Reflection point 1: As you see it today, what do you think is the vision or ultimate purpose of secondary education?
Drawing together academic research, student voice and my own personal vision and values, I think the ultimate purpose of secondary education is to give young people control over their lives, and to inspire them to use that control to become more than they thought possible.
Secondary education isn’t solely about individuals, though. Locally, nationally and globally the 21st century will be a perilous time. Students in school today will make a vital contribution to a more democratic, more prosperous and fairer world, and secondary school needs to prepare them to do so.
Reflection point 2: Reflecting on your own schooling, what do you think are the key qualities that a good secondary school education will develop in a young person? What are the key components for pupils to gain from school to indicate success in adult lives?
Strong subject knowledge is undoubtedly vital. Allied to this, the unpredictable nature of the knowledge and skills required to get a job and to contribute to society in the future means that students must want and be able to continue to learn throughout their lives.
Making positive choices and a positive contribution to the world around them will also require students to critically assess the information they receive from others, ranging from the views and influence of their family and peers, through to political viewpoints regarding global issues such as climate change.
Reflection point 3: What do you think is meant by the terms ‘challenging circumstances’ and ‘educational disadvantage’? Why is this an issue?
A school in challenging circumstances is one in which the outside influences on students lives, whether from parents/carers, peers, poverty, or previous educational experiences, combine to mean that students are unable to arrive at the school gates each morning ready to maximise their learning.
Educational disadvantage is what results from these challenging circumstances. It is the attainment, access and aspiration gap between pupils from high and low socioeconomic backgrounds, and it is the evidence that this gap widens as pupils progress through school.
This disadvantage is an issue because there is an underlying assumption of equality in the purpose of secondary education. This core purpose discussed above must be within the reach of every young person in the country. If, as at present, it is not, inequality will be further entrenched in families and communities generation by generation. By contrast challenging educational disadvantage can reverse this inequality. In Bristol this means young people having access to opportunities, control over their lives and the ability to positively impact on the world around them, no matter which part of the city they grow up in.
Reflection point 4: Use the SI Objectives and Competencies to start reflecting on which are your strengths and development areas.
One strength area for me is around leadership. Through previous academic and practical experience in this area I am confident working independently, taking risks and seeing tasks through. I am keen to continue to develop my capacity to show leadership qualities consistently, even when under pressure.
Another relative strength for me is my presence in the classroom and my ability to empathise and build rapport with young people, parents and communities. My CELTA tutors previously picked this out as a strength of mine, and the teacher in Clevedon school also remarked on it.
The most important development area for me at present is relating to maths-specific teaching theory, specifically understanding progression in maths topics and finding multiple ways to model and explain the most basic mathematical concepts for lower ability students. I am seeing some progress here and have written separately about this, but want to keep this as a focus throughout the Summer Institute.
A further development area for me is in understanding how best to maintain my resilience. I want to ensure that I have the habits, strategies and relationships in place to take a constructive approach to addressing ongoing weaknesses throughout the year. This will mean ingraining habits around taking ownership of feedback, having strategies to reflect positively when things go wrong, and ensuring I have strong professional relationships with colleagues and fellow cohort members so that we can help each other to maintain a positive outlook.
- Continue to develop my maths pedagogical knowledge, including strategies to meet the needs of every learner and ways to break down core topics into their simplest parts, with clear progression.
- The main resources available to me here are: my placement school maths department, subject studies sessions, and my fellow cohort.
- I will seek to plan for progression in my teaching practice this week, and seek feedback on these plans.
- This will help me to progress towards Teaching Standards 2, 3 and 5.
- Continue to develop relationships with the SW cohort and the teachers and support staff at Oasis Academy John Williams, to strengthen our collective resilience in preparation for September.
- I will use the two days in our placement school this week to build positive professional relationships with staff in my department and the wider school, as well as my fellow cohort members at John Williams.
- I will aim to continue to get to know the breadth of the SW cohort, seeking out those who I have spent less time with, as well as strengthening relationships with those I have found particular common ground with so far.
- This wil help me to progress towards Teaching Standards 1 and 8 by ensuring I can always remain positive in school, and that I am developing professional relationships effectively.
- A final target relates to my enjoyment of teaching. I came to the Summer Institute both excited and nervous about teaching maths. Standing up in front of a class last week has reduced my nervousness and increased my excitement – I really enjoyed teaching. I want to hold onto that and build on that in my next teaching practice lesson.