Contemporary Issues in Learning and Teaching


Edited by: Margery McMahon, Christine Forde & Margaret Martin

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  • Education at SAGE

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    This book grew partly from recognition of the range of research and professional interests of a group of colleagues working together and partly from a common standpoint of the importance of developing a critical stance in the education of teachers. Each of the authors contributes to programmes for initial and continuing teacher education where, in our view, an important task is to build a critical awareness of the contested nature of education. Education in the UK, as in many other countries, is a key element of social and economic policy and so not only is there an increasingly centralized decision-making process, but policy statements and guidelines have proliferated. Such material is designed to direct practice and there is only limited exploration of the issues associated with particular areas. Often we have found ourselves writing material which not only provided an overview of a particular area of practice, but also helped the students to ask questions about the underpinning purposes and assumptions in particular areas of policy and practice.

    The book is designed to be used as a course text and has been structured to allow for group discussion as well as individual reflection. The book is divided into three sections — policy, learning and practice — and though each section and chapter is self-standing, we see as an important issue the interconnection between policy processes, the changing professional context of the teacher and learning and teaching in the classroom. Each chapter examines critically the central concepts related to the specific topic and highlights some of the key issues. Through each chapter there is a series of questions designed to enable the reader, individually or working together, to respond to these key issues. Given the range of topics covered in the book, each chapter provides an overview of the main issues but a series of questions and further reading is suggested at the end of each chapter in order that specific issues can be subsequently explored in greater depth.


    We would like to thank our editors at Sage, particularly Jude Bowen who was very supportive of the original idea for a book of collected essays reflecting the interests of a group of colleagues. We would also like to thank Matthew Waters whose guidance in the subsequent shaping of the pedagogic focus of the book has proved invaluable.

    We are very grateful to our colleagues in the Department of Educational Studies who contributed to the book and worked with good humour and enthusiasm to meet the deadlines we imposed.

    We would also like to acknowledge the contribution of others and particularly Jamilla Razzaq whose work in preparing the final manuscript was invaluable. We would also like to thank the students and serving teachers on the various programmes we teach whose many questions and observations have challenged our thinking and helped to refine our ideas.

    MargeryMcMahon, ChristineForde, MargaretMartin

    About the Editors and Contributors

    Dr Mike Carroll

    Mike Carroll is a lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Glasgow. Mike contributes to a range of Initial Teacher Education programmes including the BEd and PGDE programmes. Mike is Course Leader of PGDE Understanding Learning and Teaching and Course Leader of PGDE (Primary) School Experience. He has also been involved in programmes for serving teachers, with a particular interest in the development of leaders at all levels in the school; this work has including contributions to the Chartered Teacher Programme, courses for middle leaders and the Scottish Qualification for Headship. Mike has published a number of articles on his area of research interest including the development of collaborative enquiry, accomplished teaching and science education.

    Robert Doherty

    Robert Doherty teaches in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of Glasgow. After a career in shipbuilding and heavy engineering Robert taught technical subjects in secondary schools, with responsibilities for pastoral care and pupil support. His main research interests are around education policy, the politics of education, the sociology of education and teacher education. Robert currently leads the Education Policy Course within the Faculty's Ed D programme.

    Professor Penny Enslin

    Chair of Education in the Department of Educational Studies, Penny Enslin is Director of the Ed D programme. Until July 2006 she was a Professor in the School of Education at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, where she now holds the position of Professor Emeritus. Her research and teaching interests lie in the area of political theory and education, with particular interests in citizenship education. Rated as an internationally acclaimed researcher by the National Research Foundation in South Africa, she has published internationally on higher education, globalisation and internationalisation, public reason and education, liberalism, gender and feminist theory, nation building, and African philosophy of education.

    Dr Cathy Fagan

    Cathy Fagan is a lecturer in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of Glasgow. She teaches on the Chartered Teacher Programme and on undergraduate and postgraduate initial teacher education programmes. Her main research focus is the social, cultural and policy contexts of work-related education, and her doctoral studies examined education and work in the contexts of a global knowledge economy, enterprise culture and entrepreneurship. Her current research is on values-based approaches to financial education programmes. She is chair of the International Association for Citizenship, Social and Economics Education (IACSEE) and is editor of that Association's international peer-reviewed journal of the same name (CSEE).

    Professor Christine Forde

    Christine Forde is Professor of Leadership and Professional Learning in the Faculty of Education at Glasgow University. During her career she has worked as a primary teacher and tutor in initial teacher education. She now mainly works in the area of leadership development and in teacher professional development and learning including Programme Leader for the Scottish Qualification for Headship (SQH). She has published several books and articles on teacher professional development including a number of books with colleagues, including Professional Development, Reflection and Enquiry (Paul Chapman, 2006) and Putting Together Professional Portfolios (Sage, 2009). She is involved in a number of projects on leadership development. In addition she has published books in the area of gender and feminist perspectives in education, including Feminist Utopianism and Education (Sense, 2007).

