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The early years – moving beyond ‘splashes of colour here and there’

Blog Editor, IOE Digital26 June 2019

IOE Events.

Our latest IOE debate looked at the start of the educational journey – the early years. What would we need to do in order to secure world-leading early years provision? The answer from our panel is one that arguably applies across the different phases of our education system: we already have world-leading provision, but that’s often in spite of government policy, and is yet to be enjoyed across all provision.

What, then, should be done with government early years policy, and how can we build a world-leading early years sector, not just a scattering of world-leading provision? To answer those questions we were delighted to welcome: Jan Dubiel, early childhood education consultant; June O’Sullivan MBE, Chief Executive at the London Early Years Foundation; Helen Ward, reporter on early years and primary education at The TES; and Dominic Wyse, Professor in Early Childhood and Primary Education, UCL Institute of Education.

So, where is this world-leading provision? According to our panel, (more…)

Fair access: are comprehensive universities the answer?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital2 May 2019

IOE Events.

For our latest debate we moved further down the education pipeline, to higher education. We wanted to look at why the pace of progress in widening access across our universities has felt so slow.

We were inspired by a pamphlet published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) entitled The Comprehensive University. In place of our current system of selective university admissions, the pamphlet argued for mechanisms that would distribute applicants with different levels of prior attainment more evenly across the higher education system, in the same spirit as comprehensive schooling. To assess the case for such a move we were joined (more…)

Taking back control of school accountability

Blog Editor, IOE Digital28 February 2019

IOE events.

This month our What if…? debate tackled a reoccurring theme from the series – how we hold schools to account and the impact that has on how schools are run and what they provide for their pupils. This issue is particularly topical at the moment, as Ofsted is consulting on a proposed new inspection framework that could depart in significant ways from the current approach.

The need for regulation on matters such as health and safety is not in question. And few would argue that there should be no monitoring whatsoever of schools’ performance in terms of what they do and what their pupils achieve. But it is now very apparent that there is a fine balance to be struck in designing accountability measures if we are to gain the benefits (raising the floor on standards and providing information for stakeholders) without experiencing downsides. The negative impacts of the combination of inspection and performance indicators (more…)

A word to the wise: what does it mean to be an educated school-leaver?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital21 January 2019

 
IOE Events.
Through our What if… debates we have endeavoured to tackle the big, longstanding debates in education. This month we took on perhaps the biggest of them all: ‘knowledge vs skills’. Recent commentaries have brought greater nuance to the question of whether the school curriculum should focus on building knowledge or on developing skills (or whether they are inextricable). Nevertheless, contrasting views persist on what the school curriculum should deliver.
We started with the question of how best to develop well-prepared and well-rounded school leavers. This meant looking at how the school curriculum can cultivate pupils’ knowledge, but also their understanding,  as well as other desirable dispositions and attributes, such as empathy and good judgement – qualities that when taken together might confer wisdom. What if…, as the title of the event went, our main objective in education was to build wisdom?
To tackle this question (more…)

Seven principles for a fair and relevant assessment system

Blog Editor, IOE Digital13 November 2018

Ruth Dann.
In my contribution to last week’s IOE Debate asking ‘What if… we designed our school testing and assessment system from scratch?‘ I distilled what I think are 7 key principles that might help us shape our examination and assessment system differently.
Principle 1. That all tests and examinations can only ever be a proxy measurement, sampling what someone knows. All exam results will have measurement error. Exam boards try to minimise such error, by giving careful attention to issues of validity and reliability. However, in England, for GCSE and A levels, we do not know how questions will affect different subgroups of the candidate cohort, as questions are not trialled in advance because they might be leaked.
Of further concern are issues of bias and fairness which extend beyond the test paper and should include consideration of the opportunities that pupils have had to learn, (more…)

Testing times: how can we build a system that will assess what we value?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital13 November 2018

