Monthly Archives: March 2018

Blog of the Week: 28 March 2018 – ResearchEd Blackpool – 30 things to go and tell your colleagues from @mathsmrgordon

Teach innovate reflect

This was my first Researched and I left with my head spinning so this is a great way of reflecting and getting ideas down on paper. It was great to listen to and meet some of the people who inspire me to be better and keep my brain ticking over constantly. I have tried to summarise what I learnt as well as add things that I think are useful.

ResearchEd is a movement but will only become a force if it changes practice throughout the country. The conference acts as the lightning and we are the thunder that must open dialogue in our schools, particularly as/with leaders to affect change.

Thanks to Tom Bennett and the team, the speakers and all involved at Blackpool Research school, particularly Simon Cox, Phil Naylor and Stephen Tierney for a fantastic (hopefully annual) event!

Sessions visited:

  1. Tom Bennett – Creating a Culture – what evidence…

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Blog of the Week: 23 March 2018 – 15 myths about memory and learning

Author: Andy Tharby

Education is rife with learning myths. Over time, they harden into fact and then further ossify into our most cherished beliefs. And like Japanese knotweed the longer we leave them to grow and develop, the harder they are to weed out. Here are fifteen of the most common learning myths we have encountered as a research school.

Myth 1

We only use 10% of our brain.

In fact, we use almost all of our brain almost all of the time. 
What is true, however, is

that scientists only understand about 10% of how the human brain works.


Myth 2

We are more likely to remember something if we discover it for ourselves.

Despite its intuitive appeal, there is no empirical to support this belief. Actually, the…


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ASCL Conference March 2018

ASCL Logo ASCL Annual Conference

Geoff Barton, ASCL General SecretaryGeoff Barton

  • ASCL vision: Every child from every background deserves the best possible education.
  • Our common focus must be on the education of young people and the well-being of students, staff and school leaders. Be restless, be relentless.
  • Key priorities/areas of concern:
    – recruitment and retention;
    – workload (a common theme of the day);
    – accountability (another common theme);
    – ethical leadership (doing the ‘right thing’);
    – mental health and well-being;
    – funding.
  • Priorities are linked, funding is the key to unlock the others; ASCL will continue to campaign on this front.
  • Ethical leadership focus, including celebrating and encouraging diversity within the curriculum which is at odds with the Ebacc agenda and accountability measures (another common theme).
  • How do we prepare our students for life in the modern world rather than winning Progress 8 prizes and stickers.
  • Measure what we value, rather than valuing what is measured.
  • The rhetoric surrounding social mobility needs to be a reality.
  • Referred to Obama’s reliance on reading for pleasure to get him through the Team of RivalsPresidency. ‘Team of Rivals’ (Lincoln’s presidency) recommended.
  • Impact of social media on mental health; message was to educate, supervise, guide but not ban. Students need a perspective on their own sense of self and how to achieve screen-free time.
  • Questioned the current GCSE Levels – what does it feel like to achieve a Level 3, no longer any sort of a pass?
  • Summary: We are community leaders, be strong, be ethical. ASCL will continue to urge the government to re-think accountability measures, relieve pressures on educators and shift the focus to what really matters.

 Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP, Sec of State for EducationDamian Hinds

  • Teaching is the noblest of roles and has a massive impact on society.
  • All children deserve a good education; recent government policy has had impact (more good schools, more rigorous GCSEs/A Levels, Ebacc, etc.)
  • Wants to return power to Headteachers to make the right decisions for their schools.
  • Stressed the importance of people and quality teaching.
  • Disadvantaged agenda also stressed.
  • Workload given considerable airtime: remove low impact/high effort tasks which include excessive marking; verbal feedback is also effective. Data collection/analysis also highlighted; DfE currently deciding its position on data collection; summer announcement.
  • Acknowledged pace of change has been fast but reminded us of the positive impact. Promised no further change in the parliament; did not mention overhaul vocational and technical qualifications.
  • Accountability regime: acknowledged high stakes nature and subsequent pressure on staff and students. Whilst accountability is necessary, it must be right. Plan to clarify the rules and roles of RSCs vs Ofsted (this was mentioned several times).
  • CPD – spoke of a curriculum fund to support the sharing of best practice.
  • Concluded by stating his commitment to changing the culture in education, reduce the workload and support the profession so as to provide a world class education for all children.


