About Me

I trained as an English and Drama teacher, and have worked with every age group from nursery through to Post Graduate. I have been a teacher, a manager, a consultant, a teacher trainer and an AST for Developing Pedagogy!  In these pages you’ll find out why it is I am no longer teaching.

I completed my doctoral thesis in 2014 and my first book, Teaching : Notes from the Frontline was published in 2014. You can read the reviews here. The second, an adaptation of my doctorate “Becoming Mobius: The Complex Matter of Education” was published in 2015. I am currently writing a third – a staunch defence of the role of the Arts in our society and education system.

I am the co-founder of Northern Rocks – an education conference held in Leeds in which teachers come together to celebrate teaching and learning and to push their practice forward. And I am a proud associate of the RSA, Independent Thinking and the International Schools Theatre Association.

I have one mantra for learning and that is ‘Make it Matter.’ Not a single piece of knowledge that mankind has ever aqcuired came without a desire to know the answer to a question. We have to give children the impetus to want to know, to understand the imperative that drove the discovery – the story behind the glory. When I plan I ask myself ‘who in the world would need to know that?’ and we start there – with the need to know. Am I perfect? No. Sometimes my lessons are a bit rubbish. They go wrong. But when they do, it’s because I was trying to push the bar and next time I do it better. These pages will be full of these ups and downs and I hope you’ll join in and comment and try to reflect with me.

28 thoughts on “About Me

  1. I’m not 100% if my comment adding my name to your list has been submitted as it has not appeared but I would like my name added as I think your point excellent. I have also shared this page with my fellow student teachers and I hope they will sign as well to support the cause

  2. Debra, I think you have made a great contribution to moving the important debate over education forward. As a grandfather and retired head, I have a desire to do what I can to build better educational outcomes for the future. I was glad to be able to support your campaign and was impressed with the response you had. Good luck for Monday. Most of the current raft of policy reforms are inappropriate as they stand.

    I have been working on gaining consensus to end the political domination of education governance and have started a campaign. If you and your colleagues would like to view the proposition, please check it out at http://www.ordinaryvoices.org.uk

    It is my belief that, to turn things around, professionals will need the support of parents and ordinary people who recognise that education is important and sadly too fragile after almost two decades of unremitting change, to weather more of the same.

  3. Debra, I just watched you on Channel 4 (15th April). If only all protesters against government policy were as articulate, level headed, and non-partisan as you the level of debate in this country would be dramatically raised.

  4. Wee bit self pityingly precious there Debra baby.
    Try night shift shovelling coal for a week or two.

    By the way…..don’t worry about the children …. They wont be learning much from a self obsessed lady with a martyr complex.

      1. “Debra baby”?? coal? self obsession? martydom? I mean… really? patronising ignorance doesn’t even begin to cover it… how graciously restrained of you Debra … my temptation would have been to slide into vitriol.

  5. Hi there,

    I work for the Edge Foundation and have a press release that might be of interest to you with regards to the VQ Day Awards 2014 and their new Teacher Award.

    Drop me and email and I’ll send it over to you!

    Thanks,

    Charlotte

    charlotte@tinmancomms.com

  6. Hi Debra,
    Just read your blog on stepping out if the classroom. I just wanted to let you know what a huge impact you had when you worked with us at Salendine Nook in Huddersfield. You were inspirational and empowering.
    Your ideas continue to resonate with me now having changed jobs several times since then.
    Many thanks, and to quote The Journey ‘don’t stop believing’. We need you too much.

    1. Rachel, that’s so kind and it made my day. Thank you. I won’t stop working with schools and children – it’s in the blood, but I’m also going to try to affect some change in the system if I can. That, or I’ll work in a flower shop! Thanks again x

  7. Your book was recommended to me by an old colleague of mine (the very fine Martin Illingworth). I read it in one evening. I couldn’t put it down. I am sending links to your book to everyone that I know. This is a clarion call and it’s time we woke up and started to act like the professionals we’ve forgotten we are. Thank you so much. See any criticisms as a compliment, you’ve got such a powerful message and if it wasn’t that powerful or so accurate it would have been ignored. All the best from a willing pedagogic activist.

  8. Enjoyed your RSA discussion “Toward an Educational Revolution”. You may like the thoughts on education from Russell Ackoff, in the below video link.

  9. Hi Debra!

    I’m the head of communications at Duolingo, the #1 education app on iTunes and Google Play in most countries worldwide. We’re spreading free education to the world and personalizing it through machine learning.

    We have a big launch in January and I’d love to get in touch by email. By the way your .com doesn’t work but is still linked to from Twitter! Thought you’d want to know.

