New for 2018/19, this will be the space where PD North members and some special guest Bloggers will share ideas and experiences. Watch this space and, if you would like to write a Blog for us, on the topic of further / adult community education and skills, please contact Chloë at email@example.com
WORD: 300 – 1,000 words. Keep it short and engaging. Something folks can read in their break, on the bus or in the staffroom when they have a spare moment.
STYLE: Flexible. We’re interested in: Voices from the classroom/staffroom. Resource explorations. Reviews of books, blogs and events. Think pieces. Descriptions of PDNorth exchange activity. Critical thoughts.
REFERENCES: If you choose to mention other people’s work, events, videos, resources etc please reference them and give them the kudos they deserve.
A colleague asked me about digital resources for teaching English so she could support one of her exchange groups. They were looking for resources with low impact on workload but positive impact on learners. I thought I’d reformulate my reply into a blog but then decided that sharing my email reply would be just as authentic and play with the traditional lines of a blog post. I hope you find some or all of it useful 😊 ~ Chloë
Oh goodness – where to begin 😃. I’ll be as brief but
as informative as possible:
PDNorth Youtube Please recommend our screencasts via our PDNorth Youtube account. There are lots more to be added from an English & Maths PoV over the coming months too, from the OTLA Digital folks. Our screencasts have an element of practical ‘how to’ but most importantly they include pedagogical uses (and limitations) from real life experience in the FE classroom/training room/library!
One of the latest blogs on PDNorth is about Screencasting* and that again includes my experience of using it for ESOL/English with some practical examples and suggestions. Read it here: https://pdnorth.org.uk/pd-north-blog/
Shaping Success Courses Perhaps signpost practitioners to the digital approaches / multimedia webinars we have via Shaping Success (£25 per person or free if they fit one of the freebie criterion)? These webinars speak about specific websites / apps and how they can be used to teach English &/or Maths but these require a little play time to explore. We also encourage people to think critically about using digital in the classroom (ie not just for sparkles!). More info: https://ccpathways.co.uk/shaping-success
Just…websites! Average bog standard websites can be really useful for English teaching to explore comprehension and navigation whilst using websites they may already use (or need help being able to use). These days job applications are all online / shopping online is more convenient / accessing transport timetables etc so embedding personal digital skills and digital literacies with everyday websites is paramount.
An example of one ESOL lesson I did (at an FE college in a computer room): Students accessed an Excel spreadsheet (quick one I made) on a Padlet and downloaded it. It had a ‘shopping list’ of 15 items on it for which they had to find and price up at Asda / Tesco / Sainsburys online. Then they worked out the total etc to see which one was the cheapest. At the end they uploaded their document to the Padlet so I had a record of their work (also useful for RARPA). Okay, I’m using Padlet, Excel and 3 websites there but they also wanted to know how to use Excel and upload/download/add an attachment so I incorporated that into the session too. It took me minutes to make the Excel document and add it to a Padlet so it wasn’t a burden on my time (I know this is a real concern with digi stuff) and I reused the document / Padlet with other classes. However, you could just do a paper version of the Excel Sheet and learners could access the supermarkets on their phone (if they have access to one).
Blogs I highly recommend using a blogging website when teaching English. Particularly reading. The one I used originally a few years ago was Blogger* but issues with that included needing a Google Account/Email address which was a barrier to many of my learners. I ended up turning to Edmodo* as that ticked lots of boxes and has a familiar interface (it looks like Facebook with similar functionality). I’ve gauged from colleagues though that Edmodo hits it off with ESOL learners better than English. Phone Apps Specifically ones that come with the phone and don’t rely on learners downloading things/using their space. For example: voice recorder is great for recording themselves before writing an essay. Or recording a convo and transcribing it. Also good for practicing pronunciation (ESOL).
I know it’s easier said than done, but I truly believe in the importance of sharing with colleagues who you work with. Many departments/organisations don’t do this (especially if tutors are 0hrs or don’t work together physically etc) but it really does help to lighten everyone’s load if everyone shares something. Infact this reminds me of a quote (by George Bernard Shaw) that Sue shared with us which I think helps to sum up the purpose of PDNorth tbh:
“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we
exchange these apples, then you and I will still each have one apple.
