SEF Indulgence





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I was recently asked a question by a chair of governors about governor involvement in school self evaluation:

“At a recent meeting the question was raised about good practice regarding governor involvement in the SEF. I think governors were wondering if they should be suggesting what needed to be included (or whether items were suggested by the school’s leadership team) and the amount of evidence they should expect when monitoring progress of the SEF. I would appreciate your views.”

Here’s what I said:
In response to your question, I would say that the SEF should very much be derived from the school’s leadership and their own evaluation of the school’s strengths and weaknesses. Importantly, a good SEF will also make reference to a range of sources of evidence in support of the school’s evaluative comments. Further, I would expect that the school’s learning partner/SIP would provide some external evaluation of the effectiveness and accuracy of the SEF.

I think it is important that governors are conversant with the SEF, that they understand it and that they evaluate its accuracy and the quality of evidence (as opposed to ‘quantity’) therein, however I would not describe governors as necessarily having an ‘involvement’. That said, I do think that an effective SEF will include an evaluative statement about governance (within a section on Leadership and Management) and it would be good practice for the governing body itself to take responsibility for discussing and contributing that aspect.
Good questions for governors to ask re the SEF might be:
– On what basis do you judge that to be good/RI/outstanding?
– What evidence is there to support that judgement?
– What external evidence (or validation of your evidence) can you provide us with to assure us that the judgement is accurate?
– What would need to be done/evidenced to move that judgement (upwards)?

As well as governors being familiar with the SEF, they should also satisfy themselves that the school’s development plan (SDP) addresses elements of school improvement that have been identified by the SEF. If the SEF is accurate, and the SDP links to it, then the SDP becomes a useful vehicle for governor monitoring and evaluation.

Finally, don’t forget how important focussed governor visits can also be in supporting their monitoring role. Continue reading




I am pleased and proud. I’ve helped make a thing that is good, a thing that people like, a thing that is useful and that makes the world better. What we’ve made is an event that brings together friends, strangers and their families and mixes them together in a different kind of way. And it works.

For those that weren’t there, #CampEd14 was an educational event which took place over a long weekend spent at a residential education centre (Cliffe House) in Yorkshire. Attendees were, on the whole, educators and their families. People mainly camped and many volunteered to run ‘sessions’ as diverse as extracting DNA from bananas to orienteering.

I know that other people are already taking care of the details of the event. I would like to reflect for a moment on what I think makes it a bit different and very special:

  • The ‘gaps’: I have always said that whenever you go on a course, some training or a conference, it is the gaps in between where some of the best stuff happens; the coffee breaks, over lunch, in the bar. CampEd significantly widens those gaps. For me, this is exemplified by (amongst other things) the traditional CampEd walk. The walk lowers the pace yet further and gently moves people into meandering conversation to accompany their steps.
  • The venue: I remember the moment when I realised Cliffe House was tailor made for CampEd. It was as if (as Will Ryan would say) a dam burst in my head. Each time I thought of something CampEdish, Cliffe House had the answer.
  • The activities: What does an outstanding lesson look like? More’s the point, what does it ‘feel’ like? How many of us educators can say that we have been in an outstanding lesson as a learner recently? Anyone at #CampEd14 can truly say that they have.
  • The people: Here we had a ‘conference’, a learning event that catered for attendees aged from a matter of months up to… well, quite a bit older… We also mixed a crowd of teachers/educators with their children and (in many cases) non-educator partners.  ‘Exit interviews’ with these non-educators suggest that the event had certainly passed the ‘spousal’ test (as Bill Lord coined it) in that they would all recommend CampEd and attend again in future.Finally, special thanks to a couple of people: Bill, who has picked me up when I’ve been flagging and who will forever be my Twitter confidante and Tony Parkin who quietly but significantly supports in so many ways – although I would have preferred him to have chosen a time other than 7.00am for his philanthropic road-building efforts in the camp-site.
    Mr Parkin in his tireless pursuit of Cliffe House Wifi

    Mr Parkin in his tireless pursuit of Cliffe House Wifi singapore online casino


    Mr Lord in his wheel-free Bath chair


Front to back?

photoI had an email from a school recently. I thought I would record my response here as it illustrates my thinking on an approach schools seem to sometimes take to technology purchases generally and ipads in particular.
The school said they were looking into purchasing some IPads for students within school and were wondering if I could offer any advice or point them in the right direction.