    Dr George Head

    George Head is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Educational Studies at Gasgow University. He teaches, researches and publishes in Support for Learning and Inclusive Education. Within this area he has a special interest in the learning of children and young people with Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (SEBD). He teaches on undergraduate courses in initial teacher education, and on taught postgraduate courses leading to Certificate, Diploma and MEd in Inclusive Education. He is the author of Better Learning, Better Behaviour (Dunedin Academic Press, 2007). George has played a key role in the development of Moving Image Education in Scotland.

    Margaret Martin

    Margaret Martin is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Educational Studies at Glasgow University. She has held a range of posts from head teacher to education officer and has a background in leadership and personal development. She has taught on post-graduate and undergraduate teacher education programmes, as well as middle leadership certificate programmes, but now concentrates on the professional development of head teachers in Glasgow, through the delivery of the Post Graduate Diploma in School Leadership and Management (Scottish Qualification for Headship). She also teaches on the Critical Reflection course of the Ed D online programme. Currently Margaret is working with a large Glasgow secondary school on the development of a professional learning community, providing support for the head teacher and professional development for the middle managers in the school.

    Dr Margaret McCulloch

    Margaret McCulloch teaches in the Department of Educational Studies in the University of Glasgow, where she works both with student teachers and with experienced teachers returning to postgraduate study. Originally trained and employed for many years as a primary teacher, she subsequently worked as a peripatetic Support for Learning teacher in both primary and secondary schools. During her time as coordinator of a team of support teachers and as an Inclusion Development Officer she gained valuable experience of working collaboratively with parents, teachers and colleagues from other professions. Her particular interests are in developing reading comprehension and in encouraging inclusive thinking and practice.

    Dr Margery McMahon

    Margery McMahon is Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Educational Studies, University of Glasgow. She is also Programme Director of the Chartered Teacher Programme — a Masters programme for experienced classroom practitioners. She is a member of the Board of the International Council for Education for Teaching (ICET). Formerly a teacher of History and Politics, Margery teaches on a range of courses relating to professional learning and leadership. Together with colleagues in the Department of Educational Studies she co-authored Professional Development, Reflection and Enquiry (Paul Chapman, 2006) and with Christine Forde and Jenny Reeves, Putting Together Professional Portfolios (Sage, 2009). She was instrumental in introducing International Educational courses into the Chartered Teacher programme at University of Glasgow and is currently working on a new publication on International Education. Her research focuses on teachers’ professional development and learning and she has been involved in a number of research projects relating to this.

    Dr Alastair McPhee

    Alastair McPhee has worked as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of Glasgow. He has mainly been concerned with initial and continuing teacher development, and has worked extensively in the fields of access to teacher education, the development of teachers of music and teacher professional development. He has been the author of a number of papers in academic journals in these areas. He has particularly been engaged with Glasgow City Council in a successful project to widen the applicant pool to teacher education.

    Dr Fiona Patrick

    Fiona Patrick is a lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Glasgow. She teaches on a variety of courses in initial teacher education and undergraduate education programmes. She is currently involved in the development of assessment processes and the use of feedback in undergraduate programmes. Her main research interest is in teacher professionalism and development but she has a background in the history of education which informs her other interests (the early development of educational psychology; the growth of educational provision in Britain and Europe).

    Dr Niamh Stack

    Niamh Stack is a lecturer in Developmental Psychology in the Faculty of Education at the University of Glasgow. She is also the Development Officer for the Scottish Network for Able Pupils (SNAP). As part of SNAP Niamh works with schools and education authorities across Scotland as they seek to make learning meaningful for highly able pupils through in-service events, subject development days and consultation activities. SNAP is also actively engaged in research activities related to gifted and talented education including a recent EPPI funded systematic review of interventions aimed at improving the educational achievement of pupils identified as gifted and talented. She is a member of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children and the European Council for High Ability and has presented papers at national and international conferences on gifted and talented education.

    Margaret Sutherland

    Margaret Sutherland is the project leader for the Scottish Network for Able Pupils (SNAP) and lectures at the University of Glasgow in Additional Support for Learning and coordinates the Masters in Inclusive Education. She has 28 years’ teaching experience in mainstream primary schools, behaviour support and latterly in higher education. She has written articles in the field of gifted education and is the author of Gifted and Talented in the Early Years: A Practical Guide for 3–5 Year Olds (Sage, 2005) and Developing the Gifted and Talented Young Learner (Sage, 2008). She is on the editorial board of the Korean Educational Development Institute Journal of Educational Policy. She regularly gives keynote addresses at conferences and has led courses, workshops and seminars across the UK on gifted education. She has organised and hosted national conferences for teachers. She has been invited to work with teachers, researchers and students in Tanzania, Malawi and Korea.

