Matt Bromley’s Blog


NEW! The 3Ms of effective remote learning

NEW! Curriculum impact: pupil progress, outcomes and preparedness

How to evaluate the pupil progress and outcomes

How to evaluate the impact of your curriculum teaching 

How to evaluate the impact of your curriculum planning

What is curriculum impact?

What is curriculum implementation?

What is curriculum intent? 


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Crisis management for schools

The Covid-19 pandemic provided school leaders with a crash-course in crisis management. And, although I’m sure we all hope we don’t have to use these new-found skills any time soon, it is worth unpacking what we’ve learned because crises, though certainly not commonplace, do plague us from time to time. So, what can school leaders do to help prepare for the unexpected and to manage a crisis as it unfolds? READ MORE

Supporting the education of white working class boys

Data shows that white boys in receipt of FSM (who we might term “white working class boys” although FSM eligibility is not synonymous with working class) underperform compared to all other groups. Of course, it is true that white British pupils perform slightly better, on average, than BAME children. But, because girls perform significantly better on average than boys, and pupils who are not eligible for FSM perform significantly better on average than pupils who are, then white boys eligible for FSM perform markedly worse than pupils from every other category, including FSM pupils from every other ethnicity…  READ MORE

NQTs – sense-check your CPD

Ofsted recently updated its initial teacher education (ITE) inspection framework, with the revised version having now come into effect (as of September 2020). The new framework applies to all phases of ITE, including early years, primary, secondary and further education. Ofsted has introduced a new key judgement called “quality of education and training”, which replaces the two previous judgements of “quality of training across the partnership” and “outcomes for trainees”. The criteria Ofsted is using for this new judgement is, I think, also handy for newly and recently qualified teachers too – it can be used as a sense-check of your on-going professional development so let’s take a look at how Ofsted proposes to define ‘good’ practice and explore what this might look like for you… READ MORE

Surviving and thriving as an NQT – Part One | Part Two

What can you, as an NQT, do in order to ensure you successfully complete your induction period? First, let’s define our terms… the government describes the NQT statutory induction as “the bridge between initial teacher training and a career in teaching”. It should combine “a personalised programme of development, support and professional dialogue with monitoring and an assessment of performance” against the Teachers’ Standards. Your NQT year should, therefore, support you in demonstrating that your performance against the Teachers’ Standards is satisfactory by the end of the year and equip you with the tools to be an effective and successful teacher thereafter… READ MORE

How can schools respond to the Black Lives Matter movement?

The best schools reflect their local communities; they bring the community into their school and take pupils out into that community. The best schools also look beyond their local communities and regard themselves as part of the national and international conversation. These schools teach pupils how to be active members of their communities and how to be good citizens of the world. A school’s success can, I think, be measured by the extent to which it prepares all the young people it serves for their next steps in life – do pupils leave the school as well-rounded, cultured, inquisitive, caring, kind, resilient, knowledgeable human beings ready to make their own way in the world? And do schools, as a consequence, make the world a better place? … READ MORE

Staff and student wellbeing 

More than half of teachers say that their mental health has declined as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown and wider pandemic. A report from teacher wellbeing charity Education Support (2020) included a survey of more than 3,000 teachers from all types of school and found that 52 per cent have seen a decline in mental health or wellbeing. And the issue is not only affecting staff, of course. A wealth of research in the past six months has highlighted the threats to students’ wellbeing since the first national lockdown in March… READ MORE

Ethical leadership in education

Ethical leadership in education is driven by a respect for values and an unfaltering belief in the dignity and rights of others. Ethical leaders build school cultures governed by fair, clearly articulated expectations, rather than cultures driven by personalities or politics. In an ethically led school, there a clear vision and mission and a set of shared values and principles that are understood and owned by everyone who works there. Every action that is taken is sense-checked against this vision and mission and if completion of said action would not uphold the values and principles, it is not considered valid. Every element of the school, from performance management appraisals to staff professional development, from expectations of pupil behaviour to the resourcing of the curriculum, reflects this vision and mission, and these values and principles… READ MORE

