Posted by: carlsumner | February 20, 2022

Secondment and support

I can’t underestimate the impact a phone call had on me towards the end of the summer term last year. A local advisor called the school to ask if I would consider the possibility of a secondment for a term at another primary, who found themselves short of a member of their leadership team. To be honest I didn’t hesitate, as I’ve always thought of myself as someone who would put themselves in a position to either try something new or offer help wherever it was possible to do so. But the thought genuinely excited me to go somewhere else and gain an insight into life outside of my own bubble.

It’s very easy in all walks of life to get closeted away in our sense of importance/comfort and I wanted to embrace the idea of a different viewpoint and challenge. I was not to be disappointed as the experience proved to be some of the most rewarding and valuable of my career and one that I would wholeheartedly recommend for as many people as possible.

Within education we tend not to offer the opportunities for people to gain an idea of what happens away from our own context. We go on courses, occasionally deal with colleagues from other spheres, but to spend any length of time in another school doesn’t really happen. Time is always a factor and competition can be a real issue when local schools, who on the face of it offer each other support, can all too often be seen to be at odds with other local schools, comparing results, trying to increase numbers, raising their own profile within the local community, sometimes at other schools expense.

The same can be said of the recruitment process. Expertise and experience can be dismissed too readily, particularly when an individual allows their own ego and ideology to dominate the profile of their school and create a sense that the organisation is theirs, rather than a hub of learning that all have access to, irrespective of background or belief.

Working in another school for a term allowed me to test myself and challenge my own thinking. I had to quickly adapt to a slightly different way of working, establish a rapport with colleagues and understand the mood of the school and where I could offer the most support in the quickest amount of time. Most importantly I needed to build relationships with children and families that would create trust and a sense that I was very much a part of the school and was there for everyone. It’s very easy to understate the importance of creating a bond with the people you see everyday and those who you want to take on a journey with you. The single greatest piece of advice I could ever give would be to be genuine and open in who you are and to be clear in what your philosophy is, for others to then see.

Posted by: carlsumner | September 24, 2021

There and back again

Despite still not writing as much as I would like, I have found myself reflecting more and more upon the journey that I have been on through education and the experiences that I have come across in 20 years of practice.

April 2001 and I was stood at the counter of a video store, till-side, contemplating my next move. I love movies, and in some respects managing a video store would be a dream job (not that many exist anymore) but I really didn’t feel that at the time. Myself, my family and my partner had invested a lot into education and not only did we all value and appreciate that as a means unto itself, but I also felt a sense of compulsion to continue along that path and to also give some small element of that back to the wider community.

By chance, an advert came up in the paper I was reading (it was a slow day for business) and I was immediately struck by the words “instructor required, supporting young people with emotional and behavioural difficulties.” A degree was all that was required, so I called and soon after found myself working with a small group of teenagers who had been permanently excluded from the mainstream with a dedicated team of staff who were there to support them.

And by support, it means exactly that. Conversations, games, life-lessons and a re-creation of the sense that there were people out there who cared for you and that there were always possibilities if you were prepared to look for them and maybe had someone to help you along the way. Get to know the children. Talk to them at their level and show a genuine interest in what they are saying and in what interests them. Ask them questions that help them to explore and reveal who they are as people and also show something of yourself in return. Simple, human responses and actions that help to build a sense of trust and a bond that allows for deeper connections.

This was what I knew I wanted and this philosophy has stuck with me every inch of the way since. Fads for teaching and learning come and go. New technology, traditional approaches, updated terminology and structures that seem to be recycled every few years, but relationships remain at the heart of everything that we do. If you can build a common sense of understanding with the people who are around you (children, families, colleagues, wider networks) you can create a foundation that allows for, and encourages, growth.

Photo by Matt Hardy on

Posted by: carlsumner | April 7, 2021

Passport to Success

Passport: An official document that allows travel. A certification of identity and citizenship. Something that ensures admission to, or the achievement of, something.

