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Schools and teachers are constrained by accountability and assessment regimes. However, in my experience schools and teachers have a great deal of agency - they can and do respond very differently to similar external pressures. For example ...continue reading "Teachers have more power than they think"

What do we mean by creativity? Do you know it when you see it? How do you recognise it? How can we assess it in ways that are credible but don't standardise and thus undermine the very concept of creativity? ...continue reading "Assessing creativity"

Extending my previous post on curriculum I wanted to explore the issues of who should define the details of what students do in school and the extent to which they should have a choice about whether to participate or not. This builds upon work in the Schome Park Programme, which used a wiki, forum and island in Teen Second Life™ to give hundreds of 13 to 65 year olds a radically different experience of what education could be like. ...continue reading "More thoughts on curriculum"


Collins English Dictionary defines curriculum as "all the different courses of study that are taught in a school, college, or university".  This is a rather narrow definition, focussing as it does on the explicit curriculum. I am going to redefine curriculum as what students need to learn (with my focus being specifically on what school age learners need to learn). ...continue reading "Some thoughts on curriculum"

Collins English Dictionary defines pedagogy as "the study and theory of the methods and principles of teaching". Personally I think that is too teacher centric, so I am going to use pedagogy to mean the theory and practices of (effective) ways to support human learning. ...continue reading "Some thoughts on pedagogy"


High stakes summative assessment drives practice in schools (because these are the metrics against which schools and teachers are judged). Traditional exams, which are the predominant form of summative assessment, cannot capture evidence about many 'learning outcomes' that are seen as being critical - such as collaboration, real problem solving, creativity, or persistence. AI, in the form of data mining, may offer a solution. ...continue reading "AI and assessment – mining learning outcomes"

We know that summative assessment drives practice in schools. We also know that current forms of summative assessment inhibit both curriculum and pedagogical innovation because of their focus on 'knowledge' (as viewed in a knowledge based curriculum). The challenge is to find new forms of summative assessment which satisfy the criteria against which they will be judged. Those criteria should include: ...continue reading "Characteristics of effective summative assessment"

What is a knowledge based curriculum?

I was in a school recently that described itself as having a 'knowledge-based curriculum'. Walking round the school with the head the key elements of this, which seem to be common across most secondary schools that I have visited, were: ...continue reading "Why is a knowledge based curriculum no longer fit for purpose?"

One of the challenges facing the NP3 team was how to describe and differentiate between the pedagogical practices in the classrooms that we were researching. In essence, what were the key features of practice that needed to be considered in order to differentiate between the teaching in each setting? The obvious answer seemed to be to use core theories of learning and development as the basis for a framework to help us compare pedagogy across contexts.  ...continue reading "The Innovative Pedagogy Framework"

How do you describe how young people are using digital technology outside school in ways that are concise yet comprehensive enough to allow meaningful comparisons across instances?  ...continue reading "The Digital Practice Framework"