Category Archives: EDUCATION ARTICLES

Managing in the 21st Century: ACCEPTING ANXIETY IN AUSTERE TIMES


SIX OF THE BEST

 

DAVID E WATTERS

ONE FROM THE RECENT ARCHIVES: http://www.nbiassociates.co.uk/Article-Archive.html

Teaching is the most stressful occupation there is, according to England’s Health and Safety Executive, and approximately 80%, that is 4 in every 5, teachers complain about work-related stress.

Many thousands leave the profession every year, as a result, but what causes this stress and what are the solutions?

Within various educational roles, I have felt trapped in an endless spiral of bureaucracy; where paperwork and pen-pushing (or keyboard-tapping; the 21st Century equivalent) take precedence over the practical pleasures of nurturing and developing the knowledge and skills of students.

Many, in similar roles to myself, agree that more time is spent proving they are doing their job, than actually doing the job.

Of course, it is vital that high educational standards and quality of provision are upheld and improved upon but many highly-capable teachers currently feel that they are required to continuously justify their position and are leaving the profession as a result.

The NUT (National Union of Teachers) is concerned by the increase in stress amongst those in the profession. Amanda Brown, head of the employment, conditions and rights department at the NUT, said in the Guardian newspaper (26 December 2012), that a reluctance to report stress meant that many more instances went unnoticed and added that “the current model is about getting teachers to show how they’ve met their targets – if they haven’t done so immediately there’s a very quick procedure, not to support teachers, but towards disciplinary action and dismissal. That creates a context in which teachers feel under pressure.”

In the same article, Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), warned that austerity measures were placing additional strain on staff. She said, “People are angry about changes to their pay and very concerned about the shape of the curriculum – we’ll have a lot of people who will think about leaving the job that they like doing to try and find a higher salary elsewhere. However much you love your job it’s very difficult to be resilient when you’re under attack from a lot of places.”

Although it may have previously been the case, for the majority of us, work is not the first port of call when looking for the meaning of life or for a source of validation and self-worth. Even for those who are in what are considered to be vocational jobs, their energy and enthusiasm has become so suppressed that they work solely to pay the bills, if that.

Considering the percentage of time that one spends in the workplace and, if you’re anything like me, travelling to and from it, isn’t it a pity that we often come away feeling drained and underappreciated?

I’m not here to promote the dependency on external validation, but when confronted continually by a stack of sticks and deprived of crunchy carrots, one is left malnourished and bruised.

Observations from a recent Psychological Science article on how relationship anxiety can lower the immune system can quite easily be translated into how poor working relationships can impact upon our mental and physical health and wellbeing.

This research, in an article titled “Attachment Anxiety Is Linked to Alterations in Cortisol Production and Cellular Immunity,” found that “anxiety was associated with high levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as fewer cytotoxic and helper T-cells, which help find and destroy invading pathogens (which would lead to a weaker immune system). The impact on the suppressed immune system is described in the research as “compromised immunity” (1).

When John Illingworth, a head teacher of a Nottingham primary school for 24 years, had to stop himself from hitting a parent, he realised that he needed to take time away from work.

Mr. Illingworth told the BBC that the parent in question “was a bit upset with someone else in the school and I just could not cope with the interaction.” Aged just 55, the seasoned teacher had a breakdown.

“It was brought on by an accumulation of stresses. I didn’t see it coming but I suddenly found myself unable to do simple things like make decisions or relate to people”.

Job-satisfaction, I am told, comes when we make our passion our profession and for many teachers, this is their ideal and original vision; to share a love of their subject and a love of lifelong learning with others.

Those teachers, and other professionals, who are most at risk of feeling anxiety and suffering as a result, are those who care deeply about their role within an organisation.

These people are the conscientious and dedicated employees who seek to achieve high standards, often at the expense of their personal relationships, and, whilst diligence and professional passion are not necessarily bad qualities, danger occurs when diligent and passionate professionals lose sight of other aspects of life and the balance is lost.

This can be particularly harsh when an individual’s high standards and resultant achievement go unrecognised and unrewarded by leaders who are lost in their own spiral of self-imposed or externally-applied pressures to perform.

When work takes priority over all other aspects of life, the “attachment anxiety”, in relation to work, can have devastating effects and the high-instances of stress-related sickness-leave are testament to this.

The ONS (Office of National Statistics) states that in 2011, around 131 million days were lost through absences due to sickness or injury, a fall of around 26 per cent since 1993 where 178 million days were lost. (2)

Statistics are curious and open to interpretation and whilst these figures may suggest a healthier Jamie Oliver school dinner culture, they are perhaps more reflective of a growing anxiety, amongst those who are fortunate to be employed, about potential redundancy and long-term unemployment; so workers “clock-in” regardless of physical or mental health concerns.

Tassa’s story, which appears on the Teacher Support Network website (http://teachersupport.info/) includes this relatable statement, ”I had stopped going out on the weekends, stopped doing anything remotely pleasurable because I couldn’t justify not working when there was so much work to be done”. Tassa, like many other teachers, felt isolated and unable to communicate her feelings.  Her view is that, “Teachers are very reluctant to seek help because it admits there’s a problem and often the problem is too big for them to solve”.

 

Professor Cary Cooper, from the Lancaster University Management School, was quoted in the Daily Mail saying that: ‘People are too scared to take time off. Even if they are ill, they are coming into work. It is called “sickness presenteeism”. Do you think anybody wants to have a bad sickness absence record with the boss at the current time?’(3)

 

In these times of austerity, with unemployment at 2.49million, many of us feel a very powerful pressure to turn up for work and to take on increased and unrewarded responsibilities, because the uncertain alternative is too frightening to contemplate. Employees are more willing to accept mistreatment, understaffing and increased workloads, and, in doing so, can ultimately lose respect for themselves and for their employer, for accepting these conditions.

 

Financial recession need not lead to the advancement of mismanagement, where empathy, encouragement and decency are forgotten. Pay-freezes and growing living costs already restrict the quality of life for the majority of us and it is, therefore, increasingly important that employers take proactive steps towards enhancing the working experience of their employees.

Within education there is an emphasis upon inclusion and equality of opportunity to access learning, so that all students can fulfil their potential within a nurturing and supportive, structured environment.

Effective managers, within education and elsewhere, could use this model to influence their approach to how they interact and communicate with staff. If teachers are excluded from decision-making, if changes are imposed without consultation or without consideration for the potential impact upon teaching staff, then the whole system has failed.

Too often, it is forgotten that teaching staff are the primary “suppliers” to the main “client”; the business of education, as it has become, would benefit from management who can respond to the undoubted insight of their staff, within a nurturing and supportive, structured context, so that the core educators can influence, shape and enhance their environment; “buy in”, if you will, and develop or retain a sense of pride in the organisation and of their role within it.

Organisations which fail to provide good people-management will observe higher incidences of work-related stress and will ultimately begin to see increased staff turnover and, from a business perspective, loss in faith from clients and reduced results; reflected in financial terms, since within education anything which impacts upon recruitment, retention, achievement and progression has a financial implication.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) clearly state that, “Stress can cause changes in those experiencing it. In some cases there are clear signs that people are experiencing stress at work and if these can be identified early, action can be taken before the pressure becomes a problem. This may make it easier to reduce and eliminate the causes.

It is important that everyone looks out for changes in a person’s or a group’s behaviour. However, in many cases the changes may only be noticeable to the person subject to the stress and so it is also important to look at how you are feeling and try to identify any potential issues you may have as early as possible and take positive action to address them; this may be raising the matter with a line manager, talking to an occupational health professional or your own GP”. (4)

Stress within the workplace can be caused by; excessive and unreasonable demands in areas such as workload, work pattern and environment; by the level or lack of control, how much say, a person has over how they carry out their role; by the quality of support in terms of resources and positive encouragement received from management and the wider organisation; by the standard of relationships; by confusion over their role and that of others and, in some situations, the conflict for those with dual-roles.

Lastly, although this list is by no means exhaustive, work-related stress can be severely exacerbated during periods of organisational change; particularly when this change is poorly managed and employees are not part of the process.

Stress manifests and reveals itself differently in different individuals but all managers should be aware of changes in an employee’s behaviour and be able to ascertain whether these are connected to excessive work-related pressures.

Some typical symptoms, as cited by the Health and Safety Executive, include Emotional symptoms:

  1. Negative or depressive feeling
  2. Disappointment with yourself
  3. Increased emotional reactions – more tearful or sensitive or aggressive
  4. Loneliness, withdrawn
  5. Loss of motivation commitment and confidence
  6. Mood swings (not behavioural)
  7. Confusion, indecision
  8. Poor concentration and poor memory

Those suffering from stress may also display changes from their normal behaviour:

  1. Changes in eating habits
  2. Increased smoking, drinking or drug taking ‘to cope’
  3. Mood swings effecting behaviour
  4. Changes in sleep patterns
  5. Twitchy, nervous behaviour
  6. Changes in attendance such as arriving later or taking more time off.

 

It should be noted here however, that these indicators of stress may also indicate other conditions and, if you are concerned, you should seek advice from your GP. Additionally, if you are concerned about a colleague, you should advise them to see their GP.

Early intervention can significantly reduce work-related stress, if the correct support strategies are put in place. If the risks from work related stress are being effectively managed and controlled, this will reflect in better health and well-being, higher productivity and a decrease in sickness absence.

Ultimately, we as individuals, currently have two choices, (1) accept the ticking time-bomb of tension or (2) become detached from the tense environment; not by resigning but by taking a good look at the positives and by revisiting the core-purpose of the job. In doing this we can gain a balanced perspective and prioritise personal happiness over professional pressure.

Employers also have a significant role to play in promoting compassionate leadership above encouraging a demoralising and judgemental culture of micro-(mis)management. They should develop team leaders who can communicate realistic expectations clearly, offer guidance and support in a professionally structured way, nurture talent and reward staff fairly for their contribution to the company.

In conclusion, a successfully stress-free company will prioritise the needs of all employees by creating a culture where demands on an individual’s workload and work pattern are reasonable; where the level of control, how much say, a person has over how they carry out their role is equitable; where the quality of support and provision of resources meets expectations; where professional relationships are positive; and where, during inevitable periods of organisational change, communication is open, respectful and does not compromise the dignity of any single employee.

 
(1) Attachment Anxiety Is Linked to Alterations in Cortisol Production and Cellular Immunity, Psychological Science 0956797612452571,first published on January 10, 2013

(2) OFFICE FOR NATIONAL STATISTICS, Sickness Absence in the Labour Market, April 2012.  http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_265016.pdf

(3) Mail Online, Workers ‘too scared to go off sick’ as recession bites: Number of absences drops to record low By Becky Barrow: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2144782/UK-recession-Workers-scared-sick-number-absences-drops-record-low.html


(4) The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/furtheradvice/signsandsymptoms.htm

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MY OUTSTANDING COLLEAGUES: Reputation Reinforced By Strong Ofsted Grading


 

 

 

 

 

OFSTED

 

Andover College has been given a huge endorsement by Ofsted, which has commended its high standards and overall effectiveness as ‘good’ with all areas inspected given a ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ rating and governance being acknowledged as ‘Outstanding’.

The inspection report was published this week following a no notice inspection of the college in February, which saw a team of nine inspectors scrutinising the College’s performance in a real life assessment process.

The rigorous inspection focused on three curriculum areas and found the College has very high standards in all aspects of its operations and in particular provides “Outstanding” teaching and learning in Creative and Performing Arts covering all courses in the following areas – art, design, performing arts, music and music technology. The inspectors noted how students “benefit from the wide ranging sector experience of teachers” commenting on how staff “use their professional contacts well to set live project briefs in music and drama” The report also identified that students were performing at an advanced level using “industry-specific, technical language in their work.”

The other two areas in scope were Health and Social Care (including Childcare and Development) and Foundation English which were also awarded ‘Good’. Inspectors commended the quality of teaching and the role of preparing students to reach the highest professional standards through their own professional practice and links with industry.

Inspectors also commented on how the College supports students and provides a focus on their general happiness and well-being saying: “Students enjoy their time in college and standards of behaviour are very high.”

College Principal Tim Jackson felt the report was a resounding endorsement of the College’s commitment to excellence and said: “Inspectors saw the College operating in a normal way and validates our everyday commitment to exceptionally high standards and support for students. I am so pleased the skills, knowledge and expertise of our teachers was so clearly acknowledged in the report.”

Tim went on to highlight the College’s important links with business, industry and universities and said: “We provide multiple pathways for our students so they are completely prepared for the next step in life, whether that is university, which is the preferred route of the majority of our level 3 students, or employment through our strong links with employers.”

Vice Principal Martin Simmons, who worked directly with inspectors during the inspection, said: “I am proud that the very high standards we strive to achieve were recognised in this report, particularly in the creative and performing arts, but also the strong result achieved by all of our colleagues who were in scope of the inspection. We set the bar very high at Andover and work on balancing all of the elements that lead to good teaching and learning. Support for students, individualised learning plans, talented teachers who are creative and resourceful, and industry relevant practice all lead to students who are ready for university or roles in industry.”

Martin reflected on the areas for development also included in the report and said: “We’re clearly close to the point of being acknowledged as an ’Outstanding’ college and our focus as always needs to remain on sharing the best practice evidenced in the majority of our curriculum areas across the board so the high standards we expect are embedded across all areas and at all levels.”

