This week, Ollie went to speak to Headteacher of Hightown Junior, Infant and Nursery School, Russell Ingleby. Russell is going to be sending audio diary entries into the podcast over the coming months so, in this introductory episode, Ollie finds out more about Russell, his school and his philosophy around ‘The Hightown Way’.
It was great to welcome Kiran Gill onto the podcast to start our 2019 episodes.
Kiran is Founder and CEO of The Difference – an organisation which
is creating a new generation of school leaders, specialist in improving outcomes for the most vulnerable children.
Kiran began her career in inner-city London, as an English teacher in schools serving the most deprived postcodes in the country. After five years on the frontline, Kiran left to work in education policy, searching for solutions to the rising number of vulnerable children who fall through the gaps. Kiran was working at Social Mobility Commission when she conceived the idea for The Difference. She has led its work full-time since January 2017.
Kiran is driven by her own family experiences. Growing up with two adopted sisters, Kiran witnessed the long-term effects of childhood trauma and the lack of support for young people with complex needs. This insight is what keeps Kiran striving for the most vulnerable children to get the education they deserve.
Follow the link to find out how you can develop your career, learn from Alternative Provision settings and then reduce exclusions in mainstream schools.
At the moment there are 50,000 students in the sector for excluded pupils. There were only 7,000 permanently excluded last year…It’s been estimated that 20,000 pupils disappeared off rolls last year.
Kiran believes there isn’t enough understanding about what really works with vulnerable children and we don’t celebrate our inclusive schools enough. High stakes accountability is a problem and it isn’t matched by high support at the moment.
Also, Kiran says that the idea of an ‘ideal level’ of exclusions is unrealistic and unhelpful. There are schools who are great at reducing exclusions and these are the schools who are also:
- Proactive at supporting children’s wellbeing and safeguarding needs
- Good at spotting problems before they escalate
Should Alternative Provision be given the best resources or just given what’s left over?
Kiran argues strongly that it is nonsensical not to invest in our most vulnerable learners. Her organisation have worked out that nationally less than 2% of excluded children who sit GCSEs in a Pupil Referral Unit, achieve passes in English and Maths. At age 20, almost three quarters still won’t have passes in these subjects and are therefore much less likely to access employment, be prone to mental ill health and, in perhaps the most shocking statistic of all, one in two of the prison population were excluded from school.
The lifetime cost of provision for just the pupils excluded last year is £2.9 billion
You will probably know Vic Goddard from the TV show, Educating Essex but in this week’s episode he talks candidly to Tara Elie about a wide range of topics including:
- Whether he would agree to filming in his school now
- His experiences with Ofsted
- How damaging he thinks overtesting is
- Tips for surviving in school at Christmas
Vic Goddard came into public view several years ago through Educating Essex, a fly-on-the-wall documentary filmed in the Harlow secondary school he leads and capturing the ups and downs, tears and laughter of typical school life.
It was a seminal and highly popular TV programme that spawned several spin-off series, not to mention a great deal of publicity in the national press, a highlight of which was being referred to as ‘the worst headteacher in the country’ by the Daily Mail.
Thrust into the limelight, Vic became a national figure and is still a regular visitor to various breakfast TV sofas to talk about the latest government policies or educational issues of the day, as well as a founding member of the Headteacher’s Roundtable pressure group.
Tweet of the Week
Ollie Frith gives an exclusive insiders’ viewpoint on Pivotal’s Recent Instructors’ Conference this week. There are clips from some of the sessions and lots of inspiration from delegates and organisers.
Ollie encourages us all to Stop, Collaborate and Listen, rather than blindly following ‘what we have always done’.
