Bryanston Education Summit 7th Jun 2017 Reflections of an FE practitioner: Part 1

So, after the long-awaited road trip from South Devon, five of us arrived at Bryanston School ready gather ideas around the theme “Delivering World Class Education in Turbulent Times.” Here are my “take-aways” from the day:

Sean Harford – Myth-busting and updates from Ofsted

This talk focussed on the new curriculum survey work being done by Ofsted from Early Years right through to 16-19 at national, organisational and classroom level.

Curriculum intent, implementation and impact will all feed into the new Ofsted framework. This seems to translate as planning, teaching and learning/assessment, so maybe this is just rewording of the current TLA focus.

Progress (assessment) is still a key focus and Sean was keen to emphasise that the best way to know (rather than demonstrate) whether your learners are making progress is to have a firm handle on your curriculum in terms of:

  • Design and intent
  • How it is being implemented
  • The impact on knowledge and understanding

The need for numbers to evidence this is really up to the organisation. The expectation is that as providers and practitioners, we should know what is best for our learners.

Priorities within the forthcoming Ofsted framework will include:

  • Curriculum
  • Research
  • Development of inspectors

Guy Claxton – The middle way: beyond the trad/prog Punch and Judy Show

For me, this was the absolute highlight of the day and I was glad to attend this prior to some of the later sessions which fell firmly into the “trad” camp.

The essence of Guy’s presentation is captured in this blog post which summarises his more expansive and “nuanced” view of education as having space for ANDs rather than ORs. We were warned against these strong rhetorical positions, In Guy’s words, ‘Away with Traditional vs. Progressive, Knowledge vs. Skills, Rigour   vs. Creativity. I want rote learning and free discussion, both in their place’.

We observed a short clip of a maths lesson, being asked to focus on the ‘design template’ of the lesson, plus the behaviour and speech of both teacher and learners. The language they used I found of particular interest, with the different stages of the lesson not just included, but articulated by T and Ls. Other key phrases I noted were:

Teacher language:

It’s good to try before you get taught 

Breaking down (the problem)

What do you know? 

Clue, hint

Do you want to try that? 

I like what she’s thinking

Let’s unpack the learning target

Are you ready for the work? 

It’ll give you the chance to apply what you’ve learnt

What’s another strategy you can push yourself with? 

Learner language: 

…even if (your partner) got it wrong they might give you a clue

It doesn’t matter if you get it wrong

Learners don’t mind getting it wrong

Lesson ‘design template’

The lesson was staged as follows, reflecting Bloom’s taxonomy:

Developing, grapple, discussion, focus, application, synthesis

Other points of note were: 

The use of a learner generated anchor chart similar to support the paired discussion was striking and similar to this one:


When asked to share our plus/minus/interesting thoughts with a neighbour, mine commented that she thought the lesson appeared very “trad” whereas I felt it appeared quite “prog”, which hopefully underlined Guy’s argument perfectly.

He went on to describe the 3 goals of education in developing:

  • Capability
  • Comprehension
  • Character

and the ways in which these can be woven together within a lesson via the ‘layers of a river’ metaphor, ie

Fast moving, visible elements on top ie Knowledge, the lesson subject

Slower moving, less visible elements in the middle, ie Skills, expertise, literacies

Slow moving, deeper, ie Habits of mind, such as resourcefulness, collaboration, resilience etc

Exemplifying these three strands within a history teaching context as either:

The Tudors – transcribing – credulity

or The Tudors – discussion – empathy


The final part of Guy’s talk was particularly interesting in it’s take on growth mindset. Reframing it in terms of learning vs performance modes, both of which are desirable, but at different times and with different goals (outlined above). These not only apply to learners, but to teachers, ie P mode for an Ofsted visit and L mode for day-to-day teaching.

Key questions for teachers to consider are:

  • Are we intentionally or unintentionally developing these dispositions?
  • How to segue between the two?
  • What do we do to signify to learners whether they are in L or P mode?
  • How does the culture of an organisation affect the L mode?