David Didau

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So far David Didau has created 881 blog entries.

A reading of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped

2020-05-20T12:18:29+01:00April 25th, 2020|Featured|

When my daughters were younger I used to read to them every evening. Over the years we read all the Harry Potter books, the Narnia stories, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, The Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland, most of Alan Garner's output and various others. As they got older we read most of Jane Austen's novels together. I'm not sure who enjoyed all this most, me or them. But sometime in the last three or four years our nightly readings ceased. They're teenagers now and not minded to indulge their father's keenness to read aloud. So, for better or worse, I've [...]

#ProjectParadise: A group reading project

2020-05-26T09:08:21+01:00April 20th, 2020|Featured|

Well. A few days ago I ran a poll on Twitter to find the most popular long poem for a group reading project and the clear winner, with 44% of the vote, was John Milton's seventeenth century epic, Paradise Lost. OK. If you were to take part in a group reading of a long poem (like the celebs are doing with Rime of the Ancient Mariner' which of the four below would be your first choice? — David Didau (@DavidDidau) April 18, 2020 I've been inundated with volunteers eager to read a section aloud and that is exactly what we're going [...]

How should we decide what knowledge to teach?

2020-04-09T08:10:50+01:00April 9th, 2020|Featured|

Last year I wrote two posts on two ways I think we might be getting curriculum thinking wrong at the moment. The first is on cultural capital, the second is on powerful knowledge. Below is a short presentation on these themes I put together for researchED Durrington:

Homework in the time of Corona

2020-04-04T10:55:51+01:00April 3rd, 2020|Featured|

It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of uncompleted homework. Gabriel Garcia Marquez I've never been much of fan of homework, not as a child, not as a teacher and nor as a parent. It's always seemed a quite unnecessary imposition. As a child, the 'dog' got to homework with unconvincing regularity. As a teacher I hated having even more marking to do. And as a parent, I just wanted to spend time with my children without papier mache art projects intruding. That was certainly the case when they were younger, anyway. After a [...]

Exam season and COVID19: What should we do?

2020-03-16T11:53:52+00:00March 16th, 2020|Featured|

In the current climate, worrying about whether this year's GCSE and A level exams are going to go ahead as scheduled may seem like small beans but it's a big deal to those directly affected. My eldest is due to sit her GCSEs and is, understandably, frustrated with the uncertainty. The likelihood that schools will carry on as normal over the exam period is looking more and more remote. Something has to give. Everyone working in education is expected an imminent announcement, but no one knows anything for sure. As ever, we have to hope for the best and plan for [...]

The dangers of hierarchy: a recommendation for improving Ofsted inspections

2020-03-07T08:10:05+00:00March 7th, 2020|Featured|

One of the many hard lessons learned by the aviation industry is that distributing responsibility and challenging hierarchical authority saves lives. From examining flight recorders and listening to cockpit recordings, crash investigators know that otherwise avoidable accidents have been caused by dysfunctional relationships between airline crew. The traditional model was the captain was in absolute authority and that questioning his actions was unthinkable. This led copilots and cabin crew to keeping silents when they noticed the captain making a mistake. There are clear dangers in leaving people to organise themselves because our natural inclination is to defer to those in authority [...]

Why interview feedback is a waste of time

2020-02-27T20:58:27+00:00February 27th, 2020|leadership|

A few years ago I wrote a series of posts on the subject of improving the interview process in schools: Part 1: A brief review of the evidence Part 2: Intuition vs. statistical prediction (in which I made suggestions for improving structured interviews) Part 3: The interview lesson I thought I'd said all I needed to say of the subject of school interviews. Then a few days ago I responded to a tweet about providing unsuccessful candidates with post-interview feedback suggesting it was a waste of time: Feedback on unsuccessful interviews is valueless. It’s all polite variants rationalising why your face [...]

What I learned from visiting schools in Uganda

2020-02-27T18:09:27+00:00February 26th, 2020|Featured|

Some months ago I was asked to be part of an advisory panel on a project to improve primary education in Uganda. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. What, I wondered, would I have to offer? The project, SESIL (Strengthening Education Systems for Improved Leadership) is funded by the Department for International Development and managed by Cambridge Education. The basic premise is that by introducing systems for collecting, analysing and using data to make decisions, school leaders will be better placed to improve children's outcomes by the end of primary school. Before heading out to Uganda, I was [...]

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 [...]