The Illusion of Communication

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw Schools are places that depend on communication. We are constantly communicating complex information to the young people. Not only are we transmitting, but we are continually seeing what they are communicating back to us, to assess what they…

Compliance or Learning?

There is a lot of discussion which takes place around student behaviour at the moment. Debates around whether students should have phones, how we can alert them to the end of break times and whether they should sit up and smile in lessons are without a doubt hot topics which divide many on social media.…

Developing subject knowledge

A recent blog by Tom H (@GeographyTom9) on Why Subject Knowledge Matters made me think about how we treat teacher subject knowledge in our profession. I’m not convinced we give it the attention it deserves. Tom points out that subject knowledge adds texture to a lesson – it gives the details. It varies hugely by…

Life inside the bubble – Part 2

  Last week I wrote a piece suggesting that our profession is increasingly divided between “informed teachers” (who engage with discussions about education, manage their own CPD, read books, articles and blogs about teaching, tweet, reflect on their own practice) and “uninformed teachers” (who don’t). The first group are firmly inside the education-world bubble and…

What makes the difference?

A few days ago, after getting our GCSE results, I wrote a quick post about some of the things we had done as a department that I felt had made a difference and helped us go from getting “quite good results” to “really quite excellent results”. Since then people have asked lots of further questions…

Where did it all go right… again?

This time last year my department got the best GCSE results of my time in teaching. We had made some changes and reaped the rewards (I wrote about it here) but I always knew it was going to be a hard act to follow. Well, we followed it and improved on it. When WJEC finally…

How do you design your curriculum?

Towards the end of last term, as we started to review our Expect Excellence action plan, my thoughts shifted towards our next goal. I have become increasingly concerned that over the years our focus has been on how we teach and that we have taken our eye off what we teach – and why we…

A Culture of Excellence – Excellent Geography 

What does excellence look like in your subject? That is the question that my department will be putting at the heart of all we do over the next year.  For the last two years we have focused on increasing aspiration and expecting excellence. I wanted to ensure that we had a culture where everyone wanted…

Picking your battles

Two years ago I decided that my department should have one particular focus for improvement. I work at a wonderful school, where results are very good and our kids generally want to do well. I was concerned though that there was a risk of complacency  and the data seemed to bear this out. Results were…

How do we assess?

Every year, at about this time, I start dreaming about all the things I’ll get done during Term 6 when my exam classes have gone. With both Year 13 and Year 11 heading off I should actually get a reasonable amount of time to get stuck in to something and this year is a biggie.…