What’s in the news?

  • Seven practical recommendations focused on improving science teaching, particularly for disadvantaged pupils – see the Education Endowment Foundation report Improving Secondary Science. The suggestions are:
  1. Preconceptions: build on the ideas that pupils bring to lessons
  2. Self-regulation helps pupils direct their own learning
  3. Using models to develop understanding
  4. Supporting pupils’ memory skills, so that they can retain and retrieve knowledge.
  5. Using experiments purposefully.
  6. Language of science: develop scientific vocabulary and support pupils to read and write about science
  7. Using structured feedback to move on pupils’ thinking.
  • The NAHT’s Accountability Commission has found that a ‘tick-box’ culture has taken hold in many schools, where compliance with what Ofsted is perceived to want has become the overwhelming driver of improvement activity.
  • According to annual research for Girlguiding UK, an “alarmingly high” number of girls and young women feel unsafe outside their home:

The percentage of girls and young women feeling unsafe outside is alarmingly high. More than half of those aged 13 to 21 have felt unsafe walking home alone, experienced harassment or know someone who has, and nearly half feel unsafe using public transport

  1. Schools should give pupil premium students priority in school applications when places are oversubscribed.
  2. More schools, particularly in urban areas, should take the opportunity where they are responsible for their own admissions to introduce random allocation ballots to ensure that a wider mix of pupils has access to the most academically successful comprehensives.
  3. Schools should establish ‘homework clubs’.
  4. Schools should support parental engagement in their child’s education.
  5. Schools should seek to ensure diversity in the representation of parents in school structures.
  • In an interview with The Observer, Amanda Spielman has warned that some secondary schools are failing teenagers from deprived backgrounds by giving them reading material for primary-age children. She said she had been driven “absolutely nuts” by evidence that some schools were assuming that disadvantaged children were “automatically low-achieving and need a watered-down curriculum”.
  • What does ‘research active’ mean and what can we learn from Derek Stewart’s excellent blog?
  • Amanda Spielman, discusses findings from recent curriculum research, curriculum design and the new education inspection framework.

The research underpinning that commentary showed that there was a dearth of understanding about the curriculum in some schools. Too many teachers and leaders have not been trained to think deeply about what they want their pupils to learn and how they are going to teach it…Ultimately, the curriculum is the yardstick for what school leaders want their pupils to know and to be able to do by the time they leave school. It is therefore imperative that the new inspection framework has curriculum as a central focus.

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