Step change in the plight of interns
The government is to crack down on employers abusing national minimum wage laws following successful moves to reclaim nearly £200,000 in wages owed to unpaid interns.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is planning to take more aggressive steps after HMRC’s success over the last tax year in helping 167 people who identified themselves as interns, volunteers or work experience workers claw back £192,808 in unpaid wages. BIS says that over the coming year it will launch a social media campaign, publish a student hand-out and encourage people to name bad employers for investigation.
In a letter to Labour MP Hazel Blears, the employment relations minister, Jo Swinson, said the government would produce the booklet to make graduates aware of their employment rights in time for this summer, when hundreds of thousands of UK students are expected to start hunting for work experience placements, which can last – unpaid – for many months.
A recent survey of more than 150 young PR professionals has revealed that internships are poorly paid, lack diversity and do not even necessarily lead to a role in the end. Just 28 per cent were paid at or above the minimum wage, with almost as many (23 per cent) receiving no payment at all. Ten per cent had been paid expenses plus a small stipend, which was less than the national minimum wage. 15 per cent were paid the national minimum wage. 13 per cent received more than the national minimum wage. If you think the PR industry is unique in this respect, think again. The sector is no different than others, and may be better than most.
Under employment law, people who work set hours, do set tasks and contribute value to an organisation are “workers” and so are entitled to the minimum wage. This means even if your internship was just about being expected to turn up at a certain time and add some numbers in Excel you are likely to be entitled to pay.
So far, every time an intern has taken their employer to court for not being paid the minimum wage they have won. So employers should beware ( including a few MPs!). It is good that companies employ interns but they should be treated fairly and employers must operate within the law. Many top companies, perhaps most, expect job applicants to have done three or four internships, before considering them for a permanent job , and graduates are no exception.
The National Minimum Wage rate per hour depends on your age and whether you’re an apprentice – you must be at least school leaving age to get it.
From 1 October 2013 the Minimum wage will be:
Aged 21 and over £6.31(£6.19)
Aged 18-20 £5.03 (£4.98)
Aged under 18 £3.72(£3.68)
Apprentice £2.68 (£2.65)
The Apprentice rate is for apprentices under 19 or those in their first year. If you’re 19 or over and past your first year you get the rate that applies to your age
PROSPECTS JOINS MUTUAL JOINT VENTURE TO DELIVER PUBLIC SERVICES-GOVERNMENT KEEN ON EMPLOYEE OWNED MUTUALS DELIVERING PUBLIC SERVICES
Company part of a joint venture mutual ,offering school support services
Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society at the Cabinet Office was at the launch of the first ever joint venture mutual, 3BM ,in April. It provides a range of critical school support services. The business is made up of staff from three London boroughs; Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster. They are delivering services such as financial management, IT and building development to schools allowing them to focus on education.
3BM is the first ever mutual joint venture to spin out of local government. The business is owned by a partnership between the employees and the the education employment company, Prospects. The employees own 75.1% of the business, giving them a controlling stake. Prospects has a 24.9% share and brings capital and business expertise needed to make the business grow. As a result of 3BM spinning out, the local councils could see £1 million in savings over the next four years. The mutualisation project has been supported by the Cabinet Office which had previously designated Hammersmith and Fulham Council as a national Pathfinder in 2010 to explore new ways of delivering public services more efficiently. Prospects is an employee- owned private company, and was chosen in an innovative “dragons den” process but with the partner’s shareholding capped at no more than 25% in return for their input and support. All mutual staff will own shares, with Prospects, as stated, owning up to 24.9% of the company, but subject to them meeting key performance targets to the satisfaction of the mutual.
Ministers have talked in glowing terms about the John Lewis model in business. All 84,700 permanent staff of John Lewis are Partners who own the 39 John Lewis shops across the UK and the 291 Waitrose supermarkets , an on-line catalogue business a production unit and a farm. Policy Exchange, the Prime Ministers favourite think tank, published a report recently ‘ Social Enterprise Schools’ championing the John Lewis model in education. The report said Private companies should be encouraged to take over and run state schools as profit making enterprises under a “John Lewis-style” business model. It argued the new schools, in which teachers and staff are encouraged to become shareholders, would create strong incentives to drive up standards. Under the proposals, half of any profits made by the schools would be distributed as a dividend to its partners on an annual basis, while the remaining half would be reinvested.
