Bousted Lets Loose! PP142

Mary Bousted
Mary Bousted

Dr. Mary Bousted, General Secretary of ATL joined us this week to talk about the state of education, initial teacher training, recruitment and retention and a lot more besides!

Originally a teacher in Harrow, Mary was a union representative for the National Union of Teachers and eventually became General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers in 2003.

Mary believes that too often DfE speak to leaders and managers, assuming they will get the voice of the profession. It’s very important to speak to techers’ representatives as well.

The views of teachers and leaders are often complementary but they are not always the same and you need to listen to the majority of the workforce.

Is there a new direction of travel at the DfE?

Mary is impressed by Justine Greening, the new Secretary of State for Education. She likes the way in which she is asking questions like ‘How did we get here?’ and ‘What’s the evidential basis for this idea?’ So we are moving to a much more careful and considered phase in education. One of the problems is that the previous decisions are still being implemented and working their way through the system. This has impacted very severely on teachers and leaders.

Is the mixed economy of routes into teaching working?

Mary believes that particularly in shortage subjects, the recruitment situation is serious and targets have not been met this year which compounds the situation from previous years. This is in the context of primary school numbers increasing and then following through to form increases in secondary numbers. Mary is also concerned to know what will happen to the thousands of overseas teachers who are already teaching here. So Mary thinks that the teacher supply model is not working – with a highly-confusing picture of different routes which she believes have been implemented far too quickly and without proper planning.

Mary says there is nothing wrong with schools taking more responsibility for teacher training but there is a limit to what schools can do.  Most schools want a partnership with Higher Education institutions rather than to do all the training themselves. She worries that a lot of trainees are getting a good grounding in classroom management and school policies but not enough input on subject knowledge development or complex issues with a big theoretical base like assessment.

I think it’s a full-blown crisis.

Mary points out that 1 in 5 maths and English lessons is now taught by a teacher who doesn’t have an A Level in that subject. Schools, she believes, are putting their best-qualified teachers into Key Stage 4 and 5 exam classes which means that teaching lower down the school is often done by those who are teaching out of subject and this is bound to affect student performance.

How do we retain excellent teachers?

Mary thinks teacher retention is as big if not a bigger problem than teacher recruitment. She mentions figures like 52% of teachers in England having less than 10 years’ experience. The research shows that young teachers are looking at the 50-60 hour week combined with the high pressure in schools where too often they feel their professional expertise isn’t valued and ‘voting with their feet’ – leaving the profession after 3 or 4 years.

Mary says that teachers in England are getting on average 4 days of CPD a year while the OECD average is 10 days and in Shanghai it’s 40 days a year.

Teachers are over-worked and under-supported.

  • We have to address the issue of pay
  • We have to do something about teacher professionalism – they need to be able to focus on the things that matter like teaching learning and assessment

Grammar schools – can they be re-designed or will they simply be a mirror image of what we have?

Mary is very concerned about the 11+ exam. She says that the Government is looking for a ‘tutor-proof’ test but that this does not exist. She cannot see how the rates of free school meals children getting into Grammar schools can be increased. She believes that it is impossible to have selection without the negative consequences it has now.

Mary also sees the location of Grammar schools as problematic because she thinks that the areas they are established in will quickly become ‘very middle class’.

Of course some Grammar schools are excellent – just as many comprehensive schools are excellent.

Mary cites a report which states that the most able children do just as well in good comprehensive schools as they do in Grammar schools and that standards are reduced in Grammar schools when selection is increased because of the need to take more children.

However, Mary points out that there is no guarantee that this policy will be implemented, particularly as it has to get through the Lords.

Where should we be looking for examples of great education systems? Just Shanghai?

Mary thinks that we have to be careful using any examples from other cultures. She points out that Shanghai are having difficulties around creativity and that many children are not included in the schools used as examples because they are internal migrant workers who do not have the right papers. So the pupils are disproportionately from the Communist Party Cadre Elite – this has a significant effect.

We do have to be very careful about ‘Policy Tourism’.

