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Archive for the 'Education policy' Category

How the outcry over a Reading test reveals wider problems with SATs

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 24 May 2023

6 year old girl sits with head on her hand and writes with a pencil

Credit: Phil Meech, UCL.

Alice Bradbury.

One of my daughters did Key Stage 1 SATs ‘quizzes’ last week, and she found it tiring and emotional. Some of her friends were in tears over how they did, and this is without the pressures of having your results used to appraise the whole school. Judging by the outcry over the Reading paper, the Key Stage 2 SATs week was especially tough for pupils, parents and teachers alike this year. But this concern over SATs goes much deeper than one difficult paper; many parents and teachers have simply had enough of what they see as a damaging system. (more…)

The link between the Key Stage 2 SATs and teachers’ anxiety levels

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 9 May 2023

Male teacher wearing yellow shirt poses question to a primary school class.

Credit: Phil Meech for UCL.

John Jerrim.

For quite a long time now, some groups have argued for the abolition of the Year 6 SATs (Standard Assessment Tests). Those who do so argue that they lead to a narrowing of the curricula, encourage schools to “teach to the test” and harm wellbeing across the education sector.

On this final point, in a previous blog I have discussed how evidence of a negative impact of the SATs on pupil wellbeing is pretty thin.

But what about the link between the SATs and the wellbeing of teachers? In a new academic working paper released today I take a look… (more…)

A brief history of school meals in the UK: from free milk to Jamie Oliver’s campaign against Turkey Twizzlers

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 4 May 2023

Dinner ladies with white canteen hats dishing out plates of hot food to primary school students

Credit: Monkey Business / Adobe Stock.

Gurpinder Singh Lalli, University of Wolverhampton; Gary McCulloch; Heather Ellis, University of Sheffield.

Mashed potato, gravy, custard. When British people hear the words “school dinners”, it’s not always great memories that come to mind.

That’s not the case for everyone. Indeed France is known for its gourmet school lunches cooked by onsite chefs – bon appétit!

But in the UK people have been complaining about school meals for a long time. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver campaigned against cheap processed foods like “turkey twizzlers” in the early 2000s. And Margaret Thatcher, the UK’s prime minister in the 1970s, was nicknamed the “milk snatcher” when she was education secretary because she stopped free milk for children in schools.

(more…)

The workforce crisis in schools: evidence isn’t enough

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 3 April 2023

Teachers carrying NEU flags and placards reading "A wet paper and towel won't fix it"; "I don't want to be the next extinct species".

NEU demonstration in Norwich, February 2023. Credit: Roger Blackwell via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

by Sal Riordan.

Teachers are in the news, striking for better pay and working conditions. Whatever you think about the rights or wrongs of that—at the start of the action a slim majority of Brits supported it — it’s hard to ignore the country’s teacher workforce crisis. National Education Union (NEU) members have just rejected the government’s pay offer, triggering two further days of strikes. (more…)

How many 15-year-olds are gullible enough to get scammed by a spam email?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 1 April 2023

A male teenager sits at his desk in the dark. His face is illuminated by his laptop screen and his expression is one of anguish. Image credit: Africa Studio via Adobe Stock.

Image credit: Africa Studio via Adobe Stock.

John Jerrim.

Online fraud is very serious business. We are faced with it every day. Indeed, as I am writing this blog, I’ve just received an email from a prince from a far-off-land who has an “exciting” business opportunity he wishes to discuss with me…….

I’m sure you have all received such emails as well: it is estimated that around 3.4 billion spam emails are sent every day. But how many young people are actually at risk of being duped by such a primitive digital scam?

Given that in many countries today it’s April Fools’ Day, essentially a day where we celebrate gullibility, let’s take a look. (more…)

Has peak PISA passed? A look at the attention international assessments receive

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 23 February 2023

John Jerrim.

Once upon a time, when Michael Gove was Secretary of State for education, PISA was all the rage (for the uninitiated, PISA is the Programme for International Student Assessment, which compares the performance of 15-year-olds across nearly 100 countries in reading, mathematics and science). As I noted at the time, international evidence was then en vogue, with PISA in particular featuring prominently in education debates. But is PISA now receiving less attention than it use to? In a new academic paper, I take a look… (more…)

Reception Baseline Assessment, algorithmic bias and the reification of ‘ability’

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 17 January 2023

Girls in a primary school classroom talk over laptop screens. Credit: Phil Meech for UCL IOE.

Credit: Phil Meech for UCL IOE.

Guy Roberts-Holmes and Lucy Kaufmann.

The Department for Education (DfE) had attempted to introduce its contested and controversial Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) for four-year-olds since 2015. Reflecting a wider realisation of the COVID-19 pandemic as a powerful catalyst for ‘re-imagining’ education with digital education technologies, the DfE implemented RBA as a statutory assessment in September 2021. (more…)

Counting the benefits of mandatory Maths – and how to avoid making skills inequalities worse

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 11 January 2023

Secondary school student writing sums on a classroom whiteboard

Credit: Phil Meech for UCL.

Andy Green and Neil Kaye.

If nothing else, Sunak’s recently announced plan for all students in England to study Maths to age 18 generated a rich crop of maths related puns in the media. Our analysis shows the plan should be welcomed, at least in principle, as a long-overdue reform – but also how implementing such a policy without the requisite strategic and financial backing would likely lead to wider skills gaps and a worsening of the inequalities already seen amongst young people leaving upper secondary education.

England is amongst a small minority of OECD countries which do not require the study of either Maths or the national language throughout upper secondary education (ages 16-18) (the others being Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the other UK nations). Furthermore, less than half of students in post-16 education study Maths as a discreet subject, many of them instead on courses to re-take GCSE Maths, in which only 20 per cent passed at grade (more…)

IOE Blog in 2022: an age of anxiety with glimmers of hope

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 3 January 2023

Diane Hofkins.

Few of us will have been sad to see the end of the year 2022, and yet, throughout the year, our IOE writers sought to make things better. They analysed findings on topics from dyscalculia to climate change to exams to international development and proposed ways forward.

Take for example Sandra Leaton Gray and Andy Phippen’s helpful February post about children and internet safety, with its down to earth advice on listening to children and talking through concerns and its reassurance that most children use the internet safely. This post also featured my favourite illustration of the year (see above). Or Katya Dowdle’s debate-provoking proposals for more oral exams in higher education (HE). For (more…)

IOE at 120: Britain’s birth cohort studies find their home, 1992-2002

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 26 October 2022

A selection of birthday cards sent to members of the 1958 and 1970 British birth cohort studies in the 1990s.

A selection of birthday cards sent to members of the 1958 and 1970 British birth cohort studies in the 1990s.

This blog is the 10th in a series of 12 exploring each decade in IOE’s history in the context of the education and society of the times. Find out more about our 120th anniversary celebrations on our website, and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn to keep up with everything that’s happening. 

Meghan Rainsberry.

The 1990s was a decade in history when two great pillars of British social science came together – IOE, and the British birth cohort studies.

Following generations of Britons from cradle to grave, birth cohort studies have been a unique feature of medical and social science in Britain since the original birth cohort study was established in 1946. It was a first for Britain, and the world.

Today, the successors of the 1946 cohort are all housed together at the IOE’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies: the 1958 National Child Development Study, the 1970 British Cohort Study and the Millennium Cohort Study. The original 1946 cohort is not far away, just a few doors down at the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL.

You’ll often hear the studies referred to as the ‘jewels in the crown’ of British social science. But if you wind the clock back to the 1980s, they were (more…)