Disseminating good practice and celebrating achievement in Wiltshire
Produced by the School Improvement and Support Branch
Volume Four Number Two Spring 2003
Wiltshire Journal of EducationTop of Page
Welcome to the second issue of Volume 4.
The aims of the Journal remain as follows
After the success of our first special last Autumn on creativity and learning we are pleased to produce this special on Able, gifted and talented issues. This edition is another "first"as the full articles are available on-line.
We are also producing a newsletter version entitled "Research in Focus"
If you would like to go on the mailing list for "Research in Focus"or have any comments on this edition please use the contact us button.
If you wish to contribute to future issues, please submit articles by the end of January, April or September for publication after half-term. Contributions should be sent in WORD format and either electronically transferred or sent on disc to
Susan McCulloch, editor
In this issue of the Wiltshire Journal of Education we are pleased to publish two articles on mentoring, The first article by Sarah Fletcher, a lecturer at the University of Bath, investigates research mentoring and provides guidelines on being an effective BPRS research mentor. She also explores the value of classroom based research and looks to the future post-BPRS. In the second linked article Karen Collins from Westwood St Thomas School explores the value and impact of mentoring a group of Gifted and Talented students in years 9 and 10.
Either interim or final reports on 7 pieces of classroom based action research The research reports cover a wide range of topics a digest of these can be found in the newsletter version "Research in focus" which is sent to all schools and linked institutions - plus a reminder of details of other publications which support good classroom practice.
As always we are interested in any comments on this and previous editions
plus contributions in the form of articles, research reports and pupils
work is very welcomed.
11.58 am Made it! The parcel of individually packaged bids is handed over to the Post Room at the University. In all 32 bids for Best Practice Research Scholarships have been submitted, each for a £2,500 share of the DfES research fund. Theres a sense of huge excitement in seeing so many hopes and so much potential in teacher research contained in one fairly small package, bulging with three copies of each research overview, each application form, each financial overview (carefully checked out by the Head of the Education Department at the University of Bath) and each set of covering letters from headteachers, group leaders and from me, as the named Research Mentor for each bid. But theres a sense of sadness too. This wonderful scheme, which has provided £1000s of support for the past two years for individual teachers in Wiltshire, is to be abolished.
As I reflect on my work as a research mentor over the past two years, I realise just how much the scheme has reinforced my determination that the knowledge created by teachers must be recognised by and disseminated for all professional educators working with students. Traditionally what counts as educational knowledge, as Jack Whitehead my colleague at the University has said, resides in the Academy. Higher education (HE) academics have often decided for teachers what knowledge should be and how to access and accredit it. I am not decrying knowledge created in this way. Much fine research emerges from higher education, but what has been important about the BPRS scheme and remains crucial to the Wiltshire research scheme is that teachers who create knowledge are taking, ownership of the process of expressing pedagogical insights to assist learning.
What evidence have I got that teachers knowledge is being increasingly valued in HE? There are so many BPRS/TTA funded opportunities for teachers research in HE now! How things have changed. When I came to Bath, I had been teaching for twenty three years in schools, as a classroom teacher, Head of Department, Head of Year, Head of Faculty, initial teacher training supervisor and latterly as a subject mentor for ITT I had a Masters degree from the Institute of Education where I had studied in my spare time. I had taught in primary, middle, secondary and upper schools and had experience of teaching every subject in a middle school curriculum to teaching two subjects at A level. I had already been offered the opportunity to undertake a PhD at London and at Oxford. Imagine my surprise to be told It must be really hard for you to come to (Higher Education) where nobody values what you have done for the past twenty years. This was meant perhaps as a way of trying to assuage my concerns about overcoming the cultural and linguistic gulf that certainly then divided schools and higher education. Now through my research mentoring I have had the joy and fulfilment of bridging this gulf! What do I mean by research mentoring that distinguishes it from other mentoring? The Guidelines for research Mentors that I was invited to write by the DfES are on the www.teachernet.gov.uk website research mentors enable teachers to do their research. Do have a look at the case studies of teachers research as well as the mentor guidelines
http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/Professional_Development/opportunities/bprs/mentor/Guidelines for BPRS Research Mentors
You are in a privileged position as a research mentor working with teachers and this role carries responsibilities as well as the enjoyment of sharing enquiry. These guidelines are intended as a helpful framework for your own professional development as well as that of teachers. Mentoring is a two way learning process. Bearing simple, important guidelines in mind should ensure this your professional role is a key BPRS ingredient!
Teachers are professional educators who have knowledge that you are helping them to develop. Your role is not to do research for teachers but to help them do their own research and to inspire them to see research as part of teaching.
Your initial role is to help teachers identify a suitable research focus. Some teachers are not quite sure how to frame a focused question of their own. It is vital they feel ownership of the research process. Ask them about what really matters to them in their own practice so they identify their embodied values. Using these in explaining their work will help them to create new knowledge.
Research mentoring is not synonymous with tutoring any award bearing courses. Teachers may seek accreditation for their research and hopefully will, because it can add professional gravitas. This is not a requirement of BPRS.
Try to create occasions to help teachers to share their knowledge and ensure that teachers BPRS reports are being disseminated as widely as possible.
In working with teachers and suggesting the most appropriate kinds of research methodology to help their enquiries, you need to be open-minded.You need to have a sound understanding and readiness to suggest research methods from a wide range of approaches rather than promoting just one kind.
Research by teachers is not necessarily the same as action research but action research, especially where teachers are asking How can I improve my teaching with class X in subject Y? can be a useful way of approaching enquiry. You can download a free booklet for action research from www.jeanmcniff.com
Your role is to help teachers synthesise what they find through enquiry into a wider research base you need to be able to refer to others research to help the teacher researcher engage with new ideas to broaden their understandings.
