A compass for carers and families navigating self-directed dementia care and support

Key points:

  • A Family Guide to Living Well with Dementia published in March 2023 by Liz Leach-Murphy who has over 25 years’ experience working within health and social care, and her co-author Jayna Patel, is an easy-to-follow and accessible guide to help families and carers gain the knowledge and insight to be able to support a person with dementia live the life they wish.
  • The book follows Living a Good Life with dementia – a Practitioner’s Guide which was published in 2021 for professionals and carers to gain knowledge and insight to be able to develop creative ideas for the care and support they want to see.
  • Both books promote the idea of asking ‘what is possible?’ when it comes to delivering person-centered, self-directed care, looking beyond traditional service provision and seeking solutions in communities.
  • Practical planning tools and communication strategies are illustrated and shared to empower those living with dementia to express their preferences and have the confidence to be in the driving seat of their own care and support.
  • Many of the person-centred planning tools and approaches to communication are transferable and work well for those supporting, not just those living with dementia, but others who access health and social care support.

Brenda has always loved arts and crafts. Receiving a dementia diagnosis hasn’t quelled her artistic nature. Understandably, she would like to continue to enjoy her creative pastimes and find others with whom to share this interest. With the help of her daughter, she uses the local library to find an arts and crafts group that meets each Wednesday in the community centre in the next village.

It’s seeing countless people like Brenda and her daughter need solutions that lie outside traditional care provision after working within health and social care for over 25 years, that drove northern England-based social enterprise Imagineer Development UK CIC founder, Liz Leach-Murphy, together with her co-author, Jayna Patel, to write their book A Family Guide to Living Well with Dementia.

Released by Critical Publishing in March 2023, the book centres around recognising that people diagnosed with dementia can still have a fulfilled life they can make the most of – provided those supporting them understand how to make that possible.

Community-based solutions

For instance, wanting to attend the arts and crafts group but reluctant to travel alone, Brenda goes with her daughter for the first few weeks, until she gets to know another member of the group, Enid. As they get acquainted, they learn Enid drives past Brenda’s house on the way to the community centre. After having a chat, Enid starts to give Brenda a lift to the group. As the weeks go by, Brenda gets to know the rest of the group and really enjoys her time there. The group even begin to sell some of their crafts to raise money for a local charity. As Brenda has settled into the group, she now feels comfortable using some of her personal budget she’s entitled to under the Care Act 2014 on a taxi to get there when Enid is unable to attend.

Brenda’s consistency in attending a group she’s passionate about is made possible, in part, thanks to her and her daughter’s awareness of Brenda’s eligibility for a personal budget, which empowers her to experience choice and control over how she’s supported. It’s also made possible by Brenda and her daughter knowing that the answer to directing her own support may lie within their local community rather than conventional services.

Combining policy, legislation, and practical solutions

A Family Guide to Living Well with Dementia is borne out of a gap in the market for a book that presents the links between the health and social care legal context, guidance documents and national dementia strategies with good, actionable practice, approaches, tools, and informed advice to achieve person-centred dementia care and support, with an emphasis on communities.

The result was authors Liz and Jayna publishing Living a Good Life with dementia – a Practitioner’s Guide in 2021 for professionals and carers to gain knowledge and insight to be able to develop creative ideas for the care and support they want to have in place. The guide ends with recommendations for local authorities, social workers, health, and nursing professionals on how practice can be experienced in a more person-centred way.

In contrast, the more recent book is an easy-to-follow, accessible guide to develop families’ and carers’ understanding of how to support a person with dementia live the life they wish. Reflection questions interspersed throughout transform the book from a passive experience for the reader, into one of active introspective thinking of how the values of person-centred self-direction can be made a reality in their lives.

Both books draw on the evolution of practice from over 40 years, learning from the pioneers who developed person-centred planning tools like Circles of Support and Solution Circles, which are outlined in both books through step-by-step guides so they can be easily applied in real-life scenarios. 

Lived experience and Dementia Friendly Communities

Interviews with families and people with lived experience, case studies and time spent with practitioners, social workers and community projects leaders for their view on providing good support with people with dementia and some of the systemic issues they face formed a solid foundation for both books. Detailed research into policy, legislation, and the strategic development to improve the lives of those living with dementia care in wider society is also woven into both guides as is some of the Think Local Act Personal reports on the positive impact personal budgets had on older people.

