Thinking Reading Writings


Posts and resources available on our Wordpress blog

Work with us! Ph: 077 3636 4785


Can reading problems affect mental health?

22 April 2019

How hard can it be?

At first sight, there may seem to be little relationship between mental health and acquiring the skills to read well. In fact, the problems engendered by poor reading permeate all areas of one’s life. Read more . . . 


Three styles of problem-solving

7 April 2019

How leaders deal with problems determines  . . . well, everything.

It's an awkward truth that some leaders feel safest in a state of crisis. In a crisis, everyone is too preoccupied with how to cope to raise awkward questions about strategy, goals and long-term decisions; and because survival is the name of the game, everything is short term. Read more . . . 

The Implementation Trap

27 October 2018

Stating laudable intentions could become a trap for schools under Ofsted's new framework.

When Ofsted review schools under the new category of Quality of Education, the Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, says that they will be looking at three areas: intention, implementation and impact. While it’s almost impossible to find a school that doesn’t proclaim laudable intentions, implementing such intentions successfully is quite another matter. Read more . . . 

What are your intentions?

19 October 2018

Recently, the Chief Inspector of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, gave a speech in which she outlined Ofsted’s new approach to inspecting schools.

One of the key changes is a new heading, ‘Quality of Education’, which will encompass teaching, learning, assessment and curriculum. Her explanation of how these will be evaluated by Ofsted is worth quoting directly:

“Under quality of education, we intend to look at three distinct aspects. First the intent – what is it that schools want for all their children? Then the implementation – how is teaching and assessment fulfilling the intent? Finally, the impact – that is the results and wider outcomes that children achieve and the destinations that they go on to. 
Read more . . . 

Calling secondary English teachers - work with us to make a real difference!

27 August 2018

We are looking for teachers who want to have impact – and flexibility.

Looking for a change of direction? Or a change of pace?

It’s a time of year for looking ahead, for planning how to move forward, for finding new opportunities. For some, there is a sense that we need a change, but the nature and extent of that change are not always easy to define.

If you are in a position where you want more satisfaction, more flexibility and, for whatever reason, need to spend more time out of the classroom, then we have a proposal that may interest you. Read more . . . 

7 ways to help the bottom third

17 June 2018

It’s the time of year when we farewell Year 11 students, with a mixture of relief, anticipation, and sometimes a tinge of regret.

For some, the promise of what they will do with their lives is so beautiful it almost intoxicating. For others, not so much: those students who strove, who struggled, who despaired, and sometimes gave up; the ones whom we instinctively feel should have done better, but we know are likely to end up with grades at 3 or even below. And it‘s at this time that we most wonder – could we have done something different? 
Read more . . . 

Anything but the teaching . . .

12 June 2018

The latest issue of Best Evidence in Brief continues a long-standing trend in the business of teaching children to read: namely, to flail about looking for anything that might shore up student reading, without having to go to the bother of actually getting teachers to teach differently. Read more . . . 


Does it matter if some can't read?

18 May 2018

Although nearly everyone would subscribe to the ideal of universal literacy, there are plenty of pragmatists in education who believe that in reality, we must accept that a certain proportion of students will leave school illiterate to some degree – that is, reading well behind the norm for their chronological age.

This is the result of the bell curve, they say – and after all, the cost of addressing the problem in terms of time and money is too high. Some children just aren’t going to get there. Read more . . . 

What Every Secondary Teacher Needs to Know About Reading

24 March 2018

We haven’t posted much for the last few months because we’ve been putting our energies into a book that we hope will be helpful to secondary teachers in understanding why many of their students are struggling, and what can be done about it.

Our book is called Thinking Reading: What Every Secondary Teacher Needs to Know About Reading. Read more . . . 

A Valentine's Day Letter - You Have Broken My Heart . . .

14 February 2018

Dear Education,

We’ve had a long relationship and one that I, at least, was deeply committed to. We both cared deeply about helping every child to become literate – at least I thought you did too. But lately I’ve been doing some thinking, and I’ve come to the conclusion that this relationship isn’t working. Let me explain. Read more . . . 

