Sunday, 17 November 2013

On blogging....

Laura McInerney wrote a blog post about the perceived lack of women bloggers here:

I didn't make it to the list that Old Andrew wrote in his comment.... Oh well.

I can't speak for other women, as the initial image of Laura's blog post shows, I think that it is unfair to generalise the experience of one/some women to that of many, in the same way that if I said the male bloggers all come across as trying to sound clever by quoting international eduction researchers it wouldn't be fair either as I read many blogs by men that don't.

Personally I feel that arguing the toss via blogs and twitter is a waste of my time, and I should be planning/marking/enjoying my life etc. Perhaps many women feel the same. I read with interest (and some alarm) this blog post: and found the debate thoroughly ridiculous and totally irrelevant to me.

As a member of the science teaching community I have a voice via the ASE and SCORE back into government. I know many of the people personally who represent me as a science teacher, and make decisions on my behalf. I trust them. You only need to see the work that Ann and Brenda did on the primary curriculum to know that faith is not misplaced, and have heard Stella Paes from AQA say at the ASE summer conference that the UK had the world's experts in science education.

I am content with the purpose of my subject and know that there are very many people out there who know much much more than me. You only need to be in a room a short while with Ed Walsh, Christine Harrison, Pete Robinson, Robin Millar, Sally Howard, Jane Turner, Mary Whitehouse, Steve Marshall, Chris Colclough, Linda Needham, Ann Goldsworth James Williams and Stuart Naylor to know that anything I would write should not be accepted as an authority.

I don't blog to make myself feel like I have a voice and that I am influential. I don't blog to share my authority in my subject. I don't blog to justify my teaching style. I don't need to care that I didn't make it to Andrew's list.

Why do I blog? I blog to share what I have done, what I am thinking and what is challenging me. I hope that my posts support others and support me.

If you are a woman, who doesn't think they can blog because they are a woman, you surprise me. If you have something to say then set up a blog and go for it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Levels: tracking attainment or supporting progression

After reading through the tweets that arose from this tweet I start to see why a lot of people are happy with the demise of levels.

I am really upset that levels have gone in the new national curriculum. I used 'identify, describe, explain, use key ideas, link key ideas' in the first 7/8 years of my teaching career, and now I use the APP grid.

However, I am not using the levels to report on the attainment of students but to help them progress. And I am very confident it works (for me).

I see and accept all the possible issues around using levels in reporting and the inconsistency from one teacher/subject/school to the next. However, I still want level descriptors to help me understand the increasing complexity of the work I set students and their explanations of it.

I know many readers will say that I can still use the APP grid or 'identify, describe, explain, use key ideas, link key ideas' as nothing us stopping me, others will use SOLO taxonomy etc.

The issue that concerns me is what will everyone else do? Are heads of department expected to understand the progression in challenge of ideas individually in order to separately support their staff in knowing how to improve the work if their students?

Maybe it is intuitive to everyone else, but as a student teacher and NQT it was not to me. It also wasn't to the AST I worked with in 2006, to who 'identify, describe, explain, use key ideas, link key ideas' was something she learned outside our school and brought it back to us. (I was astounded as I knew from my previous LA advisor). It wasn't to those who developed a key stage 3 scheme in my previous school either.

My question is this: without level descriptors how will teachers successfully support the progression of their students? And don't say 'SOLO taxonomy', a) isn't that just levels without the numbers and b) how will everyone know it is there as a tool?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, 2 November 2013

2014 Key stage 3 national curriculum - working scientifically

I have had a lot of people looking at my blog for my interpretation of the draft version of the national curriculum. It is over a month now since the final draft has been published, so it is about time that I commented on that too.

In the images above I have coloured the comments green that are the same as the draft version and made the changes yellow.

I am delighted with the first change. It represents an acknowledgement to the language of measurement book from the ASE that the examination boards all use now too. I am grateful. Even if we might not like the definitions, everyone using the same ones does make life easier.

I think that most, if not all, science departments were trying to develop the use of this language into their key stage three schemes as preparation for GCSE, so it doesn't represent a major change.

I really like the 'scientific attitudes' section, and I am pleased that this part of the national curriculum isn't just about investigations, so we haven't lost the element of how science works that was introduced in 2008.

The next question is how to develop these skills in our young people and what the desired outcome at the end of year 9 would be. And of course how to assess it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, 1 November 2013

Teaching Schools Will Solve the Problems the DfE Create (apparently)

I read today that teaching schools are to help us approach out implementation of the new national curriculum. Oh joy of joys. It seems to me that if there is a problem that has to be solved by schools (usually created by the DfE) then it is teaching schools that has to do this. Why I am so sceptical?

I started my career working at the worst school in the worst local authority, we knew we were dreadful teachers because the deputy head that was appointed from the LA in order to rescue us told us that the reason the school was failing was because of us, the teachers. I must have been a terrible teacher.

Three years later I found myself working in a school that was to become a teaching school. David Hargreaves addressed us. He told us that we were the best group of staff he had come across (or at least that is what I heard).

Hang on, I thought, how can I go from being one of the worst teachers in the country to one of the best?

We can have a debate about what makes one school better than another. That is not what I want to consider in this post, my question is what makes one body of staff better than another? Who is to say that the staff body in a teaching school is the best place to go to for information about curriculum change?

I worry about this with good reason. When I worked in a teaching school we were praised by our management for 'innovation'. In reality the decisions that were made regarding the science curriculum were at best poorly considered at worst disastrous for our students. I would not have wished any of those ideas onto another school.

In my final year at the school I managed to undermine sufficiently the appalling key stage 3 curriculum (although I can't take much credit myself, the other staff saw the results in the poor ability of the GCSE students). They were then going to re-write the key stage 3 curriculum. I didn't see the results, but again the outline plan was not something that I would want to impose on another school. Am I an expert? No. My opinion about the curriculum that this school may or may not have is irrelevant and it is probably working well.

If I were still working there my opinion would be relevant. It would be sought by schools in the area and my interpretation of the new national curriculum would be sold to others schools as being a good one on the basis that I work at a teaching school.

What makes the opinion of the teacher at the worst school in the worst LA worth that much less than the teacher at an outstanding teaching school, when the change between the two is one job application away?