There are other examples like Sweden where deregulation of the curriculum and assessment has had very negative consequences. So it’s important to look internationally but we can’t assume that policies from elsewhere will work in the UK.

What excites you about education in the UK?

  • The creativity in classrooms
  • The real moral and ethical purpose that teachers have to try to enable every child to achieve
  • The much greater focus on teaching and learning and effective pedagogy
  • The much kinder way children are treated – as individuals  in schools
  • The fact that schools are such civilised places to be
  • Our teaching and school leadership profession are overwhelmingly excellent professionals

The National Education Union

Mary tells us about the new union which has been proposed, formed from the NUT and the ATL.

The Associaltion of Teachers and Lecturers website

Mary on Twitter

Follow of the Week

Varndean Goats!

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Creativity is Crucial in the Classroom with Lizzie Clancy – PP141

Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne
Ollie Frith
Ollie Frith

We were joined this week by Bigfoot Arts Education’s Creative Director, Lizzie Clancy. Lizzie is a passionate advocate for creativity in education but that doesn’t mean just the arts subjects. She believes that creativity should pervade everything we do in schools.

How important is creativity in the education system?

Lizzie thinks that creativity should be a core part of all teaching and learning. By creativity, she means providing young people with the opportunities to question, to explore, to imagine and to experience. This means they will be involved in every part of their learning – which helps nurture and create responsive individuals, not just those who can regurgitate facts.

We want them to be able to share opinions with their peers, to work together to find solutions to problems – to be the next generation of scientists, carers, shop assistants, all sorts!

Lizzie is concerned that the teaching some children receive doesn’t actually encompass them all the skills needed – the skills are which are inherent in creative teaching.

Does creativity improve employability?

Creativity isn’t confined to certain subjects – it means being able to be a critical thinker, to work as part of a team, to think of different ways to solve problems – which are crucial for all kinds of work.

What stops schools from getting it right in creativity?

Lizzie believes there is still a misunderstanding of what creativity is.

It’s not about arts and crafts, cutting and sticking, putting on a play, dancing or acting.

Too many teachers think they are ‘not creative’ when, in fact, all good teachers are inherently creative – they make their lessons engaging and exciting.

Lizzie Clancy
Lizzie Clancy

You don’t have to be the best actor, the best musician or the best dancer to be able to facilitate a child’s learning so they are really actively engaged.

Teachers just have to be able to set up tasks which allow students to use their imagination and creativity.

Is the EBacc damaging to creativity?

Lizzie thinks the EBacc is very damaging to creativity and the arts. There is so much emphasis on those core subjects that it sends a clear message that the arts have no place in this system. She asks what is says about those whose talents and skills lie in those other arts subjects. They are academic subjects requiring special skill sets from talented individuals.

Lizzie feels it is sending a shocking message about how we treat the arts in this country – and at the same time we celebrate the arts as one of our biggest exports.

Top tips for creativity in the classroom

  • Always question whether the lesson plan you are creating is active – which doesn’t mean moving about necessarily – it’s more about students talking and investigating for themselves
  • Ask yourself, ‘What can I do to bring it off the page?’
  • Use Bloom’s Taxonomy to focus on high order thinking
  • Use your students as a resource

For lots more including Lizzie’s utopian view of what arts education and creativity would look like in a perfect world, take a listen to the whole episode!

Lizzie@bigfootartseducation.co.uk

@BigfootArts

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The Great Homework Debate with Mark Creasy – PP140

Paul Dix
Paul Dix
Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne

This week we tackle one of the most controversial subjects amongst teachers, parents and learners – homework.

We are joined by Mark Creasy – Teacher, ITL Associate, author of ‘Unhomework’ and Sky News guest! Mark has completely changed the way he, his classes and a lot of schools think about homework.

Mark was a secondary headteacher but retrained as a primary teacher in order to go back into the classroom at upper Key Stage 2 level.

Do children in the UK have too much low-quality homework?