An examination of how different local areas have implemented Dementia Friendly Communities is included. This includes identifying how dementia championing ideas have been put into practice, illustrated by real-world examples, like Northumberland Dementia Forum initiating a dementia awareness training package for local bus drivers as part of their Certificate of Professional Competency so that those living with dementia who use public transport in rural and urban areas across the UK benefit from having a well-trained and sensitive point of contact in their bus drivers.

Understanding a person by communicating in a way that works for them

A Family Guide to Living Well with Dementia contains information, not only on people’s and carer’s rights within the UK health and social care legislation and the paid and community-based support options available to help people self-direct their own support, but also on behaviour and methods of communication, including practical tools and engaging illustrations to help those living with dementia express themselves and their wishes.

All types of communication are explored, including the idea that sometimes, building an understanding of a person and what matters to them doesn’t always require talking; spending time together, watching and learning can work just as well.

This was the case for Phillip who found it difficult to respond to direct questions and would easily become distracted by things going on around him. The inability to convey what he liked and didn’t like naturally led to feelings of frustration for him. When it was thought all methods of communication had been exhausted, one of his person-centred planning facilitators suggested Philip and his family / carers meet in the local town where he had spent most of his adult life.

The meeting was arranged in a local café that Phillip used to frequent. On the way to the café the person accompanying him noticed how much Philip was looking around, into shop windows and how he seemed to enjoy being back in the town. Philip’s enjoyment was discussed with him in the meeting at the café and Philip decided that, rather than spend a long time in the café, it would be good to revisit some of the places he used to go into on a regular basis, such as the post office, greengrocers, and local shops. So much was learnt on this visit about the friendships Philip had in the area, the shops he really liked, the things he looked for in the shops and the items that captured his attention, all things that could help personalise his future support.

The confidence to explore what is possible

Dementia is devastating for every family. Feeling lost in the sea of health and social jargon and being forced to learn to adapt and do their best in what can often be difficult circumstances adds to the burden.

A Family Guide to Living Well with Dementia serves as a reliable anchor and compass, helping families navigate care and support, know what to expect from professionals and feel prepared for conversations that need to be had. The intended outcome is to help readers weather the storm that health and social care can sometimes be perceived as, placing those living with dementia in a stronger position to be able to self-advocate and be in the driving seat of their own care and support, rather than them depending on being told what’s possible.

Readers will be instilled with the confidence and strength to explore what is possible when it comes to care and support for someone living with dementia to avoid the person dipping into a patient role receiving care, their life diminishing because of how they’re treated.

The hope is for both books to reach a wide audience, provide a positive influence for practice and create a vision of what good support would look like that those supporting people living with dementia can help shape and implement.

Liz Leach-Murphy and Jayna Patel
Authors of:
Living a Good Life with Dementia (2021), Critical Publishing
A Family Guide to Living Well with Dementia (2023), Critical Publishing


Demystifying the Microteach 

Being able to plan and deliver a strong microteach is an essential skill for any teacher, whether aspiring, new or experienced.  This skill will be utilised in a range of situations, for example, when applying for a job; for a place on a teaching course or as part of ongoing assessment on a teaching qualification. This blog will provide insight into how you can master the microteach and draw on content in key chapters from A Complete Guide to the Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training. 

What is a microteach? 

A microteach involves the delivery of a short self-contained lesson to demonstrate your skills and potential to an observer.  The observer may be a member of an interview panel or your tutor on a teacher training course.   The length of a microteach can vary; however, it typically ranges from 10 to 30 minutes.  Whilst a microteach will typically include a presentation of some sort, it is not just a presentation.  It should have all the key elements of a longer lesson.  You should make sure that it is well planned, that you have a range of activities and effectively assess learning.   

Planning for Teaching, Learning and Assessment 

The planning stage of the microteach is essential to a positive outcome.  Don’t think you can wing it – an observer can easily distinguish a well-planned and considered lesson from one that is put together at the last minute.   Think carefully about what you want to teach and start the session with clear objectives or learning outcomes.  Think about what activities might be appropriate in teaching your subject specialism, these might be activities that your learners to develop knowledge (cognitive domain), skills (psychomotor domain) or attitudes (affective domain).  For a formal microteach as part of a teaching qualification, you will be required to complete a lesson plan, for an interview, however this can vary.  It is good practice, even if not asked to provide a lesson plan to provide one to the observer.    


During the microteach you should carefully consider your methods of communication. There will usually be an expectation of a PowerPoint to enhance communication and to demonstrate your digital skills.  For any resources you use, check them for accuracy and clarity and make sure that the language used is of the appropriate level.   

