The Spag Test

Many of the world’s top sportsmen and women are falling foul of the new examination set by the “Sports Professional Action Group” (or the SPAG test as it is commonly known)

Roger Federer has sensationally had to pull out of Wimbledon this year after admitting that he could not remember the name of all the backhand shots given in the time allocated for the test. “My mind just went blank” he said “but as soon as I came out the room I knew I had forgotten the – two handed backhand top spin cross court shot. I am totally gutted” Continue reading

Amy’s Story

A Day at The Shops
A story by Amy – Year 2 (Age 6)

I went to the big, tall shops and I went there slowly. What did I go there for? I couldn’t remember because I am not good at remembering things. When I got there I still couldn’t remember so I came home because I was bored.

I was so bored that when I got home I logged on to the DfE website to look at the exemplification materials for writing. I found that the opening paragraph in my story (which is even more boring than being at the real shops) and this second paragraph (which is not a lot better!) would allow me to score “Working at National Expectations” at Key Stage 1.

I felt helpless (had to include a –less word my teacher told me it was one of the criteria) and despaired that no matter what tedious, dull drivel (my teacher gave me these words; she said that this writing would not now count as independent work) I wrote, I could bore the pants off the reader and still reach national expectations.

I remember the days in Year 1 when I wrote a fantastic story of a giant who lived in a big castle and about the ferocious dragon that rescued the beautiful princess from the locked tower, it was really exciting but we are not allowed to write like that anymore because Miss said we weren’t including enough “expanded noun phrases”. She also said we don’t have to be creative anymore – the government said so. Still, when I leave school I will be able to write like that and that’s only 11 years away which is not long to wait.

Then I woke up and it was all a dream (except it wasn’t because Nicky Morgan was still the secretary of State for Education)

The End

Assessment Without Levels – Where to next?

Levels are no more!   So like the dodo before it, levels have become extinct. The onset of the new National Curriculum simultaneously brought the life of curriculum levels to an ignominious end. The dodo was hunted because its meat was considered a peculiar delicacy. Its disappearance meant that the hunter had to find an alternative diet. Teachers find themselves in a similar dilemma. Since their introduction National Curriculum levels have been the staple diet for schools to demonstrate progress to those who deem it necessary. Yet despite the fact that levels have gone the accountability hunter still requires schools to demonstrate progress, and its insatiable appetite for data shows no sign of abating. So what are we to feed it on? Continue reading

The Lion, The Wyche and The Learning


As Lucy makes her way through the wardrobe that first time, feeling the softness of the long fur coats gradually turn into the hard, prickly branches of the trees her world is transformed as she steps out into the wintery land of Narnia. Whilst the gas lamp flickers looking vaguely familiar and the snow falls as it did in her earthly world she is soon to find that so much of what she learnt in her pre-wardrobe life will not equip her to cope with fauns, beavers that talk and a witch that can seemingly create Turkish delight at will. The book is a vivid and powerful description of a parallel world in which Lucy must learn afresh many of the things that she may have taken for granted and thought she had fully imbibed in her previous life. The land of Narnia provides a seemingly good analogy for the concept of “Situational Learning” Continue reading

The Problem with Problems – Are children “Doing Problems” or “Problem Solving”?

The problem with Problems
Problem Solving has lain at the heart of the Maths Curriculum in Primary schools for many years and indeed the new curriculum 2014 places a greater emphasis on this element. However as it is all too easy to take the bland label of some supposed innovative issue and apply it in such a shallow fashion that it rips the heart out of what was truly intended as an excellent piece of curriculum thinking. I do feel that quality teaching of problem solving has all too often fallen into a deep, dark educational crevasse becoming morphed into something that is so diluted as to become unrecognisable in terms of good classroom practice. Continue reading