The Pupil Premium
Government and Ofsted know that how the Pupil Premium is spent by schools really does matter
Total pupil premium funding will rise from £1.25 billion in 2012-13 to £1.875 billion in 2013-14. This will enable the level of funding for the deprivation and looked after child premium to increase to £900 per pupil and the service child premium to increase to £300 per pupil.
Ministers see the Pupil Premium as the means to improve the performance of the most disadvantaged pupils, to address the long tale of underachievement and to close the achievement gap. The achievement gap is the difference in GCSE achievement between the average for pupils who are eligible for free school meals and the average for those who are not.
Research from the Sutton Trust suggests that given that Pupil Premium funding is not ring-fenced (and in a challenging budgetary climate for schools), in many schools the money is being used to fill budget deficits in other areas rather than being spent directly on the children that generated the funding in the first place. Self -evidently this is worrying. An Ofsted report in 2012 also found that only 10% of school leaders said that the Premium had changed the way they worked. And only half of schools said that it was having any positive effect on pupil achievement. Indeed, many schools were not even disaggregating the Pupil Premium from their main budget and were using it to enhance existing provision, rather than doing anything new with this extra funding. Ministers have been loth to intervene because they champion school autonomy.
Schools do now have to publish online information about the amount of pupil premium money the school receives and how it is being spent, as well as its impact. David Laws ,the schools minister, in a speech this month ,also made in very clear that the government will keep an eagle eye on how individual schools, and ,indeed ,chains of schools, are using the pupil premium to help improve outcomes for disadvantaged pupils and to narrow the achievement gap. Most recently Laws said (at the ASCL conference) that schools must focus “relentlessly” on closing the achievement gap. Indeed he ratcheted up the pressure by announcing that schools in England will no longer be rated as “outstanding” by inspectors if they fail to close the attainment gap between poor and affluent children. And Schools must use interventions that are known to work.
This is a sensitive area. When Michael Gove was in opposition he relentlessly attacked the then Labour government for failing to improve the lot of pupils on Free School Meals pointing out that , if anything, their performance, despite significant levels of new investment, had declined and the attainment gap had increased.
Sir Michael Wilshaw is at one with the government in paying greater attention to the premiums use. Inspector’s judgments on schools’ leadership will consider the use of both the premium and other resources to overcome barriers to achievement for their pupils. In his annual report published in November, Sir Michael committed Ofsted to paying particular attention to attainment gaps affecting disadvantaged pupils in schools where they form a minority of less than 20% of all pupils
But not everyone believes that the funds available under the Pupil Premium are sufficient for their purpose. Some critics suggest that the sums allocated for the Premium do not reflect the estimated costs necessary to equalise disadvantaged pupils’ educational needs, with those of their peers (Sibieta, IFS 2009). The OECD (2010) observes that the premium is ‘relatively low in an international perspective and it is not clear that it will cover the extra costs of admitting disadvantaged students. As the OECD notes, this risk of insufficient funding is exacerbated by the counter-incentive of high stakes accountability measures in the UK context.
What does that mean?
In short, League tables and other performance indicators, along with the recently announced rising floor targets, (see David Laws speech) mean that there are very strong potential consequences for schools whose exam achievement dips. Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and other vulnerable groups may then be viewed by schools not as a source of much needed extra funding but ,instead ,as a risk. Hence disincentives (driven by accountability measures) may in practice outweigh the pupil premium incentive in admitting such pupils. Indeed, an OECD working paper on reforming education in England (Braconier, 2012,) warns that if the “perceived deprivation funding is lower that schools’ perceived costs, they may engage in ‘cream skimming’, trying to dissuade disadvantaged students and recruit more able students.” This is why some are warning that schools admissions policies, and in particular academies admissions (given their autonomy), should be more carefully monitored. The Government is seeking to improve transparency by publishing data on the progress of individual schools in closing gaps in attainment for FSM pupils; a move welcomed, incidentally, by Braconier (2012).
We know that, historically, there have been some perverse incentives within the accountability framework, particularly league tables. So the government’s efforts to reframe school league tables to mitigate perverse incentives, evident in the current system, is welcomed by many (Laws recent speech was well received). But it remains to be seen what effect this may have on narrowing the achievement gap.
One thing is absolutely clear, though- schools will be held to account for how they use the Pupil Premium and their grade from Ofsted will depend on how much they have managed to close the achievement gap. Empirical evidence about what works is available, and should be used.And there are a number of interventions from which to choose.Rumour has it that technology companies are making big pitches to schools seeking to persuade them that they have what it takes to make a real difference to outcomes . But experts urge caution. Evidence is mixed. Remember use of technology should be driven by learning and teaching goals rather than a specific technology: technology is not an end in itself. And don’t take, at face value, what the salesmen tell you. See past the bells and whistles of a new piece of tech hardware or software and work out exactly what it does to help disadvantaged pupils. And ,crucially, seek independent, ’disinterested’ sources of advice and evidence.
‘Caveat emptor’ ,as Michael Gove might say.
CFBT EDUCATION TRUST RESEARCH ON LANGUAGES IN SCHOOLS
More take-up of languages in schools since the Ebacc introduced
Language teaching a reality in high proportion of Primary schools
But wide spectrum of practice and inconsistency and discontinuity between Primary and Secondary schools
CfBT Education Trust, on 20 March, published the results of national surveys of primary and secondary schools, revealing the multiple challenges for languages within the new English National Curriculum.
