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IOE at 120 – an expansive vision for teaching and learning

Blog Editor, IOE Digital19 January 2022

John Adams, the first principal (centre), with Margaret Punnett and Percy NunnThis blog is the first in a series of 12 exploring each decade in IOE’s history in the context of the education and society of the times. Find out more about our 120th anniversary celebrations on our website, and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn to keep up with everything that’s happening. 

Tom Woodin.

At the turn of the Twentieth Century, a sense of historical change was palpable. London was viewed as a ‘great’ city at the heart of the largest empire in history. It was a financial hub; the centre of trade and a place where key political, cultural, economic and educational institutions coalesced.

It was also ravaged by inequality and poverty, which imperial adventures such as the Boer Wars had made a topic of public debate as had Charles Booth’s maps of London which provided a striking cartographic representation of poverty. Just a year after the death of Queen Victoria, the 1902 Education Act helped to foster the notion of an ‘educational ladder’ based upon scholarships for the lucky few who were able to progress from elementary schools to secondary education. The ‘scholarship boy’, and occasional girl, became an iconic figure in British life although in reality the ladder was thin and rickety and far from the proposed ‘educational highway’ for all that was favoured by the Workers Educational Association.

It was at this time that new ideas about teaching and teacher training came into their own. The London Day Training College – (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…)

Expertise in being a generalist is not what student teachers need

Blog Editor, IOE Digital15 December 2021

Caroline Daly.

The Government response to the initial teacher training (ITT) market review report is deepening the muddle about what is meant by ‘expertise’ in teaching and initial teacher education (ITE). The new requirements to become a provider of ITE are based on a distorted view of subject specialist expertise as something to be added to an extensive generalist preparation for teaching. It is for this reason that subject specialists in ITE need to be heard and taken seriously, while the sector digests the new guidance to become accredited providers of ITE programmes.

Our new IOE Blog series will provide insights by subject specialists in ITE, highlighting the specific expertise required to develop excellent teachers across disciplines and phases.

The ITT Core Content Framework (CCF) places the development of generic knowledge and practice of teaching at the heart of ITE and is the centrepiece of the new requirements. Yet it is a fundamental flaw to suggest that teaching is first and foremost a generalist practice. Instead, there is a need to scrutinise what it takes to make a (more…)

Inspiring teachers to learn together: why our partnership with schools enriches deep learning for early career teachers

Blog Editor, IOE Digital19 October 2021

Qing Gu, Mark Quinn, Hilary Adli and Sue Hellman.

14995841 / Pixabay

The Department for Education’s proposal to radically restructure Initial Teacher Education (ITE) has renewed an ongoing debate about why universities must have a key role to play in the education of our future teachers.

As we have successfully launched our  Early Career Teacher Full Induction Programme nationally,  we feel obliged to contribute to the debate by sharing what we have learned from leading partnerships with like-minded schools and universities to provide the professional development pathways that enable early career teachers to fulfil their passion, purpose and commitment as lifelong educators. Our Full Induction Programme is established in the early roll-out areas through the UCL Early Career Teacher Consortium and our national roll-out provision with 21 school-led Delivery Partners.

Schools and universities have a century-old history of working together. Our experience reinforces (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…)

Teacher education: to ‘build back better’ we should start from the sound foundations already in place

Blog Editor, IOE Digital14 July 2021

In early July the Department for Education published the report of its Market Review of Initial Teacher Training and launched a consultation on its proposals. Many university providers have voiced their concerns at the proposals, one of the most forthright being the University of Cambridge. Higher education bodies have spoken out alongside, including the Russell Group and the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET).

At the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) we have also registered our disappointment at the recommendations the report puts forward, recommendations that we, like many others, believe risk eroding the quality of Initial teacher education (ITE) as well as endangering teacher supply.

The IOE was founded in 1902 as the London Day Training College for Teachers: teacher education has sat at the heart of what we do (more…)