Fixing Transition


I am attempting to write a detailed, properly cited (!), policy document on transition between Year 6 and 7, aimed at senior leaders and MAT leaders. This has a truncated part of its introduction, and a list of recommendations (which I have begun to write out properly in the draft). Since it’s in very early days, I’d like any feedback from teachers across the country and across different schools. Feel free to tweet at me @jonbprimary.

I also strongly recommend reading Ofsted’s report on KS3.

For many children, transition from Year 6 to Year 7 is inadequate.

  • Pupils move from small schools, often having been taught by only one teacher a year, to a Secondary which may have thousands of pupils.
  • They move from a year group that has had the most amount of funding and school focus to the one that has the least. They often move from the…

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Connecting and organising knowledge in English literature

Reflecting English

Much has been written about the value of knowledge retrieval practice in English literature -it is impossible to think critically about a text until you know it very well. However, I think it is now time to also consider how this knowledge might be connected and organised. In other words, what kinds of mental representations – orschema –should our students be building? What shape should these take for individual texts? What shape should these take for the subject as a whole? And how do we ensure the smooth transfer of this knowledge to the extended essay format which isfavoured by summative examinations?

Each text is represented by a number of interwoven knowledge frameworks. These include:

  • knowledge of plot, events, character, setting – and associated inferences;
  • knowledge of the text’s thematic breadth and its ‘big ideas’;
  • knowledge of the writer’s methods and devices;
  • knowledge of contextual factors.

These frameworks also sit…

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Does he really need that ketchup?

The Quirky Teacher

This is a very sensitive topic and I will try to be as careful as I can. Essentially, what I’d like to question is the extent to which we accommodate the ‘needs’ of children with SEN, certain behaviours in particular, rather than expect them to adapt in some way, when developments in the field of neuroscience tell us that the brain possesses an incredible ability to continuously adapt its structural and functional organisation and that this can be in response to deliberate behavioural choices-so called adaptive neuroplasticity. In accepting diagnoses for our children and potentially forming the view ‘well that’s just the way he is‘, do we risk certain habits, traits, quirks, foibles and behaviours becoming entrenched and magnified because we have both consciously and subconsciously allowed them to reinforce themselves, or because they are indeed an unchangeable feature of that unique human being – a

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First fix poverty

Filling the pail

I remember listening to a Labour politician speak during the massive expansion of higher education that took place in England in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Oddly, he admitted that some of this expansion was due to students taking ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses of no great academic or industrial worth. Nonetheless, he was in favour of the expansion and of these courses because it would ‘make more people middle class’. It was about cultural change. I’d never thought of it like that before.

The idea is that being middle class tends to lead to better life experiences for people and their children. Middle class families tend to be well fed and secure and they also have cognitive benefits for children because middle class parents will take them to museums and discuss big issues at the dinner table.

We can all think of exceptions; dysfunctional middle class families or those that…

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L. Crehan, Cleverlands


When I was doing my PhD, I lived with people from Sweden, Finland and Italy. Two of my housemates studied China, and had experience of the Chinese education system both as students and teachers.  I spent three years hearing quite a bit about foreign education systems, and I was always fascinated by how my friends’ experiences overseas differed from what was typical in England.  Another close friend is Canadian. She is now chair of governors at her son’s primary school in Leeds.  She is one of the wisest people I know. That, coupled with her insider-outsider perspective on British education, means that I learn a lot from talking to her about teaching and learning.  My great-grandfather taught for years in both Hong Kong and Japan.  In short, Lucy Crehan’s book, which examines the education systems of some of the countries that do well in the PISA tests, tapped into my…

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Putting evidence to work

Evidence into Practice

With the resurgence of interest in evidence-based research in education, whether arising from randomised controlled trials conducted in classrooms or from cognitive science, there’s an on-going question about how we can get this evidence into the hands of the people who can best make use of it: Teachers. This issue, sometimes called the knowledge mobilisation problem, was the topic of a recent piece of research conducted by Teach First.

Putting Evidence to Work’ involved interviews and consultations with a range of academics, researchers and practitioners from education, psychology and related fields. I was really struck by the sheer generosity with which our respondents gave up their time to contribute to our thinking; so I’d like to say a big public ‘thank you’ to all of them:

Becky Allen, Tom Bennett, Daisy Christodoulou, Rob Coe, Kevan Collins, Philippa Cordingley, Caroline Creaby, Becky Francis, Ben Goldacre, Jonathan Haslam, Jennifer van Heerde-Hudson…

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10 Tricky Questions for Teachers – The Confident Teacher

What if we were faced with uncomfortable questions about some of our brightest and best teaching and learning ideas? It would be uncomfortable and challenging, no doubt. Perhaps, though, such …

Continued here:

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