You’re only as good as the sum of your parts

Well worth a read, hits the key issues squarely on the Head. My motivation to become and inspector was to ensure at least the schools I visited were treated fairly, sadly I’m reconsidering due to a range of issues…frankly, I’m not sure it’s worth the time away from work, family and stress, especially when a ridiculous complaint comes in, which requires several hours of reasoned response, when I have a stack of marking, some action plans to review, data to scrutinise and that’s without any family needs being considered. I think inspections will improve and he will finish the job that Mike Cladingbowl started, with genuine engagement and discussion. I certainly hope so.

the primary head's blog

It’s always refreshing to know that you are not alone. I had that experience last Monday whilst I was in a meeting with Sean Harford, the National Director of Ofsted, who had kindly invited me, along with a range of other educators, to a meeting regarding the future of Ofsted. It is always genuinely nice to be invited to such events because not only does it make you feel like you are a voice that could be worth listening to, but, far more importantly, you feel like those with the ultimate power are keen to listen. 

I am totally convinced that, in Sean, we have a rational, determined and dedicated educationalist at the helm of Ofsted. His vision for Ofsted’s future is sensible and picks up the slack in terms of ‘good’ schools being left alone for too long. He was open and honest, especially in terms of his expectations of inspectors…

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Some days I’m really not passionate about what we do…frustration, tiredness, pushed beyond caring by other agencies and their incompetences, it well, makes me wonder…as does Tom’s blog. As it was meant to! Right?

Stack of Marking

Here’s another from It’s a great mag that’s full of that good teaching juju. You can get yourself some of the aforementioned juju by subscribing if you follow the link. Ta muchly.


Education is dripping with passion. The word is used so much you’d think that every teacher in the land was mainlining Mills and Boon and walking around falling into each other’s arms during first break (they’re not by the way, just in case you’re thinking that you’re missing out. Well, at least they’re not with me.)

We’re passionate about education, passionate about the kids, passionate about our subject, passionate for the future, passionate about being the best we can be, passionate about lunch, passionate about whiteboards, passionate about passion. Passion absolutely all over the shop.

CVs, Linkedin profiles, mottos and (let me get out an involuntary shudder here) mission statements veritably heave with the stuff. It’s a…

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Naming of Parts

Made me smile…after a long week of watching children wade through SATs and rin out correct answers…

Freeing the Angel

Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday
We had our reading test. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have mathematics. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Cow parsley
Punctuates the hedgerows, the lacy white heads bend in the rain,
And today we have naming of parts.

This is the adverb. And this
Is the adverbial clause, whose use you will see,
When it modifies the verb. And this is the connective,
Which next year must be called a conjunction. The cow parsley
Drips in the pouring rain, as though it is crying.
Which in our case we must not do.

This is the exclamation mark, which creates surprise
Or suggests shock. And please do not let me
See you using more than one. (You can express shock without it
If there is sufficient power in your words.) The cow parsley
Is fragile and short-lived, but each year
It returns…

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What I have learned about the Labour Party

Ros hits the high notes…Not a fluffed note and it makes me wonder…what if? Ros? I know you love your job, but if you went into politics I’d follow you.

Ros McMullen: Things I've learned and things I'm learning

I don’t think it is a secret that I am a Labour Party member. You have a simple choice as a public sector leader: you can worry that you risk your employer and your community discriminating against you as a result of your political affiliation, or you can decide that those risks are outweighed by other factors.  So my political affiliations have never been hidden from anyone.  I don’t think the DfE have penalised my organisation as a result of my political affiliations and I don’t believe they ever would.

I’ve been a Labour Party member since 1977 aged 15.  That’s a long time.  At one time in the mid 1990s I contemplated looking to stand in a marginal constituency, but then I got a Deputy Headship and began to have a lot less time for political work.  By the time we won the 1997 election I was expecting my first baby and knew what I wanted…

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That wasn’t an election result, it was a 5-year prison sentence

As usual. Spot on.

Disappointed Idealist

This election has coincided with me being more ill than I can ever remember. A dose of real flu, the sort of uncontrollable-shivering-sweat-dripping-eyeball-aching-nearly-passing-out kind of flu which has made me, perhaps for the first time, genuinely question my mortality. As a result, I suspect I’m quite unique amongst non-Tories in that the election result couldn’t make me feel worse than I already did.

