You won’t find this sum­mer read­ing list in Wh­smith

TES (Times Education Supplement) - - BODY OF EVIDENCE -

SUM­MER IS a time to switch off from the class­room. But it’s also a chance to re­flect on our prac­tice and chal­lenge our think­ing through re­search. To di­ver­sify your hol­i­day lit­er­a­ture, here are my rec­om­mended reads on three of­ten un­der­es­ti­mated chal­lenges in ed­u­ca­tion.

1. The cur­ricu­lum

Curee’s 2016 re­search into school im­prove­ment for Teach First pointed strongly to the im­por­tance of a cur­ricu­lum that con­nects pupils’ learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in school with their lives be­yond it. Mean­while, Of­sted’s new in­spec­tion frame­work will rightly fo­cus on strate­gic cur­ricu­lum lead­er­ship. But most cur­ricu­lum re­search dis­ap­point­ingly co­a­lesces around as­sess­ment and uses in­di­vid­ual lessons as the units of anal­y­sis. To un­der­stand the big­ger cur­ricu­lum picture, I sug­gest read­ing Curee’s na­tional-cur­ricu­lum eval­u­a­tion to help us learn from the past (­ricu­lum).

2. Resilience

Most schools we are work­ing with see it as a top pri­or­ity to en­sure that every pupil has a chance to per­sist through, and re­cover from, set­backs. Re­cent re­search looks more help­ful here. This sum­mer, my pri­or­ity is to un­der­stand ideas about “de­sir­able dif­fi­culty” in more depth. I will there­fore be delv­ing into Mak­ing Things Hard on Your­self, But in a Good Way by Elizabeth and Robert Bjork (­sir­abled­if­fi­cul­ties).

3. Me­tacog­ni­tion

A big chal­lenge – one made more ur­gent by the age of so­cial me­dia and al­ter­na­tive facts – is de­vel­op­ing think­ing skills and me­tacog­ni­tion, par­tic­u­larly for vul­ner­a­ble learn­ers. Many ap­proaches de­pend on ex­plic­itly teach­ing talk­ing skills be­fore tack­ling think­ing skills. I’m go­ing back to the re­search re­views about me­tacog­ni­tion to look at the role of talk, es­pe­cially for dis­ad­van­taged pupils. The strong­est ev­i­dence I’ve found is a meta-anal­y­sis by Abrami, P et al Stick with the head­lines, though – this is a great re­port, but a tech­ni­cal one. As an an­ti­dote to the ab­strac­tion, try Edu­topia’s anal­y­sis of the won­der­ful teach­ing of talk at School 21 (

And to make sure we don’t for­get who we are do­ing it all for, here’s one more for your hol­i­day holdall: The Hid­den Lives of Learn­ers by Gra­ham Nuthall.


So there it is: an am­bi­tious read­ing list driven by what’s needed. En­joy.

[1] Abrami, PC, Bernard, RM, Borokhovski, E et al (2015) “Strate­gies for teach­ing stu­dents to think crit­i­cally: a meta-anal­y­sis”, 85/2: 275-314.

Philippa Cord­ing­ley is CEO of Curee

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