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


Archive for the 'COVID-19 and education' Category

The disadvantage gap: children of austerity or children of adversity?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 September 2022

chezbeate / Pixabay

Neil Kaye.

Last month, hundreds of thousands of young people nervously opened their GCSE results – the first time in the post-pandemic world that such exams had been sat by a full cohort of Year 11 students. Whilst the headlines focused on the apparent fall in average grades from those of the previous two years, the results also highlight a seemingly-inevitable outcome of our present education system: the persistence of a ‘disadvantage’ attainment gap.

A recent IFS report concluded that, “despite decades of policy attention, there has been virtually no change in the ‘disadvantage gap’ in GCSE attainment over the past 20 years”. Whilst some improvement has been noted, modelling by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) from before the pandemic observed that “at the current rate of progress, it would take over 500 years for this gap to close completely at the end of secondary school” (Lupton & Hayes, 2021).

So, is this gap in attainment inevitable? Is it ‘baked’ into the system? Are the policies of successive governments doomed to failure, or have they (more…)

The unbroken demand for (poorly paid) teachers

Blog Editor, IOE Digital26 August 2022

Golo Henseke and Shunyu Yang.

Teacher recruitment is faltering. Despite an increase in the number of teacher trainees in 2020/21, schools anticipate severe staffing challenges for the upcoming academic year.

How did we get here?

This is the second post in a two-part blog series on the teaching profession using data from online job vacancies. The first post investigated job skill requirements, how they have changed since 2012, and how they relate to pay. This blog tracks changes in the demand for and pay of teachers since (more…)

What does the National Reference Test tell us about achievement in maths and English over time?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital25 August 2022

John Jerrim.

Congratulations to all the young people who got their GCSE results today.

While the mainstream media attention will likely be showing lots of pictures of Year 11s hugging or other such images (Teacher Tapp bingo anyone?) I am going to give my first impression of results from the latest National Reference Test – which were also published today.

What is the National Reference Test?

Since 2017, Ofqual has tested a large sample of Year 11s in English and mathematics around February/March time – just a few months before their (more…)

Did independent schools really ‘fiddle’ their A-Level grades more than other schools in 2021?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital23 August 2022

John Jerrim.

It’s August. And that can mean only one thing – results season is back!

Of course, when A-Level results were released last Thursday, one specific thing grabbed the headline – the sharp fall in 2022 grades compared to 2020 and 2021.

This was entirely predictable. And, actually, wasn’t that newsworthy. Ofqual told us that that 2022 grades would sit midway between those awarded in 2019 and 2021 almost a year ago.

But what also caught a lot of people’s attention was how the fall in grades differed between different groups and, in particular, (more…)

Thinking of becoming a teacher? These are the top skills employers are looking for

Blog Editor, IOE Digital16 August 2022

Golo Henseke and Shunyu Yang.

Excellent, highly skilled teachers are crucial for quality education – as this year’s round of exam results highlight once again. However, while the critical role of teachers on student outcomes has received a great deal of attention, less is known about how schools design teacher jobs and what skills they seek to enable excellent teaching.

This blog is the first post in a two-part series on the teaching profession, drawing on a large number of job adverts between 2012 and 2020. This first post looks at skills requirements in teacher vacancies, how they have changed since 2012, and how they relate to pay.

The analysis shows: First, skills requirements rose. Second, softs have become more important. Third, in 2020, employers would pay a premium for specialist expertise, people-management and cognitive skills – but IT skills were not highly valued, despite most teaching going online during (more…)

Belonging, part 5: Young people are put in our path to teach us new lessons

Blog Editor, IOE Digital27 July 2022

Jubilee performance by children at Cremer Randall Primary, Hackney

Jubilee performance by children at Cremer Randall Primary, Hackney

Kathryn Riley.

The guests at the best bug hotels – I learn from my five-year-old granddaughter – can be ladybirds, beetles, even butterflies. While this is not my vision of luxury hotel living, her tutorial reminds me that young people are put in our path to teach us new lessons, and to remind us of what we may have long forgotten.

This blog – the last in a series of five about Belonging – was inspired by a recent visit to a school in Hackney – Cremer Randall Primary. My aim in visiting the school was to gather material for the final instalment of the podcast series, Let’s hear it for School Belonging. This is a story of possibilities told by young people, school leaders and experts from around the world, with insights from Rapper Jamie Pyke.

I have known the headteacher of Cremer, Jo Riley (no relation), for some time. She is one of the 16 headteachers I worked with during the Covid-19 Pandemic. I learned much from her and her peers about the importance of  ‘compassion’ which contributed to my thinking in Compassionate Leadership for School Belonging. You can download this book for free ­– a (more…)

Covid-19: The children most likely to benefit from early childhood provision lost out the most

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 July 2022

Photo by Alex Albert

Claire Cameron, Katie Hollingworth, Hanan Hauari, Margaret O’Brien, Lydia Whitaker, Sarah O’Toole.

The Covid-19 pandemic took a heavy toll on everyone, but on some people more than others. Young children were not at especial risk of infection but the measures to control the spread of Covid affected every aspect of their lives, as our Families in Tower Hamlets project has shown.

The ‘stay at home’ order on 23 March 2020 and accompanying closures of early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings such as nurseries and schools to most children led to only 5–10% of children who usually attended early childhood settings doing so. Provision was only open for children of critical workers or those classed as vulnerable.

We found that young children in our Tower Hamlets study had a more extreme lockdown experience than most – there were few ways to escape the monotony of being indoors – and that social inequalities magnified the disadvantages some children (more…)

Is there is a link between Year 11s’ wellbeing and their GCSE grades?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital28 April 2022

John Jerrim.

The 2021/22 academic year is due to see the return of GCSE examinations after a Covid-enforced two-year hiatus. Before the pandemic hit, there was much concern about how these high-stakes examinations may be affecting young people’s mental health.

At the same time, it was recognised that those Year 11s who were struggling with their wellbeing could see their GCSE grades suffer as a result. Yet we actually know relatively little about this key issue – how strong is the link between the wellbeing of Year 11 pupils and the GCSE grades they achieve?

This blog takes a look at the evidence, drawing upon work I have published today in a new academic paper. (more…)

How pandemic closures prompted children to change their perspectives about school

Blog Editor, IOE Digital28 March 2022

Denise Buchanan.

How have pandemic-related school closures affected the well-being of children? Some research evidence has emerged, but few educational studies have included face-to-face interviews with children, such as ours has. Our ‘Children’s Life Histories in Primary Schools’ involved 63 interviews with 23 children considered to be ‘lower-attaining’, when they were aged 9-10, concerning their experiences of school closures.

Not surprisingly, the children’s testimonies showed that their wellbeing was diminished by the closure of schools, as it had hindered their opportunities to play, socialise and learn, leading to feelings of sadness, loneliness and boredom. But extended school closures also made them realise (more…)

Floating on the ‘cloud’ or living in the material world`? Teaching online in the time of Covid

Blog Editor, IOE Digital16 February 2022

Lesley Gourlay.

At the beginning of the pandemic, schools and universities were forced to ‘go online’ at short notice. We often refer to this as ‘virtual learning’, but is that really a good description? We think about the internet as something separate from the ‘real world’ we see in front of us, full of objects and people. The language used to describe it suggests this too – we talk about ‘the cloud’ and ‘the ether’, giving the idea that the online world is a special place, free from the messiness of the material world.

However, the reality of ‘online learning’ is also part of the that world. Computers, laptops and smartphones are objects, and we work with them in ‘real life’ settings. During the pandemic, millions of people had to set up and use digital devices at home for work or study. As we (more…)