One of the key factors that can influence the effectiveness of your communication is your familiarity with the content.  Communication is hindered if you just read from PowerPoint slides or your notes.  Use these only as prompts and ensure that you are confident in what you say.  Rehearse with friends and family to iron out any possible problems and to check your timing.   

Assessment principles, practices, and processes 

Assessment is a key element of every lesson, whether a microteach or a full lesson.  You might use questions to check prior knowledge or understanding during or at the end of the microteach.  Alternatively, you could check the impact of any activities that you have used.  Remember that learning is at the heart of what a teacher aims to achieve.  It is assessment that is used to check that learning has taken place. 

Critically Reflect and Evaluate your Own Practice 

All teachers are expected to be reflective practitioners, to continually think about their teaching and how they might improve.  Following a microteach, you will often be asked to consider what you did well, not so well and would do differently if you were to teach the session again.  You should ensure here that you do not come across overly confident or too lacking in confidence.  Try to find a balance between the two.  There may also be an opportunity to receive feedback from the observers, so you should be willing to listen and take on board what is said. 

The microteach is a fantastic opportunity share your passion for teaching and for your subject.   Make sure you take on board all the above advice, plan your session well and most of all enjoy the experience! 

Sandra Murray, co-author of A Complete Guide to the Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training

What is Wayne’s Weekly??

During my time as BASW England Anti-racism Visionary, I was fortunate enough to receive staunch support from my allies, colleagues and peers.  As part of my work, I managed to build an extensive and wide-ranging professional network on different platforms.  My passion for ‘Anti-racism in Social Work’ prompted me to frequently and sporadically distribute various articles, resources and relevant social work updates with those in my orbit via email.  I believed there was a need to spotlight news and developments relevant to social workers and to share useful information and resources.  So, I maintained the email distribution list for 2 years and it has now evolved into a weekly newsletter called Wayne’s Weekly (WW).

WW is a newsletter published each Thursday (usually) with the latest social work news and updates including:

💥 Announcements & reports 💥

💥 Articles & blogs 💥

💥 Consultations, petitions & surveys 💥

💥 Events & training 💥

💥 Opportunities & vacancies 💥

💥 Research & resources 💥

In recent months my professional curiosity has increasingly leaned towards exploring the following questions:

💭 What type of social workers subscribe to WW? 💭

💭 What stage of their social work careers are subscribers at? 💭

💭 Which categories of WW are most/least helpful? 💭

💭 Is WW a primary source of social work news for subscribers? 💭

💭 Do subscribers share WW within their own networks/organisations? 💭

💭 Do subscribers have time to read WW? 💭

Based on this, I decided it was important for me to ascertain which areas of WW work well, the areas for development and ultimately whether social workers actually benefit from WW.  So, I decided to devise a survey, which had 288 respondents (9.6% of my email network).  I’ve now published a report [available here] based on the feedback and findings. 

I do not consider myself a social work academic or researcher, but I’m a bit of an ‘unconventional intellectual’  in my own way (geek 🤓), which I honed in the Anti-racism Visionary role and other previous social work roles.

My hopes of writing a short report were foolhardy on reflection!  The report comprehensively explores prominent themes and concludes with how I will refine and streamline WW going forward.  I present the quantitative data using graphs and pie charts to display numerical information and list a selection of the qualitative feedback in bullet-pointed comments (with the occasional reply from me).

The key outcomes from the survey include:

  • WW has a cross-section of subscribers, with particular interest from experienced social workers (27%), managers (18%) and educators (17%).
  • Most respondents work primarily in children and families (28%), adult services (23%), mental health (15%) and social work education (14%).
  • Most respondents (26%) chose the ‘Research & resources’ section of WW as the most beneficial – closely followed by ‘Articles & blogs’ (23%) and ‘Announcements & reports’ (23%).
  • Most respondents (51%) agreed or strongly agreed that WW is their primary source for social work news and updates.
  • Most respondents (63%) agreed or strongly agreed they share WW with their colleagues and/or within their organisation.
  • Roughly 48% agreed or strongly agreed they always have time to read the sections of WW that interest them.