The video Paul uses in his session:
Tweet of the week:
So happy to have brought this into my classroom after seeing the positive impact it is having in the rest of the school😁 @NewtongrangePS #meetandgreet #positiverelationships pic.twitter.com/FopuLpNYYU
— Becca Hunter (@missBChunter) 1 December 2018
Siobhan has been headteacher of a Primary school in Morecambe, Lancashire for 14 years. Morecambe is a coastal town with pockets of extreme deprivation from which the school’s intake is drawn. The school has established outstanding Pastoral Support systems and makes excellent use of links with other agencies and sectors. Siobhan works as a member of the County LSCB on projects to improve multi-agency practice, and on her local mental health transformation plan steering group. She contributes articles for TES on mental health and educational issues and gave written and verbal evidence to the recent joint Education and Health Parliamentary Inquiry into the role of schools in promoting positive mental health for children and young people.
This week, Mike talks to Siobhan about her experiences of working in this environment and how the school she leads seeks to ‘close more than one gap’.
How does poverty affect your children and families?
Siobhan points out that you can’t get away from poverty – it pervades everything. She believes that the concept of ‘closing the gap’ is unhelpful because it appears to be suggesting that there’s only one gap. It’s as if the right intervention or support will suddenly ‘magic away’ all of the issues. There is a constant pressure from poverty and the gap widens all the time.
Siobhan mentions the children who have access to a cultural experience bank and social capital that others simply don’t access at all.
“…just going on walks with their parents and talking about the Autumn leaves – these are daily experiences our children don’t get…”
Their vocabulary is severely limited, their life experiences are limited, their ability to take turns and socialise with people is limited but on top of all this, they are hungry and tired, they may have lived with several adverse childhood experiences – all of these things add up to an absolute chasm for these children.
There is a growing group of in-work parents who are struggling financially, particularly because of the complex way benefits are worked out.
What can educational provisions do to help families who are living in poverty?
Siobhan believes we first and foremost have to have hope and optimism.
“The way out of poverty is through a high quality education.”
Siobhan’s school has a set of 5 values which she uses to help all the children. This means that when you visit her school, you will see happy children who are engaged by their teachers and their lessons.
Ashley Mclaren is a criminologist who has recently completed her Master’s thesis. Tara spoke to her about unconscious bias but Ashley has also been influenced by Dr. Karen Graham who has worked on the ‘School to Prison Pipeline’.
Ashley’s thesis is entitled, ‘Black and Blue – an exploration of the work and identity as a civic shield. ‘ She concentrates on the issues of black men versus the police, particularly the use of stop and search from black men’s perspective. Ashley felt there was a lot of research on the numbers of stop and search but not really any on how the black men felt about how they were being treated. There is also some very interesting work around how ethnic minorities are likely to behave when stopped by the police. However, this was US research and all hypothetical – Ashley wanted to see if it applied to the UK and also if it was borne out in reality. So she interviewed 8 black men from 18 – 40 years old. Ashley describes what she found out.
How schools prepare kids for prison
Ashley heard Dr. Karen Graham speak as a guest lecturer on her course. She spoke about how schools are inadvertently preparing ethnic minority and other marginalised kids for prison life.
“It was interesting to see the correlation between schools and what was happening in prison life.”
In the US, 50% of men in prison are black compared with 20% in the population while in the UK, the situation is actually worse – 1 in 10 prisoners are black compared with 2.8% of the population. This is alongside the fact that the highest rates of exclusion in the UK are amongst Gypsy, Romany, Traveller or Irish heritage and Black Caribbean students are more than three times more likely to be permanently excluded.
Some of the themes which emerged in Ashley’s research included:
- Family environment – if all you see is crime there is an increased chance you will go into that world (although some react against it of course)
- Arbitrary school practices – e.g. having to do PE in silence
- Experience of violence – from parents or teachers
- Segregation – educational exclusions, school exclusion and physical isolation
Ollie Frith guides us through some of the earliest episodes of the podcast which cover aspects of the Five Pillars of Pivotal Practice:
- Consistent, calm adult behaviour
- First attention to best conduct
- Relentless routines
- Scripted interventions
- Restorative follow up
The episodes he refers to are:
We also mention the audio book version of Paul Dix’ book as our Tweet of the Week:
— Crown House Publishing (@CrownHousePub) November 12, 2018
Tara Elie welcomes Emma Brown back shortly after her previous visit to answer some questions about autism from podcast listeners.
