Blinks: High quality reviews and training
Blinks: High quality reviews and training
Blinks: High quality reviews and training
High quality reviews and training
High quality reviews and training

Guest Column - December 2023
Matt Bromley and Andy Griffith

The Working Classroom: How to make school work for working-class students

Excellence in any context is a judicious mix of high intention, sincere effort and intelligent execution. This is an excellent book: very well referenced, analytical, packed with stories and providing a commanding compendium of practical ideas for the classroom. The section on speaking, reading and writing is as succinct and authoritative as any teacher could wish for.

The experienced authors assert that 'much of this book has been written in anger…angered at how unequal our society has become'. They channel their anger skilfully in producing a text to support teachers and leaders make a particular difference for 'the forgotten third' in our schools. It is fifty years since I first entered a Brixton primary classroom - it is inspiring to read Matt Bromley’s and Andy Griffith's contemporary, compelling narrative about changing children’s lives.
Roy Blatchford

Once we have designed an ambitious curriculum which is broad and balanced, planned and sequenced, and offered it – with equality - to all students, we need to ensure that all students can access that curriculum and achieve.

It starts with equality. Equality is about giving all young people - irrespective of their backgrounds, starting points, and additional and different needs - access to the same curriculum. To do otherwise is to deepen existing differences and disadvantages. In practice, equality means not dumbing down or reducing the curriculum for some students.

But equality isn’t enough. Not all students start from the same point, and thus to offer the same diet to all is to perpetuate existing differences. So, we start with equality but then we ensure equity. We achieve equity by doing more for those who start with less. We support those students who struggle to access our curriculum by using adaptive teaching approaches and additional intervention strategies.

The crucial point to remember here, though, is that the adaptations we make should not be open-ended; to continue to adapt the curriculum and our teaching throughout a student’s schooling is to perpetuate learned helplessness and to prevent students from becoming independent and competing fairly with their peers. Rather, adaptations should be reduced over time and students should be helped to become more independent.

The sixth and final step of designing our core curriculum is to diminish disadvantage because we have to accept that not all students start from the same point, and that some will require more support and more time to reach their destination. We diminish disadvantage by closing the gap between disadvantaged students and their peers.

This can be achieved, in part, by identifying the academic barriers that each student faces, then choosing appropriate strategies to support them to overcome those barriers. Intervention strategies work best when they are short term, intensive, focused and tailored. What is more, there is no substitute for high-quality teaching, and so improving teacher and teaching quality must always take precedence. We will come back to this later in the chapter.

We can also help to diminish disadvantage by better understanding the effects of disadvantage. One such effect, though by no means the only one, is a lack of knowledge and cultural capital. One of the most tangible forms that cultural capital takes in practice is vocabulary, and so our curriculum should be a means of explicitly teaching vocabulary - what we might call the language of and for learning - to equip students with the tools they need to access the curriculum and achieve.

One effective way of ensuring equity - of helping all students to access the same ambitious curriculum - is adaptive teaching....

Extract taken from pages 112-113 from the newly published The Working Classroom: How to make school work for working-class students, written by Matt Bromley and Andy Griffith and published by Crown House Publishing.

The Working Classroom: How to make school work for working-class students (December 2023)

Guest Column - November 2023
Andy Hunter
We are the firefighters, called in when things need calming. We are the referees, called in when we need to take back control. We are the Avengers, arriving with a fanfare to right wrongs and ensure justice is done. And, to be fair to us, those are all valid roles for a senior leader and ones that we're generally rather good at fulfilling. When called upon to do so, we act quickly and appropriately to maintain the good order of the school.
Jumping? (November 2023)

Guest Column - October 2023
Alison Jeffery
This independent article from Alison Jeffery, Director for Children's Services for East Sussex County Council is part of the LGA children and young people's mental health think piece series. Alison has written this piece in a personal capacity and explores the question 'what would a good 'whole system' set of services and policies to support mental health and wellbeing look like?'.
Reforming the mental health system for children and young people (October 2023)

