Focus on DERA: Creating a trans inclusive environment in schools and colleges

The IOE Library has always collected documents published by government and other relevant bodies in the areas of education, training, children, and families. Today, the Official Publications Collection here at the Library is the largest of our special collections and is highly valued by our users.

In some ways official publications are no different to other areas of publishing and we have witnessed a rapid transition towards a “digital by default” approach. You may already have read our recent blog post about DERA – our online repository founded on the traditions of our printed Official Publications Collection, dedicated to preserving the digital output of government in relation to education – where we highlighted content on the subject of music education. This month, we are highlighting DERA resources that focus on transgender guidance for schools and colleges. The resources, produced by a mixture of unions, councils and charities, are designed for educational staff to support and assist trans pupils, students and colleagues.

*It is important to note that the guidance documents use the words ‘trans’ and ‘transgender’ as umbrella terms for those whose gender identity or expression differs in some way from the sex assigned to them at birth.

Written in 2012, Schools Transgender Guidance produced by The Intercom Trust and Devon & Cornwall Police, was the first transgender guidance of its kind to be incorporated into schools and colleges. Designed to inform educational staff how they can support, inform, protect and enable pupils and students questioning their gender, its chapters cover a broad range of subjects including, identity, discrimination and the school environment. The guidance also contains a small introduction to trans history and a useful booklist for children and teenagers, featuring titles that challenge gender stereotypes, introduce children to a range of family structures and are written from the perspective of trans teen characters.

Many of the suggested titles can be found in the Curriculum Resources section of the IOE Library:

Discussing different families: The Family Book by Todd Parr, Who’s in a Family? Robert Skutch, Picnic in the Park Joe Griffiths, Prince Cinders Babette Cole.

For children: The Sissy Duckling Harvey Fierstein, William’s Doll Charlotte Zolotow, My Princess Boy Cheryl Kilodavis, The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler Gene Kemp, Tutus Aren’t My Style Linda Skeers, The Boy in the Dress David Walliams

For teenagers: Luna by Julie Anne Peters, Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger

Regularly updated, The Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkit (Version 3.3) produced by Brighton & Hove City Council and the Allsorts Youth Project, was created in consultation with children, young people and their families and features case studies describing the experiences of trans students, plus parent and carer perspectives. In addition to providing information, the toolkit includes practical exercises for educators, such as a Guide to challenging homo / bi / transphobic language and gender stereotyping.

Supporting Trans and Gender Questioning Students, is a short document from The National Education Union, NEU, which discusses the first steps that teachers can take to support gender questioning students in the classroom and across the school. Trans Equality in Schools and Colleges for Teachers and Leaders, from The Teacher’s Union, NASUWT, primarily focuses on supporting trans teachers in the workplace but also discusses best practice guidance for assisting trans pupils and staff and students with family members who are transitioning.

Supporting Transgender Young People: Guidance for Schools in Scotland, produced by LGBT Youth Scotland and The Scottish Trans Alliance is a general guide designed to help primary and secondary education staff in Scotland  support transgender children and young people. Covering steps for good practice and providing practical support, it also contains information specific to Scottish Government policy and legislation. There is also a list of suggested book titles for primary and secondary pupils, some of which can be found here in the IOE Library, in Curriculum Resources:

Primary school pupils: Introducing Teddy: a story about being yourself by Jessica Walton, Are you a boy or are you a girl? by  Sarah Savage and Fox Fisher, Who are You? The Kid’s guide to gender identity  Brook Pessin-Whedbee.

Secondary school pupils: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson, I am J by Cris Beam, If I was your girl by Meredith Russo

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Focus on DERA (Digital Education Research Archive): Music Education.

The IOE Library has always collected documents published by government and other relevant bodies in the areas of education, training, children, and families. Today, the Official Publications Collection here at the Library is the largest of our special collections and is highly valued by our users.

In some ways official publications are no different to other areas of publishing and we have witnessed a rapid transition towards a “digital by default” approach. You may already have read our recent blog post about DERA – our online repository founded on the traditions of our printed Official Publications Collection, dedicated to preserving the digital output of government in relation to education – where we highlighted content on the subject of school meals. This month, we are highlighting DERA resources focused on music education.

