Accountability ‘stick’ is taking us to the brink: Time for radical change. | Tom Sherrington

Over the last few weeks, there have been some superb blogs and articles, alongside some grim news reports, adding fuel to the fire that is burning under our accountability culture.  More and more, as more and more people are saying, it seems blindingly obvious that our system of very high stakes inspection and performance measures has gone way past the point of having a positive impact. This is reinforced by various command and control elements of school management culture that have permeated our system in response: the whole machinery of appraisal, performance targets, performance…

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10 ways the gold dust of CPD time is wasted. | Tom Sherrington

CPD time is precious.  Teachers have so many issues to address; so many things to discuss, to share, to thrash out, to reflect on – and there’s lots of strong evidence about the importance of collaborative professional dialogue in fuelling teacher development.

And yet, there are lots of barriers to schools delivering good CPD; I’ve written about this before.  One of the key barriers is time.  All too often, teacher CPD time feels like it is eeked out, scraped and cobbled together, begged and borrowed instead of being what it should be: a central structural spine around…

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Our family remembrance trip. 40 years on. | Tom Sherrington

A few years ago I posted a copy of an assembly I gave for Remembrance Day, linking our family story – the death of my father, Richard Sherrington – to the act of remembrance.  You can read it here.   He died on 4th December 1977, 40 years ago, after his plane from Penang to KL was hijacked and it crashed to the ground. He was 37.  I was 12, my brother Matthew was 13, my sister Emma was 9.

That blog drew quite a lot of attention during the early days after flight MH370 disappeared and I’ve had to update it a few times just to get the story straight about what happened to my Dad on his…

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10 low impact activities to do less of – or stop altogether. | Tom Sherrington

Teachers and leaders across the country do too many things that have unacceptably high ratios of time and effort relative to their impact and/or they are unjustifiable educationally.  Sometimes I think that the debate about workload is tinkering around the edges when actually we need much more fundamental change.  I also think that we need to get assessment and accountability machinery back into perspective, making them more organic and more human.

My hunch is that if schools responded to the things included here in the way I’m suggesting, they would be better places to work, learning would…

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Y6 and Y11 take too much strain: up the ante from Y3 and Y7. | Tom Sherrington

In the last six months I’ve had the opportunity to see lessons in all years and I’ve spoken to teachers and leaders responsible for learning from Year 3 to Year 11.  From what I see, the expectations, pressure and intensity in Year 6 and Year 11 are MASSIVE compared to what happens in the other years at KS2, 3 and 4.  It’s as though everyone postpones the crunch point until there is really no option but to FACE IT.  YIKES!  We’ve only got SIX MONTHS!!!  We’ve got to leave NO STONE UNTURNED.

Meanwhile in Year 3, Year 7?  We’re cool. Comparatively speaking, it’s a cruise; no pressure here….

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Just Teach!! | Tom Sherrington

Featured Image: USC Rossier School of Education 
Just Teach?

What do I mean?  On my travels I see a lot of lessons where I find myself wanting to say this to the teacher.  Sometimes Just Teach! is the essence of my feedback.

It has two meanings.
1. Keep it Simple:

Just Teach means that you teach students something they don’t know – or don’t know how to do – and then check they know it/can do it.   That might sound ridiculously rudimentary but it’s amazing how far from that basic idea some lessons can meander.

Sometimes, it is not clear what students are meant to be learning; what…

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Goodbye Headteacher; Hello Consultant | Tom Sherrington

Yesterday morning I woke up to my weekly Guardian and TES job alerts and, instead of exploring the latest batch, I deleted them.  I’ve unsubscribed.  Doing that has sealed the decisions I’ve made this week marking a major turning point in my professional life. I’m no longer someone in between jobs, looking to return to Headship; I’ve decided to commit to my work as a consultant with fingers in lots of pies – indefinitely.

Some folk may think I’d made that decision already – but I hadn’t.  Psychologically I’ve been biding my time waiting for the right opportunity for me to return.  I’ve been…

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