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Volume 3, No.2 

October, 2013

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Editorial

A lot has happened, unsurprisingly, in education in England since the publication of the last edition of RiTE. The lack of an education bill in the Queen’s Speech in May 2013 did nothing to halt the political spittle accompanying Coalition announcements on the National Curriculum, exam developments, teachers’ pay and conditions, and the re-emergence of debates around the 14–19 curricula. David Laws’ use of the rather disconcerting term ‘secondary-ready’ signals a long-awaited focus from the government on the period of transition from primary to secondary school. This, accompanied by proposals to report how ‘Sally’ and ‘Tom’ perform in National Curriculum tests in a decile ranking, was unsurprisingly more popular with some parents than with members of the teaching profession. The publication this summer  of the OECD’s Education at a glance report for 2013 made for depressing reading in terms of the ubiquitous ‘NEET’ category (a term used in England to describe those not in education, employment or training) of young people highlighting how the UK has, within the OECD rankings, still one of the lowest percentages of 15–19-year-olds enrolled in education. And all this within an enduring messiness surrounding the uncertain future of teacher education in England and what this might mean for the future of educational research.  

Within this context we are extremely proud of the increasing web-based presence of the periodical. Overall online access for the five RiTE editions so far equates to greater than 8,000 page views, with over 1,400 visits since the last edition. International readership continues to expand, with 85 different countries having accessed our web pages. India and the USA are providing the highest circulation statistics outside of UK access, but clear curiosity (beyond European interest) is also being generated in Australia, Canada, Pakistan and Malaysia. RiTE’s strong presence in UEL’s Research Open Access Repository (ROAR) is reflected in the 439 ROAR downloads of articles between November 2012 and August 2013. Since we started tracking the data in January of this year, there have been 504 downloads of articles via the periodical’s website. These are impressive figures and we thank people for the interest they are continually showing in the articles and book reviews found in the journal. Further exciting improvements in our social media usage can also be seen thanks to our colleague Daniel Ayres. We currently have over 120 Twitter (@UEL_RiTE) followers – including distinguished international academics and academic institutions – and we have experienced to date over 150 referrals to the online journal from this Twitter account. These are still early very early days in the life of this fledgling publication and there is much work to do but your contributions reach a global audience and the editorial team thank you for your interest and contribution. Mindful of that global audience we now invite colleagues working in schools to send in examples of school-led research that they feel might be of interest to the readership of this periodical.

We begin this issue with an article by Carrie WestonAndy MinnionGosia Kwiatkowska and Elena Guardini. Their research focuses on the development of students’ professional confidence, personal skills and subject-related understanding in the context of considering the values and benefits of student volunteering. Warren Kiddexplores the tensions and ambiguities for Initial Teacher Education (ITE) situated within the lifelong learning or further education (FE) context in the UK. In doing so his discussion focuses upon the policy context shaping the lived experience of teachers, trainee teachers and teacher educators (micro) in the FE system and how these policy narratives are ‘worked out’ in the day-to-day pedagogic practice of teacher education. Kulvarn Atwal examines theories of workplace learning in terms of factors that inhibit or support the learning of teachers in primary schools. In his article Kulvarn details how the possibilities for learning at work depend upon the interrelationship between individual worker dispositions, the affordance of the workplace to provide a restrictive or expansive learning environment, and the influence and direction of government policy. Bilingual education has been a very controversial issue in the last decade in Colombia because national laws now aim at fostering English–Spanish bilingualism. Sandra Ximena Bonilla Medina and Ferney Cruz Arcila raise awareness over critical sociocultural factors involved in the teaching of English in rural areas of Colombia to understand the complexity of teachers’ professional development considering the particularities of their local work settings.Margaret Etherington brings to our attention that gender disparity in the take-up of post-compulsory school art, leading to the predominance of girls at GCSE and A-level, appears to be linked to the perception that the subject offers few career prospects, and to the notion that boys dislike drawing and painting. Her paper derives from a case study of a London secondary school art department during 2010/11. Alan Weller explores the use of Web 2.0 technology in pre-service teachers’ professional learning. Student teachers’ work is discussed in relation to current trends and practices surrounding the use of mobile/tablet devices for learning and teaching.