Homework, Mark believes, is often done to appease a policy the school has created – which itself is done to appease parents. Too often it’s one-size fits all and engineered to create less of a burden for teachers – the problem is, it often does create a burden for families.

Time spent practising learning does improve achievement but the problem is that most homework isn’t practising learning – it’s often very simple, mundane, clerical, completing of tasks that don’t extend children, don’t really look at the depth of their understanding or even prepare them for what they will meet next.

What are the worst kinds of homework?

Mark and Paul come up with some of their ‘favourite’ worst homework tasks:

  • Word searches
  • Colouring-in exercises
  • Finishing off
  • The dreaded ‘science safety poster’

Listen in for the explanations!

What is great homework and what does the research say?

There is quite a bit of research in this area, according to Mark, but it’s often unreliable because parents and children ‘know what to say’ when they are filling in questionnaires about homework. They tend to respond in ways they think will look best, rather than with the true situation.

One body of great research, however, is by John Hattie. He says that the overall effect size of homework 0.29. For the most purposeful impact, it needs to have an effect size of 0.40. When the figures are split out, Primary homework comes out at 0.15 and Secondary at 0.64.

The Homework we do at Primary School, by and large, has no impact.

The Secondary figure, however,  contains elements like preparation for coursework and extended essays.

Mark points out that Finland doesn’t have homework and it is at or near the top of various league tables of education.

So what is ‘Unhomework’ and how does it help?

Unhomework is how Mark has set homework for the past 12 or 13 years. You empower the children. Unhomework has to work in parallel with how you work in class. Children set their own learning and targets for homework and then it is self and/or peer assessed. It’s all about them beong able to develop themselves as learners.

You’ve got 30 individual pieces of homework set by children for children with teacher support.

How do you ensure children are setting it at an appropriate level to stretch themselves?

Mark believes that teachers need to give the first half term over to training the children in how to understand unhomework. In this half term, the teacher would start by setting lots of options – gold, silver or bronze – for the children to choose from. There will always be those children who say ‘what’s beyond gold?’ or ‘what’s beneath bronze’ and this leads to constructive conversations and a devloping understanding of their levels of confidence.

Another approach is the ‘title only’ homework. For example, ‘Safety’. Each child can respond to the concept of Science Lab Safety in any what they want to. Mark recalls having a different piece of homework from every child when he has used this approach – songs, videos, a safety lesson etc.

Doesn’t this cause huge marking problems?

Mark says that most of his marking becomes a two-word process – ‘I agree.’ This is because he has taken the time to train the children in peer assessment – what they think has been done effectively and what could be improved. As this is part of the on-going daily dialogue of the classroom, when the children produce more meaningful homework in this way, the marking burden has reduced.

Mark also talks about how individual teachers can make changes when they work in schools which don’t seem to support the unhomework model. Mark has seen schools transformed from within by individual teachers taking on the concepts. Often the children themselves are the catalysts for this kind of change.

Parents are crucial to the process as well, of course, and an effective conversation with parents is essential.

Unhomework – the book!

Mark on Twitter – @EP3577

Mark’s website – http://mclearning.co.uk/

Read the full show notes on the Pivotal Education site

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How to improve education with NAHT President, Kim Johnson – PP139

Paul Dix
Paul Dix
Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne

The new President of the National Association of Headteachers, Kim Johnson, joined us this week. It was great to speak to him about what happened when he took the role and what he wants to achieve in his time as President.

As an experienced Special School head, Kim is keen to ensure that these schools are not overlooked. Her are his top three priorities:

Kim Johnson
Kim Johnson
  1. Teacher Assessment – to get the government to trust the profession over assessment and accountability
  2. Get quality individuals not just to enter the teaching profession but actually to stay
  3. Raise the profile of Special educational Needs – to make sure it’s not an after-thought or an add-on and base developments on new scientific research

Details of the NAHT conference are here – https://pivotaleducation.com/event/building-a-successful-team-around-the-child/

Paul also managed to catch up with Pivotal Education Creative Lead, Tara Ellie just before she set off for Australia. Tara is now working full-time for Pivotal and is enjoying investigating all sort so initiatives from around the world so they can be used to help transform the lives of children.

