Research and references

Good ideas on youth crime

Last week’s rioting and some of the knee-jerk reaction reminded me that one of our governors, Anthony Salz, chaired an independent commission into youth crime and antisocial behaviour last year.  The report entitled Time for a fresh start, takes an unusually thoughtful look at this vexed area and is worthy of wider consideration.

Earlier this year, Anthony was appointed as lead non-executive board member at the Department for Education.

Time for a fresh start


Time for a fresh start – summary for young people



SSAT 4th national academies conference

Last week I chaired the 4th SSAT Academies conference in London.  The highlight for me and many of the delegates was Professor Barry Carpenter’s keynote on the new generation of children with complex learning difficulties and disabilities – a major challenge for the mainstream sector.

Barry has led a DfE funded SEN project across a range of schools in the UK, which has researched engagement in learning for the new generation of children with SEND.  This is evidence based practice of the very best kind.  It’s not often headteachers say after a talk that they’ve heard things they didn’t know – and which will have direct impact on their practice schoolwide, immediately.

Barry Carpenter: new generation children – the complex challenge

I was very pleased to see the highlight given by Barry to attachment disorder.  This has  particular resonance for secondary schools, where students often have to interact with large numbers of teachers and other adults.  I believe attachment disorder is a really insightful window to look through when thinking about how to engage with and teach vulnerable students – not least because so many of the new generation of students present with a range of co-existing conditions.

The book I mentioned in my summary that is continually being permanently ‘borrowed’ from my office is Louise Bomber’s Inside I’m Hurting.  Absolutely essential reading for anyone who wants to understand children with what are largely hidden disabilities.

Other presentations from 4th SSAT Academies conference

Curriculum review

Have just been in a superb seminar with Tim Oates, who is on a part-time secondment with the Department for Education to lead the National Curriculum Review Expert Panel.  His day job is Director of Assessment Research and Development at Cambridge Assessment.  Tim was discussing his thoughts (see paper below) on the shaping of the new national curriculum proposals – a much mis-understood and much maligned topic, if current press coverage is anything to go by.

Could do better: using international comparisons to refine the National Curriculum in England

What have I been reading recently?

Written by a group of American authors including Richard Elmore (2009), whose work has always been hugely insighful,  Instructional Rounds in Education: a network approach to improving teaching and learning is part of the newly emerging work on evidence based practice.  This book is the result of research into ‘doing the rounds’, in the same way that in medicine professional expertise is systematically developed by dialogue and analysing evidence.  Too often in the UK we are too quick to judge teaching and learning, without these first two prior steps.  Want to gather evidence on how effective teaching is?  Watch what the students are doing and talk to them about it – then combine that with thoughtful debate and a rigorous look at what the data shows.

Guy Claxton & Bill Lucas (2010) New Kinds of Smart: how the science of learnable intelligence is changing education.  From just down the road in Winchester, this work brings us bang up to date on the educational implications of the latest thinking on how the mind works.  We are planning on working with the 4:5:1 model of real world intelligence next year, as we develop more powerful ways of learning.  There are some other interesting thoughts from Guy Claxton & Bill Lucas here: CENTREFORREALWORLDLEARNING/Pages/Publications.aspx

Carol Dweck (2007) Mindset has some great ideas for developing a shared language around intelligence and learning.  I’ve used this in a number of assemblies this year and it never fails to provoke thought and discussion.  This is another evidence based set of ideas that we will pick up in our powerful learning work in the coming months.

Ram Charan (2005) Boards That Deliver – this has got to be one of the only genuinely exciting books on governance written anywhere, anytime.  How can a governing board be both progressive and add value?  We’re going to try to adapt the best ideas from the public and private sectors in getting stuck into this book’s  main prognosis.

Ram Charan (2002) Execution: the discipline of getting things done.  Inspired by the above, this is an excellent antedote to the idea that the Principal and senior leaders should concentrate on vision and strategy.  Proper execution involves developing people and internal capacity.  We know that really, but it’s good to be reminded – especially in an academy that’s just starting out.

Ofsted report on business and enterprise education

Ofsted have published another of their specialist reports:

Economics business and enterprise education

The report makes clear that the business and enterprise specialism can have a major imapct on effectiveness.

Excellent English

Ofsted have published a report on excellent English teaching.

Excellence in English

Government response to Wolf Report published

Wolf Report Government Response May 2011

Key recommendations in the report include:

  • incentivising young people to take the most valuable vocational qualifications pre-16, while removing incentives to take large numbers of vocational qualifications to the detriment of core academic study
  • introducing principles to guide study programmes for young people on vocational routes post-16 to ensure they are gaining skills which will lead to progression into a variety of jobs or further learning, in particular, to ensure that those who have not secured a good pass in English and mathematics GCSE continue to study those subjects
  • evaluating the delivery structure and content of apprenticeships to ensure they deliver the right skills for the workplace
  • making sure the regulatory framework moves quickly away from accrediting individual qualifications to regulating awarding organisations
  • removing the requirement that all qualifications offered to 14- to 19-year-olds fit within the Qualifications and Credit Framework, which has had a detrimental effect on their appropriateness and has left gaps in the market
  • enabling FE lecturers and professionals to teach in schools, ensuring young people are being taught by those best suited.