Academies: an emerging picture

Key insights

View all posts by OliverWhen The Key’s researchers came together last week to discuss the last five years in education, it was the academies programme which provoked the liveliest debate.

The scale of transformation  in the school landscape has been huge. There are now nearly 4,500 open academies, compared to just 200 five years ago, and over 20% of mainstream state funded schools are academies.  Though controversial, the policy has been undeniably popular. In fact, in the early days the conversion rate took even the Department for Education (DfE) by surprise, as it had initially planned for just 200 academy conversions a year.

As a result, in five years England’s school system has moved decisively away from being a locally administered structure, towards one that is controlled and funded by central government through contractual arrangements with thousands of providers.

During our discussion, the researchers’ views on this development were varied and nuanced (of course), but generally split down the…

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#teacher5aday – Easter updates

20 years a teacher

It seems like a long time since the #teacher5aday idea was launched at the SSAT national conference Teachmeet in December. I hope the teachers who started looking after their own well-being in the original #wellbeingsuperhero posts are still on track and more will be inspired to join in now as we approach summer.


Listed below are a collection of #teacher5aday term 1 updates. All have great messages of perseverance and resilience. Hopefully more will be added soon.

Life after a term of #teacher5aday

Lesley Munro@LesleyMunro4

Abigail Mann @abbiemann1982…

 Say It With Flowers | zanzibarcat


If you would like to start your own #teacher5aday some helpful tips can be found here –

On a final note the #teacher5aday exhibition has now run for a month at Haslemere museum and plans are in place for…

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On the Subject of Rewards in Primary Schools. 


On Monday evening @imagineinquiry tweeted

‘We need to put aside all the paraphernalia of motivational rewards that come along with being a primary school teacher. Stickers, charts, awards, star of the week, special helpers, golden time, smiley faces. The whole idea needs consigning to the bin. None of them have a role to play and are worse than useless, causing actual harm to the kind of environment we are trying to engender where children want to learn, not because we’ve given them a sticker, but because learning is worthwhile and interesting in itself’.

At first I thought Tim was playing Devil’s Advocate. I’ve met Tim several times and he is quite simply a lovely man. (Take a bow Tim). I struggled to believe that he can’t see a role for rewarding children, in fact I’m still unsure about this. However, it appears to be true, Tim is a non believer.

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All connectives are not equal

Ramblings of a Teacher

Walk into any junior classroom, and you’re quite likely to find a list of connectives on display somewhere, extolling the virtues of using words like consequently and furthermore to improve children’s writing. Except they very often don’t.

The problem with lists of connectives (or linking phrases, or discourse markers, or whatever else you want to call them) is that we lump them all into a meaningless group of words – too often called ‘wow’ words – and simply imply that by using them writing will be better. We offer children language like moreover and hope that they’ll use it, but fail to give them an understanding of what the word means.

I ought to state that moreover is something of a bête noire for me. I spent years teaching in Year 7, reading work where moreover had simply been dropped in to replace Also. But it’s a far more…

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British values? Universal values in an Islamic school

Should faith schools exist? Thoughts?!

Key insights

From the frontline - purpleZafar AliZafar Ali is the chair of governors at IQRA Primary School in Slough. It’s a voluntary-aided Islamic primary school and was established in 2008. In our first ‘From the frontline’ post, Zafar talks to us about his past and the experiences that encouraged him to take up the challenge of creating the school. He reflects on the struggles the school faced, and on how being bold has reaped rewards. 

quote-startI have often been asked why I supported the creation of an Islamic faith school. People forget that before asking this question, they should really reflect on whether any faith schools should exist. Since they do exist, and since the Equality Act 2010 protects all faiths that meet its definitions, including Islam, objections to faith schools that are not Christian in character are not valid because they are not consistent. Either we have faith schools for all recognised faiths, or…

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