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

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…)

How should we assess school students now that exams have been cancelled?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 January 2021

Jake Anders, Lindsey Macmillan, Gill Wyness, Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities

This article was originally published by Economics Observatory

To avoid a repeat of last summer’s exam chaos, the government must decide quickly on alternative assessment measures. There is a strong case for A-level students to receive in-class testing – with flexible timing and content – to take account of differences in their learning experiences.

While the uncertainties of a global pandemic make this one of the most volatile periods of education policy in history, if there is one lesson we should all have learned since last March, it is that indecision is costly. This has proved true repeatedly for public health and looks just as relevant for education.

As we saw with last summer’s exam fiasco, the failure to act decisively led to there being little alternative but to (more…)

A Covid generation: who are the winners and losers of a disrupted school year?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital7 January 2021

PIRO4D / Pixabay

Melanie Ehren, Martijn Meeter and Anne Fleur Kortekaas.

The term ‘Covid generation’ has become the new buzz word to refer to children and adolescents under 20 who are affected by school closures and other disruptions.

A report by UNICEF estimates that globally, more than 570 million students – 33 per cent of all enrolled students worldwide –were affected by country-wide school closures in 30 nations as of November 2020. They will have had varying access to remote and online teaching during these closures, and many students from disadvantaged backgrounds will have had little to no learning.

Some believe the lost learning of this generation will have a detrimental effect on the rest of their school and employment careers. This phenomenon is called the ‘Matthew effect’, after the Evangelist’s saying that “For whoever has, to him shall be given […] but whoever has not, from him shall be taken away even that he has”: (more…)

‘We never stop learning through play, we just stop teaching through play’

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 January 2021

IOE Events.

From rule-bound games to unstructured exploration, play brings us a lot of satisfaction. Its powers are increasingly recognised in the world of work. But it remains the ‘poor relation’ in our education system, certainly beyond the early years phase.

To assess whether we’ve got that right for our older learners, our final ‘What If…’ debate of 2020 drew on a diverse set of expertise in the form of cognitive scientist Dr Sara Baker (Cambridge University); director of evidence, Tom McBride (Early Intervention Foundation); author Michael Rosen; and former computer science teacher and play-based learning expert, Shahneila Saeed (Ukie). You can read more about our panellists here.

It seems that play is one of those rare examples of something that is both enjoyable and good for us – the equivalent of chocolate flavoured broccoli, (more…)

What’s behind the headlines? Exploring another round of international league tables

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 December 2020

Tina Isaacs, Mary Richardson and  Jennie Golding.

Reports from the latest round of international testing – the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), published today, will provide much material for study over the coming months and years. Now in its seventh four-yearly cycle, TIMSS tests 10 and 14-year-olds – in England, pupils in years 5 and 9 – in maths and science knowledge and understanding. It also gathers information on pupils’ school and home contexts.

It is this combination of data that could help us understand how to improve teaching and learning for those groups – often disadvantaged – that are doing less well than others.

In 2019, 64 countries and eight benchmarking systems participated, with over 580,000 pupils tested. We co-wrote the report for England (PDF), which was published today.

Overall, England’s pupils did pretty well –  eighth out of 58 countries for year 5 maths; 13th out of 39 (more…)

Why we should care about international tests

Blog Editor, IOE Digital7 December 2020

Mary Richardson and Tina Isaacs.

Governments around the world now agree that international comparisons of educational achievement are something to value. They provide extra data to enhance policy-making and practice. In fact, pupils in more than half of all the countries across the globe take part in international large-scale assessments (ILSAs) such as PISA, and the involvement of the majority of the world’s most advanced economies assures their continued popularity.

Tomorrow sees the publication of  results from one of these programmes, and this country’s will appear in the TIMSS National Report for England (The Trends in International Maths and Science Study compares children’s knowledge at ages 10 and 14). Much excitement always accompanies the publication of the international and national reports for the ILSAs because each participating country wants to know where it features in what are essentially global education league tables.

In taking part in ILSAs carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (PISA) and the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (TIMSS and PIRLS), countries are acknowledging that knowledge and skills – human capital – are strategic resources (more…)

Maths anxiety: how can we overcome the ‘can’t do’ attitude?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital1 December 2020

Celia Hoyles. 

The Covid-19 pandemic is raising public anxiety not just about the virus but about the maths being used to explain how it spreads and how it can be controlled. What is the so-called R value? What do we mean by “flattening the curve”?

And if people were not confused enough, what are we to make of a slide like this, shown by the Prime Minister last Spring, which presents us with an equation that makes no mathematical sense? How did you react to it I wonder? I remember thinking I must have heard it wrongly, provoking me to consider the ‘equation’ more carefully. For many it might have been just one more instance of confirming ‘I cannot understand mathematics’.

If the pandemic brings no other benefits, it will surely answer the question: “Why is maths relevant to my life?” But this won’t necessarily help people to process the meaning behind large numbers and complicated graphs presented (more…)

Global learning: is ‘Teaching at the Right Level’ a good buy?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital23 November 2020

Angela W Little, Republished from UKFIET, the education and development forum.

In 1900, the comparative educationist Michael Sadler wrote:

“We cannot wander at pleasure among the educational systems of the world, like a child strolling through a garden and pick a off a flower from one bush and some leaves from another, and then expect that if we stick what we have gathered into the soil at home, we shall have a living plant.”

Nowadays, the ‘children’ who wander the garden include philanthropists, NGOs, trade unions, international and comparative educationists, international businessmen and businesswomen, as well as the all important country policymakers and politicians.

Through their recently-released report ‘Cost Effective Approaches to Improve Global Learning’, the Global Education Evidence Advisory Panel (GEEAP) offers some education ‘great buys’, ‘good buys’ , ‘promising buys with low evidence’ and ‘bad buys’. In short, they offer a ‘great buy’ flower here and a ‘bad buy’ leaf there.

Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL)

Among the ‘good buys’ are ‘interventions to target teaching instruction by learning level, not grade (in or out of school). This is known as ‘Teaching at the Right Level’ (TaRL). The essential idea is that students should be grouped for teaching, based (more…)

Action research: how can we turn around our students’ experiences in the classroom so they reflect the humanistic values we believe in?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital20 November 2020

Pete Wright.

Ever since I first walked into a classroom in an Inner London comprehensive as a student teacher in 1986, my primary aim, like many other new entrants to the profession, was to  make a difference to children’s lives. Maybe, even if in only some small way, I could change society for the better.

That’s why I’m so pleased about the publication of a special feature of the London Review of Education which focuses on the potential of action research to promote an empowering school curriculum. As guest editor, I am excited about seeing the fruits of many months of labour by the twenty-six authors, reviewers and others who have worked with me. But the publication will also have a deeper significance for me as I reflect on over 30 years of experience working within the education system.

I am fortunate to have spent most of my educational career (as classroom teacher, curriculum coordinator, head of department, curriculum developer, local authority consultant and now teacher educator) working closely with other teachers. I am struck by how many teachers share the humanistic vision of education (more…)

A few words in the OFSTED framework could help boost the digital skills children need for learning outside of school

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 November 2020

Sara Hawley.

While the pandemic continues and individual pupils, groups or classes stay home self-isolating, the DFE has made remote learning part of schools’ legal duty for now. OFSTED has suspended routine inspections but is carrying out interim visits (without grading schools) to understand the lay of the land.  Yesterday, Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman published a report detailing the skills many children had lost during months of absence from school and acknowledging that home learning remains ‘patchy’.

For those of us working in and around schools in England over the last decade, it comes as no surprise to read of the huge variation in online learning provision across the state sector now and during the spring lockdown. Funding and policy choices made over recent years have in many ways taken things backwards. The abolition of BECTA (British Educational Communications Technology Agency) in 2010 meant the end of a coherent national strategy for online learning resources and infrastructure.

Since then, schools have been left to their own devices, navigating a baffling range of commercial options, often relying on any expertise held by enthusiasts among their staff. Compounding the difficulty has been (more…)