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IOE Blog


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


IOE at 120: the Second World War and the educative society, 1942-1952

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 18 May 2022

THE NEW BOY Mr RA Butler: “It may not seem very easy at first but you’ll soon settle down.”

Gary McCulloch.

The decade from 1942 to 1952 went from some of the most difficult and dangerous days of the Second World War, to the stirring of hopes that an educative society could be created in which educational values underpinned the reconstruction of society.

For the IOE it might be called Fred Clarke’s decade. When he died in January 1952, 70 years ago, Professor A.V. Judges at King’s College London, could recall him as ‘the doyen of pedagogic leaders in his own country… a reformer through and through’. To former students like the historian Brian Simon, he was ‘the leading educational statesman in Britain’.

It was Clarke who presided over the early development of the Institute of Education under its new title at the University of London as its director from 1936 to 1945, through the challenges of the war years when the IOE had to be evacuated from London to a temporary home in Nottingham.

Clarke was acutely aware of the social class inequalities on which English education had been based.  He was also concerned to help to promote a new social philosophy that would be ‘in harmony with that which inspires a generous education’. He Read the rest of this entry »

Family? Factory? How metaphors help make sense of school life

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 10 May 2022

jarmoluk / Pixabay

Melanie Ehren.

When we use the word ‘school’ we expect all of us to have a similar view of what this means. In its most basic form, it’s a building with classrooms of students and a teacher. This ‘grammar of schooling’ has been in place for decades and tends to include the grouping of students for purposes of instruction, with teachers’ work defined vis-à-vis groups of students and how they are progressed through school on the basis of assessment outcomes and age.

So far, so obvious. But underlying these visible structures, we find a vast variety in practices and views of what it means to educate children, how to organize a school and the meaning of a school. Those involved in schooling – students, parents, teachers and leaders – may have different views of their school, conceptions of their role in the school, and of  the values of schooling. Such views, often expressed in metaphors, provide an important means to access what people think, but also to understand their actions. Mills et al, for example, argue that how we choose to act is (also) a function of how we construct conceptions of what we are and what we are trying to do; and when certain metaphors gain prominence in the minds of a Read the rest of this entry »

Is there is a link between Year 11s’ wellbeing and their GCSE grades?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 28 April 2022

John Jerrim.

The 2021/22 academic year is due to see the return of GCSE examinations after a Covid-enforced two-year hiatus. Before the pandemic hit, there was much concern about how these high-stakes examinations may be affecting young people’s mental health.

At the same time, it was recognised that those Year 11s who were struggling with their wellbeing could see their GCSE grades suffer as a result. Yet we actually know relatively little about this key issue – how strong is the link between the wellbeing of Year 11 pupils and the GCSE grades they achieve?

This blog takes a look at the evidence, drawing upon work I have published today in a new academic paper. Read the rest of this entry »

IOE at 120: Imagining the education of the future, 1932-1942

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 26 April 2022

Finding a home in the University of LondonGary McCulloch.

This blog is the fourth in a series of 12 exploring each decade in IOE’s history in the context of the education and society of the times. Find out more about our 120th anniversary celebrations on our website, and follow us on TwitterInstagramFacebook and LinkedIn to keep up with everything that’s happening.

1932… hardly the best of times to create a new Institute of Education in London. Certainly, it was an age when there were many brave and even utopian schemes coming to the fore in the world of education. The 1920s and 1930s saw progressive ideals becoming manifest, for example, in A.S. Neill’s Summerhill school, with its ideals of freedom for children; Bertrand and Dora Russell’s Beacon Hill school, with its radical ideals about child-rearing; and the civic philosophy of Kurt Hahn’s Gordonstoun. The New Education Fellowship was founded in 1921, inspired by the mystic Beatrice Ensor, and continued for the next two decades to generate international conferences on lofty themes and the journal The New Era, while the threats of fascism and war grew on the European continent.

And yet, despite the progressive visions, the years following the First World War were also hard times for education, despite the promises of the Education Act of 1918. Economic pressures were at the heart of this. The Geddes reports of 1922 led to Read the rest of this entry »

The aims of the curriculum should be the fount from which everything else in school life should flow

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 22 April 2022

John White.

What are England’s schools for? Many parents and other citizens may well assume the authorities have a good answer to this. But have they?

