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Much Promise: Successful schools in England

Much Promise: Successful schools in England

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For many years Barnaby Lenon was the headmaster of Harrow. On his retirement he helped set up a state school in east London, widely regarded as one of the most successful free schools. In 2016 he went on a tour of schools in England that achieve outstanding results, in many cases with disadvantaged pupils.


In Much Promise, he describes how they do it, set in the context of the latest research into school and teacher performance. He evaluates the school system in England and the effectiveness of recent reforms; he looks at how parents and governors achieve results and puts the spotlight on the school curriculum, exam systems and social mobility.

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For many years Barnaby Lenon was the headmaster of Harrow. On his retirement he helped set up a state school in east London, widely regarded as one of the most successful free schools. In 2016 he went on a tour of schools in England that achieve outstanding results, in many cases with disadvantaged pupils.

In Much Promise, he describes how they do it, set in the context of the latest research into school and teacher performance. He evaluates the school system in England and the effectiveness of recent reforms; he looks at how parents and governors achieve results and puts the spotlight on the school curriculum, exam systems and social mobility.

About the author

For many years Barnaby Lenon was the headmaster of Harrow. On his retirement he helped set up a state school in east London, widely regarded as one of the most successful free schools. In 2016 he went on a tour of schools in England that achieve outstanding results, in many cases with disadvantaged pupils. In this book he describes how they do it, set in the context of the latest research into school and teacher performance.

He evaluates the school system in England and the effectiveness of recent reforms; he looks at how parents and governors achieve results and puts the spotlight on the school curriculum, exam systems and social mobility. Barnaby Lenon was educated at a Direct Grant school and Oxford University, taught at Eton, Sherborne School, Holland Park comprehensive and Highgate School, and was head of Trinity School Croydon and Harrow School. He has been a governor of many schools, state and independent, and is chairman of governors of a free school, the London Academy of Excellence. He is on the boards of Ofqual, the New Schools Network, the Yellow Submarine charity for young people with learning disabilities, and chairs the Independent Schools Council.

Reviews

“Higher standards, school autonomy, exams that stretch, getting the basics right – all the education reforms we have undertaken in recent years have been based not on ideology but simply on what works. That is what Barnaby Lenon explores in this fascinating assessment of all that is good (and bad) in education today. A must-read for teachers, parents, policy makers and anyone interested in making sure that all children are able to reach their potential.” David Cameron, former Prime Minister

"When I go to a lecture by a leading politician or pundit, I expect one or more of three things – good stories of direct experiences, sound analysis, provocative reflections. I seldom find all three together, and frequently walk away having experienced none. Not so Barnaby Lenon’s book. All three jostle for position on every page. I can see educational researchers getting very grumpy about it – where are the references? Where is the research synthesis to support the sweeping conclusions? That is to miss the point of the text. I love the single line judgements, all deriving from the author’s rock solid pedigree in running schools and working at the top level of policy. Those judgements derive from his accumulated professional experience, and are rightly provocative and stimulating. He deals with concerns of parents and children, society and the State – and understands absolutely the complexity of national arrangements  in which system-level drivers combine with the acts of individuals to make a difference to quality. Parents, politicians, teaching professionals should read this book, not to gain a definitive view of all aspects of education, but to be pushed into thinking about why the system looks and behaves the way it does, and to be galvanised into action to separate curriculum snake-oil from hard-won professional knowledge." Tim Oates, Group Director of Assessment Research and Development, Cambridge Assesment

"A tour-de-force! A thorough summary of evidence, research and analysis combined with eminently accessible practical examples to reflect on.  Really got me thinking, with loads for serving school leaders to reflect on. Just need one or two politicians to take note. Highly recommend." Andy Buck, Leadership Matters

"A wonderful practical guide on what makes a successful school. The analysis is sharp and detailed, covering all angles. It makes you think twice about assumptions you might have. If you don't have time to visit lots of schools or do the research yourself, then this is the book for you. It is excellent to have all of this in one book!" Katharine Birbalsingh, Headmistress, Michaela Community School

"This is a book that promises much, and delivers in every sense; for anyone involved in schools, regardless of whether they are free, academy, comprehensive, or independent, this is essential reading.’" David James, Deputy Head, editor of ‘World Class: tackling the ten biggest challenges facing schools today’.

"This is essential reading for anyone who cares about education. Barnaby Lenon's wealth of experience comes through on every page, as does his knowledge of current research. This is a forensic examination of what schools need to do in order to deliver at the highest levels, as well as what to avoid. It ruthlessly hunts down myths about education and slays them, offering instead practical advice gleaned from some of the UK's top schools. A copy of this should be in every staff room." Robin Macpherson, Head of Professional Learning/History teacher, Wellington College

A happy reader! We received this letter from one delighted reader, Oliver Rutherford.

Dear Barnaby, 

I hope that this email finds you well. 

My name is Oliver Rutherford, and I have just started my second year teaching maths at an inner-city London school through Teach First. My immense passion for education led me to also work with Up Learn. During this time, I asked Tom Stevenson that if there were one book on education he could recommend me, what would it be? I was fortunate that he lent me Much Promise, a book that, after having read it twice now, is the most insightful book about education I have ever read. I am eternally grateful to him for lending me this book for a multitude of reasons. 

Since starting to teach, I have become obsessed with reading books and blogs about education, from the guys at Michaela, Doug Lemov, Tom Bennett (etc) to many advocates of project-based learning and more progressive "inquiry" models. I've spent countless hours getting my hands dirty with the nuances of different pedagogical styles of teaching mathematics, though I struggled to put all of this in context of the broader educational space. As hard as I tried, I couldn't find any books that remotely synthesised - in a data-rich and concise manner - where we are with education compared to before, what the current trends are, how has policy shaped education and how do we compare to different countries.... until I read Much Promise. 


I genuinely don't think I've ever enjoyed reading a book so much, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. To see such a concise, powerfully evidence-based and non-ideologically dogmatic overview of the education sector genuinely filled me with joy. I remember reading the chapter on Teachers on a plane from Rome to London and frightening the poor lady next to me by how animated the insights your book made me. 

Since reading Much Promise, I feel like my work as a teacher and in Up Learn has been put in a greater context, and whenever people ask me what to read in education I buy your book on Amazon for them with prime delivery and ask them to speak to me once they've read it. 

Thank you for all of the work you do in education - it's inspiring to new teachers like me. Reading your book will directly benefit my students, and that really matters. 

Kindest regards, 

Oliver Rutherford



Additional Information

Author Barnaby Lenon
ISBN 9781911382232
No of pages 320
Format Paperback
Publication Date 24 Apr 2017

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