Doors to Opportunity

1 January 2018

January is named after Janus, the god of doors, who looks both backwards and forwards.

As always at this time of year, it is a time to reflect on the previous year as we revise and make plans for the year to come. Here are this blog’s most popular posts of 2017. Read more . . . 

Recommended reading for adolescent struggling readers: fiction series

16 December 2017

There are 41 series listed below (377 books)  – hopefully something to appeal to a wide range of struggling readers!

One of the great pleasures of teaching is to connect students with books, and a sound strategy for keeping them reading is to turn them on to a good series. If they like one book by an author, they’ll almost certainly want to read more in the same series. 
Read more . . . 


How to find out what works in 'What Works?'

11 November 2017

Choosing an effective intervention may not be as difficult as you think.
This blog post is prompted by conversations with pressed senior leaders and SENDCOs who find that the sheer wealth of information seems too much to wade through. This is a step-by-step guide for secondary school leaders to simplify what may seem like a daunting process. Read more . . . 

Choosing an Intervention: Who Does it Help?

15 October 2017

To know if an intervention is effective, we need to know who it helps most. 

Schools are rightly making more of an effort to evaluate the evidence for interventions before investing in them. This is a good thing, not least because poor interventions waste students’ time, the most finite but least appreciated commodity in the education system. Read more . . . 

Allies and Friends

8 October 2017

It takes a movement to conquer illiteracy.

It was a tough decision.  Would I stay in my school, with my programme and my team, and enjoy seeing students succeed where they had previously failed? Or would I take the leap, strike out on my own to develop the programme and so enable many more children to leave school reading well? Read more . . . 

12 Qualities of an Effective Reading Teacher

30 September 2017

Good systems need good people to deliver them.

To have real impact, an intervention must have two things: an effective programme, and an effective teacher. No matter how good the programme is, its power to effect positive change will be aided or hindered by the person who is delivering it. Read more . . . 

Seven ways to increase a student's chances of exclusion

24 September 2017

Our actions can have serious, if unintended, consequences for students.

No doubt we would all be appalled by the suggestion that we might be contributing to a student’s chances of being excluded. But the reality is that there are many practices, culturally and systematically embedded in schools, that ensure some students are at much higher risk than they need to be. Read more . . . 

Reading Crisis? What Reading Crisis?

10 September 2017

The reading problem in our secondary schools is serious but solvable.

I have long been pleased that the Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb, is a fan of the knowledge curriculum and a promoter of effective early reading instruction through systematic synthetic phonics, informed by the use of the Phonics Check – so I was looking forward to hearing him speak yesterday at researchED 2017 in Stratford. Read more . . . 

Six Ways to Help Struggling Readers in Your Classroom

6 September 2017

How we treat reading problems in the classroom affects student outcomes – and our stress.

There is often an expectation at secondary school that if students haven’t learned to read well by the time they begin Year 7, it’s probably indicative of a lack of ability.  This may be related to a hangover from the 11+ exam, or it may simply be prejudice. It’s certainly not based on anything factual. Read more . . . 

New Horizons

1 September 2017

Addressing serious reading problems creates new horizons for students – and schools.

The effects of poor reading are pervasive and lifelong, contributing to a higher risk of unemployment, low income, ill health and shorter life expectancy. If schools exist for anything, shouldn’t they exist to eliminate illiteracy? Read more . . . 

Beware the Reading Traps

30 August 2017

Avoid the pitfalls lying in wait for school leaders seeking help for struggling readers.

If we can read, we tend to assume that reading is easy. In a large organisation like a secondary school, those who struggle to read can be overlooked, misunderstood, or not supported as they need to be. If you’re responsible for deciding on what interventions to use for reading, and how to monitor their impact, beware these traps! Read more . . . 

A Heart For School Improvement

29 August 2017

What one issue lies at the heart of school improvement?

