Thursday, 22 December 2016

My Personal Twitter Awards

2016 has been my twitter awakening, my social media Arab spring, my online virtual epiphany.
My profile shows that I joined Twitter back in 2009 and kept under the radar by interacting with friends and sporadically following cycling and education news. I was far more active on the school twitter feed @hartfordhead.
The awakening came early in 2016 when the penny began to drop about the implications of the 2016 interim assessment arrangements, the content of the grammar curriculum, the challenge of applying a secure fit, and the promised 4B standard feeling more like an old money 4A. Experienced teachers were planning to retire prematurely, and overstretched year 6 practitioners workload increased dramatically as they tried to demonstrate that children were a “secure fit” across seventeen standards in writing.

I was eager to support colleagues both in my own school and the wider Cheshire West Community and realized that I had to improve my understanding of the current issues- I turned to Twitter to “tool up.”

Reflected on my year engaging with the Edu-Twittersphere I want to thank the following colleagues who have provided support and inspiration.

In no particular order

@PieCorbett I have been fortunate to work with Pie, his colleague John Stannard,  @satterthwaitecf and @literacycounts1 as part of a two-year Primary Writing Project. Pie is a champion of for children, he is an advocate for the noble profession of teaching, and he is simply the boss when it comes to the teaching of writing. Pie has been campaigning throughout the year for improvements to the grammar curriculum and the teaching and assessment of writing. I look forward to working with him in 2017.


I first met Simon on Twitter in April 2016 when we were discussing how the arrangements for assessing writing unfairly disadvantaged children with profound spelling difficulties. Our interaction inspired me to raise the question below with the then Secretary of State, Nicky Morgan, at this years NAHT conference.

I, and many Headteacher colleagues believe the KS2 teacher assessment arrangements for writing are discriminatory. Children in KS2 are disadvantaged twice. Their spelling ability is tested as part of the Spelling Punctuation and Grammar test. Furthermore, children will be teacher assessed for spelling,  as part of the 17 standards for KS2 teacher assessment. 
I have been contacted by a parent of Y6 child. His son has diagnosed dyslexia. He told me that he knows that his child will be labeled as a failure at Y6 this year. He then added, “ it breaks my heart, yet he is a national chess champion, and in the top 10% in the country for reasoning." 
Could you please consider a review of teacher assessment arrangements before moderation starts on the 20th May? You still have time to move towards a best-fit judgment for the assessment of writing. If you make this positive move, you will demonstrate that you are listening to the profession, and secondly, you will empower teachers to make a judgment that will reflect a child’s true ability.

Nicky replied that she was not minded to make changes for 2016.  I replied by asking if she was in charge of the Department or Nick Gibb and was told that she wouldn’t reply to my “sexist” question.

Her response gave me my 15 minutes of fame. I received second billing, behind Ken Livingstone, on Saturday Night's news at 10. The story was reported in all the Sunday newspapers, and I received a report from a friend in New York saying that I had popped up on his Huffington Post news feed. The downside of my newfound fame was a reporter knocking on the doorstep of my sisters and our Assistant Headteacher house looking for information on the “man behind the question” and a poor piece of hatchet journalism in the Lifestyle section of the Telegraph.

Fortunately, my brief period of edu-fame has been followed by eight months of friendship with Simon. As a consequence, I am regularly inspired by Simon’s human leadership and my knowledge of picture books has gone from 0 to 10.

@beyondlevels @AlisonMPeacock @JulesLilly

I hadn’t heard of the growing #LearningFirst movement until May this year when Linda Neil from @TheLCUK  kindly shared two tickets with our Deputy Head @JanDiamond76 and I to attend the first Sheffield event. The day was transformational. There was a tangible feeling that we part of something special and the whole day had the atmosphere of a Springsteen Concert.

Inspired by the #LearningFirst Community, our school has stopped trying to reinvent levels and stopped trying to quantify progress. We have changed our tracking system, reviewed our feedback procedures and are trialing comparative judgment. Between Jan and I, we have attended all the #LearningFirst events and hope to engage with more and the work of the @CollOfTeaching in 2017.


James is the Director of NAHT Edge. I first met him not via Twitter, but in real life at the 2016 NAHT conference. James was a Primary School Headteacher and has been working with Alison Peacock, Michael Tidd and others to shape primary assessment after the chaos of 2016. James is a regular contributor to articles in @TES and alongside @russellhobby is doing a splendid job of articulating the views of a nation of school leaders.


I knew Chris when we trained to be teachers in 1993, and we ended the year house sharing at my Aunty Gwyn's house on the outskirts of Stoke. Back then he was a bundle of energy, positivity, and enthusiasm and 23 years later he is a bundle of energy, positivity, and enthusiasm. I am thankful that he has introduced me to the @readingrocks and @primaryrocks community.  His work at the rapidly improving @ParklandsLeeds is going to make him an edu-superstar- watch this space!


When Dame Alison Peacock introduced Michael at #LearningFirst Sheffield, she commented on his generous leadership qualities. His knowledge of how education policy impacts on teachers and learners is second to none. His generosity extends to his blogs, TES articles, engagement with the NAHT assessment campaign and his superb contribution to the Education Select Committee’s  inquiry into primary assessment.


James is the Jedi master of school data. His clarion call for schools to stop trying to reinvent levels should be heard by all school leaders.


His eloquent writing about positivity and well-being has shaped my practice.


Sean is Ofsted’s National Director of Education and a regular attendee at #LearningFirst conferences. When I experienced my first Ofsted inspection, in 1996,  the whole process was shrouded in mystery- twenty years later the Ofsted process in unrecognizable. In my view, the quality, consistency and proportionally of inspection has never been better. 


I am relatively new to Clare’s work. Her analytical writing has produced two great critiques in 2016. Clare’s analysis of the 2016 Reading test completely nailed why the design has to change in 2017, and her recent blog about the traditional methods being adopted at @MCSBrent is first class.

2017 Update

Reading the list above it is clear that everyone has continued to inspire and make a significant contribution to education in 2017.  One colleague, I would like to add to my list is: 


Ed is one of the nicest people you will meet. His creativity alongside an ability to inspire and bring people of the highest caliber together. 
Ed with the help of the team at Larkrise Primary School hosted the brilliant @OxfordReadingSpree and @OxfordWritingSpree in 2017. Eight of our staff at Hartford Manor attended the reading spree and returned to school refreshed and brimming with ideas and positivity. 
Later in the year Ed in prtnership with @Daryn  devised @BrewEd. The concept of Brew Ed is to bring people from all educational backgrounds together to discuss the purpose of education in the setting of a pub or brewery. The inaugural event was held in Sheffield in November was a blast. More events are planned for 2018. 

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