Wednesday, 6 February 2013


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.

It is important to remember that the core business of schools is teaching and learning and, to achieve this, the school leaders have to find ways to overcome the many obstacles learners are facing. We need to look carefully at John Hattie's work and the Sutton Trust Toolkit on 'what works and what doesn't' and stop doing the things that have little impact on outcomes. Importantly, Tim Brighouse and Dylan Wiliam both recently stressed the fact that schools need to focus and to move from a culture of dependency to a culture of enterprise, discipline and hard work supported by feedback, master coaching and deliberate practice. That requires strong and highly effective leadership, powerful governance, an organisational infrastructure, financial resources and autonomy, professional excellence at all levels and brilliantly responsive and flexible support. We know that some schools have moved very successfully in this direction and already achieved great things. We need to contribute practical advice and insightful reflections about the issues faced by our schools; ideas built on research and evidence and rooted in the reality of effecting lasting change and adding to what the schools already know.

There are no quick fixes but we do know what works and what doesn't! We must develop a "can do" approach where there are only challenges and opportunities not problems. We know the task we all face in building brilliant provision and excellence for all is enormous but we know how to do this and we simply need to be break the challenges and opportunities down into bite-sized, manageable chunks and develop the strategies and activities to make a real difference.

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