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Archive for the 'COVID-19 and education' Category

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…)

Top of the blogs: what topics made it into our readers’ 2021 hit parade?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 January 2022

Diane Hofkins.

2021 was not the year we were hoping for. Dominated by the pandemic, it was a year of disrupted education, work and recreation. Many people lost friends and family members, Physical and mental health suffered.

As with every aspect of life, the pandemic cast its shadow across every topic touched on by the IOE Blog last year: the challenges of school leadership, mental health, the arts, remote learning, relationships with parents, and especially inequality. In January, Melanie Ehren and colleagues wrote of the ‘Matthew Effect’: “For whoever has, to him shall be given […] but whoever has not, from him shall be taken away even that he has”. The Covid Generation, they said, will have educational winners and losers. And (more…)

How has the pandemic affected young people’s job skills?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital16 December 2021

Francis Green, Golo Henseke and Ingrid Schoon.

With skill shortages widely reported, you may be wondering what’s been happening to the learning of job skills among young people during Covid. It is already obvious that, following Brexit, we in Britain cannot rely as much on the skills of migrants – and this doesn’t just mean for picking apples or driving lorries. Across the board it is widely accepted that we are going to need to step up the training of Britain’s young people, our future workers for decades to come, if standards of living are to be sustained while the economy adjusts to post-Brexit realities and to climate change.

But hasn’t the pandemic put a large damper on hopes of an upturn in our skills? How could Britain’s youth get on with their education when so many schools were closed, and how could they train for careers when they (more…)

Breaking down barriers: why do we classify some languages as ‘community’ and others as ‘modern’?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital9 December 2021

It is claimed that, on average, one in five of school-aged children in Britain have a first language other than English (The Guardian). These languages are often labelled as ‘community languages’ with many of them identified as the ‘languages for the future’ (British Council) in terms of supply and demand.For instance, the top ten ‘languages for the future’ are Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, French, Arabic and German, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Japanese and Russian, all of which are spoken in communities in Britain. Yet, as the Guardian article and numerous reports point out, support for the community languages in the UK education system, from early years to further and higher education, is seriously lacking.

Part of the problem is the labelling. Languages that are part of the school and university curriculum are usually called ‘modern languages’, ‘foreign languages’, or ‘modern foreign languages’. Some of the community languages (eg Italian, Mandarin Chinese) are part of the school curriculum, but most are not. The classification of which language is a modern language for schools, and which is a community language seems somewhat arbitrary and largely a result of the history of language teaching in this country. It is also connected to Britain’s (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…)