Read the full show notes on the Pivotal Education site

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How to lower the threat and increase the challenge with Mary Myatt – PP138

Paul Dix
Paul Dix
Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne

We had a great conversation this week with author, educationalist and Ofsted inspector, Mary Myatt. We talked about why high challenge and low threat are a good combination and we also answered an email question about noisy lunchtimes!

Mary works in schools talking to pupils, teachers and leaders about learning, leadership and the curriculum.  She advises, writes and trains and she supports schools to think imaginatively about learners’ progress.

Mary Myatt
Mary Myatt

High Challenge Low Threat by Mary Myatt

MaryMyatt.com

Mary explains that high challenge high threat closes us down from our best possible work.

High threat starts pushing the buttons for fear, for retreating and for a lack of clarity of thinking.

What about high expectations? Are those sometimes a threat?

Mary believes we are programmed to want high challenge, high expectations but our responses need to be seen as separate from ourselves. We mustn’t be led to believe that we are foolish or wrong for attempting to rise to the challenge of high expectations – it’s all down to how the challenge is expressed and reacted to by schools and leaders. It must be effectively modelled by them themselves.

Senior leaders need to open up to their vulnerabilities as well and show where they haven’t always got things right.

This helps to make them stronger leaders.

Mary also points out that…

Read the full show notes on the Pivotal Education site

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How to make the best of a bad start in behaviour – PP137

Paul Dix
Paul Dix
Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne

Paul returned to the podcast this week and we answered an email from an NQT who completed her PGCE recently. She says she is now struggling with her behaviour management.

In hindsight, she says, she would have  started the year differently by being more consistent and she is now struggling to bring the behaviour back to where she wants it to be. She is following the school’s behaviour policy but it’s just not working for her, including the school standard of using a ‘hand up’ which means ‘stop talking and listen’. In her Yesr 2 class, she has tried to use:

  •  Praising the positives using stickers
  • Marbles in the class marble jar
  • A ‘happy list’ for those doing the right thing

She is following the school policy for sanctions and has tried to remind the children of the expectations but is really keen to know where she might be going wrong.

Paul thinks the immediate problem is calling the children to order. He believes ‘hands up’ isn’t a particularly effective technique for the youngest children. This is because the children are in control of when the class comes to order. The teacher is passive, waiting for the children to nudge each other and notice that the teacher is waiting. This can take a long time, particularly with a Year 2 class who are busy and involved in their learning – they aren’t constantly checking what the teacher is doing and you wouldn’t want them to be doing that. So it’s important you have a mechanism that means you, the teacher decides when the class should come to order.

Calling the class to order is a ‘keystone routine’.

Instead of hands up, Paul recommends a countdown embellished loudly with positive observations:

For example – 5: Perfect Chelsea, you’ve got your eyes on me – 4: Brilliant that table – 3: If you could just pop those things back on the – lovely, thank you – 2: etc.

If anyone is still speaking when you get to zero, apply a warning, give a reminder of the rule.

Reflect on your performance

Also, it’s important to reflect on your performance in that countdown. This is because there is something about the tone of your voice which is crucial – the pace, the enthusiasm with which you notice good behaviour means it will work better next time. If the children sense that you don’t really believe that it’s going to work then it won’t. Keep going – keep practising.

Keep going for 30 days

Remember the 30 day rule…

Read the full show notes on the Pivotal Education site

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Julia Skinner on how to get children reading and writing – and loving it! PP136

Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne
Ollie Frith
Ollie Frith

Ollie and Kevin managed to speak to former headteacher and creator of the 100 Word Challenge, Julia Skinner, this week.

Julia ‘rediscovered’ herself via social media and blogging after retiring from teaching. She believes young people can be engaged with reading and writing through the power of blogging and that teachers can benefit hugely from the use of social media.

How valuable is social media to teachers?