The report also rated the governance of the college as ’Outstanding’ with governors providing appropriate support and challenge to the college’s Senior Leadership Team in order to facilitate meeting its “ambitious and challenging three-year strategic and operational plan”.

 

Performing arts and crafts, creative arts and design

 16-19 study programmes

19+ Learning programmes

Outstanding

A sustained focus on developing and improving the quality of teaching and learning has secured significant improvement to the area’s performance. Current retention and achievement rates are higher than previous years. Students make excellent progress in developing their knowledge, skills and understanding of arts and design. Teaching, learning and assessment are often outstanding. Teachers effectively challenge students to ensure that they aspire to, and achieve, higher grades and they frequently exceed expectations.

Students benefit from the wide-ranging sector experience of teachers who are very knowledgeable about their subject. Teachers use their professional contacts well to set live project briefs in music and drama. A very good affinity exists between teachers and students, with high levels of mutual respect and trust.

In a very large majority of lessons, students participate fully and achieve the required learning results. Students are well motivated, enthusiastic and produce highly creative and innovative work, which is either at, and often above, the expected standard for the level and stage of their course. Students regularly use industry-specific, technical language in their work.

Students in photography, art and design, product design, music, and dance and drama have access to high-quality industry-standard software, equipment and classrooms. A suite of interlinked art and design studios enables students to gain and develop a wide range of skills such as printmaking, sculpture and life drawing in a realistic working environment. Teachers use these high-quality resources very effectively. Students further improve their skills for future employment through regular access to professional standard facilities within the local community, such as with the Lights Theatre and The Junction project.

A minority of teachers do not consistently use questioning well to develop students’ understanding or to check learning in lessons. In these lessons, students do not develop rigorous self-evaluation skills and do not complete their work quickly enough.

Teachers and students agree and frequently review online personal learning plans and individual targets, resulting in many students reaching and often exceeding their planned learning goals and achieving higher grades.

Most teachers provide clear, high-quality written feedback on marked work that informs students how to progress and extend their learning. However, a minority of teachers do not provide enough detail to help students understand what they need to do to improve further.

Teachers offer a range of contextualised opportunities for students to develop their English skills, with the result that many students are more confident and articulate as a result.

Drama students have taken their adaptation of the play Denial on tour to local schools as part of a Theatre in Education project. This work is exemplary. Students on music courses work as peer mentors in the local community to help re-engage young people to help them get their lives back on track.

Attendance is high which helps ensure that students maximise their opportunity to learn and achieve. Progression to further study including higher education is high.

The staff team promotes equality and diversity very thoroughly. Teachers actively encourage the understanding of different cultures, backgrounds and lifestyles within assignment briefs and by the artefacts chosen for students to study.

 

David E Watters

 

 

David Watters, a graduate of Napier University, Edinburgh, Trinity College of Music, London and the Institute of Education, University of London, has worked internationally within education and Educational Management for more than 20 years.

He has taught extensively within many socially and culturally diverse settings; most recently as a Head of Performing Arts within Further Education and is currently Course Leader for Music Performance and Equality & Diversity Coordinator at Andover College..

He is a personal and professional development associate with The Pacific Institute (www.pacificinstitute.co.uk), personal coach, freelance writer and founding member of NBI Associates.

He is a writer on social equality issues, is a key player in the Equal Love Campaign UK and author of the forthcoming book, NEVER BLEND IN which features key voices from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community and which aims to inspire and encourage those who may lack self-esteem or who question their validity.

David is currently promoting a youtube campaign“Give ’em Hope” and is asking individuals, couples and groups to make and share videos telling about the benefits of living with personal authenticity.

He has shared a platform with Stuart Milk and Peter Tatchell and is a supporter of 17-24-30, The Trevor Project, Schools Out, The Terrence Higgins Trust, The Albert Kennedy Trust and The Harvey Milk Foundation.

His background in arts and education, combined with a solid understanding of Cognitive Behavioural Strategies, and his passion for Equality Advocacy drive every aspect of his work as a personal development facilitator, motivational speaker and writer.




E & D & ME


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DAVID E. WATTERS

AVAILABLE FREELANCE OR PERMANENT WITH THE RIGHT COMPANY

Specialist in Equality and Diversity and Culture Change, providing Engaging, Enjoyable and Interactive Workshops and Motivational Speaking events.

Currently, a teacher and Equality Officer within Further Education, delivering staff CPD on the Equality Act 2010 to Academic and Business staff. Freelance, I deliver similar training in a workshop setting or as a speaker and have a reputation for providing academic and corporate organisations with the tools to achieve meaningful and lasting cultural change.

Key Roles include work as an Associate with The Pacific Institute (www.pacificinstitute.co.uk), personal coach, freelance writer and as a founding member of the Specialist E & D and Transformational Change company, NBI Associates (www.nbiassociates.co.uk).

A passionate and driven writer on social equality issues and equality advocate; evidenced in my work on the Equal Love Campaign UK, development of the RESPECT Campaign for Andover college and as author of the forthcoming book, NEVER BLEND IN, which features key voices including Stephen Fry, Alan Cumming, John Amaechi, amongst others.

Additionally, I am currently promoting the inclusive and internationally acclaimed Give ’em Hope Campaign (http://www.nbiassociates.co.uk/Give–em-Hope-Campaign.html) which was designed to encourage and uplift those who may feel limited by labels.

As a motivational speaker, I have shared a platform with Stuart Milk and Peter Tatchell , have spoken on Achieving Authenticity at London Metropolitan Archives, on Living Unlimited at the LGBTQGA, and, as a supporter of 17-24-30, I have spoken at NO TO HATE in Trafalgar Square, London.

A background in arts and education, combined with a solid understanding of Equality Legislation and Cognitive Behavioural Strategies, enhance every aspect of my work as a personal and professional development facilitator, motivational speaker and writer.

Specialties:

Transformational Change
Leadership and Management
Embedding Equality and Diversity
Curriculum Development and Quality
Personal and Professional Development
Public Speaking.

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

NEW FROM NBI: EMBEDDING EQUALITY IN EDUCATION


NBI ASSOCIATES

 

NBI Associates – THE Diversity and Cultural Change Specialists are currently taking bookings for a new, innovative and interactive Teacher’s CPD and Trainee Teacher Program, Embedding Equality, in which participants share good practice through a range of reflective and explorative activities.

 

There is a substantial discount for those who make bookings before Monday 2 September 2013 and further reductions in cost for repeat clients.

 

This program explores strategies for effectively embedding Equality and Diversity, though the creation and customisation of imaginative Teaching Resources, within the context of the Teachers’ Standards 2013.

 

The importance of Respecting Diversity and Promoting Equality within education, to meet the needs of the whole learner, is energetically explored through a variety of methods, which are securely anchored to current educational policy and philosophy.

 

Participants are guided towards delivering outstanding teaching and to optimising learning for ALL learners.

 

In this 2 hour seminar and workshop, activities pose and answer the following questions:

 

·        Are your teaching resources accessible for all learners?

•       Do learners require additional resources to help them to access information? (Initial assessment, support staff)

•       Are people from diverse backgrounds, socioeconomic, cultural, people with disabilities visible in course materials?

•       Do you build on learner diversity as an educational resource?

 

And, in line with the Teachers’ Standards 2013:

Do your resources show that you are setting high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge ALL learners?

Do they promote good progress and outcomes by ALL learners?

Do your resources demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge, which illustrate a broad knowledge of diverse specialists in your subject?

Do you plan and teach well-structured lessons which include resources which meet the needs of the whole person?

Do you adapt teaching and resources to respond to the strengths and needs of all learners?

Do you make accurate and productive use of assessment which caters for the needs of all learners?

Does your creation or customisation of resources aid the management of behaviour effectively and ensure a good and safe learning environment?

Does your creation and customisation of resources aid to the fulfilment of your wider professional responsibilities.

 

Contact Program Director, David E Watters at DavidWatters@nbiassociates.co.uk or on 07800813189

for further information.

 

Visit our website for the full range of courses that we offer: http://www.nbiassociates.co.uk/

 

DAVID E WATTERS

 

David Watters, a graduate of Napier University, Edinburgh, Trinity College of Music, London and the Institute of Education, University of London, has worked internationally within education and Educational Management for more than 20 years.

 

He has taught extensively within many socially and culturally diverse settings; most recently as a Head of Performing Arts within Further Education.

 

He is a personal and professional development associate with The Pacific Institute(www.pacificinstitute.co.uk), personal coach, freelance writer and founding member of NBI Associates.

 

He is a writer on social equality issues, is a key player in the Equal Love Campaign UK and author of the forthcoming book, NEVER BLEND IN which features key voices from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community and which aims to inspire and encourage those who may lack self-esteem or who question their validity.

 

David is currently promoting a youtube campaign“Give ’em Hope”and is asking individuals, couples and groups to make and share videos telling about the benefits of living with personal authenticity.

 

He has shared a platform with Stuart Milk and Peter Tatchell and is a supporter of 17-24-30, The Trevor Project, Schools Out, The Terrence Higgins Trust, The Albert Kennedy Trust and The Harvey Milk Foundation.

 

His background in arts and education, combined with a solid understanding of Cognitive Behavioural Strategies, and his passion for Equality Advocacy drive every aspect of his work as a personal development facilitator, motivational speaker and writer.

 

 

ARTICLE ARCHIVE

LINKS

 

Invite DAVID To Speak!


Review from the IfL – David E Watters PGCE QTLS


 Ifl_logo

 
David, many thanks for your extensive, well-documented and thoughtful Professional Formation application for QTLS.  The evidence demonstrated excellent practice and a professional approach across an extensive career in the sector.

In the areas of subject currency and teaching and learning, you have attached considerable evidence which demonstrated an on-going commitment to improvements in training and development in your subject specialism.  Teacher trainers and advanced practitioners should model best practice and this is something you clearly do.  Your use of a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis was an excellent method for exploring development needs in relation to professional development planning.  Your professional development programme was well planned and will provide opportunities to enhance your professional practice.  You have been able to provide a rich and detailed range of evidence that demonstrated your ability to reflect on the positive impact of CPD on your professional role.

Your standardised and personalised evidence fully met all requirements for Professional Formation and we are very pleased to tell you that your application has been successful.  Congratulations on an exceptional webfolio.  We wish you well in your future career.

 

David Equality Watters

 


Teaching & Learning – David Equality Watters


David Equality Watters 

INTRODUCTION

The following narrative is an account of my ability to deliver my subjects to a range of learners.

I will, with reference to examples such as lesson plans, Assignment Briefs, and examples of resources that I have developed (such as a PowerPoint presentation, a handout), a lesson observation report and student feedback, highlight the effective use of skills and knowledge obtained in my ITT and through ongoing CPD . In doing this, I shall explain and illustrate how I believe my own professional development has impacted upon my learners.

 

CONTEXT

My teaching career has been in a range of environments and this has involved providing qualification and non-qualification education for a range of learners. This has meant constantly updating subject knowledge and delivery strategies to accommodate these diverse needs. An ability to be flexible and willing to professionally grow is a necessity in order to support a departmental and organizational vision, so that the optimum learning experience is achieved.

 

Keeping up to date with latest policy initiatives and trends and keeping my own knowledge and skills current are necessary to help in ‘future proofing’ the work of the department and in creating a culture that enables colleagues; managers, teachers and support staff, to provide teaching, learning and courses that are up to date, innovative, relevant and that meet the developmental and progression needs of all students.

 

Much of Music Education requires the listening to, reading about and analysis of music and, throughout my career I have had the opportunity to teach within musically diverse environments; Theatre Schools (ages 5 to 16), Adult Performing Arts Classes (16+), Secondary Education (GCSE, AS, A2 and BTEC), Further Education (Lecturer in Music and Media, NEETlearners and Staff Development), and corporate training roles with American Express, the Pacific Institute and NBI Associates. This, and the various qualifications involved, has meant developing an understanding of a broad variety of genres from Musical Theatre and Jazz to Popular Music and classical music (in its broadest sense).

 

I believe that the best teachers are those who are not only passionate about their subject but are those who are open to developing their own skills and knowledge. My current career is so far removed from my original training as a classical musician but I have never been happier. Change is challenging for most of us but gradual change is comfortable, and continual professional development should be desirable. To use a musical term, we should have many strings to our bow, because ultimately this makes us more valuable to our learners, employers and to ourselves.

 

“David is a person of unrivalled integrity, who has great passion for his art and for whom I have the greatest respect.”

Matthew Kolakowski, Curriculum Leader, Greenwich Community College

 

“I had the opportunity to work with David as part of his team in the performing arts department. During that time David had a great leadership styles that enable his staff to develop at their own pace, while maintaining a high standard for his team. His advice and support for CPD has been extremely beneficial which has resulting in me writing development programs. Furthermore, David’s passion on the subject of equality and diversity was very inspirational. With this in mind, I recommend David as a leader who can write about our unique experience’s in and outside the working environment. Hope to work with him in the near future.”Michael Noble, Owner, IyPSchool

 

ITT

 

During my Initial Teacher Training at the Institute of Education, University of London, I was introduced to a variety of perspectives and gained knowledge, skills and experience; through research assignments; from colleagues at both Teaching Placements; and from workplace CPD sessions which have inspired me to pursue a professional development route which has focused on diversity, differentiation and inclusion.

