About David Didau

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So far David Didau has created 899 blog entries.

The problem with grades: Are they worth keeping?

2020-11-15T21:19:35+00:00November 15th, 2020|myths|

Grades are so much a part of the educational landscape that it's hard to imagine what schools would be like without them. In the debate over whether or not we should retain exams this year, no one is suggesting we should do away with 1-9 GCSE grades. But what if we did? Clearly, this is unlikely to happen anytime soon, but maybe it's worth conducting something of a thought experiment. In 10 Things Schools Get Wrong, Jared Cooney Horvath and David Botts, propose that grades are one of the things schools are currently getting wrong. They make the point that grades are [...]

Making analogies in English

2020-11-14T14:02:18+00:00November 14th, 2020|English|

… languages recognized, not as the means of contemporary communication but as investments in thought and records of perceptions and analogical understandings; literatures recognized as the contemplative exploration of beliefs, emotions, human characters and relationships in imagined situations, liberated from the confused, cliché ridden, generalized conditions of commonplace life and constituting a world of ideal human expressions inviting neither approval nor disapproval but the exact attention and understanding of those who read … Michael Oakeshott, ‘The Voice of Liberal Learning,’ p. 23. Last month I wrote about 'creative reading' and the art of noticing what is read. This post focusses on [...]

Accountability

2020-11-07T09:15:57+00:00November 7th, 2020|leadership|

The following is a summary of Chapter 4 of my new book, Intelligent Accountability. What stops us from taking the risk and trusting teachers is, in part, the very real fear that some will cut corners, take shortcuts and slack off. But it is also a product of the deficit model: misguided approaches to enforcing ‘best practice’ and the perceived need to hold teachers and schools to account for meeting key performance indicators. To mediate against these pressures, we put accountability systems in place. The point of accountability is to increase trust: the more information we have on what teachers are [...]

Trust

2020-11-03T13:45:38+00:00November 3rd, 2020|leadership|

The following is taken from chapter 3 of my new book, Intelligent Accountability. Confucius believed that three things were needed for a ruler to govern: weapons, food and trust. If a ruler is unable to hold on to all of these he should give up the weapons first, followed by the food. Trust, he thought, should be guarded to the last. This is true for everyone and every institution. It may be difficult to govern without a standing army to enforce your will or when people are hungry, but if there’s no trust, there’s no hope at all. In the context [...]

The surplus model of school improvement

2020-11-02T13:04:52+00:00November 2nd, 2020|leadership|

In chapter 2 of Intelligent Accountability I suggest that schools can operate either a surplus or deficit model of school improvement. Schools often seem to be run on a deficit model whereby any deficiencies or failings are attributed to a lack of understanding, information, effort or good will. The efforts of ‘experts’ (school leaders, inspectors, consultants, senior teachers, etc.) who understand what needs to be done are stymied by the actions (or inaction) of non-experts (classroom teachers) who do not. In a deficit model, failings are attributed to the inability of non-experts to understand or enact “realistic budgets, plans and targets”. [...]

Why we need to embrace ignorance and learn to love uncertainty

2020-11-01T15:13:43+00:00November 1st, 2020|leadership|

The opening chapter of my book Intelligent Accountability is an attempt to clear the way of objections and obstacles in order to create the conditions for teachers to thrive. As such, I argue that schools are incredibly complex institutions where it is impossible for school leaders to have certain knowledge of the best courses of action or the results of the decisions they make. This being the case, I suggest that the only reasonable alternative is to act with tentativity and humility. For all school leaders, one of the following option will be true: You believe you know everything you need [...]

Curriculum related expectations: using the curriculum as a progression model

2020-10-27T11:08:23+00:00October 27th, 2020|assessment, curriculum|

One of the barriers to using the curriculum as a progression model is that there is too little understanding of what this might mean. It sounds great but a bit mysterious. I've spoken to a number of people who are happy to agree that the curriculum provides a map of the quality of education a school provides and even approvingly use the phrase 'curriculum as a a progression model' who never the less continue to attempt measuring progress using 'age related expectations' or some other meaningless confection. Let's first deal with why age related expectations are unhelpful. First, they are guesswork. [...]

Intelligent Accountability: An overview

2020-11-07T12:23:08+00:00October 24th, 2020|leadership|

My new book, Intelligent Accountability: Creating the conditions for teachers to thrive is out now. The argument I make is that while accountability is wholly necessary for teachers to thrive it is too often applied unintelligently and so backfires. I discuss a set of principles designed to get the best out of teachers, thereby getting the best from your students. And when I say ‘best’, I categorically do not mean piling stress onto teachers in the hope of gaming exam results. By creating the conditions for teachers to thrive, we are likely to get much more of what we want: better exam [...]

How to read creatively: noticing in English

2020-11-14T12:39:05+00:00October 3rd, 2020|English|

… languages recognized, not as the means of contemporary communication but as investments in thought and records of perceptions and analogical understandings; literatures recognized as the contemplative exploration of beliefs, emotions, human characters and relationships in imagined situations, liberated from the confused, cliché ridden, generalized conditions of commonplace life and constituting a world of ideal human expressions inviting neither approval nor disapproval but the exact attention and understanding of those who read … Michael Oakeshott, ‘The Voice of Liberal Learning,’ p. 23. In my forthcoming book, Making Meaning in English, I suggest two disciplinary branches of knowledge in English which I've [...]

Are knowledge organisers flawed?

2020-09-20T15:14:30+01:00September 20th, 2020|psychology|

Like many others, I got quite excited about the idea of organising the knowledge students needed to learn on a single page when I first encountered it on Joe Krby's blog. As Joe said, a knowledge organiser (KO) can "specify subject knowledge in meticulous detail," provide "clarity for teachers" and provide a mechanism for "boosting students' memory". Used well, they can be part of a coherent five year revision strategy. I had a go at making some examples of KOs for English and started recommending the approach to schools I worked with. Then a thousand flowers bloomed; KOs popped up everywhere. [...]

#BackToSchool – free webinars

2020-08-26T20:48:29+01:00August 26th, 2020|Featured, training|

Over the next few weeks I'll be hosting a series of five 'back to school' webinars on a range to topics aimed at early career teachers, those with a mentoring responsibility and anyone who simply feels they could do with a refresher of some teaching basics. And this year, of all years, who couldn't do with a refresher? Each of the webinars is focussed around a particular area of teaching and would make ideal CPD. Each webinar will be going out at 4pm and registration is FREE for those who need it to be, while those who feel able to pay [...]

Learning Spy Academy: the story so far…

2020-07-25T17:04:01+01:00July 24th, 2020|Webinars|

A little over a month ago I streamed my first ever webinar with the technical support of B&T Education. I decided right from the outset that I wanted to make the content free to anyone who wanted it but I also wanted to give people the opportunity to pay a tokenary amount if they felt able to do so. Afterall, streaming webinars isn't free; not only does it take time and effort but there's all sorts of hidden, behind-the-scenes costs. Much to my surprise and delight the first webinar was a huge success selling out 1000 tickets. We had a few [...]

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