The Lords

It is an interesting debate; on the one hand the Lords is an unelected chamber, on the other hand the Tories stated explicitly that working tax credit wouldn’t be cut (Cameron even stood up, Westlife style, to emphasise his point). Also, it will be interesting to find out why the Tories packaged the bill in the way that it did, because, as I understand it, the bill could have been exempted from a vote in the Lords as a strictly financial measure. Instead it was a ‘statutory instrument’, a classification which seems perfectly placed to invite conflict with the Lords. Do the Tories now regret reforms that have lead to a greater number of Labour and Lib Dem peers? I doubt that they have invited this conflict as part of a radical belief in true democracy.


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A bit of a rant.

I posted this Guardian Article to Facebook about Teachers wanting to leave the profession and someone commented that Teachers should be pleased that curriculum reform is now aiming to place the transmission of knowledge at the heart of teaching. I replied with the following:

I can only speak from my perspective, but I don’t think it is curriculum reform that is the problem. I think it is good that we have ditched Of Mice and Men and I am really excited to teach Jekyll and Hyde. However, I think teachers are frustrated for a few reasons. Firstly, I have been teaching for five years and in that time Coursework was changed to Controlled Assessment, reformed and has now been eliminated completely, along with Speaking and Listening (which was changed mid course). Also, the methods by which pupils are assessed at KS3 is constantly under question and review. Finally, the methods by which Teachers are appraised seems constantly under question and review. My colleagues and I want to transmit knowledge, we want to make pupils better at reading, writing, speaking and listening and foster a love and exploration of great literature. Instead of this it feels like we are in a period of great uncertainty where a teacher’s professional ability is measured through endless bureaucracy.

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Something nice.

My NQT observed a colleague of mine in English this week with a behaviour management focus, she was really impressed and I made a point of letting my colleague know this.

‘It’s good to hear something nice for a change’

Was the reply, because as an English Teacher and Head Of Year, that doesn’t happen often. I was really happy to be able to pass on the feedback and it linked in to an idea I have had (which I am sure others have had due to convergence)

The Idea

An email is sent out to staff listing all the main areas of teaching and learning, with perhaps some space for ‘other’. Staff can then voluntarily nominate as many or as few staff as they like that they think are excellent in that area, for example I could nominate my aforementioned colleague for behaviour management. These nominations are then collated.

Teachers with one or two nominations will get an email telling them what they were nominated for. Teachers with several nominations will be asked if they would like to run a CPD session.

I just feel like staff will get something positive said to them and the school might get some decent CPD out of it. 

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Pupil Premium: Creating Effective Dialogue

I have really only scratched the surface of research into the most effective ways of implementing strategies for improving PP attainment (really the attainment of all pupils that are struggling). This is what I have so far:

Dialogue about PP students:

  • Precise assessment of needs – STAR reader, other SEN tests, assessments by other external agencies – Vulnerable? Carer? Looked after?
  • Regular and timely discussions about PP students with rapid interventions (internally, need some kind of back channel or ‘chat’ ability, not email or face to face meeting)
  • Regular and timely discussions about PP students with rapid interventions (externally)


  • Breakfast club
  • Homework club
  • counselling
  • taxi service
  • Mentor – older pupil? Teacher?

Dialogue between teacher and pupil:

  • Building relationships – talk with pupil about wider interests/hobbies (teacher #hack 360 data), buy simple resources
  • Effective questioning strategies
  • Marking feedback – marking PP books first, asking questions in their books, SMART
  • DIRT – make this a routine/expected occurrence
  • Quiet moment with a pupil to reinforce understanding
  • Working with a small group in order to reinforce understanding (in class)
  • Working with a pupil/small group out of class in order to improve understanding

Whole class strategies for effective dialogue:

  • Read out PP work to class for critique
  • Visualiser? Display PP work and critique
  • Differentiation – scaffolding, glossaries, challenges

Peer to peer dialogue:

  • Effective peer assessment – Success criteria, modelling peer assessment
  • Learning Spies – G&T pupils to go round with Lazy Teacher questions, perhaps quietly ask one of them to include a PP (don’t say it in those terms!)
  • Effective group work (group roles, focused tasks, silent discussions on sugar paper, time bonded tasks)
  • Peer mentors (in class or in form time)

Meta cognition (a dialogue with learning?):

  • AfL -clear criteria, all/most/some, return regularly to objectives, model answers
  • CREAM (Perfect Assessment for Learning)
  • Student Help Desk
  • Thinking Process display
  • Learning Spies
  • Plenary dice with following questions/tasks – Read out the best line/paragraph from your work – How can we recap the learning at the start of next lesson – What was the easiest and most difficult thing to understand? – One thing you have learned and one question you still have – Define a key word in your own words – Nominate someone you think has written a good piece of work 

Enrichment (a dialogue with the wider world):

  • Workshops with external groups (e.g. a Shakespeare company)
  • Writer’s visits
  • Guest speakers from industry
  • Trips

Something that I still need to read – IPPR report – Excellence and Equity

Sutton Trust

Sutton Trust PP report 

NewToThePost Pupil Premium

@TeacherToolkit Resouces

@LearningSpy DIRT


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What Worked Well Today

I had my first meeting with my NQT which went well due to a good attitude from both of us and the high quality training yesterday.

I had a good DIRT session with one of my year eight classes. Each pupil had a key paragraph to rewrite with targets. The pupils wrote the redrafted paragraph in purple pen.

My other year eight class was in the library. I ran a short ‘book buzz’ activity; pupils had to write down three books that they love and why on a post it note, then find two other recommendations from other people in the class.

My year eleven lesson did not go very well unfortunately, however I think I dealt with behaviour issues effectively. I need to make sure I always plan really tight lessons with my set two year eleven.

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NQT Mentor Training

I was really impressed with the training I was involved in today with a colleague, run by Keith Field:

The training encompassed the legal framework, the role of a mentor, how to conduct meetings, the standards file and all the key paper work.

Although I don’t now consider myself to be an expert, I feel more confident in supporting my NQT and ensuring that they not only improve their practice but also have an excellent evidence file.

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What Went Well Today

I used a slow writing exercise developed by a colleague called ‘The Hand’ where pupils had to begin by describing a hand in detail and then slowly ‘zoom out’ to include the rest of the person and the room. The starter question ‘What can you tell about a person just from their hands’ helped to get the class thinking.

The peer assessment also went well as I asked pupils to put a box around the best paragraph and explain their choice and then give a target for the piece overall.

I also managed to use a teacher hack by helping allocate voluntary roles within the department through a couple of emails and discussions instead of through meeting time.

On the subject of teacher hacks, we have also allocated an office as a silent working area.

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