Category Archives: English

How I’d educate my child from EYFS through to uni

This blog post is inspired by a tweet I saw yesterday, which said we should teach our students as we would like our own children to be taught – or something along those lines. This got me thinking how that would go if I could self indulgently plan the monolithic scheme of work and educational settings I’d have my fictitious child go through from EYFS to uni. It’s actually quite a useful exercise to go through as it helps you to unearth some of your own educational values and beliefs if you weren’t that in touch with them already. I’d be interested to read other peoples attempts at such an envisioning of what actually might be described as pushy parent educational proxyism – it’s the ultimate in imposing your values on the life of your child after all… a personal educational imperialism if you will.

So anyway, here’s my attempt …

First of all, I’d want my child to be happy, healthy and whole… but I’d also want to hot house them a bit too, to set those high expectations and help them really achieve their full potential, giving them every chance possible to do that. I must confess I like the Russian style philosophy of finding out in what areas a child is talented and then nurturing and really pushing them in those areas. If I could see from an early stage that my kid was really great at gymnastics or art or languages, music or science… I’d really want to give them all the support I could to help them then be the best they could be. I’d throw all resources possible at that. At the same time I do like the South Korean hard work mentality and extra hours of tutoring that students get until late in the evening. And let’s face it, boarding school education comes with supervised homework / study hall until 9pm every night so I’d be in favour of all that.

I think that core subjects like maths and English are important, and science and tech, so I’d want them to do well in those areas too. But I’m an advocate of the liberal arts and humanistic education, so an overarching priority for me would like to see my child being mentored and developed through all that these paradigms offer while being rounded out in debating skills and leadership training too.

I’d expect any kid of mine to be swinging through the trees like Tarzan or Jane in Forest School, climbing Kilimanjaro during the school holidays, and getting their gold Duke of Edinburgh award age 16.

I’d want my child to not be risk averse. So I’d usher them towards all the dangerous sports: skiing, skydiving, parachuting, mountaineering and more. I’d expect them to be highly competitive and go for the Olympics.

I’d like to offer my child legal and financial savvy. I’d like to empower them for high levels of personal and social success later on. If I could get them into private schools for those al important social networks I’d do it. And I’d work as hard as I could to get them into a PPE type situation at Oxbridge.

I’d like them to have the opportunity to go to INSEAD, Europe’s most high returning business school it seems.

I’d expect them to speak three or four languages minimum. Actually let’s go for all 6 United Nations languages.

And I’d want them to make the world a better place.

But then if they got to 18 and told me to shove it and that actually they just wanted to work at the local corner shop… then fine. No. Really. Their own children will give them hell for that when I get to give them the doting grandparent treatment so why worry 🙂

That would be my aspirations for my kid – what about yours?

Dealing with highly confrontational behaviour

This blog post poses more questions than answers. It’s a reflection on highly charged situations and how best to respond.

For example, when John Prescott had eggs thrown at him that time – was he justified in lashing out and punching out?

When former PM the Rt Hon Mr Brown received comments from the female member of the public who he, unfortunately, was overheard and recorded to say was in his view a bit bigoted: was this justified but perhaps avoidable? The impact was indeed a shame on that particular election campaign.

Anger and intense views, while sometimes not great for the heart, are nonetheless part of our human makeup. What are the best ways to deal with and respond to such outbursts though?

In a school environment teachers try generally to model the behaviour they expect students to imitate. Also easy to say and harder to implement sometimes.

What are your strategies for dealing with such issues? What would you have done in John Prescott‘s shoes or with the benefit of hindsight as Mr Brown?

If you can rehearse such situations in advance it can help. What are your thoughts on the following?

⁃ If someone eggs you as in Mr Prescott’s situation: might it be possible to diffuse this by turning palms up and saying “scrambled eggs anyone?” And then perhaps arranging an appointment to be offered to the egger for discussion on what prompted the emotion behind the incident?

⁃ If someone with views that don’t sit right with you confronts you – how can you avoid the mental steps that might lead to you labelling or branding them a bigot before you even say it out loud? Even though you may feel justified? This is a very complex one actually and could also relate to the no platform debate. The answer would have to be purely to either discuss the issue honestly and openly or not to pass judgement at all. Also easier said than done. Again, opening dialogue and talking at a later time and exploring thinking is the strongest way forward, without having to compromise your own integrity.