Your most important personal quality is the capacity to listen appreciatively. Remember this is not your own research project it is the teachers research and you need to listen and synthesize what you hear and mirror it back in a way that will enable the teachers to engage with it creatively and productively.
Your second most important quality is the capacity to ask targeted questions in a sympathetic and supporting way that will encourage a growth of enquiry. Provide time and space for the teachers to develop their own responses to these. It is tempting to try to provide solutions and sometimes you can and should, but your role is to enable teachers to become more expert researchers.
Have at your disposal a list of useful websites. Encourage teachers to send in extracts from their own research diaries, their reports on progress, their stories about how and why and where they are researching and their research findings (with photos) to share with teacher researchers at www.teacherresearch.net. Why not send in writings about your work as a research mentor to share too?
Encourage teachers to make contact with and subscribe to appropriate organisations such as BERA, BEMAS and CARN and to liaise with their subject and professional associations.
You will need to support teachers as they write up their reports for publication. The minimum requirement of BPRS is to submit a Level 1 report to this website. It is useful for you to read through their level 1 report before it is submitted to the DfES. They may also need advice in deciding whether to produce a level 2 or level 3 report in addition to the level 1 report.
Help teachers in the dissemination of their research findings. You have knowledge and access to a variety of national and international forums, share these with teachers. Where further funding would aid this dissemination encourage teachers to submit a level 3 report to apply for additional funding.
You have a vital role to play in the success of the teacher research movement!Mentors work with teachers to build capacity for them to become research mentors too. Working with 2 teachers in 2001-2 and 29 in 2002-3 I can see new mentors growing At Westwood St Thomas where I have been mentoring alongside Jack as he tutored Educational Enquiries and Methods of Educational Enquiry several of the group have expressed their readiness to undertake mentoring: Jayne, Bob, Mark, Simon among them.
I have included here a few of the examples of Westwood Enquiries being
prepared for submission at Masters level. You can see these at www.actionresearch.net
Just before Christmas 2002 Catherine and I worked together to submit a level three BPRS application for additional funding so that Catherine can develop her research website and disseminate her research. It is precisely this capacity to transfer and grow research skills that BPRS has supported. When Kevin Eames at Wootton Bassett created his doctoral thesis and wrote about "Growing our own he was signalling to the wider community in Wiltshire and beyond that teachers can do it for themselves. Teachers do not need to wait for HE academics to tell them what to do but by co-enquiry knowledge can grow. Now Mike Boshers thesis (St Johns Marlborough) is in the public domain we have the pleasure and accessibility at our fingertips through web-based technology to understand how a professional educator engages in a school context. Both theses can be accessed at www.actionresearch.net as well as these enquiries below, as they develop on-line
Karen Collins (Westwood St. Thomas School)
Jean Bell (Castledown School)
Robert Ainsworth (Westwood St. Thomas School)
Jayne Stillman (Westwood St. Thomas School)
Sally Willcocks (Westwood St. Thomas School)
Margaret Parks (Fisherton Manor School)
Mark Potts (Westwood St. Thomas School)
What is to become of the research building capacity that we have been so fortunate to participate in within Wiltshire over the past few years? What will replace the BPRS scheme? With delight and a strong sense of vision becoming reality I participated in the creation of the NCSL bid to create LE@RNING centres across Wiltshire. If the bid is successful we will be busy! Stuart Jones from Westwood St. Thomas School and I have worked with David Marriott and Nick Glass to construct a bid that embodies the values of the centrality of teacher research as empowerment and not imposed change by others. That is the outstanding contribution that the NLC bid can have not one model of teacher research undertaken by one school or even one group of school imposed across an education authority but a capacity for communities of teacher researchers to develop their own enquiries in schools and to share through mentoring their knowledge with others.
Why is this important? Why does it matter that each LE@RNING centre
retains it own identity and engages in growing its own research identity?
Each school is unique and its school improvement plan is similarly distinct.
There are no quick fixes in education to address the challenges
in schools, as Louise Stoll, my colleague has so rightly written. The
combination of the NCSL bid (if we are lucky enough to be awarded the
£50,000 matched funding) and Wiltshires own scheme for supporting
teacher research will go a long way to enable individual teachers to network
with one another through co-enquiry. BPRS is discontinued as are teacher
bursaries and the Standards Fund but we cannot allow these set backs to
detract from the tremendous progress we have made in Wiltshire. Even if
the NCSL bid is unsuccessful, networking and research mentoring will continue.
The British Educational Research Association at www.bera.ac.uk has just
announced its call for proposals for the next Annual Conference in September
lets meet up there! How about a mentoring symposium so we
can show the World what Wiltshire does? If you are interested in creating
a joint proposal e-mail me at S.J.Fletcher@bath.ac.ukSo, there we are,
up to date. The BPRS bids have all been sent off by the deadline. The
Wiltshire bids have been assessed and allocated and the NCSL bid has been
submitted. How can I research productively as I wait to see how these
various bids are evolving? One focus, as I develop on-line resources through
my site at www.teacherresearch.net is the reconstruction of its sister
site at www.mentorresearch.net It needs upgrading and with so much exciting
knowledge being created by teachers working in conjunction with Advisers
at Wiltshire LEA and tutors and mentors at the University of Bath so much
to do. I am also thinking about how the LE@RNING Centres website might
provide a new mentoring resources drawing on school web pages, linking
nationally and internationally. The visual narratives I am creating using
multi media to show how schools enquiry groups are initiated and
sustained in Wiltshire should be useful as we learn together.
"Whilst some students wanted emotional support and challenge from their Mentor, others simply wanted a person to whom they could showcase their work. An individual who could and would listen to them"The Gifted and Talented scheme at Westwood St Thomas has been in place since 2001, looking to cater for the top 5% of the schools cohort to promote and celebrate excellence and achievement. As part of the programme, it was very much the wish of the staff involved in the Gifted and Talented working party, as well as that of the G+T coordinator to begin a programme of Mentoring, which would aim principally to support students in their academic development within the school.
