Recent Submissions

  • Accidentally learning to play the violin

    Matheson, David (Routledge, 2014)
  • Practice Leadership in the Early Years: Becoming, Being and Developing as a Leader

    Hadfield, Mark; Jopling, Michael; Needham, Martin. (Open University Press, 2017-12-07)
  • Infusing Inclusive Pedagogy Across the Curriculum

    Griggs, Gerald; Medcalf, Richard (Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2015-12)
  • Global Computer Science Education

    Shilton, Greg (Computer Science Teachers Association of the United States of America, 2017-05)
    As a Computing/ICT Head of Department in a large secondary comprehensive school in Birmingham England, crystal ball gazing was an exercise in which I had to be skilled. One of the things that I prided myself upon was my ability to predict new developments before they happened, and better still, begin implementing subtle changes so that when the crunch truly came, we were ready. So, when the then Secretary of State Michael Gove made a speech at the BETT Show in 2012 and said those words that would define and shape our future; that the Department for Education were to consult upon “withdrawing the existing National Curriculum Programme of Study for ICT from September” (, it wasn’t a shock to me. The timescale surprised me, but then again, educational policy adjustment timescales often do.
  • A Tale of Two Narratives: Student Voice – What Lies Before Us?

    Hall, Valerie Joyce (Taylor & Francis, 2016-12)
    As the last century closed, and a bright new millennium dawned, the concept of ‘student voice’ within education emerged as something to be ‘identified’ and ‘captured’. In effect, it became reified and driven by a raft of government and institutional policies and strategic initiatives; initially within the compulsory sector, but soon followed by the post-compulsory sector as the 2000s moved on. In an increasingly quasi-consumerist environment, a mechanism had emerged with potential to ‘measure’ student satisfaction. Institutions quickly took up the ‘call to arms’, assigning responsibilities to ensure there was evidence of ‘student voice’ engagement; but there was no conversation with the ‘students’ about how this was experienced by them. This concept had become a ‘portmanteau’ term; a ‘catch all’ (Fielding, 2009) competing between two narratives – student voice as democratic and transformational; and student voice as ‘policy’ and strategic initiative. Formal research that could contribute to this discussion has been sparse and this paper takes a critical stance to the literature and policy, exploring the current status of student voice and proposing a research focus that has the potential to involve students in a discussion about how their voice is heard, and for what purpose.
  • Understanding leadership in higher education from a disability perspective

    Duncan, Neil; Williams-Findlay, Bob; Clifford, Angela; Emira, Mahmoud; Taysum, Alison; Brewster, Stephanie; City and Guilds, London; University of Leicester (British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society, 2015-07-12)
    There is considerable evidence of widespread exclusion of disabled people from the labour market generally (Bebbington 2009); and in the lifelong learning sector Fullick described a situation of "widespread institutional discrimination against disabled staff" (2008:1). Furthermore, there is a lack of disabled people in senior and leadership positions in the sector. This research project explored how disabled staff in one University perceive leadership, the barriers preventing them from taking on leadership roles and how they could be supported to overcome these challenges. Many participants aspired to leadership and reported positive experiences. But many identified barriers such as the nature of their impairments, lack of appropriate support, inadequate training and development and the competitive organisational culture that could impact on their health and work-life balance. Participants felt that investment in supportive opportunities for professional development was needed, along with improved awareness of equality and diversity among managers and colleagues.
  • Stability and Change during Periods of Re-organisation: A Cultural Historical Investigation into Children’s Services (in England)

    Wiseman, Paul (Infonomics Society, 2015)
    This paper presents the findings of a quasi-longitudinal investigation of the lived experiences of Children’s Service professionals (in England) between 2004 and 2012. The research aimed to gain an understanding of the factors which shape and transform collective professional behaviour during periods of national policy reform. Cultural historical activity theory formed the analytical framework which helped identify features of professional practice which changed or remained the same; thereby giving insight into ‘the change process’ within large organisations. The findings identified a movement from universal provision of services to one that adopted an increasingly business orientated approach. Multi-agency partnership working remained evident throughout; from policy ambition in 2004 to one embedded in practice through necessity within an environment of decreasing financial and human resources.
  • Exploring teacher–student interactions: communities of practice, ecological learning systems – or something else?

