Academic Spotlight: Embedding inclusivity and social justice into the curriculum
Siân Morgan, a Manchester Maths and PGCE graduate, worked as a teacher in the local area before returning to become a lecturer on our PGCE Secondary Mathematics course. Here she discusses her career so far and why she’s passionate about reflecting the values of our city and our University by helping embed inclusivity and environmentalism into the curriculum.
On how I became involved in teacher training
My love for teaching and working with young people began during my maths degree at the University of Manchester, when I volunteered in the maths department at a local secondary school. After completing my PGCE in secondary maths here, I got my first teaching job in the school where I did my main placements – this is still common with our maths PGCE students today. I taught for several years in a number of secondary schools across Greater Manchester and had a variety of roles. I subsequently worked for Stockport Local Authority as a maths consultant, supporting maths teachers across the region.
I joined the University of Manchester PGCE course in 2011 as part of the PGCE maths team. For several years, I have led the Educational and Professional Studies (EPS) central element of the course, that addresses critical issues for all teachers including inclusion, diversity and equality, safeguarding, special educational needs, relationships and sex education and education and disadvantage. In 2015, I was awarded an MSc in Educational Research from the University, with lesson study as the main research focus. Lesson study is a form of professional development that focuses on subject pedagogy and pupil learning through a collaborative and reflective process, and we use it extensively in the maths PGCE.
My current research interests continue to focus on lesson study, professional development and mathematical pedagogy, alongside a particular passion to develop equality, diversity and inclusion and sustainability within the curriculum (social and environmental justice).
On what attracted me to Manchester
The music scene in the early 90s first attracted me to study at The University of Manchester, and of course the University’s reputation! Since then, my love for the city has deepened, through the community spirit it displays, such as the way we came together on the streets and squares after the Manchester bombing and more recently the solidarity and respect shown for Marcus Rashford. The city has many qualities that make it special, particularly in its social and cultural aspects. Being part of a diverse city where we can all learn from each other is important to me. The University and the Manchester Institute of Education prides itself on its commitment to social responsibility and to local engagement in Greater Manchester, which are values I share and bring in to my role. Our Educational and Professional Studies (EPS) curriculum highlights the importance of inclusion and social justice, through high quality interactive lectures, inspiring seminars and support materials.
On our sustainability and inclusivity activities
There are too many stand-out activities to mention them all, but here are a few highlights:
Each year we have an Inclusion and Inspiration Conference, where trainees from secondary and primary PGCEs join together for a fantastic event, with two keynote lectures and a wide variety of highly relevant and informative workshops with a focus on inclusion. This is one of the highlights of our year and emphasises that social justice and inclusion are at the heart of our course and partnership.
An innovative new seminar series enabled those PGCE students interested in finding out more about particular aspects of inclusion to reflect and discuss matters further with a wide audience. A student reflects on participating in the first of our Critical Inclusivity seminars on our partnership blog.
Many school students are campaigning to have sustainability included in their lessons in school and hence the need for teachers to feel confident in teaching this. For maths and science PGCE students collaboration and discussion on issues related to sustainability are encouraged and in January 2021 our first GREEN conference was held. Participants from the University, partner schools and environmental organisations discussed creative ways that environmental sustainability can be embedded into education.
We value listening to school students through our pupil voice enquiry where you have autonomy to research an area of interest and find out what pupil’s perceptions are. Valuing your student voice is a key part of our programme and supports our continuing development.
On my role within the PGCE
You are likely to see me during EPS lectures, and during EPS seminars if you are in my EPS tutor group. For maths PGCE trainees, you will get to know me well through my role as subject lead (frequent communications!) and through our thought-provoking maths teaching, and for those in my tutor group in school for tutor visits. I also hope to see you during the inclusion conference and through additional optional sessions such as the critical inclusivity seminar series. I’m looking forward to meeting you all and welcoming you to Manchester and our PGCE.