Music has a power of forming the character and should therefore be introduced into the education of the young (Aristotle): this is an idea which is still relevant today as evidenced by Susan Hallam’s 2015 book The power of music: a research synthesis of the impact of actively making music on the intellectual, social and personal development of children and young people.

Documents about music education in England that can be found in DERA include The Importance of Music. A National Plan for Music Education (2011) (NPME). The NPME was produced by The Department for Education and The Department for Culture, Media and Sport in response to the findings of Darren Henley’s Review of Music Education in England (2011) which is also in DERA.

Henley had found that

“…..many children in England benefit from excellent music teaching from excellent teachers. In some parts of the country, the opportunities for children to take part in musical activities are immense. However, some children in England do not currently receive an adequate, let alone good, Music Education.”

In the NPME the government states that

Our vision is to enable children from all backgrounds and every part of England to have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument; to make music with others; to learn to sing; and to have the opportunity to progress to the next level of excellence.

The NPME covers what The Importance of Music means to schools; local authorities/local authority music services; national, regional and local music/arts organisations; private music teachers and other music educators. It acknowledges that schools, due to staffing and financial restrictions, could not be expected to cover all aspects of music education themselves. One of the major innovations implemented as a result of the NMEP was the formation of music education hubs from September 2012. The 120 Music Hubs would

‘….augment and support music teaching in schools so that more children experience a combination of classroom teaching, instrumental and vocal tuition and input from professional musicians’

The hubs would be able to draw on the expertise of a range of education and arts partners, such as local orchestras and choirs and charities.

The government was keen to encourage local innovation but did set core roles for the hubs to ensure national consistency and equality of purpose. The core roles included ensuring that every child aged 5-18 had a chance to learn a musical instrument (other than voice) through whole –class ensemble teaching; providing opportunities to play in ensembles and perform, ensure that clear progression routes were available and affordable for all and to develop a singing strategy .

The NPME initially allocated funding to cover the period April 2012 TO 31 March 2015. It was planned that this would help to remove the historical imbalance in funding between areas. The music education hubs continue to receive government funding and an annual review of their work is provided by Arts Council England.

The government’s continuing support for good quality and inclusive music education is emphasised in another document in DERA. It is a 2016 speech given by the then Schools Minister Nick Gibb entitled. Why good –quality music education matters. One innovation that is highlighted is the Classical 100 music app which was launched by the ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal School of Music) in collaboration with Classic FM and Decca. This digital resource is freely available to all primary schools and includes recordings of 100 classic pieces of music composed over 10 centuries. The recordings are supplemented by digital teaching resources. Nick Gibb is also keen to refute the accusation that the status of arts in schools has been damaged by the government’s focus on the uptake of EBaac (English Baccalaureate) subjects at GCSE.

Recent reports The State of Play A Review of Music Education in England (2019) and Music Education: State of the Nation (2019) reflect the experiences and thoughts of members from organisations as diverse as the Musicians’ Union (MU) and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Music Education. These include the instrument teachers, classroom teachers and music managers responsible for the delivery of the NPME in England. They believe strongly in the positive impact of music education on a child’s development both in terms of academic achievement and general well-being. As with many aspects of education recently there are worries about the availability of funds.

The professionals’ concerns are echoed in popular news articles such as the BBC’s Music lessons being stripped out of schools in England by Mark Savage (2019) and The Economist’s Total eclipse of the arts (2018). Also, earlier this year the BPI (British Performing Industry) published the results of a survey of 2,200 music teachers which reveal a growing disparity between the provision of music in state and independent schools. The BPI welcomed the DfE’s (Department for Education) proposed Model Music Curriculum

as an important step in addressing this inequality, but stresses the need for the Government to get its delivery right by ensuring that non-music teachers in primary schools are just as equipped to teach it successfully as those teachers with a greater depth of knowledge.

