Tag Archives: curriculum

The Architecture of Inclusive Assessment: Power, Risk and Participation

Ann Winter (find her blog here) and I recently presented our ongoing research at a conference hosted by the Pedagogic Research Institute and Observatory at the University of Plymouth (PEDRIO).

The following post represents the conversation that Ann and I held during our presentation. The resulting short paper is published here.

We thought we would reproduce it in our blogs, to give it a wider ‘airing’. We would be grateful for any comments and further discussions.

The post is represented as a conversation about the development of our ideas for the theme ‘Inclusive Assessment’. Most of our conversation was conducted online using @padlet and face to face during visits to Oldham Library, The Hepworth Wakefield, and Shibden Park .  We were experimenting with the notion of dialogue as assessment (perhaps not when we started, but certainly as we went along). Ann’s voice and mine are therefore separated as subheadings.


The Status Quo

ANN

Thinking back to when we started preparing our abstract Alison, we held our discussions and exchange online through Padlet, which now gives us a chronology of our thinking and ideas. Following my initial reading I think I coined the phrase ‘Initial Assessment (IA) has landedjanus lightly’ and it did with me as it was intuitively appealing, especially coming on the back of my involvement with the BA(Hons) Health and Community Studies (HACS) students during the 2013/14 academic year.

Couple the diverse range of assessments (mind maps, reports, e-portfolios, individual and group presentations, essays and group workshops and portfolios) with the use of dialogic and written feedback it felt as though the diversity and differences in and between the students had been acknowledged in the assessment planning.  A further opportunity to invite third year students into the traditionally closed academic space of assessment design reflected engagement with students in a new dialogue and perhaps went a little way in developing shared meanings and understandings.

I’d accepted IA as a ‘good thing,’ and saw the anticipatory assessment variation and flexibility along with the engagement with students as a marker for IA whereas you were bringing in talk of risk, confidence, knowingness and policy architectures.

I recall Alison that we found ourselves agreeing with Waterfield and West (2010) that the meaning of IA has been taken for granted and having a status as an idealised target.

ALISON

Our initial conversations about the innovative, diverse assessment practices on the HACS course, and the impetus that the abstract call gave us to think more about assessment design, brought my PhD thesis into a fresh domain. I had been concerned about the ‘taken for granted’ assumptions about what is considered to be good pedagogic practice for some time. I recall being keen to challenge you Ann to look behind the design into the power relations surrounding participation and engagement in assessment. These were difficult conversations as it felt a little iconoclastic to suggest that the materiality of ‘inclusive assessment’ may fail to benefit the students that it is designed to serve.

Do you agree Ann that once we read Waterfield and West we found an anchor for our thinking – particularly the proposition that ‘inclusivity’ was an appropriate term and words such as elasticity, slippery, double meaning (Waterfield and West, 2010). Ann, can you take us through the contribution of Graham and Slee?

ANN

Graham and Slee (2013) challenge the reader to recognise an ‘invisible centre’ which entails constructions, otherness and marginal positions from which exclusions arrive and how reform agendas tinker at the edges to produce the appearance of inclusivity. A really pertinent question raised is whether we focus on how we move forward with inclusion or whether we make the invisible visible through deconstruction and disruption.

As such, Derrida’s statement that, ‘language bears within itself the necessity of its own critique’ (Derrida, 1967: 358) is particularly pertinent to inclusive education, for the movement is troubled by the multiplicity of meanings that lurk within the discourses that surround and carry it.


The Trigger

parkhill

ANN

Multiple triggers prompted a deeper probing into the use of the word inclusive and IA. I found myself immersed in an ‘alphabet soup’ of Universal Design, UDI, UD, and UDL and began to feel uncomfortable with some of the IA discourse. Terms such as ’ bringing in’, ‘marginalised’ and ‘core’ appeared to simplify a complex social construct of difference, disability  and diversity and the deep structural, architectural mechanisms within teaching, learning and educational organisations.

