Why we don’t allow mobiles in school

New post on the Headteacher’s Blog!

The Headteacher's Blog

First things first – I love my phone. I use it all the time. Lots of the stuff I use it for is practical: it’s an alarm clock to get me up in the morning; it’s a newspaper to read; it’s a weather forecaster to prepare me for the day; it’s my diary so I know what I’m supposed to be doing, when; it’s my satnav to get me to the places I need to be. But I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t acknowledge that it’s also a huge productivity vacuum: social media is lurking on my home screen with those tempting notification bubbles and there’s a little folder called “games” which tempts me away from what I should be doing with a little voice saying “just one more go…” You don’t get three stars on every level of Angry Birds overnight. I know if I want to get…

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Consultation – stuck on repeat

I started this blog on December 12th 2012 in a fit of righteous indignation about the proposals to introduce a new suite of qualifications called the “English Baccalaureate Certificates” in a post entitled ConsultationAt the time, I didn’t think responding to the consultation on EBCs would make any difference; I thought they were inevitable. But I was wrong.

IMG_1453

In February 2013 Michael Gove withdrew his EBC proposal

Of course, many of the original proposals contained within the EBC idea have made their way into the reformed GCSEs – numbered grading, the removal of coursework – but crucially the notion that rigorous qualifications were only for the most able has not. In the EBC proposal students below the academic standard would have been given a “statement of achievement” instead of a qualification. The reformed GCSEs, for all there is to object to about them, are at least accessible to all students within the same spectrum as the current qualifications – 9-1 encompasses the same range as A*-G.

The fact is, Michael Gove listened to the consultation responses and decided that he would back down from his proposals – proposals to which he was ideologically committed and about which he said he would be willing to overrule Ofqual and press ahead if he believed the changes were right:

“If they still had concerns and I still believe it is right to go ahead then I would do it, and on my head be it.” – Michael Gove, December 2012

Following the announcement the EBCs were not going ahead, I felt as though my voice mattered. As though I had made a difference. As though answering the questions which were phrased as if the introduction of EBCs was a fait accompli with answers which rejected that assumption was a strategy which worked.

nicky morgan

Nicky Morgan – new education secretary, new EBacc proposal (source)

And here we are again. A different education secretary this time – and one who has pledged to “listen to teachers and work with them” – and a proposal that 90% of students should follow the English Baccalaureate. I don’t have an issue with the notion that a broad base of academic subjects open doors for young people in the future. I think all students studying English, Maths, Sciences, a language and a humanities subject to 16 is a pretty good idea. But I also think that all students have an entitlement to a curriculum that suits them, and to a broad range of arts and design subjects. This policy seems to me an attempt to re-introduce the two-tier element of the EBC proposal, where English Baccalaureate subjects would be awarded EBCs and “the rest” would remain as GCSEs. This proposal devalued subjects beyond the narrow EBacc parameters, and although in the new system all subjects will be GCSEs the same dangers are present. The implementation of the policy as proposed will have a fairly obvious and catastrophic impact on arts, PE, design, technology and performance subjects, and the teachers who teach them, as they will inevitably be squeezed out of the curriculum and replaced by new humanities and languages teachers to accommodate the increased numbers taking those subjects. And, in these days of teacher recruitment shortage, I have no idea where they are going to come from.

The consultation, which closes on 29th January 2016, is again worded as though the implementation of the policy is inevitable.

It doesn’t matter. Find a way to make your voice heard. Question the basis of the questions you’re being asked. Question the assumptions inherent in the consultation questions if you feel they’re invalid. Make your point. If you don’t respond, your silence will be read as agreement, and your complaints will fall on deaf ears after the fact. But now, they’re listening. Someone in the DfE will read your response. It won’t necessarily make a difference – but my experience of responding three years ago shows that it might.

Respond to the consultation here – no matter what your views – before the deadline on 29th January 2016.

Moving On

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It’s always been a wrench to leave a school. Maybe I’ve been lucky in the schools I’ve worked in, but I’ve never been desperate to leave any of them. For me, moving on has always been about the next challenge and the next step in my career, moving up to new responsibilities in new contexts.

