blogWhat are the five keys of teaching and learning? Part One

Forget Christmas – in my house, the first week of December was much more festive. My family and I awoke early each morning and crept downstairs – nimble on our feet – to see if our New Vacuum had arrived. And one day, after a knock at the door and a signed chit, there it was, standing proud in the hall: shiny and new and beautifully designed, accompanied by its progeny of nozzles… READ MORE

ABC of learningIs teaching as simple – if not as easy – as ABC?

There is no silver bullet, no secret formula to teaching great lessons. What works is what’s best and the best thing to do, therefore, is to get to know your students – including by regularly assessing them – and to plan for progress by providing opportunities for all your students to fill gaps in their knowledge and skills. But here is some advice for new teachers on assessment, behaviour and curriculum… READ MORE


neuroscience_2Is neuroscience in education the next cargo-cult? Part Two

The brain is fascinating and, although there remains much mystery about how it works, a lot more is now known that could influence the way we behave and, crucially, the way we teach and learn. But if we insist on using neuroscience to explain common sense approaches to teaching, we are in danger of losing
the argument… READ MORE


Ineuroscience_1s neuroscience in education the next cargo-cult? Part One

During World War II, residents of a South Pacific island saw heavy activity by US planes. When the war ended, so did the cargo shipments. Keen to see the activity resume, some islanders built fake air-strips. Physicist Richard Feynman used this event to coin the phrase “cargo-cult science” – thinking which has the appearance of science but lacks vital elements. Neuroscience, it seems to me, is in danger of becoming the next cargo-cult… READ MORE



bedtime storyShould parents read children bedtime stories? Part Three

Reading your child a bedtime story is clearly important, so what’s the secret of a really good one..? A study of 2000 parents and their children concluded that the perfect bedtime story should be just 8.6 minutes long and include a dragon, a wizard and a fairy, and revolve around a mythical castle. Children enjoy a brief moment of peril where the hero is endangered before ultimately triumphing over the forces of evil. They also think a happy ending was essential… READ MORE 

Transfer2What is the importance of transfer? Part Two

Rather than teach facts by rote, we should teach facts then teach their application in a range of different contexts. The ability to extend what is learned in one context to new contexts is called transfer and it is important because students need to flexibly adapt their knowledge and skills to all manner of new problems and settings. However, this ability to transfer learning is not necessarily automatic – we need to teach it… READ MORE

TransferWhat is the importance of transfer? Part One

What is the purpose of education? Is it to prepare young people for the world of work or is it to instil in them an appreciation of the arts and sciences? Is it to develop character traits – such as resilience and empathy – in order to increase a student’s employability, or is it to indoctrinate young people in our shared culture and history? Is education a means to an end, or learning for learning’s sake? READ MORE

blogShould parents read children bedtime stories? Part Two

In September 2015 Nicky Morgan and David Walliams announced a new government target: they want to make English children the most literate in Europe within the next five years. Naturally, most of the attention will now be focused on schools and teachers but parents – not teachers – have the biggest part to play in developing children’s reading abilities because, as Emilie Buchwald said, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” READ MORE

Science of LearningWhat does the Science of Learning report teach us?

Deans for Impact produced a report with the same name as an article I wrote last year and it does much the same thing… you’d think I’d be jealous of all the attention it’s getting but I’m not because it happens to be really rather good. It summarises a lot of what I’ve written about in recent years (over the course of several thousand words!) in just a few pages…and does so with greater rigour! My advice, therefore, is to ignore me and read the report… READ MORE

cognitiveWhat is the problem with neuroscience in education? (A preview)

I’ve written a 2-part article for SecEd in which I explain why I’m nervous about the seemingly ubiquitous use of neuroscience in education circles. My nervousness stems from the fact that the neuroscientists who actually carry out brain studies have repeatedly said that their findings are not yet ready to be applied to the classroom. They recognise the limitations of neuroscience in education… READ MORE

mb_blogShould parents read children bedtime stories? Part One

Reading my daughter’s bedtime story is an innocent act that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care, it is my sore labour’s bath, the balm of my hurt mind, and the chief nourisher in my life’s feast. Our bedtime story makes the world seem a better place, it is an oasis of calm and order in an otherwise cold, cruel world… READ MORE

SecEd SOLOHow can constructive alignment be used in the classroom?

In How People Learn, Bransford assimilates research on learners and learning and summarises three key findings. First, students come to the classroom with preconceptions about how the world works. Second, in order to develop competence in an area of inquiry, students must have a deep foundation of factual knowledge. Third, a meta-cognitive approach to instruction can help students take greater control of their learning… READ MORE

Related articles: What makes a great teacher? | What is the conspiracy of success? | What is the magic of myelin? | What are the foundations of effective teaching? | What do high expectations look like? | ‘Outstanding’ teaching – what I really think | How do you develop a growth mindset in the classroom?

What are the habits of a great teacher? Click here to read my article for SecEd magazine’s NQT Special


Gap1How can we narrow the gender gap in STEM subjects?

Boys perform better than girls in maths. Girls are less likely to choose scientific and technological fields of study than boys and, when they do, are less likely to take up careers in related fields. This widens the gap later in life in the career and earning prospects of women. So what can be done about it..?  READ MORE

Gap2How can we narrow the gender gap in reading and writing?