Do our children feel supported enough to achieve their full potential? Not just the sense of care and general expectation that should come as a standard benchmark when we open the school doors. But a deep sense of understanding around who we are as learners and as people equipped for building a lifetime of education? Are we fully aware of what our young people are interested in and are capable of when they come to us as educators? Do they have a sense that there is someone, anyone, who truly believes what they could be capable of and who is willing to do anything to help them to achieve that?

This last element is crucial when considering the idea that our mindsets can grow and flourish if we have the sense of possibility in anything that we attempt to do.

“To believe in ourselves, sometimes we need someone else to believe in us first.” Dr Salome Thomas-El

What is the one thing that, if you could have it running through the building and propping up your culture, you could not do without? Belief. If we don’t believe in ourselves and the children that we work with, you are hamstrung before you start. If I wanted to get a sense of what an educator thought about their role I would simply ask them to consider this. “Our aim is for our academic standards to be 100%. Across the board.” Look for their reaction. A challenge, no doubt. Impossible? Never. I’m increasingly of the feeling that the key to our success in education stems from the attitudes of the educators first and foremost in building a positive culture.

So, how do we get to the heart of what our children need in building this sense of belief?

I was first made aware of the concept of Spirals of Enquiry through a series of local networked courses and initiatives run by Whole Education. The idea itself began some 20 years ago through the British Columbia Ministry of Education who enabled the creation of NOIIE (Networks Of Inquiry and Indigenous Education) as a means of creating a network of schools to improve the quality and equity of education, with the ultimate purpose of assisting learners to take greater ownership of their learning.

As educators we should take the time to reflect on our practice and insist on the need to listen to our students and, by default, each other. Learning is fluid and a process that at times can be messy and disorganised and we should have the ability to be both proactive and reactive to the vagaries of a situation. By continuously asking questions and displaying the principle of curiosity we can create a cycle of learning that is both individualised and purposeful to all of our young people.

If we imagine learning as a cycle that is continuous we can start to picture the idea that when we attempt to innovate, tackle a new problem, strategically plan or implement new policy we must begin with an understanding of where we are and this is where our four key questions for learners appear.

Can you name two people in this setting who believe that you will be a success in life?

What are you learning and why is it important?

How is it going with your learning?

What are your next steps?

The potency of these questions never fails to stagger me. They drive to the very heart of what our learners need to think and believe in order to have a sense of self-regulation and ownership over their learning. Simply being able to answer the questions demands a sense of clarity and regard for learning. To answer them in a way that can direct and drive where our enquiry might lead us shows an emotional grasp of thought that can unlock the key to our future thinking.

These questions should be asked whenever a new situation arises. As educators we tend to build hunches around what we think is happening for our children. We develop experience, we’ve seen similar situations before. But the danger lies in following this without taking the perspective of the person that we are there to support. A student is finding a particular subject tricky? Ask them. Relationships on the yard are difficult? Ask them. Behaviour for learning in the classroom is problematic? Ask them. Let the answers guide you on a journey to finding a solution. Become part of the cycle of enquiry that aims to foster a culture of honesty, openness and resilience and gives our children a sense of belief in themselves and in the fact that someone is there to listen to them and act on what they say.

Within the cycle itself there are six key stages to the process and these consist of scanning, focussing, developing a hunch, new professional learning, taking action and checking the difference that has been made.


Be genuinely curious about our learners and unafraid to ask them questions where we don’t know the answer. We need to ensure that our own judgements and biases don’t cloud the issue that we may be trying to get to the heart of. Allow yourself the time to simply watch our children when they learn or play. We want to know and understand the motivations and drivers for our student’s behaviours and create a sense of ownership and engagement.


Where are we going to focus our energies so that we can make the biggest difference to the experiences and outcomes for our learners needs? What issues have the answers in the scanning phase highlighted? Don’t be afraid of answers that you weren’t expecting – in many ways, that’s the point. The key in the focus phase is to reflect upon this, take your time with what the next step should be and to build a focus that can be implemented for effect.

