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Showing posts from December, 2017

Another year of change, but is anything different?

As we come to the end of another year, it is often a time of reflection on the year past and all we have achieved, as well as the disappointments, personal and professional. At the start of any year, twelve months seems like a long time away. However, as adults you soon come to understand how quickly that time will disappear, especially when you are busy and have lots you want to do. In education, as in other sectors, we are always thinking and planning ahead of ourselves. A lot of our thinking is often focused on the future, whilst our bodies, and responsive reactions, remain firmly fixed in the present. We can spend our working lives consumed by the future, and all those things yet to appear over imagined and real horizons. This is especially so if you have a formal leadership role. Too often perhaps, we fail to stay in the moment, mindful of all our current experiences, and how these are changing us, or we dwell to long in the past, especially on things that have gone wrong, rather…

When do we start to push back?

It is fair to say that, as ever, there is lots going on in the Scottish education system, and many others. There are structural changes being put into place in education systems across the globe. Scotland has been embracing the education reform movement for the last three or so years, certainly since Nicola Sturgeon was appointed First Minister in 2014. She took office asking the electorate to judge her and her government on what they achieved in transforming the education system. To many observers, her call to arms around education sounded very familiar to Tony Blair's battle cry of 'Education, education, education' as he identified his priorities prior to being elected UK Prime Minister in 1997. Blair was to  begin a process of structural reform in English education which was to lead to academies, higher accountability, competition and privatisation, and which were enthusiastically embraced and enhanced by Conservative governments that followed.

Blair's agenda, and …

Inside the black box revisted (again)

'Inside the black box', written by Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam was written in 1998 and consisted of nineteen pages. How come  this pamphlet, because you can hardly call it a book, has had such major impacts in education systems in the UK and across the world?

The answer lies in the content, which was to herald the focus on formative assessment in classrooms and schools across many systems, but particularly here in the UK.

My earliest memories of hearing about formative assessment was, first of all at an In-Service day for teachers with our local authority, in which we were told there had been some new research written about how we could all improve our teaching, and we were to start getting the learners involved actively in learning, deciding what they wanted to learn, and that we would all be doing this from now on. The second, was seeing Dylan Wiliam on a TV programme talking about formative assessment, and the techniques teachers could use in their classrooms. The teachers …