Improving boys’ reading is important. National Literacy Trust data  shows 49% of young people who read above the expected level for their age also write above the expected level. The data also shows strong links between reading and writing in terms of enjoyment, behaviour and attitudes… READ MORE

FullSizeRender_2What makes a great leader?

Great leaders are consistent, fair and honest; they are sensitive and able to give quality time to people, be available and approachable; they are able to show assertiveness, determination and strength of response, yet able to be kind and calm and courageous; and they are able to communicate with enthusiasm, passion and drive… READ MORE

FullSizeRenderWhat are my highlights of 2015 so far?

Many bloggers write meta-blogs which are blogs about other blogs – blog eat blog, if you will. It’s the blogging equivalent of a cheap compilations show on TV, a bunch of old clips sewn together by C-listers. Here is my meta-blog summarising my highlights of 2015 so far… READ MORE

How can we narrow the gender gap in education?mb_seced_blog

Recently, I had the privilege of addressing SecEd’s Pupil Premium and Ofsted Conference in Birmingham. Earlier that day, Sir John Dunford had spoken about achievement gaps between students from different socio-economic backgrounds. It occurred to me, however, that there are other achievement gaps that require attention… READ MORE


Can cognitive science improve our teaching?

In May 2015 I had the pleasure of addressing the Learning Brain Europe conference at the Lowry in Salford. I discussed  five teaching strategies, each of which is informed by cognitive neuroscience… READ MORE


Do teachers deserve long holidays?

Teaching is tough but it is tough because it matters; it is tough because we are doing something important, we are improving the world around us one person at a time.  As teachers, we have the best job in the world and we change lives. Each and every day… READ MORE


FullSizeRender_4Is Finnish education really world-class?

OverviewPart One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | NEW! Part Seven

In May I flew to Finland for a week of fact-finding. My mission: to learn from Finnish education leaders and teachers what it means to run a world-class education system… READ MORE

mb_seced_blogWhat makes a truly great teacher?

Part One | Part Two

Great teaching is a nuanced, complex art form. We refer to it as “teaching practice” for a reason – we are forever practising. Great teachers experiment and evaluate; try and reflect. Occasionally, they try and fail. But, as the saying goes, to err is human and, above all else, that is what makes great teachers great: they are human. READ MORE

Foundations1Is there a conspiracy of academic success?

I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. I do, however, believe in coincidence. So what’s the difference? Coincidences are perfectly rational because they express a simple, logical pattern of cause and effect. In this article I look at the coincide of academic success… READ MORE

Myelin1What is the magic of myelin?

Our brains are like the back of an electrician’s van: a tangle of coloured wires – about 100 billion to be imprecise. These wires are called neurones and they are connected to each other by synapses. Whenever we do something – think, move, read this article – our brain sends a signal down these neurones to our muscles… READ MORE

FullSizeRender_2Does a loss of autonomy mean a loss of professionalism?

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

I’ve been wrestling with two apparently contradictory beliefs. On the one hand, I believe that teachers are professionals and should be afforded autonomy in the classroom. On the other hand, I believe that, sometimes, leaders need to balance their defence of teacher autonomy with their need to achieve school-wide consistency… READ MORE



What are my blog highlights of 2014?

Part One | Part Two

Christmas is a time when, filled to the brim with mince pies and mulled wine, we reflect on our pasts and make resolutions about our futures. Bloggers perform this task by writing a meta-blog which is a blog about other blogs – blog eat blog, if you will. Not being one to let a bandwagon pass by without trying to jump on it, however, here’s Part One of my review of 2014 on my blog… READ MORE

FullSizeRenderWhat did my true love give to me?

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12

Welcome to my pedagogy advent calendar: behind each door is a top teaching tip and there’s one for each of the twelve days of Christmas… READ MORE


FullSizeRender_2Are vision and mission statements a waste of time?

A vision makes explicit what an organisation stands for and what its people want it to achieve; it binds people together in the pursuit of a common goal and reminds them why they do what they do every day. A vision provides a focus for decision-making and conveys a picture of what the future will look like… READ MORE

FullSizeRender_3What mistakes do leaders make when enacting change?

In an article for Harvard Business Review in 1995, John Kotter explained why some attempts to change the way organisations work are unsuccessful.  Here, I distil the most common mistakes people make when enacting change… READ MORE


mb_seced_blogWhat do high expectation actually look like?

Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson conducted research in the 1960s which showed that when teachers expected an enhanced performance from their students, their students’ performance was indeed enhanced. Their study supported the hypothesis – known as the Pygmalion Effect – that the higher the expectations you have of somebody, the better they perform… READ MORE

mb_seced_blogWhat are the foundations of effective teaching?

Part One | Part Two

Aristotle once said that “excellence is not an act but a habit”, and so it is with teaching: the foundations of a successful classroom are built of rules and routines, regularly repeated and reinforced. Rules may not be as sexy as, say, neuroscience, but without these essential groundworks the edifice of learning would simply crumble… READ MORE

(C) Bromley Education 2016