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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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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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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Teaching Practice

How can teachers support children through the exam process?

Amanda, a secondary school teacher, is concerned for children who suffer from the pressures of exams.  How can she and her colleagues support children to prevent recurring failure?

Dr Sandra Leaton-Gray gives some suggestions about how children can be supported to overcome failure and acheive success in exams.  She also questions the overly scholastic nature of our exam system.

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Education Policy

Are all countries similar in the extent to which education policy is politicised?

Hanna, a mother of primary school aged children, wondered if all educational systems are affected by the involvement of politicians to the extent they seem to be in the UK.

Professor Chris Husbands tells us why politicians involve themselves in education policy.  He compares the UK with other  countries and identifies some that are freer from political interference and explains why.  Looking to the future, he thinks that national politicians may become less powerful in the classroom.

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