"One to one Mentoring at this level stops short of being formal tutoring or coaching; rather it is a relationship that is built on mutual trust and establishing credibility with students"
In discussion with the G+T working party in April 2002, all staff involved in the party agreed to become the first of the identified Mentors for the programme. It was also decided to begin working with identified Year 10 students as a sample year group, approximately 35 individuals who were identified previously in one or more curriculum areas. Given the nature of time commitments and realistic expectations, it was agreed that students would have an interview once a term, within an identified two-week period. It was the responsibility of the Mentor to arrange the interview via the tutor.
We established that the key needs of G+T pupils were to be that they needed to be constantly challenged to remain focused and motivated, and that they needed emotional support and help at times, in additional to academic tutoring. Several cases have emerged, whereby Mentors have aided students to develop soft skills such as dealing with loss, failure, anger, bereavement and bullying. These are skills, which are not explicitly taught within the National Curriculum.
After one term of pilot interviews a discussion then took place, together with Sarah Fletcher at the University of Bath, on how to move the scheme onto the next level, including identifying Mentors for Year 9 students.
We then proceeded to lay down the core foundations of the scheme:
* The G+T coordinator would talk to students as a group in order to explain the purpose and reasoning behind the Mentoring scheme
* All participation would be voluntary.* Training would be provided for all Mentors before the first session took place. Mentors need support as well.
* Follow-up sessions would occur for all Mentors who wished to take advantage of this opportunity to discuss and reflect on their experiences as twig light sessions.
* Each Mentor would write a resume of their interests and reasons for joining the scheme in order to advertise themselves to potential Mentees
* The G+T coordinator would then meet a second time with the students involved and allow each one to read the resume of the Mentors available before making a choice of three people whom they would wish to work with in order of preference.
* The G+T coordinator would then try to match each student as close to his or her wishes as possible
* The Mentors would be informed of the student that they were working with, and of their identified areas of strength.
* Students would be invited for interview once a term, with an agreed time established between subject teacher and Mentor.
Within the Mentoring interviews themselves, the process normally begins by reviewing progress from previous targets. We review comments, achievements and things which did not go so well. We also agree on targets for the following session. Through questioning, challenging and probing, we encourage Mentees to define their own directions, which we support through agree target setting, so effectively re-setting the cycle. The logistics of the scheme meant that it has been important for one person to act as a coordinator of the overall scheme, with the responsibility of monitoring the scheme, liaising with Mentors and students, and planning the way for improvements in the light of reflection that is taking place. The scheme itself was launched as a result of the Excellence in Cities "Learning Mentors" initiative, which now sees local education authorities such as Leeds with full-time mentors, working within a number of schools. Although there are many similarities in relation to the "Learning Mentor" role and that of our own G+T Mentors, we are challenged much more by time, teaching and other commitments. Instead of this being a full-time role for us, we are all volunteers taking on an additional responsibility on top of our full-time load. The aims of the mentoring programme fit in with those of inclusion, and Mentors provide an additional service to those already provided within school, such as the tutor-student interview days. We particularly wish to work with students who are experiencing emotional or/and social difficulties, or with those who are reluctant to develop their talents for reasons such as poor focus or negative peer pressure. "These students are dealing with issues which might lead to chronic underachievement and disaffection if left to cope by themselves"
We have found that the Mentoring scheme is not a static process, and needs to adapt to the changing needs of its participants and the school as a whole. It is not a smooth process, and I would like to outline some of the challenges that we have encountered, and also the way in which we plan to move ahead. We do not see problems as a block to the scheme, but merely something that can only serve to challenge the scheme to become more effective to its client base.
Mentors leaving the school
Mentors and students wishing to change
"This year we are passionate to explore projects aimed at lifelong learning, which will foster self-development both personally and professionally
In this we recognise outside agencies as being crucial in offering expertise to aid us in our understanding of mentoring young people and have formed partnerships with the Army, the University of Bath, NACE, Kingdown School and Clarendon School. We also hope to link with another Mentoring scheme (not just for G+T) at another school. This really has been a learning curve for us, and one which will be continuous. It would be fantastic if we could extend our knowledge and strategies with colleagues in other schools. One thing, which we have learned, is that this role is unique to the needs of the individual school, and that there is no right or wrong way of doing it. If you are interested in linking with us, then please contact me at the e-mail below. I would also be interested to hear from anyone who has dealt with similarly challenging situations, and would be prepared to tell me how they have planned the way forward.
Karen Collins, Westwood St Thomas
* To explore an alternative breakdown to the Literacy Hour to meet the needs of SEN children.
My findings from some action research, which I had carried out as part of my MEd, went part way to illuminating how inappropriate the structure of the Literacy Hour could be for some children with learning difficulties. Additionally, as a school which is subjected to turbulence (as the majority of children are from an Army background), we found ourselves with a large percentage of Year 3 & 4 children on the SEN register at the start of the academic year 2001. A further rationale for this research was the recommendations made by Wiltshires Learning Support Services which some class teachers were finding impractical to incorporate despite the fact that they wished to try suggested strategies for individual children. Therefore it felt like an ideal opportunity to look at the implications of this and attempt to analyse these figures and develop some ideas.Introduction
I began by analysing all children at School Action or School Action Plus in Years 3 & 4. I then narrowed down this selection by analysing the children who had recently had assessment reports written on them by outside agencies, particularly those for whom individualised strategies had been recommended. I then decided that I would choose 6 children, as my overall hope was to be able to make suggestions to teaching assistants working with SEN children during the Literacy Hour. As most TAs work with groups of 6 I felt that this would be a suitable number of children to trial an approach on. I made a simple observation of all these children within Literacy sessions as I felt this would make a good starting point for my research. Following this, I took each child individually and assessed their phonic knowledge, recognition of high frequency words, and more specifically their ability to read and spell cvc words. Finally I asked each child to write a story to enable me to analyse the childrens independent writing.
