‘It’s our job to take the limits away’: A case study approach to exploring culture of teacher expectations in an English secondary school

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Education Research from UWE reaches around the globe…

In this article, Dr Smith draws on her doctoral research, carried out in the Department of Education and Childhood at UWE, investigating the beliefs and practices of high expectation teachers.

Although Dr Smith’s EdD thesis was only submitted recently, it has already had global reach. One of her supervisors, Dr Richard Waller received an unexpected email from a researcher at the New Zealand Council for Educational Research who wrote to say how impressed he was with the quality of Dr Smith’s research.

Having only had my thesis revisions accepted in June, I am still somewhat in a haze and only just beginning to reflect on my doctoral journey. I began my professional doctorate in education with a keen interest in extending my understanding and in improving practice: I wanted to generate professional knowledge that would have real impact. Achieving that goal was without doubt a challenging, but incredibly rewarding and enriching experience.

My professional interest in my research project was born from a sense of social injustice. Having taught in the state sector for over twenty years, I have been increasingly troubled by the concept of labelling and notions of fixed abilities that are prevalent in our education system. From the earliest stages of formal education, teachers are required to make predictions about future development of the children based on present attainment, as well as determining students’ academic ability. Children from lower socio-economic groups and from particular minority ethnic groups are over-represented in lower sets and streams, and allocation to these groups does not always match the level of ‘ability’ as designated by test scores. As children progress through school, attainment gaps widen between children from lower socio-economic groups and their peers, suggesting that schooling exacerbates inequalities in educational attainment.

This sense of injustice led me to explore the beliefs of ‘high expectation teachers’, and the practices through which teachers aim to build an inclusive learning environment, in addition to the ways they develop strategies that do not rely on pre-determined ability labelling. This exploration led me to understand that what constitutes a ‘high expectation’ teacher needed to be investigated from particular locations: through government policy; through theoretical models; through professional regulation and performance management, and through notions of professional identity. I learnt that these positions sometimes overlap, but at times, also conflict with one another.

The case study design of my research is focussed on one phenomenon, that of the beliefs and practices of high expectation teachers, and one bounded case illustrates the phenomenon. The case is specific, and bounded by time and location. It is intended to emphasize uniqueness through the in-depth exploration of the participants’ experiences. Within this bounded system are the relationships between people and events, and within those are differing perspectives, as the positions on what makes a ‘high expectation’ teacher are contradictory, and not universally agreed.

I used thematic analysis to analyse data collected through questionnaires, interviews and focus groups, but reflected that despite the in-depth nature of this analysis, the phenomena of high teacher expectation remained only partially scrutinised in terms of social justice. Therefore, the social concerns raised throughout my study are also explored through the theories of Bourdieu with the aim of making sense of the wider issues of inequality inherent in this study, particularly in the sense that habitus is helped by, and helps shape, pedagogical action.

My findings are that there needs to be a recognition that in education, socially advantaged interests and voices dominate in terms of social mobility agendas. Social cohesion is therefore a challenge as inequality rises from an education system tailored to white, middle-class values, and until we value the diversity of heritage in all its forms, we cannot hope for greater equity for our students. Furthermore, teachers tend to be granted space in the public domain only through technical competency. Findings also suggest that teachers must be able to be emotionally committed to different aspects of their jobs, as their sense of moral responsibility is at the core of their professional identity.

The research also challenges the assumption that academic achievement is paramount and suggests that there are many other measures of success, in which students discover and are celebrated for a particular talent, or a passion for something new. The ability to make choices should be a fundamental right and should be accessible to all as a result of social justice.

This presents a challenge in today’s economic and political climate. At the time of writing the thesis, 4.1 million children in the UK are living in poverty, a rise of 500,000 in the last five years, and in-work poverty has been rising even faster than unemployment, driven almost entirely by increasing poverty among working parents. In addition to the economic context our young people are living in, educational policy increases social inequities rather than reducing the poverty attainment gap. For example, additional funding has been allocated for new grammar school places, despite evidence that dividing children into the most ‘able’ and the rest from an early age does not appear to lead to better results for either group, including for the most disadvantaged students.

The financial landscape for most schools paints a bleaker picture than that for grammar schools. A further significant challenge for the education sector is the recruitment of the required number of teachers of sufficient quality and motivation, at a time of continued public pay restraint and rising student numbers. Similarly, spending on early education, Sure Start and the childcare element of Working Tax Credit fell by 21% from 2009–10 and 2012–13, with falls of 11% for early education, 29% for targeted support for childcare and 32% for Sure Start. Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit payments were frozen in financial terms. In addition to cuts to income support, community-based support services and to the funding of voluntary groups and services, this financial context may have an impact on children as they enter the school system.

Furthermore, Britain’s high-status professions remain dominated by the privileged; those from traditionally working-class backgrounds earn on average £6,800 less than colleagues from professional and managerial backgrounds. Although students in my study feel that they can ‘get ahead’ on merit, it could be suggested that British society is profoundly unfair. Education is crucial to change, but it cannot be considered in isolation if we are going to tackle the challenge of disadvantage. Education must be freed from its current constraints so that educators have the opportunity to develop every child’s personality, talents and abilities to the full.