However in October 2019 the DfE announced that it had delayed publishing the Model Music Curriculum because of concerns over ‘quality’. When the DfE’s Model Music Curriculum is finally published it will be added to the other documents on music education that can be found in DERA.

It is to be hoped that improvements are made to the provision of music education in England because it is recognised that the music industry in the UK adds significantly to the economy and to the prestige of the country worldwide. Musicians are needed to form the orchestras that accompany opera, ballet or musical theatre, or play the organ in churches, or sing in choirs or make and perform popular music. Recent successful musicians such as Adele and Sheku Kanneh-Mason began their musical education whilst at school and it’s important that future generations are given the same opportunities to flourish in music.


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Off to work in bowler-hats and bonnets

The blurred black-and-white photograph showed a man in a bowler-hat with a walking-stick rushing up a multi-storey staircase to demonstrate how quickly he climbs up in his career in a certain bank. It caught my eye in the 1963 edition of the Careers encyclopedia : a work of reference upon 250 occupations.

Books on careers and vocational education, 1900's to 1960's, on trolley.In a 1938 directory of Vocational schools some ladies with perfect perms creating perfect perms on other ladies struck my eye; so did the “Mayfair Secretarial College (For Gentlewomen)”.

In a guide to female occupations of 1935, an ad for a nursery training college listed “housewifery” besides needlework and cooking; I am not sure what it covered. “Full uniform outfit” was provided.

Woman looking after five toddlers. Black-and-white photo of ca. 1963.For most of the 20th century, there was certainly a strong tendency to restrict women to a few career paths and, preferably, to their duty as housewives and mothers. On the other hand, literature from the 1920s to 1960s opens your eyes for the many opportunities already open to them and the great encouragement to study, train, work, perhaps teach in turn, become a manager, or start a business.

Our guide to Careers and vocational training … for educated women and girls (1935) covers professional cooking, baking, or dress-making but also suggests practising as a veterinary doctor, designing and building ships, or going into diplomacy or politics!

Five men working in factory. Black-and-white photo of 1968.An outline of farming claims that agriculture is at the forefront of science and technology, therefore demanding application of body and mind. The writer ascribes any lack of opportunities to girls’ circumstances (preferably join a brother or fiancé in order to run a farm) and not their natural abilities.

The attitude to gender seemed to differ between the general guide to occupations and the one for women; perhaps you can find out more.

Ad from: Careers encylopedia (1963). Correspondence courses in draughtsmanship.

A chapter on engineering careers for girls contained the very interesting remark that in mathematical and experimental work, a woman might have equal chances to a man, but not so in administration (I suppose this refers to management): because they would have to exert “control of men”.

Seeing that the advertisements in such guidebooks and directories reveal so much about society in past times, I have added the note “commercial advertisements” to a catalogue record. Many publications even have an index of advertising companies and organisations.

Ads from: Careers encylopedia (1963). Courses at School of Slavonic Studies and London School of Economics.


In the first two books mentioned above, I noticed ads for au-pair positions and other opportunities overseas; a domestic science school at Lake Geneva; furnished flats in Parliament Hill; fully equipped offices in Victoria; correspondence courses to become a draughtsman (for men only); loans for professional development (for women only).

There were also references to or notices from some colleges which now are part of UCL, such as the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) and the Institute of Education (IOE).


In our older books on education, you will already find most of our current heated debates half a century ago and longer:

  • educational methods like group work, individualised instruction, peer teaching, experiential learning;
  • the value of manual skills, the balance of academic and practical subjects, the training of craftsmen and their teachers;
  • access to education, equal opportunity; poor living and working conditions; the plight of ignorance, unemployment, or addiction.

An essay on child labour revealed that during World War I, children toiled in munition factories from the age of 14… and often for over 60 hours per week. Boy work : exploitation or training (1919) laments exhausting dead-end jobs, with the situation only exacerbated by unemployment after the war. The author develops a plan of continuing education and career guidance.

A study of The day continuation school in England (1923) features examples from other countries. In Germany, young workers were usually apprentices, benefiting from lessons directly useful for their trade but also from physical education, civic education, and cultural education.

