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Archive for the 'Teachers and teaching assistants' Category

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…)

Proceed with caution: unravelling the evidence behind the DFE’s Covid guidance on teaching assistants

Blog Editor, IOE Digital17 July 2020

Rob Webster.

In the early stages of the UK government’s response to the Coronavirus health emergency, it was common to hear that decisions were ‘being led by the science’. As attention begins to shift to addressing the impact of school closures on the attainment gap, it is essential that schools adopt a similar evidence-based approach.

The DfE’s guidance for the full opening of schools in September contains the following advice for school leaders on deploying teaching assistants (TAs) and other support staff:

“Where support staff capacity is available, schools may consider using this to support catch-up provision or targeted interventions. Teaching assistants may also be deployed to lead groups or cover lessons, under the direction and supervision of a qualified, or nominated, teacher”.

This section of the DfE guidance goes on to point school leaders towards the practical recommendations contained in the Education Endowment Foundation’s (EEF) Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants report. Ordinarily, a link to the EEF’s work in DfE literature is a tacit signal to the reader that the advice being provided is trustworthy, robust (more…)

Schools never shut: the extraordinary lengths teachers have been going to in supporting children during lockdown

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 June 2020

Alice Bradbury.

There has been much discussion in the news about schools ‘re-opening’ in the last few weeks; however, schools have never been ‘closed’ during the COVID-19 crisis, and in fact, teachers have been working incredibly hard to support their communities during the lockdown period.

As well as continuing to teach the children of key workers and vulnerable children, including through school holidays, staff have been engaged in a variety of activities which stretch far beyond their normal roles, as our research in the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Pedagogy (HHCP) has shown.

Our mission in HHCP is to improve children’s lives through pedagogy; during this crisis, we have prioritised supporting parents at home (through campaigns such as our ‘Get children thinking’  project) and – the focus here – documenting the experiences of staff in schools and the early years sector. We have spoken to and surveyed leaders across the field of primary and early years education, gathering fascinating testimonies of the experiences of the (more…)

What should teachers be prepared for when young children return after lockdown: lessons from China and elsewhere

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 May 2020

Yuwei Xu and Clare Brooks. 

With the outbreak of COVID-19 globally, school closures and online education have become shared  experiences for children, teachers, and parents around the world. As China emerges from lockdown, schools are preparing for re-opening.

National guidelines, issued by the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of Education, on COVID-19 prevention and control at all school levels, focus on medical suggestions, physical health and hygiene. However, teachers everywhere are concerned about the mental and social aspects of children’s returning to schools. In this blog, drawing on relevant research from China and elsewhere, we summarize some of the major considerations for young children’s post-COVID-19 psychological and social readiness. (more…)

Are mental health problems among teachers on the rise?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital28 January 2020

John Jerrim.

How many teachers are struggling with their mental health, and has this changed over time?

This question has long been of interest to teachers and teaching unions, but it has recently received a lot more attention from policymakers.

This includes Ofsted and the Department for Education. While the former released a major report into teacher wellbeing last year, the latter has set up an expert group to drive “real change” in supporting the profession

Underlying this is a belief that the mental health of teachers has been getting worse over a sustained period of time. Yet this belief is poorly evidenced.

Today, I’m releasing findings from a new paper where I provide evidence on trends in teacher mental health and wellbeing over time. 

(more…)

The Tories are now clambering to increase education spending. Here’s where teachers think they should spend their money

Blog Editor, IOE Digital19 June 2019

John Jerrim.

In case you hadn’t noticed, there seems to be a fairly important leadership race taking place. This is, of course, being dominated by Brexit. But many of the candidates have also announced grand education spending plans.

Michael Gove has said he will spend an extra one billion pounds on schools. Sajid Javid has reportedly promised “billions more for education” if he becomes PM. While the front runner, Boris Johnson, has said his government will spend at least £5,000 on every secondary pupil.