 

The benefits of this development were not only for me, but, as a result, the learning experience has undoubtedly been enhanced for my learners and the retention, achievement and progression of these learners has positively impacted upon the success statistics in each organisation.

 

Research Assignments, whilst at the IoE (Institute of Education), were:

• BEYOND THE SCHOOL – DEVELOPING PARTNERSHIPS

• OBSERVING, MONITORING AND ASSESSING PUPILS’ LEARNING AT KS3

• MUSIC, ICT AND THE CURRICULUM

• SCHOOL BASED EVALUATION OF MUSICAL LEARNING

• SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS and WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP

 

I will discuss these in detail and explain in which way the research has directly enhanced my ability to teach.

 

 

BEYOND THE SCHOOL – DEVELOPING PARTNERSHIPS

 

The opportunity for schools to establish cultural links with the community have never been better and Departments of Music are most fortunate of all in that there now exist a multitude of Arts Organisations eager to foster educational attachments. There are mutually beneficial gains to be made for all parties involved in such creative relationships, including the opportunity for artistic, cultural, personal, spiritual and social growth for all who participate.

 

The variety of partnerships fostered by Teaching Practice School One (TP1) clearly had an impact upon student development, musical or otherwise, and the schools relationship with both the local community and creative connections with visiting musicians have inspired me to nurture partnerships with a range of subject relevant organisations.

 

Cross-Curricular Connections

 

One particular implication is the cross-curricular connection which can be considered. There are specific links to Citizenship which further justify the validity of nurturing Creative Partnerships between schools and outside organisations.

 

Citizenship

 

Citizenship at KS3 focuses on the “Democratic Community”, with particular emphasis on the rights and responsibilities of individuals and communities where views and desires may compete or conflict. Students learn to develop skills of democratic participation, which are undoubtedly relevant when interacting with external visiting Arts Groups. “This course introduces pupils to key ideas that are central to developing an understanding of what active citizenship is all about. They consider their rights and responsibilities and think about issues of fairness, in the context of the communities to which they belong.” National Curriculum, 2006, Attainment at KS3.

 

These concepts are further developed at KS4 where students learn about planning and taking part in a community event. Here students gain an understanding of how to develop successful working relationships with the key partners in their local community.

 

The National Curriculum for citizenship attainment targets for KS4 specifies that ‘pupils learn about fairness, social justice, respect for democracy and diversity at school, and local, national and global level through taking part in community activities.’

 

Besides connecting with external arts providers, I have always found ways to develop the social awareness of learners by supporting charities and promoting equality and diversity through the embedding of E&D in all possible areas of the curriculum, with performance events regularly informed by related social causes.

 

For example, when working on a student production of the musical Rent, a rock musical which has characters who are living with HIV and AIDS, I liaised with and raised money for the Terrence Higgins Trust.

 

Classroom workshops and discussions into the themes of the show were enhanced by information from the THT. This knowledge and deeper understanding helped students to develop personally and assisted them in delivering a sensitive and sincere portrayal of their characters.

 

Academic Investigation Relating to whether Creative Partnerships offer mutually beneficial rewards is somewhat divided. Although there is a general belief that participants may be enriched, as a result of collaboration, views differ as to the extent.

 

Estelle Morris MP, and former Minister for the Arts, determined that ‘The aim of Creative Partnerships is to give children and young people, particularly those living in disadvantaged areas, access to rich and diverse cultural experiences through working directly with artists and other creative professionals.’ Dobson Report, (6 Dec 2004, Column 334W)

 

In 1999, the DfEE published a Report which strongly advocated Partnerships stating that, ‘Such partnerships enrich and extend the experiences of young people and support teaching and training. In both ways they can help directly to raise standards of achievement.’ (DfEE Publications 1999 p138)

 

Whilst in agreement with these principles, Julia Winterson made a point in 1999, which is still true today, that ‘visiting musicians can be a welcome and enjoyable diversion from normal school routines and, at times, they can have a profound effect on individual participants, but there is little evidence to suggest that the work helps with the school music curriculum.’ Winterson, J (1999)

 

I would agree with Winterson that not all Education Departments have something relevant to offer schools and that Heads of Music should be informed and discerning before entering into a creative partnership so that the experience can offer more than an “enjoyable diversion.”

 

Departmental budgets are not inexhaustible and should be spent wisely on activities which complement the curriculum and enhance the musical development of all participants.

 

Moving onwards, however, it is clear that there now exist a great many companies who are all too aware of the National Curriculum and have engaged the talents of specialist Educational Advisors to ensure that their product delivers all that their customers require.

 

Throughout my time as Head of Department at GCC, I was proactive in sourcing affordable and relevant Creative Partners, including those whose Education programmes taught students to write their own original music; those which developed physical performance skills; and those which introduced the music and culture of other countries.

 

The expertise of these groups has been broad and was beneficial in illustrating the interdependency of all factions within the Performing Arts.

 

The knowledge and practical experience of these partnerships broadened student understanding that musicians do not work in isolation and that backstage and front of house careers exist which have an equal value.

 

Partnerships with the world of the professional arts and creative industries can contribute to improving standards in the arts through raising expectations and demonstrating excellence.

 

o Partnerships offer pupils a much greater range and depth of arts experiences than can be provided by the school or college alone.

o Specialist venues, such as theatres and art galleries are designed to enable works of art to achieve their greatest possible impact and this helps contextualise and complement the classroom work.

o Students have been affected positively by the atmosphere of a new environment, and this has helped them to increase their understanding and enjoyment of their subject.

o Working directly with a professional creative or organisation has given students a greater insight into the creative process.

 

Additionally, educational professionals from HE partners, where acting and singing workshops were delivered, gave learners insight into the next level of their professional development. Reflection upon these experiences proved aspirational and motivational to students and often an improvement in attendance, attitude and achievement was the result; with many taking up HE places.

 

Working with an artist can enable teachers to observe their pupils learning, and to gain new insight into pupils’

achievement and potential.

 

Partnerships also offer teachers opportunities for professional development, allowing them to update and refresh their skills, knowledge and understanding of the arts.

 

Cultural relationships have broadened and enriched the curriculum, and this has stimulated the learners’ imaginations

and has inspired their interest in musical development. These partnerships have put into context the work covered within the music department and have been particularly effective in reaching young people who were disheartened by more academically based approaches.

 

 

OBSERVING, MONITORING AND ASSESSING PUPILS’ LEARNING

 

Prior to studying for my PGCE, I was of the opinion that assessment was incredibly complex and that assessing the Arts could be somewhat of a minefield. My question was: How does one assess creativity?

 

All learning, however, should be structured and can come from a theoretical base, with Music Education no exception.

 

The National Curriculum Assessment Levels offer guidance on what to expect of students at different stages of their development and although helpful should not be seen as entirely prescriptive.

 

Assessment lies in the heart of the learning process. It provides the framework, through which students’ progress can be followed, expressed, recorded and future stages in learning planned in response to students’ needs.

 

I am of the view that the purpose of assessment is to recognise and acknowledge the positive achievements of students and thus further their motivation; to identify and diagnose students’ individual needs with a view to making further appropriate provision for them and to provide an adequate basis for the production of accurate summaries of students’ achievements at recognised times in the learning continuum.

 

Further to this, I have developed as a teacher who can incorporate assessment as an ‘integral part of curriculum planning’ by devising and delivering carefully constructed Schemes of Work which include strategies for a) identifying the intended learning experiences, b) supporting diagnosis of individual needs and c) giving students the maximum opportunity to demonstrate what they can do.

 

In short, I now place great importance upon the careful monitoring and observation of each student, utilising formal and informal assessment, as an important evaluation tool.

 

Educators in all subjects are required to accommodate a range of learners and this inclusivity within education necessitates an ability to devise, deliver and assess in a manner which uncovers the strengths of all learners.

 

Just as we have a variety of Learning Styles we must also employ a diverse number of Assessing Styles with written, verbal, practical and self-appraisal, being just a selection, not to forget the indispensable tools such as video and audio recording which we can utilise to aid with our accuracy in marking.

 

Ultimately Lesson Planning should be informed by a clear vision of what is to be taught, learned and to what level. Above all it is paramount that there exists a clear relationship between Assessment and Learning Outcomes so that students have an awareness of the relevance of tasks and validity of grading achieved.

 

Vocational courses, including those BTEC Music and Performing Arts, offer scope for teachers to assess learning in a way that is suited to each individual learner and in order to optimise achievement, I have always written Assignments which offer assessment options which allow learners to illustrate their development in a manner that best suits their abilities.

 

Technology in the classroom has given me the option to video or voice-record planning meetings, rehearsals and evaluations; learners are also encouraged to use their own phones to video record rehearsal diaries or create video blogs for any coursework. I have even, on occasion, found it extremely useful to create questionnaires for entire assignments and voice record learners at the end of the unit as a means of backing up their knowledge and evaluation of their progress and achievements.

 

The Assignment Brief here illustrates the points made above about clarity in criteria (Learning Outcomes) being covered by the tasks and methods accepted to assess achievement.

 

 

MUSIC, ICT AND THE CURRICULUM

One fundamental challenge of ICT is to ensure that it actually enhances the quality of the learning experience.

Educational technologies are evolving at a rapid pace and, possibly, none more so than those available to music teachers. This inevitable progress whilst presenting a great many opportunities, to both learner and teacher, also poses a great many challenges.

 

Ultimately the goal must be for all learners to achieve their full potential. New technologies should not require that teachers change this basic principle of good pedagogy but, by introducing new and exciting tools this principle can be enhanced. The most powerful implication of ICT in the classroom is the opportunity it allows for the accommodation of differing learning styles, largely achieved through the multiple methods available to present and receive information and the interactive nature of these technologies.

 

The learner is an active participant central to the learning process and it is here that ICT can represent a valuable attribute. Effective use of ICT “impacts on the dynamic interplay between teachers and learners and can – with careful design – enhance what has previously been taught” (Bonnett, 1997: 145, 151)

 

Piaget’s “genetic epistemology” theory highlights that learning should actively involve students and the major theme of

Vygotsky’s theoretical framework is that social interaction plays a fundamental role in the development of cognition.

 

Vygotsky (1978) states: “Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological).” Bandura’s social learning theory emphasizes the importance of observing and modeling the behaviours, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others.

 

Standard of Attainment in subject area as a result of ICT

 

The Common Evaluation Framework (CEF) which was developed across government departments and agencies relates to the evaluation of the whole-school impact of ICT. As well as Ofsted, the DfES, QCA, Becta, NCSL and the national Primary and Secondary Strategies have all been party to this work.

 

This research indicated that “When using ICT, some pupils pay more attention to detail and are more self-critical, while others work quickly but superficially. Some are likely to turn to ICT for investigation and problem solving and learn from their mistakes, but others are more likely to use it for drafting or presenting. When using ICT, most pupils collaborate effectively with others, but some may lose interest when they encounter a problem. They show respect for other people’s work, feelings, values and beliefs. Some pupils show interest and curiosity when using ICT; this helps them to explore and exploit the potential of ICT. Most can sustain concentration and independent study. Some pupils are more likely to attend and get involved in sessions where ICT is used.”

 

My current use of ICT includes:

 

Internal Moodle System – where students can access, in college or at home, their Assignment Briefs and all resources that are required to complete coursework. Gradebook facility allows for uploading of and marking of coursework where feedback and grades can be quicker to access. The following link is a video that I have made to support Major Music Project (Assignment Brief here). It is available both on MOODLE and on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=badZoQduvoM (Preparing Your Event Guidance by David E Watters). View this as a powerpoint here.

 

Powerpoint and Prezi presentations – are useful, in terms of differentiation, as tools to visually illustrate lesson objectives and outline tasks, whilst also allowing embedding of videos, sound files and interactive quizzes. Examples of powerpoint as a teaching and learning tool include those uploaded from the RESPECT CAMPAIGN TUTORIAL PROGRAM.

 

Examples are here and here.

 

YouTube Channel – I have set up a youtube channel, POPNERDZ, as an additional resource for students. The channel contains playlists for music by decade which aids learners in choosing repertoire. Other playlists are concerned with Songwriters and songwriting, and Improvisation.http://www.youtube.com/user/POPNERDZ?feature=mhee 

 

POPNERDZ blog – has been set up as a place to post exemplar work anonymously (the learner is not named and neither is the college). This has made assignments more vocationally relevant and encourages learners to write articles or create vlogs which are of a more professional standard; since these are online and accessible by anyone with internet access. http://popnerdz.blogspot.co.uk/ 

 

Flipcam – Videos are made of most practical lessons and include, planning meetings, rehearsals, rehearsal evaluation and goal setting, performances and presentations of research. The opportunity to see their own performances can be particularly helpful and an efficient, time-effective way to illustrate areas of strength and areas for improvement. As stated earlier, learners are also encouraged to use their own phones to video record rehearsal diaries or create video blogs for any coursework. I have even, on occasion, found it extremely useful to create questionnaires for entire assignments and voice record learners at the end of the unit as a means of backing up their knowledge and evaluation of their progress and achievements.

 

In Summary

Learning technologies are tools which support both teaching and learning. Where good practice is in evidence, teachers will avoid using ICT simply for motivation; avoid using ICT for simple or routine tasks best accomplished by other means; make clear the links between the ICT application and the musical objectives of the lesson and expect pupils to use ICT to answer valid questions relating to the musical objectives of the lesson.

