Finding your Dream Job Part 2

The School

If you haven’t read the previous blog on ‘you’ please do that first. You can access that by clicking here.

Once you’ve found a role that suits your non-negotiables, the fun starts. It’s time to do your background research. This reconnaissance mission is critical for two reasons; the first is that not all that shine is gold and the second is knowing more about a potential employer is essential in the application process.

Where to look:

  1. The school website.
  2. The OfSTED report
  3. Facebook
  4. Twitter 
  5. Mumsnet

The above list is not an exhaustive list. Be aware that all of the above will be prone to bias; however, that being said, it is crucial to understand the context of a school before you apply. 

I am candid in my research. I will direct message multiple people that work at the school and ask honest questions, ultimately moving jobs is a big deal this research is invaluable. I would also ask people who work and live in the locality of the school.

That brings me to a visit; I do not apply for a role unless I have visited the school during school hours. The ‘visit’ is important because sometimes a shiny website and certainly an OfSTED judgement can mean very little in the grander scheme of thing. Remember you are committing to applying for a position which will take your time and more importantly, your energy. For that energy, I want to know that the organisation is one that fits with my own core purpose. H 

Their Vision 

While researching, create a vision for the organisation. Vison is where the school see themselves the final destination, it is typically dictated by the headteacher and senior leadership team, but evidence of the vision should be seen in the artefacts around the school and in classrooms but also in the pupils. How does the ‘vision’ translate to the pupils? This is why it is favourable to visit a school during working hours if you can’t see what you thought you’d see (from your research) do not be afraid to clarify and ask why? Or what that part of vision means to the person taking you on your tour. Understand your walk with the headteacher, you are likely being judged; believe me your questions are always valued.

It is essential to hold to your values here. If you feel that any of your values don’t marry up closely with the school’s, I wouldn’t bother applying when you have a clash of purposes; eventually, this can only end in tears for all involved.

Activity 1

  1. Find a job which fits your specification. Where, what, how much?
  2. Download the Job description.
  3. Open the website and read the job description and look for the content of the role. What will it entail? I went for a behaviour-based role in London a decade ago and fond the job description said nothing at all about the behaviour structure in the school. After scouring the website, I found the role was centred around restorative practices; this changed the way I wrote my statement.
  4. Pull out the threads in the website and from your visit, what is this school about? What do they actually believe?
  5. Make sure you answer the above questions in the language of the website.

This is Part 2 in a series Part 1 can be found here.

Finding your Dream Job.

Part 1: You

Some of you may have followed my journey. I have held various roles in schools; in fact, I have implemented leadership initiatives in every significant area of secondary school leadership, starting the midlands and then serving four different London boroughs.

During my career, I have interviewed and supported 100s colleagues into a variety of positions from CEO to main scale teachers. Over the last six years, this process has been refined into an art and science. No, I’m not going to guarantee you your dream job, but I am going to support you in putting your best foot forward. Hopefully, these resources help you, and if you want further support, please contact me for additional assistance here.

In applying for your next role, what is essential?

  1. You
  2. The School
  3. The Application
  4. The Interview

I will be breaking up the process into those categories.

YOU.

This is arguably the most critical part of the process. I could regale you with some leadership rhetoric and a quote from Lao Tzu’s Art of War, but I won’t, I will, however, talk to you about me. It took a long to realise that my purpose and happiness ultimately came from within; In psychological terms, this is called coming from an internal locus of control. As a Physics graduate, I had lots of options, I battled with the idea of working in the city, and as a petroleum engineer (I know, I know) for a long time before and after choosing to teach. Even then there were external forces dragging me away from something I truly loved (there more about that here in a piece I wrote for ‘get into teaching’).

Interrogation time, this process demand honesty and reflection.

Why are you looking to move schools? 

What will make you happier? 

What do you actually want?

The typical coaching conversation starts with the coachee’s ‘why’ and then the ‘what’ they think will make them happy. If you are reading this, you probably already know why, but this process is useful in the application and interview stages.

Let’s interrogate what will make you happy; this has to come from an authentic place; you have to know yourself and differentiate between societal pressures (external locus of control) and you.

Activity 1

Where do you draw your sense of self?

How do you gain joy?

What do you most enjoy doing in your role?

From the above questions, you should start to form an idea of your core purpose, psychologically this relates directly to your intrinsic motivation (Deci and Ryan, 2000). Intrinsic motivations are the things you do for the fun of doing them, where extrinsic motivation are the tasks we complete for external rewards. I am not saying that external rewards are not essential, but we know productivity, efficiency and *wellbeing* are all linked to the former.

This is the first step in the process I support my coaches with, do not skip these steps, everything, and I mean everything comes from this base.

Applying for jobs is a complicated process, especially you the higher you climb the ladder. Personally, a senior leadership position takes at least a week’s work. Do not apply for everything; you won’t likely have the energy to apply for roles you don’t want to work at or those which do not match your core purpose or your needs.

I have heard the Jill Berry say that sometimes the worst thing that can happen is that you accept the wrong role

Now your non-negotiables.

  1. Money. What can you afford to accept and how much would you expect to be paid for your next role? Yes, even as an NQT you should be negotiating your salary (there is a process to this too).
  2. Time. How far are you willing to travel? This is another resource based evaluation; the commodity of time is one that is typically forgotten in this process. I used to advise people to get a compass and use an A-Z; however, google maps is probably a much better place to start.
  3. Role. Which roles will you accept? Which position do you feel ready to take? Why do you think you are prepared for the challenge? 
  4. Type of School. Which schools will you work for? Which phases? Academies or Local Authority? Faith Schools? Independent? Single-sex or mixed?

This is Part 1. Parts 2 – 4 will be out in the next few days.

Sage, iSage and Schools

This thread comes from the Karam Bales, National Executive at the NEU, tweeting in a personal capacity.

SAGE have just released papers on schools.
Not a huge amount(well as much as I wanted)however it doesn’t support the government’s date and guidance documents

Nine models of increasing numbers were included, government hasn’t followed any of these 

Most important measure to prevent a 2nd peak is social distancing in and out of school.

The government guidance does away with the need for social distancing, a key concern for the NEU since 1st June was announced.

The government wasn’t following the science

 

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EYoC6UQWsAIeN_C.jpg

 

 

SAGE stress the importance of rotas on reducing transmission rates.

The government decided to scrap this from the guidance, I would assume because it would mean less time for parents to work

This change wasn’t supported by the science

There were a handful of studies around infection rates in children, it appears this was lower however the analysis says that this could be due to school closures meaning children had less exposure to infection. SAGE summary was that the evidence is inconclusive. 

Infectiousness of children
Of the handful of studies (many other international studies have not been covered) there were some studies that suggested children are less infectious yet once again the evidence was inconclusive. 

A study not cited here looking at Florida and China suggested that the main reason children spread infection is that they are more likely to have more contacts within 2ms, so even if less infectious as some studies suggest the extra contacts means they can increase RO 

What the SAGE scientists do believe is that increasing student numbers will increase RO even if they do turn out to be less likely to be infected and less infectious

It’s not just the epidemiologists but also the behavioural scientists.
Younger primary year groups have more contacts with others due to social distancing issues while 15-+7 year olds are less likely to social distance outside of schools and more likely to use public transport

(15-17 year olds*)
Unsurprisingly the more students in school the larger the predicted impact on RO. One telling point is that they cant be sure that ANY increase in student numbers will not increase RO over 1 and begin exponential growth of infections

Another thing they are clear about is the importance of having an effective contact tracing system. There is no mention of a proposed date, the modelling doesn’t support the governments choice of multiple year groups or guidance Today’s RO figure 0.7-1 shows this is a big gamble 

So in summary, particularly with social distancing fraying in public, RO what it is, and with guidance that doesn’t match the same caution as countries like Denmark, as the NEU have asked for…

It appears the science wasn’t followed, looks more like a plan for reducing furlough

Independent SAGE

Student numbers should not be increased until an effective contact tracing system is in place.

Once established local authorities should have control with direct access to figures around RO to quantify risks. 

Suggested that a system linking GPs, LAs and contact app could create a method where individuals could have a personal daily risk value taking into account their various vulnerabilities and infections in the community, almost like a personalised weather report, improving with data 

Effective contact tracing is very unlikely to be ready by 1st June, requires both people tracers and app to properly work.

Risk should be reducing every 2 weeks, unless social distancing and other measures crumble and reverse the trend in infections. 

Evidence for schools contribution to RO is mixed, but contact tracing will have an impact on keeping RO down

If downwards trends continues June 15th sees half the risks, a few weeks in July would mean risks would be a quarter, this is before taking contact tracing into accout 

As RO and number of infections reduces so would the need for many measures.
If we were to follow a suppression method then by September infection could be low enough that combined with contact tracing that social distancing wouldn’t be needed except when outbreaks occur. 

Outbreaks would also be tackled quickly before many are infected, this means people living with those with vulnerabilities and even those with them would have minimal risks in the community and schools could also consider having usual class sizes. 

This means we could be mainly back to normal but with small pockets of lockdown than social distancing at the local level.

Or we can have a reckless charge and go back to where we were a couple of months ago. 

In summary there’s lots more from both, in particular interesting policy suggestions from iSAGE, however both say opening schools without contact tracing is not sensible, and with current RO&guidence it really does risk a second peak and even more economic and educational damage 

What next?

