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How Polish complementary schools have helped transnational children stay in touch during the pandemic

Blog Editor, IOE Digital31 March 2021

Sara Young.

Trying to stay in touch with friends and family during the Covid-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone. Lockdown has been particularly hard for teenagers. But how has it affected those children and young people who are transnationals, and have family and friends in more than one country? (more…)

The right support at the right time for new teachers

Blog Editor, IOE Digital26 March 2021

Hilary Adli, Qing Gu, Mark Quinn, UCL Centre for Educational Leadership.

Workshop participants in a session

Photo: Jason Ilagan for UCL Institute of Education

Two years ago, when the Department for Education published their Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, this ‘unflinching’ look into the problems faced by the teaching profession was dedicated to ensuring that ‘a career in teaching continues to be attractive, sustainable and rewarding.’ However, it couldn’t have anticipated a future pandemic and the requirement to teach remotely as among the problems faced by the profession. (more…)

How is school accountability linked to teacher stress?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital18 March 2021

John Jerrim.

It is no secret that many in education dislike certain aspects of England’s school accountability system. Indeed, accountability is often blamed for causing high levels of stress among the teacher workforce.

Yet we know surprisingly little about the link between accountability and teacher wellbeing.

This blogpost – based upon a new research paper I am publishing with colleagues today – looks at international evidence on this issue from TALIS 2018. (TALIS is the OECD’s Teaching and Learning International Survey). This work is part of a Nuffield Foundation-funded research conducted into teacher health and wellbeing.

Do high accountability school systems have teachers who are more stressed about this aspect of their job?

As part of TALIS, teachers were asked how much stress was caused by different aspects of their job. This (more…)

Exams: changing the rules of the game while you are playing will not rebuild trust

Blog Editor, IOE Digital26 February 2021

Melanie Ehren.

In December last year, Ofqual announced a new expert group to rebuild trust in the exam system. The group is to look into how data on schools’ and students’ performance could be “better and more widely shared”, thereby prising open the box of secrets containing the data and processes that drive the awarding of exam grades.

The group’s appointment could not come at a better time; Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has since announced that teachers’ estimated grades will replace cancelled GCSEs and A-levels in England this summer, saying that he would “trust in teachers rather than algorithms”, a reference to last year’s exams U-turn. Today, Government announced new plans for teacher assessed GCSEs, AS and A levels which will include a series of ‘mini-exams’.

But is this alternative approach the best way forward to rebuild trust in exams? Or do we need a wider set of strategies?

To answer the question, we first look at whose trust needs to be rebuilt. (more…)

To be transformed by research-informed practices, schools must have the right leaders

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 February 2021

Qing Gu  and Simon Rea.

What does it take to transform practice, culture and outcomes in the schools that need it most? Our evaluation of the Education Endowment Foundation’s Research Schools Network shows that the essential ingredient is committed and strong leadership.

This national network was launched in September 2016, and the research schools (RS) are funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) to share what they know about putting research into practice, and lead and support schools in their regions and beyond to make better use of evidence to improve teaching practices.

These schools’ primary purpose is not to conduct academic research in classrooms or schools. Rather, they help schools to access, understand, critique, and apply external evidence in their own contexts through disseminating newsletters, blogs and other materials. They also provide CPD and training in their areas. In essence, RSs are brokers between the EEF’s evidence and school practice.

Our evaluation report on the experiences of the first five RSs in their initial three years provides clear and (more…)

Housing wealth, not bursaries, explains much of private school participation for those without high income

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 February 2021

Jake Anders and Golo Henseke.

Although less than a tenth of children in Britain attend private schools, who goes matters to all of us. This is because of the considerable labour market advantages that have persistently been associated with attending a private school, including recruitment into the upper echelons of power in British business, politics, administration and media. As a result, in recent work published in Education Economics we looked into who send their children to private schools. In brief, despite all the talk about bursaries, public benefits and attempts at widening participation, who goes to private school remains as closely tied to family income and wealth as it did at the end of the 1990s. This casts doubt on accounts of real progress in opening up the sector to a more diverse student body.

In the paper we demonstrate quite how concentrated private school attendance is among the highest levels of household income (see image). The proportion of children attending private school is close to zero across the vast majority of the income distribution, and doesn’t rise above 10% of the cohort except among those with the top 5% of incomes. Only half of those in the top 1% send their kids to private school.

Income concentration of private school participation, 1997-2018.

