X Close

Institute of Education Blog

Home

Expert opinion from academics at the UCL Institute of Education

Menu

Archive for the 'IOE debates' Category

Will we have a Beveridge Report for ending the attainment gap?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital12 May 2021

IOE Events.

Just as one can’t out-exercise a bad diet, education policy and the efforts of schools and teachers can’t out-run societal inequalities.  But they can serve to exacerbate or  alleviate those inequalities.

The socio-economic attainment gap has been a long-standing focal point of education policy and debate, albeit not as long-standing as the attainment gap itself. It’s a gap that seems in some respects inevitable and intractable (and on that point it is sobering to remind ourselves that 14m people in the UK, around a fifth, live in relative poverty; that’s a third of children).  It is an aspect of education systems that leaves optimists fatalistic, and new teachers surprised to find themselves defending elements they never thought they would, such as high-stakes exams.

For our debate What if… we really want to close the attainment gap ‘post-Covid’? we were (more…)

International Women’s Day: what now for girls’ access to education around the world?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital5 March 2021

IOE Events.

For our latest public debate we returned to the matter of Covid-19, this time the pandemic’s impact on girls’ access to education in the developing world. To assess that impact and the immense task of ‘building back better’, we were joined by an international panel of leading figures from the development community: Alice Albright, CEO of the Global Partnership for Education; Marelize Gorgens, Senior Specialist at the World Bank; Girish Menon, CEO of STiR Education; and Elaine Unterhalter, Professor of Education and International Development, and Co-Director of the Centre for Education and International Development (CEID), at the IOE.  You can find out more about our speakers here.

The task is a profound and urgent one, with estimates that around 24 million girls will never return to school following the pandemic, with marked and long-term consequences. This is in addition to those who were already outside education. As with much else, the pandemic has exposed existing fault lines in relation to girls’ education around the world. What was striking from the discussion was how much had previously been placed (more…)

What bookworms need to thrive

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 February 2021

IOE Events.

The benefits of reading for pleasure are many and varied, from the development of comprehension skills and vocabulary, to the enrichment of imagination and empathy.

For younger children, reading for pleasure builds the proficiency in literacy that accelerates their learning across the school curriculum, and this becomes a virtuous circle as they move on to more demanding texts.  But not all children – or adults – view reading as a favourite pastime. For our latest ‘What if…?’ debate, we brought together children’s author and poet Joe Coelho, literacy experts Charlotte Hacking and Professor Gemma Moss, and social scientist, Professor Alice Sullivan, to assess the barriers and enablers to cultivating committed readers (you can learn more about our panel here).  Along the way, we were delighted to be treated to a poetic tribute to reading, books and libraries.

Our discussion highlighted how the way in which literacy is taught and assessed in schools can be as much of an impediment as an enabler. An over-emphasis on reading as a proficiency and a sorting mechanism, manifested (more…)

‘We never stop learning through play, we just stop teaching through play’

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 January 2021

IOE Events.

From rule-bound games to unstructured exploration, play brings us a lot of satisfaction. Its powers are increasingly recognised in the world of work. But it remains the ‘poor relation’ in our education system, certainly beyond the early years phase.

To assess whether we’ve got that right for our older learners, our final ‘What If…’ debate of 2020 drew on a diverse set of expertise in the form of cognitive scientist Dr Sara Baker (Cambridge University); director of evidence, Tom McBride (Early Intervention Foundation); author Michael Rosen; and former computer science teacher and play-based learning expert, Shahneila Saeed (Ukie). You can read more about our panellists here.

It seems that play is one of those rare examples of something that is both enjoyable and good for us – the equivalent of chocolate flavoured broccoli, (more…)

Helping England’s school system to get better at getting better

Blog Editor, IOE Digital9 November 2020

IOE Events.

Does England have a school system that’s good at getting better? And do the Covid-19 disruptions offer an opportunity to think more radically about how we accelerate higher standards for all? These were the questions raised in our latest debate – What if… we wanted more effective school improvement?

We were delighted to be joined by former London Schools Commissioner Sir Tim Brighouse; Leora Cruddas, CEO of the Confederation of School Trusts; Lucy Heller, Chief Executive of Ark Schools and, in the chair, TES editor Ann Mroz.

