• Building the culture of education for 5 to 8 year olds in the UK: a comparison of policy and attitudes in England and Scotland

      Sargent, Sandra (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2006-05)
      Although England and Scotland are two of the countries composing the UK, there are differences and similarities between the structures of education in each country. Teachers often struggle to explain the multi-faceted nature of their work and the general public rarely understands the complexities that educational professionals have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Teachers of 5 to 8 year olds in England and Scotland are expected to fulfil diverse and complex roles. Since devolution, changes have been implemented in Scotland affecting teachers' workload. Changes in the culture of education in both countries have affected the professional and personal lives of teachers. A larger dehumanisation of education in the name of efficiency and cost effectiveness is affecting the morale of teachers and many are leaving the profession. Historical method and a questionnaire are the main methods used to investigate the extent to which teachers of 5 to 8 year olds in England and Scotland have been affected by government legislation of the 1980s up to the present. The research also seeks to discover what changes teachers have made in order to work within the educational climate that resulted from that legislation. The questionnaire includes demographic data, scales for teachers to rate their ideal vs. actual teaching situations, emotive statements taken from a national survey for Likert scale response in terms of agreement or disagreement, and space for open-ended comments. The data were subjected to statistical analysis using SPSS. Two-way ANOVAs with repeated measures and one way ANOVAs were used in the analysis of the questionnaires, in addition to factor analysis. In the discussion of the findings, the historical accounts of the development of education in England and Scotland affecting the teachers of 5 to 8 year olds was used, along with respondents' open ended comments, to inform the results of the statistical analysis of the questionnaire. The findings show a perceived gap between respondents' ideal and actual teaching situations in both countries, and a somewhat negative trend in the overall response to both types of scaled items, with only a few group differences. The pattern of response is interpreted as showing dissatisfaction with managerialism in UK education, and it is argued that this emphasis is affecting the dynamics and cohesiveness of schools. The resulting, increasingly performative culture is perceived to be degrading the quality of early years' education by a process of depersonalisation and restricted implementation of professional expertise.
    • Can student teachers’ pedagogy be enhanced by heeding children’s thoughts about their learning?

      Hudson, Kate Joanne (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2015-09)
      The focus of this enquiry was to enable student teachers to engage with children’s views to construct meaningful classroom learning experiences. The underpinning assumption was that learning is socially constructed. Issues addressed were: what pupils thought helped/hindered their learning in classrooms, how heeding children’s views of barriers to/facilitators of their learning can be used by student teachers for lesson evaluation, planning and reflective practice, to what extent children’s views can support student teachers’ understanding of children’s learning and the development of their pedagogical practices (this includes both curriculum planning and teaching), the development and learning of initial teacher education students as student teachers engaged in reflective practice. The research comprises two case studies; pilot and subsequent larger-scale project. It incorporated action research designed as iterative spirals of research, evaluation and development in classrooms where the student teachers were teaching children. New learning accumulated in one cycle was intended to be taken into the next. Bespoke pedagogical tools were used to create dialogic spaces and also as research data collection techniques. They scaffolded inter and intra- personal exchanges to enable student teachers to understand children’s learning from a socio-cultural perspective. These tools mediated children’s reflection on their learning and then feedback to the student teacher about what they had learnt; how they had learnt it and what would enable them to learn better. The results indicated: enhanced student teachers’ understanding of how children learn as they adapted their practice in response to children’s views, enhanced learning by the children owing to their exchanges on the interpersonal plane, with peers in the dialogic space created by the bespoke pedagogical tools, mentors require development to support student teachers to engage meaningfully with children’s learning. Outcomes cannot easily be generalised from case studies. This study found: children can express learning needs when appropriate scaffolds enable them to articulate abstract concepts, when student teachers respond to children talking about learning they can develop their practice.Implications for Initial Teacher Education are that it should: highlight the importance of children’s voice to support student teachers in developing their pedagogy, model ways in which teachers can create dialogic spaces for children’s interthinking, consider what development mentors require to support student teachers’ understanding of children’s learning in classrooms. Mediating the construction of dialogue with the Thinking Fish provided a way into both the process of interthinking for children, and also student teachers’ understanding of such interthinking as expressed through their dialogue in the focus groups. Thus the Thinking Fish may be considered to be the vicarious presence of the teacher. This may be a useful approach for teachers and student teachers to adopt as the experience for the participants in this study was meaningful and replicable in future practice, using real classroom activity as research data.
    • Learning to teach English in Hong Kong: effects of the changeover in sovereignty