Government should step away from an arbitrary date, accept NEUs offer for a collaborative meaningful workgroup of unions, central and local government to redraft the plans, and focus for now on those students who would benefit most from additional support 

Despite media attacks and spin, the plans and guidence were drawn up by a government that refused to engage with unions on requests for science and collaborative planning.

Without union pressure would the SAGE docs have been published before 1st June?

Here is Karam’s previous thread.


An executive members inside story of the NEUs attempts to find evidence based answers and to get an evasive government to engage in meaningful consultation.

Reckless planning could turn schools into hubs of transmission https://theteacherist.com/2020/05/17/where-is-the-science-on-schools/ …

 

 

 

The Power of Distraction – Covid-19

 

Black and brown people are dying at higher rates due to Covid-19. There are various sociological traits which make people of colour more like to contract and die because of the virus. Instead of recognising that these exist inequities exist, it seems as though the world has decided to obfuscate and distract from the real issues. 

The apparent trend here is 

  1. Denial: Remember the rhetoric around ‘The virus doesn’t discriminate’. How long did it take for the statistic to be released? Ask your yourself why?
  2. Victim blaming: Black and brown it’s down to personal choice; diabetes and obesity are down to eating habits.
  3. Distraction: BAME and PoC are more susceptible due to the vitamin D deficiency.
  4. Eugenics: These deaths are because brown and black people are genetically inferior.

The above steps are almost straight from the eugenicist handbook. Let people die, blame them and their choices and further your agenda.

 

What’s actually going on. Yes, there’s a link between being BAME, deprivation and diabetes, etc. BAME/PoC are also as likely to be doing the jobs that place them in danger; couple that with the fact that PoC are more like to live in deprivation and this leaves people having to choose between rent and their health. Here is an article which states that 1:7 Pakistani men work as taxi drivers 1:100 white British men. Social care workers, security guards also more likely to be people of colour. 

 

 

Uber drivers sue London’s mayorPrivate hire drivers commence legal action against London Mayor Sadiq Khan over congestion charge.https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47360402

 

The vitamin D levels impacting on the immune system has had it’s links as a brown man, I think I’ve known about the link between Vitamin D and our melanin for most of life. Since the 60s Ricketts and a basic science is nothing new. However, If vitamin D impacts our immune systems so badly, why does it take a global pandemic to highlight this? Do we not matter? Did we ever? 

Now to the problem with all the deductions from this data, it is all based on the fact that higher death rates are based on the premise that we are all treated the same in hospital and by society. I can hear people protest through the computer screen. Here is a government report

“As well as the elderly, there are also inequities in provision that particularly affect people with mental health problems from BAME communities. Do not be poor, black, old and depressed in England, because you’re very unlikely to get treated.”

 

The whole report is here civitas.org.uk/pdf/QuiteLikeH…

  The NHS is not an institutionally racist organisation, Pran, come on that’s a stretch these people are our heroes. Yes, I agree that these people put their lives on the line, that does not preclude any organisation from systemic damage. Let have a look at complaints against medics of colour, shockingly they are disproportionate, reported bullying is higher, civility in the NHS is a factor for saving lives. 

 

Here is some more reading there are a disproportionate number of referrals of BAME doctors in fitness to practise processes, these could be driven by poor induction and support, working patterns which leave them isolated and poor feedback by managers, research commissioned by the GMC has found. From the same study, some groups of doctors are treated as ‘outsiders’, creating barriers to opportunities and making them less favoured than ‘insiders’ who experience greater workplace privileges and support.

Poor support and isolation are factors in BAME doctors getting more GMC referrals Please when reading or sharing we all need to be more critical. As educators and people, we must endeavour to teach our children to banish the propaganda and look and strive for truth.

Leadership: Force Field Analysis

It’s the weekend and you a reflecting on the week to come and you realise that the future (short, medium and long) is dependent on a few select decisions you have to make. What is the process you think about? What goes through your mind when choosing a Pomodoro sauce or a passata base?

Do we as leaders apply the same process to change management and initiatives in our organisations? Is there an explicit process involved? The force field analysis model was devised in the 1940s by Kurt Lewin.

Fundamentally this is a more useful method of writing pros and cons list.

Start with your pros of the left and cons to the right but consider the forces involved in the process.

 

Forces for (Pro) Forces against (Cons)
 

Forces driving the change

 

Forces promoting change

 

Forces blocking the change

 

Forces resisting the change

 

Now rank each pro and con out of ten add up the score and evaluate whether the change is worth investing into. This is a great activity it really get you thinking about the force and people involved in an organisation, who will be your change agents? and how do you deal with the resistance from others?

The diagram below is an example.

 

forcefield

I have written about change management its implementation and planning here. The problem with all leadership work is that it can become oversimplified and reduced to rhetoric and in doing so it loses its value.

Lewin describes change following three stages unfreeze, change and then refreeze. The analogy is pretty simple. However, change is complex and I will come back to this later but for now, the force field analysis is how you decide that if it’s the right idea to unfreeze.

 

Further Reading and References

Picture credit: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_06.htm

Recommendations Part 3

Recommendations 

Theoretically, the transformationist approach, which is consistent with the emerging philosophy evolving from ‘sage on the stage’ to ‘guide on the side’ in higher education (King 1993), is supposed to be effective in the T&I classrooms. However, the reality is that some T&I classrooms may not be ready to welcome such an approach. Two obstacles may stand in the way. One is that teachers may hold mixed views of learning, instead of purely constructivist or situated learning views (Allen 2013, Klien 1996, Murphy 2000). The other is that misalignment is evident between teaching beliefs and learning beliefs (Brown 2009, Kern 1995 and Yung 2013 in Li 2017).

I have seen similarities in my work in moving people, along the spectrum from racist to anti-racist. I have found severe resistance (fragility), as views become entrenched through firstly anchoring bias and then a confirmation bias. Once toxic associations are formed even statistical evidence may fall on deaf ears. (Eberhart 2019, p23)

 

I have come to use and advocate an approach which brings people to the conclusion but does not seek to answer the question for them. Similar to Lauren Spring, Melissa Smith & Maureen DaSilva (2017) in feminist-inspired guided art gallery visits for people diagnosed with mental illness and addiction facilitators use VTS (visual, thinking skills), describes ‘VTS uses art to teach visual literacy, thinking, and communication skills–listening and expressing oneself. Growth is stimulated by several things: Looking at the art of increasing complexity; answering developmentally based questions (What is going on in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can we find?); participating in peer-group discussions carefully facilitated by teachers. (p. 19)

The dialogue around any facilitation in moving beliefs is of utmost importance, ‘Dialogue is more than a conversation; it is the building of learning the centred narrative.’ (Carnell and Lodge p15). If we merge these concepts together, the teachers should aim to fade into facilitators and enables groups of pupils to co-construct meaning.

Yenawine 2013 argues that VTS (visual thinking strategies) offers a ‘new paradigm that nurtures deeper learning’ and gives participants’ permission to wonder’ (p. 163). I would say it does more than this. This process takes time and refusal to become the all-knowing sage (reception model). No matter how many times the participants/students ask. While she (Yenawine) and Abigail Housen discourage facilitators from drawing any tidy conclusions or ‘wrapping up’ a VTS session by pronouncing which participant responses were most accurate (i.e. ‘yes, this actually is his wife’ or ‘the painter had indeed encountered analytic cubism in France before setting to work on this canvass’)  (Yenawine, 2013 in Spring et al 2017).

 

The constructivist ‘teacher’s’ role incorporates the context and lens of both the ‘teacher’ and the ‘learner’. Without an in-depth knowledge one own ontology, epistemology and their bearing on your beliefs, the job of a co-constructivist ‘teacher’ is near impossible.

Teachers should embrace a model of learning and practice which in part suits their learners, their personal experience and their core purpose, the first step in should be through a personal reflection in which they interrogate their experiences of learning as well as their ontological and epistemological background.

A high starting point is encouraging teachers to start to elicit personal reactions to the critical pedagogy of Paulo Freire who describes informal and formal education as dialogical; this dialogue is fundamentally about making a difference in the world.

 

Coaches/mentors should ask what is the purpose of education? Learning content (knowledge) and the skills to apply them are essential in today’s world. If we take a consequentialist view, and link education to employment and the current global capitalism in play in the world; this point is echoed by the world bank in ‘creating workers for today’s workforce’, Educators today are tasked with developing lifelong learners who can survive and thrive in a global knowledge economy – learners who have the capability to effectively and creatively apply skills and competencies to new situations in an ever-changing, complex world (The World Bank, 2003; Kuit & Fell, 2010 in Blaschke 2012).

 

Is this the sole reason teachers teach to enable pupils to enter the workforce? In my experience teachers as a whole would resist this as a basis and many teachers would hold similar views.

 

‘While such claims do stem from a concern about the ways in which teaching and schools can ‘make a difference,’ they are often linked to rather narrow views about what education is supposed to ‘produce’ taking their cues from large scale measurement systems such as PISA which continue to focus on academic achievement in a small and selective number of domains and subject areas.’ Biesta (2015)

 

A reflexive approach is needed, depending on the answers that surface.