But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange
these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”
Hope this helps – let me know 😊
* If you would like to use platforms like these, I’d recommend introducing them at the beginning of the year and using them regularly in order to increase user experience and recognition. Don’t waste time introducing a ‘flavour of the week’ because most of your lessons will be taken up with the initial ‘getting to know you’ stage of a new platform. This will frustrate your learners, increase your workload and decrease the teaching/learning time significantly. With any digital elements of your TLA ask: Could I get the same result easier without the tech aspect? What (if anything) does the tech aspect add to the learning?
At PD North HQ, we are
extremely excited to be moving into year three of the programme. PD North is
going from strength to strength, and our ever growing membership list is bursting
with passionate practitioners from across the North (and beyond), each of whom
are as excited as we are about improving teaching, learning and assessment
practices for learners through practitioner-led research and knowledge
exchange. With this in mind, we felt now would be an excellent time to
introduce our 2019-2020 PD North team, so you know who we are and why we are so
passionate about the our work for PD North and across #FE (in all its
About Chloë – PD North’s Creative Director
Hi I’m Chloë, PD North’s Creative
Director. After working on the PD North project for the past two years I’m incredibly
excited to take the team into year three. Every year the project has grown
following feedback from members as we aimed to make an exchange network that
had practitioners from all parts of the sector at its heart.
The first year of PD North I was
working ‘on the ground’ as project officer for the North West. Last year I was
working behind the scenes, building our social media presence via YouTube,
Twitter, our blog and the twice monthly newsletter. This year I’m looking
forward to pushing the project forward by supporting our team in encouraging
practitioners to make PD North their own.
About Kathryn – PD North’s Network Meeting Coordinator
Hello I’m Kathryn, and I
coordinate the professional exchange network meetings for PD North. For the
past 25 years, I have worked in Education and Training, either in Work Based
Learning, Welfare to Work or Adult Skills and I have over 20 years Management experience
in this Sector. I currently work as an Operations Manager at a Training
Provider that focuses on upskilling adults in Functional Skills English and
Initially, I was
involved in setting up the Professional Exchanges in the North East and Cumbria
and supported Petrina Lynn in the management of the exchange groups. I
have worked with PD North for the past 2 years supporting the Regional Leads in
organising meetings, arranging CPD days and day to day correspondence with
I am excited about going
into Year three as I can see how much the sector has developed, shared and
moved forward as a result of the exchange groups and happy that I am part of
About Petrina – PD North lead for the North East and Cumbria
l’m Petrina and l’ve worked with the sector for more years than l care to admit
Learning and development has been a passion of mine for most of my working
life. Consequently, when the opportunity to become involved in Professional
Exchange Networks (PENs) became available, l jumped at it.
have been a big part of my life for the past few years, particularly focussing
on the North East and Cumbria provider base.
existing network has established seven groups across the patch based on agendas
identified by practitioners. I am never ceased to be amazed at the outcomes
from the groups and the productive networking that is established.
forward l feel a sense of enthusiasm and optimism at the prospect of working
with you all again.
will be in touch soon about year three. Anyone wishing to participate please
don’t hesitate to contact us.
About Gail – PD North lead for Yorkshire and Humber
Hi I’m Gail, Regional Lead for
Yorkshire and Humber. I’m looking forward to a new year for the Professional
Exchanges in our region – it is going to be an exciting one. This year my
focus will be on the word network. Although we will have fewer
networks the ones we have will be bigger and be informed by what the members
want and need. The expertise in the PENs last year was amazing as was the
members’ willingness to share and work together – in challenging times we need
this – we need our network community. So please get involved, I will be
in touch shortly with the dates of the first meetings. Don’t hesitate to
get in touch with me with your ideas. See you there!
About Punam – PD North lead for the North West
Hi I’m Punam, Regional Lead in the North West for the PD North
Professional Exchange Network. A core part of my role at PD North involves developing
networks and organising regional events. I am passionate about delivering
excellence and I combine an engaging enthusiasm with an attention to detail
which enables the organisations I support to feel safe enough to innovate for
excellence in a risk-positive way.
