Category: Uncategorized

How can we all be above the median?

Schools in the UK have become so used to accepting targets from government that now they are accepting their responsibility to do the impossible.

We all know that to Ofsted ‘satisfactory’ is no longer ‘satisfactory’. However I have realised that the latest government floor standards have a huge flaw. The DfE say that a school would be seen as “underperforming” if its Key Stage 2 results are below the average percentage of pupils at the end of KS2 making expected progress in English or Maths. This average is calculated by the median. The problem is that the median is the numerical value separating the higher half of the population from the lower half.

In this case every year 50% of schools will be “underperforming”. This is the definition of the median. If every school got above 90% then still 50% would be below the median, and therefore failing.

If you want to force every school to be an academy then why not call half the schools “underperforming” and they’ll be in the hands of private companies in no time.


Whiteboards where you want them – idea paint


The other hidden wonder at Bett 2012 was idea paint from Muraspec. Any wall or surface can be painted to become a dry wipe board. The question is where we should paint it first. This is all part of my thinking about the post Smartboard world we are moving to.

iBooks Author, Hypercard for the 21st Century?

Apple announced iBooks author today, It is essentially a version of Apple’s Keynote software but it allows anyone to create iBooks with hyperlinks and embedded media.

One of Apple’s strengths in education in the 90’s was the product Hypercard and later Hyperstudio. It was software that allowed children to create multimedia experiences as a project based approach to learning. It represented the kind of constructivist classrooms that brought the Mac into the heart of US education. Hernandez Ramos in 2005 (If not here where?) found a link between teachers with constructivist beliefs and effectively using technology in the classroom.

Let’s hope iBook Author enables teachers (with Macs) to create project based learnng opportunities. (What makes a good project?)

And now we know the future – Bett 2012

I heard Michael Gove speak at Bett today. I was disappointed that he listed technology in learning as:
Distributing knowledge
Augmenting learning through games Sensitive assessment.

No mention of social interaction, personal fabrication or creative expression.

As for the curriculum. Every secondary school who have taught web design with PowerPoint or retaught what they think primaries don’t cover; they are to blame for what Gove describes as, “harmful, boring and irrelevant”. People seem upset as though this wasn’t a fair description.

The real challenge is finding the teachers to teach the good stuff. Gove recognised the challenge was training but he didn’t offer any solutions.

Bring Your Own Device…and do what?

This recent article in the TES ( is a typical argument for schools to let children bring their own devices to school (BYOD). It is cost saving when resources are scarce and it connects education with the rest of the children’s lives.

This view stems from Stephen Heppell’s observation that schools used to stop biro pens at one time. This argument positions schools as Luddites who block and wreck new advances. Teachers are painted as 1950’s disciplinarians unaware of the changing tide. It does not recognise that bringing certain things into school causes challenges.

Ewan Mcintosh suggests (…) that all we need is a “superb media literacy solution”. The hope would be that teenagers would no longer share pornography by Bluetooth and they wouldn’t message (maliciously or not) during lessons.

My greatest difficulty with the BYOD argument is what will the children do with them?

In the TES article above Graham Brown Martin lists the technology sold this year that could be brought to school. This Christmas there was an iPod Touch, a Sony Xperia Play (Android), a net book (Windows Starter Edition) and a laptop given in our family. Add this to the Wii, PS3, desktop and portable macs, and Nintendo DSis already owned. Which device would these children bring to school?

Then when it comes to school what kind of learning experiences will the teacher orchestrate for the children who have brought their own devices? They can access the, “gateway to all human knowledge” on most of these machines; but how will we provide concrete maths experiences, social interaction or creative expression.

If everyone has an iPad then we might have a chance but someone is using their mum’s old Blackberry 9360 which isn’t so well equipped. Someone just got an Xbox 360 and this is a bit harder to set up. We could use Facebook but the Sony K770i has a tiny screen. The 3D DSi does great animation but only 3 children have them. In principle it sounds great but in practice it might be tricky.

I suspect the plan makes sense if you think ICT in learning is finding things out on the Internet or playing games. In fact the teachers who are so roundly condemned see learning as something a bit bigger than that.

Alternatively these people may have very self motivated and privileged children who could cope in this environment of multiple devices and little teacher interaction. Sadly the children I work with don’t have all of these opportunities and can’t all bring in a device. I think we need a plan for them.