Guest Column - September 2023
David Chidgey
Mr Hargreaves was an inspirational teacher who led me to some success in A level chemistry a few decades ago. He was young and enthusiastic, creating multicoloured Banda sheets (a forerunner to laser printers, Google 'Banda spirit duplicator' to have a giggle) by the ream. The whole class looked forward to his lessons: he was clear about class rules, demanding in the amount of homework and revision we had to do, merciless on those who didn't, and supportive of all his students.
Looking back, thinking ahead (September 2023)

Guest Column - June/ July 2023
Marc Rowland
Addressing disadvantage with small numbers of disadvantaged pupils
Getting the climate right through teacher agency, shared understanding, shared ambitions. Through building strong relationships, having high expectations. It may be even MORE important to be mindful of these issues where the majority of children are growing up in families with more stable, higher incomes.
Addressing disadvantage with small numbers of disadvantaged pupils (June/ July 2023)

Guest Column - May 2023
Jack George
Inter-school collaboration has never been more important
There are a lot of things at Aiglon College, Switzerland, about which we can be proud, but one aspect stands out for me - it is our scholarship programme.
Inter-school collaboration has never been more important (May 2023)

Guest Column - March/ April 2023
Alison Rendle & Kit Messenger
'Curious Not Furious'
Nobody rises to low expectations.
Once the first foundation stone of strong, positive relationships is firmly in place, we need to take a look at the second of those three foundation stones: working with young people to set clear, consistent and high expectations. You may have heard the saying that nobody rises to low expectations. That's why we firmly believe that expectations should be set high for all young people. High expectations set the aspiration that young people and all those around them are able to be safe, content and at their best.
'Curious Not Furious' (March/ April 2023)

Guest Column - February/ March 2023
Carole Herman
Mathematics for all?
When Rishi Sunak announced in his first speech of 2023 that all students should continue to learn mathematics to the age of 18, I am sure I wasn't the only educationalist to be somewhat surprised. When had this major policy announcement been discussed with the profession?
Mathematics for all? (February/ March 2023)

Guest Column - January 2023
Malcolm Wheeler
Open your classroom window
Marsha Ivins, a veteran of five space shuttle missions who logged over 1,300 hours in space, was asked by one of our students, 'So how do you go to toilet in space?' Her smile told me it was a question she had often fielded. Her answer, although given hundreds of times by her, was original for every child asking the question for the first time.
Open your classroom window (January 2023)

Guest Column - December 2022
Tim Coulson
If I were Education Secretary
If I were education secretary, I would expect to reverse the current position, and to be seen as more influential than Ofsted.
If I were Education Secretary (December 2022)

Guest Column - September/October 2022
Simon Watson
Aim High, Work Smart, Care Deeply
International schools are free to choose from the best educational initiatives around the world, unshackled from the administrative handcuffs of national and state regulations.
Aim High, Work Smart, Care Deeply (September/October 2022)

Guest Column - July/August 2022
Jane Harris
2030 vision: we need to talk about speech and language
Given the unusual way the schools white paper and SEND green paper were published on consecutive days in late March, it is understandable that the sector is still trying to make sense of them.
2030 vision: we need to talk about speech and language (July/August 2022)

Guest Column - April/May 2022
Andy Samways
10 reasons why reading aloud matters
The simplest sentences are often the most impactful. That was certainly the case in Roy Blatchford's monthly column in March:
"If you read no further than the end of this sentence, please watch the YouTube video Frank Cottrell-Boyce supporting the Essex Year of Reading - Essex County Council."
10 reasons why reading aloud matters (April/May 2022)

Guest Column - February 2022
Tom Duckling
Learning Strands
It is the start of term and for INSET day an engaging and inspirational speaker has been booked. It is a financial investment but they have a great reputation on the conference circuit and some glittering reviews.
Learning Strands (February 2022)

Guest Column - January 2022
Samantha Smith
Lead as yourself
When I was starting as a headteacher, I was given the advice, Remember to lead as you.
This is a most valuable piece of advice and one I often return to. And it has never been more important than in the past two years, when we have all been asked to give more than we ever thought we would.
Lead as yourself (January 2022)

