Harry Potter and the library of wonders


Paul Temple

The Harry Potter library at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm – Sweden’s leading biomedical teaching and research institution – is not, as you might perhaps have imagined, a facility in the paediatrics department to distract young patients with the complete works of J K Rowling. It is, in fact, an informal student learning space, kitted-out with faux bookcase wallpaper concealing a secret door, a cuckoo clock, and other Hogwarts paraphernalia.

Downstairs, another learning space resembles a billiard room, with a large rectangular table and billiards-style lighting over it. Next to it is the “New York nightclub”, dimly lit except for pools of light over small round tables. Leave that and you’re in a bright park, with wall and floor coverings in shades of green and park benches to sit on. Around the corner you find a street scene (“Should we have some Read more ›

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Posted in Further higher and lifelong education

Disappearances and the discipline of noticing

Graduation Ceremony 2013[523]

Chris Husbands

Radio Rentals. Tandy. Foster Menswear. Spangles. Betamax. Flared trousers. Keymarkets. Watneys. Kodak. Things we once took for granted disappear and we cannot quite recall when they did. Cycling back to the IOE from the Department for Education the other day, I noticed that the cheap electronics shops which once lined Tottenham Court Road had all but vanished, replaced by up-market food outlets – Crossrail’s transformation of Tottenham Court Road station having an impact even before it arrives. Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, Evidence-based policy, Further higher and lifelong education, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

Ask A Professor: is there an alternative to Ofsted?

Ask A Professor is an occasional blog by UCL IOE academics. From now on it will appear as part of the IOE London blog.


A teacher at the London Festival of Education this past Autumn asked about the Green Party’s plans to abolish Ofsted. What would replace it or could we do without an inspection system?

In this audio clip Dr Melanie Ehren describes the work of Ofsted and explains why some teachers have called for its abolition. She compares it to other quality assurance systems in Europe and elsewhere, and discusses the impact of Ofsted on national policy making and on parental decision making. She is enthusiastic about the increasing sophistication of inspection in understanding the contribution of school networks to excellence in education.


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Posted in Ask a Professor, Uncategorized

‘I’ve always not been racist’: where next for Holocaust education?

the Shoe4

Sylwia Holmes. 

‘I didn’t stop being racist because of (learning about) Holocaust […] I’ve always not been racist.’ (Ella, Year 12 student, Peterborough).

In popular, political and even educational discourse, it has become a commonplace to assert that it is crucially important for young people to learn about the Holocaust as an intervention against racism and prejudice in the present day. But in a focus group interview exploring secondary school students’ attitudes towards encountering this history, Year 12 student Ella begins to turn that proposition on its head.

Ella was one of more than 9,500 students consulted by UCL researchers as part of a three-year national study investigating ‘What students know and understand about the Holocaust’. Drawing primarily on survey responses Read more ›

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Posted in Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

School systems are distorting mirrors for the society around them

Teacher with School pupil[467]

Chris Husbands

For any country, doing well in education league tables is – frankly – a mixed blessing. It attracts a good deal of international attention, and in theory it means that your young people should be better prepared for the labour market than those from less successful countries – although all of this depends on human capital theory being right, which it may well not be.

Your ministers of education can look forward to building their air miles points. On the other hand, success can make it more difficult to address underlying problems and challenges – the policies which got you to the top may well not be those which sustain high performance, and, depressingly, you can look forward to being misrepresented and Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, International comparisons, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment
This blog is written by academics at the UCL Institute of Education.

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