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Family? Factory? How metaphors help make sense of school life

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 May 2022

jarmoluk / Pixabay

Melanie Ehren.

When we use the word ‘school’ we expect all of us to have a similar view of what this means. In its most basic form, it’s a building with classrooms of students and a teacher. This ‘grammar of schooling’ has been in place for decades and tends to include the grouping of students for purposes of instruction, with teachers’ work defined vis-à-vis groups of students and how they are progressed through school on the basis of assessment outcomes and age.

So far, so obvious. But underlying these visible structures, we find a vast variety in practices and views of what it means to educate children, how to organize a school and the meaning of a school. Those involved in schooling – students, parents, teachers and leaders – may have different views of their school, conceptions of their role in the school, and of  the values of schooling. Such views, often expressed in metaphors, provide an important means to access what people think, but also to understand their actions. Mills et al, for example, argue that how we choose to act is (also) a function of how we construct conceptions of what we are and what we are trying to do; and when certain metaphors gain prominence in the minds of a (more…)

Safer Internet Day 2022: 7 things for parents and teachers to think about

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 February 2022

StartupStockPhotos / Pixabay

Sandra Leaton Gray and Andy Phippen.

  1. Don’t panic! Most of the time, most young people are using digital technology safely and for positive reasons. However, that is not the sort of headline that will sell newspapers and generate traffic to their websites and, moreover, it is not the sort of message that will generate many donations to NGOs and charities.
  2. Remember that being online is not the same as crossing the road, despite what you might be told. While we might talk about road safety as a concept, applying that to the online world is problematic. The road setting tends not to change too much, and crossing the road is a relatively straightforward operation that can be addressed with simple safety instructions. In contrast, there are always new aspects to the online world, new games, apps, platforms and devices. We have to bear that in mind when (more…)

Expertise in being a generalist is not what student teachers need

Blog Editor, IOE Digital15 December 2021

Caroline Daly.

The Government response to the initial teacher training (ITT) market review report is deepening the muddle about what is meant by ‘expertise’ in teaching and initial teacher education (ITE). The new requirements to become a provider of ITE are based on a distorted view of subject specialist expertise as something to be added to an extensive generalist preparation for teaching. It is for this reason that subject specialists in ITE need to be heard and taken seriously, while the sector digests the new guidance to become accredited providers of ITE programmes.

Our new IOE Blog series will provide insights by subject specialists in ITE, highlighting the specific expertise required to develop excellent teachers across disciplines and phases.

The ITT Core Content Framework (CCF) places the development of generic knowledge and practice of teaching at the heart of ITE and is the centrepiece of the new requirements. Yet it is a fundamental flaw to suggest that teaching is first and foremost a generalist practice. Instead, there is a need to scrutinise what it takes to make a (more…)

School based trainee teachers seek more, not less, of a role for universities

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 September 2021

Jane Tillin.

The Government’s Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Market Review has received widespread criticism from universities and school leaders. Their concerns include the prescriptive nature of the proposals and implications for the quality of teacher education and school partnerships. There are concerns that the proposed model promotes professional compliance rather than autonomy and further marginalises universities’ role in new teachers’ learning. Now that we have heard from universities and school leaders, where are the voices of the student teachers themselves?

My new study sought to understand the perspectives of primary and early years teachers who were completing a significant employment-based ITT programme at the IOE. The study examined trainee perspectives on the roles of the scheme’s three partnership organisations in their learning and in turn consider the implications for (more…)

This is no time for a mass experiment on teacher education

Blog Editor, IOE Digital13 August 2021

Alexandra_Koch / Pixabay

Caroline Daly.

We have until 22 August to respond to a DfE consultation about the proposal to radically restructure Initial Teacher Education (ITE). The proposals, in practice, pave the way to close existing programmes of ITE in England from as early as 2023, replacing them with an experimental form of provision that will be subject to approval by a centralised Accreditation Board (about which there is little detail). These proposals have been put forward from the DfE despite much ITE enjoying excellent track records, highly experienced school partnerships and expert staff.

The proposal is for existing ITE provision in England to be replaced by a system that is experimental on several levels, in terms of: student recruitment; curriculum; assessment; quality assurance and, crucially, stakeholder roles.  This includes the possibility of universities becoming redundant or certainly optional for ITE as new entities are created to extend degree awarding powers to other providers. Government will require all providers to be reaccredited in order to continue recruiting from September 2022.

This is in a system where, almost exactly one year ago, all of the 340 initial teacher training (ITT) partnerships that were inspected in the most recent national Ofsted cycle were judged to be good or outstanding. We can only speculate as to why the government had so little trust in the comprehensive and sustained judgements of the entire system that were concluded just one year ago. In July this (more…)

Teacher education: to ‘build back better’ we should start from the sound foundations already in place

Blog Editor, IOE Digital14 July 2021

In early July the Department for Education published the report of its Market Review of Initial Teacher Training and launched a consultation on its proposals. Many university providers have voiced their concerns at the proposals, one of the most forthright being the University of Cambridge. Higher education bodies have spoken out alongside, including the Russell Group and the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET).

At the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) we have also registered our disappointment at the recommendations the report puts forward, recommendations that we, like many others, believe risk eroding the quality of Initial teacher education (ITE) as well as endangering teacher supply.

The IOE was founded in 1902 as the London Day Training College for Teachers: teacher education has sat at the heart of what we do (more…)

Year 6’s: ‘ready, strong and brave’ for the transition to secondary in the time of Covid

Blog Editor, IOE Digital2 June 2021

Katya Saville and Sandra Leaton Gray.

Since the second lockdown lifted in March and all students were able to return to school, much attention has been placed on the need for schools to help students ‘catch up’ on lost learning. However, our research this year found that the pandemic’s impact on the learning of students in England who were moving from primary to secondary school (Year 7) varied widely.

While many teachers in our study reported that a reasonable degree of learning continued during the first lockdown, almost a third found a wide variation between students. For instance, in interview, one teacher contrasted the difficulties for students in large families with little technological access with the accelerated learning which occurred for other vulnerable students who were able to access in-school provision.

One of our key recommendations, therefore, is to invest heavily in technological infrastructure and training, particularly as our survey findings indicate that, even (more…)

Thirteen insights into teacher wellbeing and mental health

Blog Editor, IOE Digital30 April 2021

John Jerrim.

Today, with my colleagues Becky Allen and Sam Sims, I have published a major new analysis of teacher mental health and wellbeing in England. Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, it is the culmination of two years of work and is, we believe, the most comprehensive analysis on this issue to date.

In this blogpost, we’ll take you through a whistle-stop tour of some of our results.

1. Teachers in England are more likely to perceive their job as causing them stress – and having a negative impact upon their mental health – than teachers in other countries

In spring 2018, teachers in more than 40 countries were asked whether they felt their job caused them stress and had a negative impact upon their mental health.

As the chart below illustrates, teachers in England were very clear in their views. Lower-secondary teachers in (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…)