PISA 2015: Analysis and blogs. 

Below, in no particular order, are blogs analysing the 2015 PISA results published today. If I’ve missed any, please let me know. 

Maybe the most relevant figure from PISA, imho by Pedro De Bruyckere

What America Can Learn About Smart Schools in Other Countries by Amanda Ripley

PISA results are in by Greg Ashman

The 10 key fundings from PISA by John Jerrim

PISA 2015: Initial analysis by Sam Freedman 

10 things you (probably) didn’t know about PISA by Nick Hassey

PISA 2015: No improvement for a decade … and 10 other oddities by Jess Staufenberg 

Long read: Does Pisa really tell us anything useful about schools? by William Stuart

PISA 2015: some tentative about successful teaching by David Didau

My top PISA takeaways by Stephen Tierney 

Royal Society comments on PISA 2015 UK science performance 

Pisa: ‘Surely the education debate being informed by evidence from more than one country is a good thing’ by Natalie Perera 

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Google can help but it needs your knowledge before it can 

I’ve just written a blog in which I talked about being taught to paint. As the artist was a crucial part of that blog, I wanted to use his name in the blog but I couldn’t for the life of me remember what that was.  So, I decided to use my 21st century skills (!!) and fired up Google. And then I was stuck! The search terms I used didn’t bring up the information I needed. “Family events at National Gallery” brought up events happening now, not the ones from years ago. Similarly, searching for “Artist in residence National Gallery” was of no help either. I thought to myself that this was silly; I should try and remember what I know of this artist and then, maybe, Google would be able to throw up his name. So, what knowledge did I have of this artist?

1. I knew he was from South Africa

2. I knew he lived in London at that time

3. If I remembered correctly, then his name began with “A”

4. I knew he had studied in Rome and Paris

5. I knew he had exhibited in New York

I started searching using the above and got

The first search result wasn’t what I was looking for. I then clicked the second,”List of South African artists-Wikipedia”. I started scrolling through the list and finally came to letter K and there it was-Ansel Krut. The name was familiar and it began with A! I decided to search for images.

Pay dirt!

So, Google did help but only after I used knowledge I had stored in some corner of my brain!

Hirsch is right; Google isn’t an equal opportunity fact finder! 

Today (3rd March 2017) I came across this tweet which I just had to add here. 

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I was taught creativity

When my daughters were young we spent a lot of our holidays in the National Gallery. They used to (still do, in fact) have family holiday activities. We used to take the train to Charing Cross and then walk to the Education Centre where the workshops were held.

When everyone had gathered we were led into the Gallery. The workshop would start by all of us gathering in front of a particular painting which we would study for a bit. We would then go back to the Education Centre and using the painting as inspiration complete the activity. These workshops were led by resident artists.

On one such trip I was watching my daughters paint when the artist, Ansel Krut, came up to me, handed me a canvas and said I should have a go. I told him I didn’t think I would be able to do what he was expecting us to do. He handed me a brush and said that everyone can be taught to paint and proceeded to give me some tips and few instructions.

I sat down and started painting. I thought that after he had taken the trouble to explain what I needed to do, the least I could do was give it a go. I also thought it would be good for my children to see me attempt something I wasn’t very confident of doing well.

At the end of the workshop Ansel went around looking at what we all had done. When he saw my canvas, he was very complimentary and asked me if I was happy I had given it a go. I was. Still am. My canvas (picture below) occupies a prominent place at home now.

What made me think of this? Well, the Twitter debates about creativity and teacher instruction.

You may like to read this post too. Traditional methods enhance creativity in art 

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Lessons from the past

The girls

The girls got ready to go to school. They packed their bags, donned their burqas, stepped outside the house and started walking towards the school. Two men were stood by the roadside chatting. One of them noticed the girls walking past and turned to his companion. “Who are these girls who are going to school?” His companion knew the owner of the house he had seen them come out. He told his friend the father’s name (who was a well known gentleman in those parts). His companion was incredulous. He shook his head and said,”No, can’t be! He can’t be sending his daughters to school!” You see, this was India in the early 1900s when it was very rare for girls to venture out of the house, much less go to school.

