A citizen-led approach to Health and care

Public services can get better results by ‘working with’ rather than ‘doing to’, drawing on the strengths and assets of individuals and communities to improve outcomes. This is known as an ‘asset-based’ approach and would require fundamental changes to the way services are delivered.

Since 2012, Wigan Council has transformed its approach to delivering local services, underpinned by the idea of a new relationship with the public that has become known as the ‘Wigan Deal’. This has included working closely with communities, the NHS and other partners to develop a radical new approach to improving the health and wellbeing of local citizens.

Working with service users and communities in an asset-based way involves a significant cultural change, and bringing this about requires bold leadership and constancy of purpose. Making this kind of transformation also needs to be a long-term commitment – leaders in Wigan have taken a consistent strategic path over several years, bringing the workforce together around a shared vision and ethos.


Posted in Community organizing, Health | Tagged ,

Age of COVID: Social Structures of Care in Response to Losses of Control and Social Isolation

Even before the current pandemic, persons with severe depression were largely dismissed and neglected by social institutions, such as universities, which operate under neoliberal ideologies positing variations of an individualist social ontology; an ontology that holds that humans are nothing but individual, self-interested, wealth-maximizers. Considered as “mentally ill” with some sort of “chemical imbalance” that is fully treatable by buying and taking a pill, the onus of blame and responsibility for a person’s psychological vulnerability is squarely placed on the individual as opposed to dysfunctional socio-political structures. Within this context, the impact of the pandemic has had particularly pernicious effects on persons who are already susceptible to psychological self-abuse, anxiety, catastrophizing, and social-isolation.


Posted in Covid | Tagged

Coordination without a leader, as an emergent property of a distributed system

Flocking models serve to illustrate that cohesive, coordinated group behavior can occur in the absence of a leader. We’ve made some small additions here to a version of such a model created by Uri Wilensky. The additions consist of four buttons to the lower left of the control panel that make it possible to use the model to experimentally test the more common presumption that organization depends on a leader, and to begin exploring other explanations of the observed group behavior. To run the model, first click on “setup” to create a randomly distributed population of birds each heading in a different randomly chosen direction. Then click on “start/stop.” Notice that over time the birds become organized into more or less cohesive flocks with all the birds in the flock moving in the same direction. Typically one bird in each flock is in front and so might be thought to be the leader of the flock.


Posted in Flock | Tagged

Collective Behaviour: Leadership and Learning in Flocks

A new study has decoded which birds become leaders in homing pigeon flocks, finding an unexpected benefit of leadership: faster birds emerge as leaders, and these leaders learn more about their environment than their followers.

Flocks of homing pigeons circling overhead display remarkable feats of coordination (Figure 1). These movements are the product of leader–follower dynamics, with some individuals influencing the group’s movements more than others [1]. But the explanation to which individuals emerge as leaders within these flocks has remained elusive. New work reported in this issue of Current Biology by Pettit et al. [2] reveals a simple mechanism showing how some individuals rise to the top of the flock. Using an elegant experimental protocol and high-resolution spatial and temporal tracking data, the researchers also find a surprising benefit of becoming a leader.


Posted in Collective action, Flock, Leadership, Learning | Tagged , , ,

Developing the skills of seven‐ and eight‐year‐old researchers

This article describes a research project undertaken as part of a Master’s degree drawing on the author’s recent professional experience as a primary teacher and headteacher. It explores the possibilities and benefits of supporting the development of social research skills with a class of seven‐and eight‐year‐old (Year 3) children in one English primary school over a period of seven afternoons. Conceptually the work is located within literature on pupil voice while the methodology draws on social constructivist, transformatory and action research approaches. Pupils were introduced to a social research process and supported in undertaking their own group research projects. Data were drawn from lesson evaluations, pupils’ reports and responses about their experience through interviews and questionnaires. The article concludes that it is possible and beneficial for Year 3 pupils to engage in social research and considers some wider ethical and practical issues surrounding such work.


Posted in Children, Research, Student | Tagged , ,

Staff–student collaboration: student learning from working together to enhance educational practice in higher education

The association of research and teaching, and the roles and responsibilities of students and academic staff and the nature of their interrelationship are important issues in higher education. This article presents six undergraduate student researchers’ reports of their learning from collaborating with academic staff to design, undertake and evaluate enquiries into aspects of learning and teaching at a UK University. The students’ reflections suggest that they identified learning in relation to employability skills and graduate attributes and more importantly in relation to their perceptions of themselves as learners and their role in their own learning and that of others. This article draws attention to the potential of staff–student collaborative, collective settings for developing pedagogic practice and the opportunities they can provide for individual student’s learning on their journey through higher education.


Posted in Academic, Collaboration, Student | Tagged , ,

Student researcher reflection on the action research process

The focus of this article is the exploration of and an explanation of student researchers’ affect and activity in an action research project. Using a hermeneutical theoretical framework we argue that the researcher group as a whole constructs a wave process and at the same time each individual researcher in the group creates a wave process that may be similar or different to that of the group. These processes shape each other, through phases of engagement and disengagement in the researcher cycle, and make the research experience richer. The article examines five separate researcher narratives, extracting excerpts, to show how these examples showcase this wave phenomenon. Two themes, activity and affect, are identified in the narrative excerpts provided; sub-categories such as roles on a team and context of research are explored in these themes. The importance of explicit discussion of researcher engagement and disengagement in wave cycles is discussed.


Posted in Action research, Research, Student | Tagged , ,

Being a student as producer — reflections on students co-researching with academic staff

This reflective practice paper sets out to explore the application of the student as producer ethos. In particular, it engages with the student voice by considering students’ experiences of working as equal members of a research team with academic staff. Drawing on the example of a research project funded by the Higher Education Academy, which set out to explore how student volunteering activity might influence employability, the paper highlights three themes emerging from students’ reflections of their experience: responsibilities and tasks of the student researcher; the benefits of being a student researcher; and working with students and staff from other disciplines.


Posted in Research, Student | Tagged ,

Exploring the role of student researchers in the process of curriculum development

Contemporary interest in student voice has evolved to include participation of ‘students as researchers’ in school affairs, which has been encouraged by political developments underpinning the rights of children. Although there has been little exploration of the role of student researchers in curriculum development, this paper provides a case study of their role in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership involving a secondary school in England working on developing enquiry-based learning. We use Basil Bernstein’s concept of framing and Clarke and Hollingsworth’s model of teacher professional learning to explore the dimensions of consequence when teachers start the process of pedagogic and curriculum innovation. There is considerable evidence of an impact on relationships between students and teachers and it is argued that this is an important lens through which to understand the role of student researchers.


Posted in Curriculum, Research, Student | Tagged , ,

Developing student participation, research and leadership

The values and principles underpinning the ‘Leadership for Learning: Cambridge Network’ support the distribution of leadership to all members of the school community. This paper introduces the HCD (Highest Common Denominator) Student Partnership as a key way in which the ‘Leadership for Learning’ team learns from, explores and extends student leadership and participation within the current educational context. The paper opens with a consideration of current issues within the field of student voice before locating the contribution of the HCD Student Partnership within this field. Examples from recent projects with primary- and secondary-aged students are used to reflect on and illustrate the work of the Partnership with a view to sharing new practice and collaborating with new partners.


Posted in Leadership, Participation, Research, Student | Tagged , , ,