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
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
LEAGUE TABLES AND ‘FACILITATING’ A LEVELS
Does it make sense?
The Government says that it wants A Level students to follow a broad academic programme, post 16, that prepares them for degree-level study and keeps open as many university course options as possible. It wants universities to help design A levels too. And for them to concentrate first on the so called ’ facilitating subjects’. The facilitating subjects are those that are most often required by universities. The list is made up of Maths and further maths; Physics; Biology; Chemistry; History; Geography; Modern and classical languages; English Literature. (see Russell Group FAQs)
The government has introduced a new measure into the school league tables for the first time this year. It’s a measure of the percentage of 18 year olds who achieved overall grades AAB or better in these facilitating subjects. These institutions would usually expect at least two of those subjects to have been taken for most of their degree courses. The Government, however, is judging schools by whether students studied these subjects in all three of their A-levels. Christopher Jefferys in a blog for the Good Schools Guide, says there are grounds for asking- why? Of course these subjects are important, he accepts. By what logic does having taught more pupils for this narrow range of subjects indicate that one school is providing a better or more successful education than another? Given the proportion of senior politicians and cabinet members who studied PPE at Oxford, he wonders how many of them would have passed the three-A-levels-in-facilitating-subjects-at-grades-AAB. The Prime Minister for the record took A-levels in History of Art, History, and Economics (with Politics), so he scores one out of three. So, suggests Jefferys, this measure-three facilitating subjects- on the face of it looks questionable and arbitrary. He has a point.
Laura McInerney, a former teacher, now consultant, writing in the Guardian this week, would probably agree. She is at a loss to understand why these subjects are regarded as ’facilitating’, as leading universities do not actually require three of these subjects. The Russell Group only suggests taking at least two of these subjects. And then only if a student wants to keep their options open. McInerney finds little logic in the approach. She writes ‘A student can study geography at Oxbridge without having done geography A-level. To do music, they must have studied music at A-level. Hence, not having music actually closes that option, whereas not having geography does not. So the list fails immediately even by its own logic.’ Indeed.
The Head of Tiffin School wrote to the Director of the Russell Group, pointing out that only 44% of their students got AAB in facilitating subjects, but 89% got into Russell Group universities (Source LSN)
GOVE, HIRSCH AND THE CURRICULUM
New curriculum will focus on core knowledge-influenced by Hirsch
E.D. Hirsch is an American professor whose radical ideas about what should be taught in schools are set to have a profound effect on English schools. A favoured intellectual of the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, Hirsch advocates a curriculum strongly grounded in facts and knowledge. He also believes that there are certain specific ideas, works of literature and scientific concepts which everyone should know so that they can be active participants in society. This is aimed at counteracting what Gove describes as a prevailing left-wing or ‘progressive’ ideology among teachers.
In a speech to the Social Market Foundation, on 5 February, Gove promised to rid the curriculum of “vapid happy talk” and ensure pupils had a structured “stock of knowledge”.
Hirsch promoted the idea of the importance of cultural literacy—the necessary information that students must have to understand what they read. After arguing, in Cultural Literacy (1988), that young people are not becoming good readers because they lack cultural literacy, Hirsch set out to remedy the problem by “spelling out, grade by grade, in detail, what students must know in a variety of fields if they are to be competent and understanding readers.” In addition to this Core Knowledge curriculum, Hirsch launched a system of Core Knowledge schools to teach it along with a Core Knowledge Foundation to support them. Indeed his Core Knowledge curriculum, created in 1986, is now used in more than 1,000 schools and preschools in 47 States. So teaching a core knowledge is essential. And this must detail specific information for students to learn. It is a “lasting body of knowledge, which includes such topics as the basic principles of constitutional government, mathematics and language skills, important events in world history, and acknowledged masterpieces of art, music and literature” Hirsch asserts that “the principal aim of schooling is to promote literacy as an enabling competence”. Crucially general knowledge should be a goal of education because it “makes people competent regardless of race, class or ethnicity while also making people more competent in the tasks of life.” This general knowledge includes knowing a range of objective facts. Hirsch says that highly skilled intellectual competence only comes after one knows a lot of facts.
Knowledge, according to Hirsch, is “intellectual capital” – that is “the knowledge and skill a person possesses at a given moment.” He also says that the more knowledge and skill a person has, the more they can acquire. “Learning builds on learning” he argues. So, the more a person knows, believes Hirsch, the more a person can learn in a multiplier effect. He calls existing knowledge “mental Velcro”, which allows for additional knowledge to become attached to it , and so a memory replete with facts learns better than one without.
