Hello, and welcome to the Qualified Tutor Podcast, the podcast that brings you the latest in the world of tutoring, EdTech and education and hopefully inspires in us a big change that each and every one of us is capable of.
Qualified Tutor is an industry-leading tutor training organisation and an online tutoring community for 1000s of tutors around the world. This podcast is the voice of this community, where we aim to hear from tutors, teachers, entrepreneurs, coaches, business experts, students, tutor printers, and more from the world of tutoring about what inspires them every day, how they can help tutors like you and what they’ve learned about tutoring along the way.
The question is, what will you learn today?
Ludo Millar 2:13
Hello, and welcome to the 147th episode of the Qualified Tutor Podcast. My name is Ludo Millar, host of this podcast. Welcome back to our regular listeners. Welcome to any of you for whom this is your first time listening to the Qualified Tutor Podcast. And of course, a huge, huge welcome to today’s guest, Ben Gadsby. Ben, welcome to the podcast.
Ben Gadsby 2:35
Thanks for having me on.
Ludo Millar 2:38
It’s a real pleasure to speak to you here today. I know that you met some of my colleagues at the recent National Tutoring Summit in London, and it was a great time for them. I hope it was also a good day for you as well, Ben, was it?
Ben Gadsby 3:00
Yeah, it was a great day. It was so nice to be in a big room with lots of people getting on better than the last couple of years.
Ludo Millar 3:06
Yeah. And you had the pleasure of speaking as well, didn’t you?
Ben Gadsby 3:09
Yes. Well, you say that. It was a very scary panel, I was on the same panel as an actual, experienced head teacher and a professor, which is somewhat daunting, and they made me speak last when all the good points have been taken. But I think I got away with it [LAUGHS].
Ludo Millar 3:22
But no grudge has been held there. Well, for those of you who had the misfortune of not being able to attend that Summit, that was hosted jointly by a number of organisations, Impetus being one of them and Action Tutoring, and a couple of others as well, Nesta. Ben is the head of Policy & Research at Impetus, a wonderful, wonderful, UK-based charity that transforms the lives of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, crucially, by ensuring that they get the right support they need to succeed in life and work, in their career and in whatever aspect that they require support in. So Impetus have done a lot of work and specifically for the tutoring industry. Many people will know Impetus from the first couple of rounds of the National Tutoring Programme which Impetus, along with a couple of other organisations I mentioned, were crucial to the delivery and the design and the implementation of that. So we may talk a little bit about the NTP a little more over the next half an hour or so.
But Ben is also an Associate Fellow at Bright Blue, which is a kind of liberal, conservative think tank, who do a lot of work on government policy. So Ben has a couple of varied roles as I mentioned, his work on the NTP, Ben has also been a Policy Officer at Teach First and an education researcher supporting the UK Government on their key education policy issues. So there really are very few, I’d say, with the same expertise and educational pedigree as Ben. So Ben, thank you very, very much for joining us.
Now, regular listeners will know that we like to kick off these episodes with a little segment where we take ourselves back to the childhood days, the school days, of our guests. Now, I asked Ben, as I asked so many guests, if they could find some old school reports that they might be able to talk about. As with so many other guests, I think locating old school reports is increasingly harder the older you get. But Ben, you did find another little piece of gold dust. Is that right?
Ben Gadsby 5:35
Yeah, I knew I still had this. I didn’t know where it was, so it did take me a little bit of time to find but I found a letter from my old science teacher, Miss Richards, that she wrote me when I was in Year 11, when I was being probably a bit too stroppy towards a different senior teacher and causing all sorts of problems. And the letter is full of good advice that I think is, it’s good advice. But also I think gives you that sense of possibly what kind of teenager I was, with the caveat that I hope I’m a better person now [LAUGHS]. That’s that’s always the aim, right? Everybody wants to learn things compared to when they were 15. Do you want me to give you the advice from Miss Richards?
Ludo Millar 6:25
I don’t think we could continue without it.