They were seeking answers to three specific questions at this point:

  • What IPads are being used for and how they can enhance learning?
  • Which model IPad is the most popular within other schools?
  • Are other schools using Macbooks for synching/updating etc?

I replied as follows:

I am sure you appreciate that these are *big* questions that you are asking and perhaps not the easiest to answer in an email. Having said that, I’ll do my best.

What IPads are being used for and how they can enhance learning?

This is *huge*. Where do I start? Really the question could be asked more broadly about ‘technology’ and the answer would be wide and complex. In a way, it would be helpful for the school to undertake some visioning of how they want technology to integrate and support the learning experience and then consider whether ipads might be part of this. Many schools mistakenly start their thinking with the device and then on to how it might support learning. In some ways this is the wrong way round. I have a little further reading on ios considerations and deployments in school here: but this is merely a drop in the ocean.

Which model IPad is the most popular within other schools? roulette uk

Again, I wonder if this question is coming from thinking that is the right way round. What is it you want to achieve? Then ask which device will best suit the vision. Why ipad? Why not an alternative tablet? Why not Android? Windows 8? Why not netbooks? Laptops? Ipods? Why not a mixture? Again, ask yourselves: 1. What do you want to do? and then 2. What will help you do it?

Are other schools using Macbooks for synching/updating etc?

Yes. Or an iMac. There is no doubt that the deployment of large numbers of ios devices is greatly helped by having a MacOS PC (laptop or desktop).

It does worry me that some schools seem to be getting their thinking a bit ‘back to front’. Of course, for large purchases, it would be appropriate for for school governors to ask a question that I always find helpful: “What was the thinking behind this decision?” and the associated: “What alternatives were considered?” and “Does this represent the best value for money?”

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Algorithm is a dancer?

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I’ve been having a think – about algorithms and such. I wasn’t sure if I had in all this sorted in my mind and I figured I should. Shouldn’t we all? So, happy to expose my ignorance in the public forum, I asked my lovely Twitter followers what they had to say on the matter. I posted the following tweet:

I got some helpful responses. Firstly from @robthill

And then from Peter Lonsdale:

…and Pat Parslow:


Whereas, Richard Hussey came next with:

…but this was questioned by Rob Hill:

I liked Dave Twisleton-Ward’s take on it (with a slight adaption): A final couple of contributions, first from Spatricus:

And a final word from Roger Broadie: us casinos 18

…and a late edition from Richard Hussey again:

Are we any wiser? Are you clear about what an algorithm is? How it differs from a program? Could you a) explain it to a 6yr old? b) know that the 6yr old had understood it?

I think algorithms are generic and don’t require computers (unlike programs, which do).
Programs are generally more complex than algorithms.
I think that if young people are to understand any of this, they need lots of tangible examples with reference to the terminology. But more importantly if teachers are to help with all this (which they may/should be required to), they will need to have all of this clear in their own minds.

We can only teach something effectively when we truly understand it ourselves. what is the safest online gambling sites

Image thanks to piratejohnny on Flickr under Creative Commons

W(h)ither ICT?

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I read this blog post by @pixelh8 today about ICT and it got me thinking. I left a comment but want to record my thoughts here as well.

In the post, the author makes the point that ICT is just technology (like pencils are) and that there is a strong case for it ceasing to be a subject in its own right and, like pencils, be something that is subsumed into the rest of the curriculum.

I have some worries about this and they are along the following lines.

In many primary schools, there is a thematic approach taken to learning and this means that ‘subjects’ are often integrated, cross-curricular and, in the perfect world, this would include the effective use of ICT as an embedded tool across curriculum areas – just as pencils are. However, one issue is that although every teacher I have ever come across is a skilled and accomplished user of pencils, the same cannot be said of their use and effective deployment of computers (and other technologies) for learning.

I can hold my hand up and say that I am not the most accomplished musician or artist. However, primary teachers are obliged to teach these subjects. In the hurly-burly of a busy day, week or term I for one might sometimes let something ‘slip’ and, despite best intentions, this might be in an area in which I had slightly less confidence. For me, slippage was sometimes in music or art (to my shame), for others it may be ICT. Isn’t this true also for secondary subject specialists? Their pencil skills are consistent and high-level. How skilled are they in ICT. How readily will a secondary history teacher take to the integration of ICT/technology into their curriculum? Who will monitor this? Who will ensure that there is coverage, progression and appropriate integration happening?