Our guest writer, Michael Fielding, is Emeritus Professor of Education at the Institute of Education, University of London, and Visiting Professor of Education at the University of Bristol. Michael taught for 19 years in some of the UK’s pioneer radical secondary comprehensive schools and for a similar period and with identical commitments at the universities of Cambridge, London and Sussex. Widely published in the fields of student voice, educational leadership and radical democratic education, some of his innovative research work (he coined the term Joint Practice Development) is currently influencing professional learning in schools. Within the context of a powerful critique on the effects of transnational capitalism on education, Michael discusses the pioneering work of Alex Bloom and its implications for radical democratic education.

This number’s book reviews are provided by Fran PaffardJulie Gariazzo and Sheeba Viswarajan. Our guest reviewer is Stephen Newman,a Senior Lecturer in Education and Continuing Professional Development at Leeds Metropolitan University. Stephen’s main interests include the relationship between theory and practice, reflective practice, teacher education, and the application of philosophy to issues of educational importance, including teacher education. Dr Newman is an academic referee for two international education journals.

As always we hope that you enjoy the collection of articles in this issue of the periodical.

It is with great pleasure then that we announce Professor David Wray as our guest writer for the next (April 2014) edition of RiTE.

Keywords: Editorial

Cite as:
Gerry Czerniawski and David Wells (2013) ‘Editorial’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol.3(No.2), 5–6. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/xyz_Research in Teacher Education/Volume 3 No 2 October 2013

Gerry Czerniawski and David Wells
University of East London
Pages 5-6

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Articles

Abstract

This small-scale study seeks to gain understanding of the experiences and learning opportunities presented by students’ participation in a volunteering project at a post-1992 city university.  The participating students were all drawn from an undergraduate programme in the field of special educational needs (SEN).  This research focuses on the development of students’ professional confidence, personal skills and subject-related understanding in the context of considering the values and benefits of student volunteering. Pre-volunteering (n = 32), mid-point (n = 23) and post-volunteering (n = 26) questionnaires were completed by participating students.  In-depth interviews were also conducted following the 12-week volunteering period (n = 6). Statistical analysis of questionnaires was carried out using SPSS analytics software, facilitating the production of tables and charts, while open-ended responses and in-depth interviews were analysed by hand and coded using themes.  The findings of the study support the linking of volunteering activity to higher education (HE) programme outcomes to facilitate accreditation and recognition for students.

Keywords: volunteering; higher education; learning outcomes; accreditation; professional skills

Cite as:

Carrie Weston, Elena Guardini, Andy Minnion and Gosia Kwiatkowska (2013) ‘Volunteering and learning in HE: exploring and acknowledging student experience’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol.3(No.2), 7–14. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 3 No 2 October 2013

Carrie Weston, Elena Guardini, Andy Minnion and Gosia Kwiatkowska
University of East London
Pages 7-14

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Abstract

This argument will explore the tensions and ambiguities for Initial Teacher Education (ITE) situated within the lifelong learning or further education (FE) context in the UK. In doing so the discussion will focus upon the structural and policy context (macro) which shapes the lived experience of teachers, trainee teachers and teacher educators (micro) in the FE system and how these policy narratives are ‘worked out’ in the day-to-day pedagogic practice of teacher education and within placement institutions (meso).

Keywords: lifelong learning; initial teacher education; policy reform; teacher education pedagogy.

Cite as:
Warren Kidd (2013) ‘The times they are a-changing: some thoughts on the historical and contemporary tensions in Initial Teacher Education for the lifelong learning sector in the UK at this pivotal moment in time’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol.3(No.2), 15–21. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 3 No 2 October 2013

Warren Kidd
University of East London
Pages 15-21

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Abstract

In this paper I examine theories of workplace learning in terms of factors that inhibit or support the learning of employees. This will include an examination of the relative influences on workplace learning at three distinct levels: government, institution and the individual. I detail how the possibilities for learning at work depend upon the interrelationship between individual worker dispositions, the affordance of the workplace to provide a restrictive or expansive learning environment, and the influence and direction of government policy. I have demonstrated the importance of the interrelationship of these three tiers of influence and how they cannot be considered in isolation when planning opportunities for teacher learning.

