About Robert Peal

Robert Peal

This blog was active from 2012 to 2014. Though my current job precludes the joys of blogging, I do intend to re-enter the fray of edublogging someday.

My name is Robert Peal. I am a writer, a secondary school history teacher, and honorary education research fellow at the think tank Civitas. Most recently, I have edited a collection of essays entitled Changing Schools: Perspectives on five years of education reform, published on June 1, 2015. See here.

In 2014, I wrote Progressively Worse: the burden of bad ideas in British schools (published by Civitas). Progressively Worse is a history of progressive education from the 1960s to today, which explains its destructive legacy in British schools. You can order it on Amazon here. I have also written a report on Ofsted, entitled Playing the Game: the enduring influence of the preferred Ofsted teaching style. You can read it for free here.

I began this blog under the pseudonym Matthew Hunter in February 2012, whilst half way through my first year of teaching at an inner city secondary school. I have written on education for Standpoint magazine, Demos Quarterly, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, and have spoken at ResearchEd, the Battle of Ideas and the Sunday Times Festival of Education. The former UK Education Secretary Michael Gove commended my writing, describing me as “one of the brightest young voices in the education debate”.

  • If you would like to contact Robert Peal, please get in touch via Twitter: @RobertPeal.

9 Responses to “About Robert Peal”

  1. Hi Matthew, thought this might be interesting….http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2227643/Two-thirds-young-people-dont-know-First-World-War-ended.html

  2. Hi Matthew,
    Well done for writing this blog. I finished my PGCE (in life long learning) in 2011. I had one term on a short contract and decided never again will I go into the state sector to teach (in my case FE).
    You are totally right about the PGCE training. No trainee teacher is taught to “teach” instead they are taught to spout the latest fad in “progressive” education and none of it works. When I was teaching on my own, I did it my way and my students TOLD me they appreciated it. Many said they learnt more from me in 10 minutes on one topic then they had in a 6 week course with other teachers because I told them stuff and then got them to put it into practice/think about what was said/adapt it.
    Though I didn’t go into teach history, I to am a history graduate and was appalled at what is supposed to pass for history teaching (I have helped coach a GCSE student in history). Being told to use the film Saving Private Ryan as a legitimate “source” for the DD landings filled me and my husband with utter horror. In addition, that same student was frustrated with the way lessons were run in her school – she said, if they were lucky, they’d get around 10 minutes of time to be quiet and study individually. The rest of the time was utterly chaotic.

    Well done to you for bringing this out into the open. Wish you blog had been around when I was doing my PGCE! I’d have quoted from it a lot! 😉

  3. Matthew,
    Many thanks for your excellent article.
    I would further contend that the “source material” debate is even worse than you describe.
    “Source material” analysis is held up its supporters to be a valid and honourable skill, encouraging forensic analysis valuable across other disciplines, in an almost scientific matter.
    Sadly, it is shallower than that.
    My 13 year old State school educated daughter had an assessed history article on Henry VIII with a section of text asking about his many wives. The question required an open and general discussion of the King and his wives.
    She argued that, contrary to popular image, his many marriages were not from crude sexual lust.
    That they were from both fear and his duty as King.
    She argued that it was a fear of a descent into a War of Roses that haunted him. A war that cost a third of the nobility, his allies, she cited.
    That women then were thought as “responsible” for miscarriages, infertility and for non male offspring.
    That he would even endure excommunication to ensure a lineage.
    A slightly contrarian view to the simple article, perhaps.
    But she brought her own facts and used them, gained from an excellent elderly guide at a visit to Hampton Court.
    Her mark was two out of ten.
    The reason, she was told, was because she did not conduct a “word search” of the article, and marks were only awarded if a word from the source text was somehow used in her answer.
    Seemingly, a list of ten words with no link, would gain full marks. And there was no scope for additional points.
    So that has taught her a lesson.

  4. I have been a teacher of History for 32 years all of it in the state sector, including 3 schools which are judged outstanding by Ofsted and have spent 17 years teaching A level in a sixth form college. I don’t recognise from my own students’ accounts, my own children’s experience (one of whom is now studying History at degree level) or my own professional life the world of History teaching your contributors are describing. History teachers do still teach and explain and students do listen and learn but teachers have to add variety to that. All children are not the same and younger children do need to be active and cannot listen for as long. Surely any parent never mind teacher knows this. The most important thing my students appreciate is the enormous excitement and enthusiasm their History teachers have brought to the subject. History is one of the most popular subjects at A level so the students obviously like what teachers are doing. I thought the “student voice” mattered to this government. I still love History teaching after all this time and am happy to work in the state sector. Most History teachers feel as I do and students recognise this.
    Perhaps your contributors experience is a little too narrow to write a whole section of teaching.

  5. You can still listen to the following link – starts at 0823

  6. http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9709000/9709491.stm

  7. I too am an historian and so value evidence. But I also value experience and breadth of knowledge. I am amazed that Mr Peal believes that six terms as an unqualified teacher in one state school makes him an expert on “deprivation” across the whole state sector and provides him with the authority to attribute that poverty wholly to a set of educational philosophies lazily grouped as “progressive”. Does Mr Peal see himself as education’s Niall Ferguson? Serious educational study is much more than propoganda – although propoganda is much easier, catches more headlines and is far more lucrative than teaching. “Bright young voice”? Perhaps, but education is not reality television.

  8. […] education in the last decade or two. Daniel Willingham, Ed Hirsch Jr., Daisy Christodoulou, Robert Peal and many others others have questioned popular ideas such as ‘learning styles’, ‘multiple […]

  9. […] Worse by Robert Peal (https://goodbyemisterhunter.wordpress.com/about/) argues that literacy levels in our young people have barely changed despite record levels of […]

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