Recent Submissions

  • From fragmentation to multiplexity: Decentralisation, localism and support for school collaboration in England and Wales

    Jopling, Michael; Hadfield, Mark (Waxmann Verlag GmbH, 2017-12-07)
    Decentralisation and localism have become increasingly common drivers and outcomes of policy changes in many education systems in recent years, often supported by an emphasis on collaboration. This paper uses research into three collaborative initiatives in England and Wales to explore these changes. Informed by insights from network theory, it reveals a number of issues and tensions relating to decentralisation and localism and ends with a call to move away from a defi cit perspective in order to use the multiplexity of current systems as a starting point for future developments in policy and research.
  • Enhancing school leadership through an international study visit

    Cramp, Andy (Taylor & Francis, 2016)
    This paper explores the outcomes of a school leadership study visit to India. The research critiques the competency based frameworks common in English leadership development programmes and argues instead, for an approach that challenges assumptions in a fresh context for learning and considers leadership as a process of humanisation. Using Mezirow's 'perspective transformations' as a starting point, the paper briefly outlines what was learned on the visit; but more importantly, the paper focuses on how that learning took place. Activities that proved particularly valuable are discussed. Importantly, the research found that informal opportunities for learning sliding into the spaces around formal events, were often responsible for unexpected and influential perspective transformations and that these opportunities for learning are often undervalued. The research concludes that international study visits where participants agree their own collective agendas and develop a trusted validating community group are more valuable than transmission models of leadership learning. Finally, the paper briefly returns to the notion of leadership as a process of humanisation and suggests that seen in this way, the pursuit of community becomes a more highly valued outcome for leadership learning.
  • The influence of task structure on students' learning processes: observations from case studies in secondary school science

    McGregor, Debra (Taylor & Francis, 2008)
    This paper examines the impact of task structure on students' learning processes in the context of several case studies in practical secondary school science. Three levels of differentiated task structure were investigated: open (no structured in-task support), partially structured (some in-task support), or prescriptive (highly structured in-task support). Analysis focused on the students' social exchanges, particularly the nature of the talk and action during task resolution, and the quality of task outcomes. Reflections on the observations highlight where and how pedagogic tactics could be focused to support more effective social and cognitive interactions and thus higher-quality task resolutions.
  • An examination of perceptions of parental influence on attitudes to language learning

    Bartram, Brendan (Routledge (Taylor & Francis), 2006)
    Background The assumption that parents have some effect on their children's attitudes to learning is one that few educationalists would challenge. The ways in which this influence is brought to bear are a slightly more complex and contentious matter, however. Purpose The paper uses data from a tri-national PhD study on pupil attitudes to examine perceptions of the ways in which parents influence children's orientations towards foreign language learning (FLL). The comparative element is useful in providing a contrasting range of settings in which to examine the issue. The paper thus aims to provide some indication of the similarity and importance of particular influences by identifying features that seem significant, irrespective of setting. Sample A total of 411 learners of French, German and English (as foreign languages), represented in roughly equal numbers from across the ability range, took part in the survey. The pupils, aged 15 - 16, were drawn from two centrally located mixed comprehensive schools in each country—England, Germany and The Netherlands. The schools were similar in terms of size, social intake and their semi-urban location. Care was taken to ensure as close a gender balance as possible. Design and methods The study was designed as a qualitative survey and involved three data collection instruments. The first stage of data was collected using a written word association prompt distributed to the whole sample. The second stage involved around half the pupils generating written accounts of their attitudes and the factors they perceived to be influential. A total of 80 pupils took part in the final stage, consisting of 14 focus group interviews. A system of open coding was applied to all the data to support the process of inductive category building used in their analysis. Results The findings offer some evidence for an association between parental and pupil attitudes. Parental influence appears to operate in a number of ways, ranging from the role model potential of positive/negative behaviours and the communication of educational regrets, to the ways in which parents help to construct their children's understandings of language importance and status. The extent of parental language knowledge appears to be an important additional factor. Conclusions The evidence suggests that the ways in which parents contribute to the construction of their children's understanding of language utility are particularly important, and that this may be a key factor in the more positive attitudes demonstrated by the German pupils and the more negative orientations among the English participants.
  • Evaluation of 'Advanced Learning Centres' for gifted and talented pupils