      Urmston, Alan (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2003-07)
      Teachers undergo changes in their beliefs, knowledge and practices on an individual level as they learn how to teach. If society undergoes significant change, as Hong Kong did during the transition from British to Chinese rule in 1997, then social groups within society such as teachers are likely to react to change in different and complex ways. The purpose of this investigation is to exam.ine the changes experienced by teachers of English in Hong Kong, with a focus on teachers who received their teacher preparation at one Hong Kong institution during the final years leading up to the transition. The educational, linguistic, social and political context of Hong Kong is first described through a study of the research literature and a number of theories and models of change are presented through which the findings of the investigation are analysed. The main sources of data for the investigation consist of questionnaire responses, interview transcriptions and lesson observation reports of trainee English teachers during and after graduation from a BA course in TESL at a Hong Kong university. The main conclusions of the investigation are: (i) Educational issues and particularly those affecting ELT became more high-profile and politicised in the lead up to and after the changeover. (ii) English teachers in Hong Kong experience conflict between their desired approaches and the realities and constraints of the Hong Kong teaching context. These constraints provide a common justification for lack of innovative behaviour and make it possible for teachers to put off being innovative in the classroom indefinitely. (iii) At the same time, English teachers in Hong Kong are becoming more empowered within the educational system in reaction to challenges to their competency and as they have realised that they can affect educational policy through individual and collective action. The findings suggest that colonial discourses as documented by Pennycook (1998) of English language teaching still persist in Hong Kong, as they have been shown to do in other post-colonial societies, and Hong Kong is undergoing a post-handover period of change as it struggles to synthesise the educational legacies of the colonial period with new initiatives adopted to address Hong Kong's changing educational and social needs. The results of the research are developed into an original model of the factors impacting English language education in Hong Kong. The generic model is then elaborated in two versions, one of which applies before the changeover and the other after it.
    • Operationalising physical literacy within physical education teaching practice through professional development

      Durden-Myers, Elizabeth Jayne (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2020-09)
      Introduction - Physical literacy has been described as a longed-for concept and has gained widespread global interest. This interest has also given rise to calls for physical literacy to be operationalised, providing clarity and guidance on developing physical literacy informed teaching practice. Operationalising physical literacy is crucial in moving the concept forwards by providing substance to the claims made by physical literacy advocates. The purpose of this research was to explore how physical literacy could be operationalised within physical education teaching practice. In particular, this thesis investigates how professional development can support physical literacy informed physical education practice. Methodology - This research utilised professional development sessions alongside participatory action research to develop the practice of fourteen teachers of physical education in both primary and secondary school contexts. Semi-structured interviews were used to capture the professional development journey of each teacher. This information was supplemented by extensive supporting data including field diaries, emails, video recordings, lesson observations, lesson plans and lesson reflections. Thematic analysis and narrative representation were used to analyse and present the findings of the semi-structured interviews. Findings - This research proposes that physical literacy professional development can be effective in operationalising physical literacy within physical education teaching practice. It argues that the factors that mediate the effectiveness of professional development include the professional development process, the use of a credible expert, and participant and context engagement. This research also argues that as a result of professional development teachers are better able to describe the why, what and how of physical literacy and are able to better articulate how it informs their teaching practice. Finally, a number of barriers to operationalising physical literacy within physical education teaching practice were identified and categorised as either leadership and governance, management and institutional or individual barriers. Solutions to support the operationalisation of physical literacy in physical education teaching practice centred around two key themes. Firstly, raising the status and value of physical education and secondly, by improving professional development opportunities for teachers. Conclusion - This research contributes to knowledge firstly, by extending the theoretical and conceptual rationale and understanding around unpacking physical literacy for use within educational professional development and physical education teaching practice. And secondly, in the development of a physical literacy professional development framework and intervention. This research provides an effective process (action research and professional development sessions) alongside a range of supporting tools (lesson planning, observation and reflection tools) and resources (website, folder, handouts) that can assist the operationalisation of physical literacy. This research recommends that more opportunities for meaningful physical literacy professional development, including the development of whole school approaches are required. It also argues that more needs to be done in order to elevate and align the value, role and purpose of physical education across the education profession as a whole. Finally, this research argues that in order to scale and create sustainable impact the creation of in-situ physical literacy experts or champions are required to sustain and advocate the value of and develop physical literacy informed practice more widely and sustainably.
    • Pre-service teachers’ social media usage to support professional development: a communities of practice analysis

      Shea, James (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2016-09)
      The current study was based in one higher education institution and examined pre-service teachers’ use of social media to support their own professional development whilst on school placement, through a community of practice lens. The trainees were registered on a one year secondary course designed to lead to a Post Graduate Certificate in Education with 60 credits at Masters Level combined with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) for England and Wales during which the researcher repeatedly interviewed a focus group sample from each subject cohort and analysed transcripts of these interviews through the lens of Wenger’s (1998) concept of a community of practice. The research took place in a national context of review and reform of teacher education in England. Some trainees, for example those studying at the higher education establishment at question, might experience considerable challenge in the school placement. Authentic self-reflection requires a safe place in which pre-service teachers can openly articulate with others what they might see as their own failures as well as successes in the classroom in order to develop a greater sense of self-efficacy and new ideas about teaching. In some instances, such as in the area of behaviour management, the national focus on maintaining good order means that it may become even more challenging and ultimately riskier to share the experience of failure because acknowledgement of this risks the possibility of failing to achieve the requisite standard for qualified teacher status. Besides, to gain qualified teacher status a trainee must attain the Teachers’ Standards (DfE, 2013) which include a requirement that a professional teacher upholds the ethos of the school to which the trainee might not be sympathetic. Findings from this research cannot be generalised. However, in this small-scale study it was found that pre-service teachers used private social media to support each other on the course in a number of ways: to establish a group that might be viewed as a community of practice and then, as part of the core enterprise of becoming a qualified teacher, to offer or to receive shared practice or support from another pre-service teacher in the role of more knowledgeable other and to broker new ideas about teaching to each other and to schools themselves from the other communities to which they belonged. Those who networked socially as part of the community of practice were more organised around deadlines. They also more likely to manage risky and stressful situations collaboratively and present an enhanced image of “…a body of common knowledge, practices and approaches” (Wenger, McDermott and Snyder, 2007, pp. 4-5) during their school placement which was unavailable to the trainee who did not participate within the online community. The scope for openly sharing practice and the development of learning communities among pre-service teachers is potentially restricted by the current national and local context of teacher education. However, one conclusion from this study might be that social media can potentially enable pre-service teachers to communicate privately in important ways that support their professional development whilst undertaking their training.
    • Teaching as an evidence informed profession: knowledge mobilisation with a focus on digital technology

      Procter, Richard (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2014-01)
      The use of research evidence to improve the practices of teachers is considered one of the ways of improving the educational outcomes for children. This study was focussed on determining how an online approach could be used to increase knowledge mobilisation in education, by giving teachers better access to research knowledge that they could use to support and develop their practices. This study had two aims. The first aim was to investigate what research knowledge and research practices teachers were using and what value they ascribed to those practices; the second was to explore teachers' views and opinions of a new online approach to the presentation of research knowledge. This was a mixed method study using questionnaires, interviews and focus groups to gather a range of both qualitative and quantitative data. The findings of this study show that practitioners value research practices more than they are able to participate in them, and that there is a consistent valuepractice gap across the range of research practices. Exploratory factor analysis revealed five underlying factors; engagement with research, engagement with the research community, promotes professional discussion of research, promotes teacher knowledge generation, and promotes wider engagement of the school with research and the research community. These factors showed that teachers and their schools want to engage both with research knowledge and with the wider research community so that the use of research knowledge can be enhanced in education. The findings also show that practitioners were receptive to the use of an online approach to the delivery of research knowledge and the piloted approach was accessible and intuitive. Practitioners exhibited interest in using the approach in a range of collaborative interactions with colleagues. Overall this study revealed that online approaches to knowledge mobilisation have potential but that teachers need to be supported in their engagement with research and the wider research community. This thesis is a contribution to the knowledge of how online approaches can be developed and deployed to enhance knowledge mobilisation towards teaching being an evidence informed profession. Equally school leaders and policy-makers need to create environments that are supportive of teachers' use of research, if they want teachers to use research knowledge to inform their practices.
    • Transforming self as reflective teacher: journey of being and becoming a teacher and teacher educator