⁃ Another top tip which may cause confusion and derision often if not understood by the recipient… if someone is angry and verbally or aggressively launching at you, you can just sit down. Literally and physically. It’s not often a situation will escalate if one person isn’t standing up. You also don’t have to say anything. This doesn’t mean you won’t take action such as by withdrawing yourself from a situation or relationship later. And it doesn’t mean you are weak. It often takes a lot of strength actually.

But hey, we are all human. We all have our weaknesses. And sometimes w initiate the situation too. None of this is easy. What top tips do you have for dealing with explosive situations?

Forthcoming conference paper: “The Innovation Imperative: Adding Fire to the Fuel of Genius in UAE Schools?’ 8th International Conference on The Future of Education, 28th-29th June 2018, Florence, Italy


This paper provides an overview of innovation strategy prioritized globally and implemented in the education sector in schools, with particular reference to the example of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Data from a 2018 qualitative survey of 12 school teachers/leaders representing 9 different UAE schools from 4 separate emirates are presented and results are discussed to elaborate the extent to which innovation is currently embedded and the impact it is currently recognized as having – as evidenced by such indices as innovation prizes, registering patents, or other indicators suggested by research participants. Key results of the survey are shared. Nine enablers and 10 barriers for innovation in schools and 6 recommendations for practice are presented. Recommendations for further research include a need for a UAE 7 emirate-wide survey. The value of longitudinal research is suggested to chart the emerging narrative of innovation in schools to capture long term impacts.

Keywords: innovation, UAE, schools, enablers, barriers, school improvement


Webb, C. (2018). “The Innovation Imperative: Adding Fire to the Fuel of Genius in UAE Schools?’ Accepted for The 8th International Conference on The Future of Education, 28th-29th June 2018, Florence, Italy.


Learning from Sheffield’s Little Mesters: Innovation in Schools for the 4th Industrial Revolution

Learning from Sheffield’s Little Mesters: Innovation in Schools for the 4th Industrial Revolution

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme” ― Mark Twain


I’ve been developing an interest in innovation in schools recently (Webb, 2018). I skirted by innovation during my time at Cranfield University as a PhD Student and researcher, and a littler later on in academic appointment at Sheffield Hallam University. During those times my interest emerged through interactions with other colleagues whose work more closely focused on innovation, getting involved in their projects a little, and then also publishing and relating some of my own findings from research to innovation in the context of organizational learning and the people learning in them (Webb et al, 2006).

Some of the earlier work I was invited to help publish focused on innovation labs or hubs and their role in organisations and communities in forming part of the enabling culture and environment for innovation to flourish (Dvir et al, 2007; Dvir et al, 2006; Dvir et al, 2004).

Now we sit on the edge of what Schwab is calling the 4th Industrial Revolution – I am not 100% convinced by this. My skepticism rests on feeling that the claims are too grand and perhaps unsubstantiated: a bit like the dot com boom of the 90s – is there really any substance behind it? Like the dot com boom, and subsequent crash, my feeling is that there are certainly technologies emerging which are providing more diverse ways of getting things done. However, like the internet and the dot com boom, due to great social and technological inequalities, there will continue to be legacy systems and modes of practice in existence for some time to come, and rather than being a revolution that will eradicate what came before it, rather there will be complimentary ways of doing things offered, providing evermore proliferation of choice.

In this vein, and revisiting my own local history from my birth town of Sheffield, the first industrial revolution that took place there was largely instigated by what came to be known as “the Little Mesters”, as Griffiths explains:

“Between 1770 – 1850, Sheffield’s metal trades expanded prodigiously, predominantly in the areas of cutlery manufacture, silver plated goods and steel production. Industrial organisation in the metals industry during this period was generally small scale, the typical unit of production being the individual cutler in his (and occasionally her) workshop. Plating and steel production were larger operations but they still relied on small teams of skilled metal workers and bore little resemblance to the factories of the textile industry or the steel works of the later nineteenth-century”  … “independent cutlers and metal workers or small, usually family based, partnerships”.


The small teams of skilled metal workers, independent cutlers and small, family-based partnerships were the Little Mesters. The skills were based on rigorous apprenticeships grounded in technological knowledge and skills development learned through on the job training and experience side by side with master craftsmen (and sometimes women too).

