Tes - The education podcast The Tes podcast brings you all the latest news, reviews and opinion from the world of education

“Being autistic is not necessarily disabling,” explains Dr Luke Beardon. “Instead, it is a disadvantage. And is that disadvantage a result of being autistic, or is it a result of being in a certain environment?”

Dr Beardon is certain it is the latter. He is a senior lecturer working within The Autism Centre at Sheffield Hallam University and on this week’s Podagogy podcast he explains why he believes autistic children have an unnecessarily challenging time in school.

“Being a teacher and having that level of expectation to engage with the autistic community without really good solid levels of support is massively unfair on the teacher, the child and the family,” he explains. “But there is no doubt we are failing these kids.”

He discusses how we combat this. He offers three golden rules to support autistic students and offers a huge amount of advice to teachers on everything from pastoral care to academic support to behaviour. 

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“Children do make choices to misbehave,” states professor Essi Viding, “but the tools they bring to make the choices are different. Someone who has very stable developmental history is making a particular choice with a completely different toolkit than a child who has a unpredictable developmental history.”

Viding is professor of Developmental Psychopathology at UCL and, together with professor Eamon McCrory, professor of Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology at UCL, she studies the impact of trauma on a child’s behaviour at the Developmental Risk and Resilience Unit at UCL. Speaking on this week’s Podagogy podcast, they explain how trauma impacts development, how this affects behaviour and what teachers can  - and should - do about it.

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“If you listed everything that all the experts we spoke to as part of the Carter review said was essential for the basic understanding a newteacher needed, it adds up to five years [of training],” states professor Samantha Twiselton, director of the Sheffield Institute of Education, on this week’s Tes Podagogy podcast. “There would be nothing on that list you would disagree with, but it is completely unrealistic [in the timeframe we have].”

Initial Teacher Training is regularly criticised on social media and by some in the DfE, with accusations about ideological bias and ‘missing’ elements. On the latter, professor Twistelton is clear that – as her quote above demonstrates - too much is expected of ITT in the time they have, and she adds that often people misunderstand the timeline of a developing teacher.

“We need a better understanding of the stages of development a trainee teacher will go through,” she says. “Early on they do need lots of practical things, until they have got the behaviour and routines sorted, and know it is not going to go completely wrong for them. We have to recognise that the bigger picture has to come a little later in the course.”

As for the ideological criticism, she explains that the nature of ITT means such a one-sided approach would be impossible.

In a wide-ranging discussion, professor Twiselton also talks about the role of research in ITT, how schools can best support trainees, and the importance of behaviour management quick wins.

 

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“You can shout as often as you like that ‘x’ should work, but if it is not working while I am teaching, I will do other things that on paper might not be as efficient,” says Dr Christian Bokhove, a lecturer in mathematics education at the University of Southampton and a specialist in research methodologies.

Speaking on this episode of Tes Podagogy, which focuses on spotting research myths and how teachers can be empowered by research, Bokhove explains that the relationship between teachers and education research is a difficult one to get right. On one side, it has huge scope to improve practice; on the other, there are real dangers in how teachers often consume research.

Bokhove – a former teacher - identifies some prime examples of where he feels research has been oversimplified or misconstrued by educators, including popular work from the likes of ED Hirsch and John Sweller. He also details things teachers should look for in research and discusses issues such as publication bias.

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Anders Ericsson, professor of Psychology at Florida State University and the academic behind deliberate practice theory, discusses his expertise research and how to ensure students work at their peak performance.

NOTE: there is some slight clipping of the sound on this podcast due to a technical issue due to the international phone line, it should hopefully not spoil your enjoyment of the interview 

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Uta Frith is one of the world's leading experts on autism and emeritus professor of cognitive development at UCL. In this episode, she talks about damaging stereotypes and myths that surround autism and how teachers are crucial to the devlopment of children with autism. She also talks about the best ways for teachers to assist autistic students. 

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Professors Robert and Elizabeth Bjork are among the world's leading researchers into memory and learning. For this podcast, they discuss what teachers need to know about memory and explain how group work, tailoring content to student interests and testing are key to helping students retain knowledge. 

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In the second episode of Tes Podagogy - the Tes podcast all about teaching and learning – Dylan Wiliam, emeritus professor of assessment at UCL Institute of Education author of books including Inside the Black Box, talks about the complex relationship between education research and classroom practice and ruminats upon everything from Dweck's Mindset theory to John Sweller's Cogntiive Load Theory. 

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