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Showing posts from January, 2014

If We Know What To Do, Why Ain't We Doing It?

A few days ago I tweeted how we always seem obsessed in education with taking exciting, yet complex, developments and turning them into something that is mechanistic and linear, and which loses the desired impact as a result. I cited some approaches to Curriculum for Excellence and Assessment for Learning as examples of where this had happened. Amongst the responses was one from @fkelly who presumed I was aware of the attachment he sent me. This was from the Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP) undertaken by the now defunct General Teaching Council for England and others. I must admit I had no recollection of this but I looked at the paper Fearghal had sent me and found that what I was reading was resonating so much with approaches we had been taking in the school I lead. In the meantime @GTCS_Tom had joined in our twitter discussion and he too sang the praise of this research programme which he told me was one of the largest pieces of research on teaching and learning ever…

More Questions Than Answers?

As we all understand, questions are very important in the teaching and learning process. Thinking carefully about the questions you are going to ask in order to develop learning and understanding is a key skill of the competent teacher. Questions are also equally important in school development terms. Just about my favourite question is, 'for what purpose?' This is a great question to use in all circumstances when you are considering change and new directions of travel. It really comes into its own however, when you face constant demands from those outside of the immediate school environment for the introduction of changes and strategies they are pressing you to implement. It is amazing how many times you can ask this question and find people struggling to come up with satisfactory reasons for what they are asking you to do.

This key question can be further expanded with, 'what will be the impact of what is being proposed for learners?' and 'How will this improve o…

School Leadership:To Infinity and Beyond!

In my last post, 'Smiley, Happy People', I wrote about some of the qualities I look for in excellent teachers. In this post I now want to turn my attention to Headteachers and school leaders. I start with the same question as in my previous post, 'what qualities should we look for in excellent Headteachers and school leaders?'

Firstly, as I am presuming all Headteachers and school leaders have come into post via teacher training and excellent classroom practice, I would expect them to have all the qualities identified in my previous post for teachers, and more. Thus, they should like children, they should still be intellectually curious, they should really understand learning and teaching, they should have deep subject knowledge and curricular understanding, they should be emotionally intelligent, they should be flexible and able to manage change, they should be committed to working collaboratively and they  should demonstrate work-life balance and perspective. I reall…

Smiley, Happy, People?

As a Headteacher  I have had many opportunities to consider the qualities I consider essential in the most effective teachers, and headteachers. The following are what I would look for in all prospective teachers, some of whom will go on to be successful headteachers or senior leaders. They probably won't appear explicitly in too many job descriptions or person specifications, but they are what I look for in colleagues who are going to help me develop and improve the schools I lead.


They need to like children! I put this first, even though you would think it were a given, because I still come across individuals who I feel lack this basic requirement. Indeed, I have had conversations with people where I have pointed this deficit out to them, and gone on to suggest that perhaps teaching was not the right career for them as a result. However, just liking children is not enough. I have just as often come across teachers and prospective teachers who obviously love children, but who are …