The boys

Fast forward a few years. Place is still British India. This is now about two boys, or young men to be more exact. These two brothers also belonged to a family which placed a great emphasis on education. One of the brothers found Law fascinating, graduated and joined the legal profession. A few years into his practice he decided that the way Law was practiced was, at times, at odds with his moral values. For example he had to discredit others to ensure his client won.  He decided that law wasn’t the career for him. In search of something else to do, he moved to the other side of the country and bought a farm. He had found something he loved, something he was very good at. He slowly bought more land and soon became the owner of one of the biggest landholdings of that area.

His brother took a different route. He was interested in science. He did his BSc in Agriculture and was awarded the Sir Michael O’dyer Gold Medal. He was awarded a research scholarship for studies at the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture, Trinidad. This was just the beginning. He went onto become one of the most, if not the most, eminent agricultural scientists of his country. He was recognised for his contributions by various governments and received various awards (such as Mayyard Ganga Ram Prize, President’s Pride of Performance, Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam, de La Oren Merito Agricola by the Spanish Government, Honorary citizenship of State of Tennessee, USA). He was the founder member of Pakistan Academy of Sciences.

The daughter

One of the girls got married to the older brother. Their 5 children, sons and daughters, all went to school. One of the daughters did her Masters in Islamic History. She taught in a school for a while, not because she needed to, but because she wanted to and her parents were happy with her decision.

The son 

The younger brother went on to have 5 daughters and one son and each and everyone received an education. The son took up science too and eventually became the Vice President of Pakistan Central Cotton Committee and served with the United Nations. He is widely read and can talk on almost any subject!

The granddaughter

The granddaughter is one of three siblings. Again, all three went to university. The granddaughter went abroad for higher studies. Alone. Not something which was commonplace at that time.

The great granddaughters

The granddaughter has three daughters. One is at university and the other two will soon join her. The way they have been raised means that they do not look towards role models for aspirations, they look within themselves.

What’s the one common theme in the above stories? It’s the fact that in every generation, every boy and girl, every man and woman did what they wanted to and accomplished all they wanted to. At no point did they think they couldn’t do something because there were no role models they could emulate. They did not let the fact there were female or living in colonial India, or non-white stop them.  In fact, they didn’t/haven’t let anything stop them.

In case you haven’t worked it out, I’m the granddaughter. It’s because of my rich family history that I can’t understand why people say they don’t go after an opportunity because they don’t have role models. I can understand, just about, why a child may need a role model, but for the life of me I can’t think why grown ups need one too! My family has been my role model and what they’ve modelled for me is that role models aren’t necessary if you have self belief and self confidence. I’ve never let the fact that there isn’t anyone of the same race/colour/religon/gender doing what I want to do to stop me doing what I want to do. If I did let me stop me going after what I want, what sort of a role model would I be for my daughters?!!

“Role models are only of limited use. For no-one is as important, potentially powerful and as key in your life and world as you.”  Rasheed Ogunlaru

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#rED2016 Blogs, videos, slides

All credit to Tom Bennett, Helene Galdin-O’Shea for arranging another great educational research conference! If you missed it or just want to re-live the experience then read the blogs and watch the videos.


Nick Gibb’s speech

Research Ed 2016: evidence-fuelled optimism by Daisy Christodoulou

Knowledge, Pedagogy & the Expertise Reversal Effect by Rufus William

Perfectionism simplified teaching, and better ITT by BexN91

Research and primary education by Heather Fearn

Do primary schools need research? by Jon Brunskill

Thoughts on the implications of research on transfer David Didau’s researchEd Session by Dawn Cox 

More Than an Intervention – Quality, CPD and Partnership by Philippa Cordindley

We have overcomplicated teaching by Jo Facer  

researchED 2016-The Humid One by Beth G-G


David Didau’s slides from his session on The Trouble with Transfer

Prof Rob Coe’s slides

Learning Skillsslides’ from their session on Rethinking Learning to Learn as a Complex Intervention:Raising the Bar, Ckosing the Gap.

