‘Loss of self’ and the accountability culture: why teachers are leaving the profession at a worrying rate

Jane Perryman

I used to be a teacher and, like so many others, I left the profession. Perhaps this is why I’m so interested in finding out more about the long-standing problem of teacher attrition. Why do so many qualified teachers continue to leave within five years, internationally and in the UK?

Today I am presenting data at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), from a survey of the past five years of UCL’s alumni database (around 3,500), which we have used to find out who had left the profession, who had stayed, and why. Of the participants, 18% had already left teaching, and from their responses, we predict a potential ten-year attrition rate of 40%.

For those who had left, the reasons given were to improve work/life balance (75%), workload (71%), and a target-driven culture (57%). The same reasons were given by those intending to leave. The data spoke to a discourse of disappointment. Participants found the reality of teaching worse than expected, and the nature of the workload, Read more ›

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Posted in accountability and inspection, Teachers and teaching assistants, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

Baseline assessment: will early childhood education be further commercialised?

Guy Roberts-Holmes. 

Last month the Department for Education (DfE) invited primary schools to volunteer to take part in the national Reception Baseline Assessment 2 (RBA2) test pilot planned for September 2019. If successful, it will be made statutory for all primary schools in 2020.

The DfE states that RBA2’s purpose is to provide a snapshot starting point for a measure to assess the progress of the cohort as a whole, from where pupils are when they arrive at reception class aged 4 to the end of primary school in Year 6, aged 11.

This is not the English Government’s first attempt at a national Baseline Assessment test for four-year-olds. That was in 2016, when it was scrapped  as a performance measure Read more ›

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Posted in accountability and inspection, Childhood & early education

Mothers are not to blame for our childhood obesity crisis

Emla Fitzsimons

The number of obese children and teenagers across the world has increased tenfold over the past four decades and it is estimated that about one in four 14-year-olds in the UK is either overweight or obese.

It is no exaggeration to say that childhood obesity represents one of the biggest public health challenges facing our society with far-reaching immediate and long-term consequences.

At the same time, a much more positive social change has taken place. Women are better represented in the workplace than ever before — creating a more diverse labour force and increasing financial resources for many families. However, this also puts additional Read more ›

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Posted in Social sciences and social policy, young people

10 years on: why we still need better sex education for the digital world


Jessica Ringrose with Amelia Jenkinson and Sophie Whitehead of Sexplain. 

Last month new guidance  for Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education for England was put out for consultation by the Department for Education. This draft statutory guidance is intended to upgrade the nearly twenty-year-old previous advice from the year 2000. eb-digital-2-e1552856549265

It highlights the current challenges of the digital context and the essential fact that “for many young people the distinction between the online world and other aspects of life is less marked than for some adults” (page 9). This is referenced throughout, in the context of healthy relationships, respectful behaviour and consent. The importance of digital literacy skills is emphasised for both primary and secondary (see paragraphs 58, 62 and ‘Online and Media’ section of secondary table, p28).

While I (Jessica Ringrose) told the New York Times last month that the guidelines looked promising and, “It will be really great if they will be able to tackle all these issues” we, the three authors of this blog post, remain concerned that there are serious omissions and that the guidelines fail to address important Read more ›

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Posted in Social sciences and social policy, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment, young people

International School Meals Day: who gets a ‘proper’ dinner, who gets less and who gets nothing?

Rebecca O’Connell, Julia Brannen and Abigail Knight.

If we had not included Portuguese young people in our cross national study of Families and Food in Hard Times*, the inadequacies in the free school meal system in England might not have not have been quite so obvious. But looking at the photo taken of a secondary school meal in Lisbon by one of our participants (Maria, age 12), the contrast with lunch in an inner London secondary school (photo taken by Jack**, age 12) is stark. This international school meals day we explore the two nations’ approaches to school food.

Screenshot 2019-03-13 at 21.30.00Lunch at the school canteen in Lisbon (left) and in London (right)

Irrespective of their ability to pay, the standardised menu for all children in Portugal includes a daily soup starter, meat and fish on alternate days, bread, and a piece of fruit or jelly for dessert. There is a three-tier system for paying for school meals (and Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, International comparisons, Social sciences and social policy
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