Ben Gadsby 6:29
So the letter says:
“Questions to be considered SILENTLY (capital letters double underlined) by an angry young man.
Question one: have you made your point, although others may not have agreed with you?
Question two: have you anything to gain either for the cause, or personally, by continuing to make the same point in the same way?
Question three: what have you achieved (positive)?
Question four: if you are Mrs Boyedeke, could you deal with this point better? And how?
Question five: take a deep breath. Think of chocolate, lose the anger. LOGICALLY (capital letters double underline again), logically, how do you save face and sustain no further personal damage? Leave them considering your point, not your actions.
A wise man once said, ‘If you lose your life for your principles, there is nobody left to fight for them’.
Mr P. Richards (dad)”
So that was the letter from Miss Richards. I didn’t get expelled for anybody wondering what kind of terrors I’d been up to. But lots of good advice there. I think, for policy people in general, a lot of us, I think, are passionate, particularly at 15 when you’re not as good at controlling your emotions, a lot of us are passionate about things. Some good advice there in terms of thinking about how you make the change that you want to happen – making it happen, rather than being overly focused on just expressing your frustration, disappointment, whatever it is you’re feeling at the time.
So yeah, Miss Richards, I should probably try and find, I haven’t seen her for years. This letter is like 15 years old. But I’ve kept it and I’d like to think I’ve learned from it. And yeah, like I said, I knew I kept it because it was a really meaningful letter. And it did change- I think it changed how I approached the rest of that problem.
Ludo Millar 8:32
Honestly, that’s one of the best things we’ve ever had on this podcast [LAUGHS]. That was such a beautifully pass-agg, kind of the wording of that. It’s just- you can absolutely see Miss Richards sitting there sort of silently seething in her class and writing this letter, so beautifully eloquent and very well targeted, I’m sure, to a 15-year-old. Yeah, that had me in stitches.
Ben Gadsby 9:00
So I don’t think she meant it to be funny on a podcast 15 years later, I don’t imagine she wrote it thinking that this would end up being one of the uses.
Ludo Millar 9:10
I’m sure she meant no other eyes to see it. So you’ve sort of touched on there about the effect it might have had on you, but why are you in policy and educational research? And what drove you to go into that?
Ben Gadsby 9:31
Yeah, I mean, I was really lucky at school that I had a number of good teachers that looked out for me. It’s always slightly awkward, I’ve always lived in fear of having to talk about one of them because there are so many people that I remember conversations or advice or lessons or whatever it was that shaped me and I always felt really lucky at school. So I went to a good but not exceptional, particularly, state school in a middle class area, in Essex and about 80% of the kids at school were pretty middle class from a middle class town. But about 20% of us traveled in by bus from nearby towns, more working class areas. Usually, we had aspirational parents who didn’t want us to go to the schools in our own towns, but thought that, you know, send us across to the neighbouring town to the ‘better’ school.
And I guess I got this weird experience at school where I had this real sense of how different people’s backgrounds played out, even in the same school with the same teachers, the same lessons in terms of how people approached life. The kinds of, you know, come back from the summer holidays, and ‘What have people done over the summer holidays?’ kind of stuff.
But even thinking about university applications, and I remember my best friend from secondary school, Emma, when we were thinking of applying to university, you know, obviously, finances and budgeting and working out what you can afford is a kind of big part of that. And Emma was super smart, and she could have gone to any university she wanted to. And I remember, we’d gone to look at Sussex University, and you know, South Coast, relatively expensive, and she’d added it all up and she was like, “I literally couldn’t afford on the kind of maintenance loans that I have, I can’t afford to go Sussex with how much the student accommodation is. The only place I can afford to go is Bangor in Wales”. And no discredit to Bangor at all, which I’m sure is a lovely place, but it was the first time I’d really come across somebody having to make like- growing up, you always think, “Oh I’m gonna work really hard at school, I’m gonna go to the best university”. Well, certainly I didn’t grow up thinking that finances would need to be a major factor in the decision-making process. But it was for Emma.