    Hall, V. J. (Taylor & Francis, 2015-09-10)
    A small-scale action research project was used to consider the policy and rhetoric surrounding development of the ‘expert learner’ and how this might be further explored to provide opportunities for learners to have greater direct involvement in reflection and discussion with teachers. The research was based within a further education setting, using participants from an ‘HE in FE’ curriculum area: teacher education. It sought to explore how involving students as partners in the peer observation process might be used to engage with student voice and enhance the teaching and learning experience for all involved. To evaluate the creation, sharing and development of teaching and learning that might be generated in such circumstances, the research used two theoretical frameworks to analyse the data: communities of practice and ecological learning systems. This article reviews the literature around these two frameworks and critically reflects on the influences of these approaches in communities of teaching and learning. Analysis of interviews, and the interactions and dialogue contained within these, revealed something else happening within these connections. As such, it considers the opportunities facilitated in this context and how development of a newly-devised continuum of practice may be used to enable professional dialogue to enhance student–teacher interactions.
  • Participation or exclusion? Perspectives of pupils with autistic spectrum disorders on their participation in leisure activities

    Brewster, Stephanie; Coleyshaw, Liz (Wiley, 2011-12)
    The importance of active participation in leisure activities for everybody is identified by Carr (2004) but issues around leisure in the lives of children with disabilities have received little recognition. The experience of children/young people (henceforth referred to simply as children, for brevity) with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) in accessing and engaging in leisure pursuits is particularly lacking in the literature. This article describes a small-scale investigation of the views of children and young people with ASD around their access to leisure activities. The distinctive range of impairments characteristic of ASD is discussed in terms of their impact on the child’s possibilities for accessing this area of life. Findings indicate the significant challenges these children face in achieving an active and varied life outside of school and home environments. The importance and also the challenge of consulting with children with disabilities are discussed
  • Saying the ‘F word … in the nicest possible way’: augmentative communication and discourses of disability

    Brewster, Stephanie (Routledge, 2013-01)
    This paper examines a case study of a severely physically disabled man, Ralph, in terms of his interaction with his carers. He communicates using various systems of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC, such as symbol boards and high-tech devices), the vocabulary for which has mostly been selected for him by others. The starting point of the paper is the assumption that disabled people have traditionally held a disempowered position in society (relative to non-disabled people), and the question asked is to what extent is Ralph further disempowered by the limited vocabulary available to him in his AAC systems, and in the way others interact with him. The paper draws on the work of Bourdieu, according to whom ‘Language is not only an instrument of communication or even of knowledge, but also an instrument of power’ (1977, 648). I consider the tensions between the drive towards the empowerment of disabled individuals, as exemplified by the provision of AAC, and opposition to allowing access to certain types of vocabulary (especially expletives such as ‘the F word’), unless it is expressed in ‘the nicest possible way’.
  • Can inspectors really improve the quality of teaching in the PCE sector? Classroom observations under the microscope

    O'Leary, Matt (Taylor & Francis, 2006)
    For some years now, teachers in the post compulsory sector have been lambasted in educational circles for what some perceive as the poor quality of teaching and learning in classrooms. Such criticisms have tended to emanate from those responsible for inspecting the sector’s provision. In fact, when Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education) and the ALI (Adult Learning Inspectorate) took over responsibility from the FEFC (Further Education Funding Council) for post compulsory inspections, it made it clear that as part of its remit, it would endeavour to bring about an overall improvement in the standards of teaching and learning in classrooms. This ‘improvement’ was to be based significantly on the strengths and weaknesses identified by inspectors in classroom observations. This paper examines the role that classroom observation has to play as a tool for teacher assessment and development in external inspections and similar schemes within the post compulsory sector. It is argued throughout that current models of classroom observation, which typically involve some form of appraisal or assessment of the teacher’s performance, run contrary to the principles of teacher development and as such do little to improve the overall quality of teacher performance. The position postulated in this paper is that such approaches to observation tend to induce a culture of negatively charged emotions and focus on the more trivial features of teaching. Furthermore, instead of providing teachers with the opportunity to develop their own ability to reflect on, and assess, their teaching, they tend to rely too heavily on the subjective judgements of inspectors/observers. In conclusion, this paper contests that if future classroom observation schemes are serious about improving the standards of teaching and learning in the post compulsory sector, then they must move towards a more equitable model in which both teachers and learners themselves are actively involved in the process of assessment.
  • Exploring the role of lesson observation in the English education system: a review of methods, models and meanings