However, this task becomes easier once you have accepted where your own learning has come from. Even a fickle surface level interrogation of your own beliefs can trigger self-directed questions around your position on the constructivist scale.

 

‘Given the nature of case studies, the findings of this preliminary inquiry may not be generalisable to a wider context. However, the value of this study lies in the fact that it inspires colleagues to research their own beliefs in their own teaching contexts and those of their students, and to understand whether those beliefs are enabling or detrimental to the design of a successful T&I course.’ (Li 2017)

 

Belief systems are resistant to change as the groups of traditionalist and progressives have reached a collective status, with both groups, hailing their idols and their respective villains. The issue in moving teacher practice may not be one of convincing someone to the advantages of the co-constructivist model but, ironically, one of asking them to accept and adjust their lens and their position in society.

 

‘How we are seen determines in part how we are treated; how we treat others is based on how we see them; such seeing comes from representation.’ (Dyer 1993:1 in Gilborn 2000)

 

It is vital to recognise one’s own beliefs, as Gilborn 2000 goes on to cite that through encoding, and limiting preferred reading (Hall 1990)’ representation does not reflect (in some neutral way) … instead support a particular idea.’ Which further entrenches these views.

 

Teacher trainers should also learn lessons from Twistleton’s 2002 dissertation, where she discusses three stages of teacher development, this work is centred around trainee teachers but has been extended to experienced teachers.

 

Task Managers– Through a self-identity which heavily influenced by their own experience as pupils, task managers appear to rely on a knowledge of educational contexts. Where they employ teaching priorities that involve authority, order and ‘busyness’, this is typically taught through the reception model.

 

Curriculum Deliverers-Their modus operandi involves a broader knowledge base than Task Managers. Curriculum Deliverers’ primary focus is curriculum knowledge. When working with groups of inexperienced teachers, it is tempting, as a leader, to put this at the heart of the teacher’s daily planning routine and core purpose. However, this is not the aim of teaching, as Counsell (2018) stated, simply distilling the residue of ‘core’ can ultimately lead to teaching being more difficult and detrimental to the whole process. These are also typically delivered through the reception model.

 

With the implementation of the National Literacy Strategy and the National Curriculum in the 1990s. Twistleton (2002) postulates that this possibly explains why there was a cluster of teachers as curriculum deliverers, which are generally traditionalist/behaviourist due to the constraints of time. Which pushes teachers, even those with a constructivist base, towards the reception model and traditionalism.

 

‘Instructors are torn between providing sufficient knowledge and facts to help a student become successful in the next course and delivery fewer facts but creating a learner-centred environment.’ Horton (2001)

 

The above is an extremely pertinent point at the moment with the profound changes to the secondary curriculum and movement to the grade 9-1 system.

 

‘[Teachers] have spent years improving their delivery of method, changing from the chalkboard to overheads, and lately moving to computer projection and online delivery. Moreover, as students they have taken standardised exams to measure learning. However, these teaching styles do not assist the student in becoming lifelong learners relative to a given topic.’ Horton (2001)

 

More and more teachers are forced (and remain stuck) into these categories (curriculum deliverers and traditionalist), through fear of the unknown. As a classroom teacher, middle leader or senior leader, mark schemes and specimen papers provide solace in a world where you know little about the nature of the new assessment framework. In moving towards a co-constructivist model, teachers need to be pushed towards concept and skill builders.

 

Concept/Skill builders – “… they saw the task as important only in so much as it contributed to the ultimate goal of an increased understanding related to the broader framework of the subject Insight allows the expert teacher to see deeply into a problem in order to seek the most effective solution. Selective encoding helps in selecting the relevant information to do this. This provides the expert with an insight into the situation, which will: a) enable her/him to make the most efficient use of the time available and b) draw on the most useful areas of knowledge.” Twistleton 2002

 

As a physicist who was taught for 18 years (for the majority) under the reception model, it is very difficult for myself to incorporate constructivist teaching into my own classroom. My natural tendency is to revert to myself as the font of all knowledge and students as being the passive receptacles of knowledge, through this assignment I have seen the merits of the transformationist, reflexive and interrogative approach.

 

Teachers coaches and facilitators should consider following:

 

  1. Creating awareness of the spectrum of the reception model to co-construction.
  2. Using techniques used in consciousness-raising activities like VTS, where facilitators do not seek answers but seek thought.
  3. An interrogation of the
  4. Teacher’s own experiences
  5. Their ontology and epistemology.
  6. An identification of the teacher’s core purposes.
  7. Ameliorate personal resistance to change.
  8. Appreciate all of the above factors in both the journey of the pupils and the journey of the teachers.
  9. Adapt practices as a result.

 

 

References

 

Carnell, E. and Lodge, C. (2002) Supporting Effective Learning. London: PCP

National School Improvement Network. (2002). Effective Learning. London: UCL Institute of Education. NSIN Bulletin. [Online]. Summer 2002, 17. Available from: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/83041.pdf …. [Accessed: 30th May 2019].

 

Abbott J (1994), Learning makes sense: re-creating education for a changing future, Letchworth: Education 2000

 

Blaschke, Lisa Marie. (2012). Heutagogy and Lifelong Learning: A Review of Heutagogical Practice and Self-Determined Learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. 13. 56-71. 10.19173/irrodl.v13i1.1076.

 

Campaign for Real Education (2019) THE TRADITIONAL AND PROGRESSIVE PHILOSOPHIES OF EDUCATION Available at: https://www.cre.org.uk/philosophies.html (Accessed: 30 May 2019).

 

Kirschner, P.A., Sweller, J. and Clark, R.E., 2006. Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching. Educational psychologist, 41(2), pp.75-86.

 

Wood, D. (2010). How Children Think and Learn, The Social Contexts of Cognitive Development, Second Edition, Oxford, Blackwell Publishing.

 

Whitebread, D. (2012) Developmental Psychology and Early Childhood Education: A Guide for Students and practitioners, Los Angeles, Sage Publishing.

 

Sugata Mitra (2013) Build a School in the Cloud. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud/transcript

(Accessed: 30 May 2019).

 

Steve Black & James D. Allen (2018) Part 5: Learning is a Social Act, The Reference Librarian, 59:2, 76-91,DOI: 10.1080/02763877.2017.1400932

 

Barbara M. Wildemuth. (1993). Post-Positivist Research: Two Examples of Methodological Pluralism. The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy, 63(4), 450-468. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4308866

 

Steve Black & James D. Allen (2018) Part 5: Learning is a Social Act, The Reference Librarian, 59:2, 76-91,DOI: 10.1080/02763877.2017.1400932

Miller, P. H. (2011). Piaget’s theory: Past, present, and future. In U. Goswami (Ed.), The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of childhood cognitive development (pp. 649-672). : Wiley-Blackwell.

 

Lauren Spring, Melissa Smith & Maureen DaSilva (2018) The transformative-learning potential of feminist-inspired guided art gallery visits for people  diagnosed with mental illness and addiction, International Journal of Lifelong Education, 37:1, 55-72, DOI: 10.1080/02601370.2017.1406543

 

Onwuegbuzie and Daley (2001) Racial Differences in IQ Revisited: Asynthesis of Nearly a Century of Research, JOURNAL OF BLACK PYSCHOLOGY, VOL 27:2. P 210-210.

 

Pajares, M. F. (1992) ‘Teachers’ Beliefs and Educational Research: Cleaning Up a Messy Construct’, Review of Educational Research, 62(3), pp. 307–332. doi: 10.3102/00346543062003307.

 

Pajares, M. F. (1992). Teachers’ Beliefs and Educational Research: Cleaning Up a Messy Construct. Review of Educational Research, 62(3), 307–332. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543062003307

 

Isikoglu, N. (2009). Assessing in service teachers’ instructional beliefs about student centred education: A Turkish perspective. Teacher and Teacher Education, 25(2), 350-356

 

Katherine Schultz, Cheryl E. Jones-Walker & Anita P. Chikkatur (2008) Listening to Students, Negotiating Beliefs: Preparing Teachers for Urban Classrooms, Curriculum Inquiry, 38:2, 155-187, DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-873X.2007.00404.x

 

Xiangdong Li (2018) Teaching beliefs and learning beliefs in translator and interpreter education: an exploratory case study, The Interpreter and Translator Trainer, 12:2, 132-151, DOI: 10.1080/1750399X.2017.1359764

 

Brett W. Horton (2001) Shifting from the Sage on Stage to the Guide on the Side: The Impact on Student Learning and Course Evaluations, Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education, 13:5, 26-34, DOI: 10.1080/10963758.2001.10696712

 

Lauren Spring, Melissa Smith & Maureen DaSilva (2018) The transformative-learning potential of feminist-inspired guided art gallery visits for people  diagnosed with mental illness and addiction,International Journal of Lifelong Education, 37:1, 55-72, DOI: 10.1080/02601370.2017.1406543

Gillborn, D. & Youdell, D. (2000) Rationing Education: Policy, Practice, Reform and Equity. Buckingham: Open University Press.

 

Twiselton, S. (2002). Beyond the curriculum: learning to teach primary literacy. PhD. University of Birmingham

 

Counsell, C. (2018). Senior Curriculum Leadership 1: The indirect manifestation of knowledge: (B) final performance as deceiver and guide. [Blog] The dignity of the thing. Available at: https://thedignityofthethingblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/12/senior-curriculum-leadership-1-the-indirect-manifestation-of-knowledge-b-final-performance-as-deceiver-and-guide/%5BAccessed 30 3. 2018].