“Twitter saved me!”

Julia Skinner
Julia Skinner

Julia describes the first 6 months of her retirement as ‘hell’. Via Twitter, she discovered that there was a whole world of ‘mummy bloggers’ out there and so she decided to set up a blog called ‘What Will Julia Do Next?’ to fill up her days as she thought that maybe she wanted to be a writer. This first blog included what she called ‘Tales from the Head’s Room’ were she told comic stories about teaching. After a suggestion, she made this a professional blog – ‘The Head’s Office’ which also had its own Twitter account. This opened up a new world of professional conversation.

So Julia believes that all teachers can benefit from Twitter. She is also just getting involved in Facebook but prefers the immediacy of Tweeting and calls it ‘a hugely beneficial source of CPD’. She says that there are so many generous people out there that you can just put out a question and you will get a response pretty quickly – particularly if it’s a call for help.

“If I was still a headteacher, I would encourage all my teachers to have Twitter accounts.”

Julia points out that schools themselves have a role to play in encouraging participation amongst staff but they are usually more nervous than the teachers so there should be training available for SLTs and Governors. Northern Ireland are particularly active – teachers and their classes.

How would you encourage teachers to get started themselves professionally on Twitter?

  • Sign up with Twitter as normal
  • Make sure your profile includes what you do and a general area of the country
  • Find accounts like Julia’s and David Mitchell’s by Googling ‘educators who tweet’ and follow those
  • Contact these teachers and tell them you are new to Twitter – they will send out a tweet to their followers to welcome you
  • You will get followers this way and you must then follow it up – get involved in the conversations which are happening

How can we engage learners better in reading and writing?

Julia has developed the 100 Word Challenge which involves a weekly prompt from Julia which can be:

  1. 5 individual words
  2. Part of a sentence
  3. A picture

Young people look at the prompt, discuss it with their friends or work on their own to produce a creative piece of writing as near as possible to being 100 words long.

“The 100 Word Challenge only has one rule – that there are no rules.”

The learners can write about anything. The writing is always published on a blog and linked back to the 100 Word Challenge site. Anyone can click the links on the site to read any of the submitted writing and hopefully comment on it. Julia has a team of about 300 volunteers across the world who read and comment on the writing every week. Most of the time, children only have one member of their audience – their teacher. Taking part in 100 Word Challenge increases this audience to a global level.

Julia loves visiting schools to…

Read the rest of the show notes on the Pivotal Education site

New App!

There is a new Pivotal App available with a host of new features. Download it from Google Play or the Apple App Store.

#HotChocFri!

Tweet to @PivotalPaul or email Paul@pivotaleducation.com if you are a Headteacher and he will send you what you need to take part in the #HotChocFri project. Join in with the positive reinforcement for one or two of your learners who have gone over and above each week.

Send in your suggestions for guests!

We already have a brilliant line-up of guests arranged for the podcast but if there’s anyone you are dying to hear from, let us know by leaving a voicemail (bottom left of the page), sending an email to podcast@pivotaleducation.com or tweeting @PivotalPodcast.

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Marcus Cherrill on how to transform your classroom with music – PP135

Mike Armiger
Mike Armiger
Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne

Mike and Kevin spoke to Marcus Cherrill this week about how to transform a classroom with music.

Marcus is a Digital Champion, educator, trainer and consultant who is also Director of  I Can Teach Ltd. Amongst other roles, he spent 15 years as a head of year, teaching science but also maths, ICT and even Italian and French. Marcus also did a short spell at an EBD schools for boys which he describes as ‘eye opening’.

Marcus established I Can Teach in 2007 which was a side project to enable teachers to use

Marcus Cherrill
Marcus Cherrill

music in the classroom. In 2015 he finally decided to work for himself full time.

How can music have a positive effect on learning and behaviour?

Marcus believes music is very powerful – it has a huge cognitive and emotional impact. You only need to consider military marching bands and Zulu warriors beating their shields to know that there is something primeval about music. It’s deeply embedded into our psyches to respond to rhythms, to lyrics, to different sounds. When it’s used carefully and constructively it can make a real difference.

