What’s been in the news lately?
- The Government has vowed that the first Civil Society Strategy in 15 years will build stronger communities by bringing together businesses, charities and the public sector.
- Universities cause outrage with their wild spending recorded as ‘expenses’.
- DfE announces national language centre and hubs.
- England faces shortage of 11,000 nursery teachers – and thousands of male early years too.
- The Education Policy Institute recommends further research into the impact of Reception class size in England and says,
The evidence on child to staff ratios is quite conclusive: favourable child to staff ratios are important to high quality provision. Having fewer children per staff leads to better children’s outcomes as it provides the opportunity for more individualised attention and it leads to better teacher and child behaviour.
- The Independent reported that children from poor backgrounds don’t want to change for PE as they are ashamed about their ‘skinny’ bodies and tatty kits. Speaking with the Tes, Sue Wilkinson, chief executive of the Association for Physical Education (AfPE), said some children were underweight and malnourished because they lacked food and were inactive at home. She asks,
Pupils take books home. Can we not have an equipment box with skipping ropes that a child can take home and skip at the weekend in the park? Or lend them a ball?
- Head of Portsmouth High School, Jane Prescott, says maths textbooks should be banned. Yes, in the same way we should ban plastic! Maths textbooks have their place and so does plastic.
- Researchers at the University of Delaware and the University of North Carolina evaluated the effect of Targeted Reading Intervention (TRI), a programme that uses webcam technology to allow kindergarten and first grade (Year 1 and Year 2).
Via remote webcam, trained coaches with reading expertise provide one-on-one, ongoing support to build capacity in reading instruction with teachers.
Spring post-tests showed that struggling readers who received TRI showed greater gains than struggling readers in the control condition (effect size =+0.26).
- The Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching initiative, designed and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been found to have no impact on pupil outcomes despite a whopping $575 million programme to improve teacher performance. But it isn’t a simple picture:
There are several possible reasons that the initiative failed to produce the desired dramatic improvement in outcomes across all years: incomplete implementation of the key policies and practices; the influence of external factors, such as state-level policy changes during the Intensive Partnerships initiative; insufficient time for effects to appear; a flawed theory of action; or a combination of these factors.
- Kraft et al (2018) conducted a meta-analysis of the causal evidence on the effect of teacher coaching on teaching and learning and found that sustained coaching improves both classroom teaching and pupil achievement, with pooled effect sizes of +0.49 standard deviations for teaching and +0.18 standard deviations for academic achievement.
- Damian Hinds says that replacing blackboards with interactive whiteboards was a waste of money which did not help pupils’ learning. He says,
Over a decade ago expensive interactive whiteboards were rolled out to schools, without the support of teachers, and we saw no subsequent rise in pupils’ attainment directly linked to that technology.
Dr Sara Hennessy leads a team of researchers at the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge and has studied UK teachers’ use of IWBs and found that while they might enable innovative teaching styles, their use “cannot be claimed to ‘transform teaching’ in terms of the classroom dialogue and underlying pedagogy”.
A must-see for any teacher who uses an IWB is “Developing interactive teaching and learning using the IWB: a resource for teachers“ by Hennessy, Warwick, Brown, Rawlins & Neale (2014). Open University Press. This comes with loads of resources to support the book.
The DfE and Damian Hinds say there are five key opportunities for the sector to create a step change in education, improving teaching and slashing workload. These include developing innovative:
- Teaching practices to support access, inclusion, and improved learning outcomes for all
- Assessment processes, making assessment more effective and efficient
- Methods for delivery of teacher training and development by upgrading educator support so they can learn and develop more flexibly
- Administration processes to reduce the burden of ‘non-teaching’ tasks
- Solutions to lifelong learning to help those who have left the formal education system to get the best from online learning