The ‘Language Trends’ report shows that while foreign language teaching is already a reality in most primary schools, there is a very wide spectrum of practice and a lack of consistency in both approach and outcomes. Teachers need further training and support as the subject becomes statutory in September 2014, particularly in those schools where provision is currently least developed. However, on a positive note, schools in England have been encouraging more teenagers to take up languages since the introduction of the English Baccalaureate league table measure, the report suggests.
The report reveals a disconnect between the primary and secondary systems which means that the vast majority of pupils do not experience continuity and progression as they move from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3. Secondary schools cannot cope with the diversity of pupils’ language learning experiences in Key Stage 2, and it is not on their agendas to do so.
Teachers of languages in both independent and state schools would welcome reforms to GCSE and A level examinations which would encourage steady progression in the acquisition of language skills and improve pupil motivation. They would like to see wider recognition of the value of language learning as an essential tool for success in the modern workplace. On the evidence here, teachers would welcome a return to externally assessed final exams at both GCSE and A level. They would like to see changes which measure and encourage steady progression in the development of linguistic skills and their practical use in a range of contexts.
At 50% of state-funded secondaries, at least half of older pupils are now taking a foreign language GCSE. In 2010, this was the case in 38% of schools. However , it might be the case that anti-European sentiment may be turning teenagers off modern foreign languages.
There is some evidence an “erroneous” view that languages such as French and German are no longer useful when, in fact, they are still needed in the workplace, according to the language specialist Teresa Tinsley, who co-authored the report.
Tinsley acknowledged that current “anti-European discourse” is not helping the issue, She said that entries for A-level French and German fell by more than half between 1996 and 2012. There has also been a decline in students taking these subjects at GCSE. “Entries for GCSE in Spanish and other foreign languages continue to rise, but not in sufficient number to compensate for the decline in French and German.” Tinsley added that the falls in French may be more obvious because it is a widely studied language. “It is possible that because French is the most commonly taken language, when you get a drop-off it affects these languages in the frontline more.” Tinsley said she understood the popularity of Spanish. “I think there’s a perception that French and German are not useful in the global economy, which is a totally erroneous perception. “All the information shows that the languages that are most needed in the workplace are French and German and I think there is an erroneous perception that because Spanish is a global language, it is therefore going to be more useful – but that doesn’t necessarily reflect the structure of our economy and the trading links that we have. “I think that the rhetoric and the discourse around Europe and the anti-European discourse is not helpful for languages.”
The report’s co-author, Kathryn Board, added: “I would say, from a perception point of view, that when you look at society in general in this country and you see that pupils are not motivated to learn languages, parents are not motivating their children to learn languages and generally, we’ve got a society that doesn’t recognise the value of languages, when you get a rhetoric in the media on a daily basis that feels anti-European, anti-eurozone, one might assume, over time, that it underlines an already unfavourable feeling about languages.”
Tony McAleavy, Director of Education at CfBT, said:
“A recent international study showed that English pupils were significantly behind their international peers in terms of foreign language learning. If we are to turn this situation around, we must capture the opportunity provided by the introduction of foreign languages into the primary curriculum, linked to the aspiration for improved standards in the reformed GCSE and A levels’.”
The report concluded that ‘This survey provides the first nationwide evidence on the situation of languages in primary schools since 2008 and shows that, despite anecdotal reports of a reduction in provision during the period of this government’s national curriculum review, language teaching is now a reality in a very high proportion of primary schools. Although 97% of respondents reported that they are teaching a language, this may be an overestimation of the national picture, in that primary schools not teaching a language may have been less inclined to reply. Nonetheless, the survey achieved a high volume of responses and clearly shows that languages are firmly on the agenda in primary schools. However, the report provides evidence of a very wide spectrum of practice and a lack of consistency between schools both in their approach to language teaching and in the outcomes they achieve. There is a strongly expressed need – as well as evidence of an implicit need – for further training and support, particularly for those schools without expertise or commitment to the notion of language teaching in primary schools’.
The report states ‘Following the introduction of the EBacc ,as a performance measure, an increasing number of schools report that the number of students taking languages at KS4 has risen. Among the changes made, many schools have made languages compulsory or highly recommended for some pupils. The figures suggest that most able pupils are now engaging – willingly or not – in language learning. However, there is a dearth of provision for less ‘academic’ pupils and no incentive for schools to provide this.’
Only 11% of state secondary schools have arrangements which allow all pupils to continue with the same language learnt in primary school. Secondary schools cannot cope with the diversity of pupils’ language learning experiences in KS2, and it is not on their agendas to do so. A perception of excessive disparity and diversity in language provision in primary schools – and, indeed, the reality in many cases – is leading secondary schools to dismiss the value of what has been learnt and to ‘start at the beginning again’.
Language learning in primary and secondary schools in England-Findings from the 2012 Language Trends survey – Teresa Tinley and Kathryn Board-CFBT Education Trust-March 2013
Not against academies but they are not a silver bullet for improvement
Current government policy he claims eschews vital ingredient ‘collaboration’
The Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg, in his speech to the ASCL, last weekend, claimed that this governments academies policy resulted in a two tier system and was not encouraging system wide reform. He said “I believe Michael Gove has learnt the wrong lesson from New Labour’s school reforms. He thinks that academies are about recreating the grammar school model. A group of high flying schools which are given additional funding and support, but no plan to raise the quality of education across the whole school system. An increasingly fragmented schools landscape, while what we need is better collaboration between schools to raise standards. Labour’s original academies programme was about how you realise the comprehensive ideal – mixed ability education with rigorous standards. We focussed on driving up standards in some of the most challenging schools in some of the least well off neighbourhoods.”