Developing a Hunch

Our hunches and our experience combined with research and evidence can be invaluable to the process. Allow yourself to be surprised and even taken back to the start of the process when something new arises. Bring your experience to the fore in this stage and consider how our own behaviours can influence the direction of a strategy or a solution. We may be correct in our thinking or completely wrong but we are open to the possibility that what we think can direct the process and change.

New professional learning

How and where will we learn more about what we do? As educators it is our duty to be open to the concept of continued development and learning. What does the research and evidence tell us that can inform our thinking? Do we require further training in a particular field? Rather than someone on the outside dictating what is required, we as educators can look for development in the areas where we understand that it is needed the most. It is relevant and purposeful.

Taking Action

Something has to change in the learning environment in order to positively impact upon our children’s learning experiences. What informed actions can we take that will make enough of a difference? Can we put our new ideas into focussed and informed practice? By taking action we ourselves will learn from the experiences in order to further develop our strategies and experience.

Checking the difference

Have we made enough of a difference? This question is not fixed and will actually be a key element to different stages of the process. We are continuously asking ourselves if what we are doing is working. The key is to determine what ‘enough’ actually is. What were the answers from our initial questions? What are the answers to those same questions now? Do we need to revisit stages within the process or look to begin again? Have we uncovered other areas that require us to explore and develop our understanding? As teachers we tend to look for solutions to problems and as we know, learning is a complex process that is never linear and straightforward. We need to trust the process and embrace the fact that we may need to undertake the cycle again.

Each stage, and the process as a whole, has three key questions attached to it for greater depth and understanding of where we find ourselves:

What is going on for our learners?

How do we know?

Why does this matter?

As the phases of the cycle move, these questions can be referred back to the point where we check for the difference that has been made in our enquiry. And then the process may begin again. Continuous and fluid and essential for a learning journey that involves all stakeholders in a meaningful and direct way.

I’ve attached a presentation that I used to explain to colleagues at a network event, about an enquiry created at school whereby we found that children were struggling to answer our initial question surrounding people who believed in us. The process informed much of what we felt was required culturally in order to motivate and engage learning and also led to the development of passports for the children to reflect and consider who they were as learners. I’ve added a copy of what this could look like for the children to use. A document that is carried throughout their educational journey as a means of reminding ourselves of who we are and where we are currently at. And the cycle begins again.

For further reading and insights please look here

Photo by Element5 Digital on
Posted by: carlsumner | March 30, 2021

A Walk in the Woods

Had such a beautiful walk with George and Trish this afternoon. I asked him where he most wanted to visit in the world and the conversation moved onto future jobs and qualifications.
He wanted to know how ‘options’ worked and which level of qualification was best.
It then led onto how I became a teacher and the route that I took, which highlighted the importance of having choice and a variety of opportunities. At 16, chances were presented to me, each one taking a very different path but making me feel like I had ownership of what the future could hold. I wanted to reinforce the importance of a solid foundation in school, a desire to know more of the world around you and the possibilities that there could be and that, ultimately, you are in charge of your own destiny.
He also wanted to know why teachers weren’t better paid as they were at the foundation for all professions, and this was a harder question to answer.
It made me realise though, how often do we listen to our children’s thoughts and needs, and the questions that they would really like to know? Do we ensure that our young people feel empowered in their learning and the direction that they could, and would like to, take? As an educator, this feels like a moral imperative.

How many choices do our young people get?
Posted by: carlsumner | March 28, 2021

Behaviour Policy or Learning Culture?

What does the term behaviour mean to us as educators? I’m currently diving into this pool and my first instinct is to consider the term itself and what our perceptions around it are. I wonder how many of us have an immediate thought of classroom management, the potential negativity that might surround intended consequences and the perceived need for resolution? Maybe we consider the strategies that we pull out to deal with what we might believe to be problematic students and the ‘behaviours’ that we might see?

