If, as a community of social justice advocates, we recognise that all is not well in education can those of us engaged in training teachers create new ways of working together to act upon solutions? Many of us are engaged in research activity which is deconstructing how inequalities are perpetuated through policy and practice in schools in the UK, however, research can be a lonely and isolating business and it is only through reading published books and articles that we are able to build on each other’s ideas. Continue reading The challenge of shaping socially responsible teachers
The Troops to Teachers (TtT) programme was introduced in England in autumn 2013. The programme fast-tracks ex-armed service members into teaching in schools and is supported both by the current Coalition government, and the previous Labour government.
The White Paper, The Importance of Teaching (Department for Education 2010), gives the main purposes for the introduction of TtT as twofold: firstly, poor standards of achievement in comparison with other industrialised nations, and secondly, a need for increased discipline in schools. Continue reading The militarisation of education: ‘Troops to Teachers’ and the implications for Initial Teacher Education and race equality
One of the key aspects of an alternative policy manifesto must be a more practical and comprehensive approach to inclusion in our schools and, ultimately, our society. The Children and Families Act, which recently gained Royal Assent, outlines some changes to the special educational needs and disability (SEND) systems and evaluations of the pilot projects show some positive progress. However, the Act does not impact on the power differentials between parents and professionals within the education system and does nothing to address the lack of knowledge and understanding of SEND present within many schools and local authorities. Continue reading Nowhere that fits: the realities of schooling for families of children with SEN
Below I discuss two concerns which have preoccupied me for a while now.
Since the 1960s’s in schools and educational policy discourse much has been made about the lower attainment of Black children (but specifically Black Caribbean) and the perceived lack of parental valuing of education, and supporting their children’s educational attainment. So it was no surprise to hear a teacher at a conference (aimed at encouraging Black children to consider careers requiring higher education study) in 2009 point to Black educational failure being cultural and innate, and questioning whether ‘Black people’s culture predisposed them to underachievement’. Some might consider this a statement of fact given the persistent lower attainment of Black Caribbean students vis-à-vis White British students. While the comment by the teacher incensed me, it did not affect me as much as I was by a Black teenager at the conference who said, ‘lots of people say we can’t do it, people like me are a failure’. Continue reading Teaching Black children
Increasing the representation of women in STEM education and employment has been a long-term policy goal of both the Labour and Coalition governments. They have been motivated by concerns over equity in the STEM workforce and about maintaining national economic competitiveness. Initiatives to increase women’s participation in STEM began before these policies with feminist activism in the 1980s. The approaches developed there have continued, within organisations such as WISE (Women Into Science and Engineering), alongside corporate and policy schemes. Continue reading Gender and STEM