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Author Archive | Graham Powell

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Building Learning Power and Mindfulness

I have worked with colleagues at South Dartmoor Community College for six years now. Under the inspirational leadership of Hugh Bellamy, they have retained – during a period of educational turbulence – a dedicated commitment to the enhancement of learning for all students. Hugh – with whom I have had the privilege of working for…

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notjustgoodteaching

More than just good teaching

I was recently invited back to a school that I have been working with over the past couple of years to conduct a Learning Review and see what the impact of their work on Building Learning Power had been since my last visit in September. Whilst there were many signs of students’ learning having been…

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Resourceful learning in the Information Age

The great thing about my friend Paul is that he’s opinionated; we don’t always agree with each other but he always requires me to justify my opinions and think for myself. Take the jazz concert we attended the other night; on the way to the bar, his face told me that he thought the music we’d just heard…

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Emotionally intelligent parenting

As a headteacher one of the most frustrating things I had to deal with was parents who complied with their children’s fragility and, however well-meaningly, gave their children excuses that would get them out of things they didn’t want to do… Let’s take the case of a student that we will call Mick. I was delighted…

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‘The Wasted Years’

It was interesting to read The Chief Inspector of Schools referring to Key Stage 3 as the Wasted Years in his address to the ASCL conference on Friday. For many years, Y8 – usually the second year of secondary education – has been called the dip year; when learners’ initial enthusiasm for their new teachers and varied…

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Real science or recipe science…

Here’s a workshop activity that I have been using recently that seems to go down well with students and their teachers. As learners enter the room, they find this image waiting for them with the instruction: What’s going on here…what questions are you asking yourself? I then harvest comments: Some numbers are going up…some are…

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Beyond Dependency – in support of Independent learners

Over the years, when I ask teachers in secondary schools to Tell me what your students are like as learners, they invariably respond in the same way: They do expect to be spoon-fed and for their teachers to do the thinking for them. I find this strange since I know that this is the last…

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Graham

Collaboration: the well-spring of creativity

This week I explore why learners need to be collaborators, and how we can help them to do so effectively. I had the great good fortune to spend some time yesterday – with Guy Claxton and others – in Becky Carlzon’s Y1/2 Bristol classroom. A splendid group of small children showed just what five and six year…

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Graham

Parent Learning Power

I have been a parent – and now a grandparent – for over 35 years and have probably just attended my last parents’ evening: my youngest son Tom’s Masters degree ceremony. Looking back, I often asked myself whether the experience of talking to teachers about my children’s progress really answered the right questions. I remember…

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Graham

Building Curious Minds

According to some research that I came across recently, the average 5 year old asks 274 in the course of a day. This has made me curious and want to know a bit more: Who is being asked these questions? Are these questions being asked of other five year olds? How do we measure the…

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Graham

Empathy and Understanding

As a headteacher, I used to say that one of the most significant outcomes we should aim for in our students was open-mindedness. That is to say the capacity to see things from other people’s point view and to approach their relationships with empathy and understanding. It is interesting to note that – in the…

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Graham

Teachers are in the habit forming business

There’s no escaping one simple truth: teachers are in the habit forming business. The only problem is that – the older they get – students are in the habit of manipulating their teachers to provide them with answers and solutions rather than helping them build understanding for themselves. Teachers – in many schools – comply…

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Graham

The secret of outstanding teaching

I’ve worked with – and had the pleasure of observing – some great teachers throughout my career and I’m beginning to understand what makes them stand out as outstanding – better than good. These are the teachers that make a difference and who have long-term impact on student learning and achievement. All headteachers with whom…

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Building the Habit of Listening

Learning habits are the routine ways in which we think and act when faced with new experiences and challenges. Very often they are second nature to us. Sometimes they make us very productive and efficient, for example, helping us know how to get started with something when we’re stuck. At other times, our well-honed habits…

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New Term, New Opportunities

And so the school summer holidays reach their tipping point: heads return to their offices in readiness for the examination results and the ubiquitous Back to School signs appear in all retail outlets. The countdown begins and late summer distractions are welcome before the onset of the new year’s anxieties and opportunities hold sway. Notwithstanding…

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BLP in a new Academy

North Shore Academy opened in September 2010 following the closure of two failing schools in Stockton-on-Tees. The students from these two schools – along with existing staff – were amalgamated on the site of one of the previous schools. A new building was scheduled for completion on a brown field site for early 2013. Vice-principal,…

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BLP in an Outstanding school…

Uffculme School is an 11-16 comprehensive school serving a small town in east Devon. It is highly regarded in the local community and performs extremely well in public examinations. Relationships within the school are exceptional and the atmosphere calm and purposeful. The Oftsed inspection of 2007 rated the school outstanding. Headteacher, Lorraine Heath, knew that…

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