Findings from Preliminary Analysis
Throughout the Wiltshire Learning Support Service reports, more than one of these children were referred to as visual and kinaesthetic learners. Several were also considered to need movement activities on a daily basis. One of the six was also identified as having a two year gap between his CA and language skills. There were a 13lack of visual resources being used in Literacy for such children. Not all children were able to name all sounds and names of letters, read or spell all cvc words, read Reception 45 high frequency words whether they were Year 3 or 4. Not one of the children knew all 16 long vowel phonemes, listed as a Year 1 objective in the NLS Strategy. All 3 of the Year 4 children were more than 2 years below their chronological age in reading and the Y3 children were around 1 year below. In spelling, all of the children except 1 were 2 or more years below their chronological age.
Design of Curriculum Development
Having analysed all of the above, I decided upon the following approach to the Literacy Hour:
* 15 minutes Fine Motor Skills Work
* 15 minutes phonics GAMES
* 15 minutes language activities
* 15 minutes handwriting through sentence level work using story features
Using the Research and Development money, I was able to purchase resources which would specifically aid the above areas for development. Special scissors, cutting activity books, foam pegboards & laces, Handhugger writing implements etc were all incorporated into the first 15 minutes of the tailored hour. Each hour began with motor skills activities which the children referred to as Strengthening Activities as they believed these activities would strengthen their fingers to improve their handwriting! These activities were alternated on a daily basis to maintain the childrens interest in them.
Visual resources were also bought for the phonics GAMES part of the hour. I deliberately avoided worksheets or recording of any kind, wanting to make this section as fun and visual as possible. All the phonics games worked towards Year 1 phonic objectives. The children thoroughly enjoyed these games, and when interviewed at the end of this research to ascertain their favourite part, 5 of the 6 children quoted these games as their favourite bit of all lessons.
The language part of the hour was created using sequencing cards, situation cards, action photographs etc. This was totally based on speaking and listening activities.
Writing ramps and handwriting books for all work were introduced during
this part of the hour. The children were all given blank books in the
shape of cars, people etc and they were aware that their end product would
be to write their own book. This was the childrens goal which they
often referred to. Y3 objectives were worked towards for text and sentence
So during these 15 minutes the children would work towards writing their books by working on story settings for half a term, for instance, focussing on powerful verbs within this. Overall, the children were given a lot longer on each of the objectives than would normally be planned.Findings from the Curriculum Development
This research began as additional Literacy support for these 6 children in the Summer term 2002. I have been fortunate enough, this term, to continue this support during the Literacy Hour as I have been full time SENCo for one term whilst we await the arrival of a new regiment. On paper, as statistics, I feel some of the results do not read so well as the Summer Holidays were in the middle of this research and all the children showed signs of slipping back on their return to school in September. In actual terms of progress in the months I have been working with them I am very pleased. Furthermore, the group are obviously in different classes.
In December 2002, Learning Support Services returned to school to reassess two of the children who were in this research group. Their findings helped reinforce how successful parts of the research have been. "Child As motor skills, both gross and fine, are greatly improved"
"Child B is now confident with synthesising phonemes to 3 sounds and, could attempt four"
In terms of phonic knowledge, all children have made huge progress in this field. One child has increased her spelling age by 1 year 3 months since this research began in June 2002. The use of phonics is now evident in all the childrens written work. They will attempt to spell unfamiliar words, even though they may sometimes use "ay" instead of "ai" for instance. Therefore, I feel it is also important to look at improvement in their independent writing as well as simply through test scores.
All of the childrens handwriting shows signs of improving, though it is hard to assess this fully as each class teacher has one handwriting session per week, additional to the daily activities which I have provided.
All children are now working towards recognising Y3/4 high frequency words as opposed to Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. This improvement has been reflected in the results of their reading test. At the end of this research (December 2002) 4 of the six children had increased their reading age by 2 or more years, 1 of the children left last month and the third had increased by 1 year 11 months since the start in June 2002. When testing the children I found the biggest improvement to be in their response to unfamiliar words. Instead of guessing wildly and impulsively they used a range of strategies, particularly sounding out using phoneme knowledge covered.
This week has seen the reintegration of the children into their normal Literacy sessions with the support of a teaching assistant. During this time, a whole school unaided piece of writing has been completed ready for a school audit. One of the class teachers has made a comment to me that she was amazed at the difference in content and handwriting, though she is still concerned about their spelling.
Finally, it is hard to completely judge the success of this research as class teachers are obviously working with these children in other subjects each day and the value of their input must be recognised.
Only time will tell how well the children cope with varying genres back in the classroom, as this research clearly focussed on story writing only. This could prove to be detrimental to the children. However, I created a tailored hour for these children which would focus on their greatest needs at the time. This kind of tailored hour therefore would not be beneficial to children permanently. However, it could be beneficial for a group of children to follow this kind of hour for 1 term with a teaching assistant within their classroom, particularly if their needs were similar to those cited earlier.
For me, the greatest sense of achievement has not been in their academic improvement but their enthusiasm for Literacy lessons and an increased self esteem in every child; something which not only have their class teachers noticed, but their parents too. This was summed up by one of the children.
" I love working in here as I can do the work and I know Im getting better".
Lisa Wigglesworth, Larkhill Primary School
* integrating assessment opportunities into a scheme of work for Key Stage 2 Foundation subjects;
* using thought maps as a means of enhancing learning;
* investigating Emotional literacy and its impact on learning.
