The topic of the week is Amjad Ali on Inclusion, Pupil Premium and What Amjad learned from Sir Tim Brighouse.
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Amjad is Assistant Head at a large secondary school in Oxford – Cheney School. He describes the school as ‘massively diverse’ in terms of ethnic make-up and entry standards. Cheney is an inner city school amongst the ‘Dreaming Spires’ of Oxford. Prior to this role, Amjad held senior leadership roles in several schools and started off his educational journey as a teaching assistant in prisons. All this was after studying Law at university – a route which didn’t appeal to Amjad at all.
Amjad has had the privilege of being mentored by Tim Brighouse, one of the most influential British educationalists. This, remarkably, came about as a result of Amjad presenting at a Teachmeet. He had gone along to the event with the plan of presenting and then being asked to join the school by the headteacher – a lofty aim! When he found out that Tim Brighouse was there, he asked him if he would stay to hear his presentation. Afterwards, Tim approached Amjad’s current headteacher and told her to give him a job! A relationship between the two developed from there. Amjad says that Tim makes you believe in yourself.
Teachers are very modest and very self-critical so when Tim Brighouse tells you that you should share the great things you are doing with others, it’s awe-inspiring.
What makes an inclusive school?
If you are truly inclusive, you don’t need to talk about it. You just practise it. Amjad believes in equity over equality. He tells his students that he will not treat them all the same – he will treat them fairly.
A school that is truly inclusive is extremely equitable but may not be extremely equal.
To be truly equitable, an adult needs to know the students inside out – their needs, their difficulties, their strengths. You need to know everything about the young people, the surrounding area, the difficulties in nationalities, the difficulties in the nation. An inclusive teacher demonstrates this seamlessly. Know your students, not just about students as a whole.
What are you doing about Pupil Premium and what is having the most impact?
Amjad feels there is always more to be done on Pupil Premium. He believes that we need to identify the barriers precisely and break them down. The use of Pupil Premium needs to be much more creative than it is now. We don’t need to ‘chunk’ huge portions of money – we can break it down. Some school have now spent up to £2 million pounds via Pupil Premium and we need to look at what we have achieved and what we are going to achieve if it continues for another 4 or 5 years.
Creative approaches to the Pupil Premium:
- Use half of the SEN and Pupil Premium money to allocate an academic mentor per year group. That mentor looks at and tracks the data and becomes a one-to-one tutor, mentor and support.
- Find the best teachers, those who are making the most improvement and pay for them to have extra time.
- Lease cars for staff to go and pick up Pupil Premium students from their houses.
- Tell Pupil Premium pupils that have been allocated money to help them so they are involved.
Sometimes it won’t be possible to precisely quantify the results of Pupil Premium spending but Amjad is happy to explain the effect it has had on an individual student – he points out that he is not working for the collective Pupil Premium students – it’s every individual student.
Agility-Teaching Toolkit and Amjad’s blog
In a previous school, Amjad was involved in setting up a blog where all the teachers were encouraged to contribute ideas. Eventually, Amjad took over the blog and it is now one of the top educational websites – the Agility-Teaching Toolkit.
Amjad’s blog is called New to the Post.
Pivotal Podcast Pocketbooks
Newly-created Pivotal Podcast Pocketbooks are now available from Amazon including one on Restorative Practice. There will be a huge range of Pocketbooks from Pivotal Education, starting with the edited transcripts of some of the most popular episodes of the podcast.
The idea of releasing written versions of episodes came from listeners who wanted to be able to make notes and use the content in different ways. If you would like a particular episode to be converted into an ebook, please let us know!
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