Inclusion – deep, wide and welcoming

This is a post about inclusion in schools, not just the inclusion of policy documents but the inclusion of real-life school, the inclusion that states explicitly, “you belong here regardless of how hard you find this”. At the start of each That Reading Thing training, participants read the following: 1. What did Cal tell that big man at the pub? He was mad! 2. Bliss is in the galaxy of Blob. When you reach Blob, you have to stop at … Read More

Response to an Anti-Phonixxer

posted in: Thoughts on Education | 4

A friend on social media sent me this piece from the Washington Post and asked what I thought. Here’s a quick and somewhat gut-felt response. First, I have some sympathy with her about the education system; it doesn’t work well for everyone. I also have some sympathy with her feelings about what I’d call the medicalization of education. There’s far too much “diagnosing” of children who can’t read. Some people are genuinely dyslexic and have real glitches that make it … Read More

The School That Got Teens Reading

I finally got to watch the BBC2 programme, “The School That Got Teens Reading” (on iPlayer until Nov 27th). Most of the show was about encouraging a group of year 10 teens, who can but don’t read, to engage in the wonderful prose poem, One by Sarah Crossan. That’s not the remit of That Reading Thing, but the one student who did spark my interest was Olivia. Olivia is in year 10 and diagnosed as dyslexic. It was hard to … Read More

Grammar Schools: the cost of excellence

posted in: Thoughts on Education | 0

When I arrived on the Wirral*, all bright-eyed and Canadian way back in 1994, I learned four things in quick succession: Liverpool is not at all like Manchester. The other mummies don’t wear wool socks and Birkenstocks. Tea is something you eat. And 4. My children were going to write an IQ test called the 11+ (even though one of them would only be 10 at the time) which would essentially determine their educational futures and probably colour their whole … Read More

How to make phonics suitable for teens and adults

When people hear “phonics” they think “childish”, and not without reason. Most phonics programmes are childish, but not because they teach reading using the sounds and symbols of the language. They’re childish because they’re created for little children, emergent readers who have no history of trying and failing to learn to read. There are some wonderful programmes for little ones. The problem with using any teaching method intended for young children is that you automatically infantilise the learner no matter … Read More

Education in Prisons

Dame Sally Coates’ review of prison education was published recently and I’d like to add some thoughts. Having spent fourteen months working in the pre-release unit of a large men’s prison, I come to this with huge respect for the fact that prisons are complex environments in which to achieve almost anything. Most of what interested me is in Chapter 3: “A personalised and inclusive approach to learning” and I want to discuss the disconnection between recognising the huge proportion … Read More

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