Excellent ASDAN briefing seminars: Wolves Thurs 10 May, London Fri 11 May.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
I'd like to strongly recommend that anyone who wants to be inspired by some of the new, excellent initiatives available to inspire, develop and motivate students attend one of these briefing days if they can. If you're unable to attend please do feel free to ask me questions here.

For those whole don't know ASDAN are a wrap around charity who work to support and formally accredit work students do which isn't recognised through traditional qualifications.

I was at their briefing day in York yesterday which started with the detailed academic research which has been done into the clearly substantial benefits for students doing ASDAN's own qualification - CoPE, the results of which were perfectly in line with my own experience and expectations of working with this qualification.

Then we had a presentation about the legacy 2012 education charity founded by Dr David Hemmery CBE which has developed programs to motivate and inspire students in conjunction with the Olympic games and future major events.
(David Hemmery himself will be doing the presentation himself at the next 2 events).

That was followed by a presentation about the low cost wrap around Modern Baccalaureate qualification which creates a single certificate which shows students' academic qualifications, wider experience and work related skills. Certificates can be printed for 40p and an employer can scan them with their mobile to check their authenticity online. There are substantial online resources to support students and centres participating and awarding bodies are audited by TLM.

That session finished at 1:45 and there there was a presentation which focused in detail on support services available to head teacher to improve their results and more time for networking with the heads, senior teachers and other individuals from inspirational charitable bodies which make a direct different to students lives.

It was an absolute privilege to be there - back in the world of education which actually makes sense to me. It was painfully obvious how unsupported those people are by all three political parties. I was the only person there associated with a political party and I would strongly recommend anyone from any party to go and show your support for the excellent work these people are doing by taking the time to understand what it is.

To attend either event please get in touch with ASDAN asap.
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Adrian Elliott's picture
Sat, 05/05/2012 - 09:20

I was very impressed, a few years ago, with work being done through Asdan with a group of pupils in a Gateshead school who would otherwise have been permanently excluded from school

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sat, 05/05/2012 - 10:29

Thanks Adrain - I hadn't seen your post when I wrote mine below.

The research relates only to schools where most of the students are studying CoPE. It compares their results (excluding their CoPE results) with those of students at schools which don't do it.

It sounds like you're aware of a 'thin' ASDAN school where CoPE is used only with the most disaffected students. The researchers weren't sure how to analyse the data from these schools as the students involved were in such extreme circumstances it was effectively impossible to create control groups.

The researchers did continue to analyse and discuss thin ASDAN schools and anecdotally their impression by the end of this study was that ASDAN was keeping the disappearing year 11s in until the end of the year 11 and so that they were involved in schools life and were usually sitting a handful of GCSEs they would otherwise have not been around to take. This conclusion chimed strongly with the audience on Thursday, many of whom have experience with thin ASDAN groups and it fits with my experience too. So their suggestion was that a future study should look to identify those year 10s at high risk of disappearance at the start of KS4 and compare the outcomes for those who do CoPE compared with those who don't.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sat, 05/05/2012 - 10:29

sorry for mistyping your name Adrian.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sat, 05/05/2012 - 09:29

There has been substantial debate on this site over the last two years as to whether adding the work 'Academy' to a school's name improves results or not.

Sometimes it feels like people perceive 'results' as things which are associated with the word 'academy' and with politicians rather than with children.

Here's some research which gives some insight into strategies which do positively transform results by focusing on the experiences of students. Could I tempt anyone to discuss them?

I live in this strange world outside the Westminster bubble where people start by focusing on the experiences of children when they are considering how results can be improved. The canyon between the two worlds is so vast and the weapons of the Westminster side so powerful many have given up trying to build bridges across it.

leonard james's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 03:12

The ASDAN students in my old school spent a considerable amount of time doing things like helping at the old persons party and visiting various leisure complexes for entertainment purposes. Whilst I can see the value in such activities for children with severe learning difficulties I cannot believe these things provide an education for other groups such as the badly behaved.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 07:40

Students can take CoPE at three different levels leonard. The requirements for higher levels are very demanding. At the ASDAN day there were orgnisations which support students in spending a month doing a development project in Africa which is one of the ways of meeting many of the requirments for level 3.

