What is unconscious bias, and why is the Guardian reporting on it?

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Unconscious or implicit bias is one part of the explanation for why, despite equalities being enshrined in law, minority groups are still at a disadvantage in many parts of life. The term was popularised after US social psychologists devised a way of measuring the prejudices that we are not necessarily aware of – the Implicit Association Test. They published a paper in 1998 claiming that their tool for measuring “the unconscious roots of prejudice” showed that 90-95% of people were susceptible.

While the reliability of that test is now contested, there is overwhelming wider evidence that unconscious bias seeps into decisions that affect recruitment, access to healthcare and outcomes in criminal justice in ways that can disadvantage black and minority ethnic people. One study found that university professors were far more likely to respond to emails from students with white-sounding names. Another showed that white people perceived black faces as more threatening than white faces with the same expression.

In this series, Bias in Britain, we’re exploring some of the ways unconscious bias plays out in the real world. For example, we conducted a poll which found that ethnic minorities are much more likely to report being suspected of shoplifting, refused entry to bars and clubs or being unfairly overlooked for promotion at work.

While some of our biases may begin on an unconscious level, experts caution that the concept of unconscious bias should not absolve people of discriminatory behaviour. “If you’re aware of these associations then you can bring to bear all of your critical skills and intelligence to see it’s wrong to think like that,” says Lasana Harris, a neuroscientist who studies prejudice and social learning at University College London. “We all have the ability to control that.”

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3 years as a Black teacher working in Yorkshire schools

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This is a personal account of myself working in Yorkshire Schools as an African black male qualified teacher.

I qualified as a teacher in July 2015. Since graduating I have been applying for permanent teaching jobs mainly in Yorkshire and London.

I found that schools and teaching supply agencies were only willing to offer temporary roles or maternity covers. On some occasions I have the opportunity to apply for the job I was covering but always turned down.

Whilst working as a Teacher in Yorkshire I have been racially abused by students. When reported to the schools nothing was really done to address the racial issue. I believe on one occasion a student was given two days exclusion.

Some schools decided to get rid of me by immediately ending my temporary contract instead of dealing with the issue. I often feel like as the victim I am being punished for the students racial abuse.

This situation happened again in my last role at a school in West Yorkshire. I was racially abused, and nothing was done to the student in question. The next day I was called into the HR office and I was given notice that my temporary contract was ending.

One of the Assistant Principals denied that the incident was racially motivated and went on to tell me that racism doesn’t happen anymore in the UK.

I found it very suspicious because it happened the day after I was racially abused by the student.

I believe that Yorkshire should end the culture of silence regarding racism.

I often wondered why many black teachers don’t work in Yorkshire Schools. Now I realise it’s because schools don’t want to hire them or they left the profession because the schools didn’t do anything to address the situation.

Sources:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/bme-teachers-racism-uk-schools-black-minority-ethnic-education-nasuwt-runneymede-trust-a7827131.html

https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2018/mar/20/fight-bame-teachers-senior-positions-diversity

https://www.runnymedetrust.org/invisibleteachers.html

https://ei-ie.org/en/detail/15446/uk-racial-discrimination-is-a-reality-in-schools-and-classrooms

Interpreting formative assessment | Class Teaching

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Exemplification was the focus of one of the sessions at the recent Research Schools Network national conference at Peterborough. We were discussing what makes the best examples when trying to explain abstract concepts or procedures to delegates at our training programmes. It fits with the idea of concrete examples that we know has a powerful effect on helping students to learn new ideas.

One exemplification the Research Schools Network currently uses for the idea of the active ingredients of a school intervention is that of a Battenberg cake i.e. what are the non-negotiables that makes a Battenberg a Battenberg? Is it the colours? Is it the marzipan? This is used as a way of getting across the idea that for an intervention to be what it sets out to be, there are certain ingredients that must always be present.

One of my main targets this year is to rebalance summative and formative assessment in KS3 through formative assessment asserting itself as the rightful top dog in this relationship. In exemplifying to staff why summative assessment can inhibit formative assessment I have used the analogy of a strangling fig.

Strangling fig

I wrestled with the best way of exemplifying this idea for some time. The point I have been trying to get across is that we start out with the best intentions for formative assessment to take priority; you will see it in many policy documents across the country. However, over time, due to a variety of reasons (many linked to teacher accountability), summative assessment starts to take over. Eventually we look up and see that our curriculum and teaching are being directed more and more towards periodic summative assessment. The result is that the rich formative assessment we set out wanting to prioritise gets submerged by the demands of summative assessment.

