Moving on…

I’m leaving my dream job. 

Literacy Co-ordinator for DASP (a partnership of 12 first, 3 middle and 1 upper school in the Dorchester Area). 

Running an alternative curriculum for students who come out with me on Tuesdays.

Teaching yr 9 mixed ability English. 

SLE for the Dorset Teacher School Alliance.

And base leader of our specialist, LA funded, provision for students with speech and language difficulties. 

I love every element of my job, the comprehensive, Thomas Hardye School. the staff and the students. 

Why am I leaving? I said to the Head recently that I was having cold feet and how I wasn’t sure I’d made the right decision. He wisely told me that staff who felt like this were usually the ones who had done the right thing and that it was the teachers moving on with no mixed feelings he worried about more. 

But, the nearer to the end of term it becomes, the sadder I’m feeling about saying goodbye to the students and staff. I am also realising however that I have made the right decision. Much as I adore my job, I spread myself thinly and never quite feel I am doing any of my roles justice. I now know from my involvement with #WomenEd that I can strive for more, that I don’t need to think ‘it would be better if…’. I can dare to keep searching until I am in an even better job. I wanted to be able to focus on a single idea without distractions; I wanted to make a national impact rather than just a school one and I think I’ve found the place to do that in. I have dared to say out loud exactly what I want to achieve and not be concerned that I may sound arrogant, or listen to the voices in my head saying ‘who do you think you are?’. I’m done settling for ‘pretty good’, I want ‘nearly perfect’.
I was invited to join an expert advisory group scrutinising training materials for The Driver Youth Trust (DYT) and was struck by the insistence on including SEND alongside literacy. Their non-profit making values which had one aim; to improve education for children with poor literacy made me want to work with the DYT  as I knew I could have an impact.

After Easter I begin my new role and it’s very exciting. I want to empower teachers in mainstream to support students who have literacy difficulties and get the message across that some simple adjustments to classroom teaching can remove complex barriers to learning. 

The Driver Youth Trust provide free resources on their website. I know as a teacher that ‘free’ is a welcoming word so please take a look. Let DYT know what you think and if there are resources or advice you need, contact us. We’re listening.


Too clever for your own clogs


The current government and dear old Michael Wilshaw, despite no evidence that it is efficacious, have toyed with the idea of making it a legal obligation for schools to set from the age of 14. The Education Endowment Fund (EEF) and OECD’s PISA report show that stratification in the education system appears to show no benefit.  While Professor Coe’s comments on the damaging effects of effusive praise were met with vigorous head nodding, his evidence showing setting was ineffective……tumbleweed.

The belief in setting is perception, pure and simple – a mindset which thinks children with various abilities should not be educated together. There is a fetishisation of cleverness in the current education system alongside a belief that mixed ability somehow lowers the standard of learning for bright children.

It’s usually our own kids who we think are getting bored and need pushing, but current reports about children’s mental health show I should be just as concerned about my daughters suffering from anxiety, self harming and eating disorders as I am with them being stretched and getting A*s to get into Oxford.

Now, I had the privilege of going to a Secondary Modern so nobody gave a monkeys whether I achieved – suited me fine to be honest, I was much more interested in snogging and smoking but I have friends who are far cleverer than me. Two tell me that now, their biggest concerns are how happy their own children are – they were both treated with reverence in school and university as they were so bright and the expectations they tell me were awful – one had a breakdown. The idea of this much pressure to achieve the First everyone said you should get was about as alien to me as bunking off school to meet Alan with his Capri in his drainpipe jeans would have been to them.

Alright, I could have been pushed harder – look at this picture of my tutor group in Year 7


compared to how we were by year 11.


But these women, these brilliantly clever and funny women should have been pushed less – they needed a night out with Alan and his Capri as much as I needed a school with higher expectations of me.

I hope I can protect my daughters from body image pressures but also from the almost maniacal pressure to be working at full capacity at all times in school. I don’t want them setted in all subjects but in mixed ability classes in a good, inclusive, comprehensive. I want more for my daughters than A*s.

School is not just about academic achievement – we need to recognise this, not just for the students like me but also for the clever ones.

Everyone needs an Alan and a Capri in their lives.

Some Mixed Ability versus setting research, blogs and bits and bobs
Sent from my iPad