The myth of lockdown learning loss

Any talk of “loss” is to adopt a deficit model. I am not suggesting that Covid-19 has been a positive experience – of course, it has not. Many of us lost loved ones and many had difficult lockdown experiences – isolation, mental health challenges, domestic violence, anxiety and more. But to adopt a deficit model is, in my opinion, to double-down on the problems. If we talk to pupils about their “lost learning”, about their “lack of progress”, and about “gaps” in their knowledge – as well as about the devastating consequences of the pandemic – we only serve to heighten anxieties and thus delay their return to “normality” and stunt their future progress… READ MORE

The Covid-19 catch-up premium

The catch-up premium is available for all state-funded mainstream and special schools, and alternative provision, and the government will also provide funding to local authorities for pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) who are educated in independent special schools… READ MORE

Latest COVID help and advice

NEW! Staff and student wellbeing during Covid

NEW! Ethical leadership during Covid

NEW! The myth of Covid lockdown learning loss

The Covid-19 catch-up premium

How to make a success of remote teaching – part one | part two

Home school help: Reading at home

Home school help: Is ‘home-schooling’ a misnomer?

The coronavirus crisis and schools – part one

The coronavirus crisis and schools – part two

The coronavirus crisis and schools – part three

Making the most of remote learning – part one

Making the most of remote learning – part two

Making the most of school-based learning – part one

Making the most of school-based learning – part two

A useful list of remote learning resources

Parental engagement advice

Using technology to improve parental engagement

Free resources to help you through this difficult time

Free ebook library:

NEW! Download a free ebook by Matt Bromley and Dylan Wiliam on formative assessment 

Download two free ebooks on reducing teacher workload : book 1 | book 2

Download a free ebook on teacher recruitment and retention

Download a free ebook on making effective use of the Pupil Premium

Download a free ebook on top teaching strategies inc feedback and metacognition

Download a free ebook on curriculum design

Download two free ebooks on effective differentiation: book 1 | book 2

Download a free ebook on supporting pupils with speech and language difficulties

Download a free abridged version of School and College Curriculum Design Book One: Intent

Useful advice from the archive:

  • If you’re teaching via webinar or uploading online videos, think about the structure of your ‘lecture’. Here, I advocate a 4-part teaching sequence that may be helpful. Start with a clear teacher explanation, then model the task whilst thinking aloud, then explain how pupils should practice the task.
  • When setting work for pupils to complete at home, whether via learning packs or an online platform, reflect on what we know about effective homework – try to focus on retrieval practice activities and make sure any new information is presented by you not left to pupils to ‘discover’ unless you can be sure they’ll do it well.
  • One of the most impactful tasks in which pupils can engage at home – and an easy one to manage – is reading books… lots of books. Here I talk about passing on the power of reading
  • Linked to the above, we might use this period of home schooling to focus on developing pupils’ literacy abilities. Here – Literacy empowers – I share advice on teaching oracy, reading and writing… some of the advice can be translated to remote learning.
  • Here are some free posters outlining the characteristics of good readers
  • Here is some advice on effective revision which may help older pupils with their independent study at home (here’s another article on revision which I wrote with post-16 students in mind)
  • Here’s an article I wrote on lecture style learning which may help when delivering webinars
  • Here’s some advice for parents on reading bedtime stories to younger children
  • Here’s some advice for pupils on study skills – the conspiracy of success

Useful reading for staff CPD:

Advice aimed at new teachers:

Various articles can be found here: NQT advice

And this may be useful: Behaviour management advice for new teachers

Advice on SEND:

Various articles can be found here: SEND advice


Don’t stop believing – a message to trainees and NQTs contemplating quitting the profession

I’ve read several tweets this week from trainee teachers and NQTs disillusioned with teaching. Many say they are contemplating quitting the profession. If you are a trainee or NQT, or indeed a recently qualified teacher, struggling with your first term of teaching and close to quitting, this blog is for you. Spoiler: it is my attempt to convince you to stay… READ MORE

What is curriculum impact? 