IOE Events.
In response to the many criticisms levelled at England’s testing and assessment system, from its effects on children’s mental health to its impact on their learning, for our latest IOE debate we posed the question What if… we re-designed our school testing and assessment system from scratch?. To help us reflect on this provocation we were delighted to welcome: Ruth Dann, Associate Professor of assessment at the IOE; Tim Oates of Cambridge Assessment; Dave Mellor of AQA; and Ken Jones of the National Education Union and Goldsmiths. Their inputs sparked some lively Tweeting at #IOEDebates, and some great comments and questions from our audience.
(more…)

Children’s mental health and well-being – a truly trickle down issue

Blog Editor, IOE Digital9 October 2018

IOE Events.
Our first What if…? debate of 2018/19 addressed the provocation What if… we wanted our kids to be happier? We were delighted to be joined by panellists Caroline Hounsell of Mental Health First Aid England; Praveetha Patalay of UCL; Patrick Johnston of Place2Be, and Viv Grant, former head teacher and Director of Integrity Coaching. What emerged from the discussion was just what a trickle down issue children’s mental health is: first in the sense that, for teachers to be able to support young people’s well-being, their own needs to be looked after first; and then there’s the  failure of (for the sake of a short-hand) ‘trickle-down’ economics.
The panel were clear that the prevalence of mental health issues has increased markedly over recent decades, and particularly so in the last few years: the IOE’s birth cohort study data show that today’s parents of teenagers have greater levels of mental health difficulties than parents from a decade ago, while a host of studies document the increased levels of reporting among children, and from ever younger ages.  As last month’s Nuffield Trust report also shows, reduced stigma may account for some of the rise, but by no means all of it. Nowhere are these pressures felt more strongly than in schools – which are themselves simultaneously caught up in the same dynamics and on the frontline of mediating young people’s (more…)

Hot off the press: the IOE debates series for 2018/19

Blog Editor, IOE Digital13 September 2018

IOE Events.
Last year we launched our new flagship events programme, which includes our much- loved debates series What if…? radical and inspiring ideas for alternative education futures. Through this series we bring together prominent speakers on education issues – from policy makers to academics, practitioners to parents – to hear their views on key debates in the field.
So far, we’ve tackled education’s role (or not) in social mobility, vocational education’s Cinderella status, teaching’s image problem, the (unmet) needs of schools operating in the most challenging circumstances, the special educational needs and disability (SEND) crisis, the AI revolution, the promise of educational neuroscience, and how to get all kids to love (or at least not hate) mathematics. Phew. (You can watch all these back/listen back to all these here, or find write ups here.)
But there are many crucial topics that we haven’t yet covered. We intend to put that right in 2018/19.
To get us started, on 1 October we’ll be looking at young people’s mental health and well-being – asking What if…we wanted our kids to be happier?. Young people’s (more…)

How can we get more kids to not hate maths?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital25 June 2018

IOE Events.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to our ‘What if…?’ debates series this year, whether as speakers, attendees, livestream viewers, or colleagues behind the scenes. We couldn’t have done it without you – literally, as they say far too much these days. Watch this space for the 2018/19 programme.
To round off the series for the 17/18 academic year we set our speakers the challenge of: What if… we wanted all kids to love maths? It was quickly established that this might be quite a tall order, and that getting all kids to not hate maths was a laudable enough goal. In exploring how that might be achieved (more…)

It’s not brains that learn, it’s people

Blog Editor, IOE Digital30 May 2018

IOE Events.
For our penultimate ‘What if…?’ debate before the end of term we took a look at the growing field of educational neuroscience and what it could mean for classroom practice.  The technology for showing the inner-workings of the brain is advancing apace, but just how useful are the findings, at this stage anyway, for educational policy and practice?  Could they actually be unhelpful: accusations of ‘neuro nonsense’ abound.  To help us find our way through the science, we were delighted to be joined by a panel of leading educationalists and neuroscientists: Professor Becky Allen, Director of the IOE’s Centre for Education Improvement Science; Steven Rose, Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience at the Open University; Catherine Sebastian, Reader in the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, where she directs the Emotion, Development and Brain Lab; and Michael Thomas, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Birkbeck, from where he directs the Centre for Educational Neuroscience, a collaboration with UCL and IOE.
Our panel identified the various areas in which neuroscience has the potential to inform education policy and practice – including brain health, child and adolescent (more…)