Our greatest challenge: what is the best way to support the most challenged schools?

IOE Events. 

The fifth in our ‘What if…?’ debates series, looking at how best to support the most challenged schools, featured the stellar line-up of the National Schools Commissioner, Sir David Carter, Sam Freedman of Teach First, Head of Passmores Academy (and ‘Educating Essex’) Vic Goddard, and Lucy Heller, Chief Executive of the international education charity Ark.

While some schools and students buck the odds, the correlation between disadvantage and lower educational attainment remains a strong one. This has been a central concern in education debate for some time, but it seems we keep taking two steps forward and one step back on (some might say one step forward and two steps back). We asked our panellists: if you were Secretary of State, what would you do to crack this problem once and for all? This required some radical ideas; what we got was radical but also Read more ›

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Posted in accountability and inspection, Education policy, Social sciences and social policy, Teachers and teaching assistants

Ofsted’s use of Artificial Intelligence: how smart is it to automate risk assessments?

Melanie Ehren.

Ofsted has come under attack for its collaboration with the Behavioural Insights Team for using machine learning to identify failing schools. According to several sources (BBC and Matthew Reynolds), BIT has been trialling machine learning models that can crunch through publicly available data to help automate Ofsted’s decisions on whether a school is potentially performing inadequately. The algorithms use information on number of children on free school meals, how much teachers are paid, the number of teachers for each subject, and particular words and sentiments in reviews of schools submitted by parents on the Ofsted-run website Parent View.

As Ofsted’s head of risk assessment (Paul Moore) explains: Read more ›

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Posted in accountability and inspection, ICT in education

The sweet smell of success: how can we help educators develop a ‘nose’ for evidence they can use in the classroom?

Mutlu Cukurova and Rose Luckin

A good nose for what constitutes solid evidence: it’s something a scientist is lost without. This finely tuned ‘nose’ is not innate, it is the result of years of practice and learning. This practice and learning through constantly questioning and seeking evidence for decisions and beliefs is something that we academics apply equally to our teaching as to our research. However, recent headlines cast doubt on the belief that other practitioners are able to make good use of research. An article on the TES website argues that “Teacher involvement in research has no impact on pupils’ outcomes”. Can this really be true? If so, what can we do to ensure that the billions of pounds spent on educational research are made accessible to, and used by, our educators?

The realisation that this evidence-informed ‘nose’ is not necessarily shared by many of those involved in education, and in particular those involved in the design and use of technology for education, has also became starkly apparent to us through our development of a training course to help entrepreneurs and educators to understand research evidence. This enterprise is part of the EDUCATE project at the UCL Knowledge Lab.

One of our aims is Read more ›

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Posted in Evidence-based policy, ICT in education, Research matters, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

OFSTED: we need a brand new model, not just a re-spray

Frank Coffield

In September 2019 Ofsted will introduce a new Framework of Inspection and it has already begun to work on revising the current version. That timescale and the arrival of a new Chief Inspector offer the chance of change, but whether that change becomes merely cosmetic or genuinely radical will in part depend upon the amount of pressure we, the teaching profession, are prepared to apply.  The danger is that Ofsted will settle for a superficial respray to make it look fresh and up-to-date, but what we need is a model designed anew from first, educational principles – a recovery vehicle rather than a war chariot.

I want Ofsted, for instance, to abandon its grading scale which attaches a single label (“inadequate” or “outstanding”) to the new mega Further Education Colleges (with 40,000 students and 30+ departments). This is just one egregious example of the growing evidence that Read more ›

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Posted in Leadership and management

Are private schools better managed than state schools?

Alex Bryson and Francis Green. 

In recent years governments of all hues have urged private schools to sponsor state schools to help raise education standards. In 2012 Lord Adonis, who had earlier been Labour’s Minister for Schools, argued that successful private schools, whose “DNA” incorporated “independence, excellence, innovation, social mission”, should sponsor state academy schools. Subsequent Coalition and Conservative governments have adopted the same  policy with the 2017 Conservative Party manifesto  aiming for at least 100 independent schools to sponsor an academy or start a free school.

The policy is not evidence-based. Instead it has been assumed that private schools’ successes are founded on superior management. There is no doubt that, even allowing for the normally affluent social background of private school pupils, these children on average perform well in exams, compared to their state-educated peers. Private schools also deliver a broad curriculum and provide a full sporting and cultural education beyond the classroom. How do they do that? Most obviously, because they deploy hugely greater resources, and because the schools are able, through their pupil selection, to concentrate on a generally aspirational peer group. But neither of these advantages are supposed to be part of the sponsorship policy.

Rather, governments have presumed that private schools might convey the desired ethos of aspiration and excellence through improvements in management practices. In forthcoming research to be published next week in the National Institute Economic Review, we present findings from the first large-scale study to test the proposition that Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, Leadership and management
This blog is written by academics at the UCL Institute of Education.


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