This involved the following research activities and investigations
* how emotional literacy can effect the learning process of children and adults;
* why linear recording strategies are not so productive in the advancement of learning as neuronal integrated strategies;
* tracking the effect of the schemes of work on learning;
* tracking the impact of pupil interviews on how they see themselves as learners;
* providing video evidence of pupils and teachers in school working on WALT and WILF;
* documenting evidence of WALF and WILF support packages for core subjects;
* effect of the BASIS model of leadership and learning; on raising standards in Wiltshire schools; and its impact in Winterslow and other schools that have been recognised as exceptional schools what do they do with the BASIS model that makes them so special?
Tom Robson, Children, Education and Families Department, Schools
This project was carried out by Martin Brown, a mathematics teacher, mostly in the context of mathematics lessons. Yvonne Jorden, the schools Learning Development Co-ordinator, oversaw the project.
* How Brain Gym can be used effectively in a secondary school environment?
* Does Brain Gym have an effect on learning?
* Brain Gym is most effective when used with groups that feel confident and secure; it is necessary to create an environment in which they willing to participate.
* Brain Gym appears to be most effective in helping to change attitudes, giving students the confidence to try things that previously they would have not attempted for fear of failing.
* It is more effective when used as part of a lesson rather than with a Brain Gym group (see below)
* It is most effective as part of an integrated approach, but can be effective when only used occasionally (see below).
Before beginning any activities in school I attended a 2 weekend Brain Gym course organised by the Educational Kieisiology Foundation. I have read quite widely around the subject (see the booklist below). In addition I teach yoga which has given me additional insights into how Brain Gym might work and ideas about how to apply it to a group.
The project used 3 differing approaches:
* Brain Gym Club.
Following an assembly, students volunteered to come to a club specifically to do Brain Gym (initially this was going to be a before school club but transport and dark mornings proved to be problematic). This happened for 30 minutes during tutor time late on a Friday morning. Having learnt the basic exercises students were asked to identify one aspect of a subject they would like to improve. Subjects chosen ranged from mathematical tables, punctuation and humanities, to generally improving concentration. The sessions varied a little from the basic theme but generally the students:
1. imagined themselves in a lesson they found difficult, they then noticed any bodily tension or stress,
2. we then worked through different sequences of Brain Gym exercises,3. we ended with a relaxation including a visualisation of how a successful lesson would be.
* Year 8 Withdrawal Maths Group This is a timetabled class with a small group that I take for 2 hours a week. As well as beginning each lesson with Brain Gym exercises I have explored different approaches to learning mathematics, with an emphasis on informality and building confidence. I have used a number of games to attempt to make the learning as fun as possible. Brain Gym exercises fit comfortably with this style of lesson.
* Other Classes From time to time I have used Brain Gym with other classes.
These have usually been larger groups of older students (Year 10 and Year
11) and I have used a few of the exercises on occasions when classes have
been difficult to settle.
Evidence for my conclusions is mostly subjective either the views of the students concerned or my own observations of them. Taking each of the study groups in turn:
* Brain Gym Club:
Initially this was my preferred approach as it seemed to be closest in format to the one to one method taught on the Brain Gym course. I hoped to work with a wide range of abilities but once the attendance had settled down the students interested in taking part were mostly lower ability. Despite this they have been enthusiastic about attending and prepared to take part fully in the activities. Because of the wide-ranging goals they set themselves it has been difficult to assess their progress other than by listening to their own views. With one exception they believed they had made progress, or at least had a more positive attitude towards their chosen goal. It was interesting to observe how the group grew together, to see their commitment to the club grow, and their positive response to being involved in the group.
* Year 8 withdrawal maths group
I have taught this group since September and although there have been some changes the membership has been relatively settled. At the beginning of the year the students mostly did not like mathematics, having come from much larger groups where there had not been the time to give them sufficient help and support. My aims with the group were to develop a more positive approach to the subject and to improve their
basic numeracy. I have done this by using games and activities in which there are plenty of opportunities to succeed. Brain Gym fitted in well with this overall approach and each lesson started with 5 10 minutes of Brain Gym exercises. The attitude of the group has changed significantly. Their approach to lessons is mostly positive and they work at the activities for 90% of the lesson. Some comments from an observation of a lesson by Yvonne Jorden were students are engaged and on task, students doing a lot of maths and clear building of self esteem. It is clear from my own observations that there has been significant progress in basic number bonds and multiplication tables but there are no appropriate test results available that we can use as a base line to measure this.
* Other Classes:
I have used Brain Gym with other classes in a rather more ad hoc way.
It is typically at the start of an afternoon lesson when the class is
difficult to settle. It is virtually impossible to get the whole class
to participate, but even with 50% sitting quietly in Cookes Hook-ups
(from Brain Gym) it can bring about a significant change in the class
from being noisy and distracted to being quiet and ready to learn.
The idea of doing exercises in the classroom was quite novel and different and much of the effort this year has been directed towards how to use Brain Gym in the classroom.
It is evident from all the work that has been done with Brain Gym at Clarendon that it
* can be effective in changing attitudes and the classroom atmosphere;
* can have a calming affect and bring about a state of mind in which learning is more likely to take place;
* seems to be most effective when used in the classroom as part of the learning process;
* is most effective when used regularly so that it becomes part of the normal routine.
To be successful, it is important
* that the teacher is confident with the Brain Gym exercises and has an understanding of underlying concepts on which Brain Gym is based;
* any initial resistance to using the exercises by students feeling embarrassed is recognised.
A number of teachers are interested in Brain Gym and after some basic
training it is planned to use it in other subject areas. It is also planned
to extend the work to look more specifically at how Brain Gym affects
learning. It is intended to do this by using pupils who are familiar with
Brain Gym and measuring their actual progress compared with expected progress
over a defined period. It may be possible to do this in more
Further reading:Brain Gym handbook, Paul and Gail Dennison
Contact details for more information
The Educational Kinesiology Foundation Martin Brown
* how boys learn differently to girls;
* how adults can aid boys learning;
* how parents can be assisted with greater knowledge to have confidence with their sons.