    Dr Georgina Wardle

    Georgina Wardle teaches in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of Glasgow. Following an earlier career in schools, she has worked in teacher education in higher education institutions in England and Scotland. Her research in Developmental Psychology investigates children's motives for prosocial behaviour. She is interested in the complexity of developmental, cognitive, social and environmental factors which impact on children's ability to engage in prosocial behaviour towards peers, and the ways in which schools can foster prosocial behaviour.

    Mary Wingrave

    Mary Wingrave is programme leader for the BA and PG Certificate in Childhood Practice. An experienced senior school manager, Mary also develops and delivers continuing professional development relating to Nurture Groups. She teaches on the suite of leadership programmes offered in the Department of Educational Studies where she is based. She is currently undertaking her Ed D. Much of the focus of her work is on leadership, inclusion and early intervention.


    ASNadditional support need
    ASPAdditional Support Plan
    CARNCollaborative Action Research Network
    CfECurriculum for Excellence
    CIPDEContinuing Intercultural Professional Development in Europe
    CoPcommunity of practice
    CPDcontinuing professional development
    CPEcollaborative professional enquiry
    DCELLSDepartment for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills
    DCSFDepartment for Children, Schools and Families
    DfESDepartment for Education and Skills
    DFIDDepartment for International Development
    ECMEvery Child Matters
    EUEuropean Union
    GIRFECGetting It Right for Every Child
    GTCEGeneral Teaching Council for England
    GTCNIGeneral Teaching Council for Northern Ireland
    GTCSGeneral Teaching Council for Scotland
    GTCWGeneral Teaching Council for Wales
    HMIeHer Majesty's Inspectors in Education
    IMFInternational Monetary Fund
    IQintelligence quotient
    LECTLeague of Exchange for Commonwealth Teachers
    LLWLearning for Life and Work
    MDGMillennium Development Goals
    NCSnew community schools
    NGnurture group
    NQTnewly qualified teacher
    OECDOrganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
    OFMDFMOffice of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister
    PISAProgramme for International Student Performance
    PLCprofessional learning community
    QCAQualification and Curriculum Authority
    QCDAQualifications and Curriculum Development Agency
    SDQstrengths and difficulties questionnaire
    SEScottish Executive
    SENSpecial educational needs
    SLTspeech and language therapy
    SIPSocial information processing
    TDATeacher Development Agency
    UNUnited Nations
    UNCRCUnited Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
    UNESCOUnited Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
    WAGWelsh Assembly Government
    WBWorld Bank
  • Glossary

