Why are girls in the UK doing so much less well than boys in school science?

Michael Reiss

An education report from the OECD is nowadays nearly always big news, and today’s on Gender Equality in Education is no exception. Gender has always been important in education. What the report shows, which will surprise some, and should concern all of us, is that new gender gaps in education are opening up. These are particularly apparent in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Some indication of the magnitude of some of these gender differences is indicated by the finding that in OECD countries in 2012, only 14% of young women who entered university for the first time chose science-related fields of study, including engineering, manufacturing and construction. However, 39% of young men who entered university that year chose to Read more ›

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Posted in International comparisons, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

Early school leaving still blights English education

Andy Green

Early school leaving has always been a blight on the English education system. Throughout the nineteenth century children  tended to leave school earlier than elsewhere in northern Europe. This continued well after the 1944 Education Act introduced free ‘secondary education for all’. By the early 1980s, barely more than 30% of 16-18 year olds were in full-time education and training, compared with well over 70% in Japan, Sweden and the USA. The proportion gaining a higher level qualification was also relatively low. UK-wide, only10% gained three A levels compared with over 20% gaining the Abitur in Germany and an even higher proportion achieving the Baccalauréat in France.

Wanting to understand this startling disparity, along with the exceptional underdevelopment of vocational education and training in Read more ›

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

The freedom to make decisions about teaching assistants is nothing new, but now school leaders have the means to unlock their potential

Rob Webster

Over the last five years, schools in England have been granted an unprecedented level of freedom. An increasing number of state schools now decide for themselves which children are admitted, the curriculum they follow, who to appoint to teach it, and how much they will be paid.

The professional architecture governing teachers’ qualifications and training, performance management, promotion, pay, contracts and conditions of work has been loosened in ways that will already be familiar to the 369,700 teaching assistants (TAs) employed in English schools.

There has never been agreement on entry qualifications for TAs, consistently applied professional standards, or a national Read more ›

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Posted in Leadership and management, Teachers and teaching assistants

London Festival of Education puts a spotlight on children’s well-being and mental health

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Vivian Hill

Last week, the Duchess of Cambridge launched the first children’s mental health week on behalf of Place2Be, a children’s mental health charity. The message was clear, mental health challenges are not a sign of weakness but a normative part of development.

These challenges are frequently reactions to stress and adversity, whether a traumatic life event, examination anxiety, bereavement, bullying, domestic violence, neglect or abuse. Children should have prompt access to support interventions. A recent survey by Young Minds found that 60% of parents did not feel adequately supported in managing their child’s needs and 25% waited more than a year to access services.

This Saturday, 28 February, the London Festival of Education will put a spotlight on these issues, among others, with sessions Read more ›

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Posted in Childhood & early education, Special educational needs and psychology, Teachers and teaching assistants
This blog is written by academics at the UCL Institute of Education.


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