Some of the general comments from respondents included:

  • “I like that you bring together information and widen access to resources that I may not have found myself without a lot of effort – which I don’t have time for. This relates especially to anti-racist stuff that you bring and has helped me massively in making steps to critically check my own practice and acknowledge that racism exists in social work.”
  • “[WW has] too many interesting things that I never have time to read it all!” 
  • “It’s an extremely useful, curated list of materials that matter. It’s useful having the weekly digest as opposed to the daily flurry of emails.”
  • “I like [WW’s] immediacy and that it’s led by a person from a Black and ethnic minority group.”
  • “So much information, but this is not a dislike – it gives me the opportunity to choose what is most appropriate to share with the workforce.”
  • “It raises my awareness of current research and provides good reference points.  Also, it reminds me to continue questioning and developing practice and provides access to helpful resources that I use with students, NQSWs and apprentices – as well as sharing with my team and colleagues.”
  • “WW is sometimes long, but I pick out the things that I feel are most relevant.”
  • “WW is a great succinct newsletter. Real developments since the previous bulletins. Excellent!”
  • “I think you are what brings the whole thing together. It’s your commitment to bringing stuff to our attention that keeps me interested. Because I am thinking if Wayne thinks this is good it is worth paying attention.”
  • “I like the blogs and hearing the voice of people and their experiences.”
  • “The content is almost too good!”
  • “WW is a very useful tool which I find helpful as a busy social worker who has very little time to do independent research around practice issues concerning diversity, justice and change.”
  • “Truly the greatest training resources available to social workers at the moment. A gift of light in a time of darkness. Thank you for your service🎖️.” 
  • “The emails and attachments have continued to be current and relevant to social workers and allied professionals, across all disciplines.  Wayne’s contact has been particularly important in giving prominence to those working on the front line, supporting others, raising real issues and providing evidence of the challenges facing colleagues (he has remained ‘one of us’ throughout).”

Obviously, it’s nice to receive complimentary feedback from allies, colleagues and peers.  It’s certainly a confidence booster.  However, the WW survey invited critical appraisal too – which was constructive and helpful.  The overall process has confirmed to me that WW is a worthwhile endeavour that is beneficial for social workers (and allied professionals) in my network – which is the main objective.  Also, the survey has helped me to gain a clearer perspective of what is working well and less so in WW. 

My only regrets with the survey are that I wish I had included a question about geographical location to ascertain where my subscribers study/work.  Also, I should have asked if respondents are BASW members or not.  Perhaps next time…

Due to the resounding feedback on the length of WW, I’ve made some immediate changes.  For example, the duration and volume of repeated content (especially articles and blogs) is now reduced.  Also, WW is now colour-coded.  Featured links are highlighted in yellow, repeated content is highlighted in grey and new content will remain in standard white to make WW easier to decipher.  Also, WW is now hosted on LinkedIn for free.  To access it you do not need to be registered or logged in.

I maintain WW proactively, it’s not part of my job description.  I take pride in providing what I hope is a helpful multifaceted weekly newsletter for busy social work professionals in my network. 

The editorial process for compiling WW is based on my perspective as a Black male social worker.  Although I aim for the content to be intersectional and relatable, I realise I “cannot please everybody all of the time” – so I just do the best that I can do.  On occasions, I’ve had to decline suggested material from people that I feel is too contentious or if it’s material that I cannot share with others confidently due to my lack of knowledge.  The content of WW does not necessarily represent my views (or BASW’s) – but my editorial opinion is that what is shared has some value.  I will continue with this self-guided approach and retain editorial authority and autonomy. 

Back in the day, before I got into social work, my main passion was music and DJing.  Most serious DJ’s will be familiar with the term “digging in the crates”, which basically means when a DJ scours through record shops looking for rare vinyl records.  This is a concept I’ve applied to WW, in the sense that it requires the subscriber to discover the gems and nuggets of information in the weekly treasure trove!  The bold, diverse and unpredictable nature of WW is probably akin to my eclectic DJ setsDue to my inability to suppress my inner geek (🤓), I’ve found myself creating logos for WW… hence the assortment…  The range of logos (and other artwork) reflect my interest in street art and graffiti, which is important for me to incorporate into the WW brand.  My inspirations are Goldie and Banksy.

My objective is for WW to become a platform which resonates with the social work zeitgeist and for it to contain items of interest for anyone interested or invested in social work.  It is not intended for WW subscribers to read everything.  WW is a newsletter for you to personally select areas of interest.  Either file, share or discard! 

I’m proud to have developed an extensive and wide-ranging network of social workers (and allied professionals) internationally across various platforms.  It has been fruitful and reciprocal in terms of collaboration, partnership working and forming professional alliances.  I hope to make WW a vehicle for positive change in social work going forward.

I’d like to heartily thank EVERYONE who took part in the WW survey.  Please know that all of your responses are deeply appreciated by me.

As always, thanks to all my brothers, sisters, comrades and allies for supporting my work.