Now, contrast that with a situation in which our class know that on Wednesday mornings we are doing ICT and that this happens every Wednesday morning. This is much harder to avoid and slippage is much less likely. This is not to say that the ICT lesson is the exclusive preserve for the use of technology, or that the curriculum content should be just ‘ICT’ or decontextualised but it is a time when at least we know ICT will happen. If we take that time away, will ICT still happen?

I like the idea of fully integrated, cross-curricular, embedded ICT and I can see where (most of) it can live in other curriculum areas. However, in my experience of schools, staff and approaches to technology I just don’t think we are ready for that yet and we are at serious risk of slippage and doing a huge disservice to the learners.

I may, of course, be wrong. What do you think?

Picture source. Rob Waitling on Flickr

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Hacked off

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If you use Twitter, you will have probably received a direct message from someone you follow that is along these lines: ‘I’ve seen a bad blog about you…’, ‘You seen what this person is saying about you…’ ‘Did you see this pic of you? lol’ The message will have a link in it. This is a ruse intended to hack your Twitter account. Contrary to popular belief, simply clicking on the link will not result in your account being compromised. What will happen is that you will be directed to a website that looks identical to Twitter’s own site. However, look carefully at the url:

‘’ Look familiar? I have seen many similar iterations: tvviter, tvvitter, twittler etc.

Now, think about it. Would anyone really be saying bad things about you or blogging about you? You’re better than that! When was the last time that happened? You are led to a Twitter login via the link; so things are being said about you on Twitter then? And you don’t know about it?

Ok, I forgive you because:

  • You are in such a hurry in this rapid 21st Century world that you zip between your Twitter timeline and websites in such a rush that you miss the fact that it is a cloned Twitter site. the best online casino for mac usa
  • You opened the link, left it, came back to it later, thought it was Twitter and logged in to it.
  • I follow you because I generally find your tweets useful.
However, I do get slightly peeved sometimes, hence this tweet from me this morning:

So, do be careful where you enter your Twitter login details. I probably won’t unfollow you if you do make a mistake (we are all human after all) but I might if the DMs persist or, as seems to happen not long after, you start to sell me weight-loss products.

If this has happened to you, in the first instance, please change your password. You might also want to check who/what is accessing your Twitter account. You can do this via Settings > Applications and revoking access to your Twitter account for any applications you might deem suspicious.

Right. As you were 🙂

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Teachmeet Bolton

To a backdrop of steady rain, punctuated by the pop and whizz of the occasional firework, there assembled a hall full of passionate, excited educators. This was Heathfield CPS (home of @deputymitchell) and this was Teachmeet Bolton.

If readers are unsure about what is meant by a Teachmeet, this brief video clip may help.

As someone helping out with the Teachmeet, and someone who is a self-confessed ‘Teachmeetaholic’, I had hoped that it would include some additional features indicative of its evolution. As I said by way of introduction to the event, Teachmeets I have attended/organized have traditionally been a little ‘Web 1.0‘ for my liking. By this I mean that there has often been an over-emphasis on the one-way flow of information from presenter to recipients. Not that this, in itself, is a bad thing – but I would like things to become a little more Web 2.0 (collaborative, mashed-up, two-way, constructivist) and I’d like to think we succeeded to a certain extent.

  • I asked that attendees (both local and remote) think about the ideas presented and, more than that, to consider how they might adapt the idea or tool and use it in a way not explicitly described by the presenter. Not only this, but they were to tweet these ‘extended’ ideas via the #tmbolton hashtag. It was great to see some original interpretations and additional uses for tools that had been showcased.
  • I encouraged people to engage in discussion about the presentations in the inevitable ‘gaps’ in between them. I’ve often thought these gaps that occur whilst one presenter finishes and another sets up are lost opportunities for conversation and creative discussion. I tried to facilitate this by summarizing and encouraging table-discussions.
  • It was fabulous to know that not only was the event being beamed remotely and live (thanks to Ian Mills’ technical support) to numerous locations worldwide, but also that we were joined by a room full of trainee teachers from Plymouth University (organized by Oliver Quinlan and Pete Yeomans). This was another exciting feature of the whole experience and twice we did a ‘Eurovision’-style live cross-over to Plymouth for a Q&A session with a couple of the students and also for a brief presentation by Oliver (which sadly suffered some Teachmeet gremlins and was let down by some technical glitches). real money roulette app iphone

There was one other very important feature of Teachmeet Bolton – the absence of any sponsorship. I think it was great that such an event could take place and be such a success with nothing more than a £2 contribution by those attending in person and that £2 was a contribution towards the refreshments and pastie & pea supper. I have been to too many Teachmeets recently where the prensence of sponsors has been disproportionately apparent (but that is another blogpost altogether).

