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Leadership webinar: social mobility in schools (video and webchat)

Discussion in 'Senior Leadership Team' started by AndrewFIS, Sep 29, 2017.

  1. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Why have efforts to promote social mobility in the UK been so unsuccessful? Can schools provide the answer?

    As part of the TES Leadership webinar series, I’ll be putting your questions to Christine Ryan, chair of TalentEd.

    We will examine how school leaders can be part of the change.

    Post your questions below now - and, if you can, join in our live webchat on October 24 at 4.30pm.

    Before that, you can watch a video we’ve made in which Christine and I discuss the issues, with key advice for school leaders.


    To access all the videos in the TES Leadership series, plus an exclusive database of grants available to schools, become a TES Leadership subscriber.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 16, 2017
  2. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member


    Don't forget to submit your questions below ahead of next week's webchat.

    Thank you.
  3. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    The webinar video will be available for seven days in this thread after the webchat. If you wish to view the webinar after 30th October or to access all the videos in the TES Leadership series, plus an exclusive database of grants available to schools, become a TES Institutional subscriber. You can find out more information here.
  4. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    Good afternoon and welcome to today’s webchat.

    The TES Leadership webchats give you the opportunity to put your questions to industry experts about key school management and operational issues.

    In a few moments I will hand you over to Andrew, who is editor of FIS, who will be hosting this week's hour-long webchat.

    Andrew and this week's guest, leadership expert panel member Christine Ryan, chair of TalentEd, who will be available for the next hour to answer your questions.

    If you have any questions please submit them below. Don't worry if we run out of time, any unanswered questions will be responded to and posted on this thread later this week.

    I'll now hand you over to Andrew.

    The content of, and information provided in, the TES Leadership webchats and their associated materials (including information posted in these forums in connection with the webchats) (the “Content”) is provided for general information purposes only. Any use you make of, or reliance you place on, the Content is entirely at your own risk. Professional or specialist advice, tailored to your specific circumstances, should always be obtained before taking (or refraining from) any action on the basis of the Content.

    Whilst TES Global and the panel of leadership experts make every effort to ensure the high quality and accuracy of the Content, TES Global and each leadership expert makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) concerning the Content. Neither TES Global nor any leadership expert will be responsible for any damage or loss related to any use of the Content.

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  5. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    Apologies for the late start of the webchat. We've had some technical issues today.
  6. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Hello and welcome to this webchat on social mobility. Joining me is Christine Ryan, chair of TalentEd. For those of you following this thread, please feel free to post your query. Remember to refresh your page to see the updates as they appear.

    Thanks for joining us, Christine.

    You were born into challenging circumstances and might have been written off because of that. Yet you have forged a really successful career.

    What was the key for you?
  7. christineryan1

    christineryan1 New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    It has to have been the solid grounding that I had in basic literacy and numeracy, which enabled me to access everything else. As a self-educator, most of my learning was through reading and so if I hadn’t been given that essential skill early in my primary education I would have been denied the most vital tool for changing my circumstances. For me, it was as a result of many hours sifting randomly through books in the local library that I first became interested in science, which has been my personal saviour.
  8. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Did you have significant mentors at key stages of your life or was it something that came from within you? Or something else?
  9. christineryan1

    christineryan1 New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    I would like to start by defining what I would mean by mentor in this context. A mentor can cover a very broad spectrum and be a source of support at every stage of life. For a young child they may simply be someone who helps them to be calm and feel that they matter, perhaps by engaging them in conversation or coaching them in hobby or interest. For older children, they might be supporting them academically or helping them to acquire social skills, and then for young adults they might be helping them to navigate further education or work progress. The key thing is that we cannot always assume that all children have an interested and protective adult in their life. It is an uncomfortable truth that not all adults, even sometimes parents, have the child’s best interests at heart and so that is why a mentor is so important.

