Friday Insights (19th July)

19 July 2019

This week, project partner alumni RECLAIM is leading a dialogue on the damage of ‘poshsplaining’, DfE reports back on progress in reducing teacher workload, and I’m sharing a cool case study featuring an innovative new 2-year college (university for you non-North Americans out there) in Portland, Oregon.

Roger Harding has had enough poshsplaining

Have you been reading NPC’s ‘Walking the Talk’ series? I highly recommend it. This week features Roger Harding, CEO of project partner alumni RECLAIM (an organization that fights to ensure working class people are represented and heard wherever decisions are made that affect their lives), wrote this week not just about the dangers of ‘poshsplaining’ – the language of weakness that privileged folk often use to describe under-served communities, i.e. ‘disadvantaged’ or ‘hard to reach’ – but of missing out on the expertise of people with lived experience of growing up working class. As a sector, it’s crucial that we not only re-assess the language that we use to describe the people we are looking to serve, but involve them in co production of solutions:

“Giving a voice to the voiceless’ is old fashioned. Get people from low income backgrounds involved in co-production. Better still, employs us and give us positions on boards. 1 in 4 people are categorised as in poverty right now – the pool of talent is enormous”.

We’re immensely proud of RECLAIM for the work they’re continuing to do in youth voice and agency, and we’re glad they’re using their wealth of experience to make the rest of us in the charity sector take a hard look at the way we work with those of different backgrounds.

Teacher workload reduction gets a pop quiz

This week, the DfE announced the results of its latest ‘snapshot survey’ of teacher workload reduction. It found that 94% of school leaders saying they have reduced the expected amount of marking, compared with 88% last year. However, the survey also revealed that less than half of the surveyed schools have been using the DfE’s workload reduction toolkit, which was made available for the first time this year.
We welcome the news that schools have made efforts to reduce workload, and that the DfE is pushing for schools to further reduce workload through measures such as reducing the amount of data that they expect their staff to collect. To understand the true impact of the teacher workload reduction strategy, however, we hope that these snapshot surveys will also include feedback from teachers on what this has meant for them in practice, and what it has enabled them to do to best serve the young people that they are teaching.

Want a degree in ‘Self and Society’? Portland’s got the college for you

A Friday case study in innovative models in education comes to us from our friends at EdSurge. The Wayfinding Academy in Portland, Oregon has flipped higher education on its head, offering only one degree from its 2-year program: an associates degree in Self and Society. “The big idea is to address a pervasive problem in American higher education”, the article says. “Though two-year colleges are enrolling a more diverse mix of students than ever before, about 43 percent end up dropping out before finishing their degree. Most of the students at Wayfinding have tried college before and didn’t fully buy into why they were there, or see how taking required classes would help them. The goal of Wayfinding Academy is to give students greater control and guidance so they’re more driven to reach the finish line.” 
The Wayfinding Academy is experimenting with new ways of educating, from abolishing grades to establishing wage equality amongst all staff. The standout feature of the college is that each student is assigned a Guide, described as part academic advisor, part life coach, part career advisor, who they meet every week. I may not be a teenaged student anymore, but this still sounds like a pretty good deal to me – where do I sign up?