      Akinbode, Adenike (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2014)
      The nature of reflective practice in teaching and its development is the focus of this research. The research approach is reflexive narrative through systematic self-inquiry using Johns (2010) six dialogical movements. This methodology is new to researching the practice of teaching. The research process involved constructing stories of practice experiences, culminating in the construction of the reflexive narrative charting the entire journey over three years and four months. Creating the stories involved in-depth reflection using the disciplined practice of journaling. Reflection was deepened using reflective models, and dialogue with a range of literature sources also supported the creation of the stories. Central to the study was guided reflection through regular engagement with an established inquiry group, which provided a high level of challenge and support for the research. The reflexive narrative was constructed from 25 stories of practice experience, which represents the journey of being and becoming a reflective teacher and teacher educator. The research presents aspects of the lived experience of teaching which includes foregrounding some of the complexity of classroom practice. The research demonstrates how engaging in in-depth reflective process can transform moment to moment practice within the fast-paced crowded classroom experience. This is achieved through gaining an in-depth understanding of self as a teacher, and of the education system and its policies and practices. As a result of in-depth reflection on practice, aspects of teaching which usually remain hidden are exposed. The research identifies how emotion impacts on teaching in some depth. An understanding of one’s emotional self in practice, and one’s personality preferences are essential in developing desirable practice. The research makes a contribution to knowledge about narrative research in educational practices. The methodology demonstrates a valuable approach to developing teaching practice, and enabling a teacher to identify issues which impact on practice but which have been hidden. Teachers also gain an understanding of the fear and constraints which limit desirable practice and enable one to find ways to work that are liberating rather than limiting.
    • Understanding the educational world of the child: exploring the ways in which parents' and teachers' representations mediate the child's mathematical leaming in multicultural contexts

      O'Toole, Sarah (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2004)
      This study investigates the ways in which parents' and teachers' experiences and representations mediate their child's mathematics learning as they make the transition between home and school to either a multiethnic or mainly white school. In particular, it examines if the forms of mediation they adopt can shed light on the academic success of the child in school mathematics. The focus on mathematics learning has been chosen for the study because of its relative neglect, until recent times, to be seen as a subject influenced by cultural representations. Furthermore, there are significant implications in the relative neglect of understanding the achievement of ethnic minority pupils in mathematics. The research was framed by Vygotskian sociocultural theory and Wenger's (1998) communities of practice to explore the construction of meaning, identity and representations of practice. The amalgam of Wenger's communities of practice with sociocultural theory provided three key theoretical facets: (i) multiple levels of understanding in the form of meaning, practice and identity, (ii) the scope to explore the social and cultural worlds of the learner and (iii) understanding the ways that past experiences impact on current practice. Three different forms of qualitative data collection were used within the context of an ethnographic approach: (i) investigations in the form of classroom observations, (ii) in-depth semi-structured interviews and (iii) a child identity task. Twenty-two parents, eight teachers and fifty-eight children took part in the interviews, which form the main part ofthe data analysis. Out ofthese fifty-eight children, twenty-seven undertook the child identity task. The research took place in three schools with different ethnic make-up: a multicultural school, a mainly white school and a predominantly South Asian school. Two year groups were chosen, year 2 (ages 6/7 years) and year 6 (10/11 years), balancing high and low achievers. This study has provided data, which suggests that the way parents and teachers mediate the child's learning involves more than representations of mathematics. In making meaning of the mathematical, they draw on wider representations of the educational world, which include aspects like child development, notions of achievement, past experiences and the child's projected futures. This complex picture emerged from studying the highly interwoven aspects ofthe construction of meaning, identity and representations of practice. Representations of learning can be borrowed from both communities, providing the ethnic minority pupil with the potential to create hybrid representations of learning as they make the transition between home and school, which may be attributed a cultural status within the home. Each social actor has the potential to borrow from the home or school community to a greater or lesser degree. lfthe gap between the shared representations of the home and school are large, then this increases the likelihood of difficulties for the child in transition. However, the data suggests that even if the cultural representations of the home are very different from the school, the identification of high achievement and the engagement in mathematical activity at home can still provide success in learning. From the school community perspective, classrooms were represented by the teacher informants as 'cultureless' in both the multi ethnic and mainly white school. For example, in the multicultural school the teachers felt that there were so many ethnicities that differences were not visible. In the mainly white school, there were so few ethnic minority children that teachers also struggled to identify issues of culture. In the predominantly South Asian school, issues surrounding culture were brought to the forefront of the teacher discourse. However, in many ethnic minority homes, parents described how culture was influential in mediating representations ofleaming. This has implications in the educational arena with respect to the teachers' understanding of the transitional process that ethnic minority children undergo and the levels of visibility that culture and ethnicity is given in the school community.