Within the constraints of this wider context, one recommendation that arose from the study with the aim of creating a culture of high expectations is that a form of ‘high-integrity’ setting could be implemented in schools. In practice, strategies such as: making setting as subject-specific as possible; grouping students by attainment rather than perceived effort; regularly testing and moving students between sets, and using a lottery system when assigning borderline students to sets may help mitigate the consequences of attainment grouping. Schools, however, may be deterred from implementing more equitable grouping practices by perceptions of middle-class parental and student preferences for attainment grouping. A further complication raised in this study is that most teachers who currently teach in attainment groupings believe that mixed attainment groupings would create further barriers to progress.

A final reflection for me is on the complex and problematic nature of the barriers to creating a culture of high expectation. I entered into this research project with a rather idealistic notion that exploring one definition of high-expectation beliefs and teaching practices could lead to the creation of a culture of high expectation. The reality is far messier. In addition to my exploration of the contradictory definitions of what makes a ‘high expectation’ teacher, research discourse related to teachers tends to be prescriptive, rather than serious study of, or collaboration with, those prescribed to or portrayed. This resonates with my own professional experience, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to explore this complex phenomenon through several lenses, even though at times these lenses seemed somewhat elusive!

Dr. Julie Smith has recently completed her doctoral research into the beliefs and practices of high expectation teachers, in the Department of Education and Childhood under the supervision of Dr. Richard Waller, Dr. Nicola Bowden-Clissold and Dr. Sarah Chicken. She is also Vice-Principal at a secondary school in Gloucestershire.

Follow Dr Julie Smith on twitter

References:

Archer, L., Francis, B., Miller, S., Taylor, B., Tereshchenko, A., Mazenod, A., Pepper, D. and Travers, M. C. (2018) The symbolic violence of setting: A Bourdieusian analysis of mixed methods data on secondary school students’ views about setting. British Educational Research Journal. 44 (1), pp. 119–40.

Barnard, H., Collingwood, A., Leese, D., Wenham, A., Drake, D, Smith, E. and Kumar, A (2018) UK Poverty 2018 [online].York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Available from: https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/uk-poverty-2018 [Accessed 25 April 2019].

Blandford, S. (2018) Born To Fail? Social Mobility: A Working Class View. Suffolk: John Catt.

Bourdieu, P. (1973). Cultural Reproduction and Social Reproduction. In:R. Brown, ed., (1973) Knowledge, Education, and Cultural Change: Papers in the Sociology of Education. London: Tavistock, pp. 71–112.

Bourdieu, P. (1977) Outline of a Theory of Practice.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bourdieu, P. (1984) Distinction.London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Bourdieu, P. (1990) The Logic of Practice. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Bourdieu, P. (1991) Language and Symbolic Power. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Bourdieu, P. (1992) The purpose of reflexive sociology. In Bourdieu, P. and Wacquant, L., eds., (1992) An Introduction to Reflexive Sociology.Cambridge: Polity Press, pp.61–217.

Bourdieu, P. (2002) Habitus. In: Hiller, J. and Rooksby, E., eds., (2002) Habitus: A Sense of Place. Farnham: Ashgate, pp.27–34.Bourdieu, P. and Passeron, J. C. (1977) Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture. London: Sage.

Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology. 3 (2), pp. 77–101.

Clifton, J., and Cook, W. (2012). A long division: Closing the attainment gap in England’s secondary schools. London: IPPR.

De Boer, H., Timmermans, A. C. and P. C. van der Werf, M (2018) The effects of teacher expectation interventions on teachers’ expectations and student achievement: narrative review and meta-analysis. Educational Research and Evaluation. 24 (3-5), pp. 180-200.

Francis, B., Taylor, B., Hodgen, J., Tereshchenko, A. and Archer, L. (2018). Dos and don’ts of attainment grouping. London: UCL Institute of Education.

Friedman, S. and Savage, M. (2017) The Shifting Politics of Inequality and the Class Ceiling. Renewal.25 (2), pp. 31–40.

Gorard, S. and Siddiqui, N. (2016) Grammar Schools in England: a new approach to analysing their intake and outcomes. Project report. Durham: Durham University.

Harrison, N. and Waller, R. (2017) Success and Impact in Widening Participation Policy: What Works and How Do We Know? Higher Education Policy.30 (2), pp. 141–160.

Hart, S., Annabelle, D., Drummond, M. J. and McIntyre, D. (2004) Learning Without Limits. Berkshire: OUP.

Jussim, L. and Harber, K. (2005) Teacher Expectations and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: Knowns and Unknowns, Resolved and Unresolved Controversies. Personality and Social Psychology Review. 9 (2), pp.131–55.

Lupton, R., Burchardt, T., Fitzgerald, A., Hills, A., McKnight, A., Obolenskaya, P. Stewart, K., Thomson, S., Tunstall, R. and Vizard, P. (2015) The Coalition’s Social Policy Record: Policy, Spending and Outcomes 2010-2015. Social Policy in a Cold Climate Report 4 [online]. Manchester: University of Manchester; London School of Economics and the University of York. Available from http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/case/spcc/rr04.pdf [Accessed 27 May 2019].

