Considerations when looking for MAT partners

Reference: ‘Forming or Joining a Group of Schools: staying in control of your school’s destiny‘. National Governors Association. September 2015

Vision and ethos. How successfully can the group of schools create a shared ethos?

School type. Only academies can form or join a MAT. Maintained schools wishing to form or join a MAT can convert to academy status and join the MAT at the same time.

Geographical proximity. There is no legal requirement for schools in a group to be in close geographical proximity and there are examples of successful MATs with schools many miles apart. Emerging evidence, however, suggests that the benefits of collaboration are much easier to realise when schools are physically close (Lord Nash, minister with responsibility for academies, suggested that groups should ideally consist of schools between which staff could travel in ‘half a lunch break’). MATs in which schools are geographically dispersed usually seek to introduce a tier of regional governance and oversight, through a regional executive role on the trust board and/or regional committees.

Phase. Groups can be primary-only, secondary-only or cross-phase and can include special schools. There is some evidence that cross-phase groups are more likely to be successful, although this is not universal.

Religious character. Schools with a designated religious character have some restrictions placed on them by their religious authority.


Degree apprenticeships in Plymouth

Penny Hele – Inspiring Futures project officer at Plymouth University – writes on LinkedIn that Plymouth University now offers ‘degree apprenticeships’. The courses they have at present are a Chartered Manager programme run by the Business School and a four year degree in Digital & Technology Solutions.

The idea of a Degree Apprenticeship is that:

  • businesses collaborate with universities and colleges in order to offer vocational degree courses which combine academic study with practical experience and wider employment skills;
  • apprentices split their time between university study and the workplace and are employed throughout;
  • they gain a full bachelor’s or master’s degree from a university while earning a wage and getting real on-the-job experience in their chosen profession;
  • the cost of course fees is shared between government and employers, meaning that the apprentice can obtain a full bachelors or even masters degree without paying any fees.

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Paul Saffo on ‘the creator economy’

“Mass participation became the new normal. Stuff is cheap; status comes from creation. Value is created by engagement.”

Saffo advised recalling four warnings for revolutionaries. 1) There are winners and losers. 2) Don’t confuse early results with long-term outcomes. 3) Successful insurgents become over-powerful incumbents. 4) Technologies of freedom become technologies of control …. If we want privacy now, we have to pay extra for it. As with our smart phones, we will subscribe to self-driving cars, not own them. With our every move tracked, we are like radio-collared bears. Our jobs are being atomized, with ever more parts taken over by robots. We trade freedom for convenience.

Over the 30 or so years remaining in the Creator Economy, Saffo figures that we will redefine freedom in terms of interdependence, and he closed with Richard Brautigan’s poem about a ‘cybernetic ecology’ where we are all watched over by machines of loving grace.”


From The Times supplement on The Future of Learning

EdTechX-Europe – Europe’s biggest edtech conference, held in London

Emerge Education

  • tracks more than 23,000 edtech startups world-wide;
  • provides startups with up to £100,000 of investment;
  • provides dedicated co-working space and accelerator programme;
  • supports product testing and sales.

Gojimo – apps for revision and tutoring

Show My Homework – Set, track and grade homework digitally

Memrise – app to learn languages

VitalSource – electronic text books; tracking tools that allow for monitoring of usage and student progress; tools to help educators deliver content and monitor engagement to help ensure student success. Dr Phil Gee, Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of Plymouth, says it “runs one of the largest UK eTextbook programmes“.

Pi-Top – software plus hardware based on Raspberry Pi to help teach across science, technology, engineering and maths.

Boolino – website where expert bloggers, booksellers, librarians and teachers help children find new books to read.

Fiction Express – interactive resource for literacy where primary school pupils take part in the story-writing process and can change the plot while the author is writing it.

Learning & Development research firm Ambient Insight divides Gamefied learning into four categories:

  • game-playing to achieve learning objectives;
  • simulations to teach skills in an immersive environment;
  • points, badges and leader boards as a means of motivation; and
  • gamification – the use of rewards to motivate behaviour in a non-game context.

Teacher retention

Research published in a recent report from the National Foundation for Educational Research finds that the proportion of teachers who are considering leaving the profession has risen from 17% to 23% over the past year.

Protective factors associated with retention include job satisfaction, having adequate resources, reward and recognition, and being well supported by management.