So in a schools where all the students do CoPE they will each be doing the level suitable to them.
The research strips out the CoPE qualification itself and compares the rest of the academic results of students doing CoPE in schools where most students do it with the results of all the students in schools where no students do CoPE and examines what happens to different groups of studnets:

leonard james's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 15:33

The point is that badly behaved children are not offered anything demanding because they wouldn't put in the effort required if they were.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 16:59

Leonard you say CoPE was about going to a leisure centre to be entertained and that it is not demanding.

Neither are true in my experience.

I imagine that there could have been examples of circumstances when some of the objectives could have been embedded in a trip to leisure centre which might have been sold to the kids as being a trip to the leisure centre.

I also imagine CoPE level 1 would not be demanding for you. However it is demanding for the students involved. Our society does contain teenagers who have failed at everything they have done and who are in a mindset which prevents them from properly trying in traditional academic circumstances. You might enjoy pointing the finger at those children and chanting "They're useless, they're a waste of space, they deserve to fail" but I'm the kind of teacher who looks a circumstances in which students who are in that category are moved from that category to a more productive one (where they are prepared to try at things they find difficult) and tries to understand whether what's been done can be transferred efficiently and effectively to other students or not.

leonard james's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 20:22

For pity sake badly behaved children do not fail courses because they have learning difficulties they fail because they are badly behaved. A level 1 course is inapproriate for most of these students yet level 1, in my experience, is all they are expected to achieve. I actually find your diatribe about finger pointing and chanting "useless" mildly insulting since my complaint about ASDAN revolves around low expectations of badly behaved children.
Finally can you not see a problem with dressing up learning as a trip to a leisure centre.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 20:33

"badly behaved children do not fail courses because they have learning difficulties they fail because they are badly behaved"

I suggested that sometimes students fail to apply themselves properly to courses because they have experienced so much failure they become, for want of better words, unable to try. I did not mention learning difficulties.

In my experience if some year 11s go on a trip to a leisure centre others complain Leonard. Envy is usually appropriately diffused by a subtle but appropriate comment from and experienced member of staff and everyone moves on. It's not so different from the leisure and tourism group going on a trip to the leisure centre and coming back with pictures of them all in the jacuzzi or the GCSE geography group going on a residential field trip where everyone had a really good time.

Ian Lynch's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 12:07

I don't think CoPE was ever intended to replace all other learning. As an employer, I'd quite like to have graduates that showed they had helped old people or other vulnerable groups as part of their education. If employability was simply about getting the highest levels of attainment in academic subjects, the world of employment would be dominated by academics. It's not an either or, it is a both and that is why the Modern Baccalaureate is so important.

leonard james's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 15:38

There have always been opportunities for kids to get involved with the community that don't involve school. I don't see why we need to reinvent the wheel here by demanding that schools have a broader remit.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 16:28

Compare the results from the children who engage with wider activities in a structured way and those which don't Leonard:

Ian Lynch's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 20:43

There have been opportunities for children to learn to play sport in the community but we still think PE is important in schools. No reinvention of the wheel, community service and citizenship have been widely practised in schools. What is needed is to do it more efficiently and more effectively.

leonard james's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 20:07

It would help if the report didn't use the term 'completion' of cope interchangeably with 'undertaking' cope. Have the children sorted into the cope group for comparison passed the course or merely undertaken it in some form?

leonard james's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 21:08

The problem is that in some schools citizenship and community service are considered more important than traditional subjects and have been allowed to eat into their curriculum time.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 21:14

The research would indicate that this is not the case where CoPE has been used as a framework.

leonard james's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 20:59

Rebecca surely an individual who is "unable to try" at something has a severe mental or physical condition that prevents them from doing so - are you seriously suggesting that the majority of naughty children have such a condition? I will agree that naughty 'won't try' things they don't like if they can get away with it but this isn't an argument for lower expectations is it.
As for your second point Geography field trips generally involve more than a token effort on the part of the students. Anyway I am not against ASDAN because it is fun I am against it because it demands little of the students who do it.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 21:12

"are you seriously suggesting that the majority of naughty children have such a condition?"
It's only by assuming this that I've been able to turn round situations where at first the students have blockaded the classroom with filing cabinets (to prevent me getting in while they've trashed the classroom) but those same students have gone on to become independently motivated hardworking students how have achieved things which have startled everyone Leonard.

How else could I have achieved these results with few resources, little backup and mixed ability secondary maths classes?

Can I ask why are you against ASDAN if it demands little of students as you are adamant it does and yet it delivers the impressive transformation of results demonstrated by the research?

leonard james's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 21:37

Your first point is a little strange because you seem to be saying that you turned badly behaved kids around by treating them as if they are ill.

