Are mental health problems among teachers on the rise?

John Jerrim.

How many teachers are struggling with their mental health, and has this changed over time?

This question has long been of interest to teachers and teaching unions, but it has recently received a lot more attention from policymakers.

This includes Ofsted and the Department for Education. While the former released a major report into teacher wellbeing last year, the latter has set up an expert group to drive “real change” in supporting the profession

Underlying this is a belief that the mental health of teachers has been getting worse over a sustained period of time. Yet this belief is poorly evidenced.

Today, I’m releasing findings from a new paper where I provide evidence on trends in teacher mental health and wellbeing over time. 

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Posted in Teachers and teaching assistants

Holocaust Memorial Day: the kindertransport reminds us that we need more compassion for refugees today

Lord Alf Dubs wrote this piece for UCL’s Centre for Holocaust Education.

Until I left Prague for the UK on the kindertransport in June 1939, I lived in Prague with my parents.

The Germans occupied Prague in March 1939. My father, who was Jewish, left immediately for the UK. In June, my mother, having been refused permission to leave, put me on a kindertransport train with a knapsack of food for the journey – which I forgot to open. I can still clearly see my mother in my mind standing on the platform waving me off, surrounded by German soldiers in uniforms and swastikas. Of course for many of the parents waving their children off that day, it was the last time they ever saw them.

We travelled in carriages of 6-8. We had hard wooden seats to sit and sleep on. It was no great hardship for us – we were children and didn’t mind sleeping on the benches. Children fleeing war today face much greater hardship than we did back in 1939.

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Posted in Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

Why mindfulness can have surprising effects on academic performance

Sebastian Boo.

Mindfulness is a popular approach for boosting well-being. Intuitively, one would expect this technique to help students do better in their university studies. 

However, my new research finds that, while mindfulness promotes wellbeing in all students – surprisingly, for some it is associated with a drop in academic performance

Why should this happen?

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Posted in Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment, young people

‘Stuck’ schools: are Ofsted judgements stopping them from getting out of the rut?

Bernie Munoz-Chereau, Melanie Ehren and Jo Hutchinson.

A few days ago Ofsted announced that they are seeking a ‘judgement-free approach’ to stuck schools. These schools have been consistently judged less than good for over a decade. 

Ofsted believes that these Grades 3 and 4 judgements (namely, ‘satisfactory’ or ‘requires improvement’ and ‘inadequate’) are preventing them from improving. 

The judgement unintentionally stigmatizes these schools and makes improvement even harder as the school becomes an unpopular place to teach in, a carousel of consultants try and fail to implement quick fixes, and parents move their children elsewhere. 

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Posted in accountability and inspection, Schools

PISA 2018 suggests gender gaps in reading are closing. But I am not celebrating

Francesca Borgonovi.

Results from PISA 2018 reveal a persistent gender gap in favour of 15-year-old girls in reading. On average, across 35 OECD countries with comparable data, this gap was 39 points in 2009 but ‘only’ 30 points in 2018 – i.e. the gap narrowed by 9 points. 

I should be celebrating, but I won’t. PISA results in fact suggest that, on average across OECD countries gender gaps in reading closed because the performance of girls declined, rather than because the performance of boys improved. Even more worryingly, the decline appears to be especially pronounced among poorly achieving girls. 

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Posted in International comparisons, Language and literacy
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