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IOE Blog


Expert opinion from IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society


Helping social science undergraduates to navigate their first piece of qualitative research

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 20 March 2024

Credit: AS Art media / Adobe

Jon Swain

Many social science undergraduate programmes include modules where students are asked to carry out a small piece of qualitative research. This usually takes the form of interviews with real people. Although sample sizes are usually quite small (2-5 people), getting to grips with the resulting data can nevertheless be daunting for a novice researcher.

This blog post outlines the guidance I use with my own BA students, which, they tell me, is a clear and an effective method of showing them how to organise and begin to analyse interview data. The beauty is in its simplicity. Read the rest of this entry »

Who is at risk of early menopause?

By IOE Blog Editor, on 4 March 2024

Darina Peycheva, Alice Sullivan, Meghan Rainsberry and Ryan Bradshaw.

The age a woman reaches the menopause is strongly influenced by her genes, but our research suggests that non-genetic factors can also play a role.

Statistics on childhood and adult factors determining who is more likely to undergo an early menopause.

Several factors as far back as childhood can be connected to experiencing an early menopause. View the full infographic (Image: Centre for Longitudinal Studies).

Menopause usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age. If menopause occurs before the age of 45, it is referred to as ‘early menopause’. Our research looks specifically at early menopause that occurs spontaneously, but menopause can also occur following certain surgeries, medications or other treatment. Read the rest of this entry »

Faltering progress: reflections on Action for Climate Empowerment at COP28

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 20 February 2024

IYCDP Graduation pose for a group photo during the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 at Expo City Dubai on December 8, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by COP28 / Anthony Fleyhan)

International Youth Climate Delegate Program group at COP28, Dubai. Photo by COP28 / Anthony Fleyhan.

Kate Greer and Nicola Walshe.

COP28 news coverage focused attention on an agreement to transition away from fossil fuels, plus funding for ‘loss and damage’, but what happened in the UNFCCC Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) workstream concerned with engaging all citizens in climate change action through education and public participation?  Read the rest of this entry »

A Baccalaureate Curriculum

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 1 February 2024

Secondary school students in a drama class. Phil Meech for UCL.

Secondary school students in a drama class. Phil Meech for UCL.

David Scott

This blog post is not just an opinion piece but also, I hope, a reasoned argument about the curriculum, and for the introduction of a ‘true’ Baccalaureate into the English Education System – with all the implications this has, not just for the 16-19 phase, but for the system as a whole. A more detailed account of this argument is available in my edited book, On Learning: volume 2, Philosophy, Concepts and Practices, which is free to download at UCL Press.

The call for England to adopt a broader curriculum for the 16-19 phase is one that has surfaced intermittently. It is echoed in the government’s plans to introduce an ‘Advanced British Standard’ Read the rest of this entry »

Holocaust Memorial Day: why historical knowledge and conceptual understanding are key to engaging with the fragility of freedom

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 25 January 2024

The stone columns of the UCL Wilkins building lit in purple to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

The stone columns of the UCL Wilkins building lit in purple to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

Rebecca Hale

Every year, on the 27th January, people come together to mark Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD). They participate in events to remember the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust and in other genocides.

For many schools, HMD provides an important opportunity to teach students about the Holocaust, supporting them to reflect on its contemporary significance, and providing a space for young people to honour the memory of the victims. Indeed, in the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education’s most recent national study, 74.5% of teachers reported that their school marked HMD as part of their teaching about the Holocaust. Read the rest of this entry »

Rising school absence: what do we know and what can we do?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 16 January 2024

Empty desk in an otherwise full classroom

Credit: Smolaw11 / Adobe.

Lindsey Macmillan and Jake Anders.

