PISA 2018 suggests gender gaps in reading are closing. But I am not celebrating

Francesca Borgonovi.

Results from PISA 2018 reveal a persistent gender gap in favour of 15-year-old girls in reading. On average, across 35 OECD countries with comparable data, this gap was 39 points in 2009 but ‘only’ 30 points in 2018 – i.e. the gap narrowed by 9 points. 

I should be celebrating, but I won’t. PISA results in fact suggest that, on average across OECD countries gender gaps in reading closed because the performance of girls declined, rather than because the performance of boys improved. Even more worryingly, the decline appears to be especially pronounced among poorly achieving girls. 

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Posted in International comparisons, Language and literacy

Our young people deserve to have citizenship education teachers who are properly trained if we are to close the class gap in political awareness

Hans Svennevig and Sera Shortland.

“I want to grow up in a country where the people are more powerful than the government.”

This statement was made by 16-year-old Harry in a speech he gave during MP6, a political speaking competition in Leicester. MP6 was part of his school’s Citizenship education programme, which, in a new decade, with a new government, is more important than ever.

Citizenship education inspires and encourages political knowledge and action. It is often the only opportunity within the curriculum that Harry and others might have to learn about democracy, government, politics, elections, referenda, human rights and international organisations such as the EU and the World Trade Organisation. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a chance to develop their own skills of active participation.

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Posted in Education policy, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment, young people

How can we create a 'socially just' school system?

IOE Events.

For some time, political rhetoric has focused on social mobility and the need to enable individuals to ‘fulfil their potential’ regardless of their background. But now social justice seems to have taken over as the new underpinning principle for public policy.  

The problem is, neither term has been deployed with much precision, not least when talking about education.  

For the IOE’s latest What if… debate, we wanted to take a look at our political parties’ stances on these matters by asking What if… education policy was shaped by a commitment to social justice?  

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Posted in Education policy, IOE debates

Will adult learning keep its sharp focus on employment and qualifications or can it become an ‘inseparable aspect of citizenship’?

Jay Derrick.

Exactly 100 years ago, it was argued in the 1919 Report, published by the Government Ministry for Reconstruction after World War 1, that Adult Education was essential for a confident, fair and democratic society. Its central recommendation was:

‘Adult education must not be regarded as a luxury for a few exceptional persons here and there… but a permanent national necessity, an inseparable aspect of citizenship, and therefore should be both universal and lifelong’.

Three separate Commissions on Lifelong Learning have published their reports in the last few weeks, and a fourth, a Parliamentary Inquiry, published its oral and written evidence in October.

The timing of these reports – by the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, and also a politically-independent Centenary Commission, is striking. Rates of participation in learning activities among adults have fallen dramatically over the last decade, and the decline is sharpest among those who have benefitted least from their schooling

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

Voter turnout: how the education system widens the social class gap

Jan Germen Janmaat and Bryony Hoskins.

The low turnout of young people in elections is a persistent problem in many Western democracies. In the UK, turnout among  18 to 24-year-olds in the last two general elections was almost half of that of pensioners.

Although there has been a surge in voter registrations among the under 35s for the 12 December elections, we don’t know if this will translate in actual votes. 

Amidst all the debate about youth participation, few scholars look at differences among young people. In our new book we focus on social class differences in political involvement among young people. We argue that the education system only widens these disparities. 

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Posted in Education policy, Further higher and lifelong education, International comparisons, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment, young people
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