 

The challenges and opportunities concern the professional development of teachers and the necessity for up to date ICT software and provision of a strong integrated ICT support system. There is an impact of the use of ICT on classroom organisation and management which ultimately is of benefit to learners.

 

ICT, if used creatively, can help meet the teaching and learning objectives for music. It can stimulate and direct pupils’ learning and be used as a tool to assess progress. As a versatile and interactive method of communication ICT can allow for differentiation including provision for SEN, EAL and G&T learners.

 

SCHOOL BASED EVALUATION OF MUSICAL LEARNING

The objective for this research project, whilst at the Institute of Education, was to understand to what extent the Equal Opportunities Policy of School X was being implemented within the Music Department and the effect of this upon achievement amongst students from ethnic minority communities. This, for me, was the most stimulating and fascinating research topic and has led me to further explore Equality of Opportunity in relation to all learners; EAL, SEN, G&T, LGBT (Lesbian , Gay, Bisexual and Transgender), throughout my career.

 

An absence of effective equal opportunities policies wastes human talent and deprives both the individual of the satisfaction of realising their full potential and society of their skills. Turner, T (2001)

 

The ethnic make-up of our nation is constantly evolving and within schools the student population is increasingly varied in ethnic, social, economic, religious and cultural backgrounds and I believe that my job as a teacher is to facilitate the learning of all students through the provision of a learning environment where all learners feel welcome, respected, equally able to participate and to achieve.

 

As a foundation to this and as a good starting point, in order to ensure maximum achievement across the entire learning community, schools should have in place an Equal Opportunities Policy which is regularly reviewed and which impacts upon every aspect of school life.

 

The ethos of any school should be to strongly promote learning and achievement and effectively encourage a sense of self-belief in its pupils.

 

School X

School X which is a large (1719 students) multi-ethnic Girls (and Mixed 6th Form) Comprehensive School, within the Borough of Greenwich, was given Performing Arts Status in 2000 and in 2004 became designated as a Humanities College.

 

Students are from diverse and, in some cases deprived, backgrounds. 39% of students are eligible for free school meals (well above the national average); and, students with statements of special educational need are also above the national average.

 

The student body can be divided according to ethnicity where approximately 50% of the student population is Caucasian, though not exclusively white-British, and the remaining 50% represent a wide spectrum of ethnic minority groups.

 

Bi-Lingual Students

As may be expected, the proportion of students whose first language is not English is extremely high. Bi-Lingual students are positively encouraged through a variety of practices; Awareness raising – use of interpreters and school liaison team, bi-lingual notices, displays reflecting languages and cultures and INSET days; Encouragement of home language development – the school provides Panjabi and Urdu twilight and weekend classes, School X funds GCSE entrance in a range of home languages and parents are encouraged to support both formal and informal development of their home language; Use of first language to support access to the curriculum – Tutor Group placements where first language groupings are a major consideration, allowance where written work may first be drafted in the student’s home language and literacy groups where bi-lingual texts are utilised.

 

Working within this environment highlighted to me that the respect for an individual’s home language and culture brings increased confidence and strengthens identity. GCSE language attainment was a testament to this and over the years students have successfully entered exams in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Italian, Panjabi, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish and Urdu.

 

The Equal Opportunities Policy at School X was fairly standard with its overall aim being to “maximise achievement by ensuring equality of opportunity for all members of the community.”

 

The principles set out are that:

• All individuals are unique and are valued and respected equally.

• All individuals are entitled to equal access to the full range of opportunities and learning experiences.

• All individuals are entitled to an accessible, positive curriculum, and to learn, teach and work in a supportive, non-threatening environment in which self-esteem is enhanced.

• It is everyone’s duty to be aware of issues of variety and difference including class, gender, sexuality, race, religion, bilingualism, culture, physical disability and all special educational needs and abilities including marked aptitude.

• It is everyone’s responsibility to address the behavioural needs of students in the context of learning.

• It is everyone’s duty to challenge and combat all forms of discrimination in any of these areas.

 

When put into practice this should mean that the above principles inform all policies, procedures, structures, organisation and developments in the school and permeate all areas of the curriculum.

 

The Rampton Report, which was based on the work of a committee set up as a result of widespread concern at the poor academic performance of Afro-Caribbean pupils, contended that:

 

A ‘good’ education should enable a child to understand his [sic] own society, and to know enough about other societies to enhance that understanding. A ‘good’ education cannot be based on one society only, and in Britain, where ethnic minorities form a permanent and integral part of the population, we do not believe that education should seek to iron out the differences between cultures, nor attempt to draw everyone into the dominant culture. On the contrary, it will draw upon the experiences of the many cultures that make up our society and thus broaden the cultural horizons of every child. That is what we mean by ‘multicultural’ education. (DES, 1981, 27)

 

The report recognized the value of multicultural education in all schools, irrespective of their ethnic composition and expanded upon this definition as follows:

 

“The multicultural curriculum is one which is appropriate to the education of all pupils, whatever their background, by reference to a diversity of cultures.” (DES, 1981, 27; original emphasis)

 

The Curriculum – G & T and Learning Support

Any school or college should provide a good, varied and stimulating curriculum that meets the needs of individual students and staff at all levels should be firmly committed to giving learners the best quality of education they can achieve.

 

A school should have high expectations of all students and a recognise that different groups of students need to be supported in different ways; most able students should be stretched and special provision should be made for them in lessons and also through enrichment and gifted and talented programmes; additional support should be offered to students with specific learning needs both within the classroom or in small teaching groups – this includes EAL and SEN students or those with behavioural issues who should be offered guidance and support through other means, such as an Inclusion Unit.

 

What became evident through conducting this research was that the quality of teaching, support systems and the Pastoral Care provision within School X facilitated incredible progress and high level achievement across the curriculum. GCSE results steadily continued to improve across all subject areas and it was a credit to the school that one Afghani student who arrived in the UK only 5 years earlier, with no real grasp of English, was awarded 10 GCSEs.

 

Music Department – The Curriculum and Extra-Curricular Activities

In September 2000 Performing Arts Status was awarded to School X in recognition of the quality of the curriculum, teaching and community involvement.

 

Curriculum innovations, especially those linked with theatre, dance and music have widened course and extra-curricular activities significantly. Ofsted Report (2005), Curriculum and Other Activities

 

The Music Department had grown in recent years and increased funding, as a result of gaining Performing Arts Status, meant that greater diversity in musical experience could now be offered to students; Post-16 options had broadened to include AS Music Technology and a wide variety of BTEC Performing Arts courses.

 

The Equal Opportunities Policy of School X states that ‘All individuals are unique and are valued and respected equally’ This is evident in that access to provision is non-discriminatory and all students have practical music lessons in Years 7-9. The curriculum for these students, whilst designed as a building block toward GCSE, demonstrated an awareness of issues of variety and difference including class, gender, race, religion, bilingualism, culture, physical disability and all special educational needs and abilities including marked aptitude.

 

In view of this, however, it was true that particular ethnic groups chose not to pursue GCSE music as an option. Although it is important to understand cultural influences upon this decision, more worrying was that prior learning may have been led to a disengagement of a pupils’ interest. To understand this better it is of particular interest to look at the Schemes of Work which were being delivered to students between Years 7 and 9 at School X. The curriculum at this level is designed primarily to develop “Knowledge, Skills and Understanding” whilst introducing cross-curricular concepts of literacy, numeracy and citizenship and ICT.

 

Between Years 7 and 9 there was no specific reference to music of India, Africa or China and it was my opinion that it was the duty of the teacher to find methods of incorporating these into planning. The unit titles and keywords are, perhaps, deliberately open to allow for teacher input and greater flexibility when lesson planning. Therefore, in order to show learners that they are valued and respected equally a teacher is duty bound to devise, obtain and deliver resources which are culturally varied and representative. It should be stressed that it is not only what is taught but also how creatively it is delivered which has an impact on educational achievement.

 

Resources

Motivation can come from a desire to emulate and where no gender or cultural role models are present there is a greater potential for disengagement and low attainment. Teachers must consider their choice of resources and make adjustment to Lesson Plans where possible to provide for more inclusive learning. In a school which is culturally diverse it is more important than ever to present a broader picture of the world.

 

Resources must be both relevant to the subject and something to which students can relate. This is a tall order, but over the course of each Unit reference should be made, where possible, to the variety of musical genres from a broad range of cultures.

 

This view is not exactly new as can be seen from this extract from the 1981, Rampton Report.

 

The variety of social and cultural groups should be evident in the visual images, stories and information disseminated within the school. However, this selection should not be made in such a way as to reinforce stereotyping of life-styles, occupations, status [or] human characteristics [of] one particular culture. (DES, 1981, 27; Rampton Report)

 

At School X where it is true that ‘all individuals are entitled to equal access to the full range of opportunities and learning experiences,’ it is not enough to treat all students alike and to provide “equal access” if the learning experience is not representative of the learners’ diversity.

 

I found the positive ethos of the Music Department to be in line with that of the school and the standard of teaching was extremely high with an impressive subject knowledge and level of musicianship amongst staff. However, the resources created and used by teaching staff within the Music Department at School X were often traditional, commonplace and “safe.” There existed a creative spirit but it rested too comfortably within a limited comfort zone which failed to fully inspire all learners.

 

Teachers can, all too often, fall into the trap of reproducing a “good” lesson from year to year regardless of the cultural variations within the group. It is no longer acceptable to present a class with Frere Jacques or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star when more stimulating and culturally representational resources exist or, more importantly, can be created.

 

Tony Turner in Unit 4.4: Responding to Diversity, Learning to Teach in the Secondary School presents a compelling insight:

 

Equal opportunities are about maximising the aspirations of all pupils and not about trying to make pupils of all ethnic backgrounds more like each other. The task of the school is to create a learning environment in which all pupils can thrive. Not recognising pupil differences, including culture, is as inadequate a response to teaching demands as the stereotyping of pupils.

 

He further adds that, ‘No matter how concerned the school is to promote equal opportunities through good policies, implementing them in the classroom is not an easy matter.’

 

My research led me to look, in more detail, at KS3 Schemes of Work at School X. Analysis of one Unit in some depth illustrates Turner’s point and perhaps demonstrates that, although no “easy matter”, it is possible to consider ways in which to introduce engaging cultural stimuli in line with the principles of the Equal Opportunities Policy of the school.

 

The Year 7, a Scheme of Work entitled ATMOSPHERES where the given keywords were MOOD, PROGRAMME MUSIC, EFFECTS and SPECIAL OCCASION offered immense scope for creativity. Listening extracts, now that we have infinite online capabilities, are unlimited and can draw on music from any given culture, so long as the music is descriptive and atmospheric. Consideration of “Special Occasion” can open up a stimulating group activity where students can share knowledge and experience of other cultures, not necessarily their own, about religious festivals and related music. If teaching this Unit around the period of a particular festival, for example, then this could be an opportunity to complement other areas of the curriculum such as RE and Citizenship.

 

Compositional stimuli may be images or writing which describe another culture. From this, students may create, individually or in small groups, a brief written narrative which gives an account of the action and emotion of the story. For EAL students this may even be done in their home language initially. This then can be created musically through a group composition activity. There are links here to literacy where differentiated learning can be enhanced with regard to EAL and SEN students.

 

Embracing cultural diversity in this manner gives learners ownership of the project which can only serve to stimulate and motivate. If such measures are taken in preparation and planning then the schools Equal Opportunities Policy with regards to the learners entitlement to an accessible, positive curriculum ‘where students can learn, in a supportive environment in which self-esteem is enhanced’ is undoubtedly adhered to.

 

GCSE Music

In 2005, of those opting to study music in Years 10 and 11, only a very small percentage came from ethnic minority communities with more than 70% coming from a White-British background and the remaining 30% divided amongst ethnic-minority groups (predominantly Black-British of either West Indian or African descent). From these groups there was no-one for whom English was an additional language and only 5 students in both years were of Asian origin.

Although there was a 96% pass rate in GCSE Music in 2005, with 48% of those entered gaining Grades from A*- C, almost 50% of those initially choosing the subject were not entered and those with good grades were predominantly White-British with only a few exceptions.

 

The Edexcel GCSE Music Specification is in line with the finest principles of School X’s Equal Opportunities Policy stating that the course is designed to develop the learners’ ‘understanding and appreciation of a range of different kinds of music, ability to make musical judgements’ and ‘develop broader life-skills and attributes including critical and creative thinking, aesthetic sensitivity and emotional and cultural development.’

 

It is based on an ethos which goes beyond the mere theoretical comprehension of music and aims to provide a learning programme which develops the learners’ sense of the world and their place within that world with ‘areas of study (which) include a wide range of music including classical, world music and popular music.’ Edexcel GCSE in Music, Specification

 

In following such a course, teachers and learners have the opportunity to investigate, validate and appreciate the importance of an array of musical genres and their cultural roots.

 

In this area good teaching practice at School X was prevalent with learning across the different areas of study which incorporated the learners’ diverse cultural needs and which made provision for the varied learning styles within the class. It was of concern, however, that only 50% of students completed the course but investigation confirmed that many students had seen music as the “easy option” and were surprised by the level of course work expected. This information was obtained through informal discussions with excluded students over a three week period. These students demonstrated an enjoyment of music but lacked the necessary technical and theoretical skills to fully achieve. It is encouraging that even amongst those not entered for the GCSE examination there was a healthy, active participation in the many extra-curricular musical activities available.

