Should school data tracking systems be compared to HS2?

The high speed railway is certainly a hot topic – news papers full of the amount of tax payer’s money it would cost and who might and might not benefit. It is a fair question to ask.

Here, maybe, is another: Is it right that schools have spent money developing data tracking systems that quite soon will be of less use then they were without adaption, modification, training and yes, cost.

Unlike a passenger, in 2009, sitting on a slow train who might have wondered why a faster alternative had not been developed – a school engaged in the Making Good Progress Pilot or even a school not engaged in such, could hardly have anticipated such a radical change.

The cost of this transition will not appear in any official government budget projection as the costs will be down to individual schools – but there will be a cost and schools in tighter financial situations will find it difficult.

Like HS2 there will be a cost and unlike HS2 there won’t be an improvement of a national standard, rather exemplars to ponder and perhaps adapt.

Maybe it is worth it – we don’t still use gas lights and nobody, apart from the till in my dry cleaners, uses dial up Internet but….

Should we be thankful for freedom?

An air strip – somewhere:

Instructor: Good morning Sir!
Me: Good morning – I am here for my parachute jump.
Instructor: Ah, I see Sir, your jump – well, if you and your friends would like to hop aboard this plane – we’ll get cracking.
Me: Erm – don’t you need to show us how to operate the parachute?
Instructor: Parachute Sir?
Me: Yes, parachute – you know big piece of billowy material – well known for getting one safely to the ground…
Instructor: Ah yes Sir – well you see – I’m a little disappointed you brought that up – you clearly haven’t embraced the new freedoms. We don’t use parachutes any more – we tended to find the general public didn’t really understand how they worked – plus users were gaming the system…
Me: Gaming the system?
Instructor: Yes Sir, in over 100% of cases a parachute was deployed before the user hit the ground. Clearly gaming the system and not at all what was intended.
Me: I see – so how would you propose I get to the ground safely?
Instructor: Glad you asked Sir – you have complete freedom to choose. I see your friend over there is embracing this new found freedom and is flapping his arms like a bird. You could of course still use a parachute – it just won’t be attached to anything – but that Sir is freedom!

Should educational debate be a one way street? (Antisocial media)


I saw this tweet and counted 19 replies from different people all making counter points to the one expressed by Mr Hunt, possibly this is best put by @theprimaryhead in his blog post here

My point is more this, that of the 19 responses none were from Mr Hunt. Now one could reasonably ask why should he respond and if he were using any other medium I would agree. But this social media – isn’t there an expectation that perhaps, just once in a while one is sociable?

I don’t mean a fawning response to every person who makes contact – but to respond to valid points seems reasonable.

We can often have unreasonable expectations of politicians – but if one is to engage in the medium social media it cannot be a one way street.

The audience for such announcements, in Mr Hunt’s case, is not just the general public or Mum’s Net but also the profession in question so perhaps more dialogue, as is the norm for social media, would be helpful?

Perhaps it is I who is being unreasonable – but it seems to me that if one only wishes to announce but not engage in dialogue then perhaps one should stick to The Times?

Should there be a place for face to face (Department of Education and OFSTED compare and contrast)

Have a look at the two responses below to the question of consultation. The first is from OFSTED:


The second is from the a Department for Education:



What is clear is that both OFSTED and the Department of Education are consulting more widely than their initial meetings with prominent bloggers, which can only be for the good.

I just wonder whether the Department’s decision to not have additional face to face sessions in favour of online consultation misses an opportunity as well as sizeable audience who, for what ever reason, would not engage in an online debate but would very much like to engage in meaningful discussion about the curriculum.

I just wonder whether it ok to chose a medium for consultation that will most likely leave out some – or is it just down to those who wouldn’t usually engage in online debate to change?

Should we get the Unions we deserve or deserve the Unions we get (Part 2)

I thought that I would add a brief update to this blog post as the responses have been very interesting – thank you.

Broadly they fall into three camps:

The Union is only as strong as its membership: 

This is a point that is made very clearly by a number of people both in responses and in tweets. People point out that it is up to members to shape their union and people such as @emmaannhardy suggest resources to engage with – also pointing out that the a Union can make resources available but can’t force members to use them.

The Unions could do more:

This is a point made by @teachertoolkit who makes the point that we as members pay for union’s work and so the unions should do much more for the profession (You can read his reply in full on the original post). He gives the example of @labourteachers as a good example.

The Unions can’t fight on all fronts: 

This is a view that has to be seen in the context of original reason that I started blogging – being that there was a meeting at the Department of Education to which prominent bloggers were invited to discuss the Primary Curriculum.

I am not suggesting that Tim, or edubloggers invited, see themselves as an alternative to unions. As @heymisssmith points out an invitation to a meeting does not compete with the work of activists. But the view is interesting, is it true that Unions are unable to engage in certain debates (when invited) as they are at capacity?


Should we get the Unions we deserve or deserve the Unions we get?

The event that started me blogging a few days ago was my reading about the recent Primary Curriculum meeting at the Department of Education. This meeting is covered by blogs from @emmaannhardy @heymisssmith and @imagineenquiry so check them out.

My initial question was not so much why them – as I follow them all – but more why not the teaching unions, if not instead then at least as well.

People have been kind enough to read my thoughts and respond – @teachertoolkit points out that the teaching unions are out of touch – which in turn got me thinking about how this could be.

I have been a member of teaching union my entire career – not that I have engaged much. I rarely vote and generally read about half of the emails they send me – yet here I am wondering they were not invited and pondering if they might be out of touch.

In truth, I suppose I have regarded then as an insurance policy, something to call upon if I need them.

The edu bloggers on the other hand I know pretty much their thoughts – read their tweets and their blogs when I can.

May be the answer is simple – engage more to have your views heard – or maybe I should expect more from my membership? Perhaps a mix of the two?

Blogs for the Week Ending 13th April 2014

The Echo Chamber

This is round up of the best education blogs from the last week. If you are an education blogger on WordPress, please reblog this post. There is no  Chalk Talk Podcast  this week, but I would still like to choose the blogpost of the week some time tomorrow. Any suggestions gratefully received either in the comments below, or on twitter, directed to  @oldandrewuk

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