What are the strengths and challenges of teaching across the United Kingdom?
We often talk about the challenges of teacher recruitment and retention, about new initiatives and political landscapes, but day in, day out, regardless of all the pressures, teachers and schools across the United Kingdom are delivering exceptional teaching and most of it is invisible.
Just Great Teaching Book
For the last 6 months, I have been spending every spare moment I have, editing my new book, published on the 5th September 2019. Inside, I uncover, celebrate, analyse and disseminate best practice in teaching across the United Kingdom.
When I set about thinking how to write this book, my starting point was the frustrations with our school system at a national level. There are so many issues that are pouring down from above, impinging upon teachers and schools across the nation and hindering them from being able to do the best job they can for our young people. Currently, these challenges include school funding, high-stakes accountability and continually changing goalposts in relation to curriculum and assessment, among many others.
The challenges …
With every government that comes and goes, teachers and school leaders always seem to find themselves left in the lurch, waiting for the politicians to determine the next ‘quick fix’ or hoping they might provide a new source of funding to help address the latest crisis that schools have been asked to resolve. Having worked in education for over 25 years, I have seen so many education ministers, on both sides of the political spectrum, come into office with new ideas, ambitions and policies, but what difference has it really made?
It is my firm belief that no government will ever have all the solutions for our education system. If we hang around, waiting and hoping for our politicians to find the answers, we will be forever disappointed. In my view, teachers must instead search for practical solutions within our own communities – from our fellow teachers and school leaders. As a profession, we are a collective force and we have so much to learn from one another. We can do more to resolve the issues we are facing together.
Sharing solutions to complex problems …
To achieve this, we must work together openly to solve complex problems, share ideas and discuss ‘what works’, rather than remain in our silos. Teachers, of course, want to develop a good understanding of neuroscience and ‘how we learn’, and research is becoming critical to informing our practice in the classroom, but ultimately teachers need practical advice from their peers and this is difficult to achieve with little time, insufficient cash and political interference.
For me, the secret ingredient in bringing great teaching to life is translating all of these complex theories and ideas into practical, workable solutions – that teachers do it together. I recently spoke with Prof. Pooja Agarwal on my podcast who said to me:
The research methodology …
In this book, I therefore distil what I have learnt from the research, evidence and psychology behind teaching, as well as my own experiences of working within education and the great practice I have seen taking place in schools across the country.
The book is supported by case studies and research undertaken in ten primary and secondary schools across the United Kingdom. Here is a little insight into my research and the ten case study schools…
I have written this book to inspire readers to open their eyes to how particular problems can be resolved and how other schools are already doing this effectively. It is packed with ideas and advice for all primary and secondary classroom teachers and school leaders keen to provide the best education they possibly can for our young people today.
The book is published 5th September 2019 by Bloomsbury.