If you now want to know which Special Collection you need to consult: most of these treasures are languishing in our general Stores (Stacks) with other older books until you let them see the light of the library again.

Screenshot of UCL Explore, demonstrating request from stores.

Search for your subjects on the UCL catalogue, sign in, and click on “Request” above your title. If you may not borrow a book, we shall keep it behind the enquiry desk for as long as you need it. We are looking forward to your research into child labour and women’s employment, vocational education and career guidance of previous generations; the next screenshot gives you some search terms to start with.

Screenshot of UCL Explore, demonstrating subject search.

Historical photographs: 

Factory workers in Guben, Germany [GDR], 1968. Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-G0925-0036-001 / Stöhr [CC BY-SA 3.0 de].

Nursery nurse in Binz on Rügen, Germany [GDR], ca. 1963. Deutsche Fotothek [CC BY-SA 3.0 de].

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Books that make bricks talk

Talking squirrels or lions or butterflies dart out of children’s books regularly, so you would barely be stirred by them while studying near the teachers’ collection at the Newsam Library.

QUOTE "THERE IS NO POINT IN BEING A SOCK ON YOUR OWN."On cataloguing some piles of picture books, however, I was startled by quite a few objects speaking to me out of the pages, amongst them a pair of socks, a sausage, and a brick.

Book cover looking like a wall of bright red bricks.I have already reported on The table that ran away and sought refuge in the forest and the tiny book looking like a brick wall, Mr Rouse builds a house, both by Stefan and Franciszka Themerson. Already in 1938, the authors envisaged screaming flats, growling buses, and sniggering chimneys.


COVER Brick by SteinNow I can recommend the story of just one Brick, who undertakes a journey to many distant castles and temples, cottages and housing estates, until she decides to form part of… a garden path, lying down with a big smile! The real monuments, all of brick, in London and New York, Uzbekistan and India are shown in an appendix.

PAGES Brick by Stein‘Brick who found herself in architecture’ by Joshua David Stein. Images: Phaidon Press.


You have naturally met caterpillars before in libraries, at least The very hungry caterpillar, which crawls around our shelves in many incarnations. Or perhaps you felt uneasy at the remark: “Oh look, there are lots of caterpillars walking on top of your green head!” when Mr Rouse’s balcony flowers were laughing at a tree…

COVER Caterpillar by Graham

Richard Graham’s Cranky caterpillar is special. It lives in a piano and cannot get out – it is stuck in the dark wooden box and must play the same sad tune over and over again… A little girl tries to cheer it up with the assistance of some goggle-eyed, bouncing, laughing, talking musical instruments, until clouds of colourful shapes rise and the piano keys literally dissolve into a meandering jubilant tune.

PAGES Caterpillar by Graham

‘The cranky caterpillar’ by Richard Graham.
Images used with kind permission of Thames & Hudson.


Only those of us from those three generations who, as young children, memorised Pluto as the ninth planet orbiting the sun, can empathise with the little planet who is cast out of the fold in A place for Pluto. In Stef Wade’s imagination, the cute wide-eyed creature argues (“But I am in all the schoolbooks!”), demonstrates (“#PlutoBelongs”), and travels through space with his little suitcase until he finds his new mates, the dwarf planets.

COVER Point line by Kandinsky at Dover

An emotional and sociable planet would have given mirth to Aristophanes, whose frogs and bees swarm into our playhouses to this day, and who would have been acquainted with personified celestial bodies. Yet talking triangles and dancing rectangles, I believe, would have left Pythagoras nonplussed.

A talking house seems quite probable to an imaginative mind; a talking brick is still a tangible thing; but a rectangle is just a concept. Abstract art like Kandinsky’s which inspired Richard Graham, with line and colour as protagonists, as it were, emerged only in the early 20th century.

COVER Pluto by WadeCover of square book showing a black square with big eyes.

Cover of square book showing a black triangle with big eyes.