School policies have a tendency to be bloated with lists of rules and consequences, the systems for highlighting when things go wrong and the structure of discipline required to remedy, or at least close, situations where behaviour falls short of an expected standard. We see variations around traffic lights, signals, time outs, support from neighbouring classes and adults – all building towards possible isolation, parental involvement, outside agency support and even exclusion.

In truth, these are valid considerations and the strategies to manage classroom behaviours can be varied depending on your context, in order to provide the stability and support needed to make the school environment safe, purposeful and effective for learning.

But it’s this last element that I have always been most fascinated by. What is it that is required, in order to enable effective learning behaviours to become embedded? Why do some people appear to love learning, demonstrate curiosity and organise their thoughts in order to build and reflect upon their learning where others do not?
The answer can be both highly complicated and intricately woven through many elements of school life and often sewn together with the need for strong relationships and effective strategic planning.

Communication has to be effective, challenging and constant. Do we listen to all stakeholders when building our systems and identifying children’s needs? When a policy states the structure of rules and guidance to follow, are all staff aware of what this looks like and understand the rationale for its implementation? How strong are the communication networks with parents and guardians so that expectations at school can be built upon and reinforced at home? What role have the children played in building your culture and buying into the process of what outstanding learning, and the attitudes required for it, are?

This blog by Kirsten Mould at the EEF highlights five key elements to achieving effective learning behaviours and how they all play a pivotal part in building a culture across a school community that promotes outstanding learning.

If you are creating a policy that centres on attitudes and behaviour of children in your school community we must make sure we understand what this means for us as educators and the expectations that are placed upon us to enable the most effective learning opportunities for all.

I love how the focus for this model is centred upon learning, and how by following this guidance and building a policy that identifies and highlights the methodology with sound, evidence-based research we can create a system for learning behaviours that is positive, child-centred and sustainable.

Key elements to consider when building a policy for learning behaviour

What is your understanding of the learning process and how children can regulate their own knowledge and understanding? What classroom practices do you promote that engage and reinforce with good strategies? Do the children feel challenged and empowered to organise their thinking, with time for reflection and discussion? We need to ensure that we understand the theory as well as how this can be applied in practice to cater for all needs and eventualities.

Does your policy consider how parents are communicated with in order to build a bridge of support between school and home? Does this enable a positive dialogue around learning and the opportunities for support that exist? The past year has highlighted more than ever a need to engage with parents and carers in such a way that the link between the two becomes well-defined and purposeful.

Without exception, all children should be included in the thought processes that build learning opportunities across a school community. Does your school culture foster the belief that all children are capable and deserving of the chance to achieve their very highest potential and beyond? Understanding the ways in which this can be delivered is crucial, through focussed interventions with the strongest members of staff to specialised support at the earliest opportunity in order to build effective foundations upon which future learning may thrive.

Can your children regulate their emotions and demonstrate awareness of what their strategies to cope should be? Does your policy reflect the importance of social and emotional understanding as a bedrock for effective learning? Without this, learning behaviours can become disrupted and ineffective, creating a domino effect within the classroom that can lead to negativity and low self-esteem as relationships become troubled and thus a barrier to growth.

How well do we actually know our children? Do we build time into our day to seek to understand what our children like, or need, or believe? The cornerstone to building learning behaviours that will flourish and last, is the belief that positive relationships through understanding, love and equanimity are central to all that we do. Our expectations as educators should be nothing less than this when it comes to the people that we work with.

I would argue that a policy for behaviour should incorporate all of these elements, each with equal weight in the implementation process as you build systems and a culture that reflects what your school community truly believes is important.

Posted by: carlsumner | March 8, 2021

Out of Necessity, Grows Opportunity

Out of the post-Covid world that we will ultimately find ourselves in, could we see it as an ideal opportunity to reflect and reset in order to identify our core purpose as educators?  There is currently plenty of discussion surrounding ‘catch-up’ and alleviating the gaps that may have arisen in children’s learning over the past year, but how often do we truly consider what our roles are or how we might create the best model for education within society?

