Of manifestos and modelling

By Dr Lorna Smith (Associate Professor in Education), Dr Jessie Abrahams (Lecturer in Education), Jo Carrington (Assistant Head of Literacy and English at Clevedon School) and PhD student, School of Education, University of Bristol.

We are in an era where top-down prescription in English secondary schools is greater than ever. This often results in students’ voices being diminished and opportunities to talk suppressed. For example, some schools virtue-signal their strict ‘no-hands up’ policy – meaning that students speak in class only when they are invited to. Therefore, although high-quality talk has long been established as a vital component of learning (Alexander, 2020; Bleiman, 2018; Littleton and Mercer, 2013), there may be few opportunities for students to experience ‘natural’ conversation – listening and contributing according to the ebb of the discussion. (more…)

Are you interested in a career in secondary teaching?

he School pupils with a tutor at a 2011 Maths summer school

If you have a passion for your subject and you want to inspire the next generation, teaching could be the career for you.

Our PGCE programmes for secondary teaching here at the University of Bristol are rated ‘Outstanding’ in the most recent Ofsted review. The PGCE is demanding and hands-on, but you’ll be supported and guided to become an excellent qualified teacher, opening up a wealth of career possibilities. (more…)

The Education Policy and Research Service (EPRS) Top Ten for 2022-23

By Helen Aberdeen, Director Education Policy and Research Service (EPRS) School of Education, University of Bristol

For many who work in education, the summer break provides a welcome breathing space to clear those little jobs which we have been meaning to do for ages. It also gives us some time to look back and reflect.

As Director of our Education Policy and Research Service (EPRS), I have had a busy year – in a good way. In addition to summarising 110 research and policy reports, we have developed a new EPRS toolkit based on the Core Content Framework for Initial Teacher Training – we will be officially launching the toolkit in September, hoping to persuade many ITT institutions of its usefulness. (more…)

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…)

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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Students’ anxiety about the allocations of grades for cancelled high-stakes public examinations

Dr Lucy WenhamClaire Lee

Blog by Dr Lucy Wenham, University of Bristol and Claire Lee, University of Bristol

With the imminent release of A-level grades in England on Thursday, 13 August, followed by GCSEs on 20 August, anticipation is mounting. This year will be unlike any other. For the first time, with mass school closures resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, students have not had the opportunity to sit these high-stakes public examinations. They will instead receive allocated grades, arrived at through a combination of predicted grades, teacher judgments and comparative rankings of their perceived performance in relation to their classmates (Ofqual, 2020). Our research (EBI, 2020) clearly shows that students directly affected are experiencing considerable stress, anxiety and a feeling of helplessness concerning the allocation of these grades – which is unsurprising given that their future educational and employment choices and opportunities are at stake. (more…)