This project involved 15 members of staff from the Stonehenge School including the headteacher, 12 teachers and 2 learning support asistants.
Each member of staff chose, from a list compiled by the Head, two areas of research linked to boys learning. They were collated to form the contents of a "Boys and Learning" seminar for parents.
Main outcomes of research* boys have profound emotional needs;* there emotional needs are often hidden behind macho posturing and peer group kudos;* we can help boys if we accept their vulnerability;* we can help them to be better learners if we accept their differences and understand them;* parents often feel at a loose end with their sons and we can help them.
Getting right for boys
and girls (ISBN 0 415 30885 8)
Steve Smith Tel 01980 623 407
(Editors note the first report of this project was published in the Summer 2002 edition of the journal, however it was decided to published this final more extensive report although some elements are repeated)
Pilot Project with Year 12 Sixth FormersThis pilot project aimed to:
* promote supportive strategies for developing emotional intelligence in students;
* investigate whether talking and listening to each other would help to reduce feelings of isolation that the students might be experiencing;
* investigate whether this would promote greater self-awareness, self-esteem and empathy.
A definition of Emotional IntelligenceEmotional Intelligence is:
* the ability to know what you are FEELING (to recognise and name your feelings);* to be able to THINK about what you are feeling emotionally and what you are experiencing physically; and* to make sense of this experience and to BEHAVE appropriately.
The initial idea for this pilot project was developed as a result of a number of Sixth Form students from previous years self-referring to the school counselling service and presenting with very similar worries and concerns about not being able to cope in various areas of their lives.
It was felt that these students would have benefited from an opportunity to share these themes with one another in a facilitated group situation.
Sharing in a facilitated group can help reduce feelings of isolation and related stress. The process of sharing and hearing other peoples experience can help to increase self awareness and raise feelings of self worth and empathy.
John Treble, Head of Sixth Form, was interested in whether students would benefit from the opportunity to talk to each other in facilitated groups about their experience of joining the sixth form.
On discussion, it was agreed between John Treble and Aware to work with the whole of Year 12 when they first entered the sixth form.
In line with good professional practice, arrangements were made for a Group Analyst to supervise the facilitators work with the groups.
Resistance to talking in facilitated groups
We observed from the outset that the students were resistant to the idea of talking to each other in a group. This resistance hinged upon the following students preconceptions:
* Fear that they were being sent for group therapy which they felt they didnt want or need and indicated to them that they were seen as having problems.
* Powerlessness that they had no control; this manifested in the groups talk about membership, planning, size of group and mandatory attendance.
These preconceptions elicited feelings of powerlessness that manifested in the groups as resistant and defensive views about the groups. However, it also provided the group with a common cause to talk about both inside and outside the group sessions.
For some students the opportunity to explore their thoughts and feelings with others increased their feelings of self confidence and self esteem. For others it created fearful feelings about being exposed or judged and a belief that differences would not be welcomed or tolerated.
"Adults are the Problem"
Developmentally this is a stage when young people are needing to find their own autonomous and independent identity. This can be a struggle for them and they often need to reject the adult world around them. In the group angry feelings were expressed about trainers, teachers and parents and it was the view of many group members that the `problems that they were supposed to be discussing in the sessions were the creation of the trainers and school staff, without whom they would not have problems in the first place.
The feelings aroused about and within the groups towards the adults involved in the project created a conflict that generated communications across the whole year group, primarily focussed on rubbishing the groups outside the group sessions. Ironically this conflict brought the students together and they were able to observe and raise this in their group sessions. Adolescents have ambivalent feelings about becoming independent At this time of transition and change there are mixed feelings. On the one hand this stage brings with it a desire for more independence and choice but alongside that is the fear of greater independence and choice. We noted that the students expressed their sense of frustration about the groups being an `open space for talking and the group facilitators not having a ready prepared topic for discussion. Conversely they expressed their anger and frustration about being told what to do and being given very little choice in their school life.
The groups therefore provided an opportunity to see this ambivalence at work and to show the students how they did have different feelings at the same time. These `splits in feeling can often create internal stresses and pressure as the individual struggles to resolve them and can, if not recognised, force the individual into rejecting their uncomfortable feelings and putting them into others. In this way they can become more rigid and intolerant in their feeling and thinking.
In the final feedback we noted that more students recognised the value of openly discussing these conflict than compared with their initial feedback.
Tolerance/intolerance about difference and its links to empathy
At this stage, when adolescents are developing their `new adult identity, they frequently feel quite shaky about themselves and uncomfortable with who they are and what they feel and think. Understanding about mixed feelings can help individuals feel more comfortable and less emotionally stressed. It also enables them to be more tolerant of other peoples mixed or different feelings. We observed that the students who had been students of John of Gaunt prior to the sixth form were the most resistant to the notion of attending these groups. They tended not to empathise with what it was like for the students who were entering the school for the first time. However, students from other schools and overseas were more likely to want to participate openly and saw the groups as an opportunity to integrate into their new sixth form.
These differences and the discussion of them in the groups highlighted the difficulties the new students were experiencing generally in feeling part of John of Gaunt school. Joining a sixth form is a new challenge that brings up feelings about transition and change. Alongside positive feelings of excitement and anticipation there will be feelings of insecurity, difference and not knowing all of which can be felt by students entering sixth form, but which may be more acute for newcomers to the school.
Setting up the Groups
Reflective thought is crucial to the setting up and evaluation process of any project. We believe that contact with students and teachers prior to the group sessions would have been beneficial. Initial meetings with staff are an opportunity to introduce Aware and talk about its ethos and a context for the work we do. It is also a chance for us to learn something about the school and its culture. This important exchange of thoughts and ideas and a recognition of cultural differences between Aware and the school, informs and contributes to the planning and preparation of our work. Involving students in the feedback process, both in groups and through questionnaires, can in itself leave the students feeling that they have been listened to and that their opinions are valued. This in turn can increase confidence and self esteem which then leads to further explorations.
