Sunday, 19 February 2017


Inspection and testing and OFSTED do not improve teaching and learning. If they did we would have a brilliant education system here in England since we are the most tested and observed school system on the planet... and the latest OECD/PISA evidence shows that we are still struggling to build brilliant teaching and learning. Clearly, we need to improve teaching and learning in every classroom and develop a coaching culture where practice and hard work builds success but you don't fatten the pig by constantly weighing it!! 
We need to remember that even by OFSTED's dodgy data we have about 80% of schools graded as good or better, 18% requiring improvement ( the old satisfactory ) and only 3% unsatisfactory. I say dodgy because OFSTED observes about 150,000 brief lessons last year out of a total of 100,000,000 teacher days... so it isn't exactly a great sample!! I am not in any way complacent about teaching and learning, outcomes, standards and achievement and I recognise that we do need to constantly ask ourselves how we can do better. It's important to remember that research suggests that variation in schools is four times greater than variation between schools so it doesn't matter very much which school you go to but it does matter whose classroom you are in!

The schools I am working with and the vast majority of teachers I know have high expectations and want the very best for their students. They don't need to be told that some super teacher can do it better. unless the plan or strategy is that we are going to replace all our teachers with these super teachers!! We need to focus on the way every teacher teaches and every child and young person learns and we clearly need an approach based on what works! The London Challenge, Education Leeds, and the City of York’s Schools Learning Together were all highly supportive and encouraging approaches in which headteachers, teachers and teaching assistants came to feel more valued, more confident and as a result more effective. The approaches were based on research, evidence and data not dogma!!!

Of course, we need to continue to improve schools but we are currently over-managed and under-led. The answers aren't rocket science and we simply need to identify, develop and support:
  • Strong, successful and passionate learning leadership;
  • Personalised approaches that recognise that schools are unique and special places and need different things at different times; 
  • Outstanding practice and school to school and teacher to teacher sharing of successes and best practice.
  • What happens in effective classrooms since it doesn't matter much which school you attend but it does matter which classroom you are in!
  • Intelligent accountability based on trust, support and encouragement;
  • Teachers who need to be engaged, motivated and inspired and passionate about teaching and learning.

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