 

Counsell, C. (2018). Senior Curriculum Leadership 1: The indirect manifestation of knowledge: (A) curriculum as narrative [Blog] The dignity of the thing. Available at:https://thedignityofthethingblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/07/senior-curriculum-leadership-1-the-indirect-manifestation-of-knowledge-a-curriculum-as-narrative/%5BAccessed 30 12. 2018].

 

Blashke, L. (2012).Heutagogy and Lifelong Learning: A Review of Heutagogical Practice and Self-Determined Learning . The international review of research in open and distance learning, Volume (13), Page61.

Jean Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development (2018). McLeod. (2018) Available at: https://www.simplypsychology.org/piaget.html. (Accessed: 30 March 2019).

 

UNESCO. Learning: The Treasure Within stresses the need for everyone to learn for four different purposes (International Commission on Education for the Twenty First Century [ICE], 1996)

 

Eberhardt J (2019) The New Science of Race and Inequality Biased. London: Penguin Random House UK.

 

Biesta, G.  (2015). What is Education For? On Good Education, Teacher Judgement, and Educational Professionalism. European Journal of Education, Vol. 50, No. 1, 2015 DOI: 10.1111/ejed.12109

Ideologies and Beliefs. Part 2

What are Traditionalist and Progressive labels?

 

The Campaign for Real Education (2019) summarises the differences between Traditional and Progressive education as follows:

 

Traditional

Progressive

Education should be reasonably authoritarian and hierarchical Education must be egalitarian
The curriculum should be subject-centred It must be child-centred and relevant
Emphasis should be on content Emphasis must be on skills
(Book) knowledge and accuracy are essential Experience, experiment and understanding are more important
Rationality and the consideration of factual evidence should predominate Creativity and feelings are more important than facts
Recognition of right and wrong Right and wrong depend on one’s point of view
There should be a product It is the process that matters
The product, or knowledge of content, should be objectively tested or measured Criteria provide a framework for subjective assessment or tasks based on skills
Competition is welcomed Co-operation must take precedence
Choice between different curricula and/or different types of school is essential to maximise individual strengths Entitlement for all replaces choice and differentiation; equal opportunities can be used to construct equality of result

 

‘The traditionalist approach, broadly defines teachers as the experts and purveyors of knowledge through controlling stimuli, either through positively or negatively reinforcement, and as a result, stimulus-didactic methods are popular in the behaviourist classroom.’ (Kirschner et al, p11)

 

Then Kirschner et al 2006 go on to describe various aspects of memory and cognition. This is, no doubt, of value; however, this does not address the holistic approach to education.  This is not congruent with the basis of the statement ‘to evaluate the present, so as to shape future action and formulate new knowledge’ (Abbott, 2000). Simultaneously without the facts and knowledge to perform an evaluation the whole concept of learning falls apart.

 

Here it is not difficult to see the links between traditionalism and the reception end of the spectrum. Traditionalist lessons are typically taught through the reception model where ‘the learner is a passive recipient of knowledge which is transmitted by the teacher.’ ‘it is concerned with the acquisition of knowledge, and with memorisation and with reproduction… while the emotional and social aspects of learning are not addressed’ (Carnell and Lodge 2002)

 

Examples of where this reception model is used are,

 

  • Terminal examinations GCSE/A Level
  • Standard Attainment Tests
  • National Curricula

 

 

Historically the standard of transmission of knowledge, using lectures, dictation and the teacher’s role as the ‘sage on the stage’. Any assessment measuring if pupils holistically, i.e. have learned to ‘live together’ or learned to ‘be’ are incredibly complicated, in comparison to assessing if pupils have retained and can reproduce knowledge on any given exam day.

While studying for this assessment I have found myself asking the questions of my own core purpose; My own epistemological view of what learning and assessment should look like. Moreover, where my personal stances, viewpoints and foundations have come from?

 

Did the traditionalism and reception model gain historical prominence because of the way teachers themselves are judged? This leads to how the pupils are judged? I would suspect that the assessment of pupil’s knowledge is more straightforward to measure than the change that education has made to their life? As the adage goes ‘what gets measured gets done’.

 

I, for one, did not become an educator to ensure all pupils receive a bank knowledge and achieve the following qualifications. Educators should first interrogate the purpose of their role if it is to prepare pupils for terminal exams, in which case basing their curricula around knowledge acquisitions and reproduction is a sensible course of action.

 

On the other hand, is the core purpose of educators to produce flexible learners who may use skills to adapt and use knowledge as a tool in their working lives, a different approach is required. If it is to empower them to make a global change, a completely different tact has to be taken.

 

Behaviourists and Traditionalists 

 

Behaviourist Howard Skinner’s (Wood 1998) secret to rapid and sustained learning is when positive behaviour is only subject to an intermittent schedule of reinforcement where the desired outcome is only occasional reinforced. He argued that formal education is based on ‘aversive control’, this leads him to criticise lessons and exams because they are naturally designed to find what pupils don’t know (to ridicule and punish them) instead of revealing what they do know and so we can build upon this — consequently teacher’s fail to shape pupil’s behaviours effectively.

 

This is reinforced by Wood in citing Pribram, who found that in animal studies that a monkey may continue to ‘play’ with a reward lever post satisfaction, to the point where the monkey’s mouth, hands and feet were full, the monkey then started to throw the peanuts at the experimenter, whatever ever the schedule of reinforcement we can speculate was this because of the fun of the lever? (Wood 1998, p4)

 

From my experience as a secondary school leader and teacher, the number of times I have caught myself using phrases like ‘grow up! you’re in year 11’ this is fundamentally flawed as this offers no journey for pupils to correct and build upon their known morality; It also recognises none of the pupils existing learning to build upon.

 

Are some of the pupil’s negative behaviours due to play? A process to check if the reward was intermittent? Alternatively, to have ‘fun’ with the boundaries of behaviour and classroom policies?

 

Whitebread likens this experience to human gambling behaviour if a fruit machine was to return half of your money every third spin the end financial results would be the same, however, but not nearly so many people would travel to Las Vegas for the experience. (Whitebread 2012, p114)

 

I’d argue that there are parallels here with all learning, including forms of adult learning (andragogy/heutagogy), during adult learning the rewards are often intermittent, I’ve spent hours on this very assignment only to delete large swathes of text because I felt it did not fit. Is that because I see the ‘reward’ as the number of quality words I write toward my word limit? This assignment is essentially my trip to Vegas and my slot machine.

 

‘The fundamental problem with the behaviourist approach was that it was characterised learning as an essentially passive process, consisting of forming simple associations between events, and being dependent on external rewards or reinforcements’ (Whitebread 2012, p115)

 

Thinking this through, the purpose of this assignment should not the word count, or even the M level credits (the result of a passive process), but the learning I gained through the process of reading and constructing and co-constructing my meaning from the literature. My mindset has moved towards seeing the slot machine jackpot as being the enhancement of my learning, experience rather than the result.

 

Do Teacher Beliefs Matter?

 

I am bringing this back to the personal ontology of teachers, where teachers who utilise the reception model tends to favour the positivistic ontology where truths and meaning are absolute. ‘… [Constructivist assumption] meaning that there are no ‘universal truths’ but rather that the way human beings make sense of the world depends on their personal experiences and perceptions.’ (Cranton and Taylor 2012, in Spring et al, 2017).

 

‘This [Positivistic] approach assumes that reality is objective, transcending an individual perspective, and that it is expressed in the statistical regularities of behaviour.’ (Wildemuth 1993)

 

The positivistic view described above is challenged by post positivistic view of research, where relativist approaches ‘assumes that reality is subjective and is socially constructed’. As a physics teacher, this really resonates,

 

‘Evidence in research is always imperfect and fallible’. (Phillips and Burbles 2000 pp 29-34 in Real World Research, Robson p22).

 

I will not regale you with nuanced details of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, but broadly, this means that there is a fundamental error in the position and momentum of a particle. The ‘truth’ cannot be fully known, this not due to the accuracy of recording tools but a fundamental error. Along with the phenomenon (Bell’s Theorem) that merely observing a particle changes it. This learning moved my stance and leanings, towards the relativist spectrum from a purely positivist one.

 

Teachers should all embrace their ontological and epistemological basis before entering the classroom. It was after university did I look explicitly at how I learn and how I decide what is acceptable as knowledge. As the ontological stance and epistemological viewpoint of a teacher will impact on their core purpose, their ascription to the traditionalist or progressive label and ultimately their practice in their classrooms.