On one level this is unsurprising. Sending your child to a private school costs a lot of money: in 2018 average annual fees were £14,280 for day schools and £33,684 for boarding schools. Not many people have (more…)

Location location location: how the ‘wrong’ one can put schools in a difficult spot and the right kind of inspection could help pull them out

Blog Editor, IOE Digital1 December 2020

Melanie Ehren, Jo Hutchinson and Bernie Munoz-Chereau.

Where schools are located can make a big difference to their outcomes, and the pandemic is making the geographical gap worse in a number of ways. In remote or deprived areas, parents often have limited access to the internet, and this has severely limited schools’ ability to teach online during lockdowns and closures.

Now that students have returned to school, teachers and school leaders are tasked with the enormous challenge of making up for lost time. In remote or deprived areas, these challenges are even greater. In its 2020 report on ‘stuck schools’ – those struggling to improve over more than a decade – Ofsted looked at how location – particularly geographical remoteness and level of deprivation – relates to school performance. The Inspectorate said ‘a system of deeper inspection and better support’ was needed to improve education for children in these schools. This emphasis in tackling schools that are deemed less than ‘good’ is sustained in  Ofsted Annual Report 2019-2020 launched today.

Now more than ever, inspection needs to use place-based approaches to take into account the related challenges. Assessment of (more…)

Does class size matter? We’ll get a better answer if we rethink the debate

Blog Editor, IOE Digital13 November 2020

Peter Blatchford and Anthony Russell.

For many teachers, large classes present problems which adversely affect their practice and their pupils’ learning. This is what our surveys show. But researchers and commentators often have a different view. For them the class size debate can be summed up with the question: does class size affect pupil attainment?

As we show in our new open access book, ‘Rethinking Class Size: The Complex Story of Impact on Teaching and Learning’, published by UCL Press this week, researchers (contrary to a practitioner view) commonly find that the statistical association between class size and attainment is not marked and so conclude that class size does not matter much. This has led some to even suggest that we could raise class sizes, and instead invest savings in professional development for teachers. Currently, in the wake of the Covid pandemic and teacher absences, there are reports of some schools being forced to create supersized classes of 60 pupils.

The view that class size is not important is probably the predominant view among researchers and policy makers, and so they may be relatively relaxed about increases in class size. We therefore need – more than ever – good quality evidence on class size effects, but in our view much research is limited and leads to misleading conclusions.

We identify three problems. (more…)

How the COVID-19 home-schooling experience can boost creativity and enhance teacher feedback

Blog Editor, IOE Digital9 October 2020

Sara Bubb.

You might expect that the lockdown imposed by Covid-19 last spring would undermine schools’ progress in engaging pupils with more creative teaching and learning. But in the Norwegian municipality where I am involved in school improvement, this has not been the case at all.

Much has been written about the negative impact of the pandemic on pupils’ education but research that I conducted with Mari-Ana Jones has found much to celebrate about remote teaching and learning.

When the Covid-19 lockdown hit, it looked like a severe obstacle to the gains in creative teaching made between September and March, but surveys in April 2020 of teachers, parents and carers and pupils aged 6-9 and 10-16 showed that was far from the case. There was more creative learning, better progress, more useful feedback and greater student independence. School leaders (more…)

Moving up to secondary school during a pandemic is difficult. Here are some ways for teachers to help

Blog Editor, IOE Digital4 September 2020

 Sandra Leaton Gray and Jane Perryman.

When researchers visit schools to ask young people about their experiences of moving up to secondary school, there are a number of repeating themes. They are excited by the idea of new school uniforms, learning new subjects in specialist rooms, using special equipment, meeting new teachers, joining interesting clubs, and making new friends.

However, moving up to secondary school can also cause young people to develop worries. Things like getting lost on a large school site, having lots of homework, being bullied, and not having enough friends will often cause concern. Schools are well aware of this phenomenon, of course, and generally handle young people’s anxieties very well, which means that by the end of the first term, the vast majority have settled into their new educational homes and can barely remember what it was like being at primary school. The strategies used by secondary schools to encourage this settling in process include liaising closely with primary staff, welcoming Year 6 pupils in for taster days, and visiting them in their primary schools. It’s a robust formula based on research into the relationship between adolescent development, socialisation and school attainment, and it’s something UK schools usually do pretty well.

This year it’s very different. Many young people have not been in school since March, and others have had little (more…)