When did teachers start to think that all children can’t succeed?


I regularly see tweets on Twitter proclaiming that “All can succeed” and learning should not be limited for any student and from a few years ago “Every child matters”. To some extent I include any ‘Growth Mindset’ references in this.

These annoy me. I’ve never thought any differently, and I have to assume that all teachers have at some point in their lives, thought the same. I believe that all students in front of me can and will learn whilst in my classroom. No excuses. No growth mindset needed; they will. And everything I do will support this expectation.

 So, it leads me to ask when did some teachers start to NOT believe these things? Why have they been highlighted as so important that teachers are pronouncing them almost as though they are controversial views? When did teachers stop thinking that all the children that they teach can learn/achieve and/or make progress?

We have to start with an assumption; when someone becomes a teacher they think all children are the same in terms of being able to be taught  or at least believe that all students, regardless of any subgroup they may fall in to, can learn.If not, why would you bother becoming a teacher?

I want to consider what might be happening inside education that means that these tweets are favourited a thousand times instead of ignored as a basic principle that doesn’t need a tweet, a bit like “You need to air to breathe”.


I haven’t been involved in teacher training for a while now. Is there something happening in training that is giving teachers the impression that all students can’t learn or achieve? In particular, how are the follow points presented to new teachers?

This term has become a bit of an angst for teachers. It’s developed a sense of foreboding as something than can never be done properly and usually takes hours and hours of time to prepare. Could the concept of differentiation have made teachers believe that because all students are different and we have to cater individually for them, that some cannot achieve? There is no differentiated intervention that will work for every individual?

Use of data

Could the large amount of data teachers are given, give teachers the impression that some children won’t succeed? If they fall into so many categories whether it be SEN, PP, LAC etc, then maybe they are impossible to teach? Or their learning will be limited in some way?

Alternatively, there has been a pressure on teachers to create data to track students and compare progress of groups. This in itself has given the impression that there are groups that aren’t achieving or progressing, rather than looking at individuals. It then follows that if a teacher happens to have a large group of these students in their class, then they may believe that they may not be able to achieve or make progress compared to other students. Has our grouping of students given some teachers the belief that some students aren’t as ‘good’ as others?

The concept of progress

The concept of progress has been skewed and oversimplified into sublevels. At GCSE the notion of probabilities has  dominated what equates to progress, this means other less measurable forms of progress is either not seen by the teacher or in worse cases disregarded by the teacher. This is also blurred by setting “challenging targets” rather than looking at individual students and what their own challenges may be. Sometimes challenging targets see to be more aimed at the teacher to achieve with a class than what an individual student can achieve. Has all of this meant that some teachers don’t see the value of progress achieved by all students in its many forms? If it doesn’t track on a progress spreadsheet then it doesn’t exist or matter? If it isn’t a ‘C’ or above it isn’t worth anything and thus worthless?

Experience of children

Or perhaps these teachers went into teaching believing all students can learn but have been faced with students who don’t seem to want to learn? They don’t seem to want to listen to everything the teacher has to say or do what the teacher tells them to do so, in the teacher eyes cannot learn or be taught.

Vulnerable groups & targeted intervention

Has the practice of intervening with groups of students created its own issues? I remember when I first started teaching that people always spoke about “boys” and how they underachieved and there were courses and books that told you how to redress the balance. Was it the public declaration of these vulnerable groups a self fulfilling prophecy? Did it put into teachers’ minds that boys indeed, could not achieve?


I will admit I love teaching sets but as I’ve previously said I’ve never believed or said these things about students I haven’t allowed the concept of setting to change my practice and beliefs. However is there a chance that some teachers have been influenced by the use of setting so much that they believe that particular sets. Have more chance of learning or are more able to make progress? This is the core argument against setting and may well hold true with those who have the attitudes to achievement and progress I’m arguing against.

Blurring of behaviour with ability to learn

Finally, I think this is a strong contender. Does a child’s behaviour impact a teacher’s perception of whether they can learn or make progress? If a child does not follow what you tell them, do their homework, follow classroom rules then are their learning capabilities prejudged? I’ve seen this happen. Teachers who struggle to control a class conflate this with their learning capability. Is this why many challenging schools, in terms of behaviour also get poor results? 

