Monthly Archives: August 2014

Everyone can be a critic, but what have you done lately?

Sunday morning sermon type thoughts:

1) Treat other people as you’d like to be treated
2) Show mercy that you may be shown mercy
3) Take the rafter out of your own eye before you go looking at the straw in your brother’s eye
4) Those who live by the sword, die by the sword

My pontification and reflections mean something like:

1) If you’re someone who is always critical of and tearing down the work of others, don’t be surprised when that comes around and bites you on the bum
2) If you want other people to understand why you sometimes fall short and to take some mitigating circumstances into account, then make sure you give that same leeway to them, otherwise, why should they?
3) Everyone has their faults. The whole world isn’t wrong and it isn’t just you who are right. You’re not perfect either.
4) If you’re going to give it out, make sure you can stand up and take it when it comes back to you in equal measure. If you don’t like it when you get it back, maybe you should stop giving it out.

Everyone can be a critic. What have you done lately to actually produce something? Can you do, and have you proven through track record that you can do what you are pulling other people down for? If not then come back when you have.

School Research Ethics Form Template Free for Adaptation & Use

A few weeks ago I blogged on the topic of research ethics in the context of school based research by teachers. I outlined a few bullet points on some considerations to bear in mind before embarking on a research project in a school, especially where minors who represent a vulnerable category of research participant are involved. I emphasised the need to gain informed consent and approval of parents, as well as the participants themselves, before research begins. Adding to this, I’ve put together a basic template below that can be adapted for your own use in school to communicate research ideas internally between staff, and to keep SLT informed for safeguarding issues and monitoring. I’ve adapted this from a similar form we use for MSc students involved in research projects at The University of Manchester.

I think the essential point to have in mind is that everything should be transparent, above board and well thought through in advance. I don’t think this should be seen as a tool for top down control by SLT of staff engaging in research, but it should be seen as a communication tool to enhance potential research activities going on within the school and to protect and safeguard the students being taught within it.

Feel free to use and adapt this template for your own use.

For Approval by the School Research Ethics Committee/Representative
To be completed and approved by SLT prior to seeking parental consent to embark on research
Copy to be kept on file by SLT and the member of staff proposing the research

Section 1: Basic Details
A) Name of school:
B) Name of teacher / member of staff submitting form:
C) Working title of proposed research project:
D) Name of research advisor / supervision contact:
E) For research advisor / supervision contact only: please initial and date here if you have seen and approved the project idea:

Section 2: Research Background
Use this space to answer the following questions (approx 150 words):
A) What do you intend to research on and why is this research important?
B) What are some of the key issues arising from prior reading of other published research you have already read on this topic? (Provide references of source material)
[Answer these questions by stating briefly the research problem and why investigating the problem is necessary. You should also state the possible benefits of your research, including who you think might benefit from this work]

Section 3: Research Methodology
Use this space to answer the following questions (approx 200 words):
A) What key research questions are you going to ask? (1-3 are recommended)
B) What information do you need to collect or use in your research?
C) How are you going to collect this information? Eg experiments, questionnaire surveys, interviews, case studies, participant observations, documents and information from official sources etc.
D) Why is collecting information in this way suitable for your research questions?
[You are not expected to provide a full explanation of the research method at this stage. You only need to briefly describe how you are going to collect information for your research, and explain why this approach is most suitable at this stage. Cite references where necessary]

Section 4: Ethical Risks
Use this space to answer the following questions (approx 200 words):
A) When collecting information for your research, will you be involving people? For example, will you be running experiments with or on people? Will you be asking people questions? Will you be collecting or using confidential information about people?
B) If you intend to involve people, what types of people would these be? How many people will you involve? Why do you need to involve these people?
[Answer these questions briefly. The purpose of this section is to ascertain the level of ethical risks of your research project, and establish whether there is a need to seek further approval in a more in depth way from the research ethics committee/representative. Think carefully about whether your data collection and analysis have the potential for causing harm to people, including revealing confidential information. If you are only engaging in a literature review project, just state that you will not involve any people in your research.