Fortunately, somehow she made it work. I mean, she got three As at A level, she went to Sussex, she went on to become a teacher. And she’s brilliant. But for me, it’s always been really visceral. It’s really interesting. Because usually, I get asked, “Oh what does Impetus do?” – and you talk a bit about interest, hours and, you know, we’re very statsy people, and it’s all, you know, young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are only half as likely to get GCSEs. And that’s true, but like, it’s just very dry. And for me, you know, I wasn’t a disadvantaged young person – Emma probably wasn’t, she might have been near the borderline, I don’t really know – but I guess I’ve always had this sense of, firstly, the importance of education and the value you get from teachers, but also the extent to which different people’s experiences of that play out differently based on their circumstances.
So, for me, I’ve always had this question for as long as I can remember, how do we change that? And I guess, as somebody that was also politically interested, the best answer I ever came up with is, you can be an individual teacher and maybe touch dozens, hundreds, maybe 1000s of lives over a career, but actually the real change is the large scale change, like the National Tutoring Programme. And you have to be looking at what are the big structural things that we want to do differently. And increasingly, as my career has gone on, I’ve come to recognise that the two alternatives, they’re not really alternatives, because actually, whenever somebody in Whitehall pulls a lever, someone somewhere is doing some delivery, right? There’s always teachers or tutors or whatever, at the end of the chain of reasoning that have to do something they weren’t doing before or do something differently. And I guess I’m increasingly interested in that kind of overlapping bit of a Venn diagram, where those big policy changes that you might read about in a newspaper, or discuss on a podcast, where they match up with the delivery of what’s happening on the ground, and how those two bits fit together. Because I think if we want that big change to happen, it’s not just about what is the big change, sit in a room, come up with a policy idea, write a manifesto. It’s about, how does that interact with the people that are actually going to do the doing. Because for me, the policy change is not a sport where someone announces something and you think you’ve won. For me, it’s more visceral than that.
Ludo Millar 13:59
So then, you’re currently well in the sphere of education policy in this country, what is the latest thinking on how policy can be shaped to improve, or to include, tutoring as part of the school’s armoury? What is going on with tutoring in schools?
Ben Gadsby 14:24
Yeah, I mean, the tutoring stuff been really interesting. I mean, it came from, you know, the pandemic here. Everybody started working from home, it was not obviously in schools as much but like, the rest of us with office jobs, you know, all started working from home and after a couple of weeks of like, ‘Okay, we now know how Zoom works’. And there was this big question of, ‘Oh god, what are we going to do about the challenges facing schools?’ and the tutoring stuff and the National Tutoring Programme really emerged from that. And it was inevitable, I think, given school closures and immediate response that the first early stages of that were, ‘What can actually be done quickly? What’s actually feasible?’
But I think what’s really interesting as it starts to settle down is there’s a quote from Professor Dylan Wiliam that I really like, which basically says, ‘Nothing works everywhere and everything works somewhere’ – the key question is what’s going to work here in the circumstances? And the interesting thing about the evidence on tutoring is there is lots of evidence about tutoring, which is how we ended up with a National Tutoring Programme. And there are lots of different models of tutoring that have been shown to work in some circumstances. You can use volunteers, you can use teachers, you can use teaching assistants, you can do one-to-one once to one-to-three group size. You can do it in-person, you can do it online, you can do weekly, longer sessions, you can do more frequent, shorter sessions. There are lots of proven models in certain circumstances.
But what I don’t think we necessarily have yet is a clear sense of that, ‘How do we pick what works in these specific circumstances?’. A lot of the evidence comes from the US. And again, I think the US is leading the way on this. There’s a research programme, I think they’re spending about $10 million or something. They’re studying 31 different ways of doing tutoring. So they’re not just funding tutoring as an intervention, thinking of it as an answer. They’re very much thinking of it as an opportunity to try different stuff and investigate this.
