Month: August 2015

Capturing the Magic

Sometimes you have to step back in order to see things more clearly. Going through the process of applying for a Teach First Innovation Award has been challenging but rewarding. Perhaps the greatest benefit has been in helping us to distil the message about how Thinking Reading works. We have what they call the ‘elevator pitch’: Thinking Reading is a whole school strategy with a one-to-one reading intervention for secondary school students who are reading three or more years behind their chronological age at its heart. They make rapid progress, catch up completely and sustain the gains. We also have the ‘tell me more’: Whole cohort and fine grain assessment takes place to ensure that no child is missed, and that no one is targeted for intervention unnecessarily. The programme is a synthesis of best-evidence practice built on decades of research. The students are closely assessed so that their lessons can be individualised, are taught using ‘faultless communication’, receive immediate feedback so they don’t learn errors, and are given enough practice so that they become …

Into The Dragons’ Den

Lessons from taking part in the Teach First Innovation Awards.  A few months ago, we began to explore the Teach First Innovation Awards. Teach First aims to encourage an entrepreneurial approach to innovations in order to address social inequality through improved education. ‘Innovation’ can be a dire thing in education, as successive waves of innovation have come and gone, leaving little to show for their passing except tired teachers and bemused students. But of course innovation, when it is well-researched and informed by a solid evidence base, is not only useful but necessary. Such innovation is what we aim to do: to ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ who have gone before us. Innovation is not re-inventing the wheel in a different shade of pink; it’s adding suspension, or a pneumatic tyre, or bearings, so that the wheel performs better and better. The process of preparing for the awards has given us a great deal to reflect on as we consider how to ‘scale up’ Thinking Reading. In particular we have appreciated the encouragement and the …