The best education books I read in 2018

So, my Reading Challenge 2018 has come to an end. I read some great stuff. Here is my top 7 education books…in no particular order.

What does this look like in the classroom? by Carl Hendrick and Robin MacPherson

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This book surveyed several areas of research that might be applicable to the classroom in an accessible and engaging way. Throughout, there were lots of words of wisdom and links to books, blogs and theories I’d not yet come across.

A key strength of this book was the way it was organized:

Each topic was briefly explained by the authors, which they linked to key research. If the whole book was like this, I think it still would have been a good read. However, it stepped up a gear when the research they surveyed was then applied in a meaningful conversation with an expert in that area. For example, when discussing behaviour, they conversed with Tom Bennett and Jill Berry; when discussing classroom talk and questioning, they conversed with Doug Lemov and Martin Robinson. I read this early on last year and it set me up to read a few others books that it suggested. I always appreciate it when books do this!

Knowledge and the Future School by Michael Young

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This was a very accessible and interesting read that formed the basis of my Masters dissertation. If you are new to the idea of ‘powerful knowledge’ and Young’s work, then this is most definitely the book for you. Young disseminates his research over the past ten years and reflects on how this might be applied in practice. In addition, there is interesting insights from David Lambert and Carolyn Roberts about how they have put some of Young’s theory to work in their schools. Young’s writing style is always lucid, however, he excels himself in this book by making the research crystal clear for practitioners who are new to his work. See this as an excellent primer to Young.

Cleverlands by Lucy Crehan

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See here for a more detailed review. This was a great read. I thoroughly enjoyed Lucy’s overall narrative and I learned so much about what it is like in classrooms around the world. This is a great read for anyone interested in understanding what makes the top performing education systems tick. Without a doubt there were similarities between the systems that we as a nation ought to consider adopting, however, there were also distinctives that marked out the systems from one another. If you’ve not read this, please do. As soon as you can.

Inside I’m Hurting by Louise Bomber

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See here for a more detailed review. I never intended on reading this sort of book. It is definitely not a subject that is in vogue in education. Some have criticized the approach taken and the claims it makes about teaching practice, however I found it utterly compelling and highly practical. If you work with young people who:

  • Display challenging behavior


  • Are ‘looked after’


  • Go through a traumatic event outside of school while they’re taught by you


  • Are disengaged and lack drive

Then this book is for you. It has helped me enormously in my understanding.

Responsive Teaching by Harry Fletcher-Wood

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See here for a more detailed review. I really enjoyed this book. It is simple without being simplistic. It is deep without being irrelevant. If you were to condense the essence of formative assessment in the classroom into 190 or so pages then this would be what you’d get. I picked up some really great tips for marking better and making sure my pupils don’t leave my room without me knowing exactly where they are in their learning. I repeat what I said about Mary Myatt’s book on Curriculum about Responsive Teaching: I think this would be a really good book to read as a staff team and discuss.

The Curriculum by Mary Myatt

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I did my Masters dissertation on curriculum development and I read this after I had submitted my piece. A key strength of this book is its expansive overview of the application of the national curriculum in schools. It is not particularly theoretical, nor is it deep in its explanations of some of the ideas is proposes. However, similar to ‘What does this look like in the classroom?’, this book provides a great springboard to other books and thinking.

I think this is great book for staff in schools who might not have read very much about curriculum as a bit of a primer. It could then aid further discussions.

Closing the Vocabulary Gap by Alex Quigley

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This book was great. I read ‘Bringing Words to Life’ by Beck et al. last year and found it difficult to implement in practice. One thing I definitely picked up from Beck et al. was the importance of vocabulary and the explicit teaching of it. I bought Quigley’s book hoping it would help me put some of their insights into practice. It does this and more. I developed my understanding of etymology and why this can provide ‘word depth’. I have more to say about this one at another time…..suffice to say, it’s well worth you reading, regardless of the subject you teach.


What have you read this year?



2 thoughts on “The best education books I read in 2018”

  1. Thank you Robbie for reading these books and give a short précis on them. I am particularly impressed by the fact you read ‘Inside I am Hurting’ by Louise Bomber to help you improve access to learning for those kids who have suffered a lot. Good on you.



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