On Thursday 2 July, the University of Derby held the third annual MA Education Works! Conference, attended by 60 delegates from across the education sector.
After a welcome introduction from Head of Postgraduate Studies, Dr Viv Walkup, the conference was opened by Tony Clifford, Headteacher Virtual School for Children in Care, whose keynote lecture, Glombots with Frozen Faces, offered a perspective on attachment awareness.
Tony highlighted the importance of schools understanding the impact of neglect and abuse on many children, including those in the care system. He described the impact of these experiences on a child's secure attachment to a key adult and sense of safety. Many of these children rapidly go into 'fight, flight or freeze', which affects learning.
He went on to suggest that adults in schools need a greater awareness of how to manage their own emotions in order to address these attachment issues. In some cases, the child's anxiety or lack of self-regulation can trigger the adult's response. If the concept of attachment were better understood, it would improve both well-being and learning, because more children would feel safe enough to learn. He shared this as a key leadership challenge in education and for further research.
After a wonderful and insightful keynote, our delegates then separated to attend seminar groups; each focusing on a key area:
- Claire Smith and Deb Outhwaite hosted Distributed Leadership: creating the leadership recruitment crisis? in which delegates compared and contrasted Claire’s and Deb’s research findings around distributed leadership in Secondary and FE Sectors to conclude whether or not distributed leadership creates barriers to accessing senior leadership positions within these sectors.
- Emma Davies and Fiona Shelton hosted In what ways can modelling responses to questions improve students’ ability to effectively answer GCSE Physical Education examination questions? This session provided an understanding of the ways in which the research question was conceived, formulated and developed, discussing the methodological process adopted and the ways in which the research was undertaken.
- Kim Smith and Melody Harrogate hosted The Nature of Nurture: an investigation to assess the impact on students being in a Nurture Group during the first year at secondary school considered how a Year 7 Nurture Group made provision for students with social and emotional needs for their first year at secondary school using different measures, in order to determine whether the provision was effective in meeting their needs.
- Pete Tunnicliffe hosted Lifelong Learning: a flipped approach to research the broader issues around lifelong learning and what it means in relation to professional development and engaging in research activity in particular.
After some networking over refreshments, Dr Val Poultney, Assistant Head of Teacher Education, talked to the conference about collaboration with our local schools to introduce teacher inquiry to support learning and teaching.
Dr Poultney set out to demonstrate how teacher leader-led inquiry is helping primary school practitioners self-evaluate and improve their professional practice through collaborative inquiry with a Higher Education institution.
Val's excellent and enlightening talk was followed Pete Scales, Senior Lecturer in Education, who closed the conference with his talk, Metaphors in Teaching and Learning.
Mr Scales questioned whether common metaphors, such as, "She is ahead of the class" and "He’s falling behind", were recognised and challenged.
Encouraging delegates to reimagine education and learning, Pete offered some thought-provoking ideas for attendees to consider.
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What our delegates said:
"Very interesting talk by Tony Clifford; I would like to learn more. Also, Val Poultney and Pete Scales offered food for thought. [I] really enjoyed viewing the students’ posters – all very unique and looked so professional. I will use these as examples of progress/impact for evaluation of the program [MA Ed – partnership]." - Michelle Preece, Learning and Development Manager, Derby College