But yeah, I still feel like we’re at that stage now where the evidence on tutoring is really strong. We know tutoring works, when it’s done well. And we know what some of the key elements of that are: trained tutors, your links to schools’ tracking, tracking your outcome data. But what we don’t really have yet is the ability to tailor that and help schools to say, ‘Okay, for this specific group of young people in front of me, this is the best way of approaching tutoring for them’. And I think that’s the thing that hopefully we can start to unpick over the next couple of years as we hopefully all draw breath and move into this post-pandemic normal with the National Tutoring Programme winding down and hopefully more tutoring happening in schools than it was five years ago.
Ludo Millar 17:05
Absolutely. But I’m not going to let you just say that. What, then, needs to be done? What is the next step to to overcome that final barrier that you just said there about schools not knowing how best to implement all of these models, the range of models with the students in front of them?
Ben Gadsby 17:23
So the big thing for me is data. I think there’s been a real sense over the last couple of years that schools have been under a lot of pressure, some of the early rollout of the National Tutoring Programme wasn’t always as helpful for schools as it could have been, there’s been a real push from schools, I think, to say, ‘Make this as simple as possible first, please’. And actually, I worry that we are missing the opportunity to collect the data on: which young people are being helped which subject? What group sizes are you using? What are you finding helpful?
Because what we really need is- there are so many different models. I mean, when you think about the Academic Mentors piece of the National Tutoring Programme, that’s one piece within the Tuition Partners, I think there are about 60 approved Tuition Partners for schools to use now, plus the schools, obviously, using their own stuff and implementing their own models. But nobody is really systematically capturing that data. So we can look at it and investigate those things. And I think that’s a real missed opportunity.
And it’s a hard one because someone’s got to actually collect that stuff. And in lots of cases, it probably ends up being schools, right. And you’ve got this trade off of, everybody in schools is overworked, do we want to ask them to collect more data just so that nerdy people like me can play around with spreadsheets, and in three years’ time, tell them how to do tutoring better? Or do we want to trust schools to know this stuff? I mean, I’m from a research background, so I’m always pleased to have the data. But yeah, it’s a tricky one. And I don’t know that we’re set up at the moment to have the data we would need to get the answers we would want, which I think is a shame.
Ludo Millar 19:00
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Zac Newman 19:06
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Ludo Millar 19:51
Ben, lots of our listeners, lots of people in our community, have an interest in the NTP even if they may not be involved in it totally, but they have an interest in seeing how the general ‘tutoring in schools’ conversation is going. What can you tell them, Ben, what do you see as the future of tutoring in schools, both what you’ve heard on the ground, but also more vision-wise, Ben? What do you see as the ideal model for tutoring in schools moving forwards?
Ben Gadsby 20:19
So for me, the ideal would be- so tutoring is a tool for teachers, right? So the single most important thing is that schools should have tutoring available as a tool in their toolbox to use and deploy as they need. And part of the rationale for the National Tutoring Programme is that hasn’t always been available in lots of places, certainly outside London, where schools have needed it. I think it was the Bradford Opportunity Area at one point had recognised that tutoring would really help boost academic attainment. And they were scouting around trying to find some organisations to deliver some tutoring in Bradford as part of the Opportunity Areas Programme. And they just couldn’t find it. And that’s a common problem. There was a scheme at the end of the Blair government that gave schools money for this kind of thing. A lot of the money had to be given back because nobody could find the tutors.
So for me, it was about how do we make that available to people so that it’s there for people to use it? And the long-term vision for the National Tutoring Programme was effectively it was a bridge, it was how do you stimulate the market to get schools over that hump of, ‘Oh god, we’re going to do tutoring, we’re going to need to go out and find people, what does it look like? We’re going to have to do a lot of research about it. We’re probably the only people doing it. Who do we talk to for advice about this?’.