At its heart, “curriculum impact” is about evaluating the extent to which we achieve all the aims and ambitions of intent and implementation. Ofsted says that, under impact, inspectors will gather evidence to help them judge whether the most disadvantaged pupils in school – as well as pupils with SEND – are given the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life. In judging impact, Ofsted says that national assessments and examinations are useful indicators of the outcomes pupils in school achieve, but that they only represent a sample of what pupils have learned. As such, inspectors will balance these with their assessment of the standard of pupils’ work from the first-hand evidence they gather on inspection. Ofsted says that learning in schools must build towards a goal. As such, at each stage of pupils’ education, inspectors are likely to want to see evidence that pupils are being prepared for the next stage of education, training or employment, and will consider whether pupils are ready for that next stage… READ MORE: Part One | Part Two

Curriculum implementation

My new book is out now. It’s all about curriculum implementation – all the teaching that happens one the planning has been done. You can buy it on Amazon. Below is a selection of blogs related to this subject…

Curriculum design – the story so far

NEW! What is curriculum implementation?

NEW! The six steps of curriculum implementation 

Preview the contents and blurb

Curriculum intent 

The first book in my new series on curriculum design was all about curriculum intent – all the planning that happens before teaching happens. You can buy it on Amazon. I also wrote a series of blogs related to curriculum intent which you can read here.

Below is a selection of recent posts…

Why the curriculum is king 

Curriculum design: The role of senior leaders

Curriculum design: Step 1 – Agree the vision

Curriculum design: Step 2 – Set the destination

Curriculum design: Step 3 – Assess the starting points

Curriculum design: Step 4 – Identify the way-points

Curriculum design: Step 5 – Define excellence

Curriculum design: Step 6 – Diminish disadvantage

Working with other adults in school – advice for NQTs

As an NQT, you are now likely to have a classroom of your own and, although that classroom is your castle, you must resist the temptation to raise the drawbridge – rather, you should warmly welcome your colleagues in. Of course, not all advice you receive will be good and so you will need to be discerning. However, if you listen to your colleagues’ experiences, you can achieve expertise beyond your years of service and learn from other people’s mistakes without having to wear the scars. So, who might offer you advice and how should you respond to it? … READ MORE

Teaching exam classes – advice for NQTs

Perhaps understandably, most subject leaders are reluctant to let trainee teachers loose on exam classes. It is highly likely, therefore, that you reached the end of your training year without ever having taught GCSE or A level. As such, many new teachers feel somewhat unprepared for teaching GCSEs and A levels when the time arises, often during the NQT year. So, what do you need to know and do? … READ MORE

The role of the SEND named governor

A governing body’s responsibilities for SEND are often delegated to a sub-committee or single named governor. For the purposes of this article, I will offer best practice advice on the role of the named governor… READ MORE

Teaching by algorithm 

In popular rhetoric, algorithms are something to be scared of, a form of artificial intelligence poised to take over the world. But are algorithms really to be feared? Or might they be helpful tools for automating regular, predictable processes so that we can speed up certain actions? And, if so, might we be able to make use of them in education to foster greater consistency, reduce teacher workload, and improve outcomes for pupils? … READ MORE

Behaviour management advice for new teachers

Behaviour management is a crucial skill for all teachers and one that those new to the chalkface often focus hard on developing. Here are seven strategies you may wish to consider… READ MORE

Working memory – how to lighten the cognitive load for pupils

I moved house last month. Those who claim it is one of the most stressful things you can do in life are not wrong. But, contrary to popular opinion, the stress does not dissipate the moment the removals van pulls off the drive. Coming to terms with life in a strange house is also challenging. Take, for example, cooking. In our old home, I would dance around the kitchen with balletic grace. But in our new house, I struggled to find even the necessities to make the most basic of meals. But why should moving house be so tough and what has this got to do with teaching? … READ MORE

Classroom rules and routines

Aristotle once said that “excellence is not an act but a habit”, and so it is with teaching: the foundations of a successful classroom are built of routines, regularly repeated and reinforced.  Without this essential ground-work the edifice of learning would simply crumble. Let us take a look at some of the routines – the mechanics of the classroom – that trainee teachers may wish to establish or NQTs may wish to build on come September… READ MORE

Curriculum design under the new Ofsted framework

It will not have escaped your notice that Ofsted has published a draft new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) which will come into effect in September 2019. At its heart is an evaluation of the school curriculum… READ MORE

Please note a primary school version of this article is available via the Headteacher Update website – click here.



