When you begin to take part in discussion about your setting and when you begin to write assignments you will need some basic information about your school to provide contextual background. It would be useful if you could collect this information and have it to hand over the opening weeks of the course.
Over the last two weeks BBC2 have screened ‘No More Boys and Girls – Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?’ and it is also available on iPlayer until mid September. You can read more about it here.
Dr Javid Abelmoneim poses some of the most profound questions facing the UK today. Is the way we treat boys and girls in childhood the real reason we still haven’t achieved true equality between men and women in adult life? And could stripping away the pink and blue – and the other more subtle ways that boys and girls are shaped to be different – be the way to raise kids with abilities and attitudes that are the same regardless of their gender?
In two hour-long programmes, Dr Javid sets out to find answers in a bold but simple experiment. He is taking over Year 3 in Lanesend Primary School on the Isle of Wight, aiming to remove all differences in the way boys and girls are treated and to see if, after a term of gender-neutral treatment, he can even out the gaps in their achievement across a range of important psychological measures – from self-confidence to emotional intelligence.
Dr Javid Abelmoneim poses some of the most profound questions facing the UK today. Is the way we treat boys and girls in childhood the real reason we still haven’t achieved true equality between men and women in adult life? And could stripping away the pink and blue – and the other more subtle ways that boys and girls are shaped to be different – be the way to raise kids with abilities and attitudes that are the same regardless of their gender? Dr Javid is taking over Year 3 in Lanesend primary school in the Isle of Wight, aiming to remove all differences in the way boys and girls are treated and to see if, after a term of ‘gender neutral’ treatment, he can even out the gaps in their achievement across a range of important psychological measures – from self-confidence to emotional intelligence.
Before he begins, he wants to understand what the kids themselves think – and their comments are shocking. Aged just seven, these kids have already absorbed the idea that boys are more important than girls, that strong is a word than only applies to boys and that the only thing that girls are better at than boys at is being pretty. As a doctor, Javid knows that there are basic biological differences between the sexes, but he believes our biology can’t fully explain why men and women’s life chances in the UK are still so unequal. He believes that how we treat our children in childhood has to be the deciding factor – and the latest research in how brains develop backs him up.
A visit to Prof Gina Rippon at Aston University, one of the UK’s leading experts in brain imaging and neuroscience, reveals that there is no such thing as a male or female brain type. Instead the brain is a plastic organ, shaped and moulded by experiences in which childhood is key. Giving boys and girls different toys to play with and different experiences as they grow up means that the genders develop different skills and different behaviours. So in theory, giving kids a childhood in which their gender doesn’t define how they are treated should enable to them to develop more equal abilities and attitudes – and ultimately allow them to forge their own paths in life regardless of their gender. But to be sure that his changes really do make a difference, he commissions Dr Stella Mavroveli from the psychometric lab at University College London to record what level of difference there currently is between the boys and girls across the spectrum of school subjects, but also in a range of behaviours and psychological traits from confidence and self-esteem to empathy and social skills. However much he was expecting to find differences between the boys and girls, Dr Javid is shocked by the test results. Girls show a consistent pattern of underestimating their academic abilities and lack confidence and self-esteem in comparison with the boys, while the boys demonstrate a worrying inability to express their emotions in comparison with the girls. The test results are enough to convince class teacher Graham Andre to adopt a broad range of changes and to eradicate from the classroom anything that reinforces the idea that boys and girls are fundamentally different. From the books the kids read to the way they are spoken to, the mission is to emphasize to the kids that gender makes no impact on what they are capable of achieving.
To achieve deeper transformation, Javid designs a series of focused interventions to target some of the children’s mostly deeply held views – from transforming their view of which jobs men and women are able to do to shocking them with the fact that contrary to what they have always believed, girls at their age are just as strong as boys. An emotional breakthrough for shy and under-confident girl Lexi convinces Javid his gender neutral approach is starting to work, but if he is to achieve real change he realises he is going to have to take his mission out of the school gates and into the kids’ home lives.