The unconscious curriculum at ResearchEd 2016 by Stephen Hickman

Reflections on #rED16 by Robert Brooks

Working Out What Works – Modulo Maths at ResearchED National Conference 2016 by Modulo Maths

ResearchEd16: A Slight Curve in the Architecture by Mark Quinn

This much I know about …my researchED 2016 presentation by John Tomsett 


Live Stream

Rethinking Learning to Learn as a Complex Intervention by James Mannion

Library sessions videos live streamed by Cambridge Assessment 

Evidence-based school leadership & management: Are we missing a trick? By Dr Gary Jones

Many of the presentations can be found here

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Defending Kevin Roberts, Saatchi & Saatchi Chairman, in Social Media Mob Trial – re Business Insider report

Kempton - ideas Revolutionary

request to release full unedited video, audio interview for transparency request to release full unedited video, audio interview for transparency

I’m saddened this morning after reading AdWeek “Saatchi Chairman Kevin Roberts Placed on ‘Leave of Absence’ Over Gender Comments – CEOs of the agency and Publicis have disavowed him“. The controversy (the gender comments) started two days ago in a July 29th Business Insider interview/report “Saatchi & Saatchi chairman Kevin Roberts thinks the gender diversity in advertising debate is ‘over’” by Lara O’Reilly (tweet).

Kevin Roberts, Saatchi & Saatchi chairman, is a big boy and doesn’t need defending by anyone especially by a nobody independent reporter. Kevin and I’ve never met once and  will likely never meet in person! But I dislike all forms of social media mob trial. Yes, I dislike this mob trial of @KRConnect @PublicisGroupe by social media as much as I dislike #genderbias!

At the end of the day, all reporting…

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Need for unity

Remain lost. Leave won. Deal with it. 

This is, in essence, what I’ve been hearing for the last few days. And yes, it’s true; Remain lost and Leave won. And yes, Remain has to deal with it now. It was a fair, hotly contested referendum. No matter how close the result, whether we like it or not, the result is the result. You can’t call for a second referendum just because you lost. What if the second result is the same as the first? Would you want to run it again and again till you got the result you wanted? What if Remain wins the second one? Would they be ok if Leave then wanted best of three? 

The result is the result is the result. What matters now is how we deal with it. To those in the Remain camp who are asking for a second bite at the cherry saying the Leave voters didn’t understand what’s at stake, I say, this will lose you support amongst your own voters. To those in the Leave camp who are either (a) using the win to say “Out” to any and everyone they think is an immigrant or (b) standing by silently while others do, I say you’ve voted to take Britain out of the EU but carry on like this and you’ll also take the Great out of Britain. 

What’s needed now is for Remain to accept the result and start thinking what can be done to get the best deal for us. As the “victors” the Leave camp has even more responsibility on its shoulders. The nation is waiting to hear their plan. They will be held to account for promises made during the campaign. The Leave leaders have to come out strongly against the racist and xenophobic attacks which have started happening with greater frequency since Leave won. My heart sinks everytime I see a tweet like this. 

This is 2016 and we are living in Great Britain. The Polish Embassy should never have had to issue this.

I’m absolutely clear in my mind that 52% of our nation isn’t racist but the racists now think 52% of the people who voted Leave are with them. These people need to be told that that isn’t the case. The Leave leaders need to make it clear that though they think Britain’s place isn’t in the EU, there is no place for racists in Britain. And in this we, Leave and Remain, are united. 

And media I’m looking at you too to get the message out (yes, Sun, that includes you). 

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