X Close

IOE Blog

Home

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

Menu

Archive for the 'accountability and inspection' Category

Phonics teaching in England needs to change – our new research points to a better approach

Blog Editor, IOE Digital20 January 2022

 
Sokor Space/Shutterstock

Dominic Wyse and Alice Bradbury.

Arguments about the best way to teach children to read can be intense – they’ve even been described as “the reading wars”. In England, as in many other countries, much of the debate has been over the use of phonics, which helps children understand how sounds – “phonemes” – are represented by letters.

The government requires teachers to use a particular type of phonics teaching called “synthetic phonics”, and the emphasis on this technique has become overwhelming in English primary schools.

Supporters of synthetic phonics teaching have argued that teaching of phonemes and letters should be first and foremost. On the other side have been supporters of whole language instruction, who think that reading whole texts – books for example – should come first and foremost.

Our new research shows that synthetic phonics alone is not the best way to teach children to read. We found that a more (more…)

Schools’ varied Covid stories make sitting the Phonics Test meaningless

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 November 2021

Alice Bradbury and Gemma Moss.

This autumn term, for the second year running, the Phonics Screening Check (PSC) will be taking place in Year 2 classrooms for all pupils, rather than the usual system of testing everyone at the end of Year 1. The Covid crisis led to the suspension of all statutory testing in the summer of 2021 and no other assessments have been moved, only the PSC. This means that Year 2 pupils who have missed out on months of classroom time last year will be taken out of their classrooms this term, to test their phonics decoding skills by asking them to read aloud 40 words and pseudo-words.

The PSC is intended to monitor the quality of phonics teaching in the school as well as to provide information on individuals for teachers. This year’s use of the test, however, will be meaningless unless local circumstances are taken into account, because the pandemic has affected schools in such a variety of ways. Our IOE research found that schools reacted in complex and thoughtful ways to the impacts of Covid on their communities, taking into account circumstances that made home learning difficult for pupils; each school has its own ‘Covid story’.

Varied local circumstances meant children had a wide range of needs, including insufficient food or heating for (more…)

The Core Content Framework and the fallacy of a teacher training ‘curriculum’

Blog Editor, IOE Digital2 September 2021

Clare Brooks.

One of the controversies to arise from the discussions about the government’s ITT market review is the role and place of a government mandated curriculum for initial teacher education.

In 2019 the government introduced its ITT Core Content Framework (CCF). This was promoted as a minimum entitlement for trainees, and as representing the best evidence for what teacher training programmes should contain (The claim that the CCF is based on the “best evidence” is highly contestable). The Ofsted ITE Inspection Framework emphasises fidelity to the CCF and the Market Review recommendations would reinforce this as the central point of teacher education programmes. This highlights the question of the value and efficacy of a mandated curriculum for teacher
education, at least one in the form of the CCF.

What a new teacher needs to know
Teachers require a combination of practical knowledge, sometimes referred to as skills, and (more…)

This is no time for a mass experiment on teacher education

Blog Editor, IOE Digital13 August 2021

Alexandra_Koch / Pixabay

Caroline Daly.

We have until 22 August to respond to a DfE consultation about the proposal to radically restructure Initial Teacher Education (ITE). The proposals, in practice, pave the way to close existing programmes of ITE in England from as early as 2023, replacing them with an experimental form of provision that will be subject to approval by a centralised Accreditation Board (about which there is little detail). These proposals have been put forward from the DfE despite much ITE enjoying excellent track records, highly experienced school partnerships and expert staff.

The proposal is for existing ITE provision in England to be replaced by a system that is experimental on several levels, in terms of: student recruitment; curriculum; assessment; quality assurance and, crucially, stakeholder roles.  This includes the possibility of universities becoming redundant or certainly optional for ITE as new entities are created to extend degree awarding powers to other providers. Government will require all providers to be reaccredited in order to continue recruiting from September 2022.

This is in a system where, almost exactly one year ago, all of the 340 initial teacher training (ITT) partnerships that were inspected in the most recent national Ofsted cycle were judged to be good or outstanding. We can only speculate as to why the government had so little trust in the comprehensive and sustained judgements of the entire system that were concluded just one year ago. In July this (more…)

GCSEs: is the basket beyond repair, or just overloaded?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital28 May 2021

IOE Events.