Having held many roles working within FE, ranging from
practitioner to senior manager working locally, regionally and nationally, I
appreciate the challenges in terms of strategic planning for an ever-changing
policy landscape, which compels senior managers to respond in a responsive
manner, realigning organisational priorities and strategies accordingly. This
professional history, together with a grounding in culture-changing Thinking
Environment processes, allows me to support providers with understanding and
empathy at appropriate levels of challenge.
I am looking forward to year three of this exciting opportunity working
with PD North members across the North West and beyond. I will be working with
my PEN’s to grow the membership of the networks and add to the increasingly diverse
range of organisations already involved. We will be focussing on hot topics and
the key development areas for organisations. The networks will provide an
opportunity to continue to share effective practice and provide support to
About Lou – PD North’s events lead
Lou and I’ve been involved with PD North over the last couple of years,
initially as Digital Nurse then moving into the PD North Events. That’s what’s
exciting me most about Year three! The events we held in the summer at
Liverpool, Durham Cricket Club and in Leeds were real highlights – educators
from across the North of England getting together to share ideas and learn new
stuff. Each of the days had the affirmative spirit that always happens when
practitioners get together who are critical – yes, and who challenge themselves
too – but who are never cynical. They were feelgood days, so I’m delighted to
be doing the same again next year with the PD North team. Look out for dates
from us in early September – PD North on Tour!
PD North sits with the other work I do nationally to raise the profile of FE, particularly FE research and voices from the sector. Although my focus is pretty much the events for Year 3, I’d still be delighted to support you to get writing, podcasting and publishing the stories of your practice. You can always contact me on Twitter @loumycroft or by phone 07779135201.
About Vicky – PD North’s virtual action research group lead (and occasional
creative content developer)
Hello I’m Vicky and I’ve been working in education in various guises since 2005. I’m an Access to HE specialist, as well as spending a lot of my working life in the wonderful worlds of community education and community youth justice. I hope that I’ll be meeting (and re-meeting) many PD North friends as we begin our latest online action research professional exchange series (starting September 2019). During these interactive sessions we will be blending talks and training from experienced FE action researcher-practitioners with the opportunity to explore, discuss and reflect upon your own research projects. You can often find me on Twitter – @VickyMeaby, where I get very excited about collaborative working and the power of participatory action research as an enabler of socially just teaching, learning and assessment practices.
PD North member Rebecca Gillett from Myerscough College shares her fascinating research into student mental-ill health.
“A mental health
epidemic is underway in Britain’s schools” (Moran 2019)
But is there really???
At the moment it seems
that we are hard pressed not to pick up a newspaper, see posts on social media
or internet news pages informing us that adverse mental health is on the rise. I
too seem to be coming in to contact with more students each year that identify
as having adverse mental health, a belief that seems to be shared by some
colleagues. Ultimately, I have the same goal that I am sure is shared by all
teachers; I want to ensure that I support students that identify as having
adverse mental health to reach their goals, aspirations and achieve their full
potential within the educational system. However, although I am empathic
towards the plight of these students I do question if there is true rise in
adverse mental health? Could there be other factors contributing to this
Scouring the internet
to source figures that document the prevalence of mental health disorders in Britain,
it becomes apparent that differing authors use different terminology and age
rages. The differences in age ranges and terminology used to quantify data can
sometime make it difficult to understand the true extent of the problem for the
16-18 year old age range. The best major survey to examine trends of mental
health in Britain appears to be that completed by NHS digital in 2017 and
published in 2018. This survey allows data to be compared to the previous
surveys completed in 1999 and 2004. However, although these surveys seemed to
be the best source of data on the prevalence of mental health disorders, prior
to 2017 16-18 year old were not included in the samples. Therefore, it becomes
very difficult to confirm that data validates the belief that there is a rise
in mental health disorders.