Robert Mace, the  architect acknowledged as the founder of universal architectural design, felt that ‘the term universal is unfortunate… as nothing can be truly universal; there will always be people who cannot use an item no matter how thoughtfully it is designed.’ (Mace 1985: 4)

I was reminded of Graham and Slee’s (2013: 289) observations that talk of including can only be made by those occupying a position of privilege, and, that talk seldom revolves around recognising and dismantling that vantage and the relations of power and domination sustaining it.

Mace appeared to be calling for more than strategic rhetoric and a ‘technical fix,’ when he  called for architects to review everything, recognise features that could be barriers and design all products to be usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone.

ALISON

This was another turning point for me as I began to link architecture, design, and power. The history of the Park Hill estate in Sheffield provides an analogy for this, where the architects felt a great sense of democratic idealism during the design of Park Hill. However it was only in the act of ‘living in’ these structures that the social and emotional costs became clear.

As teachers designing inclusive assessment, promoting engagement in inclusive assessment practices, and fostering participation, I wanted to caution about the reassurance of ‘knowingness’ (Smith 2006: 23). I thought about my research into confidence and risk for trainee teachers, and felt that there were parallels conceptually for this theme. Ann, I know that we spent a long time trying to find a conceptual framework for our paper. Then I suggested the power cube.


The Quest

ANN

don qixoteI vividly recall you bringing the Power cube to our discussions Alison, and about that time I was questioning the use of the word inclusive, preferring universal. I saw many similarities in the histories of UD and IA, and found the new Design for All European architecture philosophy of full integration and nothing less, refreshing and perhaps signposting us towards a design for all pedagogy.

Perhaps this relates to confidence and risk Alison, where we can either ‘pursue inclusivity through assessment practice…’ (Waterfield and West 2010) or ‘review everything and pay attention to all aspects’ (Mace, 1998).  I was anxious that having experienced assessment variability and flexibility in the first year of the course, we were placing the students in a liminal space – a space of transition betwixt and between traditional written forms of assessment and the experience of diverse assessment practice.

I likened the phenomenon to Deleuze and Guattari’s urban nomads (1988: 482), we were student and academic nomads in a shared space where we were looking to translate the complex language and social practices.

However, I was also reminded of Hargreaves’ (2003) description of teaching practices as deeply embedded scripts reflecting life experiences and taken-for-granted assumptions, and saw the power cube as a way into having conversations, disturbing academic and learner scripts and creating further shared space opportunities.

Alison, is this where you see a potential for the power cube analysis bringing about real change?


The Surprise

ALISON

Yes Ann, in as much as it provides a tool for thinking that avoids the 2D of cause and effect. “If we do this” than inclusiveness will be the result. I was pleased to be able to bring the power cube into our discussion, as it allowed us to view assessment design from a range of perspectives, all of which create real dilemmas for teachers. Revealing the forms, levels and spaces of power sheds new light on the development of trust, confidence and risk-taking for students, particularly if we accept the premise that assessment has become a function of an HE that increasingly serves a market economy. I think we decided then to focus on the impact on the student of institutional change (flexibility in assessment mode), uncertainty (choice of assessment mode) and risk in the decision-making behind assessment choice.

Forms of power

Here I focus on visible forms of power. These can be visible such as the way that assessment is codified in programme and module specifications. They are visible because they become the way that we recognise the field of action in relation to assessment. They are both necessary to and a function of the curriculum. Before we begin to design inclusive assessment we need to acknowledge that students do not have easy access to these visible forms of power.

Participation and decision-making is not accessible by all, so the resultant products and processes are restricted to those with access. The success of specific change to products and processes is a result of prevailing interests of those who have access and can participate, not those who can’t (i.e. students and sometimes teachers).

To be able to challenge the prevailing discourses behind IA design and practice students and teachers need to use their voices in a mobilising action through visible channels. However one dialectical dilemma here is that students are diverse, and representation channels are often complex and take time.

Are our students able to articulate their issues, and do they have the resources, organization and agency to make their voice heard? If others speak for them, they may, themselves be caught up in the visible forms of power.