Taking us on a potted history of school improvement, the debate talked us through the emergence, in the 1970s, of the very idea that schools could be improved, to the heyday of Local Education Authorities, ambitious initiatives like the London Challenge, and on to the ‘school-led’ epoch we have today.

It’s a journey (more…)

Covid-19 and higher education – a chance to re-imagine the sector, at system and classroom level

Blog Editor, IOE Digital9 July 2020

IOE Events.

In the third and final debate in our mini-series on Covid-19 and education we took a look at what the future could – or should – resemble for our higher education system. For What if… our education system changed for good in light of COVID-19? Part 3: higher education we heard from professors of higher education and of learning technology, a specialist in university regulation and governance, and a former universities minister.

Prior to the arrival of Covid-19, the debate about the right path for England’s higher education sector was still very much a live one. Debate was rooted in value positions running from ‘more means worse’ elitism through to calls for comprehensivisation, as well as contrasting attitudes towards marketisation. For the moment, it is not clear where the experience of the pandemic will take government policy on higher education over the medium term. In the meantime, our panel (more…)

Covid-19 and FE – developing citizens, not just skilled workers

Blog Editor, IOE Digital26 June 2020

IOE Events.

In the face of the dramatic events of the past few months, further education colleges have demonstrated their resilience. They have been flexible, fleet of foot and characteristically student-centred.

They are about to be presented with a new set of challenges: a new cohort of students who have missed out on several months of their education, a significant drop in apprenticeship opportunities, and communities hit hard by the economic fallout from the pandemic. What will enable colleges to not only ameliorate the impact of these developments, but turn the seismic disruptions of 2020 into an opportunity to realise a more positive future for the localities they serve?

We brought together four representatives from across the FE sector to share their views for our latest debate What if… our education system changed for good in light of COVID-19? Part 2 – further education, chaired by the IOE’s Alison Fuller, Professor of Vocational Education and Work and Pro-Director (Research and Development).

Colleges are most readily associated with attending to the immediate skills needs of the labour market. In that regard they will need to respond swiftly and strategically (more…)

Covid-19 and schools – a moment to act

Blog Editor, IOE Digital19 June 2020

 IOE Events

The Covid-19 pandemic has been catastrophic for schooling, as it has been for many areas of society. But its order of magnitude has also revealed in no uncertain terms some very clear and convincing priorities for action, from which much good could follow.  That was the main message from our debate What if… our education system changed for good in light of COVID-19? Part 1: schools, with Mary Bousted, Jon Coles, Natalie Perera and Mrunal Sisodia.

So, what, in our panelists’ view, have been the main lessons from the pandemic, and what impetus for change has it presented? In most cases the lessons ran far larger than the catch-up tuition currently to the fore of the education policy response to Covid-19.  

Some lessons related to the harsh light that Covid-19 has shone on levels of inequality in our society and the fragility of many families: the need to keep hold of the current focus on addressing those inequalities and the attainment gap they generate; the need to recognise that schools are not just about education but also hubs for their communities, hubs that many families have come to rely upon more and more, as other services have been cut.
(more…)

Whiteboard jungle: how can we help teenagers navigate adolescence?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 February 2020

IOE Events.

The debates are back for 2020 and this time we took a look at the teenage years, asking What if… the world really did revolve around teenagers?

As far back as Socrates, adolescents were marked out and criticized by their elders for having bad manners, and ever since ‘the teenager’ rose to prominence in the 1950s the difficulty of adolescence has been a common trope, not to mention a source of amusement in popular culture.

That’s not the whole story, of course, and Greta Thunberg provides just one prominent, contemporary example of teens as a force for social awareness and change (we celebrated some others here).

Nevertheless, adolescence is a distinctive time that brings its own challenges. We wanted to examine what lies behind that and what could/should be done to ameliorate it.

(more…)

How can we create a ‘socially just’ school system?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital3 January 2020

IOE Events.

For some time, political rhetoric has focused on social mobility and the need to enable individuals to ‘fulfil their potential’ regardless of their background. But now social justice seems to have taken over as the new underpinning principle for public policy.  

The problem is, neither term has been deployed with much precision, not least when talking about education.  

For the IOE’s latest What if… debate, we wanted to take a look at our political parties’ stances on these matters by asking What if… education policy was shaped by a commitment to social justice?  

(more…)