So the whole point of the National Tutoring Programme was to bridge that gap so that you go from an environment where people like me go, ‘Tutoring is really proven. Do more tutoring, please’ through to an environment where schools have got that in their toolkit. So that’s the vision in the long term, I think you probably always want some element of the DfE subsidy for it, if only to signal quality. There are so many different kinds of tutoring and tutoring organisations out there. I think it’s helpful to schools to have someone doing a bit of first line quality assurance and saying, ‘You know what? These guys, these are gold standard. And if you use them, you’ll get 10% off’ or whatever it is. But that long-term vision would be a kind of tutoring that is available so that when a teacher, headteacher, head of department, whatever, goes, ‘I’ve got a group of students that need some tutoring’, they can go out and they can find the tutoring that works for them. That’s the hope, whether we’re on the journey to actually achieving that [is an] open question. We’re making progress, but we’re not there yet.
Ludo Millar 22:41
But you have confidence for 2023?
Ben Gadsby 22:46
Yeah, I think as things have settled down, I think we’re all 100% confident now that schools not going to closed again. It all seems to have started to bed in, I think there was the problem last year with the contractor for the Tuition Partners. Randstad, I think, was universally agreed by pretty much everybody involved as – I probably have to be careful not to accidentally libel them here – but I didn’t hear many people saying good things about Randstad. That’s factually true. I can’t be sued for that [LAUGHS].
So the government recommissioned the contracts with, it’s with Tribal now, and I hear much better things. I think the challenge for schools, as always is, you know, we know funding is a real issue for schools. It was really interesting. Rishi Sunak made that speech recently where he talked a bit about education, and the ‘Maths to 18’ bit got all the headlines. But it was really interesting when he said that, ‘Oh education is really important to me, all of the chances I’ve had in life have been because of education’. Literally, the first thing he said after that is that ‘We’ve announced more money for schools’, like you can tell the government is on the defensive about the schools funding point.
But it’s really tough in schools at the moment. And I speak to Tuition Partners that are delivering and, you know, renewals this year, schools were renewing, but with fewer pupils than last year, because the subsidy is going down, there’s less money, they’ve got to find more money. And actually, the trade offs there are very real. And I think that’s the challenge over the next couple of years. Again, a minister stands up and Rishi Sunak stands up and says, ‘Oh, by 2024, we’ll have put x billions of pounds extra into the thing’ and the IFS says, ‘Oh we might be back to the spending levels we were at in 2010 If we’re lucky’. But you know, it’s tricky for schools and tutoring at the moment is one of those things I worry that it’s seen as a ‘nice to have’ rather than being seen as a core part of how we boost that attainment in school.
Ludo Millar 24:40
And ‘must have ‘. Yeah, I’d love to have- it feels like this would be a really nice conversation to have every Monday morning, weekly, Ben, your key take on the latest in education in this country for our listeners. I think you’re giving really nice, very, very topical, kind of the latest news on that. And I think that is an amazing purpose that Impetus serves. And also a purpose, I hope, that this podcast serves as well for you, listeners. I mean, I guess what you’re saying really, is that there are- we haven’t reached the perfect set of policy. And it is really up to the researchers and a lot of the policymakers to create policy that fits in with the fact that there is no government money to spend. And it’s all very well and good saying, ‘Well, the answer is that we need more government money’. But if we know that that isn’t going to happen quickly, then the research and the policy has to create solutions that are less cost-heavy.
Ben Gadsby 25:47
Yeah. And I think there’s a chicken and egg to it as well, because one of the problems so I appreciate I’m about to get very nerdy about government stuff, and apologies if this bores listeners to tears, but the DfE doesn’t control how much money it gets. So the DfE has to ask the Treasury for the money. And most people at the Treasury go, ‘What are you going to spend it on? And is it value for money?’. So the DfE spends an enormous amount of time saying to the Treasury – and we had this when we were setting up the National Tutoring Programme, we’d like this amount of money and here’s what we’re going to do this with it, and the Treasury kind of pokes it and goes, ‘Oh that doesn’t sound very effective. What’s the evidence that’s going to work?’
