11 YBA Head Guest post by @jillberry102

Mr John Dexter blogs about school

Head2In the early years of my teaching career, I couldn’t really see the appeal of headship (or, in fact, senior leadership) at all. I was aware of the pressure, the responsibility, the stress – dare I say, the unpopularity? The heads I knew (and I worked for 10 heads over a period of 20 years in five different schools) usually didn’t teach. They seemed to have relatively little contact with the students which, to me, was the joy of teaching – though it was often, of course, the root cause of the challenges too. These heads were, in the main, relatively remote figures (one was nicknamed ‘the hologram head’ by the pupils). I remember watching the head and senior team dancing at a school Christmas party in my first school, and consciously thinking, “I’ll never be a head. I really can’t dance like that.”

In retrospect, in the…

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Higher education’s X-Factor: everything you always wanted to know about the REF


Chris Husbands

Imagine – if you do not work in a UK university – a cross between the Olympics, the X-factor and a visit from Father Christmas. That will give you some – some – idea of the REF (the Research Excellence Framework), and its importance in academic life. The results of REF2014 are published this week. Around the country, vice-chancellors, pro-vice-chancellors for research, deans, heads of department will be looking anxiously – not just at their own results, but at their competitors. As Gore Vidal famously put it: “It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail”.

Research funding matters enormously to government, and to universities. For government, it is how new knowledge is generated, new science supported, innovations which will eventually strengthen national competitiveness developed. For universities, research is the lifeblood, motivating
academics and defining their purpose.

In the UK, the bulk of research funding is offered competitively…

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True Grit

Freeing the Angel

I like to think of myself as a resilient person. There’s not much that upsets me. I have no particular fear of what others say or think about me, my teaching or my books. I can bounce back from knockdowns with a smile on my face. And so, I’ve been trying to work out why all this talk of ‘instilling character’ makes me so uncomfortable. Why the term ‘resilience’ makes me grind my teeth. Because it does, and over the years I’ve learned that it is important (to me, at least) to take my instinctive reactions into account.

When I think back to my own childhood, it’s pretty easy to identify the things that toughened me up, that made me resilient in later life. And none of them are things that I would wish on my own children, or on anyone else’s. One was the messy breakdown of my parents’…

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What Makes Great Teaching? – The Sutton Trust

Class Teaching

The Sutton Trust, working with Professor Robert Coe and others from Durham University, published a report yesterday, looking at what makes great teaching.  The full report can be downloaded here – it’s well worth a read.

To make life easier for teachers, two sections of the report are shared here – the six components of great teaching and examples of ineffective practice.

The Six Components of Great Teaching – What Works:

1. (Pedagogical) content knowledge (Strong evidence of impact on student outcomes)

The most effective teachers have deep knowledge of the subjects they teach, and when teachers’ knowledge falls below a certain level it is a significant impediment to students’ learning. As well as a strong understanding of the material being taught, teachers must also understand the ways students think about the content, be able to evaluate the thinking behind students’ own methods, and identify students’ common misconceptions.


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Teacher supply: why deregulation is not working


Chris Husbands

Some weeks ago, I was working for the IOE in Chile. Chile is an object lesson in education reform: in the 1980s and 1990s, it de-regulated its education system on a grand scale. For-profit schools entered the public sector. Quasi-voucher schemes were introduced. Teaching was de-regulated. In the last five years, the Chilean government has begun to re-regulate. Michele Bachelet’s new education law will remove for-profit provision from public schooling and reduce selection. I met Christian Cox, Dean of Education at the Pontifical University of Chile at Santiago, a thoughtful, wise observer of education policy, who shook his head as he told me: “it was sheer chaos in Chile. It was a state of nature”.

The teaching profession in England is being de-regulated at speed. Academy schools are no longer required to appoint individuals who have qualified teacher status (QTS). Schools themselves, singly or in groups, are…

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