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Top of the blogs: what topics made it into our readers’ 2021 hit parade?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 6 January 2022

Diane Hofkins.

2021 was not the year we were hoping for. Dominated by the pandemic, it was a year of disrupted education, work and recreation. Many people lost friends and family members, Physical and mental health suffered.

As with every aspect of life, the pandemic cast its shadow across every topic touched on by the IOE Blog last year: the challenges of school leadership, mental health, the arts, remote learning, relationships with parents, and especially inequality. In January, Melanie Ehren and colleagues wrote of the ‘Matthew Effect’: “For whoever has, to him shall be given […] but whoever has not, from him shall be taken away even that he has”. The Covid Generation, they said, will have educational winners and losers. And in February, Ruth Lupton and colleagues discussed the barriers faced by “low achievers” post-16.

Of course, assessment – primary SATs and phonics tests as well as secondary GCSEs and A levels – exercised IOE’s academics. How could it be done fairly? In January, Jake Anders, Lindsey Macmillan and Gill Wyness proposed that secondary exams should be externally set and marked, but should be sat flexibly, rather than relying on teacher assessment. Others wondered: did we need some of these tests at all? What will the Year 2 phonics test show, when some children were home without adequate food or heating, asked Alice Bradbury and Gemma Moss.

These were popular topics on the IOE Blog last year – but the issue attracting the greatest interest among readers was the Government’s ITT Market Review. We are running a series of articles examining the potential impact of reforms that would arguably reduce the role of universities and increase government control over teacher education.

Our top trending post of 2021 was Clare Brooks’s commentary on the Government’s ITT Core Content Framework, promoted as a minimum entitlement for trainees. Using Basil Bernstein’s typology, she gently explains how first class ITE helps teachers develop both a repertoire of techniques and methods, as well as a deeper reservoir of ideas and knowledge. “It is the process of developing an adequate and sizeable repertoire and reservoir, and knowing when and how to draw upon it that marks out the new professional from the unthinking technician,” she says. This post was closely followed by Caroline Daly’s This is no time for a mass experiment on teacher education, asking why, at a time of pandemic upheaval, profound changes should be introduced to a system that Ofsted has found to be working well.

Let us end with an upbeat comment from a Year 6 pupil preparing for transition to secondary school in the time of Covid. This quote emerged from research by Katya Saville and Sandra Leaton Gray:

I honestly think that this has made us even more united because all of us are going through hard times, all of us may be upset, and that is good because then, we can all help each other to make ourselves happy, to think positive and to have fun! Many things have changed, like when …. We couldn’t have a school trip, all school trips were cancelled, we need to wear masks in corridors, we need to sanitise all the time, which is a bit annoying, but we all need to carry on like this for a while to combat Coronavirus and Year 6s need to be ready, strong and brave for the transition next year.

The five most popular IOE blogs of 2021 were:

And these three published in 2020 continued to top the charts:


 photo: Vinyl by Nina via Creative Commons


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