I have also argued how there will need to be progression at each of these three stages if teacher learning is to be embedded as part of the fabric and culture of education in the United Kingdom.

Keywords: Workplace learning; Teacher learning; Individual dispositions; Expansive and Restrictive learning environments.

Cite as:
Kulvarn Atwal (2013) ‘Theories of workplace learning in relation to teacher professional learning in UK primary schools’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol.3(No.2), 22–27. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 3 No 2 October 2013

Kulvarn Atwal
Highlands Primary School London Borough of Redbridge
Pages 22-27

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Abstract

Bilingual education has been a very controversial issue in the last decade in Colombia because national laws now aim at fostering English–Spanish bilingualism. In particular, it has been evident that special attention has been paid to privileged, urban contexts, leaving aside the realities of disadvantaged and rural areas. This article attempts to raise awareness of critical sociocultural factors involved in the teaching of English in rural areas to understand the complexity of teachers’ professional development considering the particularities of their local work settings. Within the outcomes of this exploration, we found that teachers’ development in rural areas is quite different from that in urban areas. The sociocultural issues in the language classroom frame both teachers’ labour and their professional development needs.

Keywords: Professional development, rural English teachers, rural education, sociocultural factors.

Cite as:
Sandra Ximena Bonilla Medina, Ferney Cruz Arcila (2013) ‘Sociocultural factors involved in the teaching of English as foreign language in rural areas of Colombia: an analysis of the impact on teachers’ professional development’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol.3(No.2), 28–33. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 3 No 2 October 2013

Sandra Ximena Bonilla Medina, Ferney Cruz Arcila
University of East London/Distrital FJC University, Colombia and King’s College, London
Pages 28-33

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Abstract

Gender disparity in the take-up of post-compulsory school art, leading to the predominance of girls at GCSE and A-level, appears to be linked to the perception that the subject offers few career prospects, and to the notion that boys dislike drawing and painting. This paper derives from a case study of a London secondary school art department during 2010/11. One aspect of the research examines the way art remains a feminine, marginalised subject despite its relevance to the increasingly successful creative industries. A central finding is that good attainment at GCSE still relies heavily on a demanding homework load and copious preparatory studies, both off-putting to students, particularly boys.

Keywords: secondary art education; art and design education; art-based careers; gender; ethnicity.

Cite as:

Margaret Etherington (2013) ‘Art and design is still a gendered school subject’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol.3(No.2), 34–39. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 3 No 2 October 2013

Margaret Etherington
University of East London
Pages 34-39

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Abstract

This research explores the use of Web 2.0 in pre-service teachers’ professional learning. A class of secondary school student science teachers in England were given two tasks to complete using a Web 2.0 collaborative online application. Their work is evaluated, as well as their comments about the use of the technology. Current trends and practices surrounding the use of Web 2.0 technology and mobile/tablet devices for learning and teaching are also discussed.

Keywords: Web 2.0, pre-service teachers, Initial Teacher Education, science teaching

Cite as:
Alan Weller (2013) ‘The use of Web 2.0 technology for pre-service teacher learning in science education’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol.3(No.2), 40–46. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 3 No 2 October 2013

Alan Weller
University of East London
Pages 40-46

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Guest Author

Abstract

In every edition of Research in Teacher Education we publish a contribution from a guest writer who has links with the Cass School of Education and Communities. Currently Emeritus Professor of Education at the Institute of Education, University of London and Visiting Professor of Education at the University of Bristol, Michael Fielding taught for 19 years in some of the UK’s pioneer radical secondary comprehensive schools and for a similar period and with identical commitments at the universities of Cambridge, London and Sussex. Widely published in the fields of student voice, educational leadership and radical democratic education, some of his innovative research work (he coined the term Joint Practice Development) is currently influencing professional learning in schools. His latest book, co-authored with Peter Moss, Radical education and the common school – a democratic alternative (Routledge 2011), seeks to reclaim education as a democratic project and a community responsibility and school as a public space of encounter for all citizens. It was nominated Best Book of 2011 by the Society for Educational Studies.Within the context of a powerful critique on the effects of transnational capitalism on education, Michael discusses the pioneering work of Alex Bloom and its implications for radical democratic education.