Nias, J. (1989). Primary teachers talking: A study of teaching as work. London: Routledge.

Rosenthal, R. and Jacobson, L. (1968) Pygmalion in the Classroom: teacher expectation and pupil’s intellectual development.New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Rubie-Davies, C. (2015) Becoming A High Expectation Teacher: Raising The Bar.Abingdon: Routledge.

Stake, R. E. (2005). Qualitative case studies. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed., pp. 443-466). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

UNCRC (1990) The United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child [online]. UK: Unicef.Available from: https://www.unicef.org.uk/what-we-do/un-convention-child-rights/ [Accessed 23 October 2017].

School reopening? top scientists say not yet*

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“It is clear from the evidence we have collected that 1 June is simply too early to go back. By going ahead with this dangerous decision, the government is further risking the health of our communities and the likelihood of a second spike.” (Sir David King, Independent SAGE Group)

This blog post could end there, but given the high stakes, it’s worth pondering more…

Teachers and their unions have been robustly rallying against the Government’s decision to re-open schools as early as June 1st. Some sections of the press and government ministers have revisited Michael Gove’s characterisation of these opponents as the “Blob”, who according to the Daily Mail is

“made up of political opponents, union barons and local government administrations – is colluding to sabotage the reopening of schools.”

In 2013, I was one of the 100 academics who signed a letter against Gove’s damaging curriculum reforms, and this time it’s even more serious, so much so that the neutral British Medical Association (BMA) have supported the call from the Independent SAGE Group to keep schools closed for the time-being.

Because of misleading advice and data issued by Downing Street, renowned medical scientists decided to set-up an Independent SAGE group (ISG).

The ISG’s opposition to 1st June re-opening of schools came after a meeting, which included Mumsnet, and supplemented by rigorous advice from expert educationists. Professor Sir David King concluded that there is almost zero chance of conditions being reached for a safe reopening of schools on 1 June.

The report makes clear that decisions on school re-opening should depend on low levels of infections in the community and the capacity to respond quickly to new infections through a local test, track and isolate strategy. We are not there yet.

Although children are less likely than adults to get ill, they are still transmission agents. Even the DfE advice seems to reflect this concern:

Some studies suggest younger children may transmit less, but this evidence is mixed and provides a low degree of confidence at best.”

So, a child carrying the infection but not showing symptoms could spread it unnoticed to other children and staff, and it could then reach family members with existing medical problems as well as older relatives. The collateral damage could be fatally serious.

The Government have been keen to stress that their decision was about ethics stating that working class children are being disproportionately disadvantaged because they do not have the learning resources that children from wealthier families have for home schooling.

But the ISG report stresses that rather than rushing to re-open schools, it would be safer to provision computer equipment and offer distance learning. When the conditions are appropriate, outdoor (where transmission is minimised) summer activity schemes, including educational “catch up” sessions would be a viable option.

The current situation opens-up existential questions about how we conceive of education.  We in the Reclaiming Schools network have (long) argued that it is necessary to take a rounded view of children’s needs, not just getting children (back) behind desks.

Education should be geared for developing children’s social, emotional, and wider characteristics. In this context, one could imagine a school strictly adhering to social distancing being harmful for children. Stories of nurseries and reception classes having to remove all toys for a June 1st re-opening are clearly being forced to create an environment devoid of richness.

Furthermore, the Government instruction to get the youngest children back first is questionable. In most nations in the world, the school starting age is 6 or 7, so very few children of nursery and reception age are actually in school.

Mental health problems in children are always much lower in countries with admission at age 6 or 7. Children have had the chance to be children, and without baseline testing (followed by high stakes tests at 7, 11, 16 – England tests more than any comparable country).

There is a strong case to postpone national standardised high stakes testing, it would provide an opportunity to evaluate the impact of tests on children and teachers.

In any given year, around 15% of teacher leave the profession just after 12 months, and over 30% leave within 5 years. In most cases, that’s 4 years of education/training to find out that teaching is not only hard work, the external pressures of tests and league tables make it mentally and physically damaging, ultimately impossible.

Beyond and C-19, we need to reclaim education to make it progressive and socially responsible, and a National Education Service provides a vehicle to do this. 

Dr Alpesh Maisuria is Associate Professor of Education Policy in Critical Education at the University of the West of England. He writes widely about issues of social class, educational policy, neoliberalism and Marxism, as well the proposal of the Nationalised Education Service; academy and free schools; private schools; Swedish social democracy and class. This blog post is written in a personal capacity. 

*Sections of this writing have been reworked from a Reclaiming Schools blog post. Alpesh Maisuria is a Steering Group member of Reclaiming Schools.

Keep calm and carry on learning – Part 7

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Equality of learning in lockdown …

In the seventh in a series of blog posts, Dr Verity Jones, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Education and Childhood at UWE, and Online Project Lead considers some of the challenges families from disadvantaged groups are facing in lockdown and what is needed to combat these inequalities.

