Skip to content

Senior School Headmaster’s Blog


  • School Trips

    For most adults, school trips to museums, theatres or outdoor camps make up a positive and important part of their school memories. Like all schools our trip programme has come to a complete standstill over the last few months but I am just starting to sign off trips for 2022 and 2023. I do so […]

    Tuesday 6th July 2021

  • PQA is Groundhog Day

    One might have thought that the Department for Education had enough to do this year, what with the aftermath of last summer’s public examination grading, school Covid closures, masks, lateral-flow testing, free school meals controversies and a new scheme for this summer’s public examination grades to develop. Gavin Williamson and his intrepid civil servants, however, […]

    Thursday 20th May 2021

  • Post-truth

    Famously, the Oxford English Dictionary made ‘post-truth’ the word of 2016, defining it as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.

    Monday 19th April 2021

  • What have we learned from learning remotely?

    How are SGS pupils finding remote learning? An anonymous pupil survey just before half-term sought to answer this important question.

    Monday 1st March 2021

  • Choosing A-level subjects

    One day the Covid era will end. I am planning for a return to normality in September and a chance for our beleaguered Year 11 students to begin their Sixth Form studies in the usual way. The deadline for them to choose their A-level subjects approaches. Gone are the days when students had the luxury […]

    Monday 1st February 2021

  • Practical Science

    Two recent stories about science in schools caught my eye. Firstly, the national performance of England’s children in the TIMMS tests, which compare the scientific knowledge of teenagers internationally, has declined. We now stand at 14th out of 64 down from 5th in 2007. Ouch. Secondly, I came across a survey examining how much practical […]

    Monday 14th December 2020

  • Brains and Learning

    Half-term was a largely indoor experience chez Owen with Tier 3, international quarantine restrictions and heavy rain all preventing me from straying far from Stockport. One must make the best of things, however, and I have read a great deal: novels, non-fiction and neuroscience.

    Monday 9th November 2020

  • Observing Lessons

    Observing lessons is fraught with difficulty. At Stockport Grammar School, in common with most schools, we ask anyone being interviewed for a teaching job to teach a lesson. At first sight this is an obvious choice, allowing us to spot the best teacher. However, the candidate will be nervous, unfamiliar with the school, the classroom, […]

    Tuesday 13th October 2020

  • Touring the School

    Sadly, coronavirus restrictions have already meant the cancellation of our September Open Morning but interest in SGS from prospective parents is higher than ever. Our Virtual Visit may be found here but we have begun welcoming individual prospective families for a socially distanced and face-masked tour.

    Monday 7th September 2020

  • Prizes

    In normal times we would be enjoying Prizegiving at the Stockport Plaza: preparing and checking the lists of names and communicating the glad tidings to parents and pupils.

    Monday 29th June 2020

  • MOOCs

    Like all schools, SGS has moved to remote learning. Staff and pupils have grappled with new technologies and new ways of teaching and learning.

    Wednesday 22nd April 2020

  • Weighing A Pig Doesn’t Make It Any Heavier

    Testing is something that teachers think a lot about. What is the purpose of testing? How often should we test students? What is the best way to do it? How much lesson time should be given over to testing when it could be used for teaching? Are UK children over-tested compared to pupils elsewhere in […]

    Tuesday 3rd March 2020

  • What Should We Teach?

    “Bitzer,” said Thomas Gradgrind. “Your definition of a horse.” “Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in mouth.” Thus (and much more) Bitzer.

    Thursday 6th February 2020

  • Degree Classifications Must Change

    The percentages of top grades at GCSE and A-level are now more or less static from year to year bringing a welcome relief from the annual chorus of ‘it was harder in my day’.

    Tuesday 14th January 2020

  • What Makes Great Teaching?

    At school in the early 1980s one of my favourite teachers was the magnificently named Dr Cattermole who taught Chemistry with spectacular flamboyance. A man who seemed to have become his own caricature, Dr Cattermole’s battered visage was entirely consistent with a complete disregard for even the most obvious of precautions for his own safety; […]

    Thursday 28th November 2019

  • Creativity

    How do we promote creativity at SGS? Creativity is a key skill for future employment, as technology threatens repetitive or predictable jobs, but an appreciation of creativity is also part of being a well-educated human.

    Wednesday 6th November 2019

  • Universities

    At the recent HMC (Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference rather than the Honda Motor Company or the Halal Monitoring Committee for those who have googled HMC!) Conference I found myself feeling sympathy for university admissions tutors, not an emotion I have often experienced in this context.

    Monday 7th October 2019

  • Cats, Curiosity and Care

    ‘Curiosity killed the cat’ is a continuing cause of crossness. Five minutes with a group of 5 year olds will convince even the most traditionally-minded of adults that harnessing curiosity and the plethora of questions that it produces is central to efficient learning; suggesting that curiosity and active enquiry is dangerous would be disastrous as […]

    Tuesday 10th September 2019