We are all vulnerable sometimes.


Quite rightly, the education system concerns itself with aspiring to ensure that all children get an equitable opportunity and that irrespective of their background they should have the chance to achieve and indeed attain at the same specified level as any other child.

To achieve the required improvements within the education system, we often see the use of policy levers to try and affect change, such as the Pupil Premium. This approach has led to significant amounts of money, and indeed attention, being focussed on those children who qualify for this type of support.

It is also interesting to see that the way we use language within education has evolved during the period since the Pupil Premium was introduced. Disadvantage has come to be defined in predominantly socio economic terms despite the fact that there are numerous other ways in which children can be disadvantaged either permanently or indeed temporarily.

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On Differentiation


Differentiation should mean understanding where a child is in her learning now and meeting her there in order to move her on. This is complicated because:

1. You have 30+ children in your class and they all need this because they won’t all be in exactly the same place.
2. You need to know how to move them on.
3. Mostly, your opportunities to do this are in lessons where you’re teaching all of them at the same time.

Differentiation has a bad reputation right now because it’s been misrepresented in order to simplify it. E.g. You must have 3/4/5 levels of differentiation. Each group must have their own activity/sheet (which they need explained to them). There cannot be a teacher in England with 5+ years experience who wasn’t explicitly or implicitly given this message. I know I was. Frequently.

What differentiation is experiencing now is an inevitable backlash. It’s…

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Positive Debrief – Breaking the Negative Cycle

Mainstream to a PRU and back...

I’ve written a previous blog post called Conflict Spiral – letting children know we can listen which is an idea from Team Teach. The conflict spiral is excellent at thinking about behaviour as an escalating crisis with many different points or stages. These stages help us to try and think of behaviour in a different way but in particular, they make me think about conducting a positive debrief with a child after an incident.

There are two ways of thinking about a child after an incident in terms of what we can do for them. We can either:

  1. Continue to manage future incidents for the child
  2. Teach the child to manage future incidents themselves

If a child repeatedly goes into crisis, staff can manage them every time. They can help them to manage the crisis at that point and also, they may choose to physically intervene. This is a control…

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I would have missed the furore around the reposting of an old video by @TomBennett71 this week as I was away and not taking much notice of Twitter. The ‘while you were away’ message thrust it upon me. Once viewed, it was hard to ignore. The combination of visiting the first school I ever taught in this week and needing to put together a 50 minute session for trainee teachers on ‘behaviour’ for next week has put me into a reflective mood anyway, so I may as well gather my thoughts and attempt to kill several birds at one time.

If someone in a position of influence suggests something you vehemently disagree with it feels a bit like a duty to respond. I’m not trying to escalate or even continue an argument but to offer an alternative viewpoint.

Tom seemed to be suggesting that the most important issue in managing…

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The Problem with Inclusion

Essex Calling

I saw that there was a bit of a ding dong on Twitter about a video featuring @tombennet. I chose not to watch the video as I have met Tom on numerous occasions and he’s visited my very inclusive school a couple of times. I know that Tom advocates meeting the needs of ALL young people so I’m not certain what he said, in the video, that upset some people that I have respect for!

Seeing the comments flying around was a really uncomfortable read; with the usual suspects dropping in to support either side of the debate. However it did make me stop to consider the impact of the openly inclusive ethos at Passmores which we celebrate loudly; as do one or two of my colleague headteachers when they tell the parents/carers of some young people (almost without fail those with additional learning challenges) that they can’t meet their…

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Education For All?

Freeing the Angel

“Schools for all – institutions which include everybody, celebrate differences,
support learning, and respond to individual needs”
The Salamanca Statement

In 1994, not all that long after I started teaching, the UK was one of 92 governments and 25 international organisations to sign the Salamanca Statement. The Statement called for us to find ways to make the education system inclusive for all children – to work towards a situation where children with special educational needs had the same rights of access to mainstream schooling as their peers. It stated that “those with special educational needs must have access to regular schools which should accommodate them within a child-centred pedagogy capable of meeting those needs”. As part of this the Statement called for government to give “the highest policy and budgetary priority” towards helping schools to be inclusive. If you read the Statement, it is clear that the signatories knew inclusion…

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This morning as I was preparing for work I was scrolling down my Twitter timeline to make sure I hadn’t missed anything that might affect my working day. It is a habit I have developed and it works for me, it keeps me reasonably aware of what’s happening in education.

This morning I came across what can only be described as the beginnings of a twitter storm. You know the type I mean. someone says something, someone else takes offence and supporters are rallied to prove an idea one or another. I rarely get embroiled in these things. I dislike them intensely. They rarely turn out to be reported correctly and for that reason I generally stay out of it. Today is no different, I shall blog my thoughts and people can agree or disagree as is their choice.

This is what caught my attention. It is a video for…

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Unrequited Love

the primary head's blog

When I first met you, you were, to put it mildly, difficult to like. Abusive, violent and full of hate. You spent your days under tables or chasing after other children trying to hurt them in any way you could. You didn’t care for your teacher and, as far as you were concerned, I was the big baddie. I knew your name off by heart by the end of the first week. By the second week people had already tired of you.

I read information about you and attended meetings that were about you. It was clear why you were abusive, violent and full of hate. You had no cause to trust a single person and yet your love for a parent who had spent your entire life teetering on the brink of total collapse was, in many ways, incredibly admirable. I knew that you were going to play a…

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Let the Music Play…..



Music is and has always been a big feature in my life.

Each morning when I get up I put music on in the house, I put music on in the car  when on my way to work and I put music on through the sound system when I arrive at school so my staff team will tell you they get  musical welcome to work each day!

I am lucky to have come from a musical family with both my grandad and my mum playing the piano. I also learned to play the piano and guitar. In my first teaching post  I was also subject leader for music and taught music throughout school. As a deputy I covered PPA in all classes and taught music. I love live music of many different types – I usually have at least 1 gig booked in – ‘Madness’ at the Manchester arena just before Xmas…

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