things I notice in schools

24 May 2018

Intellectual architecture

It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.

David Allan Coe


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12 May 2018

On a cardboard curriculum

‘We’ve been learning about the Jewish people.’

‘Can you tell me more?’

‘Well we’ve learnt about the synagogue. In fact we’ve made one.’

‘What can you tell me about the synagogue?’

‘Well, it’s made out of cardboard.’

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31 Dec 2017

Nurture 1718

I don’t often look back. But it is good to be prompted. To think about what went well and what could have been avoided. So, some of the things for which I am grateful:

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09 Dec 2017

Walking the talk

It’s odd that high quality talk in classrooms is often regarded as an optional extra, something quite nice to do, rather than an entitlement for all pupils. Why, as a sector, do we privilege writing over talking? High quality talk, and its twin, listening, underpins reading and writing. And yet in too many classrooms, it’s something that is just assumed will happen, without being explicitly taught. It’s a pity that the range of talk identified by Robin Alexander - rote, recitation, instruction, discussion and dialogue – is, in too many cases, casually, rather than explicitly planned.

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12 Apr 2017

Why it’s unhelpful to put limits on children’s learning

‘It’s very easy not to see the intelligence which is there’

Christopher Bryan

This is a sensitive topic. In every classroom there are children with different levels of prior attainment and with differing capacities to engage with the work. However, the labelling of children through setting might be putting limits on their learning.

What happens in many classrooms is that pupils are placed in groups which determine the level of work which they are expected to do. However these tables are labelled and however carefully the adults believe they have disguised the fact that they are given work of different challenge, children are remarkably astute at knowing what these mean. Whether they are on a table called leopards or lizards, they know what these signify. Whether they are number ones or number fours they know that this involves different levels of challenge and expectation.

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