COVER Circle by Barnett and Klassen

There are plenty of animated shapes popping out of many new children’s books. Some circles and squares passed through my previous article, together with wonky blobs and wiggly lines. With Circle rolls, a new squad has joined them, frolicking around to verse: “Whirl, twirl! Flip, flop!”… “Shapes glide… and collide!”

I wonder what the teachers amongst you will do with these books… and if you can have as much fun in other academic libraries!


COVER Circle by Kanninen and Bloch

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A New Home for the “Education in Literature Collection”

Until recently, the Education in Literature Collection was shelved at one end of the Library Teaching Room on Level 4. However, whilst it is still on the same level, the books and DVDs that comprise the collection have found a new home on the white metal shelves in the Social Area next to the stairwell.The collection’s more prominent position makes it much easier to locate a specific item or to browse the shelves for inspiration.20190719_112126

The Education in Literature contains novels which span a wide selection of genres from Classics (The Professor by Charlotte Bronte), Crime (Cat among the pigeons by Agatha Christie),  Humour (Teacher, Teacher by Jack Sheffield) to Science Fiction ( Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes).20190729_144732

There is also a selection of plays (including The History Boys by Alan Bennett), autobiographies  (including Educated by Tara Westover) and foreign novels in translation ( including  Such Fine Boys by Patrick Modiano). The items in the collection explore the educational experience at all levels and from the perspectives of both pupils and teachers in many countries.


Films or TV series with an educational setting, be it a school or university, give us an insight into the way education and educators are regarded in different places. As well as DVDs from the United Kingdom and the United States, there are films from France, Spain, Germany, India, China, Australia, and Canada. All foreign language films have English subtitles.


All books may be borrowed for 8 weeks and DVDs for 7 days .If an item is featured on a specific reading list, the loan period is 7 days in the case of a book and 1 day for a DVD.


The relocation of the Education Collection means it is now part of the Library’s Social Area and there are plenty of comfortable seats to make browsing and reading easy. Come and have a look for yourselves.



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Praising the IOE Library

After twenty years working at the IOE Library, I’d like to sing the praises of an extraordinary institution: the UCL Institute of Education Library.  Bear with me on this religious imagery as I’ve always seen libraries as ‘temples of learning’ (spires  in a 2012 blog). For many years in the library, I’ve watched users searching for truth, reverently studying, and sometimes, praying for deliverance.

5th floor

During these past two decades, I’ve also seen a myriad of changes in library leadership, infrastructure, technology, buildings, staff and students. But what has remained the same is the devotion to learning and the support of learning. In fact, although I was a teacher before coming to the IOE, I’ve always considered myself more of a preacher here. My sermons over the years have included miracles (IOE LibGuides), sacred resources (databases) and commandments for searching.

I confess that I can be evangelical about the rich and varied resources we have at the IOE because I have always been able to depend on the most valuable, often hidden resource here: IOE library staff. These library staff catalogue, order, digitise and provide reference, membership, collection development and information literacy services steadfastly, reliably and professionally. The work they do is not always visible, but it is vital.

Christina Egan

Without these diligent staff, I would not have been able to do what I’ve done for the  past twenty years — preach about the library in inductions, workshops and specialised sessions. Because library staff have been devoted to their jobs, I’ve been able to do mine. They’re always ready to do that little extra to support students and staff and we’ve even created our own little ‘Garden of Eden’ in the library.

IOE garden

As I leave the IOE Library, I would like to shout ‘Hallelujah for IOE Library staff!’.  It’s been a joy working with you all.  Amen.

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Spotlight on the NUT donation: “Homework. A Memorandum issued by the National Union of Teachers on Educational Pamphlet No. 110 of the Board of Education”

As you may already be aware, in late 2016 we received a wonderful donation from the National Union of Teachers (NUT) which included 380 pamphlet boxes containing material published by the NUT itself and many other organisations operating in the areas of education, children and families.

We have checked and sorted these publications, discovering many interesting items during the process. In February 2018 we created a LibGuide and also published a series of blog posts looking in more detail at a selection of these NUT resources.  The focus of this blog is several documents from the collection concerned with the perennially thorny subject of ‘Homework’.