I know that internal promotions can work really well. I’ve had two in my career, firstly with a responsibility point added in my first school and secondly when TLRs were introduced and leadership in my school at the time was restructured. I remember now the trauma of having to re-apply for my job, up against external candidates, and the relief when I was successful. I really enjoyed the new responsibilities and the challenge as I moved on to the leadership spine, but I found it difficult to “re-make” myself in the new role. It seems silly now, but I remember that as a Head of Department my work clothes were shirt-and-tie-with-smart-trousers, accessorised with a nice line in v-necked jumpers. On my first morning of my new leadership spine role, I wore a suit. It was my attempt at signifying that, although I was the same person in the same school with the same staff and the same children, something was different. Navigating that shift in relationships in an internal promotion can be a tricky business!

moving on

In my experience, I’ve always found it preferable to look for my next steps beyond the school I’m currently working in. Arriving somewhere different allows you to re-establish yourself afresh, each time with the benefit of a few more years’ experience and the benefit of knowledge gained from mistakes and missteps in the current role. It’s also, I think, helpful to work in a variety of contexts, seeing how it’s done in different schools with different cultures and ethos (ethe? ethea? ethoses?) I’ve learned so much from every school I’ve worked in, and each one has added to the repertoire of approaches I can use in any given context.

always done it

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper’s useful quote (source)

There’s a benefit to the school in appointing from outside as well. New faces from other schools bring new approaches and challenge the status quo. Even if this doesn’t lead to change, the process of challenging “the way it’s always been done” has got to be healthy.

Despite all this, it’s still hard to leave. It’s hard to re-establish yourself; every time you start at a new school you remember how much classroom and behaviour management is based on reputation, routine and relationships that you’ve built up over time. A fresh start means starting again. It’s hard to leave the students, from knowing all the names, characters, families and histories to a completely blank slate. And it’s hard to leave the staff, that dedicated group of professionals who pull together for the benefit of young people in the face of sometimes overwhelming challenges. But despite all this, I know that moving on is the right thing to do, the right thing for me – and I’m looking forward to the next step.

#PoetryPromise December: Poetry by Marianne Moore

#PoetryPromise is coordinated through Poetry by Heart with the aim of promoting and spreading the love of poetry. My #PoetryPromise for 2015 is to share a favourite poem of mine every month through my blog. My choice for December is Poetry by Marianne Moore.

800px-Eastern_Giant_Toad_(Peltophryne_peltocephala)_(8573972369)

“Imaginary gardens with real toads in them” (source)

Poetry

I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle.
*****Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in
*****it, after all, a place for the genuine.
***********Hands that can grasp, eyes
***********that can dilate, hair that can rise
*****************if it must, these things are important not because a

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are
*****useful. When they become so derivative as to become unintelligible
*****the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
***********do not admire what
***********we cannot understand: the bat
*****************holding on upside down or in quest of something to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless wolf under
*****a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse that feels a flea
*******************************************************the base-
*****ball fan, the statistician—
***********nor is it valid
*****************to discriminate against “business documents and

school-books”; all these phenomena are important. One must make a*******************************************distinction
*****however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not
*************************************************poetry,
*****nor till the poets among us can be
***********“literalists of
***********the imagination”—above
*****************insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, “imaginary gardens with real toads in them,” shall we have
*****it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
*****the raw material of poetry in
***********all its rawness and
***********that which is on the other hand
*****************genuine, you are interested in poetry.


 

What better poem to conclude my year of #PoetryPromise posts, than a poem about poetry? I love Marianne Moore’s playful, enigmatic tone in this piece, which she revised again and again over her lifetime, publishing different versions in 1924, 1935 and 1951. She capped this off by publishing two different versions in her 1967 Collected Poems. The first was condensed down to just three lines:

I, too, dislike it.
   Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in
   it, after all, a place for the genuine.

In the back of the same volume she published the version I used here, under the heading “original version.” This is typical of Moore’s tone overall, never allowing herself or her work to be pinned down. This poem wriggles and slips in the reader’s eye and mind, from that initial ironic statement, making the reader complicit in a dislike of the very thing that both writer and reader have set out to enjoy. The rest of the poem renovates this maligned art form, this “place for the genuine.”

I know that poems can “grasp,” can make my eyes widen and the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It is this visceral emotional connection that makes poetry “useful,” not the fact that a “high-sounding interpretation” can be put on it. The craft of the poet, says Moore, is to be a “literalist of the imagination” – to take the imagined, and render it so, as Sylvia Plath says, “it feels real.” To take an imagined garden, and put a real toad in it. The naming of parts, the “the poet uses alliteration in line 17 to…” approach, is not what poetry is all about. It’s the crackling emotional energy, the “raw material of poetry in all its rawness” which gives it its power. This is why I love it, why I read it, and why I teach it – why I am “interested in poetry.”

