Incentivising mastery in primary maths

In my last post, I explained how KS2 maths SATs can encourage students who struggle with maths to chase marks in periphery topics, rather than improve arithmetic understanding and fluency which is necessary for the study of secondary mathematics. In this post, I’m going to reflect on how we might manipulate accountability to do the …

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The goal of the curriculum and the shape of the attainment curve

Eddie (aged 7) and I have been chatting about assessment theory. Eddie: Some children in my class know all the grades you get at secondary school. But I only know one grade and that’s grade B.ME: Well, let me introduce you to the grades A, C, D, E and F [Doesn’t seem fair to tell …

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The limited uses of question level analysis

Yesterday, Adam Robbins posted on Twitter an excellent thread about assessment that included this comment on Question Level Analysis (QLA). It's easy to say that QLA generally isn't a good idea (and I used to say this), but I keep encountering teachers who insist that they find analysing individual questions on a test helpful! My …

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Making school as compelling as gaming

Given the free choice between spending a day at school or at home gaming, many (most?) students would pick gaming. The gaming industry has become the master of engagement. Perhaps this isn’t relevant to educators since we have legal instruments to make schooling an act of coercion rather than persuasion. However, coercion has its limits …

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Productive mutations

Have you ever wondered why we let so many diverse educational approaches flourish in the English education system? Knowledge-rich approaches led by highly autonomous teachers… knowledge-rich direct instruction… collaborative and enquiry-led learning… integrated curriculum approaches… the list is infinitely long. Surely we should just develop a mega-research experiment and measure the effectiveness of approaches against …

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When should we force alignment in teacher practice?

In my last post, I made an argument that diversity of teacher instruction should be allowed to flourish in a wide variety of circumstances in schools. This is a short post to balance that perspective and give three circumstances where consistency and alignment are a good idea. The first two circumstances are obvious. If we …

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The great education and public health experiment

We are in the middle of a rather odd educational experiment. I said odd, because normally we run experiments in the hope of learning something new. But so far in this educational experiment, where children have received a wide variety of different distance learning ‘treatments’, we’ve done little to systematically find out how they are …

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