“One world, one race… the human race!” ✊🏾✊🏻✊

Kindest regards

Wayne Reid

BASW England Professional Officer & Social Worker

Email – wayne.reid@basw.co.uk

Twitter – @wayne_reid79                    

How can professionals support children and young people’s mental health?

As a society, our current approach to mental health is damaging and limiting. There is a tendency within the media and support agencies to assume a continual rise in emotional difficulties among the young. We are told—in very general terms—that it is virtually impossible to escape mental health damage caused by factors such as engagement with social media, the fallout from Covid-19 lockdowns, and peer pressure. While some children and teenagers have negative experiences, this is not the case for all children and teenagers – yet we act as if it is. One problem with embracing this deficit model of mental health is that it leaves little space to show children and young people how to develop resilience in the face of life’s challenges.

Over a four-year period, I worked with teenagers to develop supportive and creative techniques which we used to work through difficulties and build emotional resilience.  

We found that if we single out individual children and young people who already consider themselves to have poor mental health, we perpetuate the otherness of experiencing emotional difficulties. This can further exacerbate poor mental health as an isolating experience, which in turn can create a myth that other people are doing alright. This creates a binary set of ideas about mental health as being either poor or good and gives children and young people the false impression that we are either happy or sad, coping or not coping.  

I believe that this attitude towards mental health is contributing to us losing sight of the emotional complexity of the human condition. In reality it is normal to feel a wide range of emotions—including feelings such as worry, sadness, contentment, anger, happiness, and relief—but we are not teaching our children and teenagers this. Instead, we pathologise and catastrophise difficult emotions when they arise, and escalate and create potential crises by speaking in limited diagnostic terms (currently our societal focus is on anxiety and trauma).   

For now, I believe that children and young people’s mental health will only improve if we broaden our treatment of mental health and move away from our current deficit model which is very individualistic in focus. Instead, it would be far healthier to work with all children as part of a not for profit or school curriculum and to include the psychology of happiness, satisfaction, and what makes for a meaningful life alongside addressing challenges in our everyday treatment of mental health. 

Drawing upon case study examples I show that it is possible to work creatively with children and teenagers in group settings and that given the opportunity, most young people enjoy taking part in a wide range of activities designed to create change in how they think about themselves and respond to others. I know from working in this way that the process makes a positive difference to how individuals feel and how they go on to cope with problems when they arise. The work that young people and I did together also challenges an overt societal focus on the individual with mental health issues, and shows the benefit of learning from peers, and also celebrating acts of kindness in ourselves and others.  

Rather than problematise childhood surely, we would all rather children and young people foster hope about themselves and their futures? It is exactly this that my book sets out to do and show a wide range of practitioners how to replicate. 

Rachel Burr, 2023

Rachel Burr is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education and Social Work at the University of Sussex. An anthropologist and social worker with an international background in child protection, her overarching focus is on developing practitioner-orientated techniques for working with and enhancing emotional strength among children and young people who are living in challenging and difficult circumstances.

Her most recent book Self-worth in children and young people – Critical and practical considerations challenges the dominant approaches to children and young people’s mental health, and provides straightforward practical strategies that can be used to address emotional upset, loss and aid recovery.

Essential Guides for Early Career Teachers: Teaching Early Years and Professional Behaviours

I have written these books with colleagues to help guide early career teachers (ECTs) to thrive at what often can be a challenging time in their professional career. We have each  been in education many years and have loved the work in Early Years, Primary School and working with new teachers. No matter in which key stage they may find themselves, being new to the profession will mean having the sole responsibility for a class. While having your own first class is memorable and exciting, it can also be daunting. Linked to this, is the weight of accountability which will be ever present in teachers’ thoughts and associated actions. By engaging in these books, it is hoped that individuals will consider how they are responding to being accountable across the breadth of their newly formed audiences. These include the children in their charge, other professionals, their setting, families and those responsible adults they are now engaged with. We also intend that these books will support in finding effective ways to quickly settle in to the new role as an ECT.

Having graduated from teacher training it will no doubt feel like the ‘L plates’ are off. For some individuals it may feel like there is no-one sat beside them to advise and reassure them in their actions and decisions. However, at the heart of these books is a key message for ECTs:, remember you will never be alone.

These books are designed to help readers learn from more experienced and established teaching professionals. It is worth remembering all experienced individuals can learn from others: we are lifelong learners! I have been fortunate enough to have the wisdom of both Lorna and Rachael to write important chapters and to help guide and inform my thoughts and writings. I hope these texts will allow the reader to gain insight into professional practice in areas they have developing expertise in. Also, that they will form a bridge into the teaching profession, allowing the reader to build on all those valuable experiences gained whilst on their training courses and school-based practices.