This reminded me of several things in the context of the current discussion on innovation in schools and the 4th industrial revolution. Firstly, the high level technical skills being channeled into current technological innovation and advancement are based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, and the access of the masses to the use of such technology to the same degree as ever person’s access to knives and forks: the mobile phone sits on the dinner table by most meals too. Secondly, some schools are ramping up and empowering kids with the knowledge, know-how and resources to see what they can do with this stuff (Webb, 2018). Where schools are not delivering innovation labs or the right culture to do their bit to foster innovative potential among school age children, universities are now starting to fill the gaps and invite school age kids along to play anyway (Zaatari, 2018).


However, while some kids will no doubt rise to the challenge and do wonder, who will be left out? How can we make sure everyone is included? Does the future just belong to the bright and the privileged? I’m interested to see how the most underprivileged will be given access and advantage and expert mentorship as apprentices of the future of innovation that lies before us. How will you help all children to have their chance of becoming a Little Mester of the 4th Industrial Revolution?

Innovation labs as a means of preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet | BERA

Innovation labs as a means of preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet
— Read on

My latest blog post published by the British Educational Research Association

Abstract: Using Agile Project Management for Managing Regional Innovation Projects (2008). Wolf, Webb and Schweikert

Wolf, P., Webb, C., Schweikert, S. (2008). “Using Agile Project Management for Managing Regional Innovation Projects.” Full paper accepted to the 9th International CINet (Continuous Innovation Network) Conference, ‘Radical Challenges in Innovation Management’, Valencia, Spain, 5-9 September 2008.


In this paper, the authors assume that the application of Agile Project Management practices in regional innovation projects – which are seen as complex adaptive systems – would benefit the sustainability of the project outcomes and thereby the capability of a region to continuously innovate. To clarify this issue, they conducted a single case study with a project aiming towards the development of a regional innovation strategy. This paper presents the findings.

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Abstract: Proposing the Need for an Integrated Diversity Agenda for European Business, Management and Social Policy at the Regional Level. By Webb, C (2008).

“Proposing the Need for an Integrated Diversity Agenda for European Business, Management & Social Policy at the Regional Level”

Submitted to and presented at the ‘Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Global Diversity Management (GDM): Mainstreaming Diversity through Effective CSR Programmes in Global Organisations’ Track of the 8th EURAM Conference, May 2008, Ljubljana & Bled, Slovenia

Dr Carol Webb

Abstract: This paper presents an overview of current thinking on the topic of diversity and diversity management. The field of concern spans the organizational context as well as the social and regional sphere and a core premise of this paper is that in order to conduct significant and effective diversity management the endeavour as a methodological starting point, approach, and any interventions must be integrated across these different units of analysis and application. This paper considers the context of the European Union, outlines the opportunities and challenges presented by diversity, and summarises recently proposed methods for diversity management which appear to offer value. The substantial gap identified presents a lack of frameworks, approaches and methods which step up to the challenge of conducting diversity management at
the integrated regional level to encompass the social as well as the organizational contexts of diversity.

Read full paper at

A Framework for UK Teacher Training and Career Progression?

A Framework for UK Teacher Training and Career Progression?

Prompted by another Tweeter this week (@MrsSpalding), I was keen to give my views on the proposed framework for UK Teacher Training and Career Progression, as put forward for consultation by the UK DfE[i] (@educationgovuk).

The main framework suggested is depicted thus:

QTS framework and career progression

My main feeling was that this was a positive step in the right direction, and the progression with implication of NPQ suite training from ML to EL levels was much needed. I believe that middle leaders and up should have this leadership training mandated – for the good of their own CPD and abilities in the job and career progression potential, as well as for the benefit of those in the profession serving under and alongside them. I currently teach MA Education Leadership & Management in HE and have experience in teaching in many settings and levels, including as a secondary school teacher. I feel everyone would benefit by having all leaders, middle level and up, take part in leadership training before being placed in a position of leadership, and definitely if newly appointed. Teachers who are good at teaching and good at having many of their students achieve well may well have leadership potential, and everyone should be given a chance to develop their leadership, but leadership training is essential. It’s the difference between having an HoD who drives a team into the ground, or just leaves them to it while they just focus on their own success, and someone on the other hand who coaches and mentors and develops all working with them so everyone is the best that they can be, on an ever improving journey, based on values that work for all. Ethical, values based leadership is the only way I’d say a school should be able to do well in a holistic manner, while considering the wellbeing of both students and staff.

