Clever Teachers and Clever Parents

This new book written by 2 experienced teachers, one an ex-headteacher of an outstanding school and the other a head of English who has consistently been seen as outstanding by his school and Ofsted, is of value to parents trying to understand how their child is being taught.

The book avoids the hidden language some schools use to describe their learning processes, or where this is required is explained with examples so that you will be able to understand how great teachers plan, deliver and assess learning.

This is the first book in a series planned to cover over 250 techniques teachers use to enable your child to learn. The more you understand what is behind this teaching the better you will be able to support your child. You will know what the clever teacher is trying to get your child to think about and why your child may be complaining that the teacher is not explaining properly! Learning is hard work and great learning requires effort from the learner. This book explains why.

It is available from Amazon as an ebook and as a paperback.


Clever Heads of Department/Faculty/ Subject

If you’re reading this you might already be familiar with the CPD Education Programmes that Peter and Scott have been involved with for over a decade (OTP, ETP, ITP).

As a fairly experienced Head of English (a few years ago) I felt there was little needed to learn from a couple of Wednesday afternoons away from my classroom. I have never been so wrong. Peter and his team reminded all the participants (through often gruelling thinking and practical exercises) the fundamental importance of making all decisions in a school be centred around ‘Learning’.

Just start with your own Departments and ask them to define what words like ‘challenge’ and ‘planning’ mean in their own daily jobs? It doesn’t take long to see that the ‘business’ we’re all in has too many experienced colleagues not exactly demonstrating excellence on an hourly basis. Or – they face the difficulties of not being able to articulate their own methods to staff.

SDP, SIMPLE, ‘Models’, and FAST WORDS to name a few have changed my whole approach to teaching and working with my own colleagues.

I’ve been lucky to work with Peter as a facilitator and participant. ‘Clever Teachers’ explores and collects together some of the main methods/ideas used by us in further detail. There’s no need to leave your classroom again?

Please invite Peter into your school to discuss some of the pages from ‘Clever Teachers’. I have! Or… buy this book that explains the tried and trusted techniques that have changed the learning lives of thousands of pupils and teachers. Better still – do both!

Available as a paperback or for your Kindle:

Buying “Clever Teachers” Reason 1

Why you, a teacher, would want this book.

We have created a great book for all teachers. We identified the tips and techniques that we taught to our many cohorts of really brilliant teachers on our many Excellent Teacher Programme (ETP) training courses. To share those ideas with you, we wrote this, the first book of a planned series of five.

How can you benefit from this book?

As an individual teacher you would be dipping into this book, it is not linear and you will select the particular chapter, tip, to work on. There are plenty to choose from. This is not a theory-heavy book, though theory backs each chapter’s content. Each idea has been tested by our excellent teachers and given their seal of approval.

We explain what the development is and how you might want to implement it in your classroom.

We do suggest that you try to carry on with any new teaching and learning technique for a decent time as new ideas will generally present you with what is called the “implementation dip”, a reduction in performance until you have adapted your thinking, planning and your learners’ acceptance and understanding of the changed ways of working. Unless what you are trying is disastrous, then keep at it! These techniques work and will improve your teaching and your children’s learning.

The paperback and Kindle ebook are available from Amazon.

The Fallacy of Event.

I am not terribly comfortable with labelling, and that includes, you may be surprised to know the progressive/traditional labels. If pushed, admittedly only gently, I would say I am in the traditional camp. But I do think that there is a fundamental error made by some techniques used by some to support learning.

One which I am considering in this blog is that of the event. It is clear that we do remember well exciting and dramatic events. I still remember sliding down the road when my Lambretta scooter slid on the ice-covered road and I only stopped when the scooter hit the kerb. I was fine and my machine was scraped a little and had lost some paint. I can remember lots of detail such as the person who came to my aid, very shocked. I can remember I was wearing my parka over my helmet and that I was grateful for the law that required me to protect my brain by wearing a crash helmet.

I do have a very vivid memory of the slide.

