Every teacher surely thinks of Robin Williams’ character, John Keating, in Dead Poets’ Society, who said, “There’s a time for daring, and a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for”, who then dreams of standing up on the desk and generally being truly inspirational in an effortless, lesson-plan-thrown-out-the-window kind of way (or is it just me?). That sort of maverick behaviour is perhaps possible when it’s the last few weeks of the summer term, or when the government inspection has just finished and nobody is looking to observe anything beyond the speed limit on the driveway out of school. But surely the rest of the time is ‘a time for caution’, right?
With the aim for the UAE to be #1 in the Global Innovation Index by the year 2021, it is hardly surprising that there is a heavy focus on innovation as part of the nation’s school inspection framework. However, as with most buzzwords, the term “innovation” has become somewhat debased. Even among experts the term is fiercely debated. This ambiguity leaves the average teacher with a quandary: they are being expected to increase the level of innovation in their practice, as well as helping foster innovation amongst their students, all the while being unclear of exactly what they are working towards.
Be it through his current roles as the chair of a Multi-Academy Trust in Surrey, CEO of edu-organisation The Key, or as author of the 2017 book Mining for Gold: Stories of Effective Teachers, many of our readers will know the name Fergal Roche. Starting out as an English teacher, Fergal has since gone on to be headteacher at three schools between 1995 and 2007, and now works to improve the life chances of children and young people across the UK.
Each year I find myself seeking new PD opportunities that will help me grow as an educator and leader. More importantly, I am seeking new ideas to share with our upper school team here at Bullis School in Maryland. I have been fairly successful in this quest, although I always come away from the conferences with the same question. Why is the push for innovation and active learning always delivered in a ‘sit and get’ 45-90 minute session?
Richard Fulford is head of Biology at The Latymer School in Edmonton, North London. He introduced the online learning program Tassomai while working at Invicta Grammar in Maidstone, helping them to significantly improve GCSE Science grades through exciting new methods. Richard explains further:
GDPR is coming and schools need to be clear on what it means for them, as well as how to handle it ahead of when the regulations come into force on 25th May 2018. Currently, it seems that confusion reigns over what schools actually need to be doing to ensure they can comply with the new GDPR regulations – not just by that date, but sustainably thereafter.
When we asked the Department of Health which schools were leading the way in mental health, they pointed straight to Tapton School in Sheffield. Assistant head Steve Rippin has been a local pioneer for mental health: from staff training and awareness sessions to school assemblies to engaging parents, mental health is well and truly on the curriculum at Tapton.
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