Another Year, Another Baseline: the case against ‘schoolification’ in the Early Years

By Maxime Perrott BA, MSc, MRes  PhD Researcher in the School of Education, University of Bristol

What is it?

The Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) is a new assessment of the early literacy and numeracy skills of 4-year-old children, administered by teachers, teaching assistants and other early years practitioners within the first 6 weeks of the child joining reception class. The cohort’s attainment scores will be used as the new starting point for which progress will be measured at the end of Key Stage 2 (Standards Agency 2020). The RBA and Key Stage 2 SATS will be compared across the cohort, regardless of whether the cohort in Year 6 is made up of the same pupils from the original reception class. (more…)

Rent strikes and the continuing relevance of Paulo Freire at 100

Blog post by Dr Lucy Wenham, School of Education, University of Bristol; and Dr Helen Young, London South Bank University

Against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, student rent strikes took place in many universities in England. Lockdowns and moves to online learning meant that students were at times required to pay rent for accommodation they were unable to occupy, or which offered significantly reduced amenities. These students were largely first-year undergraduates, in accommodation owned, overseen or marketed by their universities. They often did not know other students even within their accommodation blocks, as the pandemic lowered occupancy levels and movement and mixing was frequently restricted. Nonetheless, these students joined together to resist, to act collectively and to refuse to pay their rent. Their action resulted in at least partial victory, in some places, for some moments. It also resulted in a growing critical consciousness among those involved. (more…)

Voices from Small Island Developing States: priorities for COP26 and beyond

This blog is written by Dame Pearlette Louisy; Dr Merle St Clair-Auguste; Dr Aminath Muna; Dr Aminath Shiyama; Dr Rosiana Lagi; and the ESSRG Leadership Team, and first published on the Cabot Institute for the Environment blog

The School of Education’s Education in Small States Research Group (ESSRG) in collaboration with the Cabot Institute for the Environment and the Centre for Comparative and International Research in Education (CIRE), have produced a short (15 minute) video as a direct contribution to COP26 in Glasgow. This has been developed from the zoom recording of a joint online event titled ‘Voices from SIDS at the Sharp End of Environmental Uncertainty: Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Speak to COP26’ held on 5 October 2021.

This professionally developed video highlights the ‘voices’, views and climate change priorities held by youth, community members, traditional village elders and national leaders ‘Living at the Sharp End of Environmental Uncertainty’ in all three global regions of SIDS: the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific (see www.smallstates.net).

The video also includes a response from Professor Dann Mitchell from the Cabot Institute, and a commentary from University of Bristol Alumni and long-time Governor-General of St Lucia (1997-2018), Dame Pearlette Louisy.

To maintain our input for COP26 discussions, this Cabot Institute blog reinforces the key messages from the video presentation in the words of the lead participants from Saint Lucia, The Maldives and Tuvalu: messages that we hope others will continue to share and support.

Saint Lucia

COP26 – Can Glasgow deliver?

“One Point Five to Stay Alive”. This was perhaps the most memorable phrase on the minds and lips of delegates when the Conference of Parties (COP 21) ended in Paris a few short years ago. The small island developing states seemed to have punched above their weight when they persuaded the international community to commit in principle to keep world temperatures and sea level rise below the 1.5 degree-level so that they could survive. The euphoria then was palpable and undeniable.

(Artist: Jonathan Gladding)

But, as we engage in Glasgow and COP 26, what was hailed as an infectious rallying cry must not be allowed to lose its lustre and become just another catchy phrase or worn-out platitude. The United Nations Secretary General’s fears that “Glasgow may not be able to deliver”

could be seen as salt on an already open wound … but let us hope that it is a timely warning to others worldwide, a plea that helps to keep alive the hopes that SIDS are holding on to.

What then lies in store for small island developing states? Surely, they cannot be faulted for sitting idly by, for they have been very proactive in addressing climate change issues in order to build their resilience against this existential threat. The Caribbean region, for example, has recently released The State of the Caribbean Climate Report which is aimed at strengthening the strategic planning and decision-making processes that will be required to accelerate their resilience building efforts. The projections for the region are not at all encouraging. They point to rising sea levels, hotter temperatures (predicted to reach a rise of 1.76 degrees by the end of the century), more variable rainfall with increased drying (by almost 17%), increased sea surface temperatures and more intense Category 4 and 5 hurricanes. (See: Climate Studies Group Mona (Eds.) 2020, The State of the Caribbean Climate. Produced for the Caribbean Development Bank).