Guest Column - December 2021
Jean Gross
Reaching The Unseen Children
This is an extract from Chapter Seven of Jean Gross's recently published 'Reaching The Unseen Children'
The seven secrets of self-efficacy
This is the most important chapter in this book. It is important because it introduces a concept which is relatively unfamiliar to educators, but profoundly important in improving outcomes for disadvantaged children.
Reaching The Unseen Children (December 2021)

Guest Column - November 2021
David Bartram OBE
Leading great SEND provision in schools
We appear to be making the leadership of SEND increasingly complicated. The danger of creating this overly complex approach is that it persuades teachers across the country that they may not be sufficiently expert enough to help children experiencing difficulty.
Leading great SEND provision in schools (November 2021)

Guest Column - October 2021
Cameron Mirza
The learning scientist
The critical success factor in the education system will always be the teacher. It is essential today that teachers are supported to develop the skills, subject knowledge, attitudes, behaviours, pedagogical content knowledge and digital skills required to thrive in the classroom environment. The recently published teaching report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Microsoft, laid stark some sobering data.
The learning scientist (October 2021)

Guest Column - September 2021
Harry Hudson
At the cutting edge
Teaching is moving at a pace, and there has never been a more exciting time to become a teacher. We know more now than we have ever known about how the brain works, and teachers can be more confident than at any time in history about the science of learning. What's more, there is still so much left to discover.
At the cutting edge (September 2021)

Guest Column - June 2021
By Old Cobbler
Great news! Primary languages are rubbish!
Ofsted blog: schools, early years, further education and skills
As the subject lead's blog on the Ofsted website explains, inspectors recently visited 24 primary schools, all rated excellent at their latest inspection, to assess the quality of their languages teaching.
Great news! Primary languages are rubbish! (June 2021)

Guest Column - May 2021
Dr Michael Lightfoot
Rethinking assessment: in praise of ePortfolios
The long-term impact on education systems caused by the Great Pandemic of 2020/21 will take many years to play out. Emergency remote teaching became the mode through which education systems tried to overcome the impacts of school closures, and most schools turned to EdTech for solutions.
Rethinking assessment: in praise of ePortfolios (May 2021)

Guest Column - April 2021
David Ingram
Shaping the legacy of COVID-19
During a particularly difficult stretch of the lockdown, my professional coach invited me to engage my curiosity. This prompted me to consider the enormity of the pandemic from an entirely different perspective. I remain curious. Necessity may have been the mother of invention during lockdown but as the world returns to a semblance of normality, school leaders will need to ponder next steps.
Shaping the legacy of COVID-19 (April 2021)

Guest Column - March 2021
Harry Hudson
Changing the image of teaching
Education is in the spotlight in a way it hasn't been for decades, and much has been said about how teaching can 'build back better' after the pandemic. Yet step back from all the talk of 'catch up funding' and ways our classroom practice can be improved by having taught online, and there's an even bigger picture.
Changing the image of teaching (March 2021)

Guest Column - February 2021
Marc Rowland
The most effective strategies give teachers and other staff the capacity, expertise, knowledge and development to meet the needs of their pupils and improve them as learners. Teacher agency and buy-in are fundamental to success. They all complement one another, working together to support the development of a culture of inclusivity where pupils' needs are understood and assessment drives action.
Culture (February 2021)

Guest Column - January 2021
Malcolm Wheeler
Online passages from India
The pandemic will be remembered in the words of Dickens as "the worst of times" and, in the most unintended ways, also "the best of times". Before the lockdown, the challenge for our kind of schools was finding the sweet spot between theoretical and experiential learning. After the move to virtual learning, it has become about finding our collective 'ikigai', or finding our reason for being.
Online passages from India (January 2021)

Guest Column December 2020
Keith Grainger, Principal, Garth Hill College
The case for the defence: online learning
In a week when the government has threatened councils with legal action over decisions to switch to online learning over coronavirus fears, I feel the urge to celebrate the considerable merits of online learning. Such threats almost cast a slur on the very concept of online learning and, given our positive experience as a state secondary school, I am compelled to make a case for the defence.
The case for the defence: online learning (December 2020)     © Blinks 2023

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