May 2014


  • Raising our voices
    Dialogue with the profession has been sidelined by this government, says Brian Lightman, with damaging results. It needs to be restored, whichever party is in power, if the vision of a great education service that we all share is to be realised. More
  • The perfect addition
    As more schools struggle to fill headship vacancies, business managers are successfully stepping up to leadership. Dorothy Lepkowska reports. More
  • Be true to your SEF
    As Ofsted announces a shake-up of the inspection framework, Tony Thornley looks at how approaches to school self-evaluation have evolved and explores what a genuinely useful SEF should contain. More
  • Excellence as standard
    We may have reached the zenith of understanding about what makes a great school, says Roy Blatchford. If so, the next step is to make it the norm across the system. More
  • A little bird told me...
    Wary of social media? Think Twitter’s a time-wasting distraction? Avid tweeter Peter Monfort offers a guide to its professional uses that could change your mind. More
  • The true values of education
    record number of school and college leaders gathered in March for the 2014 ASCL Annual Conference, to debate, network and learn about the latest developments in education policy. We were delighted that more than 1,200 of you could join us at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole for what truly More
Bookmark and Share

Wary of social media? Think Twitter’s a time-wasting distraction? Avid tweeter Peter Monfort offers a guide to its professional uses that could change your mind.

A little bird told me...

I am a Scrooge. I hate Christmas and I especially hate the annual revelation of the festive number one single that is, in my humble opinion, always a piece of manufactured musical detritus.

That was until 2009 when Rage Against the Machine’s version of ‘Killing in the Name’ hit the top spot with a performance on the BBC that was, of course, predictably pulled due to the strong lyrics in the latter part of the track, which they had promised would be dropped.

The band secured a hit almost 17 years after the track’s original release, thanks to a Facebook campaign aimed at ensuring that Simon Cowell’s manufactured offering connected to The X Factor failed to hit its seemingly pre-destined number one spot. It shows just how powerful the use of social media can be to influence a national outcome.

The recent impetus for Ofsted to evolve has similarly been driven to some extent by numerous individuals tweeting and blogging about the topic to which ministers and Ofsted officials have had to respond.

The wonderful thing about Twitter is that you can make comments stand out by using a hashtag(#) and effectively force them to appear on other users’ mention pages by including their username (for example, @pmonfort) in the body of the message.

Concise statements

Most of you will have MPs who are on Twitter, effectively giving you a direct channel of communication to them. This allows you to make concise statements regarding areas you have a concern about or link a news article or blog on the topic to your tweet and share it with key people on Twitter. Linking in a local MP to a tweet is akin to painting your thoughts on the front wall of their house (I wouldn’t recommend doing the latter, though).

Now your local MP may not see your one tweet on their mention wall but when large numbers of people tweet about a similar topic we get what is called a trend on twitter. That is a series of tweets about a topic (identified by a #keyword) that is being shared and discussed by large numbers of people.

This phenomenon only comes about when large numbers of like-minded people engage with the Twitter community. If ASCL members make more use of Twitter to bring to the forefront how the topics being discussed by ASCL Council are affecting their given communities, we wield a powerful tool to inform ministers and voters at a local level about the problems we face.

What would this look like? Here is an example:

#Ofsted identifies the topic and means that anyone searching the word ‘Ofsted’ will see this tweet in their search results. @FBloggsMP will ensure that the tweet is posted on the mention wall of my local MP, FBloggs, and the tweet is straightforward. If enough people tweet, retweet and reply or simply use the #Ofsted keyword, a trend occurs. Every time the original tweet is retweeted or replied to containing the @FBloggsMP username, this causes another mention on the MP’s mention wall, increasing the likelihood that your local MP will, at the very least, be aware of the issues and views being shared.

Reasons to tweet

If you’re not using Twitter I would ask that you create a profile and give it a try. This article is not about how to set up your Twitter account, nor is it about how to use Twitter once you have done so. If you fancy starting out in the world of Twitter then this link will show you how:

If you are still not convinced then here are ten more reasons why you may join the Twitter community:

  1. You get live news updates about the areas you are interested in.
  2. You can tap into the expertise of countless professionals.
  3. You can connect with like-minded people.
  4. It will connect you to many, many blogs about things you want to know about.
  5. You can observe and participate in online conferences relating to your areas of interest.
  6. The experience is customisable, so you see the information that you are interested in. For example, you can group people you follow into lists on a specific topic.
  7. It provides continuing professional development (CPD).
  8. You can engage in national conferences where current topics are debated.
  9. You can tweet messages directly to people you may not normally have the chance to talk to.
  10. It forces you to be succinct.

If I have tempted you to join the Twitter community then you may like to consider the following Dos and Dont's to get you started:

  • Do make your Twitter profile public so that people can see your comments and share them and respond.
  • Don’t forget, however, that as teachers we have a professional set of standards to abide by so keep your tweets professional. You are commenting in public so don’t be rude.
  • Do tweet, retweet and make use of the Twitter favourite button for comments made by others. Try tweeting little things through the day.
  • Don’t be afraid to have a point of view.
  • Do fill in your bio and use a sensible avatar (image). Don’t share too much information about your personal life.
  • Do follow people who are interested in the things you are.
  • Don’t be afraid to unfollow people who either don’t contribute much or don’t contribute content that interests you.
  • Do add links to useful blogs, resources and articles. You can use to shorten huge ugly web addresses as well.
  • Don’t have a personal conversation with someone on Twitter. Use Twitter’s direct messaging or, better still, speak to them directly.

If you have read this far then you must surely be keen to get online so don’t forget to tweet me (@pmonfort) and let me know how you are finding the experience. 

Peter Monfort is Assistant Head at Westborough High School, Yorkshire, and the Humber ASCL Council representative.

Follow the Leader… 

A few of Peter’s top suggestions for whom to follow first:
@ASCL_UK obvious first choice
@brianlightman ASCL General Secretary
@your local MP good to follow
@SLTchat hosts weekly chats about key educational issues
@HeadsRoundtable a non-political group influencing educational policy
@GuardianTeach news, debate, ideas and best practice
@TeacherToolkit a prolific contributor to Twitter and an award-winning author
@GreatEdDebate a place for everyone to have their say
@RealGeoffBarton a headteacher and writer of textbooks and articles about English, literacy, grammar, and school leadership
@SecEd_Education the free weekly secondary education newspaper for teachers/heads; hard copy to schools, free ebulletin, news and best practice online

And, of course, it is always worth following the government and related agencies for the latest updates:
@educationgovuk the official Twitter account for the DfE and its executive agencies
@ofqual official Twitter channel for the regulator of qualifications, exams and assessments in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland
@Ofstednews official Twitter channel for Ofsted