Each book covers two key aspects of starting and being in the teaching profession. Firstly, with regards to our teaching in early years book, such practitioners establish the building blocks on which all future educational successes are established. Such teachers do not, as others might consider, just play. They establish the knowledge, values and attitudes for a child’s future success. Everything they do will be considered and organised to promote the best of educational experiences. While our professional behaviours book, considers and explores the key notion that professional skills and behaviours will be needed by all if they wish to be effective ECTs.

Both books are underpinned by current research and literature linked to the practice and teaching of early years and the establishment of professional behaviours. We also intend them to be a springboard for learning by offering suggestions for further reading around the themes explored. It is intended that these cited readings and further links to literature will not only serve to allow the reader to ground their practice in theory but also serve as a means to promote critical self-reflection. This being the key to successful improvements in practice and self-development.

 In both books, an exploration of an emerging sense of professional identity is a vital aspect that underpins the early chapters. This is important since it helps the reader to consider what it is that makes them so unique and special. Also, how formative elements of their lives, for example their life experiences and narratives can serve to influence and form not only who they are but also who they will become.

In our early years book we hope the reader will  consider the importance of building outstanding provision whilst supporting children to be unique individuals. Fundamental to this is the notion of effective relationships and the values these bring to working with children and other adults in each setting. Whilst our professional behaviours book also seeks to reaffirm the value of promoting outstanding provision but also the significance that others can provide in helping and allowing a teacher to improve and develop. No one should consider themselves an island, but see the importance of engaging with others, the value of professional development as well as the importance of looking after oneself.

Both books are full of case studies, reflective questions and tasks with the end to all chapters prompting the reader to engage in critical thinking. The case studies are intended to allow the reader to reflect on their own and others lived experiences at differing periods in their professional development. As with the professional behaviours books our writings have been enriched by the voices of mentors and senior leaders across a range of settings and geographical areas. No matter the experience of individuals, the values of the tasks and questions provided lie in the focus and spotlight they allow for the promotion of the themes covered. Their power lies in their ability to engage the reader and others mentoring or supportive others/colleagues to discuss their views and conclusion on the items provided.

In conclusion, I hope these books will provide valuable and accessible go to support for the development of ECTs. That they will allow the reader to dip in and out as needed to form that valuable voice on one’s shoulder. Thus, guiding ECTs to make informed choices and decisions as their careers evolve and develop. I hope, as with myself, the reader will see their careers to be part of a learning journey: informed by others, by experiences and the items that we engage with. It will be the choices that we make that will serve to enrich own personal and professional lives and will allow for the betterment of others.

Colin Howard, November 2022

An Ambitious Secondary School Curriculum

Jonathan Glazzard and Michael Green

We wrote this book to unpack our understanding of an ambitious secondary curriculum. The Education Inspection Framework rightly places a significant emphasis on the curriculum as the substance of education. In recent years, schools have focused on raising academic attainment and this has led to unintended consequences, including teaching to the test and curriculum narrowing. A broad curriculum serves pupils well. It provides them with rich knowledge and enables them to develop their interests and talents.

The book addresses some pertinent concepts. We discuss composite and component knowledge and substantive and disciplinary knowledge. These are not terms that pupils need to know but it is crucial for teachers to understand what they mean. We argue that pupils make progress when they learn the curriculum. A well-planned and appropriately sequenced curriculum will enable pupils to know more, remember more and do more. The curriculum is the progression framework and therefore progress is not a numerical score. It is a qualitative judgement and therefore pupils make progress when they learn the curriculum as intended.

We argue that an ambitious subject curriculum is one which enables pupils to achieve the broad, ambitious goals of the National Curriculum. Ambition is also evident in the way in which the curriculum is designed to provide pupils with cultural capital. We argue that pupils with special educational needs and disabilities should follow the same curriculum pathway that all pupils follow – same pathway, same journey, same end points. This ensures equality of opportunity and enables teachers to demonstrate high expectations of all pupils. We argue that alternative curricula should be the exception for those pupils with very complex needs.

We address inclusion very explicitly through a variety of themes. These include designing a curriculum to address mental health, LGBTQ+ and race equality. We have devoted whole chapters to these themes. These aspects are not addressed in the National Curriculum, but we believe that education plays a fundamental role in advancing social justice in society. If these matters of inclusion are missing from the curriculum we have lost a crucial opportunity to eradicate prejudice in the future.

