Heba shares her experience of coproduction in education -Assistant Head of a primary school in Tower Hamlets. Co-production between school staff and academic research partners. Working on a partnership with the Centre for Research in Autism Education (CRAE) at UCL. Helping the school evaluate the use of flexible seating as a whole school adaptation for neurodivergent and neurotypical pupils at the school. Collaboration meant the academics and the school staff shared expertise to design and implement the research project, sharing knowledge and resources. She felt the researchers were down to earth and didn’t feel intimidated.

putting this meeting is being recorded. Um, can I ask you to institute yourself, please? Yes. Hello. My name is Heather al Jayyousi, and I'm the assistant head at Mayflower Primary School in Tower Hamlets

Thank you for that introduction. So can you share with me an experience of co production that you've had and Yeah. Yes

So there are a couple, but they are both kind of co productions between school staff and research partners, Academic research partners. So the particular one that we're working on now is a partnership with the centre of research in autism education. Cray at U

C. L. In which they're helping us evaluate the use of flexible seating as a whole school adaptation for neurodivergent and neuro typical pupils at the school

So that is a joint project between us. Thank you. So it was

So what difference did that way of working what coproduction make. So it was really, really interesting to work with, um, an academic partner, because obviously they have with them a wealth of experience in actually designing research studies. And they were able to advise us on strategies that we could use, for example, how to design the survey in order to gather the views of the Children and the staff

You know, in a non biassed way, they're also able to help us with things like the data gathering and the analysis of the data, which is huge. And then we also had some staff with specialist expertise. In the particular area were we're looking at, which was the sensory regulation and sensory profiles of Children, and they were able to provide a lot of background knowledge to our project

So I guess the biggest advantage for us is that we had a strong team who were able to help us with research methods and theoretical background and advise us on the application. And in turn, we also have much experience on working day to day with Children. So we were able to have insight into actually what data collection methods might work with particular age groups and what might work realistically within a school building

So it was really nice to team up those two areas to produce something that sounds really like a really nice project. And you talked about that collaboration, some thinking about kind of what, what was different about working in this way. And how did it make you feel working in this way? And I suppose it was different to us running a project separately as a school which we have done and we've done projects, for example, action research projects

Um, I think what makes it different is when you have an academic partner is again, they're able to kind of give you some. Really, I suppose I would say some really rigorous might be the word guidelines on how to approach the project and also their own individual insight into why something you're doing in a certain way might be biassed. And also, I think the really nice thing was that working with a partnership with an academic partner can sometimes be quite daunting for lots of schools

Or there might be this sort of, you know, polarisation that you know we don't They're very different than us. We don't work together their academics and were the teachers. But actually, the nice thing is that it's also a model that we hope that other schools can use that

Actually we do have joint research interests and that we can complement one another, and I'm personally very interested in bridging the gap between research in academia and what happens in the classroom. So I think that was it was a really, really positive experience. And it's one that I would encourage all my colleagues in schools to take part in what was positive about it

For you, Um, they were They were really a very, I'd say, down to Earth and pragmatic team of researchers that I worked with. So they there wasn't any point where I felt, you know, quite intimidated, for example, by their specialist knowledge. So it was very positive in a sense that they were very open to hearing our ideas

They incorporated our ideas into what they were trying to do, evaluating the project, and it was just It was just really, really useful having more people involved with the project who could take on certain aspects, for example, things like the data analysis which day to day in schools it's very time consuming, and we might not have time to do things like that, so they were able to help with that. Massively research assistants were able to help and we had an input. So it's just nice to see what's possible when you have a bigger team, and then they they're going to feed back to us

And I think about the most positive thing is to see what's actually possible when you team up with people with different skills and different knowledge, and how it practically can all tie up together to make a potentially really exciting a novel piece of work, which is what we hope we're creating together. So yeah, thank you. So did you change at all in the process, either Your behaviour of your perception? Um, I think it's definitely made me consider, um, more deeply how my how my position in a school might influence people's answers

And it's definitely made me have a better insight into, I suppose, into more ethical research methods and how I might introduce my own bias into a process. So it's definitely encouraged me to kind of step back, and it's made me, I think, a better facilitator of knowledge exchange rather than the person at school who leads a project. It's more the person who helps groups of people come together to take kind of charge of a project themselves, so in a way, that's that's quite new to me

facilitating this sort of group work. And I've learned a lot from the way that academics are more experienced, that co production, I suppose, than we are at schools. So it's definitely I think it's a it's a it's a richer way of working with communities

