Amanda Spielman

Home/Tag: Amanda Spielman

How do we know pupils are making progress? Part 1: The madness of flight paths

2019-04-07T20:14:38+01:00March 23rd, 2019|assessment, curriculum|

Schools are desperate to find ways to predict students' progress from year to year and between key stages. Seemingly, the most common approach to solving this problem is to produce some sort of 'flight path'. The internet is full of such misguided attempts to do the impossible. Predicting a students' progress is a mug's game. It can't be done. At the level of nationally representative population sample we can estimate the likelihood of someone who is measured at performing at one level attaining another level, but this is meaningless at the level of individuals. It should therefore be obvious that using [...]

Garbage in, garbage out

2019-01-02T11:32:38+00:00October 16th, 2018|assessment|

This is my latest article for the rather wonderful Teach Secondary magazine. Schools are awash with data but do we know any more about how children are performing? Are we clear how likely they are to achieve particular targets? Can we diagnose what’s preventing them from making progress? All too often the answer is no. The problem can be simply summed up as data ≠ knowledge. Here’s a lovely video of celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, showing a group of youngsters what goes into chicken nuggets. After whizzing up a mixture a skin, bone and “horrible bits” he explains that manufacturers squeeze [...]

What is a broad and balanced curriculum?

2018-02-26T09:18:51+00:00July 8th, 2017|curriculum|

Historically, the curriculum schools have taught hasn't really mattered that much. Then, when the National Curriculum was introduced in the late 1980s, committees of experts had made all the decisions for us. As more and more schools have academised and won free of the strictures of  the National Curriculum, you might have expected a flowering of thought about how best to structure and select what children should be taught, but far more effort has been expended on the how of education. This may, in part, be due to Ofsted's long preoccupation with judging the quality of teaching and learning provided by [...]

Put down your crystal balls

2017-07-04T09:32:36+01:00July 3rd, 2017|assessment, leadership|

Many of the schools I visit and work with feel under enormous pressure to predict what their students are likely to achieve in their next set of GCSEs. In the past, this approach sort of made sense. Of course there was always a margin for error, but most experienced teachers just knew what a C grade looked like in their subject. Also, when at least half of students' results were based on 'banked' modular results, the pressure to predict became ever more enticing. Sadly, the certainties we may have relied on have gone. Not only have Ofqual have worked hard to [...]

A response to the Education Select Committee: Why Amanda Spielman should run Ofsted

2016-07-08T11:58:49+01:00July 7th, 2016|Featured|

So. The Education Select Committee has rejected Amanda Spielman as the next Chief Inspector. Andrew Old has already summarised why he feels Amanda would have been a terrific appointment here and I agree with him entirely. The purpose of this post is to reflect on quite serious flaws in the Select Committee's reasoning. In the document detailing their decision, they claim that they sought to "test Ms Spielman’s professional competence and personal independence" and were "left with significant concerns about her suitability for the post of HMCI." These are their particular gripes: First: Ms Spielman did not demonstrate the passion for the [...]

Where now for school improvement?

2016-07-04T16:04:16+01:00July 3rd, 2016|Featured|

In the past, school improvement was easy. You could push pupils into taking BTECs or Diplomas (sometimes with 100% coursework) equivalent to multiple GCSEs; you could organise your curriculum to allow for early entry and multiple resits; you could bend the rules on controlled assessment and a whole host of other little tricks and cons intended to flatter and deceive. Now what have we got? PiXL Club? As Rob Coe laid bare in Improving Education: A Triumph of Hope over Experience, school improvement has been a tawdry illusion. Evidence from international comparisons, independent studies and national exams tell a conflicting and unsavoury tale. As [...]

Why I'm optimistic about the new Chief Inspector

2016-06-14T14:17:05+01:00June 14th, 2016|Featured|

Guardian journalist and ex-teacher, Michelle Hanson thinks education in the UK is "going down the pan". In this article she tells us the memory of working as a teacher still makes her "feel a bit queasy" whenever she so much as walks past a school. I can only imagine what kind of horrors she might have endured and I have nothing but sympathy for the many thousands of teachers who, like Michelle, have chosen to get out of the classroom and do something less injurious to their mental health. She's absolutely right to point out that the "preparation, planning, note-taking, sudden irrational initiatives, testing [...]

Is it possible to get assessment right?

2015-05-31T11:18:35+01:00May 23rd, 2015|assessment|

No. After my last blog on how to get assessment wrong, various readers got in touch to say, OK smart arse, what should we do? Well, I'm afraid the bad news is that we'll never get assessment right. Or at least, it's impossible for assessment to give us anything like perfect information on student's progress or learning. We can design tests to give us pretty good information of students' mastery of a domain, but as Amanda Spielman, chair of Ofsted said at researchED in September, the best we can ever expect from GCSEs is to narrow student achievement down to + or [...]