Does traditional grammar instruction improve children’s writing ability?

Alice Sullivan and Dominic Wyse. 

Children in England have recently taken their statutory tests at age 10-11 (commonly known as Key Stage 2 SATs). The results, published today, show that the pass rate has plummeted compared to last year. This is because the nature of the tests changed dramatically in 2016. We focus here on why the new English tests have been so difficult for children to pass – and why most parents would struggle to pass the tests too.

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Posted in curriculum & assessment, Education policy, Evidence-based policy, Literacy, Schools

Teacher supply: Government needs to take responsibility

Joseph Mintz

According to a Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson, “the biggest threat to teacher recruitment is that the teaching unions and others use every opportunity to talk down teaching as a profession, continually painting a negative picture of England’s schools”. This is the Government’s explanation for why they have missed targets for teacher recruitment for four years running.

In the war of words between the government and the teacher unions , it is perhaps inevitable that the truth of the matter has become one of the resulting casualties. In fact, as everyone working in teacher education knows, the reason the government keeps missing its targets is because, in the drive to switch teacher education to school-based routes, schools recruiting to the School Direct programme have been given a significant increase in allocated training places at the expense of traditional university-based courses. However, as schools are in fact generally very busy with teaching children – as Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, Teachers

Brexit: UK universities face new world order

glasgow u

Peter Scott.

The UK’s decision to abandon Europe, which is what leaving the European Union amounts to, has come as a shock – not least in the UK where many people who voted ‘out’ never expected to win. Essentially this was a protest vote against immigration, tinged with nationalism and even racism, and austerity, a long delayed but inevitable reaction against the inequalities generated by neoliberal capitalism. The details of the UK’s relationship with the EU as a member state were not particularly important in what was a bad-tempered and nasty referendum campaign. In effect the EU became a whipping boy for larger discontents.

But the die is now cast, even though all the evidence suggests that the great majority of staff and students in universities voted to remain in the EU. There is probably no way back – for England; Scotland is now likely to seek independence and to stay in the EU so breaking up a 300-year-old Union (which paradoxically created the ‘Great Britain’ of which nationalists are so proud). The consequences for UK higher education will be very significant – and almost entirely damaging. One of the most damaging is that the ‘market’ Read more ›

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Posted in Further higher and lifelong education

We must listen to young people’s overwhelming vote to remain


Germ Janmaat

Time and again the opinion polls of the last few weeks have shown that the vast majority of young people wanted Britain to stay in the EU. On the day of the vote 73% of the 18 to 24-year-olds said they had voted to remain (in contrast to the 60% of those aged over 65 saying they voted leave).

The young have good reasons to stay in. The EU not only offers them unlimited access to the job and housing markets of other member states, it also provides them with many opportunities to get a decent education at very little cost. Increasingly, universities on the mainland offer English-language BA and MA courses and proffer these at a fraction of the tuition fees of English universities. No wonder then that many British students are now studying in Europe. According to The Guardian, as many as a third of British students are considering overseas study.

The risk is that Brexit, depending on what it actually looks like in practice, shatters these Read more ›

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Posted in Further higher and lifelong education

Will Brexit increase British wages?

Alex Bryson and Michael White

Has the employment of non-UK workers – particularly those from the European Union – reduced wages in Britain, and if so, by how much? Could restrictions on the employment of EU workers benefit British employees by driving their wages up?

Our research shows that  …

– The reduction in wages when using European Economic Area (EEA) workers (most of whom are from the EU) is quite small.

–  Any wage rise from a restriction on EU workers could be cancelled out by using the same numbers of temporary or agency workers. These have virtually the same small effect  in Read more ›

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Posted in Evidence-based policy, Social sciences and social policy
This blog is written by academics at the UCL Institute of Education.

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