You are reviewing your school improvement plan, weighing up what to prioritise, what to focus on, thinking about whole staff vision, professional development, and of course how to prioritise resources. Read more . . . 

Can We Do More With Less?

27 August 2017

Effective use of resources depends on how well we know our students’ needs.

More than ever, head teachers are having to consider how to cut the limited cloth of school budgets and resourcing. Sometimes we find that, for historical reasons, a great deal of staffing (especially TA staffing) is spread across a range of ‘interventions’. We have library staffing and English teacher time going into Accelerated Reader; a phonics intervention here, a catch-up programme there; in-class support, literacy support, academic mentoring, behaviour mentoring. . . . the list can grow very long. Read more . . . 

Climbing Mountains in Small Steps

19 August 2017

Learning moves faster in small steps.

‘Bottom set.’ Two words that can make the colour drain from our faces, our eyes roll, or provoke a deep sigh. ‘Bottom set.’ The ‘low ability’ group. The ‘difficult’ and the ‘troubled’ students. Yes, they occur in other sets, too, but you know that if you have this class on your timetable, odds are there will be a lot of them – and you are in for a tough year. Read more . . . 

I tried that and it didn't work . . . 

16 July 2017

Education has a reputation for being subject to fads, where new ideas are adopted and then dropped.

It seems to me that this is not so much because teachers are lazy, but because we are so enthusiastic, and always eager for new ways to help our students. Approaches that we think ‘work’, we keep in our arsenal, while we discard those that ‘don’t work’. Read more . . . 

How to save time and money through screening

14 June 2017

There is a well-known framework for intervention, known as Response to Intervention (RTI), which proposes that students can receive help at three different levels of intensity.

Sometimes people are critical of this model as it is deemed an ineffective intervention, but RTI is not strictly an intervention, it is model for delivering interventions – more specifically, for deciding how to allocate resources, so that those who need the most get the most. Read more . . . 


Are grammar schools the best way to address social mobility?

29 May 2017

You may think that providing disadvantaged children with the opportunity to attend a grammar school – supposedly resulting in a more academic education – would go some way to addressing that disadvantage, but it isn’t. It’s a diversion from a much more important solution.

Once upon a time, I believed that grammars could be an effective way of addressing the problem – but having read contributions from both sides in the debate, have changed my mind. Read more . . . 

The Loneliness of the Literacy Co-ordinator

22 April 2017

Actually, most of the literacy co-ordinators I know are sensible, well-adjusted and have lots of friends! But there are some things about the role that make it much more challenging than it appears to an onlooker.

For one thing, literacy co-ordinators often have a very wide brief. They are often (but not always) meant to ensure that every class in every subject helps to build student’s reading and writing skills. Even with the most willing staff, this job is too much for one person with a teaching load. Inevitably, literacy co-ordinators have to choose which curriculum areas and year groups they prioritise. Read more . . . 

Struggling Readers in the Secondary English Classroom

17 April 2017

“They just can’t access the texts.”

This is one of the most frequent comments we hear when we train in schools or take workshops. All over the country, students with the potential to do better are held back because of weak reading skills. Often these students are articulate in conversation and have good listening comprehension. Sometimes they can decode accurately, but have little clear idea of the content that they have just read. Read more . . . 

The Bigger Picture

4 April 2017

I have been inspired by #picbookday today! It's reminded me how important picture books (and books in general) have been in our family.

Books and stories have always been a part of my life. Bedtime stories while all tucked up in bed. Listening to family stories told by Grandma. Starting school and learning to read with ease. Anticipating the weekly trips to the library every Friday. The huge, quiet space filled with books. Having the cards stamped and leaving with a pile books to keep me occupied over the weekend and beyond. A childhood spent devouring books. Read more . . . 

It's not too late

1 April 2017

Our second session at ResearchED English and MFL, Oxford was entitled It's Not Too Late to draw attention to a common misconception in secondary schools: namely, that students who are reading seriously behind when they arrive at secondary can never catch up.

We surveyed the research and what it tells us about what it takes to enable struggling adolescent readers to succeed at something where they have always failed. The keys points are:

1 The difficulty of teaching reading has been underestimated;

2 Reading is more complex and less intuitive than we think;

3 Addressing the problems of older struggling readers is very intricate - and also immensely rewarding. Read more . . . 

Wars and Waste

1 April 2017

These are the slides from our first session at ResearchED English and MFL, Oxford. The session was titled Wars and Waste to highlight two key ideas:

1 The lack of agreement and open conflict regarding the best ways to teach reading;

2 The immense waste this has created in time, money, and quality of life. Read more . . . 


31 March 2017

We spent a fabulous evening at the Teach First Innovation Awards last night. This year’s winners gave powerful and convincing presentations, and the Innovation Unit’s organisation and enthusiasm made it a vibrant occasion. Congratulations to all concerned!

It was also lovely to be one of the previous winners profiled in the Schools Week supplement on the Innovation Awards. However, as sometimes happens things can be misconstrued in the interview process. In the interests of clarity, we need to correct two important details. Read more . . . 

Does phonics help or hinder comprehension?

15 March 2017

A recent TES article headlined “Call for researchers to highlight negative 'side effects' of methods like phonics” drew a predictable response.

Though the article supplied not one piece of evidence to support the assertion that phonics had “negative side effects”, and despite the academic quoted having zero background or expertise in reading science, tweets and comments celebrated this damning of the barbaric practice of phonics in schools. Read more . . . 

The Practitioners: Alison Clarke

26 February 2017

This is the first in an occasional series highlighting the work of people doing good things in the world of reading, language development, and research. 

Alison has been a Speech Pathologist since 1988, has a Masters in Applied Linguistics and an ESL teaching certificate. She has been in private practice since 2000, addressing school-aged children’s reading/spelling and speech, language and/or social interaction difficulties. Read more . . . 

The Graduates

11 February 2017

What happens when we teach explicitly, systematically and optimistically.

We heard this week that Meols Cop High School had held their first Literacy Centre graduation ceremony. Lisa, the Literacy Lead, tweeted a photo of eight Year 11 students and their tutors. What they have achieved is amazing. Read more . . . 

Looking Past the Masks

28 January 2017

It's easy to mistake symptoms for causes.

I have been thinking recently about how reading problems become more and more disguised as children get older. Instead of seeing a reading problem, we see all sorts of other problems instead. Read more . . . 

Reading is Knowledge

15 January 2017

We shouldn’t confuse skills with knowledge.

What is perhaps less obvious is that learning to read is itself an exercise in acquiring knowledge. We tend to think of reading as a skill, or a set of skills, when in fact it is the application of knowledge. Read more . . . 

Looking Back - old problems, new challenges

31 December 2016

2016 has been a very challenging, but rewarding, year.

Establishing a rigorous, powerful approach to reading intervention in secondary schools takes time to embed: There is a great deal for teaching staff to take on board, school systems need to be adjusted, and school culture must also begin to change. It has been very satisfying to work in schools across England, and to see the early evidence of impact. Read more . . . 

A Clear Channel

10 December 2016

This term has been a time of significant development for Thinking Reading.

James Murphy (@HoratioSpeaks) joined the team full-time, with a focus on supporting secondary schools to adapt their systems and resources to better target students in need of literacy help. We’ve also begun to scale up, with the support of the Teach First Innovation Unit, increasing the number of regions in which we are working: the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, West Midlands, East of England, the South-West, the South-East and London. As the number of schools has grown, so has the need for a clear channel of news and information. Read more . . . 

Literacy Leadership Part 3: Return on Investment

17 December 2016

Smart leaders invest wisely. Investment in reading has long-term payoffs

Investment in turning around reading failure, especially at secondary school, is an intensive business. Read more . . . 