Nine weeks in…

 … here in England things are changing. We’re now allowed to sit in a park and have a picnic. We can have as much exercise as we like and even go to garden centres. The first steps of returning to ‘normality’ are tentatively taking shape. However, the outlook for young people to return to schools and colleges is not on the horizon and our youth continue to be home schooled.

For some youngsters home schooling is working. Lessons are emailed in, downloaded and supported by parents and carers. However, there has been and continues to be a disproportionate impact of Covid19.

Home schooling has been dominated by online access. Week after week we welcome more organisations supporting online learning with free access to their resources, daily online activities and a social media frenzy of ideas to keep young people engaged while stuck at home. This blog has done its fair share of sharing such websites. But what about those who haven’t got access to the internet?

This week, the Good Law Project has argued that the reliance on online learning during lockdown is illegally disadvantaging some young learners who don’t have access to tablets and laptops and inadequate broadband. If hardware is available it may be shared by the family and pupils won’t have access to it for school work when they need it.

Add to this how greater numbers of lower income families, in what tend to be  more densely populated homes, are having to turn to food banks. Those pupils who would normally receive free school meals are having to negotiate new systems and pressures to ensure they have food.   In such circumstances it is not surprising that these groups have been the most harshly hit by the virus.

Covid19 has shown the reality of inequality in the UK.

Over the coming weeks it is essential that educational inequalities are addressed else the most vulnerable will become yet more vulnerable. But what intervention would work? Many schools are reporting distributing laptops and tablets to their most disadvantaged pupils, but this doesn’t ensure there is access to broadband or even electricity to support them.  This cannot be the answer.

Our most disadvantaged learners need a clear and supported educational strategy to ensure that the gap in achievement is not increased; every individual needs to be supported in order to meet their potential.

Reopening schools as soon as possible is not the answer.

It needs to be safe for both pupils and staff. Once back, the gaps need to be assessed and the curriculum adjusted. Reform is essential in order to rebalance teacher workload and improve the retention of our teachers so consistency can be maintained for our learners. Reform is essential to rethink the exams and assessments undertaken at all school stages and take account of the inequalities the pandemic has accentuated. We cannot just expect the gaps to grow and mind them.

Our education system needs to be right for all, not just for some. It is failing and will continue to fail if systematic change does not occur. 

Dr Verity Jones is Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Online Learning Project Lead and Acting Associate Head of Department for Learning, Teaching and Student Experience.

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“Labour need to commit to a comprehensive review of private education.”

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The problem of unfairness in the education system is now unavoidable. Labour must initiate a comprehensive review of the role of fee paying private schools. 

This should include the creation of an Office for private schools’ accountability, to monitor their public benefit and loss to the public.

In terms of a review, taxation must be a priority. Fee-paying private schools currently exploit a loophole exempting them from VAT on school fees. There is an oddity here: these schools are effectively run as private businesses, but enjoy special privileges from the state that other businesses do not.

The pendulum would shift with the introduction of VAT on school fees, and it would be state schools that benefit . With VAT at 20 per cent, there is an anticipated minimum of £1.75 billion that would be collected, a sum more than four per cent of the schools’ budget. This income would negate the cost of absorbing around five per cent more children in state schools.

The introduction of VAT has to be understood in the context of private schools paying just £44 million in business rates and corporation tax combined (2017), which is a massive “loophole” given their income of £7.83 billion.

Furthermore, the private schools’ lobby claim that private schools save taxpayers money; create a net wealth for the country’s economy; and that the cost of integrating private schools into the state set-up would practically and financially prohibitive. Unfortunately, it seems that a certain untruthfulness is often at play. Take for example an eye-catching front page headline in The Times: ‘Fee-paying schools ‘save the taxpayer £20 billion’. This is claim was dismissed by Full Fact, who show the calculation is miscalculated and/or designed to mislead.

In addition to VAT exemption, as charities, many private schools are exempt from corporation tax and almost all local taxes on property, but there is little stipulation beyond the general requirement: for free or subsidised access/places; developing links with grant making trusts so as to provide free services; lending equipment staff or facilities; and allowing state school pupils to attend certain lessons or events.

“There needs to be much more accurate and transparent reporting about private schools’ cost and benefit to the public”

However, are these generous general requirements enough to satisfactory their public benefit requirement, as charities?

There needs to be much more accurate and transparent reporting about private schools’ financial and social cost and benefit to the public, especially accruement from imposing VAT and removing charitable status.

This would be the objective of a comprehensive review, which could be undertaken by a Social Justice Commission (SJC) – tasked with advising Labour on integrating private schools, either fully or partially, into a National Education Service.

These changes would be long-term. The education system in the UK is complex because it is significantly stratified and differentiated. It is stratified because there are fee-paying selective private schools that are generally exclusive, and then there are the second stratum of schools that consist of state selective and comprehensive schools.

Importantly, within each of these two, there is significant differentiation among the schools. For fee-paying private schools, hierarchy can be discerned by fees, which range from £12k-£17,800 (the latter being the average ISC schools fee) up to £42,501 (Eton).