Ann, in your work with the students how did your decision to use mind mapping impact on the students

ANN

The surprise for me was that the students didn’t appear to want a different form of assessment. They’d anticipated written assignments and this was a nuisance an added risk in a high stake context. The regular essay format was their overwhelmingly preferred default assessment mode and they were perplexed, anxious about the very different choices involved in making a mindmap. A very small number of them didn’t want to learn something that they hadn’t expected and didn’t know was going to happen. It was risky, somepowercubething new and challenging.

The anticipated freedom and openness of creating a mindmap was tempered by the student’s requests for guidance in how to make their branch, label, content, colour and design choices. These choices were not easy for them as they were unfamiliar ones. Paradoxically, the freedom originally envisaged became more disciplined and bounded as they strived for familiarity simplicity and structure in support of their choices. I liken my role to that of a choice architect (Thaler and Sunstein, 2009) providing a structure and feedback in order to simplify their choices and collaborating with them in making difficult choices easier.

Eagleton’s (2008) research includes MRI scans which show how the affective network (limbic system) lights up when a student is engaged and motivated, challenged, excited and interested. These areas light up when there is a novel learning task demonstrating a high level of cognitive activity; conversely, when a learning task is practised and familiar, the brain shows much less activity in these areas, because it has developed routines to reduce cognitive load.

This was also the time Alison when we spoke about graduateness, employability, learning outcomes and quality as well as students taking the ‘path of least resistance’ in assessment choice. You introduced me to the concept of ‘knowingness’ and Smith’s identified features as over-confidence and premature urge to completion and closure.


The Critical Choice

ALISON

When we design inclusive assessment we are embarking on a quest for ‘knowingness’, where the student is able to meet the learning outcomes that have been set for them without knowing them as individuals. In the search for evidence of what is known about a topic. This lack of what Smith calls ‘contingency and finitude’ may actually work against inclusivity, rather than be a support to it, especially when we seek to inculcate confidence through assessment design. It is worth noting that for educational institutions, confidence is also relative to the culture and dominant discourses of a changing world. Wain (2006:37) suggests that institutions, fearinguncertainty and risk, are far from confident in what Smith (2006:23) called their ‘knowingness’. They are constantly seeking reassurance through ‘the language of skills and competencies, of measurable outcomes and transparent transactions in their decisions’ (Wain 2006:39).pooh bear

There could be a paradox here I suppose, in that in developing confidence a certain degree of openness and risk is required whereas the institutions may be risk averse and therefore favour a very bounded (competence based) approach.

“In short, the modernist – some would say Enlightenment – quest for equity and efficiency drives contingency from the university. Along with contingency much else disappears: principally the possibility of a relationship between a particular teacher and a particular pupil of the kind that Plato presents so carefully and movingly in the early dialogues. Such a relationship is, as Rorty writes, a matter of ‘‘the sparks that leap back and forth between teacher and student’’ (1999, p. 126).10 Such sparks are the source of the realization of forms of human freedom that otherwise cannot be imagined” (Smith 2006:30).

So tell me Ann, what choices did you make, and how did those choices enfold contingency for the students? Can you talk me through the experience with the BSc students?

ANN

The quest to improve things for all students and as W&W identified, the ‘taken-for-granted’ definition of IA has created a ‘Just Do It’ organisational approach. Particularly  as it resonates with current agendas around widening participation, DDA, equality and the QAA Codes of Practice.  However, when introducing the concept of knowingness Alison, you challenge some/many of the unspoken assumptions around IA, thus reflecting the ‘causal elasticity’ and ambiguity identified by Waterfield and West in the SPACE project. The danger is that as Graham and Slee (2013) identify we can tinker at the edges producing an appearance of inclusivity whilst the centre from which exclusions arrive remains invisible. Hence the relevance of a power analysis in identifying and exploring multiple power dimensions that affect IA, ie the ‘invisible constructions’ (Graham and Slee, 2013).