 

Extra-Curricular Provision – Opportunities and Success

Much has been written about the importance of “informal learning” and the impact on achievement in a broader context.

Knowledge may be gained or used in a number of non-formal, or extra-curricular, situations. Eruat (2004: 247-273) investigated peer culture, learning from experience, tacit knowledge and the transfer of knowledge from one situation to another. Informal education has an invaluable place alongside formal education but as Coffield (2000: 1) noted, for all the talk of lifelong learning and the learning society the focus remains on formal provision, qualifications and accountability.

 

Learning involves the whole person; it implies not only a relation to specific activities, but a relation to social communities – it implies becoming a full participant, a member. In this view, learning only partly – and often incidentally – implies becoming able to be involved in new activities, to perform new tasks and functions, to master new understandings. Activities, tasks, functions, and understandings do not exist in isolation; they are part of broader systems of relations in which they have meaning. Lave and Wenger (1991: 53).

 

As a result of its diversity and inclusivity the Extra Curricular Provision at School X attracted a wide variety of students who were eager to participate in and attend an assortment of musical performances. Ofsted observed, ‘Provision for extra-curricular support, activities and sport is very strong.’

 

At the time of writing, approximately 300 students had free instrumental tuition. Further to this, the school boasted an overwhelming number of organised groups including a Steel Pan Band, various choirs (Year 7, Gospel and Senior Choir), a girls Barbershop Group (Years 10 & 11), Pop Club (Year 8 & 9), Wind and String Ensembles, Samba Band and tutor support was given to the many more student run ensembles and bands. There was also an annual dance performance, Outburst, which involved students from all year groups.

 

The Performing Arts Coordinator recognised the importance of broadening the learning experience and believed that when students are given the opportunity to mix they could develop in untold ways. This helped to develop a sense of community amongst the students and this can only serve to benefit a school.

 

The school promoted and celebrated the richness of its multicultural, multi-ethnic community through every aspect of its work and its environment. Further evidence of this was seen in the programming of their Winter Concert in which most of the aforementioned groups participated. Throughout the evening the capacity audience, at Goldsmiths College, enjoyed a multi-cultural musical marathon of both solo and ensemble performances which included Western Classical music, Indian Classical, Samba, Steel Pans, Musical Theatre, Jazz, Rock and Pop.

 

What I took from this research and into my own teaching was that these extra-curricular activities enrich the lives of students by promoting self-esteem and developing a sense of community. Relationships across year groups result in the strengthening of the supportive peer network which extended out-with the school environment and into the wider community. The self-belief gained or improved through such experiences can be beneficial to the student across the curriculum. Increased confidence to speak up, to question or to challenge ideas in other subjects will enhance the students’ development and academic achievement and, as such, should not be underestimated.

 

If each department within a school delivers a curriculum based on this philosophy then all members of the learning community should feel valued and be better placed to succeed.

 

The Music Department at School X was well managed and teachers provided an exceptional level of tuition within the curriculum. An area which could easily be improved, however, was provision within the KS3 syllabus which could be more prescribed, without restricting teacher creativity, to ensure culturally stimulating delivery; particularly with regards to resources and ICT. Here the Head of Department should have greater involvement in regularly assessing quality of content and level of delivery.

 

Departmental INSET training days which focus on the use of resources and professional development with regards to ICT capability would also be beneficial. Staff can rely too heavily on tried and tested resources and methods of presentation which may not take account of the cultural variety of the class or individual learning needs.

 

Greater involvement in Educational Partnerships including specifically improved communication with SEN and EAL staff would promote better practice. A wider development of Creative Partnerships could fill gaps in teacher and student knowledge, particularly with regards to specific cultural awareness. Visiting Tutors and specialised music organisations could be utilised to enhance the curriculum.

 

To ensure that students are achieving their full potential more rigorous and regular assessment would highlight any deficiency in student understanding and development.

 

Extra-Curricular provision was outstanding but could have been better publicised in order that even more students could have an awareness of what was on offer within the department.

 

Where possible, School X could look at different ways to introduce positive role models from ethnic minority communities. School X had a healthy and representative cultural mix amongst staff although this was not reflected in the Music Department where the majority of teachers were white-British. Within the Performing Arts Department the picture was slightly broader and although staff did not mirror the cultural make-up of the pupils there was a greater variety of cultural backgrounds present such as South African, Australian, American and Vietnamese.

 

There are benefits to a multi-ethnic staff but it should not be prescribed as the only option for “good” education. So long as teachers are culturally aware and can demonstrate an understanding of the importance of planning and delivering a varied and stimulating curriculum, which acknowledges the schools diversity, students will relate to staff regardless of ethnicity, class or gender and achieve their full potential.

 

The principles promoted within the Equal Opportunities Policy of School X were reflected within the Music Department in all aspects of policy, procedure, structure, organisation and development and this impacted heavily on all areas of the curriculum and extra-curricular provision. As a result, achievement amongst students from ethnic minority communities may be considered high; if considering, not only exam success, but personal growth in terms of social awareness, instrumental proficiency and increased self-esteem gained as a direct result from association with the many opportunities the department had to offer.

 

Specific examples of how I have embraced this philosophy within my own teaching practice range from something as simple as decorating my teaching spaces with images and inspirational quotations from a culturally diverse selection of role models, to selecting music and drama pieces which are representative and relevant. Creative Partnerships and trips to performance events have always taken into consideration the beneficial impact that these may have in terms of validating individuals and celebrating cultural diversity. Community Performances, where possible, have been related to cultural awareness and have included involvement in Black History Month events at Greenwich Maritime Museum.

 

My current position has brought opportunities to fully explore the celebration of diversity and students are currently in the process of planning and organising a 2nd annual Pro-Equality Festival.

 

2012’s event, CHANGE OF TUNE, was organised by Year 2, Level 3 students in response to a scenario in the Assignment Brief for both Major Music Projects and Music Project Units:

 

Scenario

 

Your group have been selected NBI Associates to work in association with their Give ‘em Hope Campaign to devise, plan, coordinate, market and promote a Pro-Equality Music and Arts FESTIVAL (Performance date: April 2012) which involves a range of performers and artists from the Hampshire area. The Festival is aimed at a broad audience and should include a variety of musical styles and types of performance. The theme is, Tackling the “isms” Creatively” so all participants should be encouraged to offer music and artistic work which comments upon sexism, racism, ablism, ageism, homophobia and transphobia or any other area not listed here where people may experience prejudice, bullying or limiting labelling.

 

The aim of this event is to raise awareness of local and or national charity organisations and to communicate a message of social equality and a commitment to community cohesion.

 

The success of this event is reliant upon careful and thorough project planning. This takes time and effort and a basic checklist, to help you with your planning, includes consideration of:

 

Venue, Accessibility, Facilities, Health & Safety, Insurance, Performers/Speakers/Guests, Equipment, Costs & Budgets, Publicity.

 

The festival covered multiple units for both year one and year two students including Marketing and Promotion in the Music Industry, Pop Music in Practice, Working and Developing as a Musical Ensemble and Music Performance Techniques, so not only did it enable students to cover a large percentage of their coursework in one project but it allowed collaboration between year groups; cross-curricular, charity and community liaison and a development of broader social awareness.

 

SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS – WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP

My chosen subject for my final research project at the Institute of Education, known as an Evidence Based Enquiry, was titled, Working in Partnership – The impact of ineffective communication, collaboration and co-operation between Subject Teachers and Learning Support Staff upon the learner.

 

What measures should be taken to improve collaboration and ensure a quality of provision for students with special educational needs?

 

The Rationale for this choice of topic was that, since graduating from music college, in 1996, I had taught for numerous private theatre schools and had come into contact with children who possessed varied special educational needs including, ADHD, dyslexia, dysphasia, hearing and visual impairment. In more recent years, I had taught singing for local comprehensive schools and had encountered students from every social and cultural background. Here I gained experience with EAL students and also a number with demanding behavioural problems.

 

My concern was that I lacked any formal knowledge of special educational needs or the methods with which to meet these particular needs. Professional Studies lectures, at Teaching Placement 2, were often given by Specialist Staff from the Language Development, Learning Support or the Inclusion Units; all who spoke with genuine passion for their role and responsibilities within the school. I realised that I was well placed at TP2 to develop a better understanding of the professional knowledge and skills I might need to meet the needs of my students and have used the EBE as a means to acquire further skills and understanding in these areas.

 

All students should be supported and given appropriate guidance throughout their time at school and it is the Subject teachers who must provide a fully inclusive and effective learning environment. Lessons should be planned with an awareness of the needs of each student. Nevertheless, in order to fulfill their roles most effectively, teachers will need access to advice, support and expertise to supplement and complement their own knowledge. The structures in place at TP2, which help students to reach their full potential, enable teachers a shared wealth of expertise with which to develop the confidence to devise and deliver stimulating and inclusive lessons.

 

New teachers are expected to enter their NQT year fully armed with a broader knowledge of education than ever before. Educational reform is a continuing process which directly affects policy, procedure and structure within schools. With more call for inclusion, teachers must continue to develop professionally in order to be fully equipped to embrace the growing diversity of needs. The education of our students is a shared responsibility and, as such, requires of all involved agencies an ability to communicate, co-operate and collaborate. Failure to do so is to fail in the quality of provision and to jeopardise the attainment potential for all children within our care.

 

There are a variety of factors involved in the academic development of children but one of the most influential is the learning context. The key factors that go to make up this learning context are both the physical and the social environment in which the learner is engaged in an activity. Classroom organisation and management, tools and equipment utilised and the social composition of the class all impact upon each learner.

 

Prior learning, both formal and informal learning, also influence the way learners interpret new experiences and affects their thinking.

 

The most pertinent point here, however, is that since we learn from every interactive experience the quality of relationships between all of those involved, in any learning environment, is paramount. Since our academic development is influenced by not only what but how we are taught, teachers and learning support staff all have an equal responsibility to nurture a healthy alliance in order that all students may flourish.

 

Vosniadou (1996, p.104) suggests that research is needed to improve our understanding of how cognitive processes and structures interact with environmental variables. According to her “cognitive psychology provided rich descriptions of what is learned but failed to provide fruitful hypotheses about how learning happens and more specifically about the environmental variables that influence the knowledge acquisition process.”

 

Communication is a key skill for educators yet I became aware that, although School X is staffed by a highly skilled teaching and support staff, the restricted opportunity for effective collaboration indicated that students may not be receiving the support they needed. I decided to make the focus of my EBE a consideration of what measures should be taken to improve collaboration between Subject Teachers and Learning Support Staff to ensure that the needs of students with special educational needs were being met. It seemed to me, on first impression at least, that the skills of many people working in the school were not being used to best effect.

 

Context of Research – School X

School X is a large multi-ethnic Girls (Mixed 6th Form) Comprehensive School, within the Borough of Greenwich which was given Performing Arts Status in 2000 and in 2004 also became designated as a Humanities College. Students are from diverse and, in some cases deprived, backgrounds. 39% of students are eligible for free school meals (well above the national average); and, students with statements of special educational need are also above the national average.

Inspection Judgements following an Ofsted inspection in April 2005 were favourable with most areas considered to be Grade 1 (Outstanding) and none below Grade 2 (Good).

 

“The Headteacher and staff are strongly committed to high standards and to convincing pupils that they can achieve” Ofsted Report (2005)

 

The report stated that, “lessons have clear objectives and a common structure, although these sometimes lack the detail needed to meet the full range of students’ needs.” but added that, “Teaching Assistants and Learning Mentors support students with special educational needs effectively by helping teachers to ensure these students make good progress.” Ofsted Report (2005)

 

“We have high academic expectations of all our students regardless of ability” Headteacher, School X

 

My role at School X was as a trainee teacher, within the music department, where I taught students at KS3 and KS4. Towards the end of this placement I took a position as a tutor within the Performing Arts Department where I then had the opportunity to work with BTEC National Diploma students. Involvement across the entire spectrum of music education both curricular and extra-curricular presented challenges in terms of ensuring I could offer the best provision for all learners and consequently offered scope for accelerated professional development, with opportunities to enhance knowledge and skills, in areas regarding SEN and ICT in particular.

 

NOTE: The major QTS standards which were addressed through carrying out my EBE, giving an oral presentation and writing this report are: 1.1 – 1.3, 1.6, 1.7, 2.4, 2.6, 3.1.1, 3.1.2, 3.1.4, 3.2.1, 3.2.4, 3.2.5, 3.2.7 and 3.3.13.

 

Background

While co-operation between Education, Health and Social Services is essential to ensure the quality of provision for children with special educational needs, the issue of inter-agency collaboration has a long history of problems. In 2003, the Government published a green paper called Every Child Matters which prompted an unprecedented debate about services for children, young people and families and highlighted the need for “a national framework for local change programmes to build services around the needs of children and young people to maximise opportunity and minimise risk.”

 

The paper argued that “the services that reach every child and young person have a crucial role to play in shifting the focus from dealing with the consequences of difficulties in children’s lives to preventing things from going wrong in the first place.” The Every Child Matters: Change for Children programme demanded that all organisations which provide services for children “work together in more integrated and effective ways.” The key outcomes are for all children and young people to: be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution to society, and achieve economic wellbeing.