There are quite a few ‘ co-operative schools’ operating in England. The Co-operative College, a Manchester-based organisation, is helping to support and promote the ground-up, democratically driven growth of Co-operative trust schools. The Co-operative College has over recent years worked with the Co-operative Party and schools to develop a distinct co-operative trust model that enables schools to embed co-operative values into the long term ethos of the school. These schools are part of the Co-operative movement, with a history dating back to the 19th century. Despite some legal challenges, in just five years, co-operative schools have become the third largest grouping within the English education system, with currently over 450 operating. 30 have become co-operative converter academies, a small number are co-operative sponsor academies and we have seen the creation of the first co-operative multi-academy trust.
Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude, has launched a programme to introduce employee mutuals into public services and has endorsed the aim of a million public sector workers – around 15% of the total – transferring to staff-led mutuals by 2015.
Patrick Burns, Director of Mutuals Development for Prospects says that the reason for this Ministerial enthusiasm is the increasing evidence that employee ownership can help organizations perform better than conventional counterparts in the private and public sector; as well as the micro and macro benefits to the wider economy. Prospects had elected to make the transition from conventional ownership to employee ownership. It is a former spin-out from the public sector – formed from the careers services of four London boroughs in 1996 – which now offers advice and support to authorities and staff groups interested in forming employee-led mutuals [ELMs] alongside its extensive other work in education, training and employment. Prospects services include careers services for adults and young people; the Government’s Work Programme initiative to help long term unemployed people back to work; the largest Ofsted Early Years Inspection Services contract in the country; advice and guidance for offenders; and an extensive range of education consultancy and school improvement services.
Patrick Burns was until December 2011 Chief Executive of the Employee Ownership Association. He written a paper about employee ownership (see below) in the private and public sector of the British economy, and how Government can help it spread.
Knowingly Undersold- How Government can spread the John Lewis effect-Prospects Policy Paper-Patrick Burns
Professor Tony Watts, one of our foremost experts on CEIAG, has just resigned from the National Careers Council . He and Heather Jackson ,who also resigned , issued a joint statement which began:
“With great regret we have resigned from the National Careers Council. We disagree fundamentally with some of the recommendations presented by the Council to the Minister for Skills (Matthew Hancock) on Wednesday 1 May. We also have strong concerns about the process through which these recommendations were arrived at.”
The statement continued:”‘Our main disagreement with the NCC recommendations is the proposal that the funding for the NCS should be ‘rebalanced’ to provide greater emphasis on services that support young people. The explanatory paragraph for the recommendation starts ‘Tough times demand tough choices’ and goes on to argue that young people should take precedence over adults in terms of resources. This proposal allows DfE to escape its responsibilities by proposing that the BIS budget fill some of the gaps in services for young people, thus selling the pass on the existing services for adults.”
Professor Watts has been a consistent and trenchant critic of current government policy on careers guidance to young people. He has argued that the governments approach should be based on robust evidence but that , so far, this has not been the case . The government favours a school- based approach which, in an international context, is not regarded as best practice. He has expressed concerns too over weak accountability and a shortage of funding.
He asks where the funding has gone, following the demise of the Connexions Service. A foot note in the statement points out that the funding provided for the careers guidance element of the Connexions Service totalled around £196 million. The responsibility for providing careers guidance to school pupils has now been transferred to schools, but none of this funding has been transferred: it has been allowed to disappear. (there is no ring- fenced funding for careers guidance in schools. CEIAG must come from existing school budgets). The only DfE funding provided to the National Careers Service for services for young people has been the £7 million it has provided for a helpline. This has contrasted with the £83 million provided by BIS to the NCS for services for adults.
It is accepted that, for the most disadvantaged pupils, face to face advice from a fully qualified professional is probably the most appropriate form of advice, but it is also the most expensive,so schools will be less likely to offer it to their pupils.This in turn might undermine the governments own skills and social mobility agendas and make it harder too for it to reduce the number of young people not in education,employment or training. Schools will also not be inspected or rated on the quality and scope of the CEIAG they offer their pupils.
