You say you want a cultural revolution? Policy borrowing from the East

Yun You

When I first arrived in England in 2010, I was shocked by the then Education Secretary Michael Gove’s statement: “I’d like us to implement a cultural revolution just like the one they’ve had in China.” As a Chinese person, the shock was of course from his ‘admiration’ for the ‘cultural revolution’, but also from an English politician’s enthusiasm for learning from East Asian education systems.

What I learnt from my history class and what I heard from Chinese media were all about ‘learning from the West’. Now, there seems to have emerged a reverse tide in England, promoted by a series of international surveys, especially PISA, in which East Asian countries and regions consistently ranked top, much ahead of England. Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, International comparisons, Schools

East Asia top performers: what PISA really teaches us

John Jerrim

It is no secret that East Asian children excel at school. For instance, 78 percent of ethnic Chinese children obtain at least 5 A*-C GCSE grades, compared to a national average of just 60 percent. Yet, despite some very interesting qualitative work by Becky Francis, we still know very little about why this is the case.

I explore this issue in my new paper using PISA 2012 data from Australia. Just like their counterparts in the UK, Australian-born children of East Asian heritage do very well in school – particularly when it comes to maths. In fact, I show that they score an average of 605 points on the PISA 2012 maths test. This puts them more than two years ahead of the average child living in either England or Australia. They even outperform the average child in perennial top PISA performers like Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.

Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, International comparisons, Schools

EPPSE: striking a blow for evidence-informed policy and practice

Diane Hofkins 

In the early 1990s, it was still possible for Ministers to argue that early-childhood education was a luxury the taxpayer couldn’t afford. Although Britain’s best nurseries were renowned and studied round the world, there was little empirical evidence demonstrating their concrete, ongoing benefits for children. For most families, meanwhile, a mixed bag of pre-school provision was on offer via a classic postcode lottery.

By 1997, with a General Election looming, the Conservative Government had begun a substantial programme of nursery investment and regulation. The Effective Provision of Pre-school Education project was commissioned to find out what types of provision and early experiences were most effective. Read more ›

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Posted in Childhood & early education, Research matters

Phonics test: changing pedagogy through assessment

Alice Bradbury

If you want to change what teachers teach, should you change the curriculum, or change the assessment? For the last three years, all six-year-olds in England have had to take a Phonics Screening Check test, which they can either pass or fail. The introduction of this test by the coalition government was controversial, as there is much debate over the use of phonics in the teaching of reading. This year’s results have just been heralded as a victory for phonics as a greater proportion of children passed. However, if we look back at the evolution of this policy, as I have done in a paper presented last week at BERA and now published in the Oxford Review of Education, we can see that the purpose of the Phonics Screening Check has always been surrounded by confusion.

Read more ›

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Posted in Childhood & early education, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

Conflicts of interest in academy schools are symptoms of a wider malaise

Toby Greany

This post is co-published with The Conversation

As part of its ongoing inquiry into academies and free schools, the Education Select Committee recently published a report that it had commissioned from Jean Scott and me on conflicts of interest in academies.

We found that real and perceived conflicts of interest are common in academy trusts. These range from instances where individuals benefit personally or via their companies from their position in an academy trust, through to more intangible conflicts that do not directly involve money. Read more ›

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This blog is written by academics at the Institute of Education, University of London.

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