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

Celebrating Geoff Whitty’s contribution to education research

Blog Editor, IOE Digital18 September 2020

Emma Wisby and Andrew Brown.

As Covid-19 was reaching its first peak towards the end of March, we were preparing to publish an edited collection in honour of one of the IOE’s former Directors, the late Professor Geoff Whitty: Knowledge, Policy and Practice in Education and the Struggle for Social Justice – Essays Inspired by the Work of Geoff Whitty. Our plans to celebrate the book by gathering together friends, colleagues and interested readers remain on hold. In the meantime, here we reflect on the project and how it builds on Geoff’s scholarship as one of the foremost sociologists of education of his generation.

Geoff conducted incisive and powerful research studies across the themes of knowledge, policy and practice in education.

He was also a prominent voice in examining the field of education studies itself and its relationship to policy and practice.  The collection takes inspiration from all those (more…)

‘I knew what was going on the news, but I didn’t know how to understand it’: is the Prevent policy helping students learn about terrorism?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 September 2020

SEVENHEADS / Pixabay

Alex Elwick, Hans Svennevig and Lee Jerome.

When it comes to understanding and learning about terrorism and extremism, what young people say they want and many of the educational resources they are provided with do not match up.

Our contribution to a recently published book shows that young people generally support the values of democracy and reject the use of political violence, but they want their teachers to help them to develop their critical media and political literacy. Despite what students have told us, we found that leading government endorsed education resources currently fall short of such aims. The Educate Against Hate website has been developed by the Department for Education and the Home Office ‘to provide practical advice, support and resources to protect children from extremism and radicalisation.’

Our review of the site suggests that counter-narratives within these resources tend to be simplistic and lack criticality or nuanced engagement with a range of perspectives, e.g. a PowerPoint slide with the guidance “don’t be racist”. This criticality stood out as one of the key requests of young people in our research – they trusted teachers to tell them the truth and introduce them to (more…)

Breadth and balance: the essential elements of a recovery curriculum

Blog Editor, IOE Digital3 September 2020

Dominic Wyse.

Government guidance for schools reopening this month originally suggested that national curriculum subjects could be dropped in order to focus on key areas such as phonics. In the latest welcome U-turn, the guidance now says that “the curriculum remains broad and ambitious”. But at the same time it notes that “Substantial modification to the curriculum may be needed at the start of the year, so teaching time should be prioritised to address significant gaps in pupils’ knowledge with the aim of returning to the school’s normal curriculum content by no later than summer term 2021,” and goes on to give details.

The key question is, will the guidance’s emphasis on aspects such as “disapplication”, “the essentials”, and “phonics” lead to some subjects in the curriculum being neglected? The history of governments’ national curriculum reform in England suggests this will be the case.

The guidance continues, “For pupils in Reception, teachers should also assess and address gaps in language, early reading and mathematics, particularly ensuring children’s acquisition of phonic knowledge and extending their vocabulary. Settings should follow updates to the EYFS [Early Years Foundation Stage] disapplication guidance.”

And, “For pupils in key stages 1 and 2, school leaders are expected to prioritise identifying gaps and re-establish good progress in the (more…)

A-level debacle has shattered trust in educational assessment

Blog Editor, IOE Digital18 August 2020

Students protest against A-level results, August 16 2020.
I. Salci/Shutterstock

Mary Richardson, UCL, first published on The Conversation

After five days of uncertainty and anxiety, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced on August 17 that students in England would be awarded their centre assessment grades (CAGs) this summer – that is, the grade their school or college expected they would most likely have attained had they taken their exams – or their moderated grade, whichever was higher.

The announcement follows widespread outrage after it emerged that the poorest students were hardest hit by the inadequacies of the algorithm used to moderate their grades.

Collective sighs of relief were palpable as teachers no longer faced the stress of an appeals process while also preparing to start one of the most complex and challenging years of their careers. Students, however, (more…)

Pick ‘n Mix approach to results is causing Allsorts of anxiety for students and damage of trust

Blog Editor, IOE Digital13 August 2020

SHAWSHANK61 / Pixabay

Mary Richardson.

At 8am on 13 August, some five months after the coronavirus took hold of our lives in England, a generation of young people waited anxiously for the release of their Advanced (A) Level results. News reporting is always very excitable on this day and online news feeds and social media streams are traditionally filled with images of young people jumping for joy. The 2020 results day has been a more visually muted affair, but that isn’t solely due to the pandemic. The increase in attainment of A and A* grades almost 28%) has been overshadowed by the fact that, due to the way the data has been modelled, two in every five grades were lower than those predicted by the candidates’ teachers and the poorest students are hardest hit.

