Isn’t time we focused on what matters – schools in which staff, students and families feel they belong?

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Kathryn Riley.  

I amble across the tranquil shores of Studland Bay, Dorset on an unexpectedly hot day. My Labrador Finnegan is in fine fettle. Not being a sun worshiper, I’m dressed in a baggy pair of cotton trousers, long sleeve tee-shirt and – as I’ve forgotten my hat – a scarf, a headscarf. My mind switches to an image of another woman on another beach. She’s also dressed from top to toe but she’s surrounded by armed police who are ordering her to take off a layer of clothing. ‘Her’ beach is in Nice. So much time, so much control, so much aggression focused on appearance: ways of labelling, judging, excluding.

Linked to my first blog in this year-long series about place, identity and belonging ‘There’s more that holds us together than divides us’ is a video about what belonging   means for young people, Place, Belonging and Schools in our Global World. ‘Belonging means to feel comfortable where you are and just to feel you can be yourself and not have Read more ›

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Posted in Leadership and management, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

What works: researching the use of research evidence

Laurenz Langer, Jan Tripney, David Gough.

The use of research evidence to inform decision-making can make policies and practices more effective and relevant. From the US federal regulation on blood alcohol limits, to the design and funding of microfinance programmes in low- and middle-income countries, and the establishment of behavioral science units in public administrations (such as the UK’s ‘Nudge Unit’), research evidence has informed and continues to inform decision-making.

In England, evidence on best practice in health is harnessed by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and is used in every hospital and GP surgery, and in education, the Education Endowment Foundation provides an evidence-based toolkit used by teachers and leaders.

At a time of intense public debate and polarised political environments, it is particularly important to raise the profile of the use of research evidence in public life. This makes next week’s What Works Global Summit in Bloomsbury (September 26-28) so timely. Presenters will share Read more ›

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

Grammar schools: can Artificial Intelligence create a fairer way to assess children?

Rose Luckin.

Theresa May’s plans for new or expanded grammar schools in England have brought a torrent of comment, debate, criticism and rhetoric since these plans were inadvertently revealed last week. Most of the discussions seem to have focused on whether or not grammar schools are the right mechanism to aid social mobility. This is an extremely important issue, but let’s put the rights and wrongs of selection and grammar schools to one side for a moment and look at the eleven-plus examination itself.

The eleven-plus is the key to the door of one of the 164 grammar schools in England, or one of the 69 grammar schools in Northern Ireland. The exam is sat by children in their last year of primary school and it varies depending upon where in the country it is taken. In fact, the situation is very complicated, with a wide range of approaches even within the same county. For example, in Yorkshire there are three Local Authorities with grammar Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, eleven-plus, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

A feminist manifesto for education: gender equality has a long way to go

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Miriam E David. 

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is now very much on the public agenda. It is even addressed through the BBC’s Radio 4’s Archers programme: the case about domestic violence in the Titchner family is arousing great interest in how such issues of sexual abuse are treated in the family, the law and politics.

Yet these questions are still not usually addressed in schools and are not routinely on the curriculum. Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) is still not a compulsory component of the curriculum. This week the Commons Select Committee on Women and Equalities exposed the ‘shocking’ scale of sexual harassment and sexual violence that is not being tackled effectively in English schools. The committee recommended that high quality relationships and sex education for every child should be made statutory and that schools should be judged by Ofsted on how well incidents of sexual violence and harassment are recorded, monitored and prevented. There is also currently an online feminist campaign Read more ›

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Posted in Evidence-based policy, Social sciences and social policy, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

When reading turns from chore to pleasure

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Sally Perry.

Of the many roles performed by the children’s or school librarian perhaps the most mystical is that of matchmaker: matching books with readers. Joy Court*, reviews editor of The School Librarian, describes the specialist children’s librarian mantra as ‘The right book for the right child at the right time in order to achieve the aim of every child reading for pleasure’. In the US this process even has its own name – readers’ advisory – and has traditionally been taught in library schools.

And why is this pairing so important? Because the right book might be the one where you stop thinking about the process of reading or the number of pages you have to get through and read for the story, read for pleasure. It might be your ‘turning point’ book, Read more ›

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Posted in Childhood & early education, Literacy, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment
This blog is written by academics at the UCL Institute of Education.


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