He talked of an Arc of Underachievement which holds back the life chances of too many children across the country with too much inconsistency. He said “ Michael Gove thinks that the answer to this underperformance is to create free schools and academies. But if this was the case – why is the worst performing school in England, an academy. Why is that of the Free Schools who have had Ofsted inspections – all of the secondary schools – admittedly only three – have been inspected, have been giving a “requires improvement” rating, despite having wealthy intakes and not one of the schools is rated as outstanding?”
Twigg reiterated that he was not against academies, but nor does he think they are a ‘ silver bullet’ for school improvement.
He is proud of Labours academy record. He said, referring to the recent report of the Academies Commission: “The Commission is absolutely clear about the impact of Labour’s academies programme. While I know that some people would like Labour to condemn academies – I will not. They helped raise standards amongst some of the poorest children in Britain. We should be rightly proud, and celebrate the teachers and heads that delivered. As the Commission notes, “these early academies revitalised the system, including initiating a shift in culture…[they] showed just how much could be achieved with high aspirations, determination that young people would achieve well, and a rigorous and consistent approach to school improvement.”
Crucially though , Twigg believes that the current system is atomised and missing a vital ingredient for system improvement -collaboration. He said “The problem is at the heart of Michael Gove’s approach. A free market ideology fails to understand that collaboration is critical to school improvement. Andreas Schleicher, who leads the OECD’s work on education has said that “professional autonomy needs to go hand in hand with a collaborative culture, with autonomous schools working in partnership to improve teaching and learning.” He points to schools in Scandinavia, Japan and Shanghai which have embedded a culture of teamwork and cooperation. However, nearly two thirds of academies are ‘singletons’ – not part of a school improvement partnership. These represent the bulk of academies set up since 2010. An increasingly fragmented, atomised system where schools are not encouraged to collaborate.”
Twigg concluded: “Michael Gove missed a golden opportunity with the converter academy programme. He promised to promote collaboration in the Schools White Paper in 2010. He could have made it a requirement of a school becoming an academy that they support a weaker school, but he failed.”
The Secretary of State, Michael Gove , says that rigorous research from the OECD and others has shown that more autonomy for individual schools helps raise standards. He points to the fact that two of the most successful countries in PISA – Hong Kong and Singapore - are amongst those with the highest levels of school competition (Finland, though, another high flier eschews competition). He wants both competition and collaboration. In a speech to the the Schools Network in December 2011 he said “Overall, our vision for the future is of a self-improving network of schools, innovating and engaging, competing and collaborating, teaching and training, for the benefit of all our children.”
GREEN DOT SCHOOLS
Twigg warms to Charter chain in USA because of its collaborative approach
The Green Dot Charter schools network operates 18 schools in some of the toughest areas of Los Angeles. Green Dot operates a mix of independent charter and turnaround schools, serving more than 10,000 students in Los Angeles County’s highest need areas. Its student body is statistically identical to the Los Angeles Unified School District’s, mirroring the amount of students that are English language learners, who receive free or reduced lunches, and are students with special needs.
The network has caught the eye of Stephen Twigg MP, the shadow education secretary, (speech to ACSL-16 March). It is unusual for a Labour spokesmen to highlight the performance of charter schools in the USA, as they are private operators, both for profit and not for profit, running municipal schools under a contract (or charter). That said , some Democrats in the States , including the President, much admire charters for the leg up they can give to the most disadvantaged pupils, in the poorest areas. What resonates with Twigg is the fact that Green Dot’s teachers and management worked closely with the California Teachers Association (ie a Union) to develop a contract for its teaching staff that is at one with the mission of Green Dot and also supports a sympathetic professional environment for teachers. This is all about collaboration, a theme Twigg explored in his ACSL speech . He contends that only through collaboration ,within and between schools, can schools and the system improve. He criticises the current government for creating what he sees as an ’atomised ‘system, although, arguably, he helped lay the foundations of this system , when he was in the last government. Green Dot also worked with Randi Weingarten, now president of AFT, and the United Federation of Teachers to create the employment contract for Green Dot New York Charter School. So here is evidence of collaboration in this case not just between schools, but between teachers, students and parents, including on curriculum innovation. And, unlike some Charter schools, unions are recognised. Research conducted by UCLA showed students significantly increased their test scores and took more challenging subjects. Green Dot Public Schools averaged a 20-point increase on the Academic Performance Index scores released by the California Department of Education, with two of its schools exceeding the state’s API goal of 800 for the first time. The performance marked the fourth straight year of gains across Green Dot’s 18 schools.
In 1996, just 19 states had charter legislation in place, and there were only about 250 charters serving some 20,000 pupils. In 2013- 41 states and the District of Columbia had charter laws on the books, and there are more than 2 million students enrolled in 5,600 charter schools.
TEACHING QUALITY AND CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Lessons from the London Challenge?
