Gareth Alcott, Assistant Head Teacher (CPD), King Alfred's Academy, Director of CPD for Oxfordshire Teaching School Alliance (OTSA)
This Much I Know About Love Over Fear is a unique and clever blend of teaching and learning manual, school improvement guide and autobiography from one of the leading figures in education. John Tomsett takes the reader on a journey through his working-class upbringing and intersperses it with expert lessons on the pedagogy of teaching English and the importance of putting great teaching at the centre of school improvement.

John's dedication and determination to create a culture where great teaching can flourish whilst also being at the heart of a school is only surpassed by his belief that it is the responsibility of all teaching staff to be proactive in their professional development. As the lead for CPD in a large secondary school, I wanted to capture John's honesty as a leader and harness the emotional connection he makes with teachers in order to demonstrate the importance of reflecting, evaluating and developing classroom practice, no matter what your role in a school - head teacher or NQT.

After buying 18 copies and distributing them to our SLT before the summer holiday, I went about planning the September INSET with the book and its message embedded as the key part of the whole-school training. The leadership team shared their favourite teaching and learning anecdote and explored with staff how their personal reflections had inspired them to refocus their approach as self-reflective practitioners. John's passion for learning and dogged faith in students' capabilities was crucial in showing staff that our philosophy towards school improvement was not only aligned, but also held by other successful leaders as a valid and effective method to give learners the best opportunity to succeed within an inclusive comprehensive secondary school.

The copies of the book were passed on to heads of department, who in turn passed them on to teachers across the school. The book is an essential tool in modelling great leadership of classroom practice and proved to be as useful as a tangible development tool for educational thinking as it was for pedagogical reflection and development in classroom practice. This disseminated approach was so much more effective with staff than a didactic input on day 1 of a new school year.

The impact on staff was evident in their feedback and discussions thereafter. Staff felt enthused and empowered to challenge their practice, not only as individuals but also within departments. It is such a privilege to read a book that inspires you to develop your practice - it makes you realise you are part of something that is greater than the four walls you teach within. This book really does show that love for your profession can overpower the fear of failure.
Guest | 20/01/2016 00:00
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