In his speech Gove criticised the widespread opposition to the English Baccalaureate, the performance measure introduced in 2010 which gauges secondary schools by the proportion of pupils who get a C or above in six GCSEs – English, maths, two of the sciences, history or geography and a language.
“The reaction from the Labour party, the teaching unions, teacher training institutions and all too many figures ostensibly dedicated to cultural excellence was visceral horror,” Gove said.
In the most scathing and personal section of the speech Gove argued that his Labour shadow, Stephen Twigg, along with the party’s leader, Ed Miliband, and Ed Balls, the children’s minister turned shadow chancellor, wanted to deny disadvantaged pupils the benefits of a liberal education of the sort they enjoyed in studying for degrees in politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford.
Dipping into popular TV culture by referencing the TV costume drama Downton Abbey, Gove said: “The current leadership of the Labour party react to the idea that working-class students might study the subjects they studied with the same horror that the Earl of Grantham showed when a chauffeur wanted to marry his daughter.
“Labour, under their current leadership, want to be the Downton Abbey party when it comes to educational opportunity. They think working-class children should stick to the station in life they were born into – they should be happy to be recognised for being good with their hands and not presume to get above themselves.”
London’s Pimlico Academy is one pioneering school that has introduced a ”Hirsch-style” curriculum in its new primary school. Two young women are leading this experiment: Anneliese Briggs and Daisy Christodoulou. Pimlico Academy of course is supported by venture capitalist Lord Nash, recently appointed an education minister to replace Lord Hill.
Ed Hirsch’s thinking, which Gove so admires (as does Nick Gibb the former schools Minister) is seen as antithetical to the progressive, child centred approach to education as articulated by thinkers such as John Dewey (active in early twentieth century). To be fair , concerning Dewey, his views are often caricatured by critics and taken out of context partly, one suspects, because they are not so easily understood and he is a less easily accessible writer than Hirsch. And, of course, he isn’t around to clarify his ideas for us. Dewey wanted a better balance between delivering knowledge and memorisation while fully taking into account the interests and experiences of the student. Dewey became one of the most famous proponents of hands-on learning or ‘experiential’ education. Hirsch has had more influence on US schools. And, significantly, the best performing US state-Massachusetts-is heavily influenced by Hirsch, hence it is frequently referenced by Gove. Hirsch has studied Massachusetts. He found that Massachusetts was one of three states that made the most progress at reducing achievement gaps between 1998 and 2005. Between 2002 and 2009, the scores of African-Americans and Hispanics on both fourth- and eighth-grade reading tests improved more rapidly than those of white students. Low-income students made gains as well. “If you are a disadvantaged parent with a school-age child,” Hirsch said in 2008, “Massachusetts is . . . the state to move to.”
Survey of heads suggests cuts to vocational provision in schools
Cause for alarm?
New research carried out by the IPPR think tank, supported by the Edge Foundation, an independent charity that supports practical, technical and vocational education, shows that 60 per cent of schools are either planning to cut the provision of vocational qualifications or have already done so.
This is despite 85 per cent of school leaders agreeing that vocational qualifications are valuable for their students. The IPPR says that the results of this survey of senior teachers in English state schools suggests that potentially valuable vocational courses are being removed from school curriculums as a result of changes in 2012 that cut 96 per cent of courses from school performance league tables following recommendations in the Wolf report.
This month marks a year since the government announced the removal of the majority of GCSE-equivalent vocational qualifications from the school performance league tables, in response to valid concerns about the rigour and value of some courses.
When interviewed, two thirds (66 per cent) of the senior school leaders whose schools were cutting vocational provisions admitted that the decision had been taken as a result of the changes to the school performance tables. Just 15 per cent said that the reason for reducing the number of vocational courses was that they did not believe that the courses were valuable.
By contrast, four in five (79 per cent) senior teachers interviewed agreed that vocational qualifications provided a firm foundation for school leavers to join the world of work. Not only that, over two thirds (69 per cent) agreed that vocational qualifications were useful not only for those leaving school aged 16 but ‘offer a strong foundation for further study or training’.
Jan Hodges, CEO of the Edge Foundation, which supported the research, said:
“We want high quality vocational qualifications to achieve parity alongside other educational routes for young people. Our concern is that in attempting to guarantee quality the Government has used a sledgehammer to crack the nut. Schools are now being forced to drop valuable technical, practical and work-related courses or risk getting no credit for the provision.”
