The Next #EduBookChatUK

I’m hugely excited to be a guest host for the next #EduBookChatUK a real favourite of mine on Twitter. One of the privileges is to offer up some suggestions for which book we should discuss. I’m suggesting four options that you will be able to vote on using the link near the bottom. I also give a brief reason for each suggestion.

The prices quoted for each book is the Amazon price, accurate at time of writing.

Teaching: Notes From The Front Line by Debra Kidd (£12.99) This one has been hugely controversial and could lead to some powerful discussions on the purpose of education.

Learning Futures by Keri Facer (£24.99)  This one came recommended by @dan_brinton and explores what we are preparing students for and how to prepare them for this future.

The Beautiful Risk of Education by Gert Biesta (£20.99) Exploring the issues with risk aversion in education and how we should be embracing risk instead.

Creating Outstanding Classrooms by Oliver (£24.99) An investigation into developing whole school models of teaching and learning.

(Or at least that’s what I’ve heard; I haven’t read these which is why I’ve suggested them for the chat.)

The book chat will be at 8PM GMT on the 08/07/15 and I hope to see a lot of you there.

Voting has now closed: our chosen title is “Building Outstanding Classrooms” by Knight & Benson.

Happy Reading.

Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE


#100wordbookreview The First 20 Minutes by Gretchen Reynolds

In this book, Gretchen Reynoldsattempts to ‘bustmyths’ by simply explaining current research in the field of exercise and health. Her focus is on unpacking how much exercise you need for fitness and how much you need for health. In her attempt to sell her message there are some factual omissions and inaccuracies. 

However whether you are a PE teacher, a coach of a youth sports team or just interested in you own health and wellbeing this is a book that will question what you think you know about exercise.

Guest Post by @ImSporticus whose inspirational blog can be found here.

Tell their boss

Last week I was fortunate enough to visit my son in his school nursery. It came about because of the holidays in the LEA where I work differing from the LEA where I live. This meant that I had the pleasure of doing Daddy stuff like the school run and going to clubs.

The important thing however is what I experienced on my visit. As soon as I entered I could see the structures and routines; with four year olds I think that’s a pretty impressive feat. While the children had a slice of toast and settled in I was able to look through Finbar’s Learning Log. (Note: not a piece of wood.) It was clear what he’d been learning and there was a clear and rigorous tracking system in place behind it. (Which the children weren’t aware of; purely for the staff to identify progress and set targeted discreet learning experiences.) 

Whilst looking through this I was mobbed by the children wanting to tell me who they were and what they had been learning. This was a purposeful learning environment where the children were proud of their achievements and enjoying themselves.

Then it was time for the ‘wake and shake’ which was recorded by older students at the school. I was especially impressed when I discovered they pick their own songs and choreograph these themselves.

I left thoroughly pleased and impressed, for some parents this is where the adventure ends but I wanted to share what a fabulous job I thought they were doing. I made sure I shared my thoughts with his teacher as it is always nice to receive positive feedback, but also made sure I sought out the Headteacher. 

Praise to an individual is a good thing and I’m always keen to share positives but I also think it’s important to flag those positives up the chain of command because:

1) I genuinely believe if you have experienced something positive you should share it.

2) Great leaders want to hear positive things about their staff so they can share the bright spots and use these as opportunities for powerful positive dialogue. A well done or thank you from the boss is a valueable thing.

I used to do this when I had slot on a behaviour patrol rota. Simply put we wandered around to lessons that had been identified by the teacher as ones they would like you to pop into. This extra presence had a positive impact (behaviour statistics backed this up) and gave a great opportunity to see a lot of different ideas. I would often share the positive with the colleague and with their line manager. I’ve never had someone complain at receiving good news yet.

So next time you see something positive tell them AND tell their boss. As educational professionals it costs us nothing to share a bit of professional positivity and it does make a difference.

Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE

#100wordbookreview The Connected Leader by Emmanuel Gobillot

This books is a leadership masterpiece exploring organisations in their dual forms; traditional hierarchy and the actual connections between individuals.