Literacy Leadership Part 2: Building with Care

5 November 2016

Transformation can be incremental

For the second part of this three-part series, we talked to Lisa Cliffe, the Literacy Lead at Meols Cop High School, an ‘outstanding’ school in Southport. Lisa is directly responsible for the day-to-day leadership of the Literacy Centre. This has given her a pivotal role in managing change as she implements the new intervention. Read more . . . 

Literacy Leadership Part 1: Clear Vision

30 October 2016

What does it take to see real change in literacy outcomes?

When it comes to literacy, we all agree that it’s important. But that’s often the extent of our impact. There are multiple reasons why literacy intervention at secondary school often founders, and does so repeatedly. Read more . . . 

Seven Steps to Improving Reading Comprehension

27 October 2016

We often test comprehension, but how do we teach it?

In the so-called reading wars, all sides agree on one thing: comprehension is the goal of reading. However, whole language, meaning-first proponents work from the assumption that reading is language, which is a fatally misconceived notion. 
Read more . . . 

No Excuses Left

23 October 2016

So what if they can’t read? And whose fault is it anyway?

A recent discussion on Twitter provided something of a jolt for me. It is very easy for us to assume that we what know is also known by others who work in our field. So when it was suggested in a recent Twitter conversation that 15% of the UK’s population being functionally illiterate was not necessarily a big problem, I was taken aback. Despite the fact that the epidemic is largely silent, and certainly hidden from most highly literate people, there seemed to me to have been enough written and said on the topic in recent years that no one should be in any doubt as to the scale of the problem. But clearly, there is still work to be done. Read more . . . 

Building on the Evidence

15 October 2016

How do you start to build an evidence base? 

We all know that it’s important to know the evidence behind particular practices, both for what we do in the classroom and what we do in interventions. In education, we used to be subject to fads and fashions, but that is beginning to change. Now, we are much more likely to hear the question, “Where is your evidence?” Read more . . . 

Blurred Vision

2 October 2016

Can coloured lenses solve reading problems?

One of the most common ‘interventions’ for reading difficulties that we encounter in secondary schools is the use of coloured overlays or specially tinted glasses. This practice is based on the claim that reading difficulties in some students arise from a perceptual-motor problem, which means that certain visual backgrounds (eg white paper with black ink) make it difficult for students to identify and track symbols on the printed page. Read more . . . 

Looking for Impact? Structure Matters

17 September 2016

Why do school structures matter when it comes to reading interventions?

Sometimes the obvious answers – or ‘the way we’ve always done it’ – turn out not to be the best solutions. Take reading interventions at secondary school. Usually, interventions for students who are reading at a low level are located within the SEN department, based on the following assumptions Read more . . . 

Read For Your Life

1 September 2016

Reading is essential to the stability of society.

This last weekend we had the wonderful experience of being at a community gathering in Brittany, where Breton music was played, Breton songs were sung and traditional Breton dancing took place. There were teenagers dancing with grandparents, children dancing in groups, and older couples dancing too. Some of the dancers were clearly very experienced and proficient, but it didn’t matter if people were learners: participation, and passing on the culture, were what mattered. Read more . . . 

A Towering Issue

28 May 2016

It was a real pleasure to run our first workshop for SLT, focused on strategies for whole school literacy, recently.

Despite the Southern Rail strike preventing some from travelling, a group of us met at Teach First, overlooking the steady stream of Thames river traffic and the Tower of London, while just to our right the flags of Tower Bridge fluttered. It’s an iconic location, and one that we shall miss when Teach First make their move to Greenwich in July. Read more . . . 

What Works?

16 April 2016

The latest edition of Prof Greg Brooks' work provides important insights - and raises questions.

We’ve been reading with great interest the updated edition of emeritus Professor Greg Brooks’ ‘What works for children and young people with literacy difficulties? The effectiveness of intervention schemes’. Professor Brooks has a strong overview of literacy interventions in reading, writing and spelling, having completed this analysis five times since 1998. Read more . . . 

There is hope

9 April 2016

Despite the alarming statistics, I am hopeful.