Research from the London School of Economics for the Sutton Trust has shown that English schools could move into the world’s top five education performers within a decade if the performance of the least effective 10% of teachers were brought up to the average. So, how do we improve the quality of teaching in our schools? The Teacher Development Trust cites research from New Zealand on the impact of high-quality CPD on the education outcomes of children, where children taught by teachers on high-quality CPD programmes were improving twice as fast as those in other classes. The improvement is more pronounced for those deemed in the 20% ‘least able,’ who made improvements four to six times as fast as their peers. The important point here is that CPD has to be high quality. Sadly,historically, much CPD hasn’t been high quality. Simply sending teachers to an occasional external course will have little or no effect on them, or on student outcomes, for that matter. Thomas Guskey has identified, in his research on evaluating CPD, that impacts of CPD must be measured through children’s outcomes. Schools have to be led by the evidence on what works to improve their pupils’ education.
Currently, there is a growing body of resources for schools to draw on. The Sutton Trust’s Pupil Premium Toolkit, the York Informed Practice Initiative (YIPI) and the Teacher Development Trust’s Good CPD Guide web site are all very useful in this respect.
Stephen Twigg, the Shadow Education Secretary, believes that we can learn much from the London Challenge about effective CPD. So, what can we learn? He writes: (Teaching Leaders Quarterly-March 2013): ‘There are three policy lessons. We need a system of challenge and support. Stick without the carrot might make popular headlines but it will do little to change the outcomes of the children served by underperforming teachers. London Challenge advisors set clear and ambitious new standards. But they did so by working in collaboration with teachers to get buy in. Second, working across schools underpinned the programme. Teachers would receive training from high performing colleagues in other schools. It is clear that being in a different setting was an important aspect for learning new and improved ways to teach. Third, the evidence from Ofsted’s evaluation of London Challenge found that where teachers were trained on improved teaching and learning strategies, this led to lasting legacies in their schools. Crucially, the impact was not only felt by schools in receipt of the support from partner schools, it was also felt by host schools.
The Logical Chain (Ofsted, 2006) noted that: ‘Few schools evaluated the impact of CPD on teaching and learning successfully’ a situation that appears not to have changed much.
Thomas Guskey (2000) introduced a significant focus on evaluating CPD through the impact it had on learning outcomes for young people. Guskey sees impact as being achieved at five potential levels:
organisation support and change
participants’ use of new knowledge and skills
student learning outcomes
Crucially, he argues that we need to pay attention to all five levels of impact if the goal of improving classroom learning is to be achieved, especially levels 2 – 5.
Following Guskey, Goodall et al investigated the range of evaluative practices for CPD. Using Guskey’s levels as a framework, they found that schools lacked experience, skills and tools to evaluate the impact of CPD.
(Acknowledgments to the Teacher Development Trust)
Strong statistically significant results for KIPP students that are better than their peers
As of the 2012–2013 school year, 125 KIPP schools are in operation in 20 different states and the District of Columbia (DC). Ultimately, KIPP’s goal is to prepare students to enrol and succeed in college.
KIPPs approach is different. It is particularly keen on structured, ‘meaningful’ approaches to character development in its schools This is rooted in the research of Dr. Martin Seligman (Universityof Pennsylvania) and Dr. Chris Peterson (University of Michigan) that identifies 24 character strengths as leading to engaged, meaningful, and purposeful lives. Its not just about academic attainment. Resilience and character matter even more, if students are to succeed in education and life.
There is a research partnership between KIPP NYC and Dr. Angela Duckworth (University of Pennsylvania), KIPP which informs the focus on seven highly predictive strengths: zest, grit, self-control, optimism, gratitude, social intelligence, and curiosity. They have integrated their own experiences as teachers with the research of Seligman, Peterson, and Duckworth to create a road map for the development of each strength. So KIPP schools seek to see how they can integrate a more structured and measurable approach to character development.
Prior research has suggested that KIPP schools have positive impacts on student achievement, but most of the studies have included only a few KIPP schools or have had methodological limitations.
This is the second report of a national evaluation of KIPP middle schools being conducted by Mathematica Policy Research. The evaluation uses ‘experimental and quasi-experimental methods to produce rigorous and comprehensive evidence on the effects of KIPP middle schools across the country. The study’s first report, released in 2010, described strong positive achievement impacts in maths and reading for the 22 KIPP middle schools for which data were available at the time. This most recent study, conducted by Mathematica, is the most rigorous research yet on KIPP schools and shows that the Knowledge Is Power Program, provides a significant learning boost to middle school students in multiple subjects. It also found that while KIPP serves more low-income students than public school peers, it serves fewer special education students and English language learners. The report states ‘The average impact of KIPP on student achievement is positive, statistically significant, and educationally substantial. KIPP impact estimates are consistently positive across the four academic subjects examined, in each of the first four years after enrolment in a KIPP school, and for all measurable student subgroups’. Three years after students enroll in KIPP schools, they had 11 more months of maths knowledge than their peers, according to the study. The research showed KIPP students had eight more months of reading knowledge, 14 more months of science knowledge, and 11 more months of social studies knowledge. Charter schools are publicly funded, but can be privately run. KIPP is one of the best known chains. KIPP schools often feature a longer school day, carefully selected teachers, a strict discipline code, parental contract, and teachers available to parents after school hours. The Mathematica study accounted for the common critique that KIPP’s results are skewed because the school attracts the kids of highly-motivated parents, said Philip Gleason, who directed the research. In 13 of the 43 schools Mathematica investigated, the firm compared KIPP students with children who entered the KIPP lottery, but did not receive slots in KIPP schools. The researchers said the positive results held steady for the KIPP students. The study did find though that KIPP’s ‘behavioural’ modifications contributed to academic performance. KIPP schools that reported a “comprehensive” approach toward behaviour saw greater positive effects than schools that did not. But ‘KIPP has no statistically significant effect on a variety of measures of student attitudes that may be related to long-run academic success. The estimated KIPP impacts on indices of student-reported self-control, academic self-concept, school engagement, effort/persistence in school, and educational aspirations are not statistically significant.’ KIPP schools that had a longer than average school day had smaller positive effects on student performance. The report says this might be because the KIPP schools with longer days than others often focused their extended hours on non-academic areas. KIPP students do from 35 minutes to 53 minutes more nightly homework than their peers, yet reported they were more satisfied with school than peers, according to the study.