However, what is missing from this framework is a range of factors. Firstly, routes into teaching are not so cut and dry. The consultation does not make mention of QTLS, which is now a legally accepted route into teaching in schools and achieved through Further Education routes of teacher/lecturer training and progression. For example, someone who ends up a teacher of design and technology or another technical subject specialism, may have come into teaching in FE via an industry first route. They might have been trained and apprenticed as a joiner, plumber, graphic designer, technical drawer, or another vocational area of expertise, and then gone into teaching in FE. They might have been trained with a TEFL/CELTA qualification and had many happy years teaching English as a foreign language abroad and then come back to the UK and got into English teaching that way. They may have then, alongside their teaching/lecturing role, worked their way through the PTLLS, CTLLS or DTLLS training suite (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector; Certificate in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector; Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector) and received accreditation for teaching in that way, alongside many years of experience in the classroom. They may have then finally completed a module with prior accredited learning to achieve a PGCE in Education and Training 14+ and then completed the SET/ETS QTLS final module that may give them parity in legal terms with teachers in state schools, legally allowing them to teach in such schools.

Are they then to be put on a scale which only recognises them as NQTs or RQTs? When they may have had many, many years industrial and teaching experience? Are they then not given any prior accreditation for any previous managerial experience that may well equate with NPQML/SL?  What recognition is there for such previous experience? This is not currently mentioned in the DfE consultation and nor is recognition easily given in educational establishments.

Other managerial and leadership qualifications should be established with parity to allow prior accreditation in this regard.

In addition, the suggested career progression routes highlighted in the above diagram give no mention of teachers stepping into teacher educator roles in ITT or ITE programmes in HE or elsewhere (Initial Teacher Training or Initial Teacher Education). Career progression might be very different and the assumed model is quite limiting and non-diverse. It is very common for many teachers to follow MA/PhD or EdD routes of professionalization and then become teacher educators in HE or other similar provided programmes. I therefore believe that the proposed model should be developed to integrate the diversity of possible routes, rather than conservatively portraying the school based teacher progression route as a university to school to headship route of progression only.

Finally, membership of the Chartered College of Teaching should be accessible from any and all stages of entry, as mentioned above. Why preclude teachers who have not reached a very precise moment in time in a restrictively estimated career progression path? I am a professional associate of the CCT, and I can only advocate membership for all – access to journal papers is such a great benefit for one thing.

My own entry into teaching and path through the profession has been very non-standard according to the above diagram. I certainly don’t feel recognised by it, which is a shame, as I think there are probably many others like me too. What of diverse paths into and beyond the school?


[i] Strengthening Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and Improving Career Progression for Teachers – see to engage in the consultation prior to the deadline of March 9th, 2018.


Facilitating learning and innovation in organizations using complexity science principles, Webb, Lettice & Lemon (2006): Abstract

Facilitating learning and innovation in organizations using complexity science principles

Carol Webb, Fiona Lettice & Mark Lemon

Abstract: Difficulties have been encountered in communicating the meaning and value of complexity science principles to people in organizations. While one school of thought in the literature holds that it is not necessary to attempt to communicate the principles transparently, one set of researchers set out to develop a range of tools and a workshop session to do just this, and called it ‘The Complexity Starter Kit’. The Complexity Starter Kit features a six-day calendar and ‘water–cooler’ area posters, an exercise class and group sensemaking session, and an online knowledge development tool with group discussion boards. This paper describes the Complexity Starter Kit at high level, proposes its usefulness in the context of innovation, and provides an overview of educational strategies that facilitate learning about complexity science, a consideration of the ways in which these correlate with complexity science, and how this informed the development of the Complexity Starter Kit.

Cite article as:

Webb, C. Lettice, F. & Lemon, M. (2006). ‘Facilitating Learning and Innovation in Organizations Using Complexity Science Principles’, in Emergence: Complexity & Organization, Volume 8 Number 1, 2006, Special Issue: Complexity & Innovation. ISSN: 1521-3250

Published by ‘Emergence’: (Google Scholar h5-index of 12 and h5-median of 16).

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Measuring social capital and knowledge networks, Webb, C. (2008): Abstract

Measuring social capital and knowledge networks

Author(s): Carol Webb
Social capitalNetworkingRegional developmentCities
Research paper
Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright:© Emerald Group Publishing Limited 2008
Published by Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Carol Webb, (2008) “Measuring social capital and knowledge networks”, Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 12 Issue: 5, pp.65-78,
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