 

Teacher self-identity [self-belief] is of paramount importance in this process, if teachers see themselves as task managers and that their primary role is to keep pupils busy, the connection between classroom learning and the world and beyond will not be made. (Twiselton 2002)

 

I am aware that teachers may hold mixed beliefs around traditionalist and constructivist spectrum. For this assignment,  the broad strokes of traditionalist and progressive, traditionalist, behaviourist, positivist, co/constructivist and relativist (or post-positivist) will and have been used. Recognising that multiple factors construct teacher beliefs, the word beliefs here is problematic ‘Disagreement still exists among researchers regarding the definition of beliefs’ (Pajares 1992)

‘Teachers with traditional behaviourist beliefs are more likely to employ teacher-centred practices, while those with social constructivist beliefs tend to resort to student-centred instruction’ (Isikoglu, Basturk, and Karaca, 2009)

It is not difficult to see that traditionalists are more likely to work on behaviouristic models and have started with a positivistic ontological stance. Teacher practices are generally the result of a negotiation between internal beliefs and the external teacher contexts. (Schultz, Jones-Walker, and Chikkatur 2008)

Legacy of learning 

 

The legacy of learner’s journey impacts the evaluation of teaching and learning, and this has a significant impact on school leaders, learners have preconceived ideas around delivery from their own experiences ‘Such a mismatch may lead to lack of motivation, adoption of surface learning approaches, resistance to certain teaching activities that do not align with their beliefs, and learning ineffectiveness or discontinuation of study.’ (Brown 2009, in Li 2018)

‘Students with memorisation-for-reproduction beliefs tend to have negative learning experiences in higher education and are uncomfortable with teaching approaches that do not correspond with their beliefs (Kember 2001, in Li 2018)

Those students may turn into the very same teachers who experienced a traditionalist/positivistic mindset in their schooling are likely to teach in the same manner. School leaders and trainers should bear this in mind when introducing any initiative which seeks to move teachers towards the co-construction pole of the spectrum.

Looking at the impact of these beliefs on learners is impressive; the misalignment of beliefs, the impact of such can have a more significant impact on learning approaches than the course design. (Campbell et al. 2001 in Li 2018).

Beliefs of teachers should be interrogated before any movement as although Li 2018 concedes that ‘although the findings of this preliminary inquiry may not be generalisable to a wider context.’ The real value is in the interrogation of teacher’s beliefs both as learners and as professional.

Earlier in the assignment, I asked  ‘Is that because I see the ‘reward’ as the number of quality words I wrote toward my word limit?’. I was also bought up in the UK under an education system in which behaviourist pedagogy was implemented; In my adulthood, I should endeavour to move my epistemology to the constructivist model where the learning process, the finding of meaning is the reward (and more ‘fun’). 

 

 

Teachers’ Beliefs and Philosophies – What is Learning?

What is Learning? This question has many answers, as it is rarely explicitly defined for or by teachers.

“Learning … that reflective activity which enables the learner to draw upon previous experience to understand and evaluate the present, so as to shape future action and formulate new knowledge” (Abbott, in National School Improvement Network, 2002, p1)

Carnell and Lodge (2002), define the conceptions of learning. These are widely echoed in professional circles; these are what the learner is doing while learning is happening:

  • Getting more knowledge;
  • Memorising and reproducing;
  • Applying facts or procedures;
  • Understanding;
  • Seeing something in a different way;
  • Changing as a person (Marton et al., 1993; Saljo, 1979).

In today’s teacher culture, two schools of thought exist, one which concentrates its attention on content (traditionalist) and the other which puts greater emphasis upon skills (progressive). It is easy to visualise the above points 1-4 being achieved by the sole transmission of knowledge. Where in achieving points 5 and 6 learners will have to embrace the learning and deconstruct/construct their lens and identity as a result. Points 5 and 6 will have to involve a change in the pupils epistemological and ontological stances; pupil reactions will not be addressed in this assignment. I would also point out that teachers will have to be flexible enough in their lens to allow for this to happen.

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization UNESCO (1996) define the purpose of education as:

  • learning to know;
  • learning to do;
  • learning to live together;
  • learning to be.

It is difficult to see how the third and fourth points, learning to be and learning to live together can be achieved solely through the transmission of knowledge. The first two points can be, and historically have been, taught in the classroom through a traditionalist approach.

Learning to ‘know’ and ‘do’ are essential, knowing is not necessarily based around the acquisition of academic knowledge, the knowledge that we have already is constantly growing and evolving (Carnell and Lodge 2002 p.8). Consequently, the learning to do is the ability to be flexible and to learn and work with others that is increasingly being required.’ (ibid. p. 9).

Models of Teaching: Reception to Co-Construction

Historically teaching has been based on a system of depositing knowledge from teacher to student, Freire refers to this as banking. Teachers are the bank of knowledge that student that withdraws from and incorporate this knowledge into their balance. Banking has and is taught through a didactic method of lecture, dictation and direction.

Do teachers and adults favour this method of learning? There are various examples of non-didactic teacher/sage led models of knowledge transmission in our society: The offside rule, how to play a computer game? How to build IKEA flatpack, etc. As adults, actually, as humans, in my experience, we rarely reach for the instructions. We construct between our interaction between ourselves and our tools, even when wholly stumped personally rather than follow rote instructions I am more likely to reach out to another human being for help, reaching for an opportunity to co-construct together.

‘Cognitive constructivism suggests that everything individuals learns is due to the mental schemes we construct as we interact with our environment’ (Schunk, 2016, in Black and Allen, 2018).

It could be argued that those people who would reach for the instructions first and foremost are also utilising the social interaction between author and reader and hence a social act. Black and Allen 2017 concludes that ‘learning is also almost always a social act’. (Black and Allen, 2017)

‘effective reading of texts as finding meaningful connections within the text that the author is trying to communicate to the reader, or between the author’s expressions to the reader and the knowledge the reader already possesses.’

(Kintsch 1986, in Black and Allen 2017)

I’d suspect in the reception/traditionalist model of an expert to novice, and the natural preference is towards the other pole of the spectrum (developed from Carnell and Lodge 2011).

Where Piaget explains that children form schema as fundamental building blocks of learning, these then interact with their experiences and environment to cement development — through assimilation, using schemata on a new entity, accommodation, adapting schema, equilibration where new schemata are formed as a result of the new entity being unable to be assimilated or accommodated. Assimilation and accommodation are rarely completed without the aid of the environment and people around children. (Jean Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, 2018)

“To do this (a generality of knowing), teachers need to be able to channel pupils thinking in ways that relate to contexts beyond schools and schooling, classrooms and classroom culture. They need not only to understand the concepts and skills they are trying to develop but also how they relate to broader inter-connected frameworks that are not limited by the boundaries of the curriculum or school.” (Twiselton 2002)

Learning leads to use outside the classroom but also it is intrinsically linked to the learning process within the classroom. This point is echoed by Dennison and Kirk who describe four elements in a learning process, drawing on the model by Kolb and Biggs and Moore (National School Improvement Network, 2002, p1)

‘This cycle highlights activity in learning (Do), the need for reflection and evaluation (Review), the extraction of meaning from the review (Learn), and the planned use of learning in future action (Apply). (ibid.  p1)

(ibid.  p1)

The ‘apply’ falls firmly in the realm of constructivism and co-constructivism. Learning is not confined to the four walls of the classroom it is ‘applied’ within the classroom context and the school and wider contexts. This is even echoed by traditionalist classicists who believe that race is a predeterminer for IQ and success. ‘Surely, one could not learn any cognitive skill, such as learning a native or foreign language, without environmental support. Even in Indeed, the most ardent classicists contend that heritability for intelligence lies between .40 and .80. Assuming this range is accurate, that leaves between 20% and 60% of cognitive ability to be explained by other factors, presumably environmental.’ (Herrnstein & Murray, in Onwuegbuzie and Daley 2001. P213)

My current work is primarily with adults, adult education, andragogy, is generally centred around the learning, the learning ‘to live’ and ‘be’ and as a result generally constructivist in its nature.

‘A key attribute of andragogy is self-directed learning, defined by Knowles (1975) as a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes. (Blaschke 2012)’

If we are to train teachers to teach pupils to be able to adapt in a future global economy; we must move to a more heautagogical model of education, where the aim is to develop capability as opposed to competency (traditionalist to constructivist) for the learner to self-direct and to engage in double-loop learning in both teachers and learners. (Blaschke 2012)

Double-loop learning has its parallels to Kolb’s cycle where learners do, review and apply but with the addition of a second loop in where the learning process changes/impacts the learner’s beliefs and actions for this to happen the learner has to be aware of their original stance.

A key concept in heutagogy is that of double-loop learning and self-reflection (Argyris & Schön, 1996, as cited in Hase & Kenyon, 2000). In double-loop learning, learners consider the problem and the resulting action and outcomes, in addition to reflecting upon the problem-solving process and how it influences the learner’s own beliefs and actions. Double-loop learning occurs when learners “question and test one’s personal values and assumptions as being central to enhancing learning how to learn” (Argyris & Schön, 1978, as cited in Hase, 2009, pp. 45-46).

Moving from Reception to Co-Construction 

There has been a movement towards two further models of constructivism and co-constructivism. Where meaning and knowledge are constructed from one’s experience, co constructivist like the name suggests meaning is constructed within a social dynamic.

Examples of where the models are used,

Reception ModelConstruction ModelCo-construction Model
Terminal examinations GCSE/A Level

 

SATs

National Curricula

Formative Assessment

 

Research Activities

Investigative activities

Problem- Solving dialogue between;

 

Dialogue between learners and learners.

 

 

Investigative activities

Problem- Solving dialogue between;

Dialogue between learners and learners

Carnell and Lodge 2011

Earlier, I described the activities within a spectrum of reception to co-constructivist where these two models are at the poles, where the teacher is seen as a facilitator at one end and the other end a holistic guide.

