Education Panorama (October ’14) by @TeacherToolkit

Reading time: 8
Education Panorama Newsletter by @TeacherToolkit


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
Read more about @TeacherToolkit

A compendium of what’s being going on in the education sector over the first month of the academic year …

For this blog, you’ll need a hot drink and a comfy chair. Given that it is October, you may need a blanket and an open fire!

Education Panorama

In The Educational Panorama October 2014 edition – this monthly newsletter aims to capture a summary of everything from the online edu-sphere of bloggers and tweeters across the UK. In my September newsletter I shared blogs on assessment and back to school advice.

Curriculum change continues to dominate the press, as well as phonics, child protection, streaming and the report on behaviour by Ofsted in September. We are fully into the swing of term and we’re already gasping for half-term! This October edition features some blogs from me on my new role as deputy headteacher and many more from others on a huge range of topics, from Ofsted visits to marking and mythbusting to finding a school place for your child. It’s all here!

If you are new to this monthly newsletter, you can expect to find the following:

  • Education: all the links to all the articles @TeacherToolkit has shared over the past 30 days,
  • Panorama: plus the blogs that have caught @TeacherToolkit‘s eye online, plus any interesting events in the real world of education.

By the time I write my next edition of Education Panorama, we’ll all be enjoying a well-deserved half-term and celebrating Halloween! Until then, enjoy the reads!


  1. My Education Panorama (September) newsletter featured 45 blogs from across the UK and has now reached 10,000+ readers. A 100% increase.
  2. My first blog for September was a golden-oldie, featuring academic research; Rewarding Risk: how e-scape changes learning.
  3. With just one week into my new job as a Deputy Headteacher, I shared an impromptu blog on how it all was going; A New Outlook.
  4. This was then followed up with an incredibly powerful two-part blog by @DrMattOLeary and his findings from one of the  largest research study in lesson observation to date in the UK. His first blog discusses the Hawthorne Effect and ‘why teachers feel so strongly about lesson observation?’ Teachers and Lesson Observations is well worth a read, as well as the second blog which offers some practical ideas for alternative ways of using observation that are more likely to bring about a greater understanding of teaching and learning. Read, Observation as a Tool to Enhance Teacher Learning. You won’t regret it!
  5. In my 5th blogpost for September, I write a review for David Didau’s, The Secret of Literacy. I  only wish I had this book when I was an NQT 20 years ago! My goodness, it would have transformed my classroom practice instantly. It’s worth buying!
  6. Three weeks into my new job at school, I make A Shift from Teaching to Learning and also experience Ofsted! I will blog about the changes to teaching and learning as soon as I can!
  7. I lead my first CPD session with all my new colleagues and ask them, ‘Let’s Talk About Teaching’ with some very important messages to consider about the future of observations to support teaching and learning. You can download my free presentation here.
  8. Towards the end of the month, I had the pleasure of leading three key stage 3 assemblies at school. The theme of the assembly was based on the values we want for every student; Aspiration and Resilience. You can download my presentation, We Are What We Do, featuring Erich Fromm.
  9. And finally, a guest blog by a former employer of mine, the Voluntary Services Overseas; Learning Takes a Global Journey in Ethiopia.

Pumpkins October

Photo Credit: J. Star


Here are plenty – and I mean plenty – of blogs I’ve noticed over the past 30 days. As ever, it’s difficult to keep up with so many wonderful blogs as more teachers blog online. I’ve read as much as I can to represent the blogs that have ‘pricked the ears’ of all those who talk about all-things-education.

Teaching and Learning:

  1. A fabulous blog by psychology teacher, Marc Smith, who writes The Psychology of Education: Bring on the ‘hard’ questions which raises the issue regarding many teachers recent interest in the psychology of learning and teaching.
  2. If you are interested in academic research and the validity and reliability of lesson observations, this is a must read; particularity the last paragraph which highlights research-bias between two prominent academics in further education. Observation Rubrics by @DrMattOLeary
  3. Important Mythbusting by @Shaun_Allison. Don’t assume everything you have been told, works!
  4. The sticky non-tangible essential stuff is a reflection on the Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural (SMSC) aspects of our own lives by RE teacher @sheltont101.
  5. Alex Quigley, @HuntingEnglish explains that “there have been repeated calls for a return to textbooks. Most notably, Liz Truss formerly of the Department of Education, heralded the potential of an application of textbooks in the classroom to raise standards. The argument goes that Asian schools and the like owe something of their rigour and success to great textbooks. In over a decade of English teaching Alex has never used textbooks!” Read Why I’ve Never Used Textbooks.

Assessment / Exams / Feedback:

  1. Rewind 3 weeks ago and summer holidays were a distant memory and ‘examination analysis’ was on the lips of most teachers. provides an interesting analysis of his own examination results. GCSE Results and The Stories We Tell Ourselves is an incredibly popular read! In my third pick from Andy, The Cerebral Life of Schools, which asks “those in education to act and think, taking on at once the guise of foot-soldier and master strategist. The cerebral life of the school is forgotten at its peril. Without thinking, nothing can ever come to any good.”
  2. An old blog by Tom Sherrington, @headguruteacher, but one I have recently re-visited. It need sharing again to help reduce the burden on marking by Making Feedback Count: “Close the Gap”
  3. How fast can you turn around 1000 pieces of marking?  by @Fratibus. “All this calculation trying to find a work-work balance; nobody seems to have any time for work-life balance any more.”
  4. Thoughts on Pointless Marking? by @ListerKev says “if you are marking in a way that doesn’t change what you or the students do next, then you’re wasting your time …”

CPD / ITT / Resources / Research:

  1. A timely reminder by @DebraKidd, in which she shares What should we do about ITT? and her vast range of knowledge on this issue; currently up for review by the DfE. Debra asks that we no longer speak of training and that we talk about teacher development.
  2. Do Your Homework is a blog by @headguruteacher, which asks us to act on evidence from educational research. In this blog, Tom shares his presentation and four contrasting forms of research. Tom also offers his first assembly at his new school, Highbury Grove in North London. Is There a Moral Imperative to Commit to Your Education?
  3. After the conclusion of researchED14, headteacher @KevBartle shares his Confessions of a Wondering Horse.
  4. And long the same lines, @LearningSpy asks, Do You Need A Research Champion in Your School?
  5. Every fortnight, one of Wellacre’s NQTs writes a reflective blog post focusing on issues raised in their professional development sessions. Here you can read about Shush – the deadly sin; “Tackling low level behaviour without saying shush!
  6. Inspired by my TakeAwayHmk resources, headteacher Nicole Wood writes about TakeAwayCPD.
  7. This is echoed by teacher of science @educatingmiss in A New Approach to Homework. which offers a full depth analysis.
  8. What Twitter Offers Teachers: the Evidence by Kathryn Holmes.

Leadership / Ofsted / DfE:

  1. The first blog that caught my eye during September, was Top Tips for Handling Cases of Unfair Dismissal by @_TheSchooBus. This is a good reference guide for school leaders and what to remember while dealing with cases of misconduct and unfair dismissal at your school.
  2. An excellent article by headteacher @Miss_Snuffy, The Man Who Tried to Teach us all a Lesson highlights the work of Michael Gove. She also writes about Performance Related Pay )February 2014) which is even more pertinent this month! Performance-Related Pay Will Be A Débacle
  3. A new blogger and new to leadership, read Mr. McGrath’s notes from his First Leadership Team Meeting.
  4. The First 100 Days of Headship by @LeadingLearner raises the importance of developing a school vision. Diet – What does the curriculum look like? Delivery – How good is the teaching & learning? Development – Professional Development: Who? What? How? When? Where? Democracy – What is the culture of the school like? Demography – What is happening to the student profile, what is on the horizon and what do we need to do in the future? Stephen Tierney also goes on to discuss how social media is having an impact on Ofsted and its functioning; All Aboard for the Ofsted Dambusters provides an insight into his round-table meeting with Mike Cladingbowl at Ofsted headquarters.
  5. A very important blog by @AJJolley, Time to Say Sorry Again Nick? raises some alarming issues on Nick Clegg’s Universal Infants Free School Meals policy.
  6. Debra Kidd shares her Day Out with Ofsted which was the same meeting attended by @LeadingLearner. I can only agree with Debra here when she says; “I genuinely feel that we are moving towards a more open and collaborative period in which, yes, of course expectations will be high, but there will also be more professional trust and interaction.” She then goes on to write a response to Ofsted’s story on behaviour in schools: Saying Nothing Loudly : Ofsted on Behaviour.
  7. @KevBartle shares his first few weeks as headteacher of Canons Park School, Heads Up: Life in the Crows Nest.
  8. @TomCampbell111 writes, Is bureaucracy something your school leadership team consider and evaluate within your school? The Great British Bureaucracy.
  9. As we approach the first full round of Performance Related Pay awards in schools and in his own words, “as the sh*t well and truly starts to hit the fan”, one of my favourite bloggers, @DisIdealist discusses Performance Related Pay,
  10. This article on Design & Techknowledgy: revised GCSEs by @TristramShepard is close to my heart. “While the new GCSE in Cooking and Nutrition can only be welcomed, it must be regretted that Food Technology appears to have been dismissed from Office.”
  11. Meeting Ofsted by @HeyMissSmith: who ultimately was impressed with Mr Cladingbowl, now sadly resigned from his post.

 Parenting / Students:

  1. The first day at school, especially the first day at secondary school is a major life event. Welcome to Year 7 by headteacher @TomCampbell111. A blog about a community who together are transforming lives, one that represents many cultures within the school and recognises and respects our differences.
  2. @DisIdealist shares a topic very close to my heart this term, Choosing a secondary school : a parent’s guide by a teacher (who is a parent). “The reality is that very few, if any, schools are perfect.”

Top-blog of the month:

Favourite educational blogs
Favourite educational blogs


I’ve selected two blogs for this edition. The first by All Change Please, @TristramShepard in which he writes;

“At the end of the day/lesson, the debate should not really be focused on whether traditional teaching is any better or worse that so-called progressive teaching, but simply whether traditional and more progressive methods are being applied well or badly in the classroom.”

The first blog goes on to describe a traditional and progressive classroom in One Small Step. “In the wasteland of the last 20 years of government tinkering and media misrepresenting, this would of course pose a significant CPD challenge and require a multi-million pound marketing budget to convince potential parents. But if we really want to create an education system fit for the 21st century, that’s what’s going to be needed.” Read the follow-up blog, One Giant Leap by Tony Wheeler.

In my second blog of the month, Emma Kell who tweets at @ThoseThatCan writes a wonderful article and a tribute to [a friend], colleague and Headteacher of Hendon School, Kevin McKellar who died on Sunday 24th August. Losing Your Head is a fitting tribute to the headteacher who encouraged others to not be complacent or defeatist. To stand up for your moral values with conviction or admit when I’m wrong. To celebrate diversity and difference continue to work to fulfil the potential in ourselves and the students we teach.

It puts teaching all into perspective …

Kevin McKellar Headteacher Hendon School..

Have a restful half-term when it arrives!

@TeacherToolkit logo


‘Saving teachers time and money!’

Tweet – @TeacherToolkit – The most followed teacher on Twitter in the UK.
Web – – Ranked the no. 1 educational blog in the UK.

3 thoughts on “Education Panorama (October ’14) by @TeacherToolkit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.