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


Four reasons why female teachers are paid less than men

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 21 June 2018

Rebecca Allen. 
The teaching profession in England remains dominated by women, but as they accumulate experience in the classroom their pay gradually falls behind that of men. By the time secondary school teachers have accumulated 20 years of experience, men are earning almost £50,000 per annum yet women are earning under £45,000 per annum. In the primary phase the gap is larger, with men earning over £51,000 compared to women at just below £43,000. Data from seven years of the School Workforce Census, combined with a survey of over 2,000 teachers via the Teacher Tapp survey app provides some explanations for how this pay gap occurs.

1.    Female teachers are less likely to reach leadership positions

Only a minority of teachers ever proceed to senior leadership positions. For example, in School Workforce Census in November 2016, for those with over 30 years of experience, 67% of men and 74% of women are still classroom teachers. However, as the chart below shows, men do make it into senior leadership posts at much higher rates (more…)

Disadvantaged pupils have less-qualified science teachers across the developed world, and other findings from PISA

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 14 June 2018

Sam Sims
The Programme for International Student Assessment is a well-known exercise in benchmarking pupil attainment in maths, science and reading across countries. PISA was first conducted in 2000 and five further rounds of results have since been published. Around 80 countries are taking part in 2018.
What is less well known is that PISA also collects information from school leaders about their teachers, such as the qualifications they have and the training they receive. The OECD, who manage PISA, also collect information on differences in national policy towards teachers, through parallel research programmes.
The OECD have now brought this information together to examine whether national differences in teacher policy can explain (more…)

It’s not brains that learn, it’s people

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 30 May 2018

IOE Events.
For our penultimate ‘What if…?’ debate before the end of term we took a look at the growing field of educational neuroscience and what it could mean for classroom practice.  The technology for showing the inner-workings of the brain is advancing apace, but just how useful are the findings, at this stage anyway, for educational policy and practice?  Could they actually be unhelpful: accusations of ‘neuro nonsense’ abound.  To help us find our way through the science, we were delighted to be joined by a panel of leading educationalists and neuroscientists: Professor Becky Allen, Director of the IOE’s Centre for Education Improvement Science; Steven Rose, Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience at the Open University; Catherine Sebastian, Reader in the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, where she directs the Emotion, Development and Brain Lab; and Michael Thomas, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Birkbeck, from where he directs the Centre for Educational Neuroscience, a collaboration with UCL and IOE.
Our panel identified the various areas in which neuroscience has the potential to inform education policy and practice – including brain health, child and adolescent (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…)

Teacher shortages: are a handful of schools a big part of the problem?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 21 February 2018

Sam Sims and Rebecca Allen. 
 We recently met a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), let’s call her Ellen, who had been delighted to get their first teaching job in a North London primary school deemed outstanding by Ofsted. She arrived on the first day of term looking forward to the challenge of teaching, but by lunchtime it dawned on her that the school had lost 100% of its classroom teaching staff since the previous academic year. At the time, she wondered what could have happened to make all these teachers leave.
She soon found out however, as she spent the next year being pressured into an unsustainable workload and subjected to highly bureaucratic and, at times, callous management. At the end of the year, all the classroom teaching staff left the school. Many of them, including Ellen, left the state education sector altogether.
We wanted to know whether this was an isolated anecdote or a more widespread
problem. So in our paper for the February issue of the National Institute Economic Review we use (more…)

Could We Get the Best Teachers into the Most Deprived Schools?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 19 September 2017

Sam Sims
In a recent IOE London blog post, Professor Becky Francis highlighted wide and persistent gaps in GCSE attainment and university entry rates between rich and poor pupils. This follows the recent Social Mobility Commission report, which argued that policy makers have spent too much time on structural reforms to the schooling system and not placed a high enough priority on getting the best teachers into struggling schools, echoing Francis’ own research. Francis concludes that, in order to improve social mobility, we need to do much more to “support and incentivise the quality of teaching in socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods.”
In recent work, Rebecca Allen and I found that there are indeed reasons to be concerned about disadvantaged pupils’ access to good teachers. Experience (or lack thereof) is a good indicator of teacher quality. We found that pupils in the most deprived fifth of schools are around twice as likely to get an unqualified teacher, and a quarter more likely to get a teacher with less than five years of experience, when compared to pupils in the least deprived fifth of schools. Moreover, we found that, even within schools, disadvantaged pupils are more likely to be assigned to an inexperienced teacher. (more…)

GCSE and A-level results: it’s not just the grades that matter

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 15 August 2017

File 20170810 27655 1a279l5
Why GCSE and A Level subject choices matter. shutterstock

Jake Anders, UCL and Catherine Dilnot, Oxford Brookes University. 
A-level results will soon be out, with more than 300,000 students eagerly waiting to find out if they’ve made the grade. Then come GCSE results, with even more students keen to find out how they’ve done.
Whether students are heading to university, into an apprenticeship or straight into employment, chances are they will all be wishing and hoping and dreaming and praying of a set of grades that will reflect their level of academic accomplishment.
For would-be university applicants, there is often a requirement that students take a particular set of subjects at A-level – and achieve a certain grade – to be in with a chance of getting a place on a degree course. To study medicine, for example it’s often required that (more…)