Why Spotlight? A fresh look at classrooms

I would recommend anyone looking to develop their practice to read this blog. Follow the links to Spotlight project.

Improving Teaching

To improve, teachers need the chance to see good teaching.  Recent research by Teach First suggested that observing skilled practice helps trainees become effective quickly (alongside several more important forms of support).  Once the foundationsare laid however, the report suggested that, for a teacher to pursue excellence, the opportunity to examine great lessons is critical.  This should be no surprise: it is analogous to the importance of showing students what great work looks like.  But it does pose two major problems:

Problem 1: who?

There are many reasons why a teacher may not be able to see excellent teaching, for example:

  • They may be the sole subject specialist in a school;
  • They may be focusing on an aspect of their teaching (questioning, for example) or a phase (A Level) in which no colleague specialises;
  • They may find that other schools, or indeed colleagues, aren’t receptive to visits.

Problem 2: when?

Even if a colleague in the next classroom is…

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A Meeting with @HarfordSean, Ofsted’s National Director for Schools


Recently I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend a meeting in London at Aviation House with Sean Harford, Ofsted’s National Director for Schools. Along with myself there was @educationbear, @Mishwood1, @PrimaryHead1, @imagineinquiry, @debrakidd, @theprimaryhead, @emmaannhardy and @HeyMissSmith. As a group we have all met before and are all comfortable in each other’s company. There was very little need for introductions so we began our meeting almost straight away.

Sean, in typical teacher style began with an objective for the meeting. He intended spending ten minutes enlightening us about the new Ofsted framework for September and the rest of the time would be devoted to questions and discussions. You can’t say fairer than that. It was to be a two way discussion and we would all have our say.

So, where are we with the new framework for September? Sean told us that quality and consistency for Ofsted is…

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Making Every Lesson Count

Class Teaching


Last July, Andy Tharby and I set upon a project. We wanted to write an accessible, readable book for classroom teachers, whatever their subject. We wanted to cut through the myths that surround education to focus on some core principles for teaching and learning that could be adapted to fit a range of teaching contexts. We wanted the book to be founded on strong evidence yet to not lose sight of the wisdom of experienced teachers.

And so Making every lesson count was conceived. The book looks at the practical ways ordinary teachers can foster a spirit of excellence and growth through everyday classroom practice. We have been helped along the way by many others from the edu-Twitter world – Dan Brinton, Pete Jones and Chris Hildrew have all written about how they have put the principles to work in their schools. Our friend Jason Ramasami has brilliantly brought…

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Making Questioning Count

Class Teaching

crane2The 15 minute forum tonight was led by PE NQT James Crane.  James started the session by telling us that since he had been teaching, he had quickly come to the conclusion that questioning was one of the most important aspects of pedagogy, and was essential to develop good learning.  It should be a  key feature of every lesson and is essential for judging how well students are understanding the work.  As such, it is a key planning tool – by asking good questions, you find out what they are struggling with and so which direction you need to take the lesson.  He also reflected on when it doesn’t go so well:


A scenario we will all be familiar with!

At DHS, questioning sits as one of our 6 key pedagogical principles:


The ‘so that…’ of questioning is key.  If done well, it makes sure that students are made to think hard, with…

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