KIPP Middle Schools: Impacts on Achievement and Other Outcomes Final Report- February 27, 2013- Christina Clark Tuttle Brian Gill Philip Gleason Virginia Knechtel Ira Nichols-Barrer Alexandra Resch
Charter schools are the fastest-growing sector of public education, taking root in most U.S. states, thanks to a big push by the education reform lobby and the federal government’s ’Race to the Top’ competition. One of the defining features of Charter schools is that they operate on the basis of a ‘charter’, i.e. a performance contract granted for three to five years, defining the school’s mission and goals, as well as the type of students it aims to attract. Charter schools are then held accountable to their sponsor (for example a local school board), which assesses whether these stated aims have been achieved and – if not – eventually revokes the charter.
REPORT ON IMPROVING ACCESS TO HIGHER EDUCATION FOCUSES ON DEFICIENCIES IN CAREERS ADVICE AND GUIDANCE IN SCHOOLS
A new report the ‘National Strategy for Access and Student Success; Interim report to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills by the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Office for Fair Access identifies, interalia , a major area of concern in relation to easing access to higher education for the most disadvantaged pupils- namely ‘the changes that came into effect in September 2012 to careers education and guidance.’ In short, schools were given statutory responsibility for providing access for their pupils to good quality independent careers guidance.
The report states ‘The Education Act 2011 ends the statutory requirements for local authorities to deliver a universal careers service to young people. Schools have instead been placed under a statutory duty to secure careers advice but have not been given any additional funding to do so. The requirement to provide careers education has also been removed.’ The report then identifies evidence reflecting these concerns. It states ‘A report by the Work Foundation argues that ‘without careers education, careers guidance is reduced to an abrupt and isolated intervention’. They urge that ‘careers education should be embedded in the curriculum as early as primary schools and expanded on with age’
The report continues ‘ In its evidence to the Education Select Committee in October 2012, the Institute of Careers Guidance said of the guidance offered to young people:
a. There is no overall coherence of career guidance provision whatsoever for young people up to 18.
b. For young people in schools, provision is a postcode lottery subject to budgets and head-teachers’ commitment to independent, impartial career guidance.
c. The service in schools is at best restricted in terms of student coverage and limited to the 30 weeks of term-time provision. In the past, students and parents have always appreciated the opportunity to access independent career guidance during school holidays. Now, at these times, it is not possible to access independent career guidance without payment.
d. E-mail correspondence between the Association of South East Colleges and the Skills Funding Agency has highlighted that the National Careers Service website excludes a range of courses offered by colleges of further education that are not funded by the Skills Funding Agency.
e. Young people between 16 and 18 who are in employment but wish to change direction or develop their career prospects do not have access to any independent face-to-face careers guidance service without payment
Furthermore, in its report of 2011, the International Centre for Guidance Studies argued that the situation for schools was challenging as they adapt to the loss of Aimhigher, Business Education Partnerships and the erosion of the Connexions service.
The centre argues that ‘the removal of the statutory duty to provide careers education could result in a focus on “activities” rather than on a developmental curriculum’
Crucially, this National Strategy for Access and Student Success report says in Para 145 pg 51 :
‘ In light of such concerns, we anticipate that the final report may recommend that a greater governmental focus on issues of advice and guidance within schools and colleges will be important in terms of maximising the return on investment in widening participation to HE. The strategy will also explore how HE can most effectively engage in supporting good information, advice and guidance (IAG) concerning HE in schools and colleges in the new environment.’
Experts agree that face to face careers guidance from an independent, qualified professional is, more often than not, the best form of careers advice and this is particularly the case for the most disadvantaged pupils. A number of reports, including those mentioned above, stress the importance of easy access to high quality advice. This will help ensure that pupils are better equipped to make informed choices regarding the pathways into further and higher education , training and work as well as improving access to higher education for the most disadvantaged pupils and in advancing the governments social mobility agenda.While government guidance encourages face to face advice, where appropriate, it is left to schools to decide the type and scope of advice they will offer to their pupils.Given that there is no ring fenced funding for this advice , experts believe that schools, under budgetary pressure ,will opt for cheaper, lower quality forms of advice ie telephone advice and access to advice through a web portal. The new National Careers Service is focused mainly on the needs of adults.
From September 2012, the Education Act 2011 placed schools under a duty to secure access to independent and impartial careers guidance for their pupils in years 9-11. The Careers Guidance in Schools Regulations 2013 will extend the age range to which the duty applies. From September 2013, the duty will be extended to include all registered pupils in year 8 (12-13 year olds) and years 12 and 13 (16-18 year olds).
