Author Archives: Branwyn Harris

P is for Preconditioning

How to support your HE students to ‘unlearn’

“All they ever want to know is how to do the assessment task!”

“They’re not interested in my feedback, only in their grade.”

“They never volunteer answers in class, and I’m not even supposed to ask them direct questions!”

“It would be great if they could even turn up to my lectures.”

“They insist on keeping their cameras off for the whole session! It’s really off-putting!”

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Children in summer clothes with back packs walking.

Midsummer Right Scheming

Midsummer 2021, and once again a Government report is expressing concern for working-class pupils – but seemingly only the White onesi.  The statistical ‘data driven’ evidence in the report suggest objectivity and ‘fact’ but the obvious cherry-picking of evidence, seeming lack of concern about statistical accuracy and subjective bias in the discussion bely such naïve perceptions.   Statistics and racism have history.  From its’ eugenics origins, statistics have been used to obfuscate, camouflage and even legitimate racist inequitiesii.  This history requires quantitative research to adopt a critical eye if it is to avoid perpetuating crimes of the past.  Scholars in the UKiii and USiv have published around this recently and in 2016 Gillborn, et alv outlined five ‘QuantCrit’ principles to help guide quantitative enquiry in helping challenge and change racial inequality.   HC 85 along with the Sewell/CRED reportvi and the Timpson review of school exclusionvii are recent examples of Government reports that have lacked this critical eye.  This seems common around the politics of statistics; whether due to empirical naivety/ignorance or to a more pernicious political agenda, is unclear.

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Child on a Laptop learning at home

UK Child Well-being in the Pandemic

It is no surprise to hear the recent news that the child well-being in the UK is of concern: nearly a year on from the first lock-down children have found themselves in a new world.

Since the day in March 2020 when the Prime Minister announced all of us – including school pupils – must stay at home, I have had serious worries regarding the changed environment children now find themselves in.  They have not been able to attend school or take part in external activities; not see their family, friends and teachers; they have remained mostly isolated at home.

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Building A Culture of Mentoring: How We Are Doing It

“I feel that this year more than ever, the mentor has a crucial role in supporting the students through their placements.  Schools are just not the same as ‘usual’ and I feel it is the role of the mentor to support the students even more during these strange times.” Hallam Mentor

Recently we have been revisiting some key questions:  What does it mean to us, as a partnership, to be ‘Hallam Educators’ or to train ‘Hallam Teachers’? What are our common values and aspirations? Within what frameworks and using what models can we achieve our goals?

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‘Doing data differently’- now open for visitors!

One thing that we’ve learned from the current pandemic – if we didn’t already know it – is that data can be powerful.  And of course, it’s not just data but visualisations of data that make a difference. Just a fortnight ago heat maps of COVID-19 infection in different regions and graphs showing projected numbers of deaths were used to make the case for a second national lockdown in England. No matter that the graphs were so small that you couldn’t read the labels on their axes or that the models on which they built have since been problematised, the spread of red and soaring clines charted an inexorable move towards a breakdown of the NHS and intensified the national crisis.

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Is there a role for universities in developing Early Years services? A reflection after two years of South Yorkshire Futures

Sally Pearse, Strategic Lead for Early Years for South Yorkshire Futures at Sheffield Hallam University.

My background in the early years has been driven by my belief that high-quality early years provision and services are a vehicle for social justice and transforming children’s outcomes. However, since moving full-time into Higher Education lecturing at Sheffield Hallam University in 2015 I had felt slightly removed from this purpose.  I was therefore delighted when I was asked to lead the early years’ aspect of a programme to explore if the university could play a key role in working with regional partners to address the inequality that impacted on the educational attainment and social mobility of young people in South Yorkshire. This innovation was partly in response to two government initiatives around social mobility and a drive for universities to play a more direct role in schools.

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