Hence the strangling fig.

At today’s INSET I reminded staff of my favourite analogy and attempted to refocus us on the formative. The conduit I used for this were the five strategies for effective formative assessment suggested by education guru Dylan Wiliam in his book Embedded Formative Assessment. Rather than just share the strategies with staff I added three practical ways they could be interpreted in the classroom to reflect good formative assessment. The results are shown below:

Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions and criteria for success.

  • Setting benchmarks of brilliance. Unpicking these with students and using questioning to assess students’ understanding.
  • Adapting your lessons based on work you have recently marked or read/observed.
  • Teaching a metacognitive approach to a question type that students have struggled with.

Engineering effective classroom discussions, activities, and learning tasks that elicit evidence of learning.

  • Prioritising elaborative questions for students with a focus on checking for deeper understanding.
  • Using Socratic questioning to check whether students know why a correct answer is correct.
  • Use live marking to check for understanding as tasks are being completed and to ensure misconceptions do not become embedded.

Providing feedback that moves learning forward.

  • Using whole class feedback following summative assessment or book looks.
  • Adapting your teaching to address areas of weakness you have identified.
  • Quizzing students and then providing immediate feedback.

Activating learners as instructional resources for one another.

  • Giving students the chance to discuss their work with each other, and particularly challenge each other.
  • Designing peer feedback activities with tight parameters that allow students to recognise both strengths and weaknesses.
  • Using worked examples from students within your class to identify ways to improve.

Activating learners as owners of their own learning.

  • Providing students with checklists to allow them to assess their own strengths and weaknesses.
  • Explicitly teaching metacognitive thinking around the most difficult processes or concepts in your subject.
  • Using regular quizzing to reveal to students where the gaps in their knowledge are.

Hopefully the above strategies and their application will ensure that our formative assessment stays healthy and can coexist happily with our summative assessment, rather than being subdued by it.

Continue reading at:

https://classteaching.wordpress.com/2018/11/23/interpreting-formative-assessment/

All the ways white people are privileged in the UK | News | Al Jazeera

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Ethnic minorities discriminated in areas including education, employment and housing, according to new report on race.

A report released by the UK government has laid bare the extent of racial discrimination in the country.

The study came as hate crimes and racism against minorities are rising in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

The so-called Brexit vote in June 2016 was boosted by far-right sentiment, which spread hate about immigrants, including those who had migrated many years ago. The narrative that immigrants were stealing jobs from Britons and draining resources emboldened the efforts of those campaigning to quit the bloc.

Al Jazeera looks into the disparities affecting non-white Britons’ lives, as detailed in Tuesday’s report.

Continue reading at:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/10/ways-white-people-privileged-uk-171011124754885.html

What it’s like to be one of the few black teachers in Wales – Wales Online

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Continue reading at:

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/education/what-its-like-one-few-13993378

Four decades after getting its first black head teacher Wales is now thought to have none.

And across the country just 59 of our 36,182 teachers are black.

Figures from the Education Workforce Council show none of Wales’ 1,458 head teachers identify as black and just five are Asian, British Asian, or mixed race.

A further 26 did not want their ethnicity recorded and 299 are listed as “unknown” but the EWC, unions, and school leader organisations said they were unaware of any black head teachers in Wales.

High school physics teacher Daniel Wilson believes he is the only black teacher in Blaenau Gwent .

“For most of the kids in the valley the first black person they come across is me,” he said.

Mastering Metacognition | Class Teaching

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https://classteaching.wordpress.com/2018/11/13/mastering-metacognition/

At Durrington, teachers in their first five years of teaching are offered the opportunity to study a part-funded masters in education through the University of Brighton, led by Dr Brian Marsh. Our Head of Geography Ben Crockett, has just successfully passed his masters after two years of hard work. In this post he reflects on his experience:

The long and short of the UK teacher crisis | Education Business

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http://www.educationbusinessuk.net/features/long-and-short-%C2%A0-uk-teacher-crisis

Jonathan Doherty and Kathryn Gerrard from Leeds Trinity University question whether there has ever been a better time to be a teacher, or are we facing a teacher supply shortage?

One of the most discussed topics amongst policy-makers in government and in school staffrooms across the country is the future of our nation’s teachers. Our ambition as a nation is to have a world class education system. We need autonomous, high performing schools where all children progress and achieve their potential and who are taught by the very best teachers.