A CIPD survey this month finds that parents and pupils are not getting sufficient or appropriate advice in schools on Apprenticeship options, which affects their take up and credibility.The survey – Employee Outlook: Focus on Apprenticeships – looked at responses from more than 400 employees with children under the age of 18. It found two-thirds of parents believed apprenticeships were a good career option, yet, only 15 per cent of them thought school teachers gave their children enough information about them as an alternative to a university education.
New book argues for proper competition and incentives to improve quality within the education system
Gabriel Sahlgren, the head of research at the pro-market CMRE think tank, launched his new book ‘ Incentivising Excellence: school choice and education quality’ this week. He argues that there is much evidence that competition works in education but that when politicians introduce competition to schools systems it is always limited and hedged and rarely has meaningful incentives in place to improve outcomes.Certain conditions have to exist before competition can work to deliver improved outcomes. These conditions are often ignored or exist only in part. More often than not incentives are unrelated to quality . Vouchers can and do work but they must be differentiated and well targeted in order, for example, to help disadvantaged pupils. There is much evidence that autonomy works but it must be embedded within a high quality accountability framework. He wants competition between schools but collaboration between teachers . He said there is evidence that the initial academies have improved outcomes but overall progress has not ,to date ,been particularly significant, partly because academies have limited autonomy and partly because of limited incentives within the system.Failing schools dont close and outstanding schools rarely expand to meet demand. Profit making schools are important to drive systemic improvement. There is little evidence that Swedish reform would successfully have increased competition and educational attainment without the profit motive. This is something the UK government should learn from he says. Sahlgren noted that Sweden’s recent relative decline in Pisa ratings has nothing to do with introducing competition. Indeed competition has actually ensured that Swedens decline is less than it would otherwise have been. Sweden’s problem is that it has very weak accountability measures and poor on-going information on schools and student performance, compounded by changes in teaching practice that focus more on group teaching and learning than the needs of individual learners.
Sahlgren wants, among other things , to see a major pilot for vouchers, as well as profit making schools operating within the state system. Parents could be given a voucher for the cost of their childs education in a state school ie just over £5,200 pa in a secondary school (£4,100 pa- Primary). If parents shop around then some schools may fail but that is a price that has to be paid if competition is to benefit the system overall.
An innovative way of financing education is via cash transfers to schools based on enrolments or by providing cash to families to purchase schooling – in other words- through vouchers. It is often assumed that those who promote vouchers are from the libertarian right. Some may be, of course, but there are many on the left of the political spectrum who like the idea of targeted vouchers, specifically to help the most disadvantaged pupils to gain access to good public schools. It is often forgotten that in the USA one major vouchers supporter is Michelle Rhee, a Democrat, who was a reformist chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools from 2007 to 2010.
THE MIDDLE YEARS PROGRAMME OF THE INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE-RESEARCH SHOWS PARENTS PUPILS AND TEACHERS POSITIVE ABOUT ITS BENEFITS
THE MIDDLE YEARS PROGRAMME OF IB
Few schools run the MYP but teachers parents and pupils like it, according to NFER research
The International Baccalaureate (IB), it is often forgotten, operates at three levels: the Primary Years Programme- for students aged between 5 and 11, the Middle Years Programme (MYP) -for those aged between 11 and 16 and the Diploma Programme in the Sixth Form, 16 -18. The last format is the most common in the UK.
Indeed , the Primary and Middle Years levels are rarely taught in the UK . Currently,13 schools in the UK offer the Primary Years Programme , 11 schools offer the Middle Years Programme and 189 schools offer the Diploma Programme .
Wellington College is one of the select few to offer both the Middle Years and Diploma programmes of the IB. Wellingtons Master, Dr Anthony Seldon, admitted, when he introduced the MYP, a few years ago, that it was a risk. He introduced it because of his, ( and some pupils and parents) disillusionment with the GCSE format, and the GCSES perceived failure to enable the delivery of a rounded education. Many have criticised the GCSE format ,with Seldon one of its leading critics. But he did more than criticise. He offered an alternative.
The IB, generally, educates around 5,000 students, most of whom are in state schools. The UK is now the third largest user of the IB worldwide .However ,quite a few schools which offer the IB diploma , also offer, concurrently, A levels as an option. Perversely, recent performance tables on university entry subjects ignored the IB Diploma Programme and Pre-U, two existing alternatives to A levels.
In GCSEs subjects are discrete collections of facts grouped by academic disciplines. However there is a growing feeling among teachers that pupils need to explore the connections between subjects. Interdisciplinary, joined up learning, they believe, really matters. Subjects shouldn’t be taught in silos. With GCSEs there does seem to be an assumption that there is a finite body of knowledge and a right answer (known by the teacher, to be used in the exam).Examiners have strict guidelines to follow which some feel punishes the brightest who do not deliver formulaic answers. But knowledge is an “exploding”, ever expanding concept so the ability to be critical, to think outside artificial boundaries and to be reflective, is essential for life-long learning and individual development. In short, the IB in its various incarnations (not to be confused with the Ebacc) believes in the autonomy of subjects and academic disciplines, but also in their connectivity and for the need for pupils to be global in their outlook. It also encourages the kind of disciplines, including intellectual inquiry and critical thinking, much in demand among employers, and universities, but which are in short supply.
