck and between his elbows… He would often have pig or cow written in chalk across his shaved head. He had special educational needs and was a complex boy.

The other post made the point more explicitly:

One of the most important lessons I teach in the school year is the one that tells the pupils that they should not do what an adult tells them to do….

… The lesson in question is on ‘Protective Behaviours’, i.e. protecting oneself from being abused…

That’s the one in which they learn to recognise that adults do not have absolute authority over them and that they have a right to say ‘no’ if what they are being asked to do is wrong. Famously, the pupils of [unnamed but easily identified school] would pick up someone’s grape off the floor, without argument or complaint. Whilst the total authority of the teachers in this school appears to be underpinned by kindness and concern – a benevolent dictatorship, if you will – administrations and contexts change. Would they comply if it were something considerably less pleasant? If it were someone considerably less pleasant?

So there you have it, if you try to ensure that children follow their teacher’s instructions, you might be enabling abuse. And at the time these posts went up some of the “Progressive Trolls” seemed okay with claiming the teachers they targeted online committed “emotional abuse” by enforcing rules.

Now, a lot could be said about those who see strong discipline as being on a continuum with child abuse. This has been a part of progressive rhetoric since, at least, the days of A.S.Neill’s Summerhill, perhaps ironically given that the behaviour of teachers at Summerhill (such as exposing themselves to teach anatomy or encouraging young children to masturbate in order to cure their neuroses) would now be seen as abuse. One might have thought that the abolition of corporal punishment, and its replacement with being told to wait in a room, might have put an end to this rhetoric. But now it seems to be that the mere aspiration of getting kids to follow the rules that is linked to abuse.

I think the claims that obedience enables abuse confuses legitimate authority with arbitrary power. Belief in obedience is not belief in the use of adult power according to whim. When traditionalists talk about obedience, it is firstly, obedience to the rules. Now unless a school has a rule that says child abuse should take place or be kept secret, this is unlikely to encourage abuse. Secondly, where traditionalists talk about obedience to adult authority, it is talking about the legitimate authority of adults with responsibility for children. If a teacher is not acting legitimately, then they do not have that authority. I would argue that a “no excuses” school, with its clear rules and routines actually does more to draw boundaries around teachers’ authority, than the “excuses” school, where the rules and sanctions are made up according to the whim and status of the teacher, and emotional manipulation is considered preferable to the threat of punishment. What is more likely to lead to abuse? Punishing a child for not doing their homework or winning over a child’s personal loyalty through special praise, attention and affection?

I’m not sure why the model of the abuser here is one of an authoritative adult who tells compliant kids what to do. How often do the cases of abuse involving teachers we see in the press involve the teacher who diminishes, rather than exploits, adult authority? How many cases of child abuse in schools, involve teachers acting as if their students were able to consent to sex, rather than accepting it was the teacher’s responsibility not to sleep with their students? Do you really think that the adult who befriends children and treats them as an equal is less likely to be an abuser than the adult who takes responsibility for children and sets firm boundaries?

In fact, it seems to me that “no excuses” discipline protects, rather than endangers kids. I will explore this further in part 2.

Update 8/5/2017

There were some complaints on Twitter  about my reference to teachers at Summerhill in the first part of the 20th century “exposing themselves to teach anatomy”. Apparently this was a very serious allegation to have made. Just to clarify, I did not mean to imply this was part of the curriculum. I was referring to a claim the school’s head made about teachers (including himself) exposing themselves to address children’s “curiosity”. I had charitably assumed it was curiosity about anatomy, and that, bizarre and inappropriate as it was, this behaviour was meant to be educational. I apologise for any upset this assumption caused and next time will simply assume they were all just sick perverts.



We should be more offended by dishonesty than by pointing it out

April 30, 2017

There was some criticism of this post from last week where I gave learning styles as an example of lies that trainee teachers in Australia might encounter. Most of the criticism was of a familiar sort, focusing on whether use of the word “lie” was insulting. In this post I wish to explain why sometimes “lie” is an accurate and appropriate term for some of what we hear when discussing teaching.

There are 4 basic types of dishonesty we are likely to encounter in education (or anywhere else).