Read all the Poetry Promise posts here.

#PoetryPromise November: Mametz Wood by Owen Sheers

#PoetryPromise is coordinated through Poetry by Heart with the aim of promoting and spreading the love of poetry. My #PoetryPromise for 2015 is to share a favourite poem of mine every month through my blog. My choice for November is Mametz Wood by Owen Sheers.

Source

Source

I have blogged before about the importance of Remembrance to me, and I make no apologies for citing this poem by Owen Sheers again. Whilst the War Poets bring alive the horror and reality of the Great War as voices from the past, this poem captures better than any other the connection between our present and that harrowing conflict. As a culture, it is our duty to continue to reach back into ourselves and listen to the notes that those who lost their lives sing back to us…and remember.

Mametz Wood
by Owen Sheers
For years afterwards the farmers found them –
the wasted young, turning up under their plough blades
as they tended the land back into itself.

A chit of bone, the china plate of a shoulder blade,
the relic of a finger, the blown
and broken bird’s egg of a skull,

all mimicked now in flint, breaking blue in white
across this field where they were told to walk, not run,
towards the wood and its nesting machine guns.

And even now the earth stands sentinel,
reaching back into itself for reminders of what happened
like a wound working a foreign body to the surface of the skin.

This morning, twenty men buried in one long grave,
a broken mosaic of bone linked arm in arm,
their skeletons paused mid dance-macabre

in boots that outlasted them,
their socketed heads tilted back at an angle
and their jaws, those that have them, dropped open.

As if the notes they had sung
have only now, with this unearthing,
slipped from their absent tongues.

(Source)

Watch Owen Sheers read this poem at The Poetry Station

What is leadership?

When I started this blog, I called it “Teaching: Leading Learning” because I believe the role of classroom teacher and school leader are closely connected. In both cases, you have a group of people and you want to take them from one situation to another. You have to enact change. There are several ways you can accomplish this:

  • Authoritarian: 
    • Classroom situation: I am the teacher. I am in charge. This is what we’re doing now, whether you like it or not.
    • Leadership situation: I am the boss. I am in charge. This is what we’re doing now, whether you like it or not.
  • Apologist: 
    • Classroom situation: I know this is boring. I don’t really like it either. But it’s on the exam specification so we have to do it; let’s just make the best of it.
    • Leadership situation: I know this is ridiculous. I don’t really like it either. But the DfE have said we have to have PRP so let’s try to make the best of it.
  • Values driven: 
    • Classroom situation: this is brilliant. This is why I got into teaching in the first place. Let’s have a look at it together…
    • Leadership situation: this is brilliant. This will improve all of us, make us more effective and help the kids. Let’s have a look at it together…

Last week I ran a twilight session for aspiring leaders in school, exploring the question “what is leadership?” I used the connection of teaching and leadership to help try to understand different models of leadership, and how they might apply in school contexts.

Model #1: The Bus, or “who before where” (Jim Collins)

Jim Collins advises leaders to start with

Jim Collins advises leaders to start with “who” not “where” (source)

Most people assume that great bus drivers (read: leaders) immediately start the journey by announcing to the people on the bus where they’re going—by setting a new direction or by articulating a fresh corporate vision.

In fact, leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with “where” but with “who.” They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. And they stick with that discipline—first the people, then the direction—no matter how dire the circumstances.

(Jim Collins: Good to Great)

My NPQH was full of this stuff (see my blog here) – it seemed like every other resource I read was about how to initiate competency proceedings to get “the wrong people off the bus”. Fortunately, the metaphor has been comprehensively annihilated by Kev Bartle in BUS-ted: The Great Leadership Myth and more recently by Dawn Cox in Are you on the bus? The destructive education metaphor. To summarise my main objections:

  • A bus only has one driver; everyone else is a passenger, no matter which seat they’re in. This is not how teams work.
  • It assumes people are fixed commodities – either “right” or “wrong” – with no capacity to change, develop or grow. Dweck would have a field day.

There are many other ways in which this is an insecure approach – one of which is that the “where” matters too.