    Happy new year,

    Best,
    Gina

  10. Hi Debra,
    Just read your blog. Interesting commentary. I pretty much agree with your points and I think they’re well justified.
    The one thing that always bothers me when the old private v maintained sector debate is mentioned, is that it is seen as just that…’versus’…like a football match, rivals to the bitter end, one at the top of the table, the other struggling towards the bottom and making envious, inaccurate commentary about the woes of inequality and unfairness.
    I don’t see it like that at all. Having spent much of my life in the commercial world before entering the ‘bubble’ that is education, I just see it as two different distribution channels for the same product. We and our little charges, live in an unequal, unfair world. There is no Utopia, there is no Zion. What there is, is a life that we choose to make for ourselves given our individual circumstances and environment.
    Granted, there are differences between private and maintained sectors but, to pitch them against each other as many observers do, is wrong. They have and will continue to have, a lot to learn from each other, given a willingness to have an open mind on the part of educational leaders in both ‘camps’.
    For example, a typical example difference is class size. There is no research that categorically concludes smaller classes improve learning. However, what is then seemingly forgotten, is the link always talked about in the same breath – ‘teaching’ & learning. Smaller classes mean that the teacher can spend more time getting to know and helping individual students, giving more verbal feedback and encouragement rather than writing everything as ‘evidence’ for the benefit of Ofsted or ISI. Yet successive governments, despite their protestations and lack of beneficial proof, have increased the sizes of schools and classes. Why? Simple…economies of scale…financial savings…money! Yet education, continuing the theme of economic terminology, actually has ‘private costs’ and many a ‘social benefit’.
    So I say, turn the comment back on the government ministers and agree with them, rather than fighting an ideological, pointless battle; Yes, let’s have a maintained sector doing some things like the private sector – smaller schools, smaller classes, in which each student stands more of a chance of having their individual needs met by professional teachers who care so much about them to succeed not fail.
    Jon

  11. Hi Debra,

    I am emailing to enquire about writing for your ‘Love Learning’ blog.

    I was wondering if you would be open to me submitting work for your site, detailing careers advice for prospective students and graduates. Since your blog is primarily aimed at teachers and those with an interest in education, I was hoping you would be open to me writing a post for teachers who are advising students on their options after leaving school. This is an area in which there is sadly a lack of helpful information for school leavers, and an article clearing up any fears or misconceptions they may have over professional qualifications could go a long way in making their professional future less daunting. In particular, I was hoping you would be interested in me writing a blog post about the various apprenticeships that are available to school leavers, and what they may require in terms of qualifications. Since most of the current political parties are all pledging to increase apprenticeships and school leaver options after the next election, students now more than ever would benefit from a post exploring these options.

    The following links show some examples of my writing for other sites:
    //blogs.city.ac.uk/careers/2015/01/28/guest-blog-post-careers-in-the-financial-sector-by-allaboutgroup/

    http://www.brightnetwork.co.uk/graduate-career-advice/which-five-skills-do-you-need-career-finance

    I am currently working for AllAboutSchoolLeavers.co.uk, a website dedicated to providing information for students and parents who want to explore their school leaver career options.

    Thanks,
    Ben Moffat | Digital Marketing and Editorial Intern

  12. Hi Debra,

    I am writing to tell you about WriteUnite and to ask for your help in spreading the word about our new book titled ‘I believe I can…’

    The book is themed to drive home a strong global message from students all over the world and to inspire everyone to contribute to sharing their dreams, feelings and aspirations. The children’s stories and drawings are created straight from the heart and reflect true feelings. There is no grade, no right and no wrong. Every submission received will be published.

    The first book, The Perfect World, was published in 2013 and is a compilation of over 700 contributions from students on every continent. With the funds raised from the sale of the book, school kits containing basic school supplies were delivered to every one of the 350 students at the Tegla Loroupe Education and Peace Centre in Kapenguria, Kenya.

    If this sounds like something you would be interested in, please contact me at hello@writeunite.org. For more information you can follow the link to our website http://www.writeunite.org/

    I look forward to hearing from you 🙂

    Omara Elling-Hwang

  13. Hi Debra, I have scanned your blog with interest.

    We seem to share many of the same interests and concerns. I too have just left behind a career in the classroom having completed a part-time six year doctorate. The action research was multi-faceted. I had diligently served the ‘System’ and was an ‘effective’ champion of quick fix, simplistic ‘solutions’ for much of my career. My work examines the realisation that I had become a ‘living contradiction’ – that my enactment of role was incongruent with the values I claimed to hold. This process of reconceptualising education, and questioning my contribution to it, represents the thread.

    The study is situated within dynamic classes as I examine the difference between compliance & cooperation, & critique both order & (low level) disruption through the lens of complex adaptive systems. As catalyst I sought to understand my capacity and inclination to react rather than respond. Over 100 000 words encapsulated in a couple of sentences!

    Anyway, all the best for your forthcoming publication.

    Sean

  14. Hello,
    We’re trying to spread the word about the World’s Largest Lesson and wondered if you could help us. It’s for teachers across the world and it’s part of Project Everyone, which has been set up by Comic Relief founder Richard Curtis to support the upcoming sustainable development goals. We’re hoping to collect lesson plans from teachers geared towards teaching children about the goals – whether it’s an individual topic, like the fight against climate change or poverty or all of the goals. The competition closes in just over a week then the plans can be reviewed by teachers to select their favourite, which will then hopefully be taught in schools across the world in September. It’s a bit of a mighty plan and we’d really like your help!

    Please let me know if you would be interested and I can email you over the press release.

    Many thanks
    Alex

    Alex.Maher@mangomarketing.com

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