Moving on I am against ASDAN as, in my experience, it is used as an excuse for spoiling badly behaved kids rotton. Secondly I don't believe the research proves anything at the moment - the researchers state that the paper provides little proof of causation and I have reservations about the composition of the student groups used in the analysis.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 21:54

Could you explain what those reservations are Leonard?

Re: the badly behaving kids. I'm saying I assumed there were reasons why they were behaving badly and that I tried to work out what those reasons were and address them.

Students having no self confidence whatsoever and being petrified of trying was a big issue. I addressed this in many ways. For just one example of the kinds of strategies which helped - if a child was handing in no homework I would insist they handed in something, even if it was only a description of how they felt when they tried to do their homework. I remember getting written homeworks which said things like "When I look at the page of numbers it seems to dissolve before my eyes and the page turns into a moving haze of black and white pixels which grow larger and smaller. I start to breath more quickly and I feel ill." In a case like that I would know that whatever I asked the child involved to do out of schools I would have to explain it to them in class and ensure they were completely confident they could do it before they left.

But confidence was certainly not the only issue. Sometimes I'd stand and watch my students working and notice that one was suffering from a physical issue - for example a student might be missing key comments so I realise they were suffering from variable deafness which was causing them to miss key instructions and apparently be misbehaving.

Some students were carers at home and were not sleeping and that needed to be addressed or worked around. Some had huge personal issues going on which I learned to work around and not aggravate. Others were detoxing or were violent because we were preventing them getting their fags at break and they were suffering from nicotine withdrawal.

All the usual stuff Leonard.

Paul's picture
Mon, 14/05/2012 - 16:42

I would point out two things at this juncture.

According to Ms Hanson, her "really badly behaved" pupils had expectations of 'C' GCSE grades. Having worked with such pupils for years very few have such an expectation, not because of a lack of ability but because of spending little time in school actively engaged.

I would also remind you that your suggestion of dealing with a child who was upset by a "very badly behaved child" (presumably one who would get a D ?) was to take the upset child out into the corridor (not the ones causing the problems) to talk to them. It was pointed out to you that a really badly behaved class might take the opportunity to misbehave.

I do not believe you know what really badly behaved children are like. You appear to have no understanding of them at all.

leonard james's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 22:41

None of these things are reasons for behaving badly.

I've already explained my reservations above - see my comment about words being used interchangeably.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 06/05/2012 - 22:54

I'll try to chase down the research team to see if I can get an precise answer to your query Leonard.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Mon, 07/05/2012 - 13:10

Many thanks to Neil Harrison from UWE who's got back to me on your point Leonard.

This is his reply to me:

"The answer is that the National Pupil Database only records completions for CoPE as you effectively enrol on submission of the portfolio. We examined this in more detail with the case study schools to ensure that there wasn't a non-completion effect and there was not - typically the school response was 'I think someone might have dropped out four or five years ago'. From this we inferred that the completion rate was comfortably over 95% and that 'undertaking' and 'completion' were effectively synonyms in this context."

I hope your concerns are now allayed.

Leonard James's picture
Tue, 08/05/2012 - 19:09

No I am afraid my concerns are far from allayed although I suspect a more critical look at the report is needed before I comment further on the variables used in this study - as they say the devil is in the detail.

I will, however, reiterate that there is no proof of causation here and until such proof is found I will continue to be a sceptic .

kath grant's picture
Tue, 08/05/2012 - 07:14

It is interesting how challenging many people find the idea of learning through doing. The impact of CoPE on results at GCSE English is probably (and you're right Leonard more specific research using a more close-quarters methodology than looking at national performance data is required to get to the root of this) due to the opportunities for reinforcement or consolidation of language. So reading the Leisure Centre website to find out how to get there and when it is open, phoning to make a formal appointment with the Leisure Centre manager and interviewing him/her, interviewing customers using the centre and writing up the trip afterwards give pupils a reason to speak, read, write and listen for a purpose. Teaching would be a different job if all our pupils arrived fired up and ready to exend their basic communication skills every day without a specific purpose in mind. Enriching the educational environment by using the real world as a context works really well - see the Learning outside the Classroom research recently for a good range of examples.
The purpose of the Building a Culture of Achievement briefings is to look at a variety of ways of improving the experience of pupils-ways that also improve their attainment in core subjects-as teachers and parents i think that might be something we can agree on?