Keywords: Alex Bloom; participatory democracy; radical democratic education; curriculum; pedagogy.

Cite as:
Michael Fielding (2013) ‘Beyond the betrayal of democracy in schools:lessons from the past, hopes for the future, Research in Teacher Education, Vol.3(No.2), 47–50. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 3 No 2 October 2013

Michael Fielding
Emeritus Professor of Education, Institute of Education, University of London
Pages 47-50

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Book Reviews

This weighty tome is one of a series of three texts that aim to provide a comprehensive guide to working across the education system from babies to young adults. This first in the series crosses an ambitious range from babyhood to the end of Key Stage 1 while providing no clear demarcation within the text of the different phases either developmentally or in terms of the different curricula.

This is an ambitious undertaking in terms of the breadth of provision across the early years sector in particular, and the authors avowedly set out to meet the needs of everyone from foster parents to teachers. There is, however, a narrower demographic underlying this, as the book explicitly relates to the Early Years Professional Status (EYPS) standards, and also makes reference to the National Professional Qualification for Integrated Centre Leadership (NPQICL). In terms of target audience, it would be fair to say that this book works best as a study guide for students and practitioners on this route. To aim for a comprehensive approach to the needs of this sector is a challenging task, especially given the rapid changes in government policy, curriculum, qualifications and funding that make any text of this nature quickly outdated. The EYPS is now transforming into the hotly contested Early Years Teacher (EYT) qualification, and the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) has also experienced significant change. However, by taking a principled approach and focusing on effective practice rather than specific details of the curriculum the writers do manage to circumvent many of these dangers.
There are both advantages and pitfalls to the approach that deals with all age ranges at once. There is a clear historical precedent for arguing, as many theorists and practitioners have done, that the years from nought to seven should be considered holistically. The authors take this view and are deliberate in seeking to reference each age group within each chapter. In truth, however, there is a massive divide between the practices, underlying theoretical background and expectations for children in most settings between the different ages. Although the authors clearly endeavour to cross the age ranges, there is a stronger focus on the 0–5 age range, drawing more on the literature and expertise of early years writers and practitioners. While it would be encouraging to think that Key Stage 1 students and practitioners might learn from the practices described, these are far from the reality of most Key Stage 1 imperatives in schools today and, sadly, of many reception classes too.

The book is divided into sections that indicate the focus on developing high-quality practice across the sector, namely, ‘Influences on learning’, ‘Framing learning practice’, ‘Enhancing learning practice’ and ‘Learning futures’. There is a rational progression through the book that builds effectively on the understanding of early learning out into dealing with the breadth of everyday practices and the complexity of multi-agency work. Both authors are highly respected academics who draw upon an impressive depth and breadth of knowledge. To combine confident synthesis of theories with the application of these to the nitty-gritty detail of life in settings is a rare skill and the authors have achieved this admirably.

It is challenging to provide a comprehensive guide to practice in one volume, though, and compromises are clearly made in this respect. The sections that focus on the history and theoretical background of approaches to early learning are brief and provide only a glimpse of the complexities; however, further reading is clearly signposted at the end of each chapter . The layout provides the now almost obligatory textbook-style boxes with ‘discussion points’, examples from practice, and prompts for reflection. A helpful innovation is the technique of highlighting key words and concepts within the text, with a definition provided at the side. This enables the reader to check their understanding without breaking the flow of their reading, and these definitions are also provided in a glossary at the end of each chapter. This is no glossy ‘tips for practitioners’ publication that  skates superficially over knowledge, but rather encourages readers to engage in depth with the implications of the different chapters for improving practice. It is a shame that the photographs accompanying the text have rather poor production values and are variable in the way that they illuminate the text.