A Memorandum issued by The National Union of Teachers on Educational Pamphlet No. 110 of the Board of Education was issued in October 1937. The aforementioned pamphlet was a Report published in May 1937 after three years of investigation into the subject of ‘Homework’. The job of gathering evidence was given to inspectors in England and Wales as an adjunct to their usual regular visits to schools. The report covered elementary, secondary and vocational schools.

Of particular interest to the modern reader is perhaps the foremost point made in relation to elementary or junior schools that

“The setting of lessons to be done at home has at no time been regarded as part of compulsory education”

The hours of schooling had been set to take into consideration the claims of children’s home lives. Also the curriculum did not make homework necessary. Why then was homework, at the instigation of staff or in answer to demands by parents, being set at all? As stated in the Memorandum the answer most commonly given was “a desire to assist the pupil to pass the Entrance Examination to the Secondary School at the age of 11+.    

Why this examination has assumed such importance can be partly understood by the fact that “the standing and reputation of a school is, in some areas, dependent upon the success of its pupils in the Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination”. A school’s successes and failures are often all too apparent because the local press still publish the examination results giving the names of schools and pupils. The general public and even Local Education Authorities can use these results to judge the merits of the education offered by different schools. It is the opinion of the NUT that in reality there may be many factors, including differences in the ability and intelligence of pupils in different schools, which influence the success or failure of candidates. Teachers can therefore feel under pressure to take action, including setting homework, to ensure that their pupils pass the examination. It is also understandable that parents are eager for their children to have access to University and many of the professions which require a good secondary education. Homework can then come to be seen as a way of preparing for the important 11+ exam.

The NUT agreed with the recommendation given in the Report that “no homework should be set in children under twelve”. Furthermore, the Union wanted an alternative to the 11+ exam to be found. It also felt that lists of successful candidates should not be published as they could lead to schools working only towards success in the exam.

A second document from the NUT in 1955, Statement by the Executive of the Union on Homework in the Primary School, makes it clear that despite the passing of the Education Act of 1944 there continued to be demands made on primary school age children to undertake homework. Although the number of grammar school places had increased it was not at a uniform rate throughout the country. Parents were therefore still demanding that schools set homework in the belief that it would increase their children’s chances of success.20190712_094625

Once again the Union made it clear that they still did not regard “the setting of lessons to be done at home” as part of the education of junior school pupils. However the Union also thought that teachers should encourage those pupils who wanted to follow up a school project or lesson at home. It was acknowledged that children might not have access to suitable reading material at home. It was therefore important for primary schools to have well stocked libraries and to encourage children to use their local public library.

Members of other education unions have also been interested in the Homework debate as evidenced by the Association of Assistant Mistresses’ (AAM) 1974 discussion document. AAM made the point that traditionally compulsory homework had been associated with grammar schools rather than secondary modern schools.

“There has therefore grown up in the mind of the public a false correlation between homework and intelligence, and even between homework and social status”. 

Eventually the government stepped in and in 1998 Labour’s guidelines recommended an hour a week for five to seven-year-olds, gradually rising to 2.5 hours per night for pupils aged between 14 and 16. But then in 2012 the Conservatives decided that whilst homework was part of a good education, it should be up to head teachers to set their own homework policy because they knew what would be most suitable for their own pupils. In 2018 Damian Hinds (Secretary of State for Education) stated that

Just to be clear: schools are not obliged to set homework, and some don’t. But when schools do set homework, children do need to do it. We trust individual school head teachers to decide what their policy on homework will be, and what happens if pupils don’t do what’s set.

Books available in the library including Homework: the evidence by Susan Hallam (2004) and Homework for learning: 300 practical strategies by Gerry Czerniawski and Warren Kidd (2013), along with the 2019 journal article by Jane Medwell and David Wray and newspaper articles are all evidence that homework is still a much debated topic by teachers and parents alike.

With regards to the NUT donated items, the scale of the donation means that these have not yet been catalogued and that is the next stage in this exciting project. In the meantime, please visit our LibGuide, which includes information on the access arrangements that we have in place for these fascinating items.

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