Theresa May has even got in on the act, (more…)

‘Loss of self’ and the accountability culture: why teachers are leaving the profession at a worrying rate

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 April 2019

Jane Perryman

I used to be a teacher and, like so many others, I left the profession. Perhaps this is why I’m so interested in finding out more about the long-standing problem of teacher attrition. Why do so many qualified teachers continue to leave within five years, internationally and in the UK?

Today I am presenting data at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), from a survey of the past five years of UCL’s alumni database (around 3,500), which we have used to find out who had left the profession, who had stayed, and why. Of the participants, 18% had already left teaching, and from their responses, we predict a potential ten-year attrition rate of 40%.

For those who had left, the reasons given were to improve work/life balance (75%), workload (71%), and a target-driven culture (57%). The same reasons were given by those intending to leave. The data spoke to a discourse of disappointment. Participants found the reality of teaching worse than expected, and the nature of the workload, (more…)

Exclusion and mental health difficulties: unravelling cause and effect and seeking answers in classroom practice

Blog Editor, IOE Digital26 February 2019

Amelia Roberts

We are in an ‘exclusions’ crisis.With a rise in exclusions for three years running, we now have 40 children per day being permanently excluded across the UK.

There is a clear link between exclusions and subsequent mental health difficulties. Add the ‘high number of prisoners currently serving time in jail – 42 percent – hav(ing) formerly been permanently excluded we urgently need to understand the reasons behind excluding. The thinktank Poverty and Social Inclusion articulates the links between exclusions and subsequent mental health difficulties. Too often we are assuming that the reason for exclusions lies in prior pupil behaviours or pre-existing illnesses. Should we be instead considering that the cause and effect are the other way round? Could it be that exclusion has an impact on mental health, rather than that the mental illness came first? Perhaps it is the early experiences of excluding in school that reinforces social exclusion in later life?

Such questions will feed into discussions at a conference at UCL on March 15 which will examine how the Lesson Study approach can support vulnerable children. (more…)

Thinking allowed: teachers must reclaim their moral purpose

Blog Editor, IOE Digital15 November 2018

David Lambert
Teachers, generally speaking, work incredibly hard. They work under highly controlled and high stakes conditions, and very publicly. So how do teachers feel about their work? Is teaching a confident profession?
I believe that the profession, at least in secondary schools, may have collectively lost the plot in terms of its core values and purposes. It is buffeted this way, then that way, and in trying to keep up it has lost its heart to the empty process of delivering performance indicators. I don’t blame the teachers themselves, but I do argue that teachers can and should take a more active role in curriculum leadership – a theme in a forthcoming special feature of the London Review of Education (16.3) which I have had the privilege of guest editing.
Recently, I had the great pleasure to spend the afternoon with some enormously impressive, mostly young, new teachers. I spent the entire time challenging their expectations, sometimes showing and explaining, often debating with them … as to what it means to teach geography well, and why this is so important. Possibly not the geography you remember from school. Maybe not even the geography they experienced as students. But worthwhile, engaging geography lessons exhibiting the highest quality (more…)

DFE advice on student teacher workload misses what is learnt by planning lessons

Blog Editor, IOE Digital9 November 2018

Caroline Daly.
The Department for Education has been looking for ways to reduce teacher workload. This week it published two further reports – one on shrinking the burden of data collection, and another called Addressing teacher workload in Initial Teacher Education, offering guidance to providers. It is that guidance I’d like to address.
While the impetus behind these publications is to be welcomed, I think we need to be wary of cutting the wrong corners. One suggestion that particularly caught my eye was: ‘How have you reviewed your provision to develop trainees to focus on planning a sequence of lessons rather than writing individual lesson plans?’
Why do I pick out this example?
As a teacher educator and external examiner of teacher training provision I strongly believe that student teachers need to learn how to plan lessons that are increasingly effective – specific lessons, in detail, with actual pupils in mind. It’s simply (more…)