The role of keywords in assessing knowledge & understanding


As part of my thinking on assessment I’ve been looking at how to assess knowledge & understanding. I’ve been considering stages of knowledge and whether it is possible to use this to ensure students’ thinking is based on solid foundations and then stretched further by more complex concepts.

One area I’ve been struggling to structure is the use of keywords. I added ‘keywords’ into all the stages and thought about how the vocabulary that is used in more complex concepts will differ.

I’m now considering how the use of keywords in themselves can be an indicator of knowledge & understanding.

I will try to explain using an example from my own subject area.

The new GCSE subject content gives the following for knowledge & understanding relating to the crucifixion of Jesus:

  • incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension
  • salvation, including law, sin, grace and Spirit, the role of Christ in salvation, and the nature of atonement

These are key concepts that students need to understand to truly understand what this event in Christianity means for Christians. 

I wil take the key concept of ‘atonement’. 

If we go from the simplest way to understand this concept, using foundation knowledge & vocabulary then we can see how the complexity of this concept may be broken down, as follows:

  1. Saying sorry for something you’ve done wrong (apology)
  2. Saying sorry and someone forgiving you (forgiveness)
  3. Sinning and asking God to forgive you (repentance)
  4. Sinning and asking God to forgive you, knowing that Jesus dying enables this to be accepted (salvation)
  5. Reestablishing (‘covering’) the pre-sin relationship between man and God ‘At-one-ment’ (Atonement)

Without an understanding of the prior concepts and keywords it would be difficult to understand the final concept of atonement. 

So how can this be used in teaching?

My new plan is to come up with the key vocabulary (alongside threshold concepts – another blog) for each topic or unit of work. I can then use these to check if the students have understood before I move on. This could happen in a lesson or over several lessons depending on the students foundation knowledge & understanding.

This checking can be done at the beginning, at intervals and/or at the end. Ideally as frequently as possible but realistically at least at the beginning and end.

This could be done in several ways:

Questioning – if I ask a student “what will God forgive?” They have to understand the concept of forgives to give a correct answer. Regular, targeted questions should give a good idea of what they do/don’t understand.

Written response – ask students a question, write a statement that means they have to show which concepts they know and understand. For example, “Salvation is possible for everyone” requires them to understand what it is to decide whether it can apply to everyone.

Multiple choice/diagnostic qu – I’m trialling this. A quick way to see what they do/don’t know and understand.

‘Final assessment‘ – however this is completed students will be told they must use the keywords learnt. They can have a list of them. It’s not a test to see if they remember the word, it is checking to see if they fully understand it enough by using it correctly in their work. Setting self differentiating tasks on this means all can achieve and show what they’ve learnt.

These keywords are essential in my new assessment systems as they are a key part of seeing if a student has understood the content.

This has already been highlighted in a student essay on marriage that looked great in terms of structure but had no key terms for the topic in it; it was essentially a sociology essay.

To avoid this from now on all assessed written pieces will have a set of student generated keywords as a part of the essay planning process.

Context is king


Over the weekend Nicky Morgan made comments on how she proposes to deal with ‘coasting’ schools. She confirms that she means those that ‘just’ get enough to be RI or those where ‘every child doesn’t make progress’.  Whilst we could argue about the semantics of ‘coasting’ I fully agree that schools that seem to consistently be 3/4 need to be sorted.

However, throughout this all there is an implication that a ‘one size fits all’ approach will work. This is where there will be problems.

The schools that Nicky is referring to have huge challenges;not just getting better results. We’re not talking about the Outstanding school that drops to Inadequate overnight due to their lack of British values. We’re talking about schools that are usually in socially deprived areas or unique social situations. Recruitment of teachers is hugely problematic ( more than other schools) and the poor reputation of the school usually comes before any of the good.

But these contexts are not new. They’ve been this way for years and years. One of them used to be on the largest council estate in Europe. The crime rates and deprivation are nothing new. Some are in areas where they are guaranteed work in local industries regardless of grades. Some have low aspirations.

