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…)
This week the IOE held the first in our ‘What if…’ events series, which challenges thought leaders to bring some fresh and radical thinking to key debates in education. We kicked off with education’s role in relation to social mobility, asking the panel ‘What if… we really wanted to further social mobility through education?’
First up was Kate Pickett of Spirit Level fame. She rejected the very premise of the question, highlighting the greater impact of wider, pervasive inequalities. Nevertheless, she saw some scope for education policy to help lessen those inequalities – banning private education, randomising school admissions and ending student fees were a few of her recommendations.
Next was James Croft, chair of the Centre for Education Economics. James was more sanguine about what could be achieved through education and ‘working with the grain’ (more…)
The IOE blog has asked colleagues from across the Institute what’s at the top of their wish list. Their replies will appear over the next few weeks.
Geoff Whitty and Emma Wisby.
There’s now just under a month for people to give their views on the government’s schools green paper proposals. If the impassioned public debate it has generated is anything to go by, Department for Education officials will have a lot of consultation responses to read. They will also have much thinking to do about how the behaviour of different parts of the education system would most likely change in response to the proposals, and the likely implications of that for achieving the aims behind them, especially Theresa May’s much vaunted commitment to increasing upward social mobility.
In broad terms, what the green paper proposals do is to accept at face value an existing hierarchy of secondary schools with regard to academic attainment: elite independent schools at the top, followed by grammar schools, high performing non-selective schools, and less well performing non-selective schools and a few studio schools with rather different ambitions at the bottom. They reinforce the legitimacy of this hierarchy by, in theory, removing the post code/house price or school fees barrier to the most academically able and engaged children accessing schools at the top end, regardless of background. Linked to this is an apparent intention to create more space ‘at the top’.
A particularly notable feature of the green paper in this regard is its ambition to harness the independent schools sector (more…)
The question in the headline is the title of a new book published by UCL IOE Press. It’s written by Doug Martin and based on research in four North of England schools and communities. But the question is also one that should be asked today, for it raises an issue at the very heart of education. What is the identity of the school? What is it for?
Education in England since the 1988 Education Reform Act has been dominated by four themes: governance, choice, regulation and performance. Local authority control has been replaced by self-government and, with the rise of academies and free schools, a direct contractual role for central government; parents have been given, at least on paper, increased say over which school their children attend; a national curriculum and national inspection agency have been introduced and endlessly wrangled over; while examinations have proliferated, with endless picking over schools’ performance. What has emerged is a particular idea of schools: as exam factories, judged on grade productivity; and as businesses competing in an education market place for the custom of parent-consumers.
But something happened for a few years at the start of the century that complicated this (more…)
Now we know. Justine Greening, MP for Putney, Roehampton and Southfields, has become the new Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities. Her brief is to include higher education and skills, formerly under the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. Downing Street says the education department will take on responsibility for: “Reforming the higher education sector to boost competition and continue to improve the quality of education that students receive; and delivering more apprenticeships through a fundamental change in the UK’s approach to skills in the workplace”.
Ms Greening, one of the few education secretaries to have attended a non-selective state secondary school – Oakwood Comprehensive in Rotherham – was previously Secretary of State for International Development. The new education secretary has a background in accountancy.
While teacher supply – discussed in a recent IOE blog post – will be at the top of her very full in-tray, she will also need to master a wide range of topics from Academies to Teacher education. As early as next week, she will have to steer the Higher Education and Research Bill through its second reading. Here, IOE experts suggest priorities for Ms Greening to consider in key areas of education policy. (more…)
Alice Sullivan and Dominic Wyse.
Children in England have recently taken their statutory tests at age 10-11 (commonly known as Key Stage 2 SATs). The results, published today, show that the pass rate has plummeted compared to last year. This is because the nature of the tests changed dramatically in 2016. We focus here on why the new English tests have been so difficult for children to pass – and why most parents would struggle to pass the tests too.
The UK’s decision to abandon Europe, which is what leaving the European Union amounts to, has come as a shock – not least in the UK where many people who voted ‘out’ never expected to win. Essentially this was a protest vote against immigration, tinged with nationalism and even racism, and austerity, a long delayed but inevitable reaction against the inequalities generated by neoliberal capitalism. The details of the UK’s relationship with the EU as a member state were not particularly important in what was a bad-tempered and nasty referendum campaign. In effect the EU became a whipping boy for larger discontents.
But the die is now cast, even though all the evidence suggests that the great majority of staff and students in universities voted to remain in the EU. There is probably no way back – for England; Scotland is now likely to seek independence and to stay in the EU so breaking up a 300-year-old Union (which paradoxically created the ‘Great Britain’ of which nationalists are so proud). The consequences for UK higher education will be very significant – and almost entirely damaging. One of the most damaging is that the ‘market’ (more…)
It has conventionally been said that Coalition governments are unable to undertake radical change. The assumption is that the need for trade-offs between governing parties, to prioritise compromise and consensus over clarity and conviction, lead to a tendency to preserve the status quo.
But this appears not to have been the case in the United Kingdom after 2010. In its policies on early years, schools, training, and higher education, the Coalition Government was nothing if not radical. The Academies Act, passed in the first weeks of the government’s tenure, using parliamentary procedures designed for emergency legislation, represented a decisive, irrevocable break with governance arrangements in English education which had lasted, with modifications, since the 1944 Education Act.
Towards the end of 2010, the Coalition made similarly stark changes in the funding of higher education, tripling the cap on (more…)
Guest blogger: Jerome Finnegan.
The Read On. Get On. coalition is working towards the ambitious goal of all children in England attaining a good level of reading by age 11, by 2025. Two new reports released by the campaign, for England and Scotland, featuring new analysis by the UCL Institute of Education (IOE), highlight the critical relationship between children’s early language development and later reading and comprehension skills. So much so that the campaign has adopted an interim goal: ensuring that all children achieve a good level of language development by age five. (more…)