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Archive for the 'Childhood & early education' Category

Belonging part 1:  the ‘red card’ of exclusion

Blog Editor, IOE Digital22 June 2022

Kathryn Riley.

‘You must shun (this girl) .. avoid her company, exclude her from your sports, shut her out of your converse… (she) is a liar’.  So pronounced Mr Brocklehurst, proprietor of Lowood School. His venom was directed against Jane Eyre, the eponymous heroine of Charlotte Bronte’s novel.

Some time ago, I interviewed young people who had been excluded from school. They drew pictures of how they felt. One image has long haunted me. At the center is a small child looking distraught. The caption around the drawing reads:

      You’re thick..  You’re stupid..  You don’t belong here..  Get out of my school… (more…)

Safer Internet Day 2022: 7 things for parents and teachers to think about

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 February 2022

StartupStockPhotos / Pixabay

Sandra Leaton Gray and Andy Phippen.

  1. Don’t panic! Most of the time, most young people are using digital technology safely and for positive reasons. However, that is not the sort of headline that will sell newspapers and generate traffic to their websites and, moreover, it is not the sort of message that will generate many donations to NGOs and charities.
  2. Remember that being online is not the same as crossing the road, despite what you might be told. While we might talk about road safety as a concept, applying that to the online world is problematic. The road setting tends not to change too much, and crossing the road is a relatively straightforward operation that can be addressed with simple safety instructions. In contrast, there are always new aspects to the online world, new games, apps, platforms and devices. We have to bear that in mind when (more…)

Levelling up education and skills: a recipe for success?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital3 February 2022

Claire Crawford, Laura Outhwaite, Sam Sims and Gill Wyness.

It’s finally here: an answer to the question of what the government means by ‘levelling up’. On the education and skills front, it seems to involve some seriously ambitious targets: a massive increase in the percentage of children achieving the ‘expected’ level in reading, writing and maths at age 11 over the next eight years across all areas, with more than 50% rises needed to meet the target in most local authorities. Alongside these national targets, a set of 55 ‘Education Investment Areas’ – roughly the poorest performing third of local authorities in terms of primary and secondary school results – were identified, in which some new (and some re-announced) policies would be targeted.

It is good to have specific, measurable and stretching goals, but given the scale of ambition involved, there was very little detail of how we will actually get there – and no evidence of significant new resources to do it. Complex issues, like inequalities across the life course, require holistic solutions and joined up thinking across all aspects of the journey – things that simply cannot be delivered without appropriate funding. There was also little evidence of the embedding of new announcements within existing strategies – certainly in terms of the plans for educational technology, with the white paper championing the creation of a new online UK  (more…)

Green neighbourhoods and their children: does it make a difference?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital31 January 2022

Eirini Flouri.

It is widely agreed that neighbourhood greenspace provides adults with emotional, physical and social benefits, especially in urban areas where most people live. Local greenery is thought to promote psychological relaxation and stress alleviation, greater opportunity for physical activity and social interaction and is related to lower levels of air pollutants, noise and excess heat.

However, there has been relatively little research into the role of neighbourhood greenspace for children. I have been carrying out some of this research in the UK since 2012 and, like others elsewhere, I am still to find robust evidence of unique benefits for the inner lives of children in the general population. Does the link exist or not?

I think it does, but the effects are more nuanced than people think. My research has found that greenspace can affect children’s spatial working memory (SWM) and risk-taking behaviour, as I will explain shortly. But potential impacts of greenspace are (more…)

In memory: Professor Berry Mayall (1936-2021)

Blog Editor, IOE Digital24 January 2022

Ann Oakley.

Berry came to the IOE as a researcher in the Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU) in 1973. At TCRU she was responsible for a programme of research on children’s and parents’ experiences of health and education services. In 1990 she left TCRU with Ann Oakley to establish the Social Science Research Unit, where she worked, first as Assistant Director and then as Professor of Childhood Studies, until her retirement in 2019.

She held many research grants designed to contribute to our understanding of children’s position in society, and to illuminate the ways in which the perspectives of adults, and especially of policy-makers, have failed to comprehend children’s autonomy, competence, and civic rights. As a scholar in these fields she was unmatched, and rightly unrelenting, though gentle, in her criticism of those within and outside academia who refused to envisage children as independent social actors. (more…)

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 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…)