To construct and co-construct schema is a function of humanity, to find meaning in the context of the individual’s whole experience. Sugata Mitra’s project found that Indian pupils learned to construct meaning and learning and picked up a foreign language with no external support in various rural locations.

Sugata Mitra 2013, set up a computer in a hole in a wall and left and returned hours, weeks and months later,

‘And I went away. About eight hours later, we found them browsing and teaching each other how to browse. So I said, “Well that’s impossible, because — How is it possible? They don’t know anything.”‘

In an irritated voice, they said, “You’ve given us a machine that works only in English, so we had to teach ourselves English in order to use it.” (Laughter) That’s the first time, as a teacher, that I had heard the word “teach ourselves” said so casually.

Learners actually picked up a language, albeit with mispronunciations, through constructing a schema through their experience, in Mitra’s TED talk, he described learners first constructing and then co-constructing meaning together. They had utterly skipped the need for the reception model and the need for a sage on the stage.

Learning is a cognitive and a constructive act. That is, people actively build meaning as they learn. This perspective on how people learn is known as individual cognitive constructivism and is based on Piaget’s cognitive development theory. (Miller 2010 in Black 2017).

 

References will be included at the end of the series.

COVID -19: WHERE IS ‘THE SCIENCE’ ON SCHOOLS?

This is a thread from Karam Bales; In a personal capacity.
Saturday 16th May: government rewriting reality, changing the narrative@annelongfield ‘stop squabbling and get back to work”
@GavinWilliamson Unions need to sit down and talk to government, I want a discussion

These create a false narrative, I’ll explain why… 

Let’s go back to the start of the crisis.
Originally the government had no intention of closing schools, when herd immunity was THE strategy one advisor on TV suggested closing schools could be counter productive as it would slow the spread.
2/
 
Talking to reps around country I asked about staff absence, once 1 person went off with symptoms absence quickly escalated.
NEU were one of the first to call for closures weeks before lockdown, at the time we were made out to be over reacting, in hindsight we were spot on
3/
 
A week before lockdown the government were still saying they weren’t planning on schools to close,they did no planning at all for closures. This became blindingly clear when school closures were announced.
Lockdown statement said keyworkers only, then an hour later it changed
4/

School were to be closed except for keyworkers. The next question heads asked was, what was the definition of a keyworker?
Government didnt have a list ready, we will get it to you soon, this was Friday everything would have to be in place Dunday afternoon for Monday start
5/
 
Waiting for government to publish the list, heads got to work surveying parents, what about EHCP, households with 1 keyworker etc,there were a lot of variables, Saturday came and no keyworker list,heads ended up doing it all alone.
6/
Government finally released the list so close to Monday that if heads had waited there would have been no chance for heads to have prepared in time. It was the first of many shambles.
But it wasnt the only immediate issue the government has done no planning for. Safety.
7/
 
How to manage social distancing in schools? What other safety measures should be in place? Who is liable if it goes wrong? This wasnt planned for.NEU worked with leaders losing lots of sleep to draw up joint guidance with NAHT and ASCL, this was adopted by most schools/LAs
8/
 
Government did put out some basic lines, not enough, there was a meeting with the DfE where we went through the joint union guidence and it was agreed that it was sound and measured, its proven a strong document for keeping schools relatively safe during partial closures
9/
 
In my area the threat of Section 44 has been used alongside the guidence to ensure safety measures in a school were improved within 24 hours, but it’s another example of the gaps in government planning being left to others to fill.
10/
 
How long were we expecting schools to be closed? Well exams were cancelled and at the start many commentators were saying they expected schools probably wouldnt be open until September. Shielding letters were also sent out for 3 months.
11/
 
What else hadn’t been planned for?
Exam results: unions went to government to work it out, no plans,poor original suggestions, we worked together to put together something more reasonable.
NQTs&Trainees? No planning either.
12/
 
Free school meals: despite the current messaging of concern for the vulnerable and disadvantaged the government hadnt considered this group that’s particularly large due to a decade of austerity.
Heads had to press government on this (see @chrisdysonHT for a great example)
13/
 
Government provided little response at first,the heada started creating their own voucher system.Finally the government pulled its fingers out picking a provider of their choice and centralising a voucher system. Heads were told to abandon the hard work they’d done
14/
 
Government’s provider choice has been a disaster. Trying to order vouchers for pupils each day has been likened to trying to order tickets to a highly popular music festival, wake up early and keep hitting a button to find the webpage crashes, their own systems were better
15/
There’s been many more issues with the vouchers besides heads just being able to get them including a limited number of shops they could first be used in, to the vouchers not working when disadvantaged families have tried to pay with them at a till (imagine the humiliation)
16/
 
Remote learning: this is a big one,so with all this concern about children missing out on education youd think making sure there were standards for remote learning would be a key priority for the government? Nope nothing at first,schools left to make it up as they go along
17/
 
Because schools were given no warning they had a weekend to create a new online curriculum with no support from government.
The NEUs guidence for online learning has been misinterpreted (deliberately) in the media who say we are telling teachers to not do it. This is a lie
18/
 
The NEU urged caution regarding live video calls with students due to potential safeguarding issues and also protecting teachers from a range of concerns. We supported online learning creating guidence to fill the gap left by gov and created a microsite for parents.
19/
 
Apologies I said Friday for lockdown declared but it was Thursday, we spent that day handing out all our laptops and tablets to disadvantaged pupils, but there wasnt enough. Had the gov planned how to support these pupils? No, nothing was in place. Heads unsupported again.
20/
 
The Laptop fiasco: how long have we been in lockdown? For all that talk of the disadvantaged the gov still hasnt sorted out laptops.
Once again pressure from heads and unions got the sluggish gov to promisedlaptops and modems for student that needed it. Heads drew up lists
21/
 
Government set itself a deadline and then started moving it backwards. Heads sent their lists and then recieved messages regarding what they would be getting.
One head needed around 30 laptops and modems,got told they would get 11 laptops and 7 modems, repeated across England
22/
 
Heads were venting their fuery on Twitter ‘so how do I decide which disadvantaged students get access to remote learning when they are all in need’ were they supposed to start ranking students by deprivation?
Last I heard DfE said it would be sorted by June, priorities?
23/
 
Having left heads and unions to fill in many gaps gov had a few jobs to do to support the disadvantaged and they havent managed to do it, could just have set money aside and let heads order what was needed then schools in poorer areas would have benefited from more resources.
24/
 
The government has neglected its duty to the disadvantaged over lockdown to such an extent that the Good Law project is looking into legal action against them.
Notice the pressure on government has come from educators, unions and other groups.
25/

Right onto Reopening Schools:first of all its not reopening schools,its increasing student numbers,im sick of seeing people online and on radio talking about educators on furlough in their hot tubs drinking prosecco.(Heard this several times,trolls arent known for creativity)
26/
 
The moment schools went to partial closure we knew they would have to reopen.
What conditions would have to be met? How would it be managed? Which students? How many? How would safety in schools be managed? What was the gov thinking what evidence and modelling was it doing?
27/
 
After the debacleWHERE IS THE SCIENCE ON SCHOOLS? and lack of government planning there were concerns the same could happen with increasing numbers.
The NEU was also collecting evidence from studies around the world to inform risk reduction, compilations are on my Twitter account. We wrote to the gov.
28/
 
As with when we wrote to government before lockdown asking for their modelling around why they were saying schools wouldnt close we recieved no response to our evidence based questions. This was in first few weeks of lockdown and government was refusing to work with us
29/
 
2 weeks into lockdown mid peak sources within government started briefing papers that schools could return after the easter holidays, 4 weeks after lockdown started. This has been a reoccurring theme, gov refuses to tell unions and head anything while briefing friendly media
30/
 
I have a thread titled 8th April where I predicted schools would become a political battle,they are the key to reversing a lockdown the government never wanted to implement.I saw loose science being created, and solid studies being taken out of context to manufacture consent
31/
 
While an evidence base was appearing that although more likely to be asymptomatic children were as likely to be infected as adults and shed the same viral load,certain dubious commentators like Toby Young portrayed themselves as experts filling the airwaves with pseudo facts
32/
 
These alternate facts were amplified by troll and sockpuppet accounts and picked up by the governments loyal press and certain MPs.
“No child under 10 has infected an adult” which has been constantly parroted this week is proven to be false but is accepted as fact by many
33/
 
Seeing this narrative establish in the press, seeping into the public and picked up by government now briefing 11th May to papers the NEU wrote evidence based questions to the gov regarding their science and modelling supplying studies and asking gov to share its plans.
34/
 
For a third time the government ignored our questions and refused to respond.
Are you starting to see why Williamson’s statement that hes willing to talk to the unions and that we should engage has angered us so much?
35/
 
Michael Gove said three times during a press briefing that government was talking to unions, Johnson on his first day back promised to include all stakeholders in planning, for a couple of weeks ‘talking to unions’ was a regular phrase. It really is some great double speak.
36/
 
Oh there have been talks, some about exams for next year and pausing Ofsted have Ofsted productive and genuine,but when it comes to how and when student numbers will be increased and the government has been evasive and uncooperative,not sharing plans or genuine collaboration.
37/
 