The problem is that these are rarely taken into account. I don’t mean make excuses. I mean take into account the context of the school and then deal with it head on. Telling these schools you will become an Academy means nothing unless the people that ‘take over’ understand and can deal with the intricacies of the context. One academy chain that seems to be working well in one area of the country may have absolutely no idea how to deal with this next school. And we’ve seen this happen locally. Some are now into their second sponsor. The first having no idea how to deal with the social issues the schools presented. Coming along with great pedagogical ideas and visions that just don’t work in this context.

I’m passionate about this. I’ve worked in these schools. I’ve seen students achieve great things in some subjects but not in others. They’re not impossible to teach. They need the right teaching for the right context. We need teachers and leaders that know how to get the best from these students. Not leaders who once got a job there 10/20 years ago and are sitting pretty, doing very little on 60K and retiring on it. Or a leader from the other side of the country who’s only worked in a completely different context.

So when Nicky sends these new Headteachers and NLEs in to rescue these failing schools what are the chances they will have experienced these contexts before? NLEs have to be from good/outstanding schools (or those from a category up to these). How many Headteachers does this actually apply to? And are they the ones willing to move to help out another school? With great respect to Headteachers that have always lead Outstanding schools I’m almost certain there’s only a handful of these that would know how to deal with these school contexts. Skills transfer but context doesn’t.

I’m sick of seeing the same local schools bounce between 3 and 4. Even worse when the Secretary of State for Education comes to praise it one minute and the next it goes into special measures. Let’s get real here. These schools need targeted, specialised help, in some cases some of the current staff may be able to do this with leaders who know what they’re dealing with. In others, most of the leadership needs replacing.

I can’t stand any more local headlines where new Heads say they are ‘turning around’ the school or ‘vow to make it outstanding’. Let’s get on with the real job; recognising the context & putting together a strong team to manage it.

Either way a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not work. Becoming an academy doesn’t work. They already are.

Context is king.

Authenticity in teaching


It seems that many teachers only trust teachers. Whether it be online or within your own school, I’ve observed an unwritten (or written in some cases) rule that if you don’t currently teach, you and what you have to say about teaching, somehow ‘doesn’t count’ or at least lacks authenticity. 

 Within this category are included:



 Ofsted inspectors 


ITE lecturers 

 Of course in the last two cases there is an argument that they do ‘teach’ but it’s either adults or don’t teach very much. 

 Jokingly (?)my RE colleague suggested we refine it further; a teacher is someone that has marked a student book in the last three months. 

 So what’s the issue? Why don’t people think that current non-full time colleagues can contribute? Is it the full timetable part that matters? Or working full time in a school? Or the duties a teacher faces on a daily basis such as marking and report writing? Or dealing with large numbers of children on a daily basis?

 I think the main issue that these teachers suggest is that if you’re not currently experiencing it you cannot fully understand it, no matter how hard you try. The moment you leave the classroom you’ve lost the ability to fully sympathise and therefore most of what you have to say about teaching lacks authenticity. 

Sadly I think some people have clocked onto this phenomenon. On twitter a ‘non-teacher’ may be ambiguous in their bio. A consultant may say ‘I’m a science specialist’. Whilst this may be true they’re not a fully practicing science teacher. An Ofsted inspector may say they ‘spend hours in the classroom’. Playing the authenticity ‘game’ may mean the difference between a day’s work for some.

 So, are these teachers right? Does it matter? Is this distrust unique to teaching?
Is there a set of criteria as to what makes you an authentic teacher? 

What if we didn’t ever use grades with students?


I have already blogged on how I think data should be more about the learner and what’s happening in their learning, the current mindset on grades and also how we could report without any grades or levels. Students are focused on grades and in some cases they mean more to them than formative feedback. My own small research shows this:


Students value a grade/level more than formative comments.

This makes me consider,

What if we never give, refer to or report any numbers?

From a secondary point of view, key stage 3 is the simplest so I will consider key stage 4/5.

Most schools use key stage 2 data to look at progress through to key stage 4 using this from the DfE to decide if it is less/as/more than expected progress.

