Consultation, Consultation, Consultation?

Another half term another DfE consultation document to complete. The shift in Key Stage 4 qualifications policy signalled this summer accompanied an injustice visited upon thousands of students, parents and teachers in the name of standards. English GCSE results were tampered with on the C/D borderline and DHSB joined other professional groups and schools to launch a judicial review, such was the strength of feeling; something I haven’t witnessed in twenty years of teaching. Separate from this issue was the proper debate around standards and I welcome this, even though it will throw my own family into the frontline. It...

“Only Connect” – flipped, reverse or blended learning?

External commitments and partnership work meant that I didn’t teach last year and I missed it.  But I’m back in the classroom. It’s only a tentative one period a week this year (snorts of derision from colleagues), but it’s the first time I’ve taught away from the English GCSE “Legacy” syllabus and I feel vulnerable again. I’m rusty and uncertain and I have to build new learning relationships with Year 11 and teach them poetry. I’m also determined to approach the structures of learning by using some of the research and ideas I’ve read about and seen in schools over...

Rage Quits and Mountain-Goating

My sons use a phrase to describe someone giving up a game of cards when they’re angry about progress or they’re losing, they call it a “rage quit”. They also use the rather dubious sounding phrase of “Mountain-goating” and I’ll explain this term later. My decision to defer our Teaching School bid is not a “rage quit”, although if you’ve read my previous posts you may think I “protest too much…” The summer’s GCSE fiasco is still unravelling. Revelations from the TES that Ofqual did, despite protestation to the contrary, put pressure on exam boards to raise grade boundaries at...

“We need to consider fairness to students past, present and future” – a report on Ofqual

The report from Ofqual, released yesterday afternoon, left students and schools affected by the GCSE English grade boundary shambles breathless. There was a period of silence as the details of the report were digested and then renewed incandescence. Past students (those who received their award in January), may feel their achievements have been devalued by this report and that this is unfair. Present students who had their work assessed against radically raised grade boundaries in June and did not get the grade C that they deserved will not see the fairness. Future students will worry whether they will be treated...

Incredulity becomes anger – the GCSE English Language debacle.

Yesterday we celebrated some outstanding GCSE results at DHSB. Our higher-achieving students recorded strings of A*s and As against a backdrop of high achievement across the school; I tweeted photos and blogged success happily for our brilliant, hardworking students and staff. A National issue was simultaneously challenging my equanimity. It was clear to me on Wednesday morning that our English Language grades were much lower than we’d expected. Over the course of the next 48 hours I tracked the story online, mostly via trusted sources on Twitter. I was reluctant to comment at an early stage for fear of taking...

In praise of pen and paper

I’m drafting this blog post on Evernote, knowing it will sync across all of my devices. I will then edit into Windows Live Writer and my blog and then I’ll tweet the link, which will be copied onto my Friends’ Facebook walls. I am keen to develop a learning community and the feedback and information from these powerful tools is brilliant. I am confident about receiving a wide range of advice about how I could blog and post with even greater productivity. DHSB is launching an i-pad pilot today being led by @steve.margetts and the school is on the brink...

A cheer for Mr Gove!

It seems that schools will continue to have 48 hours notice of inspection. A cheer for Mr Gove! The chance that Heads may be missing for inspections has been averted. Any guest walking into our school on any given day would observe outstanding learning taking place. I am confident that anyone with any experience in education would sense it immediately. So why did the prospect of no-notice inspection so vex the profession? Respected educational commentator and Tweeter, Geoff Barton argued for no-notice inspections in his blog post, whilst acknowledging he may be a lone voice (#couldbetheendofaniceweekend). In my opinion, Headteachers...

Premier League school leadership?

Yessss! The UK have come top at something in the PISA rankings! Read all about it here in the OECD’s report Preparing Teachers and Developing School Leaders for the 21st Century it tells us how good UK school leaders are on page 17. An article in the TES 16.03.12  gives an excellent summary of this morale boosting news. Surely the Government will seize on this opportunity to celebrate the successful investment in school leadership training? “We are top of the league, say we are top of the league.” Sadly, the chances are you missed this story. The fact is, we...

Devonport Spectator

Following the success of the Annual School Magazine, some of the editorial team are planning the launch of a more regular publication – Devonport Spectator. Motivated in part by the sheer physicality of paper, pictures and words in our increasingly virtual interactions, the team hope to re-kindle (no pun intended), an atmosphere of active, visible journalism with contributions from across the school community. I am pleased to have been asked to pen the opening editorial. The title, if true to its namesake, promises an eclectic and intellectual commentary on contemporary life, politics and the arts. It will be fun to...