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  • Writer's pictureTom Hopkins-Burke

The Weekly Review on Teachers Talk Radio: 14 January 2024

Missed our Weekly Review - the show where we review the week in education? Catch up with the headlines and the discussion here...

 

This Sunday's Weekly Review considered three key stories from the world of education. Nathan Gynn was joined by a Teachers Talk Radio panel of Hannah Wilson, Kathryn Taylor and John Gibbs to discuss transphobic bullying in schools, exam remarks and the DfE's crackdown on persistent absence.


The Teachers Talk Radio panel for the Weekly Review, featuring Nathan Gynn, Hannah Wilson, John Gibbs and Kathryn Taylor.

 


Left: Education Secretary Gillian Keegan.  Right: a demonstration with people holding placards saying "biology is not destiny".

The government has published its long-awaited guidance for England's schools on youth transition. While this guidance does not place an outright ban on social transition, some parents and transgender students are worried about barriers young people questioning their gender identity might now face in schools. Here's what our panel had to say:


John Gibbs

"Schools need to be aware of safety and that they can do a lot of harm without meaning to. This isn't proper guidance - it's akin to a moral panic."


Kathryn Taylor

"If there are some students who are genuinely suffering with gender dysphoria and we do nothing, there is harm. If we allow students to socially transition and they then regret it, there's harm. We don't know which people are who. On transphobic bullying, that must not be excused or allowed. We cannot add to the distress our young people might be facing."


Hannah Wilson

"From someone who has taught a lot of trans students through the years, it's really important that we have a place where they can be comfortable. Telling your parents is a really big deal. When it comes to changing names on registers, it's important that parents are involved."


Want to explore this in greater depth? Here's a show for you...



John Gibbs was joined by Kirsty Ruthven, a teacher and school leader, to discuss gender stereotyping in schools and why gender is always such a difficult issue for schools.


 

A graph from TES showing the number of exams by subject with grade changes of two or more after reviews.  The three highest subjects are English Literature, English Language and Art and Design subjects.

Ofqual's most recent report on Reviews of Marking and Moderation for the 2023 summer examination series has shown that nearly 24,000 GCSE grades in English, Maths and Science have had to be changed after review. Ofqual data also shows that nearly 800 grades changed by more than two grades. So what needs to change in the exams system to make it more reliable? Our panel shared their thoughts:


Hannah Wilson

"In Art, marking is very subjective. One person might 'get it' and another might not. There are people who have taught GCSE coursework for ten years and are now having their marks moved down - it seems to be down to which moderator you have... One of my friends marks English, and you are sent your allotted number to mark - but what isn't done goes into the 'pool'. It's a gold rush for the examiners, but students who fall into the pool aren't going to be marked as well as the others."


Kathryn Taylor

"Middle-class parents push more for exam remarks and have more resources to support them [compared to working-class parents]. In our grammar school in English, as much as we don't teach to the test, I have wondered whether teaching students to explicitly signpost in their answers would help their chances in the exam."


John Gibbs

"Exam marking is a problem fundamentally and philosophically. It's an arbitrary process. Some schools can afford to put in lots of appeals, and others can't... anyone who's examined realises it's a highly subjective process where scripts are read rapidly under pressure by someone who's poorly paid, which is randomly checked by someone in a similar situation."


Interested in learning more about the exam marking and appeals process? We've got the show for you...



Adam Spence and Brent Poland look at the biggest stories from A Level results day, and Tom Hopkins Burke shares some secrets from the examiners - just how reliable are the grades that are being handed out?


 

An advertising campaign by the DfE to promote attendance in schools.  It says "This morning, she was worried about school... but look at her now!"

The government has launched its "Moments Matter, Attendance Counts" campaign to drive up attendance and tackle persistent absence. There will be 18 new attendance hubs across six regions - but the government has faced criticism from some parents and school leaders for its 'insensitive' messaging (above). Our panel reflected on this:


Nathan Gynn

"If one day missed is so important to education, what does that say about our schooling?"


John Gibbs

"The audience for the DfE attendance campaign is the readers of the Daily Mail, who think that parents are letting their children get away with not going to school. The adverts are deeply patronising and the DfE doesn't understand the world of the school refuser."


Kathryn Taylor

"When I saw some of those DfE adverts, I just thought they didn't have a clue about the attendance situation. Until you are somebody who has to deal with school refusers and knows exactly the sorts of things that go on, with visits to A&E and self-referrals to social services, it's very easy to tell kids and parents to toughen up."


Attendance is a thorny issue. Here's a resource that might help you and your school...



TTR Collections are groups of four shows from our archives grouped around a particular domain specialism. Our latest Collection on attendance covers the following:


📖 Square Pegs: inclusivity, compassion and fitting in (with Nathan Gynn and Ellie Costello)

⚡️ Re-engaging learners with barriers to attendance (hosted by Marie Greenhalgh)

🏅 100% Attendance Awards and term-time holidays (hosted by Joseph Hammond)

🤗 Belonging (hosted by Nathan Gynn)


You can access all four of these shows by clicking the button above!


 

Want to listen to the discussion in full? Catch up with the full show, plus a message from our sponsors John Catt Educational, here.


A graphic for our sponsors John Catt: educational publishers since 1959.

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