  1. Lying. This is where somebody deliberately claims something they know to be false with the intention that another person, or other people, believe it. It’s often seen as the worst type of dishonesty, but it is something that most people will have done at some point, and can be the lesser of two evils.
  2. Misleading. This is where somebody claims something that may actually be true, but does it in such a way as to communicate a false idea or false impression. This is often viewed as less serious than lying, although it can contain an element of trickery or manipulation that makes it more serious.
  3. Bullshitting. This is where somebody says things that they do not know to be true (but do not know to be false either). A great essay on this can be found here, which considers the possibility that it is worse than lying, as it shows an indifference to the truth. My opinion is that this form of dishonesty is particularly common in education.
  4. Neglecting the truth. This is where somebody makes a false claim that they believe to be true, but where they had a moral responsibility, and an opportunity, to check their claims were indeed true. This is particularly relevant in the context of teacher training and CPD where people may be hired on the basis of their expertise and the expectation that what they teach will have been considered thoroughly.

All of the above are morally wrong, but I would argue that it is hard to judge any category to be always better, or always worse, than one of the other categories. Mentioning that something is a lie, is not necessarily an attempt to give the worst interpretation to the passing on of false information. It is not as if those who are offended by the word “lie” are less offended by people pointing out that it was actually another form of dishonesty. How often does anybody say “how dare you call this a lie, it’s actually just bullshit” or “how dare you accuse me of lying when I am only misleading you?” Often, it is important to point out that something is a lie, rather than a misconception or error. I used the example of learning styles in my last post, as VAK learning styles are not simply mistaken or outdated. VAK comes from Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a highly profitable pseudo-science full of entirely fabricated claims that scientists have described as “bunk” or a “scam”. Most phonics denialism is also based on demonstrably untrue invented claims. We shouldn’t hesitate to use the word “lie” to describe something that can be confirmed as a fraud by Googling it.

One objection to describing a claim as a lie is that the word “lie” describes intention. A lie is not simply false, there must be an intention to deceive. This is, of course, true and we should be careful about using the word “lie” when somebody is simply mistaken. However, we should be aware that if we inadvertently repeat a false claim that somebody else invented with the intention to deceive, then we are repeating a lie, even if we are not lying. Any false claim that is a deliberate invention, rather than, say, a misunderstanding, can still be described as a “lie”. We should not accept that the possibility of somebody passing on a lie without meaning to deceive means we cannot call still call it a lie. If we were to accept this, we would be accepting that a lie ceases to be a lie if it fools enough people. While these ideas may be passed on by those who have been fooled by those who lied, they are still lies and to pass them on is different to passing on a mistaken opinion or something based on error.

It could be argued that in this case, it would be politer not to mention that a lie is a lie, in order to protect the feelings of those who pass it on unaware it is a lie, even if they do some from a position of authority. In the case of my earlier blogpost, the argument is that damaging the pride of educationalists is a worse sin than passing on a lie. Such a position is little more than a license to deceive. There will always be those who are upset to be challenged. There are “cry bullies” who claim to experience emotional damage when anyone stands up to them. If a lie is being spread to educators it should be exposed, if we care about education. The honest would rather be corrected than to be left to pass on a lie uncorrected. When called out on a lie or bullshit, the honest are more concerned at the possibility that what they have said is wrong, than at the manner in which this was pointed out. The last time I was accused of spreading a lie on social media I asked over two dozen times what it was that wasn’t true, before I decided that, in the absence of a clear answer, the accusation was not made in good faith.

A further level of offence-taking can be achieved by combining the confusion between repeating a lie and lying with confusion over the difference between saying somebody lied and saying they are a liar. On the face of it, if somebody lies then it could be claimed they they are a liar. However, if that were so then almost everybody would be a liar and the word “liar” would be fairly inoffensive. The word  “liar” is often seen as more offensive than saying somebody lied because it can be used to mean more than somebody who once told a lie. As St Augustine observed:

Nor are those lies to be allowed, which, though they hurt not another, yet do nobody any good, and are hurtful to the persons themselves who gratuitously tell them. Indeed, these are the persons who are properly to be called liars. For there is a difference between lying and being a liar. A man may tell a lie unwillingly; but a liar loves to lie, and inhabits in his mind in the delight of lying.

