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‘What does it mean to teach, to learn, to remember the Holocaust?’

Blog Editor, IOE Digital5 June 2018

Andy Pearce
This year, on Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the New York Times poignantly announced the ‘Holocaust is Fading From Memory’. Referring to a study commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, the newspaper reported a raft of findings pointing to ‘critical gaps both in awareness of basic facts as well as detailed knowledge of the Holocaust’ amongst a significant proportion of adults in the United States. Particular issues emerged amongst ‘Millennials’, prompting alarm that ‘today’s generation lacks some basic knowledge about these atrocities’ and fear this will worsen as the survivor generation continues to pass away. For its sponsors, the survey highlighted the importance of Holocaust education.
The themes of teaching, learning, and remembering the Holocaust overarching the Claims Conference survey are ones which an international group of experts and myself have explored in my latest book, Remembering the Holocaust in Educational Settings. They are also issues that colleagues and I at the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education shed light on through landmark research in 2009 and 2016.
The latter of these projects saw us publish a study into students’ knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust, drawing on data from (more…)

The sweet smell of success: how can we help educators develop a ‘nose’ for evidence they can use in the classroom?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 February 2018

Mutlu Cukurova and Rose Luckin
A good nose for what constitutes solid evidence: it’s something a scientist is lost without. This finely tuned ‘nose’ is not innate, it is the result of years of practice and learning. This practice and learning through constantly questioning and seeking evidence for decisions and beliefs is something that we academics apply equally to our teaching as to our research. However, recent headlines cast doubt on the belief that other practitioners are able to make good use of research. An article on the TES website argues that “Teacher involvement in research has no impact on pupils’ outcomes”. Can this really be true? If so, what can we do to ensure that the billions of pounds spent on educational research are made accessible to, and used by, our educators?
The realisation that this evidence-informed ‘nose’ is not necessarily shared by many of those involved in education, and in particular those involved in the design and use of technology for education, has also became starkly apparent to us through our development of a training course to help entrepreneurs and educators to understand research evidence. This enterprise is part of the EDUCATE project at the UCL Knowledge Lab.
One of our aims is (more…)

Children's experiences of classrooms: drawing on the authority of their own voices

Blog Editor, IOE Digital16 January 2018

 
Eleanore Hargreaves
I was advising my daughter about her education when she remarked, ‘Well, I’m not like you!’
Children may experience classroom teaching in ways that, as teachers (or parents), we have not imagined. By finding out from children themselves what is making them tick, we can adapt teaching to make it supportive of both their formal attainment and, crucially, of the social factors that facilitate their higher attainment as well as their personal flourishing.  These are the ideas explored in my new book, Children’s Experiences of Classrooms. The book is contextualised within Michael Schiro’s framework of four common purposes for state-funded schooling. Classrooms are explored in relation to which purpose seems to be emphasised in each different (more…)

Helping the Education Secretary reach her full potential

Blog Editor, IOE Digital16 October 2017

John White. 
A central aim of Education Secretary Justine Greening is ‘enabling children to reach their full potential’  . The idea comes into many of her speeches. It appeared in the DfE’s response to the head of OFSTED Amanda Spielman’s complaint on October 11 that the focus on SATs and GCSEs is at the expense of ‘rich and full knowledge’. The response states that ‘Our reforms are ensuring children are taught the knowledge and skills they need to fulfil their potential’.
It’s the kind of phrase that tends to wash over you. It seems no more than a way of saying ‘we want them to do well’ – a politician’s empty comment. But there’s more to it. Ironically for the present government, it was part of the lexicon of the child-centred theorists dominant in teacher training until the 1960s. The London Day Training College, later the Institute of Education, under Percy Nunn and his associates was their main base.
The watchword was ‘development’ and the model was biological. Just as plants grow to (more…)

Back to teacher development’s big questions: what is education for?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital4 August 2017

John White. 
The idea of a National Education Service (NES) is gaining speed. It’s described as “a scheme to join up the disparate elements of education, providing free lifelong learning from nurseries through schools to universities and adult education”. This blog is about a small but important part of what it might be.
As well as mastering the details of their craft, teachers have always needed some understanding of what it is and what its aims are. Trainee bricklayers need plenty of experience of specifics, too, but the purposes of laying bricks are reasonably obvious to all. Teaching is different.
From 1839 to about 1989 teacher training in England provided this wider picture. The religious vision that dominated the first half of this period gave way to a scientific one (more…)

