Category Archives: Education

Useful invigilator training materials

​It’s coming up to that time of year again. Time flies when you’re having fun, right?

The Exams Office: Invigilation
Exams officers are required to recruit, train and deploy invigilators. An effective team of invigilators can not only ensure that exams run smoothly, but they can also undertake a range of additional tasks which could help ease the burden placed upon exams officers during an exams series. The Exams Office has produced a series of support resources which will help our members develop the best possible team of invigilators in their centre.

Recreating Ofsted’s Inspection dashboards

Thoughts on managing variability: School’s own data in the Ofsted inspection data dashboard
“To try to overcome some of these issues while still presenting the data in a format very similar to the official dashboard I have thrown together a spreadsheet that emulates the Ofsted layout as much as I can (given Excel’s limitations).”

This looks like a really useful resource, but I think I’ll need a fair amount of time to get my head round it all.

Homework problems? Learn from the professionals

Some invaluable advice here from novelist and screenwriter Nick Hornby.

Eight excuses I have told my son to use for his failure to hand in English homework, excuses I have learned are acceptable during a thirty-year career in journalism, books, and film
Dear Mrs D, I’m sorry I haven’t done my homework, but my homework diary is currently full, and I’m not looking to take on anything else right now.

More life-after-levels headaches

Slave to the algorithm
It’s tempting to write this off as an isolated case: a naive headteacher who made an error of judgement. More fool them. But this is far from being an isolated case; it’s actually quite common. I regularly go into schools and get shown tracking systems that are awash with red. Loads of children are apparently below ‘age-related expectations’ and are not making ‘expected progress’. Yet, invariably, the headteacher will claim that ‘this is not a true reflection of the pupils in our school’, and ‘if you were to look in their books you’ll see the progress they’ve really made’, which begs the simple question: What is the value of a system that is at complete odds ​with reality?

Difficult times for primary schools, as they try to establish a new framework to replace levels. Here’s a video of how terms can be used to measure progress:

Life without Levels: Measuring attainment and progress in the new National Curriculum
How many schools are measuring progress and attainment from September 2014.

“Integrating” and “rationalising”

Pearson, the company behind Edexcel and BTEC, amongst others, are in the news today.

Pearson to cut 4,000 jobs after second profit warning in three months
“Faced with these challenges, we are today announcing decisive plans to further integrate the business and reduce the cost base, rationalise our product development and focus on fewer, bigger opportunities.”

Interesting language there, and a slight clash between it and the headline. Another article runs along similar lines:

Pearson to cut 10% of workforce as it issues profit warning
The company said Thursday it expects to report adjusted operating profit in 2015 of approximately £720 million and adjusted earnings per share of between 69 pence and 70 pence. It previously forecast EPS to come in at the lower end of a range of 70 pence to 75 pence. In October, the company also cut its forecasts.

Watching them, inspecting us

Watchsted – the latest Ofsted inspections
“We created the inspections map for people to visualise the latest inspections schools, children’s centres and early years establishments all over the country. The map contains a simple view of each inspection’s summary grades and a quick link to the provider on the Ofsted website.”

And here’s another approach.

How I track Ofsted
“This is something I used to do for the LA and often end up doing for HTs when they ask me “what are Ofsted up to? Will we be next?”. Obviously we don’t really know who will “be next” but this method has proved to be fairly accurate so I thought it was worth sharing here.”​​​

Data Manager priorities?

A half day in the Life of a Data Manager
“What I wanted to ask was if you were in my situation, where should I concentrate my precious few spare hours here and there in order to get to grips with SIMs, what more it can do for me/the school, and what more my role as a Data Manager should include in your experience?”​

The responses so far seem to boil down to moving away from us analysing the data to encouraging teachers and leaders to analyse the data for themselves, by providing better tools and training. Teach a guy to fish, and all that.

Protecting library privacy

You are not what you read: librarians purge user data to protect privacy
“I was approached years ago at a different library about users who’d checked out certain astrological books,” said Thistlethwaite. The NYPD officer told her he was looking for the Zodiac killer. “Most police investigations are a little smarter than that, but sometimes they’re just not.”

Seems pretty clear to me: ​one of the principles in the Data Protection Act is that data should not be kept longer than is necessary. Admittedly this is a news article from the US, where there’s no direct equivalent of the DPA, but still.

School wellbeing ideas

Two simple mindful meditation exercises for teachers
“Teaching can be hard, and reports tell us those in the profession feel under increasing pressure. A BBC investigation earlier this year found that stress-levels have soared in recent years due to increased workloads. In my 20-years of practice as a psychologist, I’ve found that mind-body strategies such as mindfulness meditation are one of the best ways to combat stress and anxiety – especially for teachers.”​