Co-constructing assessment criteria with BSc (Hons) 3rd year students was also an exciting opportunity to share and have a dialogue about academic language and expectations alongside students own ideas of what they wanted to achieve through a specified form of assessment. Both limitations and opportunities often unknown to students were opened up to debate and academic words deciphered, resulting in student led assessment guidelines and form to a pre-specified assessment form ie report. A shift from margins of assessment forms to a more central role for students, a space for traditionally marginalised voices, acknowledgement of the different identities of students and their difference.

Does this bring us to the point of where we are now and what’s next Alison?


The Resolution

ANN

I’ve changed. Initially I took IA at face value, a good idea, no, a great idea, I was asking why we hadn’t taken action like this before now. I do however; still have concerns about associated meanings with the word ‘inclusive,’ and its overriding use in considering choice and flexibility in the forms of assessment. However, it is more than this; it’s about power, privilege and difference (Guo and Jamai, 2014).

IA permeates my practice with students and the opportunities to have dialogues with students around assessment practice and form illuminates how IA creates an opportunity not just to give students choice but to involve them in co-creation of meaningful, assessment forms.

Selected references

Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. (1988). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. London: Continuum.

Eagleton, M. (2008). Universal design for learning. www.ebscohost.com/uploads/imported/thisTopic-dbTopic-1073.pdf

Eraut, M. (2000). Non-formal learning and tacit knowledge in professional work. British Journal of Educational Psychology 70: 113-136.

Graham, L. and Slee, R. (2013). An illusory interiority: Interrogating the discourse(s) of inclusion. Educational Philosophy and Theory 40(2): 277-293.

Hargreaves, D. H. (2003). Education Epidemic: transforming secondary schools through innovation networks. London: Demos. http://www.demos.co.uk/

Mace, R., L., Universal Design, in Designers West. 1985. p. 4.

Smith, R. (2006). Abstraction and finitude: education, chance and democracy. Studies in Philosophy and Education 25(1): 19-35.

Thaler, R. and Sunstein, C. (2009). Nudge: improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness. London: Penguin.

Wain, K. (2006). Contingency, education, and the need for reassurance. Studies in Philosophy and Education 25 (1): 37-45.

Waterfield, J. and West, B. (2010). Inclusive Assessment: Diversity and inclusion – the assessment challenge. Plymouth University.

Powercube site: http://www.powercube.net/

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Education, justice and democracy – Stephen Ball

Stephen Ball calls for a new kind of teacher and a new form of professionalism built on collaboration and cooperative action. It is posted by BERA’s blog: http://berarespectingchildren.wordpress.com and is an edited extract from Professor Stephen Ball’s report for CLASS, the Centre for Labour and Social studies, which was published in September 2013.

Please follow the link to the BERA site here for the full post:

Education, justice and democracy: the struggle over ignorance and opportunity.

I have included some of Ball’s work in my PhD thesis, particularly his use of the word ‘performativity’. First used by Lyotard (1984), Ball defines it as:

a technology, a culture and a mode of regulation that employs judgements, comparisons and displays as means of incentive, control, attrition and change based on rewards and sanctions (both material and symbolic). (2003:216)

The use of the word performativity links hegemonic practices with industrial models to achieve measurable efficiency, resulting in a culture that:

requires individual practitioners to organise themselves as a response to targets, indicators and evaluations, to set aside personal beliefs and commitments and live an existence of calculation’. (2003:215)

Lucas (2007) describes the learning environment for student teachers within the lifelong learning sector as both ‘expansive’ and ‘restrictive’. He describes an expansive learning environment as a place where there are opportunities to engage in

multiple communities of practice at and beyond the workplace, access to a multidimensional approach to the acquisition of expertise, and the opportunity to pursue knowledge-based courses and qualifications. (2007:99)