Emma is a Practice Development Coach working in Social Care with clients who have learning disabilities and/or Autism. The answers to the questions posed are equally applicable to those in mainstream settings who come into contact with children with learning disabilities and/or Autism.
Emma works with the teams who support people with learning disabilities in their homes, to help them to live as independently as possible. She provides training and coaching for the teams.
The Classroom Environment
Emma begins with practical tips about the use of classroom space for teachers who work with autistic children. These include the fact that adults are part of the classroom environment themselves and aspects of our classrooms such as lighting are not usually considered – but they can have a dramatic influence on the learning experience for children on the Autism Spectrum.
Glenn Martin from Manor School asks: As a classroom teacher how can we support students on the Autism spectrum to be in mainstream education?
Jonathon Piltcher from Brompton Academy asks: How can we encourage creativity and unlock it when some autistic children don’t think they can be or have been told they can’t?
Restorative Practice for those with Autism
Emma shares some remarkable insights in this area including the concept that the best restorative conversations are often with the staff, rather than with the students.
Finally, Tara explains the idea of Social Stories which can help those with ASD enormously.
This week, Paul speaks to Elaine Halligan. The London director of The Parent Practice, Elaine has been a parenting facilitator since 2006, teaching parents in the Wimbledon and Clapham centres.
She works in schools and nurseries, coordinates our corporate and business seminar programme and works with special educational needs such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia.
Elaine came into parenting thinking she should instinctively know how to parent. She sought parenting advice when she felt guilty when she thought she had done a ‘bad job’ and ashamed when she saw someone else parenting the way she wished she could. Being a parent is the most demanding job she has ever done but equally it is a role filled with joy.
Elaine has helped hundreds of families to understand their child’s unique temperament and motivates parents to bring out the best in children and teenagers to ensure they have the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives and be able to cope with life’s knocks.
One of the most powerful aspects of the interview with Elaine is when she tells the remarkable and shocking story of her own son’s experience in education. From the moment he entered nursery school, he had difficulties. Elaine had to move him between private and state schools as well as special school settings until finally finding a school which could give him what he needed. He was initially labelled as ‘the naughty one’ and it was a long time before Elaine realised that her son was not the problem – he had problems. He was ‘hard wired’ to get attention from people, which led to some very difficult situation. It was these experiences which led Elaine to leave her job and devote her time and talents to helping her son and his teachers – and then to helping other parents.
“If you have a child who is different, you are judged.”
Elaine also had to cope with a plethora of bewildering diagnoses. She was told her son had all kinds of different conditions:
- Asperger’s Syndrome
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Sensory Integration Dysfunction
- Oppositional Defiance Disorder
- Pathological Demand Avoidance
- Pragmatic Semantic Language Disorder
What can teachers do to help?
Eliane explains one of the concepts she thinks is useful in helping children to raise their self esteem – which is based on an understanding of a function of the brain referred to as the Reticular Activating System.
“Once you start looking for the positives, you’ll find them.”
The RAS searches for what you are focussing on. So, when you buy a new car, you see lots of the same model each time you go out. Similarly, if you start actively looking for the positive in learners, you suddenly find you see it all the time. The brain filters out what it sees as unimportant to you. Humans are hard-wired to look for mistakes and point them out but we can subvert this by training yourself to look for positive things.
Ruth McKay is Headteacher at Portobello High School, a large comprehensive in the east of Edinburgh.
Ruth began her career as an English teacher and quickly moved into Guidance and Pastoral Care. Following a national secondment looking at new ways to measure progress and improvement in education, she spent time working in a local authority as a Quality Improvement Officer before returning to school as a Depute Head Teacher. This is her second headship.
With a particular interest in responses to Adverse Childhood Experience (ACEs), Ruth co-organised the highly successful Portobello Learning Festival on this theme in June 2018. A second Portobello Learning Festival will take place in June 2019 on the theme of ‘Changing Relationships, Changing Lives’.