    Lambert, Mike (London: DfES, 2006)
    ‘Advanced Learning Centres’ (ALCs) are special out-of-school classes for very able pupils, often (but not always) in their final year of primary schooling. The growth and development of these Centres has been coordinated by the Gifted and Talented Unit of the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) through the Excellence in Cities (EiC) initiative, in partnership with a national charity, the National Primary Trust (NPT). This evaluation stems from original research, designed to analyse equality of access to the provision, evaluate pupils’ enjoyment, engagement and learning, and examine possible impact of that learning on achievement.
  • Developing thinking: developing learning. A guide to thinking skills in education.

    McGregor, Debra (Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2007)
    This book examines the UK and international research evidence and theoretical frameworks that have informed how thinking has been ‘taught’ in schools. It discusses how the pedagogical strategies or tactics that teachers enact in their classroom can strongly influence the nature of pupils' thinking. The book is based upon the author’s professional experience and research (on teachers’ and students’ views and observations of thoughtful acts and actions), specifically her comparison of what ‘thinking’ looks like in various cognitive programmes and the nature of the evidence about whether they improve students' cognitive capabilities. The book offers unique perspectives on a wide range of issues that influence the nature of thinking skills approaches being developed and adopted in schools. In particular it provides a critical review of the empirical basis of different thinking skills approaches and their claims around efficacy and effectiveness.
  • 'You're nothing without me!': the positive role of education in regaining self-worth and 'moving on' for survivors of domestic abuse

    Morgan, Angela (Routledge (Taylor & Francis), 2007)
    This research paper shows the ways in which survivors of domestic abuse can move on with their lives and take action to prevent their re-victimisation by returning to education. The primary aim was to explore the role of education as an agent of change, effecting positive and empowering changes to survivors' lives, thereby enhancing their life chances and preventing future re-victimisation. A qualitative approach was adopted in which in-depth life-history interviews were conducted with the target population and semi-structured interviews conducted with key workers from domestic abuse support agencies and educational service providers. A measure of social capital was used to assess the level of social support available to participants at two points in time. Findings suggest a relationship between social support networks and a need for long-term one-to-one support in achieving personal and educational development—a primary motivation to living abuse-free lives.
  • School placement and conductive education: the experiences of education administrators

    Morgan, Angela; Hogan, Kevin (Wiley InterScience, 2005)
    A placement at the National Institute of Conductive Education (NICE) in Birmingham for children with motor disorders is strongly preferred over mainstream or special schools by some parents, but it has been noted that this is usually refused following the current statementing process. Although funding constraints have been articulated, Angela Morgan, a Research Fellow at the Wolverhampton University Policy Research Institute, and Kevin Hogan, also at the University of Wolverhampton, contend in this article that other explanations are possible, as variability remains in placement decisions. The experiences of education administrators working within the special educational needs departments of local education authorities who make the ultimate decision regarding school placement have hitherto been unexplored. This study offers findings from an exploratory qualitative study, which suggests that administrators are working from disparate understandings of conductive education within an arena fraught with conflict. Recommendations derived from the study include further in-service training for education administrators and prior training for individuals seeking a career in education administration to enhance collaborative working partnerships between administrators and parents.
  • Interactive pedagogy and subsequent effects on learning in science classrooms.