So actually, when I sit here and go, ‘Please can I have a spreadsheet full of data?’, the spreadsheet full of data is also helpful for generating the evidence that means the Treasury go, ‘Alright, you can have a little bit of extra money then’. Because otherwise, the only reason the Treasury gives anyone extra money is the politics of it all. And it’s who shouts loudest. And actually, schools to be fair do a pretty good job of shouting pretty loudly, but are always going to be behind, you know, the Health Service or whatever for people’s priorities. For me, the thing that was most interesting, actually, about Rishi Sunak’s speech was the headlines, and even the national newspapers’ headline, the ‘Maths to 18’ bit, but Rishi Sunak tweeted a graphic with the five key pledges from the speech, that wasn’t one of them. There was no education in that five key points. The education stuff is really important to ordinary people, but for some reason, it just never quite makes it into the top tier. And I do worry that if we don’t generate more evidence when the funding situation is tight, we’re always going to be in the second tier of people getting money, and not the first tier in the way that I certainly think we should be, as a sector.
Ludo Millar 27:28
Really, really powerful stuff. I think that it’s a bit of a rallying cry to those listening.
Ben Gadsby 27:35
Well if I’ve managed to make research sound worthwhile and interesting … [LAUGHS]
Ludo Millar 27:39
I won’t go that far [LAUGHS]. I’m sure you’ve won over some some supporters there for the research in education [cause]. Because actually, I was talking to my colleague, the founder of Qualified Tutor, Julia Silver, this morning about how, actually exactly about this Annenberg Institute US study that’s just been published around the Biden Education Recovery Plan and how that they’ve just set up the the NPSS, the National Partnership for Student Success, over in the US to take that research, take the money and build something effective. And we were talking about how they’re basically- they’ve shown that tutoring is effective, which is what Bloom did in the 1980s. That was the last big research that people reference was tutoring or small group education can have X number of months of positive impact. And that’s really what the Annenberg Institute have found is that across differing, depending on your grade level, it can have 3 to 15 months’ improvement on a student’s academic progress, you know, one-to-one or small group tuition. So that is great research. And that will be referenced again and you can’t really- the government can’t sit there and deny that research. So yeah, it’s good. It’s good to see Impetus, you guys have been banging the drum for years and years and continue to do so. So Ben, we would love to talk about this for much longer. And as I said, I’d love to get you back on just every few weeks and just tell us all what we need to know about the latest in research and in education.
Ben Gadsby 29:14
Well here’s an opportunity to plug my newsletter. I do a monthly roundup of not newsy stuff but it’s called Impetus Insights. You can sign up on the Impetus website. And it’s a mix of research and a little bit of commentary on what’s been going on and stuff and it’s designed to be not mainstream, if you want that, we’ve got two excellent sector newspapers, but give a bit more of some analysis and some thoughts and maybe some of the more esoteric stuff that isn’t newsy but it’s still super interesting. So please do feel free to sign up for that if it’s of interest.
Ludo Millar 29:45
Don’t feel any shame at being salesy! And your latest entry on December Insights was is a completely devilish issue. I was trying to go to bed actually, when I was researching this podcast. I was researching you as a guest some time a few weeks ago … my lord I didn’t go to bed until 2am [LAUGHS]. Your insights were so damn insightful. And I just couldn’t stop reading the links that you’ve posted in there. So, listeners, absolutely, you have to head to Impetus Insights. And there’s I think it’s one per month, isn’t it?
Ben Gadsby 30:01
Ludo Millar 30:03
It’s a monthly newsletter that basically Ben rounds up about all kinds of research from across the globe, not just the UK. So yes, we will look forward very attentively to the January Insights. I’m sure that will be completely different from the December Insights. That’s how fast things move here and education in the UK apparently.
Ludo Millar 30:35
Now, a brief word from last week’s guest, Sumantha McMahon, whose episode you can catch after this.
Sumantha McMahon 30:49
Hi, I’m Sumantha McMahon. And what I enjoyed about being a guest on the Qualified Tutor Podcast is that it feels very much like a relaxed conversation. Ludo is a really great host, and he always puts you at ease. What I reaffirmed about myself was that there is no one way to run a business. And that’s what makes it really, really exciting. Something I would say to future guests is to just completely be yourself. Because Ludo is a great person to bounce off, but also Qualified Tutor as an organisation. They like to challenge common perceptions and traditions. So don’t be afraid to do that.
