Thinking Aloud

Goldilocks History

What do we want students to know about the middle ages?

My review of what I teach about the middle ages continues at a glacial pace. There are so many different angles from which to approach curriculum planning it is hard to settle down and make a start.

Michael Fordham Fordham suggests that one approach might include generating a list of essay style-questions. Perhaps 100 for Key-Stage Three. What might these questions read, uniquely, for the Middle Ages? I concur with Fordham that there needs to be a transition between the Middle Ages and the developing ‘Early Modern’ period post-1485. There might be questions that explicitly refer to this and indeed the full Millennia wide teaching of the key stage. But what of the Middle Ages alone?

My thinking has also been shaped by discussions surrounding ‘fingertip’ knowledge and ‘residual knowledge’. In light of my recent reading of Making…

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Datalab turns two – Education Datalab blog

Education Datalab turned two this spring and to mark the event we gathered together with the great and the good of teaching, education research and policy-making for a celebratory party. Our event,…

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New governor induction matters

Governing Matters

Governance is a huge responsibility. Yes, it is a voluntary role but that does not mean that it should not be done well. New governors need support to understand the role and their responsibilities. One way you can do this is by having a good induction programme in place. I’ve decided to jot down my thoughts on what this programme could look like.

  • Arrange for a tour of the school and show them where the meeting are held. (If you hold meetings in the evenings, do make sure new governors know how to gain access to the building)
  • Arrange for the new governor to meet the Chair of Governors (if they haven’t met before), the Head and the Clerk
  • Introduce them to all the governors at the next meeting
  • If your governing body has bought into a training package, make sure the new governor knows how to access it.
  • Make…

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Edugenic Academic Failure #dsfconf

Filling the pail

To Perth for the Language, Literacy and Learning conference organised by the Dyslexia-SPELD Foundation. I am suspicious of many education conferences because there is a tendency for the sessions to be dominated by sociological theories rather than scientific evidence. But this is not a standard education conference. It is an event where speech pathologists, researchers, policy wonks and teachers all mingle and where the common touchstone is evidence.

The morning keynote was delivered by Professor Kate Nation from Oxford in the U.K. The topic was poor comprehenders. These are the students who show a strong ability to decode – turning written words on a page into the correct sounds – but who struggle to comprehend what they have read. Nation does not set decoding in opposition to comprehension as some whole-language advocates might. She stresses the need for explicit and systematic phonics instruction. Yet she also made the point that

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Growth Mindset: Is the Theory Flawed or Has GM Been Debased in the Classroom?


Developing a Growth Mindset in students and their teachers is perhaps the hottest trend in the education world outside of Canada. Originating in psychological science research conducted by Carol S. Dweck, starting in the late 1980s , and continuing at Stanford University, it burst upon the education scene in 2006 with the publication of Dweck’s influential book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.  The next great thing, growth mindset, became an instant buzzword phrase in many education faculties and professional development sessions.

The so-called Mindset Revolution, like most education fads, has also generated its share of imitations and mutations. Two of the best known are  the Mathematical Mindset, promulgated by Mathematics educator Jo Boaler, and a more recent Canadian spin-off, The Innovator’s Mindset, the brain-child of George Couros, a division principal of  Teaching and Learning with Parkland School District, in Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada. While Growth Mindset 1.0…

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Exclusion is neither bad nor good

Filling the pail

Ten or so years ago, I was assistant headteacher at a high school in London. As part of my role, I line-managed two heads of year and this meant that I took on some of the most difficult discipline issues in these year groups.

I had worked with one student for some time. He had a challenging home background and was disruptive. I had taken him to see the headteacher more than once. I had liaised with our school’s behaviour improvement workers about a suitable program. I had investigated when he had tracked-down and threatened a peer in the corridor. Then, one day, as the students were lining up outside the hall for an assembly, he took the needle from a set of compasses and stabbed it into the legs of three students. This was directly in front of me and I saw him do it. I had to…

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What do teachers think differentiation is? – David Didau: The Learning Spy

In Why Knowledge Matters, ED Hirsch Jr sets out the case against differentiated instruction, saying, “the attempt to individualize the content of the language arts curriculum has been a…

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