Overall, this is a serious and rigorous text that provides an accessible but robust approach to developing and improving practice. Its ambitious scope means that some aims are more fully met than others. However, it is certainly of great value to those studying for the EYT and the NPQICL despite the recent changes, and would be an accessible way into thinking about key issues for many early years students on a nought to seven pathway.

Fran Paffard, University of East London

Cite as:
Review by (Fran Paffard) (2013) ‘Developing professional practice 0–7’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol Vol.3 (No.No.2), 51–55. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 3 No 2 October 2013

Sonia Blandford and Catherine Knowles
Harlow: Longman, 2009
ISBN 978-1-4058-4114-6
Reviewed by Fran Paffard
Pages 51-55

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This text is systematically set out, and although the subject matter is highly complex, the content is fairly easy to access and follow. The aim of the book is set out in the introductory chapter, ‘To explore the complex nature of the relationship between childhood, families and the State’, which it achieves through unpicking the layers that make up this complex hierarchy. To help the reader through this exploration, each chapter begins with a clear introduction and key questions making intentions clear all the way through the book. Professor Frost uses research and reflection to guide the reader in analysing key points, while maintaining an unbiased position.
Each chapter follows a logical sequence and the book is set out over three parts: starting with the notion of childhood,  it moves on to the idea of families and their relationship with the state, and finally part three focuses on being a child and the implications for children.

The text develops logically and the reader is led through a progressive sequence of the history of childhood, using key texts from historians such as Philippe Ariès to define notions of childhood. As is acknowledged by Frost, the work of Ariès has been widely criticised, but it has been used as a basis for exploring childhood and is contrasted with other historians in order to give a wider viewpoint.

Frost focuses our attention on children as ‘objects’ in research and policy, and how they are, as prime stakeholders in the education system, often ‘invisible’. He discusses how children are seen as passive in society, demonstrating the power divide between children, families and the state. He goes on to make a clear argument for children as active subjects making their own decisions in life and shows how those that are marginalised can face profound challenges in making their voice heard.

The reader is encouraged to consider how the media and society view childhood, and Frost discusses how these perceptions can be problematic as there is no ‘one size fits all’ definition. Policy change is examined and events that brought about the Every Child Matters strategy are evaluated with a focus on how the state intervenes and influences childhood. This brings Frost to look at a new paradigm of childhood, a ‘new sociology of childhood’, as childhood being perceived in its own right rather than as the future of mankind.

Frost moves on to review families and family construction. Again, what a family is is a contested debate but Frost provides us with opposing opinions and asks us to reflect upon these. As the definition of ‘family’ is a fluid concept, the reader is asked to consider the notion of the traditional family against the contemporary family, and those that sit outside society’s idea of what is a family. Thus family begins to be defined through its actions rather than what a family actually represents.

The final chapter looks at reinventing the relationship between childhood, family and the state. Frost calls for more children to be involved in research on childhood and families in order for their voice to be heard and for them to have a valued place in society. More importantly, action needs to be taken on children’s views, and children need to see the results of this action for them to realise that they have a place in society.

As stated previously, the aim of the book is to explore the relationships between childhood, family and the state. This is done through synthesising the work of historians, theory and relevant policy. Frost draws extensively upon the literature and the research of others which helps create a broader view on the points raised, with additional reading at the end of each chapter making it a helpful text for further research. Taking a predominantly Western point of view, this text is useful reading for anyone studying the sociology of childhood.

Julie Gariazzo, University of East London

Cite as:
Review by (Julie Gariazzo) (2013) ‘Rethinking children and families: the relationship between childhood, families and the state’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol Vol.3 (No.No.2), 51–55. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 3 No 2 October 2013

Nick Frost
London: Continuum, 2011
ISBN 978-1-8470-6080-8
Reviewed by Julie Gariazzo 
Pages 51-55

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This book is aimed at those who are in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) or the early stages of their teaching careers. The authors aim to help provide the required knowledge, skills and understanding for student teachers to work within the 7–14 age phase. The book is well structured and focuses on four main themes: ‘Teaching and learning’, ‘Teaching for learning’, ‘Enhancing teaching for learning’ and ‘Learning futures’.

