Oxford Teachers Early Career Development Conference 2017

The Early Career Teachers Development Conference was held at St Anne’s College on Saturday 24th June 2017.

41 delegates, including Department of Education PGCE alumni and teachers in Oxford secondary schools in their first three years of teaching, enjoyed a variety of workshops and a keynote address by Dr Velda Elliott. After a welcome address by the Director of the Department of Education and Fellow of St Anne’s College, Professor Jo-Anne Baird, delegates divided into groups for the first session of three workshops.


The MLT Poster Conference was an opportunity to visit a collection of approximately 40 research posters summarising classroom-based research projects led by practicing teachers in the MSc Learning and Teaching course at the Department of Education. The teacher-researchers were on hand to answer any questions delegates had about the innovations they have introduced into their classrooms and how these have made a difference to the learning and teaching in their subjects.


Student Voice in Formative Assessment was led by Emma Hawkins, schoolteacher and MLT graduate, and explored the use of student voice to increase the efficacy of formative assessment activities in the classroom. Issues considered included: sharing the reasoning behind formative assessment tasks with students, strategies to give students a role in formative assessment task design, and exploring different ways of engaging with student voice in the classroom.


Teacher collaboration in support of vulnerable learners was led by Ian Thompson, Associate Professor of English Education in the Department. Dr Thompson described a recent research project which showed that supporting the learning and well-being of vulnerable students is a complex part of the school educator’s work. Although research has suggested that collaboration among colleagues can help them meet the needs of at risk students, there is less research on the institutional cultures of collaboration. This workshop reported on two research projects that explored the social networks of advice among all school staff in six secondary schools for supporting vulnerable learners and considered appropriate methods for conducting future research on the effects of collaborative cultures in schools.


Understanding, Preventing and Deescalating Behaviour, led by Stephanie Davies from the Mulberry Bush School, introduced the theory and practice of working with behaviours that challenge teachers. There was a focus on understanding the process of behavioural communication and containment; an exploration of the impact of early experiences and stress on the brain with a consideration of how a child escalates into and out of crisis, and some practical strategies for responding to/working with behavioural communication more effectively.


A workshop on Mindfulness in Schools was given by Liz Lord, the schools liaison lead for the MYRIAD project in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford. It was an opportunity for delegates to both learn about mindfulness and the rationale behind offering it to schools. It described the current evidence and outlined the MYRIAD research project which is looking at the effectiveness of introducing mindfulness into secondary schools. Delegates were able to see in more detail one of the programmes available (called ‘.b’ created by the charity, ‘ Mindfulness in Schools Project ‘) and have the chance to experience some of the mindfulness practices contained in this programme.


Responding to the Prevent Agenda. This workshop was convened by two practicing teachers with whole-school responsibilities, Shaqib Juneja, RE/History Teacher and a School Coordinator for Enrichment in Newham, London and Sarah Zasada, Professional Tutor and Head of Sixth Form at Carterton School, Oxfordshire. It was chaired by Liam Gearon, Associate Professor of Religious Education in the Department. The workshop explored teachers’ expanding responsibilities in light of the current Prevent agenda and the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. Practical and ethical issues were discussed and possible ways forwards identified.


All delegates then assembled in the Mary Ogilvie Lecture Theatre to hear the keynote address by Velda Elliot, Associate Professor of English and Literacy Education and Director of Doctoral Studies in the Department of Education. Marking: monsters and myths – or what do we really know? described a research project for the Education Endowment Foundation on assessment and marking in schools. The address addressed the findings of the research under the headings Grading. Corrections, Thoroughness, Pupil responses, Creating a dialogue, Targets and Frequency and speed. A copy of the final report of the project can be downloaded here.


Derek Peaple, head teacher of Park House School, Newbury, Berkshire led delegates with ‘What has Values-themed learning ever done for us?’. Ofsted has highlighted Park House school’s ‘values-driven ambition for students’. But what are these values? And what sort of ambition for students do they help to shape? Derek outlines, with practical examples, how a focus on the Olympic and Paralympic values have provided a flexible framework for: Vision and ethos; Improvement planning; Curriculum enrichment; Student voice, leadership and personal development. Delegates were encouraged to reflect on their own schools’ values and share thinking on how these already – or may in the future – shape learning.


In Research-informed Approaches to Enhancing Classroom Practice led by Robin Conway, teacher of History and Director of Research and Innovation at John Mason School, Abingdon. Over the last 2 years Robin has worked with a team of teachers to explore how to get the best out of educational research and to engage in small scale action-research to enhance classroom practice. He shares some experiences and successes, talked about how research projects were set up and the impact they’ve had as well as highlighting some of the pitfalls and misconceptions experienced. Delegates were able to consider the potential to apply different models of research to their own classroom context.


The final plenary session drew together the themes of the conference and also provided delegates with an opportunity to ask questions of a panel of teachers at various levels of their careers on how they developed their career trajectory, whether planned or unplanned. Panel members were Robin Conway, Derek Peaple and Rachel Cosgrove, SENCo, Designated Teacher for Looked After Children and lead on Medical needs at Banbury Academy. The plenary session – in fact the whole day – was chaired by Katharine Burn, Associate Professor of History Education and Director of the Oxford Education Deanery.


Further information about the speakers can be downloaded here.