Out of school, Javid is astonished at how much childhood has changed since he was growing up. Clothes and toys have become a tsunami of pink and blue – ensuring that boys and girls play with toys that encourage very different behaviours. Boys playing with construction toys develop spatial awareness skills that girls simply don’t while surrounded by princess play outfits and dolls. He challenges the parents of Mr Andre’s class to clear out all of the gendered toys and clothes – and to change the way they divide housework and childcare. Will the parents get on board? And will Dr Javid’s gender neutral mission have produced meaningful change when he repeats his tests at the end of term?
How do the experiences shown in these episodes relate to your school and the pupils you support?
The University of Northampton
Boughton Green Road
In September we will be moving to a new campus in the centre of Northampton called Waterside. We will keep you informed about the move and the new location during 2017/18. You can see more about the new campus here.
If you have not been to your venue before you should try out the journey so that you are ready for the first visit in September.
There is parking available at both venues. At Devonshire Place you can access the car park via Prebend Street. At Park Campus you can access the student car park but during the early weeks of the course you will need to apply for a barrier card. There is more information about travel and parking at Park Campus here. You might also consider public transport to both venues.
As a student of education there are many sources that you use to gather information to support your studies. As you begin your course you will be introduced to university resources to help you access academic books and journal articles that will be crucial to your study. before that though you can look around for other sources of information and research.
This evening, for example, there is a documentary on Channel 4 called ‘Excluded at Seven’.
Inclusion and the management of behaviour is an issuer of concern to everyone who works in education. If you watch this documentary try to take an objective view, rather than a subjective or emotive view. Ask yourself how the scenarios shown relate to your experience and also how they relate to your school policy and education legislation.
There is a link here to take you to the government’s School discipline and exclusions information page.
On the radio there are more opportunities to begin to think about areas relevant to your study. A series called ‘Bring Up Britain’ on Radio 4 explores issues such as nuturing critical thinking in children, raising happy children and summer learning loss in the summer holidays. There is a list of episodes here. You can browse this list and find a few that interest you to listen to.
As you watch and listen remember that these are sources made for an audience of the general public, not for students who are studying education. As a student of education you need to consider where the information that underlies these documentaries comes from and how reliable it is. In some of them, or in the supporting information about them, you will find reference to research and academic studies and it is these that you should find and read to more deeply into the subject.
Look out for other interesting opportunities to broaden your knowledge and understanding of the wider world of education on Tv and radio.
Some of us who teach on FDLT, BALT and other education courses along with students and local teachers are part of an Erasmus+ project called Digital learning Across Boundaries – DLAB for short. We are working with educators in Belgium, Denmark and Norway.
In May we are sharing a free online course based around our theme this year; using digital technology to support learning outside. The materials will be based around our themes:
art in the environment
You can read more about the course and sign up here.
If you are working in schools you will be able to access stimulating and creative approaches and activities that you can use with your pupils. Part of the course will be based around online sharing of activities and outcomes through a Google Community.
The project has a twitter account: @DLAB_Erasmus and a website where you can find more details and examples from the project.
Do you or a colleague want to join our next cohort preparing for assessment of HLTA standards?
We are currently recruiting for the summer cohort in Northampton which starts on 28th April. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call the HLTA office on 01604 893527 for more information and an application pack.
We look forward to hearing from you – please pass this message on to anyone who may not follow the blog or print the flier out for your staff board. HLTA factsheet Dec 16 v2-1pf6zmb
Last week two Foundation Degree Learning and Teaching (FDLT) groups took part in conversations with students in Mexico and UN alumni in Brazil.
The first part of the conversation was focused around asking and answering yes/no questions to find out where in the world they were within a Skype call. The rest of the conversation explored comparisons between the education systems and school life in each country. Over two days students made contact with educators and alumni to discover how FDLT students could enrich their own work in UK schools. Dr Brenda Padilla, part of the Faculty of Psychology from the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo Leónin in Mexico, has blogged about the experience which enabled her students and ours to discuss aspects of classroom differentiation, educational politics and course modules. Whilst Carolina Andrade a former UN student working in São Paulo, Brazil was able to reflect on her learning experiences with FDLT students.
