Black History Month: time to explore the hidden histories of Africa

Robin Whitburn and Abdul Mohamud

Historically, Black lives have not been deemed as important as those of white people. This goes back to the Scottsboro Boys – randomly imprisoned in the United States in the 1930s, up to Trayvon Martin and other unarmed black men shot by white men in this decade; from Kelso Cochrane – stabbed to death in 1950s London, to Mzee Mohammed – who died in police custody in Liverpool in 2015.

On both sides of the Atlantic there are serious concerns that racism has pervaded the interaction of Black people with the justice system. A serious and rigorous approach to the teaching and learning of the hidden histories of Black people of direct African descent is one way to counter the stranglehold of racism below the surface of our societies. Our book, Doing Justice to History – Transforming Black history in secondary schools, aims to equip Read more ›

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Posted in Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

As ‘Show Your Working’ test replaces mental maths at 11, what kind of learning are we valuing?


Melanie Ehren.

This year the Key Stage 2 mathematics test has undergone some big changes to reflect the new National Curriculum. One was the removal of the Mental Mathematics paper, given for the last time in 2015. It involved a 10-minute assessment, administered by playing a CD, in which 11-year-old pupils were expected to carry out 20 calculations in their heads, given 5 seconds, 10 seconds or 15 seconds for each one, and asked to write down the answer to each question, without access to paper to make jottings for working out.

Instead, last May, in addition to two papers testing reasoning, children sat an Arithmetic paper lasting 30 minutes. It asked 36 questions covering context-free calculations for all four operations, including the use of fractions, percentages and decimals. Squared paper was provided in the answer area, for children to show their working. ‘Working out’ is Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

Isn’t time we focused on what matters – schools in which staff, students and families feel they belong?


Kathryn Riley.  

I amble across the tranquil shores of Studland Bay, Dorset on an unexpectedly hot day. My Labrador Finnegan is in fine fettle. Not being a sun worshiper, I’m dressed in a baggy pair of cotton trousers, long sleeve tee-shirt and – as I’ve forgotten my hat – a scarf, a headscarf. My mind switches to an image of another woman on another beach. She’s also dressed from top to toe but she’s surrounded by armed police who are ordering her to take off a layer of clothing. ‘Her’ beach is in Nice. So much time, so much control, so much aggression focused on appearance: ways of labelling, judging, excluding.

Linked to my first blog in this year-long series about place, identity and belonging ‘There’s more that holds us together than divides us’ is a video about what belonging   means for young people, Place, Belonging and Schools in our Global World. ‘Belonging means to feel comfortable where you are and just to feel you can be yourself and not have Read more ›

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Posted in Leadership and management, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

What works: researching the use of research evidence

Laurenz Langer, Jan Tripney, David Gough.

The use of research evidence to inform decision-making can make policies and practices more effective and relevant. From the US federal regulation on blood alcohol limits, to the design and funding of microfinance programmes in low- and middle-income countries, and the establishment of behavioral science units in public administrations (such as the UK’s ‘Nudge Unit’), research evidence has informed and continues to inform decision-making.

In England, evidence on best practice in health is harnessed by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and is used in every hospital and GP surgery, and in education, the Education Endowment Foundation provides an evidence-based toolkit used by teachers and leaders.

At a time of intense public debate and polarised political environments, it is particularly important to raise the profile of the use of research evidence in public life. This makes next week’s What Works Global Summit in Bloomsbury (September 26-28) so timely. Presenters will share Read more ›

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Posted in Evidence-based policy, Research matters, Social sciences and social policy

Grammar schools: can Artificial Intelligence create a fairer way to assess children?

Rose Luckin.

Theresa May’s plans for new or expanded grammar schools in England have brought a torrent of comment, debate, criticism and rhetoric since these plans were inadvertently revealed last week. Most of the discussions seem to have focused on whether or not grammar schools are the right mechanism to aid social mobility. This is an extremely important issue, but let’s put the rights and wrongs of selection and grammar schools to one side for a moment and look at the eleven-plus examination itself.

The eleven-plus is the key to the door of one of the 164 grammar schools in England, or one of the 69 grammar schools in Northern Ireland. The exam is sat by children in their last year of primary school and it varies depending upon where in the country it is taken. In fact, the situation is very complicated, with a wide range of approaches even within the same county. For example, in Yorkshire there are three Local Authorities with grammar Read more ›

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

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