Over the years I have enjoyed conducting a range of research projects into various aspects of education. Some of these have been funded through the EU or various research councils, but I think the most enjoyable have been those where I have just followed a particular interest that has emerged from my work as a musician and teacher. Many of these small-scale pieces of research have used the methodology of case study. My interest in case study began during my PhD, when I conducted case studies within my teaching (see Dunwich Revisited and Reflecting Others for examples).
On our PGCE course, our students have to undertake a range of assignments. One of these (we call it the Curriculum Development Assignment) is just about to be started. In the assignment, as the name suggests, students have to research a particular area of their subject’s curriculum, devise a unit of work, teach it and analyse the consequences for their teaching and their students’ learning during their second, substantive, teaching placement.
Do to this effectively, we encourage students to utilise a simple research methodology like case study to structure their work. I say simple, but I’ve found case study to be a very engaging and at times complex research methodology. But at its simplest, it is easy to explain and to begin using. Tomorrow, I get to work with our fantastic group of PGCE students on our two music PGCE courses, and the Schools Direct course too, and help them prepare for this assignment.
Using two metaphors drawn from Magritte’s work (including The Field Glass shown at the beginning of this post) and Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, we will explore how case study can be used within a simple case study project like those that I did for my PhD and for those like the students will be conducting over the next few months. If you want to find out more about what we are going to consider, you can download my notes for this session here.
Is there a crisis in our schools surrounding the teaching of music in a one-to-one instrumental setting? I’m not sure that there is, but there is an interesting discussion here from a distinguished panel including MMU’s Professor Heather Piper. I’d skip to around eight minutes in to avoid a long, boring and rambling introduction from the chair:
It is shocking to see an advertisement like this. But it is no joke. South Leeds Academy are advertising for two unqualified maths teachers.
With pay starting at £16,856 for the ‘unqualified teacher’ pay spine, you might wonder what qualifications you need to get this job. What do you think? A degree in mathematics? At least an A level perhaps? Well, you would be wrong. The person specification (that you can download from here just in case they withdraw it at any point) indicates that all you need is 4 GCSE’s A* to C equivalent (including English and Maths). Phew! Thank goodness. At least they require a teacher of Maths in their school to have a C grade at GCSE. To quote from p.9 of their recruitment pack:
The ideal candidates will possess a minimum of 4 GCSE’s (Grades A*- C) including English and Mathematics or equivalent. Experience of working in a similar role would be desirable.
It is at this point that words begin to fail me (well, not quiet). I have been writing about the consequences of Gove’s reforms in this area for many years on this blog. At times, I have received a lot of flack from the establishment about being alarmist or too cynical.
If I was a parent of children attending this school I would be angry, in fact very angry. I would be asking what value the school places on my child’s education when such shockingly low standards are applied to the selection of teachers at their school.
I’d like to make a more general point to any parents reading this blog. Are you happy about Gove’s reforms in this area? Would you be happy with unqualified teachers, with a little as 4 GCSEs by way of qualifications, teaching your children?
Please alert me to any further advertisements like this that you see in your local area. Let’s name and shame some of these schools and get them to reconsider their choices. For me, I’m writing to the head teacher of this school this morning about this matter. I would urge you to do the same for your local schools if, or when, they start doing the same.
You can read further details about this specific case here. Thanks Secret Teacher for your highlighting of this example.