“Taxes could be introduced progressively in bands”

Taxes could be introduced progressively in bands to account for differentiation. Progressive taxation could also be introduced to break the feeder system of schools that entrench privilege through the pre-prep and prep schools’ network.

These schools are a pipeline to elite universities. To break this cycle of unfairness, progressive taxation could be extended to higher education in the form of university contextual admissions through levying a progressive admissions quota on universities.

One option here could be that the lowest ranked Russell group universities could admit a maximum of seven per cent of privately educated pupils to represent the same proportion of private school students as in the wider secondary school population, and the higher ranked to be able to progressively admit a lesser percentage.

Similarly, regulation and incentives around employing teachers could be introduced. For instance, consideration could be given to progressively incentivising private schools to employ state-educated teachers, the corollary would be to incentivise the privately-educated to teach in state school.

Such measures will likely mean that some private schools would game the system to pay lower taxation, some may even become fully state maintained, and a small minority would increase their fees to stay competitive in the exclusivity stakes. In the absence of an outright abolishing, these measures would rebalance the education system.

“The introduction of VAT ought to be the embryo for bigger changes”

The proposal of a National Education Service (NES) has an important prefix – “towards”, and the introduction of VAT to private schools fees ought to be the embryo for bigger changes to address unfairness.

In conclusion, a comprehensive review is needed for strategic short- and longer- term planning to create more egalitarianism in and through the education system. The review agenda could include, among others:

  1. creating a robust, accurate, and transparent reporting framework for private schools’ financial and social cost and benefit to the public, especially accrued from imposing VAT and removing Charitable status.
  2. exploring the feasibility of progressive taxes, regulation, and incentives to break entrenchment of elitism and privilege.
  3. creation of an Office for private schools’ accountability to monitor their public benefit and loss to the public.

Ultimately though, it must countenanced that a reformist ‘softly softly’ approach will not do, and a more strident revolutionary approach is needed to shake-off the shackles that private schools puts on life chances of working class pupils, females, BAME, and other minorities – ultimately, undermining equality.

Dr Alpesh Maisuria is associate professor of education policy in critical education at the University of the West of England. He writes widely about issues of social class, educational policy, neoliberalism and Marxism, as well the proposal of a nationalised education service; academy and free schools; private schools; Swedish social democracy and class.

Republished with kind permission from the independent think tank Private School Policy Reform

How can we promote acceptance of stigmatised appearances in primary schools?

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Primary Schools are excellent places for child development, learning and socialisation, but unfortunately can also be hubs for bullying, social isolation and stigma. The chances of a child having negative experiences during Primary School education increase if they have an appearance which is socially stigmatised. If you are wondering what a socially stigmatised appearance is… it essentially means having an appearance which significantly deviates from society’s ‘standard’ characteristics, for example being of a higher weight or having a visible scar.

Of course, no two children’s experiences will be the same and having an appearance which is deemed socially stigmatising does not necessarily mean a child will have a negative experience in or out of school. However, studies which have considered the experiences of children with various socially stigmatised appearances suggest it would be naïve to believe, in general, their experiences are the same as children who have a socially ‘normative’ appearance (e.g., white, able-bodied with no visible difference).

Why is this the case? Well, there are a number of factors at play here. External factors such as the media, parents, education and policy can all influence children’s attitudes towards other appearances. Think of a villain in a children’s film… a number of villains have an appearance which is deemed socially stigmatising. Scar from the Lion King? Ursula from the Little Mermaid? These messages likely influence children’s attitudes towards various appearances.

Children develop attitudes towards socially stigmatised appearances at a very young age – at around 4 years stereotyping and prejudice can exist. Although, some evidence suggests this is even younger, with stigma towards people of higher weight being present at the age of 3 years, according to one study. Another study found by the age of 5 children make judgements based on weight and are less likely to choose a higher weight child as a playmate. Children with facial differences such as burn scars, a birthmark or cleft lip and/or palate are also at risk, with evidence that they are less likely to be accepted by their peers. All of this evidence highlights how children who have a socially stigmatised appearance may be less accepted and judged accordingly. Therefore, it is unfortunately not surprising that studies have also found children with a socially stigmatised appearance have a lower quality of life and are more likely to be subjected to bullying.

This issue is not new. Research during the 1960’s painted a similar picture, whereby children consistently ranked a child with no socially stigmatised appearance as most preferred in comparison to various other socially stigmatised appearances. However, to date, majority of intervention? Efforts within psychology and body image have focused on secondary school children. However, attempting to promote acceptance of socially stigmatised appearances in children aged 11 years and above may be a fruitless endeavour, as attitudes are likely well ingrained by this age. It is important efforts be placed in younger age groups, when attitudes are still developing, in order to combat stereotypes and subsequent behaviours. 

Further, the majority of school-based body image interventions have focused on a medical (individual) model and less on the social (group) model. For example, consider a child who has a facial burn. This child may be perfectly happy with their appearance. However, if they are being teased, bullied or excluded from social events, previous efforts regarding the child’s body image, would attempt to help that child increase their self-worth and self-esteem. However, efforts are not focused on changing the attitudes and behaviours of children around that child. Providing body image interventions which target acceptance at a group level allow for improvements beyond just the individual.