Although there are opportunities for teachers in the lifelong learning sector to collaborate and co-operate more commonly they are located within small teams. The effect of this restrictive environment can be uncertainty, resistance to risk taking, and lack of confidence in their professional knowledge and practice. Moreover, in the case of student teachers there are also restrictions placed by a teacher education curriculum that has been part of a state apparatus transferring largely uncontroversial professional standards (Simmons and Thompson 2007). While the standards referred to by Simmons and Thompson were the FENTO standards, their replacement, the LLUK New Overarching Professional Standards (LLUK 2006) continued (until their revocation in 2013) continued to restrict student teachers to a set of criteria aimed at experienced teachers (Crawley 2012). Furthermore Ellis (2010), referring to schoolteacher education, sees the landscape of teacher education as a process of acculturation to the

existing practices of the setting with an emphasis on the reproduction of routinised behaviours and the development of bureaucratic virtues such as compliance and the collection of evidence. (2010:106)

I do hope that the Professional Standards for Teachers and Trainers in England will inspire those of us working with teachers and in the lifelong learning sector to join the projects for democracy and community building, and certainly it is teacher educators who can inculcate the products and processes of collaboration and co-operative action through the initial teacher education curriculum.

 

 

Aporia……lost in transition

Some thoughts from my newest twitter friend Ann. I need to do some reading!!

annie's blogette

It was my twitter mentor, @alisoniredale. Unknowingly, she was the catalyst that caused my growing sense of confusion, panic and considerable disorientation. Just imagine, there I was playing with and enjoying twitter, feeling a little more comfortable in my solitary play mode, see January blog. When, suddenly and unexpectedly I realise that I’m engaging in a conversation. Questions were posed, but who to? I immediately felt unsure, a little confused.

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Frightened People Ticking Pointless Boxes

barrynsmith79's Blog

I earn a crust from doing inset. Yes, one of those charlatans that “teaches teachers how to teach” ‘cos he hasn’t got a clue how to hack it in the real world. Shoot me down in flames!

When I “teach teachers how to teach” my aim is generally this: I want them to walk away thinking to themselves, “Bloody hell! I am allowed to teach! I am allowed to think for myself! I am allowed to be me! I’m really good at being me! I feel all warm and tingly!”

Often this message goes down a storm and lots of teachers lap up the idea, “People, you’re the grown-ups! You’re the subject experts! Think! Know what you believe in! Be what you believe in! Don’t be a box-ticking lobotomised automaton! You deserve better! Give it some welly! You are what you are, and what you are, needs no excuses! So what…

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What’s the deal with Guided Learning Hours? Six nudges.

IMGP1985

I have been teaching in further education since 1995, and looking back I didn’t appreciate how much my professional practice has been affected by the range of funding regimes. I accepted the rationale behind initiatives that reduced my time spent with students without realising that the quality of the student experience was being sacrificed in order to maximise funding. I didn’t question why the gains made didn’t seem to find their way into my classroom.

The Ofqual blog has prompted me to offer six nudges to any future thinking on funding methodology.  Many thanks to Bob Harrison for starting me off.

#1. Field of dreams: provide a funding methodology that focusses on process and the student, not units of production.

Any funding methodology needs to have the learner experience at the heart of the process. In recent years there has been an assumption that outcomes are already known, so curricula has been written around them. Clearly this logic is flawed. Granted there is a body of knowledge, and sometimes a known set of skills attached to curricula, but the outcome belongs to the the individual (curriculum as experienced) not the institution or the funding regime. Managerialist thinking has made the mistake of thinking that students are cans of beans. They are not. The Finnish system of education has taught me that where teachers are left to teach what they know is useful, interesting and engaging, students learn and flourish. Their outcomes are good, and they progress to their next study stage or employment with the confidence that they have achieved well. By building curricula from the foundations and researching the process (collecting data through formative assessment then coding and measuring that data) teachers and students learn. Build-measure-learn.

#2. Trust, responsibility and autonomy: provide a funding methodology that focusses on teachers making decisions about time and space in curriculum planning.

Teachers should be trusted to teach. Teachers need to take responsibility for their own development. Teachers need to feel that they belong to a community which can act autonomously in the best interests of those they serve – their students. I am regularly dismayed when I hear of  a good teacher who leaves the PGCE well equipped to begin his career in teaching only to report a gradual de-skilling through the pernicious management and control regimes. Mistakes, poor planning, unruly students, low achievement etc are part and parcel of the development of professional practice.  To think that by auditing and measuring, intervening and setting up capability mechanisms professional practice will improve is to miss the basic point that experience comes with practice, practice needs to be sustained and mistakes are how we learn.

