Evidence

How can schools care for the whole child and avoid becoming ‘exam factories’?

At the London Festival of Education, two participants, working in alternative education, were concerned about the over emphasis by policy makers on academic achievement in schools.  They asked how Ofsted might measure more holistically the contributions school makes to children’s lives to temper the focus on exam results.

Professor Chris Bonell conducts research into the effects of health programmes in schools on students’ sense of well-being as well as their academic achievements.  He argues strongly for the contribution these programmes make to children’s lives and discusses some of the evidence for his convictions.  He is pessimistic about the direction that policy is taking regarding health and well being initiatives in schools, however he suggests ways in which the effects of these programmes could be measured by Ofsted or others.  This podcast introduces a lively lecture he recently gave about his work.

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Education and Society

How should employers engage with schools?

Matthew, a trainee teacher, asked about the role of employers in a child’s school life.  When should they become involved with schooling?  How can schools make the best use of employers to help children with their choice of career?

Professor Alison Fuller, an expert in vocational education, talks about the different initiatives created to connect schools with the workplace, such as work experience and apprenticeships.  She considers the rising age of compulsory education and its effect on employment at younger ages and the readiness of schools to welcome employer engagement.   Additionally, she identifies sectors, such as engineering, that have a good track record in recruiting from schools, although she thinks that employers need to work harder to ensure a gender balance in the opportunities offered.

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Teaching Practice

How does technology in the classroom affect the role of teachers and their relationships with students?

At the London Festival of Education, Bryn, a secondary school teacher of science, wanted to know how technology might impact on the role of teachers.  Will computers take over some of the delivery of content so that teachers can focus on building learning relationships with their students?

Professor Diana Laurillard discusses what digital technology brings to the classroom and what it can offer to students and teachers.  However, she is pessimistic about the future of technology development for teaching purposes in this country because of the lack of government support.  She is more optimistic about the inventiveness of individual teachers and their enthusiasm to create new and exciting ways to use technology in the classroom.

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Philosophy

What are schools for?

Doreena, a contributor at the London Festival of Education, asks about the aim of school.

Emeritus Professor John White, co-author of ‘An Aims Based Curriculum’, considers various ways of answering this deceptively simple question.  Is school about fostering democratic values, supporting the individual to lead a fulfilling life or preparing them for the world of work?

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Evidence

How can teachers make use of research in the classroom?

Lisa, a secondary school teacher from Cumbria, wants to know how teachers can use research in their teaching practice.

Professor Toby Greany discusses how teachers can access research, how they can collaborate to investigate their own questions and the importance of knowledge mobilisation throughout schools and between them.  He mentions the Pupil Premium Toolkit and the Institute for Effective Education as sources of good quality research findings.  He advocates for practice based research as being valuable for professional development in terms of becoming a more sophisticated teacher and improving leadership skills.

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Philosophy

Who builds character in children, parents, teachers or both?

At the London Festival of Education, Jenna, a primary school teacher, asks about the responsibility for building character in students.

Dr Judith Suissa questions whether character formation is anyone’s ‘job’.  She discusses how values shape our education system and asks whether more attention should be given to encouraging students to debate moral and political questions in the classroom.  She is suspicious of the current emphasis on character building by politicians as it masks, she argues, an ideological agenda which would prefer us to concentrate on building resilience for ourselves and our children rather than taking collective action to change inequities in society.

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Evidence

How can schools evidence the value of arts and culture in their curriculum?

An advocate from an arts charity, participating at the recent London Festival of Education, wanted to know about evidencing the arts in schools.

Professor Andrew Burn discusses his work in supporting arts assessment.  He concludes that allowing teachers sufficient time to consider student’s creativity may be the key to valuable judgment.  In broader debates about the value of the arts as against the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) curricula, he suggests that video games studios offer a future model of how both may be brought together constructively.

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