Could We Get the Best Teachers into the Most Deprived Schools?

Sam Sims

In a recent IOE London blog post, Professor Becky Francis highlighted wide and persistent gaps in GCSE attainment and university entry rates between rich and poor pupils. This follows the recent Social Mobility Commission report, which argued that policy makers have spent too much time on structural reforms to the schooling system and not placed a high enough priority on getting the best teachers into struggling schools, echoing Francis’ own research. Francis concludes that, in order to improve social mobility, we need to do much more to “support and incentivise the quality of teaching in socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods.”

In recent work, Rebecca Allen and I found that there are indeed reasons to be concerned about disadvantaged pupils’ access to good teachers. Experience (or lack thereof) is a good indicator of teacher quality. We found that pupils in the most deprived fifth of schools are around twice as likely to get an unqualified teacher, and a quarter more likely to get a teacher with less than five years of experience, when compared to pupils in the least deprived fifth of schools. Moreover, we found that, even within schools, disadvantaged pupils are more likely to be assigned to an inexperienced teacher. Read more ›

Posted in Education policy, International comparisons, Schools, Teachers

What knowledge should we teach the next generation? the most important question in education

Alex Standish writes a letter to beginning teachers.  

Dear Beginning Teachers,

The school curriculum is about what knowledge to teach the next generation. There is no more important question in education. It is the main reason why children go to school – to learn interesting and valuable knowledge about the world, its natural systems, its human systems, cultures, arts, languages and how the world has changed. This way they can be a part of conversations about its future.

The reason you as a teacher stand in an authoritative relationship to pupils is that you have some knowledge to teach them and you are learning how to communicate ideas and skills with pupils. This is not to dismiss the significance of pedagogy, how children learn and the personal knowledge and experiences they bring to the classroom. Rather, to become a successful teacher depends upon understanding the respective roles of each. And, the curriculum – what to teach – is logically prior to how to teach it.

So, how do we know what goes into a curriculum? How do we know what knowledge Read more ›

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Posted in Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

Reception baseline assessment: dangerous, inappropriate and flawed data

Alice Bradbury and Guy Roberts-Holmes. 

In its response to the consultation document Primary Assessment in England  the Government announced its intention to make baseline assessment statutory (along with the existing EYFS Profile) from Autumn 2020. Justine Greening’s Ministerial forward states that the Reception Baseline Assessment ‘must produce data that is reliable and trusted’.

However our research into the 2015 Reception Baseline Assessment, which involved interviewing Reception teachers and a nationwide survey of teachers, found that the data it produced were unreliable and not trustworthy. Even with a newly introduced cohort level analysis we contend that Reception Baseline Assessment will still produce inappropriate, flawed and inaccurate data.

This announcement follows the failed policy of Reception Baseline Assessment, introduced Read more ›

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Posted in Childhood & early education, Education policy

Do biomarkers explain why some people are happier than others?

Alex Bryson and Petri Böckerman

What makes us happy? It sounds a simple enough question. Intuitively, we know what we like – being with friends, going to the movies. In the moment, we know what’s likely to make us happy. Evidence from app-devices that ding people at random moments mostly confirm the rank order of events that make us happy: sex and intimacy comes top, being sick in bed comes bottom.

Work comes second bottom. This might come as a surprise to most, though not to economists who have long thought that work is a disutility (it fails to satisfy human wants) and, in the moment, we’d rather be doing other things. The evidence also confirms we’d usually rather be outdoors in green spaces, and doing things with friends. We also know a lot about the things that go to make a fulfilling worthwhile life such as having a family. Paid work scores highly on Read more ›

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Posted in Research matters, Special educational needs and psychology

Will the leopard change its spots? A new model of inspection for Ofsted

Frank Coffield
Does Ofsted do more harm than good? I have examined the evidence which shows that, despite some clear benefits of inspection, Ofsted’s methods are invalid, unreliable and unjust. A report from the Education Policy Institute, for example, concluded that notable proportions of schools with the highest grades and lowest numbers of disadvantaged pupils are not down-graded even when their performance deteriorates. Conversely “the most deprived schools are systematically more likely to be down-graded”. The very schools that most need help are further harmed by punitive Ofsted reports that make their recruitment and retention of teachers even more difficult.

Besides, attaching a single adjective such as “outstanding “ or “inadequate” to a large FE college with 20,000 students, 1,000 staff and 30+ departments is a statistical absurdity. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that there is great variation within a college or school and one adjective cannot capture either complexity or diversity.

Ofsted needs to change radically and in my new book, which is launched at the Institute of Education by the IoE Press on 13 September at 5:30 pm, and called Will the Leopard Change Its Spots? A new model of inspection for Ofsted, I offer an Read more ›

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Posted in Further higher and lifelong education, Leadership and management, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment
This blog is written by academics at the UCL Institute of Education.

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