Screen Shot 2011-07-22 at 11.04.39

Teachers and consequently students are under pressure to move their grade towards at least expected. This method relies on teachers knowing what a student needs to do in their work to move on a grade, two grades etc  There is pressure on teachers to ensure the student is ‘on track’ and sometimes the pressure means that teachers add inflated predictions to the data collection system.

Grades seem to have a power to change attitudes and behaviour but not necessarily for the good. Lots of research has been done on the impact of summative feedback over grades.

Kohn sums up the key issues with grading:

  1. Grades tend to reduce students’ interest in the learning itself
  2. Grades tend to reduce students’ preference for challenging tasks.
  3.  Grades tend to reduce the quality of students’ thinking
  4. Grades aren’t valid, reliable, or objective.
  5. Grades distort the curriculum.
  6. Grades waste a lot of time that could be spent on learning
  7. Grades encourage cheating.
  8. Grades spoil teachers’ relationships with students.
  9. Grades spoil students’ relationships with each other

So I propose we consider dropping how grades are used by most schools at the moment and consider the impact of a different model.

What are the alternatives?

  1. Give feedback first, then grades once students have responded to feedback
  2. Give feedback first and the grade a week later
  3. Never give students grades on individual pieces of work but an overall grade at a given time i.e once a term
  4. Never give students grades but teachers record these in a mark-book which isn’t shared with students/parents
  5. Never give students grades until a grade is needed i.e a reference for further study

Phil Race also suggests this process for feedback:


Featured in Phil’s book – Making Learning happen

Potential issues with these

  • The grade is still the important factor
  • Some teachers choose give students grades
  • Students don’t know how they are relatively progressing across their subjects.
  • Parents & students might not ‘like’ it. Current mindset is grades matter.
  • Progression can’t be mapped so neatly in an excel spreadsheet or graph.
  • Teachers will have to use exam board criteria carefully and knowledgeably. (an issue?)
  • A current trend in assessment is using diagnostic questioning using multiple choice. How can you ‘not’ report a %?
  • Will it move back to the old APP grid style marking? (Is this a problem?)

Potential benefits

  • Students don’t compare so much
  • They’re always focused on what they need to do to improve
  • Teachers may focus more carefully on what students need to do to improve
  • The converse of Kohn’s list

Possible resolutions

  • Start this process in year 7 so they know no different
  • Diagnostic/Multiple choice
    • Don’t give % at all. Analyse question by question with them for understanding. ( but they will then add up their correct/incorrect answers!)
    •  or use these at intervals during the learning. Only report to students the improvement % not the actual % For example at the start of the course a student gets 2/15 and in the middle 7/15 and by the en 12/15. You would tell them their increase not how many they got right.
  • Use KS2 data to tell students/parents their expected KS4 grade and then use ‘on track’ and ‘not on track’ with students and parents – Isn’t this essentially what they want to know?
  • Use Phil’s process – using marks but student generated

Is it worth ditching grades or instead, refining summative feedback so that grades become less important?


Kohn –  http://www.alfiekohn.org/article/degrading-de-grading/   includes a nice list of references for further reading

Phil Race – Making Learning Happen

“Miss, is this an assessment?” – Time for a culture shift


I was asked this question this week when some students were doing some extended writing. I was also asked ‘Miss, is this a test?’ as I trialled using multiple choice with my classes. I was a bit mean. I replied ‘what is a test?’. This generally confused them and they got on.

I know what they were asking. They really meant ‘Miss, does that matter?’. This, along with some discussions & tweets in the week have started me thinking that it is time for a significant culture shift in our schools. In particular, the way in which students, teachers and leaders see assessment.

A culture which we are responsible for creating. Whether it be due to league tables, Ofsted, data entry, parental pressure we have created a culture where certain pieces of work that our students complete are seen as more important than others;they are higher stakes, bigger consequence pieces of work. The piece that will be levelled, the work that links to their report grade, the answer that defines ‘where’ they are.

If we were to evaluate how well we’ve done in creating this culture, I think we’ve done really well. It’s just a shame that it has the wrong emphasis (maybe it was what was needed at the time?) and this needs to change.

So now that schools have or are considering dropping levels we have a real chance to shift this emphasis.  We need to think carefully about what we want assessment to be used for, how we will do it and what the consequences are, intended or unintended.