Model #2: The Jungle Road, or “where before what” (Stephen Covey)

Can you see the wood for the trees? (source)

Can you see the wood for the trees? (source)

A group of workers and their leaders are set a task of clearing a road through a dense jungle on a remote island. Their task is to get to the coast where an estuary provides a perfect site for a port. The leaders organise the labour into efficient units and monitor the distribution and use of capital assets – progress is excellent. The leaders continue to monitor and evaluate progress, making adjustments along the way to ensure the progress is maintained and efficiency increased wherever possible. Then, one day amidst all the hustle and bustle and activity, one worker climbs up a nearby tree. The worker surveys the scene from the top of the tree and shouts down to the assembled group below….“Wrong Way!”

From Stephen Covey (2004): The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

This is a great story to remind us of the difference between leadership and management. As Bennis and Drucker summarise: “the manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.” Skilful management is very important to ensure schools run efficiently and effectively, but leadership is about setting the direction. If the leader in Collins’ bus metaphor is wrong about the direction, the whole vehicle could be heading for a low bridge or a wall – and then all the people, right or wrong, in whichever seat, are in for a shock.

Model #3: Geese

Leadership lessons from geese (source)

Leadership lessons from geese (source)

I’ve always loved this idea, which I initially came across on Tom Sherrington’s blog Leadership Lessons from GeeseTom summarises the lessons we can learn from the super-efficient V-formation used by migrating geese:

  1. Geese: the V-formation gives geese 71% extra power; they fly 71% further compared to flying alone. People: we are more effective when working together towards common goals
  2. Geese: a bird leaving the formation quickly returns. People: it’s tougher to go it alone. Playing part in a group is safer/more secure.
  3. Geese: the lead goose rotates. Each goose takes a turn. People: we need to share leadership. We all need to shoulder responsibility and do our turn on the front.
  4. Geese: the geese in the V honk from behind to encourage the leader to keep up their speed. People: we should encourage those that lead us by challenging them to do their best and cheering them on.
  5. Geese: a wounded or sick goose will be followed down by two other geese to protect it until it’s ready to rejoin the flock. People: we need to stand by each other in difficult times.

This is great, humane way to think about leadership as a team exercise. It reminds me of team pursuit…

Model #4: Team Pursuit

Laura Trott, Dani King and Joanna Rowsell in full flow

Laura Trott, Dani King and Joanna Rowsell in full flow (source)

I remember the Team GB women smashing their own record three times in one day at London 2012, including in the gold medal ride. They recently caught and overtook the Russian team at the European track championships to take gold by a lap. It’s a testament to the marginal gains approach, where every member of Team GB’s cycling programme trains every aspect of their performance to perfection. Zoe Elder has made the most of this metaphor on her excellent Marginal Learning Gains blog – more of which later! – and I think Doug Lemov‘s Teach Like A Champion comes from a similar angle. Team pursuit is the closest humans come to geese flying in a V – and it has valuable lessons for us too. As with the geese, the lead rotates to that all members of the team share the workload. The lead rider shields the others who sit in the slipstream behind; all members of the team are working in complete harmony towards the same goal, with and for each other.

The team work together to minimise drag (source)

The team work together to minimise drag (source)

What’s particularly great about the team pursuit is that the time for the team is taken from the last rider over the line: the team is only as good as its slowest member. This is why development and training is important. We must support and improve all members of our team to do their best, not rely on individual superstars. We need to ensure the way we teach in our classroom sends them off to the next lesson in the right frame of mind, with the right attitude – minimising drag for our colleagues. And the culture we set in our schools should be one of continual improvement, training each aspect of our performance to perfection, whether we are staff or students, in order to achieve excellence.

Model #5: The 3As (Alan McLean)

The 3 As as cycling metaphors depicted on Marginal Learning Gains

The 3 As as cycling metaphors depicted on Marginal Learning Gains

The wonderful Zoe Elder, of the aforementioned Marginal Learning Gains blog, introduced me to Alan McLean’s 3As of motivation:

The first one is Affiliation, which is basically a sense of belonging, a sense of being valued, connected, and the opposite of that is alienation.The second one is Agency, which is basically self-belief, a sense of competence, a sense of self-efficacy, a sense of control. I know how to do this job…The opposite of Agency is apathy. And the third one, which is the centrepiece of them all – the most complex one – is Autonomy. I keep mentioning Autonomy because it’s gold dust. Autonomy is self-determination. How much scope or trust do I have? How much scope do I have for self-determination in my job or in my classroom? And the more self-determination, the more autonomy you have the more motivated you will be. The opposite of Autonomy is anxiety, where you’re overwhelmed, you’re so pressurised or you’re discouraged.