The ‘Teaching and learning’ part delves into influences on education, not only those of local authorities and government policies but also international influences, such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study(TIMSS) and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA ) surveys. Historical background is provided on the implementation of some government policies, for example, the tragic death of Victoria Climbié as driving the formation of the Every Child Matters initiative, which helps student teachers understand the rationale of government policy for safeguarding children.

The ‘Teaching for learning’ part also looks at the different types of knowledge that teachers need to support students’ learning. These chapters are interesting to read as they are informed by relevant research studies. A good example of the provision of such theoretical background is Shulman’s research on teacher knowledge as well as subsequent studies based on his findings.

Methods of improving teaching and learning through ‘teacher reflection’ and consideration of ‘pupil voice’ are studied in the ‘Enhancing teaching for learning’ part. The chapters flow easily and each topic is strongly supported by background information relevant to those training to teach. For example, the chapter ‘Reflecting on learning’ provides references to John Dewey, who is considered among the first to write about reflective practice in 1933, as well as Donald Schön’s more recent work The reflective practitioner in 1983.

‘Learning futures’ looks into some current developments that are likely to affect teaching and learning in the future. One of them is the government endeavour to incorporate the ‘global dimension’ and ‘sustainable development’ themes in the curriculum. The rationale for this initiative is discussed with references to curriculum approaches in different countries. The logic behind incorporating cross-curricular themes is correlated to fostering learners’ attitudes, values and skills in order to have a better future in a global community. The chapters also explore changes in the role of teachers to reflect the perceived needs of twenty-first-century society. They provide information on the 2020 Vision review group report and discuss how personalised learning might develop in future.

The student teacher will find this book an easy read, with a useful glossary on the side of each page explaining key terms and policies mentioned. Additional glossaries, extra case studies, interactive chapter tutorials and podcast interviews with students and practitioners are available online on a companion website. The consistent layout of the chapters helps focus the reader to reflect upon the various case studies and scenarios. The book examines research studies in the 7–14 age phase and their impact on classroom-based practice. The reader can evaluate the impact of contemporary research studies on their everyday practice by going through the research briefings provided in the chapters.

Reflective practice, vital for students and teachers, is encouraged at regular intervals, with ‘Thinking it through’ and ‘Over to you’ sections. I found the section ‘Taking your practice further’ very good in promoting critical reflection and discussion. I believe this could stimulate and foster further academic reading which will facilitate master’s level writing, paving the way to acquire a Master’s in Teaching and Learning (MTL).

The book gives a good overview of the key educational theories and issues but does not cover them in enough detail to be considered a complete reference book. However, it is written in a way that impels the reader to explore the detailed further reading list and the web links for downloadable materials given at the end of each chapter.

I enjoyed reading this book and recommend it for student teachers as well as in-service teachers. However, having come out in 2010 it lacks information on any changes, research details or policies implemented since then. It would therefore be timely for the publisher to bring out the next edition so that the book can be updated to meet the needs of today’s student teachers and also current in-service teachers.

Sheeba Viswarajan, University of East London

Cite as:
Review by (Sheeba Viswarajan) (2013) ‘Developing professional practice 7–14’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol Vol.3 (No.No.2), 51–55. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 3 No 2 October 2013

Viv Wilson and Sue Kendall-Seatter
Harlow: Pearson Education, 2010
ISBN 978-1-4058-4115-3
Reviewed by Sheeba Viswarajan
Pages 51-55

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This book aims to explore and integrate leadership and management practice with a real understanding of early years settings and a consideration of some theoretical perspectives on leadership and management. It is written for students on early childhood courses, early years practitioners, and local authority employees involved with integrated centres initiatives.

We are told that the starting point for the first edition was the views and opinions of some leaders in early years settings. They felt that the changes being imposed on the sector by external forces were so great that a critical review of leadership and management in the sector would enhance the outcomes for children in such settings. This second edition aims to look afresh at these issues, especially in the contexts of an increasing diversity of children, family structures, the effects of poverty, the increasing instability and change in work, and the development of electronic communication. One of the key aims of the book is to provide effective links between so-called theory and practice, not least in a context where the effectiveness (or otherwise) of leadership is usually judged by reference to children’s learning. This perspective informs the structure of the book, which opens with an introduction examining some theories of leadership in early childhood contexts; most of the other chapters then concentrate on describing and analysing the contributions of practitioners in different settings and teams, and linking them in places to theoretical perspectives.