 

In order to put the current situation into context it is important to look at the key political developments in recent years which have led towards the publication of Every Child Matters. The most significant document since the application of the 1944 Education Act was The Warnock Report (DES, 1978) which emphasised that “special educational need is of critical importance for all teachers.” Next came The 1981 Education Act which incorporated a number of Warnock’s recommendations and further defined special educational need and provision, the responsibility of ordinary schools in identifying, assessing and providing for children with special educational needs as well as highlighting the rights of parents to have greater involvement in the process of assessment and to appeal against any decisions made.

This then provided the basis for the Education Reform Act of 1988 (ERA) which introduced a National Curriculum in which all pupils were entitled access to a “broad and balanced curriculum“. Many teachers and schools expressed concern that there was insufficient guidance relating to identification and assessment and this led to the introduction of 1993 Education Act the Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of SEN (DFE, 1994) which aimed to extend the principles already existing in the 1981 and 1988 Education Acts.

 

Educational Reform, regarding provision for SEN students, has progressed steadily over the last 30 years and there has been an irrevocable social and cultural shift towards full and equal inclusion where SEN students are fully expected to access a broad and varied curriculum and all individuals are entitled to equal access to a full range of opportunities and learning experiences.

 

The resultant impact on the role of the teacher has been immense with particular implications for the development of professional partnerships with specialist support staff. Teachers must enhance their understanding of SEN and develop differentiated teaching strategies which maximise the support offered to all pupils.

 

My EBE was concerned with the professional partnerships within School X and, in particular, the standard of communication, collaboration and co-operation between LSA’s and Subject Teachers.

 

Where “good” or “bad” practice is in evidence the impact upon learners should not be underestimated.

 

Sally Beveridge (1999 p.115) writes that, “…all teachers are teachers of pupils with special educational needs, with a central role not only in their identification and assessment but also in developing classroom strategies to meet these needs. …teachers will continue to need access to advice, support and expertise to supplement and complement their own knowledge…”

 

Despite a consensus of opinion that inclusive education is a good idea, there is no solid evidence that all children are benefiting. In order to maximise the effectiveness of SEN provision within mainstream schools the mutual roles and responsibilities of educational professionals must be clearly defined and acknowledged. Staff do not work in isolation and schools should have in place policies and procedures which guide and support effective teaching partnerships.

Liz Lightfoot wrote in the Daily Telegraph (October 2004) that “Inclusion policy is failing special needs pupils.” She highlighted that, “Too often they (special needs pupils) work alone on inappropriate tasks under the supervision of classroom assistants, instead of being included and engaged in lessons. In some schools they are taught separately by assistants in small groups, resulting in feelings of isolation, and in others they are put in the lowest ability set, with resultant damage to their self-esteem.”

 

Writing in the magazine of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Union (2004), Mary Warnock, who authored The Warnock Report (DES, 1978), said: “Such children will not, in any case, be well served if they are taught mainly by classroom assistants, or are removed into units isolated from their contemporaries.”

 

Although “within-child factors can have a significant impact on learning, the concept of special educational need which (Warnock) put forward was far more concerned with the interaction between the child and the learning contexts which the child experiences. (Beveridge, 1999 p.4)

 

The learning context of SEN students within mainstream education is complex and necessitates a shared responsibility between a greater number of teaching professionals.

 

Methodology

In order to assess the quality of professional partnerships within School X and the level of communication, collaboration and co-operation, between LSA’s and Subject Teachers, a range of qualitative research methods were employed. I gathered data via interviews, questionnaires and informal observations. Before embarking I first had to understand the Whole School Policies regarding Equal Opportunities and SEN provision. I then investigated the role of the SENCO, the LSA and subject teachers through specific discussion with staff members and through reading Job Descriptions obtained from the LSU’s HoD. Informal interviews, with the LSU HoD, four LSA’s, Music HoD and a sample of subject teachers, were useful in gaining candid and subjective insight into issues surrounding effective communication. These formed the basis for Questionnaires, given to twenty teachers and twenty LSA’s, which were issued to gather a sample of thoughts, feelings and professional expertise about the effective use of the teaching assistant’s time and skills.

 

Further to this, Lesson Observations were undertaken to detect any correlation between the perceptions of these professionals and practice.

 

Conduct of Research

Step 1: Analysis of the Equal Opportunities and SEN Policies

Both the Equal Opportunities and SEN Policies at School X are fairly standard with an overall aim being to “maximise achievement by ensuring equality of opportunity for all members of the community.” The principles contained within these documents (Appendices 2a and 2b) should inform all policies, procedures, structures, organisation and developments in the school and permeate all areas of the curriculum. To investigate the relationship between policy and practice the next logical step was to gain a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the pertinent players.

 

Step 2: Mutual awareness of Roles and Responsibilities

Although the roles at School X are clearly defined it soon became apparent that many staff seemed unaware and, worryingly, uninterested in the specific details of their colleagues responsibilities. This was apparent from the dismissive response, particularly from subject teachers, to questions asked during interview and as part of the formal questionnaire. None of the teachers knew the specifics of the LSA’s role and one commented, “Would it make any difference if I did?”

 

Job descriptions improve an organisation’s ability to manage people and roles by clarifying employer expectations for employee; providing a basis of measuring job performance, a discipline for a school to understand and structure all jobs and ensure necessary activities, duties and responsibilities are covered by one job or another.

 

Within departments there is a high regard paid by staff to their own role, in relation to the pupils, but there is an overwhelming disregard shown, by LSA’s and Subject Teachers, for the importance of collaborative teaching strategies. Evidence of this first came to light through informal interviews conducted with four of School X’s more visible LSA’s, the Music HoD and the LSU HoD.

 

Step 3: Informal Interviews and Questionnaires

Informal interviews, with those mentioned, painted a fairly bleak picture of a “them and us” scenario. At the outset of this research project the Learning Support Unit’s HoD seemed reluctant to share opinions, was concerned about who might become privy to the information given and stated that similar research had been carried out before and that recommendations had not been acted upon. Some subject teachers openly admitted to not knowing the location of the LSU or the names of colleagues within this department, including those regularly working alongside themselves.

 

To call these relationships “Teaching Partnerships” is somewhat of a misnomer and to even intimate a “relationship” at all is often far from the reality. Of the four LSA’s interviewed all expressed an eagerness to participate in joint planning and to have input in the assessment of SEN students but viewed the possibility as relatively futile. These responses guided the wording and design of a Questionnaire which was given, initially, to a sample of 20 LSA’s and 20 Subject Teacher’s. This strategy was employed as a means of gathering a cross-sample of perceptions and was intended to form the basis of recommendations for improved practice.

 

The perceived advantages of the questionnaire were that more detail could be gathered and, the option of anonymity would encourage greater candor. Unfortunately, the response was extremely discouraging. Only one Subject Teacher initially completed the questionnaire and it took more than a month, and repeated visits to the LSU, before I felt fully supported. LSU staff were friendly and wanted to assist but were cautious about the information they were willing to share. Eventually I did receive 16 completed questionnaires from LSA’s. At the time of writing only 4 Subject Teacher Questionnaires had been returned.

 

The format of questions asked were both closed-ended and open-ended, allowing a certain element of statistical information to be gathered alongside the opportunity for respondents to share thoughts, feelings, professional expertise and recommendations for future practice. Given the size of the sample surveyed, however, any results must be viewed tentatively. Perhaps this poor response rate is, in itself, evidence that there is a lack of enthusiasm or any real concern for this issue.

 

The teachers and LSA’s who responded felt that there were both benefits and difficulties relating to the presence of an LSA in their classroom. The benefits from a teaching perspective can be summarized as follow; as a witness if needed with pupils who later deny their behaviour, a chaperone for talking to pupils one to one, someone able to leave the classroom if necessary, for example to hunt down a truant, to escort distressed or badly behaved pupils who are leaving the room, to clarify instructions for students. It was also mentioned that LSA’s can be a source of feedback and “can provide comparison between your lessons and other peoples.”

 

Data gathered from questionnaires found that LSA’s saw the benefits more in terms of the student and the subject teacher by highlighting that individual attention and support through differentiated resources enables access to the curriculum and encourages students to stay on task. One LSA commented that, “Teachers can gain valuable information on the needs of students, who are being supported, and develop suitable teaching strategies.”

 

The difficulties were seen to be few but included lack of space in the classroom, particularly when there can often be the classroom teacher, a student teacher and one or more support teachers at any given time. One teacher felt that it was difficult to always keep on top of planning lessons far enough in advance so that LSA’s had time to prepare differentiated resources. One teacher provided a particularly damnatory account of the difficulties encountered, “The commonest problem with LSA’s is that they can be so noisy and disruptive, talking throughout explanations, walking around and in and out etc. They can cause confusion by contradicting either instructions or explanations. They can be dominating and intimidating. I have, in the past, had a class I was afraid of walking into because of bullying by a group of LSA’s. The worst experiences I have had of LSA’s is due to managers using them to spy and report back on teachers. This permanently destroys any hope of a working relationship.”

 

From a given list, each of the respondents in the study were asked to order the ways in which the LSA’s time is being utilised (1 = most often, 7 = least often):

 

Working with a group

Supporting SEN, IEPs

Preparing materials

Putting up displays

Organising resources

Filing

As an advisor when planning lessons

 

Although the response, from Subject Teachers and LSA’s, to this question demonstrates agreement that a) working with SEN, b) preparing materials and c) advisory roles, are paramount, lesson observations showed a disparity between theory and practice. This variance of perception, which will be further considered in the next section, suggests a lack of clarity regarding role definitions and a potential for the misuse of LSA’s time which will ultimately impact upon the learner.

 

The ethos that all students should be encouraged to become independent learners requires that SEN students are nurtured in a way which helps them to develop self-esteem and personal learning strategies. For this to occur, flexible support strategies, where LSA and Subject Teachers regularly liaise out with the classroom, must be in place. Fruitful teaching partnerships exist where associates share knowledge and vision regarding the goals for their students. If LSA’s are included in planning, record keeping and assessment then more specifically differentiated lessons can be delivered for the benefit of all students. Here again there is agreement, amongst those sampled, but issues arise where time constraints limit the possibility of effective communication. This point, and a number of others, were most eloquently illustrated by one teacher:

 

“I try to offer all regular support staff a meeting once a week. However, some years I have had 15 or 20 support staff on my timetable, and they have as many teachers to support, so this is not always practical. Some classes have up to 6 adults in at once, this is obviously too many, especially if it isn’t always the same six, some are reluctant to introduce themselves, give their names or take any direction from the teacher at all. In these cases there is no communication at all.”

 

Most LSA’s felt that they were not included in planning, stating that only a minority of teaching staff provided any advanced information on lesson content to allow for differentiated planning.

 

For both questionnaires and interviews, how the questions are asked is extremely important. Poor questions will lead to poor research results and conclusions. Poor response, amongst Subject Teachers, also makes findings inconclusive. This in itself is a great indicator of an apathy towards communication, collaboration and co-operation.

 

Step 4: Observation

A final method of investigation was Participant Observation which promised the prospect of gathering a sample of impressionistic data. The purpose of this method was to enable insight into the correlation between classroom practice and the previously gathered interview and questionnaire data. Studies in this area were difficult to organise and therefore resulted in a limited sample of Case Studies from which to refer. All samples were within the Music Department of School X and, as such, are not representative of the school as a whole.

 

There appeared to be an underlying atmosphere of resentment and a lack of willingness to include the LSA. I observed no joint planning or discussions before or after lessons and on one occasion a teacher shared the opinion, “She gets on my nerves” in response to a “persistent” LSA. The situation had arisen because the LSA had made clear that her only concern was the particular student she was supporting and had asked that other students work separately. The task involved working with electronic keyboards and limited supply meant the sharing of equipment.

 

This particular subject teacher consistently demonstrates a good understanding for the needs of all students and creates interesting lessons which stimulate and challenge all learners. If students are to be included in lessons and have full access to the curriculum they should also be permitted to work with classmates, otherwise the feeling of otherness will persist and be detrimental to the students’ self-esteem, resulting ultimately in lowered levels of achievement.

All other lesson observations highlighted a poor level of communication between staff. The impression given was that Teaching Staff were inconvenienced by the presence of Learning Support Assistants who worked in an unwelcoming environment solely focused on the needs of “their” students.

 

Findings

This research has brought to light a number of mutually acknowledged issues with regards to the current levels of communication between teaching professionals at School X. It is believed, by a majority of respondents, that consistency of provision and continuity of student development is hampered through lack of timetabled periods set aside for staff to collaborate in terms of understanding individual needs and planning appropriately. Workload for both groups is high and, while each aspires to the highest professional standards, time constraints restrict any formalised communication time.

 

There are further issues of continuity where it is not always the same LSA who supports each student. This prevents the development of any healthy working partnership and is detrimental to the child.

 

Differing priorities were highlighted by participants from both groups. For example, the LSA may be too focused on one or two particular students to allow for their social development in terms of working with others and also Subject Staff may unintentionally neglect the SEN student, for the best of reasons, if it is perceived that they are in capable hands.

 

LSA’s commented that they can feel that their knowledge and skills are often not valued; Subject teachers may transmit an attitude that the LSA is an unnecessary addition to their classroom. The reverse is also true and teachers have expressed frustration that their knowledge and ability to deal with SEN inclusion is not recognised by LSA’s.