(Sorry for Ofsted typo above getting tired)
While the government continued to refuse to share its modelling of risk and planning, Downing street spent more time talking to and briefing their loyal papers who floated possible phase structures and 1st of June date
38/
 
So while unions faced a brick wall the government continued to say it would give us warning and time to plan and told the press they were ‘talking’ to us. Increasingly worried by the June date in the papers, Kevin Courtney the NEU JGS had a conference call with Williamson.
39/
 

This was after Johnson had already recorded his statement, Williamson reassures Kevin that no date had been set, papers were briefed to say government were going to be cautious a date for schools was unlikely. Then that night the DfE this statement


40/
 

‘No date has been set’ ‘We will continue to work with the sector’ It even reference the NEU letter with hundreds of thousands of signatures.
NEU saw this as a sign of hope that their requests for modelling and collaborative planning would finally be met.
41/
 
That Friday papers began attacking unions,but with particular focus on the NEU, advice that live calling pupils could create issues avoided by other forms of online learning already misrepresented became ‘Union prepares to sabotage return to school’
It wasnt unexpected ⬇️
42/
mentions
Then Sunday statement came and it wasnt just setting a clear day that we had been told wouldnt happen that shocked us, union thinking had been increasing numbers by focusing on disadvantaged across year groups or older students more likely to social distance.
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Not learning from closure mistakes the guidence wasnt released alongside the statement. Initially on Sunday it seemed it was reception and year 1 first, year 6 shortly afterwards with yrs 10 and 12 ‘before summer’
Monday some guidence came out, year 6 would be back 1st June
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Infant schools only have reception to yr2, how is two thirds of students plus keyworker&certain vulnerable pupils a ‘cautious approach’. We had warned social distancing&staffing would be an issue so the guidence scrapped the need for social distancing and set class size to 15
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Mention of other countries increasing student numbers (with lower infections than UK) do have social distancing and lower numbers per class in their guidence. Government wasnt being as cautious as these other countries further ahead on the curve for many reasons
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Not following other countries and still without a test, trace and isolate system in place the approach seemed reckless. Government called the roadmap a sketch,NEU wrote to gov asking for the modelling and evidence underpinning these plans and to collaboratively redraft them
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As with the other three letters sent,we recieved no response! With the international research and education comparisons we had gathered the government guidance wasnt cautious and risked turned schools into major hubs of transmission, spreading into communities and risking NHS
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NEU always stated school closures are a public health measure to cut transmission rates and this is backed by the emerging science including the UEA report funded by the government via Public Health England which found school closures to be the most effective way to reduce RO
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With government refusing to share science or engage in a more cautious redraft the NEU was worries about schools being bounced into a reckless unsafe increase in numbers with asymptomatic children that could create large infection clusters in communities before being noticed
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Guidence was sent to NEU reps to pause local planning, this was a holding letter the government guidence placed legal liability for anything that went wrong directly onto schools and their heads, as the gov kept telling press they would work with unions we expected a redraft
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Press sold this as ‘NEU refuses to engage with government’ and the headline became fact in the minds of many, its glaringly untrue, as I’ve shown we’ve been constantly asking the government to involve us in planning, they are refusing to engage with us. Talk but not listening
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How are schools supposed to plan when the guidence is still changing without consultation?
Tuesday it changed without heads being informed, FE and Sixth forms must now open on 1st June and yr 10 and 12 must be going in, all primary students must also have a month in school..
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Before the summer holidays, so that’s yrs 2,3,4 and 5 in by mid June. The emotional blackmail by press and government that this is about the disadvantaged seems hollow considering the laptop fiasco and free school meal issues are still ongoing. Schools started planning rotas
54/
 
The guidence then changed again the other day that rotas to manage student numbers and reduce risk of transmission should not be used. Other measures that increase risk like breakfast clubs were reintroduced,the guidence becomes more reckless with everyday,time is running out
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Now heads have 2 weeks to rewrite their plans again and have to constantly check the guidence incase government changes it yet again without telling us. Despite press reporting NEU and other unions continued to call for meaningful meetings. We finally got one with advisors
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After initially confirming, Williamson then personally pulled out of the meeting (because his door is always opened?)before the meeting he said in parliament school openings and guidence had been approved by the scientists,later the same day DfE science advisors in a select..
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said they hadn’t been consultated over dates or guidence, but once outside the select committee which has serious sanctions for telling untruths the advisor released a letter than said the exact opposite to them. Also in the select committee he used the phrase ‘some studies’
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and ‘low confidence’ in regards to the science underpinning the governments plans. These same phrases were used in the union meeting with the science advisors, and in recent press briefings, the international studies the NEU has referenced have not been addressed in any way.
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They promised to publish their guidence to government on schools, the discussion notes and the studies that underpinned this. So far only the guidence has been released more ‘some studies show children are less likely to carry infection’ and mention of levels of ‘confidence’.
60/
 
Next day the ONS data showed that children are as likely to carry infection as adults,studies in other countries show asymptomatic children shed the same viral load as adults.These findings havent been addressed by government and they still quote ‘some studies’ in briefings
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Government continued to tell public they are willing to talk, papers label unions; NEU in particular, as refusing to engage, meanwhile in reality the government refused to reconsider which year groups, pupil numbers and a chance to redraft safety guidance collaboratively.
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Government has demanded confidentiality at all stages, now I need to make it clear at this point that this is my personal account and that this thread isnt an official NEU response, but I still need to be careful because I recieved a message from a whistleblower in DfE
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This will be denied but the shambolic thrown together guidence and comments by DfE science advisers and choice of year groups and reopening nurses gives it credence.
The DfE were bounced into increasing student numbers, they weren’t expecting it and weren’t prepared.
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The Treasury pushed them into this using its seniority, to maximise those getting back to work to save money and stimulate the economy. There had already previously been pressure for an even earlier return,(11th of May quoted in press a month ago?) There is much confusion ..
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and nervousness around this policy being arrived at in a rushed manner, the supporting data of infections and deaths is said to be nowhere near the governments original criteria (another thing NEU has asked for and been refused) they are keeping their fingers crossed the data
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will significantly improve. Remember the greatest concern around schools is them becoming major sites of transmission triggering a larger second wave. This would take us back to square one force another lockdown causing even more damage to the economy and students education
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Which is why the unions are still calling for the full modelling and underpinning studies to show the government has taken this into account. This interview by a SAGE data analyst in Saturdays Telegraph doesnt fill me with confidence.
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I’ve decided to do this now because not just is the government still refusing to reconsider collaborative redrafting the plans and guidance, there is a nasty disengenous orchestrated attack on the unions, NEU in particular.’Let them be heroes’ the Mail claimed we would force..
69 
members to stay out of schools. NEU constitution has a conscience clause, all action is voluntary, members have the freedom to ignore advice without consequence. We have this stance because it’s what the members told us to do, surveys of 100s of thousands of members have ..
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well over 90% approval ratings and educators have been joining in the thousands for weeks because they they feel we represent them. Nearly 2k additional members joined after Johnsons Sunday speech with around 500k members we do speak for the majority, although media seems ..
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great at amplifying the voices of those members who do disagree or have allowed themselves to be mislead by media misrepresentations. These are ‘unprecedented’ times and we’re in constant flux, misunderstanding and disagreements are going to happen,there are no easy decisions
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It also doesnt help when various dodgy doggedly pro government/vote leave social media accounts set up around election times and October to pressure around Brexit suddenly become angry union members despite no sign of an interest in education before hand, some had wiped their
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timelines. As my twitter account gains more attention I have attracted more of these accounts, ultra Brexit support and increasing student numbers had no logical reason for such an overlap on a venn diagram, theres also lots of new accounts from April and a May repeating ..
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fake science like children dont infect adults,there had been no infections in schools since partial closures etc
Even with limited numbers quite a few schools have had outbreaks and deaths which have been ignored due to being inconvenient for the government’s economic plans
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The BMA coming out in full support of the NEUs concerns and a similar statement by Doctors in Unite on Sunday night has caused them a headache, but some press and trolls are now describing the BMA as militant! Its about ruling by dictators and crushing dissenting voices
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(*dictat not dictators I’m not going that far but spell check thought otherwise)
It’s really nasty, government has been urging councils to get more keyworker children into school, they changed the guidence again without informing heads and unions. This is different to their
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guidence to the rest of the workforce. It means a keyworkers household where the other parent doesnt work can still send their children into school. I believe this is so they can say theres lot of students now in school so what’s thr issue with even more?
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Confidentiality and also protecting individuals means details must be limited, and it’s still a risk but some leaders have reported being threatened by some councils if they dont start increasing student numbers regardless of safety concerns. Been advised not to raise this
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but frankly nows the time to lift the lid. The press have launched into personal attacks against my friends and colleagues, continuing to say it its us refusing to engage for ideological and political purposes which is twisting reality by 180.
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When papers whip up hate ‘all the NEU cares about is school holidays’ ‘they are damaging our children’ these false emotive words dont just damage constructive debate they have real world consequences. At lunch time on the say the Daily Mail ran the ‘Let them be heroes’
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headline, describing the NEU as unrepresentative of members and a danger to children I personally recieved an eery anonymous death threat via a withheld phone number from what sounded like an older woman. So yeah my patience is running very thin.
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The NEUs stance has not been to keep schools shut indefinitely until a vaccine as media like to portray this as a binary choice between almost immediately increasing student numbers and waiting a year. Preventing a second more damaging peak is my primary concern, but we do
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feel a lot more can be done to reduce risk and wonder if the current infection rate and RO in many areas means June is just too soon. We are still asking to see the actual science and modelling, and then to collaboratively redraft improved safety guidence that more resembles
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the measures in other countries that those calling for the June date are constantly referencing.
We accept there will always be risks for now but we arent willing to accept unnecessary risks that could be mitigated, it’s not political it’s a public health issue about a second
85 
peak. If the government had a solid reliable strategy of test, trace and isolate up and running, if infections are lower we would have less reservations, putting multisystem inflammatory syndrome to one side for a moment if children are low risk, majority of students and
86 
parents do want to go back, we have to remember this is a public health measure and the impact of RO is the most important factor. If this can be shown and that schools can be safe (for a given value of safe) the NEU would love to come back to support students and families
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Afteral we have spent a decade campaigning for more funding, the need to address the SEND crisis that has emerged over the past decade, our concerns for a high stakes system that has seen a surge in student and staff mental health issues, the impact of austerity on the most..
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vulnerable and disadvantaged. We have a proven track record of raising these issues and when we have we were attacked as being political by same press and commentators ideological wedded to the government who are now claiming to be attacking us on behalf of the disadvantaged
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while intentionally misrepresenting us, relying on alternative facts they havent checked the validity of, ignoring growing evidence to the contrary and printing plain old hatchet jobs against good honest people I’ve known for years. Its interesting in the personal attacks
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against the GS and other officers they chose to miss out Robin our Vice President, I guess a well respected, incredibly measured and thoughtful head teacher of the one the countries top performing grammar schools doesnt really fit the picture of looney lefty militants that
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they are trying to paint.
So finally I come to Saturdays and the start of this writing.
@annelongfield said both sides needed to stop squabbling, engage with each other and get students back into school by 1st of June. Despite seeming to sound a sensible broker in the middle
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it makes the assumption that the governments decisions for 1st June are reasonable, well grounded in science no one has seen, and not reckless in any way. It also misrepresents the NEU as refusing to engage with government, ignoring out repeated press releases, statements on
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air and the 19 page report of evidence based questions to the government detailing the evidence behind them that the government refused to respond to.
We are still waiting for the scientific discussions and studies behind the governments thinking that we were promised, how
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can we issue advice to members of we dont even know the risks the government is willing for other people to take?
Unions are still asking for collaborative planning to redraft the guidence and the government still hasnt set up a meaningful consultation, as the headteachers
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union the NAHT, not known for militancy has said, the ball is in the governments court. We desperately want to engage meaningfully to reassure worried members, parents, and to know we arent rushing into tipping the country back into a preventable devastating second peak.
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So when @GavinWilliamson says his door is always open, and hes always been willing to meaningful talk that’s news to me. The government will seek to reassure us with words but it’s currently not willing to make any changes, in my opinion that isnt genuine talks it’s a handy
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line for the press to use on the public that the government is trying to be cooperative while its the unions refusing to engage for political and ideological reasons. They are treating the issue of safety in schools as a PR exercise rather than the public health issue the NEU
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and more sensible governments around the world know it to be.
Will the government release the science its following? Will it address the findings of international studies that schools are major hubs of transmission?
Will it sit down with all unions for real constructive talks
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where they are willing to make changes?
Or will they carry on regardless?
If they do just remember that if they and their loyal press and commentators tell you it’s the unions fault for refusing to engage that they’re being massively dishonest and are playing PR and politics
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We want to work with the government to protect communities, but that requires the government to level with us on the risks, and we appreciate the difficult circumstances families are in.

