Category Archives: Uncategorized

Blog of the Week: 17 January 2020 – Going Goal-Free During Formative Assessment

I’m making a simple modification to some of my formative assessment this semester. I’m incorporating the goal free effect. The concept behind this effect isn’t very tricky at all. Basically, instead of asking questions this way:

1. List and describe the function(s) of the following parts of the eye:

  1. Iris
  2. Cornea
  3. Retina
  4. Lens

I’ll simply ask this in this manner:

2. Tell me everything you can about vision.

This may seem like a somewhat negligible change, but the second option really provides a better opportunity for more working with the material to be retrieved from memory. With option 1, students have 4 very specific goals. Hopefully, students will know those four structures of the eye and their function(s). This is somewhat limiting. They will perform this task and nothing more. Don’t get me wrong, if they can do this, that’s fantastic…much better than not asking them to retrieve any information. But, with option 2, students may include the four structures and functions from option 1 and then also include more information; perhaps they also state the functions of the pupil, rods, …


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Blog of the Week: 3 May 2019 – What the marathon teaches you about education

In my book Making Good Progress I developed an analogy between education and marathon running. Put simply, you wouldn’t train for a marathon by trying to run 26.2 miles in every training session. And in the same way, you shouldn’t prepare for an exam by doing exam-style activities in every lesson. I’d never run a marathon at that point, but I was influenced in this analogy by work by Michael Slavinsky and Daniel Lavipour, two educators and athletes who gave an incredibly thought-provoking talk about education and sport at Globe Academy in 2015.

Last September, I got a charity place in the London Marathon for Robes Project, a south London homeless charity.  The many hours of training I am doing now have given me the chance to ponder the links between marathon running and education in even …

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Chief Inspector sets out vision for new Education Inspection Framework

Two primary school pupils writing in a book.


  • Amanda Spielman proposes 4 new inspection judgements
  • schools will no longer receive a separate grade for outcomes for pupils
  • focus will be on the substance of education and a broad curriculum
  • more involvement for classroom teachers
  • consultation on draft framework to be launched in January

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman today announced details of planned changes to the way Ofsted inspects schools, colleges, further education institutions and early years settings from September 2019. These changes will move Ofsted’s focus away from headline data to look instead at how schools are achieving these results, and whether they are offering a curriculum that is broad, rich and deep, or simply teaching to the test.

Speaking to school leaders at the annual SCHOOLS NorthEast summit in Newcastle, Ms Spielman said that these changes will be designed to allow teachers and leaders to …


View the press release here.

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.