CEIAG is Careers Education ,Information Advice and Guidance
NCS is the National Careers Service
ASPIRE-THE NAHTS SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
Private operator, EdisonLearning, has secured a major contract with The National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) to help improve student achievement in schools across the country as part of the NAHTs Aspire School Improvement Project. The project was briefly referenced in Michael Goves 25 April speech.
Working closely with the Department for Education and the Strategic Programme Board at the NAHT, EdisonLearning has been working with 30 primary schools, organized into three clusters of schools across three geographical areas in the UK.
Schools involved in the project in the western region are located around Bristol and Reading, in the southern region around West Sussex and Kent and in the northern region around Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield. The schools are very different in their size, diversity and urban and rural locations. To illustrate this, one school in a rural location near Bristol has less than 100 students and a large urban school in Sheffield has more than 500 students.
The NAHTs President, Steve Iredale flagged this idea up in a speech in 2012, when he said that NAHT ”is taking the radical step of looking at the possibility of offering a school improvement service to support schools which find themselves in challenging circumstances.
“It’s a big challenge, but it’s something we’re interested in exploring. We can see massive benefit but there’s a long way to go. Trade unions tend to operate as trade unions and offering that level of support is a form of CPD linked to improving teaching and learning. There’s a massive challenge in there as well. There’s no question of schools escaping: there would be the same challenges from us. School improvement would be the driving force as opposed to the current Ofsted regime.”
At the launch of Aspire, on 1 May, the NAHT said the project aims to fill the gap between higher expectations and declining levels of support, offering schools access to advice, resources and support as they continue to improve the outcomes they provide for their pupils.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, who has experience in senior management in the private sector, said: “Every school wants to be good but many lack the support and networks to achieve their vision. The Aspire project is designed to fill the gap with a collaborative, sustainable model of school improvement. Schools joining the project will work in small clusters to help and inspire each other, assisted by NAHT officials, their local authority and external project management.
“What is dramatic about this is who is doing it. NAHT is a trade union dedicated to the protection and representation of our members. But we know that our members want to do the best for their pupils – that is part of their ‘reward’. The NAHT Aspire project shows that no-one is more ambitious for the young people of our country than those who work in our schools. The profession holds the answers and has the resources; it is trust, collaboration and inspiration that will trigger the innovation we need.
“This phase, now going public, is a pilot project to prove the concept can work. Ultimately, we plan to expand the reach of NAHT Aspire more broadly. The scale is already significant however: if this was an academy chain, it would be the seventh largest in the country.
The Edisonlearning team has already begun the initial Collaborative Quality Analysis process with many of the schools.
The project has been part funded for three years by the Department for Education .It will be independently evaluated by the Open University.
Michael Gove, Education Secretary, said: “I am pleased to commit my department’s support for it. I wish the project and those schools taking part in it every success as they seek to raise their performance to ‘good’ or better. I will be following this initiative with particular interest over the next two years.”
What happens when there are concerns over the financial management of an academy?
The recent Public Accounts Select Committee report on Academies financial management proved embarrassing to the government. The report describes a system peppered with overspends and errors, but subject to little oversight. Millions of pounds were wasted on the rapidly growing academies programme because of over-complex and inefficient funding systems, according to the report. Financial mismanagement, of course, is by no means the preserve of academy schools, as recent scandals have shown.
Where a chain or multi-academy trust has failed to address financial weaknesses in its operation, a financial notice to improve can be issued, requiring the trust to take action to address the underlying cause(s) of its financial weaknesses. The financial notice to improve is a set of conditions that the Education Funding Agency (EFA) would require the trust to meet. Ultimately, if a chain or multi academy trust fails to address the financial weaknesses the Secretary of State for Education has intervention powers which are set out in the individual funding agreements, and in the most serious circumstances, include the ability to terminate the funding agreement. The Education Funding Agency has issued two financial notices to improve since May 2010 to academy trusts.
The academies financial handbook sets out the duties and obligations on academy trusts and this includes personal responsibility on the academy trusts accounting officer (each trust has to appoint an accounting officer) for ‘high standards of probity in the management of public funds’.
