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

Financial literacy part 2: What can rich kids do that poor kids can’t?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 February 2022

John Jerrim.

The first blog in this series illustrated how there are substantial socio-economic gaps in children’s financial literacy skills, with these differences emerging before the start of primary school.

But what exactly can rich kids do – in terms of their financial knowledge and skills – that poor kids can’t?

This blog takes a closer look. (more…)

Holocaust Memorial Day: what should we think about when teaching difficult histories?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital27 January 2022

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tom Haward, Becky Hale and Mary Richardson

“I have always felt that it’s not appropriate to assess Holocaust work as we do other topics,”

…said a history teacher who participated in the recent national study conducted by the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education(CHE) in England. This comment reflects a persistent concern about teaching “difficult history” in schools and, as we observe Holocaust Memorial Day today, underlines the value of keeping such content visible in our curriculum. Assessment of challenging content has been a quandary for educators for decades and we wonder whether this view of assessment is specific to teaching about the Holocaust, or perhaps it is something experienced when teaching other ‘difficult’ content, for example the transatlantic slave trade, or the value of citizenship education?

But what do we mean when we describe something as a ‘difficult history’ and how do we explain it? What is difficult about it? Are we talking about the nature of the content, or the educational challenges associated with teaching this material to young people? And how do we distinguish ‘difficult history’ from an array of terms such as emotive history, challenging content, violent pasts, difficult knowledge and controversial content?  In exploring such questions, we are examining how teaching about the Holocaust has been described in the past because reports such as the Historical Association’s 2007 TEACH Report suggest that (more…)

To develop excellent secondary maths teachers we need space in the curriculum for critical reflection

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 January 2022

Pete Wright.

Mathematics teacher educators face strikingly similar challenges to secondary maths teachers. Both groups face the seemingly impossible task of enabling students to achieve depth of understanding whilst being expected to cover an overly prescriptive core curriculum.

The Government’s plans for reforming initial teacher education look unlikely to have a positive impact on maths teaching. What would improve the situation?

I have highlighted elsewhere the growing consensus amongst mathematics educators that the school curriculum needs to focus more on developing conceptual understanding. Students need to progress beyond learning mathematical procedures without appreciating what they are used for. They need to develop confidence in applying these procedures to solve real life problems similar to those they will encounter in their lives. This means students need to be given opportunities to explore challenging (more…)

Top of the blogs: what topics made it into our readers’ 2021 hit parade?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 January 2022

Diane Hofkins.

2021 was not the year we were hoping for. Dominated by the pandemic, it was a year of disrupted education, work and recreation. Many people lost friends and family members, Physical and mental health suffered.

As with every aspect of life, the pandemic cast its shadow across every topic touched on by the IOE Blog last year: the challenges of school leadership, mental health, the arts, remote learning, relationships with parents, and especially inequality. In January, Melanie Ehren and colleagues wrote of the ‘Matthew Effect’: “For whoever has, to him shall be given […] but whoever has not, from him shall be taken away even that he has”. The Covid Generation, they said, will have educational winners and losers. And (more…)

Subject to change: by focusing on universal entitlement, the ITT Market Review makes it harder to build courses around disciplines and local needs

Blog Editor, IOE Digital20 December 2021

Alison Kitson

In a post this term, my colleague Mark Hardman wrote that a fundamental flaw of the Government’s ITT Market Review was its assumption that quality can be measured by adherence to the Core Content Framework (CCF). The problem, he explained, was that the CCF ‘does not refer to subjects in any meaningful way’. And how could it? Given that the intention of the CCF is to provide a minimum curricular entitlement for all student teachers regardless of phase or subject, by necessity it has to be generic.

The problem is that by attempting to make this entitlement applicable to everyone, it fails to satisfy anyone. Fortunately, the solution to this problem already exists. By ensuring that all student teachers receive training that has subject specificity at its core, university-led ITE supports subject-specific interpretations of this highly generic framework and provides programmes that include but also extend beyond the CCF. Unfortunately, the ITT Market Review, despite the recent government response, still threatens to restrict providers’ freedom to construct courses around the particular demands of subjects and local contexts.

Ever since national standards for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) were first introduced, university ITE (more…)

Breaking down barriers: why do we classify some languages as ‘community’ and others as ‘modern’?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital9 December 2021

It is claimed that, on average, one in five of school-aged children in Britain have a first language other than English (The Guardian). These languages are often labelled as ‘community languages’ with many of them identified as the ‘languages for the future’ (British Council) in terms of supply and demand.For instance, the top ten ‘languages for the future’ are Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, French, Arabic and German, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Japanese and Russian, all of which are spoken in communities in Britain. Yet, as the Guardian article and numerous reports point out, support for the community languages in the UK education system, from early years to further and higher education, is seriously lacking.

Part of the problem is the labelling. Languages that are part of the school and university curriculum are usually called ‘modern languages’, ‘foreign languages’, or ‘modern foreign languages’. Some of the community languages (eg Italian, Mandarin Chinese) are part of the school curriculum, but most are not. The classification of which language is a modern language for schools, and which is a community language seems somewhat arbitrary and largely a result of the history of language teaching in this country. It is also connected to Britain’s (more…)

Most UK adults don’t know key details of the Holocaust – how it has been taught in schools may explain why

Blog Editor, IOE Digital19 November 2021

Students visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.
Shanae Ennis-Melhado/Shutterstock

Rebecca Hale

A survey exploring knowledge of the Holocaust has exposed limited awareness in the UK of some of the most fundamental aspects of this history. Conducted by the Claims Conference, a non-profit organisation which secures compensation for Holocaust survivors, the survey was based on interviews with 2,000 randomly selected adults. Less than half of the respondents knew that six million Jewish people were killed and only one-quarter were aware of the meaning of “Kindertransport”, the rescue of children from Nazi territories.

I am a researcher at the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education and was a member of the taskforce for the Claims Conference United Kingdom Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Study. My research explores teaching and learning about the Holocaust in English secondary schools.

Absence from schools

The lack of knowledge revealed by the survey is partly due to patchy school teaching of the Holocaust. Before the 1990s, Holocaust teaching and learning in the UK was neither widespread nor popular. Generations of (more…)

Schools’ varied Covid stories make sitting the Phonics Test meaningless

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 November 2021

Alice Bradbury and Gemma Moss.

This autumn term, for the second year running, the Phonics Screening Check (PSC) will be taking place in Year 2 classrooms for all pupils, rather than the usual system of testing everyone at the end of Year 1. The Covid crisis led to the suspension of all statutory testing in the summer of 2021 and no other assessments have been moved, only the PSC. This means that Year 2 pupils who have missed out on months of classroom time last year will be taken out of their classrooms this term, to test their phonics decoding skills by asking them to read aloud 40 words and pseudo-words.

The PSC is intended to monitor the quality of phonics teaching in the school as well as to provide information on individuals for teachers. This year’s use of the test, however, will be meaningless unless local circumstances are taken into account, because the pandemic has affected schools in such a variety of ways. Our IOE research found that schools reacted in complex and thoughtful ways to the impacts of Covid on their communities, taking into account circumstances that made home learning difficult for pupils; each school has its own ‘Covid story’.

Varied local circumstances meant children had a wide range of needs, including insufficient food or heating for (more…)

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…)