The case for high-stakes exams at age 16, in the form of GCSEs, has felt precarious at times, especially so since the education and training participation age increased to age 18.  However, as we heard in both our latest public debate, on GCSEs, and our previous event on closing the attainment gap post-Covid, the GCSE system retains many supporters, even though some are surprised to find themselves taking that position.

For this  debate, were joined by IOE colleagues Mary Richardson (chair), Tina Isaacs and Gill Wyness; Tim Oates of Cambridge Assessment; and campaigner on reliability in exam marking, Dennis Sherwood.  Read more about our panellists here.

We also heard how in some cases the calls to disband GCSEs hide ulterior (more…)

How is school accountability linked to teacher stress?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital18 March 2021

John Jerrim.

It is no secret that many in education dislike certain aspects of England’s school accountability system. Indeed, accountability is often blamed for causing high levels of stress among the teacher workforce.

Yet we know surprisingly little about the link between accountability and teacher wellbeing.

This blogpost – based upon a new research paper I am publishing with colleagues today – looks at international evidence on this issue from TALIS 2018. (TALIS is the OECD’s Teaching and Learning International Survey). This work is part of a Nuffield Foundation-funded research conducted into teacher health and wellbeing.

Do high accountability school systems have teachers who are more stressed about this aspect of their job?

As part of TALIS, teachers were asked how much stress was caused by different aspects of their job. This (more…)

Will the DFE’s new Institute reflect what teachers need to learn?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital27 January 2021

klimkin / Pixabay

John White.

This month, the Department for Education (DFE) announced that a new Institute for Teaching will be set up in England ‘to provide teachers and school leaders with prestigious training and development throughout their career’. It ‘will become England’s flagship teacher training and development provider, showcasing exemplary development of the Government’s ambitious reforms.’

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that the new Institute will equip all teachers to deliver an education combining ‘high standards of pupil behaviour and discipline with a broad knowledge-based’ curriculum. He added that the Institute, whose work will begin in September 2022 will add ‘diversity and innovation to the existing teacher development market.’

I don’t imagine that this is a belated response to remarks made by HMCI Amanda Spielman in her 2017 (more…)

A-level and GCSE cancellation: a missed opportunity to rethink assessment

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 January 2021

Lincoln Beddoe/Shutterstock

Mary Richardson.

GCSE and A-level exams in England have been cancelled, opening the door to a repeat of the confusion that marked the award of grades in 2020.

The cancellation of exams in March 2020 in England was followed by the realisation that an algorithm created to moderate the data provided by schools had led to significant reduction in final grades for many thousands of students. This debacle led to a crisis in public trust in national testing systems in England.

The students most likely to be disadvantaged by this method of grade awarding were from the poorest backgrounds. Within a few days of the results being announced, the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin (more…)

How should we assess school students now that exams have been cancelled?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 January 2021

Jake Anders, Lindsey Macmillan, Gill Wyness, Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities

This article was originally published by Economics Observatory

To avoid a repeat of last summer’s exam chaos, the government must decide quickly on alternative assessment measures. There is a strong case for A-level students to receive in-class testing – with flexible timing and content – to take account of differences in their learning experiences.

While the uncertainties of a global pandemic make this one of the most volatile periods of education policy in history, if there is one lesson we should all have learned since last March, it is that indecision is costly. This has proved true repeatedly for public health and looks just as relevant for education.

As we saw with last summer’s exam fiasco, the failure to act decisively led to there being little alternative but to (more…)

Location location location: how the ‘wrong’ one can put schools in a difficult spot and the right kind of inspection could help pull them out

Blog Editor, IOE Digital1 December 2020

Melanie Ehren, Jo Hutchinson and Bernie Munoz-Chereau.

Where schools are located can make a big difference to their outcomes, and the pandemic is making the geographical gap worse in a number of ways. In remote or deprived areas, parents often have limited access to the internet, and this has severely limited schools’ ability to teach online during lockdowns and closures.

Now that students have returned to school, teachers and school leaders are tasked with the enormous challenge of making up for lost time. In remote or deprived areas, these challenges are even greater. In its 2020 report on ‘stuck schools’ – those struggling to improve over more than a decade – Ofsted looked at how location – particularly geographical remoteness and level of deprivation – relates to school performance. The Inspectorate said ‘a system of deeper inspection and better support’ was needed to improve education for children in these schools. This emphasis in tackling schools that are deemed less than ‘good’ is sustained in  Ofsted Annual Report 2019-2020 launched today.

Now more than ever, inspection needs to use place-based approaches to take into account the related challenges. Assessment of (more…)