Freeing the Angel

* Why Acronyms In Teaching?

In my first year as a secondary school teacher, there was something called AR&R. The school had a deputy head teacher responsible for AR&R. It was the phrase on everyone’s lips. Unfortunately, I had absolutely no idea what AR&R meant. Not wishing to look stupid, I spent several months in blissful ignorance of what AR&R was, before I plucked up the courage to ask. (Assessment, Recording and Reporting, since you ask.) The world of education is extremely keen on acronyms. Overly keen, some might say. As with so many other aspects of teaching, we go through phases in our love affair with acronyms. Just now, we’re passing through an especially acronym-heavy phase. Often, acronyms stay in fashion for 3 years or so, then get discarded, to be replaced by an entirely different set of letters. But other acronyms limp on for years, acquiring extra letters…

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The evil offspring of APP

Ramblings of a Teacher

It’s not often I quote the words of education ministers with anything other than disdain, but just occasionally they talk sense. Back in April, Liz Truss explained the ‘freedoms’ being given to schools to lead on assessment between key stages, and commented on the previous system of APP. She described it as an “enormous, cumbersome process” that led to teachers working excessive hours; a system that was “almost beyond satire, […] requiring hours of literal box-ticking“.

Not everybody agreed with the scrapping of levels, but the recent massive response to the Workload Challenge has shown that if there is one thing that teachers are in agreement about, it is the excessive workload in the profession. Now at least we had a chance to get rid of one of those onerous demands on our time.

And yet…

Just this evening I came across two tracking systems that have been produced by…

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Lessons from KEGS: Ideas I’m taking with me.


New surroundings await me.... New surroundings await ….but I”m bringing some ideas with me.

As I gear up to leaving KEGS at the end of term, I’ve been thinking about ideas I’ll be taking with me when I move to Highbury Grove. Many of these things are aspects of the school that struck me when I arrived; it was during that time that I developed the ‘plantation to rainforest‘ analogy. That’s how it felt. Several other ideas have developed since – aspects of school life that I’d like to see in any school. Clearly, many of these things will be in place already; in fact I know that they are. I’m also under no illusions that any of these ideas will transfer easily where the context is so different.  However,  this post is an attempt to capture the essence of the aspects of life at KEGS that I think are important and…

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How can we keep teachers happy? Thin red lines between wellbeing & misery

Improving Teaching

The thin red line (or, as William Russell originally reported, the “Thin red streak tipped with a line of steel”) which held off a charge of Russian cavalry at the Battle of Balaclava has become a metaphor for stretched forces holding firm against defeat.  Thin red lines might stave off teachers’ defeat over workload and wellbeing.Robert_Gibb_-_The_Thin_Red_Line

Many teachers feel unhappy, overworked and inclined to quit.  404,600 trained teachers under 60 are no longer teaching (almost as many as are (451,000)).  In an NUT survey “90% of respondents had considered leaving teaching in the last two years, 96.5% said workload has negative consequences for family or personal life.”  Students and schools need teachers who stay in their job and keep improving: how can this be achieved?

One answer is promoting teacher wellbeing.  This summer I was asked by someone establishing a new school how I thought leaders might do this.  I don’t know: in setting up our school, we…

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