This is a personal private response and not officially endorsed.
END
2 appendix follow
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Appendix 1

Joint union response to the government, followed by virologists, public health experts etc all voicing their concerns that the current plans risk a second peak and links to lots of research
102/103

(Union) Baron Karam Bales@karamballes

People say you cant criticize the gov in hindsight for a late lockdown.
NEU were one of the first organisations to call for a lockdown, if gov, we were right then, we are right now, this is a reckless charge without proper safety consideration https://schoolsweek.co.uk/coronavirus-unions-urge-government-to-step-back-from-june-1-school-reopening-plan/ 

Unions: Government should ‘step back’ from June 1 reopening

Unions representing hundreds of thousands of school teachers, leaders and support staff have called on the government to “step back” from its plan to have some pupils return to schools on Ju

schoolsweek.co.uk

Appendix 2

Manufacturing consent for increasing student numbers before it’s probably wise too.
A prediction from over a month ago on how we would end up with what the press is trying to turn into a tribal political battle
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(Union) Baron Karam Bales@karamballes

8TH APRIL: PREDICTION
Within a few weeks opening UK schools will become a political battleground.

Initially the RW ignored Covid19, the propaganda machine focused on telling us it was scaremongering

When the truth dawned, they were left rudderless for a while.

Zero Tolerance but Full Inclusion

This is a guest piece from Rachel Tomlinson, headteacher of Barrowford Primary School. Rachel is passionate about inclusion, equity and kindness.

When I show prospective parents, carers and visitors around our school, I am always really clear with them that we have an unusual (for schools) approach to managing behaviour.
We don’t have a Behaviour Management Policy because the only person able to manage your behaviour is you. I believe to imply otherwise is harmful.
Rather, we have a Relationships Management Policy.

I used to get ready to launch into a full explanation, but often the wind was taken out of my sails as the parents and carers just nodded and said, ‘Well, that’s how I do it at home too!’.  For most parents, actually, the approach we take isn’t unusual, it’s common sense and blindingly obvious. It’s how most of us parent.

So that’s what I say now; we ‘just’ parent in our school– and I can enlarge upon it if they want to know more.

We are teachers. We teach. We teach children how to do ‘maths’. We teach them how to do ‘writing’. We teach them how to do art and geography and history and sport.

We also teach them how to be; How to be understanding and compassionate and empathic and kind and respectful – to themselves and others; How to be changemakers and leaders and challengers and supporters and creators; How to be themselves and by themselves and with other people.

Children are learners. It’s their job, their role, their key task.
They do it constantly. They do it because of and sometimes despite the circumstances they are in.

When children are learning to count, they often make errors and assumptions and try out their own ideas about how it happens. We guide and coach and support and acknowledge and praise. We teach the names of numbers up to about thirteen, but then, because children can see patterns and are confident to experiment, they try out the rest – ‘…fourteen, fifteen’ and so on. How many times have we heard children say ‘nineteen, tenteen!’? We intervene here, give them the right words so they can carry on and be successful until they get to twenty-nine, often they will stop and wait for us to do our bit. We give them the knowledge we teach them about the number 30. We don’t shout, we don’t get cross and we don’t punish them, instead we celebrate the courage to give it a go, to get it wrong and to keep trying and trusting the adults to help.

Why then would we do the opposite when it comes to behaviour?

Just like a child isn’t born knowing how to count, neither are they born knowing how to ‘behave’. They learn by watching people around them and by trying out patterns and experimenting with actions. It can be hard to learn appropriate behaviours for different contexts – what is ok when you are three suddenly becomes not ok when you are four and start school.
How do you know unless you get it wrong and support is there to give you the knowledge and skills to help you to put it right?

So just like learning to count, when a child gets a behaviour ‘wrong’, we teach, give them the knowledge, model and allow them to practice. We guide and coach and support and acknowledge and praise. We don’t punish.

When it goes wrong, as it does, as it should, we concentrate on the relationship and repair and what we can learn from it, what it teaches us about how to behave more appropriately. We talk about the consequences and taking responsibility for our actions. We have a relational, restorative approach.

We have lots of children – as does every school – who have an insecure sense of self and a heightened response to threat or rejection because of their individual circumstances and situations.

So we concentrate on our relationships with and between children and staff and we use the high levels of attunement we have with our children to enable us to structure learning and experiences, teach skills to prevent, and, when necessary, challenge harmful behaviours in a supportive and calm manner with a focus on the reparation of the harm caused.

We use a restorative approach and support the children to take responsibility for their own actions.
This bit is essential. We acknowledge the conditions, the emotions, the contributing factors through discussion but ultimately, our behaviour and our actions are our responsibility.

Therefore, it is our responsibility to repair the harm and restore the relationship. Children are coached and guided and supported in this, but they are made very clear about where the responsibility lies – with them, not the teacher, not the lesson plan.

There is an absolutely consistent approach to this – there is zero tolerance of harmful behaviours and attitudes but unconditional regard for all children (people) and their stage of learning and emotional maturity. Each time harm has been caused; discussion is facilitated sensitively and with understanding but without judgement. It is responsive, and all involved are given the space and time to become regulated enough for it to happen successfully.

It is not an easy or a soft option; it is difficult, time-consuming, emotionally challenging and exhausting but it is worthwhile, creates trusting relationships, makes for a safe affirming and kind space for children and adults, supports positive mental health and ensures that every person feels of value. And it works – our community is empathic, self-aware and celebrates each individual.

And each time, everyone involved grows. Because ultimately, we all learn from our experiences.