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:
@michaelt1979 yes I do follow some primary people but not many talk about policy which is, I guess, what interests me...—
Sam Freedman (@Samfr) November 09, 2013
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.