>NEW! Ofsted publishes final draft of EIF

> The draft new Ofsted FE and skills inspection handbook explained

> The draft new Ofsted schools inspection handbook explained 

> The draft new Ofsted framework explained

Supporting students with speech, language and communication needs

Before you picked up this article, did you know what SLCN stood for? Don’t worry if not. I polled several secondary teachers before I began writing and was surprised to find that a majority hadn’t heard of the acronym. And yet SLCN is a major cause of SEN in secondary school pupils and prevents many pupils from accessing the curriculum and fulfilling their potential. So, before we go on, let’s define SLCN… READ MORE PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | PART 4 | PART 5

Leading PSHE

A few years into my teaching career, I was appointed head of PSHE in a large comprehensive school. I knew even before I was interviewed that I’d get the job. It wasn’t arrogance, I was the only candidate. In the staffroom, we didn’t call it PSHE, we called it The Poisoned Chalice. My first task as Keeper of The Poisoned Chalice was to rebrand the subject. That may sound a little too “corporate” for an inner-city comprehensive school but I knew I had to make staff – and then pupils – recognise the importance of PSHE and enjoy teaching it. Of course, changing ingrained attitudes takes time and I knew I needed to start with a “quick win”… READ MORE PART 1 | PART 2

Working with teaching assistants

You can now set about turning your classroom into your kingdom – it is your domain and you are responsible for building a positive learning environment and an inspiring physical space. You want your pupils to know that as soon as they walk through the door they are on your turf and must follow your rules. Sometimes, however, you will find yourself sharing your turf with another adult, such as a teaching assistant or specialist support teacher. How well you and they manage that relationship is crucial if you are to retain your authority and if you are to become a successful teacher. So, what is the secret to fostering a successful working relationship with other adults in your classroom? I have developed the 4Cs to help: Consistency, Communication, Clarity, and Connections… READ MORE

Please note a primary school version of this article is available via the Headteacher Update website – click here.

SEND and school governance

The foreword to the SEND Code of Practice (DfE, 2015) states that “Our vision for children with SEND (should be) the same as for all children and young people – that they achieve well in their early years, at school and in college, and lead happy and fulfilled lives.” If we are to achieve this vision, all schools must ensure – as far as is reasonably practicable – fair and equal access to all pupils, irrespective of need. This includes access to the school site and facilities, to the formal curriculum as well as extra-curricular activities, and to opportunities for social and emotional development. It is beholden on a school’s governing body – perhaps executed through the role of a named governor for SEND – to support and challenge the SENCO and other staff in ensuring this fair and equal access for all. In practice, this means that the governing body or named governor should work with the school to ensure that pupils with SEND join in the activities of the school… READ MORE

Making sense of metacognition

You’re lucky. As a teacher today, you have access to a wealth of research evidence about what works in the classroom. But knowing what evidence to look at and what it means in practice remains a challenge – especially for those new to the chalkface. The Educational Endowment Foundation’s (EEF) Teaching and Learning Toolkit ranks strategies by the “extra months” of pupil progress they secure and topping their chart is feedback tied with metacognition and self-regulation. Both these strategies have, says the EEF, “consistently high levels of impact, with pupils making an average of eight months’ additional progress”. The EEF also states that “teaching these strategies can be particularly effective for low-achieving pupils”… READ PART ONE | PART TWO

Curriculum matters – a new 7-part series

The curriculum can be found, not just in a policy statement, but in the subjects and qualifications on the timetable, in the pedagogy and behaviours teachers and other adults use, in the space between lessons when pupils interact with each other, in approaches to managing behaviour, uniform and attendance and punctuality, in assemblies and extra-curricular activities, and in the pastoral care and support offered to pupils – in short, in the holistic experience every child is afforded in school. So, if the curriculum is the whole experience of education, what, then, makes it broad and balanced? … PART ONE | PART TWO | PART THREE | PART FOUR | PART FIVE | PART SIX | PART SEVEN

How do we solve a problem like teacher retention?

