John Tomsett

Evidence and disadvantage: How useful is the EEF Toolkit?

2017-02-27T09:01:15+00:00February 26th, 2017|research|

Although everyone's education is important, the education of disadvantaged students is, arguably, of much greater importance than that of students from more advantaged backgrounds. The more privileged your background, the less it's likely to matter what happens at school. Conversely, the more socially disadvantaged your background, the greater the impact of what does, or does not happen at school.Sadly though, access to education is more than likely to experience a Matthew effect. Those who have the best chance in life are the most likely to get a great education. That being the case, it seems reasonable to suggest that whilst all children deserve that the [...]

What I know about whether ‘no excuses’ behaviour systems work

2016-12-31T15:01:56+00:00April 25th, 2016|behaviour|

I read John Tomsett's account of his speech at Michaela School's Debate on 23rd April on why 'no excuses' behaviour systems don't work with great interest. As a speech it is well researched, well argued and kinda misses the point. He acknowledges this when he says, "If I’m against “no excuses” discipline, I must, logically, be in favour of “excuses” discipline" but then dismisses this as "nonsense". But is it? He says that "relentless rigorous routines, and consistent, and I mean truly consistent, implementation of behaviour systems were the bedrock of good behaviour management in schools". What's that if not 'no excuses' discipline? [...]

This much I know about John Tomsett's book

2015-06-22T21:18:17+01:00June 22nd, 2015|reflection|

I remember reading John's first blog when it appeared in June 2012. Since then his posts have been consistently wise and deeply human. Even when he bangs on about golf, fishing or The Clash. Until I read that John was a headteacher who actually taught - actual classes - I'd never encountered this as a concept before. Since then I've seen him as a lodestone; my ideal against which I measure all other heads. I've had the privilege of meeting him a couple of times and he's as warm, tolerant and kind as you imagine him to be. We sat next to each [...]

20 psychological principles for teachers #14 Relationships

2015-06-22T07:41:44+01:00June 22nd, 2015|psychology|

This is the second of three posts examining social context, interpersonal relationships, and emotional well-being and the extent to which they are important to learning. This is #14 in my series on the Top 20 Principles From Psychology for Teaching and Learning: “Interpersonal relationships and communication are critical to both the teaching–learning process and the social-emotional development of students.” Guess what? Psychologists have discovered that relationship are important in teaching. Who knew? This falls squarely into the 'how obvious' camp and as such seems to require little in the way of investigation. Quite simply, how could relationship not be important to teaching [...]

Back to School Part 4: Planning

2020-09-02T14:06:11+01:00August 23rd, 2014|Featured|

This series of #backtoschool blogs summarises much of my thinking as it’s developed over the past few years and is aimed at new or recently qualified teachers. Each area has been distilled to 5 ‘top tips’ which I hope prove useful to anyone embarking on a career in teaching. That said, I’ll be delighted if they serve as handy reminders for colleagues somewhat longer in the tooth. So far in this back to school series we've covered establishing clear routines, building relationships and an awareness of the need to make language and literacy explicit in lessons. This next post concerns itself with the time consuming business [...]

An inconvenient truth? The surplus model of school improvement

2014-02-23T16:59:17+00:00February 23rd, 2014|leadership|

Schools often seem to be run on a 'deficit model': "this attributes scepticism or hostility to a lack of understanding, resulting from a lack of information. It is associated with a division between 'experts' (school leaders, Ofsted inspectors, consultants etc.) who have the information and non-experts (classroom teachers) who do not. The model implies that communication should focus on improving the transfer of information from experts to non-experts." But what if we ran our schools on a surplus model? What if we assumed that teachers were basically trustworthy, hard-working, and knew what they were doing? What it were agreed that school leaders [...]

Are all difficulties desirable?

2013-10-05T11:07:37+01:00October 5th, 2013|Featured|

I was aghast to read an extract from Malcolm Gladwell's new book, David And Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits And The Art Of Battling Giants in The Guardian yesterday. Not because it's bad, but because it's the book I wanted to write! Or rather, it's not. The David & Goliath metaphor is intriguing, but not really what I'm interested in. What got my heart rate up was an oblique reference to Professor Bjork's work on 'desirable difficulties'. This extract from David and Goliath is, for the most part, about dyslexia. In it Gladwell contends that adversity creates conditions for surprising greatness: Conventional wisdom holds that a disadvantage is something that [...]

Ask not what's wrong with Twitter…

2013-09-29T10:28:26+01:00September 29th, 2013|blogging|

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. Matthew 7: 3-5 What's wrong with Twitter? Nothing. Not a damn thing. Twitter does what it does brilliantly and I for one am jolly grateful. There are few better ways to communicate with people; if you have something worth saying, it will find an audience. The draw back is the 140 character limit [...]

So, what *IS* the point of INSET days?

2015-01-26T12:39:51+00:00January 6th, 2013|training|

Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better. Dylan Wiliam, keynote to SSAT conference, December 2012 Back in August 2011, long before I ever thought I might one day be feeling guilty about being paid for going to another school and talking about teaching, I wrote this post asking what the point of an INSET day actually was. I didn't really answer the question. However, I did point out this: All too often the only requirement for staff  is that they sit and listen. Either to an expensive motivational guest speaker or [...]

Go with the flow: the 2 minute lesson plan

2015-07-08T16:19:55+01:00November 17th, 2012|learning, planning|

NB: This post does no longer represents my latest thinking. I’ve updated my approach to planning here. Like all teachers, my main aim in life is to run, whooping, out of the school gates by 3 o’clock. My time is therefore precious and I can’t be wasting it mucking about planning lessons. Fortunately for us skiving scoundrels,  SMW recently told us that as far as Ofsted are concerned there is no need for lesson plans. As long as lessons are planned. These are my two guiding principles for lesson planning: Marking is planning Focus on learning not activities So, how’s this for [...]

Planning a 'perfect' lesson

2012-06-30T11:41:36+01:00June 30th, 2012|training|

How long does a decent lesson take to plan? Ofsted have recently made clear that they're not interested in over complicated lesson plans noting that "excessive detail within plans causes teachers to lose sight of the central focus on pupils' learning." So, who are we putting all that effort into planning for? Our students? Our selves? John Tomsett writes Over the past twenty years we have made tremendous progress in teaching and practice in our state schools has never been better; however, over-planned lessons are a curse. One candidate for a post at Huntington had a lesson plan a full nine pages [...]

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