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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…)

Why do British Bangladeshis have some of the worst Covid outcomes in the UK?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital9 July 2021

geralt / Pixabay

Victoria Redclift and Kusha Anand.

As the Government lifts the remaining Covid restrictions, many scientists, politicians and commentators fear that this latest phase of the pandemic will again bring greater risk to those with insecure and public-facing jobs. Many of these people are from ethnic minorities, and our recent research helps explain why they have been disproportionately affected throughout the past 18 months. It suggests that racial discrimination in employment has played a part.

The pandemic has drawn our attention to pre-existing inequalities. In the Covid-19 crisis, ethnic inequalities show up in two fundamental ways: first, through exposure to infection, and second, through the impact of lockdown on income.

At the same time, the consequences of the crisis are not uniform across minority ethnic groups. Understanding why these variations exist is imperative for thinking about the role policy can play in tackling inequalities. According to Public Health England, the people most at risk of dying of Covid have been of Bangladeshi ethnicity. They have been twice as likely to die as white British people and, if treated in (more…)

Will we have a Beveridge Report for ending the attainment gap?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital12 May 2021

IOE Events.

Just as one can’t out-exercise a bad diet, education policy and the efforts of schools and teachers can’t out-run societal inequalities.  But they can serve to exacerbate or  alleviate those inequalities.

The socio-economic attainment gap has been a long-standing focal point of education policy and debate, albeit not as long-standing as the attainment gap itself. It’s a gap that seems in some respects inevitable and intractable (and on that point it is sobering to remind ourselves that 14m people in the UK, around a fifth, live in relative poverty; that’s a third of children).  It is an aspect of education systems that leaves optimists fatalistic, and new teachers surprised to find themselves defending elements they never thought they would, such as high-stakes exams.

For our debate What if… we really want to close the attainment gap ‘post-Covid’? we were (more…)

The home schooling quagmire: it’s about more than laptops

Blog Editor, IOE Digital5 May 2020

Jennie Golding.

The move to ‘home schooling’ has, quite rightly, triggered a storm of commentaries about how the gap between the disadvantaged and the middle class will widen.

Last week the House of Commons Education Select Committee conducted a session on the impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services. Several MPs, particularly from more economically challenged northern constituencies, expressed their fears about inequity of access to education during school closures. The answer to many of their questions was ‘We don’t yet know’ – whether there is a correlation between pupils’ time studying and their socioeconomic position, how many disadvantaged learners are not eligible for free laptops – or when and how schools will re-open to more young people.

Committee chair Robert Halfon warned that the UK could be facing a ‘wave of educational poverty’ as a result of the lockdown – and of course there is a moral imperative to prioritise the needs of those who are already disadvantaged. However, emerging evidence suggests the picture is complex, and there are serious challenges across all social groups.

My own current research with primary schools and A Level providers has serendipitously (more…)

Our young people deserve to have citizenship education teachers who are properly trained if we are to close the class gap in political awareness

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 January 2020

Hans Svennevig and Sera Shortland.

“I want to grow up in a country where the people are more powerful than the government.”

This statement was made by 16-year-old Harry in a speech he gave during MP6, a political speaking competition in Leicester. MP6 was part of his school’s Citizenship education programme, which, in a new decade, with a new government, is more important than ever.

Citizenship education inspires and encourages political knowledge and action. It is often the only opportunity within the curriculum that Harry and others might have to learn about democracy, government, politics, elections, referenda, human rights and international organisations such as the EU and the World Trade Organisation. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a chance to develop their own skills of active participation.

(more…)

Cultural capital and curriculum: will OFSTED’s new framework encourage better education in our schools?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital9 September 2019

Michael Young.

OFSTED’s decision to revise their Inspection Framework to give less emphasis to pupil outcomes and more to the curriculum and ‘the substance of education’ was largely welcomed by the teaching profession. However, implementing such a change was always bound to be both difficult and controversial. As Warwick Mansell points out in The Guardian this week the welcome was not universal, and some academics and teachers attacked the change as ‘elitist’.

The key paragraph in the new OFSTED Inspection Handbook which Mansell concentrates on states that:

(more…)

Getting the science straight: the schools minister’s suggestion that private schools convey little academic advantage does not stand up to scrutiny

Blog Editor, IOE Digital9 July 2019

Francis Green

A recent report from the Sutton Trust reveals that positions of public influence are still disproportionately cornered by the privately educated, with little progress since their previous report. So the Johnson – Hunt (Eton – Charterhouse) contest to be prime minister is but the tip of an iceberg. It is curious, then, to find Schools Minister Nick Gibb and genetic psychologist Robert Plomin seemingly agreeing on an ungrounded assertion: that there is little difference in the academic outcomes of state and private schooling in Britain, and that private is assuredly not worth the money.

The science is not on their side.

Professor Plomin asserts that: “Even though schools have little effect on individual differences in school achievement, some parents will still decide to pay huge (more…)

Why Britain's private schools are such a social problem

Blog Editor, IOE Digital19 February 2019

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Francis Green. 
Private schools tend to be richly resourced and expensive, so those children lucky enough to attend them normally receive a good education, with academic advantages enhanced by a range of extra-curricular activities. But while this might be great for private pupils these schools pose a serious problem for Britain’s education system and society.
Britain’s private schools are very socially exclusive and there is no sign that attempts to mitigate this exclusivity through means-tested bursaries are working. The scale of bursaries is far too small to make a difference – just 1% of children go for free.
The exclusivity stems from the enormous price tag of private schooling. Fees average £17,200 a year per child, and are much higher for boarding schools. Some question (more…)

The long roots of childhood, and how they explain economic inequalities across the whole of life

Blog Editor, IOE Digital4 September 2018

Alissa Goodman.
In my inaugural lecture earlier this summer I asked the question, what are the root causes of the economic inequalities in our society, and why have these been so difficult to budge?
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This is a question that I’ve been asking ever since, early in my own research career, I was part of a team of economists demonstrating for the first time in historical context the huge rise in income inequality which had taken place over the 1980s in Britain. This change had transformed us from a relatively low-inequality country to a high one in the space of around 10 years. Fast-forward to today, we remain just as, if not more, unequal.
Some of the most important answers to my question come from the national birth cohort studies that we run at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS), (more…)

What can be done to reduce the impact of social inequality on educational attainment?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 November 2017

Ingrid Schoon. 
The transition to adulthood is an important and often scary time in a young person’s life. Not only does it involve the assumption of new social roles and responsibilities, such as moving out of the family home, entering the job market, completing education and starting a family, it has far-reaching consequences regarding later life outcomes. The related uncertainties are deepened during times of rapid social change.
We know that social structures, such as the education system, class divisions and economic inequality, continue to channel young people into different tracks. However, as a society, we still have too little understanding of the intricate interplay between institutional forces and individuals’ own ability to adapt, adjust and thrive. It is now clear that early interventions, important as they are, are not sufficient to overcome these embedded inequalities. We need programmes throughout childhood and early adulthood.
Pathways to Adulthood’, the new book I have edited in collaboration with Rainer Silbereisen (more…)