BAD HAT HARRY and IMAGINEERING: Making the Curriculum Your Own


Here is the front cover of my new book. Please judge the book by its cover! It’s getting written and I’m loving it. It’s a book about reclaiming the curriculum, how we can bung some wonder back into lessons and a compendium of stuff that I’ve been using with children in primary, special and secondary schools up and down the land. And abroad. It’s going to be a worthy follow up to Oops! and I hope it’ll be of interest to you. It’ll be published in July 2016 (these things take time). The lovely Jane Hewitt, my longtime friend and in-another-life colleague, has provided the image on the front as she did with Oops! She’s a very talented photographer and she can be found @janeh271.

It’s been a difficult second of a book (see previous post and I know that some of you may have pre-ordered a copy of a book I was trying to write called The Oath. Frankly, I found it really hard to write. I like the idea of a handbook for great teachers, but suddenly, not long after I’d written about 20,000 words, the concept of an oath for teachers  became a political hot potato ( and I felt like I was crawling up a hill of treacle. I want to say thank you to those of you who saw that book on platforms such as Amazon and pre-ordered. You were never charged as I never finished it. This one however….this book is…..well, I’m so excited about it.

This week I have taught children from nurture groups in Y2 and 3, a class of Y5, worked with primary classroom practitioners, outstanding Teaching Assistants, ITT trainees and tomorrow I’m having a morning with SEN headteachers. It’s varied, for sure. And at the centre of it all, are the children.

Cheers. Hope your Friday goes well and the weekend is great!


Of course you know where that’s from 🙂

Championing Children and Adults

In the past I’ve been called a ‘tree-hugger’ (amongst other things), and you know what? I’m really happy with that. I think it’s because I’m one of those trendy teachers who, you know, uses big paper and open questions. I even use masking tape when appropriate, but that’s because I like Poundland.

In reality, like most educational tree-huggers, I just want stuff that works for me in the classroom where I find myself teaching at that given time. I’m not a proper teacher anymore as I don’t work full time in one place. I am in the fortunate position of being able to teach in different settings in different places.

The most challenging environment I’ve spent time in is a special school that supports children whose behaviour cannot be supported in mainstream. It’s now over five years ago that I was first asked to work with colleagues and children at Springwell Special Academy in my spiritual home of Barnsley in South Yorkshire. We rebuilt the curriculum from scratch. It is rooted in inductive pedagogy, inclusive practice and unconditional positive regard. The lessons have to be worth behaving for (a statement that has got me in warm-to-hot water before, without an understanding of context) and the engagement of children, through routine, high expectation, and Executive Principal @davewhitaker246 ‘s mantra of warmth, intimacy, banter and trust is paramount. In this setting Drama is often used as a vehicle to deliver some of the curriculum. We call this blended approach to some subjects (with an emphasis on literacy) ElementsContext-building and narratives are used to build an investment in the content. This emotional engagement enables the teacher to ask bigger questions and often gives the children a reason to write, beyond ‘because you have to‘.

I champion this school and its work in much of what I do – I am basing much of my MA on the place – so I thought I’d share @danjohnsonnews ‘s piece for The Victoria Derbyshire Show that was aired a few months ago. It’s revealing not only to us, but perhaps to those who make bigger decisions around children and young people. It also offers a stark reality-jolt to the needs of those children who are still in mainstream and perhaps not in the best place for them. But that’s the tree-hugger in me coming out again.

Here it is:

For more information about the school see