Tes - The education podcast The Tes podcast brings you all the latest news, reviews and opinion from the world of education

March 14, 2018  

In this episode of the TES FE Podcast, Ian Pretty, chief executive of Collab Group joins TES Columnist, Sarah Simons to whip through the week's FE news and views. They discuss employer and FE partnerships in the delivery of apprenticships, question whether lowering the voting age to 16 is something the sector should be promoting, and chat about the age at which they felt like they became a grown-up. 

March 14, 2018  

“It is dangerous to say there is one particular method that will work in any classroom in any school,” warns professor Daniel Muijs, head of research at Ofsted.

The former University of Southampton academic explains that education research is incredibly “complex” and judging teacher or school effectiveness is therefore also difficult.

“The research suggests you need a holistic approach to assessing teacher effectiveness so you do not rely on any single measure,” he says. “You could never attribute the attainment of pupils purely to what the teacher does.”

Neither, he says, can you rely on added-value measures to judge individual teachers.

“We have to be careful with progress measures and judging individual teachers. The cohort size is quite small if you are looking at one classroom so your confidence intervals – your estimates – are not particularly reliable,” he says. “So I would not advocate judging teachers by value added measures alone.”

Judging schools is similarly complex, he feels, with a need to be open to multiple ways a school can work successfully in order to overcome any bias in the analysis.

“Teaching is partly a contextual activity, so it is about the interaction between the teacher, student and curriculum,” he explains. “[And] teaching is both a science and an art. There is an element of expertise to it that is not necessarily captured in research evidence. We need to be aware of the different models that exist and that work. We also need to experience different schools, the more schools you visit the more aware you come to be.”

In a wide ranging interview, professor Muijs discusses his plans for research projects while at Ofsted, the ethics of education research and also the lack of evidence-based approaches to behaviour management.  

“The evidence on the how stringent you need to be on behaviour is not that clear at the moment,” he says. “There is evidence for both a no excuses approach and approaches that are much more laissez faire.”

March 8, 2018  

We discuss research showing how stress that teachers experience can be passed on to pupils and can affect their education.

We also ask what to expect as the 2018 union conference season gets under way, and learn why it is so important to read with pupils.

Tune in and enjoy.

March 7, 2018  

“Very few schools consider themselves to be promoting gender norms or particular ideas about sexuality, but they do promote lessons about boys and girls and heterosexuality all the time,” says Vanita Sundaram, professor in the department of education at the University of York.

Sundaram explains that this begins at the earliest ages of schooling.

“We know from a very young age that gendered norms are learned and enacted in primary schools,” she says. “Boys are using objectifying language about girls to evaluate their appearance, girls are using that same language to evaluate themselves. Teachers use gendered language all the time in schools, too.  That arbitrary division of classroom spaces, school spaces, into binary categories of boys and girls. Those kind of things absolutely re-enforce the notion that there are two genders and each behaves in a particular way.”

Sundaram has researched what this leads to in the teenage years. Her research has focussed on violence and ‘lad culture’ and how gender stereotypes and identities can mean young people excuse or justify violent acts against women.

“Students will start off by saying violence is not acceptable,” she says. “But as you begin to talk about different scenarios, in which coercive control, pressure or abuse might happen, they begin to justify why violence might take place and they do that with reference to gender expectations and scenarios.

“So for example, if we gave a scenario of a young man putting sexual pressure on his girlfriend at a party and she says no, but he continues to pressure her and calls her a gendered insult like ‘slut’, we find that when interpreting that, young people rely on stereotypes of how they think boys or girls should behave or what girls should put up with. They do this to justify, explain or sometimes even excuse violence. They will say things like ‘It is understandable because she rejected him sexually and boys don’t like that kind of thing’ or there is an expectation that girls will be sexually acquiescent so the violence would have been deserved.”

In the podcast, Sundaram discusses how schools can begin to dismantle these gender stereotypes and talks at length around a number of issues around gender, including the negative impact gender stereotypes have on boys and the calls for “more men” to be employed in primary schools.

