Education Panorama (November ’14) by @TeacherToolkit

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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...
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A compendium of what’s being going on in the education sector over the first half-term of the academic year …

For this blog, you’ll need a comfy chair and given that it’s November, you may need a wee dram of your favourite tipple and an open fire!

Education Panorama

In The Educational Panorama November 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 October newsletter I shared over 45 blogs on teaching and learning and education politics which 7,000+ of you chose to read.

This month, politics continues to dominate the press, as well as workload and an Ofsted consultation. We have just completed the first half-term and some of us may still have our feet up enjoying a short mid-break before the Winter kicks in! This November 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 lesson planning. 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 Christmas shopping! Until then, enjoy the selected reads!


  1. My Education Panorama (October) newsletter featured 40 blogs from across the UK and has reached 9,000+ readers.
  2. In my first blog this month, I re-shared a blog about Progress Over Time and what an ‘evidence trail’ without lesson gradings may look like for teachers, for all types of observations and leadership teams. To support this, the actual blog introduced Typicality and Support, a resource to support schools and teachers over time.
  3. One sunny afternoon in the summer, @cazzwebbo created our own UK-based Google document, creating #TeacherCPD conferences across the UK; a database to help capture and display UK focused CPD events. You can read the full blog for context, here.
  4. Pip Canning, Head of Classics at an independent school on the south coast. features as a guest blogger and explains From Bedroom to Classroom life, working and living in a boarding school. You can follow him on Twitter at @pjcann.
  5. Last month, I launched our CPD action research for staff. The intention is to gather staff to discuss action research and evidence based practice. In this blog, you will read the rationale and be able to download the full presentation. Power to the People, featuring David Weston, CEO of The Teacher Development Trust.
  6. As a teacher and as a parent, working at both ends of the education spectrum, I can safely say that the process of school admissions is flawed, particularly for parents with summer-born and premature children. Here, in a subject very close to my heart, I raise awareness of the School Admissions Code with @BlissCharity for all parents, schools and aim to challenge the DfE on this.
  7. And without doubt,  the most anticipated blog to those of you who follow this blog, my Ofsted experience of teaching and learning (under the revised September 2014 framework). A blog about my own Ofsted inspection this term and inspectors observing lessons without gradings. I blog about my observations of the process; Observing the Observers.
  8. Brilliant Behaviour is the 3rd part of our CPD programme shared with staff this year. Self-regulation is a critical competency that underlies the mindful, intentional, and thoughtful behaviours of learners we want from all our students. Read and download my resource here.
  9. At the end of an exciting and long first half-term, I share Looking Back and Looking Forward, a blog about my hours, days and weeks in my new deputy headteacher job.
  10. My personal blog of the month with has struck a ‘workload’ chord with many, receiving over 4,000 reads within 12 hours of publication. The Marking Frenzy describes what I envisage, as the new sticking point with ‘progress over time’.
  11. After 14 months of planning and a summer of testing beta platform software, I am delighted to announce the digital version of The 5 Minute Lesson Plan. Read my blog here and try it now (here) for free.

Cup of Tea November Dark Orange

 Photo Credit: Flood G


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. In August, @headguruteacher blogged about his Vision for Impeccable Behaviour as he contemplated starting his new school. Two months later, he shares Part 2: Towards Impeccable Behaviour and shares the progress the school has made so far. Tom Sherrington is always a regular feature in my reading list and features in my monthly newsletters. This edition is no different, with yet another blog on his own teaching of science. I’m delighted to see Tom back teaching in a comprehensive school where I know he is most happiest working. It’s a must read; Teaching Year 8. So Complicated; and Yet So Simple.
  2. To lesson plan or not to lesson plan? asks @cherrylkd who shares a few myths and also dispels a few! A worthwhile and popular read!
  3. Barry Dunn (@SeahamRE) writes about #TakeAwayCPD as a great way to enhance CPD sessions. Read the article here.
  4. @ShardsL from Australia, the first international contributor to my monthly newsletter writes about Making Learning Stick and offers a review of two books, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter Brown, Henry Roediger III and Mark McDaniel (Harvard University Press, 2014) and Learn to Teach, Teach to Learn by Catherine Scott.
  5. @lisajaneashes, who blogs about all things teaching and learning tells us that she is Proud Of Her Classroom following TLT14, and that we should invite educators to feel proud of their real life work; and that Ideas should not be lengthy blogs full of big words and complicated theory.
  6. The Five Minute Lesson Plan: Road-Tested by an NQT from Wellacre Academy. You can follow them at @WellacreTL
  7. @MrJDexter says Planning is Critical and asks how does preparation evolve in a teacher career and what evidence should we see from colleagues, what evidence of planning without an endless stream of paperwork which may not directly benefit pupil progress?
  8. @BenRogersEdu writes about Textbooks and a link to Meatloaf! Read I Want You, I Need You; But There Ain’t No Way I’m Ever Gonna Love You.
  9. Headteacher @JohnTomsett shares another blog with a video excerpt of his own teaching methods; This Much I Know About … Improving Both My Teaching and My Students’ Learning.  John also blogs about The Best Thing School Leaders Can Be Doing, Day-In, Day-Out and asks for us to stop the madness of PRP and invest time in your staff.
  10. Post-It Note Assessment peer-to-peer classroom exercise by @MoheeniPatel.