There has been a handful of interventions developed which target Primary School aged children in a bid to do exactly this – promote acceptance of appearance, at a group-based level.  A pilot study of a recent body acceptance intervention, titled ABC-4-YC, has found promising findings in Australia. However, interventions developed to target this broader issue have either not been evaluated at all, or require further evaluation.

What is clear is that children develop attitudes towards appearance at a very young age and this can impact on the lives of those who have an appearance which is socially stigmatised. Yet, majority of the efforts to target this issue have focused on older children or at the individual level. Therefore, undoubtedly there is a need for evidenced-based school resources which promote acceptance of stigmatised appearances in Primary School-aged children. Efforts should be made within psychology, education and social policy in order to combat this issue in a sensitive, timely and age appropriate manner.

If you are interested in research on body image in schools, Appearance Matters: The Podcast! Co-hosted by Jade Parnell (me!) and Nadia Craddock delves into what we know about how we tackle body image within the classroom. This episode can be found here.

Jade Parnell is a PhD student at the Centre for Appearance Research, based in Health and Applied Sciences (HAS) at the University of the West of England (UWE). You can contact Jade directly via email: jade.parnell@uwe.ac.uk or twitter: @jadeparnell.

The Bristol Inter-disciplinary Group for Education Research (BRIDGE) – Seminar

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Bristol Inter-disciplinary Group for Education Research (BRIDGE) invites you to a lunchtime seminar on Monday, 4th March 2019 — 12noon-1pm — Room 2S603. We are pleased to have Jade Parnell, the Centre for Appearance Research, the University of the West of England, and Dr Maryam Almohammad and Dr Jane Andrews, the Department of Education and Childhood, the University of the West of England.


Promoting Acceptance of Socially Stigmatised Appearances in Young Children in Primary School


Jade Parnell, the Centre for Appearance Research, the Department of Health and Social Sciences, the University of the West of England


In this talk I will discuss my PhD, which aims to promote acceptance towards various socially stigmatised appearances in young children. Appearance-based stereotyping and prejudice emerges in early childhood, and can exist by the age of 4 years. Children from negatively stereotyped or stigmatised groups (e.g., higher weight, visible difference) are at increased risk of experiencing stigmatisation from other children, resulting in negative outcomes such as poorer psychological adjustment and quality of life. The talk will focus on a recent study, where children aged 4-9 years, from various Primary Schools in the South West of England viewed, in a randomised order, five digitally designed, realistic child characters. The images included a character; with no stigmatised appearance, wearing glasses, of higher weight, with a facial burn and in a wheelchair. All characters had similar features (e.g., face shape, height, race and eyes), but varied slightly according to the stigmatised appearance. Children were asked open ended questions and quantitative measures assessing their attitudes and possible subsequent behaviours towards the individual characters. Discussion will consider the possible findings in relation to the literature; along with implications for researchers and education professionals regarding strategies for promoting acceptance of socially stigmatised appearances in young children.


Artmaking, Materialism, and Multilingualism in Welcoming Environments for EAL Learners


Maryam Almohammad and Jane Andrews, the Department of Education and Childhood, University of the West of England.


The Creating Welcoming Learning Environments project, known as CWLE, (AHRC-funded, AH/R004781/1)) is a follow-on project from the large grant Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language, the Body, the Law and the State (AH/AH/L006936/1). The project involved a “creative collaboration”, using Vera John Steiner’s conceptualisation (2000), between creative artists, school-based teachers and teaching assistants, local authority advisory teachers and university researchers. The project operated on a co-operative development model of teacher development as articulated by Edge (1992) so that, through a series of workshops, teachers participated in arts-based practices, assembled artifacts and interpreted them to reflect on their identities, bodies, languages and cultures. This was prior to teachers engaging in a process of transformation of their first-hand experiences of creative techniques into activities for their own learners in the different school contexts they work in, including primary, secondary and special schools in England.


In this paper, we approach the data generated in the workshops and in interviews, using Bennett’s concepts of “thing-power” and “discursive agency” (2010). Bennett (2010) uses the term “thing-power” to describe the qualities that objects have that in many ways are indescribable and intangible. Power is among all material bodies, both human and more-than-human, and therefore does not belong to bodies independently, but rather happens because material bodies are always dependent on one another. This is known as distributive agency (Bennett, 2010). In the CWLE series of workshops, teachers worked with materials: cardboard, maps, colours, stones, textiles, dyes and symbols. Working with art materials teachers engaged with the role of objects in art and meaning-making and reflected on the potential of material transformation in EAL contexts. Materials constructed during our workshops serve as reflective tools on the body experience and materials surrounding the body. Teachers transformed the art practices in their school spaces, such as the use of the identity suitcase box. The artmaking of suitcase/boxes offered teachers and learners an opportunity to engage with the taken for granted value of both human-human and human-non-human relationships. Through a co-creative process and collective action between animate and inanimate things, teachers and learners could be seen to no longer separate human from non-human. In this sense, humans are no more valuable than materials and objects with which they interact. In our paper we analyse one example of educational practice in a specific secondary school in England. Therefore, not only the divide between human and non-human ceases to exist, and new ways for knowing the self and the object as interbeings emerge (Anderson & Guyas, 2012), but also the divide between the ‘us and them’ can be seen to finish. Distributive agency of materials may be seen to help humans cooperate with each other in the art-and-language classrooms.

