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

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?


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?

Why Touch Technology is what Mathematics Education has been waiting for

Written by Mark McCourt on Thursday, 27 October 2011.

For many years, mathematics education specialists have joined forces with software and hardware developers to create new tools for learning. But still, decades on, the mathematics classroom remains one largely about teacher exposition and bookwork practice. Technology has made little impact.

Yet, technology in mathematics can help to de-abstract-ise the subject. All those apparently meaningless processes that we have all been taught at some point in our lives can suddenly be made to come to life. Just watch a Gapminder animation or use a virtual manipulative and you will see what I mean. No longer does the mathematics teacher have to explain some new concept while drawing inadequate diagrams that contradict their words. Technology can solve this. So why hasn't it?


Written by Mark McCourt on Saturday, 08 October 2011.

Teachermon was a straight forward rip off of one aspect of the incredibly popular (at the time at least) game Pokemon – in which cards containing information about little creatures are used to play a battle. Sort of Top Trumps on speed. It exploded out of Japan in 1996 and suddenly the kids of the world went Pokemon crazy.

So when a boy in Year 10 approached me and asked if it would be ok to create a version of the cards based on the teachers at the school, I thought it simply genius.

Michael Gove's speech, Conservative Party Conference 2011

Written by Mark McCourt on Saturday, 08 October 2011.

Many people have asked me this week what I thought to the Secretary of State's speech at the Conservative Party Conference, and maybe at some point I will get round to writing up a response.

In the meantime, I thought that some of you might find it helpful to catch up with what was said if you were unable to attend the conference, so here is a transcript of Michael's speech.

(if there are spelling errors or such like, well tough, I was typing pretty damn fast!)

The Ingredients of a Great Lesson?

Written by Mark McCourt on Wednesday, 05 October 2011.

I guess if you think back to school, or watch TV, or think about stereotypes, a lesson is when 30 children sit in a room, at desks, on chairs, in a school. A teacher imparts some information, which the children take notes of, then the children undertake some task from a book, writing their responses in another book, which they carry to and from school.

But that is not a lesson.

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