It is fair enough to say that, on this understanding, it is worse to call somebody a liar than to say they lied. It is, therefore,  unfair to infer from a claim that somebody has lied that they have been called a liar. Those who react with “are you calling me a liar?” when challenged, are typically attempting to deflect discussion of what they have claimed.

Finally, there are various other forms of taking offence when people disagree about education, such as policing tone and claiming that it is unprofessional to challenge them. I have listed and analysed these arguments in this post. As before, I would argue that these are tactics to avoid and silence debate rather than a response to genuine grounds for offence. It is a fact of life that some people simply think it is not legitimate to disagree with them. We need to make a deliberate effort to privilege open debate, and ignore the protestations of those who think their utterances are above scrutiny.


A blogger all teachers should be following: @greg_ashman

April 27, 2017

Greg Ashman – scourge of education’s charlatans

I may be preaching to the converted here, but after one of my blogposts last week declared war on Australia, I thought I’d draw your attention to something great from that part of the world. Every so often somebody asks me about decent research on how to teach maths, and every time I realise how little I really know about what’s good (rather than what’s terrible in maths education), and I have to redirect them to a particular antipodean blogger.

Greg Ashman is a teacher from England, who is now teaching maths in Australia, while also studying for a PhD in education. His studies are focused on the psychology of learning, and his blog is a running commentary of what is going on in education (here, and in Australia and around the world) and how it relates to what we actually know about how we learn and what works in teaching. He is particularly strong on how best to teach mathematics, although his blog also discusses science teaching, literacy teaching and many other topics related to education. He has a particular commitment to exposing shoddy research and “experts” who give advice contradicted by the evidence. He often looks at the evidence from psychology, empirical studies and international data, but his writing is aimed at teachers rather than academics. His blog provides insight into what does or does not work in the classroom, and is particularly useful if you teach maths. So if you want to keep up with the best in evidence based education blogging, his blog, Filling The Pail, can be found here.

Anyway, if my recommendation is not enough, let me also point out what others have said about Filling The Pail.

Professor Rob Coe, the Director of the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) at Durham University included it as on of his top ten blogs “that regularly present sound educational research and connect it with school practice” in his post on What is Worth Reading for Teachers Interested in Research?

Dylan Wiliam, the British educationalist and Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment at the UCL Institute of Education, was asked for his top 3 online resources for teachers and he made this recommendation:

…I suggest the Twitter feed or the blogs of a British teacher who now lives in Australia called Greg Ashman. …he’s doing some very interesting work with people like John Sweller in Australia. … he’s looking at  the role of knowledge in teaching mathematics; the role of automaticity, and things like that. His posts,… go under the heading of Filling The Pail because he’s resisting the idea that education is not filling a pail, it’s lighting fires or whatever… He’s actually saying knowledge is a really important part of maths so you need to get good at that. So I recommend his website or his blog, [it] is a very provocative source of ideas in maths teaching specifically.

Daisy Christodoulou, who is Head of Assessment at Ark Schools was also asked for her “Big Three” and said:

I’m going to go for Greg Ashman’s blog… Greg’s really prolific and he has got so many pieces up there that I often just send round to people as an explanation of a particular issue. So it’s a really, really great resource that I use…  quite a lot for myself; just to give myself an insight into things, and to send to others too. So that would be a good one.

Please go to Greg’s blog (here), and have a look. He can be found on Twitter as @greg_ashman


Will a behaviour consultant help your school get through an OFSTED inspection?

April 22, 2017

At the start of the year I wrote about my experience of Behaviour Consultants. Although I have known of decent people doing this job, there has been a real problem with bad advice from consultants and many teachers shared examples of this with me.

However, just recently an opportunity came up to compare directly what a behaviour consultant had said when working with a school with what OFSTED said. A school inspected in January 2017, had been featured in a blog written (in part) by a very high profile behaviour consultant in February 2015. Because this deals with a school that’s just been rated “inadequate” in almost all respects, I’m not going to link to my sources as I normally would, so as to avoid school shaming. I also, obviously, cannot be sure who is right or wrong in their judgements. However, I do want to show how a behaviour consultant’s perspective might differ from an inspector’s.