What values do we look for in our centres of learning?

To maintain the highest standards

To be world-class in outlook and expectation

To set the agenda for a communities’ needs

To enable independence and autonomy in learning

To build a foundation of trust and responsibility

Do we uphold the concept that ‘learning for all’ is a constant process and that we are all open-minded in our outlook towards the opportunities that everyone is given? Our children deserve to live within a culture that strives for the highest levels of attainment coupled with an understanding that aspirations are without bounds.

We must build outstanding, effective classroom-based pastoral care that is both immediate and incisive enough to enable limited disruption to learning whilst maintaining the highest quality of learning support that all children may, at some point, require.

How well do we know our communities?  The visibility and presence of school leaders, to be the first point of contact that families see and that can provide a familiar and friendly welcome that removes barriers and builds rapport and connections.  How often do we remind ourselves of the situation people find themselves in and how this could impact in some way upon their children’s learning?  Do we take ourselves away from the school context and into the community in order to change our perspectives and create an empathic foundation for better understanding the needs of the people we support?

Many families recognise and uphold the values of education and the importance of learning.  There is a clear desire and willingness to both positively engage and want the best for their children. We must consistently build upon that capital and lay even stronger foundations in order to become symbols of academic achievement that can break through potentially negative cycles of poverty and disadvantage as well as create opportunities that mirror all of our aspirations and aims.

Our organisations must strive to become communities of effective practice – enabling opportunities for shared support; building upon focussed development; creating staff-led training that is purposeful and rooted within what our requirements are.  We need to place greater emphasis upon the importance of support from within, using experience and skill combined with a clear and defined structure for implementation across all levels – this will recognise the power of teamwork and collaboration as well as harnessing individual endeavour.

A school should be a beacon of excellence for the community that it serves. Educators model the importance of learning and the growth mindset required to ensure that no barriers exist to the possibilities that the world around us presents.


Photo by Matt Hardy on
Posted by: carlsumner | February 20, 2021

Reflection and Focus

If nothing else, a year of sitting at home has allowed for more reflection than a hall of mirrors, and with such introspection has come a greater sense of purpose in putting words and thoughts into actions and deeds.  On a personal level, an improved focus on health and well-being with regular focussed exercise (skipping and swimming!) and better eating habits, including turning vegetarian again, has definitely helped fill the void that has come from far fewer social interactions.

But what about the wider world? What impact can we have on those lives around us? Keeping a positive mindset and a supportive ear to anyone who needs it is a responsibility that we should all share if we endeavour to make our society a better place to live and grow. As role models, helping others to see the benefits to an outlook that is both forward-facing and cooperative is far more powerful than fuelling negativity and consequence for perceived poor decisions or mistakes that people may make. We need to identify what it is that is within our control, and allow ourselves the freedom to remove negative thoughts and feelings from those things that you cannot.

What is this life, if not our one and only opportunity to endeavour and explore the world and attempt to understand what it means to be a human being?  Do our children understand this? Do they have a sense of the preciousness that this life offers them and the delicate nature of what is presented for us all? Are we open to any and all opportunities for every single one of us or do we close our minds to the possibility of hope and expectation that a new life should be born with?

To begin, we must demonstrate and embrace this mindset for ourselves, where we allow ourselves the time to consider who we are and what direction we would like our lives to travel in.  What are we doing to enable this? Do we surround ourselves with people who feed into our positive energy and support the decisions that we make?

Make a conscious decision to enable an aspect of your life that brings you both happiness and a positive outlook.  What can you do that improves upon your health and well-being both in the short-term (less sugar?) and then moving forward sustainably (no red meat?). Do you ever record your thoughts and feelings? How do you find the time to express yourself and develop your personality? Try and focus on what your strengths are (if you’re not sure ask someone close to you) and the things that you enjoy, and then challenge yourself to do more of that.

