The benefits of diversity 

Every day I take my dog for a walk in my local park. During those walks I meet and talk to people from a diverse range of backgrounds. I meet gay men, lesbian women, people of colour (some of whom were born in the UK and others who have recently arrived.) Also people living in this part of London who have come from different parts of the world (Poland, Russia, China, Holland, France, Italy, Spain, Eire, Australia, Nigeria, Ghana..) all of whom have chosen to make there homes in this part of London. Without exception these people contribute to the local and national economy. Sadly many of them may have to leave when the UK exits the European Union. 

In the same park I also meet people who were born in this area (as were their parents) and have lived here all their lives. They come from a range of social backgrounds too and perform a range of jobs that contribute to our economy. Some of them are retired, unemployed or carers but they also form part of the rich, diverse community. Few of them resent the “newcomers” or see them as a threat. Somehow we all seem to manage to get along. This for me is one of the great joys of living in this amazing city and goes a long way towards explaining why an overwhelming percentage of voters in London would prefer to stay in the EU. Brexit will not just make us economically poorer, it will make London a much less enjoyable and interesting place to live.

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Moving On Up

Freeing the Angel

a for Amsterdam

“It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world.”
Mary Wollstonecraft

In recent years, the concept of ‘social mobility’ has been at the forefront of the agenda for education. Schools are paid pupil premium money to try and achieve it for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The teacher training charity Teach First seems to have been set up explicitly with this goal in mind. And yet, as this report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation showed in late 2016, the number of people living in poverty in a working family is at an all-time high. In our supposedly civilised country, 21% of the population live in poverty, a percentage that has barely changed in a decade. It’s interesting to note that many of the organisations charged with changing these statistics are constituted as charities. The Government seems to have decided that the redistribution of wealth through general taxation is…

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Dumb and Dumber.

When I was at school the only people I had ever met who had been to University were my teachers. I was Burnley born and bred. Apart from an in and out trip to Wembley with the first eleven hockey t…

Source: Dumb and Dumber.

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The Finnish System of Education

3D Eye

In our recent post – about teachers quitting the profession and the dire shortage of qualified teachers in England – we said we’d publish a reminder as to why Finland’s system of education is internationally respected, and why Finland is never short of teachers.

The following is part one of a brief summary:

Finland 3

Teaching is the most highly respected and the most over-subscribed profession in Finland.

The steering of all levels of education is based on clearly defined, collectively agreed, common national objectives.

Instead of controlling and monitoring, the focus in Finland is on supporting and developing the work of schools and teachers.

There is neither an inspection system of schools in Finland nor national tests in learning outcomes during basic education – on the basis of which schools could be placed in an order of superiority.

There are no ranking lists of schools.

Learning outcomes are assessed on the…

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The Finnish System of Education, Part Two

3D Eye

As outlined in our previous post, the curriculum in Finland is continually under review – and those who review it are educational professionals, including senior teachers in schools. Changes to the basic curriculum are not subject to political or bureaucratic vetos. Finland’s professional educators are held in high esteem and are trusted to make good decisions on behalf of all learners.

The curriculum is a document guiding the school’s activities.

The curriculum does not only define the aims and contents of subjects.

All sectors that affect the school’s work are central.

These sectors include common values, general aims of teaching and education, conception of learning, development of the learning environment, the school’s operational culture, decisions regarding the organisation of work, the allocation of teaching hours, and the choice of teaching and working methods.

When teachers discuss these themes in their schools and write down their thoughts and ideas on the…

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Robin Alexander on Ofsted’s new boss

Reclaiming Schools

Michael Wilshaw too progressive? Whatever next!
A few days ago news appeared that the Chief Inspector is so out of favour with the Government that they are not renewing his contract. This is not entirely surprising given his opposition to more grammar schools, his exposé of the government’s apprenticeship initiative, and the frequency with which Ofsted  fail academies and free schools. 
It then emerged that the government are so intent on finding someone in tune with their ideology that they are even searching in the USA.
Wasn’t Ofsted originally set up at arms length from government, to ensure its independence? 
Professor Robin Alexander, director of the Cambridge Primary Review, posted this today on their website  He rightly calls this an ‘indefensible abuse of political power’. 

An ideological step too far

Secretary of State Nicky Morgan is reportedly looking to recruit the next head of Ofsted from the United States.

Even if she were to locate, with…

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Straight Lines


Stick kids and petThe other day, Stick Child was playing with his next-door neighbour, Stick Friend. At first, they were having a great time playing with her pet, ‘Stick Stick Insect’, but soon Stick Child noticed that Stick Friend seemed a bit quieter than usual, so he asked her if anything was wrong.

Stick Friend told Stick Child she felt a bit sad because her teacher had sent home a school report that graded her at level SP3c, when the national average for stick people of her age (8) is level SP3a. The teacher had told Stick Friend that the school would get in trouble if she and her classmates didn’t reach their targets by the end of the year.

Stick Child thought this didn’t make any sense – he supposed that the people who decided on these targets must have never heard of that thing called variation he learnt about in his 

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Why do we need to measure quality and progress in early years? – Reflections after attending the TACTYC conference 2015

Penny's Place Childminding

I have of course written before  about my views on assessment both in this blog and in articles for Childcare magazine, so no one will be surprised at my personal view point.

However on 31/10/2015 I attended by first ever TAYTYC conference (details about TACTYC can be found HERE ). I knew that TACTYC as an organisation share many of my views about assessment and in particular about baseline assessment as they are part of an alliance of organisations challenging why we need baseline assessment. All the speakers and the discussions at the conference were excellent and all seemed to come back to the same thing – ‘What are we doing to our children, though all this assessment and measuring?’ There was also a lot of debate about just what is important in early years, and consideration of how we can make changes. On that point everyone was clear –…

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Tory Children’s Books

Love these

Pride's Purge

I’ve been asked by a few people if I could put all of the Tory children’s books in one place. So here they all are in one blog post (click to enlarge).



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Please can someone tell me why gathering information about cohorts of children is good – for children or schools?

Penny's Place Childminding

This is a follow on blog to my previous blog which explained why I don ‘t personally like baseline assessment. If you have not read that blog yet, you can do so by Clicking HERE

Although my blog about baseline was my personal view, lots of people have shared it, and lots of people have commented both publicly and privately. What did surprise me were these three things;

a) The number of people who contacted me privately to say they agreed with me, but where unable to comment publicly due to their current employment / contract. Some also said that they could not wait until contracts ended so they could have freedom of speech and be able to say what they really thought about baseline assessment

b) The number of people who have commented publicly in person and online to say they would prefer NOT to have to do baseline…

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