And it's something that I hope that I can extend more in schools working with parents, for example, because I do feel that the way that this project has been run has made me realise the value of empowering all voices to bring changer and bring everybody around the town, which is something that we probably have experienced within schools in different ways, but not in this sort of structured way, applying it to research. I'm sorry, Long answer. So it's fine

It was really It really took me to where I wanted to go next anyway. So thinking about sort of co production in the process and what the project you did, the impact it had on the organisation or the people or the end product and hopefully on society, would you be able to share like what impact you feel it had and what the project is currently being evaluated, But I hope that the impact it will have is that it was really exciting for all our staff and all the Children, particularly in the school, felt that, you know? Yeah, we we've We've designed some research with this really prestigious academic partner and they've owned it. And I feel that the impact for that is it's very empowering for our whole school community that actually we've, you know, we've in our small way changed something and we've led it ourselves

So I think the biggest impact I would say is that it empowers community. It's empowered our school community. It's opened up our eyes into actually what's possible

And I hope that it will have encouraged people to lead change in this way because traditionally I think particularly working, under sort of in education, you work under a lot of authority, I suppose, and people who tell you how things should be and that there are, you know, consultation groups and focus groups for various things. But this has really been owned by the staff and by the Children, and I feel that working in this way has the biggest impact will be is that actually is possible for us to lead change. And I hope that this is something they will continue doing in the future

Thank you. Thank you. So you talked about the start of the Children, so I'm wondering about co production and working with Children

So do you feel this is a more useful, easier way to work with Children of their more challenges? What would you say? Co production and working Children? I'd say it's an absolute delight. So this is the second project that we've done with UCL, where the Children are at the centre of making the decisions and we followed their lead, so to speak. And it's superb because I think when they feel that their voice matters and they're actually leading research and they are integral to it

So without them, we can't we can't move forward, we can't go ahead, they're engaged. And I think they give you genuine and really, you know, really kind of good insights. And I think even their relationships with each other in other aspects of the school day or school matters has really changed because you can hear them use the language of actually I think this, but maybe it's because that that might have caused this or it's okay to change your mind about this and just that whole ethos have actually, my decision matters and I'm going to be listening to

And another thing is the way that they share information. So we've had to think a lot about this project, about accessibility of that information for Children. And actually, does this make sense, or am I sharing it in a way that empowers you? And they're now much more vocal about saying I don't understand it like this

But maybe if you showed me a picture of this, I might be able to help you better. So it's them helping us. And I think another thing that we've definitely noticed is that they want to be decision makers

So they will keep asking us When is the next meeting for us? Because we have a chair committee in the school. So when's the next meeting for us to tell you what we think? Because we've discovered something new and you need to know about it. And we definitely have asked them as part of the process, you know? Do you think our survey was okay? Do you think the activities were OK and they have given us insights into

Actually, you should have done it this way you should have, so it's definitely empowered them. I think. Thank you

So she talks about the kind of way and how you have engaged and collaborative the Children. So what value has co production had to to you in this project? And would you imagine going back to not be producing? No, Never. I just think that it is so, so important to find ways to incorporate everybody's voice into leading change

And I think that actually it's been so powerful to see that, actually, many, I think in many I hope that maybe not not so much in schools. I hope that Children are always consulted. But in many ways there are

You know, it can be quite a dismissive approach, like they're too young to give their voice or we can't possibly gauge their approaches. Or maybe they're just going to be give us answers and insights that are not meaningful. But actually I've learned a lot that actually they are extremely capable of giving you opinions that drive what you need to do for words, and I think moving forward

I don't think that there would ever be a decision that we've made in school, not incorporating staff in any case. But you definitely want to empower your staff through co production in a way that's like, You know, I'm facilitating this, but you are the drivers of change, and I think the engagement you see from communities is so much higher when they feel that there are real stakeholder at that is you're not consulting them the token mystic approach and they're leading change. And I think it is really the way forward to doing everything

I think with Children, particularly in school communities with parents. I can't imagine that there's there's a way, a more engaging and respectful and powerful way to lead change more than co production. So thank you

Do you have anything else you wanted to add about co production? Um, I suppose I want I think that there's for me as kind of a school practitioner. I know that there's a lot of guidelines on co production in health and in consulting with like, marginalised groups. But the most helpful thing for us as a school and for me as a teacher, was actually someone who showed me how to do it

So in the first of the two projects, we actually had a researcher come here to our school and model to us the activities that they would do with Children. And that was really, really useful. So I think that a way forward in schools would be that modelling so of a project, no matter how small, or it could be even a small activity with Children to find out

You know what they think about playtime and that modelling by an academic partner was really, really super helpful. And I think that that's probably thank you. I'm going to stop the recording there, if that's okay


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