“A lot of the debates around why we need more male teachers have drawn on very essentialist notions of gender,” she explains. “So men can promote particular types of masculinity in boys, or teach in a way that appeals more to boys, I think those ideas of gender are really unhelpful. There is research in which male teachers talk about schools being very feminine spaces, but pinpointing exactly what that is and why it is exclusionary to men is not so easy to establish.

“Men also lose in the game of gender stereotyping – the pressure to perform masculinity in certain ways is very limiting.”


February 28, 2018  

“The message in secondary is that we don’t necessarily know what to recommend in terms of teaching reading as there is so little research in secondary when it comes to reading,” laments Dr Jessie Ricketts, head of the the Language and Reading Acquisition (LARA) research lab at Royal Holloway university. 

The LARA lab researches all aspects of reading, writing and language acquisition, but problems with reading at secondary is a current focus. 

In this week’s Tes Podagogy, Ricketts explains how it is unfair and unhelpful when literacy issues in secondary are blamed on primary schools.

“I think it is unfortunate that some teachers feel they need to do this blame game,” she says. “For any teacher in any classroom, unless they have a selected class, you are likely to have an almost impossible range of knowledge and skills. What you have to do is do the best with what you have got. I think it is a really tall order to expect every child to leave primary school with all of the knowledge and skills they need to enter secondary schools. Teachers are incredibly hard working and they care about what they do, and they are doing their best with the time and resources they have.”

Shifting literacy focus

She says part of the problem is that, as you move through school, the focus of literacy shifts: from everyday vocabulary acquisition and phonics in early years, to general comprehension, and then to academic and subject-specific language. She explains that problems may not necessarily emerge at the start, but rather at any one of these stages. And also, she adds, kids get very good at hiding problems.

What is clear, she says, is that secondary teachers need help: they tell her this constantly during her research.

“From talking to secondary teachers, I realised that secondary schools were faced with a group of children who did not have functional reading abilities and they did not know what to do about it because in their ITT and CPD they did not get much information on the science of reading, how children read or what you might do to improve reading skills,” she explains. “It is not really seen as the job of secondary.”

In the podcast, she talks at length about how literacy at secondary might be tackled and she also covers the role of oral vocabulary in early reading, the impact of reading on spoken language and the need to help students independently broaden their vocabulary. 

February 23, 2018  

We discuss an exclusive Tes investigation that highlights how lots of children in care are being failed by our school system.

We also look at how schools can help transgender children to find their voice, and what a key report from the National Audit Office means for the future of the academies programme.

Tune in and enjoy.

February 22, 2018  

In this episode of the Tes FE Podcast, columnist Sarah Simons is joined by FE lecturer, adacemic and master plumber Dr Simon Reddy. They discuss the reality of UK skills shortages, new ways to embrace diversity in FE and how the increase in Levels 4 and 5 could change the professionalism of the sector. Sarah also has a rant about designated "think spaces". 

February 21, 2018  

“I have some sympathy for people getting nervous when discussing genetics and education,” says Dr Kathryn Asbury, a senior lecturer in psychology in education at the University of York. 

Unfortunately for her, though, she can’t avoid it: Dr Asbury is one of the country’s leading genetics researchers and is co-author of G is for Genes: The Impact of Genetics on Education and Achievement.

In this week’s Tes Podagogy podcast, she talks at length about why the teaching profession needs to get beyond its nervousness on the topic of genetics. She argues that the problem for teachers is often not the research, but how they fear it may be used.  

She also details common myths around genetics (such a what heritability means), how teachers might take genetics into consideration in terms of pedagogy and also why genetics research demands more diversity of options after education (a theme she also mentions in this Tes article). 

February 16, 2018  

We discuss the reaction to the DfE's pilot of the new times tables check, and a turf war between Ofsted and the DfE that saw schools get caught in the crossfire.

We also look prison schools: how teachers show kids behind bars that they care, and whether something could have been done earlier in the system to stop them reaching this point.

Tune in and enjoy.

February 14, 2018  

In this week's episode of The TES FE Podcast columnist Sarah Simons is joined by renowned teacher and behaviour management expert Hilary Nunns. They discuss the latest in the world of FE, including parity between T-Levels and A-Levels, the need for a new vision for adult learning, and the showbiz element of the Ofsted inspection.  


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