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Ofsted Annual Report 2015/16

1 Jan

Preamble

Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools (HMCI), published his fifth and final Ofsted annual report on the education system in England on Thursday, 1 December 2016.  He retired 30 days later.  In presenting the report, Sir Michael said “a world class education system is within our grasp – but only if serious capacity challenges are urgently addressed”.

Sir Michael stressed that a north/south ‘geographical divide’ meant the ablest pupils in the North and Midlands were less likely to reach A/A* at GCSE. He said: “Standards can only truly be considered high if they are high in every part of the country and for all pupils regardless of background or ability.”

However, his report is, in the main, positive.    The country’s schools/academies, he avers, had made progress over the last five years. Educators could be justly proud.  “Young people are getting a better deal than ever before,” he said.  School/academy leaders responded well to the changes in the system.  The decision to replace the “satisfactory” judgement with “requires improvement” led to schools/academies upping their game, making a greater effort ensuring that pupils are offered the very best possible education.     Of the former 4,800 satisfactory primary schools/academies, 79% were now good or outstanding and, of the previous satisfactory secondary ones, 56% were good or better.

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Teacher-Workload Challenge: Review Groups’ Report to Government

9 Apr

On 31 March 2016, the three workload review groups commissioned by Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, released their reports.  Their findings and recommendations, which were accepted in full by Mrs Morgan, were as follows.

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Teachers’ Performance Reviews – One Year On

3 Jan

I        Background and Context

The link between the performance management of headteachers and deputy headteachers in England and the salaries they receive has been in existence since 2000.   However, it was only in September 2013 that all teachers became the subjects of annual performance reviews linked to pay.  Performance reviews go by the name of appraisals in the business world. For the purpose of this article, I will stay with “performance reviews”.

Autumn 2014 saw the end of the first cycle.  During the term, governors formally reviewed how the system worked or didn’t.    The researchers are busily beavering away to assess the success of teachers’ performance linked with pay.  However, it would be apposite to make a few observations based on first-hand experiences and anecdotal evidence, and signal health warnings to improve the process for teachers, school managers and, most important, the children.

In the autumn of 2013, teachers were made aware of the fact that, for the first time, they would not receive increases if they simply performed satisfactorily – or, to use the Ofsted terminology – required improvement.   Previously, a salary increase was withheld only if a teacher was the subject of the capability procedure.

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Proposal to establish Royal College of Teaching develops head of steam

3 Jan

The College of Teachers has been garnering support from the great and the good to establish a Royal College of Teaching.   In mid-December 2014, the Secretary of State, Nicky Morgan, announced that government funding could be made available to get the project off the ground. According to the College’s web-post, the Royal College will be founded on a revamped Royal Charter updated to reflect the needs of a modern fit-for-purpose chartered professional association.

In 2012, all three main political parties supported the Education Selection Committee’s recommendation to establish a College of Teaching which would enhance the profession’s standing in society.   Were such a college established and have the royal tag to it, the body would be charged with setting high standards of practice, require the members to follow a professional code of practice, act ethically and, (this will please Tristam Hunt, the Shadow Education Secretary) possibly require teachers to take a Hippocratic-style oath.   (At present, teachers are more inclined to vent their spleens with other oaths given the pressures placed on them.)

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Young people must remain in Education, Employment and Training to 17

27 Aug

As from the summer of 2013, young people were required in England and Wales to be in education and/or training up to the age of 17. This will be raised to 18 in the summer of 2015.   They can move on to sixth form, tertiary or Further Education (FE) colleges. They could also take up employment at the age of 16 provided that they are also being trained simultaneously.  The government, through its Work Programme, has released funding for employers to hire apprentices for this purpose. Continue reading

“Hole in the Wall” Guru to develop Cloud Schools

27 Aug

Dr Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University, is the winner of the 2013 TED prize of $1 million (£670,000).  He plans to build seven ‘Schools in the Clouds’ – five in India and two in England – to enable children to explore and learn from one another.   (Read more here.) Professor Mitra believes that children can teach themselves using the internet and that this can trigger vast improvements in a number of areas, including English comprehension.    “We must not assume that the only way they can learn to read is the way they are learning now,” he avers.   “Maybe they can learn to read by themselves.”

This is a development from his “Hole in the Wall” venture where he installed an internet-connected, child-height computer in a Delhi slum. Children worked out its functions by themselves which spawned his theory of the self-organised learning environment (SOLE). Continue reading