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Whiteboard jungle: how can we help teenagers navigate adolescence?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 February 2020

IOE Events.

The debates are back for 2020 and this time we took a look at the teenage years, asking What if… the world really did revolve around teenagers?

As far back as Socrates, adolescents were marked out and criticized by their elders for having bad manners, and ever since ‘the teenager’ rose to prominence in the 1950s the difficulty of adolescence has been a common trope, not to mention a source of amusement in popular culture.

That’s not the whole story, of course, and Greta Thunberg provides just one prominent, contemporary example of teens as a force for social awareness and change (we celebrated some others here).

Nevertheless, adolescence is a distinctive time that brings its own challenges. We wanted to examine what lies behind that and what could/should be done to ameliorate it.

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Voter turnout: how the education system widens the social class gap

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 December 2019

Jan Germen Janmaat and Bryony Hoskins.

The low turnout of young people in elections is a persistent problem in many Western democracies. In the UK, turnout among  18 to 24-year-olds in the last two general elections was almost half of that of pensioners.

Although there has been a surge in voter registrations among the under 35s for the 12 December elections, we don’t know if this will translate in actual votes. 

Amidst all the debate about youth participation, few scholars look at differences among young people. In our new book we focus on social class differences in political involvement among young people. We argue that the education system only widens these disparities. 

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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…)

Housing White Paper offers no hope for young people: here's what could

Blog Editor, IOE Digital14 February 2017

Andy Green
The Government’s new white paper on housing, entitled ‘fixing our broken housing market’, is not going to fix anything except the share prices of the large private development firms. As Simon Jenkins writes in The Guardian: ‘it is a stew of fake news, old clichés and pretend solutions’. It is long on consultation and very short on the radical measures needed to solve the UK’s housing crisis. It dodges all the big issues on reforming housing taxation, including the council tax, regulating rents and tenures, and on public responsibilities for housing provision. Even the very small measures it does propose come hedged with qualifications and get-out clauses.
As our research at the Llakes Centre for Learning and Life Chances shows, home ownership amongst 18-34s is only half of what it was 25 years ago, and the decline has affected all social groups. But the Government’s proposals won’t create the genuinely affordable housing to reverse this trend for young people.
The White Paper’s diagnosis of Britain’s housing crisis is simplistic in the extreme. It claims that the problem is ‘simply’ that we do not build enough homes, because of excessive planning regulation and lack of competition in the building sector. It is certainly the case that we have not been building enough homes, but the wider truth is not so (more…)

Will the Olympics inspire children to do better at school?’

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 August 2012

Karen Schucan Bird
The success of Team GB is inspiring everyone – both young and old. The passion for sport has become infectious. As I cycled to work this morning, Londoners were participating in sport everywhere I looked. We hope that children and young people will be equally inspired. Indeed, the chairman of the British Olympic Association, Lord Moynihan, used the success of Team GB to highlight the need for a step change in sports policy. More funding and better facilities are needed, he argued, to ensure that ‘inspiration is translated into participation’. Whilst young people’s participation may lead to future Olympians and a range of health benefits, are there any measurable benefits in terms of education and learning? A team of researchers at the IOE undertook a project to find out.
Funded by the Department of Culture Media and Sport, a systematic review was carried out to explore the impacts of young people’s participation in sport on their educational achievement. The findings from four robust studies were combined and translated into hypothetical changes in test scores.
This is what we found:

  • There is some evidence that participation in organised sport improves young people’s numerical skills. Organised sport refers to sporting activities guided by a teacher or other facilitator. This means that by playing organised sport, young people could increase their numeracy scores, on average, by 8 per cent above that of their peers who did not play sport.
  • There is some evidence that participation in extracurricular activities linked to organised sport for underachieving students improves their numerical skills and transferable skills (specifically independent study skills). Extracurricular activities linked to organised sport refer to educational activities that take place within a sporting context. The participation of underachieving pupils in such activities could increase numerical skills by 29 per cent and transferable skills between 12 and 16 per cent above students who did not take part.

Whilst these findings are interesting, they need to be treated with caution. The review can only tell us something about a narrow set of sports, certain aspects of educational achievement and particular subgroups of young people. Yet, the findings are promising. We hope the Olympics will inspire a generation. It may even leave a legacy for education.
For the full report, see Newman, M et al (2010) Understanding the Impact of Engagement in Culture and Sport: A Systematic Review of the Learning Impacts for Young People. London: Department for Culture Media and Sport.