Tom Sherrington

Attention, meaning & consolidation: matching technique to purpose

2024-06-08T11:40:04+01:00January 12th, 2024|English, reflection, training|

It's become increasingly clear to me that training teachers on how to use pedagogical techniques is of limited use. Over the past year or so I've lost count of the times I've watched a teacher act on feedback, improve how how they are, say, cold calling, or using a visualiser or mini-whiteboard, and yet still somehow the lesson is a series of missed opportunities with students failing to learn what was intended. A few years ago I read (or at lest, skimmed) Mary Kennedy's 2015 paper, Parsing the Practice of Teaching and was struck, like so many others, by her [...]

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 [...]

Do you need a research champion in your school?

2014-09-08T17:19:14+01:00September 8th, 2014|Featured|

If you haven't read this great article by Carl Hendricks, Director of Research at Wellington College, on the need for 'research champions in schools, you should. In it Hendricks persuasively sets out the case for the importance of there being a designated member of staff to champion the cause of education research in every school: Education research has provided teachers with enlightening and elegant ways of approaching their practice. There is an ever-growing and robust evidence base in a wide range of areas that have improved standards and enfranchised both teacher practice and student achievement. However there has also been a history of ideologically driven, [...]

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 [...]

Practical differentiation: high expectations and the art of making mistakes

2014-02-03T20:18:38+00:00February 1st, 2014|Featured, learning|

Differentiation? I hate the word as I hate Hell, all ludicrous bureaucracy, and thee! Er... Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet Differentiation is one of the darkest arts in teaching. The generally accepted position is that differentiation is wholly good, and this is the cause of the wracking guilt felt by harrowed teachers: it may well be good, but it's bloody hard work. My bottom line is this: any policy predicated on the idea that teachers should work harder is doomed to failure. Thankfully, teaching's enforcement arm seem, at long last, to agree: "It is unrealistic ... for inspectors to necessarily expect that [...]

Some reviews of The Secret of Literacy

2014-01-18T14:44:58+00:00January 18th, 2014|literacy|

To further whet your appetite for my forthcoming book and in the spirit of shameless self-promotion, I thought I'd share a couple of pre-release reviews. (Just in case you weren't aware, it's out on 31st January, and I'm quite pleased with it!) First of all, there's a very generous review from the headguruteacher himself, Tom Sherrington: The Secrets of Literacy is an essential book for all teachers and school leaders.  It is not just another literacy book. David Didau provides a crystal clear rationale for all teachers taking responsibility for developing literacy in their specialist areas, with lots of very practical ideas, [...]

Awards Season 2013 – my votes in the Edublog Awards

2013-12-07T09:48:11+00:00December 7th, 2013|blogging|

It's that time again. The rhythm of the year inevitably reaches a staccato climax as the Edublog Awards, or Eddies, trundle laboriously into view. And happily the voting process appears much less flawed than in past years with every individual only able to vote once for each entry. Even better you can actually see who has voted for you. So I will know! Back in 2011 I was nominated for Best New Blog and got very over excited. In my self-depreciatory way I tried to mobilise my very modest Twitter following, and my mum, to vote for me. With almost imperceptible results. [...]

What 3 things would you do to help a teacher improve?

2013-12-04T22:54:12+00:00December 3rd, 2013|training|

If there was no OfSTED, no league tables, no SLT... just you and your class. What would you choose to do to make it GREAT? Do that anyway... Tom Sherrington Every teacher needs to improve. Not because they're not good enough but because they can be even better. Dylan Wiliam It's been said before but, I think, bears repeating: Ofsted have a lot to answer for. No one wants failing schools going unchecked but the medicine is often worse than the cure. I spent the morning at a lovely primary school who have just been 'done'. And they really do feel [...]

Independence vs independent learning

2013-09-28T20:12:33+01:00June 20th, 2013|literacy, myths, Teaching sequence|

Last weekend #SLTchat was on fostering students' independence. As you'd expect, there were lots of great suggestions shared, as well as some not so great ideas. One comment I tweeted in response to the idea that to promote independence we should get students learning independently got quite a lot of feedback: This seemed to really divide opinion; some people got upset with me, and some others agreed enthusiastically. Having read Daisy Chistodoulou's fabulously well-researched, cogently argued and clearly expressed eBook Seven Myths About Education, my thoughts on teacher talk and independent learning have started to coalesce. On Tuesday this week I [...]

So, what does 'gifted' mean anyway?

2013-06-14T21:27:59+01:00June 14th, 2013|Featured, myths|

As you may be aware, non-selective secondary schools are failing the 'most able'. How do we know? Because a brand new Ofsted report tells us so. The report's key findings include such revelations as the fact that "expectations of what the most able students should achieve are too low" and  that not enough has been done "to create a culture of scholastic excellence" which leads, unsurprisingly, to, "Many students become used to performing at a lower level than they are capable of." The problem is attributed to ineffective transition arrangements, poor Key Stage 3 curricula and early entry to GCSE exams. [...]

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