COVID-19 school closures are threatening children’s oral language skills: but whole-school based interventions could help

Dr Ioanna BakopoulouOral language skills are critical for learning, and they matter now more than ever, writes Dr Ioanna Bakopoulou, SoE, University of Bristol

Capabilities such as vocabulary knowledge, narrative skills and active listening are foundational for young children’s learning. Developed both at home and in school, these capabilities are known as oral language. Oral language is essential for young children’s learning, in particularly their literacy development and their ability to access the curriculum.

Oral language skills have always mattered, but they matter now more than ever. (more…)

Initial Teacher Education during a pandemic

The School of Education catches up with Beth McEwan, PGCE student, and trainee History teacher to ask her why she chose to undertake her PGCE (Initial Teacher Education) at the School of Education, University of Bristol, and the challenges of studying during a pandemic.

 Tell us about yourself and why you chose to become a history teacher.

I’m Beth and I recently graduated from Cardiff University, where I did my History degree. I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was about 15 or 16, but I originally wanted to be a primary school teacher. After doing work experience in a primary school, and as I gradually fell more and more in love with History, I realised I would prefer to be a History teacher.

I also feel that the transferable skills gained through studying History are vital. Having the ability to look critically at the evidence and arguments surrounding you, and to frame your own interpretations based on evidence, is becoming increasingly important. If I can contribute to providing these skills to future students, and to help them achieve their ambitions, I’ll find my career deeply rewarding. (more…)

No, we don’t use only 10% of our brains!

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

Ever heard anyone say that? The last time I did was from one of the most powerful voices in movie history: Morgan Freeman’s. If he had been born in the UK, I’m sure he would’ve been knighted by now and joined the select group that includes Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench, and Dame Helen Mirren. Mr. Freeman played the role of Professor Samuel Norman, brain expert who has studied, among other things, the evolution of this incredible organ in Lucy, a movie co-starring Scarlet Johansson.

In one of the scenes, Professor Norman is lecturing to a group of interested students and says:

“Imagine for a moment what our life would be like if we could access, let’s say, 20% of our brain capacity?”

He goes on and claims that each human being has 100 billion neurons, from which only 15% are activated and that means that “we possess a gigantic network of information to which we have almost no access”. In his words, if we could access all the potential of our brains, we’d be able to control other people and even matter.

Well, Morgan Freeman, even though I love your voice and your acting, your character couldn’t be further from the truth. In this Luc Besson movie, released in 2014, most of what Professor Samuel Norman says is a false claim about the brain. It’s a neuromyth. (more…)

Children’s reflections on home education during the COVID-19 pandemic: Implications for the return to school

Claire LeeDr Lucy WenhamBlog post by Claire Lee and Lucy Wenham, School of Education, University of Bristol

As school leaders plan the return to school following the global pandemic, it is crucial that their educational decisions are informed by research into the everyday realities of enforced home learning for children. Much research attention until now has focused, importantly, on lost learning and widening inequalities (e.g. Andrew et al., 2020; Green, 2020). (more…)

Blog Series #3 Undergraduate Dissertation Research in SoE: Showcasing Psychology in Education Undergraduate Dissertations

By Dr. Amanda Williams  School of Education

This is the last entry in the series (Blog #1 and Blog #2) celebrating our 2019-20 Undergraduate Dissertations. In this post we highlight the research projects conducted by BSc Psychology in Education students Samantha Meyerhoff (supervised by Dr Charlotte Flottmann) and Sorcha Hewes (Dr Felicity Sedgewick). These projects apply psychological theory and research to better understand the lived experience of at-risk individuals in our community. Both have been executed with thoughtful integrity and present interesting findings. (more…)

Education and COVID-19: Is Ghana ready to return to the classroom?

Blog post by Kenneth Gyamerah, Chevening Scholar, Professional teacher, and Global Youth Ambassador for Education.

Introduction

In March 2020, the government of Ghana announced a countrywide shutdown of schools as a precautionary measure to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. In response, the Ministry of Education (MOE)  in collaboration with Ghana Education Service rolled out remote learning interventions to provide education for the students. Data from UNESCO as of 29th  May 2020  shows there are 9,696,756 children and youth currently out of school in Ghana due to coronavirus. Of this number, 1,852,028 are in Pre-primary, 4,549,875 are in Primary, 2,851,160 are in Junior High School (JHS) and Senior High School (SHS) and 443,693 are in the tertiary institutions. In this blog, I will examine the MOE’s education response to COVID-19 in Ghana. (more…)

Document Summary Service chart toppers Spring 2020

Blog post by Helen Aberdeen, Director of the Document Summary Service

What a Spring term it turned out to be for those of us in the education sector! In my role as a PGCE tutor I have been on a steep learning curve getting to grips with all things online. In my other role as Director of the Document Summary Service, things have carried on a more even keel. As we moved into March I had wondered if every report research and guidance report produced would be focussed on the current crisis, but this turned out not to be the case – interesting and useful reports continue to emerge from a wide range of sources. I should also mention that the summaries have become an invaluable resource as out student teachers move to working independently. (more…)

The UK needs a new impact agenda

By Kat Smith Justyna Bandola Nasar Meer Ellen Stewart and Richard Watermeyer
Our new book, The Impact Agenda: Controversies, Consequences and Challenges, examines UK efforts to incentivise and measure research impact via REF2021 and research funding. It’s a strange time for a book to come out and we did think twice about promoting it. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is a startling reminder of both how important (how ‘impactful’) research can be, and also how vexed the relationship between research and policy decisions often is.

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A career change and new perspectives: spotlight on studying for a PGCE at the School of Education

Today’s blog features Georgia Adsett, current PGCE student at the School of Education. Georgia offers some insight on what made her want to change careers and train to be a teacher, and why she chose the School of Education to continue her postgraduate study.

Hi, I’m Georgia, I’ve lived in Bristol for a few years, previously working in Advertising and Marketing strategy roles before commencing the PGCE. I completed my joint honours degree in BA English and French at the Uni of Southampton which allowed me to live in France for a year and make the most of all the good grub! I spend most of my free time doing art, yoga, cooking and catching up on good books and films. My favourite word is kerfuffle. My worst nightmare would be potholing. I like people with memorable laughs and a cool sense of style. I asked my housemates to describe me in three words, they said: creative, personable and sparky… apparently.

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The impacts of Covid-19 on basic education: How can Ghana respond, cope, and plan for recovery?

Author and teacher Kenneth GyamerahBlog post by Kenneth Gyamerah, Professional Teacher and Development Consultant. MSc in Education (Policy and International Development) from the School of Education,  University of Bristol. Kenneth is a Chevening Scholar and a Global Youth Ambassador for Education.

With the global attention on the health implications, it is worth highlighting that the Coronavirus pandemic has triggered an unprecedented immediate global education emergency (Srivastava 2020). Taking some key learning experiences from disease outbreaks such as Ebola and SARS, it is apparent that the impact of COVID-19 on education will be critical for countries that have low economic resilience, inadequate technological infrastructure, limited budget for education , and high rates of dropouts. (more…)