The Elephants in the Primary Blogosphere

This morning, Sam Freedman (@samfr1) – director of research at TeachFirst and former advisor to Michael Gove – posted an excellent list of 75 people to follow on Twitter. It is well worth a look, regardless of your sector, but as always with such lists, people are quick to point out those folk who are missing. In my case, it was to ask Sam his view on a whole group of people who were missing: Primary Teachers. From the whole list I could only see one or two people who had any experience of primary schools at all, and not a single practising primary teacher or head.

After a bit of discussion, we reached some sort of a conclusion:

It seems that while there are a reasonable number of primary teachers and headteachers on Twitter, not a huge number of them are tweeting or blogging about the big policy issues in education.

There is, of course, always going to be room for blogging on the more practical day-to-day matters of teaching and learning. For example, I have often enjoyed posts on use of stampers for assessment, activities for teaching calculations, and classroom displays, but as Sam says, these are not the matters of big policy and substantial change in education.

What this whole discussion has raised, though, is the fact that very few primary bloggers are writing about these matters, and relatively few twitter-users are tweeting about them. My suspicion is that part of the cause is that it’s hard to keep up with the pace of change. Many of the secondary bloggers are leadership types who have a greatly reduced timetable and a role that involves keeping on top of such developments; most primary teacher users seem to be full time classroom teachers.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to set out some of the big issues that I think we ought to be discussing that just aren’t coming up on blogs and tweets that pass my eye. I’m hoping that it might inspire a few other teachers in the primary sector to share their views on these matters – and who knows, maybe even end up on Sam’s hotlist?

If anyone fancies writing a single post, but doesn’t have a blog of their own, I’m always happy to host a guest post!

Issues that could become blog topics

  • Will ‘scaled scores’ provide useful information at end-of-key-stage tests?
  • How will we assess English and Maths once levels are scrapped?
  • Is primary schooling becoming all core and no breadth?
  • Does the new National Curriculum necessarily more rote teaching & learning?
  • Will the new grammar requirements in the National Curriculum raise standards of reading/writing?
  • Do primary teachers have the subject knowledge needed for the new National Curriculum?
  • What does it mean to be “secondary ready”, as the DfE suggests we should be aiming for?
  • Is the current level 4b a viable expectation for 85% of students?
  • How is the newly-enhanced Pupil Premium going to have an impact in primary?
  • How can we use the new sports/PE funding effectively?
  • How can research findings about feedback/knowledge/learning be applied in primary classrooms?
  • What impact are small cohorts or small sub-groups having on Ofsted inspection outcomes?
  • Are stand-alone primary academies viable?
  • What is the professional view on baseline assessments for children on entry to YR?
  • What are the issues related to the proposed free school meals programme for infants?
  • What does constitute effective use of teaching assistants?

There’s certainly no shortage – and doubtless others will have their own ideas on what big issues need addressing. It’s amazing to see how quickly a starting blog or tweet can become a wide-ranging discussion that brings about real insights – and even change. If the Department for Education can see the benefit on keeping an eye on tweets and blogs, then as primary teachers*, let us make sure that we use these channels to make clear our views, both individually and as a sector.

*I’ve spent the last few years refusing to be called a primary teacher, since I teach in a middle school, but I do teach in KS2 now, so I’m joining the gang.

16 thoughts on “The Elephants in the Primary Blogosphere

  1. Martin Galway 9 November 2013 at 6:42 pm Reply

    Nearly ready to dabble, just had a heavy CPD workload recently thanks to our looming curriculum overhaul. Primary voice needs to be louder everywhere. Great jumping off point.

    • Michael Tidd 9 November 2013 at 9:39 pm Reply

      Excellent – let’s hope we see the beginnings of growth in primary people being heard!

  2. Tracey 9 November 2013 at 7:37 pm Reply

    I think you are spot on – most primary people on my list are full time teachers and so have little time. In fact the most recurrent response I get when I try to get colleagues on Twitter is “I don’t have time for that!!” I am a full time teaching deputy head and I don’t have time to blog. I pop in and out of Twitter when I have time. But all this does not mean that we in primary are not thinking about and responding to all of the list of topics you have outlined above. This week my Head Teacher and I have probably discussed at least half if not more of the list! However, we do need to be discussing these issues more. Always looking outward – never become insular! Thanks for the post!

    • Michael Tidd 9 November 2013 at 9:40 pm Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Tracey – I do think the time factor is a major issue. It’s probably notable that I don’t have children of my own to be fretting about when I get home!

  3. teachingbattleground 9 November 2013 at 7:50 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  4. Jo Hetherington 9 November 2013 at 9:31 pm Reply

    Thought provoking blog. Have been a Twitter follower for some time. Passionate about Primary education and frustrated that those in Primary are not speaking out, including myself. Guess I’ll have to start speaking. How can I guest blog?

    • Michael Tidd 9 November 2013 at 9:42 pm Reply

      Hi Jo – thanks for the comment. If you’d like to write something on one of the topics I’d be more than happy to post it up on these pages. You can contact me via twitter (@michaelt1979) or via the form at https://michaelt1979.wordpress.com/about/ and I can pass you my email address.

  5. Whatever next? 9 November 2013 at 9:41 pm Reply

    Good post / points made.

  6. […] of all primary educators out there. I hope lots of you have read @michaelt1979’s interesting post on why us primary folks don’t get as much tweet action as our secondary counter-parts. It was […]

  7. […] my post yesterday, a few primary bloggers have begun to respond on their own blogs, and I’m hoping several more […]

  8. Assessment Without Levels | Miss Horsfall 12 November 2013 at 8:31 pm Reply

    […] decided to start blogging in response to @michaelt1979′s post here asking for more contributions from Primary teachers on ‘big topics’ in education. Of his […]

  9. Primary vs Secondary | Miss Horsfall 18 November 2013 at 8:43 pm Reply

    […] get me wrong, Michael Tidd’s questions are great, and I intend to address some of them here. (I’m gearing up for an epic rant about […]

  10. Tim Taylor 20 November 2013 at 6:24 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Primary Blogger.

  11. […] Blogger – an account set up not long after my plea for more primary bloggers. It re-blogs and then tweets blogs which are primary-linked, and so is an excellent starting […]

  12. […] write in response to this post in which Michael1979 pondered the lack of primary teacher bloggers. Specifically, the lack of […]

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