Across the two days students took part in Changemaker workshops and presentations faciliated by Liam Norton, Abi Wicks and Marie Alty. Also our Skype Guest Speaker Yvette Thomas Head of Equalities Children’s Social Care and Learning for Buckinghamshire County Council, encouraged FDLT students to see the classroom as a ‘Window to the World’ in an attempt to work with partners in other countries.
As part of their PDT 2016 module focused on enriching learning beyond the classroom and school site the FDLT Y2 (UN) group investigated using ipads and apps to create the experience of visiting other times and places.
The students worked in groups. First they identified a time or place to use as the basis for a short film or animation. Some of the suggestions and senarios they worked from are on this Padlet.
The students had to devise a scenario or story to explore and then research to collect still images and / or video to use as well as write a script for the scenes they would record. Some students chose to explore history: the founding of the city of Rome, the moon landing, Egypt, mummification; others explored science: the seasons, the body; some explored places: the jungle, going on safari and others explored a festival: Diwali. Their films can be seen here on a YouTube playlist.
The opportunities for learning are wide ranging when working in this way. In order to make an informative and worthwhile film the students (or pupils) have to research purposefully for visual sources such as images and video or make their own where none exists. They have to plan and write notes and script for their oral contributions. They often have to make props and artefacts to use in their film. Some of them also used other apps to add to their film such as Chatterpix, pic collage and photo editor apps. Throughout they have to collaborate and work as a team to reach an end goal. The resources used to support this session can be accessed via the Padlet above.
In this session the students had freedom to explore and work with the tools in order to learn how to use them. Some students were familiar with them from supporting pupils with them back in their schools. Supporting pupils to use digital technology creatively and embedded within their learning is an effective way of changing pupils from passive users of technology to makers and creators with control over what is produced.
Last week the latest issue of the School Inspection Update was issues by OFSTED. It referred to the deployment and use of Teaching Assistants (TAs) and this information may be of interest to you. It draws on newer research published by the Education Endowment Fund (EEF) published since their guidance report Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants
It reports on seven projects where “TAs delivering structured interventions to
pupils who are struggling with literacy and numeracy. All seven projects have shown
a marked positive impact on pupil’s learning, typically adding around three to four
additional months’ progress, and creating a compelling case for action in schools” (OFSTED, 2016, p12). You can read about the projects here. You can download a pack of free practical resources here. The resources may be of interest to you as students, TAs and HLTAs although they aimed at schools.
In the OFSTED update it is suggested that these areas should be considered by OFSTED inspectors as they inspect schools:
How do senior leaders ensure that TAs are deployed effectively in line with
Are TAs supplementing the work of teachers or replacing them?
Is there a well-planned programme of training and support for TAs who
deliver out-of-class interventions?
These are questions you might like to consider in relation to your own roles.
On BBC Radio 4 ‘More or Less’ examines the data behind the headlines. Tim Harford responds to listener questions, seeking experts to deconstruct the research and statistics that underpin what we read in the media.
As students you often hear us say “return to the primary sources” and this is what happens on ‘More or less’.
Last week one of the items referred to headlines in the popular media about teacher retention. You may have seen these yourself. In particular the listener refers to this page on the BBC news website linked here. . In the edition broadcast on 11th November 2016 the issue was discussed. You can listen to it here and it begins at 11.00 minutes in. It also refers to an earlier investigation of the same sort of question from 2015 which you can listen to here. I’m not going to tell you here what the verdict is – you can listen for yourself. I will just say that you might be surprised!
This confirms that it is important for all of us to consider what we read and hear in the news critically. For you as students it reinforces that need to track down and evaluate primary sources for yourself.