Source-Hansard 25 April 2013
Committee expresses concerns over poor cost controls and financial oversight
A Public Accounts Committee report on the Academies programme describes a system peppered with overspends and errors, but subject to little oversight.
Millions of pounds were wasted on England’s rapidly growing academies programme because of over-complex and inefficient funding systems, according to the Select Committee report.
It urges the Department for Education to tighten its financial grip on these privately run but state-funded schools.
Committee chairman Margaret Hodge, who has gained a reputation for her forthright attacks on government waste, said inefficient funding systems and poor cost control had driven up the cost of the programme.
“Of the £8.3 billion spent on academies from April 2010 to March 2012, some £1 billion was an additional cost which had to be met by diverting money from other departmental budgets.
“Some of this money had previously been earmarked to support schools struggling with difficult challenges and circumstances. £350 million of the extra £1 billion represented extra expenditure that was never recovered from local authorities.”
A DfE spokesman said the report failed to acknowledge “the significant progress that we have made in improving our systems.
“The academies programme has been a huge success. There are now almost 3,000 academy schools – more than 14 times as many as in May 2010 – with more than two million children now enjoying the benefits that academy status brings. The programme is proven to drive up standards. Sponsored academies are improving far faster than maintained schools.
“We make no apology for the fact that so many schools have opted to convert, and no apology for spending money on a programme that is proven to drive up standards and make long-term school improvements.
“The Department for Education has made significant savings in the last two-and-a-half years and has also set aside significant contingencies, which have been set against the growth in academies.”
He added that the costs of converting academies have already fallen by more than half per academy and that further savings were expected in the future.
Conclusions and recommendations
1. The value for money of the Academies Programme will ultimately depend on its impact on educational performance relative to the investment from the taxpayer. The Department has chosen to expand the Programme rapidly, incurring an additional cost of £1 billion since April 2010. While it is too early to assess the impact of the expansion on school performance, the Department will need to be able to demonstrate whether value for money has been achieved. It has yet to state how it will do so, or when. The Department should set out what outcomes it aims to achieve from the expansion of the Programme, and how and when it will demonstrate whether progress is on track and value for money has been achieved.
2. Inefficient funding systems and poor cost control have driven up the cost of the Programme. A large part of the £1 billion additional cost since April 2010 has been caused by the excessively complex and inefficient academy funding system which has reportedly led to overpayments and errors in payments to Academies There was around £350 million extra paid to Academies which was not recovered from local authorities. This system does not operate effectively alongside the local authority system, and makes it hard for the Department to prove that academies are not receiving more money than they should. The Department has not yet brought other types of cost growth under control, for example academy insurance. It should report back to us by the end of 2013-14 on how its funding reforms have reduced systemic problems such as the under-recovery of academy costs from local authorities, and on how far it has brought down other additional costs.
3. We are not yet satisfied that individual academies’ expenditure is sufficiently transparent to parents, local communities or Parliament. Despite some improvements, key information on what academies actually spend is still only available at trust, rather than individual academy, level. This limits the ability of parents to scrutinise how their child’s school is spending its money, and of communities to hold their local school to account. The Department must publish data showing school-level expenditure, including per-pupil costs, and with a level of detail comparable to that available for maintained schools, so that proper judgments can be made and comparisons drawn to assess value for money. The Department should state how it will make robust, line-by-line information on individual academies’ expenditure publicly available in the most cost-effective way.
4. New governance, compliance and oversight arrangements for academies remain vulnerable to failure. Some serious cases of governance failure and financial impropriety in academies have gone undetected by the Department’s monitoring, raising concerns that central government may be too distant to oversee individual academies effectively. Irregular expenditure by academies and gaps in the oversight framework led the Comptroller and Auditor General to qualify the 2011-12 accounts of the Department and the Young People’s Learning Agency. Academies’ compliance with mandatory monitoring is not good enough, and it is not yet clear how well revised audit arrangements will address these issues in future. The Department and the Education Funding Agency should review the operation of the new audit and oversight regime put in place this year, and assess whether it is reducing risks to regularity, propriety and good governance.
5. Forthcoming staff cuts at the Department and its agencies may threaten effective oversight as the Programme continues to expand. We are sceptical that the Department has sufficient resources to properly oversee the expanding Programme, especially as schools now joining are less high-performing and may require greater oversight and scrutiny. The Department should review the Programme’s central resource requirements, and the extent to which efficiency savings expected from new IT systems and assurance processes are being realised, and are sufficient to offset the need for further resources.