How can we use it?

Marcus mentions the work of Julian Treasure who has done a lot in the area of background music for shops. His company creates ‘Soundscapes’ which have been shown to have an impact on shopping trends and spending habits in retail. Marcus believes we can apply the same kind of psychology to a classroom. He ‘trains’ students to behave in certain ways when they hear certain kinds of music. He uses calming ‘chill out’ music for after break times, for example, and for other times he employs ‘wake up’ music to get the students active and burning off energy.

Volume is really important but try putting on the theme music to Mission Impossible if you have a 3-minute timed task.

You can even have fun by taking children back to their earlier days as a warm up and playing ‘Head Shoulders Knees and Toes’!

Behaviour

Marcus thinks ..

Read the rest of the show notes on the Pivotal Education site

New App!

There is a new Pivotal App available with a host of new features. Download it from Google Play or the Apple App Store.

#HotChocFri!

Tweet to @PivotalPaul or email Paul@pivotaleducation.com if you are a Headteacher and he will send you what you need to take part in the #HotChocFri project. Join in with the positive reinforcement for one or two of your learners who have gone over and above each week.

Send in your suggestions for guests!

We already have a brilliant line-up of guests arranged for the podcast but if there’s anyone you are dying to hear from, let us know by leaving a voicemail (bottom left of the page), sending an email to podcast@pivotaleducation.com or tweeting @PivotalPodcast.

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Natalie Scott – Blogger of the Year on Jungle Teaching – 134

Paul Dix
Paul Dix
Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne

It was a privilege to speak to TES Blogger of the Year 2016, Natalie Scott, this week.

Natalie is a teacher, a senior leaders, currently working as a Specialist Leader of Education and has volunteered in the ‘Calais Jungle’ camp.

What did your time at the sharp end of school leadership teach you?

Natalie learned that although she is a perfectionist, that doesn’t work for all teachers or students. When she went into a school which was requiring improvement, she relied on processes and procedures when it may have been better to be ‘softer’ and get to know staff better in the first place. It was a mistake in retrospect to have been ‘The Ice Queen’.

Natalie was also a leader in a school where (she started blogging) which was part of a huge academy chain and was very Ofsted-driven, with a lot of staff feeling fear. She found out that if you are asking staff to do something you are not prepared to do yourself or doesn’t directly impact on the children, then it’s not worth doing. She realised her values didn’t align in that school so she needed to leave.

Natalie Scott
Natalie Scott

What made you go to the ‘Calais Jungle’ and teach?

Working 7am to 7pm in school eventually caused Natalie to burn out. She felt that she was restricted as a classroom teacher and was having to give out messages as a leader which she didn’t believe in. She decided she didn’t want to teach again.

Then Natalie received a call from the headteacher she had worked for in the Isle of Wight. He and another teacher were preparing to travel to Calais after hearing that the was no educational provision at all in the camp. There was a school but it was being run by people with no experience of teaching. He told Natalie to ‘stop sulking’ and join them in Calais.

Natalie describes ‘The Jungle’ as a lot like a shanty town and praises the ingenuity and imagination of the people who live there. There are restaurants, shower facilities, a make-shift Church, a library and a theatre. Despite this, the people are living in poverty. Natalie found it mind-blowing. She taught teenagers as there weren’t many younger children there.

Shortly after this, she moved to Dunkirk where there was another illegal camp. The main population here was middle class families, mainly Kurds. They didn’t want to put their children into the intimidating atmosphere of Calais. This camp, however, was a field of mud and raw sewerage, full of children and educated parents who didn’t want to be in the Calais environment. There were no toilet facilities at the Dunkirk camp at all. The doctors, lawyers and teachers who lived there had fled their homes and now had nothing.

As Natalie points out, she realised that her teacher problems in the UK were nothing compared with the problems of these people just over the Channel.

With no equipment, no facilities, what does great teaching come down to?