So, are there any downsides?. Possibly. The IB formats are demanding on both teachers and students and require a degree of self-reliance and discipline which in not always evident in pupils. And because they demand more teachers’ time they are more expensive to deliver than other formats. Anthony Seldon has pointed out too that there is a perception that the IB receives unsympathetic offers from some universities, and this is having a direct impact on the number opting to sit the diploma. Recent research by Anna Vignoles and Francis Green ,of the Institute of Education, uncovered a systematic underestimating of top applicants with IB qualifications. But those IB students who are accepted by top universities, they find, tend to perform better than similar A-level students and are more likely to achieve upper-second-class degrees or firsts.
But what of the MYP? One noteworthy aspect of the MYP is that it comes in two basic forms. Either a school, can take the more expensive route seeking the MYP as a full stand-alone qualification: ie with certification (which is what Wellington College has opted for), or schools go the other non-certification route and use it as a way station to the IB Diploma, which is what most schools, using the MYP in the UK, do. However if a pupil leaves school, at 16, for whatever reason, and has been studying the MYP, but not with certification, then they will leave with no qualification to show to future employers, which might be a consideration for some parents.
Dr Seldon will be particularly pleased by the findings of a recent an NFER report on the IB Middle Years programme. The NFER conducted an investigation into the teaching and learning benefits of the IB MYP, in the UK. The aim was to provide a rich qualitative picture of the programme implementation in the UK, including the impact of the MYP on non-scholastic attributes such as international mindedness and civic engagement, classroom learning environments and school culture. The research design included a comparison of IBMYP, GCSE and IGCSE curriculum and assessment documents, online surveys of teachers, students and parents, and four detailed qualitative case studies.
The Key findings:
IBMYP, GCSE and iGCSE curriculums covered broadly similar content, but IBMYP had a greater focus on thinking skills and international mindedness.
Teachers, students and parents were overwhelmingly positive about the programme and its benefits, although did acknowledge some challenges, especially in regard to public recognition in the UK.
MYP in the UK:
Promotes a teaching style and school ethos valued by teachers, parents and students;
Develops students as independent learners, critical thinkers and active citizens, and encourages involvement in local and global communities;
Impacts positively on school culture and classroom environments – promotes feedback and reflection, engaging and motivating for students and teachers;
MYP students demonstrate greater awareness of global issues, greater interest in understanding other cultures and greater self-efficacy and sense of civic responsibility (local and global) than other students in the UK.
Teachers had positive views on the programme, but some teachers held negative views about the MYP qualification. In particular, the lack of recognition in the UK was identified as problematic. Some uncertainty was expressed about how the qualification would be perceived by universities.
Offering the MYP alongside the National Curriculum was identified as the main challenge of delivery and development of the MYP. Some teachers expressed the view that schools cannot deliver both programmes effectively.
The majority of students said they enjoyed participating in the programme and acknowledged the benefits of its focus on critical thinking and reflection whilst accepting the greater workload they perceived, compared with other courses. Students, unlike parents and teachers, expressed less concern that the IB MYP qualification may be less useful than GCSE or IGCSE courses. A number of students felt that too much reflection was required and some felt that the assessment criteria could be clearer.
The survey found ‘IB MYP students reported high levels of awareness on issues such as diversity, social justice, human rights, sustainable development, conflict resolution and interdependence as well as understanding how cultural values and assumptions shape behaviours. Although ‘self-reported’, and therefore to be interpreted with some caution, the awareness levels of IB MYP students were significantly different from, and higher than, those of students in non IB schools; they were also more likely to cite school assemblies, lessons and trips alongside family and friends as major sources of learning about these issues. In terms of their attitudes and beliefs in relation to global issues, the responses of IB MYP students were significantly different; more said they like learning about 110 different cultures and people with different backgrounds than non-IB students. They also demonstrated more strongly positive views in terms of ‘self- efficacy‘ in relation to the global issues mentioned i.e. the extent to which, as individuals, could make a difference or contribute to the global community. In terms of citizenship self-efficacy, the belief in one’s own ability to participate in citizenship issues, identified as a driver of participatory citizenship in adulthood, IB MYP students were more likely than non IB students to report that they thought they could do the following well: argue their point of view about a controversial political or social issue; follow a television debate about a controversial issue; speak in front of the class about a social or political issue or discuss a newspaper article about a conflict between countries. Finally, when asked about actions they might become involved in the next few years, IB MYP students were more likely than non-IB students to report that they would volunteer time to help people in the local community, talk to others about their views on political and social issues and join an organisation for a political or social cause. All of the non-scholastic attributes displayed by IB MYP students and discussed above reflect the IB ethos and demonstrate that the students espouse the values the MYP strives to promote.
Whether or not the IB continues to expand probably depends on whether reforms to GCSEs and A levels offer, to some degree at least ,what the IB is currently offering to parents and pupils. (unlikely as things stand, but there is a way to go) The IB exists because there is a demand for what it offers to students, because it claims not to be subject to grade inflation and because of the perception ,among some stakeholders, that GCSEs, and to some extent, A levels, are not fit for purpose. Will the IB expand significantly into State schools? On cost grounds alone, this seems unlikely, over the medium term. And while this report on the MYP is broadly positive ,the big question is that -if its so good, why have so few schools opted to take up the qualification?
NFER-Report for the International Baccalaureate
International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) in the UK-2013
Performance pay-be careful what you wish for
From September 2013, the set “spine points” on teachers main pay scale are to be scrapped, with schools free to set teachers’ pay anywhere between minimum and maximum levels depending on performance.
