Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Should I or shouldn't I?

I've been thinking for a while as to whether I should take the plunge and write a regular blog.  Those who now me know that I've got plenty to say but I tend to reserve this for times when I'm in schools, leading training or working with organisations such as Sapere or Open Futures.   Those who know me also know that the life I lead, with its various tangents, is busy enough without having to add something else.

That said, I do think it's important to reflect and maybe such a medium is the place to do it?  I wonder, and will keep wondering for a while.  What I wouldn't want my blog to be is a series of ramblings, criticisms or calls to arms.  I am on a mission, it's true (and thankfully I'm not alone in this), to encourage schools, educators and policy-makers to give time in an often overcrowded curriculum for reflection.  This reflection could come at any point, whether it be through approaches such as Philosophy for Children or askit or through a whole range of other opportunities.  I strongly believe too that this reflection time should include not only personal reflection but also community reflection, in which pupils are given opportunities to enter into dialogue with their peers on things that mean something to them and to develop into good, some might say philosophical, thinkers.

That'll do for now.  I feel the same way a politician must feel in the current climate - setting out a manifesto in the hope others will follow!  I am in a way, although I'd be the first to admit that it's me following a whole army of like-minded predecessors and contemporaries.  I'm happily signing up to fight for this army!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Reflections...What's the Big Idea?

It's been a while since I wrote in here. Maybe because I was persuaded to engage in some kind of social media and chose Twitter, maybe because things have been so busy or maybe because I just forgot. 
It's been a whirlwind year up to now though. Some great stuff with Open Futures, similarly exciting things happening with the EEF P4C project and of course, the broadcasting of the project that took up most of a year for me, the wonderful CBeebies show 'What's the Big Idea?'  I've recently heard that it's top of the rankings in France and zooming up CBeebies' iplayer ratings. DVDs are currently being published in France and will be over here at some point, maybe for schools too, and it'll be appearing in various countries around the world at some point. 
As well as all this, I've been really lucky to visit lots of fabulous schools around the country, with lots more planned. I'll mention some of them in another blog post soon but there us a general picture emerging - that a commitment to philosophical enquiry results in, quite simply, transformation. I heard that repeatedly last Thursday at the Open Futures conference in Loughborough, when school after school presented their journey over the last two years and showed the difference that philosophical enquiry has made to their schools. Add to that the impact I'm seeing on standards - 6.5 levels of progress at Coleridge Primary in Rotherham, for example - and it's easy to see why P4C is growing in popularity. 
I'm really enjoying lots of work with parents too. More on that soon as I commit myself to writing more often in here. Maybe no-one will read it but reflection is good for the soul anyway! 

Friday, 1 February 2013

A term and a half...

...and the end is still some way off!  I've been a fairly regular visitor to Birmingham and London this term, which started with only the prospect of two days at home, but I've really enjoyed the schools I've been in.  I've also had the opportunity to do lots of sessions with children, observed by teachers, and they've all been brilliant in different ways.  The North of England Education Conference was interesting, with Robert Winston the highlight.  I'm looking forward to meeting Daren Oxley, the new COO of Open Futures, in February and to working at the 'Outstanding and Beyond' conference in March (click here).  
You can find an article I did on P4C and healthy eating in the next issue of openit (click here) and I've put more resources in the Sapere bulletin on their website (click here).

Once things settle down I'll put some more detailed reminiscences in here.  At least the snow's gone but it was interesting while it lasted!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

SAPERE annual conference

I'm just on the train back from the SAPERE annual conference in London.  It was a great day, really well organised, great workshops and all kicked off brilliantly in typical Will Ord fashion.  One of the most satisfying things, particularly for the organising team, must have been the range of people in attendance - trainers, teachers, trustees, people coming to find out more about P4C and even some parents.  I was a bit unsure whether I was being unfair dragging the parents from Coleridge there to support my workshop on working with parents but they were a brilliant addition to the day and everyone really appreciated them being there.  Thankfully, the parents enjoyed it too, despite the early start! 
I'm going to put all the great ideas that everyone contributed in my workshop onto the SAPERE and Philosophy for Schools website, so keep your eye out for that.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Busy times...

I don't seem to have stopped lately, especially with schools taking different weeks for half term this year.  The SAPERE`conference is coming up - 24th November - and I've just bought six lots of train tickets as there's a delegation going from Coleridge Primary in Rotherham.  Nice to be in touch with the BBC again and I'm looking forward to working with the writer Steve Middleton on combining P4C & creative writing.  More on that when we know more ourselves!  SAPERE bulletin resources going well and nice comments about those from some kind folk.  It's coming up to animal time too as we get them ready for winter.  Goat hoof trimming and worming first!  Really looking forward too to visiting Birmingham again, with Highters Heath soon and also exciting times for Benson and Foundry as we begin to really embed things there too, with Level 2 and Open Futures.
Lots of work, lots of fun & a privilege to be involved with so many great people!  More detail as things happen. 

Monday, 29 October 2012

Tower Hill values

Tracey Smith used to be at Bladon Primary, in a small village in Oxfordshire, and had built up a fabulous school, with grounds to die for and children to die twice for.  I trained the school to Level 1 and worked with the children, who immediately took to P4C, but then Tracey made the brave leap into a much more challenging school, Tower Hill in Witney. 
I visited them in early October to introduce P4C to the wonderful staff there and had a great time.  Everyone was so commited to the ideals of the approach and a whole-school Level 1 course is now booked, which I'm really looking forward to.  
It was interesting to see how values education is fundamental to what they do at Tower Hill and this is something I'm seeing so much more of lately.  Both George Eliot in Westminster and Highters Heath in Birmimgham have values education equally at their core.  I really like the notion that we do have rights but that we also have responsibilities too.  Neil Hawkes and his Values-Based Education organisation (here)has done much to bring this to the fore in schools and P4C is a perfect way to explore this with children. 
Check out this article here on Tracey's school and values education.  Interestingly, Witney is David Cameron's constituency and he recently visited the school.  Tracey extended the same invitation to Michael Gove but as yet I don't think he's taken her up on it!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Coleridge parents

I'm taking a group of parents down to London on 24th November for the SAPERE conference.  I'm doing a workshop there on working with parents, which has nicely coincided with the project at Coleridge, where we're working with parents and their children in an attempt to raise standards in Literacy - amonsgt many other things.  The parents are really looking forward to going but are a bit nervous about telling conference delegates what they think of it.  Well, they will be nervous when I tell them that's what they'll be doing!  Find out more about the conference here
I've always found that parents love P4C, both as participants and the fact that their children's school is adopting the approach.  If you use it in your school, have a go with parents.  If you already have, let me know how you got on and I'll happily mention you at the conference.