Who was involved?
One hundred and twenty Year 12 students from John of Gaunt School, who had just joined the sixth form.
John Treble, Head of Sixth Form at John of Gaunt School, who liased with sixth form tutors.
Aware trainers, Gaynor Maxwell-Scott and Jill White, who designed the sessions, facilitated the sessions, and undertook evaluation of the work.
Group Analyst/Supervisor, Rose Persson, who provided supervision of the
facilitators work with the groups of students.
What did we do?Use of time limited, facilitated and focussed groups.Gaynor and Jill worked individually with groups of up to twelve students from Year 12 so that all students would attend a 50 minute session once a week for three weeks. We decided to use this approach because facilitated groups provide an opportunity for members of the group to both talk and listen. This process can reduce feelings of isolation and related stress.
The sessions focused on
* Getting to know each other
* Exploring what it is really like to be a Year 12 student
* Encouraging open communication between group members
The overall theme for the sessions was `talking to each other.
Gaynor and Jill also worked with and responded to the material the students brought into the sessions, using the group experience to highlight issues around talking to each other.
Each group session therefore provided the students with an opportunity to think through and talk about the frustrations they experienced as a result of being in a group. These frustrations reflected the conflict experienced during this developmental stage, which is a period of transition between childhood and adulthood. It is a time for testing, limits, breaking dependant ties and establishing a new identity.
Therefore the factors that contributed to the frustrations experienced in the groups by the students replicated the constraints that can quite normally be experienced by young people of this age within schools and families (ie power and control issues). In this way it was hoped that the groups would provide an opportunity for students to identify a common experience.
The idea for this pilot project is based upon the psychological perspectives of adolescent development (Erickson, 1977; Jacobs, 1983) and their application to the psychotherapeutic approach used with individuals and groups.
Aware has developed some of these psychotherapeutic ideas in conjunction with theories on Emotional Intelligence (Goleman, 1996) in relation to adolescents and learning.
Adolescence is a time of transition, conflict and loss that can be very isolating and stressful, therefore seriously impairing ability to function intellectually.
We chose to work with this group of young people as trends show that they are:
* vulnerable to stress due to increased pressure to achieve academically
* face some difficult feelings about their sense of identity as they move towards independence and separation.
Information and Evaluation QuestionnairesStudents were first introduced to this pilot project through a student information sheet and questionnaire. See Appendix A for Information Sheet.
Students were informed by the trainers that the report would be available for them to read in the future.
At three critical stages during the project we asked the students to fill in confidential questionnaires about their thoughts and feelings in relation to the pilot. In this way the questionnaires facilitated a communication between Aware and the students outside of the group sessions. Consideration of the questionnaire responses has been incorporated into the evaluation.
Overall Arrangements for the GroupsThe groups were run in the students study periods. Each group was therefore made up of a mixture of students who had a break from lessons at that time. Students were required to attend the same group each week. Each group had one facilitator who remained a constant for that group.
Attendance at the group was mandatory and the students were not given a choice in the membership of their groups. The students were a mixture of continuing John of Gaunt students and new arrivals from other UK schools and overseas students.
The group meeting took place in a small hall with seating arranged in a circle.
Group Session One The trainer introduced AWARE and reminded the students of why the groups would be meeting.
The task for this session was to explore ideas about what it was like to come together and to talk to each other.The trainers allowed the groups to be an open and reflective space in which the students could explore this task whilst also drawing out the following themes:
* What can I talk about in this group?
Group Session Two
The trainer welcomed the group and reminded them that there was one more session the following week.
The task for this session was to explore ideas about how to talk to each other in the group.Again the trainers encouraged the students to use the group time for reflection whilst drawing out the following themes:
* What will happen to me if I talk in the group?
Group Session Three
The trainer reminded the group that this was the last session.
The task for this session was to explore ideas about what it had been like to talk to each other in this group.The group space was used to explore themes from previous sessions whilst also drawing out the following themes as part of the ending process:
* What has been talked about and what hasnt been talked about?
* Erickson E, Childhood and Society (Paladin/Grafton 1977)* K Geldard and D Gledard, Counselling Adolescents (Sage 1999)* Goleman D, Emotional Intelligence (Bloomsbury 1996)* Jacobs M, The Presenting Past (Open University Press 1985)* Ed. Kedar Nath Dwivedi, Group Work with Children and Adolescents, A Handbook (Jessica Kingsley 1993)* Pipher M, Reviving Ophelia (Vermillion 1994)* Stock-Whittaker D, Using Groups to Help People (Routledge 1985)* Waddell M, Inside Lives Psychoanalysis and the Growth of Personality (Duckworth, Tavistock Clinic Series, 1998)
Contact details for more information
Aware (Training Consultancy)
* Gaynor Maxwell-Scott at email@example.com
Transition, Change and Independence
Student Information Sheet
You are being asked to take part in this pilot project that has been set up for you by your school to help you with the transition to the 6th Form.
You will be given the opportunity to come together in groups of approximately ten students to talk together about your hopes and fears about being part of the sixth form at the John of Gaunt School.
The groups will be facilitated by Jill and Gaynor who are both experienced counsellors, trainers and group workers.
You will be allocated a group and a facilitator and will be asked to attend one group session a week for three weeks beginning the week of 24th September 2001. Each session will last 50 minutes.
All the work is confidential and what students choose to talk about in their group is confidential to that group.
You will also be asked to complete three confidential questionnaires, one today, one at the end of the final group meeting and one three months later.
The funding for this project has been provided by the Local Education Authority (LEA) as a research project and will therefore need to be evaluated and the findings written up. A copy of this research project will be available for you to look at through your Head of 6th Form (Mr John Treble) by March 2002.