6. The Department has still not made completely clear the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of different organisations across the changing schools system. Roles previously carried out by local authorities around accountability, performance monitoring and intervention are unlikely to be operating consistently and effectively across different localities and academy structures. We are particularly concerned that interventions in failing academies may be delayed if the respective roles of central and local government, as well as academies and academy trusts, are not clear. The Department should clarify and properly communicate the roles and responsibilities of local authorities, academy sponsors, the Education Funding Agency, the Department, the Office of the Schools Commissioner and Ofsted regarding these aspects of the Programme.
Department for Education: Managing the expansion of the Academies Programme – Public Accounts Committee-April 2013
These are telling criticisms. They suggest the need to rethink the scrutiny and oversight of academies, while preserving the principle of school autonomy. Surveys suggest that around a third of converter schools opted for academy status for financial reasons. As part of the Budget Statement 2013, the Government announced that it would conduct ‘a review of school efficiency’. To inform that review, the government said ‘we have launched a call for evidence to learn more about how schools and academies make financial decisions and the techniques that they find particularly useful. We particularly want to hear your experience of how academies make financial decisions and your opinions/ideas of how academies can improve their efficiency.’ This suggests some concerns in government over the financial management in schools (not just academy schools by the way) and the additional risks that autonomy might bring. There is an on-going debate on the accountability of autonomous schools and whether or not another tier is required to ensure greater accountability, given the reduced role of local authorities.Academies are directly responsible of course to the Secretary of State, through individual funding agreements. Critics say that the Secretary of State , along with a slimmed down education department, cannot possibly hold these schools properly to account , even with Ofsteds support.
Richard Cairns, the Head of Brighton College, is regarded, by many of his peers in the independent sector, as one of their brightest, though, some might say, the competition is not fierce. He told a conference this week that ‘Private schools are “obsessed” with using means-tested bursaries to defend their charitable status and could help far more children by supporting academies. Too many independent school heads are “congratulating ourselves for saving Oliver Twist from the streets but we have lost sight of the Artful Dodger and his gang”, he said.
Cherry picking pupils from state schools, with tempting bursaries, it can be argued,plausibly, damages the schools that they leave, as they are important role models. Some pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds can also find it difficult to adjust to the rarefied environment of ‘public’ schools and there are many hidden costs in a private education ie parents are asked to fork out for pastoral and extra curricular activities that can be a huge ,and embarrassing, burden on the poorer parents. Charities should deliver public benefit and the aim, surely,should be to maximise public benefit. Self- evidently single bursaries, here and there, deliver limited benefit, so there is a logic to supporting academies as this broadens and up-scales the benefit. Cairns, though, is well behind the curve on this. Though the LAE, a free school sixth form college in Newham, was founded in 2012, with the support of Brighton College, and several other schools, including Eton College, it was Anthony Seldon, master of Wellington College, who first put his head above the parapet on this issue four or five years ago. At the time he was a lone voice in the independent sector preaching the benefits of academy and state school links, while putting his money where his mouth was ,by setting up a Wellington academy, in Tidworth. It does look as if Cairns has jumped on a passing bandwagon.But he wont be the last to do so. Isn’t it about time that Heads in the independent sector, stepped up to the plate and provided some err…real leadership in education, after all they are supposed to be the best?
Too early to say?
The new duty on schools to secure access to independent and impartial careers guidance only began in September 2012 . The government believes that it important that sufficient time is allowed for the duty to bed in before any firm conclusions are drawn about the effectiveness of the new arrangements. Lord Nash recently indicated in the Lords (22 April) that ‘We are evaluating the impact of the new duty in a range of formal and informal ways.’
The Government have also commissioned Ofsted to carry out a thematic review of careers guidance, which will report this summer.
In addition, according to Lord Nash, the government is ‘publishing education destination measures to show the percentage of students progressing to further education or training in a school, further education or sixth form college, apprenticeship, employment or higher education institution. The measures provide us with evidence of how effective schools are in supporting pupils to move successfully into the next phase or their education or into sustainable work, including through the provision of independent careers guidance.’