While academies are already free to deviate from national pay structures, (very few have, to date) the plans drawn up by the STRB – and accepted in full by the Department for Education – will now give other schools greater power to link teachers’ pay to performance.
It is clear that the issue of performance related pay is high on this governments agenda. Ministers are trying to raise the quality of teaching to compare with the best in the world. The OECD (2009) concluded that “the effective monitoring and evaluation of teaching is central to the continuous improvement of the effectiveness of teaching in a school”. It is less clear that this issue is high on teachers and governors agendas.
The last Labour government introduced a PRP system in the late 1990’s and just about every teacher who was eligible met the criteria for a pay rise ,(96%) so it didn’t really work . In short, it failed effectively to link extra rewards to higher performance. Heads and governors dont much like dealing with this sensitive issue head on as inevitably it causes some conflicts and ill feeling within staff rooms, which may go some way to explaining why the last system failed.
Central to PRP or ‘merit ‘pay is the ability to accurately measure and evaluate individual teachers performance. The system you develop should be fair, efficient and not have a large bureaucracy attached to it. And that is why,frankly, it is problematic.
The three most common ways to evaluate teacher effectiveness, according to research, are gains in test scores, classroom observations and pupil surveys. Each method though has its known weaknesses. Teacher observation apparently is the least predictive method of assessing teacher effectiveness. Nonetheless, despite this, those involved with teacher evaluation say that each element has its place within a comprehensive and fair teacher evaluation system. The key they claim is to get the right balance between these different elements, which is easier said than done.
Of these elements, gains in pupil test scores are seen by most as the best available metric to measure teacher performance. However, as they are finding in the USA, it doesn’t come without its problems. (around forty states have introduced some form of merit pay, incentivised to do so by the Federal government) . Although schools can have a substantial impact on performance, student test scores can also increase, decrease or remain flat for reasons that have little or nothing to do with schools. Measurement errors can occur, while parental education levels, family’s economic circumstances, and parental involvement, can also play a role. There is self-evidently a strong incentive for playing the numbers to look successful on “quality” measures since the numbers carry substantial consequences for the teacher. This is a very high stakes game. Working out how to look good, through test results, becomes an end in itself, with the numbers becoming more important than the primary task of teaching students. Given that many politicians now worry about teachers being pre-occupied with teaching to the test, and children’s education suffering as a consequence, introducing test scores as the primary metric to evaluate teachers is going to encourage more (indeed all) teachers to teach to the test ,not less.
It would seem that Value-added or progress measures, rather than absolute test or exam results, should be the primary data used in evaluating performance, certainly this is what many experts recommend. But, and its quite a big but, measuring value added is itself not free from controversy and there are different models available, with their own strengths and weaknesses, and with no clear consensus identifiable.
There are ways, though, of using pay to encourage groups of teachers to work better together to improve outcomes. And, if one is honest about this issue, it sticks in the craw that outstanding teachers are not rewarded as they should be, while poor teachers can stay in the profession for life having a hugely negative effect on students life opportunities, and education outcomes, while acting as a drag on improving the system more generally (quite apart from irritating their better performing peers).
To recap-to make progress in this area you need to develop a system that is fair, balanced, transparent and not too bureaucratic. They are still struggling with this challenge in the States, where they are well ahead of us in both thinking and practice on this issue.
One recent study titled ‘The Use and Misuse of Teacher Appraisal’ (Laura Figazzolo- Education International Research Institute Consultant- January 2013) found: ‘ The evidence is that many dimensions need to be taken into account when evaluating teachers. Student achievements are but one dimension – especially when these are standardized tests. Where teacher appraisal is based on professional standards, classroom observations, curriculum development, and a wide range of associated factors which are associated with teaching and teacher perspectives, comprehensive methods seem to be able to provide more valuable information. When teacher appraisal arrangements and policies are conceived with the participation of teachers and their unions, comprehensive methods seem to be able to gain teachers’ trust and provide valuable information. As such, they are gaining growing recognition in the debate on teacher appraisal’
It is frustratingly true that schools here seeking expert advice and guidance on this issue will be confronted with much conflicting evidence and the issue is neither simple nor straightforward..
- PAYING FOR RESULTS-CAN IT HELP RAISE PERFORMANCE- OR DOES IT CORRUPT THE LOVE OF LEARNING?
- PROSPECTS JOINS MUTUAL JOINT VENTURE TO DELIVER PUBLIC SERVICES-GOVERNMENT KEEN ON EMPLOYEE OWNED MUTUALS DELIVERING PUBLIC SERVICES
- PROFESSOR TONY WATTS RESIGNS FROM THE NATIONAL CAREERS COUNCIL
- EDISON LEARNING AND THE NAHT UNION LAUNCH A SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVE WITH DFE BACKING
- THE FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF ACADEMIES-WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE ARE CONCERNS?
- PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE REPORT ON ACADEMIES-SOME CONCERNS OVER FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
- CAIRNS OF BRIGHTON COLLEGE BACKS ACADEMIES
- IS CAREERS ADVICE IN SCHOOLS EFFECTIVE OR IS IT TOO EARLY TO SAY?
- LEMOVS TEACH LIKE A CHAMPION -TOP TECHNIQUES USED BY THE BEST TEACHERS
- THE PUPIL PREMIUM AND SPECIAL SCHOOLS
- EDUCATION EXPORTS-NEW GOVERNMENT STRATEGY IN THE WINGS?
- INSPECTING ACADEMY CHAINS-ON THE AGENDA
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