The IPPR concludes
‘This poll supports what education analysts have known for some time: that head teachers are highly sensitive to what the government measures in its school performance tables. England needs a self-improving school system in which schools are able to offer learning opportunities that they are confident are in the best interests of their young people. This requires a reformed accountability system for schools that creates fewer perverse incentives and a qualifications framework that is less vulnerable to changing political imperatives in Whitehall.’
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “Previously schools could do well in performance tables by offering poor-value qualifications, 94% of which failed rigorous tests by experts to check their value to pupils’ future education and employment prospects. “We strongly believe that vocational education needs transforming for young people to succeed in today’s job market, which is why we have overhauled the system to recognise only high quality vocational courses that lead directly to a skilled trade or profession.”
Survey of 252 senior teaching leaders in English state schools in England carried out by Opinion Matters between 10th and 21st December, 2012.
Note-The Edge Foundation wants to ensure that “learning by doing” is valued equally with academic learning
GRIT AND ITS MEASUREMENT
There are challenges in measuring non-cognitive factors but they are not insurmountable
Non-cognitive factors is a catch-all term for factors such as motivation, grit, self-regulation, social skills, emotional intelligence – in short, mental constructs that we think contribute to student success, and which are attractive to employers. Yes you need literacy, numeracy ICT, and other cognitive skills too, which are tested. But a rounded education amounts to much more than a grasp of cognitive skills, a fact that escapes rather too many politicians, if not employers and admissions tutors.
Looking at, and acknowledging the importance of, non-cognitive factors in education and in everyday school life is the new zeitgeist .There is plenty of data to show that researchers are on to something quite important here. But Professor Dan Willingham poses on his blog a pretty fundamental question about non-cognitive factors – is there anything here that educators are likely to be able to use in the next few years? Or are we going to be defeated by the measurement problem ? The short answer to this is that there are challenges and problems but they are probably not insurmountable. According to Willingham ‘the measurement problem in non-cognitive factors shouldn’t be overstated’.
There is for example a shared core construct on self-regulated learning* (Sitzman & Ely, 2011), Their review examines the current state of research on ‘self-regulated learning’ and gaps in the field’s understanding of how adults regulate their learning of work-related knowledge and skills. Goal level, persistence, effort, and self-efficacy were the self-regulation constructs with the strongest effects on learning. Together these constructs accounted for 17% of the variance in learning, after controlling for cognitive ability and pretraining knowledge. And Angela Duckworth (Duckworth & Quinn, 2009) has made headway in developing a standard measure of grit. The Grit Scale measures trait-level perseverance and passion for long-term goals. (so ‘grit’ is distinguished from self-control by its emphasis on the pursuit of a long-term goal). Duckworth, as a doctoral student, sought some way to make sense of the qualities that go beyond IQ: “People who accomplished great things, she noticed, often combined a passion for a single mission with an unswerving dedication to achieve that mission, whatever the obstacles and however long it might take.” She named this quality “grit” and then came up with this quite straightforward Grit Scale for measuring it. It’s deceptively simple, only takes a few minutes to fill out, (see links below) and relies on the usually notoriously unreliable method of self-reporting. But when she tested it, she found that it was powerfully predictive of success. She tested it, for example, on college students and found that those who scored high on the Grit Scale had higher Grade Point Averages ,even if they initially had lower college tests. She tested it on West Point cadets too, and it turned out to be the most accurate predictor of who finished the gruelling course.
Self-regulated learning is the process of taking control of and evaluating one’s own learning and behaviour. It can be used to describe learning that is guided by metacognition (thinking about one’s thinking), strategic action (planning, monitoring, and evaluating personal progress against a standard), and crucially motivation to learn.
Dan Willingham’s Science and education blog 22 Jan 2013
Duckworth, A.L, & Quinn, P.D. (2009). Development and validation of the Short Grit Scale (Grit-S). Journal of Personality Assessment, 91, 166-174.http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~duckwort/images/Duckworth%20and%20Quinn.pdf
Duckworth, A.L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M.D., & Kelly, D.R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 9, 1087-1101.http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~duckwort/images/Grit%20JPSP.pdf
Sitzmann, T, & Ely, K. (2011). A meta-analysis of self-regulated learning in work-related training and educational attainment: What we know and where we need to go. Psychological Bulletin, 137, 421-442.