Thus, chapter 1 reports on the views of 25 leaders in a conference on leadership, and chapter 2 reports the findings of a survey of perspectives on early childhood leadership, focussed on 12 settings located in a Midlands city and representing the full range of early childhood provision. Chapter 3 explores these different perceptions further, reporting on in-depth conversations with leaders and staff in their settings, while chapter 4 examines a ‘typical day’ in the life of a variety of leaders. Chapter 5 examines leaders’ and practitioners’ views on entrepreneurial and business-orientated approaches; chapter 6 the varied journeys into leadership that participants took; and chapter 7, the notion of mentoring as a leadership strategy. The last three chapters concern the challenge of leading multi-agency teams, of leading in a time of change and of reflective practice.
Given the author’s aim to provide a link between theory and practice, I think it is appropriate to make two comments based on that distinction. With regard to ‘practice’, an important aspect of the book is the picture it paints of the lives of real people and real groups in real settings. Each chapter contains extracts from practitioners’ logs, discussions, the results of surveys, and the like. These all have the ring of authenticity about them, so one feels confident that the picture they paint is well grounded. However, as the reader I would have liked to have been able to identify more clearly particular individuals and settings (identified, of course, using pseudonyms), to enable me to contextualise the details more specifically. With regard to ‘theory’, I would like to have seen more criticism of some so-called theories, not least those of Schön, about whom I have written myself (Newman 1999). But other theories too are ripe for criticism.

I would suggest that a holistic interpretation of the evidence within the book gives the reader the opportunity to see how ‘early childhood leadership clearly meant different things to practitioners in different settings’ (p. 35), and that ‘the differences in roles, responsibilities and components of leadership that emerged from the survey should also be considered in the light of the very different purposes of early childhood leadership in different types of settings’ (p. 36). The contextual and social nature of meaning which emerges requires such (often implicit) meanings used by one group of practitioners to be made explicit to those in different contexts. I would argue that the evidence contained within this book provides some examples of practitioners from a variety of teams (including the author) doing just that. With this interpretation, some of the so-called theories mentioned in the book (for example, Kolb’s learning cycle, and Schön’s notion of reflection), and techniques (such as the GROW technique) can be seen as ways of describing or facilitating social ‘meaning-making’. In the same light, the methods used (questionnaires, conversations, surveys, etc), and indeed, the book itself, can be seen as ways of helping to make meanings explicit to others, and of coming to shared understandings. It is perhaps an irony of this social aspect of meaning-making that, as social contexts change, so too can meanings, and so the book’s glossary is helpful – the continuing changes which prompted the book to be written make some terms obsolete as new ones emerge. Inevitably, in a fast-changing environment, the danger is that some terminology will quickly appear rather dated, not least as political diktat influences the scene, organisations are closed down or have a change of name or purpose, and where there are shifts in educational priorities.

Overall, this is a useful book as a source of evidence of the varied understandings that inform the work of those in early years settings.

Reference

Newman, S. (1999) Philosophy and teacher education: a reinterpretation of Donald A. Schön’s epistemology of reflective practice. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing.
Dr Stephen Newman is a Senior Lecturer in Education and Continuing Professional Development at Leeds Metropolitan University. His main interests include the relationship between theory and practice, reflective practice, teacher education, and the application of philosophy to issues of educational importance, including teacher education. Dr Newman is an academic referee for two international education journals.

Cite as:
Review by (Dr Stephen Newman) (2013) ‘Leading and managing in the early years’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol Vol.3 (No.No.2), 51–55. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 3 No 2 October 2013

Carol Aubrey
London: Sage, 2011 (2nd edition)
ISBN 978-1-8492-0754-6 (hardback) 978-1-8492-0755-3 (paperback)
Reviewed by Dr Stephen Newman
Pages 51-55

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