David Didau

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So far David Didau has created 861 blog entries.

Can observation pro formas be used well?

2020-02-09T18:37:56+00:00February 9th, 2020|leadership|

Should observers waltz into lessons armed with a clipboard full of hoops they hope to see teachers jump through? No, probably not. Some years ago I wrote about my preference for how lessons should be observed: The point of a lesson observation should not be to see whether a teacher is slavishly following a checklist, rather it should be to tease out how effectively they are teaching the students in front of them to master specific curriculum goals. Who cares if there’s ‘evidence of differentiation’ but the quality of students’ work is rubbish? Why would it matter if a ‘plenary takes place’ if students [...]

This is what I do

2020-02-03T18:57:27+00:00January 31st, 2020|Featured|

For the past seven years I've been working as a freelance training provider and consultant. Most of the work I get comes either from word-of-mouth recommendations, or because someone has seen me speak or read something I've written. The majority of the work I do is in English schools - both primary and secondary (although I also seem to get a fair bit of work in Sweden and the Netherlands) and it tends to take two distinct forms; I either spend a day speaking to teachers about some aspect of education, or I spend a longer period working with teachers to [...]

Are things so good that normal seems bad?

2020-01-24T15:26:50+00:00January 24th, 2020|Featured|

Former Irish president Mary Robinson has been doing the rounds warning the world it needs to wake up as the hands of the Doomsday Clock are moved to 100 seconds to midnight. Apparently things are so bleak that the world is closer catastrophe than at any point in history. Not only is climate change about to wash away most of the world's coastline, but the threat of nuclear annihilation is greater than at the peak of the Cold War. Basically, we're doomed. It's common currency to believe that the world is in truly awful shape, but is it really? If you [...]

Why can’t we agree about internal isolation?

2020-01-19T16:00:01+00:00January 19th, 2020|behaviour|

The debate about whether schools should be allowed to internally exclude children from lessons is a hot topic at the moment, with all sorts of people weighing in at both ends of the spectrum of opinion. Whether you agree or disagree with the concept of internal exclusion probably says something about whether you prioritise the rights of the group or the rights of the individual. But it's also probably true that we all care about the rights of both individuals and groups. So, how can we get past the inflamed rhetoric and reason coldly of our grievances? One way to begin [...]

Does the new inspection framework trade off reliability against validity?

2020-01-15T13:52:40+00:00January 15th, 2020|leadership|

Yesterday I saw a thread on Twitter from headteacher Stuart Lock on the pros and cons of the new inspection framework: https://twitter.com/StuartLock/status/1216475275514523648?s=20 In it he discusses the idea that because the previous inspection framework relied heavily on schools'  results in national exams in making judgements it managed to be fairly reliable. That is to say, an inspection team inspecting two schools with similar results or that two different inspection teams inspecting the same school would arrive at a broadly similar judgement. In 2015 Ofsted conducted some research on the reliability of it's judgments (the report can be found here). Two independent [...]

Are Ofsted punishing disadvantaged children by penalising three-year GCSE courses?

2020-01-15T10:30:17+00:00January 14th, 2020|curriculum|

Is a broad and balanced curriculum "middle class"? According to an article published in The Times, Sir Daniel Moynihan, CEO of the Harris Federation, has described Ofsted's new inspection framework as "a middle-class framework for middle-class kids” because "Ofsted is valuing curriculum over qualifications." Currently, there is a great deal of fear that inspectors have been briefed to penalise schools - like those in the Harris Federation - where students spend 3 three years studying for GCSEs instead of the more usual 2 years. According to Moynihan, spending an additional year studying a full range of subjects before the inevitable narrowing [...]

My most viewed posts of 2019

2019-12-31T16:18:24+00:00December 31st, 2019|Featured|

For those of you who are interested, here are the top 10 most viewed posts on my blog during 2019 Closing the language gap: Building vocabulary (16th November 2014) It's a bit of a puzzler why a post written 5 years ago is proving so popular but I can only imagine anxious teachers are looking for Alex Quigley's wildly popular book are are somehow stumbling onto this post. How do we know pupils are making progress? Part 1 The madness of flightpaths (23rd March) The first of a four part series about how we might go about stating with any degree [...]

What do teachers need to know about Cognitive Load Theory?

2019-12-18T08:06:42+00:00December 17th, 2019|psychology|

I've come to the conclusion Sweller's Cognitive Load Theory is the single most important thing for teachers to know https://t.co/MkJJLruR8g — Dylan Wiliam (@dylanwiliam) January 26, 2017 What do teachers need to know about Cognitive Load Theory? The short answer is, not that much. There's an awful that's been written and said about Cognitive Load Theory (CTL) in recent years and most of it is wholly unnecessary for teachers to know about. At it's heart, the theory relies on a decades old model of human cognition, generally referred to as the Working Memory Model. It's important to note that this model [...]

Where we’re getting curriculum wrong Part 2: Powerful knowledge

2019-12-14T16:13:47+00:00December 12th, 2019|curriculum|

In part 1 of this blog series I discussed the importance of cultural capital, where we might be getting it wrong, what it consists of, and how to resolve the problem of 'dead white men'. Where we're getting 'powerful knowledge' wrong While we can make a case that all knowledge is precious, not all knowledge is equally precious. In Bringing Knowledge Back In, education professor Michael Young advanced the idea of ‘powerful knowledge’. In Young's view, knowledge is powerful if it fulfils a number of characteristics. It should: provide reliable explanations and a sound basis for making judgements and generalisations about [...]

Where we’re getting curriculum wrong Part 1: Cultural capital

2019-12-12T17:53:43+00:00December 11th, 2019|curriculum|

Where we're getting 'cultural capital' wrong The concept of 'cultural capital' is increasingly on the agenda in the schools I visit. No doubt this is in large part down to Ofsted. The latest inspection framework makes specific mention of the term in its guidance on what a school curriculum ought to contain. School leaders are told they will be judged on the extent to which they "construct a curriculum that is ambitious and designed to give all learners ... the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life". Sadly, the term remains undefined and nowhere is it made clear [...]

The importance of play (and why it’s better to avoid bullshit)

2019-12-11T14:29:47+00:00December 10th, 2019|Featured|

Play is an essential part of learning. The young of many species play in order to test their physical limits, form bonds with others, explore the environment, practice hunting behaviours and generally mimic their elders. Human children are no different in this respect: we play in order to learn about ourselves and our environment. It's probably true to say that the instinct to play is 'hardwired' into us and, short of locking children in a box, there's no way to prevent them from playing. Social learning is the basis for the transmission of human culture and play is an unavoidable component [...]

My favourite reads this year

2019-12-09T16:58:19+00:00December 9th, 2019|Featured|

In no particular order, these are the books I have most enjoyed reading during 2019. Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind, Tom Holland As a long-time admirer of Holland's brand of history, I was very much looking forward to this. In this he retreads some of the basic territory covered in Millennium and In the Shadow of the Sword, but takes it in a new and startling direction. His basic thesis is that all every aspect of modern Western culture has been shaped by our Christian roots. He begins by addressing the cultural norms of late antiquity and the struggle [...]