Reforging American public higher education: how California dreaming could become a reality once more

Simon Marginson.

Modern higher education began in the United States in the 1960s. Participation grew rapidly in the world’s first mass higher education system, federal grants underpinned a remarkable growth in research, and the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education in California established a template for system design that was to shape developments across the world. Read more ›

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Posted in Further higher and lifelong education

Word problems in standardised maths tests: how fair are the Key Stage 2 SATs?

Melanie Ehren

Word problems feature strongly on many high stakes standardised maths tests. We found these kinds of test items in research in the United States in 2010 (on the New York State and Massachusetts grades 3-5 tests for children aged 8-11). The two reasoning papers on England’s new Mathematics Key Stage 2 test, sat by 10 to 11-year-olds in May 2016, also include a range of word problems. The item below is an example from the sample 2016 test:


Word problems require children to translate the words of the question into a workable maths problem and decide which operations to carry out. They may include a range of Read more ›

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Posted in Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

Whatever happened to Extended Schools? A question at the heart of education


Peter Moss.

The question in the headline is the title of a new book published by UCL IOE Press. It’s written by Doug Martin and based on research in four North of England schools and communities. But the question is also one that should be asked today, for it raises an issue at the very heart of education. What is the identity of the school? What is it for?

Education in England since the 1988 Education Reform Act has been dominated by four themes: governance, choice, regulation and performance. Local authority control has been replaced by self-government and, with the rise of academies and free schools, a direct contractual role for central government; parents have been given, at least on paper, increased say over which school their children attend; a national curriculum and national inspection agency have been introduced and endlessly wrangled over; while examinations have proliferated, with endless picking over schools’ performance. What has emerged is a particular idea of schools: as exam factories, judged on grade productivity; and as businesses competing in an education market place for the custom of parent-consumers.

But something happened for a few years at the start of the century that complicated this Read more ›

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Posted in Childhood & early education, Education policy, Social sciences and social policy

Losing our democracy: one step at a time

Michael J Reiss.

Born in the 1950s – and it’s difficult to imagine a better time to have been born in England – I belong to the generation that assumes democracy is here to stay. That belief was reinforced as I grew up by the end of fascism in Spain, the fall of the Berlin Wall and other world events towards the end of the twentieth century.

In the twenty-first century, things aren’t looking so rosy. Events in a number of countries across the globe are deeply worrying and I now find myself checking each day for the 2016 US Presidential election forecast. I would like to believe that the worst case scenario for the US couldn’t happen to England, where I still live. But I’m less sure. Perhaps I have been reading too many dystopian novels – I finished Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood this morning. Read more ›

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Posted in Evidence-based policy, Social sciences and social policy

Ending gender violence in schools: what works and what does research tell us?


Jenny Parkes. 

Every day, girls around the world face physical, sexual and psychological violence in and around schools. A male teacher may seek to exchange grades for sex; a member of the community may abuse a girl on her way to school; a boy may taunt or molest a classmate against her will.

Today is the International Day of the Girl Child. Its aim is to highlight the importance of addressing the social, economic and political barriers faced by adolescent girls. UNICEF and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) are marking the day – and examining the ways in which the sustainable development goals (SDGs) address these barriers – with the launch of A Rigorous Review of Global Research Evidence on Policy and Practice on School-Related Gender-Based Violence, by a UCL IOE research team including Jo Heslop, Freya Read more ›

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Posted in Childhood & early education, Evidence-based policy, International development
This blog is written by academics at the UCL Institute of Education.

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