Blog of the Week: 9 July 2021 – Why might children and young people with SLCN be vulnerable to mental health difficulties?

As a Speech and Language Therapist who specialises in working with young people with Social, Emotional and Mental Health issues, I often find my role is intrinsically linked to that of the Counsellors we work with here at Mable – especially with teenagers and those struggling with social communication difficulties and anxiety around communicating.

So, why is it that 81% of young people with Social, Emotional and Mental Health difficulties also have Speech, Language and Communication difficulties? I’ve talked previously about Adverse Childhood Experiences and their link with language development, but now I want to explore the reasons behind the direct relationship between limited communication skills and the difficulty in accessing support for …

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Blog of the Week: 2 July 2021 – The genius of DT Willingham and WDSLS.

teacherhead

This week I received a delivery of Dan Willingham’s Why Don’t Students Like School 2nd Edition from the bookshop and I’ve been reading through it, taking it in, refreshing my connection with the key ideas. It’s not a ‘Book 2’ but very much an updated version of the orginal. There’s an additional chapter on technology and some extra reflection questions at the end of chapters but, happily, it’s largely the same text. I absolutely love it. It can be an overblown statement that a book is a ‘must-read’ but there is no other single text that explores so comprehensively and clearly, the nature of learning and the challenges that students and teachers experience. The ideas in the book are certainly ideas that all teachers should know about and, in Willingham’s hands, you won’t find a better explanation of the learning problems that arise in schools and the solutions that…

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Blog of the Week: 25 June 2021 – The Early Career Framework: A Thumbs Up

Why should we welcome the Early Career Framework (ECF)?

I write this blog from the viewpoint of an experienced professional mentor working across all iterations of Initial Teacher Training through to Newly Qualified Teachers and beyond. The ECF is the single most important document to be produced in this area over the duration of my career.

The advances in evidence-based education and the use of research by teachers (pioneered through Research Schools) with high-quality CPD has further professionalised our teachers. This has given our most disadvantaged students access to the best teaching. I have felt that developments have not manifested in (some) ITT/NQT programmes and this has often caused a disjunction. Our newest teachers are entering the profession as our least evidence-informed.

Is mentoring a bolt-on?

There has also long been the issue of mentoring and support of trainees and NQTs. Supporting, developing and mentoring a new teacher is arguably the most important …

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Blog of the Week: 18 June 2021 – Three Pillars of Vocabulary Teaching

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that vocabulary knowledge is crucial for pupils’ school success. Pupils are language sponges, learning thousands of words each year. Like increases in a child’s height, it is a slow but inexorable development. On a daily basis it is near-imperceptible, but when you begin to count the passing of school terms, you can see significant differences occurring. For teachers, the key question is how can you best enhance and enrich pupils’ vocabulary.

For busy teachers, digging into the research on vocabulary development and language gaps can prove daunting. It is helpful to distil that wealth into consistent pillars of practice that are ‘best bets’ for supporting, and super-charging, vocabulary …

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Blog of the Week: 11 June 2021 – Curriculum: The Mirror and the Window

Reflections on schools, teaching and education.

Of course it was the working group of English teachers who came up with the image that stuck: the mirror and the window. The mirror signifying that all pupils would see themselves in our curriculum. The window representing our ambition to show all pupils the world beyond their immediate experience. And so it was that our work to enrich our curriculum to better reflect the diversity of our country became less about balancing different perspectives, and more about bringing all pupils into a shared story.

Our curriculum review was a collective effort by teachers across our schools. Teachers of each subject considered their curriculum afresh. We wanted to remain true to each subject’s unique quest for truth, and we needed the end product to be a coherently sequenced programme of study based on the National Curriculum, but it was time to widen the lens to include voices and stories that…

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Blog of the Week: 21 May 2021 – Curriculum: what are we really talking about?

Mr Vallance Teach

About a year ago my interest in curriculum was piqued when a colleague recommended I read Michael Young’s Knowledge and the Future School. On the matter of curriculum, I was swiftly obsessional. I was – and still am – convinced that curriculum is the single biggest lever to addressing educational inequality. And I remain adamant that curriculum and subject expertise should lie at the heart of a school. But, as Christine Counsell wisely points out, curriculum is “fiendishly complex.” It has taken me the best part of a year to wrap my head around some of the nuances of curriculum design, curriculum leadership, and the relationship between the two. And I am still a long way off where I ought to be.

Still, the nature of my role in school has afforded me the opportunity to prioritise reading, thinking and writing about curriculum. I am aware that this is…

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Blog of the Week: 14 May 2021 – 13 insights into teacher wellbeing and mental health

Today, with my colleagues Becky Allen and Sam Sims, I have published a major new analysis of teacher mental health and wellbeing in England. Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, it is the culmination of two years of work and is, we believe, the most comprehensive analysis on this issue to date.

In this blogpost, we’ll take you through a whistle-stop tour of some of our results.

1. Teachers in England are more likely to perceive their job as causing them stress – and having a negative impact upon their mental health – than teachers in other countries

In spring 2018, teachers in more than 40 countries were asked whether they felt their job caused them stress and had a negative impact upon their mental health.

As the chart below illustrates, teachers in England were very clear in their views. Lower-secondary teachers in this country were more likely to say that their job …

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Blog of the Week: 7 May 2021 – The power of “by”

A Chemical Orthodoxy

Quick heads-up: this blog uses a lot of technical jargon that you may be unfamiliar with. The jargon springs from the work of Doug Lemov and Paul Bambrick-Santoyo, and if you wish to know more, there is a great summary of all the terms used here.

Which action step is better?

On the surface, there isn’t much of a difference between them. Action steps are all about actions, and the actions in both are pretty much identical (if you aren’t familiar with Ratio click here, and if the various bullet points mean nothing to you click here).

Despite the similarity, the key difference is in the framing. The first action step is a list of things to do, but those things aren’t anchored in any kind of meaning or rationale. Why do we go to Pastore’s Perch? What’s the point of Being Seen Looking? For what reason

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Blog of the Week: 30 April 2021 – Improving teaching: scripting

Scripting is useful for new teachers getting to grips with staged, clear instructions and solidifying classroom routines. But it’s also fruitful in pushing experienced teachers, who may be looking to improve the way they explain a complex concept or expertly cohere different strands of knowledge in a pivotal moment in a lesson. As we look to build a really strong culture across our school, scripting can also be useful in generating consistent and positive responses to children and help all teachers model the interactions we want to see from students.

What is — and isn’t — scripting?

Scripting asks teachers to jot down exactly what they’re going to say before they say it. It gives them a set or sequence of phrases which teachers use in certain situations and it requires teachers to make conscious decisions about the best choice of language to have the desired result.

Some might argue that scripting feels mechanistic, or can destroy spontaneous responses to classroom activity. But it’s important to remember that …

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Blog of the Week: 23 April 2021 – How I use a Visualiser in my classroom

SimonBaddeley64

I have about ten thousand PowerPoints stored, across various different storage devices dotted around my desk, bag and school network with varying amounts of best practice for students embedded across them. For years I diligently colour coded the model paragraphs, annotated them and talked students through them but I never fully bought into them. For me, they were a thing to be done because that’s what we have to do. I had a visualiser but it became buried under a pile of stuff and the workspace in front of it ended up housing spare pens before it was eventually unplugged and pushed into a corner completely. Little did I realise that I was burying one of the most powerful classroom innovations of the past 20 years.

I saw various posts start to pop up periodically on Twitter where someone would share a picture of “their exercise book” and I always…

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