X Close

IOE Blog

Home

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

Menu

Archive for the 'Childhood & early education' Category

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 2021 Autumn Budget and Spending Review: what does it mean for educational inequalities?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital29 October 2021

 Claire Crawford, Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities.

The pandemic has disrupted life for everyone, but children and young people have seen perhaps the biggest changes to their day-to-day lives, with long periods spent away from school and their friends leading to significant rises in mental health difficulties and a substantial reduction in learning. Moreover, these challenges have not been felt equally: the evidence suggests that the pandemic has also led to a rise in inequalities between children from different socio-economic backgrounds, from the early years through to secondary school and beyond.

A budget and multi-year spending review delivered against a backdrop of the highest peace-time borrowing levels ever, and by a chancellor on a ‘moral’ mission to limit the size of the state, was unlikely to deliver the sort of investments in education that Sir Kevan Collins hoped to see when he took the role of ‘catch-up tsar’ earlier this year. But what did it deliver for education? And is it likely to help roll back the rises in educational inequalities that the pandemic has generated? (more…)

Early childhood: the changing face of parent-practitioner relations during the pandemic

Blog Editor, IOE Digital28 October 2021

finelightarts / Pixabay

Rachel Benchekroun and Claire Cameron.

Lockdowns and other restrictions in England and around the world since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic have transformed the way parents and early childhood practitioners communicate. This is having significant implications for children’s development, learning and wellbeing.

Two linked studies at the UCL Social Research Institute examining environmental changes for children, parents and practitioners, in England, New Zealand, Senegal and Italy have been uncovering the multi-faceted and evolving roles of early childhood provision in supporting children and families.

Through interviews with practitioners and parents from a top-rated early childhood setting in a disadvantaged neighbourhood of London, we were able to identify shifts in the way communication took place during lockdown. Practitioners provided support to families through weekly phone calls to parents, Zoom calls to engage with the children and sharing ideas for activities at home on the ‘parent app’. One practitioner explained: (more…)

Living and learning during a pandemic: what can children tell us?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital14 October 2021

Yana Manyukhina.

Researcher: why did you want to take part in this interview?

Child: “Because nobody had listened to children”

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us important lessons about school education that we should never forget in a post-pandemic world. We have come to appreciate, as never before, the significance of teacher support, interactions with peers, and positive family environments for children’s learning and wellbeing. At the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Pedagogy (0-11 years) (HHCP), we have also become acutely sensitive to children’s voice and its importance in research. We know we cannot fully understand how to help children succeed at school unless we ask, and listen to, children.

Our Living and Learning during a Pandemic study spanning the autumn term of 2020 was designed to do just that – talk and listen to children. Conducted after the reopening of schools following the first national lockdown, the project aimed to offer young children an opportunity to share their experiences and feelings (more…)

Making time to care: parental leave today and tomorrow

Blog Editor, IOE Digital14 September 2021

darkside-550 / Pixabay

Peter Moss and Alison Koslowski.

Work-life balance and gender equality are firmly on today’s political agenda, nationally and internationally. Key to achieving both is parenting leave, including maternity, paternity and parental leave, as well as leave for parents to care for sick children. Our new report, freely available online, provides an invaluable source of information about parenting leave, in the UK and 46 other countries.

The annual international review on leave policies is produced by a network of experts from many countries, across six continents including nearly all of Europe. As well as full details of parenting leaves in all 47 countries covered and cross-national tables, the review has information on recent developments in leave policy, take-up, the relationship between leave policies and early childhood services, plus a section on responses to Covid, covering early childhood services, schools, changes to leave policies and other support for parents.

At 645 pages, the 17th annual international review of the leave network is hard to summarise. Here are just a few tasters. What’s immediately striking is the great diversity in how countries design and implement leave policies – even between member states of the European Union, where directives set minimum standards for (more…)

Exactly what is social care and how can we solve the crisis?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital7 July 2021

annawaldl / Pixabay

Claire Cameron, Peter Moss and Pat Petrie

Social care has been in crisis for years, now made even worse by the pandemic. All agree something must be done, many ‘urging the Government to act now’ – but we are still waiting. What can be done? The problem with ‘social care’ and a promising solution are the subjects of a new article we have published in the International Journal of Social Pedagogy.

In it, we argue that ‘working with people’ should become a rewarding, well qualified and properly funded enterprise, with a highly skilled workforce, and ask why Britain has taken such a different path from much of Europe.

The social care crisis is driven by several factors. ‘Social care’ covers a plethora of services for children and adults including elderly people with additional needs; working-age adults with mental and physical disabilities; and children and adolescents unable to live with their birth parents, assessed as ‘in need’ or subject to child protection (more…)

‘You’re the best!’ Your belief in your kids’ academic ability can actually improve their grades

Blog Editor, IOE Digital30 June 2021

Shutterstock

Philip D. ParkerJake Anders, Rhiannon Parker,  and Taren Sanders.

We have all met the parent who thinks their kid is the next Picasso or Einstein regardless of the evidence. But it’s hard to know if these beliefs are helpful or harmful.

Overly optimistic parents could reduce their kids’ drive to work harder and give them a false idea of the opportunities available to them. Or this same optimism could fill the child with confidence, kindle their self-belief and give them the courage to try harder.

We set out to discover which of these possibilities is most likely. We found a mother’s optimism about how good their child is in maths and reading (more…)

Who is included, who is excluded and what can we do to promote inclusion for all children?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 June 2021

Claire Cameron, Jo Van Herwegen, Mark Mon-Williams, Aase Villadsen.

“Covid 19 constitutes the greatest crisis that high-income countries have seen in many generations,” says UNICEF in its recent analysis. And children “are among those at greatest risk of seeing their living standards fall and their personal well-being decline”.

This, in turn, threatens to broaden the group of children at risk of exclusion – not just for misbehaviour, but because they have needs that are not being met. The danger is that, in the pandemic’s aftermath, we focus on ‘catch up’ learning for the relatively advantaged, and neglect the long-term health, wellbeing, and competency benefits of inclusive education for all students – especially those who are poor and ‘near poor’.

Now is the time to think how we can organise structures, services, and systems in every school so that all (more…)

Measuring children’s development in low and middle income countries: getting it right

Blog Editor, IOE Digital21 May 2021

Bernie Munoz, Julie Dockrell, Lynn Ang and Jessica Massonnié.

How do we measure young children’s development and the quality of their learning environments in low and middle income countries (LMICs)? This answer is key for researchers, practitioners, field workers and NGOs working with children as there is a pressing need to prevent childhood ‘stunting’ in these countries.

Childhood stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience because of poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.

Through a systematic review (SR) soon to be published in the Journal of Early Childhood Research, we identified 43 current tools: 34 for assessing children’s (more…)

Social and emotional skills: how early childhood living conditions can support or undermine equality of opportunity

Blog Editor, IOE Digital7 May 2021

Ingrid Schoon

Children need certain social and emotional skills in order to adapt well to school and later life. This has become increasingly recognised in recent years, most notably by policy-makers. They have focused growing attention on how potential ‘character’, ‘non-cognitive’, or ‘soft’ skills can be developed in children and young people.

Social and emotional competences refer to a set of attitudes and behaviours, including motivation, perseverance, self-control, social engagement and collaboration (See here for more details). There is however no consensus about a key set of core social and emotional competences, and how these are defined and operationalised. Nor is there sufficient understanding of how social and emotional competences develop over time and in context.

New research from the IOE’s Social Research Institute (SRI) published in the British Education Research Journal suggests that some children need more support than others in developing socio-emotional competences, and that they need it at a young age. The support they need (more…)