ResearchEd review of presentations

Praxis – a new platform to promote professional development through research inquiry.
Chris Brown A teacher of Science as well as an academic research at Cambridge University
 
Speaker discusses a possible mechanism for enhancing teacher led researcher into the classroom. The website Praxis has been developed to act as a forum for teacher research to be shared across a wider field as well as facilitating access and engagement in the praxis reflective cycle.
 
My Thoughts – What is being suggested is anecdotal and highly subjective due to large discrepancy on how individual research is conduct and reviewed. Therefore, work is valueless as no institutions will accredit or validate findings. Teachers do not feel valued when completing this kind of research. We need close, working, academic relationships with educational researchers. 
 
Chain effects? Impacts of academy chains on performance of disadvantaged students. 
Becky Francis, educational and statistical researcher at kings college.
 
A systematic review of academy chains from 2012 to 2015, measuring impact on disadvantaged pupils relative to peers in  mainstream schools. Conclusion, in general more academy chains are having a negative effect on the progress of their students in comparison to mainstream (LEA led schools). How did this situation arise? Many academy chains were allowed to expand far too quickly on unjustified evidence. Why was this permitted? London chains, improved returns for pupils, therefore policy makers assumed that this would also be reflect for the rest of the UK. What happened? Policy makers did not anticipate the huge variation of context across the country.
 
My Thoughts – Concerning trend of acting too early due to the short time frames between the electoral period. The damage of these reforms is likely to exacerbate the educational inequality within communities as resources and students can no longer be evenly distributed. We need a context driven approach where teachers and schools let other know what they need.
 
Flip the system 
Rene Kneyber, teacher, policy consultant, academic researcher and author (He says, all teachers should have these options)
 
A theoretical and philosophical discussion about how our educational system should be structure. Speaker opens by showing a the EduPolitical system where all information, how to teach, learn and manage schools is all disseminated from the top. This results in the de-professionalisation of the teachers as they have no freedom or mobility to explore their role. Therefore, in general returns for students are poor. Rene suggests that ,like Holland, the UK needs an educational system that is informed by those people stood at the chalk board who understand the context. When they ask or identify weakness, leaders then respond and government does what it can to support them. Subsequently, bring professionalism back to profession and empowering all teachers to take ownership of their own profession because what they do has real value.
 
My Thoughts – An inspiring speaker who made the point very clear. If education is so subjective and context specific, what we need is information directly from the chalk board. So, why are there no teachers currently in the whitehall to inform policy? I feel a bit tired of listening to the continual changes to the educational system which come from political ideologies as opposed to what is need in the class.
 
Using behavioural insights to improve education 
Raj Chande, researcher at PhD students for the behaviour team.
 
Research identifies how small changes in the patterns of behaviour can result in huge returns. The behaviour teacher have recently focused on sending a text home to parents when there child has an assessment coming up a week later. They found that simply sending a text home to parents saw performance increase by 10-20%. So, simply texting parents to let them know there son or daughter has an assessment costing £2 saw progress accelerate by 2 months, with greater returns for low ability students. 
 
My Thoughts – Very inspirational speaker who showed the power of changing the small things. The investment required per pupil to receive the level of gains that were being made was very impressive. I am dubious as to who is going to take the administrative role of the whole process. 
 
The five big policy changes for the new government 
Sam Freedman, Senior advisor to Michael Gove and Executive director at Teach First.
 
  • Resources: £3 Billion cuts to schools funding over 5 years. LEAs will disappear, early years and 16-19 interventions squeezed the hardest and will most likely disappear.
  • Infrastructure: More regional school commissioners – targets more academies and chains, lift coasting schools, not sure on other roles yet. Results so far suggest that they have had a poor impact.
  • Teacher supply: Teacher shortage, falling grad numbers, weak wages in education push potential teachers elsewhere. Crude incentives system which does’t support recruitment or retention. Student loans for PGCE is wasted money, all training should be free.
  • Leadership: 50% of heads will retire in the next 10 years. No good training provided to train people to become outstanding heads.
  • Expertise: Lack of quality professional development, teaching has suffered massive de-professionalisation. Lack of management training means people squeeze rather than effective manage makes working conditions worse. 
My Thoughts – High expectations, no resources; a dwindling recruitment field which lacks the ability to produce future leaders. Not great, expect to be squeezed as 25% of the education budget is being wiped away! Every school will feel this. 
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Teacher wellbeing, workload and mental health. The distorted picture.

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In 1997 G.Brown handed over fiscal control of interests rates to the Bank of England. This move came to increase stability, prospects and growth of jobs to provide for the people. Before this, we saw a turbulent period where interests waved around as a gesture of political power. Education is currently experiencing the same political gesturing, this is generating a turbulent work place. One which is great impacting the wellbeing of our teachers.

Policy makers have no idea, school leaders are focusing to much on teachers and teachers are desperately trying to meet the needs of everyone. Nicky Morgan’s decision to introduce the “work load challenge” implied a complete lack of government understanding of the new pressures that reforms are having on teachers. From these reforms schools leaders told to increase the resolution on what is happening in the school. Finally teachers are adding these pressures on to their packed schedules.

On the ground interviews

Three perspectives: Teacher, Policy, Leaders

Leaders: When discussing the issue with Leaders of schools it became clear that the type of work which people are expected to complete hasn’t changed, but it the accountability which is causing the difficulties. For example, come to work on time, plan lessons, teach lesson and mark books, then get paid. Heightening accountability has resulted in the “same” work load, but significant increases in scrutiny. So, what’s happening is workload is increasing because practitioners are now fine coaming their practice to meet the new established accountability measures.  What are senior leaders doing to support staff?

Policy: Policy reforms need justification and these justifications comes from the impact which is associated to changes in quantitative data. For example, the transition to the Ebacc is a simple policy that will provide students with an enriched education. However, teachers are bending over backgrounds to make these changes real and bridge the gap between reality and government. The relative enriched of Ebacc reforms has been shown to be limited, so what is actually being implemented is an ideology that doesn’t take into account what is happening in the classroom. This begs the question, why are teachers no guiding reforms?

Teacher: Simply, workload is increasing this distorts where progress is being made. All teaching staff are experiencing a workload increase, in the majority of cases all staff attribute this increase to senior leadership heightening accountabilities on teacher performance. For example, performance related pay, learning walks, work scrutinises, seating plans, lessons plans, data tables, qualitative person reviews, class analysis regular progress reviews. All these new management strategies to monitor performance force staff to fine comb there work, this drastically increases work load. Unfortunately, this results in staff spending more time on making the learning relevant for the leaders as opposed for the students. Therefore, reforms are putting more emphasis on the teachers which detracts emphasis from the children.

Summary

It is clear that changing accountability measures across the industry has resulted in significant increases in work load. Not because the job has change but the scrutiny to which professionals are now expected to work under have. This accountability forces teachers to focus more on their own work and how it looks to SLT/ofsted in comparison to focusing on the best outcomes for the students. By using accountability measures the government is demanding increased control within every classroom, should we be concerned by this? What is clear is that educational leaders are detached from the actual pressures of the classroom.

Reading:

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/series/teacher-wellbeing-2014

http://teachersupport.info/sites/default/files/downloads/TSN-teacher-wellbeing-research-of-the-evidence-summary-2009.pdf

http://www.nasuwt.org.uk/MemberSupport/MemberGroups/HotTopics/TeacherWellbeingSurvey/NASUWT_004640