Earlier this year, I was cautiously optimistic about the enhanced role that teacher judgment would play in this year’s awarding cycle and how it could change our view of the professional work of teachers. Concern about the potential bias involved in teacher judgment has dominated much of the assessment discourse this year, but the public were assured that this was only one part of the awarding process to determine results. However, things began to look very diffferent a week ago in Scotland, when it was found that some 120,000 grades had been moderated downwards by the regulator.  A public outcry resulted in a swift u-turn via the First Minister and teacher grades were reinstated.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Schools Minister Nick Gibb were looking anxiously over the border on the afternoon prior to results day in England as they announced their triple lock, or as I like to call it, their “pick ‘n’ mix” approach to selecting A level results in 2020.

How about a (more…)

The Covid-19 cohort and the ‘mess’ of public exams: reconsidering roles and responsibilities

Blog Editor, IOE Digital13 August 2020

Melanie Ehren and Christopher Chapman.

On 18 March the Secretary of State for Education told Parliament that, in response to the Coronavirus  pandemic, schools and colleges in England would shut to all but the children of critical workers and vulnerable children until further notice. Exams scheduled for the summer would not take place.

Government worked with the education sector and Ofqual to develop a process to provide calculated GCSE, AS and A level grades for each student which reflects their performance as fairly as possible and ensure consistency across the sector. The process involves the following steps: (more…)

Predicted grades – what do we know, and why does it matter?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 August 2020

Gill Wyness.

Whose grades are being predicted?

Predicted grades are a common feature of the English education system, with teachers’ predictions of pupils’ A level performance forming the basis of university applications each year.

What’s different this year?

The Covid-19 pandemic has put these predictions under the spotlight. The cancellation of exams means that all year 11 and year 13 pupils will instead receive ‘calculated grades’ based on teacher predictions.

How well do teachers predict grades?

Teachers’ predicted grades have been shown to be inaccurate but the majority of inaccurate grades are over-predicted – in other words, too high. (more…)

We must rethink league tables in light of the Covid crisis

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 July 2020

John Jerrim and Loic Menzies.

Unions and head teachers have said it would be unfair to compare schools’ performance next year, given the uneven impact of lockdown. They are right. There is clear evidence that there have been considerable disparities in education under Covid and that disadvantaged pupils have been systematically disadvantaged. However, whilst next year’s results will be more volatile and uncertain than ever, year-to-year variation unfairly distorts school performance measures every year, not just when covid strikes.

Fortunately, there is a simple way of reducing the distorting effects of…

Read the rest of this article at schoolsweek.co.uk 

Whose history will my mixed-race daughter be taught?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital1 July 2020

Meena Khatwa.

‘We are here because you were there’ (A. Sivanandan).

Windrush protest

Whenever I deliver a lecture on slavery, the British Empire or migration, I always begin with this simple yet powerful quote. It immediately grabs the students’ attention, and they begin to understand centuries of brutal colonial history, laid bare in those words.

I’m a British Asian, born in Slough, in 1973. Like other Asian families at that time, I lived with my extended migrant family. Our house of ten resembled Piccadilly Circus. Every morning each family member bustled to their low-paid manual jobs.

The events that led them to the UK were shaped by the history of British colonialism. My grandparents fled Karachi during the Partition in 1947 and, for a few years, were refugees in a newly-formed India. They then moved to Kenya, but had to flee again after it gained independence in 1963, which brought them to the UK and to Slough. My PhD research captured similar stories. These families were identified as ‘twice migrants’ and – perhaps surprisingly – this upheaval resulted in slightly better assimilation because they had already experienced resettlement from India to Africa.

Slough was an interesting place to grow up, a social experiment in collisions of culture and traditions. I attended St Mary’s CE primary school, singing (more…)

Covid-19 and early years education and care: not the time for baseline assessment

Blog Editor, IOE Digital25 June 2020

Guy Roberts-Holmes, Siew Fung Lee and Diana Sousa.

The Covid-19 crisis means that young children have had prolonged absence from nurseries, and lost the chance to interact with their peers.  As Shadow Schools Minister Margaret Greenwood has told the Government, ‘Some will have lost parents, grandparents or other family members, while others will have simply struggled, like millions of others across the UK, with living in lockdown, unable to play with their friends’.

This means that early years teachers and care workers need to focus even more than usual on children’s well-being and mental health. We argue that the DFE’s latest iteration of Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) is an unnecessary distraction at a time like this.

Fortunately, the DFE has taken on board our concerns and those of others and has just announced that the RBA’s introduction is to be postponed for a year.

As many parents, teachers and children have experienced, home learning is no easy substitute for socially inclusive and participatory (more…)