Educational bottlenecks

ResearchED 2017 Session 1: When the maths hit the fan

Despite this session being centred around the impact of the new maths GCSEs, I thought it would be interesting to gain the perspective of maths teachers and specialists on their experiences of the new approach. The Institute of Ideas hosted the session, with a panel of Dr Jennie Golding, Dr Sara Humphries and Joanne Morgan. My overall impression from the initial discussion was that there was a general feeling that the maths syllabus as it was needed an update, the new take on things gave neither enough time to cover all areas, did not work for students who found maths difficult and seemed in places unconnected. All of which sounds familiar to science teachers across Continue reading “Educational bottlenecks”


Known unknowns

I’m currently reading Tim Shipman’s ‘All out War’, an account of the 2016 EU referendum. Early on he suggests that three of the major actors in what would become the dismal drama that has soaked the social and political stage for the last 18 months were influenced strongly by their earlier personal experiences. Chancellor Merkel, he suggests, was strongly in favour of free movement of people after experiencing the restrictions of growing up in East Germany. Party-hopping Douglas Carswell’s upbringing under Idi Amin’s regime in Uganda developed his sense of ‘libertarianism’ and Daniel Hannan’s viewing of an interview with the Latvian foreign minister who claimed ‘Yes, Latvia is now more independent than the United Kingdom’ cemented his desire to leave the EU. It seems trite to point out that our past experience and perception colour our worldview and ideology, and perhaps the author and/or people involved are overestimating the importance of these events in moulding their attitudes. Regardless, the idea that personal experience influences decision making processes and ideology deserves consideration.

Across the country right now eager Year 13 students are no doubt practising their double-feet-raised jumps in anticipation of A level results day, Continue reading “Known unknowns”

Do the right thing? Curriculum choices.

HARRY   All right, pop quiz. Airport, gunman with a hostage. He’s using her for cover. He’s almost to a plane. You’re one hundred feet away.

[Jack doesn’t respond]

HARRY   Jack?

JACK    Shoot the hostage.

HARRY   What?


Sean Harford once more stuck his head above the parapet and threw out an open question to twitter on Saturday morning:



I think we should all be glad that someone is publicly not only asking these questions but also taking the time to listen and respond. It matters a lot to teachers. To the slaves of the tiny blue bird at least. I’m not quite sure what he Continue reading “Do the right thing? Curriculum choices.”

Five minute Ofsted part II

Another couple of things have come to mind since I posted yesterday. The overall hit rate of around 62 % seemed a little low, so I got to thinking about my incorrect estimates. I hit 20 % of schools in total with a lower estimate than the actual Ofsted judgement. These judgements have potentially massive impacts on schools, staff and communities, so scoring 20 % of schools under is no small thing. There are a several factors though worth considering:


1) I was making a judgement based on up-to-date figures whereas the Ofsted data may be years old. Of course this would work both ways, so a school Continue reading “Five minute Ofsted part II”

The Five Minute Ofsted inspection

Sometime before Christmas there was a comment on the ol’ Twitter that (more or less) speculated on what an upcoming Ofsted rating would be, based on an attainment score (at least that’s how I remember it. It could have been some other metric. Look, it’s not important to the story). It immediately made me wonder how close I could get to actual Ofsted judgements without simply using published data. Can you judge a school without ever visiting?

In the spirit of dirty-data delving, I took the DfE’s Revised GCSE scores and school data from the January release and challenged myself to see how accurate my estimates would be compared to the real judgements. Continue reading “The Five Minute Ofsted inspection”