Section 5: Ethical Considerations
A) Use this space to answer the following considerations (approx 200 words):
B) How will you recruit people to willing participate in your research? (I.e. Voluntary participation and informed consent of students and parents and anyone else proposed?)
C) How will you protect the interests of the people in your research?
D) How will you store and protect information collected in your research?
E) Are there any risks to your own safety, and how will you minimise and manage these?

SLT signature and date of receipt of document:
Research approved by SLT?: Y/N
Comments/feedback by SLT:

Once this form has been approved and any comments and feedback acted upon, it should be ok to proceed to obtaining informed consent of voluntary research participants and their parents (if minors).

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3 Inspirational People: Inspire Students & Teach Grit & Growth Mindset

How do you inspire students? I suppose there are many ways to skin that particular cat, but one nice way is to give them a few examples of inspiring people from history and then have them go away and research someone from the past or present who they think was inspiring and to get them to articulate through some form of presentation why they thought they were inspiring. It’s also a sneaky way of teaching a few underpinning qualities and attitudes of ‘grit’ and growth mindset at the same time in my opinion.

The three inspiring people I chose were: George Washington, Joan of Arc, and Gandhi (my bullet point notes below). The outline I stuck to was a brief intro on each giving the dates they lived, a few things we know about them, why they are inspirational, and some personal qualities they demonstrated. I’m always surprised by how little many of my students know of these characters, but sometimes I’m also blown away by the odd one or two who are experts!

I like this activity because you can also link it to persuasive writing. Once students have chosen and researched a little about their inspirational person, they can set about trying to convince others and even enter into a debate about why their chosen character is more inspirational than another.

This can be turned into poster tasks, PPT presentations, written essay tasks, letter writing tasks, cartoons and storyboards, and of course more imaginative stuff using amazing apps like Explain Everything, etc.

Anyway, here’s my notes below about the three inspirational people I would choose. What about you? Who are your inspiring role models and why?

1- George Washington
Born 1732 – Died 1799

What do you know about George Washington?

•1st president of the United States
•His first set of false teeth were made from cow’s teeth – his second pair were made of hippopotamus ivory due to bad tooth disease
•He joined the navy at the age of 14
•He was the only one of the “Founding Fathers” to free his slaves
•Marijuana was the primary crop grown by him at Mount Vernon

Why inspirational?

•Once, during battle, a cannonball almost hit him and his men. Everyone hid, except George, who kept on fighting.
•He led the Continental Army to victory over the Kingdom of Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
•YouTube video on George Washington:

Why else was he inspirational?

•Some quotes of things he said:
•“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter”
•“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company”
•“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence”

Some of his personal qualities:

•High principles
•Impartial justice
•Totally trustworthy
•Calm in the face of danger
•Dauntless in adversity

2 – Joan of Arc
Born 1412 – Died 1431

What do you know about Joan of Arc?

•Lived in the 1400s
•When she was only 16 or 17 she convinced Charles VII of France to give her a small army to go and liberate Riem from the English
•She then led the army to win several more battles and helped give Charles VII the confidence to be crowned King of France
•She was captured by the English and burnt at the stake age 19 for heresy

Why was she inspirational?

•She had no experience
•She was only 16 or 17 and spoke confidently to the would-be king
•At the same age she led an army successfully to battle
•She inspired the king to take the throne
•She died a martyr’s death for her doing what she did, because she was a woman

Some of her personal qualities?

•Personal strength

3 – Gandhi
Born 1869 – Died 1948

What do you know about Gandhi?

•Came from an Indian family of Hindus
•Was a lawyer in South Africa
•He led India to independence in the 1940s
•He was a civil rights activist
•Peaceful freedom fighter
•Known for “non-violent civil disobedience”

Why was he inspirational?