    McGregor, Debra (Routledge (Taylor & Francis), 2004)
    Observations of pupils-in-action whilst carrying out investigations indicated that there was plenty of social and cooperative exchange. There was, however, infrequent discussion regarding the planning of experimental approaches, predicting outcomes, consideration of the meaning of evidence and evaluation of task solutions. These observations informed the nature of interactive in-service programmes developed in Keele University Education Department. Professional development was designed to purposely illustrate a wide repertoire of pedagogic strategies that focused around these issues to support cognitive development of pupils. The interactive nature of the in-service training was shown to affect widespread 'change in teachers' practice. These teachers, involved in experiential in-service, reflected that they intervened more regularly in children's learning. Their engagement in in-service training as learners in problem-solving situations resulted in conceptual shifts in understanding the learning processes their pedagogical transformations could affect. The impact of this changed praxis on pupils' learning in investigational situations was studied after in-service intervention. These findings were compared with the performance of pupils of the same year group carrying out the same investigations before in-service intervention. The more interactive nature of the teachers' changed pedagogy appeared to affect change in the way pupils themselves interacted and learnt from and with each other. Explicitly sharing subjective views through exploratory talk was found to be important to affect learning through social interaction.
  • Governmentality versus choice in contemporary special education

    Morgan, Angela (Sage Journals Online, 2005)
    This article provides an understanding of childhood welfare from a radical perspective, showing how power within the special education system affects the discourse of ‘choice’ for parents. The analysis unmasks the disciplinary power operating within the special education system and explores the manner in which such power affects choice for parents. In turn, the analysis suggests that although disciplinary power offers little sites for resistance, the actions of some parents in the exercise of choice are seen as a growing challenge to that power. It remains to be seen just how resistant the system will become in the face of such opposition.
  • Invigorating pedagogic change. Suggestions from findings of the development of secondary science teachers' practice and cognisance of the learning process

    McGregor, Debra; Gunter, Barry (Routledge (Taylor & Francis), 2006)
    A long-term, 2 year in-service provision to develop pupils thinking capability was provided for 91 secondary schools during the period 1998-2002. The science teachers involved reported that the in-service experience impacted on their pedagogic practice. The evidence was gathered through reflective surveys and interviews. The in-service programme engaged the teachers in authentic learning activities. The findings suggest that engaging the teachers in actions or processes which are then transformed into conceptual (scientific and cognitive) objectives can influence their perception of learning. Through collective reflection of their active participation they objectified connections between learning processes and learning outcomes. The explicit reflections of the modelled experiences provided the opportunity for the teachers to empathize, as learners, with their pupils' learning situations. They were guided to reflect on how the nature of social interactions can impact on reasoning and meaning making. The reflective cognitive and learning objectivity of the in-service programme appeared to influence their pedagogy in a variety of ways. The pedagogic changes included a significant increase in pragmatic interpretation and application of learning theories to classroom situations. Teaching strategies were also developed to include: proactive management of collaborative learning; a generally more interactive and dynamic way of learning through questioning; promotion of more prediction opportunities; encouragement of more reflection, in a variety of ways, on the processes by which potential or actual solutions to scientific tasks or challenges were reasoned. As a result of this study pedagogic principles to support learning and cognitive development in science and learning generally are proposed.
  • Conductive education: links with mainstream schools

    Lambert, Mike (Wiley InterScience, 2004)
    Conductive education is a distinctive style of teaching and learning for pupils with physical difficulties. It is practised in the UK in some maintained, non-maintained and independent special schools and centres (here collectively termed ‘conductive-education schools’). In this article Mike Lambert investigates the extent to which these conductive-education schools have links with mainstream schools, and the purposes and nature of such links It discusses what conductive-education schools may need to do if they are to develop effective and valuable roles in respect to mainstream schooling This report has relevance for all schools, but particularly for those special schools with an interest in, or practising, conductive education and for mainstream schools interested in working with them.
  • Awkward Customers? Parents and Provision for Special Educational Needs

    Duncan, Neil (Routledge, 2003)
    Abstract This article selectively reports on a small-scale qualitative exploration of the experiences of families who had undergone recent conflict with special educational needs (SEN) professionals. The data were collected over the spring and summer terms of 2001 from 10 families in two local education authorities (LEAs) in the English midlands. The research aimed to examine the parents' perspectives on points of conflict or dissatisfaction between themselves and education professionals. It was concerned with the parents' points of view regarding their pursuit of desired outcomes for their children and the factors that helped or hindered their endeavours. The project found that the parents' negotiation of the SEN system was held by them to be exceptionally difficult and stressful compared to other troubling issues in their lives. The research suggests that dissatisfactions with SEN provision have important implications for the management of LEA Parent partnership Schemes (PPS) in ameliorating the differences between parental aspirations and governmental ambition.
  • It's important to be nice, but it's nicer to be important: girls, popularity and sexual competition