    O'Leary, Matt (Taylor & Francis, 2012)
    Lesson observation has a longstanding tradition in the assessment and development of new and experienced teachers in England. Over the last two decades it has progressively emerged as an important tool for measuring and improving professional practice in schools and colleges. This article reviews literature across the three education sectors (i.e. schools, further education and higher education) in order to compare and contrast the role of observation. In doing so it discusses the key themes and issues surrounding its use in each sector and identifies common and contrasting patterns. It argues that in schools and further education, observation has become increasingly associated with performance management systems; a dominant yet contested model has emerged that relies on a simplified rating scale to grade professional competence and performance, although the recent introduction of ‘lesson study’ in schools appears to offer an alternative to such practice. In higher education, however, there is limited evidence of observation being linked to the summative assessment of staff, with preferred models being peer-directed and less prescribed, allowing lecturers greater autonomy and control over its use and the opportunity to explore its potential as a means of stimulating critical reflection and professional dialogue about practice among peers.
  • Earthquakes, cancer and cultures of fear: qualifying as a Skills for Life teacher in an uncertain economic climate

    O'Leary, Matt; Smith, Rob (Taylor & Francis, 2012)
    The Skills for Life (SfL) initiative followed the Moser Report (1999) and incarnated a Third Way agenda that sought to address England's perceived adult skills deficit. SfL marked a large investment in adult education but also a distinct shift to a more focused, instrumentalist role for Further Education (FE) in England. A new structure of teacher standards and qualifications underpinned this development with its own, newly devised and matriculated knowledge base. Teachers emerged from these new programmes with subject specialisms in Literacy, Numeracy and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). The landscape that these ‘new professionals' have entered is one that suggests the autonomy of colleges within a competitive market, but this disguises a funding methodology that facilitates ongoing centralised policy intervention. In the last two years policy makers have used this funding methodology to shift monies decisively towards 14-19 provision and away from adult education. This article draws on qualitative data from a study into the experiences of pre and in-service SfL teachers in the final stages of qualification. The data explore the impact of these latest movements in the FE market on these student teachers who are qualifying in some of the newest subjects in FE.
  • New Public Management in an age of austerity: knowledge and experience in further education

    Smith, Rob; O'Leary, Matt (Taylor & Francis, 2013)
    This article originates in a piece of educational research into the experiences of further education (FE) student teachers in the West Midlands region of England. This cohort of students experienced significant upheaval in their college workplaces and placements during the 2010/2011 academic year. Pressures on FE funding were exacerbated by a Comprehensive Spending Review by the coalition government in late 2010 – prompted by the on-going global economic crisis. Some of the repercussions of these funding cuts for staff and students in the sector are discussed in this article, as perceived by this cohort of student teachers working in a range of FE providers across the West Midlands. Many of these repercussions can broadly be seen as an extension of existing managerialist practices, as the justification for an increasing squeeze on local resource allocation continues to be a wider appeal to global market ‘realities’. But we theorise that new public management (NPM) plays an important role in a reductive kind of knowledge production for policy-makers which fuels and legitimises on-going policy intervention, and we see this as an important shaping force in the emerging professional identity of these new teachers
  • Surveillance, performativity and normalised practice: the use and impact of graded lesson observations in Further Education colleges

    O'Leary, Matt (Taylor & Francis, 2013)
    In little over a decade, the observation of teaching and learning (OTL) has become the cornerstone of Further Education (FE) colleges’ quality systems for assuring and improving the professional skills and knowledge base of tutors. Yet OTL remains an under-researched area of inquiry with little known about the impact of its use on the professional identity, learning and development of FE tutors. This paper examines the specific practice of graded OTL and in so doing discusses findings from a mixed-methods study conducted in 10 colleges situated across the West Midlands region of England. Data from a questionnaire survey and semi-structured interviews were analysed within a theoretical framework that drew largely on aspects of Foucauldian theory as well as the twin phenomena of new managerialism and performativity. This analysis revealed how OTL has become normalised as a performative tool of managerialist systems designed to assure and improve standards, performance and accountability in teaching and learning. It is argued that FE has now outgrown graded OTL and it is time for a moratorium on its use. Colleges and tutors need to be given greater professional autonomy with regard to OTL and be allowed to develop their own systems that place professional learning and development at the forefront, rather than the requirements of performance management systems.
  • Expansive and restrictive approaches to professionalism in FE colleges: the observation of teaching and learning as a case in point