•Famously led Indians in challenging British salt tax with the 400 km (250 mi) Dandi Salt March in 1930
•Stood up for what he believed in: imprisoned for many years, many times, in South Africa and India.
•Gandhi attempted to practice non-violence and truth in all situations, and advocated that others do the same.
•Not materialistic: He lived modestly in a self-sufficient residential community & wore traditional Indian dhoti & shawl, woven with yarn hand spun on a charkha.
•He ate simple vegetarian food, also undertook long fasts for self-purification & social protest.

Joan of Arc:


The Mock Turtle’s Song: A Bit Like Twitter Edu Chats?

“The Mock Turtle’s Song”, also known as the “Lobster Quadrille”, is a song and dance that the Mock Turtle recites in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It reminds me of some Twitter Edu chats: great fun, but you have to keep up or your tweets get lost under stampeding eager lobsters and turtles. And then there’s always the lurkers, thanking the whiting kindly, but perhaps not joining the dance just yet. Anyway… Here’s the song… Will you, won’t you, be joining the educhat dances on Twitter this new academic year? 😎

“Will you walk a little faster?” said a whiting to a snail,

“There’s a porpoise close behind us, and he’s treading on my tail.
See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance!
They are waiting on the shingle – will you come and join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?

Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance?
“You can really have no notion how delightful it will be

When they take us up and throw us, with the lobsters, out to sea!”
But the snail replied “Too far, too far!” and gave a look askance —
Said he thanked the whiting kindly, but he would not join the dance.
Would not, could not, would not, could not, would not join the dance.

Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance.
“What matters it how far we go?” his scaly friend replied.

“There is another shore, you know, upon the other side.
The further off from England the nearer is to France —
Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance.
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?

Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance?


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Contemporary educational ideas all my staff should know about

My reading list for the new academic year sorted!



Key ideas from different sources. Key ideas from different sources.

As I look ahead to starting my new job at Highbury Grove,  I’m thinking about all the conversations we are going to have about learning.  To a large degree I want my teachers to be as up-to-date as possible within their own subject domains. They should know the latest OfSTED position ( eg with Moving English Forward or Mathematics: made to measure ) and be up to speed with exam specifications and assessment requirements.  Subject knowledge and subject-specific pedagogical knowledge are going to be key drivers of everything we do.

However, in order to fuel the collaborative effort of reaching the ambitious goals we have for the school, we’ll need to establish a shared conceptual language for talking about teaching across the school as well as within departments. Inevitably, different teachers will have engaged to different degrees with certain ideas depending on the books…

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10 Great Things About This Week

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1) 7 of my GCSE English students got a grade C at Foundation Level! Yey! Congrats to them 👍😎👍😎👍😎 (big hugs to those that didn’t make it).

2) The amazing Sweet Dreams charity diary team, raising money for the Family Holiday Association, have been working hard behind the scenes to raise a separate pot of sponsorship to print the diaries so we can then sell them. Mary Isherwood and Heather Scott have been fabulous in particular and on paper we have now covered the cost of printing!!! Yeyyyy!!! 😎👍😎👍😎👍

3) Nearly all teacher models who are still going to submit a photo for the diary have passed one over now. Yeyyyy!!!! 😎👍😎👍😎👍 … Just a few stragglers left: come on, you can do it 😘

4) We’ve now raised £635 in the justgiving pot for the FHA at the time of writing, which is great considering this is extra to the diaries themselves! Yeyyyy!!! 😎👍😎👍😎👍 add to this amazing and accruing amount at 😘😘😘

5) We’re a step closer to making the final decision on the colours of the diary cover… Yeyyyy!!! 😎👍😎👍😎👍 Don’t scoff! This is an important issue 😘 see the range of choice in the image below …

6) The sale of my house has finally gone through to exchange of contracts!!! Yes!!! Contracts have actually been exchanged!! Yeyyyy!!!! 😎👍😎👍😎👍 OMG about flipping time too 🙈🙊🙉

7) I’ve booked a removal van for the day before completion… !!! Yeyyyy!!!! 😎👍😎👍😎👍 But wasn’t able to tell the removal firm where I was moving to because I still haven’t found a new place yet! True story. I’ve got two weeks… 🙈🙊🙉