There is a staffing crisis in England’s schools.  What does the literature on the subject of teacher retention teach us about how we might solve this crisis?  PART ONE | PART TWO

The 4-part teaching sequence

Research by Kirschner, Sweller and Clark compared guided models of teaching, such as direct instruction, with discovery learning methods, such as problem-based learning, inquiry learning, experiential learning, and constructivist learning, and found that the latter methods didn’t work as well as the former. It didn’t matter, they argued, if pupils preferred less guided methods, they still learned less from them. In his book, Visible Learning, Professor John Hattie found that the average effect size for teaching strategies which involved the teacher as a “facilitator” was 0.17, whereas the average effect size for strategies where the teacher acted as an “activator” was 0.60. Direct instruction had an effect size of 0.59 compared to problem-based learning with an effect size of just 0.15. Direct instruction – it seems – is more effective than discovery learning approaches. But what, exactly, does good direct instruction look like in practice? Personally, I think direct instruction works best when it follows this four-step sequence… READ MORE

The problem with the key stage 3 curriculum

The Chief Inspector of Schools, Amanda Spielman, gave a speech at the Festival of Education in June 2017 in which she trumpeted the importance of the school curriculum. She said that, all too often, schools lose sight of the real substance of education: “Not the exam grades or the progress scores, important though they are, but instead the real meat of what is taught in our schools and colleges: the curriculum.” She said that, although it’s true that education has to prepare young people to succeed in life and make their contribution in the labour market, “to reduce education down to this kind of functionalist level is rather wretched.” Education, she argued, “should be about broadening minds, enriching communities and advancing civilisation” and “ultimately, it is about leaving the world a better place than we found it.” READ MORE

Transition days are not for testing

Think about what your school does on its transition day in July. Many schools use the opportunity to test pupils in English and maths in order to get baseline data for setting classes and writing targets. Personally, I feel this is misguided and potentially harmful. Other schools, in contrast, strap their pupils into a roller-coaster and give their new pupils an exciting, high octane ride through the very best that secondary school has to offer. Every ‘taster’ lesson is a veritable firework display – literally in the case of science. Teachers are funny and self-effacing, relaxed and patient, and lessons are fun-packed and short, punctuated by lots of ‘down time’ to socialise. I feel this is – though perhaps not quite as misguided as testing pupils – potentially harmful, too, because it proffers a false promise upon which reality inevitably fails to deliver… READ MORE

20 top tips to improve transition

Moving from the relative comfort and security of a small primary school to a big, scary secondary (with its maze of rooms and myriad teachers) will always be socially and emotionally challenging.  We can’t mitigate all the woes and worries and nor would we want to: dealing with change is all part of growing up, after all; an important life lesson. But there is much we – primary and secondary teachers and leaders – can do to ease the burden of transfer and to ensure that pupils are better prepared for the move and settle into secondary school life more quickly and easily… READ MORE

Feedback – the mark of success

Although feedback is an important part of teaching, not all types of feedback are of equal value and feedback is not in itself a panacea or indeed a proxy for good teaching. In this seven-part series, I argue that our obsession with feedback has led to unhealthy and unsustainable levels of teacher workload which, in turn, have adversely affected teacher retention. I argue that we should be pragmatic, weighing energy versus impact – in other words, we should balance the amount of time and effort a strategy takes a teacher to employ with the academic gains it produces for pupils, investing in those strategies that lead to the biggest impact for the lowest investment of energy.  I argue that schools should abandon “one-size-fits-all” assessment policies and strike a better balance between consistency and autonomy. And I  argue that better isn’t always synonymous with more – in fact, feedback is made more effective if we do less of it but do it more strategically. Let’s start by examining the issue of teacher workload… READ MORE: PART ONE | PART TWO | PART THREE | PART FOUR | PART FIVE | PART SIX | PART SEVEN

