My random thoughts, musings, rants and stories will appear here over time.

The Local Authority

on Thursday, 30 May 2013.

Some local authorities are sanctuaries for the unhinged, loopy or incompetent. But, of course, such is the cosiness of local government employment that you can be as stark raving mad as you like without any risk of losing your job. So, as though put out to pasture from the schools from which they came, scores of men and women in ill-fitting cords, checked shirts, shapeless frocks or aging suits, plod around the dusty corridors of county hall with the pressures of a real job long since lost in the memory.

This would all be fine if they were simply left to amuse themselves with crosswords and lovely cups of tea, but alas they are sent out in to the world of schools to irritate teachers.

A Private Education for All?

on Sunday, 19 May 2013.

An argument that bounces around a lot in education is whether schools should be able to be privatised and particularly whether they should be allowed to make a profit (interestingly, this argument often ignores the fact that there are already schools in England that make profits).

As a conservative, I do believe in the market. I believe that individuals should be at the heart of their own lives and should be trusted to make decisions for themselves.

So what if, instead of the socialist, top-down approach, we said that every single child can have a private education? What would this do to education and standards?

It's Behaviour, Dummy

Written by Mark McCourt on Saturday, 27 April 2013.

Working in schools is the greatest job in the world.  But it should not be underestimated how much of a decline there has been in the last 15 years in terms of both pupil behaviour and the attitudes of parents.  If Dr Atkinson wishes to peddle such crap, my personal opinion is that she should first have to endure the humiliation that some teachers face on a daily basis.  She should have to lie awake at night with palpatations, unable to rest, with tears in her eyes.  She should have to lose her appetite and have family life destroyed.  At that point, then feel free to come back to headteachers and make recommendations about how they should deal with the tiny minority of children who cause this distress.

Every Single Child Can Pass Maths

Written by Mark McCourt on Wednesday, 27 March 2013.

I often refer to mathematics as a giant Jenga. At the top, the wooden blocks represent those mathematical concepts that we want the kids to be able to do at the end of their schooling, aged 15 or 16. The GCSE topics. But they are not failing mathematics because they don't know these topics. They are failing because the blocks much further down, the foundations, are loose, wobbly or completely missing and so the whole tower tumbles.

Paedophile Nation

Written by Mark McCourt on Sunday, 03 February 2013.

Child protection in the UK seems to be focussed on everything other than protecting children.

Barking up the Wrong Tree?

on Monday, 17 December 2012.

Many people I know (and some I even like and respect), are forever banging on about 'Singapore Maths'. This approach to teaching mathematics is one based on mastery and mathematics results in Singapore are great. But are those results great because of the approach they take to teaching mathematics? Well, no.

Goodbye Britain

on Monday, 10 December 2012.

How I adored the days when a drive to the coast would be preluded by hours and hours checking the car, filling up with coolant and oil, adjusting the tyre pressure and fiddling with the engine. Only, of course, to break down along the way just the same.

Speech at Nesta, 15th November 2012

on Thursday, 15 November 2012.

This speech was given at the Nesta Digital Education Report launch on Thursday 15th November 2012 as a panel member response to the report.

Are A Levels Getting Easier?

on Thursday, 16 August 2012.

To all those who got their results today, well done. Your achievement is equally as great as those in 1972 and don't let any sod tell you any different.

Mathematics shouldn't be easy

Written by Mark McCourt on Monday, 02 July 2012.

Drill has a place. Most certainly. But they are not the good lessons.

The good lessons are the ones that make kids struggle, where they have to dredge up long forgotten knowledge and create new ways of working, new ways of seeing a situation.

The UK's Most Innovative Schools

Written by Mark McCourt on Monday, 04 June 2012.

Blended Learning 2015

on Thursday, 19 January 2012.

Blended learning is settling in to a definition that requires co-location and distance work. But what if, just as we are agreeing on a definition, the definition itself is about to become redundant?

Bully

on Monday, 16 January 2012.

I recently had supper with a chap as a sort of job interview. Nick is 6'5", handsome, witty, intelligent, thoughtful and kind. He makes for really easy company. He is equally a good listener as he is able to entertain with urbane bon mot. On the surface, Nick has everything going for him. He walks with a confidence and air of friendliness that make him attractive – people want to spend time with Nick. Having graduated from Oxford with a first class degree, the world is his oyster.

Or at least it should be.

National Curriculum Review?

Written by Mark McCourt on Tuesday, 10 January 2012.

What would you do?

A Model for Schooling

on Monday, 07 November 2011.

There are some laid down constraints. Students should have access to the National Curriculum, students should have access to 190 days of schooling per year, teachers should work 1265 hours per year, universities require exam grades in order to help their selection of new cohorts.

But as far as I am concerned, everything else is up for grabs. What follows is my model for schooling.

Firstly, let's start by abandoning the notion of lessons, timetables, teachers, classes, year groups, terms, school holidays and subject areas.

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