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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 right support at the right time for new teachers

Blog Editor, IOE Digital26 March 2021

Hilary Adli, Qing Gu, Mark Quinn, UCL Centre for Educational Leadership.

Workshop participants in a session

Photo: Jason Ilagan for UCL Institute of Education

Two years ago, when the Department for Education published their Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, this ‘unflinching’ look into the problems faced by the teaching profession was dedicated to ensuring that ‘a career in teaching continues to be attractive, sustainable and rewarding.’ However, it couldn’t have anticipated a future pandemic and the requirement to teach remotely as among the problems faced by the profession. (more…)

A new Institute of Teaching? ‘Flagship’ teacher education is already here

Blog Editor, IOE Digital3 February 2021

Caroline Daly.

The Department for Education announcement on 2 January of a new Institute of Teaching (IoT) is a watershed moment for initial teacher education (ITE) in England. On 4 January the IoT was put out to tender as ‘an independent body’, to be run by a supplier or suppliers. It is intended to be ‘a national role model’ to ‘exemplify how to deliver ITT’ and teacher development, which ‘will support other organisations to understand and implement best practice in the delivery of teacher development’.

Presumably, university partnerships might apply. After all, a number of providers amongst the HE sector in England would qualify as world leaders in enacting research-informed teacher education and have been judged to be consistently ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

Many questions about teacher education are raised by this development (for example, see John White’s blog on whether the IoT can support what teachers need to learn). One that is worth serious scrutiny is a core claim in the Secretary of State’s announcement. Gavin Williamson asserted that the IoT will be the ‘flagship’ provider of teacher education for this country. That gives some pause for thought. It appears we are in need of a flagship? I want to argue that many candidates for that accolade exist, and that a world-leading role in teacher education should go far beyond the proposed remit for the IoT.

The issues are serious regarding what is valued in teacher education and what it takes to be truly outstanding in (more…)

Will the DFE’s new Institute reflect what teachers need to learn?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital27 January 2021

klimkin / Pixabay

John White.

This month, the Department for Education (DFE) announced that a new Institute for Teaching will be set up in England ‘to provide teachers and school leaders with prestigious training and development throughout their career’. It ‘will become England’s flagship teacher training and development provider, showcasing exemplary development of the Government’s ambitious reforms.’

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said that the new Institute will equip all teachers to deliver an education combining ‘high standards of pupil behaviour and discipline with a broad knowledge-based’ curriculum. He added that the Institute, whose work will begin in September 2022 will add ‘diversity and innovation to the existing teacher development market.’

I don’t imagine that this is a belated response to remarks made by HMCI Amanda Spielman in her 2017 (more…)

Early Career Framework: How can we make sure new teachers get the best possible support?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 November 2020

Mark Hardman.

New teachers need support and understanding as they find their feet in a new landscape. To provide this help, an Early Career Framework is being rolled out across parts of the country this autumn and nationally in 2021.

As it is introduced into schools, the framework has the potential to propel new teachers into a career in which they can grow and find job satisfaction for years to come. However, it needs to be introduced in such a way as to consider existing processes. Otherwise it risks making things worse in the short term.

Today marks the publication of our evaluation report on a pilot study looking at three different ways to support new teachers and their mentors. Here I want to discuss some of the potentials and pitfalls.

What is the Early Career Framework?

Stemming from the Department for Education’s Recruitment and Retention Strategy published in 2019, the hope is that the framework will make sure (more…)

Covid-19 and EdTech: a chance for HE to rethink quality of provision and equality of access

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 June 2020

Diana Laurillard.

COVID-19 has radically changed the way we do higher education in the space of a few months. The pandemic should surely change the way we plan the future of HE across the world, in terms of both quality of provision and equality of access.

Education acts as a force for good when the decision-makers are committed to the values of a socially just and progressive future for all. A simple expression of this is to be ‘committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals’ – all 17 of them. They  are remarkably robust and appropriate for the world’s needs in the current crisis.

To name just three:

  • SDG3 is to ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’;
  • SDG11 says ‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’;
  • SDG17 aims to ‘Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development’.

Had we carried these through more assiduously over the last five years HE in the UK would be better equipped (more…)

A more collaborative learning design is transforming Arabic MOOCs

Blog Editor, IOE Digital20 February 2020

Eileen Kennedy and Mustafa Habib.

In February 2019 UCL ran its first Arabic MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) on the Edraak platform, which provides free online learning in Arabic. One year later, we are about to launch the second run of our flagship course for teachers, Transforming Education in Challenging Environments / Educators for Change.

Our aim for this MOOC was to scale up professional development for teachers working in challenging environments, particularly those affected by conflict and mass displacement.

Teachers in such contexts can be highly dedicated professionals, but they are in short supply and may have moved into teaching from other professions. Schoolteachers in the refugee camps in Lebanon, for example, have formerly been engineers, doctors, artists, builders – people from all walks of life.

But even experienced teachers need additional support to create transformative educational environments for often very vulnerable learners. In these circumstances, no-one is better placed to advise than other professionals struggling with – and overcoming – the same challenges. 

(more…)

Better together: why teacher education needs universities as well as schools

Blog Editor, IOE Digital5 February 2020

By Clare Brooks and Jo McIntyre.

For a decade, national teacher education policy has focused on increasing the number of teacher training places in school-led programmes and diversifying the range of providers, and decreasing the involvement of universities.  The idea that universities have too much influence on new teachers and that courses are overly theoretical is not new. Ministers from across the political spectrum have been making these criticisms for generations.

We would like to challenge such dichotomous thinking, which is unique to the English context. It is self-evident that universities and schools work together in initial teacher education (ITE) partnerships and that each have a unique role within this. What has been silenced in the prioritisation of school-led provision in English teacher education policy has been the significant contributions that universities and academic research make as a result of their engagement with ITE. We highlight these below.

(more…)

Schooling for refugee children: how MOOCs support teachers in the world’s most challenging situations

Blog Editor, IOE Digital24 June 2019

Diana Laurillard and Eileen Kennedy, UCL Knowledge Lab

More than half the world’s refugees are children. Most of these children will spend their whole childhood away from home, with little access to education. In the context of the Syrian crisis alone, more than 2 million of that nation’s children have dropped out of school within Syria or in neighbouring host countries.

Our research aim is to test whether this kind of very large-scale educational challenge can be addressed by using the global platform of a MOOC as part of the solution.

Teachers can have an enormous impact on the lives of such children, providing continuity and support for physical, cognitive and social needs, in addition to education. In Lebanon, where a quarter of the population is made up of refugees from both Syria
and Palestine, teachers carry the responsibility for providing the basic schooling for (more…)

Teacher training and the 'problem of more' – how do we scale up without sacrificing quality?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital12 September 2018

Clare Brooks
As schools begin a new term, many headteachers are faced with chronic gaps in their staffing. It is at this time of year that the teacher shortage is most keenly felt. At the same time teacher education and teacher training providers prepare to welcome a cohort of new recruits, and consider how to best induct them into what is, for many, a new career and a new professional identity.
As a new report from the Education Policy Institute outlines, the teacher labour market is getting worse. Applications for teacher training are in decline by 5% and exit rates are increasing by up to 10%. For both schools, teacher education providers and the DfE now is a good time to think about the issue of quality initial teacher education (ITE) at scale.
In recent years (more…)