The fallacy is to assume that because I have such great recall of the event that learning can be enhanced by attaching to an event. I don’t think many teachers would slide a child down the road to teach them history. But some do plan dramatic events on the fallacious assumption that to remember the event meant=ns the details to be learned will also be remembered. Just because the event is so vic=vid does not mean all the elements surrounding the event will be remembered or remembered accurately. For example, I do not know if the concerned passer-by was male or female. I don’t know what colour the scooter was and how much paint was scraped off. And I do not know what I do not remember even though the unremembered did happen during the event.

Episodes will be remembered but the stuff to be learned is left too much to chance.


Please take a look at my new book, “Clever Teachers”. On Amazon,


Learn More Stuff

Bridge learning again but it is learning that is of interest.

As those of you who have read my blog I have been learning the card game bridge for the past 7 months. As I am doing so I am thinking hard about how my understanding of this complex, but fun, game is developing. I am at a stage where I properly realise that there is so much I do not know, but I am finding new ideas are far more easily assimilated than when I first started learning. I still make loads of mistakes but I am also mostly recognising the mistake and I think I can probably avoid the same mistake in the near future.

I explained a particular part of the bidding system to a fellow bridge player when he asked about why a particular bid was made. I think the desire to teach is strong within me – perhaps use that line in a film somewhere. I also think that wanting to explain to others is a sign of the stage of my own understanding and growing confidence. It also very much helps me to clarify my own understanding.

But I want to think about how new ideas are assimilated or not. There is stuff that better players explain to me that I just don’t get. Why are some new things understandable and others not?

I feel a diagram coming on. Perhaps a couple.

learning new stuffSo this is it. There are 2 new things to be learned. The blue area represents my current bridge knowledge.

The red areas are some new knowledge I am trying to learn. The red ovals represent the features, some of the content of new stuff 1. As you can see there is no real overlap with my current knowledge.

To give you a simple example let’s imagine the new idea is the bid “One No Trump”

Each red oval represents one idea. I know what “one” means. I know it in the context of numbers. I know what “no” means. Can I eat the cake? No, said my wife who checks my weight. I certainly know about Trump – the president of the USA. Enough said. But can you see why “One No Trump” is so difficult to understand? Not only do the elements not overlap my bridge knowledge, but I know each part in a different domain.

The green shapes do have a degree of overlap with my current bridge knowledge. One part is well within, one is overlapping and a third is currently outside my knowledge. I am likely to be able to understand the green idea. There is enough overlap. And having learned the green idea my bridge knowledge has expanded and other ideas may then be learnable.

More knowledge is better as it allows more learning.


Meet me three times.

Knock three times

Three times a lady

Meet me three times

More of me learning bridge but this is about learning much more than it is about the card game, bridge.

There is an idea, a very good idea which teachers should try to make happen, that we need to meet an idea at least 3 times and in three different contexts. We then need to take part in activities that allow this newly “learned” idea to be well practised. For our thinking to be challenged as a learner. This structure is what we mean by “planning the learning”.

In my bridge career, all six months of it, so far I have been taught stuff, read the same stuff and watched youtube videos about the stuff. I have experienced it on three different occasions in 3 different contexts, heard, read and watched. Each has presented the material in slightly different ways and these differences are part of the challenge we need to learn well. I have to “marry up” these differences – are they important? Making that “importance” decision is what allows our brains to link the “new” learning to what we already know. Just knowing stuff is of little value. What makes knowledge worth having is the kinking of that knowledge to other knowledge. We begin the journey to understanding.

I keep finding stuff.

Sorry but this has a context of bridge, the card game I am currently learning, again. But just trust/ignore the bridge specific stuff. As always I am writing about learning.

I learn bridge in a number of different ways. I want to explain two of these.

First, I watch YouTube videos and pause the video to think about what I would bid before seeing what the experts would do. I feel no pressure to choose a bid/pass when the video is paused. Why do I say such an apparently silly and obvious thing?

My second way is by playing live in the bridge club. When the cards get dealt and I check and think about my bid I am very aware of the other three players waiting for me. I feel a bit more pressure to come to a conclusion about bidding/passing when the game is “live”. This pressure is good as it changes the context of the learning.

We need to change the context of learning for our children in school. It presents what appears to be the same challenge but because of the context change, the thinking is, at least, slightly different, in each context.

Small changes, seating position, live presenting or video of the teacher, even questions from a textbook or from a worksheet can be enough for very new learners.