The Education Research Network (ERNie) Upcoming Events

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The Education Research Network (ERNie) has forthcoming interesting and varied events that will be of interest.  They include talks, discussions, a book club meeting, and a writing café.  Further details will follow in due course.  Many of these events are at lunchtime and ERNie would encourage you to bring your lunch and take time out from more mundane duties!

Please feel free to circulate this information more widely.  Suggestions for other events are very welcome, as are offers of talks and other kinds of knowledge-sharing.

Events

Book club

This event is part of the Festival of Learning 2019 organised by the Academic Practice Directorate, Convened by Dr Richard Waller, Wednesday 27 Feb 12.00 – 1.00 pm Room to be confirmed. Paper to be discussed:

Harrison, N. & Waller, R. (2018) Challenging discourses of aspiration: The role of expectations and attainment in access to higher education, British Educational Research Journal, 44 (5), 9-4 – 938

Writing cafe

This event is part of the Festival of Learning 2019 organised by the Academic Practice Directorate, further details to follow. The Writing Cafe is convened by Dr Jane Humphreys, Wednesday 27 Feb 3 – 6.00 pm, Room
Frenchay 2D67. 

The Characteristics of Expertise in HE Teaching

This event is run by Dr Helen King, Associate Director of Academic Practice, Academic Practice Directorate, Monday 4 March, 1 – 2.00 pm,
Room Frenchay 3B46. 

Educational Equity: Do single-sex classrooms help to close the gender-achievement gap?

This event is led by Dr Charlotte Pennington, Lecturer in Social Psychology, Department of Health and Social Sciences, Tuesday 30 April, 1 – 2.00 pm, Room, Frenchay 1K2. 

 

On-campus Bystander Behaviour 

This event is led by Dr Helen Bovill, AHoD Research, Dept of Education and Childhood,  Thursday 11 April , 12.30 – 2.00 pm, Room, Frenchay 3B46

 

This is posted on behalf of Dr Jane Humphreys. 

English as an Additional Language and Creativity Conference Programme 2018

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The University of the West of England

Thursday 12th July 2018

 

Time Talks and Workshops  Room
8.45 am Registration, Tea/Coffee

 

Sign up for workshop

 

 

2S704
9.15 am Welcome/Introductions

Dr Jane Andrews, Associate Professor (Education), Lois Francis and Dominique Moore, Integra

 

3S710
9.20 am Opening comments

Professor Jane Roscoe, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education, UWE

 

3S710
9.30 am Keynote Speaker 1

Professor Alison Phipps, Glasgow University

“The well in well-being”

 

 

3S710
10.30 am Tea / Coffee Break

Outside

 

2S704
10.50 am St Michael on the Mount – children perform an extract from their play “The Magic Shoes” with presentation from Anna Comfort, Year 1 Teacher and Director of The Magic Shoes.

Anna Comfort and children from St Michael on the Mount, Bristol.

 

 

3S710
11.30 Workshops (A, B, C, D)

 

A – Naa Densua Tordzro & Gameli Tordzro –

“Adinkra Creative Links”

 

 

A = 2S511

 

 

B – Dr Maryam Al-Mohammad

“Using Film-making with EAL Learners”

 

 

B = 2S610

 

 

C – Alison Phipps & Tawona Sithole

‘Spoken Word, Broken Silence’

 

C = 2S708

 

 

D – Dr Jane Andrews –

“Using craft techniques in the EAL classroom and beyond”

 

 

D = 2S705

12.45 pm Lunch

 

2S704
13.45 pm Keynote Speaker 2

Dr Mary Carol Combs, University of Arizona.

Learning in the Third Space: Pedagogies of Hope and Resistance

 

3S710
14.45 pm Creativity Activities from the Classroom

  • Judith Prosser, Cotham School, Bristol:

“A Creative approach to developing oracy skills at KS3- The Suitcase Project”

  • Karen Thomas, EMAS Portsmouth and Becca Reeve, Miltoncross Academy, Portsmouth:

“There are no tigers in Italy: using suitcase art to break down barriers.”

Chaired by Lois Francis and Dominique Moore, Integra

 

 

3S710
15.45 –

16.00 pm

Closing reflections from Dr Mary Carol Combs

 

 

3S710

 

The conference takes place at the Department of Education and Childhood, University of the West of England, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1QY

The conference is free but please make a booking here so we can organise catering and transport.

For inquiries please contact Dr Jane Andrews  jane.andrewsedu@uwe.ac.uk and Dr Maryam Almohammad Maryam.Almohammad@uwe.ac.uk

Follow us on Tiwtter: @CWLE_EAL 

The Learning Adult Building and Reflecting on the Work of Peter Jarvis

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 Richard Waller, Associate Professor of the Sociology of Education at the Department of Education and Childhood,  has just published a co-edited book ‘The Learning Adult: Building and Reflecting on the Work of Peter Jarvis’ with Routledge. Peter has been one of the most influential figures in adult and lifelong education for several decades, and is a leading and original theorist of learning.