Numeracy and Mathematics across the Primary/Secondary Divide - an interim report
This project was started in April 2000 and is still continuing. The following account details the action so far and the planned future of our work.
Stage 1In the first instance, I visited the head teachers in each of the five main feeder schools for St Laurence Atworth, Christ Church, Fitzmaurice, Monkton Farleigh and Winsley. The purpose of the visit was to introduce myself and the project and to seek approval and co-operation. In all five cases the response was absolutely positive and supportive.
Following this initial visit, I "twinned" one of my maths team at St Laurence with each o the primary schools. These colleagues visited the schools to observe and participate in "Numeracy Hours".
These visits took place in the Summer Term of 2000 and were followed up with a debriefing session involving the whole of the maths team.
The main conclusions:
* This was an invaluable project which must continue, especially bearing
in mind we had to pick up the Key Stage 3 Framework for Teaching Maths
in September 2001.
In October 2000 there was a meeting involving the head teachers and maths co-ordinators of the five primary schools with the St Laurence maths team and agreed the following activities
1. During the Autumn 2000 term, primary colleagues would visit St Laurence to observe Year 8 or Year 9 lessons so that Key Stage 2 teachers could see where their numeracy teaching was leading.
All five schools participated, and again the feedback was very positive.
The main conclusion
* Agreed that childrens mathematical education would be enhanced if primary teachers were more aware of the Key Stage 3 programmes of study.
2. During the Spring 2001 term I visited all five primaries to ascertain the impact of the Key Stage 2 Framework for Numeracy, and the teachers initial response.
The main conclusions
* I was impressed by what I saw both in terms of the mathematics being
taught and the enthusiasm with which the youngsters worked.
2. In June 2001 there was a meeting between my self and the Primary heads / maths co-ordinators to review progress and plan further work.
The main conclusion
* Progress has been slow due to the problems of co-ordinating six schools and organise meetings etc. not to mention things like Ofsted inspections.
Time on the project has been severely restricted due to long-term absences, the introduction of the new Framework for Teaching Mathematics at Key Stage 3, re-organisation of a "Numeracy across the curriculum" day and the development of a whole-school numeracy policy.
However the work has continued and we have held two further meetings with primary representative when the following was agreed.
1. The continuation of visits to each others schools not only to observe but to share some planning and teaching of mathematics lessons.
2. Through twilight network meetings, to discuss issues arising from our respective "Framework" documents, to continue to share good practice, to report on lesson observation and participation, to exchange ideas and generally explore further ways to improve the transition from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 Mathematics.
1. To plan and deliver "bridging" activities that Year 6 students would begin in their primary schools after SATs in May 2002, work over the summer break, then bring to St Laurence in September 2002 for completion. The ground work has been done and planning is in place to bring students and teachers from the feeder schools to St Laurence.
Outcomes so far
* Staff at St Laurence have an increasingly clearer view of what happens in years 5 and 6 numeracy lessons and of the Mathematics the students are meeting. This has enabled us to better plan the Programme of Study for Year 7.
* An appreciation of the positive way in which the National Numeracy Strategy has been accepted and implemented at Key Stage 2, the praise for the initiative expressed by teachers and the enthusiasm demonstrated by the youngsters.
* An ongoing debate between primary and secondary staff on teaching and learning styles, the merits (and otherwise) of the three-phase lesson, and the level of Mathematics to which Key Stage 2 students should be exposed.
* The recognition and development of good practice in the classroom, such as the insistence on the use of correct mathematical vocabulary and terminology, the expectations by teachers of students both in terms of the Mathematics they are dealing with and in taking responsibility for their own learning, and the accent on communicating mathematically by effective questioning and asking students to explain ""Why?".
* The setting up of bridging activities aimed not only at furthering the students understanding of some key aspects of Mathematics, but also to ease the transition from primary to secondary education in general
.* Regular meetings between primary and secondary teachers, and a recognition of the need for this to happen in order to improve the teaching of Mathematics to our students leading to
An increasingly positive and supportive working relationship between teachers in our "cluster" schools, making current (and future) work between establishments much easier to organised and more fruitful in its outcome.
Alan Dobson, Head of Mathematics, St Laurence School, Bradford on Avon
AIMS AND VALUES*Staff commitment to further improving learning in the classroom through valuing and acknowledging the childrens perceptions of the classroom climate.
* Using feedback from the survey from a sample of the class to understand
the childrens perception of what it is like to be a learner in the
STRATEGY AND POLICY FOR SELF EVALUATION AND IMPROVEMENT.
Head had attended LPSH and undergone a similar exercise on school climate. This led to significant changes within the school structure and organisation and mainly focussed on clarity standards and rewards.
Contact with Hay Group led to the school being selected for the Transforming Learning Pilot.
Staff were committed to the principle that feedback from the children would provide insight into ways to improve the learning climate. Wed tried everything else we could think of!STAFF/HUMAN RESOURCES
* Timing linked with onset of Performance Management Cycle;
A successful R&D bid
* Ensured rigorous monitoring of project;
POLICIES, GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS
* Procedures for performance management, continuous professional development
and senior management roles securely in place;
PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION OF SELF EVALUATION ACTIVITIES
Transforming learning provides:
* Benchmarking set against the database of schools involved in the programme;
IMPACT OF SELF EVALUATION AND IMPROVEMENT ON KEY OUTCOMES
Transforming Learning provides all this.
Sutton Veny Primary School
Target Setting at Key Stage 3
Setting Targets with Individual Children A Practical guide for
School Improvement Planning A Practical Guide
Using Data to Support School Improvement in Wiltshire Primary Schools
A Practical Guide
Supporting Self Evaluation in Wiltshire Schools
Raising the Achievement of Post 16 Students
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