Assessment / Exams / Feedback:

  1. Let’s do School Data by @ICTEvangelist compares the benefits of using data tools from @4Matrix versus @SISRAanalytics
  2. The impact of feedback in raising attainment is well documented. In this blog by @dan_brinton, called Fast Feedback says “feedback should be more work for the recipient than the donor.” There are plenty of strategies here, so do make sure you have a look around.
  3. Half Term Brings a Planning Revolution is written by  who tweeted this photo using the digital 5 minute lesson plan.
  4. An incredibly powerful and important read by @MaryMyatt, writes ‘Should I Be Marking Every Piece of Work?’
  5. Keep Marking Simple says @ChrisChivers2 by adding personalised targets to prompt conversations to support the learner’s self-evaluations and also support teacher oral and written feedback.
  6. Book scrutiny once again shows that I Don’t Do Much of Things I Think Are Pointless, says @Bigkid4
  7. Maths teacher @MrCampbellSHS calls for Getting Students’ Hands DIRTy when you are next marking work and asks the reader to consider feedback for each student; ask yourself “what is the point?”
  8. @headguruteacher writes about – what I perceive to be his forte – Assessment, Standards and the Bell Curve and how data is presented and how obvious it is to parents where their children sit along the curve.

CPD / ITT / Resources / Research:

  1. @CazzWebbo three months ago said; “Let’s do a charity calendar!” This month she is Unveiling the 2015 Charity Calendar, featuring top tweeters and bloggers. You can have a sneak preview of my calendar image here; every diary sold will be helping underprivileged kids have a holiday.
  2. Can You Be Too Independent? by @LearningSpy shares an open email from Independent Learning Ltd. who state they no longer want his business. In his blog, David Didau writes; “we are often unwitting slaves to our ideologies. We put being right before doing right.”
  3. Learning to be a Senior Leader: Reflections on Beginning the NPQSL by Coaching Teacher. She also write about Why I’m No Longer Terrified of Lesson Observations and tweets at @MissH8712
  4. @headguruteacher features once again, with Challengers and Champions of research education and asks if we are ready to listen? You can also read Tom Sherrington’s headteacher report, Six Weeks In to his new school.
  5. Continuing to be my favourite and wanna-meet-blogger, @DisIdealist writes, Job Adverts : How to Lose Applicants and Influence People and dissects a job-advert from the TES; worded far too well in today’s Gove & Wilshaw-created education system. He then goes on to share his own first law of education: “Anyone in education who claims that there is a “best” way to do anything, is wrong.” Read A Plea for the Return of Complexity and Nuance to Education Policy.
  6. This must have taken an eternity to produce! @TheEchoChamber2 produces The Ultimate List of UK Education Blogs, stretching out farther than a 42″ television screen could ever display on one page! Check it out here.
  7. Deputy headteacher @ChrisHildrew shares his Limits Assembly which suggest that invisible limitations are only in ourselves. There is a great range of example footage and images that I have already used in my school. Chris also blogs about #TLT14 – A Tale of Two Conferences – in which he is surrounded by people who get up every day – even on a Saturday – and make other people’s lives better. Chris says it was a privilege to be there; far more than any other conference he has attended.

Leadership / OfSTED / DfE / Politics:

  1. Andrew (Old) Smith interviews @MCladingbowl and @HarfordSean: Interview with the Ofsted Big Cheeses.
  2. 12 Tips for Facing Ofsted by @PaulGarvey4, who says “whatever happens will probably happen better if you are extremely well prepared.”
  3. Published by start-up Academies Week, The 13 Most Critical Points in the NAO’s Academies and Schools Oversight report written by @miss_mcinerney
  4. The @HeadsRoundTable are hosting a National Baccalaureate Summit meeting on 28th November 2014 at Highbury Grove School in London.
  5. Stephen Tierney writes about The New Ofsted Consultation: We Need Some Relationship Counselling and asks how will the latest Ofsted consultation play out in the long term?
  6. The Hunt for a Teachers’ Oath by @SurrealAnarchy is a poke at Tristram Hunt’s desire to rally the profession. It’s an entertaining read!
  7. Gordon Baillie, an Assistant Principal who tweets at @AfLPie blogs on Triangulation who arrives at a terrible realisation. That moment when you realise that there may actually be an absolute truth. That achievement, exam results and progress data are the only way that we can truly judge the quality of teaching in a school! Do you agree?
  8. And @ChrisMCD53 calls for a Professional Oversight Panel to develop OfSTED, Raiseonline and inspection.

 Parenting / Students:

  1. @NancyGedge writes about how she is Troubled by the Uncommon Schools movement in the US. She says to teach, you don’t just need enthusiasm.  You don’t just need techniques.  You don’t just need the change-the-world energy of the your students; you need the wisdom of colleagues who have seen the fashions come and go to keep you in check.
  2. We need to end our love-affair with punishment says @MaryMered in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly #Behaviourism and How it Fails.

Top-blog of the month:


I’ve selected three blogs for this November edition.

Favourite educational blogs
Favourite educational blogs


  1. The first blog (again) is a feature by All Change Please, @TristramShepard in which he quotes;

“The problem with teaching as a profession is that every single adult citizen of this country thinks that they know what teachers do. And they don’t. So they prescribe solutions, and they develop public policy, and they editorialize, and they politicize. And they don’t listen to those who do know. Those who could teach. The teacher.”  Sarah Blaine

Read Learn First, Teach Later.

  1. The second blog is More on Marking by @MaryMyatt, a must-read for all school leaders and teachers! It puts workload all into perspective …
  2. In the third blog, which is my 5th blog reference to @headguruteacher this month(!), presents a set of ideas that he thinks make good Silver Arrow contenders (based on his own teaching). 10 Silver Arrows: Ideas to Penetrate the Armour of Ingrained Practice is a must read. There is a great resource by @EducatingMiss to summarise his blog. Download it here.



Wishing you a successful 2nd half-term!

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