Exploring what is needed to harness the huge potential within any organisation by developing the connections between individuals and groups. This isn’t socially engineering your organisation but ensuring individuals get the support they need to grow and succeed. Using this approach effectively ensures supporting both organisational and personal goals are aligned.

This work also explores the importance of measuring your own impact, the characteristics of effective connected leaders and how to develop meaningful dialogues.

Recommend to all interested in leadership.

Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE

Big Day Out Newcastle #BDONE Part 2

Gifted and Talented with Dr David George

I was really excited for this one as I really enjoyed Gifted, Talented and Bored (which I will add to the #100wordbookreview at some point.)

“Education is all about children creating themselves.” 

It’s all about thinking, facts are on Google. 

David shared how people reach their maximum potential…





All children are good at something. People who reach the top practice and practice and practice. Look at Jonny Wilkinson or David Beckham, it took time, it took effort. (Locally Jonny is legendary for practicing his kicking 365 days a year.) Young people need to realise that working hard is important for success even for our most able students. Motivation is the key.

What are gifted and talented children?

3% of the population is gifted – good at everything. Sadly we lack a culture of achievement; we need it to be okay to be clever. Interestingly IQ 130+ is the old definition; Gardeners work confused this, and has now been refuted by many. Are we only measuring an ability to take tests? We test more than any other country in the world. 

Talented: 36% of people are outstanding in one realm, or just a few. These ideas are NOT interchangeable.

Plato called them the golden boys and girls, which has a lovely ring to it.

Are we looking for excuses for children rather than ways to support them. We need children to become exceptional adults. A surprising number of gifted/talented children go off the rails; we need to support their growth. 19% of life prisoners in the USA are gifted – 130+ IQ.

Talent exists across all sectors of society. After 2-3 generations there is a reversion to the norm. Talented children “pop up” all over the place. We need a culture of achievement. We need to teach all children how to study, how to learn, how to use a library, how to research, how to daydream.


The cure for underachievement:

1) Assessment – identify talent

2) Communication 

3) High Expectations

4) Role Model Identification 

5) Correction of Deficiencies

6) Reinforcement – practice

7) Patience, Dedication and Warm Encouraging Support

We also need to recognise that teachers are not the only factor. Here’s some interesting statistics shared:

90% of intelligence is laid down by the age of 5. 

17% of time spent in school.

33% of time spent in bed.

50% is therefore the hidden curriculum; making parents the most important teachers. Parents are the biggest role models.

We need gifted teachers for gifted children!

Final thought: If the brain is just a computer…how do we program this computer?

Now go away and educate the whole child… (His words not mine, but he said it in a heartwarming way.)

Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE

Big Day Out Newcastle #BDONE Part 1

Last year I went to the Independent Thinking Big Day Out in Manchester. One of the best CPD experiences I’ve had and at a fraction of the price of most “courses” I was really pleased when my school approved my request to attend the Big Day Out Newcastle. This one also promised to be extra special as it was organised by Lisa Jane Ashes who always approaches things with a determination to make them special.

I decided to spend the whole day in the Teaching Skills workshops. I’ll be posting these as a series of blogs as I took so many pages of notes I know no-one would want to read them in one go.


Arriving at a fancy suite at Newcastle Racecourse, we were greeted by smiling faces, balloons, table confetti (I’m led to believe, I just thought it was nice sparkly tat, but it has a real name.)

We had been assigned tables where we were hosted in intimate discussions with Independent Thinking Associates. I had the privilege to be entertained by Hywel Roberts; an extrodinary wit and all round nice chap. 


The thought Bomb balloons.


Don’t ask what the above picture is meant to be;)


Once all members of our table had arrived we were invited to POP our balloons which were in fact thought bombs. The questions inside were on the nature of “Outstanding” and the feelings that accompany the term. 

Then came the big welcome; Lisa talked about the importance of reclaiming the idea of “Outstanding” to be more about making education special and doing what’s right for our students than worrying about the spectre of Ofsted; if we’re doing what’s right for the students they should be pleased to visit your school.


“You know outstanding; it’s doing what’s right for your students.” -Lisa Jane Ashes.

This neatly linked into her thoughts on why we should try to be more five. This celebrated the idea of loving what we do and making a difference while we do it. 

Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE