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

School History’s alternative futures: how should children make sense of the past?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital29 July 2021

derwiki / Pixabay

Arthur Chapman.

Parallel worlds are a staple in popular culture – in Dr Who, His Dark Materials, The Man in the High Castle, The Chronicles of Narnia and elsewhere. It is nevertheless surprising to find visions of what school history can be from what might almost be alternative worlds of assumptions appearing a mere week apart on gov.co.uk: Ofsted’s research review on History education, and a speech by Schools Minister Nick Gibb published last week.

As far as ideas about school history teaching and curriculum are concerned, the Schools Minister’s speech might almost have been written at any time since 2010. Arguments familiar from policy interventions  over the last decade are re-presented – drawing on E.D. Hirsch’s research from the 1970s (which concluded that deprived students’ reading comprehension appeared worse because they lacked the background knowledge of their middle (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…)

GCSEs: is the basket beyond repair, or just overloaded?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital28 May 2021

IOE Events.

The case for high-stakes exams at age 16, in the form of GCSEs, has felt precarious at times, especially so since the education and training participation age increased to age 18.  However, as we heard in both our latest public debate, on GCSEs, and our previous event on closing the attainment gap post-Covid, the GCSE system retains many supporters, even though some are surprised to find themselves taking that position.

For this  debate, were joined by IOE colleagues Mary Richardson (chair), Tina Isaacs and Gill Wyness; Tim Oates of Cambridge Assessment; and campaigner on reliability in exam marking, Dennis Sherwood.  Read more about our panellists here.

We also heard how in some cases the calls to disband GCSEs hide ulterior (more…)

Open book exams: open season for cheaters or a better form of assessment?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital19 May 2021

Gwyneth Hughes.

The start of the pandemic in March 2020 caused universities to do a rapid pivot from the well-entrenched invigilated, timed, unseen exams to online tests mostly taken at home.

Software can monitor students taking exams in their own homes by using video or proctoring methods, or by locking down the examinee’s computer. But by far the most straightforward option is open book exams with extended timescales. This is mostly what happened at the University of London. But does this mean better assessment or more cheating?

For an open-book exam, students can search online and access books, notes, and other available resources online or in print. If the exam writing window remains (more…)

Everyone’s Invited: Why we’re not surprised about the #MeToo movement in UK schools

Blog Editor, IOE Digital27 April 2021

Jessica Ringrose, Ruth Eliot, Sophie Whitehead, Amelia Jenkinson, Kaitlynn Mendes & Tanya Horeck.

In recent weeks, allegations of peer-on peer sexual violence in schools, colleges and universities across the UK have been hailed as a ‘#Metoo’ moment for young people. The scale and severity of survivors’ testimonies has sparked shock and outrage amongst the commentariat, news media, parents and many education professionals.

We are a feminist consortium of sex educators – who spend a lot of time talking about sex, relationships, consent and intimacy in school – and academics who have been researching gender, education and social justice for decades. We are not surprised by the testimonies submitted to Everyone’s Invited, and really, no one should be. Not just because teenage girls everywhere have been demanding change for years. Or because just back in 2016, a Women and Equalities Committee inquiry revealed endemic sexual harassment in UK schools. But also because we must recognise that schools are a microcosm of society, including rape culture.

Part of the reason for the shocked response, we believe, is because listening to survivor testimonies forces us to (more…)

Schools urgently need to tackle rape culture by educating pupils about online world

Blog Editor, IOE Digital12 April 2021

Lopolo/Shutterstock

Tanya Horeck, Jessica Ringrose, and Kaitlynn Mendes.

After weeks of national discussions about women and girls’ safety, the term “rape culture” has made headlines again. This time it relates to widespread reports of sexual violence against teenagers in secondary education, some of which include Britain’s most prestigious fee-paying schools.

The revelations came after Everyone’s Invited, a website and Instagram page dedicated to giving students a platform to report cases of sexual abuse and harassment, became inundated with testimonies in recent days.

Many girls who’ve spoken up have demanded that sexual violence and gender inequality be openly discussed and tackled by school leaders, while MPs have called for an inquiry. Yet it seems there’s an emerging argument (more…)

Has a GCSE grade C/4 lost its value? Actually, quite a bit

Blog Editor, IOE Digital15 March 2021

John Jerrim.

With exams cancelled again in 2021, concerns have resurfaced over potential rampant “grade inflation”. Many saw this as a perennial problem throughout the nineties and noughties as GCSE and A-Level pass-marks went up year-upon-year. When the Conservatives came to power in 2010, it was something they vowed to end.

Indeed, some argued it was this obsession, over avoiding grade inflation and maintaining standards, that led to the disaster we saw with the awarding of examination grades last summer.

But how have GCSE standards really changed over time? This blog takes a look. (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…)

Will the DFE’s new Institute reflect what teachers need to learn?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital27 January 2021

klimkin / Pixabay

John White.

This month, the Department for Education (DFE) announced that a new Institute for Teaching will be set up in England ‘to provide teachers and school leaders with prestigious training and development throughout their career’. It ‘will become England’s flagship teacher training and development provider, showcasing exemplary development of the Government’s ambitious reforms.’

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that the new Institute will equip all teachers to deliver an education combining ‘high standards of pupil behaviour and discipline with a broad knowledge-based’ curriculum. He added that the Institute, whose work will begin in September 2022 will add ‘diversity and innovation to the existing teacher development market.’

I don’t imagine that this is a belated response to remarks made by HMCI Amanda Spielman in her 2017 (more…)

A-level and GCSE cancellation: a missed opportunity to rethink assessment

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 January 2021

Lincoln Beddoe/Shutterstock

Mary Richardson.

GCSE and A-level exams in England have been cancelled, opening the door to a repeat of the confusion that marked the award of grades in 2020.

The cancellation of exams in March 2020 in England was followed by the realisation that an algorithm created to moderate the data provided by schools had led to significant reduction in final grades for many thousands of students. This debacle led to a crisis in public trust in national testing systems in England.

The students most likely to be disadvantaged by this method of grade awarding were from the poorest backgrounds. Within a few days of the results being announced, the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin (more…)