The start of 2024 has seen a renewed focus on persistent absenteeism from school, with the Secretary of State for Education announcing a major national drive to improve school attendance, and the Shadow Secretary of State for Education laying out Labour’s plans to ‘rebuild the broken relationship between schools, families and the Government’. Yet this is not a new problem: the issue of persistent absenteeism has been looming since schools returned to ‘normal’ after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Everyone agrees that the rise in pupil absence since the pandemic is of significant concern. But the causes and what we should do about this are much less clear. Read the rest of this entry »

More young people are interested in teaching than we might think: we need action on both recruitment and diversification

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 20 December 2023

Secondary school students in dark blue uniform jumpers holding up hands in class.Emily MacLeod

Earlier this month, the Department for Education (DfE) posted its 2023/24 Initial Teacher Training Census, revealing that only half the required secondary postgraduate teachers needed were recruited into teacher education in the last year. This marks the tenth time in the last eleven years that England’s overall new teacher recruitment targets have been missed. These dire statistics on recruitment have made headlines and call into question the effectiveness of policies to address this problem.

So, do people really not want to become teachers? My doctoral research indicates that it’s not all doom and gloom. I found that many more young people are more open to pursuing teaching than is indicated in teacher recruitment data. However, as for the profile of the existing teacher workforce, those who think they might want to teach most often identify as White and as women. With this in mind, it seems that recruitment efforts should not only focus on increasing the number of teachers, but more work must be done to make teaching attractive and accessible to those who are underrepresented in the current workforce. Read the rest of this entry »

Who are climate activists and why do they risk so much?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 7 December 2023

Just Stop Oil protesters with orange banners and hi vis vests protesting along Whitehall, blocking two buses behind them.

Credit: Alisdare Hickson via CC BY-SA 2.0.

Lisa Fridkin & Katie Quy.

Polling in the UK suggests growing public concern about climate change. For some of us, this concern may feel relatively abstract; we puzzle through, trying to make sense of ever more common stories – or direct experience – of heatwaves, flooding and loss of habitats, set against a dogged focus on economic growth and the issuing of new licences for oil and gas (when the IPCC tells us cutting fossil fuel use is essential). Controversies surrounding the COP28 presidency may have generated similar confusion. Alongside this, we have mainstream media cultivating a particular and negative stereotype around climate activists and engagement in non-violent direct action (NVDA). Our research, however, shows that these activists are not who the media would have us think they are. Read the rest of this entry »

Action for Climate Empowerment: why this ‘policy glue’ needs a cross-government approach

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 30 November 2023

People with documents at round tables in a wood panelled room

UCL-convened workshop on Action for Climate Empowerment in the UK, November 2023. Credit Kate Greer, UCL.

Kate Greer.

Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) is a workstream of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), discussed previously on this blog, which seeks to engage all citizens in climate action via six areas of activity: education, training, public participation in decision-making, public access to information, public awareness, and international cooperation.

At a recent workshop for people and organizations whose work intersects with ACE, hosted by UCL, the diverse ways in which the ACE policy framework can be made concrete was apparent. The workshop brought together people whose work focuses on (…take a deep breath…): schools, higher and informal education; public engagement through faith communities, museums and the arts; advocacy on behalf of children, youth, people living with disabilities, and non-human species; alongside policy development and research funding. It was described by one participant as a ‘paper clip’ that held a disparate group of people and expertise together for half a day. Building on this metaphor, I wonder whether ACE can be viewed as ‘policy glue’ to hold them together over the longer term. Read the rest of this entry »

The case for an immediate pause and reset in school inspection

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 24 November 2023

Teacher speaking to students sitting on the floor. Credit: Ashok Sinha / Adobe.

Credit: Ashok Sinha / Adobe.

Alice Bradbury and Jane Perryman.

The current Ofsted inspection system for schools has generated such a level of mistrust, even perceptions of ‘toxicity’, that it needs extensive reform, and to be paused immediately while an alternative system is developed. This is the overarching conclusion of the Beyond Ofsted Inquiry, for which we provided the research.

We have spent several months collecting data from teachers, school leaders, parents, governors and key policymakers about the impact of Ofsted and options for reform, through a survey and series of focus groups. Based on this feedback and a review of the wider evidence base, the inquiry report proposes Read the rest of this entry »