Schools: how did ‘accountability’ become a synonym for punishment and control? And can we change its meaning?

Melanie Ehren. 

Educational accountability, as defined in scholarly work, simply means the extent to which schools or other institutions are held accountable for their behaviour and performance by others. Answerability for performance is at the core of this relationship, where specific processes and measures such as high stakes testing or school inspections inform the way in which people or organizations are held to account.

This understanding of educational accountability is relatively ‘value-free’ and allows for a range of outcomes. Most systems aim for school improvement, but ‘capacity-building’ or ensuring schools adhere to legislation are also common outcomes. Ofsted’s new corporate strategy says that it aims ‘to be a force for improvement through intelligent, responsible and focused inspection and regulation’. Similarly, the Irish Inspectorate explains in its quality framework how it sees external inspections and internal evaluation as complementary contributors to school improvement and capacity building. An external perspective Read more ›

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Posted in Leadership and management

What young Britons really think about Brexit and their prospects outside the EU

Avril Keating.

In the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum, much was made of how devastated young people were by the result. A survey by Lord Ashcroft suggested that over 70% of young people aged 18-24 voted Remain, while almost 60% of over 55s voted to Leave.

In my ongoing research, I’ve found that this view is too simplistic: in practice, young people’s reactions and views are much more diverse and tricky to categorise.

Between March and September 2017, my colleagues and I talked to young people around England about their attitudes towards Brexit and aspirations after the referendum. Our fieldwork took us to London, the south coast, the west of England, and greater Manchester. Along the way, we spoke with Read more ›

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Posted in Social sciences and social policy, young people

TIMSS 2015: do teachers and leaders in England face greater challenges than their international peers?

Toby Greany and Christina Swensson. 

This is the third in a series of blogs that delve below the headline findings from the 2015 Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS)[1]. In this blog, we focus on how the perceptions of teachers and school leaders in England compare with those of their peers in other countries.

Just under 300 English primary and secondary schools took part in TIMSS 2015. The headteachers of these schools, as well as the mathematics and science teachers of randomly selected Year 5 and year 9 classes, were asked to complete a background questionnaire asking their views on a range of issues. Given the way teachers were selected to participate in TIMSS, their responses do not present a representative view of all teachers and headteachers in England. Therefore, we compare the findings from TIMSS with findings from Read more ›

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Posted in International comparisons, Leadership and management, Teachers and teaching assistants

What can be done to reduce the impact of social inequality on educational attainment?

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 Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, Further higher and lifelong education, International comparisons, Social sciences and social policy

Education and social mobility – the missing link, or red herring?

This week the IOE held the first in our ‘What if…’ events series, which challenges thought leaders to bring some fresh and radical thinking to key debates in education. We kicked off with education’s role in relation to social mobility, asking the panel ‘What if… we really wanted to further social mobility through education?’

First up was Kate Pickett of Spirit Level fame. She rejected the very premise of the question, highlighting the greater impact of wider, pervasive inequalities. Nevertheless, she saw some scope for education policy to help lessen those inequalities – banning private education, randomising school admissions and ending student fees were a few of her recommendations.

Next was James Croft, chair of the Centre for Education Economics. James was more sanguine about what could be achieved through education and ‘working with the grain’ Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, Social sciences and social policy
This blog is written by academics at the UCL Institute of Education.


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