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Episode 141: The Geography of French

We were very sad to hear about the death of Bev Evans, educationalist, artist and campaigner for special education, from South Wales, who guested on a few of our podcasts. A wonderful person who will be sorely missed.  Our condolences to family and friends.

Matthew and Steve pick up some themes from last week sparked off by the soul-searching into the progress ofthCurriculum for Excellence and draw some comparisons with the situation in England.  We talk, with some difficulty, about complex issues around class, culture and schooling and the increased marketisation and potential privatisation of schools in England.  A new TUC Report makes interesting, if depressing reading about the trends and the amount of money going into private hands.  Croneyism in who gets what contracts seems to feature.  A government transfer of funds at huge cost to the taxpayers with little perceived difference in standards and an undermining of local democracy.

Image by Ian Stevenson (

TUC Education Not For Sale

“After the dust settles…” Larry Flanagan

Teachers: life inside the exam factory John Harris Guardian with reply from Elisabeth Truss MP  (scroll to bottom of story)

“Can Catholic values create better schools?” TESS story and Religious education ‘helps communities get along’

DfE bars 14 academy chains from taking on more schools By Graeme Paton, Daily Telegraph Education Editor

Have a laugh with the News Quiz



EduCoverThumb6-212x300Tonight Steve loses the insidelearning jingle and plays you in with something celestial.  Bill and Steve focus on a new report written by Professor Brian Boyd on behalf of the Jimmy Reid foundation. While the focus is on Scottish education and its future direction, the report and ensuing conversations have universal import and significance for the organisation of education systems and curricula development.The report can be found here

In the news:  As Chinese maths teachers are on the way over, it’s interesting how a piece of Pisa gets eaten in Shanghai! Are the poor of Shanghai not being served for consideration? Surely not a cynical explanation to be made? links to stories

“Shanghai teachers flown in for maths” By Sean Coughlan and TES “More than a quarter of Shanghai pupils missed by international Pisa rankings”

Where’s your gritometer when you need one? Bedford Academy prize grit as well as exams, story in the Independent “The 3 Rs – ready, respectful and resilient: A school has put pupils’ character formation before exam results”


Episode 139: You Hansard Devil !

th-2Spot the insidelearning dinghy! Last week’s excellent podcast gave us cause for some self-reflection, before we start tonight’s conversation ‘riffing’ on the theme of  good teachers coming into the system, and their career trajectories and the support required.  Matthew gets the chance to roll his tongue around the name of the OECD chief, but is then shocked to find he is podcasting with one of the few people who actually reads the transcripts of the House of Commons  Education Select Committees. Yes I know, I should get out more often.  (Try this link !)  Further shocks are in store when Sarah Vine and her hubby are applauded.

We talk also about the notion of autonomy in the system and schools’ capacities to change and improve.

Links to items:

TES Blog story: Teacher pay rises of £1,000 have ‘zero impact’ on pupil achievement.

“Academies ‘promising trend’ says OECD” By Sean Coughlan

“Sarah Vine praises ‘miracle’ of state education in Daily Mail column” Richard Adams,  Guardian Education Editor

“US universities top reputation league table” By Angela Harrison

“Science – Why teachers need to have a little faith in evolution” TES report

Dan Ariely:

Private Eye issue 1359, 7th – 20th Feb issue, story page 28 on where the phonic money went!! “PHONIC-A-FRIEND”

Steve’s currently reading: “Hanging in with kids in tough times: engagement in contexts of educational disadvantage in the relational school”  John Smyth, Barry Down, Peter McInerney

Matthew is listening to: Freakonomics.  The Hidden Side of Everything

Episode 138 Here Come the Girls!

65991837_c63b3c6d94_nTonight sees a special edition of the podcast as Anne Glennie hosts a Ladies Night on Inside Learning. Joined by Manjit Shellis, Director of Learning at UFA and Gillian Campbell-Thow, Language Teacher, Adviser and Guru, the ladies talk about everything from the current problems with the new exams in Scotland to the issues surrounding summer born babies and their progress at school to how secondary schools should be allocated.

Anne also raises the issue of gender balance in education, asking if women could do more to ensure their voices are heard.

But perhaps the best summary comes from one of Gillian’s tweets: “mammies, manolos and methodology” ; which we hope you’ll agree makes for an interesting conversation.

News links:

Gillian Campbell-Thow’s chosen story about CfE implementation support in Scotland at present

Anne’s quote about “women leaning in” comes from this book by Sheryl Sandberg

Manjit’s story about the use of “lotteries” to allocate school places in England

 Picture from StephenJohnBryde through Creative Commons on Flickr: Thank You



Episode 137: It Should Have been messier!

thTonight Bill and Steve steer the podcast through the slalom of bad punning, into a couple of news items before discussing some of the issues raised by the Real David Cameron (Podcast tart) in last week’s episode: namely, the challenges of assessment in relation to Curriculum for Excellence.

This is not simply a Scottish story, since the narrative raises huge issues about how education systems align their practices through curricula, pedagogy and assessment.  It is an ongoing story, one that has important lessons for all interested in education reform.  Bill argues that the dialogue and interest generated by the curriculum is a very positive aspect, but that the longer term bedding in might have been eased by tacking the difficult issues at the start – it should have been messier earlier!  As Peter Senge (5th discipline) used to say, the easiest way out can lead straight back in to the old problems.

Bill points us to Mark Priestley’s excellent blog on this subject, link here, where the issues are discussed in some depth. Mark is a Professor of Education at the University of Sterling.

News item links:

“’Fear is good’ says head of independent school” Richard Garner in the Independent

“We don’t vote because we feel ignored, say students” Guardian Education

“EIS calls for bureaucracy cut ahead of new Nationals exams”  BBC

Anne Paterson - February 23, 2014 - 4:46 pm

Fantastic podcast on CfE. Absolutely true to my own views and philosophy. Wondered if I was becoming a lost voice but so glad I am not. Enough to give me renewed energy to get thinking about the real meaning of the 4 capacities and not these Es and Os which seem to dominate teachers planning.

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