Duckworths Short Grit Scale
WHAT ARE ACADEMIES OBLIGED TO TEACH?
Academies and Free schools do not have to follow the national curriculum. But… and its quite a big but..
‘Academies must teach a broad and balanced curriculum’, and there are a number of statutory and other requirements.
Key statutory requirements
‘Academies are required to have a broad and balanced curriculum which promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils and prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.’
For pupils below key stage 1 (i.e. reception and nursery), academies are required to follow the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Summary of requirements under the funding agreement
While academies are not required to follow the National Curriculum they are required to ensure their curriculum:
includes English, maths and science;
includes Religious Education, although the nature of this will depend on whether the school has a faith designation;
secures access to independent, impartial careers advice for pupils in years 9-11; and
includes sex and relationship education (SRE).
Academies are required to take part in the following assessments:
Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (in reception);
Teacher assessments at Key Stage 1;
National tests at Key Stage 2;
Teacher assessments at Key Stage 3; and
All relevant monitoring arrangements as prescribed by the Secretary of State.
Are the curriculum requirements the same for all academies?
No. ‘Prior to September 2010, some funding agreements required academies to follow the National Curriculum Programmes of Study in English, maths and science (and in some cases ICT). We (DFE) will be writing to those academies to say that we will not enforce those contractual provisions.’
(I assume that the DFE has already informed the relevant academies about this)
Source Academy Curriculum Fact Sheet, DFE, up dated December 2012
Remember, Academies and Free schools are ‘autonomous’ in the sense that they have certain freedoms, over the curriculum, pay, etc and are ‘freed’ from local authority bureaucracy but each school, nonetheless, is subject to a Funding Agreement with the DFE . The funding agreements are essentially contracts between the Secretary of State and the organisation which establishes and runs the school ( ie ‘the academy trust’) . This varies between schools. So Academies are still subject to central controls, and, of course, Ofsted inspections. Although Lord Adonis wanted the DNA of independent schools transferred to academies it would be something of a challenge to argue that academies are as autonomous or ‘free’ as independent schools. Could, for example, the Secretary of State object to the appointment of a governor in an independent school? I think not.
Academies are charities run by an academy trust. But they are what is termed ’ exempt ‘charities. So , rather than being regulated by the independent Charities Commission they are regulated by the Secretary of State . Indeed, the Secretary of State prescribes membership of the trustee body in some detail. So’“exempt” charities in this case at least may be operating in an even more regulated and much more highly politicised environment than is the case for conventional charities
Neil Postman argued the importance of shared narratives about what schools are for
The debate continues
Neil Postman stressed that his main purpose in his 1995 book the End of Education was to promote a serious conversation about the underlying reasons for education — not about policies, management, assessment, and other , as he described it, ‘engineering’ matters. While these are important, he states, “they ought rightfully to be addressed after decisions are made about what schools are for.” Here we are in 2013 still debating what schools are for.
Postman identified what he took to be the “false gods” of modern education. What keeps our schools from being effective, he said, is the lack of commonly accepted stories, or narratives, that give meaning and direction to schooling. In short education, is geared toward economic utility, consumerism, technology, multiculturalism and other ‘bogus’ objectives. The problem is that narratives such as these to his mind are incapable of providing a rich and sustaining rationale for public education.
For education to be meaningful, Postman contends, young people, their parents, and their teachers must have common, shared narratives. Narratives are essential because they provide a sense of personal identity, a sense of community life, a basis for moral conduct, and explanations of that which cannot be known. The idea of public education requires not only shared narratives, but also the absence of narratives that lead to alienation and divisiveness. “What makes public schools public,” writes Postman, “is not so much that the schools have common goals but that the students have common gods.”
So what are these narratives? There are five:
“Spaceship Earth” (the notion of humans as stewards of the planet); Through subjects such as ecology, anthropology, and astronomy, students could develop an ethic of care and a proper perspective on their place in the order of things.
“The Fallen Angel” (a view of history and the advancement of knowledge as a series of errors and corrections); Postman says we ought to let our students peek more often behind the facade of textbook truths to the process of argument, reflection, and doubt.
“The American Experiment” (the story of America as a great experiment and as a centre of continuous argument); Postman suggests that we all need a healthier dose of civic pride and patriotism in order to make an ongoing contribution to the narrative of democracy and society
“The Laws of Diversity” (the view that difference contributes to increased vitality and excellence, and, ultimately, to a sense of unity); By this he means that students should explore the inherently multicultural nature of modern beliefs and practices. If we look closely, Postman says, we find that language, religion, art, and custom travel well across cultural borders; historically they are the product of much borrowing and intermingling.
“The Word Weavers/The World Makers” (the understanding that the world is created through language — through definitions, questions, and metaphors). Postman urges a more reflexive approach to the use of language. Stressing our species’ unique legacy, he suggests that as “word weavers” we are also “world makers.” He urges us to “free our minds from the tyranny of definitions” (p. 183). Students must penetrate the root metaphors and definitions that provide frameworks for inquiry across the human arts and sciences.
Postman offers some radical ideas. Too radical, maybe. He argues that textbooks should be altogether eliminated because they have a deadening effect on students and promote a view of education as the acquisition of immutable facts. He proposes that teachers offer incentives to students who find errors in their teachers’ lessons. (no go area for unions) And he feels, as we have seen, that the subjects of archaeology, ecology, geology and astronomy be given the highest priority since they imbue students with a sense of awe and global interdependence (what about all the other subjects that demand time in curriculum, including the arts). Teaching on democracy and diversity and ‘American History’ are susceptible, of course, to manipulation by politicians who can have their own often subjective , polarised and parochial versions of what is important and right. (politicians all have their own whimsical views about what should and should not appear in the curriculum)
Postman posits a moral philosophy of education which is certainly thought provoking. He offers too a scaffolding upon which to build a curriculum. (slightly reminded here of the Big History approach- which examines history scientifically using a multi-disciplinary approach from the Big Bang to the present. ) But it is hard to see how his vision has much resonance today. For example, also taking into account his other work, he sees the erosion of culture by technology, so the role of the school should not be to maintain pace with change but rather to provide an oasis of tradition and quietude from which to observe the technological frenzy that is modern society- so how would that sit with current thinking? (though its true that wildly ambitious claims (ie evidence lite) have been made for how technology can improve learning outcomes) He seems to be trying to save, as he sees it, public education because it is the only means by which American culture can be preserved from the rampages of uncontrolled technological development. So what sounded interesting and cutting edge in the 1990s now looks a bit jaded, maybe?
But, as the debate continues into 2013, on what education is for, he provides a useful and provocative source.
Postman, N. (1995). The end of education: Redefining the value of school. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Postman, N. (1992). Technopoly: The surrender of culture to technology. New York: Vintage Books.
Recently, the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) released the results of TIMSS (Trends in Mathematics and Science Study) covering mathematics and science in 63 countries and PIRLS (Progress in Reading Literacy Study) in 48 countries, while the OECDs PISA study has just finished testing in schools for its next report, due in 2013. And Pearson of course has just published its Learning Curve index, (in which England does rather well)
How is it possible for these surveys to come up with apparently contradictory results?
Pasi Sahlberg, a prominent Finnish educator and author of the award-winning book “Finnish Lessons”, (book of the year ,according to Lord Adonis) says that TIMSS and PISA are technically different studies, although they both build on similar measurement methodology. The simplified distinction between these two studies is that whereas TIMSS tests students’ mastery of what have been taught from the curricula, PISA assesses how students can use the knowledge and skills that they were taught in new situations (ie to problem solve). These both are student assessment studies. Pearson’s “The Learning Curve” index ,on the other hand ,consists of different indicators and is therefore a composite index. The problem with any study that relies on composite index is that it is open to designer manipulation. “Global Economic Competitiveness Index” and “The Best Country in the World” are good examples, similar to “The Learning Curve.”
Sahlberg notes these international standardized tests are becoming global curriculum standards . Indeed, OECD ‘ has observed that its PISA test is already playing an important role in national policy making and education reforms in many countries. Schools, teachers and students are now prepared in advance to take these tests.’ So teachers are now, in effect, teaching to these test even if they aren’t aware of it. Learning materials are adjusted accordingly to fit to the style of these assessments. Life in many schools around the world is becoming split into important academic study that these tests measure, and other not-so-important study that these measurements don’t cover. One has to wonder whether or not this is a good thing. Quite a lot of what happens in schools and is important to children’s ’education’ and ‘ learning’ either isn’t or cant be , reliably tested.
