Youth Worker? Need To Show Impact?

…then I may be able to point you in the way of a flexible accreditation opportunity.

THIS is what could help youth workers show the impact of their work and accredit the learning of the young people they come into contact with. I had the opportunity to attend a conference on Understanding the Impact of Youth Work at the University of Gloucestershire. I ran two workshops on behalf of ASDAN on ‘Accrediting Active & Experiential Learning’. The PowerPoint can be found here.

Youth Workers are being challenged to find ways of showing the impact of learning and activities that they carry out. This is therefore not a blog advising on how to engage learning, but more based on the curriculum programmes that ASDAN can provide directly relating to Youth Work. This is a way of demonstrating impact through nationally recognised accreditation.

The feedback received was very positive based on both cost and the accreditation that was suggested.

Please have a look at the PowerPoint provided in the link.

These are some Short Courses provided by ASDAN (click here) that match closely with the needs of youth workers. They develop skills for life and the ‘Soft Skills’ required by employers.




How To Create A Teaching and Learning Common-Sense Culture? by @TeacherToolkit

THIS could be a good clear list of ‘Do Nots’ for any teacher to adopt as a starting point. A teacher could think about these lists when doing their job on a daily basis. I will be using this when the right time comes….

Michael Wilshaw’s Speech : A Shower of Spite.

THIS is (in my view) a great response to Michael Wilshaw’s Speech yesterday about the future of the OFSTED inspection. It says, in a very well articulated way, concerns I have about the mental health of young people, education in general and how teachers are regarded right now…

Love Learning....

I was on such a high this morning. Zipedee doo dah high. Seeing tweets from people skipping into work after Northern Rocks with smiles on their faces was fab. The sun was shining, I’d lost another pound, life was good…

Enter Sir Michael with his “radical” speech outlining yet more changes to the way schools are inspected. It felt like a right slap in the face I tell you. Having spent a day with Mike Cladingbowl and Sean Harford on Saturday, I was starting to warm to Ofsted. But it’s like finding out that the Ewoks you’ve been playing with are really under the power of Darth Vader. His speech was a shower of spite.

Firstly, he was ungracious and churlish about our neighbour’s education systems, not missing a chance to attack Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland with no mention at all of the fact that all of those nations…

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Real World Problem? Not At All!

THIS is the Edexcel Maths GCSE question that has been trending like crazy via #EdexcelMaths.

Hannah has 6 orange sweets and some yellow sweets.

Overall, she has n sweets.

The probability of her taking 2 orange sweets is 1/3.

Prove that: n^2-n-90=0

^ is “to the power of”


Although it has been ridiculed on twitter in various ways for it being so hard there is one thing that annoys me more that anything. It is described as a ‘real world problem’. This is not a real world problem in my view for a couple of reasons. It should also be noted this is not just limited to Edexcel but is also a feature of many different awarding bodies examination questions.

Reason 1

This cannot be called a ‘real world problem’ because it is not ‘real world’. Unless you are a Mathematician or Scientist, you would never use a calculation like this. I certainly have not. I have a degree, PGCE, been working for 20 years and have been a Business teacher for 11 years without needing this. That means that I have enough life experience in the ‘real world’ to suggest that it is not ‘real world’. If you are a Mathematician or a Scientist and say to me… “well I do use this!”… I would say that you are mad and you should be using your talents for a better use than working out how many sweets Hannah has. You should stick to working out bigger mathematical issues! I have an example of a proper Mathematical ‘real world problem’ later.

Reason 2

I also have an issue with using the term ‘real world problem’ in this type of question. In my view it simply is not a problem. I would argue that it is more of a puzzle that requires an answer which may be useful for a pub quiz. Why? Firstly, you know the way to solve the problem and secondly you just have to find an answer. I bet some are going… “eh, what is this guy talking about?”. Well think about it… In life we already know the answer to the problem or have a desired outcome. It is how you get to the desired outcome that is what we need to work out, which is the actual ‘problem’ to solve!

Let me give an example or three:

Firstly, you need to get a 10% deposit to buy your first house (desired outcome). How you get the 10% is the problem. Do you rob a bank (I am not advocating this as a serious choice), borrow from parents/family or save up for X years?

Secondly, As a teacher you know that the desired outcome for your class is that each child makes progress against their starting point based on data. The problem you have to solve is how to get them there. Good delivery of learning, praise, kick up the backside (not literally), formative assessment, catch-up classes for individuals. The answer is probably all of the above but by now you will understand what I mean.

Thirdly, I have just been watching ‘The Imitation Game’ (which is brilliant by the way). We all know the story about how a group of highly intelligent people have to solve the problem of working out the German codes during WWII. There is actually another more serious problem for the code breakers to solve but I will let you watch the film for that. Again, the desired outcome is to break the code. The problem is how they actually do it. They were a team of brilliant Mathematicians who were using their knowledge to solve a problem and to get to a desired outcome.

THIS is therefore not either ‘real world’ learning, a ‘problem’ or even a ‘real world problem’. The questions on many exam papers have many flaws when it comes to real world learning. Of course, as a teacher you cannot do anything about this really. You have to teach the young people to pass these types of exams and to be able to tackle questions on an exam paper. I just wish that the awarding bodies would actually create questions that really mean something. To help young people to be fully prepared for the real world and scenarios that they will come across.