Leonard James's picture
Tue, 08/05/2012 - 19:02

Could it be the prospect of using the facilities of the leisure centre instead of spending an afternoon in school than gets the students 'fired up' rather than the mind numbing tasks described here?

Ian Lynch's picture
Tue, 08/05/2012 - 09:21

The entire QCF and EQF are based on competence based assessment. The EQF references to all national assessment frameworks across Europe. There are 30,000 shared units on the UK regulatory IT system alone. If we are preparing children for Lifelong Learning at least some of what we do in schools should reflect the majority learning and assessment methods outside that they will come into. Teaching children to self and peer assess, track their own progress and set their own targets is what is needed for entrepreneurs of the future and without them the country is destined to become a backwater. Academic and vocational learning can benefit. Its not an either or, its a both.

Leonard James's picture
Tue, 08/05/2012 - 19:12

Who says we are preparing children for lifelong learning?

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Tue, 08/05/2012 - 19:14

I was chatting to a head today about the Modern Baccalaureate and she raised a question which was asked on Thursday - how does it fit with Raise Online and the need to demonstrate levels of progress?

I'm not an expert in the current Ofsted requirements but I was wondering if you could share your insights into these issues Ian?

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Tue, 08/05/2012 - 19:46

Leonard are you on the grumpy tablets tonight?

Leonard James's picture
Tue, 08/05/2012 - 20:23

It is a genuine question.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Tue, 08/05/2012 - 20:37

My apologies Leonard. I thought preparing students to engage with life long learning was a universally accepted objective of modern education.

Ian Lynch's picture
Tue, 08/05/2012 - 20:46

Firstly, I'm not a particular expert in Raise On-line so anyone that knows better please correct. My understanding of Raise On-line is that it uses the standard DfE measures and indicators to do a lot of number crunching to arrive at particular set of global performance indicators for a school as an organisation. That is its purpose, primarily to provide organisational performance measures. While individual pupils can be identified in performance measures relative to peers, mostly this information is used by managers rather than the pupils themselves. The purpose of ModBac is very different. It is primarily a vehicle for recognising an individual's progress, achievements and breadth of experience going beyond academic performance indicators and with the focus on the involvement of that individual. It is underpinned by optional cloud based tracking software that supports self and peer assessment and the whole philosophy is to support and celebrate personalised learning. From a simple practical point of view authentication of all the key learning outcomes and experiences through a single certificate is outside the scope of raise on-line but of real value to the individual and employers.

andy's picture
Tue, 08/05/2012 - 21:15

Ian: I agree with your position other than to highlight that in relation to the Mod Bacc it depends which pathway a student takes as to the extent of its impact on RaiseOnline e.g.: students can undertake a broad range of GCSEs Eng, Ma, ICT, MFL and also impact their best 8. This is not an exhaustive intro but if you contact Archbishop Sentamu Academy or Marius Frank, CEO, ASDAN they will let you have more detail.

Ian Lynch's picture
Tue, 08/05/2012 - 21:16

Leonard, there has been a consensus for quite a number of years that teaching children to learn how to learn is a key goal for school education. There is good research evidence that shows that if this is done well, academic outputs in all subjects improve. http://bit.ly/KM9hRk
Moreover, Lifelong learning is something we have no choice in. Perhaps with better preparation at school we would get better value beyond school. Those that do it well are likely to have more fulfilling lives and a country that does it well is more likely to be a good place to live.

Ian Lynch's picture
Tue, 08/05/2012 - 21:30

Andy, I should have said that I'm involved in the design of the ModBac so I understand that there are different routes. The route(s) adopted is/are really down to the school. I didn't mean to give the impression that ModBac could not have a positive impact on Raise On-line. I was kind of assuming that it was implicit that if we can improve motivation in individuals it is self-evident that performance will rise - in some cases beyond the scope of the current performance measures. This is related to the earlier point about life long learning. Teaching children to learn how to learn is seen by some as an opportunity cost in cramming in the knowledge to scrape that grade C. The research evidence seems to say the exact opposite but getting people to believe this is difficult as is anything that is non-intuitive. Much of science is non-intuitive to non-scientists. Ironically, the oft quoted Finns seem to have grasped this rather better than we have. Our response seems to be the Finns are top performers so let's not do what they do, let's do what the Secretary of State did when he was at school umpteen years ago :-)

leonard james's picture
Wed, 09/05/2012 - 05:31

Rebecca you need to get out more. On the frontline it is all about the grades, it has to be.

leonard james's picture
Wed, 09/05/2012 - 05:37

Ian I am always amused by things that simultaneously claim to focus on 'independent' and 'collaborative' learning.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Wed, 09/05/2012 - 11:36

"Rebecca you need to get out more."

