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Dr Tom Bradburn

Dr Tom Bradburn

After 11 years in Engineering, Tom qualified as a Craft, Design and Technology teacher in 1976 and as an advocate of lifelong education was awarded a PhD in Education in 2010. Now, as 'possibly the oldest teacher in Lancashire', he continues to teach 11 – 18 year olds and claims that he has at least ten more good years to offer.

Having got so much out of teaching, Tom is driven to 'give something extra back'. Having witnessed the remorseless drive for conformity in education, he intends to help promote a more creative, exciting and rewarding approach. His view is that, despite decades of quality academic research, creativity in schools has had sporadic and limited success. A major reason for this is the lack of a simple practical conceptual framework around which teachers may operate with confidence. In his paper Tom offers his interpretation of such a framework.

Tom's academic and teaching interests include: creativity theory, design studies, product design, pupil self assessment strategies, developing thinking skills, computer programmes, and student mentoring. Tom's personal interests and activities include reading, writing (including poetry), art, golf, humour and (yes he still plays) squash. He and his wife, Cathie, have four children and five grandchildren. After them, his main love is for teaching which he still regards as a privilege.

Thursday, 14 February 2013 21:13

Stopped in its tracks – I don't think so

The recent pronouncement by the current UK Secretary of State, reinstating the General Certificate of Secondary Education, will not prevent the tsunami I present in my recent article reaching land. Mr. Gove's conviction politics has done two things. Firstly, it puts the question about what we want from the UK education system starkly into focus. Secondly, it highlights the problem, ingrained within our culture, that Technology, the Arts, Design and other subjects, are the preserves of the mid to lower ability pupils. Perhaps Mr Gove is very good company on a personal level but he has led with conviction politics at the expense of research based outcomes: the resulting tensions of which we are witnessing now.

During my quiet times I imagine a time when the UK has a truly democratic, research inspired, Secretary of State for Education. It is a time when pupils of all abilities are encouraged to explore their potential by engaging with a broad curriculum, without fear of censure – and I imagine the benefits it would bring. But I look at the Year 9 'option choices' made by pupils in the school where I teach, compare them with the 'ability distribution', visualise the beach draining before the inevitable wave, and carry on.

Tom Bradburn

Saturday, 01 September 2012 12:18

The English Baccalaureate: An Education Tsunami?

The introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBac) has raised questions about the value of some subjects within the UK’s education system, including Design and Technology. This is the first of two papers responding to the situation. This paper is in two parts. Part One is a short summary, demonstrating that mixed messages from the UK Government are causing leading representatives of Design and Technology to realign the subject with Engineering. Part Two proposes an alternative to their proposal based on findings in a recently awarded PhD (Bradburn: 2010). This part claims that Design and Technology should place the teaching of thinking techniques (in this case creative thinking techniques) at its heart. In making this claim I provide a conceptual framework with the potential to fundamentally change Design and Technology teaching and learning. The second paper gives an account of how the creativity alternative was introduced to teachers and pupils and how it impacted upon pedagogic practice.

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Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.

John Steinbeck

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