Recruiting, training and developing teachers is crucial for this aspiration to become a reality.

Last month, the Schools Minister Nick Gibb was quoted at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester as saying there has never been a better time to be a teacher and pledged to return the profession to its former status. He went on to regale listeners as to the range of routes now available to becoming a teacher, for teachers to teach how they saw best and at the same time enjoying an elevated status, all as a result of Conservative education reforms.

He continued, stating the profession is attracting the country’s top graduates, that he believed the prestige of the teaching profession is on the increase. The same day, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan outlined a policy manifesto that would raise standards in schools, tackle failure and improve the quality of teaching in this country.

At the heart of the raft of pledges, is to place the very best teachers in the most challenged schools and the commitment to ensure a good primary education for every child. The media paints a different picture. Recent headlines in the Times Educational Supplement have included, ‘Teacher shortages leads schools to spend £733million on supply agencies’; ‘Teacher shortages likely to continue for a decade’; ’90 per cent of teachers consider quitting because of workload, NUT Survey reveals’; ‘Teaching is among the top three most stressed occupations’ and ‘I can be happy – or I can be a teacher’.

Teacher shortage and recruitment
The teacher supply model used by the National College indicates that demand for new staff will not peak until 2019, but clearly shows a national teacher shortage that is already underway.

The issue has arisen as a result of the boom in birth rates leading to a rise in pupil numbers in schools and under-recruitment to teaching posts over the previous five years.

Whilst the number of primary teachers has increased significantly over the last two to three years (set against a downturn in the number of secondary teachers) this will not be sufficient to deal with the influx of children into primary schools.

Retention of existing staff
Experienced teachers have a wealth of knowledge and skills to offer schools. However, complaints of high workloads, endless accountability and targets, along with insufficient financial reward for the hours in a working week, result in tired and stressed professionals, causing this expertise to be lost by them leaving the profession.

53 per cent of teachers are considering leaving teaching according to a recent YouGov poll, and it isn’t just experienced senior staff. 11,000 young teachers actually leave in training, an exodus that has tripled in the last six years and points to a terrible loss of energy and new talent into teaching.

Subject shortages
This is primarily an issue for secondary schools but has a knock-on effect on the primary sector. Specialist subjects like RE, modern languages and science are habitually short of recruitment targets. As early as 2016, there will be an increased demand for trainee teachers in maths, calculated to be around 3,102. This is a 20 per cent increase on figures for 2015.

Maths and english are core subjects in the curriculum. Despite the introduction of the Professional Skills Tests in these subjects that all trainee teachers must pass before their training, the demand for well qualified teachers in primary and secondary schools in these vital subjects continues and their under‑recruitment is already evident in some schools.

Demographics
In a number of geographical areas in the UK, there is an acute shortage of qualified primary teachers. In areas of deprivation, many inner city schools struggle to recruit teachers. The same is true for small schools in rural and remote areas. Without a qualified teacher in every classroom in every school, the quality of education for young people is diminishing significantly.

The increase in the national vacancy figures since 2010 for state funded primary schools has almost doubled and are now around 1.2 per cent. However, regional and local figures are not fully represented and ministers may argue that the overall figures are being managed but drilling down area by area tells a different story.

Strategies to deal with the crisis include planning strategically for both recruitment and retention of teachers. The current National College for Teaching and Leadership supply model needs reviewing and updating and more support is needed for school leaders to retain experienced teachers five years into the profession and beyond.

Ofsted inspections need reframing to reduce the excessive burden they bring for many teachers. Inspections should be about celebrating great teaching and inspectors should capture this evidence.

Create a culture of ‘can do’ and risk taking in teaching that is not about teaching to a framework or capped by grade descriptors.

By offering better bursaries and incentives, higher quality graduates will be attracted through greater financial incentives. There are a number of these for secondary shortage subjects, for example, £30,000 tax free bursaries exist for graduates with a first class degree to teach Physics. By doing the same for primary teachers, we recognise the unique expertise needed to teach children in the five -11 age range.

Additional financial incentives or a waiving of student fees could be offered to teachers choosing to teach in the most deprived areas or in the most challenging schools.