From the blog:

Great Leadership:

….The key difference between the schools I work with is leadership. Their senior leaders’ approach to whole staff INSET tells you all you need to know about their commitment to CPD. Some open their policy and practice to scrutiny. They allow you to do a proper job. A root and branch review with carefully tailored live training. They follow it with flexible blended training that meets the different needs of individuals. They plan CPD that is a drip feed of consistent messages, sustainable and effective. This sounds like a utopian dream right? Like a button you could press and everything is alright…

There is something incredible when everyone comes together and is able to speak freely and honestly in live training. To genuinely reflect on policy, practice. To identify how things need to be sharpened. To squeeze the consistency where it is most effective to loosen the reigns where it is not. Last week at <school name> was a perfect example of this. The Head was one of the first seated in the hall, other senior and middle leaders dotted around. No big speeches, no ‘see me laters’ no ‘Captain’s table’. The lines of hierarchy are deliberately put on hold. Egos left at the door, one staff, one purpose.

From the OFSTED report:

From the blog:

[consultant’s nickname]’s Scale of Consistency:

We played [consultant’s nickname]’s Scale of Consistency’ and allowed everyone to reflect on how far they had come, what was working and where the next steps are. The questions reminded everyone of the keystone habits all staff have been working on, those we first agreed at the start of the project some months before

….This was embedding the good stuff and keeping on with the simple consistent agreements made in blood. We checked the consistency and our agreement with questions that were tailored to the school and to the moment:

On a scale of 1 -10 (1 being ‘Bare Madness’ and 10 being ‘The Shizzle’) how consistent is your:

  1. Meet, greet and handshake.
  2. Use of the 3 rules ‘Ready, Respectful, Safe.’
  3. Own behaviour.
  4. Use of Positive Notes Home and Positive Phone Calls.
  5. Use of planned scripted interventions.
  6. Seating plan.
  7. Use of routines to focus on learning attitudes and behaviours.

Staff were asked to identify where they felt they were on the scale and then ask someone who was higher up what more they could be doing. I stood back to watch the enthusiasm with which they shared ideas and encouraged one another. There were no hidden agenda’s, no negativity, no blame. We also reflected back to colleagues some fantastic responses to the student survey on behaviour. Key statistics reported;

  • 98% of students now knew the rules and the consequences.
  • 82 % felt that behaviour had improved.

From the OFSTED report:

From the blog:


…the staff were then challenged to clarify the consistent classroom steps for poor behaviour. …. It was very clear that although practice had shifted dramatically on a whole school level, there is still work to be done to tighten consistent responses at the classroom level. We talked about defining routines for individual classes, teaching behaviour and pursuing those routines one by one, relentlessly.

The behaviour at [school’s initials] have [sic] improved so dramatically in the past year and staff are to be applauded for their efforts. When I first visited the referral room, it was full with a queue of students lining up outside the door. On this day of training, there was just one child in the referral room, yesterday there had been none.

This is a whole school approach, every adult singing from the same song sheet, led by the vision of an excellent Head [head’s name] and driven by the determination of all adults to create a school where excellent behaviour is normalized. And it is working brilliantly.

From the OFSTED report:


I’m not intending to have a go at individuals here, I don’t know how well the school went on to follow that consultant’s advice in the significant length of time between the blog and the inspection, and I’m the last person on earth to claim that an OFSTED report must be right. But the leadership at this school hired an outsider to lead on behaviour; an outsider who came in, said everything was now going great and praised the head and, one assumes, was paid handsomely for their contribution. I think anyone can see why this might not result in sustained improvement.

I would argue that, more than anything, great behaviour comes from great culture. Unless you are very lucky and have the world’s least challenging intake, you only get that where school leaders make that culture happen. If you are a school leader, and want to spend money on improving behaviour, start by spending it on visiting schools in disadvantaged areas that, nevertheless, have great behaviour and see how they do it. I bet there isn’t one school in the country with great behaviour that got there through employing consultants.

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