These predictions will undoubtedly adversely affect the core livelihoods of Caribbean people already living in a very vulnerable geographic space, who must learn how to live both now and in the future. The international community meeting in Glasgow must therefore make every effort to facilitate the sustainable development of our small island developing states. Education for resilience and sustainable development must take centre stage now, for time is not at all on our side.

In 1993, one of Saint Lucia’s Nobel Laureates, Sir Derek Walcott (Literature 1992), warned in his Nobel Lecture that “a morning could come when governments might ask what happened not only to our forests and our bays, but to a whole people”.

We appeal therefore to COP 26 to heed these warnings to ensure that such a morning never comes. Living at the sharp end of environmental uncertainty, as small island developing states are, cannot be considered sustainable living.

The time to act decisively is now. Glasgow must deliver. Failing which, we will have nullified the very concept of sustainable development proposed by the Brundtland Report … that is, development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

In referring readers back to the video, we wish to thank Curtis Raphael who helped to put the Saint Lucia section together, and Crispin d’Auvergne, the Programme Director of the Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) who provided access to the two Reports cited in our presentation.

Maldives

The contribution to the video from the Maldives aims to bring multiple and diverse voices from the islands of the Maldives to Glasgow and COP26. It highlights their everyday experiences and anxieties about the environment and climate change. These voices come from a range of contributors from different levels of the society, including school children, fishermen, a grandfather, divers, surfers, environmentalists, farmers, entrepreneurs, policy makers and politicians.

It is clear there is a keen awareness of the fragility of the local biophysical environment and the existential threat posed by climate change on livelihoods and the very survival of the nation and the population. As is evident, climate anxiety is up close and personal for all who live in the country. There is an acute awareness of the importance of protecting the environment to mitigate a potential catastrophe caused by rising sea levels.

While Maldivian authorities continue to develop domestic policies to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, these actions at the local level are woefully insufficient. The larger polluters worldwide also need to commit to real action in their pledges, and act now to reduce harmful emissions at the same time as they assist smaller nations to convert to and adapt to low carbon economies.

Image credit: savefainu

Tuvalu

We hope our video from Tuvalu will speak for itself. We are one of the most vulnerable nations in the world, facing a 2-meter rise in sea levels that will inundate our nation. Our plea to the international community highlights the fact that we are relational beings, what we do today one way or the other will affect people around us, people around the globe and even you and me, someday. Therefore, as global citizens, this is the time that we must work towards building a safe, healthy and resilient world so that one day we can proudly say, Yes ! We were the generation that made it happen – we set aside our differences and as a kaiga (family) we created this fantastic world for our children, our future.

This professionally developed video and the full, 90 minute, Zoom recording are also available on the Cabot YouTube Channel. See http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cabot/news/2021/soe-cop26.html.

 

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This blog is written by Dame Pearlette Louisy; Dr Merle St Clair-Auguste; Dr Aminath Muna; Dr Aminath Shiyama; Dr Rosiana Lagi; and the ESSRG Leadership Team.

 

 

 

From ‘hearing’ to listening – In conversation with policymakers on students’ lived experiences of access

Blog post by Dr Jennifer Jomafuvwe Agbaire , Research Associate at the School of Education, University of Bristol

“Those young students can just talk anyhow. If you really want to know about university admission in Nigeria, ask those in charge.”  Just before I set out to begin my doctoral research, I got strong forms of this proposition from colleagues.

It was not surprising that previous research on the topic scarcely included students.

Fast-forward to several years and a PhD award later, I was organising an ESRC-funded exploratory impact event to share my doctoral research findings from students with ‘those in charge’.  Yes indeed, I had defied the popular convention and gone ahead to explore Nigeria’s university access system through the lived experiences of students who are subjected to it.