Ministers and officials meet and correspond regularly with a range of stakeholders on issues relating to the delivery of careers provision in schools, says Lord Nash, which is true, but Ministers are not taking on board what stakeholders and the experts are telling them. No independent report from a reputable source on government reforms to careers advice and guidance in schools has endorsed government policy in this area and international evidence suggests that school based advice is the least effective (see the research from Professor Tony Watts and OECD). There are grave concerns too that only limited access to face to face advice is being offered to pupils which may have a negative effect on the social mobility, access, skills and inclusion agendas. Evidence suggests that the most appropriate form of advice for disadvantaged pupils is face to face advice from an independent fully qualified professional.
The government defends its policy by saying that it trusts in school autonomy. Schools themselves must make these decisions. But schools are not as autonomous as the government would have us believe. The government through its individual funding agreements with academies, for example, prescribes what schools have to do in certain areas . And if schools believe that they are autonomous when it comes to the way they use their extra funding for disadvantaged pupils, through the pupil premium, then they ought to look very carefully at recent speeches from the schools minister, David Laws and Sir Michael Wilshaw of Ofsted.
Lord Nash is confident that the government has detailed enough evidence ‘relating to the effectiveness of school-based careers guidance to inform future improvements in the quality of provision,’ while concurrently telling us that there is not yet enough evidence to gauge whether the new school- based service has bedded in. You dont need to be a rocket scientist to work out that schools, under budgetary pressure, will go for, the most part, for the cheapest option, and that is not face to face advice.
It will be particularly interesting to see what Ofsted has to say in its thematic review. However, there are no plans to make a specific graded judgement on the quality of careers guidance in respect of the school inspection framework and the common inspection framework.
Lemovs teaching techniques influencing Charter schools but also academies here
Doug Lemov, an American teacher and the author of Teach Like A Champion: 49 techniques that put students on the path to college (2010) is having a considerable impact on some US schools in the Charter movement. Lemov is managing director of Uncommon Schools, a chain of 32 charter schools (the US equivalent of academies) operating in New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. These have become the highest-performing schools in their districts, despite being located in some of the most deprived communities. Lemov’s book has become a “bible” for thousands of teachers in the US . It is also having an impact here. Ark, one of the most successful academy chains here, rather like his ideas .
Teach Like A Champion Field Guide is a practical resource to make the 49 techniques your own. It claims to provide a detailed look at top classroom techniques used by top teachers -that work. Lemov includes a DVD of teaching clips that illustrate what these techniques look like in practice. For each technique he provides enough detail on the practice but also seeks to provide an explanation of the rationale behind it.
The book is not just aimed as a tool for teachers. It seeks to provide a resource to help school leaders understand the elements of effective teaching which is vital in both observing and training their own teachers. When Lemov refers to a ‘technique’-what exactly does that mean? Here are two examples:
Technique 1: NO OPT OUT
In typical classes, when students don’t know an answer, or don’t want to try, they quickly learn the teacher will leave them alone if they respond to a question with “I don’t know” or shrugging their shoulders. The teacher then moves on to another student. Instead, NO OPT OUT is a useful tool to get all students to the right answer, as often as possible, even if only to repeat the correct answer.
For example, on day 1 to review you ask Charlie, “What is 3 times 8?” He mutters, “I don’t know” and looks away. Many teachers don’t know how to respond, and students come to use “I don’t know” to avoid work all year long. Instead, at a minimum, you can turn to another student, ask the same question, and if you get the correct answer, turn back to Charlie, “Now you tell me what is 3 times 8.”
Charlie, and all of the students, have just learned that they can’t get off the hook and must do the work in your class. In a more rigorous form of NO OPT OUT you or another student can provide a cue. For example, in a class where a student was unable to identify the subject of the sentence, “My mother was not happy” the teacher asked another student, “When I am asking you for the subject, what am I asking for?” The second student responded, “You are asking for who or what the sentence is about.” Then the teacher turned to the first student and said, “When I ask for the subject, I am asking for who or what the sentence is about. What’s the subject?” This time the student was able to respond correctly, “Mother.” The sequence began with the student unable to answer and ended up with him giving a correct answer. Note that the tone in most classrooms that use NO OPT OUT is positive and academic and using it only reinforces the teacher’s belief in students’ ability to get the right answer.
