Hyperbole-What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!


‘I look around and I see big mouthed rock stars with opinions on everything and answers to nothing.

Burnt out old men with money to burn.

Bandwagons full of bands with sycophantic fans with no lives of their own.

A place where image is king and music is a poorer relation that I can relate to.

I am the greatest

I am the greatest’

I Am The Greatest by A House.

Edutwitter loves a spat.

The government’s announcement of Times Tables Checks… was a perfect opportunity for a spat.

What is sad is that apparently grown up, intelligent people used it as an opportunity to promote their personal agenda and spout globules of hyperbole at their perceived opposition. Generations were failed, wanting tests was akin to child abuse, not wanting tests makes you an enemy of promise. There were apparently swarms of people who didn’t think children should be taught times-tables. (I have to say I still can’t find them)

It was all a bit childish and pathetic really and the only thing it did was stop people having an actual discussion about the Times Table Check. The Hyperbole prevented nuance and reasoned argument about the real issues regarding the introduction of the XTC or TTC or MTC (pick whichever one you like.) The actual issue around the government introducing another test and form of accountability was lost in a sea of hyperbole.


You have to question why this happens. There is significant grandstanding going on. There is much raising of standards, planting the flag in the ground and rallying the troops to the cause.

Next up seems to be  exclusions and behaviour. Where if you don’t exclude you preside over chaos, or if you do you destroy pupils futures. Where if you don’t exclude you’re allowing people to be hurt or worse, and if you do you are destroying society.

Again it’s not an either/or issue which seems to be how some people want to paint the argument.

Nobody is saying you shouldn’t exclude however a nuanced discussion around exclusion and the potential crisis that is happening seems actually an important thing to have, with voices from all-sides looking at the challenges. Sadly again that discussion won’t happen because it’s drowned out by a wave of hyperbole and grandstanding where the extremes at either end of the debate dominate the discussion and the reasonable are shouted down, lambasted and vilified.

Arguments are treated as a thing to be won rather than an issue to be solved.

The way some people act and speak to other teachers is frankly appalling. I’m pretty sure none of them would do it in real life.

As a person who often finds myself somewhere in the middle of these discussions, I’ve increasingly found myself not engaging and not wishing to get involved with it and I’m sure there are plenty of others who feel the same way. That in itself is sad as I’m sure many valuable voices just stop being involved  and walk away. Instead it becomes the same voices spouting viewpoint rather than a real conversation.

Personally I’ve got better things to do.






Good Teaching…what is it in your school?


As a school we’ve been really digging in to what  we’re about this year both in terms of ethos and culture but also in terms of teaching.

I as a head am not overly prescriptive about how people teach but on our last dig in I was struck by what was really working in our classrooms.  To varying degrees there were three key elements to the teaching these three things were the  bits that were making a real difference. Sir David Carter refers to them as ‘signature pedagogies,’ I define them as those things that are special about the teaching in your school. None of them are ‘rocket science’ but it’s amazing how often they get missed. The other thing I noticed is that we don’t really do gimmicks. I have had three moments in the past week where I have been struck by the relentless brilliance of the teachers in my school. They were those moments when they were so good that you just marvel at the skill of the person teaching the class. None of it was showy, some may call it’ bread and butter’ stuff but it was still amazing to watch.


1 ) ‘Fierce Kindness’ not sure where I got this phrase (It may have been @eltronnie) but it completely sums up what happens in our classrooms. I was struck by the fact that praise was sparingly used if at all, that the dialogue between the pupil and the teacher was relentlessly challenging and completely focused on moving the learning forward. I spoke to the children after and they didn’t even notice the lack of praise. This working relationship is based on trust, the children didn’t need praise because it was intrinsic in the rooms. The children knew they had done good work but they were desperate to know how it could be better. It was completely evident that the children were motivated and working hard. That the drive was coming from the children was testament to the great work the teachers had done in creating that working culture in their classrooms. These classrooms summed up our belief in Everyday Excellence.


2) ‘Effective Modelling’ has become a real driver in our classrooms. Explicit modelling the process is immensely powerful and has been something that has over the last three years become a key part of our work. I won’t explain modelling others have talked about it way better than I could, for a good start check out the article below.

(For a summary of modelling this article from the TES by A. Tharby is a good place to get an idea. Using Modelling successfully.)

3) ‘Precision.’ Knowledgeable teachers, knowing their subject and really digging at the detail. Precise, clear teaching leads to clarity of expectation and quality of work. Teachers knowing their stuff is vital. Sounds obvious but the devil really is in the detail.

In every class these three things were apparent to varying degrees. The three elements working together creates some intensely powerful teaching.

There is still some work to do on consistency and I firmly believe we need to start ‘sweating the small stuff’ a little, we need to be a bit more pernickety, but that is polish to the things that really work for our children. That this stuff is done in a vibrant engaging curriculum means we are beginning to hit the best of both worlds.

So ask yourself...
'What are the key elements of Teaching in your classrooms?'

Doing that has helped us hugely in developing our work.

For us it’s no gimmicks, no tricks, just good teaching.