Saturday, 29 September 2012


 Politicians set the overall framework and then get out of the way! Teachers are empowered, trusted and valued! REFRESHING!


In a world where OFSTED strikes fear into the hearts of headteachers and teachers it is important to remember that the current short-term, and quick fix interventionist approach is not based on in-depth understanding of the research evidence about what works or a detailed understanding of the context and culture of schools, but on superficial data analysis and instant judgements which don't lead to sustainable lasting change or school improvement.

Friday, 28 September 2012


John Hattie's "Visible Learning: A Synthesis of over 800 Meta-analyses relating to Achievement" points out very clearly that the most powerful single thing we can do to enhance achievement is provide learners with feedback. The most simple prescription for improving education must be "dollops of feedback"!

Thursday, 27 September 2012


The River Ouse in York reached 5.05 metres or 16.57 feet or an astonishing 198.82 inches above normal last night.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


I was in Sheffield again yesterday watching the rain and wondering what happened to the Summer this year. However, last night we recognised and celebrated the Cutlers' "Made in Sheffield" Ambassadors: our first group of young people who will experience this radically different and unique programme developed in Sheffield by schools and businesses working together.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Refuse to accept anything but the best!

"It's a funny thing about life,
if you refuse to accept anything but the best,
you very often get it."
W Somerset Maugham


Practice is vital for success whatever you do or want to do. My experience over  lifetime spent working with schools makes me realise that the essential elements in success are master coaching, deliberate practice and hard work but the more I read the more I begin to see that the science suggests that to become really world class other factors loom large.

Monday, 24 September 2012

'A Whole New Mind' by Dan Pink

"The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind... computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands....

Sunday, 23 September 2012

KEEP SMILING AND "Don't you quit!"

It has been tough recently for so many colleagues so if you don't know this poem it is worth a read as we all struggle through the challenges life throws at us...


Whatever you are doing and wherever you are have a brilliant day!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Friday, 21 September 2012

ALWAYS REMEMBER: It is not the critic who counts!

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
Theodore Roosevelt


I attended the launch of The BIG Challenge in Sheffield this morning...

You can find out more at WWW.BIGCHALLENGE.BIZ

Thursday, 20 September 2012


I was at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre again this morning meeting with the last group of young people, from the four schools involved in the Cutlers' "Made in Sheffield" Project, for the first day of their Cutlers' "Made in Sheffield" Ambassadors Programme.


After a Summer where we all marveled at the athletes in the Olympic and Paralympic I was thinking about the difference between ordinary and extraordinary human beings. When you hear the word ordinary, when you are talking about a child, a colleague, a friend, an athlete, a dancer, a school, a place or anything else, what do you think?

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


I was at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre again today meeting with the second group of young people, from the four schools involved in the Cutlers' "Made in Sheffield" Project, for the first day of their Cutlers' "Made in Sheffield" Ambassadors Programme.

Attitude to me is more important than facts!

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, gift, or skill. It will make or break a company...a church...a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes." 
Charles Swindoll

"The last 20 years have seen lots of new school types - and they have made no difference"...

I was re-reading Ron Glatter's really interesting TES article, ‘Changing organisational structures: will we ever learn?’, about what we need to do to build brilliant and ensure that every young person attends a great school. In case you missed it, here it is:

"There is a growing realisation that structural change can bring more costs than benefits. Along with other parts of the public sector, education has experienced almost a quarter of a century of continual restructuring, what the political scientist Christopher Pollitt called "redisorganisation". This appeals to politicians because they think they will be able to demonstrate a quick fix - that the structural buttons they have pressed will rapidly transform results. There is no convincing evidence for this belief. When I recently reviewed studies of the effects of the varieties of new school formats of the past 20 years, notably grant-maintained and specialist ones, it became clear that the status of the school didn't in itself contribute to any improvements. Any gains were the result of outside factors such as differences in intake or extra funding."

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Cutlers' "Made in Sheffield" Ambassadors Programme

I was at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre again this morning meeting with the first group of young people, from the four schools involved in the Cutlers' "Made in Sheffield" Project, for the first day of their Cutlers' "Made in Sheffield" Ambassadors Programme.

Monday, 17 September 2012


I was at Bradfield School in Sheffield this afternoon with colleagues from the four schools who are working together on the Cutlers' "Made in Sheffield" Project!

SKILLS: The Global Currency of the 21st Century!

"Skills have become the global currency of the 21st century. Without proper investment in skills, people languish on the margins of society, technological progress does not translate into economic growth, and countries can no longer compete in an increasingly knowledge-based global society. The OECD Skills Strategy is designed to help countries build better skills policies and turn them into jobs, growth, and better lives." - Mr. Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD

Sunday, 16 September 2012


I have been telling people for years about the importance of red wine, chocolate and exercise and I know that it's been suggested that eating chocolate was more rewarding than passionate kissing but I think I need to do more research to replicate this result!

Saturday, 15 September 2012


I was re-reading the Sutton Trust's publication; ‘Toolkit of Strategies to Improve Learning’ which summarises research evidence on improving learning and attainment to help schools to make more informed choices about how to support their students.

Developing the Skills for Growth!

I was at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Knowledge Transfer Centre again yesterday at the celebration of two important initiatives dedicated to closing the skills gap for manufacturing businesses... the AMRC Training Centre and the National Skills Academy for Nuclear Manufacturing.

Thursday, 13 September 2012


I was in Sheffield again yesterday meeting with colleagues from the four schools, Sheffield College, the Cutlers' Company, B&E South Yorkshire and Sheffield City Council to look at how we can continue to co-create a new curriculum based on a competency model focused around five key aspects highlighted in the DEMOS report, 'The Forgotten Half'.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


Grit is a positive trait that involves perseverance of effort to accomplish a long term goal no matter what challenges lie in the way.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012


After a glorious Summer of Olympics, Paralympics and now Andy Murray winning his first Grand Slam event we face an Autumn landscape of public sector strikes, financial problems, more cuts, local authority services increasingly under pressure, schools facing increasing challenge and academisation, OFSTED turning up the pressure and plenty of personal challenges. Clearly, as demonstrated by our Olympians, Paralympians and Andy Murray, to be successful we need to develop character, resilience and grit.


I found this on my colleague and friend Roel Rohner's Dalton Page.

Monday, 10 September 2012

SKILLS MATTER: The Route to Growth!

The EEF, in their report 'The Route to Growth'. outline a framework for what they want our economy to look like, and argues that we need a strategy for how we get there.

Share and network the things that work and stop doing the things that don't!

Michael Gove argues that an academic education is the best preparation for the opportunities created by the knowledge based industries of the future and would argue that we must say what we would teach our children and young people.

Sunday, 9 September 2012


To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower.
Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour.
William Blake

Saturday, 8 September 2012


I spent the day in Sheffield yesterday. I had been invited to the ground-breaking ceremony for the Sheffield University Technical College where I met a lot of colleagues and some old friends.

Friday, 7 September 2012

My answers to the challenges we face?

I have been working on school improvement for over twenty years and I know some people will ask why haven't we cracked it and already delivered great schools, brilliant learning and fantastic outcomes everywhere. I wish it were that easy.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Story of the Geese!

I love this story..."This Autumn, when you see the geese heading south for the winter, flying in a "V" formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way."

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


"The world is changing rapidly but our education system is not keeping pace."

I watched 'We Are The People We've Been Waiting For' again yesterday evening...


"Most of us miss out on life's big prizes. The Pulitzer. The Nobel. Oscars. Tonys. Emmys. But we're all eligible for life's small pleasures... A thank you. A pat on the back. A kiss. A four-pound bass. A full moon. An empty parking space. A crackling fire. A great meal. A glorious sunset. Hot soup. Cold beer. Don't fret about copping life's grand awards. Enjoy its tiny delights. There are plenty for all of us."
United Technologies Corporation

Monday, 3 September 2012

What can we learn from the Olympics and the Paralympics?

It's brilliant that the Olympics and now the Paralympics have taught us is that anything is possible with passion, commitment, determination and sheer hard work. This is a message we need to take into our schools and our classrooms.

Saturday, 1 September 2012


Watching and reading horror stories about how we treat people with disabilities, people who are in hospital, people who are in care and young people in schools makes you realize that it isn't simply about standards but fundamentally the problem is about culture.