Semester 1 – A reflection

Reflect on one of the most important moments for your professional development in semester 1 and write a post about what you think you have learned from this critical incident and what the process of reflection is beginning to mean to you.

Being entirely honest, beginning semester 1 I was doubtful of how much I was going to enjoy the content that lay ahead of me. Upon initial review, it didn’t seem overly related to Primary Education and I initially predicted I was in for a rather boring few months. However I am pleased to say this wasn’t the case.

The Values module focused on societal issues that I was interested in and could relate to (such as disability, racism and LGBT), but also covered some which were a little more unfamiliar to me and I wasn’t overly aware of initially such as poverty. I chose to focus on LGBT for my assignment as this was the societal issue that I  related to the closest. Researching it in greater depth Studying these societal issues and researching some in further depth for my assignment allowed me to not only broaden my understanding further but also make the connection between the module and the core principals of Primary Education. The reason for it’s presence in our education clicked and I understood it’s relevance and importance. Having an understanding of these issues and how to go about tackling them is a vital part of the  toolkit necessary to be a good Primary Teacher. On reflection, I wish that I had spent less time immersing myself in my chosen societal issue and more time actually compiling my essay and considering my academic Referencing. I under estimated how long including references would take and that is a point I endevour to improve upon in future submissions.

Also on the Working Together module, initially I was a tad skeptical of it’s relevance and importance to me as an Education student; after all I was training to be teacher not a Social Worker. However, like the Values module I soon realised it’s importance on not just me as an Education student, but all the Social Work and CLD students alongside me. A primary teacher, Social Worker, or CLD have to be aware of each other and the links that they have to ensure the welfare of every child trusted in their care is always considered and upheld. All three agencies can see a situation from a different angle and together can compile a very detailed understanding of that situation.

On a personal level Semester 1 at University has been a wonderful experience for me. It has allowed me to look back on recent chapters of my life in a reflective light. It has allowed me to have more confidence in my own abilities and believe in myself more. I didn’t think it had made an overly significant impact until it came to the build up of New Year, when like everyone else I began to think what I could do with it. However instead of magnifying my shortfalls I found myself thinking about what areas of myself I could pull up in. There are several parts of my experience that contribute to this; from the people I’ve met and friendships made, to University Coursework, and to personal changes that I’ve made.

All of these factors combined make me look forward to the rest of my time at University, and the experiences that it will entail.

Equality in the classroom

There is a general conception that primary teaching is a female job; surely women are more caring and more suited to working with young children?

School is a very very important place for children. It not only educates them and gives them the skills and abilities needed for later life, but it is where they learn a vast majority of their social skills and begin to form opinions and beliefs. Teachers often become role models for children, and with such an uneven divide between female and male teachers a a large chunk of children will have a predominantly female role model in their time in Primary School. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t a bad thing, however in my opinion a more mixed experience of having both male and female teachers would be more beneficial to the child.

On average 20% of teachers are male, with lots of schools having no male teachers among the staff. There are several possible reasons why this number is so low. One of the main contributing factors, I believe, is the stereotypes that exists with being a teacher and being a man. The fear of being labelled as something or someone that you are not, or looked upon differently than your colleagues because of your gender.


A few years ago when I began studying at college and people asked what I was studying, my response of Early Education and Childcare seemed to stun them. They’d suddenly go quiet and in some cases quickly divert the conversation. How was it so implausible that a man would want to study around and enter a career based in childcare? Unfortunately the dated stereotype that Primary Teaching is a vocation best suited to women still exists within some; who still believe that men have to go on to do traditionally “blokey” jobs such as be a builder or a plumber.

On my various school placements I was always made welcome, most of the staff commenting something along the lines of “it’s good to get a male student”. This initially baffled me. I assumed they’d all had male students before however this isn’t the case everywhere, as one school I was placed in had never had a male student before and it wasn’t the only one. The scale of the problem was becoming clear.

On my early years nursery placement we went on an outing which involved walking through town to the local park. This was nothing out of the ordinary, however the experience of the looks that some people were giving me as we walked was not pleasant. An 18 year old male walking with a group of twenty 2 year olds, holding one child’s hand as we crossed the road. I was being judged. If I were an 18 year old girl walking through town with the same group of children and the other staff would I have merited a second glance?

People’s attitudes won’t change unless we make them change. By showing them that men can do it too. Men can be positive role models and have a successful career in nurturing and teaching young people to become intelligent, respectful, caring, well rounded individuals.



“Get a grip” attendance campaign

An article published by the BBC caught my attention today, concerning pupils absences from school and the approach undertaken by one council to tackle it.

The “Get a grip” campaign was launched by East Sussex County Council which recently has faced significant backlash, and I can understand why.

