Last week Jo and Kathy attended an Education Endowment Fund conference in London looking at examples of best practice in terms of utilising teaching assistants. You may remember the EEF published information stating that the impact of TAs was low in comparison to other initiatives. This was widely misinterpreted and taken personally by many in the TA profession. However if you actually read the research it is very clear that TAs can have a massive impact on outcomes for learners. It’s actually about leaders making sure they recruit the right people, they deploy them in ways that work and they continue to train them appropriately.


Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants Conference

Education Endowment Foundation

Here are Jo’s notes

Attended on 23rd July at the Institute of Education.

Evidence-based guidance on the effective use of TAs under everyday classroom conditions


TAs should not be used as an informal teaching resource for low-attaining pupils

Use TAs to add value to what teachers do, not replace them

Use TAs to help pupils develop independent learning skills and manage their own learning

Ensure TAs are fully prepared for their role in the classroom

Recommendations on the use of Teaching Assistants in delivering structured interventions out of class

Use TAs to deliver high-quality one-to-one and small group support using structured interventions

Adopt evidence-based interventions to support TAs in their small group and one-to-one instruction

Recommendations on linking learning from work led by Teachers and TAs

Ensure explicit connections are made between learning from everyday classroom teaching and structured interventions

The full Guidance Report can be found on www.educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk


Leading teaching/teaching leading

Leadership is a funny old thing. When we think of schools, you think of the head. However in any school, it’s so much more than that.It’s about leading teams, be they teachers leading their class or  the site manager leading the cleaning team. Anyone can be a leader and can practice their leadership skills.

At it’s most basic level it’s about 3 things; trust, challenge and support. With trust, people are comfortable being challenged and indeed understand how important it is for their own professional development, they see challenge as the best form of support. Without trust, however, the whole logistics of support and challenge become more difficult, precarious even.

I constantly wonder about how as leaders we bring the best out of our teams. in part it’s about holding people to account; in part it’s about CPD, but it’s also about the climate and culture we create in school. It was refreshing to watch this clip about unleashing greatness to see exactly what I mean. This is genuinely what we aspiring to achieve:

Why do some children just not behave themselves?

Every school around the country is limping through to the end of term, with many children getting a little more unpredictable as the worries/realities of transition and change, and in some instances the prospect of life at home instead of school, begin to kick in.

I’ve been trying to broaden my reading in terms of exactly why some children find behaviour so difficult and have started to look at some work around attachment theories. here’s a simple analysis of the type of attachment characteristics:


This article is a useful starting point if you want to understand a bit more:


As A Parent Not An Educator I Am Not Sure What To Make Of This!

Mother-screaming at daughter

Parents are ‘clueless narcissists’ damaging their kids with delusions, says headmaster

Not me. This is the first thing you must understand. It was Sir Anthony Seldon, outgoing headteacher of Wellington College. Now don’t get me wrong, he is right to point out that research shows that poor parenting is an increasingly problematic issue for schools to deal with, from parents with absolutely no interest in their child’s education at one end of the spectrum to the incredibly aspirational parent at the other end who crams activities, clubs and tutoring into every waking second of their child’s life.

I’ve seen this for myself first-hand this year with one of my three boys joining a local football team. Don’t get me wrong, the coaching, ethos and culture of the team is fantastic but it’s clear that parents from the range of clubs we have encountered this season fall into several categories. Whilst the overwhelming majority support their children in exactly the right way, there are some who are, to say the least, a little OTT when it comes to ‘cheering on’ their child; others blame the ref, whilst some young children don’t have anyone to watch them at all. Hopefully I fall in to the overwhelming majority category, but who knows?

“FA Respect – Ray Winstone 23/02/2009 – Ongar Sports & Social Club – Love Lane – Chipping Ongar – Essex – 23/2/09, Ray Winstone (Photo by Football AssociationThe FA via Getty Images)”

Looking more closely at what Sir Anthony says, he may well have a point that government and schools need to do more to encourage positive parenting, but as a parent I wonder how far it is appropriate or even possible for schools to go? One thing is for sure, for the sake of the children, we have to keep trying.

