We, the teachers: what are the vital questions for us in education?


One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire Cat in a tree. ‘Which route do I take?’ she asked. His response was a question: ‘Where do you want to get to?’ ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the Cheshire Cat, ‘it doesn’t much matter.’

Lewis Caroll, Alice in Wonderland

Unless we are clear about the destination we’re headed towards, education reform will be as directionless as Alice’s meanderings in wonderland. This blog is about what works in education. It draws lessons from the world’s most successful school systems, and distils the best ideas for reform. From this, we can get insights into what a great education system would look like in England.

My central argument is that great teaching depends on a great curriculum, great training and great assessment. In these areas, there is some consensus and some confusion.

There is a clear consensus in education…

Everyone agrees:

  • No school can be better than its teachers
  • No education system can exceed the quality of its teaching
  • Teachers struggle without good leadership and governance
  • A school system in which 40% of school leavers underachieve academically isn’t good enough

…but we still need clear answers to some key questions

We need to clarify:

To answer these questions, we can use the best ideas, evidence and systems globally and ask what we can learn from:

I’ll be posting on one of these topics every Saturday to spark debate about how to improve our education system.

As the episode of Alice and the Cheshire cat shows, we must be clear about our desired end point if we are to choose the right path towards a great education system.



Click ‘follow‘ on the top right of this page to get my weekly posts delivered to your inbox; click ‘share‘ below to share these ideas on facebook or twitter; feel free to get in touch at joe.s.kirby@gmail.com or follow joe__kirby on twitter.

6 Responses to We, the teachers: what are the vital questions for us in education?

  1. Rory says:

    What makes a great education system and etc? In my opinion, great teaching et. al. uses reading and math to flood kids with massive academic success. This is a great curriculum.

  2. rosane says:

    What are your thoughts on Waldorf Education? ( not the schools, but its pedagogy and system – the current W-schools slipped away from Steiner original idea of a school-for-all, as at least here in America, it is only for the wealthy ones….)

  3. Jarold Heasley says:

    Joe, I am encouraged by your stances and would like to send something under separate cover to you for your kind consideration.

  4. Yohanes says:

    Dear Mr Kirby,

    I work with FFT, an education data provider solely focused on providing accurate and insightful information to schools which enables pupils achieve their full potential and schools to improve. As a leading education blogger we would like to speak to you about some exciting blogging opportunities.

    If this is something which might interest you, please email me.

    Yours sincerely,


  5. Pingback: New blog (2017: the year I start teaching) | Primary Teacher Blogging

  6. Pingback: What makes effective CPD? | Teacher Development Trust

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