Each chapter is supported by case studies, critical questions and research boxes. We have provided practical guidance for leaders to support them with curriculum development and we have devoted a whole chapter to the academic and vocational qualifications that are taught in secondary education.

Introducing Creative Approaches to Social Work Practice Learning

If you are a social worker, practice educator, on-site supervisor wanting to expand your toolkit of creative ideas, this beautifully illustrated book edited by Heidi Dix and Aisha Howells provides an array of innovative and practical tools. To be used with students, apprentices, Newly Qualified Social Workers, the tools can even be used to develop a social worker’s own practice!

This book aims to show that ‘creativity is for everyone and it can be cultivated with practice’ (p165). As such, chapters are written by practice educators, social work academics and people with lived experience ranging from ideas around how to start and end a placement well, trauma-informed learning, anti-racist practice, the use of stories and more. Original poetry or spoken word are interwoven through the book, from acclaimed authors and poets to support creativity in learning and teaching in social work.

The book’s nine chapters outline standalone tools, providing a brief overview, examples of how to use the tool in practice and the theoretical ideas which underpin the tool. Vivid illustrations accompany the different sections capturing the different elements as inspiration for imaginative social work practice learning.

To use as either a quick-reference guide, during supervision or simply drawing on each tool sequentially through a social work placement journey, whatever the situation, this book is an essential and accessible resource which enhances creative approaches to learning. Although focussed on social work, the tools and learning activities are transferable across disciplines, such as education and health, which involve a practice learning experience.

Review -The Higher Education Personal Tutor’s and Advisor’s Companion

Review of Lochtie, D., Stork, A. and Walker, B.W. (2022) The Higher Education Personal Tutor’s and Advisor’s Companion St Albans: Critical Publishing

For many years, personal tutoring has been an under-researched area; indeed, Thomas (in Lochtie et al 2018) describes it as “something of an academic desert” (p.x). Academic staff have found themselves in the front line supporting students, with little guidance available from the pedagogic literature.

Hence, when Lochtie et al published a text on personal tutoring in 2018 it was an extremely welcome resource for tutors, researchers, student services staff and management. This new (2022) text takes us further and provides 25 case studies illustrating how to translate the theory in the first book into practice.

The book is even more timely given the pressures faced by HE generally and individual students particularly in the context of the pandemic, and the significant changes to teaching and learning, such as the increased adoption of blended approaches. The authors conclude that “belonging and connectedness have arguably never been more vital” (Lochtie et al 2022 p.xvi) and personal tutors are key agents in achieving this.

One problem facing the editors of a book containing wide ranging case studies is how to organise and form connections between them. Rather than try to pummel them into ill-fitting categories, the editors have arranged the case studies alphabetically by author, and produced a “themes” table which is near the start of the book. This is not only valuable signposting for readers with specific interests, it is also cross-referenced to the relevant section of the companion (2018) text.

Each chapter consists of one case study, and the beginning and ending of each follows a broadly uniform structure – again, quite an achievement on the part of the editors. Following an initial chapter focused themes table, the case study is summarised in a succinct introduction or background; at the end of each case study is a conclusion or “key messages”. Finally, there is a set of “critical reflections” to consider, which indeed could also be used by staff developers.

However, here the similarity ends. The case studies are diverse, including scholarly research and more informal stories of practice, with authors from academic, leadership and student support roles.  Some have one author, some have many (indeed, up to eight) authors. 25 UK institutions are represented, including long-established and more modern universities. The topics are wide ranging, encompassing whole institutional approaches, module based tutoring, group tutorials, training for tutors, employability, “at risk” students, coaching, and more. Moreover the fact that a significant number of institutions are not only working with students and staff to research and enhance their approach to personal tutoring, but also prepared to share their good practice, is highly encouraging – maybe this key issue is finally moving from the sidelines into the spotlight.

The diversity of case studies mean that readers are likely to find something relevant to their own circumstances, as well as approaches and questions which might challenge them to further enrich their own practice. Once again, this is an essential text which would be of great value to all involved in supporting students directly or organising and managing such support.

Kathryn McFarlane, Independent Consultant, Professional Development Manager at Staffordshire University (retired).