Only when we start to identify the way forward for ourselves can we begin to support and help others.  Ultimately, we need to foster a sense of spirit and togetherness within our own communities that will then come to benefit future generations with a shared outlook on life that embraces what we have and enables the creation of better opportunities for all. ❤️🌈

Posted by: carlsumner | February 17, 2021

Moving Forward With Strength

Such a long time since posting but I’m determined to be more consistent. Part of the problem for me, I think, is that feeling that other people don’t necessarily want or need to hear others’ thoughts or even advice.
I’m always conscious of the movie quote that states “The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room” and coupled with an in-built sense of ‘imposter syndrome’ tend to feel reluctant to share too much.  Fighting, somewhat reluctantly, to have your voice heard can be one of the many reasons why a writer or speaker may feel inhibited.

However, when we are given compliments or told positive things about ourselves and the way in which we act, we should listen more and build upon these strengths.  We remember when people are negative towards us or when we make a mistake.  That stays with us for a length of time. Do the positives stay in our minds for the same amount of time? Probably not. And they should because that is where our focus for leading a more fulfilled and confident life should lie. 

What are your strengths? What do other people see in you that helps them or enables them to feel good? Is your self-awareness at a point where you could identify what it is that makes you feel energised or positive in any given situation?  What motivates or drives you when you wake up, or walk into a room, or plan for a specific event? I enjoy listening to others. I’m told that’s a real strength of mine and that I have an empathic viewpoint that enables me to see how people are affected or driven by events. I try to embrace this and use this aspect of my personality as a focus for how I live my life as a I seek equality and justice in the world around me.

Ask those that you are close to, at home or work, where they feel your strengths lie within your personality. Do you listen well, are you calm in a pressured situation, are you dynamic or forward-thinking? In a relationship that is built upon trust and reciprocity we can have these conversations to help us to identify what our drivers are and what may feed into our confidence.  Embrace this and use this knowledge to help you to move forward with a sense of purpose and clarity. 

This doesn’t mean we ignore those areas of greater discomfort in our personality or shy away from mistakes that we have made. It just means that we prioritise the positives and strengths that we are aware of, as they are what will ultimately allow us to grow and develop in a meaningful and personal way. ❤️🌈

Posted by: carlsumner | April 15, 2019

They’ll Get Over It…

Imagine the familiar messages that we hear everyday when we hear of children in difficult circumstances.

Children are tough.

Children are naturally resilient.

Children are able to overcome adversity because of their lack of experience of the wider world.

What if we learned that this wasn’t the case? What if we were told that being exposed to prolonged and toxic stress actually affected the potential future health and well-being of a person? That unaddressed toxic stress “can negatively affect a developing body and brain by disrupting learning, behaviour, immunity, growth, and even the way DNA is read and transcribed.” Centre for Youth Wellness

When I first heard this, I thought that it sounded like common sense.  Difficulties in upbringing can lead to difficulties in later life.  But it’s actually much more profound than that.  Significant difficulties in a human being’s early years can have a lasting impact on a person’s life including a higher risk of chronic disease and potentially early death.

So, what do we mean by significant difficulties?  Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are stressful or traumatic events that may be experienced before 18 years of age.  They may involve witnessing or suffering domestic violence, neglect, abuse, a family member who suffers from mental illness, addiction or who has been to prison, or losing a parent through separation, divorce or bereavement.

An initial study from the late 1990’s in America produced startling correlations between childhood experiences and a person’s current health status and their behaviours.  ACEs were found to be common across all populations and the more ACEs that a young person recorded, the greater the risk for negative outcomes later in life. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention

The first questionnaire used to identify potential ACEs, looked at 10 areas of trauma although this could now be broadened to include any experience that could be defined as causing toxic or chronic stress.