Amanda Spielman, HMCIAmanda Spielman

  • Committed to shifting the focus on inspection to the ‘substance of education’.
  • An advocate of a knowledge-rich curriculum, not progress prizes and stickers.
  • Feels that the curriculum has been overlooked in favour of accountability measures; acknowledged that Ofsted is partly responsible for this.
  • Success should flow from a broad curriculum which is well taught.
  • Also cited workload as a key priority in retaining effective staff and that triple-impact marking, excessive data analysis and ‘mocksteds’ had adversely impacted on this.
  • Cited 5 drivers of the workload issue:
    – government policy;
    – accountability measures;
    – the consequences of accountability measures, including the response by RSCs;
    – litigation (e.g. H&S);
    – school policies driven by accountability measures.
  • Stressed the need to communicate Sean Harford’s ‘myths’ to staff (e.g. not a performance, no requirement for excessive preparation, no mocksteds, no lesson plans, no expected style of teaching or frequency of marking).
  • Ofsted want to see day-to-day practice. If the school is working well, week-in, week-out, then you have at least a good school.
  • Cited short inspection reforms as evidence of Ofsted’s desire to reduce the fear around inspections (stay good with areas of weakness, removal of ‘3 RI strikes = Grade 4’ rule).
  • No expectation for additional or highly detailed data to be produced for the inspection; questioned the effort that routinely goes into data production and analysis. Ofsted will use data as a starting point only.
  • Staff questionnaires now ask if leaders take account of about well-being and workload when making decisions.
  • 2019 Inspection Framework coming soon; expect a sharper focus on education rather than aspects which do not give a fair indication of the school.

Martin Paine


Ofsted Inspection: Myths

The text that follows is from the website and the original can be found

Updated 8 March 2018

The purpose of this document is to confirm facts about the requirements of Ofsted and to dispel myths that can result in unnecessary workloads in schools. It should be read alongside the School inspection handbook.

It is intended to highlight specific practices that are not required by Ofsted. Inspectors must not advocate a particular method of planning, teaching or assessment. It is up to schools themselves to determine their practices and for leadership teams to justify these on their own merits rather than by reference to the inspection handbook.

1. Lesson planning

Ofsted does not require schools to provide individual lesson plans to inspectors. Equally, Ofsted does not require schools to provide previous lesson plans.

Ofsted does not specify how planning should be set out, the length of time it should take or the amount of detail it should contain. Inspectors are interested in the effectiveness of planning rather than the form it takes.

Ofsted does not expect tutor groups/form time to include literacy, numeracy or other learning sessions. Schools can use form time as they wish.

2. Self-evaluation

Ofsted does not require self-evaluation to be graded or provided in a specific format. Any assessment that is provided should be part of the school’s business processes and not generated solely for inspection purposes.

3. Grading of lessons

Ofsted does not award a grade for the quality of teaching or outcomes in the individual lessons visited. Inspectors do not grade individual lessons. Ofsted does not expect schools to use the Ofsted evaluation schedule to grade teaching or individual lessons.

4. Lesson observations

Ofsted does not require schools to undertake a specified amount of lesson observation.

Ofsted does not expect schools to provide specific details of the pay grade of individual teachers who are observed during inspection.

5. Pupils’ work

Ofsted does not expect to see a particular frequency or quantity of work in pupils’ books or folders. Ofsted recognises that the amount of work in books and folders will depend on the subject being studied and the age and ability of the pupils.

Ofsted recognises that marking and feedback to pupils, both written and oral, are important aspects of assessment. However, Ofsted does not expect to see any specific frequency, type or volume of marking and feedback; these are for the school to decide through its assessment policy. Marking and feedback should be consistent with that policy, which may cater for different subjects and different age groups of pupils in different ways, in order to be effective and efficient in promoting learning.

While inspectors will consider how written and oral feedback is used to promote learning, Ofsted does not expect to see any written record of oral feedback provided to pupils by teachers.