You can read the full article here:


Upwardly Mobile?


Everyone in education knows how high profile the issue of closing the gap has been for the last few years. Issues like the pupil premium remain a hot topic at our Parent Forum meetings.

The Sutton Trust recently published a report looking at the issue of social mobility and I think that this brings into perspective the issue of enabling children to escape poverty, and indeed how difficult this is to achieve, particularly in areas where aspirations are low. However this report, looking at variations in social mobility across the country on one interactive map, is quite staggering especially in terms of how variable it is depending on where you live. We must all ask questions as to why Southend remains an area of low social mobility and consider if we think that this is acceptable.


Leadership Matters

As we come to the end of our first year with a new leadership structure it’s really important that we are clear about what has gone well and what we need to focus on moving forwards. That makes it a good time to look back to an excellent report released last year by the NCTL looking at leadership in outstanding schools:


The report picks out some core principles across all the schools:

i. All children can succeed.
ii. Primary schools determine life chances.
iii. Background should not limit outcomes.
iv. Successful primary schools do the right things consistently well.
v. Almost all primary teachers can be good or better.
vi. Teaching which focuses on clear learning objectives, effective instruction for all, the steps needed to make progress, feedback and assessment, is essential to children’s good progress.
vii. School leadership is key to raising standards.
viii. The most effective school leaders readily model good teaching.
ix. The most effective support for teachers comes from other expert practitioners.
x. The quality of the curriculum makes a significant contribution to the children’s interest, engagement and learning and thus to the outcomes they achieve.

Here’s the conclusions and recommendations:

Conclusions and recommendations
I. The culture established in outstanding primary schools is one in which leaders have very high expectations, a no-excuses culture and a single-minded focus on making the school a place of learning for all.
II. The research suggests that outstanding primary leaders are people of exceptional character, determination and courage – firm in their values, clear about priorities and with the leadership and interpersonal skills needed to carry people with them.
III. The paths taken by the sample of outstanding school and system leaders to their present posts are many and varied. The evidence points to the advantages of leaders of primary schools, particularly those in challenging circumstances, having acquired a range of experience – including some in a school in a similar context – before taking up a headship.
IV. The evidence of outstanding leadership points strongly to the commitment of outstanding primary headteachers and governors not simply to distribute leadership but to develop it at all levels among adults and children in the school. Headteachers are at their most effective when they have a direct and close involvement in the leadership of learning and ensure they model and monitor teaching and progress so as to promote continuing improvement
V. Leadership has different emphases depending on the quality and context of the school. The evidence suggests distinctly different approaches depending on whether the main task is that of rescuing an underperforming school, reinforcing, refining or renewing it.
VI. The S-curve model of organisational growth and decline is relevant to school leadership. Organisations can benefit from a change or re-focusing of leadership after a period of improvement.
VII. The evidence of the case studies – which cover a range of school partnership arrangements – reflects the rapid growth of interest and understanding relating to system leadership.
VIII. The examples of different types of school partnership illustrate successful aspects of the freedoms available to academies, federations and multi-academy trusts. There is a thirst for system leadership among the best headteachers and schools, and this is generally supported, though not always completely shared, by governing bodies.

Behaviour and respect; the golden thread


We have recently spent time at a staff meeting looking in more depth at behaviour and behaviour is currently the professional development focus for our Mid-Day Assistants.

There are some excellent on-line materials available should staff wish to explore the issues around behaviour in more detail. This toolkit in particular, part of a whole series of resources used as part of the Middle Leadership Course, has some excellent modules and is easy for all staff to access:



The issue of respect is, I think,  a more complex one. Do we all share the same understanding/definition of respect? What does respect mean? Is respect earnt or should all adults automatically be respected?

This excellent article on creating a climate of respect highlights picks out 4 crucial goals if we are to get the climate/culture right:


Here are a few tips to help children to learn respect: