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LEARNING technologies: developing a technology-enabled profession

Posted By Chris Yapp, 10 June 2020

Dr Chris Yapp, NACE Patron

First, may I say thank you and best wishes as the return to school starts. The process will be uneven and difficult. Over the last few weeks many of you have been experimenting with technology to try to maintain access to education for your students during the lockdown. I recently ran an online forum for a group of NACE members to discuss what they were doing. It was good to see good innovative practice in the schools involved, but also a willingness to share ideas and practice between individuals and schools.

I have been involved in technology in education for more than 30 years and reflecting on the NACE online forum discussion, I would like to offer some observations that I hope will help us all move forward to whatever the “new normal” may turn out to be.

The most important lesson for me is that the best way to develop teaching practice is through teacher-to-teacher communities of interest. Learning from peers about what works for them and adapting it to your own circumstances stimulates personal development and innovation. Tablets of stone from the great and good are at best blunt instruments.

Second, different teachers and different schools have for 30 years found themselves in quite different stages of development when it comes to using technology as a tool in teaching and learning. The crisis that we are living through gives us a chance to “level up” and enhance the profession to support our learners. It will not be quick, nor cheap.

A common mistake throughout the years is to believe that the children are so much more confident with the technology compared to the adults. Some teachers are reluctant to use technology for fear of looking foolish. Around five years ago I was in a presentation of a study on first-year undergraduates that came to an important conclusion: just because young people are very comfortable with technology, that does not mean that they are comfortable with learning through technology.

Learner confidence is best developed by thinking about “LEARNING technologies”, not “learning TECHNOLOGIES”. That is true for teachers too. My own experience is that three to five years’ experience is required for most teachers to develop full confidence in deploying technology as a learning tool, both in the classroom and increasingly beyond the school. That is why building teacher confidence lies at the heart of creating new practices that will be needed now and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Let me illustrate part of that challenge, which came up during the recent online discussion.

My first schools conference on technology in learning was over 25 years ago, in Hull. With a local telephone company, Kingston Communications, despite being a poor city, Hull had better connectivity than elsewhere in the UK at that time. After my talk, a young primary teacher came up to me and gave me an example of what I had talked about. She had a shy eight- or nine-year-old girl who was nervous in class and sometimes difficult to engage. She had been off ill while they had been doing a project on a topic (from memory I think this was the Egyptians). The girl returned on the final day of the work. Much to the teacher’s surprise the girl volunteered that she had done the work while she had been off sick. The teacher asked if she could see it. The girl said sorry, it was on her home page. The teacher said that is OK, bring it in tomorrow. The girl instead offered to take the teacher to the library, which had a few internet-connected terminals. The teacher discovered a multimedia project of rich detail, beyond what she thought the girl was capable of, sitting on the girl’s home page in her dad’s work room. So, she asked if her parents had helped. She got a firm no. Her dad was a computer engineer and they had a significant set-up at home that the girl could use, while her dad was away. Her mother was not interested in computers.

The teacher had become upset because she saw it as her failing that she had underestimated the capability of this pupil and wondered how many others she had “let down”.

Over the years I have heard many similar stories. We had examples during the NACE online discussion. Online learning and online teaching are quite different. Some children thrive on the autonomy and others need much support, as is true in the classroom setting. You may have had surprises yourself recently or will encounter them over the coming weeks and months.

That is why I argue for building teachers as confident learners with technology as a precursor to students becoming confident learners. When you encounter such surprises: IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.

To build teaching into a confident technology-ENABLED, not technology-driven, profession my takeaway message is that we need to build communities of teachers on- and off-line to share peer-to-peer the development of new and innovative practice at scale.

I hope as a patron of NACE to be able to play a part in your journey. Best wishes. Stay safe and well.

This article was originally published in the summer 2020 special edition of NACE Insight, as part of our “lessons from lockdown” series. For access to all past issues, log in to our members’ resource library.

Tags:  collaboration  CPD  lockdown  remote learning  technology 

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Librarians under lockdown: rising to the challenge

Posted By Bev Humphrey, 04 June 2020
Bev Humphrey, Literacy and Technology Consultant and Digital Content Manager at the School Library Association (SLA), shares some of the ways in which school librarians are rising to meet the challenges of lockdown life.

These strange times during the coronavirus pandemic have left many school librarians feeling as though they’d gone to sleep and woken up in one of their least-liked dystopian novels. New skills have had to be learnt and different ways of communication sought, amidst worries about staff and students’ mental health whilst stuck at home.

Some of the challenges and creative responses so far include:

Finding new ways to share inspiring reading material

Naturally, with schools closed, librarians have not been able to loan out books in the usual way. This has been very distressing, especially with all the evidence regarding the positive effect of reading on the brain and mental wellbeing.

Some schools were lucky enough to have already invested in an online reading platform and this has made things easier for them, but many librarians have needed to hastily arrange some e-reading options for their students. Others have advised staff and students of the digital offerings from their local public libraries or have taken advantage of the limited-time offers from companies allowing access to their platforms on an extended trial basis. Some authors are reading their own books aloud online too – Cathy Cassidy and Marcus Sedgwick for example – and alerting students to these helps keep their love of reading alive.

Librarians have created a wealth of online content to keep kids reading, often learning new techniques at the same time – as with this fantastic Sway created by Ms Williams from Addey & Stanhope School. Some colleagues are involved in leading online reading periods that are slotted into the virtual timetable set up by their schools. Others are keeping the reading excitement alive by monitoring online book quizzes and giving out praise and prizes.

Collaborating with teachers to support learning online

Although not currently able to collaborate in person, countless librarians are even more involved than ever in helping their teaching colleagues plan online lessons and projects. Many have turned to sites such as padlet.com to create collated lists of resources for school staff to access, and are constantly on the lookout for more content to flag up to teachers. The lists provided by the School Library Association, CILIP School Library Group and others have enabled librarians to disseminate information about fantastic resource banks like the Massolit collection of over 3,000 lectures.

Promoting information literacy and tackling fake news

Misinformation and fake news have been rife during this pandemic and who better to lead you through this confusing tangle of facts than information professionals for whom this is second nature – definitely a case of Librarians Assemble! On social media librarians have been the calm voice of reason on numerous occasions, with large numbers of them using this time to build on their own knowledge, especially of inquiry-based learning systems such as FOSIL. This method of inquiry is of huge benefit across the curriculum and is a highly effective way of embedding information literacy skills in every subject.

Investing time in online CPD

Unfortunately some school library staff have been furloughed and therefore have had their hands tied and felt frustrated at being unable to help their students and fellow staff members. Many have turned to online CPD to fill their days productively: embarking on massive open online courses (MOOCs), completing courses with the Open University, and taking part in webinars run by the School Library Association, CILIP and Elizabeth Hutchinson, for example. At the end of this month the SLA weekend course, due to take place in Ashford, has been moved online with a range of excellent keynote speakers from the world of education (see below for details). For some staff this has been the first time they have used apps like Zoom and GoToMeeting, but they have met the challenge of adapting to new technology with equanimity and enthusiasm.

Planning for the future

As we slowly start to come out of this most unusual time and education returns to something approaching “normal”, there are many considerations to take into account in the school library and countless questions causing sleepless nights. How will we ensure students adhere to social distancing? Will we have to disinfect all the books? How can we best support students and staff who are displaying signs of having poor mental health? SLA and CILIP SLG have produced comprehensive guidance on the return to work and school library staff have been extremely proactive in putting plans in place for when their library reopens.

In a time of chaos society needs professionals to be the voice of reason and librarians are definitely rising to this challenge admirably.

SLA annual conference (19-20 June 2020) – 10% discount for NACE members

The School Library Association (SLA) is running its annual weekend conference “Digital Education: Reading and Learning Opportunities” as a virtual event on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 June, featuring an impressive line-up of experts in online education and learning technologies, joining authors and publishers in live presentations, discussions and demonstrations. Use the code NACE19 for a 10% discount when booking.

Tags:  collaboration  CPD  free resources  libraries  literacy  lockdown  reading  technology 

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Free course: Neuroscience for Teachers

Posted By Julia Harrington, 06 May 2020
Julia Harrington, Headmistress of NACE member Queen Anne’s School and founder of BrainCanDo, shares details of a new Neuroscience for Teachers course designed to help bridge the gap between neuroscience and educational practice.
 
As both a parent and a teacher in secondary education, the inner workings of the adolescent brain have often seemed something of a mystery. From the turbulent highs and lows to the sometimes impulsive, rash, creative and utterly inexplicable behaviours expressed, it can be challenging for us to understand why teenagers act the way they do and how best to reach them.
 
At BrainCanDo we felt that teachers of this exuberant age-group could be further empowered to engage, inspire and motivate their students if they were given the time and opportunity to learn some of the new insights that have emerged through the fields of psychology and neuroscience over recent years.
 
We used to think that the brain stopped developing at age 11 but we now know that this simply is not the case. The brain undergoes one of the greatest developmental periods throughout adolescence and this reorganisation continues until early adulthood. We felt that teachers with a responsibility for classroom teaching and pastoral care could benefit hugely from accessing this new knowledge that does not form a part of conventional teacher training.  
 
This is why BrainCanDo has teamed up with neuroscientist Professor Patricia Riddell to develop a Neuroscience for Teachers course. This course involves six one-day workshops in which teachers are invited to come together to share their experiences as practitioners and gain new insights into the neuroscience of motivation through to mental health and wellbeing. 
 
I set up BrainCanDo around six years ago with the aim of bringing closer connection between the rapidly advancing fields of psychology and neuroscience and the day-to-day lives of teachers in the classroom. Over the past six years BrainCanDo has worked closely with staff and pupils at Queen Anne’s School, Caversham, and a number of other schools to provide training and resources to enhance teaching, learning and wellbeing. Today BrainCanDo is a dynamic hub of research and collaborative excellence, leading the way in harnessing the power of psychology and neuroscience to enrich education. We continue to work collaboratively with universities, schools, school leaders, teachers and pupils to bring neuroscientific evidence-based research in to educational practice.
 
We are excited to have the opportunity to work closely with neuroscientists and teaching practitioners to bridge the gap and learn from one another as we seek new ways in which to further engage and inspire our teenage learners.
 
This pilot programme will commence in September 2020, with the six workshops spread across the academic year. BrainCanDo has secured funding to cover the costs of workshop delivery, assessments and associated materials; participants need only cover the costs of travel. 
 
For additional course details click here.
 
To request information or apply for a place, contact info@braincando.com
 
NACE members who participate in the course will be invited to share their experiences, reflections and evolving thinking and practice with our network throughout the year. Contact communications@nace.co.uk for details.
 
Plus: free Summer Journal to support wellbeing during lockdown
 
BrainCanDo has developed a free Summer Journal to help students, staff and their families stay emotionally, mentally and physically well whilst working at home. The Summer Journal encourages users to consider ways to regulate and process how they feel and includes suggested activities to promote physical and mental health. It is divided into five sections with a week of activities for each: sleep and relaxation; goal setting and resilience building; building a healthy lifestyle; fostering creativity; spreading kindness. Download and share the journal.

Tags:  adolescence  CPD  enquiry  higher education  myths and misconceptions  neuroscience  partnerships  pyschology  research  wellbeing 

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Stuff about the brain for teachers

Posted By Jeremy Dudman-Jones, 28 February 2020

Jeremy Dudman-Jones previews his upcoming live webinar, exploring research from neuroscience and cognitive psychology and what it means for those working in schools…

As a teacher of over 30 years I now think that it is vital that as a profession, or indeed as anyone remotely interested in working with people, teachers should know a great deal more about the important new discipline of neuroscience. As a result I became a founder member of Learnus: a voluntary group that sets out to form bridges between academics and practitioners, striving to inform those at the “chalk face” with knowledge and ideas that are currently sitting on the desks of various departments of neuroscience and cognitive psychology. If you are a curious teacher or an interested parent, if you are a student currently intrigued by changes in behaviour or a lay person simply wondering about brain processes, join me on 10 March 2020 for a live webinar on “Stuff about the brain for teachers” (sign in to the NACE members’ site for details and registration).

In the webinar I will talk about some case studies that drew me into the world of educational neuroscience before I try to unpick ideas on how memories are formed and indeed lost. A memory is an interesting biological idea. To form a memory new synaptic connections need to be produced; this requires effort and amino acids. Memories are also difficult to maintain; why for example do I tend to only remember about 10% of a book I have read, even though at the time I really enjoyed it? I will talk about synaptic pruning in adolescents and how brain maturation in the same age group can lead to interesting and sometimes challenging patterns of behaviour.

It is nearly universally accepted that sleep is vital to a healthy mind, but why is it that as humans we spend nearly 23 years of a normal lifetime engaged in such an unconscious state? Recent research on the eye has unearthed new cells that are responsible for our sensitivity to circadian rhythms, but why does it seem to have a different rhythm if you are an adult compared to a teenager? If we really need a certain amount of sleep, what is happening in the brain whilst it is happening? How does all of this impact on the daily life of a school or a family or an individual? I hope to delve into some of these questions using easily accessible research findings.

Interestingly as one grows from a baby to an adult the brain itself changes; cognitive psychologists refer to this as brain plasticity and brain maturation. Again, what are the cognitive psychologists talking about when they use such terms? How can a brain change fundamentally from the age of 10 to the age of 20 and what impact will this have on people’s behaviour? It is possible to learn things later in life, but why is it so much easier as small child? As I work through the presentation, hopefully some of these questions will be answered, although no doubt they will raise even more for future discussion and possible research.

Lastly I will touch upon the power of chemicals and in particular neurotransmitters. After all much of what the brain does and in a sense what it feels is directed by these chemicals. I will hopefully explore the impact of at least three of these chemicals; on memory acquisition, on behaviour, on sleep and on relationships. It is strange to think that we are slaves to these chemicals, but can we also control them or synthesize them?

To finish I will touch upon other ideas in behavioural psychology, taking some inspiration from a range of research that basically divides our behaviour into two main categories, some of which we find easy and some of which we find difficult. How do these systems alter life in a school or simply a classroom? How do the two systems impact on us as parents, leaders and managers?

Finally, I will ask about next steps. Any bridge is incomplete without two-way traffic. What is it that those of us that are not academics want researchers to do next? What questions in neuroscience do we have that need answering and how can we assist each other in coming up with answers that will go on to inform best practice in life?

Jeremy Dudman-Jones is Assistant Headteacher at Greenford High School and a Founder Member of Learnus, a community dedicated to bringing together educators and those who specialise in the study of the brain, using insights from high-quality research to improve and enrich learning for all. On 10 March 2020 Jeremy will present a free webinar for NACE members. To join the live session and/or to access recordings of all past webinars, visit our webinars page (login required).

Tags:  adolescence  CPD  myths and misconceptions  neuroscience  pyschology  research 

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Coming up for NACE members in 2019-20…

Posted By Sue Riley, 10 September 2019
NACE CEO Sue Riley outlines upcoming opportunities for NACE members this academic year…

A warm welcome back to the new school year. I hope that you are returning refreshed after the break and looking forward to welcoming new learners and teachers alike to your school this term.

For schools at all phases, the summer brought with it a focus on exam results – whether SATs, GCSEs, A-levels or other qualifications, schools have been celebrating pupils’ achievements at all levels.

As schools that work with NACE know, a whole-school focus on challenge and high achievement benefits all learners. Putting a spotlight on our most able learners, the FFT Education Datalab analysis of GCSE results in England certainly provided a cause for celebration – with 818 learners entering at least seven GCSEs and achieving a grade 9 in each of them (Ofqual reported 732 for 2018). As the FFT noted, this shows real mastery of subject matter; those gaining multiple grade 9s should realise quite what an achievement that is. In Wales too, Education Minister Kirsty Williams shone a spotlight on improved exam performance.

Looking ahead to 2019-20, here’s a brief look at what’s new and how to get the most from your NACE membership this year…

Website relaunch

We relaunched our website at the end of the summer term, making access to resources and information easier. Opportunities to collaborate online with other member schools will be coming soon – keep an eye on our monthly newsfeed email for updates.

The new site also provides individual accounts for each staff member, making it easier to share the benefits of membership across the whole school. If you haven’t already logged in, click here for an overview and how to get started.

R&D Hubs

Last year we piloted the NACE Research and Development (R&D) Hubs – regional opportunities for members to meet, learn from one another, exchange effective practice, develop in-school research skills and collaborate on enquiry-based projects. Each Hub is led by a Challenge Award-accredited school, and this year the programme also includes a free online course run by the University of Birmingham and the Chartered College of Teaching.

To find your nearest Hub and for details of this year’s Hub meetings (including sessions on challenge, audit, memory retrieval, transition and parental engagement), click here.

Courses, conferences and consultancy

Take a moment to look at our new professional services brochure , which outlines the range of membership benefits, CPD and consultancy on offer for 2019-20. Early-bird rates are available for members on many of our workshops. For colleagues in Wales, I am delighted to announce that the national conference returns to Cardiff next summer, hosted at a new venue on 16 June. The programme is available here, with early-bird bookings now open.

Plus...

We have lots more planned over the coming year, including reporting on our current Challenge Award research case study project, the launch of our Headteachers’ Forum and continuation of our highly popular member meetups.

On behalf of the NACE team – we look forward to working with you in the coming months.

Tags:  collaboration  CPD  enquiry  partnerships  policy  research  technology 

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5 top tips for effective maths CPD

Posted By Mel Butt, 10 June 2019
Updated: 09 September 2020

Reflecting on lessons learned during her participation in the NACE/NRICH Ambassadors initiative, Tanners Brook Primary School’s Mel Butt shares her top tips for effective maths CPD…

Five years ago, maths was targeted as a key area to develop at Tanners Brook Primary School. In our most recent Ofsted inspection, it was recognised as one of our strengths. A key element in securing progress in this area has been our approach to professional development in maths.

Before joining the 
NACE/NRICH Ambassadors initiative, I was confident and passionate about maths and motivated to develop competent problem-solving mathematicians. I was attracted by the opportunity to work alongside other professionals to explore ways to enhance the maths diet of able children at my school.

At Tanners Brook, we have developed a coaching culture where teachers embrace new ideas and seek ways to improve their own teaching. Throughout this process, I have used my classroom as a platform for ideas and, as time has moved on, I have been able to share these ideas with colleagues.

As part of the Portswood Teaching School Alliance, we also have direct contact with over 70 schools and regularly provide CPD. This meant I already had access to a wider network who could in turn benefit from my participation in the NRICH Ambassadors scheme.

Following on from my experience of receiving and leading CPD based on NRICH’s low-threshold, high-ceiling maths resources, here are my top five tips for effective professional development in maths:

1. Understand the need for change

One approach to support more able learners in maths is using short application activities completed individually at the end of a lesson, after the children are taught a skill. In order to challenge myself (and them), I needed to challenge this mindset. 

While still teaching children the maths skills they need, I wanted to provide them with more opportunities to think as mathematicians. I experimented with moving from teaching them to do maths to allowing them to work as mathematicians.

Through use of 
NRICH’s free resources, learners are immersed in larger, more open-ended problems where they have the opportunity to work collaboratively, reason more and ultimately be stretched over all of the learning time – not just at the end of the lesson.

2. Develop confidence collaboratively

Having explored the NRICH materials myself, I was able to share the pros and cons of this approach with colleagues. I knew that many teachers find it daunting to teach a lesson in which children may use a variety of strategies, may not know how to start their learning, or may even head off in completely the “wrong” direction. Using NRICH gives staff more confidence as it provides guidance on starting points, questioning and a range of different approaches and solutions – helping to support and inspire both teachers and learners.

I found that a simple problem aimed at KS1 – 
Eggs in Baskets – could be easily accessed by all staff and was a great starting point. I shared this problem in a staff meeting where colleagues were able to experiment in a workshop-style setting.

Once we’d had a go at Eggs in Baskets ourselves, we explored how this low-threshold, high-ceiling activity could be easily differentiated and accessed by all children – from the lowest-attaining child in Early Years to the most able child in Year 6. Through this discussion, we came up with various ideas to develop the activity, including using apparatus to represent the objects, drawing representations, trial and improvement, and algebra. Teachers therefore felt confident in their own delivery, and equally confident that all learners would be able to access the activity at an appropriate level.

3. Step out of your comfort zone

In December 2018, our phase took part in a live NRICH webinar – logging in to tackle a problem posed by the NRICH team, alongside other classes around the country. We were all quite nervous about this as we really had no idea what we and the children and ourselves would face. However, we committed ourselves fully and both staff and children alike had an amazing time working as mathematicians. From this, we realised that to get the most out of our CPD, we needed to step out of our comfort zones and accept that it’s okay to not always be in control. We look forward to doing more of this in future.

As a result of the work we have done with NRICH, there has been a real buzz in maths lessons. In a recent Year 6 lesson – 
Olympic Turns – both the class and the teacher were incredibly excited by the learning. This led to increased exposure to mathematical language, collaboration, and the children even wanted to take their learning forward by using protractors to measure. Deeper learning was evident.

4. Share ideas and inspiration

Over the process, I have realised how beneficial it is to be able to share the activities and discuss this way of teaching with colleagues. This takes many forms, from informal chats in our classrooms to the more formal setting of staff meetings. Being part of Portswood Primary Academy Trust and a Teaching Schools Alliance has given me the opportunity to share ideas across schools and with maths leaders within our local authority.

Hearing about activities that other practitioners have tried with their classes will inspire you to try and develop these activities yourself. Knowing that another class of children have fully engaged with an activity often makes it more exciting to try it within your own classroom. In turn, sharing your excitement about an activity can have the same impact on other teachers and their teaching.

In order to support staff further, I have shared the curriculum mapping resources from the NRICH website with staff in my school, NQTs, maths leaders, headteachers and other practitioners leading on provision for more able learners through our NACE R&D Hub. These resources have enabled staff to search for mathematics objectives that link to NRICH activities relating to a particular area of maths.

5. Enjoy it!

When I started my journey as an NRICH Ambassador, I was already enthusiastic about NRICH resources. I have loved spreading my passion for problem-solving and sharing good practice within my school, cluster and beyond. If you are having fun, then your colleagues and the young people in your classrooms will also enjoy the experience of being mathematicians. Embrace it! It is essential that we inspire our children to have a love of maths by showing them how much we enjoy being mathematicians ourselves.

Mel Butt is a Year 6 class teacher with responsibility for More Able, Gifted and Talented at Tanners Brook Primary School, Southampton. She participated in the 2018-19 NACE/NRICH Ambassadors initiative. 

Tags:  CPD  curriculum  maths  problem-solving 

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University of Wales: working with NACE to support ITE

Posted By Nanna Ryder, 12 April 2019
Updated: 09 September 2020

NACE is partnering with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David to support initial teacher education in Wales. Nanna Ryder, Senior Lecturer (ALN), explains how this collaboration is helping trainee teachers better understand the often complex needs of more able learners.

The Athrofa Professional Learning Partnership (APLP) at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) is proud to be the first initial teacher education (ITE) provider in Wales to become a member of NACE. This is a significant step forward for both staff and students in enhancing their knowledge and understanding of innovative approaches to supporting and challenging more able and talented (MAT) pupils in the classroom and beyond.  

Our student teachers from across all programmes regularly identify this as a complex and challenging aspect of teaching experience. Jennifer Evans, a third-year student on the BA Primary Education with QTS course and chairperson of the UWTSD Teacher Society comments: “from a student perspective whilst working in schools and completing teaching experience, these groups of learners are sometimes disregarded and unsupported due to the necessity to develop independent learners.”  

Jennifer also notes that from her experience as a student teacher, “our MAT children are generally grouped with the higher ability group for every area of learning, experience or subject, but may need more support in specific areas. Sometimes they are merely encouraged to become more independent so teachers can concentrate on the lower or middle ability groups or the most challenging students within the classroom.”

Expertise and research alongside practical experience

In line with the APLP model of teacher education, gaining access to expertise and resources from NACE will help our student teachers to embrace complexity; develop their understanding of the relationship between knowledge and experience; form meaningful relationships; and enable them to research, practise, model and reflect on their own classroom practice. With the development of a new curriculum in Wales and the emphasis on progression, there has been no better time to reflect on how we can further support our student teachers with the knowledge and skills to extend and challenge the learning and experiences of MAT pupils.  

During the 2018-2019 academic year, over 300 primary and secondary student teachers from both the Carmarthen and Swansea campuses have benefitted from the expertise of the NACE Associate for Wales, Rhiannon Jenkins. She has delivered sessions to raise awareness of the current provision for MAT, the NACE Challenge Framework and other support and resources available through NACE to student teachers at this early stage in their careers. Many of these students are currently on placement in some of our lead partnership schools who have already received the NACE Challenge Award. 

Developing a learning environment to challenge all learners

To date, we can see how being a member of NACE is already proving beneficial to our students, with some choosing MAT as a focus for their research project and others adapting their pedagogy with different groups of learners. Jennifer Evans adds, “For me, the insightful session on the work of NACE have developed my confidence to challenge my own practice for my upcoming placement and to rethink my style of teaching and how I can modify the learning environment to support all learners. This will hopefully ensure that my MAT learners will be challenged more frequently and develop skillsets to become independent learners without the boredom and low self-esteem that they may have previously experienced. NACE has developed my understanding to adopt a personalised teaching approach to support all my learners in regards to their academic, social and emotional needs.”

Our staff can also reap the benefits of NACE membership with access to a whole range of resources and expertise to further support their teaching. A welcome addition to those working with student teachers in Welsh medium schools is the Welsh language version of the Challenge Framework. Over the coming year, we look forward to further developing our partnership with NACE so that in the words of our current Cabinet Secretary for Education in Wales, Kirsty Williams, “By learning together, we can develop a better Wales.”

The Athrofa Professional Learning Partnership APLP is a partnership between UWTSD and partner schools across South and West Wales. It combines the expertise of the school sector and all its practical hands-on experience with the expertise of the higher education sector in teaching and mentoring undergraduate and postgraduate student teachers. 

Nanna Ryder is a senior lecturer within the Athrofa and leads on Additional Learning Needs provision for ITE courses. She is a former primary school teacher and has been a lecturer at UWTSD since 2008.


To find out more about NACE membership for your school, university or as a student teacher, view our membership information or get in touch

Tags:  CPD  partnerships  Wales 

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Opportunities for NACE members in 2018-19

Posted By Sue Riley, 04 July 2018
Updated: 07 August 2019
We’re quickly moving towards the end of the term, and I want to use my final blog of the academic year to look ahead at some of the support and opportunities in store for members in 2018-19.

Share your expertise

Opportunities to work alongside and learn from one another have never been greater. Our members have always played a central role in supporting NACE events, research and publications. This year more than ever you have shared your expertise in many ways: contributing blog posts, speaking at member meetups, running workshops at events, co-authoring NACE Essentials publications and webinars – there are many ways to get involved.

A growing number of our members are becoming NACE associates too. If you’re interested in sharing your knowledge in a specific curriculum area, supporting other schools to develop their more able offer, or sharing your experience of working with the NACE Challenge Framework, do get in touch.

Expanding our regional work

Next term we’ll be exploring further regional working with member schools. Are you part of a group of schools that would benefit from working collaboratively with NACE? Could you host an event? Contact us to find out more.

Member-led research and development

This year NACE has focused on facilitating member-led research and development, as part of our “excellence to evidence” theme, bringing research into the classroom.

Amongst other projects, we were pleased to announce the launch of the NACE Research and Development Hubs, as well as opportunities for members to become NRICH maths ambassadors and to work with Rising Stars on maths mastery resource development. We also launched a new collaboration with the Expansive Education Network at the University of Winchester, giving members the opportunity to develop their own action research projects, exploring an aspect of curriculum, teaching and support for more able learners.

The coming year will see us sharing the outcomes of these projects, as well as offering opportunities for members in Wales to contribute to more able research in a new collaboration with Cardiff Metropolitan University. Additionally, we will be undertaking detailed case study research with our Challenge Award schools as we continue to build our evidence base and formally capture and disseminate some of the best practice in provision for more able learners.

Getting ready for the year ahead

Our focus this term has been on the role of those leading on more able provision – a key ingredient to high-performing schools. If you missed our recent webinar offering practical advice on how to review and update (or create) your school’s policy for more able learners, log in to our members’ area to access the recording and supporting resources – and while you’re there, catch up on the latest NACE Essentials, other webinar recordings and member updates.

Next term we’re launching a new three-day course for those leading on more able policy and practice, aimed at supporting senior and middle leaders, SLEs and coordinators, with close links to the NACE Challenge Framework. Practical in nature, it will explore contextual factors, key principles, curriculum review, audit planning and professional enquiry, leaving each delegate with an individual action plan for their school or cluster.

Free member meetups

Finally, our full 2018-19 CPD programme is now available – including details of our free termly member meetups. We’re very much looking forward to welcoming members to new partner venues – the Science Museum, Oxford University’s Jesus College and Wales Millennium Centre – for meetups exploring questioning in science, independent learning and enrichment. The meetups are free for all staff at NACE member schools; do share the details with colleagues and book online as soon as possible to secure your place.

On behalf of all the NACE team, I would like to wish you all a good summer break, and we look forward to working with you in the coming year.

Tags:  collaboration  CPD  enquiry  partnerships  research 

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4 reasons not to miss this year’s NACE Cymru Conference

Posted By Greg Scannell, 04 June 2018
Updated: 08 April 2019
The Brilliant Club’s Greg Scannell shares his top four reasons not to miss this year’s NACE Cymru Conference, coming to Cardiff on 28 June…

1. Step away from the classroom…

It’s not often teachers get a chance to step out of the classroom to spend time focusing on their own professional development. Attending the NACE Cymru Conference will give you a chance to enhance your own skills, gain new strategies to support your more able learners, and ask any questions you may have about different areas of provision – from effective use of data and whole-school improvement, to growth mindset and raising aspirations.

2. Share ideas with peers from across Wales

Listen to and share best practice with teachers and school leaders from across Wales, all working to improve provision for more able learners. The best insights and ideas can often come from chance conversations with like-minded practitioners, so seize this opportunity to meet others who are in similar roles, and make the most of the broad range of experience the conference community has to offer.

3. Take away practical action points for your school

The conference offers a broad selection of workshops, all with a focus on providing practical examples, ideas and action points. My own session, for example, aims to help delegates design and implement support packages that run alongside the school curriculum to raise aspirations towards higher education and give learners the best chance of being university-ready.

4. Consider joining The Scholars Programme

Finally, join me at the conference to find out about The Scholars Programme, a scheme which places researchers in schools to deliver university-style tutorials with accompanying assignments, one-to-one support and university visits. Speak to me to find out how your school could join the scheme, and to learn more about its positive impact on achievement, self-efficacy and progression to university.