Interviews with a self-selecting sample of disengaged teachers indicate that “workload is at the centre of why teachers are considering leaving. This is often perceived to stem from two main drivers – policy and inspection. According to interviewees, a high workload is associated with
two other negative outcomes – poor health or feeling undervalued – which leads to teachers wanting to leave.”

The research found “no evidence of any influence of a school’s proportion of free school meal pupils, academy status or region on intent to leave the profession“.

Maths teachers and senior leaders have high levels of engagement and are less likely to be considering leaving. Conversely, science teachers, and experienced male teachers have a heightened risk of leaving.

What’s the problem in science? And why experienced male teachers? It’s a fact that we have only one male teacher.

Lynch, S., Worth, J., Bamford, S. and Wespieser, K. (2016). Engaging Teachers: NFER Analysis of Teacher Retention.Slough: NFER.

Key ideas in The Lean Startup

Reference: ‘The Lean Startup’ by Eric Reis

Entrepreneurship requires a managerial discipline to harness the entrepreneurial opportunity.

Lean startup adapts ideas from lean thinking to the context of entrepreneurship, viz drawing on the knowledge and creativity of individual workers, the shrinking of batch sizes, just-in-time production and inventory control, and an acceleration of cycle times.

Lean startup uses ‘validated learning’ as a unit of progress.

Startups have an engine of growth. Every new version of a product, every new feature, and every new marketing program is an attempt to improve this engine of growth. … not all of these changes turn out to be improvements, new product development happens in fits and starts. Much of the time in a startup’s life is spent tuning the engine by making improvements in product, marketing, or operations.

The Lean Startup method involves driving the startup by making constant adjustments with a steering wheel called the Build – Measure – Learn feedback loop. Through this process of steering, learn when and if it’s time to make a sharp turn called a pivot or whether to persevere along the current path.

Throughout the process of driving the startup there is a destination in mind: a thriving business – the startup’s vision. To achieve that vision startups employ a strategy which includes a business model, a product road map, a point of view about partners and competitors, and ideas about who the customer will be. The product is the end result of this strategy.

Products change constantly through the process of optimization (tuning the engine of growth). Less frequently, the strategy may have to change (called a pivot). However, the overarching vision rarely changes. Entrepreneurs are committed to seeing the startup through to that destination.

Tools for business design & test

Quotes from the books Value Proposition Design and Business Model Generation by Osterwalder & Pigneur

“The business model design process … has five phases: Mobilize, Understand, Design, Implement, and Manage.

… the Understanding and Design phases tend to proceed in parallel.

Business model prototyping can start early in the Understanding phase, in the form of sketching preliminary business model ideas.

… prototyping during the design phase may lead to new ideas requiring additional research – and a revisiting of the Understand phase.

… the last phase, Manage, is about continuously managing your business model(s). In today’s climate, it’s best to assume that most business models, even successful ones, will have a short lifespan. Considering the substantial investment an enterprise makes in producing a business model, it makes sense to extend its life through continuous management and evolution until it needs complete rethinking. Management of the model’s evolution will determine which components are still relevant and which are obsolete.”

“The Environment Map helps you understand the context in which you create.
The Business Model Canvas helps you create value for your business.
The Value Proposition Canvas helps you create value for your customers.”

“The value proposition is visible and tangible and thus easy to discuss and manage. It perfectly integrates with the Business Model Canvas and the Environment Map, two tools that are discussed in detail in Business Model Generation … Together, they shape the foundation of a suite of business tools.
The Value Proposition Canvas zooms into the details of two of the building blocks of the Business Model Canvas.”

Primary school accountability measures

Reference: Primary school accountability in 2016 – A technical guide for primary maintained schools, academies and free schools. Department for Education. January 2016

Headline measures of school performance to be published in 2016 are:

  • the percentage of pupils achieving the ‘expected standard’ in all three of English reading, English writing and mathematics at the end of key stage 2.
  • the pupils’ average scaled scores – separate measures for:
    # English reading at the end of key stage 2;
    # mathematics at the end of key stage 2.
  • the percentage of pupils who achieve at a high standard in all three of English reading, English writing and mathematics.
  • the pupils’ average progress from key stage 1 to the end of key stage 2 – separate measures for:
    # English reading;
    # English writing;
    # mathematics.

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