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IOE Blog


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


London Festival of Education puts a spotlight on children’s well-being and mental health

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 26 February 2015

Vivian Hill
Last week, the Duchess of Cambridge launched the first children’s mental health week on behalf of Place2Be, a children’s mental health charity. The message was clear, mental health challenges are not a sign of weakness but a normative part of development.
These challenges are frequently reactions to stress and adversity, whether a traumatic life event, examination anxiety, bereavement, bullying, domestic violence, neglect or abuse. Children should have prompt access to support interventions. A recent survey by Young Minds found that 60% of parents did not feel adequately supported in managing their child’s needs and 25% waited more than a year to access services.
This Saturday, 28 February, the London Festival of Education will put a spotlight on these issues, among others, with sessions (more…)

Come to the London Festival of Education, where serendipity knocks

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 20 February 2015

Karen Edge
Education systems innovate. They can’t seem to stop. Tweaks in practice and radical policy overhauls have been too numerous to count. Innovations often pass too quickly for their subtle and sustained influences on the system, schools and students to be easily evidenced. Unfortunately, this can be equally true for positive and negative outcomes both in the short and long term. We each carry the benefits (and scars) of the educational innovations of our own time in schools.
Personally, my engagement with the London Festival of Education curation team gave me reason to pause and consider how my adult life has been shaped by the intended and unintended outcomes of the educational innovations the Ontario (more…)

London Festival of Education: vibrant, unpredictable, so much more exciting than golf

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 10 February 2015

Chris Husbands
I remember an occasion early in my teaching career when I went to try to see my headteacher at the end of a school day. His secretary (there were no PAs in those days) told me that he was ‘on a course’ after school every Wednesday. As a young teacher, I was impressed that senior professionals were still committed to their own learning. It was some time before I discovered he was playing golf.
We used to separate professional development and enjoyment. One of the great things about the London Festival of Education is that it puts them back together. This year’s LFE – here at the IOE on 28 February – is another vibrant, buzzing treasure house of debate to stimulate you, workshops to enhance your practice, entertainment to engage you: great speakers, great sessions, fabulous festival food for the stomach and the mind. No (more…)

London calling: join the Festival of Education

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 7 November 2012

Chris Husbands
London is one of the most vibrant, diverse and innovative cities in the world -for education as it is for so many other things. With 42 universities, 400 secondary schools and 3,000 primaries, where the students and pupils speak some 150 languages, London’s educational voice is distinctive and important. How better to celebrate and explore London’s education than in a festival?.
The first London Festival of Education will take place  here at the IOE on Saturday, 17 November. It is a fantastic line up.  It will bring together practitioners, policy makers, parents, politicians and pedagogues, not to mention students and children. There will be big name speakers ranging from popular authors Anthony Horowitz and Michael Rosen to Kids Company founder Camila Batmanghelidjh to the world-leading education guru John Hattie to get the neurons firing. And there will also be fun: workshops on teaching as performance by the National Theatre, a rebel teacher workshop, dance and a hula hoop troupe, not to mention the Make a Model Michael Gove stand (the real thing will lead the opening session; I wonder if he’ll take the opportunity to make a model of himself).
At no other education event this year will you be able to enjoy so rich or varied a range of speakers, debates, experiences and ideas. You can move from listening to world-leading thinkers  to looking at stunning films by secondary pupils, from debating the drivers of quality teaching to joining the ukulele sessions, from a behaviour management clinic to exploring the Raspberry Pi.
For the IOE, this festival is a new way of doing what we have always tried to do: engaging the public with exciting ideas. One of the central themes of the day is: What does an educated person look like? According to Wikipedia, the last person who knew everything was Thomas Young (1773-1823), although this is contested by some. Described as an “English polymath”, he made notable scientific contributions and made headway with deciphering the Rosetta Stone. Since then, there has been too much knowledge in the world for any one person to contain, so each individual, and society as a whole, has to make choices.
As we await the new primary curriculum, expected to be fact-packed, Michael Gove will talk about his views on the educated person in conversation with journalist David Aaronovich. We won’t leave it there, though. The conversation will be extended to everyone in the audience, as panellists Tim Brighouse – former London schools commissioner, Munira Mirza, deputy London mayor for education, Vic Goddard, from Educating Essex and Camila Batmanghelidjh add their ideas to the pot. Anthony Seldon will lead a final session exploring what qualities the best teachers share – if anything. We’ve sessions on the GCSE debate, on the role and focus of OFSTED, on the quality of higher education – in all over 70 speakers, spilling out from a main stage into debate spaces, master classes and innovation spaces. The IOE has been leading education for over a century – but we have never done anything like this before.
At the end of the day, we hope every festival-goer will feel more educated, more stimulated and glad they came. Working with our lead partner, the TES, we hope to make this entertaining and stimulating festival an annual – and unmissable —  fixture in the education year.