Alan McLean: The three As of motivation

Both Zoe Elder and Alan McLean apply the three As to classroom situations, but as I indicated at the start, in my view they apply equally to leadership positions. The development of affiliation, agency and autonomy in teams is key to their success – and this has to stem from the leadership. All three are needed; without one, the others cannot flourish.

Model #6: Start With Why (Simon Sinek)

Simon Sinek's Golden Circle (source)

Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle (source)

I really like Simon Sinek‘s take on humane leadership. He’s done a couple of great TED talks on the topic: why good leaders make you feel safe and how great leaders inspire actionIt’s in the latter talk that he describes the “golden circle” and explains how the norm for leadership is to communicate from the outside in, starting with what you do then how you do it before expecting a change in behaviour. In teaching this may be “I teach French (the what) by using target language techniques and interleaving reading, writing, speaking and listening practice in curriculum planning (the how).”

More influential, argues Sinek, is values-driven leadership which communicates and is driven from the inside out, starting with why: “I teach French because I fundamentally believe that learning languages is the key to inter-cultural understanding and will help produce more tolerant global citizens. To do this I ensure that I interleave reading, writing, speaking and listening practice in the target language so the students feel immersed in the language and the culture of French-speaking nations.” All teachers have their own “why” – it drives them to put up with the pressures and tribulations of the job and keeps them going. For me, it’s about social justice and creating a fairer society. You can read about that here.  If you can articulate your “why” then it gives you the core values that will allow you to lead effectively – lead a class of kids, a team, or a school.

Model #7: the Cathedral masons, or having a sense of purpose

Why do you do what you do? (source)

Why do you do what you do? (source)

HT to Bodil Isaksen for putting me on the trail of this story:

“A man came across three masons who were working at chipping chunks of granite from large blocks. The first seemed unhappy at his job, chipping away and frequently looking at his watch. When the man asked what it was that he was doing, the first mason responded, rather curtly, “I’m hammering this stupid rock, and I can’t wait ’til 5 when I can go home.”

”A second mason, seemingly more interested in his work, was hammering diligently and when asked what it was that he was doing, answered, “Well, I’m molding this block of rock so that it can be used with others to construct a wall. It’s not bad work, but I’ll sure be glad when it’s done.”

”A third mason was hammering at his block fervently, taking time to stand back and admire his work. He chipped off small pieces until he was satisfied that it was the best he could do. When he was questioned about his work he stopped, gazed skyward and proudly proclaimed, “I…am building a cathedral!”

via Bill von Achen (source)

Bodil’s tweet perfectly sums up the application of this story to education:

It’s up to leaders and teachers to provide that sense of purpose in the endeavour of schooling, so that the knackered teacher last lesson on Thursday knows that chipping away at comprehension skills with Year 9 is worth it. It’s another block in the foundations of the cathedral. And it is worth it, as Sarah Findlater’s wonderful blogpost Building beautiful cathedrals shows:

As teachers, we work hard crafting the small part of our students’ life that we share, but more often than not we will never see the end result, who they will become. We have faith that the cause we are working for is a great one so we continue our crafting and our job is done. On with life.

Sarah Findlater (source)

Each of the models of leadership has something to offer. As with all things, we take a little from one model, a little from another. We adopt and adapt until we make them our own. And we go on teaching: leading learning.

#TLT15: Getting attitudes right

We’ve been working for a while on getting our attitudes right. We didn’t need excellent blogs like these from Heather Fearn and Tom Sherrington to know that effort and hard work are the key to success. I’ve blogged before about our pilot programme, attitude determines altitude, which ran with Year 11 last year. We tracked attitudes at each monitoring point and worked with students on improving their dispositions in the classroom. In evaluating that programme, we came up against one key question that needed resolving:

How do you accurately assess a student’s attitude?

The question was put pertinently by Sue Cowley back in March:

cowleytweet

As a parent with children in our school, I know Sue follows our work very closely. Whether or not her tweet was a direct reaction to our work, or something more general, I don’t know, but it gave us pause for thought. Were we grading attitudes accurately and meaningfully? Could we?