On to the presentations! Brief highlights follow – I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone – it was hard to keep track, drink in the atmosphere, tweet, absorb all the information and try to do a ‘DJ’ job!

    • Ian Mills shared his experiences of using The Xbox Kinect in secondary school classrooms. Exciting, engaging games-based learning.
    • Chris Mayoh’s presentation “How to get a job. (If you’re 10)” described the process undergone by his ‘Digital Leader’ applicants as the 10 year olds were subject to interviews, application forms etc in the hopes of getting just 7 coveted jobs. Fabulous, real-life skills demonstrated and nurtured. One of the applicants said in her interview, “Share your ideas with people, they’ll get really good at it and share their ideas with other people too.” What Teachmeet is all about, too!

Digital Leaders Interviews from Chris Mayoh

  • I loved Marie O’Sullivan’s presentation as she engaged the audience in a collaborative learning activity that was our opportunity to experience a great classroom idea from the point of view of the learner – and have our self-esteem raised at the same time!
  • John Sutton then described a fantastic live blogging project: ‘Monopoly Challenge’ featuring tools such as ipadio and flickit. We were all amazing!
  • Julian Wood, the ‘airbomb-repeater’ of the Teachmeet world was next. I sat back in awe as ideas and tools were fired into the room. Check out the full list of brilliant ‘generators’ here. Seriously, for each of the many, many tools Julian shared there are days of learning to be had. winpalace casino instant play
  • Another Teachmeet regular, Simon Haughton gave us an expert tour of Edmodo which is being used very effectively by Simon and others as a collaborative vehicle for learning.
  • We then had a brief look at Coveritlive with David Mitchell – a fantastic tool for live, embeddable, collaborative learning (in this case creative writing) based upon a stimulus. Pie Corbett was to join the session later. It was Nabeel, however, who provided the entertainment! Follow it here.
  • Diana Wyatt shared Linoit – a live, virtual post-it note wall with an App too. (one of my favourite tools).
  • Pete Richardson was unable to join us in person but sent a virtual presentation of fantastic gaming tool ‘Zondle’. He shared great applications of its use to support phonics amongst other things but also offered to ‘friend’ anyone and give them his ideas and resources away for nowt! (That’s the spirit of Teachmeet). Read his blog here.
  • Next up was Jim Maloney. Jim told us he’d ditched his planned presentation. He summarised the main themes that had emerged from the evening. I’ve forgotten them now but guess they were: creativity, collaboration, enjoyment, learner-centric etc. He then described a day that he held with his Y5 class (inspired I think by Kevin McLaughlin and Oliver Quinlan) on which they planned their own, independent learning activities. I cannot do justice to Jim’s presentation here. He is engaging, passionate educator who had us in no doubt of the power of child-centered learning and the sage-on-the-side role for teacher. Read more on Jim’s blog.
  • Pete Rafferty took us on a sentimental journey back 6 years to his setting out with children as bloggers. How far we have come and what a difference Pete has had on hundreds of young people through introducing them to blogging.
  • Frances Smith did a great thing. She described how she had taken two separate ideas from a previous Teachmeet and had mashed them into one classroom activity involving Youblisher to publish children’s writing.
  • Jane Fisher shared her wonderful ‘Super School’ site.
  • We finished with David Mitchell sharing his ‘Well Done’ blog. A site guaranteed to elicit a tear of joy in the eye of even the most hardened cynic.

I am a great believer in much of the important learning and networking taking place in the ‘gaps’ (as I said above) and so, true to my word, I endeavoured to meet some brand new people at the half-time break as well as catch up with some old friends.

For me, Teachmeet Bolton was one of the most stimulating, enjoyable, enriching learning experiences I’ve had. And this on a wet Friday evening too!

Some further reading:
Simon Haughton’s reflections
Marie O’Sullivan’s post
Jane Fisher (1)
Jane Fisher (2)
Matt Pearson’s blog