An example where we have created a process that we need to reconsider is asking students about their work. Originally teachers were told ‘all students need to know what level they’re working at’. So we either drilled them or stuck a sticker on their books that they could quickly refer to, to give that level. Then people realised that wasn’t enough and added ‘they also need to be able to say what they need to do to improve’. So teachers then started using processes to try to ensure their students had the ‘correct’ answer to whoever was asking.

Another example where our culture has skewed things is via termly/half termly ‘assessments’. We have placed high value on single pieces of work where students are given the levelled criteria, looked at their own level and then done what they needed to do to achieve their target level. The focus was on achieving the level rather than what they needed to do differently from last time to make a difference. The effect was that students valued these pieces more and mostly put more effort into them as they knew that this work ‘meant something’.

So, now we can choose not to have levels, we can change this focus from a single outcome or a ‘correct response’ and start to create new processes that will provide a more whole picture of learning.

The biggest hurdle is we have years of embedded mindset (a current buzz word)  to change; the students being some of the toughest mindsets to change. And whilst schools can mainly do what they want in between, we are still stuck with key stage testing and GCSEs/A Levels that will need clever managing to ensure the mindset isn’t derailed.

So what do we need to do to change this mindset?

Consider the language and emphasis we use when referring to pieces of work.

Spread the ‘value’ across all work not particular assessment pieces. Everything matters.

Create assessment systems that are fully & smoothly interlinked with what we want our students to learn

Change what we ask students if we want to find out how they’re progressing

Not give any ‘value’ judgements to students or parents – No ‘5a’/master/beginner/emerging/85%/a* etc (this will be another blog)

Lesson observation forms – suggestions


Having observed a lesson this week and fed back to the teacher I’ve been thinking about the lesson observation forms that people use. If you’re still doing traditional lesson observations rather than lesson study, these might be useful.

I know some people prefer to go in with a plain piece of A4 or some use a pro forms but I have some suggestions of what to include with either if you don’t already.

Questions for the teacher
I found that due to the focus of the observation I had lots of questions that I wanted to ask the teacher. It wasn’t appropriate during the lesson so I wrote down some of the questions I had that would help me understand how and why things were planned etc

In the conversation following the lesson (I’m avoiding the word feedback) I asked the questions which lead to me finding out so much more than was obvious in the lesson. It also lead to more questions and more important info being shared.

Of course a discussion with the teacher before the lesson would be ideal as well…. So a section saying Pre-lesson discussion would be useful.

Questions for the students

If you have an observation focus it would be a good idea to note some questions you’d like to ask stduents BEFORE you go in. What can you ask them that will help to find out what you want to know?
You can then add further questions asked and responses during/after the observation.
This is a great way to really focus on what the observation focus is and get you thinking about it BEFORE a you walk in the class.

In-lesson and post-lesson proforma?
Finally, I’ve been thinking that the piece of paper that you use in the lesson should not be what is given to the teacher. The process of the observation should be the record on the paper which includes pre-lesson discussion, discussions In the lesson and also a record of what was discussed after the lesson. My perceptions and understanding was significantly enhanced by the discussion afterwards. The original paperwork was not representative of what was happening. I am going to rewrite it using the newly discussed info. This is significant because the ‘areas for development’ changed because of the discussion.

This does of course beg the question ‘Can a lesson be accurately judged by going in for 30mins and not discussing anything with that teacher?’ But I think we probably know the answer to that……

A good Ofsted experience but….


was it good because it had a positive outcome? Or because it IS a ‘good’ school? Is it causation or correlation or neither?

Can we separate out our emotional response to Ofsted’s judgement with our view of how the inspection was carried out?

I’ve never experienced an Ofsted like it or worked in a school who respond to inspection in this way. It was on a meeting agenda once in the weeks before. The item lasted 5 seconds. The deputy said ‘I have nothing to say about it. Do what you usually do’. This is in stark contrast to previous inspections in my career where the staff meeting the day before inspection is a ‘do this’ ‘do that’ ‘don’t do this’ ‘don’t do that’ format. I didn’t receive ONE email regarding how I should plan, that I should remember to include literacy, or any emails changing any preplanned events. The school was ready for the inspection. Not because everything it does is for Ofsted but because it would seem that the way it is run fulfils Ofsted’s ‘good’ criteria.