Finally, communication between the various support departments is not ideal leaving teachers to cope with, at times, as much as 6 adult support staff.

 

My Recommendations to School X have also informed my own approach to communicating, collaborating and cooperating with Learning Support Staff and the benefits of this to learners have been immeasurable.

 

In summary these recommendations were as follow: timetabled periods which allow for staff to meet and discuss the needs of students, to lesson plan effectively and look at differentiating resources together, should take place as often as possible. It has been suggested that weekly meetings would be most beneficial but time constraints may demand fortnightly or even monthly liaison. Particularly at the outset of a new Scheme of Work it would be helpful to establish strategies for differentiating the learning experience. Ideally a Learning Support Assistant should be assigned to particular teachers over each week allowing the opportunity to develop an understanding of specific teaching styles and personalities. It has even been suggested that Subject specific LSA’s would be the biggest asset to the school. This is a long way off and may possibly never happen. The best option here would be to promote an environment where information can be shared across departments. Learning Support staff already provide training at INSET days but a way forward would be for subject staff to give introductory talks or workshops on their subject with perhaps an overview of departmental Schemes of Work.

 

Finally, one manager for all support departments would better co-ordinate the provision for students. Such a person could bring together all the complimentary elements of the rich support network within School X and provide a specific point of contact for students, teachers, parents and outside agencies.

 

In current teaching, I have made it my business to connect with all support staff and have a hands-on approach to knowing and supporting the different learning needs of all my learners. I will use differentiated teaching and assessment strategies but will also seek advice and support from Learning Support staff when specific needs require.

 

It is regrettable that scheduled meeting times are not timetabled between Learning Support and Subject Specialist Staff but there is a greater awareness and opportunity to share specialist knowledge within staff development sessions.

 

More frequently the Music Department have the same Learning Support Assistant, who has developed her own subject knowledge, who is viewed as part of the team and is willing to discuss learners needs, share strategies and who is flexible in accommodating a range of students within allocated workshop sessions.

 

The growing diversity of need within the classroom demands that teachers have a solid understanding of Special Educational Needs (SEN) so that they can plan and prepare specialised teaching programmes which give all learners the opportunity to succeed.

 

It is the duty of every teacher to ensure that appropriate differentiated work and resources are available. The teacher’s role and responsibilities are expanding, in response to this evolving learning community, whereby they are required to be fully aware of SEN procedures, to liaise with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) and teaching assistants.

 

This principle also applies to the education of English as an Additional Language (EAL) and Gifted and Talented (G&T) students who, although not defined within the law as having special educational needs, still require “special” provision and support.

 

All learners are entitled to equal access to the full range of opportunities and learning experiences within their school and a positive teaching approach at my current college, which embraces the various support systems, ensure that this is the case.

 

 

CPD

CPD in the workplace, on the whole, has been generic but useful in terms of compliance with organisational and governmental guidelines and has included:

 

Safeguarding, Child Protection, Health and Safety, Equality and Diversity, Preparing for Ofsted, How to deliver an Outstanding lesson, Writing Assignments for BTEC, Internally Verifying BTEC, Understanding the needs of autistic learners.

 

The most beneficial training sessions have often been those in which colleagues share their own good practice and this has been helpful in terms of learning new approaches to Starter or Plenary activities and to structuring lessons to accommodate all learners equally and provide more effective differentiation.

 

Departmental meetings are also often a good source of subject and student specific strategies, of understanding processes and systems in relation to learners and of developing shared cultural values which enhance the working environment and the achievement of learners.

 

Elective Professional Development in recent years has been to obtain the following qualifications:

The Pacific Institute – Facilitator for the Investment in Excellence. 2009

The Pacific Institute – Facilitator for PX2 PROGRAM. 2010

SMART TRAINING – Edexcel Level 3 NVQ in Management. 2010

SMART TRAINING – Edexcel Level 3 BTEC Award in Management. 2010

 

Both courses, and work for the Pacific Institute, have equipped me with a new outlook on education and I have learned to encourage the development of learner ownership for their own education and use the 80/20 facilitation strategy with positive effect. With greater guided responsibility for their own achievement and professional development, students are more able to attain Distinctions within their BTEC courses.

 

Management Courses have given me an insight, from a different perspective in the planning and preparation of work, in communicating objectives, of project management and have enhanced my ability to provide strong, clear, supportive leadership and effectively build a communicative, cohesive and motivated team.

 

These skills have easily found a purpose within the classroom and the concepts of independence and interdependence have proved invaluable when passing ownership of learning to my Level 3 students. This prepares learners for the next step of their education of for success as productive, proactive and self-motivated employees in the workplace.

 

Corporate Training (Facilitation and Consultancy)

The following narrative is an account of my ability to deliver my subjects to a range of learners within a corporate and educational setting.

 

I will, with reference to examples such as outlines of training programs that I have devised, examples of resources that I have developed (such as a PowerPoint presentation, a handout), and student and client feedback, highlight the effective use of skills and knowledge obtained in my ITT and through ongoing CPD.

 

In doing this, I shall explain and illustrate how I believe my own professional development has impacted upon my learners.

 

Engaging, Enjoyable and Interactive Workshops

Personal and professional development workshops utilizing Cognitive Behavioural and Performing Arts strategies.

These programs are an engaging, enjoyable, interactive and effective means to personal, professional AND organizational GROWTH and TRANSFORMATION.

 

Participants explore the origin of BELIEFS, challenge their accuracy, redefine those which create limiting THOUGHTS and learn strategies to make CHOICES to say and do only those things which bring themselves and others closer to emotional, intellectual, spiritual and professional fulfilment.

 

 

Educational Partnerships– NBI ASSOCIATES (Including student workshops and staff CPD)

 

Examples:

A selection of Training programs that I have devised,

Examples of resources that I have developed (such as a PowerPoint presentation,a handout)

Student and client feedback

 

 

L&D at Andover College (for teaching and business support staff)

Here, with reference to examples, a Proposal Document (Introducing the RESPECT CAMPAIGN TUTORIAL PROGRAM), TPO – Scheme of Work Overview, a Tutor HandbookPowerpoint presentation, a Worksheet that I have developed and learner feedback, I will highlight the effective use of skills and knowledge obtained in my ITT and through ongoing CPD.

 

In doing this, I shall explain and illustrate how I believe my own professional development has impacted upon my learners.

 

There is no part of my CPD, from ITT to workplace development and elective training in mediation, facilitation, Management and Equality and Diversity that has not had an influence upon the methods I use to research, plan, create resources and deliver staff training within Sparsholt and Andover College.

 

 

 

RESPECT CAMPAIGN TUTORIAL PROGRAM FEEDBACK

 

Taken directly from the college’s Passport to Success Feedback

 

Good – An enjoyable session, with knowledgeable leads. As this is a subject taught to all learners this will help to embed any knowledge they currently have.

Good – I enjoyed this session. Good inclusion amongst staff. As I mentioned during the session, it would be good if we can access useful short film sequences on the relevant subjects to spark off discussions amongst the students. I think getting the students to discuss the issues is the key point in all this!

Excellent – It was a good introduction to the equality act 2010 and it is reassuring to know that there are resources available to be able to deliver this topic during the tutorial lessons.

Excellent – Really interesting session.

Good – A very good overview of the Equality Act 2010

Average – Some good information

Good – Interesting session

Good – Interesting. Good range of activities. Time was an issue as some questions could not get a full answer.

Good – A good informative session that recapped E&D and explained what was expected next year.

Good – Gives us further avenues to embed E&D into our lessons

Good – Interesting topic. I will definitely be using the presentation for the new students in September. Great for awareness and what is acceptable and what is not!

Good – rather fun session but as this is embedded into everything I teach it was revision rather than learning something new.

Good – Good course makes me think

Average – Missed part of this as I had an interview but read the power points that the presenter David Watters distributed. This is information I need to be aware of and very helpful

Average – not what expected but found it very useful

Good – Enjoyable session

Excellent – A good debate which could have lasted all day but was well structured and flowed.

Good – Good pace of session, interesting and snappy

Good – I felt that the Respect Campaign was very well presented and kept directly on the subject. This made it very easy to follow what the course was about and identify the main aspects.

Good – good overall session but a bit basic.

Good – The course was active and informative, I felt I gained a deeper understanding of the equality and diversity act as well as being able to give specific examples of this within my own professional and personal life.

Average – Very good, useful reminder

Good – useful update Respect Campaign

Good – Was fine – got what I needed

Good – This was a very interesting session and I think it will be a useful campaign for the college to run.

Good – Enjoyable

Good – Thought provoking

Average – Interesting PPoint and Discrimination discussion.

Average – very thought provoking

Good – A good informative session

Good – Some good info on legislation

Good – Verbal feedback in discussion with Lynn Nicholls after the session. We were in concert on how the session would mutate in the light of the first session of delivery. Some interesting comments from staff about awareness of personal characteristics – coming across them in Cossar writing as an evaluative tool is closing the stable door after the horse has bolted! Some colleagues would like some reasonable restraint training too. The part where everyone got up and talked to someone else was really good: there was a real buzz in the room but based on the topic in hand.

 

 

CONCLUSION – PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

The principles that underpin my professional development

 

My Professional Development has been and is vital and necessary, since the acquisition of new skills and knowledge ultimately benefit personally. My career goals are being met with the development of a new skill set and rewards are a developing sense of self-worth and job satisfaction; which will impact on home/family life.

 

The organisation, including my own team, peers, managers and customers, that is, the learners, also benefit from increased skills that are brought through Professional Development.

 

When identifying areas of development, it has been important to consider my own personal and professional values and goals. When we have a clear view of the principles in which we believe it is easier to make wise and focused choices.

 

CPD is relevant to all teachers. It is about making progress in the teaching profession — increasing the teachers’ skills, knowledge and understanding as outlined in the professional standards for teachers.

 

My aim is always to ensure that no student or colleague receives less favourable treatment or is disadvantaged and when planning work, I am committed to policies that will promote equal opportunity in all respects, regardless of age, disability, ethnic origin, gender, gender identity, marital status, religion or sexual orientation.

 

Beyond ITT, opportunities for staff development have included an induction programme, access to information about courses, conferences and other activities, a regular appraisal discussion, consultation with Staff Development Manager / Officer, the opportunity to make bids for staff development resources, access to qualification courses where relevant and a study award scheme for extended University and College courses.

 

I have carefully selected training that will enhance the learning of my students and which will develop my skill set in a direction that will further my career in accordance with my own values and towards educational leadership roles in future.


Subject Currency – David Equality Watters


David Equality Watters

 

INTRODUCTION

 

This section is an explanation of how I keep up to date with developments within my primary subjects of Music and Performing Arts and is also an account of my current development within Learning and Development; with specific focus on Equality and Diversity.

 

My “Teaching Biography” outlines all courses attended and qualifications obtained which are relevant to my development as an educator. Here, I will describe and explain, with supporting evidence how I continue to develop subject specialist expertise.

 

 

SUBJECT SPECIALIST QUALIFICATIONS

 

 

 

SUBJECT SPECIALIST KNOWLEDGE – MUSIC & PERFORMING ARTS

 

As a singer, actor and director with 20 years of industry experience, I bring a broad range of practical experience to my subject; whether this is Music or the wider Performing Arts.

 

I have been performing since before attending Napier University and Trinity College of Music and although the training was always classical, with a focus on English Song, German Lied, French Melodie and Italian Arie, I found time to participate in numerous non-classical performances; particularly in musicals. It was here that I developed as an actor, rather than a concert singer.

 

On graduating from Trinity, I was immediately employed to perform within the field of medieval music and this led to a number of live and recorded performances.

 

I have been fortunate, however, to have had an opportunity to perform across a number of genres and have sung Gregorian chant, baroque, classical, jazz, music theatre, gospel and popular music from the past 6 decades.

 

PERFORMANCE SUMMARY:

 

I have performed with Queens Company, Ars Floreat Amsterdam Baroque Consort, Mayfield Chamber Opera, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Imperial Opera, the BBC Symphony Chorus and Edinburgh Festival Chorus.

 

Roles include Aeneas/ Sailor (Dido and Aeneas. UK and French Tour); Bearskin (Fairy Stories. Scottish Tour); Boy (The Dream Cage. Gardyne Theatre, Dundee ); Daniel (The Play of Daniel. Dir, Michael Fields); Filch/ Matt (The Beggars Opera. UK Tour); Tenore Pastore (L’Orfeo. Dir. John Abulafia); Tenpin (Knickerbocker Holiday . Barbican Centre; ECO with John Nettles); Captain Valentine/ Private Harwood (Johnny Johnson. Rudolf Steiner Theatre); Cinderella’s Prince/ Wolf (Into the Woods. Imperial Opera); Emcee (Cabaret); John Sorensen (Over the Bridge. San Francisco . Premiere of new musical by Louise Canepa); Sky Masterson (Guys and Dolls) and Charlie (Music Man), Perchick (Fiddler on the Roof), Tulsa (Gypsy) for A Moveable Feast under the direction of Rhonda Kess.

 

Recordings have been for Warner Brothers (as a featured soloist with Gregorian for Edel Records on the number one selling albums, Masters of Chant and Chapter II, with Sarah Brightman), ETCETERA (Vox Animae; Ordo Virtutum. Directed by Antony Rooley and featuring Evelyn Tubb), Disney (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with Joby Talbot) and Interceptor Records (Mandalay ; Empathy).