How to motivate students 

When I first started exercising a couple of years ago, following a bout of ill-health, I could muster but 15 minutes’ half-hearted jogging on a treadmill while watching trash television before collapsing, coughing and spluttering, to the floor. Until, that is, I had an idea. What I did next not only helped me conquer my natural phobia of physical activity, it also taught me a lesson about motivation – a secret that I believe can help unlock the potential of our most reluctant, difficult-to-reach pupils… READ MORE: PART ONE | PART TWO

Top 10 tips for stimulating the sensory memory

Top 10 tips for gaining the attention of working memory

Top 10 tips for improving retrieval from long-term memory

Closing the vocabulary gap

If you’re a high ability pupil from a low income home (and, therefore, a low social class), you’re not going to do as well in school and in later life as a low ability pupil from a higher income home and higher social class. In other words, it is social class and wealth – not ability – that defines a pupil’s educational outcomes and their future life chances. But why should this be?… READ MORE

If you enjoy reading this blog, why not download a free copy of our magazine? It’s packed full of education advice…

Supply teachers: Make a success of your CPD

Supply teachers have a duty to keep their professional knowledge up-to-date and, as such, should access regular CPD. It may be possible to join in with school-based CPD such as INSET days and twilight training while you’re on a placement but you should not limit yourself to these ad hoc opportunities. Your CPD is your responsibility. And there are plenty of opportunities for you to engage in more informal, personalised professional development… READ MORE

How to achieve a work life balance

It is important that leaders retain perspective and lead healthy lifestyles if they are to cope with the demands of the job and achieve longevity. The term ‘work-life balance’ is frequently used but, in my experience, rarely understood. Leaders accept that it is healthy to have a life outside of work but rarely acknowledge that this is also a sign of increased effectiveness. Too many people think that keeping sensible working hours is a sign of laziness or is symptomatic of a lack of commitment. Some people measure a leader’s ability by how early his or her car pulls into the car park and by what time of night it drives away again. Nothing could be further from the truth… READ PART ONE | PART TWO

Leadership and staff retention

“The strength of a nation’s economy and the vitality of its society depend on the quality of its schools.” So begins a report by the Centre for High Performance (published in the Harvard Business Review in 2017) on what it takes to be a successful school leader. The study, by researchers Ben Laker and Alex Hill, examined 411 school leaders working in 160 academy schools in England. Laker and Hill concluded that the education system in England was appointing, recognising and rewarding the wrong kind of school leader. Our system, they argued, favoured short-term thinking – quick fixes rather than sustainable improvements. It is perhaps unsurprising that the system is somewhat myopic when you consider that policy decisions are made within Parliamentary cycles and often with the objective of making a politician look good rather than with the best interests of pupils in mind. In short, politicians with just a few years to demonstrate impact favour school leaders who quickly improve exam results through intensive interventions, rather than those leaders who carefully and thoughtfully build schools in which good results can be sustained over the long term as part of the natural order of things… READ MORE: PART ONE | PART TWO | PART THREE | PART FOUR | PART FIVE

Supply teaching: Top tips for a successful placement

Being a supply teacher is tough. At times it can feel like you’re spinning plates and, if you’re not careful, it starts to resemble a Greek wedding. One trick to keeping all those plates spinning is to break down what can be a complex, multi-faceted job into each of its constituent parts, to deconstruct the whole and identify its components, then reconstruct it again one piece at a time. In practice, this might mean creating a checklist of short-term, manageable tasks. To help you get started writing your own checklist, here are five top tasks you might want to tick off as soon as you start a new supply job… READ MORE