    I didn’t have any mentors as a child but at a particularly difficult time, when I was 9 or 10, I was lucky enough on the occasional evening to find a quiet safe space with a neighbour. The calm it provided enabled me to cope and develop much needed resilience. Some schools now are particularly good at providing that quiet, safe haven. In my working life, my mentors came late into my career but they were no less valuable for that. For the most part I have had to be self-sufficient, driven by the certainty that I did not want to continue with the sort of life I had and that I saw all around me. Working in hotels from a very young age provided a glimpse of a world that other people had, where basic needs like hot running water, regular meals and heating were taken as a given. This type of life was completely outside of my experience and so I was very motivated do everything I could to have that life.
  10. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Does your experience provide a template for others?
  11. christineryan1

    christineryan1 New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    There are significant lessons I think that are transferable and there are also things that I know would have helped a lot that could be put in place. Crucially, I think we need to make much more effort to learn the lessons from those who manage to succeed rather than focussing on what creates the gap for those that fail. It is in the experience of the relatively few successes that we will discover the keys to unlocking progress for the many. As a society, there are some basic things we can do to provide rescue routes for struggling children but until we properly understand the successes we will continue to miss the things that make the biggest difference.
  12. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Is there a place for government in helping social mobility?
  13. christineryan1

    christineryan1 New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    Definitely. But it requires a proper understanding of the extent and nature of the barriers, which could be anything from poor health and well-being because children lack the basic necessities of care and safety, routes to qualifications or skills that are impenetrable to those outside of the ‘normal’ process, a poorly thought out benefits system that has inbuilt disincentives to improve and many more daily obstacles that have to be overcome……….and we haven’t even touched on the social prejudices, misconceptions and unconscious bias that leads to unfair discrimination. Some individuals will have all of these negative factors impacting on them, whilst others will encounter some at different stages of their lives.

    As a society, we should be much more prepared to look for the potential in an individual and not just rely on past attainment. For the least advantaged, no matter at what stage, they will almost certainly already be behind their peers, and yet we still benchmark their future at critical stages based on attainment not on potential. I recognise that it is easier to select for university or jobs by a crude use of qualifications gained and that looking more broadly than that to assess what candidates are potentially capable of is trickier. However, it is being done now by some companies.
  14. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Do you think that the government's Social Mobility Commission will help the situation?
  15. christineryan1

    christineryan1 New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    Very difficult to say. As far as I know, the commission is essentially a monitoring and advisory body to government and so it may be useful for example in drawing together different strands of research or highlighting particular issues but whether ministers choose to accept their advice is another matter. I do believe though that the insight that comes from first-hand experience is essential if we are to invest resources wisely and I hope that the commissioners bring that understanding to their role – the daily realities of deprivation at the level I am talking about, and what it takes to get out of it, is not something you can truly understand from an observer or ‘visitor’ perspective. Interestingly, I seem to recall that the commissioner posts were not remunerated. This may have changed now, I don’t know, but if it is still the case then obviously you are much less likely to attract candidates from the most disadvantaged groups.
  16. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Where do schools fit into the picture?
  17. christineryan1

    christineryan1 New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    Schools have the potential to be crucial to self-starter children, completely irrelevant to them, or worst of all an added burden. Whilst we don’t have time here to discuss all that could be done, my hope is that all schools will take seriously the need to identify these vulnerable children and make a proper assessment of how they can support them. This requires more sensitive evaluation than simply relying on the FSM measure, many of those children will not need extra support because they have caring and informed adults that they can rely on. Schools should also review all their policies around curriculum, teaching etc., to ensure that they are not unwittingly creating further difficulty or disadvantage. Homework and coursework requirements, for example, can be a particular problem for those whose home environment is chaotic. It is important also not to forget the importance of teaching social skills, these are often the things that make the difference.
  18. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Is more money the answer?
  19. christineryan1

    christineryan1 New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    More money would help but only if it is properly targeted. A lot can also be achieved by directing existing resources more effectively.
  20. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Who or what is providing the best advice on improving social mobility? Are they being listened to?

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