The benefits of a bilingual brain in the modern world

Roberto Filippi. 

A multilingual world

It is estimated that more than half of the world’s population – over 3 billion people – can communicate in two (or more) languages. If we consider that our societies are increasingly mobile, monolingual speakers will soon be the exception.

I believe all of us at a certain point in life, being at school, at work or when travelling for leisure, have come across the need to communicate in another language. We might all have experienced the challenges of learning a new language but also the benefits of being able to understand other cultures, to express and understand feelings in other linguistic forms.

Italian flash cards

For children raised in multilingual families, the simultaneous acquisition of multiple Read more ›

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Posted in Language and literacy, Special educational needs and psychology

A cultural reset: how to end the Ofsted inspection cycle of fear

Melanie Ehren. 

In November 2017, Ofsted’s chief, Amanda Spielman, talked about one of the biggest problems in current education systems: the culture of fear and game-playing around school inspections, where educators for a long time have been guided by external accountability standards and have lost a sense of professionalism. An entire industry has supported schools in getting Ofsted-ready and many teachers and heads would scrutinize any school improvement activity, peer review or school self-evaluation to see how it would help the school get a good Ofsted-grade.

The fear of being classified as a failing school, being named and shamed, losing one’s job or student intake (particularly from high socio-economic backgrounds) has taken away much of the agency from teachers and head teachers to shape their own professional practice. This trend that is sometimes reinforced when large Multi-Academy Trusts introduce strong internal quality control around Ofsted grades and standards (e.g. performance management or peer review).

Ofsted’s ‘myth busting’ campaign, where the agency actively tries to debunk existing Read more ›

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Posted in accountability and inspection, International comparisons

Schools that foster and harness staff commitment perform better

Alex Bryson, Lucy Stokes and David Wilkinson. 

There are two things that people think they know about teachers.  One is that they are dedicated to their profession, motivated by a sense of “mission” rather than money.  The other is that they are overworked and suffer work-related stress. But are these things true? Just how dedicated are school employees to their jobs and do they suffer more in terms of stress and potential ‘burnout’?

There appear to be grounds for concern. Teachers are leaving the profession at alarming rates and those who remain report seemingly high levels of job-related stress.  But are these stress levels any higher than those experienced by workers in other professions?  And just how much do employees’ wellbeing and commitment matter for schools’ performance?

Studies of schools and school staff almost invariably focus solely on the schools sector so it is not possible to compare them with employees elsewhere in the economy. Our new study is, to our knowledge, the first Read more ›

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Posted in Leadership and management, Teachers and teaching assistants

What is schooling for in the age of AI?

IOE Events.

Although estimates of the impact of automation on the labour market vary widely, it is generally agreed that the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, and especially the advance of AI, is set to transform how we live and work. The question we wanted to address in the next in our debates series was what this means for education – particularly, for how we prepare the next generation of citizens and workers to thrive in a very different context.  Will the addition of a few more classes on coding and machine learning suffice?  To help us in our quest we brought together experts from the fields of education and technology: Rose Luckin, Professor of Learner Centred Design at the UCL Knowledge Lab; Gi Fernando founder and CEO of Freeformers; Professor Mark Bailey, High Master of St Paul’s School; and Baroness Sally Morgan, whose engagement with the education sector ranges across the compulsory and post-compulsory phases. Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, IOE debates, Schools, Uncategorized

How does it feel to be in the bottom group? A new project investigates

Eleanore Hargreaves with Denise Buchanan and Laura Quick. 

Children are not often asked to voice their true opinions at school, especially not about school. In my own previous research, I found that primary school pupils could voice valuable and sometimes shocking insights into their own classroom experiences. Such insights came from some pupils in ‘bottom ability’ groups who expressed a sense of being treated as different, and less worthy, by their teachers. They also perceived that other pupils looked down on them, which undermined their confidence and sometimes made them unhappy. For example, Jack, a nine-year old pupil, explained:

‘I thought I was okay but it turned out I wasn’t. I tried my hardest and now I just had to move down [to the ‘lowest ability’ group]. People have laughed at me every day for two weeks’.

Several new studies have highlighted the way grouping disadvantages those deemed
“less able” – for example, the IOE’s Best Practice in Grouping Students project, which asked teachers about their practices. In our new project, which began this month, Read more ›

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


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