The four qualities of great leaders

Great teaching is a nuanced, complex art form. And we refer to it as “teaching practice” for a reason – we are forever practising, forever striving towards excellence and expertise. And yet we will never master it. But great teachers never tire of trying new things, of taking risks. They experiment and evaluate; they try and reflect. For a teacher to be consistently and sustainably great, however, they need to work in a school or college where there is also great leadership. Great leaders, you see, create the conditions in which teachers can thrive; they build a culture in which risk-taking is encouraged and in which teachers are freed from any unnecessary burdens to focus on teaching. This is not to say that great leaders afford their teachers complete autonomy. Indeed, great leaders create a framework in which all their colleagues are assured of providing the highest quality of teaching, learning and assessment and do so consistently… READ MORE

The six realms of school leadership

There are many ways in which we could define and perhaps even measure the effectiveness of a school leader but I think it is reasonable and indeed practical to meld the myriad activities in which leaders are required to engage into six categories. These six realms of school leadership are as follows: 1. Setting a vision for the future, 2. Being a lead teacher, 3. Working with and developing others, 4. Leading the organisation, 5. Managing the team, and 6. Developing external links. Each school and each school leader will have a different interpretation of what the six realms mean to him or her in practice but here is my summary… READ MORE

Supply teachers – your legal duties

When you think of a teacher’s legal obligations, you tend to think in terms of child protection and safeguarding. So, although a supply teacher’s legal duties extend beyond this realm, it is a good place to start… READ MORE

A lesson plan is not a planned lesson

This article is about planned lessons not lesson plans. I do not advocate spending your evenings and weekends writing detailed pro forma. Life’s too short and you need to strike a work/life balance if you’re to survive your probation. Although a lesson plan may help you in your NQT year (a written plan can be something to lean on in the hurly burly of the classroom), having a lesson plan does not equate to teaching a well-planned lesson… READ MORE

The open loop – improving feedback 

To help pupils learn, we need to provide them with plentiful opportunities to practise, receive feedback, reflect, and then act upon that feedback. This is called the open loop because it spins endlessly: practice, feedback, reflection; practice, feedback, reflection; ad infinitum. Every skill can be improved and perfected by performing it repeatedly but not all forms of practice are equal. We learn most effectively when we engage in what Anders Ericsson calls “purposeful practice”. Purposeful practice is about struggling in certain targeted ways – placing artificial barriers in the way of pupils’ success in order to make it harder for them to learn something initially. In other words, we slow our pupils’ learning down and force them to make mistakes because this will ensure they operate at the very edge of their abilities… READ MORE

The learning process – 10-part series for SecEd magazine

What is learning? It’s a simple question, isn’t it? And surely, as teachers, our understanding of what we do – the act of teaching – is contingent on having first developed a fundamental understanding of what we are paid to produce – learning. After all, we wouldn’t attempt to assemble a flat-packed cabinet without first looking at a picture of the finished product and without then following step-by-step instructions that take us from flat-pack to fully assembled furniture. In short, if pedagogy is a process whereby teaching is the input and learning is the output, then we need to know what the output should look like in order to decide what raw components to use and in what sequence to put them together… READ MORE

Why I wrote Making Key Stage 3 Count

I started writing the first edition of my book, Making Key Stage 3 Count, in the summer of 2015 – having, over the previous decade, first as a teacher then as a school leader, become increasingly convinced that pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9 got a rough deal from our education system. But life and work got in the way and I was forced to put the book on the back-burner. In the autumn of that year, however, Ofsted published a report called ‘Key Stage 3: The Wasted Years?’ which had me scrambling for my manuscript… READ MORE

Closing the literacy gap

In their 2012 report ‘Moving English Forward’, Ofsted said that “There can be no more important subject than English in the school curriculum.” Why? Because, they said, “English is a pre-eminent world language, it is at the heart of our culture and it is the language medium in which most of our pupils think and communicate. [As such,] literacy skills are crucial to pupils’ learning in other subjects across the curriculum.” READ MORE

The importance of reading fluency 

I’ve recently discovered Instapaper, an app which collates reading material – newspaper articles and webpages, say – and converts them into audio so that I can listen to them on my daily dog walks. Text-to-speech technology allows me to ‘read’ articles, research papers and blogs whilst on the move, thus helping me to catch up on the backlog and ease my guilt somewhat. But there’s a problem… READPART ONE | PART TWO