Ludo Millar 31:34
We have time for one more question. And that question is, what’s next for you? What’s next for Ben Gatsby?
Ben Gadsby 31:41
Well, I’m really lucky that I really enjoy my job. And I get to be super nerdy on a daily basis and work with awesome people. I want to do some more long-term thinking on the National Tutoring Programme. I think there’s lots of people that are getting bogged down in the day-to-day, you know, is this working in schools now, in the immediate future, but I think there is something about going back to that original vision about, where do we want to be with tutoring in four or five years time?
At Impetus, we always have lots of exciting irons in the fire, slightly too many irons in the fire perhaps, but we’ve just done some research on social emotional learning, which I’m really interested in because it’s such a controversial area, because it feels like the kind of the readiness to learn. But it’s the other side of the coin to tutoring, tutoring is the kind of super academic way to improve attainment. But we know there’s more to it than that, and trying to really dig into how to do that well, and what that could look like, is super exciting.
I’ve got a big data project coming towards the end of the year. We’ve been analysing the government’s admin data set to look at the links between young people’s characteristics and their employment outcomes. We’ve got new strategy. Our CEO’s coming back from maternity leave. So it’s all go at Impetus and always super, super exciting. So I’m looking forward to digging my head into more nerdy things. And hopefully being involved in something that in five years time is the next National Tutoring Programme, whatever that looks like. That’s the plan insofar as there is a plan.
Ludo Millar 33:10
Yeah. And we don’t know what that looks like yet. So that’s the exciting part. Yeah well, as Ben says, exactly, impetus.org.uk to find out all you need to know about Impetus and to find Ben’s Impetus Insights, you can of course connect with Ben on LinkedIn as well. All of those links will be in the show notes. But Ben, thank you so much for joining us, for taking your time this morning to come on. It’s been a fairly long episode in the waiting, we’ve been following him and his journey ever since we began as an organisation. So thank you.
Ben Gadsby 33:43
No worries. Thank you so much for having me, really enjoyed it.
Ludo Millar 33:45
Great. Well, that has been the 147th episode of this podcast. Next week, we’ll be speaking to Emma Palastanga who is a researcher as well as an educational author. She just released a book called A Creative Primary Curriculum for All, so we will be picking apart and analysing the ideas from Emma’s wonderful book in that episode. So yeah, we will see you all next week. But for one final time, thank you very much Ben, and see you listeners next time. Cheerio.
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The Official Diagnosis
The child with the diagnosis faces a similar but more official set of labels. During the course of being identified as a diagnosable child, professionals and careers will have written and spoken about the ways in which the child is behind their peers, developmentally delayed, struggling etc. The child will undergo multiple tests, with multiple strangers, and they will eventually be given a label. If they can google their label, they will be met with a list of ways in which they fall outside of what is normal. This child risks receiving the message, affirmed by professionals, that they aren’t enough.
So, Jack, are you saying no labels ever?
No, dear reader, of course not.
But Jack, you just spent a few hundred words telling me that labels are bad.
Yes, in some contexts. Labels aren’t inherently pathologising.
Here’s what I think.
Labels are useful for people with them to access the support they are entitled to.
Labels are useful for people with them, to help them find other people who may be experiencing similar challenges to them.
Labels are useful as a starting point for people with them to understand what kinds of behaviours, challenges and strengths the student they work with may experience/exhibit.
But, as noted by the quote at the top of the article, if the label is the only thing we see, we run the risk of viewing the label as a solution, when it clearly isn’t.
The label is only the beginning.
The ongoing work, which is difficult and requires lots of learning and unlearning, is to keep having conversations about what the specific needs are of the specific individual, in the specific context that you find them.
*Chapter 6: Building a Culture of Consent. Easton, D. and Hardy, J.W. (2017). The Ethical Slut : a practical guide to polyamory, open relationships and other adventures. 3rd ed. California: Ten Speed Press.
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