Technique 2: RIGHT IS RIGHT
Students often stop striving when they hear that their answer is “right.” However, many teachers often accept answers that are partially correct or not totally complete. They affirm these answers by repeating them and then adding information to make the answer completely correct. For example, when asked how the families in Romeo and Juliet get along a student says, “They don’t like each other.” You would hope that the teacher would ask for more elaboration, but instead, she might say, “Correct, they don’t like each other and have been feuding for generations.” By responding in this way, the teacher is setting a low standard for correctness. The key idea behind RIGHT IS RIGHT is that the teacher should set and defend a high standard of correctness by only naming “right” those answers which are truly and completely right. There are four ways to use the RIGHT IS RIGHT technique.
1. Hold out for all the way. When students are close to the answer, tell them they’re almost there. While great teachers don’t confuse effort and mastery, they do use simple, positive language to appreciate what students have done and to hold them to the expectation that they still have more to do. For example, “I like what you’ve done. Can you get us the rest of the way?”
2. Answer the question. Students learn if they don’t know an answer they can answer a different question, particularly if they relate it to their own lives. If they can’t identify a story’s setting, for example, a student might start with, “That reminds me of something in my neighbourhood…” Or, you ask for a definition and a student gives you an example, “Eyeball is a compound, word.” Instead, direct the student back to the question at hand, “Kim, that’s an example, I want the definition.”
3. Right answer, right time. Sometimes students get ahead of you and provide the answer when you are asking for the steps to the problem. While it may be tempting to accept this answer, if you were teaching the steps, then it is important to make sure students have mastered those steps, “My question wasn’t about the solution. It was, what do we do next?”
4. Use technical vocabulary. Good teachers accept words students are already familiar with as right answers, “Volume is the amount of space something takes up.” Great teachers push for precise technical vocabulary, “Volume is the cubic units of space an object occupies.” This approach strengthens a student’s vocabulary and better prepares him/her for college.
The TES reported on 12 April that Lemov’s Uncommon Schools are often visited by Future Leaders, which is why the charity is one of the biggest promoters of US teaching methods in England. Once a year, it flies a group of UK teachers to the US to see how particular schools in some of the poorest regions of the country function. Heath Monk, chief executive of Future Leaders, says that the purpose of the US trips is more to do with school culture than pedagogy. The US as a whole, he admits, does not perform well, but there are pockets of brilliance where schools are working miracles.
“We are looking at very small subsets of very successful charter schools; schools that are achieving, by US standards, outstanding outcomes,” Monk says. “And they are doing so with some seriously challenging kids. It shows what can be achieved with an outstanding school culture, even when their pedagogy would likely be judged by Ofsted as requiring improvement.”
- CRACKDOWN ON EXPLOITATION OF INTERNS
- PAYING FOR RESULTS-CAN IT HELP RAISE PERFORMANCE- OR DOES IT CORRUPT THE LOVE OF LEARNING?
- PROSPECTS JOINS MUTUAL JOINT VENTURE TO DELIVER PUBLIC SERVICES-GOVERNMENT KEEN ON EMPLOYEE OWNED MUTUALS DELIVERING PUBLIC SERVICES
- PROFESSOR TONY WATTS RESIGNS FROM THE NATIONAL CAREERS COUNCIL
- EDISON LEARNING AND THE NAHT UNION LAUNCH A SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVE WITH DFE BACKING
- THE FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF ACADEMIES-WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE ARE CONCERNS?
- PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE REPORT ON ACADEMIES-SOME CONCERNS OVER FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
- CAIRNS OF BRIGHTON COLLEGE BACKS ACADEMIES
- IS CAREERS ADVICE IN SCHOOLS EFFECTIVE OR IS IT TOO EARLY TO SAY?
- LEMOVS TEACH LIKE A CHAMPION -TOP TECHNIQUES USED BY THE BEST TEACHERS
- THE PUPIL PREMIUM AND SPECIAL SCHOOLS
- EDUCATION EXPORTS-NEW GOVERNMENT STRATEGY IN THE WINGS?
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