Talking their language: how London's university-school partnerships are helping to tackle the MFL crisis

Blog Editor, IOE Digital13 January 2017

Caroline Conlon
In the ‘Modern Foreign Languages Pedagogy Review’ published last November by the Teaching Schools Council for the Department for Education, Review chair Ian Baukham paints a bleak picture of language learning in England’s secondary schools. He says, ‘… currently fewer than half of pupils take a GCSE in a language’ and ‘beyond GCSE, modern languages are in crisis.’ He adds, ‘Without concerted action, languages in our schools are at risk, and may become confined to certain types of school and certain sections of the pupil population.’
On top of that, the Guardian reports that Brexit is threatening the supply of teachers who have come to the UK from Europe because Theresa May has refused to give EU nationals  any assurances that they will continue to be welcome. This is of particular concern for MFL teaching.
But as we demonstrate in our new book, Success Stories from Secondary Foreign Languages Classrooms – Models from London school partnerships with universities, all is not doom and (more…)

Teacher supply: Government needs to take responsibility

Blog Editor, IOE Digital4 July 2016

Joseph Mintz
According to a Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson, “the biggest threat to teacher recruitment is that the teaching unions and others use every opportunity to talk down teaching as a profession, continually painting a negative picture of England’s schools”. This is the Government’s explanation for why they have missed targets for teacher recruitment for four years running.
In the war of words between the government and the teacher unions , it is perhaps inevitable that the truth of the matter has become one of the resulting casualties. In fact, as everyone working in teacher education knows, the reason the government keeps missing its targets is because, in the drive to switch teacher education to school-based routes, schools recruiting to the School Direct programme have been given a significant increase in allocated training places at the expense of traditional university-based courses. However, as schools are in fact generally very busy with teaching children – as (more…)

Queen's Anniversary Prize: a time for reflection

Blog Editor, IOE Digital20 November 2015

Chris Husbands
I’ve already written about my own departure from the IOE – leaving, in just a few weeks’ time, to become Vice Chancellor at Sheffield Hallam University. As we all know, leaving one job and starting another is  a time of mixed emotions: the combination of apprehension and excitement, the sense of the unfinished business which will remain forever unfinished, the opportunity, albeit briefly, to take stock. It’s in this context that I reflect on the award of a Queen’s Anniversary prize for Higher Education to the Institute of Education. (more…)

It takes a community of practice to educate a teacher

Blog Editor, IOE Digital24 January 2014

 Vanessa Ogden

“My dad says that if you can’t teach me what I need to know between the hours of 9 and 3, then you ain’t doing your job properly” … proclaimed “Ryan” in front of the rest of his Year 9 class when I tried to enforce his detention for non-completion of homework. As a new teacher just out of the Institute of Education’s PGCE programme, I had a repertoire of appropriate responses for such situations but I recall, on this occasion I was stumped in that moment. A million possibilities occurred to me all at once – which to choose to get the best out of the situation for everyone? There was a pause while a cavern opened in the floor in front of me and everyone held their breath, waiting to see if I would fall in.
I thus realised very early on that learning the craft of teaching is career-long. My PGCE tutor once described teaching as a “generative art”.  It is situated in deep knowledge about subject and pedagogy – and for those who choose to teach in challenging urban, rural and coastal environments, the relationship between education and “place” brings with it a multitude of other professional learning that needs to be embraced. The complexity of learning your craft as a teacher requires on-going, professional support from within schools and from the rich human and intellectual capital in “Outstanding” university providers like the Institute.
I was delighted therefore to hear news of the Institute of Education’s recent Ofsted inspection judgement of ‘Outstanding’ and its glowing report – a fitting accolade for one of the key architects involved in London’s success over the past ten years. Of course, for over a century the Institute has led the international field in education research and development as well as in the initial training of teachers. The Institute has been responsive to changing times, adapting to new policy environments taking on innovation.
In 1993, provision for early professional development following initial teacher training was limited and leadership training was sparse in London. For many, London schools were not the schools of choice in which to teach and teacher shortage was becoming a real problem. There was no national framework for teachers’ development. I relied heavily on the Institute’s resources for further professional learning.
Twenty years on, the picture  in London for both early and career-long professional learning is widely different – and the Institute has led the way. London teachers and leaders have benefitted enormously from the wide range of opportunities it has provided for further learning during this period – especially through the establishment of innovative practice-based masters and doctoral programmes and the foundation of the ‘London Centre for Leadership in Learning’. In particular, strong mutually beneficial partnerships with schools, collaboration between academics and practitioners on research and writing in education and the embracement of initiatives like Teach First are just a few of those to name.
Becoming “at least good” as a teacher or school leader takes a wealth of high quality support and development from others. And whilst “Ryan” (and other pupils) have extended my learning and calibrated my practice – which, although not always easy, has been an important part of my own journey – and whilst I have learned so much from the cutting edge work of many school colleagues, the Institute has also been fundamental.
They say it takes a community to educate a child – it takes a community of practice to educate a teacher. The Institute is central to that community in London and practitioners in the Capital are proud to have it.
Dr Vanessa Ogden is head teacher of Mulberry School in Tower Hamlets, which works in partnership with the IOE, and received her Doctorate at the Institute
The pupil’s name has been changed.