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A matter of inclusion: Schools continue to navigate government advice in support of students

National Inclusion Week 2021. Blog post by Lucy Wenham, University of Bristol  Helen Knowler, University of Exeter  Elizabeth J. Done, Institute of Education, University of Plymouth

As the school year in England begins once again against an evolving Covid-19 backdrop, we ask what this latest set of circumstances means for issues of inclusion, including which students will continue to be at greater risk of being sidelined, ‘off-rolled’ or marginalised (Wenham, 2021). Off-rolling or ‘grey exclusions’ refers to the removal of a student from the school roll when they are not subject to formal procedures such as permanent exclusion. Instead, parents are encouraged to deregister their child. (more…)

The effects of Covid-19 on pre-existing inequalities in the UK

Blog by Jáfia Naftali Câmara Doctoral Researcher, School of Education, University of Bristol

The Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted not only lifestyle and work, but also how people access education and learning. The effects of Covid-19 on education have accentuated the inequalities already embedded within the UK’s education system and demonstrated the relationships between deep-rooted educational, systemic and economic inequalities.

Disadvantaged students, including refugees and asylum seekers living in Britain, face many barriers such as digital exclusion and food poverty. Poor immigrant children are also affected by immigration laws and procedures that exclude them from accessing vital services and support. In response to the effects of Covid-19, the UK government’s policy interventions have made centralised decisions enabling for profitable opportunities for education businesses and unsatisfactory support services for disadvantaged communities. (more…)

What the government’s report on race gets wrong about the education system

From ‘The Conversation’, by Leon Tikly, University of Bristol

The UK government’s recent report on race, drawn up by the Commission on Ethnic and Racial Disparities, has been roundly criticised for its findings. Its primary claim, as chair Tony Sewell writes in the foreword, that the British system is no longer “deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities” has drawn particular ire.

With regards to education, specifically, the report argues that “if there is racial bias within schools or the teaching profession, it has limited effect”. Sewell’s credentials as an education consultant appear to give special credence to that position. The problem is that it flies in the face of four decades’ worth of research.

As a former science teacher, a university professor and UNESCO Chair in inclusive education – with expertise at local authority, national, European and global levels – I am well placed to unpick quite how flawed Sewell’s statement is. (more…)

We need an evidence-based expert approach to the post-pandemic recovery of young people

Blog post by Patricia Broadfoot, University of Bristol; Roger Murphy, University of Nottingham

In December 2020, the Westminster government promised to set up an expert group to consider solutions to the huge variability of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on pupils’ educational experiences and progress. Two months later the Department for Education (DfE) announced that plans for this group had been scrapped. Instead, the DfE has appointed an education recovery commissioner to focus on so-called ‘learning loss’. Two successive children’s commissioners, the head of Ofsted and many others have expressed serious concerns about the current situation. There has also been widespread disagreement about the best strategies to employ and the resources required.

We need the best possible expertise to identify the issues that must be addressed if children are to flourish. We need experts to provide an integrated picture of the challenges that children face, and to suggest appropriate ways of addressing them. Without such expertise children could suffer lifelong impacts, as argued by two children’s commissioners and in a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (Sibieta, 2021). That report drew the following conclusions, which reflect our key concerns.

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COVID-19, education and the immediate policy response

Post written by Victoria Bowen, PhD Researcher in Education, University of Bristol.

On 12th March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak to be a pandemic.  What followed this announcement was to become the largest global disruption to education in history.  1.6 billion learners in 190 countries were affected, as nations implemented regional lockdowns and school closures to curtail the spread of COVID-19 (UN, 2020).  Since then, as the virus circulated widely in society across the globe, school closures have been implemented nationally, regionally, locally, and reactively based on infection rates.  This article follows on from my presentation on ‘COVID-19, school closures and inequality’ at the TLC roundtable event (March 2021).  It summarises the immediate education policy response relating to COVID-19 in English schools. (more…)

The Importance of Science and Scientific Thinking in Education

 Blog post by André Hedlund, Chevening Alumnus, MSc in Psychology of Education from the School of Education at the University of Bristol.

In 2019 I had the privilege of attending an event promoted by the Federal University of Goiás (UFG) with two great references of Brazilian science: Luiz Davidovich, president of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences; and Ricardo Galvão, former president of the National Institute for Space Research and former director of the Brazilian Center for Physical Research. This event made me think about how fundamental the role of science and scientific thinking is for future generations if we want to avoid the things we’re witnessing today. As teachers and educators, should we engage with this debate or should we “stick to our subject” without judging or questioning our students’ assumptions about things related to science? This post challenges the view of sticking to our subject based on the scenario depicted in these two scientists’ talks. (more…)