#3. The teacher as researcher: provide a funding methodology that promotes research and curriculum development.

No other profession would allow its activities to ossify in the way that we have allowed in teaching. An outmoded industrial mentality still persists (see Ken Robinson – Changing Educational Paradigms), fuelled by the superstructure and educational reproduction ideologies (see Bourdieu and Passeron 1977). Tinkering at the edges (iPads in classrooms for example) fails to appreciate the diversity of activities that teachers promote and facilitate every day. Awarding bodies control the curriculum and all sections of society have a vested interest in a status quo, apart from the ones going through the process and they are rejecting the classroom in droves. Let teachers build, measure and learn alongside their students. A teacher is a researcher, just like a medic, and their practice will develop if they are encouraged to research.

#4. Trust, violence and responsibility (Biesta 2005) : find a funding methodology that reclaims teaching and education at the heart of the process.

When students are unruly attempts are made to ‘get the buggers to behave’. Whoever coined that phrase should be hounded out of the profession! Students behave inappropriately for a variety of reasons, and while their actions may be inappropriate at the time, their reasoning is usually very sound. Students know when they are being warehoused in the name of ‘learning’. Students are bored, especially with the five part lesson, especially in sixth forms, especially when they hear aims and objectives ‘shared’ at the beginning of the lesson. Why do teachers persist in ‘meeting every learner’s need’, having something for every ‘learning style’ or ‘multiple intelligence’? Because their grade depends on it. This is such nonsense and our students know it. Bring the students into the process. Share the vision not the outcomes, share the passion not the method. When students begin to think they are not a unit of production they will like the fact that their brains hurt.

#5. Pedagogy first: find a funding methodology that promotes pedagogy

We know that ‘pedagogy’ is a funny word. It sounds odd, a bit like ‘curriculum’, it is learned on a teacher education course and then promptly jettisoned in the drive to ‘deliver’ and administer classes. While ever accountants control the budget good pedagogy hasn’t got a chance. What does an accountant know about education? Nothing – and why would they? A teacher is not expected to be an accountant… no wait, actually they are!

The question of what is educationally desirable for a particular course is rarely asked. it should be the first question. Let’s take ourselves outside education for some parallels. The horsemeat scandal – G4S – Mid Staffs – Winterborne. One thing they all have in common is the drive to reduce cost without an understanding of the implications on the quality of outcome (food that is what it claims the be, sufficiently trained staff to support an event, patients who live, people who receive basic human kindness). How much does a typical college spend on teaching as a proportion of its overall costs? It should be a large proportion and be so proud of it that it is on the home page of their websites.

#6. Learn from the Open Educational Resource (OER) movement and Massive Open Online Pedagogy (MOOP): find a funding methodology that takes education out of the marketplace.

Buildings have to be paid for, staff have to be paid, libraries have to be stocked, college executives have to apply governance. All this costs money which has to come from somewhere. But education is not a commodity. Credentialism has created a market but it is a false one, based on a false premise. We all know this because we spend our adult time researching and learning using social media, f2f networks and online fora. Hundreds of thousands of us enrol on MOOCS, and millions of us use online tutorials to help us to understand a tricky problem. Some of us rely on our social and cultural capital to get by and get on.  We don’t ask for a certificate of achievement after we’ve solved our problem. Our credentials are there to wave when we need that first or next rung on the employment ladder. They do not represent the sum of all that we are, so why peddle this ridiculous notion to our young people? If employability is the new mantra then stop subsidising employers by doing their training for them. Make them pay a proper price for the training that colleges do (very successfully in most cases). If basic skills are lacking in 16 year olds then tackle the schools’ funding methodology first. Ask why our 16 year olds arrive in college with poor literacy and numeracy after 10 years of schooling. Colleges have about 2 years to compensate for the deficit caused by poor schooling, and add some vocational value for employers to benefit from. The funding methodology should recognise this and fund it as generously as in schools.