    • Assessment for Learning Assessment for learning focuses on the gap between where a learner is in their learning, and where they need to be — the desired goal. This can be achieved through processes such as sharing criteria with learners, effective questioning and feedback.
    • Attachment A bond between a child and a significant other which allows the child to learn the fundamental principles which underlie the human ability to form relationships.
    • Autonomy The ability of a professional to make decisions and take actions based on his or her expertise and experience.
    • Child Centred Approaches A set of approaches to education that start with the needs of the child when forming curriculum and pedagogy. These approaches are based on understandings about the ways in which children ‘naturally’ learn.
    • Coaching A process similar to mentoring but one that tends to have a more specific skills-based focus.
    • Collaborative learning An umbrella term describing a variety of approaches that involve students and teachers working together. In collaborative learning environments students engage in a common task in which each individual depends on and is accountable to each other. The students’ task is both to create a product and to participate in a process that will help develop them as learners.
    • Communities of Practice Where staff in schools and other organisations work together to explore and develop their practice both individually and collectively.
    • Cosmopolitanism The view that all human beings belong to one worldwide community.
    • Distributed Leadership An approach to leadership which actively supports the development of leadership in all members of a school community including teachers, support staff and pupils.
    • Entity theory of intelligence Intelligence is depicted as an entity within us and is something we cannot change.
    • Extended schools Schools which offer a range of additional services for children and for parents and families including access to health, housing and social care advice, and facilities for community use.
    • Giftedness ‘Gifted’ refers to pupils who are working or who could be working ahead of their age peers in one or more than one curricular area.
    • Globalisation Global movement of people, commodities and ideas. Though globalisation has tended to be associated with the world economy, it impacts on the world community in political and cultural ways as well.
    • Holistic approach An approach to education that emphasises the importance of the development of the whole person — the development of cognitive, affective, social, physical and spiritual aspects.
    • Ideology An ideology is a set of beliefs that provide a basis for organised political action. Ideologies tend to offer a worldview or account of the existing social order, a model of the desired future (the Good Society), and a programme for bringing about political change.
    • Inclusive education An approach to education which recognises the diversity of individuals’ experiences, perceptions and backgrounds and values all students and staff equally. This approach requires consistent reflection on and changes in institutional structures, policies, practices and cultures to ensure that barriers to participation and learning are reduced for all students.
    • Incremental theory of intelligence Intelligence is depicted as something that can be increased through effort.
    • Interconnectedness Links and partnerships across the globe that occur from a macro to a micro level, for example, agreements between nation states or cooperation between cities, schools, communities and so on.
    • Interprofessional working When teachers work with, for example, health, social work and other education professionals to ensure effective support for children, prosocial behaviour and action which results in a positive outcome for another/others.
    • Joined up working A term used to describe members of different organisations or professions working collaboratively to deal with common issues.
    • Knowledge economy/knowledge driven economy Used to describe the shift from traditional economies (for example, those based on heavy industry) to one where knowledge, skill acquisition and technical advantage have become drivers for and products of the economy.
    • Marketisation The process of changing public sector organisations, such as education, to function like private sector, profit-oriented companies.
    • Mentoring A process where a more experienced colleague supports another person in order to help them develop skills and knowledge in specific areas to enhance overall professional development.
    • Meta-analysis The combined analysis of several studies investigating the same, or similar, research questions.
    • Methodologies Different teaching strategies or strategies used by leaders to ensure good learning opportunities.
    • Neo-liberalism A political ideology which emphasises the predominance of market forces (i.e., a free market economy) and a limited role for the state.
    • Nurture group A class within a mainstream provision which endeavours to support children with social, emotional, or behavioural difficulties to remain within their mainstream setting with an expectation that they will be reintegrated into their class within 2/4 school terms.
    • Pedagogy The theory and practice of teaching.
    • Peer observation A way of gaining feedback on particular elements of your professional activities or to inform your own practice. For example, one teacher may observe how another teacher involves pupils in cooperative learning in groups, either to give feedback on how to further improve the practice of that teacher, or to enhance their own practice (if it is a method they are not familiar with).
    • Peer review Processes designed to assess the practice of a colleague. This process can be constructive and supportive but can often lead to anxiety where it is used as part of a performance management system.
    • Professional enquiry A form of professional learning and development where practitioners seek to develop their practice by undertaking systematic ‘enquiries’ or investigations into an aspect of that practice, using the principles of practitioner enquiry.
    • Professional learning community (PLC) A PLC is a way of working in a school. There are essentially three crucial elements: supportive and shared leadership, a clear focus on enquiry into the pupil learning experience and collaborative approaches to learning for teachers and pupils.
    • Professional practice The work undertaken by a professional in the context of their job.
    • Professional reflection An approach to professional learning and development where a professional reflects on their practice with the aim of improving aspects of it.
    • Prosocial behaviour Behaviour which has a positive effect on another person(s).
    • Resilience The ability to cope with change and develop positive relationships despite changing or unpredictable events in life.
    • Schools networks An approach where technology and other strategies are used to build collaboration between schools and school staff in order to break down isolation and build expertise.
    • Schools partnerships Agreements between schools to collaborate together on particular initiatives, usually supported by funding from a government agency such as the British Council or the Department for Foreign Investment (DFID).
    • Social inclusion A concept based on working towards policies and practices which ensure that all, regardless of background and social position, have opportunities to take part fully in society.
    • Social justice The principle that goods like education and health care should be fairly distributed among all members of society.
    • Social learning Social learning theory: where the learner learns through observing and modelling. Social learning (more generally): where learners learn through interacting and collaborating with others in order to deepen knowledge and understanding.
    • Special advisors Leading politicians, both in and out of office, appoint advisors who are specialists or have expert knowledge on areas of policy, for example, education, health or the economy.
    • Stage theory A theory of development which assumes that individuals progress through a universal series of stages.
    • Teacher leader Teachers who develop areas of expertise and work collaboratively with other teachers to develop teaching and learning in this area.
    • Teacher leadership Teachers leading initiatives in teaching and learning which contribute to the school's development agenda.
    • Think-tanks A think-tank is a privately funded organisation that looks to achieve certain aims or promote a particular set of values and ideas; often set or supported by its funders. Think-tanks are often aligned to political parties or have an ideological orientation. Think-tanks aim to influence and look to develop and advocate ideas and policy options.
    • Thought experiment An imagined example that illustrates a problem or concept by analogy, commonly used by philosophers.


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