Nick Bentley is a Lead Practitioner for Access & Inclusion and Drama at an all-girls Secondary School in East London. In the spring term of 2017 he conducted an investigation into the use of drama in teaching William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and examined the impact of this on five students in a Year Nine “Nurture Group” class targeted at teaching Literacy and Social Skills. Drawing upon data including a teacher journal, excerpts of student writing and the reflective comments of teaching assistants, the investigation concluded that drama can complement young people’s reading, writing, oral communication and social skills, and contribute to giving them a voice.
Perdita Hatton-Brown is a SENCO and specialist SEND teacher. She leads the Personalisation Department in a secondary academy for girls in West London. The school has a mixed demographic, with high numbers of students with additional learning needs, economic disadvantange and for whom English is an additional language. In the course of her studies on the MTEACH Special Educational Needs, she had become interested in Lesson Study as a way to develop ‘universal interventions’ at a whole class teaching level for learners with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities. Her work documents the process and results of Action Research into using Lesson Study to develop inclusive teaching of Mathematics with Year 9 students, and was carried out in her school in 2015.
Lesson Study (LS) is a form of joint practice development that has been used for over 150 years in Japan. It is now widely used across East Asia and in some parts of the United States, but is a fairly recent phenomenon in the UK. It involves three teachers jointly planning, observing, and evaluating a cycle of three lessons. The exciting part is that the focus is on the learners and their progress and not on one another’s teaching; a key means of achieving this is the study, in each lesson, of the learning of two pre-selected ‘case-students’, who are closely observed. They are briefly interviewed about their experience of the lesson and their learning after each lesson. Student feedback and teacher observations are shared to inform the planning of the next lesson in the cycle. At the end of the cycle the LS team write a short report and share with the rest of the teaching staff. In Japan, some schools even set up ‘show lessons’ after school and invite parents and local dignitaries in. At the time of writing, LS had been recently used in the UK to explore mathematics pedagogy and to develop universal teaching for learners labelled with Moderate Learning Difficulties. It had also been used to apply the ‘graduated approach’ to assessing pupil needs. The literature around Lesson Study is generally overwhelmingly positive. It is cheap and quick, highly context specific, and teachers who take part generally report great gains from the process.