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Archive for the 'Childhood & early education' Category

New study: empowering teachers, children and parents is the way to achieve the best early childhood education and care

Blog Editor, IOE Digital22 July 2020

Yuwei Xu, Clare Brooks, Jie Gao and Eleanor Kitto.

The need to educate young children from home during the Covid crisis has caused early years staff and parents to rethink their roles.

At the IOE’s Centre for Teacher and Early Years Education (CTEY) we carried out an analysis of 19 national and regional early childhood curriculum frameworks across five continents. It reveals that most education systems see empowering educators, parents, and children as essential for effective and high-quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC).

Government evaluation reports on those national frameworks make it clear that educators, parents, and children should all be involved both in the policy making of (more…)

Proceed with caution: unravelling the evidence behind the DFE’s Covid guidance on teaching assistants

Blog Editor, IOE Digital17 July 2020

Rob Webster.

In the early stages of the UK government’s response to the Coronavirus health emergency, it was common to hear that decisions were ‘being led by the science’. As attention begins to shift to addressing the impact of school closures on the attainment gap, it is essential that schools adopt a similar evidence-based approach.

The DfE’s guidance for the full opening of schools in September contains the following advice for school leaders on deploying teaching assistants (TAs) and other support staff:

“Where support staff capacity is available, schools may consider using this to support catch-up provision or targeted interventions. Teaching assistants may also be deployed to lead groups or cover lessons, under the direction and supervision of a qualified, or nominated, teacher”.

This section of the DfE guidance goes on to point school leaders towards the practical recommendations contained in the Education Endowment Foundation’s (EEF) Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants report. Ordinarily, a link to the EEF’s work in DfE literature is a tacit signal to the reader that the advice being provided is trustworthy, robust (more…)

Why the arts should be at the heart of a recovery curriculum

Blog Editor, IOE Digital16 July 2020

Isobel Traunter.

To make up for lost education during the lockdown, the UK government recently advised primary schools in particular to prioritise ‘progress in the essentials’. Consequently, many have voiced concerns regarding the implications this may have for the arts in English primary schools. The artist known as Bob & Roberta Smith has spoken out against the idea of a ‘catch-up’ curriculum, suggesting that this could potentially ‘damage the creative potential of this country, stunting our ability to draw and design the future’.

Many educators and artists believe the arts are more important than ever at this time. They are calling for a renewed focus on the arts in schools as a response to the emotional fallout of the national pandemic.

Reception child’s painting

The government’s announcement echoes the messages which have resounded throughout the pandemic suggesting that pupils – especially those from deprived backgrounds – are falling behind or need to catch up. This catch-up rhetoric often seems to focus exclusively on the core subjects such as numeracy, literacy and science at the expense of the arts. But surely the arts have merit of their own which warrants their inclusion in a ‘catch-up’ curriculum? In fact they could provide what children and teachers need most.

In my own PhD research exploring visual art’s position in the early years curriculum in disadvantaged primary schools across England, the 25 teachers I have interviewed so far (more…)

Special schools: still open and providing a lifeline for the most vulnerable

Blog Editor, IOE Digital14 July 2020

John Vorhaus.

Covid 19 presents extraordinary challenges for schools. Children with disabilities are amongst the most vulnerable pupils – and none more so than children whose disabilities are multiple and profound. What makes these children especially vulnerable is that they are often immunocompromised and their complex health needs require constant, close attention and physical contact. I have been speaking with three heads and assistant head teachers about their experience of running special schools in London during the pandemic. Names have been changed to preserve anonymity.

When the news first broke that schools would be closing in March Anita Ward, Diana Clarke and Helen Shapiro each faced a similar problem: Government announcements were principally aimed at mainstream schools, and very little attention was initially given to special schools – schools for severely and profoundly disabled children: how would they be expected to adapt so as ensure that extremely vulnerable children were kept safe and well?

In 2018 10,032 children were identified as having profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD), most of whom were boys. Children with PMLD were more likely to be (more…)

Choosing welfare over worksheets and care over ‘catch-up’: teachers’ priorities during lockdown

Blog Editor, IOE Digital3 July 2020

Alice Bradbury and Sam Duncan.

Teachers’ working lives changed dramatically under lockdown, with a sudden shift to providing work for children at home or teaching small groups at school. At the same time, our research suggests, their priorities may also have changed. As we enter a new phase of the COVID-19 crisis, planning for the autumn term needs to take into account the importance teachers place on care over ‘catch-up’.

Our project, ‘A duty of care and a duty to teach: educational priorities in response to the COVID-19 crisis’, explores how schools have been operating during this unique period of sudden and dramatic changes to daily life, and how these changes have affected primary teachers’ and school leaders’ thinking about education. Our first set of findings arise from a survey conducted in May via TeacherTapp, involving 1,653 participants.

The survey results reveal that teachers’ primary concern at the start of lockdown was with pupil welfare. When asked about their priorities in communicating with parents, the most popular option was checking how families are coping in terms of basic food, health and emotional needs. Headteachers in particular were regularly involved in (more…)

Supporting parents through online programmes: now and into the future

Blog Editor, IOE Digital29 June 2020

Jie Gao, Clare Brooks, Yuwei Xu, Eleanor Kitto.

After nearly three months of lockdown, most of us crave human interaction. Indeed our experience of living and working virtually has taught many of us the value of face-to-face communication with real people. And yet, our systematic review on programmes designed for parents of young children suggests not only that online programmes offer effective ways to support parents, but that they are already extensively used to good effect.

Our systematic review of the research into programmes for parents of young children (0-6 years old) identified that effective parenting programmes often feature:

  • Focused programme aims and purposes
  • Clear theoretical frameworks
  • A programme tailored around individual user needs
  • Versatile means of delivery
  • Useful programme contents
  • High-quality teaching and facilitating
  • Effective professional training for programme leaders and facilitators
  • Constructive programme evaluation

Strikingly, the increasing use of technology and Internet-based parenting programmes stands out. Empirical reviews suggest that it has distinctive (more…)

Covid-19 and early years education and care: not the time for baseline assessment

Blog Editor, IOE Digital25 June 2020

Guy Roberts-Holmes, Siew Fung Lee and Diana Sousa.

The Covid-19 crisis means that young children have had prolonged absence from nurseries, and lost the chance to interact with their peers.  As Shadow Schools Minister Margaret Greenwood has told the Government, ‘Some will have lost parents, grandparents or other family members, while others will have simply struggled, like millions of others across the UK, with living in lockdown, unable to play with their friends’.

This means that early years teachers and care workers need to focus even more than usual on children’s well-being and mental health. We argue that the DFE’s latest iteration of Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) is an unnecessary distraction at a time like this.

Fortunately, the DFE has taken on board our concerns and those of others and has just announced that the RBA’s introduction is to be postponed for a year.

As many parents, teachers and children have experienced, home learning is no easy substitute for socially inclusive and participatory (more…)

Schools never shut: the extraordinary lengths teachers have been going to in supporting children during lockdown

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 June 2020

Alice Bradbury.

There has been much discussion in the news about schools ‘re-opening’ in the last few weeks; however, schools have never been ‘closed’ during the COVID-19 crisis, and in fact, teachers have been working incredibly hard to support their communities during the lockdown period.

As well as continuing to teach the children of key workers and vulnerable children, including through school holidays, staff have been engaged in a variety of activities which stretch far beyond their normal roles, as our research in the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Pedagogy (HHCP) has shown.

Our mission in HHCP is to improve children’s lives through pedagogy; during this crisis, we have prioritised supporting parents at home (through campaigns such as our ‘Get children thinking’  project) and – the focus here – documenting the experiences of staff in schools and the early years sector. We have spoken to and surveyed leaders across the field of primary and early years education, gathering fascinating testimonies of the experiences of the (more…)

Covid-19 and education: How can parents foster whole family wellbeing as some children return to school – especially for youngsters with special needs?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital2 June 2020

Amelia Roberts

During periods of upheaval, it can be particularly challenging to meet the needs of the whole family. Families now are juggling the school partial reopening, meaning that some children may be going back, while brothers and sisters are not. Not only is this difficult for practical reasons (such as getting some children to school while caring for others at home), but perceptions of fairness may well escalate. It may be hard, for example, not to meet friends when your sister can, or go to school when your brother gets to stay at home.

Explaining the situation

Social stories can be a very useful way to explain changes in circumstance to children with special educational needs. Beaucroft Foundation School have a wide range of excellent examples. ‘Going to school part time’ uses common visual symbols to explain the changes and has an excellent example of a simple visual calendar to show when a
child is at home and when at school.

Supporting the transition back into school

Communication with the school is absolutely crucial at this time. You will need to know how social distancing and deep cleaning measures are being handled so that you can (more…)

Get children thinking: why philosophy is the perfect lockdown activity for youngsters

Blog Editor, IOE Digital20 May 2020

Yana Manyukhina 

Lockdown unquestionably brings significant challenges into children’s education. But it also presents an opportunity for parents and carers ­– and teachers – to create new, more inspiring and more freeing learning environments for children learning at home.

What is enjoyable, effective and easy to implement, while developing children’s cognitive, emotional and social skills? Philosophy. It offers open ended challenges which are fun, and which stretch those brain cells in every direction.

In order to help parents and carers initiate valuable philosophical conversations with children, the team at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Pedagogy at UCL has designed a new social media campaign called “GetChildrenThinking”. Every week, a different philosophical question appears on the Centre’s Twitter Feed, followed by a mid-week prompt to further ignite and enrich the discussion. The first two are: What is fairness? and What is it like to be a bat? Bring philosophy into your home by following this link.

In my experience of teaching philosophy to primary and secondary students, (more…)