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Peter Radford

Peter Radford is a teacher, trainer, public speaker and coach with a wealth of experience in leadership, management and personal development. He began his career in youth work before entering teaching and working in middle and senior leadership. Peter has also played a lead role in helping two large secondary schools achieve Unicef’s Rights Respecting Schools Award.

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Publications by Peter Radford

Love Teaching, Keep Teaching:

Written by Peter Radford, Love Teaching, Keep Teaching: The essential…

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Why NOW is the time to re-shape education!

January 07 2021

Since the government announced that this year’s A Level and GCSE exams will once again be scrapped I have heard numerous comments from students and staff along these lines… “Well what’s the point in the rest of the year’s lessons then?” (student) “What’s the point in all the work and learning I’ve already done if people aren’t going to take my grade seriously now?” (student) “How are we going to get students to do any work now?” (teacher) “Students will still need to work hard because the teacher assessed grade will need to be based on clear evidence.” (headteacher to parents) All these comments have a common thread which is based on a lamentable false premise: that the point of education is to get a grade or set of grades or recognised qualification of some kind. AND THIS IS THE PROBLEM! This is what is wrong with education. Surely this is not why we became teachers? Did we ever really believe that the reason we educate our children is so that they can have a piece of paper with a set of numbers or letters on it? Surely not. Yet why, then, are so many millions of students up and down the land unclear as to the purpose of the next six months in the absence of formal, standardised examinations? I suggest that if our students think that this is the point of education then we have failed. Unequivocally and indisputably. We have failed to inspire them, failed to ignite their passion, failed to capture their imagination and failed to properly equip them for the lives they could have led. For education is about something altogether different, altogether better than passing exams. It’s about changing the world! Arguably you are not to blame though. Well maybe a little, we are all complicit. But, admittedly, we are products of a system that we were employed to perpetuate. We were just doing our ‘jobs’ and being held accountable via a woefully inadequate measuring mechanism that constrained our imagination and killed our passion. BUT NOW IS A CHANCE FOR CHANGE. Seriously… let’s take this opportunity to redefine our aims and determine to transform the ethos of our schools; to bin for good the exam factory model and establish instead an education fit for the 21st century that holds true to its inherent value and affirms  the uniqueness and worth of each and every child. So what are the aims of education? Or rather what should they be? Below are the five tenets that I believe are central.  They are my D.R.E.A.M. for what education should be and can be. They are not new and you may express them differently or want to expand upon them. Either way… this question of what education is for is what we need to be talking about in our remote SLT meetings and department meetings up and down the land. The follow up question to discuss is how can we deliver this education better than ever before? So two questions: 1) What are we here for? and 2) How can we make it happen? The educational D.R.E.A.M. – […]

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Which is most important? Character or Competence

December 04 2020

(Or why 74 million Americans voted for Trump) Character or competence? I wonder what your instinctive reaction is… “Depends on the context” you might say? In a friend? In a teacher/ mentor? In a boss? In a political leader? Of course, ideally the answer is Both. But in reality we have to make value judgments in our interactions with people and society which can have far reaching consequences. In our personal relationships we are likely to favour character… a friend you can’t trust, isn’t loyal and deserts you in a crisis is not any kind of friend you’d really go out looking for. And yet when it comes to choosing our politicians or appointing staff, for many people character ceases to matter. The obvious case in point is the 74 million people who just voted for Donald Trump… again! This has baffled me and many others. Especially the fact that a huge proportion of his support base in the US are evangelical Christians. I have been unable to fathom why a Christian would vote for Donald Trump over, frankly, any other candidate on earth. As far as I can see, in character, behaviour and teaching Donald Trump is about as far removed from Jesus Christ as it’s possible to get! How can followers of Jesus also follow Donald Trump? Then I discovered the answer!  I found it on an evangelical Christian website offering its followers advice on who to vote for. It did not advocate any one candidate by name but it did say something very significant. It said : ‘Vote the platform not the person’. It suggested that because all humans are flawed the most important thing is not the person but the policies they promote. And for evangelical Christians this comes down to the public stance taken on abortion, gay marriage, guns and Israel. Hence, it literally doesn’t matter if the person on offer is a lying, misogynistic, racist who separates children from their parents. What matters are these policies. I disagree. Character matters. In our choice of friends and teachers and in our appointment of leaders, in whatever context, character is more important than competence. And character is more important than those issues too. In fact it was Jesus himself who said that the most important law is the law of love. The other significant group of Trump supporters are those who trust his competence with the economy, which of course translates into real jobs and food on the table. There is plenty of support for this approach here in the UK. Margaret Thatcher articulated the capitalist principle well (quoted accurately recently in The Crown). She said, “No one would have remembered the good Samaritan if he had merely had good intentions; he had money!” Again I disagree. The phrase ‘good intentions’ sounds weak. But in actual fact good intentions, backed up with action, are what change the world. The Samaritan in the story made history not because he had money but because he defied all the prejudices and systemic cultural norms of the day to engage with and alleviate the suffering of a fellow human being […]

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