The Higher Education Personal Tutor and Advisor’s Companion

Having co-authored Effective Personal Tutoring in Higher Education which detailed what we thought was happening in the sector at that point, what I personally found exciting about co-editing (with Andy Stork and Ben Walker, two of my previous co-authors) The Personal Tutor’s and Advisor’s Companion was that it details what is happening in the sector right now – at a very interesting time for higher education. As a previous Critical Blog has explored, COVID-19 has had a profound impact on our institutions so the exposition and examination of advising and tutoring these 25 case studies offer is needed now more than ever.  The opportunity to gather these examples of excellence and innovation from across the sector, at this particular point in history, was a genuine privilege to be involved with.

Our team of 50 authors come from a wide range of academic and professional service roles, even including some recent graduates, drawing upon their own student voice and experience.  The institutions they write about are similarly varied coming from across the UK and featuring red brick universities, post-1992 institutions and lots in between. The case studies are presented in a variety of forms from scholarly enquiry and action research to personal stories of practice.

My favourite part of editing this book involved conducting a thematic analysis of the case studies we received.  You could be forgiven for feeling that advising and tutoring is perennially ‘under-review’ as reflected by the fact that nine of our case studies detail accounts of institutional review and implementation. The exact nature and outcomes of those reviews offer a detailed snapshot of contemporary student support in the sector. 

Four of our case studies show differentiation by individual student needs – including via coaching and methods such as Social Identity Mapping. Six feature differentiation by subject area asserting that no ‘one size fits all’ and identifying the specific needs of, say, STEM students and then later, Arts and Humanities students. 

Six of our case studies consider differentiation by student population for varying categories of students who may be considered as ‘at risk’ (whilst discussing the challenges and limitations of such a term). Nine case studies provide a range of views on an expert versus generalist debate… showing examples of how both specialist advisors and personal tutors, as part of a balanced teaching and research workload, can improve the student experience. Nine case studies discuss student involvement and co-creation so detail the voice and needs of contemporary students, which is surely more important now than ever?

With such diversity across our case studies and the wider sector, can we truly learn from examples of good practice elsewhere? I believe so. I believe our institutions have more in common than they do in contrast.  Alongside the smorgasbord of various student support solutions featured in the book I recommend seeking common principles.

The need to develop a sense of wellbeing among students features in ten case studies, with notions of student engagement, pastoral support, well-being and transition featured in 22 case studies combined. Through all of our differences what we have in common is having students at our core.

There is no ‘one student experience’ at any of these institutions but our case studies show how we are all working towards consistency in structure where it is possible and beneficial.

It is our ambition for advising and tutoring to build towards a body of literature (and associated development) on a par with the wealth of such which exists for teaching and in full coordination with developments in wider student development theory. We feel this book is a significant step towards that and very much hope that you get as much from reading these examples of good practice from across the sector as we did in editing them.

Dave Lochtie, Andy Stork and Ben Walker

Do you want to develop your own creativity and the creative skills of children?

If you are a teacher or a parent wanting to make sure that you are giving young people every chance to be creative, this book by Dr Karen Hosack Janes looking at how creativity can be nurtured is for you.

First it explores the early creative experiences of some people well-known for being creative and then draws together these insights to propose three conditions for nurturing creativity: Being in an environment that values the arts in everyday life; having time for experimentation and play; and having opportunities to collaborate with others.

The book goes on to use the three conditions as lenses to view a variety of educational theories and current educational practices, in and out of school settings, including online cultural learning programmes. The aim is to demonstrate how much consensus there is about developing creative skills. However, also highlighted is the importance of understanding that primarily creativity comes about when an individual has a significant amount of creative agency. This means, in practical terms for professional educators and parents, that children’s personal input into shaping a creative experience needs to be considerable. This important point brings into question activities that are not as creatively demanding as they could be, for example tasks that simply require children to copy, or to follow step-by-step instructions, or just to colour in. Instead, activities need to involve the individual more in experimenting with ideas, utilising their own prior experiences, and building and expanding on these by collaborating with others. In this way personal creative responses are most effectively elicited.

Each chapter in the book guides the reader through some complex ideas and poses reflective questions with a view to the reader finding a personal (creative) understanding of creativity. The multiple perspectives voiced throughout, including from writers, artists, musicians, academics, teachers and cultural venue educators, make it clear that developing creative skills is a life affirming experience that has widespread social, cultural and economic benefits. 

Dr Karen Hosack Janes is the author of ‘Nurturing Creativity in the Classroom An exploration of consensus across theory and practice’.

Available NOW in Paperback, PDF, EPUB, and on Kindle for just £17.99!

ISBN : 9781913453893
Edition No : 1
Publication : Jan 12, 2022
Extent : 128 pgs