Category Archives: Uncategorized

Primary Assessment changes… again!

Ramblings of a Teacher

First of all, let me say that I’m pleased that primary assessment is changing again, because it’s been a disaster in so many ways. So here is a summary of the changes at each key stage – with my thoughts about each.

Early Years Foundation Stage Profile

  • The EYFS Profile will stay, but will be updated to bring it into line with the new national curriculum and take account of current knowledge & research. I’ve never been a huge fan of the profile, but I know most EY practitioners have been, so that seems a sensible move.
  • There may be a reduction in the number of Early Learning Goals to as few as 5 (down from 17). I think that that’s probably fairly sensible, but I imagine won’t be popular. Maybe a middle ground will be found?
  • The ’emerging’ band may be divided to offer greater clarity of information particularly…

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Jo Boaler is wrong about maths facts and timed tests

The Quirky Teacher

This is a blog post about how I believe Jo Boaler is wrong when she asserts that learning maths facts off by heart and timed tests are detrimental to children’s well-being and mathematical ability. I’ve tried to take the time to read pretty much every piece of research she has linked to in her article and it’s been an interesting reading journey, not least because some of the research she cites seems to provide evidence that learning maths facts off by heart and the use of timed tests are actually beneficial to every aspect of mathematical competency (not just procedural fluency). To help me get my head around what she’s saying, I’ve summarised the entire article and analysed each part:

  1. The new UK curriculum requirement for children to learn times tables off by heart will lead to children being scared of and then turn away from maths

On the…

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Teaching/Cementing Difference

Insightful comments into curriculum and how to get the balance right between facts, experiences and stereotypes.

jonny walker teaching

With stories and through the humanities, we can bring distant cultures into our classrooms. These may be cultures that our pupils associate with through family ties, or they may not be. The stories we do and do not tell shape the way our pupils come to see the world.
But how nuanced is the view that we give? How much simplification is acceptable before we begin obfuscating the reality?

There is a growing chasm between the way we present the world to our pupils, and the realities of these places. In many cases, we contribute towards Othering the people there.

Othering. n. The process of perceiving or portraying someone or something as fundamentally different or alien.

In order to reduce issues to paragraph length and to make the intangibles of culture appear more knowable, we can promote generalisations and simplifications that children grip onto but, simply, are neither true nor…

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KS2 Writing: Moderated & Unmoderated Results

Have to share this – expert analysis from Michael Tidd.
Hopefully change will start to happen or at least moderators, LAs and schools across the country will endeavour to try and make some more sense of this chaos.

Ramblings of a Teacher

After the chaos of last year’s writing assessment arrangements, there have been many questions hanging over the results, one of which has been the difference between the results of schools which had their judgements moderated, and those which did not.

When the question was first raised, I was doubtful that it would show much difference. Indeed, back in July when questioned about it, I said as much:

At the time, I was of the view that LAs each trained teachers in their own authorities about how to apply the interim frameworks, and so most teachers within an LA would be working to the same expectations. As a result, while variations between LAs were to be expected (and clearly emerged), the variation within each authority should be less.

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Nudging Better Attendance

We have a similar problem in our school and have been doing the same thing. Ironically one parent commented to me they want less messages about attendance but if they need to hear the message then they need to hear the message!


Working in a disadvantaged community or a school with large numbers of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds is a bit of a challenge.  Normal rules apply but there is a need to go the extra mile, insisting and working hard at things other schools take for granted; it can be exhausting.

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How I ‘mark’ regularly but I’m not a marking martyr 

Couldn’t agree more. I use a code system where I assign a code to a certain comment or identifying of a misconception or a challenge. The chn write down the comments and do the challenge in purple pen. Means they actually take in the comments more if they write them and interact with feedback rather than letting it wash over them.


In case you’re interested, this is what I think and what I do.

Thoughts on where I think some schools/leaders/teachers go wrong:

  • Thinking more writing = more learning.
  • Every lesson, students must write X amount.
  • A teacher needs to write on a piece of work
  • ‘Teaching’ lessons to cover content is more important than reflecting, redrafting and improving on prior work/learning
  • Every piece of student writing has to be marked in the same way to the same depth
  • All student work (including homework) must result in some sort of recordable result
  • Conflating marking with assessment/reading work/feedback
  • Having the same policy for all subjects including frequency and methods
  • Believing the colour of pens matter beyond being different colours

My classes

To give some context I teach 18 classes. 3 are GCSE groups, the rest are core RE with lessons ranging from 1-3 times a fortnight. They use 3 different formats for…

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Reflections of a QT (not an N or R Rated Teacher) by @Mroberts90Matt

Time is a weird thing in education. It feels like since I started teaching in September 2014 that the educational world has progressed to something completely different already. I do recognise however that with changes in statutory assessment, a brand-spanking new Curriculum, farcically implemented new Assessments and Pupil Premium paranoia setting in, I could probably be forgiven for feeling that. Also, the fact I came into my school with temporary new Heads close behind me and they prepared the school until our current Head followed the next year, it isn’t surprising I have felt this way!