Questioning was the most important skill…

Read the rest of the show notes on the pivotal Education site

Support the charity Natalie worked with either individually or with your school:

http://www.edlumino.org/ and https://twitter.com/Edlumino

Follow Natalie:

on Twitter and at her blog

TES Blogger of the Year!

Natalie picks up her award!
Natalie picks up her award!

Tweets of the Week

New App!

There is a new Pivotal App available with a host of new features. Download it from Google Play or the Apple App Store.

#HotChocFri!

Tweet to @PivotalPaul or email Paul@pivotaleducation.com if you are a Headteacher and he will send you what you need to take part in the #HotChocFri project. Join in with the positive reinforcement for one or two of your learners who have gone over and above each week.

Send in your suggestions for guests!

We already have a brilliant line-up of guests arranged for the podcast but if there’s anyone you are dying to hear from, let us know by leaving a voicemail (bottom left of the page), sending an email to podcast@pivotaleducation.com or tweeting @PivotalPodcast.

Read the full show notes on the Pivotal Education site

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Carlene Firmin on gangs, exploitation and violence – research and practice – PP133

Paul Dix
Paul Dix
Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne

Dr. Carlene Firmin MBE  joined us this week to share her wealth of research on and practical experience with gangs, exploitation and violence amongst young people.

Carlene is Senior Research Fellow at the International Centre, researching Child Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking and was awarded her MBE for service to women and girls.

Does the language we use to describe children make a difference?

Carlene believes language use makes a big difference. If we use words such as ‘manipulative’, ‘promiscuous’ or ‘street-wise’, it focusses our attention on what we need to do to ‘fix them’ rather than thinking about why they might be behaving the way they are. We end up sounding like we are blaming them for how they are behaving. This is generally unconscious on the part of the adults and we live in a society which tends to focus on the people who are exhibiting a behaviour rather than the behaviour itself.

How can we avoid this use of language?

Professionals need to be confident to challenge and to question. They must try not to condone and accept – even through silence. So we need to be aware of the phrases we use.

For example, saying, ‘They won’t engage with us’, places the onus on the young people whereas saying, ‘We haven’t been able to engage with them’, encourages us to problem solve.

Carlene Firmin
Carlene Firmin

MsUnderstood

Carlene is also involved in MsUnderstood which is a partnership between the University of Bedfordshire, Imkaan, and the Girls Against Gangs Project. It aims to improve local and national responses to young people’s experiences of inequality.

There has been work in projects across England to develop approaches to help those who are experiencing harm by concentrating on the environments where the harm occurs. They have developed a suite of practical resources which are being published in September 2016.

How are women affected by gang violence?

After a huge amount of research and work, Carlene has come to the understanding that it depends how the young woman is connected to gang violence and what that association means to her. They could be involved in gang violence themselves, have fiends, relatives or partners in a gang, or multiples of these. So her experience and what it means to her could be very different from someone else. This means that girls’ connections to gangs and violence may be stonger or weaker and so they can find it more or less easy to remove themselves from the situation.

Practical results of Carlene’s work

As a result of the research programmes…

Read the rest of the show notes on the Pivotal Education site

Tweet of the Week

New App!

There is a new Pivotal App available with a host of new features. Download it from Google Play or the Apple App Store.

#HotChocFri!

Tweet to @PivotalPaul or email Paul@pivotaleducation.com if you are a Headteacher and he will send you what you need to take part in the #HotChocFri project. Join in with the positive reinforcement for one or two of your learners who have gone over and above each week.

Send in your suggestions for guests!

We already have a brilliant line-up of guests arranged for the podcast but if there’s anyone you are dying to hear from, let us know by leaving a voicemail (bottom left of the page), sending an email to podcast@pivotaleducation.com or tweeting @PivotalPodcast.

Read the full show notes on the Pivotal Education site

(Creative Commons Sound clip by Johnny Pixel Productions, Inc. – http://www.johnny-pixel.com/ http://www.freesound.org/people/jppi_Stu/)