Schools Are Not Businesses. A Message to Lord Nash.



Lord Nash, speaking at the Challenge Partnership national conference, titled his talk: ‘what is relevant in business to education?’ According to the TES, he said that:

“…too often teachers have confused their individuality with their professionalism… Being a professional means embracing accountability, standardisation and consistency, although of course we want our teachers to be inspiring.”

He went on to talk about how: ‘using standardised content would allow teachers to focus on delivery and differentiation, and would reduce workload.’

Adding it was impossible to: “run an organisation of any size and any diversity, efficiently and effectively if you haven’t got consistent procedures… The content has to be provided by the MAT based on evidence-based best practice across the group.”

Perhaps it is inevitable with the introduction of MATs that business issues and practices would soon come to the fore. A local school that had its own identity serving the local area would not…

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5 Diamonds

There are several blog posts knocking around at the minute regarding 5 things that individuals wish they’d have known when they started teaching (here and here). I like to follow the trend, so here are the five absolute diamonds that I wish I’d have known before I started teaching:

2000px-Playing_card_diamond_5.svg.png1. If we don’t have an understanding of how information is received, processed and stored, then we don’t really understand learning.

It’s only in recent years with the ‘online cognitive science revolution’ that I’ve really acquired an understanding of how memory works and how to best support long term retention. You’d be a fool to ignore Cognitive Science. Whilst we can’t prove anything about memory, there’s a wealth of empirical research to support our understanding of it. Cognitive Load Theory is in vogue at the moment, but despite its popularity, unlike other fads, there is a compelling evidence base for…

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Deep Learning and its New Pedagogies: Does ‘Going Deep’ Mean Doing Away with Knowledge?


“All that glitters is not gold” is one of the better known English proverbs. It means that not everything that looks glittery and precious turns out to be.  That pearl of wisdom is also a tiny piece of true knowledge, found in Aesop’s Fables, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and William Shakespeare’sMerchant of Venice, and it readily comes to mind when confronted with Michael Fullan and Maria Langworthy‘s recent conceptual invention, New Pedagogies of Deep Learning.

Since the launch of its first installment, A Rich Seam, withSir Michael Barber at Pearson Learning in London, UK, back in January 2014, Fullan and Langworthy have been preaching the new gospel of Deep Learning at education conferences around the English-speaking world. “New teaching partnerships between teachers and students are the essential foundations of effective new pedagogies,” they claim, and are “beginning to emerge as digital access opens the door…

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What does North Yorkshire tell us about how reliable the 11-plus is? – Education Datalab blog

Congratulations! You’ve passed your 11-plus. How confident do you feel that you would have passed if you had sat a slightly different test on a different day of the week? In our recent analysis of…

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Can you guess what’s in my head?

An English lesson. 

An extract from a novel sits in front of the pupils. Words, perhaps unfamiliar, are highlighted. The teacher asks, ‘What other words can you think of that mean the same thing?’ The pupils either respond reluctantly, and with poor examples, or not at all. They don’t know many synonyms, if any. Or, they’re not aware of similarities between words which they do know and the new vocabulary.

A history lesson.

A piece of art, showing two men standing with lots of alien goods, is projected. The teacher asks, ‘What do you think the artist was trying to say about the early C16 based on what you can see?’ The pupils’ responses? ‘Everyone had weird guitars.’ ‘They had invented globes.’ ‘There were giant, slanty-skulls in the C16.’

A science lesson.

A Bunsen burner, aflame, stands atop the teacher’s desk. Using tongs, the teacher places a test tube containing…

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Pragmatic Education

Imagine working for an organisation where there are no annual performance meetings, no bureaucracy, where you do not need permission to take time off, and where the expense policy is just five words long: ‘act in our best interest’.

Imagine working for an organisation where every person you work with is someone you admire and learn loads from.

Or rather, here it is.


Netflix is the world’s leading video on demand streaming company and a studio library in the cloud. Since its startup in 1997, it has gained over 90 million users in over 190 countries, and its revenues in 2016 were well over $8,800,000,000. It now produces more series and films than any other network or channel, spending $6 billion on content in 2017. It has unlimited viewing, no adverts, no cancellation fees. They are a harbinger of the era of internet TV. And one part of its success…

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Surgeon General’s Warning: Wielding a Smoking Gun is Bad for Education

kevenbartle's Blog

This is going to be ranty blogpost. You have been warned!!

This week I read (and largely welcomed the findings of) the Social Mobility Commission’s report into ‘Low income pupils’ progress at secondary school’ (link here). As a Headteacher of a school in an area that serves a large number of students from low income backgrounds who himself came from a low income background, why wouldn’t I?

The report, jointly constructed by authors from LKMco and Education Datalab, two organisations for which I have a very high regard, is largely excellent and – apart from the caveats that inform this post – required reading in my opinion.

So, “where’s the rant?” my knowing authorial voice hears you say? It is to do with the methodology employed by the report’s authors or, more importantly, how this methodology plays out in the write-up of its findings. The authors explain…


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