I was observed. I hated it of course. My style of teaching doesn’t fit observations but I think it was OK. However after the observation I didn’t have a member of SLT chasing after me with a clipboard asking me how it went (so they could add it to their spreadsheet to try and calculate the overall % of good lessons or even worse use it against me in the future). In fact no-one seemed bothered at all.

So is it because my school behaves this way that it is ‘good’? By definition if leaders are running around the school chasing after teachers is it probably struggling to improve? If you know your school, trust your staff and aren’t just ‘crossing your fingers’ on the day, does this probably equate to a decent school?

Can inspectors pick up on this? They must ‘feel’ the difference. The problem is that judgements cannot be made on feelings. (However I do have a strong belief that staff questionnaires should be made compulsory as they can provide solid evidence of school ethos)

I spoke with a couple of inspectors in different contexts. My experience was very different to previous inspections. It was all positive. Could it be possible that some inspectors are so depressed by what they’re seeing in 3/4 schools that their tone reflects this? Or was it positive because what is happening in the school overall positive? The reality is it must be tough for a team who can quite clearly see a school is a 4, into day two.

I know that Mike Cladingbowl in his previous role was beginning to change things. Was this inspection a result of a more positive, developed inspection process?
I’ve heard him say on more than one occasion that overall the inspection teams ‘get it right’. I agree with him. So where they don’t get it right, how many times has it been that they’ve ‘over’ graded?

I would love to know out of all the complaints that’s Ofsted get from schools about inspections what the grade of the school was before and after the inspection. I’m guessing that in very few cases complaints were made where:

* the grade went up
* the grade was Outstanding

It is natural to want to protect something we work hard for but do some leaders lack the ability to stand aside and see their school as it really is? Do leaders have the experience outside their own school to even realise how ‘good’ or ‘not so good’ their school is?

I’ve heard and read vociferous complaints about inspectors and inspections where schools have struggled. Can you point me to an article where the school has done better but is seriously unhappy with the inspection?

Is the 3/4 judgement too much for some people to take and are more ready to complain about the process?

As a result of all this, I believe that so much more needs to be done with schools that are 3/4. I personally do not agree however that core inspection should be different for different schools. It’s the level of intervention in between that should be different.

I see Sean Harford has proposed a new system of follow up inspections to start to try and quality assure judgements. Maybe I’m naive but I really can’t see there being many discrepancies. From more recent experience working in a 3/4 school is a completely different experience from a 2/1 school and I would imagine that the difficulty for inspectors lie in differentiating between a 3/4 and a 2/1 and not a 2/3.

So whilst I work in a school that has a label of ‘good’, I can honestly say that the label follows the reality. It’s a great school, run with humane leadership and I’m genuinely pleased to say that no-one has uttered the phrase so far ‘we’re working towards Outstanding’. We’re not. We’re just working on making things better.

Conclusions from term 1 at my new school

  1. Ofsted is a COMPLETELY different experience if you have nothing to hide/fear.
  2. Children are different in every school and you cannot generalise in all aspects from one to another.
  3. SLT in a well run school are different to those in one that is not.
  4. Email does not have to be the only form of communication & a school can run just as/more efficiently by talking & notice boards/briefings/newsletters
  5. GCSEs are failing to challenge some children. I’m teaching top set year 9 A Level style/content and they’ll have a big drop if they choose GCSE.
  6. How I teach works. It’s not conventional. It fails all tick sheets. It’s natural. But students learn & like it.
  7. The ethos of a school is crucial and it comes from everyone in it.
  8. Giving power to middle leaders is the driving force of a school ( I knew this anyway but just hadn’t experienced it)
  9. Year 7 are so funny, heart warming and great to teach  (I haven’t taught them for a few years)
  10. I love teaching. I love marking. I love having my own classroom. I love my school.

oh yes and 11. Money isn’t everything. Happiness is.

Research in schools – being Devil’s advocate – #rEDlead


Professor Coe said we should be Devil’s advocate and ask questions in research. I feel this is my forte so this post will raise questions I have about research in schools following an excellent day at #rEDlead.