In our pilot programme, we were using the existing set of attitude descriptors which had been used at the school since 2010. Students were awarded grades VGSU (Very Good, Good, Satisfactory and Unsatisfactory) for their Behaviour, Classwork, Homework and Organisation. You can read the descriptors here.

We had a few nagging doubts about our work in this area.  There wasn’t a separate grade for “effort”, which seemed out-of-step with our development of a growth mindset. There was inconsistency in their application, and it seemed that passive compliance was enough to gain a raft of “V” grades. They needed a revamp. So, from January, we set about a research project to try and establish what our new attitude grades should look like.

Research part 1: what does an excellent attitude look like?

Our first step was to ask neighbouring schools what they did. We got some excellent models that way, including from Gordano School, whose “effort profile” was among the reasons they won a DfE “character award” in February 2015.  One of our teaching and learning leaders also paid a visit to Rebecca Tushingham at Hanham Woods Academy, who shared with us her draft “Engagement Ladder”.

We also scoured the web for inspiration, and our Head of Science found CharacterLab, which explores attitude dimensions such as curiosity, gratitude, grit, optimism and zest with some handy resources and links to further research.

CharacterLab's attitude dimensions

CharacterLab’s attitude dimensions

We didn’t forget the olden days either, revisiting the personal learning and thinking skills which have survived the bonfire of the strategies on the national web archive:

 Of course there was also Angela Duckworth’s work on grit,  and helpful school-based models shared freely online by John Tomsett and applied by Pete Jones.

Here's what student attitudes are made up of. Now, which to choose?

Here’s what student attitudes are made up of. Now, which to choose?

Research part 2: how do you describe attitudes?

Once we’d gathered all of these different ways of breaking down student attitudes, we set about selecting, synthesising and collating to create the rubric that we wanted for our school, and working out which language we should use to describe it – replacements for VGSU where “satisfactory” was not really satisfactory at all. In this quest, our head of computing (@morewebber) conducted extensive research into US effort rubrics, uncovering examples including:

  • Exceptional, Accomplished, Developing, Beginning
  • Attempted, Acceptable, Admirable, Awesome
  • Master, Veteran, Apprentice, Novice
  • Excellent, Good, Fair, Weak
  • Exemplary, Proficient, Marginal, Unacceptable

Fortunately, John Tomsett was wrestling with the same dilemma and published his post “this much I know about accurate terminology to describe students’ effort” in June, hitting the ball sweetly down the fairway and giving us a model to emulate. By which I mean copy.

Following a joint meeting of pastoral and curriculum middle leaders to agree the framework, it fell to the teaching and learning leaders to knock the final document into shape, and here’s the result:

Behaviour for learning 2.0

Behaviour for learning 2.0

We came up with additional guidance for SEND students which can be seen here: Attitude report guidelines.

What next? 

Of course there was the mechanics of switching aspects in SIMS to record the new attitude grades, and adjustment of policies to match. But the advantage of the system is that it can still provide an attitude percentage score at each monitoring point by assigning values to each of the attitudes in a SIMS marksheet: three points for each Excellent, two for each Good, one for each Insufficient and zero for a Poor. Insert a formula to add the total and divide by the total possible to create the percentage score. This figure appears on reports, in seating plans via MintClass, and on teacher marksheets in SIMS as a KPI. It allows simple tracking of improvement or decline in attitude over time, which can then trigger praise and reward or intervention and discussion. But because it’s split down into four areas, tutors and teachers can see specifically where changes in attitudes have occurred – an improvement in response to feedback for example.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, was explicit teaching of the attitude expectations to students. We used an off-timetable session for this, so the whole school worked on the new attitude grades together. Students self-assessed against the criteria and set targets for improvement, alongside a discussion about exactly what it would look like in the classroom to display the attitudes in the “excellent” column.

Thirdly, teachers have been working hard to create opportunities in lessons to make the attitudes they expect to see completely explicit to the students. Setting up tasks in the classroom with specific reference to the new attitude grid is a great way of ensuring students see the application of the attitudes in a subject-specific context.

Finally, information for parents and families has been provided through letters, re-written keys on the reports, and face-to-face information evenings. It’s vital that families understand why we’ve changed, and why attitudes to learning matter so much, so they can support us in developing the best approaches to study possible.

Your attitude has more bearing on your outcomes than your ability

Your attitude has more bearing on your outcomes than your ability

 There is a lot more work to do on this – more blogs to follow!

Here are the slides from my #TLT15 presentation: