Perhaps you survey students and ask them whether they feel safe at school. The vast majority say they do. Some don't. What now? Perhaps you ask a different question: where do you feel unsafe at school? They tell you. You act. I once wrote this as a piece of advice to school leaders: "Be a … Continue reading What does it mean to know your school?
First there was the humble shop. We were a nation of shopkeepers. Then came the department store. These offered the customer everything under one roof. However, it soon became apparent that what the customer wanted were the shops they had come to know and trust. So the department stores offered to house these shops as … Continue reading A Nation of Shopkeepers
There is one idea that shackles our thinking about GCSEs. It is a false idea which we cannot seem to shake off. It is the idea that all GCSEs are equal. The belief that GCSEs have parity is an illusion. The desire that all GCSEs should be equal is a honeytrap. Why has parity become … Continue reading Some GCSEs are more equal than others
During the extreme heat for two days in July of this year, I made the decision to keep my school open. These are the kind of decisions headteachers hate because they are presented with a binary option - stay open or close - and both options have significant downside risks and negative consequences. To add … Continue reading The case of the disappearing headteacher
I've been told that my blog posts are too long for the average attention span. This one will be quite short. Please read it. In 2013, I became headteacher of a school that faced a half a million pound deficit, with no reserves to fall back on. In layman's terms, if I didn't do something … Continue reading Give me a break
When it comes to assessment, I may have been asking the wrong question. The question that has preoccupied me for some time is: 'How do we make better assessments?' What I should have been asking is: 'How can we make assessment better?' A switch of words. A flip of meaning. A twisted reasoning that has … Continue reading Assessment: beyond stocktaking
What shape is the Earth? Assuming there aren't any flat-earthers reading this, most of you would probably say 'spherical'. Perhaps we may add that the Earth isn't perfectly spherical. If pushed, I could probably have a go at saying why. Take a moment to think about how confident you are in your assertion that the … Continue reading The appeal of folk theory in education
Why do you come here, and why do you stick around? Morrissey, Suedehead Why do ideas stick around? For the past couple of years or so, I've spent a great deal of time asking the opposite, preoccupied with the faddishness of educational change. In our book on the subject, we chose to portray this through … Continue reading Immutable: Why exams are here to stay.
Find me someone who wishes to have no influence in the world. Whether it be influence over their children's development, influence over who is elected to hold office, or influence over preventing environmental disaster, we long for influence; to be able to bend the course of events towards our will. And what is this wish … Continue reading Influence
I have had the privilege of appointing two new members of my senior team in recent weeks. What does a headteacher tell you before you start the job? Well, this is my opening gambit which I share by way of providing an insight into how you might start to induct a new senior leader. It … Continue reading Welcome to the team!