We need to better understand the changes in the job market. The average graduate’s starting salary is around £30,000, the gap between graduates in teaching and many other professions is widening. Considerations should be given to ideas such as paid internships for a variety of support roles in schools. By considering a paid gap year for aspiring teachers when they leave secondary school before their degree, will allow valuable experience in schools whilst earning and progressing in the sector. By establishing and allowing relationships to mature between schools and Universities, it will create new, innovative routes into teaching.

Initial teacher training
Although the demand for teachers nationally is rising, last year the government announced a 15 per cent cut in teacher training places for universities. This doesn’t signal the end of teacher education, but the beginning of a new direction in training for the next generation of teachers.

At postgraduate level, trainee teachers on a PGCE programme train for the most part in schools, learning from the best teachers and learning their craft in the classroom.

Universities also have an important role in initial teacher training. They complement the work in schools with teaching sessions and provide valuable theoretical knowledge to inform trainees’ understanding of teaching, learning and assessment. Universities have expertise in action research. They have developed years of experience in assessing trainee teachers and developing effective models of training.

Schools and universities working together, sharing expertise, is the way forward. This is one way to train future teachers and it is a highly effective one. For students who want to take a longer route into teaching, three year undergraduate courses remain very popular. With time spent both at university and in schools, these trainee teachers receive a full breadth of curriculum teaching, have blocks of teaching each year on their programmes and have more time to reflect on what they have learned and how they teach.

The regulatory body, Ofsted, acknowledges that the quality of these different ways into teaching is high and guarantees that our children are taught by the best educators.

Why being a teacher is so different
Being a teacher is so much more than being a statistic. It is a vocation. People become teachers for many reasons and chief amongst these is they want to make a difference to children’s lives. Teachers want to have a lasting effect on students’ lives. High quality education can do this for all children regardless of their social circumstances, where they live, what their parents earn or their race, ability or gender. Great teachers impact powerfully on student achievements in life.

A report by the Sutton Trust in 2011, found a 40 per cent difference between pupils learning from a teacher of high quality than from a less effective teacher. Teaching is a powerful agent of change that can transform lives and counter inequality and injustice. Great teachers motivate. They inspire children to do great things. That is why we need to invest in them.

Leeds Trinity University has a long and successful history in initial teacher education and training primary teachers of the highest quality.

A high proportion of graduates from our PGCE courses are now in senior leadership positions in schools and others are now lecturers on our programmes. At the University, we continue to be proactive in a fast changing educational climate. The University has been able to demonstrate real growth in provision, even set against a landscape of ever increasing emphasis on school-led teacher training.

Leeds Trinity University remains proud to deliver 100 per cent employability for Primary Education PGCE graduates. Ultimately, there are certainly issues that need tackling but there are solutions to celebrate the moral imperative to have our children taught by the very best primary school teachers. Teachers shape children’s lives and play a key role in futures. Let’s invest in them properly.

Racism and the Culture of Silence in Yorkshire schools

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This is a personal account of myself working in Yorkshire Schools as an African black male qualified teacher.

I qualified as a teacher in July 2015. Since graduating I have been applying for permanent teaching jobs mainly in Yorkshire and London.

I found that schools and teaching supply agencies were only willing to offer temporary roles or maternity covers. On some occasions I have the opportunity to apply for the job I was covering but always turned down.

Whilst working as a Teacher in Yorkshire I have been racially abused by students. When reported to the schools nothing was really done to address the racial issue. I believe on one occasion a student was given two days exclusion.

Some schools decided to get rid of me by immediately ending my temporary contract instead of dealing with the issue. I often feel like as the victim I am being punished for the students racial abuse.

This situation happened again in my last role at a school in West Yorkshire. I was racially abused, and nothing was done to the student in question. The next day I was called into the HR office and I was given notice that my temporary contract was ending.

One of the Assistant Principals denied that the incident was racially motivated and went on to tell me that racism doesn’t happen anymore in the UK.

I found it very suspicious because it happened the day after I was racially abused by the student.

I believe that Yorkshire should end the culture of silence regarding racism.

I often wondered why many black teachers don’t work in Yorkshire Schools. Now I realise it’s because schools don’t want to hire them or they left the profession because the schools didn’t do anything to address the situation.

Sources:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/bme-teachers-racism-uk-schools-black-minority-ethnic-education-nasuwt-runneymede-trust-a7827131.html

https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2018/mar/20/fight-bame-teachers-senior-positions-diversity

https://www.runnymedetrust.org/invisibleteachers.html

https://ei-ie.org/en/detail/15446/uk-racial-discrimination-is-a-reality-in-schools-and-classrooms