What’s the deal with Guided Learning Hours? – Ofqual

Last night I was busy minding my own business on @Twitter reading and retweeting. I like to know what’s going on in the world of FE and the skills agenda, and I follow @NickLinford as he is always on top of things. I caught a conversation between Nick and @bobharrisonset (another mine of information). It seemed as if there was a little disagreement going on:

and

so of course I waded in.

Well one thing lead to another, including getting incensed at the word “delivery” as if it describes what teachers do:

Bob pointed me to the Ofqual website and you can read it here, including my comment:

What’s the deal with Guided Learning Hours? – Ofqual.

I said that GLH in principle are all the things stated in the viewpoint, and on the face of they perfectly acceptable as a way of measuring student entitlement. However it is the reductionist way that they are used in institutions to compact curricula and tie teachers to physical spaces that causes the problem with regard to the poor outcomes achieved by a significant number of courses. Far from ensuring quality of experience and outcome they serve as a blunt surveillance tool managed by accountants. Teachers are the best people to know how many hours should be allocated, including whole group teaching, seminar, tutorial and supervised study/practice. Find a funding formula that allows professionals to thrive in a culture of education.

The reply from Bethany Hughes was positive, promising a review to look into GLH. I am keen to be part of that consultation and would welcome the opportunity to reflect a philosophical, professional perspective. Since the demise of the FTE as a funding formula FE has been managed by accountants, keen to balance the books (not a bad thing in itself), but not in  a position to understand that ‘delivery’ based models and methodologies have no place in an education process. More to come on this when I’ve thought about the things that I would suggest to the minister for skills Matthew Hancock.

GCSE Reform

My student has written this piece about GCSE reform. it is thought provoking and worth a read.

GCSE Reform.

A Theory of Vocational Pedagogy

Professor Bill Lucas has produced a set of slides explaining the theory of vocational pedagogy. See them here:

Musings on professionalism

I am reading about professionalism, particularly with regard to the changes ahead of us in Teacher Education. I found this paper from Jill Jameson. Here are her reflections and questions at the end.

“I argue that, within a generally low trust, highly pressurised wider environment of rapid policy changes in a recession, it is important that professionals maintain their agency and autonomy within communities of practice, external as necessary, and that leaders in the sector learn to build high trust environments locally using distributed or shared leadership models (Jameson, 2011a-d).
Yet it seems that these lessons may not yet have been learned sufficiently to enable a fully functioning sense of professionalism to operate within the learning and skills sector. Is this the case? If so, what can we do to facilitate higher trust environments and a more successful development of professionalism within the sector?

The full text and the references are here:
http://www.niace.org.uk/sites/default/files/documents/events…

There are some fora within my workplace for the development of communities of practice, and these are to be welcomed. Space exists to discuss teaching and learning face to face, and via Yammer, but take-up from teachers is limited so far. More importantly I have yet to see the sort of leadership that Jill advocates. Perhaps there is a correlation?

Functional Skills (FS) and online diagnostics.

A word of caution regarding online assessments/initial assessments/diagnostics and the like for FS. We (teachers) need to spend more time on interpretation and tutorial guidance with individual students once they have completed these tests. The timing is one issue. At the start of term many students do not appreciate the consequences for their studies and progression, and their understanding of the impact of the results is not as keen as it is later on (by which time it is often too late).
Another issue is the professional development of teachers. I still hear about teaching staff who mistake the process of engagement with FS with the funding imperative to enter students for FS qualifications. The first is about empowering young people to make the best of their potential, the second is often an arbitrary mechanism to maximise funding.
In my experience (co-ordinating Key Skills and Tutorials, administering online tests and working for many years with FE students) there is a continuing gap between the mechanical procedure timetabling, computer access etc) and the careful professional judgements and guidance following such instruments. Unless we integrate tutorial processes in a nuanced way then the well documented problems in FS will continue