A McKinsey report, also just published, tells us how education systems aren’t preparing young people adequately with the necessary skills for the job market , while education providers are far more optimistic than employers, or youth, that graduates are adequately prepared by their institution for entry-level jobs in their chosen field. We should take heed of these perceptions.At a time when educationalists worry about teaching to the test and the perceived failure of education systems to deliver rounded individuals, with the right balance between cognitive and non-cognitive skills, aren’t these tests taking systems in an opposite trajectory?It’s certainly worth asking the question.
TOUGH ON CHARACTER
‘How children Succeed’-its not just about cognitive skills
Character is what leads to lasting success
If you do well in exams and pass the tests you are set to succeed in life. Not necessarily. Until recently, most economists and psychologists believed that the most important factor in a child’s success was his or her IQ. This notion is behind the obsession with test scores. Tests, of course, are important, but there is much in a child’s education and learning that cannot be reliably tested. It is also the case that confidence in the testing regime, certainly in England, is at an all time low.And an individual’s non-cognitive abilities are now assuming much greater importance to employers who need them in the workplace
Education policymakers here and in the States have been driven by the need to promote more rigour and robustness in academic standards. Test-based accountability measures have been enacted with the intention of holding schools accountable for reaching these higher standards, measuring pupils cognitive skills. Its nearly all about content knowledge and testable academic skills. But in How Children Succeed, Paul Tough argues that the qualities that matter most for students have more to do with character: skills like perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control. Economists call these non-cognitive skills. Psychologists call them personality traits. Neuroscientists sometimes use the term ‘ executive functions’. The rest of us often sum them up with the word ‘character’. Tough offers the revolutionary concept that character, unlike DNA, is not fixed or completely innate in a person. It is, in a word that recurs throughout How Children Succeed, malleable.
This is what Tough says’ … the conventional wisdom is that the big problem for low-income kids is that they don’t get enough cognitive stimulation early on. In fact, what seems to have more of an effect is the chaotic environments that many low-income kids grow up in and the often stressful relationships they have with the adults around them. That makes a huge difference in how children’s brains develop, and scientists are now able to trace a direct route from those early negative experiences to later problems in school, health, and behaviour. The problem is that science isn’t yet reflected in the way we run our schools and operate our social safety net. And that’s a big part of why so many low-income kids don’t do well in school. We now know better than ever what kind of help they need to succeed in school. But very few schools are equipped to deliver that help.’
Tough talked about character in a recent interview, citing the KIPP chain of not for profit charter schools and its dedicated founder, David Levin. KIPP schools produce report cards for academic performance but also character assessment. “Dave is doing new and important work,” Tough said, adding: ‘He has a new vision for character and it’s quite scientific in that he’s trying to figure out which character strengths make a difference in a kid’s success. And at the root of his research and thinking is the assertion that character is… a set of qualities that [enables] kids to change themselves and qualities that parents and teachers can instil.’ The schools Tough writes about in “How Children Succeed” that are collaborating on a character initiative are those KIPP charter schools in New York City, which serve a mostly low-income student population, and Riverdale Country School, a private school in the Bronx that serves a mostly high-income student population. Together, they have come up with a list of seven character strengths they are trying to encourage in their students. KIPP had discovered that their most successful students were not necessarily those that came top in tests but those, instead, that were the most resilient .
Tough points out that protective parents, with the best of motives, might well be harming the longer term prospects for their children: ‘By not giving them the chance to learn to manage adversity, to cope with failure, we produce kids who have real problems when they grow up. Overcoming adversity is what produces character. And character, even more than IQ, is what leads to real and lasting success.’
In the words of a recent academic study (see below) ‘… there is still much to be learned about how to leverage non-cognitive factors to transform educational practice from its current focus on content knowledge and testable academic skills to the broader development of adolescents as learners.’
The Consortium on Chicago Schools Research report titled “Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Non-cognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance: A Critical Literature Review.’ June 2012
- CRACKDOWN ON EXPLOITATION OF INTERNS
- 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?
- Careers advice and Guidance
- Charity Status
- Charter School
- Coalition Education Policy
- Conservative policy
- Discipline and Truancy
- early years learning
- education market
- education quangos
- education reform
- Free schools
- higher education
- Home Education
- independent schools
- primary schools
- Public Services Reform
- published letters
- Pupil Support
- quality assurance
- quality assurance and inspection
- school governance
- secondary schools
- Secure Estate
- SPECIAL NEEDS
- teachers and teaching
- Think tanks
- us education system
- Youth policy