Dr Nadine Burke Harris, California Surgeon General, offered this TEDMED talk that explains how she first came across the shocking statistics behind ACEs and how this has spurred her to champion the identification of preventative measures and services that could be utilised to help people recover and regain positive outcomes.  She describes this knowledge as something of fundamental importance to healthcare, education and social service providers to enable society to get a grip on what otherwise would be the single biggest threat to public health.  Nadine Burke Harris

The original study found that of the 17000 people questioned around two-thirds had reported at least one ACE and just over 10% had experienced four or more ACEs and these numbers have been seen in further studies both in England and elsewhere.

This Public Health report from Cumbria helps to identify what ACEs are, the potential consequences for individuals and an approach that can aim to identify ways to tackle the wider problem. Cumbria Public Health Report 2018

“Giving every child the best start in life is crucial to reducing health inequalities across the life course. The foundations for virtually every aspect of human development – physical, intellectual and emotional – are laid in early childhood.” 

To put some context to the numbers, reporting at least 4 ACEs made an individual twice as likely to die prematurely or develop cancer, three times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and four times more likely to develop lung disease.  Feeling suicidal or potentially self-harming was nine times more likely.

Similarly, compared to people with no ACEs, those with four or more were twice as likely to binge drink, three times more likely to smoke, eight times more likely to have been involved in violence in the previous twelve months and eleven times more likely to have been to prison.

An exposure to ACEs does not necessarily mean that someone will develop mental or physical health problems as a result, but without supportive and protective relationships we can see that this is more likely and also means there are potential negative impacts to be felt across society as a whole. Adults who have experienced ACEs themselves are also potentially likely to expose their own children to them too creating a cycle of adversity and poor health outcomes. Public Health Wales

What this has made me realise first and foremost is the constant need to empathise and understand the potential story of an individual’s life.  Poor behaviour and choices is never excused but the underlying reasons will always be there and this is what must be identified and addressed. How to do this is complex, requiring patience, expertise and potentially a range of resources and services to provide the necessary support and guidance to either overcome trauma or prevent it from taking place.

Sharing understanding of ACEs becomes a moral responsibility and for an educator a key factor in enabling positive outcomes in all areas for the young people that we come across.

The training provided by College of Life was outstanding and helped to provide a valuable insight into both a personal viewpoint on ACEs and the wider implications for society.

Posted by: carlsumner | March 27, 2016

Still Missing the Point

Education, as with all areas of public life and service, is such a divisive subject, not least within the profession itself as to what best practice should look like.

Personal viewpoint, pedagogical opinion and social complexity create a foundation for debate that engages many to question their own practice and to look constantly at improving method and processes. Too often the debate can turn political as agendas are hijacked for greater social constraining but the point is still that the conversation always looks to further educational causes.

However, much of this appears to miss the point of what education truly means to people and what it is fundamentally for.

“Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime”

If the concept of learning, wanting to discover and mentally grow, is instilled, promoted and endorsed then learners will look for opportunities to do this.  They will actively engage with what they need and want. They will be self-driven and motivated.

This becomes a much wider issue.  One of social acceptance that education, in its wide-ranging forms, is a positive thing, a good thing.  And can look different depending on the individual.  This will challenge the concept of standardised testing. It will challenge how resources, in particular adults, are utilised, how timetables are managed, how this is measured through ‘value’ and how the nurture and development of our professionals should be enabled to provide the very best learning opportunities for all and a system that is itself looked up to.

It should challenge the very fabric of what we consider education in this country to look like.  The complexities of how best this is delivered almost become moot points.  Because the learner decides, identifies, creates their own challenges for what is best for them and what works for them.

By respecting education, you will also, by definition, respect educators and all those related to the practice. As a young teacher, I will never forget a conversation with a parent of a local musician who had performed at our school one summer. She enthused over the work that we did and proclaimed that in her native home in Asia the work of people in education was held in the very highest esteem.  She simply couldn’t comprehend why this was not the case here.

The best school system in the world?

This article is far more articulate in making the point that our whole approach seems flawed and the future direction even further away from an ideal – and thus individual arguments over best practice appear redundant.

The question is how do we get there?




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