It's wonderful to see that there are some far better informed people than me commenting so I'm going to take your advice and try and get some sunshine.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Wed, 09/05/2012 - 06:39

It's easily possible to do both during part of a lesson let along during a course.

leonard james's picture
Thu, 10/05/2012 - 04:46

Most teachers do this anyway which begs the question why do ASDAN?

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Wed, 09/05/2012 - 06:40

(sorry - posted this below - it was meant to be here).
This research report is all about the grades.

Ian Lynch's picture
Wed, 09/05/2012 - 08:43

Leonard, Independent and collaborative learning are easy to reconcile. Independent dimension is to be able to direct your own learning independently (The lack of this dimension leads to the prevalent dependency culture we see almost everywhere). The collaborative dimension is working with peers, often in teams adopting a range of roles including leadership. Again vital in most occupations. I'm not saying there is no tension between the two but a good teacher will understand the balance needed in both these important dimensions of learning. Grades are important but it should not be "ALL about them". Manifestly some very successful people have had low or no grades. Grades are a means to an end, they are not an end in themselves. Ironically most of the research evidence seems to say that the route 1 approach to grades is less effective than other methods, especially those less motivated to learn simply to achieve grades. As Einstein said, insanity is doing the same things and expecting to get a different result. The "if it moves measure it" approach to learning facts for exams is largely what has dominated for the last 50 years at least. Why do you think that more of it is going to make any real difference to improve education outputs?

leonard james's picture
Thu, 10/05/2012 - 05:12

Why is it that advocates of extreme progressivism see fit to lecture teachers about the drawbacks of exam culture? I know the drawbacks thankyou very much. There is a difference between describing a situation and advocating it.

Your ideas about 'independent' and 'collaborative' learning won't work in most schools. Firstly the requirement to teach a syllabus and pass exams pretty much prevents independent learning. Behaviour is also an issue - many children will simply waste time rather than teach themselves.

The idea of getting children to work together is actually quite funny. If they could join a team of adults then I'd see the point because children don't know how to work in groups and need adults to teach them.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Thu, 10/05/2012 - 06:14

"Why is it that advocates of extreme progressivism"
I've don't understand this idea that if students work together some of the time we have 'extreme progressivism'. The benefits of students doing some groupwork some of the time are taught throughout education because they are so clearly established.

Have you actually taught or do you have any experience whatsover of using interactive online systems to personally track and determine the syllabus progression of students? This 'progressive straw man' has some validity 20 years ago but could you explain what it is in the age where students do online work which gives teachers detailed feedback about their personal progress so that they can ensure progression in ways which were not conceived 20 years ago?

"children don’t know how to work in groups and need adults to teach them."
Yes. Teachers teach students how to do groupwork. Could you explain a bit about why you find this idea strange Leonard? Are you advocating for a society where children are unable to collaborate?

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Wed, 09/05/2012 - 08:54

ach it's not going where it was intended. Never mind.

andy's picture
Wed, 09/05/2012 - 10:27

Leonard, I agree that ASDAN has been given a tarnished reputation by too many schools that try to use it as a panacea for difficult/hard to reach students. Put bluntly and grossly unfairly for ASDAN, the qualifications have been seen as a low level quick fix by too many. However, where ASDAN principles are used across the curriculum then it has the power to enrich engagement and self-worth, which in turn support higher levels of attainment.

From the thrust of you comments "... more important that traditional subjects ...", I perceive that this is rooted in what is perhaps a narrow understanding of what education is about/for. Community service based activities are part and parcel of Active Citizenship and broadening a students local and national understanding of the world/community around them. For me citizenship is about nurturing/growing members of our society (local, regional national, international) who are more well informed and better placed to comprehend how to respond to the world around them. For me it should not be an examinable and labelling process that leaves people with the idea that they are first or second class/successful or failed citizens. Rather it is about helping them become more informed, more self-aware, more self-confident and more pro-active as members of the communities they live in.

Education is then way bigger and broader than simply "traditional subjects", whatever they are deemed to be. It is about the whole person.

It is also worth mulling over the fact that not every student will make use of or benefit from these traditional subjects (e.g. I haven't used my Science, woodwork or metal work skills studied at school since I left some 50 years ago).


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