Well-known philosophers from both sides of the Atlantic interested in education – from Harvard, Columbia, Chicago and Illinois as well as from UCL IOE – are broadly agreed that a worthwhile education has three or four key aims: self-maintenance through work, personal fulfilment, citizenship and moral concern. Their discussions of each aim differ in detail but there is consensus both that there are complex interconnections among the aims and that expounding what each involves painstaking elucidation. Philip Kitcher, for instance, an eminent philosopher from Columbia University in New York, devotes just over half his new book The Main Enterprise of the World: Rethinking Education (2022 ) to what its aims should be.
These 201 pages are mainly about the four mentioned above.

Compare this to the 41 words on the aims of the English National Curriculum: Read the rest of this entry »

The limitations of bricolage: Ofsted’s Curriculum Research Review for Languages

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 19 April 2022

JESHOOTS-com / Pixabay

Norbert Pachler and Elspeth Broady.

During 2021 and 2022, OFSTED has published a number of curriculum research reviews seemingly with the aim of identifying factors contributing to high quality school curricula and how subjects can best be taught with the help of research findings.

Whilst attempts to leverage research findings to underpin, inform and improve subject pedagogy must be viewed as laudable and desirable, the curriculum research reviews raise a number of important questions and issues, certainly if the recent furore over the maths review is anything to go by (see e.g. Schools Week but see also the journal Routes for a discussion of the review for geography). While controversy is seemingly more intense in some subjects than others, common problematic features emerge from the reviews in general: Read the rest of this entry »

Ukraine invasion: how history can empower people to make sense of Russia’s war

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 19 May 2022

Stéphane G. Lévesque, L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa and Arthur Chapman, IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society 

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered, in the words of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “the greatest threat to European stability since the Second World War.”

Since then, not a single day has passed without powerful stories and shocking images of bombardments and casualties circulating online.

In a recent CBC interview, Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan examined how history has become “an instrument of war” Read the rest of this entry »

Refugee reception in the shadow of Russia’s war in Ukraine – perspectives from Scandinavia and the UK

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 8 April 2022

A woman holds her hand to her face and looks worried, standing outdoors on an urban street

Image: hbrh / Adobe Stock

Drawing on their ongoing research, Mette Louise Berg, Line Grüner, Anders Neergaard, Andrea Verdasco, and Silke Zschomler discuss refugee reception policies in Denmark, Sweden, and the UK, and the obstacles involved in refugee social inclusion and integration in local communities. This post first appeared on the UCL Europe Blog


ITT Market Review: excellent science teaching needs skills in overcoming misconceptions

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 5 April 2022

Marian Mulcahy.

The National Curriculum states that the purpose of science education is to provide a foundation ‘for understanding the world’ and that it is essential for ‘the world’s future prosperity’. It can safely be argued that these aims, whatever is thought of them, cannot be met within the confines of a school classroom or lab, but they do highlight the importance that is placed on students experiencing a really high-quality science education.  This in turn can only be achieved through exceptional teaching.

We have a very clear vision of what that teaching should look like, from the crucial point of view of the pupils.  Exceptional science teachers are those: Read the rest of this entry »

IOE at 120: Seeking the best way to educate the ‘whole child’, 1922-1932

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 30 March 2022

Nazlin Bhimani.

This blog is the third in a series of 12 exploring each decade in IOE’s history in the context of the education and society of the times. Find out more about our 120th anniversary celebrations on our website, and follow us on TwitterInstagramFacebook and LinkedIn to keep up with everything that’s happening.

By 1922, Prime Minister Lloyd George’s declaration that the men would be coming home to a ‘land fit for heroes’ rang hollow. The initial euphoria that gripped the nation in the aftermath of the First World War quickly dissipated as the enormity of the destructive capacity of the war in human and economic terms was realised. Some 750,000 British men were killed or wounded, the number of widows rose to c1.6 million, and just over 730,000 children lost their fathers. Families suffered extreme poverty as unemployment averaged 64 percent.

Britain’s relatively undereducated citizenry, in comparison with her European and International competitors, was seen as a growing liability in terms of the nation’s financial health and the future of the empire. With the passing of the People’s Representation Act in 1918 (and later the Reform Act in 1928), which extended franchise, the need for an educated citizenry became more imperative. To meet the demands of a new, modern world, the 1918 Education (Fisher) Act embodied the notion of creating a responsible and informed citizen. Though raising the school leaving age to 14 was achieved, the Act failed to meet its other targets when the Geddes ‘axe’ drastically reduced the Read the rest of this entry »