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Minutes 16/08/10

Team still needs to ask Lesley some questions:

  • Why is there an extra year at key stage 4?
  • Are GCSE lessons 3 hours long?

The team's literature review will deal with two areas:

  • Issues around transitionary periods in education
  • Issues of inclusivity- especially regarding the inclusivity of the curriculum/ pedagogy

The team beleives that the transition from KS3-KS4 is likely to involve the following changes:

  • Transition from OM curriculum to a more traditional GCSE curriculum
  • Transitions from mixed ability classes to sets/streams
  • Transition in teaching style from ??? to a more didactic style.
  • Transition in the way the pupils are to work/learn, from groups based activity to more individualistic learning.

The team agreed that we would look at literature concerning each of these transitions.

The team noted that it was important to draw a distinction between fears/concerns over this transitionary period that were typical of pupils entering GCSE education from those that are specific to the transition from OM to a more traditional KS4.

The team noted that there is a possibility a number of teachers may be ideologically opposed to Academcy schools and thism may impact their perception of the transitions period.

The team noted that they understood there to be a relationship between curriculum, space and pedagogy and that while the issue of space would not be central to this project the team will bear this in mind.

There are possibly some issues of inclusivity regarding the OM curriculum (and KS4 curriculum) and our research will look at these potential issues, but will do so in the course of focusing on the transitionary period.

The team noted Paul's belief that the process of doing this research and of having the staff and pupils discuss this process of transition (possibly with each other as well as with the research team) may help alleviate some of the concerns around the transition and may even raise other issues that until now have been neglected.

Potential useful resource:

Tasks for the week:

  • To send a short summary outlining our research plan for September to Lesley by Thursday 19/08/10- ALL
  • The team will meet Thursday 2pm to discuss the research plan- team to read up on the research methods literature for this meeting- ALL
  • Reading on Michael Young - DANNY
  • Reading on mixed/set classrooms- RUTH
  • Readings on curriculum- Gareth
  • Readings on teaching styles/Pedagogy- ALL
  • Readings on Primary-Secondary transition- Ruth
  • Readings on Middle-school transitions- Gareth
  • Research Warwick Institute of Education to find relevant expertise appropriate to the project- ALL
  • Email Jonathon N (IATL) for recommended literature- DANNY
  • All summaries of text and useful links to be put on the website

Minutes 23/08/10

Team agrees to start the observational/ interview research of the school on 9th Sept- 22nd Sept. This way all team members can be present for the first visit.

Team notes that Gareth is not fully available after 27th Sept. The report must be near completion by this date.

Team agress that it is a priority to get all material onto the shared webspace ASAP.

Team notes that the deadline for the first draft literature review is the 31st August. The online bibliography must be updated with all relevant materials by then.   

Key points from the literature


  • Sets lead to labelling. This can discourage pupils in the lower sets but also put pressure on those in the higher sets. Both potential consequences of setting can have detrimental affects upon pupil attainment  
  • Mixed ability classes often employ more creative pedagogies
  • In sets pupils are treated the same (as if the teacher were teaching one individual). Pupils may not feel important or that their needs are being dealt with, they are just part of a group.

Response to Curriculum

  • Respect- some curricula/ pedagogies increase the perception of being respected amongst pupils.
  • Curriculum as a barrier- highly institutionalised relationships between teacher- pupil. The curriculum encourages this.


  • High-status VS Low-Status knowledge (Young)
  • If schools are to develop individuals then subject content must keep up with the development of competencies.
  • Problems of teachers lacking specialist knowledge- focus ends up being on the learning process and not the development of deeper subject knowledge.

‘Background Noise’

  • Puberty
  • Peer groups
  • General (exam?) anxiety
  • New social interaction
  • Emotional changes linked with changing school
  • Different academic requirements
  • Change can = a reduction in coping capabilities = low self-esteem and low grades. This can be a vicious cycle.  

Inclusivity- Gender

  • Reading suggests that boys tend to react better to variety in the classroom and activity based learning.
  • Is there a gender difference in engagement with curriculum (e.g. OM) or is the gendered difference actually found in the reaction to disengagement?

Points of interest arising from Yr8 student feedback

  • There is a general apprehension of exams/ GCSE level
  • There is a perception that GCSE level requires greater maturity
  • Perception of GCSE lessons as more serious- greater need for time management etc
  • There is an issue around respect- respect for who/ by who?
  • What do the pupils mean when they speak of KS4 being characterised as more independent?
  • What is invovlved in the KS4 induction lessons?
  • Why did pupils make the subject choices that they did?
  • Excitement for the new space, technology, etc. This will need didentagnling from excitement/ apprehension about other issues.
  • Pupils are generally aware of a change in the curriulum (e.g. a shift away from competencies) and in pedagogy- the exercise that led to these findings may be part of the reason for that awareness.
  • Excitement over new friendships. This is possibly to do with being put into sets?
  • Need to consider how this data was collected.
  • Who/ What is AHSL? 

Tasks for the week:

  • Put all material online- ALL
  • Do methods reading for Thursday 12pm meeting- including ethics/ interview techniques/ recording data/ ethonography- ALL
  • Post research questions on webspace- ideally by Thursday 12pm- ALL
  • Read Ball's Beachside Comprehensive study- Ruth
  • Readings on Primary/Secondary school transitions- Ruth
  • Readings on inclusivity and gender- Ruth
  • Read/ Recall book recommended by Jonothan- Ruth
  • Readings on English middle-schools- Gareth
  • Further readings on curriculum (resource provided by Christine Bradford)- Gareth
  • Further reading on 'background noise'- Gareth
  • Reading on inclusivity and SEN- Danny
  • Update website list and scan for useful material- Danny
  • Literature Review first draft to Danny by morning Tuesday 31st- ALL
  • The online bibliography must be updated with all relevant materials by Tuesday 31st- ALL

Minutes 26/08/10

Tasks for the week 1st Sept-8th September

  • Read a selection of methods texts to build on our discussion of methods/ ethics – Bryman/ Hammersley and Atkinson, May are all good texts to read from.
  • Methods reading should be on- issues of access/ interview techniques/ ethics and anything else that seems relevant.

Develop research questions, ensuring that we have suitable and clearly worded questions for each of the following groups/ areas:

  • General/ contextual questions
  • Questions for joint OM/KS4 teachers
  • Questions for KS4 teachers
  • Questions for pupil’s about curriculum/ setting/ pedagogy, etc
  • Questions on inclusivity- possible some specific to gender