Time also waits for no teacher! Whilst I still can’t believe I have only been teaching for 2 1/3 academic years, it does feel like a lifetime ago I was regularly writing blog posts! Long ago is the time I was introduced with the statement “A new blogger appears on the block :)” – (Stephen Tierney, Executive Headteacher, @LeadingLearner” and long ago is the time I had an article feature on the most influential UK teacher blog – Teacher Toolkit – to the point…well just look at the views on my blog over the last three years:blog1

As you can see, the deeper I’ve gotten into teaching and taking on responsibility, the less I have networked and blogged…surprised? No. It is the fact that I bemoaned before teaching full-time and wanted to avoid myself – there are a lot of outstanding practitioners who, due to the overwhelming workload, do not get chance to share their incredible practice…fortunately it is Christmas and I am getting more experienced in planning well ahead so I have a chance to sit as my wife enjoys the Christmas Bake Off. I have looked at  one of my recent blog posts (RQT Resolutions) and I am happy to report that I have met them all despite not blogging as I now want to again! We had great results (for our school) in the 2015-16 SATs and I am very, VERY involved in developing teaching and learning in the school. Things are going well…here are some belated resolutions for my 3rd year in teaching:

1. Keep my home-work life balance
This has been, and will always be, my first goal each year. My family are the most important thing to me. I will certainly not be trading them for a successful career in teaching – I would change jobs before that happened. Obviously it can be done but it will require time management and careful a selection of priorities. I look around at some of the staff in my school who have families of their own and wonder how they can manage to do what they do! I now have a 4 year old son and a 2 year old daughter. My own son is now entrenched into the education system, and I am now starting to see how depressing it can be for parents, to try and get their children to jump hoops at such a young age. At least it will be another source for blog posts…but for another time!

2. Complete NPQML Qualification
Yes – I have taken the plunge. I am in the middle of completing my next qualification after my ITT. I am leading a team to develop the style of Maths learning across the school, to develop Maths vocabulary and talk in our 80% EAL school. I have asked, pitched and championing a ‘Talk4Maths’ approach, which you all will be hearing about very soon – watch this space! 😉

3. Maintain amazing start to PE Leadership
I’ll probably go into more detail about the steps in this particular journey but, simply, I was asked in November 2015 to take on leadership of PE and Sport in my RQT Year, the school had previously achieved not much more than Bronze in the School Games Award (a nationally recognised mark for PE and Sport). We moved the school to receive Gold in the same award (the highest category possible), receive a visit from Sue Smith (ex-International Women’s Football Player) and we named the Trafford School of the Year for Sport. As any leader should, I will say now it was not down to me but the monumental effort provided by the staff in the school. I want to make sure this is maintained to the point that it will become a self-sustaining system and service the school provides.

(Now the big one…) 4. Publish a blog post every month
This is the minimum. I do want to try and post once every two weeks but I am anticipating that saying this during the relaxed Christmas holidays is easy – actually staying on top of this will be the challenge!

Roll on 2017 – and I look forward to sharing more with you all!

Be that change

Thank you for sharing this – the profession is much better off with people like you in it.

In my first year of teaching I was attacked. I’ve been hit since, and – like many of us – have had to restrain my fair share of angry youngsters from damaging themselves, other children, members of staff and poorly-constructed walls. Nothing compares, however, to the events of that afternoon, sometime in the first term of my NQT year.

I was on duty at the end of the day, walking down the staff car park drive towards the long, platform-like bus stop at the front of the school. This was also a visitors’ car park, which often made 3:25pm an M25 of a home-time rush. I was normally on my own here, although this hadn’t previously bothered me as I could always see colleagues below me towards the other end of the bus stop.

There was a gathering of children, mostly older who I didn’t know, around what looked immediately…

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Getting to know you: Why telling new teachers to ‘build relationships’ is bad advice.

Very similar thoughts to what I thought at start of NQT Year last year – both rules and relationships are important but rules have to come first chronologically for learning to happen at it’s best.


As we move inexorably towards the start of a new school year, thousands of trainee and newly qualified teachers are waiting to embark on their careers. If they are anything like I was as, they’re desperately clinging on to every piece of advice and guidance they can with open, grateful and anxious arms. And, like an over-protective parent, Twitter is awash with hashtag-NQT-advice.

This tweet in particular seems to have gained some support, appearing in my timeline on several occasions and receiving nearly 1000 retweets.

The idea here is one I’ve encountered many times before. This tweet is obviously about the first lesson, but it reflects a bigger idea in education that I think is unhelpful. This idea is that building relationships…

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