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 - 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.

Yet at the same time, the majority of the country has no idea about any of this. Most people have no understanding of how teachers teach, and this became all too apparent during the pandemic, when millions of parents for the first time had to attempt to teach their children. And in so doing, they realised that there might actually be more to this teaching business than meets the eye.

For teaching isn't just about standing at the front of the class with textbook and board pen, throwing out knowledge in the vain hope that it sticks. It's not simply a case of 'charisma wins the day', as though it were some sort of popularity contest where the most-liked teacher automatically gets the best results. It's not as easy as just 'keeping them quiet' and letting the learning part just happen by osmosis.

For too long has teaching been unable to shake off the distinct whiff of amateurism, of so many thousands of individuals – atomised, unconnected – each doing their own thing in the vain hope that it would work, of no underlying and commonly understood concept of how to teach. Any idea that there might a 'science of teaching' would be perceived as a bit of joke. After all, how hard can it be?

Yet however close to reality that perception once was, nowadays it certainly could not be further from the truth. Twenty-first century teaching is a technical and scientific profession, underpinned by an ever-growing body of evidence about the science of learning. Recent developments in cognitive psychology have made the greatest contributions to teaching in the last century.

Developments in neuroscience now lie at the heart of teacher training courses, where aspirant teachers are being taught in a more rigorous and evidence-based manner than ever before.

To become a teacher in the twenty-first century means to understand how memory works and how we remember, it means to have an awareness of the best cognitive conditions for learning, and, crucially, it means to keep up to date with the latest research so as not to be left behind.

This has been good for teachers and, more to the point, good for their students. It keeps teachers on their toes in the constant search for improvement, and it means that pupils now receive some of the best teaching that has ever been on offer - and their academic results are a testament to this. As a result of the introduction of science into teaching, the average standard of teachers across the country is higher than it has ever been.

None of this is to underestimate the human side of teaching, and indeed the great cognitive psychologists of the day emphasise that the relationship between teacher and student will always matter. No amount of scientific evidence will ever detract from the soft skills of teaching, but it will in fact only continue to confirm its value.

It was precisely this sort of human interaction which was so missed by both teachers and students during successive bouts of online learning. Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams were just not the same as the real classroom – how could they ever hope to be?

Science is therefore not there to replace the human factor, but merely to supplement and even enhance it. And indeed, the relationship between the two is symbiotic: good relationships are a necessary prerequisite for successful learning, but successful learning helps build and sustain good relationships.

This is an extract from a forthcoming book 'Must do better!' by Harry Hudson and Roy Blatchford.

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
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
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
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 2021

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