    Duncan, Neil (Routledge, 2004)
    A multi-method project was conducted in a Local Education Authority (LEA) in the north of England. The relationships between girls' friendships, bullying, school attendance and transfer were explored through documentary analysis, LEA school admission statistics, group interviews and q-sort technique. This paper reports selectively on those elements of the study that focussed on girls' popularity in high school. The qualitative data indicated that these girls thought their relationships altered once they settled in at secondary school, changing from an intimate dyadic same-sex friendship to a more fluid and strategic set of relationships set within a context of heteronormativity. The participants in the study expressed great interest in discussing and analysing personality and relationships through the research activities, and the author suggests such techniques might be valuable to explore these issues in regular Sex and Relationship Education lessons.
  • Attitudes to language learning: a comparative study of peer group influences

    Bartram, Brendan (Routledge, 2006)
    This article examines the nature and influence of peer group perceptions on pupils' attitudes to learning German and French. It begins with an overview of key findings from the literature, before reviewing selected results from a large PhD attitudinal survey using a multi-stage qualitative research design. The article focuses on the perceptions of a total of 295 French and German learners at mixed comprehensive schools in England, Germany and the Neterlands. The pupils' views are described and compared, and an attempt is made to identify factors commonly involved in the construction of language-learning peer cultures. The notions of language choice and gender identity emerge as important themes and are discussed in detail, particularly with regard to the ways in which they articulate with social considerations
  • Comparing Language Learning Attitudes in England, Germany and the Netherlands: some methodological considerations

    Bartram, Brendan (Symposium Journals, 2006)
    The following article examines the methodological considerations involved in carrying out a trinational comparative survey of pupils' attitudes to learning French, German and English (as foreign languages) at comprehensive schools in England, Germany and the Netherlands. The research was conducted as part of a Ph.D. study aiming to describe the nature of the pupils' attitudes and to examine and compare the pupils' perceptions of educational and socio-cultural influences in the different contexts. A discussion of the broader theoretical framework in which the study is located is followed by an analysis of research design and decision-making. This includes a detailed review of country, sample and instrument selection, along with an examination of the practicalities of access, piloting and analysis. Finally, a number of ethical issues are considered.
  • Devil in the detail: using a pupil questionnaire survey in an evaluation of out-of-school classes for gifted and talented children

    Lambert, Mike (Routledge (Taylor & Francis), 2008)
    The use of questionnaires to evaluate educational initiatives is widespread, but often problematic. This paper examines four aspects of an evaluation survey carried out with very able pupils attending out-of-school classes: ethics, design, bias and interpretation. There is a particular focus on the interpretation and analysis of pupils' answers to open questions. Conclusions are drawn from this analysis which will help teachers and others to take a careful and critical approach to their use of questionnaires in educational evaluation.
  • Measure beyond Pleasure: Evaluating the Impact on Learning of Out-of-School Programmes for Able and Gifted Pupils in England

    Lambert, Mike (Common Ground Publishing Pty Ltd., 2003)
    School-education in England is replete with new projects and initiatives of various kinds. Many require formal evaluation of their impact and effectiveness, often carried out by researchers from higher education. One of these initiatives has been the development in recent years of ‘Advanced Learning Centres’ – out-of-school programmes for school-pupils. The author of this paper is now undertaking a three-year national evaluation of the impact on learning of pupils’ attendance at these Centres. This paper presents and analyses some of the issues and obstacles of doing this evaluation. These include facing the ‘Hawthorne effect’ of initial enthusiasm, the need to identify the historical context of out-of-school learning for able pupils, the difficulties of measuring against goals and intended outcomes, and tensions between the need for measurement and the ethos of the Centres themselves. The paper identifies ways forward for the evaluation process and relates this to evaluation of other similar projects elsewhere.