Potentially there are over 600, 000 students in the UK whose future attainment will be limited by poor reading. What is particularly alarming is that the campaign suggests that 40% of poor children fall into this category. Sometimes that sense of the scale of the problem can be very discouraging, but the reason I have been able to keep going is because there is hope. Read more . . . 

Is tackling literacy like wrestling an octopus?

22 March 2016

There are two main problems for those of us grappling with literacy in secondary schools: the multitude of problems, and the many different possible solutions. 

In light of the frequent discussions we have with school leaders on these questions, we have decided to run a half-day workshop which enable participants to create a co-ordinated strategy which addresses classroom practice, group interventions, one to one interventions and challenging the more able. Read more . . . 

Leveraging Literacy at Secondary School

5 March 2016

School leaders are uniquely placed to impact literacy.

Sometimes it’s difficult, in the maelstrom of school life, to step back and look objectively at literacy. While at first literacy may seem just a single strand of the curriculum, a deeper examination will often show how students’ behaviour and overall progress are tied to - or indeed, limited by – their reading and writing skills. Senior leaders are uniquely placed to create the conditions for literacy to flourish. Read more ..

Addicted to Denial?

6 February 2016

When it comes to the reading problem there appear to be two forms of denialism: the claim that there is no problem, and the claim that there is no solution.

The first claim goes something like this: "all the schools I know are doing a great job. The numbers of students who are not reading well must be very small. Besides, there is no evidence of large numbers of children leaving school unable to read." Read more . . . 

Post Script

1 February 2016

Assumptions based on our own experience do not necessarily inform a debate.

I have been interested in the debate around using DI scripts. There is perhaps a lack of familiarity in the UK with Direct Instruction scripts, how they are developed and their purpose. There are scripts, and scripts. Some people have suggested that preparing detailed lesson plans is equivalent to preparing a script. Read more . . . 

Accountability? A Scandal for Schools

24 January 2016

In what has been called the age of managerialism and accountability, schools seem to be measured for everything: not just GCSE grades, but levels of progress, Progress 8, EBacc results, value-added, attendance, exclusions, all within a wide range of ‘context’ measures.

So it seems odd that what secondary schools aren’t measured on is the most fundamental academic skill: reading. Read more . . . 

Reflections on Journeys

31 December 2015

It’s been a year of two kinds of journeys. For students, the journey is one through seemingly impassable obstacles to a new vantage point, a journey of not just discovery but also self-discovery.

This series of posts traces that journey from resistance through to engagement and through metamorphosis to independence. Read more . . . 

Reflections on the Hard Road to Success

30 December 2015

As part of this year’s time of reflection, I have been considering my own sense of urgency in communicating to educators not only the enormous scale of the problem, but also that solutions to the problem already exist.

While most people are willing to accept the former, misconceptions about reading, intelligence and learning abound in education – often making it difficult to accept the idea that illiteracy is a solvable issue. Read more . . . 

Reflections on Hidden Potential

29 December 2015

One of the themes I have been reflecting on is the great tragedy of modern education: the wasted potential of literally millions of students who underachieve because they were not taught to read properly.

There are two main reasons for this: poor reading strategies in early reading, and artificial ceilings caused by low expectations derived from low reading performance – in short, labels. Read more . . . 

Reflections on Challenge

28 December 2015

As the year draws towards its end, it is natural to look back and reflect, and to take stock.

Sometimes we see things in that broad overview from a fresh perspective. I’ve now been blogging for two years, and I can see that one of the themes I have come back to repeatedly is the challenge for secondary schools to meet their responsibilities to help students who struggle with reading. I don’t just mean doing something – I mean doing something that is demonstrably effective. Read more . . . 

Improving Outcomes for Low Attainers

8 November 2015

I’ve borrowed Dianne’s blog to post the slides and notes from my session from ResearchEd yesterday.

I found the warmth and enthusiasm of everyone at the event very refreshing. And Swindon Academy did themselves and their community proud! Read more . . . 