8) I’ve finished marking and giving final feedback on all the MSc final draft theses before the deadline (22nd August)!!! Yeyyyy!!! 😎👍😎👍😎👍 Now it’s just up to those guys to pull it out of the bag and submit on time themselves 👀

9) @MartynReah asked me to write a guest blog for his blog at: 😎👍😎👍😎👍 This was of course an honour and a privilege! Thank you, Martyn. 💻📝

10) @JulesDaulby asked me to join her with her kids at the ResearchEd conference in London on 6th September 😎👍😎👍😎👍 Again, an honour and a privilege and I’m getting my loom bands ready as I write 😘 (more info about the conference at )

Have a great Friday, folks, and an even better weekend!!! I’ll be out flat hunting 🙈😘


18 Hemingway Quotes for Writers

I like Hemingway. He was a good writer to aspire to emulate: a writer of good, clean prose.

I was just clearing out an email inbox I don’t use anymore and found this list sent to me by the Writers’ Digest. It made me smile and I got the urge to share it:

1. I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.

2. If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water.

3. For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.

4.That is what we are supposed to do when we are at our best – make it all up – but make it up so truly that later it will happen that way.

5. Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.

6. My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.

7. When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.

8. Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over.

9. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.

10. There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.

11. To F. Scott Fitzgerald: “Write the best story that you can and write it as straight as you can.”

12. Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now.

13. All stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.

14. A serious writer is not to be confounded with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.

15. It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.

16. To an aspiring writer: “You shouldn’t write if you can’t write.”

17. After writing a story I was always empty and both sad and happy, as though I had made love, and I was sure this was a very good story although I would not know truly how good until I read it over the next day.

18. My training was never to drink after dinner nor before I wrote nor while I was writing.

What’s your favourite Hemingway quote? Share it in the comments!

Research Ethics & Subject Agreement

Just a quick note on research ethics:

– ask research subjects prior to engaging them in research whether they wish to be involved
– explain exactly what it is you are researching and what is required from them
– don’t seek to manipulate a research subject into participating in research without them knowing
– if anyone does this to you: sue their ass and castigate them to the full extent possible.
– think about whether, as a researcher, you are telling the truth, presenting the truth, distorting the facts as they are, or hiding any evidence
– if you engage children in research then ask their parents first or at least run it by them that you are conducting research that their vulnerable minors are involved in
– if you are SLT in a school, make sure you know what research your staff are up to and safeguard students and other members of the school community accordingly
– before staff in your school conduct any research they should at least complete some kind of pro-forma that outlines the research question, research methods, aims and objectives in brief, and states how and if any human subjects will be involved in the research. This should be signed off by a senior member of the school team to maintain awareness of what is going on and to ensure transparency for record keeping and monitoring. This would also help provide a stagegate for safeguarding of research subjects who may be vulnerable minors, and/or any others, to check if permission has been sought by research subjects or their parents and to keep records as to whether approval has been given.

I doubt sincerely whether any school or teacher would like legal action to be taken against them at a later date for carrying out unethical research.

I also doubt whether any ethical and responsible adult teacher / researcher would knowingly seek to carry out or endorse any unethical research.

There’s more to research ethics. What else can you think of to add to the list?

What really matters

Brilliant blog post. The top tips seem to include: teaching by analogy, enabling learning by rote, and encouraging growth mindset, among other things. Worth a read, and perhaps implementing… (!)


Why do 95% of teachers not know about what really works in the classroom? Why are the media and politicians even more clueless? According to Mike Bell, who runs the Evidence-Based Teachers’ Network (EBTN), very few people are actually aware of the teaching techniques that are proven to work across all the age ranges and subjects. Bell feels this is because we don’t live in a culture which values assessing the evidence. We prefer to argue and disagree rather than come to a consensual point of view based on the best evidence before us.
I have to confess that until recently I was not aware of the full range of work that has been done which shows that there are some really effective, simple teaching techniques that consistently work. Sure, I was aware of John Hattie’s seminal research studies but I have to confess that I’d found his book

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