Where next for School Direct?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital9 October 2013

 Toby Greany

In his address to the NCSL annual conference in 2012, Michael Gove devoted almost half his speech to explaining the School Direct concept and announcing plans for expanding the pilot. The response from most school leaders in the audience was bemusement: “why do we need to worry about teacher training? That’s what universities do; we’ve got enough on our plates.”

I suspect that view seems rather antiquated now to the schools and higher education institutions (HEIs) that have been grappling with how to make the School Direct model work over the past year. Many of these acknowledge that due to tight timescales they went for a fairly traditional PGCE-model this time round, but most are planning for the schools to take on a greater role over time.

The expansion of School Direct has certainly been fast paced and sometimes chaotic. Estelle Morris is the most recent high-profile critic to raise legitimate concerns around the risk of a teacher shortage due to the shortfall in School Direct recruitment numbers this year and the destabilising effect it is having on existing, high-quality HEI provision.

Ministers will have undoubtedly paused for thought over what to do next with School Direct. My guess is they will go for measured expansion: the Department for Education (DfE) has been discussing ways to shift student loans funding from HEIs to schools for the past year or more. If they can agree a way to do that, schools will be put firmly in the driving seat as commissioners of initial teacher training (ITT). The challenge will be to make sure schools can do so in a sufficiently strategic and cost efficient way – and that’s where teaching schools and chains come in.

In The Importance of Teaching white paper, teaching schools were positioned as playing a leading role in training new teachers, but their remit was actually much broader: to transform the culture of professional learning across schools. Too often, it was felt, newly-qualified teachers (NQTs) fell off a “development cliff” once they finished their PGCE and started work because too few schools focused on continuous professional development (CPD).

This year, Vicky Beer, executive principal at Ashton on Mersey, spoke at the national teaching schools conference, where she attributed much of her school’s success to its longstanding commitment to teacher training and staff development. Ofsted reports aren’t prone to hyperbole, so the statement in Ashton on Mersey’s report in April that lessons are of “simply stunning quality” seems a strong endorsement of her argument.

Her premise was simple and persuasive: when you ask experienced teachers to work together to develop and mentor new recruits, you create a dynamic learning culture where the best practice is made explicit and professional collaboration is the norm.  As a result, everyone improves.

Ashton on Mersey’s ethos reflects the need for joint practice development (see Judy Sebba’s research, with teaching schools as practical examples of JPD).  David Hargreaves describes JPD as: “a joint activity, in which two or more people interact and influence one another.” This is in stark contrast to the non-interactive, unilateral character of much conventional good practice sharing. Hargreaves has argued that JPD must sit at the heart of every teaching school alliance if they are to really add value to the quality of teaching.

Of course, this is easy to say but incredibly hard for teaching schools to do; they need bums-on-seats if they are to make training pay, but JPD is about learning  on the job with peers, not going on courses.

This is where School Direct potentially comes in: working with other schools and HEIs to plan and deliver excellent initial training can be the catalyst that unlocks new ways of working on professional development more widely.

But there is a concomitant risk.  In the government’s rush to expand School Direct they are putting huge pressure on teaching schools to focus on this above all else.  As a result, their wider work on CPD, leadership, research and school to school support is already being sidelined.

This post also appears on Guardian Teacher Network