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Expert opinion from IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society


Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

‘What put the goodness into your heart?’ the testimony of Bergen-Belsen survivors and how acts of compassion inspire us to face modern adversity

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 15 April 2020

Ruth-Anne Lenga

We find ourselves in extraordinarily troubling times. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all of us.

Perhaps, now more than ever, it is important to remember defining moments of our collective history, in the hope we might be inspired by the actions of individuals who risked their lives to save others and take heart from the courage and strength of those who faced horrific challenges and survived in spite of extreme hardships.

This week marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp by the British army on April 15 1945 which freed the 50,000 innocent men women and children – mainly Jews – incarcerated there. UCL’s Centre for Holocaust Education today publishes a series of blogposts by Jonathan Dimbleby – whose father Richard Dimbleby was with the troops as a war correspondent, Lord Pickles and our own Arthur Chapman to mark this anniversary.

Nothing prepared the war-hardened British soldiers from the 11th Armoured (more…)

A more collaborative learning design is transforming Arabic MOOCs

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 20 February 2020

Eileen Kennedy and Mustafa Habib.

In February 2019 UCL ran its first Arabic MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) on the Edraak platform, which provides free online learning in Arabic. One year later, we are about to launch the second run of our flagship course for teachers, Transforming Education in Challenging Environments / Educators for Change.

Our aim for this MOOC was to scale up professional development for teachers working in challenging environments, particularly those affected by conflict and mass displacement.

Teachers in such contexts can be highly dedicated professionals, but they are in short supply and may have moved into teaching from other professions. Schoolteachers in the refugee camps in Lebanon, for example, have formerly been engineers, doctors, artists, builders – people from all walks of life.

But even experienced teachers need additional support to create transformative educational environments for often very vulnerable learners. In these circumstances, no-one is better placed to advise than other professionals struggling with – and overcoming – the same challenges. 


This year, for the first time ever, more young women than men took science A Level … but it’s not yet time to celebrate

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 27 August 2019

Emily MacLeod

On A Level results day earlier this month it was widely reported that girls had overtaken boys in science A Level entries for the first time ever. Female students accounted for 50.3% of all A Level science entries across the UK, compared to 49.6% last year. As part of a research team aiming to understand, and make recommendations for, increasing and diversifying participation in the sciences I welcome this news.

As much of the media coverage suggested, increasing participation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects has long been a national priority. However, despite considerable efforts and expense to make the sciences more equitable, the status quo of science being male-dominated has proven, until now at least, resistant to change – and this year’s milestone (more…)

Getting the science straight: the schools minister’s suggestion that private schools convey little academic advantage does not stand up to scrutiny

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 9 July 2019

Francis Green

A recent report from the Sutton Trust reveals that positions of public influence are still disproportionately cornered by the privately educated, with little progress since their previous report. So the Johnson – Hunt (Eton – Charterhouse) contest to be prime minister is but the tip of an iceberg. It is curious, then, to find Schools Minister Nick Gibb and genetic psychologist Robert Plomin seemingly agreeing on an ungrounded assertion: that there is little difference in the academic outcomes of state and private schooling in Britain, and that private is assuredly not worth the money.

The science is not on their side.

Professor Plomin asserts that: “Even though schools have little effect on individual differences in school achievement, some parents will still decide to pay huge (more…)

Geoff Whitty – an appreciation

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 29 July 2018

It is with deep sadness that we relay the news that Geoff Whitty, Director Emeritus of the UCL Institute of Education (IOE), has died.  He passed away peacefully on Friday.  Here we celebrate his life and work. (more…)

The tensions between economic and educational choices for schools have never been sharper

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 3 July 2018

Toby Greany and Rob Higham.
The economic and regulatory incentives facing state schools in England are increasingly in tension with an inclusive, broad and balanced education for pupils.
Since 2010 the Government has used the language of a ‘self-improving school-led system’ to characterise its reforms, arguing that these are ‘moving control to the frontline’. Our research shows that this is a partial and idealised account: while some higher performing schools are benefitting, the system as a whole is becoming more fragmented and less equitable.
Schools have been strongly encouraged (and sometimes forced) to become academies, which are independent of local government, on the premise that they will be freed from red tape.
Yet schools and academies have faced greater regulation… read the full article on guardian.com.
See our new report here.

Why education research needs working papers

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 29 May 2018

Alice Sullivan. 
British education journals often object to the early publication of research findings in the form of working papers (also known as preprints. But would greater use of working papers be beneficial for the health of education research in the UK?
Working papers allow authors to get early feedback on their work from their peers. They also allow us to share our findings with both academic and wider audiences quickly. Education researchers are expected to achieve ‘impact’ – or, at the very least, to communicate our findings to policymakers, practitioners and parents. These audiences need timely access to research findings. Research is publicly funded, and it is therefore reasonable to expect it to be publicly available. Yet years can elapse between the first submission of a paper and its final publication, even without allowing for rejections along the way. The growth in submissions to journals, combined with increased unwillingness on the part of overstretched academics to carry out peer reviews, has seen a crisis in both the quality of the peer-review system and its speed.
Working papers enable researchers to (more…)

What can short standardised tests tell us about the attainment and progress of individual pupils and of schools?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 23 May 2018

Rebecca Allen.
Measuring changes in pupil attainment is at the heart of our work as education researchers. It is a practice that is also routinely carried out in schools to monitor pupil progress and teaching quality. One means of doing this is through the purchase of standardised tests in core subjects such as maths and English that report a student’s performance relative to a national distribution.
The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) regularly uses these standardised tests in their randomised controlled trials. When trials are completed, the data is archived in routinely and matched to administrative exams data as it becomes available. This presents a unique opportunity for independent researchers to analyse the statistical properties of these commercial tests, which will in turn inform trial design, but also has important implications for how they are used in schools. (more…)

What is schooling for in the age of AI?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 27 April 2018

IOE Events.
Although estimates of the impact of automation on the labour market vary widely, it is generally agreed that the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, and especially the advance of AI, is set to transform how we live and work. The question we wanted to address in the next in our debates series was what this means for education – particularly, for how we prepare the next generation of citizens and workers to thrive in a very different context.  Will the addition of a few more classes on coding and machine learning suffice?  To help us in our quest we brought together experts from the fields of education and technology: Rose Luckin, Professor of Learner Centred Design at the UCL Knowledge Lab; Gi Fernando founder and CEO of Freeformers; Professor Mark Bailey, High Master of St Paul’s School; and Baroness Sally Morgan, whose engagement with the education sector ranges across the compulsory and post-compulsory phases. (more…)

Educators: are you ready, willing and able to meet the ‘perfect storm’ of AI?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 16 April 2018

Rose Luckin
Today the House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence launched their report with a question: AI in the UK:  ready, willing and able? Their answer is a classic cocktail of yes, but not really. We are certainly blessed with world leading artificial intelligence (AI) research teams and commercial innovators. That is without doubt, and these experts are ‘ready willing and able’ to drive the AI revolution in what we hope will be the ethically rigorous manner this report demands. However, it is everyone else beyond these experts, and in particular our education system, where there is much work to be done for us to be as ‘ready, willing and able’ as this report demands.
We are facing a perfect storm of big data, sophisticated AI algorithms and vast amounts of cheap computing power and storage. Much of this data is currently freely available and unregulated and many companies are making a great deal of money by using AI and computing power to process this data in ways that most of us know nothing about and without (more…)