Still, it is now starting to sink in. I’ll be 50 years old before there’s another chance of getting rid of the Tories, and with the boundary changes they’re about to force through, plus the likely departure of Scotland, it’s actually quite hard to see how that’s going to happen. This is terrible news for me, of course, as I’m a teacher in a state school, and the education policy changes the Tories are about to impose are horrific. The changes to A-Level and GCSE exams, SATs…

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I was included last weekend by someone who has quietly done plenty to keep the in her top 5 of ‘Go to’ Educators in the #TwitteratiChallenge.  @heatherleatt has been a stalwart of keeping teachers and schools well informed with changes to the Ofsted framework, alongside @Marymyatt.  Their amended versions of frameworks, their open and frank responses have, I suspect, halted move along the desire for greater transparency from Ofsted.  It was Heather who I turned to when I wanted to write my first blog… Myth busting Ofsted, which was a short clarification following my Stage 1 training, she encouraged me and checked it for accuracy. Shortly after, I went to Ofsted HQ and talked with @mcladingbowl about the future of Ofsted and the key issue of Ofsted myths, often peddled by inspectors at conferences and also at times prevalent amongst inspectors, not just SLT…

Started by Ross (never known to nap) @TeacherToolkit – “In the spirit of social-media-educator friendships, this summer it is time to recognise your most supportive colleagues in a simple blogpost shout-out. Whatever your reason, these 5 educators should be your 5 go-to people in times of challenge and critique, or for verification and support”

There are only 3 rules.

  1. You cannot knowingly include someone you work with in real life.
    2. You cannot list somebody that has already been named if you are already made aware of them being listed on#TwitteratiChallenge.
    3. You will need to copy and paste the title of this blogpost and (the rules and what to do) information into your own blog post.
    What to do?
    This what to do:
    1. Within 7 days of being nominated by somebody else, you need to identify colleagues that you rely regularly go-to for support and challenge. They have now been challenged and must act and must act as participants of the #TwitteratiChallenge.
    2. If you’ve been nominated, please write your own #TwitteratiChallenge blogpost within 7 days. If you do not have your own blog, try @staffrm.
    5. The educator that is now (newly) nominated, has 7 days to compose their own #TwitteratiChallenge blogpost and identify who their top 5 go-to educators are.

So, already rule number 1 poses a challenge as a number of people I would have listed have already appeared elsewhere! Superstylynne  who quietly dmed away as I stumbled through I my mothers last days in a hospice…lots of sleepless nights and days. Or @betsysalt who took pity on a bored colleague who didn’t want to talk Ofsted whilst training in Bristol.   @educationbear whose judgement is A1 and I turn to for insider knowledge whilst looking for Headships and general staffing issues! And for pithy responses or general mischief at inappropriate moments. @miconm is the first person I enquire from about school process, personnel and stuff I have no idea about, like the fact I have to continue paying for staff’so child are vouchers even when on maternity leave…

I’m still so spoilt for choice though, as there are so many great people on Twitter that I love to follow and chat to.  So here, in no particular order, are my nominations:

@chemistrypoet always comments on my blogs and manages somehow to find that tricky balance between support and challenge, asks the questions I need to hear, rather than just cheerleading. Always, always makes me stop and think. People who know me will recognise for a very valuable thing!

@chrischivers always a gentleman, supports, challenges and hugely knowledgable & always interesting to follow. Gently prods and nudges and tends to look at conversations from a different perspective, something I value hugely.

@farrowmr aka Mr Grumpy…Ric is sometimes provocative, but always applies an intellectual rigour to arguments and discussions that sometimes leave me behind! He’s fiercely passionate about children getting the best and sometimes frustration is evident…but that tends to be a trait of champions! Always available if I need a rant…although one of his responses got quarantined by LGFLMAIL for profanity! It was on that occasion highly warranted!

@mishwood1 wonderful lady…funny, committed (some might say In more than one way!) and doing an amazing job! Always, always supportive, lots of dm’s full of brilliant advice, support and general sunshine.  If I need to support a child with additional needs, she if a font of wisdom.

@JaPenn56 what she doesn’t know about governance is not worth knowing. Always ready and willing to offer advice, support and wit in equal measure she is right up at the top of my go to list! Seems to know when I need a prod & when i need a virtual hug.

There are many others, particularly those who work in the murky work of data but I’ll be good and stick at the nominated 5…

7 Facts Teachers are Sick of Hearing from Politicians by @TeacherToolkit

This is spot on…although, we could add in the nonsense Nicky Morgan spouted on Radio 4 that she borrowed from Gove that 1/4 of children leave primary school unable to read write or do basic calculations….they can, just not to the required standard! And that happens for a wide range of issues. Accuracy matters politicians, particularly if you are a minister of shadow minister.