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Ep 148: Live or die by the STACS sword

Tonight is the opening game of the (Soccer) World Cup. Steve was therefore unable to commit and prioritise appropriately! (The Tour de France would have been understandable)! At short notice, friend of Inside Learning, Gillian Campbell-Thow stepped in to fill Steve’s size 13’s. Thank you for that Gillian.

The “Billster” (@literacy adviser) is jetsetting in Canada and was therefore not available either. One suspects he may have holed up in front of a television screen somewhere too. We almost had languages guru Joe Dale onboard, however, his jet-set lifestyle left him so eye-droopingly knackered that he has had to agree to reschedule:-)

Gillian however won the Teacher of the Year award in Scotland only this week, so a huge Inside Learning congratulations to her!

Gillian 3 (1 of 1)-3

Tonight’s stories included a bit of exciting news about a public-private vocational college/school venture. Both Gillian and Matthew were fairly excited by this approach and were guardedly optimistic about its potential. Not enough language teaching however says Mrs Campbell-Thow as an understandable knee-jerk. Matthew even revealed that he would be attracted to working there!

No-notice inspections as proposed by Michael Wiltshire were discussed and broadly welcomed by this jury of two!

Gillian then got all international and tolerant about dear Michael Gove’s attempt to Canonise “British Values” whatever they actually are in the wake of the political fallout from Trojan-Horsegate!

Matthew was intrigued by this opinion piece about the challenge for Head-Teacher autonomy by Russell Hobby, Brian Lightman and Steve Munby.


Episode 147: Please, Mr Postman

ecobLetters are being written, and delivered -oh yeah! Including one to Dr Schleicher. In Matthew’s absence Bill and Steve bring the show home in good time, hitting the sub 45 minute mark – wait and see!.  Tonight Bill and Steve chew over the education news and return to some on-going themes, such as concerns about Pisa, a political spat raises question about Gove’s ideology, OFSTED and their objectivity.  The Emporium of Dangerous Ideas gets a mention too.


OECD and Pisa tests are damaging education worldwide – academics write a letter to Dr Schleicher

More letter writing: Ofsted credibility at stake over ‘Trojan Horse’ schools inquiry 

and connected, supposedly secret letters lead to spat that : Cameron vows to ‘sort out’ Gove and May extremism spat

“The science of Smart” from the Brilliant Report e-newsletter (Annie Murphy Paul)

Emporium of Dangerous Ideas: mindfulness training can help reduce teacher stress and burnout

EcoBricks and education Transition Network



Episode 146: To Kill (of) Mice and Men

of-mice-and-menAfter our fortnight of pining for our podcast fix, the talk flows tonight.  Bill joins us for tonight’s news edition, dominated by a trawl through our encounters with English Literature and  Matthew’s admission that he was never that keen on Steinbeck anyway.  The issue of the English literature syllabus raises serious concerns about how we have an exam system that constricts teachers and young people in their engagement with literature.  Does  Mr Gove’s fondness for American cultural icons extend to line-dancing to a Maverick’s tune? The mind boggles.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Of Mice and Men’ axed as Gove orders more Brit lit” by Maev Kennedy, The Guardian

“Angelou and Steinbeck replaced by Ishiguro and Syal in new English GCSE exams” by Alison Flood & Richard Adams, The Guardian

DfE Setting the record straight on the English Literature GCSE

“Gove rebuts claims of American author ban” By Katherine Sellgren  BBC

“Michael Gove hits back in row over GCSE syllabus” by Richard Adams, The Guardian

Other stories raised tonight:

“Grammar schools widen gap between rich and poor” – Independent Story, “Grammar schools widen the gap between rich and poor. Why are we still surprised by this?” – New Statesman

Trinidad pioneers online ‘knowledge network’  By Sean Coughlan, BBC

“UK ‘second best education in Europe'” By Sean Coughlan, BBC



Apologies to all those listeners who are pining away for want of your regular fix.  Matthew and I have just been so busy of late that we have not been able to get a podcast out.  We will be back next week with a regular news edition.  Meanwhile, use the opportunity to listen to any of the back episodes you might have missed (as if you would have missed them!)


 logoIt is a real thrill for Steve to be joined tonight by Manjit Shellis, Director of learning for the UFA (University of the First Age).  The UFA is national education charity that does some brilliant work with young people across England and Northern Ireland.  Not so long ago Manjit took part in a rich podcast hosted by Anne Glennie.

Tonight we talk about some current educations stories that have caught our eye, then move onto the National Citizen Service (NCS) work that the UFA is helping to deliver.  A fascinating insight into a potentially significant project for young people.

Philosophy at the heart of schooling?  “Taunton’s policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success” by  Richard Garner, The Independent

Containing the Fab lab story -“How 3D printing is changing the shape of lessons” By Merlin John, BBC

“How are humans going to become extinct?” By  Sean Coughlan BBC NEWs Education correspondent

Trojan Horses in Birmingham and the complexities of religous freedoms and governance? Link to story coverage in BBC website here and here

The NCS website

UFA website

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