Greg Scannell is The Brilliant Club’s National Manager for Wales, overseeing the development and running of The Scholars Programme across the country. In this role, he brings together universities, colleges, schools and external partners to deliver university-style learning programmes that stretch and challenge young people, develop their academic skills and knowledge, and ultimately raise their aspirations towards attending top universities.

Tags:  access  aspirations  CEIAG  CPD  higher education  Wales 

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Practitioner research: a worthwhile investment?

Posted By Cat Scutt, 19 March 2018
Updated: 08 April 2019

Over the past few years, the idea that teaching should be an evidence-informed profession has become increasingly widespread, and supporting teachers to be more evidence-informed and research-engaged is at the heart of the work of the Chartered College of Teaching.

Of course, engaging with research and evidence can mean many things – from reading original research, to engaging with evidence brokers, to carrying out small-scale enquiry in schools. It is perhaps the last of these which attracts most debate; the notion of teachers as researchers is not without difficulties. From the inevitable problem of workload and expectation, via ethical issues, to the question of whether teachers have the skills to effectively carry out and evaluate research. Given all these challenges, is it a worthwhile investment for teachers to carry out their own research projects?

It is, perhaps, a question of degrees. At the simplest level, “research” as a process of “identifying an idea that seems likely to work, trying it in the classroom, and evaluating whether it did work” seems simply to articulate the cycle that many teachers go through on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Increased rigour in this cycle could involve engagement with research and evidence to select the approaches trialled; a strengthened approach to identifying, baselining and evaluating goals; and a more structured expectation of sharing findings to inform colleagues’ practice. For some teachers, of course, participation in a supported practitioner research project – whether through a master’s programme or some form of professional learning community approach – will also appeal.

Whatever the scale of the research carried out, if we reflect on what we know about what makes effective professional development, it is easy to see how engaging in a cycle of research or enquiry can support professional learning. Models such as “lesson study” or engagement in a research learning community provide a collaborative, practice-based approach that is by necessity sustained over a period of time.

While there may yet be limited evidence of impact on student outcomes, there is evidence that engaging with and in research can lead to an increase in teachers’ levels of self-reflection and discussion about their practice, and a renewed sense of themselves as professional learners. With that in mind, for many schools and individuals, involvement in practitioner research – with appropriate time and support – has the potential to form an effective part of teachers’ professional development.

To audit your school’s current level of evidence-engagement, download this free resource from the Chartered College of Teaching: Evidence-Informed Teaching: Self-Assessment Tool for Schools

References and further reading:

  • Brown, C. & Greany, T. (2017). ‘The Evidence-Informed School System in England: Where Should School Leaders Be Focusing Their Efforts?’, Leadership and Policy in Schools.
  • Education Endowment Foundation (2017). Research Learning Communities Evaluation.
  • DeLuca, C., Bolden, B., Chan, J. (2017) ‘Systemic professional learning through collaborative inquiry: Examining teachers' perspectives’, Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 67
  • Higgins, S., Cordingley, P., Greany, T., & Coe, R. (2015). ‘Developing Great Teaching’. Teacher Development Trust.
  • Rose, J., Thomas, S., Zhang, L., Edwards, A., Augero, A., Roney, P. (2017). Research Learning Communities Evaluation. Education Endowment Foundation.
  • Stoll, L., Greany, T., Coldwell, M., Higgins, S., Brown, C., Maxwell, B., Stiell, B., Willis, B. and Burns, H. (2018). Evidence-informed teaching: self-assessment tool for teachers. Chartered College of Teaching.
  • Stoll, L. and Temperley, J. (2015). Narrowing the Gap with Spirals of Enquiry. Whole Education.
  • Timperley, H.S., Wilson, A., Barrar, H. & Fung, I. (2007). Teacher Professional Learning and Development: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration. New Zealand Ministry of Education.

A former English teacher, Cat's roles have since focused on supporting teacher development both online and through face-to-face activities, with a particular focus on development through collaboration and through engagement with research and evidence. She has worked as a teacher and advisor in the state and independent sector, as well as in corporate learning and development. Cat leads on the Chartered College of Teaching's work around teacher CPD, including the Chartered Teacher programme, and their research activities and publications, including termly peer reviewed journal, Impact. In addition, Cat is studying for her doctorate at the UCL Institute of Education, looking at school leadership development.

Tags:  CPD  research 

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