The book is a collection of sixteen chapters by authors from across the world, and explores the breadth and significance of Peter’s work in a number of contexts. The chapters explain and engage critically with his theorisation of learning, and with his extensive writings on the sociology, politics, ethics and history of adult education, and on professional education, lifelong learning and the learning society. The book is co-edited with Richard’s three other co-editors from the International Journal of Lifelong Education.

Six factors supporting success for care leavers in higher education

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There has long been a social policy concern about groups of young people who do not have ready access to higher education (HE).  Among the lowest participation rates are those for care-experienced young people – i.e. those taken into the care of their local authority, usually due to abuse, neglect or other challenges within their birth family.  Within this group, those still in care at 16 (broadly designated as ‘care leavers’) are the least likely to enter HE.

The publication of the ‘Moving On Up’ report in late 2017 was designed to fill a gap in our understanding about the pathways that care leavers and other care-experienced students take into and through HE in England.  It draws on both national educational data and the accounts of 212 current students.

The report identifies six factors that appear to underpin successful participation in HE – not all of these will apply to all care leavers, but they provide a useful framework for examining their experiences and evaluating policy and practice:

 

  1. Strong attainment at 16

 By some way the strongest predictor for success was attainment at 16 in the shape of GCSEs or other qualifications.  Once this was taken into account, the participation rates for care leavers were only slightly lower than for young people as a whole.  However, the challenges experienced by care leavers meant that they were significantly less likely to achieve highly – around one quarter were not even entered for examination.

This finding reinforces the importance of supporting attainment for children in care, whilst recognising that many will not be in the position to achieve what they are capable of at their first attempt.  What remains unclear is whether it is the embedded knowledge/skills within GCSEs that propel care leavers towards success or whether our education system simply uses (and overuses) them to filter and redirect young people onto the pathway deemed most appropriate for them – see 6 below.

 

  1. A managed transition from care to HE

 For many, the process of transitioning from care into independent living as a student is a significant upheaval.  Financial support needs to be negotiated, appropriate accommodation secured and new friendships forged.  While this is true of all young people, those in care are likely to have more complexity and greater needs, at the same time as less family support on which to draw.

The best accounts of transition were marked by pre-entry collaboration between local authority, university/college and young person, enabling them to navigate changes as painlessly as possible.  Conversely, some ended up having to find their own way in the face of indifference or negativity.  Many reported not being able to attend open days, having difficulty getting forms signed or being forced to move into new housing on their own.

  

  1. Membership of the HE community

 Following on, rapid integration into the HE community was seen as a key element in becoming a successful student.  Those care leavers who had not integrated quickly reported loneliness, isolation and a disempowering feeling of being unsupported.  This not only impacted on their mental health, but also undermined their ability to focus on their studies.

The barriers to joining the HE community were varied.  Some found themselves living too far from the university – especially those who were parents or had remained with their foster family.  Another group reported feeling different to other students and unable to talk about their childhood as part of friendship formation.  Others found that HE staff were uninformed or unsympathetic.

 

 4. Strong disability and mental health support

 The study found that two-thirds of care leavers were deemed to have special educational needs.  Unsurprisingly, emotional and mental health issues were commonplace – many wrote about the continuing legacy of childhood trauma.  Others had specific learning difficulties or other impairments that had influenced their ability to achieve highly.

 Those self-identifying as ‘disabled’ were significantly more likely to have used HE support services and to have considered leaving.  For those with long-term mental health issues, the transition into HE posed new problems, including the end of child-focused therapeutic support.  Several reported that their university/college was unable to provide the form of ongoing support that they needed.

  

  1. Resilience and determination

 A key element in many stories was a strong sense of determination to succeed – as they saw it – against the odds.  They saw HE as a stepping stone to increase their life chances and enable them to transcend the struggles they had undergone, either with their birth families or their later experiences in care.  For some, they saw it is as their only chance to do so.

The other side of this coin was the despair that some expressed.  They were conscious of still struggling through HE, looking to an uncertain future.  It was rarely clear why one student would be resilient and another, ostensibly similar, would be fragile.

 

 6. Recognition for alternative educational pathways

 A distinctive feature of care leavers’ routes into HE was that they tended to start later (around a year, on average) and to take longer to complete than other young people, with changed courses, retakes and periods of dormancy being common.  They were significantly more likely to enter with qualifications that were not A Levels, including Access to HE and work-based learning courses.

Many care leavers are not in a position to attain highly at 16 and they are therefore ‘filtered’ into pathways that led them away from HE – at least initially – including lower-level further education courses or entry into the unskilled labour market.  It was a testament to their resolve that some found their way back into HE; local authorities and universities could do more to valorise these alternative pathways and make them easier to find and traverse.

 

Dr Neil Harrison  , Associate Professor of Education Policy

Twitter: @DrNeilHarrison