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Archive for the 'Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment' Category

Balancing honesty with hope: new centre will help teachers build-in climate change education

Blog Editor, IOE Digital16 June 2022

Alison Kitson.

Few can doubt that the climate emergency is the defining issue of our time.  The most recent IPCC report confirms that without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach with potentially profound implications for life on our planet.

In this context it is no surprise to read in research commissioned by UCL’s new Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Education (CCCSE) that climate change – and education about climate change – is an important issue to parents, teachers, school leaders and young people. What is more surprising is how many of the students and teachers participating in the research feel that schools are not always doing enough to educate young people about all aspects of climate change and the possibilities of more sustainable lifestyles.

Public First, who carried out this research, polled more than 1,000 parents, the first time we believe parents have been asked (more…)

Do teenagers who feel anxious about testing achieve worse GCSE grades?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital15 June 2022

John Jerrim.

Before all our lives were turned upside-down by the coronavirus pandemic, there was much concern over how GCSE examinations were affecting young people’s mental health. For some young people, the stress and anxiety induced by these examinations can be severe. This could then become a vicious circle, whereby anxiety about the exams can lead young people to achieve lower grades on them.

I explore this issue in my new academic paper, investigating whether GCSE grades are indeed lower amongst Year 11 pupils who suffer from high-levels of test anxiety. (more…)

‘How do you assess that people have become more tolerant?’ and other challenges of teaching ‘difficult’ histories  

Blog Editor, IOE Digital25 May 2022

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Mary Richardson,  Becky Hale, Tom Haward and Kwaku Adjepong.

We concluded our Holocaust Memorial Day blog about teaching ‘difficult’ histories with the proposition: ‘We could assess these kinds of knowledge, but is it appropriate to do so?’ Since then, we have been exploring this idea further.

Our current focus on assessing how students understand and learn about ‘difficult histories’ arose from research (2019-20), led by the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education,to explore teaching about the Holocaust in English secondary schools, which surveyed more than 1,000 teachers. The original study was not about assessment, but we found that teachers were keen to explore ways to reflect on their teaching and their students’ experiences of learning about the Holocaust. However, some noted that care is necessary when considering how assessment could happen, as this interviewee stated:

…we need to give them the emotional space to actually realise what the topic’s about, and the impact it has on people, and I think if we start bolting on assessments to it we lose some of that ability for them to actually self-reflect. (more…)

Ukraine invasion: how history can empower people to make sense of Russia’s war

Blog Editor, IOE Digital19 May 2022

Stéphane G. Lévesque, L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa and Arthur Chapman, IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society 

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered, in the words of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “the greatest threat to European stability since the Second World War.”

Since then, not a single day has passed without powerful stories and shocking images of bombardments and casualties circulating online.

In a recent CBC interview, Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan examined how history has become “an instrument of war” (more…)

Is there is a link between Year 11s’ wellbeing and their GCSE grades?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital28 April 2022

John Jerrim.

The 2021/22 academic year is due to see the return of GCSE examinations after a Covid-enforced two-year hiatus. Before the pandemic hit, there was much concern about how these high-stakes examinations may be affecting young people’s mental health.

At the same time, it was recognised that those Year 11s who were struggling with their wellbeing could see their GCSE grades suffer as a result. Yet we actually know relatively little about this key issue – how strong is the link between the wellbeing of Year 11 pupils and the GCSE grades they achieve?

This blog takes a look at the evidence, drawing upon work I have published today in a new academic paper. (more…)

The aims of the curriculum should be the fount from which everything else in school life should flow

Blog Editor, IOE Digital22 April 2022

John White.

What are England’s schools for? Many parents and other citizens may well assume the authorities have a good answer to this. But have they?

Well-known philosophers from both sides of the Atlantic interested in education – from Harvard, Columbia, Chicago and Illinois as well as from UCL IOE – are broadly agreed that a worthwhile education has three or four key aims: self-maintenance through work, personal fulfilment, citizenship and moral concern. Their discussions of each aim differ in detail but there is consensus both that there are complex interconnections among the aims and that expounding what each involves painstaking elucidation. Philip Kitcher, for instance, an eminent philosopher from Columbia University in New York, devotes just over half his new book The Main Enterprise of the World: Rethinking Education (2022 ) to what its aims should be.
These 201 pages are mainly about the four mentioned above.

Compare this to the 41 words on the aims of the English National Curriculum: (more…)

The limitations of bricolage: Ofsted’s Curriculum Research Review for Languages

Blog Editor, IOE Digital19 April 2022

JESHOOTS-com / Pixabay

Norbert Pachler and Elspeth Broady.

During 2021 and 2022, OFSTED has published a number of curriculum research reviews seemingly with the aim of identifying factors contributing to high quality school curricula and how subjects can best be taught with the help of research findings.

Whilst attempts to leverage research findings to underpin, inform and improve subject pedagogy must be viewed as laudable and desirable, the curriculum research reviews raise a number of important questions and issues, certainly if the recent furore over the maths review is anything to go by (see e.g. Schools Week but see also the journal Routes for a discussion of the review for geography). While controversy is seemingly more intense in some subjects than others, common problematic features emerge from the reviews in general: (more…)

ITT Market Review: excellent science teaching needs skills in overcoming misconceptions

Blog Editor, IOE Digital5 April 2022

Marian Mulcahy.

The National Curriculum states that the purpose of science education is to provide a foundation ‘for understanding the world’ and that it is essential for ‘the world’s future prosperity’. It can safely be argued that these aims, whatever is thought of them, cannot be met within the confines of a school classroom or lab, but they do highlight the importance that is placed on students experiencing a really high-quality science education.  This in turn can only be achieved through exceptional teaching.

We have a very clear vision of what that teaching should look like, from the crucial point of view of the pupils.  Exceptional science teachers are those: (more…)

Language teaching and learning beyond vocabulary and grammar: our success stories

Blog Editor, IOE Digital15 March 2022

Zhu Hua, Caroline Conlon, Camilla Smith, Fotini Diamantidaki and Áine McAllister.

The strong reactions from the language teaching and learning community to the Government’s French, German and Spanish GCSE subject content review are hardly surprising. If the review’s intention was to make the subject ‘accessible’ and to motivate students, then making a few tweaks to words, themes and topics, question types and grammar will not do the job.

Learning another language is not simply about putting words and sentences together; it is about communicating ideas, feelings and experiences; connecting with people and cultures and broadening horizons. Language curriculum, assessment and pedagogy need to focus on developing intercultural competence.

So what has worked well in classrooms? How do we create space for cultural exploration and exchange of perspectives? And what role does (more…)

Does it matter if you don’t get a C (or 4) grade in GCSE mathematics?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 March 2022

John Jerrim.

To Year 11s, GCSEs can seem the be-all and end-all of life. Having worked hard throughout secondary school, many young people put themselves under great pressure to do well in these exams.

While many will get the grades they hope for, some will inevitably end up feeling disappointed. This is likely to include those who fail to achieve a C/4 grade in a key subject such as mathematics, given the emphasis placed upon this high-stakes grade threshold within our education system.

But what impact does missing a C/4 grade in GCSE mathematics really have? When young people receive their GCSE results, are they right to feel despondent if they have missed this grade? Or does it not really matter that much, in the grand scheme of things?

This blog – drawing upon evidence from my recently released paper – takes a closer look. (more…)