The nature of the campaign can be encapsulated with one sentence “Good reasons for missing school – there are none”. This is alongside advice on “being more organised” the night before school.

In my opinion this alienates parents makes them feel like and come across as sub standard parents. The use of derogatory language will not motivate those who are guilty of not managing their child’s attendance effectively. Additionally, it could make the school and it’s staff appear more hostile and unapproachable.

It will also make parents who have always followed the rules and guidelines that the schools and local authorities set feel patronised, as if they are not being a proper parent who is not the one in control.

An overlooked issue by this campaign is those with dealing with serious and ongoing illnesses. Some children are unfortunate to have a long term health condition that makes everyday activities such as getting up and going to school considerably more difficult. This can be distressing enough for parents, and to then have a flyer sent through their door from the council telling them to “get a grip” on their child’s school attendance is far from helpful or constructive. Not the positive, friendly, approachable message we as future teachers are encouraged to promote.

One of the main issues I have with the council’s introduction of this campaign is that it contradicts one of their other guidelines; that parents should keep a child off school for 48 hours after a viral sickness bug. Parents are having to make a choice between the two guidelines. Which one are they going to break?

Don’t get me wrong I understand the reasoning behind the council’s campaign. Attendance within schools is carefully monitored and there are going to inevitably be some children in every school that have irregular and unexplained absences over the school year. However, to tarnish all parents with the same brush is not an appropriate way to deal with the issue.

In essence while this campaign is well principled and would work in theory practically this it is isolating to the child and parent and overall regressive for the future of teaching

Resource Allocation Task

in the room there were 5 groups of students, each group was issued a large envelope with unknown materials. The brief given was to create a help guide pack for students next year who have just begun university, based on any facts or helpful information that we felt would have been helpful to us when starting university that we weren’t aware of.

Each group proceeded to open their envelope and discuss what materials were available and what possible items we could create to meet the criteria of the brief. My group had a wide range of materials that allowed for various items to be created; making it relatively easy for us to meet the task criteria.

We all started to work on our items in pairs. Whilst doing this Derek walked around the room observing what each group was doing. My group were praised for the way we all worked together and the ideas we had come up with. He did this with some other groups and whilst he did comment on some of the other groups work the levels of praise were not as high as we had recieved, and one group were nearly forgotten about altogether one more than one occasion. At the time our group didn’t think much of this and continued to work on our ideas.

Half way through the exercise, Derek approached our group with a tin of biscuits and offered them to everyone in the group. I didn’t notice that he never offered any to the rest of the groups and don’t think the rest of the group did either.

As all the groups finished and begun to present their work, it slowly became clear that the two first groups had been very creative and had plenty of materials whilst the final groups were very restricted with what they were able to do by the materials that were made available to them.

Once everyone had presented their ideas Derek revealed that there was a hidden agenda behind the task; that we had all been given different materials therefore the task would be easier for some and more difficult for others. Some other groups had clearly picked up on this as their materials were considerably more basic than others and began to discuss their thoughts as the task had progressed.

Within my group there was a degree of egocentrism, as we didn’t notice the obstacles that the other groups had in achieving the task criteria as we had more core resources and more options available to us.

This exercise was relevant to us as prospective teachers, as this is something that we are likely to come across in our future careers. It enacted circumstances that are likely to occur in the classroom; that not everyone has the same opportunities, resources, and obstacles to pass. Not everyone is in the same situation, comes from the same background, or has the same prospects, It’s important for teachers to consider this and implement this in the classroom. We are going to have a room full of children from all walks of life. Whilst some may have a very stable home life with plenty of support outside the classroom others might not be so fortunate. Therefore supporting them and making them feel valued and equal to others is part of the duty of care that they aim to provide.


Social Media Input on Racism and Patriarchy

Prior to the input I had a base understanding of the terms race and patriarchy, and would have grouped them alongside prejudice and discrimination. Race refers to the biological similarities and differences between people that differ to those deemed as the norm by society, and prejudice and discrimination refers to a person or group of people being treated differently based on preconceived opinions that aren’t reinforced by true fact, or characteristics about themselves that they are unable to control.

The presence of discrimination and prejudice based on a persons racial background is unfortunately still present in society today. Instances such as terrorist attacks can result in cohorts of people assigning responsibility to another group of people based on characteristics that are outwith their control (such as the colour of their skin or country of origin). I was aware that racial discrimination has always been present throughout history across the globe however after the input I was aware to a much greater extent the scale racism and patriarchy blighted society throughout history.

After the input I evaluated what had been covered and this combined it with my prior knowledge on the issue. It is something that is important to consider as a person going into the education profession. Ensuring that awareness and understanding is promoted and discussed in the classroom to prevent history both in past decades and present repeating itself