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Language teaching and learning beyond vocabulary and grammar: our success stories

Blog Editor, IOE Digital15 March 2022

Zhu Hua, Caroline Conlon, Camilla Smith, Fotini Diamantidaki and Áine McAllister.

The strong reactions from the language teaching and learning community to the Government’s French, German and Spanish GCSE subject content review are hardly surprising. If the review’s intention was to make the subject ‘accessible’ and to motivate students, then making a few tweaks to words, themes and topics, question types and grammar will not do the job.

Learning another language is not simply about putting words and sentences together; it is about communicating ideas, feelings and experiences; connecting with people and cultures and broadening horizons. Language curriculum, assessment and pedagogy need to focus on developing intercultural competence.

So what has worked well in classrooms? How do we create space for cultural exploration and exchange of perspectives? And what role does (more…)

Subject specialism is at the heart of teaching and Citizenship Education is at the heart of a whole school approach

Blog Editor, IOE Digital3 March 2022

Hans Svennevig.

In a time of global conflict, raised concerns about climate change and political disharmony, Citizenship Education is more important than ever. As a subject, it also ensures that young people can have discrete teaching within a whole school approach, bringing together what The 1998 Advisory Group on Citizenship guided by Sir Bernard Crick originally proposed. All subjects should be involved in whole school approaches, but to do that we need subject specialists.

The government’s December 2021 response to its ITT market review is not just a risk for one ITE institution over another, or one subject over (more…)

In the balance: the artful mix that goes into becoming a Modern Foreign Language teacher

Blog Editor, IOE Digital23 February 2022

Caroline Conlon.

JESHOOTS-com / Pixabay

Many teacher educators are concerned that the Government’s Initial Teacher Training Market Review and its ITT Core Content Framework impose too many generic requirements, and leave insufficient time for each subject’s unique characteristics and methods. Teaching and learning a second language is a complex, messy business and, as the Ofsted Subject Review on languages recognises, ‘there is no single way of achieving high-quality language education.’

Languages teachers, therefore, need not only to have subject knowledge expertise in the languages and associated cultures they teach, but also in second language learning theories and pedagogy.

The PGCE Secondary languages programme at UCL does not promote any single teaching (more…)

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…)