 

Directorial experience: The Seven Deadly Sins, Kurt Weill (Trinity College of Music, London); Company, Stephen Sondheim (Imperial Opera); A Little Bit of Everything – West End Revue (Various); My Fair Lady (It Takes Two); Guys and Dolls (Augmented Fourth); Artistic Director for SPILLING OIL; Musical Director for the Solotec Business Awards Ceremony and Festival of Faith (Fairfield Halls, Croydon); The Lion King, Working and Personals whilst at GCC.

 

This performance background has undoubtedly prepared me with the practical and theoretical knowledge and skills required in previous teaching positions and within my current role as a Music Lecturer for BTEC Music Performance.

 

Continued performances with cabaret duo, Hideous Gomphidius, help keep me current with technological advances and regular theatre and concert visits keep me up to date with music and theatre developments.

 

And, as touched upon in the introduction to this narrative, diverse learning environments offering diverse qualifications, all with specific content and criteria to be covered, have created a requirement to develop new knowledge and skills.

 

 

EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY SPECIALIST KNOWLEDGE

 

As an equality advocate, campaigner, writer, motivational speaker and educator, I have developed, and continue to develop, an awareness and understanding of social inequality and strategies for achieving social change. This work all serves to enhance my current role within Staff Development as I continue to devise and deliver Tutor Forum and Business Support training sessions on the Equality Act 2010 and the larger RESPECT CAMPAIGN TUTORIAL PROGRAM.

AS AN EQUALITY ADVOCATE & CAMPAIGNER

 

I am currently working with the Peter Tatchell Foundation and OutRage, and have taken my case to the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) in a bid to challenge current marriage legislation discrimination in the United Kingdom. The popular name for this initiative is the Equal Love Campaign UK.

 

Besides this, I am founder and coordinator of an online diversity initiative, the “Give ’em Hope” Campaign and, with an international team of administrators and participants, I encourage individuals, couples and groups to make and share videos telling about the benefits of living with personal authenticity.

 

The beating heart of the campaign is a facebook group which has become a haven and safe space for people of all ages, who have felt isolated, rejected or disenfranchised and who have found the strength and self-belief to support others as they themselves have been supported. The best thing about this group, for me, is the diverse range of loving, altruistic people who visit on a daily basis to offer their support and to share genuine friendship. What makes this facebook group different and valuable, to those who seek hope and encouragement, is that members maintain a great sense of positivity.

 

My catch phrase in work and life generally is, “There is always a solution” and I truly believe that. None of us have had it easy, we all have faced our own challenges but together we bring the lessons that we’ve learned and share these with others who may be facing similar problems.

 

AS A MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER & WORKSHOP PROVIDER

 

Motivational speaking through NBI Associates has been linked to my work and development as an educator and as founder of the Give ‘em Hope Campaign.

 

Every speaking engagement or workshop requires research, planning, preparation and, because of this. I am required to keep up to date with developments in my subject so that the event is relevant and current.

For example, one of my most significant speaking engagements was for the 17-24-30 Charity at their 2nd annual NO

TO HATE Vigil in Trafalgar Square, London.

 

Here, I shared the platform with Stuart Milk and Peter Tatchell, amongst others, and spoke about the potential in us all to participate in the eradication of Hate Crime though personally appropriate Active Citizenship strategies.

 

This research has directly impacted upon how I deliver Music Project units within Level 3 BTEC Music Courses. Rather than setting an assignment where students put on a single performance, I have brought Equality and Diversity directly into the curriculum in a manner that has proved to be inspiring and motivational to students. This has been achieved by asking students to plan and prepare a Pro-Equality Festival in which performers must choose suitable repertoire, administrators will invite charities, and the community, including local schools, may be represented as performers.

Further to the Trafalgar Square event, I have since spoken and facilitated workshops at the London Metropolitan Archives and Andover College on Achieving Authenticity and Celebrating the Unique Potential within our Learners and, more recently, in 2011, I lead a workshop at the NUS LGBT Conference on Active Citizenship. I was a guest speaker at the 2011 LGBTQ General Assembly in 2011, where, again, I spoke of Active Citizenship in the context of social networking and online activism.

 

DAVID E WATTERS SPEAKING AT NO TO HATE VIGIL IN TRAFALGAR SQUARE, OCT 2010: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ng_MwavwEU&feature=player_embedded

 

 

AS A WRITER…

 

As with the research required when planning for a speaking engagement or when devising a workshop, the research towards a commissioned piece of freelance writing must be thorough and accurate. When writing up a piece, it is vitally important that the article is unbiased, regardless of personal opinion.

 

In having practical and current knowledge of the commissioning process and of academic research, I am able to bring relevant and informed insight to the delivery of any unit which requires this knowledge or these skills.

 

In the past academic year I was responsible for delivering a unit called Writing for Television and Video for a Level 3

Media class and this year I am teaching Special Subject Investigation within music.

 

Additionally, I often create assignments in which research can be presented as an article or Vlog aimed at a specific music audience.

 

My own work as a writer might be, for this reason, considered as part of my own CPD.

 

I have been writing freelance for many years and my articles on Equality and Diversity have been published in UK and US magazines, including ambiente.us, Polari Magazine, Manchester Mouth, 10,000 Couples and WHOF.com.

 

Two writing roles which have greatly enhanced my understanding of Equality and Diversity and the requirement to embrace this within education have been, editing Lesson Plans for Schools Out and writing Press Releases and reviews for different equality focussed organisations.

 

Additionally, I am in the final stages of editing my first book, NEVER BLEND IN; which approaches suicide ideation amongst teenage and young adults who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and/or Transgender.

 

Writing projects have always involved both Primary and Secondary research strategies; including interviewing subject specialists, connecting and communicating with key organisation and reading academic publications which present the broadest range of perspectives. This has taught me a great deal about critical commentary which retains objectivity and has served me well when guiding students in their own research work.

 

NEVER BLEND IN is the first in a potential series of books on achieving personal authenticity.

 

Further books in the series will focus on challenging limited social perceptions of women and those labelled as “disabled.”

 

This ground-breaking, inspirational and vital book of exclusive celebrity and deeply personal non-celebrity interviews is aimed primarily at a young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning audience. The book, however, is also of value to educators, parents, family and mental health professionals seeking insight into the LGBTQ experience.

 

Role models from education, entertainment, law enforcement, medical and emergency services, politics, religion and

sports have participated in this accessible and much needed discourse to illuminate the reader’s journey of self-discovery and to illustrate that living a life unlimited by labels will lead to personal, professional and spiritual fulfilment.

 

These candid stories and wise words are a powerful toolkit to encourage, inspire, uplift and give hope to those who need it most; those who may feel disenfranchised or who may lack self-belief.

 

Inspired by the life of Harvey Milk and with a foreword by his nephew Stuart Milk, this book includes original and insightful interviews with actors Alan Cumming OBE (Cabaret, Spy Kids, The Good Wife), Stephen Fry (Peter’s Friends, Wilde), Anthony Rapp (Rent), Colton Ford (The Lair), Marcus Patrick (My Wife & Kids, CSI: Miami, Passions and Dancing With The Stars), Scotch Ellis Loring (Frasier, Malcolm in the Middle, 24, Alias, Touched by An Angel) and Adele Anderson (Fascinating Aida); key equality advocates, educators and influencers of policy Sue Sanders (Schools Out), Charles Robbins (CEO, The Trevor Project), Stephen Williams MP, Jack MacKenroth (Project Runway, Queens of Drag: NYC), Rabbi Denise Eger, Lt. Dan Choi and veteran human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell; filmmaker Parvez Sharma (A Jihad for Love); musicians Darren Hayes (Savage Garden) and Levi Kreis (Tony Award winner for “Best Featured Actor in a Musical” for his role as Jerry Lee Lewis in the Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet) ; sporting greats, NBA star, John Amaechi (author of Man in the Middle) and Olympic swimmer Bruce Hayes; transgender trailblazers Calpernia Addams, the Rev David E. Weekley (author of In from the Wilderness) and Jamison Green (author of Becoming a Visible Man); Mental Health professionals, Gladeana McMahon, Antoine Spiteri and Dr. John Shafer; writers Tom Robb Smith (Child 44, The Secret Speech), Leslea Newman (A Letter to Harvey Milk), Linda Goldman (Coming Out, Coming In), Michael Musto (The Village Voice); Del Shores (Sordid Lives) and Stephanie Silberstein (Shades of Gay); representatives from organizations including The Trevor Project, The Harvey Milk Foundation, PFLAG, FireFLAG, The Gay Police Association and Schools Out and colleagues of Harvey Milk; Anne Kronenberg, Daniel Nicoletta and Tom Ammiano.

 

These stories of living authentically, with dignity and unlimited by labels will help readers to understand how self-esteem determines the path they choose and that life need not be a self-fulfilling prophecy when they improve self-concept, drive out fear and embrace new challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, eliminate self-imposed limitations and cease dependence on others to provide validity.

 

 

SELECTED ARTICLE ARCHIVE

1. JOHN AMAECHI | RECOGNISING HIS SOUL IN THE DARK

http://www.ambiente.us/05509JohnAmaechi.html

2. CHRIS MASON | DRIVING EQUALITYhttp://www.ambiente.us/08009ChrisMason.html

3. ROY KIRKLAND & DOUG SEBASTIAN | A CROSS BURNING IN WILLACOOCHEE http://www.ambiente.us/06010CrossBurning.html

4. JACK MACKENROTH | A POSITIVE ROLE MODELhttp://www.ambiente.us/04510JackMackenroth.html

5. HOPE & REMEMBRANCE: 30 October 2009, 10,000 people descended on Trafalgar Square to commemorate the first International Day against Hate Crime. The event was organised by the visionary 17-24-30 founder Mark Healey in the lead up to the 10th Anniversary of the 1999 London Nail Bomb attacks where nail bombs were left in Brixton (17th), Brick Lane (24th) and Soho (30th) targeting the black, Asian and gay communities of London.http://www.polarimagazine.com/society/hope-remembrance-candlelit-vigil-2010

6. UK | ‘Equal Love’ campaign launched. Gay marriage & straight civil partnerships, OutRage! urges Legal bid to end sexual orientation discriminationhttp://www.ambiente.us/110010EqualLove.html

7. Equal Love case filed to European Court

http://www.ambiente.us/021511EqualLove.html

8. EQUAL LOVE CAMPAIGN UK |ECHR LEGAL BID ANNOUNCED. In a democratic society, we should all be equal before the law – Peter Tatchell.http://www.ambiente.us/010011EqualLove.html

9. THE TREVOR PROJECT | REPAIRING THE WORLDhttp://www.ambiente.us/010011Trevor.html

10. AN EQUAL LOVE | SCOTT & MATTHEWhttp://www.ambiente.us/041511DavidWatters.html

11. HAVE YOUR SAY ON EQUALITY. Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality http://www.ambiente.us/041511Equality.html

12. DRIVING AMBITION – CHRIS MASON: Chris Mason, who is the inspiring figure behind Driving Equality and a full-time student majoring in Peace and Justice Studies at Tufts University, has been a pro-equality advocate since childhood. http://www.polarimagazine.com/?p=794

13. VIVIENTE. Mera communicates all manner of subject matter through her songs and her passion for social equality is a resounding theme. Her song Sobreviviente immediately captured audiences and critics alike when first performed in the play Ojala (God Willing). Mera is, indeed, a survivor who shares her humanity through her work and through her equality advocacy.

http://www.ambiente.us/051511DianaMera.html

14. REVIEW OF THE LGBTQ GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2012. Milton Keynes can and does offer sanctuary and support to those who need it most. There is such incredible work going on to develop and sustain a sense of community, particularly from the Q: alliance team who seem to be tireless advocates and innovators of inclusive initiatives. The myth of the Gay “community”, to this outsider at least, seems to be much less mythical in Milton Keynes.http://www.polarimagazine.com/society/lgbtq-general-assembly-2012-review

BLOGS:

1. WORDPRESShttps://neverblendin.wordpress.com/

2. NEVER BLEND INhttp://www.nbiassociates.co.uk/blog.html

3. MILK.COMhttp://harvey.milk.com/forum/topics/prop-8-equality-and-other

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

I formally trained as an educator, gaining a PGCE from the Institute of Education, where I explored diversity and differentiation strategies and then, during continued professional development, I trained as a mediator (learning about conflict resolution) with LEAP, as a facilitator (learning the 80/20% rule; giving ownership of learning and development to the group) with the Pacific Institute and then in management roles and training, I began to understand the theory behind much of what I was already doing in practice.

 

Mediation and facilitation training have, in equal measure, impacted upon how I approach my roles as teacher and personal tutor.

 

Handing a greater percentage of ownership and responsibility for learning over to the learners has had a dramatic and positive affect. I find that when the knowledge and skills are developed, when objectives are clear, and when given greater responsibility for their own learning, learners are confident and capable of achieving more; at a higher level and faster.

 

This is not to say that learners are neglected but they are, at Level 3 and in Staff Development sessions, guided rather than directed.

 

CPD within the workplace has never been subject specific but has all enhanced, through offering different perspectives

and strategies, my ability to teach in the roles that I currently undertake but, above all, I believe that it has been my own proactive attitude to personal and professional development that has most benefitted myself and my learners.


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