If it is necessary for inspectors to identify marking as an area for improvement for a school, they will pay careful attention to the way recommendations are written to ensure that these do not drive unnecessary workload for teachers.

6. Evidence for inspection

Ofsted does not expect schools to provide evidence for inspection beyond that set out in this inspection handbook.

Ofsted will take a range of evidence into account when making judgements, including published performance data, the school’s in-year performance information and work in pupils’ books and folders, including that held in electronic form. However, unnecessary or extensive collections of marked pupils’ work are not required for inspection.

Ofsted does not expect performance and pupil-tracking information to be presented in a particular format. Such information should be provided to inspectors in the format that the school would ordinarily use to monitor the progress of pupils in that school.

Ofsted does not require teachers to undertake additional work or to ask pupils to undertake work specifically for the inspection.

Ofsted will usually expect to see evidence of the monitoring of teaching and learning and its link to teachers’ performance management and the teachers’ standards, but this should be the information that the school uses routinely and not additional evidence generated for inspection.

Ofsted does not require schools to provide evidence for each teacher for each of the bulleted sub-headings in the teachers’ standards.

Ofsted does not expect to see photographic evidence of pupil’s work. Ofsted is very aware of teachers’ workload and inspectors are happy to speak to pupils during an inspection about what they have learned.

Ofsted does not require schools to predict their progress scores. It is impossible to predict progress as test results are compared nationally and this cannot be done until after the tests.

Ofsted does not require schools to hold onto books and other examples of pupils’ work for pupils who left school the previous year.

Inspectors are not required to routinely check personnel files, but may do so in specific cases as part of looking at schools’ procedures for checking the suitability of employees to work with children.

There is no requirement for multi-academy trusts to maintain single central records for all staff. Each academy school should maintain a single central record. Where the multi-academy trust employs staff who are not assigned to an individual academy, these employees must be recorded on the single central record for the multi-academy trust, along with all others employed by the multi-academy trust and trustees.

7. Statutory provisions

Ofsted will report on any failure to comply with statutory arrangements, including those relating to the workforce, where these form part of the inspection framework and evaluation schedule (Part 2 of the ‘School inspection handbook).

8. Leadership and governance

As many governors or trustees as possible are invited to meet inspectors during an inspection.

For academies, inspectors meet those directly responsible for management and governance, including the CEO/their delegate (or equivalent), the chair of the board of trustees and other trustees.

An inspector may talk to the chair of governors by telephone if s/he is unable to attend a face-to-face meeting with the inspector in school.

For academies, the headteacher and CEO/their delegate (or equivalent) are invited to observe the inspectors’ final team meeting.

All those responsible for governance need to know the outcome of the inspection as soon as possible. Individual governor representatives must keep the outcomes confidential until the school has received the final inspection report.

Blog of the Week: 16 March 2018 – Marking Crib Sheet

Recently, I have been looking at our departments marking procedures and how best to be effective markers (obviously reducing workload is key!).

I designed this crib sheet as a way to provide quicker feedback to the whole classroom rather than writing comments in each book, so reducing marking time from 2-3 hours per class to less than an hour. Now I actually really do miss writing comments, leaving questions and the other bits in their books but it really wasn’t a workload issue I could continue with (especially as I have my first child on the way!).

Therefore the crib sheet allows me to go through each students’ book and I make comments on the whole class sheet using the sections below.


The benefits are that it gives me a snapshot of the whole class’s progress, allows me to…

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Blog of the Week: 1 March 2018 – New findings on secondary students’ negative views about setting

Setting is a widespread practice of grouping students in UK secondary schools. This is despite little evidence of its efficacy and substantial evidence of its detrimental impact on those allocated to the low sets.

In her recent paper [accessible online hereProfessor Louise Archer, along with the ‘Best Practice in Grouping Students’ research team, has proposed that setting represents a process through which the social and cultural reproduction of inequality and dominant power relations are enacted within schools.

The arguments are based on the statistical modeling of the set allocation data from 94 project schools, a survey with 12,178 Year 7 students, and interviews with 33 students…

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