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Pupils are not just citizens in waiting. They are already citizens, and they need more than political literacy

Blog Editor, IOE Digital30 September 2021

By PGCE Citizenship students Madeleine Spink, Nikita Yadav, Joe Lewin, Farhana Khanom & Achintya Gupta supported by Hans Svennevig.

The establishment this year of an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Political Literacy is welcome news for Citizenship teachers, as its aims assert the importance of young people having a strong political education in order to play an active role as citizens.

The APPG puts forward the idea of a Politics GCSE. As most of us are new alumni of the IOE’s PGCE citizenship programme we are strong advocates for comprehensive political literacy. But we want to set out the value of a broader approach. We urge the APPG to engage with the value of existing teaching and the unique elements of Citizenship as a subject, including the Citizenship GCSE.

How does Citizenship promote Political Literacy?

The National Curriculum for Citizenship, along with extensive work by the Association for Citizenship Teaching (ACT) comprehensively outlines an education framework more than fit to engage pupils in politics, but also enhance this political literacy through deliberation. Notably, the three strands of Citizenship as outlined by the ‘Crick Report’ – social and moral responsibility, community involvement and political literacy exemplify the way pupils learn about critical media literacy, how Parliament and (more…)

Do Key Stage 2 tests negatively affect children’s wellbeing?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital24 September 2021

John Jerrim.

Over the last couple of years, Key Stage 2 tests have been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They are, however, due to come back with a vengeance in 2022 – most likely to the delight of some, but to the despair of others.

The return of the Key Stage 2 tests is likely to be met with renewed accusations that they cause children a huge amount of stress along with calls from organisations such as More Than a Score that they should be scrapped.

But is there really good evidence that the Key Stage 2 tests negatively affect children’s wellbeing? Actually, the existing quantitative evidence on this matter remains pretty scant.

In my new paper published today I hence undertake (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…)

What does it mean to teach a subject? Not what the ITT Market Review suggests

Blog Editor, IOE Digital9 September 2021

Mark Hardman.

Why do we learn all those different subjects at school? Perhaps it is because I’m a teacher educator and I have school-aged children myself, that I get asked this at parties more than most. Thankfully, I am able to maintain polite conversation on this topic because I have spent time in scholarly discussions with colleagues, both as part of the Subject Specialism Research Group at the IOE, as well as within a network with colleagues in Finland and Sweden concerned with subject-specific teacher education.

One of the most compelling arguments for learning about subjects in schools is that it enables people to understand different ways of thinking – how science, history, geography, religious education or any other subject gives a knowledge base from which to learn and understand the world. For example, I would say that my own specialism, physics, is about developing models which help explain and predict phenomena in the world. It has less to say about human relations or ethics, which draw on other forms of knowledge that might be (more…)

The Core Content Framework and the fallacy of a teacher training ‘curriculum’

Blog Editor, IOE Digital2 September 2021

Clare Brooks.

One of the controversies to arise from the discussions about the government’s ITT market review is the role and place of a government mandated curriculum for initial teacher education.

In 2019 the government introduced its ITT Core Content Framework (CCF). This was promoted as a minimum entitlement for trainees, and as representing the best evidence for what teacher training programmes should contain (The claim that the CCF is based on the “best evidence” is highly contestable). The Ofsted ITE Inspection Framework emphasises fidelity to the CCF and the Market Review recommendations would reinforce this as the central point of teacher education programmes. This highlights the question of the value and efficacy of a mandated curriculum for teacher
education, at least one in the form of the CCF.

What a new teacher needs to know
Teachers require a combination of practical knowledge, sometimes referred to as skills, and (more…)

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…)