Who is the research for? I feel there was a dichotomy emerging between doing it to make a difference with our students in our own classes and then for ‘doing research’ that can then be used by others. Is there still a tension between real life classroom practice and academic research? I didn’t feel that many of the presentations looked at the potential impact on children and or the school themselves. Or is this a case of research needs to be done to see if research in schools has impact? Essentially, why should a teacher bother with academic, time-consuming research?

What makes research research? If I do it by myself and never share it, it is classed as research? Are there different types? Do we need a new taxonomy for educational research so we are all clear what we’re doing and what we’re reading?

Do we need set protocols and processes? This goes back to the idea of what constitutes research. If I forget my bibliography does that matter? How much should I read? Do we need to balance qualitative with quantitative?

Should research be differentiated? Could some colleagues be offered small scale mini projects; less reading, simple methodology, A4 write up? Whilst others who want to complete Masters level work have the opportunity? (see suggested taxonomy for Ed Research – what would go in the *?)

A possible structure for research?

A possible structure for research?



Should there be set formats for presentation? Does it matter if it is 3.5k words long or an A4 summary? Could there be a small/medium/large/extra-large option. Small being an A4 summary sheet and Extra large being the size & standard needed for MEd. Could the whole research be recorded by video without any written aspects?

What if we’re just wasting time? I try something in my class and when it goes wrong I analyse the possible causes, I adjust it or bit it. I don’t need to spend hours reading around it and then writing this up? Whilst it may be important to share, does the time spent making it audience ready outweigh the benefits of the process and findings?

How will school CPD change? INSET days? should it ALL be allocated to research? Should CPD budgets be being spent on texts?  I’ve been told that reading isn’t CPD, this is a problem!

Does everyone in the school have to do some research? We’ve all heard horror stories of everyone being made to complete research. Should it be optional? Should someone be ‘allowed’ to do research if there are serious weaknesses in their teaching that need addressing first, that research itself would take time away from addressing?  Should all types of staff including non-teaching be given the opportunity? What about LSAs? HLTAs?etc is there an opportunity for a qualification I.e the extended project level 3

How will we have access to published research? It’s been said many times. if we’re committed to this, should universities give schools log ins to their Athens service?

And how will teacher’s research be shared and/or published? Will professional full-time researchers be happy for the amateurs to join in? Should this link to the new College for Teaching? Should they host teacher research? But again, will they require a ‘Standard’?

Where is this time coming from? No-one really discussed this hot potato. I’ve heard people saying to introduce something new you must take something away. But this isn’t small. It’s big.

Should there be ‘core’ reading required? Again could it be the small/medium/large/extra-large idea where for example small projects have 2 core texts whilst extra-large have extensive reading?

What about the resistors? I can’t remember the term that was being used but what about those that don’t want to do research? How to manage them? Should we make them do it? What are the consequences?

Should research be linked to performance management? Again I didn’t hear this discussed much. Will some schools start linking these? How might that work? Is it reasonable to link them?

Should a link with a university be due to it being close and/or should be have a research directory of specialisms in education that teachers can then contact specialists linked to their area of research?Where could the central directory be held? How do I know who is available to work with? What if a HEI colleague is overwhelmed by requests? We have over 24,000 schools and approx 150 HEIs. Could it become unmanageable? Is it a model that can cope with exponential growth? Are there financial implications for the school and/or the HEIs?

How can teacher researchers make contact with those who are searching the same area? Should there be a research forum where you can give an outline of your work so others can contact you? Sharing ideas and even working in long distance pairs/groups could end up with more evidence.

Is this current movement just trying to get education on par with other professions? If we are trying to close a gap in educational research should overworked teachers be used in this way in the current situation?

Research Leads

Should research leads have a minimum set of skills and knowledge?
Should they have to have PhDs themselves?
What should they job role specification include?
Should they be on SLT?


I really enjoyed the day especially discussing ideas with other colleagues. Lots to think about. Thanks to Helene & Tom for organising and to those who presented and shared. I can’t make the next one as March is a busy month but it will be interesting more questions have answers by then.