How to make your classroom sparkle!

05 Oct 2011

What is the essence of lively and effective teaching? What makes a 'sparkling classroom'? That is the question that former head teacher and HMI, Roy Blatchford, attempts to answer in the latest pamphlet in the Counterblasts series of pamphlets from the education charity and 'do-tank', the National Education Trust.

 Roy's pamphlet is not a polemic on how to improve teaching but an attempt to define what makes a classroom a vibrant learning environment. It's not a vast, impersonal how-to-teach manual but a 16-page collection of reflections, quotations, questions and suggestions. To order copies:

Meanwhile the National Education Trust (of which I must declare an interest as a volunteer trustee) is running a new series of one-day courses in which Roy, who is also on the government's Teachers' Standards Review,  will help teachers to create their own 'sparkling classrooms'. The courses will be running in: Bristol (22nd November), Cleveland (24th November), Wallasey (6th December), and London (8th December).  More information at:

The courses are initially for primary schools but are also available for secondary schools on request to the NET offices (see website for contact details:

The NET is a non-profit educational charity that provides advice, guidance and resources to schools.

User Comments

Rebecca Hanson - 05 Oct 2011

The Teachers' Standards Review and Ofsted

The Teachers' Standards Review made recommendations on the modern professional reform of Ofsted (as opposed the the random chaotic reforms Gove is pushing through).

I've also reasearched this and have posted the results of my findings (from legal analysis, the advice of experts at other regulatory bodies and many other sources)here:

One thing that stands out is the Ofsted is pretending to all parties that modern professional reform is not desirable or possible for all sorts of reasons which are clearly complete fantasy and represent deeply self interested behaviour.

Could you possibly recommend Roy looks at my blog please Mike? Anyone with an interest in this topic is welcome to contact me for more information.

Meanwhile I've started to post on the Local Schools Network forum so you can expect some fun and games there if anyone's got time to look in.

Peter Asquith-Cowen - 07 Oct 2011

I agree with Rebecca on Ofsted.Personally, I would liquidate this 'Quango' at once. Remember the old saying: "Too many cooks spoil the broth" supported by: "There's too many Chiefs and not enough indians!" I would love to hire an old, disused Victorian school (and there's quite a few around Hull) Stage a 'drama' day, running a classroom the way they were organised in 1900. No computers, ipods, mobile phones etc. A plain blackboard, chalk, rubber, cane and ink-wells full of ink.To be referred to at all times as "Sir" with severe punishment for any lack of attention. My style would emulate Captain Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe) and I would organise a discipled day of learning teaching reading,(listening skills/attention) grammar, English usage, punctuation, spelling, comprehension and composition. Basic arithmetic, "The Four rules of Number." (no calculators allowed) I would use atlases for the Geography lesson and I think we would look at the arrival of the Romans for History. The day would start with "The Lord's Prayer," a hymn: "Oh God Our Help In Ages Past!" and during all exercises the classroom would be absolutely silent. There would be a time for questions and answers, and students would be asked to explain what they did not understand, and I would re-iterate the facts and the details. In the later part of the afternoon I would include 'Calisthenics' (vigorous exercise, including breathing) in the school hall. Running on the spot, touching toes, arm-stretching etc. The day would close with a question and answer session. I would have monitors to collect in the books, defined as 'Prefects'. At 4.00pm, class would rise to sing "The National Anthem" (to remind them that they are British, and not some part of a multi-racial, muddled ethnic bunch with confused religious beliefs. The State religion is Christianity and that's a fact. Our Gracious Queen Elizabeth is the 'Head' of that Institution and the Head of our Tribe)It would be a matter of choice if people from other ethnic groups wanted to join my class. However, these would be the RULES, love them or hate them. This would be run over a period of five days. I wonder how many would be able to cope with the pace and discipline? What would have been learned at the end of this programme of learning? How they would cope with the structures of self-discipline, using 'correct ' forms of English. A short quote would start the week off listyening to Basil Rathbone, et al reciting verse. The slightest misdemeanour would be punished by two stokes of the can across the palm of the hand, and there would be very few breaks in lesson for 'human easement.' I think I could make "Waterloo Road" look like the example of chaotic modern educational dysfunction that it portrays, and why our "Culture" is rapidly being diluted and ruined by the idiots who run ofstead and all the other so-called Educational Trusts. A degree of firm 'militarism' might get this country on its feet. The lily-livered, cossetted youth of today could never have defended Britain in 1939. There are too many ofsted inspectors on 'spectacular' salaries telling teachers how to teach and make their classrooms "Sparkling" and not enough teachers telling them to .....yes well, I won't repeat what I'm thinking! I started out this diatribe by stating: "There are too many Chiefs and not enough indians." I think this is a good example of what I meant. This has given me the 'germ' of an idea. Since I am retired, I just might organise that day, next year, invite Roy along and perhaps, you might enjoy a 'glimpse' from the past too Mike, when everyone in Britain was on a 'military footing' and there were 'Boys' and 'Girls'entrances to schools. I don't have much faith in the future of Education; even less in in an idiot like Michael Gove.
Peter. Anlaby,Nr.Beverley, Kingston-upon-Hull, East Yorkshire

Dallas - 15 Nov 2012

I can't maintain focus in a classroom setting, there's too much distraction for me. I didn't think">online classes would work any better, but I was surprised at how well I did. I'd rather go online that in person BY FAR.

Post a comment

After posting your comment you will need to confirm it by checking your email and clicking the confirmation that will be sent to you.

Comments will appear once reviewed for appropriate content.