The Road to Swindon Goes Ever On ...

8 November 2015

It perhaps fitting that the title of my first ResearchED presentation should be The Road Goes Ever On.

The drive to Swindon became interminable: queuing in London traffic because of diversions, queuing to get out of London, and then queuing for ten miles on the M4 because one lane was blocked for a few hundred yards. A drive of an hour and a half took three hours. Happily, the conference was a much more well-organised affair! My thanks to those who came to my session and were very patient as I worked my way through my presentation without access to my laptop notes. Here are my slides with a summary of the notes below. Read more . . . 

Peeling back the layers

28 October 2015

Once you look even a little below the surface, the state of reading in our secondary schools appears to be in sore need of structure and accountability.

One of the first tasks in the Innovation Partner support programme is to undertake some research into the ‘problem’ we are trying to solve. In our case, we want to study the extent of the reading ‘gap’ in secondary schools, but finding national data on reading at secondary has proven surprisingly difficult. Read more . . . 

Choosing the right tools for the job 

27 October 2015

When it comes to assessment, precision instruments are required.

The key to teaching children who are struggling is detailed, fine-grain assessment. Without the information derived from such assessment, teachers cannot target and teach the necessary skills and knowledge. For secondary-age students, who may be working some years behind their peers, effective assessment is absolutely necessary if they are to make rapid progress and catch up completely. Read more . . . 

Stepping Up

6 September 2015

Update on the Teach First Innovation Awards

We had a remarkable evening at the Teach First Innovation Awards on Thursday 3 September. There is a buzz and optimism about Teach First that is the tonic we need after so long feeling, as a former award winner described it, like a ‘lone wolf’. Read more . . . 

Capturing the Magic

29 August 2015

Sometimes you have to step back in order to see things more clearly.

Going through the process of applying for a Teach First Innovation Award has been challenging but rewarding. Perhaps the greatest benefit has been in helping us to distil the message about how Thinking Reading works. Read more . . . 

Into the Dragons' Den

19 August 2015

Lessons from taking part in the Teach First Innovation Awards.

A few months ago, we began to explore the Teach First Innovation Awards. Teach First aims to encourage an entrepreneurial approach to innovations in order to address social inequality through improved education. 'Innovation' can be a dire thing in education, as successive waves of innovation have come and gone, leaving little to show for their passing except tired teachers and bemused students. But of course innovation, when it is well-researched and informed by a solid evidence base, is not only useful but necessary. Read more . . . 

How To Build Motivation

26 July, 2015

Does the skill of motivating others come naturally, or can it be learned?

What we find satisfying, we find motivating. But we all find different things satisfying, don’t we? What one person finds enjoyable another finds unpleasant. One person’s Marmite is another’s disgusting black goop. Read more . . . 

Spring Cleaning

18 July 2015

In order to let in fresh air, sometimes it's necessary to get rid of the clutter.

Schools can be dazzled by the marketing of the next 'answer' - or perhaps choose a little desperately, with metaphorically crossed fingers, overwhelmed by the scale of the problem and the range of competing 'solutions'. The end result is often a clutter of interventions jostling for space and time in an overcrowded curriculum. Read more . . . 

Two for company - three for learning

4 July 2015

Do we underestimate the importance of instruction?

We quite rightly value the relationship between the teacher and the student. It forms the basis of everything that we want to achieve as teachers. Learning can thrive where there is trust and security; conversely, it is very difficult to learn when you feel stressed and anxious. As trusted adults, we need to ensure safety, respect, acknowledgement, encouragement and boundaries, so that children can focus on what school is supposed to be about: learning. Read more . . . 

A Call for Accuracy

30 June 2015

Disagree if you like, but let's get the facts right.

One thing that I have enjoyed about Twitter and blogging is the constructive educational debates that occur from time to time. I am grateful for the feedback and comments on my recent series of posts challenging the view of reading disabilities as lifelong impairments. However, I am reluctantly writing this short post to correct misrepresentations of my position.