Ebacc for All. Shackles on or off?

“The relentless emphasis on KS4 is such an utterly, utterly desperately limited vision for the education for our young people. It makes me cringe thinking of Nick Gibb standing up proclaiming social justice via Ebacc…. as if!!”

THIS is the comment that says it all for me and captures everything that is wrong about the Ebacc. It is very limiting to young people and their choices. Having to study specific GCSE’s that may not suit them, their learning need or their career goal. I agree – How is that social justice?


One of these students will be much better educated.  Apparently. One of these students will be much better educated. Apparently.

This week, School’s Minister, Nick Gibb, gave this speech setting out the social justice case for an academic curriculum – aka making the Ebacc a compulsory entitlement for all students.  When this kicks in it will have a significant effect for a lot of schools where the study of a language and/or either History or Geography are not currently compulsory at KS4.

It’s important to stress that I do agree with a lot of what is said in the speech.  In general, I agree that up to KS4, a broad curriculum with a strong academic weighting is important and should be an entitlement for all young people, regardless of their circumstances.  There’s plenty of scope to specialise and to pursue technical learning routes from 16 onwards.  I agree that too many students have been sold short by self-fulfilling low expectations…

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Leading Learning – Marking Smartly

The Problem!

THIS is what I am concerned about… We all know that marking can drain us. Most schools have a policy on marking. I know that many schools have a certain way to mark and do not allow any creativity or flexibility for the teacher when they mark. This can create a problem in itself; the marking becomes just another task which adds to many others that make the working day longer. It may even be that many teachers will complete the task with no real thought except that it must be done to please the likes of leadership, Ofsted, Local Authority etc. Lots of red/green pen with comments to show that it is being done. I can understand this. I have fallen into the trap on occasions. Yep all looks good! But what is the point?

Why should teachers mark work?

There are several reasons that I can think of why we would mark work and I will cover a few of them now. The first is that it informs our planning for the next lesson or term. Part of the planning is to include what progress the learner is making/has made and what the next steps are. The second is to help the learner think more deeply about their work. This will in turn create engagement in the subject and builds up their confidence. The third reason is to let the learner know how to improve their own work. This could include presentation points or a question for the learner to address. Finally for the learner to apply the learning to another question or problem to extend their thinking.

THIS is just s few tips about what I think a teacher can do. Firstly to make marking become less time consuming (work life balance). Secondly and importantly to focus the marking on progress and informing future learning (lesson planning).

Advice for completing marking smartly!

1) Look for opportunities to provide verbal feedback. How can this be recognised? Coach students to write a sentence/question about how they can improve their work using a different colour pen. This will put the onus on the learner to demonstrate their positive attitude to learning in taking advice to improve work from the verbal feedback given. This could be whole group or individual feedback. It takes time to coach the learners, but when they do it properly it helps them to think about what they have to do more deeply.

2) Never accept the first piece of work as complete. Coach learners to understand that they they will not get it perfect the first time and there is always room for improvement. This will help the learner to become resilient and understand that failure or gaining constructive comments can be positive for self improvement. It will help them to keep moving forward towards goals when plans don’t work out in life.

3) With a first draft especially, and if appropriate, give a grade as little as possible (I would advocate only completing a summative grade based piece of work once a half-term) to take the focus away from achievement and onto the process of learning. Creating a focus on the ‘process’ of learning is intended to help the young person become a lifelong learner and not one that stops learning when a grade is achieved. Do this by concentrating on the key formative comment/s and to make improvements. Do not do this by writing reams of comments, but by asking one question of each young person which is written onto their work. The question is always based on what they need to improve or whether they could apply the learning to another situation or problem (extended learning).

4) I mentioned DIRT (Directed Improvement and Reflection Time) earlier in this blog. It is very important that this time can feature in a lesson. I would suggest creating a 10-15 minute period in the lesson after the written marking has been given (written, verbal -written down by the learner- or peer) so reflection and further application of the learning can be considered. By using application and improvement learning you (the teacher) will be naturally differentiating the learning. This is done by extending the learning of the more able while giving time to other learners to catch up and improve.

5) Empowering the learners to develop peer marking can be seen as a little more difficult to carry out due to the nature of the learner not having the understanding and subject knowledge that the teacher does. This could however be carried out in two ways. The first is that the learners would swap work and ONLY mark the presentation of the piece of work. If learners have a set of clear rules for the presentation of work displayed in the classroom they can mark this part of the work effectively to agreed standards. This should only take 5 minutes, but already they are saving you time and they are learning through seeing good/not so good practice. You can then sample books yourself until you are confident that the learners are getting it right. The second way is that you provide a sheet with questions that learners have to answer about their peer’s work. They answer the questions then pass it back to the learner, who can then act upon it in DIRT. Again, using the idea of sampling the work yourself as an ongoing process would be a good idea when carrying out this strategy to develop and ensure effectiveness. The main advantage to Peer marking (again) is that learners start to gain a deeper understanding of the work by explaining/describing to others how to improve through the formative feedback that they give.

THIS will mean that marking is completed and progress is being shown over time for the learner through a concentrated effort on formative marking using different techniques. Young people will therefore concentrate on the process of learning that they are going through rather than the end product. The other reason for marking in this way is to save you (the teacher) time and to create further opportunity to focus on the important thing which is improve teaching and learning to benefit the progress being made by your learners.