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A Baccalaureate Curriculum

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 1 February 2024

Secondary school students in a drama class. Phil Meech for UCL.

Secondary school students in a drama class. Phil Meech for UCL.

David Scott

This blog post is not just an opinion piece but also, I hope, a reasoned argument about the curriculum, and for the introduction of a ‘true’ Baccalaureate into the English Education System – with all the implications this has, not just for the 16-19 phase, but for the system as a whole. A more detailed account of this argument is available in my edited book, On Learning: volume 2, Philosophy, Concepts and Practices, which is free to download at UCL Press.

The call for England to adopt a broader curriculum for the 16-19 phase is one that has surfaced intermittently. It is echoed in the government’s plans to introduce an ‘Advanced British Standard’ (more…)

Holocaust Memorial Day: why historical knowledge and conceptual understanding are key to engaging with the fragility of freedom

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 25 January 2024

The stone columns of the UCL Wilkins building lit in purple to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

The stone columns of the UCL Wilkins building lit in purple to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

Rebecca Hale

Every year, on the 27th January, people come together to mark Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD). They participate in events to remember the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust and in other genocides.

For many schools, HMD provides an important opportunity to teach students about the Holocaust, supporting them to reflect on its contemporary significance, and providing a space for young people to honour the memory of the victims. Indeed, in the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education’s most recent national study, 74.5% of teachers reported that their school marked HMD as part of their teaching about the Holocaust. (more…)

Rising school absence: what do we know and what can we do?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 16 January 2024

Empty desk in an otherwise full classroom

Credit: Smolaw11 / Adobe.

Lindsey Macmillan and Jake Anders.

The start of 2024 has seen a renewed focus on persistent absenteeism from school, with the Secretary of State for Education announcing a major national drive to improve school attendance, and the Shadow Secretary of State for Education laying out Labour’s plans to ‘rebuild the broken relationship between schools, families and the Government’. Yet this is not a new problem: the issue of persistent absenteeism has been looming since schools returned to ‘normal’ after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Everyone agrees that the rise in pupil absence since the pandemic is of significant concern. But the causes and what we should do about this are much less clear. (more…)

Lots of children find school science lessons boring. Should science teachers include discussion of ethical issues?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 12 September 2023

Bumblebee resting on a vivid pink flower

Credit: Joaquim Alves Gaspar / Wikimedia Commons.

Amanda McCrory and Michael J. Reiss.

Early in 2023, and for the third year in a row, the UK government decided to allow the ‘emergency’ use of the pesticide thiamethoxam (a type of neonicotinoid) on sugar beet in England. Thiamethoxam is normally banned because it is incredibly toxic to bees and other insects. A single teaspoon can kill over a thousand million bees.

Should school children consider ethical issues such as whether these pesticides should be used? In our newly published book The Place of Ethics in Science Education: Implications for Practice, we look at the arguments for and against the inclusion of ethical issues in science education. (more…)

The climate crisis needs a whole-school approach, starting with teacher access to professional development

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 13 July 2023

Female teacher points out to pupils outdoors

Credit: Hero Images / Adobe Stock

Kate Greer and Alison Kitson.

A new survey of teachers in England has found limited coverage of climate change and sustainability in both initial teacher education and continuing teacher professional development – and provides the impetus for change.

These findings, from UCL’s Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Education (CCCSE) are set out in a new report, Teaching climate change and sustainability: A survey of teachers in England. Covering teachers’ practice, professional development and priorities for support, the findings will be of interest to teachers, teacher educators and organizations that support teachers to contribute to society’s transformation to sustainability, as well as to schools as they develop and implement climate change action plans. The findings are also informing CCCSE’s suite of free professional development resources – Teaching for Sustainable Futures – which are being designed for teachers of all subjects and age-phases.  The Geography and History modules, for primary and secondary teachers in each case, are ready to access now (see the joining instructions on CCCSE’s website). The next set of modules – English and mathematics – will be available in 2024. (more…)

Bringing women curriculum theorists into the light

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 8 June 2023

Six women curriculum theorists, clockwise from top left: Maria Montessori, Lucy Diggs Slowe, Susan Isaacs, Susan Haack, Martha Nussbaum, Maxine Greene (Wikimedia Commons)

Six women curriculum theorists, clockwise from top left: Maria Montessori, Lucy Diggs Slowe, Susan Isaacs, Susan Haack, Martha Nussbaum, Maxine Greene (Credit: public domain; Alpha Kappa Alpha; IOE Institute Archives; zooterkin; Robin Holland; Ryan Brenizer, all Wikimedia Commons)

Sandra Leaton Gray and David Scott.

At David’s retirement party, after all the toasts and speeches, we started discussing something that represents a still accumulating problem in the field of curriculum studies: how is it that so many of the seminal works relating to curriculum theory focus exclusively on the contributions of men, given that there are many such female theorists (and professional educators are more likely to be women)? To that end, recently we have been giving a great deal of thought to different formations and interpretations of feminism, as a way of gaining new insights into the field. (more…)

As a researcher on inclusive education, these are the top tips and resources I’d recommend for creating accessible digital content

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 30 May 2023

Live stream of a talk with BSL interpretation and live captioning.

Live stream of a talk with BSL interpretation and live captioning.

Leda Kamenopoulou.

What is accessibility and why should we think about it? Accessibility is ensuring physical and digital spaces and products are accessible to people with disabilities. It is also a lot more than that, because by making access easier for disabled people, we make access easier for everyone. Moreover, thinking about accessibility is not optional, it ensures compliance with minimum legal requirements, such as the Equality Act (2010) and the EU Directive on Web Accessibility (2018). As highlighted by the Global Accessibility Awareness Day, accessibility is not just ‘nice to have’ or a ‘tick-box’ exercise, so everyone in an organisation must know and be committed to best practices. (more…)

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…)