Friday Insights (14 June)

14 June 2019

In this week’s Friday insights we’re looking at the recent Ofsted changes, sharing some learning on place-based interventions from Collaborate CIC, and, as we’re in the middle of Pride month, learning from LGBTQ+ activists and parents of transgender students on how schools can be inclusive for all students, of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Green shoots of change and learning from Ofsted

Earlier this week, Ofsted Chief Amanda Spielman delivered a speech at the National Governance Association outlining the main findings from the recent Ofsted consultation, the biggest of its kind ever conducted. As a result of learning from over 15,000 educators, the new Ofsted framework, which will be used from this September onwards, will focus on four judgements:

  1. Quality of education – what schools choose to teach and how they teach it. We welcome this development and hope it puts Ofsted in the position to support schools to make sure the way education is delivered is inclusive of all students and their needs.
  2. Personal development – making sure education also takes a child’s broader development into account. We have a track record of supporting organisations working to help young people broaden their horizons, such as The Challenge, NCS, and Bounce Forward and have learned (and are continuing to learn) just how important personal development is for setting young people up to thrive. We’re glad to see that Ofsted is also putting this learning into practice through their new framework.
  3. Behaviour and attitudes – making sure schools create environments conducive to learning. We have been learning just how important behaviour policies and practices can be for making sure schools are inclusive places. This is why we have supported projects like The Difference, who are looking to support schools to make their behaviour practices more inclusive by supporting teachers to work best with vulnerable students. We’re hoping this judgement will be implemented in a way that supports to schools to adopt the behaviour practices necessary to set all of their students up to thrive.
  4. Leadership and management – though this judgement will stay mostly the same, Spielman articulated the importance of the way school leaders support their people to deliver the best possible education for students. We hope that wellbeing and care for teachers and leaders, plus supporting them to use their expertise and passion to be the agents of change that our education system and our young people need, will feature in this judgement.

We welcome Ofsted’s reflections and willingness to learn from educators to inform their practices – we look forward to seeing the way these learnings, and the new framework, are implemented in September.

Collaborate CIC on Place Based Systems Change

This week I enjoyed reading a blog by Collaborate CIC on the place-based systems change work they have been doing with Lankelly Chase, and what they have been learning along the way. A great deal of what they found has a lot of alignment with some of our findings from our Reimagining Education Together work:

  • When it comes to pace of change, you can only move at the pace of your relationships. We found a similar learning to be true in our Reimagining Education Together work – that change happens at the speed of trust. Building mutual understanding and purpose is key when building the network required to bring about systemic change together. Systems change is powerful, and it can be long and messy –  it also can’t happen without relationships and trust.
  • There are different routes into a system, especially from place to place – we have also found this to be true of education. Not only have we found that there are many points of learning (from teachers, from parents, from peers, from communities…), but the ‘route in’ to systems change in education in each individual place will be different. For one community it could be formal exclusions, for another it could be parental engagement – our project partner Whole Education have been supporting communities to rally around these ‘routes in’ through their Big Education Conversations, empowering communities to start making the changes to their education and learning systems necessary to set their young people up to thrive.
  • Being helpful matters – as partners in systems change, it’s important to truly take the time to understand the complexity of an issue, meet people where they are and build the trust. We found in our study of 19 pioneers creating systemic change that the leaders all had something in common – a kind of servant leadership that allowed for humility, empowering others and really taking the time to build this trust and understanding.

Collaborate CEO Anna Randell shares much more in her blog, which we’d recommend reading in full. We look forward to learning from others in this space like Collaborate as they continue to learn and adapt to the complexity of their work.

Making schools inclusive for trans students – learning from experience

EdSurge posted a blog this week (with a helpful, lightly edited transcript) which featured LGBTQ+ activist Becca Mui, and educator and parent of a trans daughter Vanessa Ford on what schools can do to make education more inclusive for all students, but especially LGBTQ+ students. We have come a long way in terms of support and increasing equality for members of the LGBTQ+ community, but at a time when 7 in 10 LGBTQ+ students still face bullying and the average life expectancy of trans women is only 35, we still have a long way to go.

While the conversation starts with gender neutral bathrooms, as that is the point at which many parents and educators will become aware of the conversation, it’s evident that inclusion extends far beyond the issue of facilities – and has implications for creating a safe space for all students. The conversation is full of insight and learning and well worth a listen, but here were some highlights for us:

  • A way to keep LGBTQ+ students safe, and create a safe space for all students, is to put a stop to all gender-based bullying. ‘You throw like a girl’ hurts all young people, not just those who are trans, gender fluid or gender nonconforming. However, LGBTQ+ students are at higher risk of gender-based bullying, and often receive disproportionate disciplinary actions for things like dress code violations (especially LGBTQ+ people of color) – this requires a heightened awareness on the part of educators.
  • To best support LGBTQ+ students, Mui recommends 4 different supports: comprehensive policies, inclusive professional development, support for student-led organizations, and inclusive curriculum.
  • For those who want to do something to make their education environment more inclusive for LGBTQ+ students, but don’t know where to start, the speakers recommend doing your homework (or in this case, your research – GLSEN has loads of resources), looking at your policies, and being patient with yourself.