    O'Leary, Matt (Taylor & Francis, 2013)
    What it means to be a ‘professional’ in further education (FE) in England has been the subject of ongoing debate over the last two decades. In an attempt to codify professionalism, New Labour developed a package of reforms, crystallised by the introduction of professional standards and qualifications and a new inspection framework under Ofsted. These reforms reflected a political desire to improve FE teachers’ professional skills and knowledge and prioritised teaching and learning as the main driver for ‘continuous improvement’. The observation of teaching and learning (OTL) subsequently emerged as a pivotal tool with which to evaluate and measure improvement, whilst also promoting teacher learning and development. Drawing on recent research into the use of OTL, this paper focuses on two case-study colleges in the West Midlands, whose contrasting OTL practices serve to exemplify expansive and restrictive approaches to professionalism in FE.
  • Raising the stakes: classroom observation in the further education sector in England

    O'Leary, Matt; Brooks, Val (Taylor & Francis, 2014)
    Successive governments in England have regarded classroom observation as an essential tool for monitoring and improving teacher performance. Despite its importance in national policy for teacher development, the impact of classroom observation on individual teachers, and on improving quality and standards in teaching and learning, remain under-researched areas. Further education (FE) in general, and FE teachers in particular, have received sparse attention. This paper adopts a theoretical framework grounded in aspects of assessment theory to explore some of the consequences of using observation to assess, monitor and raise standards of classroom performance in the FE workforce. It draws on findings from a mixed-methods study, involving questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, conducted in 10 FE colleges situated across the West Midlands region of England. The paper concludes by situating the findings against the broader backdrop of research into teachers’ continuing professional development and, in so doing, raises questions about the fitness for purpose of prevailing observation assessment regimes in FE and the extent to which these systems are able to achieve their purported goals.
  • Does capitalism inevitably increase education inequality?

    Hill, Dave; Greaves, Nigel M.; Maisuria, Alpesh (Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer, 2009)
    This book: Inequality in Education: Comparative and International Perspectives is a compilation of conceptual chapters and national case studies that includes a series of methods for measuring education inequalities. The book provides up-to-date scholarly research on global trends in the distribution of formal schooling in national populations. It also offers a strategic comparative and international education policy statement on recent shifts in education inequality, and new approaches to explore, develop and improve comparative education and policy research globally. Contributing authors examine how education as a process interacts with government finance policy to form patterns of access to education services. In addition to case perspectives from 18 countries across six geographic regions, the volume includes six conceptual chapters on topics that influence education inequality, such as gender, disability, language and economics, and a summary chapter that presents new evidence on the pernicious consequences of inequality in the distribution of education. The book offers (1) a better and more holistic understanding of ways to measure education inequalities; and (2) strategies for facing the challenge of inequality in education in the processes of policy formation, planning and implementation at the local, regional, national and global levels.
  • Exploring ePortfolios and weblogs as learning narratives in a community of new teachers.

    Hughes, Julie (International Society for Teacher Education, 2008)
    Drawing upon student narratives, the author explores the extent to which a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) teaching community at the University of Wolverhampton in the United Kingdom (UK), developed an approach to the process and product of e-portfolio which optimised the concrete outcomes required by external professional bodies, while harnessing the technology's potential for promoting collaboration and discursive reflection.
  • Widening Participation and HE. Students, systems and other paradoxes.

    Thompson, David W. (London: Routledge (Taylor & Francis), 2008)
    This paper has developed from research that the author initiated. The data were derived from an outreach project that aimed to increase awareness of and participation in higher education amongst Muslim women within a major English city. The paper elevates some of the author's findings into a general discussion on the role of higher education (HE) and the paradoxes that are revealed when considering how concepts of widening participation and lifelong learning fit within the HE system. Readers are invited to think of different approaches to widening participation, for example through civic and community engagement, and consider sustained research that relates access to wider debates within the study of HE, such as lifelong learning and civic responsibility.

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