Kiss Goodbye to ICT (or KISS hello to Computer Science?)

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 31 October 2012

Rose Luckin and Richard Noss
Ever since Eric Schmidt of Google expressed his shock at UK children not learning computer science, there has been a flurry of activity to introduce programming to children at an early age. This includes Education Secretary Michael Gove’s abolition of the existing ICT Programme of Study in favour of a more rigorous and challenging attempt to teach computer science, especially programming. It is an admirable point of view that we both strongly support. But before we all go overboard, there are a couple of essential questions:
1) Does the plan align with what research tells us about teaching children programming, why we are in favour of it, and what we might expect from it? 
There have been nearly 50 years of development and research dedicated to finding ways for non-programmers to program. In 1967, Seymour Papert and his colleagues at MIT invented Logo, a language that was good for kids – and this at a time when the only thing one could do with a computer was to program it.
But as Papert said, a language that is only good for kids is not good for kids! He meant that programming languages are powerful ways for people to build understanding, access to formal systems of thought (like mathematics), which are essential ways for people to express their ideas about the world, and to make sense of it. That’s why programming is important: not just to increase the supply of programmers (important) or to introduce to everyone what is under the bonnet of the systems that power our society (essential), but to introduce the power of computational thinking.
2) The DfE announcement of “around 50 scholarships worth £20,000 each is accompanied by the granting of permission to top universities and schools to provide new Computer Science teacher training courses from September 2013, tough requirements for Computer Science subject knowledge for new teachers, and training “around” 500 teachers in Computer Science through a new “Network of Computer Science Teaching Excellence”.  BUT, does this new plan adhere to the design principle well loved in the computer science labs of our undergraduate days: KISS – Keep it Simple Stupid?
This useful little principle is a valuable reminder that most systems work best if they are kept simple and therefore simplicity is a key design principle. In order to keep things simple designers need to understand what problem their design is addressing. So are we clear about what is wrong with computer science and ICT in schools now and more importantly are we all clear about exactly what we want learners to be able to achieve as a result of studying computer science? Do we want to skill up the new workforce for the UK’s games industry, or encourage a new generation of engineers and computer scientists, or do we want to encourage young people to make rather than take their technology? This question should drive the way we train our teaching workforce and simplicity should be the watchword for the systems we design to deliver a solution.
A simple and useful truth is that the skills of computational thinking can be taught with or without computers, by exploring how processes work, looking for problems in everyday systems, examining patterns in data, and questioning evidence. With a computer, learners can put their computational thinking into action. A focus on computational thinking will better equip learners to use their understanding effectively and to learn how to apply a range of computing tools. Ensuring that all UK students develop good computational thinking would be a clear and simple answer to the question of what we want students to achieve.
There are no short cuts to a solution. The key to being able to design the necessarily simple system for training the teaching workforce is to fully understand that workforce, the context in which teachers teach and learners learn (both inside and outside the classroom or lecture hall), and the constraints under which they operate. The real power of KISS is the way that it highlights the need to think about how the system you are designing might break down, to identify the tools and processes that will be available to mend things when they do go wrong.
We must therefore ask: has there been enough input into this new system design from teachers and learners to ensure that the new measures are simple enough to be easily mended when inevitably things don’t work quite as they should?
To see how learners and teachers really want to “hack” the education to meet their needs come along to the Re-Designing our Education Education Hack Event on November 16-17. Or you can see the results at the London Festival of Education on Saturday, 17 November.