The NHS digital survey
documents 4 categories of mental health disorders; ‘Emotional disorders’,
‘Behavioural or Conduct disorders’, ‘Hyperactivity disorders’ and ‘Other less
common disorders’. Stepping away from my interest in the figures for 16-19 year
olds for a moment and viewing the data on the age bracket of 5-15 year olds, it
becomes apparent that ‘Emotional disorders’ are the only category that has seen
a rise in prevalence for children aged 5-15. Emotional disorders have risen
from 4.3% in 1999 to 5.8% in 2017, all other groups have stabilised in
frequency (NHS digital 2018). Included in the category of ‘Emotional disorders’
are 3 subcategorises; Depressive Disorders, Bipolar Affective Disorder/Manic
Episode and Anxiety Disorders. Anxiety disorders includes conditions such as;
Separation Anxiety, Generalised Anxiety
Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder,
Specific Phobia, Social Phobia, Agoraphobia, Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder, Other Anxiety Disorders and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (Vizard et al 2018). However, it cannot be assumed that the 1.5% rise in emotional
mental health disorders are directly transferable to 16-19 year olds, without
having previous statistics to compare the current findings with. Approximately
one in eight 17-19 year olds are documented as having an anxiety disorder and approximately
one in twenty 17-19 year olds are documented as having a depressive disorder (Vizard
et al 2018) but is this any worse than it was in 1999 for this age group?
is also not was it was; could the constructs of society also be contributing to
the higher reported figures of children and adolescents’ with emotional mental
health disorders? It is documented by Time to Change (2019) that the Attitude
to Mental Illness survey indicates a 9.6% change in the attitude of the public
during 2008-2016, with an estimated 4.1 million people having improved
attitudes towards mental health. By decreasing
the stigma attached to adverse mental health and creating a more
accepting society this must surely lead to increased public confidence in
disclosure of emotional mental health disorders.
Maybe this epidemic has always been there; maybe we are now just aware of its
existence. Could what we are seeing in the education system not be an explosive
rise of emotional mental health disorders but adolescents’ that now just feel
more comfortable in vocalising their troubles?
on the flip side of the coin, could it also be argued, that a change in what
degree of problem consists as an emotional mental health disorder has impacted
on the prevalence of these conditions? Research has documented to me the belief
of some authors that some children are identifying upsetting emotions as
emotional mental health disorders. The definition of adverse mental health may
have altered so much over recent years that normal human emotions are now being
misidentified as emotional mental health disorders. Could a moral panic around
adverse mental health be happening, McKinstry (2017) suggested that
‘gas-lighting’ is beginning to occur around mental illness; society is
convinced that once normal, acceptable emotions are actually a sign of
could we be making the mental health epidemic worse with our ‘love’ of
labelling? Labels can be placed with the
best of intensions; increasing the likelihood of access to services and
support. However, if the threshold has changed between experiencing emotional difficulties and that which requires treatment,
labels then placed for emotional mental health disorders will have increased in
prevalence. It is also no secret that mental health services are struggling to
meet demand, leaving adolescents’ that identify as having adverse mental health
without the required support. Coupling this with the self-fulfilling prophecy,
the placement of labels could be impacting on the figures for adverse mental
health; placing a label of adverse mental health could cause the sufferers to
identify more with the symptoms. Considering this with the belief that
upsetting emotions could be being misidentified from sufferers as a mental
health disorders in the first place, the self-fulfilling prophecy could
then occur and perpetuate the likelihood of adverse mental health.
So circling back to
where I started, is a mental health epidemic really underway? Figures support
that there is a rise in emotional mental health disorder, albeit for a
different age bracket. However, let’s assume for a moment that this figure rise
is directly transferable to the 16-19 year old age bracket, it appears that it
isn’t as simple as saying- “yes emotional mental health disorders are
increasing”. Societal influences, changes within definitions and labelling all
could have their part to play in an increasing number of adolescents’ with
emotional mental health disorders. Whatever the cause, the statistics suggest
that more adolescents’ will present identifying as having adverse mental health. Ultimately I suppose that as a teacher the
cause of the rise in prevalence will have no bearing on lesson delivery but
does help me to put in to perspective what current headlines are screaming at
T., Pearce, N., Davis, J., Sadler, K., Ford, T. Goodman, A., Goodman, R. &
McManus, S. (2018). Mental Health of
Children and Young People in England, 2017 Emotional disorders. Leeds: NHS