I use phones and ILT in my teaching a lot - but this article from Sky News talks about banning mobile phones in school all together. And interestingly, in a poll on the Sky News website this morning, 80% of respondents have suggested that mobile phones should be banned from schools all together. The culture secretary misrepresents the findings of a 2015 study when he says that results are impacted by students even just having phones in bags *how cold that be - it is nonsense!)
The 2015 study (available here...cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1350.pdf) suggests...
By exploiting differences in implementation dates, our results indicate that there is an improvement in student performance of 6.41% of a standard deviation in schools that have introduced a mobile phone ban.
The existing literature on the impact of technology in the classroom implies that the unstructured presence of technology has ambiguous impacts on student achievement. We add to this by illustrating that a highly multipurpose technology, such as mobile phones, can have a negative impact on productivity through distraction. Schools that restrict access to mobile phones subsequently experience an improvement in test scores. However, these findings do not discount the possibility that mobile phones could be a useful learning tool if their use is properly structured. Our findings suggest that the presence of mobile phones in schools should not be ignored.
Finally, we find that mobile phone bans have very different effects on different types of students. Banning mobile phones improves outcomes for the low-achieving students (14.23% of a standard deviation) the most and has no significant impact on high achievers. The results suggest that low-achieving students are more likely to be distracted by the presence of mobile phones, while high achievers can focus in the classroom regardless of whether phones are present. Given heterogeneous results, banning mobile phones could be a low-cost way for schools to reduce educational inequality.
So what is interesting here is two things; firstly, the structured and considered use of mobile phones in scjools can be useful - and with the increase in interactive technologies, that's no surprise. And secondly, and worryingly - there is a difference in the effects that phones have on different kinds of pupils. Banning mobiles has most efect on low achieving students, and less of an effect on higher achieving students. I think this needs more investigation - this is a research project that I am really interested in.
The Sky news article is below....
Culture secretary Matt Hancock says schools should ban mobile phonesNot content with barring them from the classroom, Matt Hancock suggests they be confiscated from children at the start of the day.
Children should be banned from using their mobile phones at school, the culture secretary has said.
Not content with merely barring them from being used in the classroom, Matt Hancock has suggested that they be confiscated from children who carry them at the start of each school day.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he warned that mobiles could have a "real impact" on students' achievements and leave them exposed to increased amounts of bullying. He also questioned why youngsters needed to bring their phones to school in the first place.
"There are a number of schools across the country that simply don't allow them," he said.
"While it is up to individual schools to decide rather than government, I admire head teachers who do not allow mobiles to be used during the school day. I encourage more schools to follow their lead."
Mr Hancock said that "setting boundaries" in relation to how much children were exposed to technology - and notably social media - was vital in protecting them from harm and encouraging them to use the internet safely.
"Studies have shown that mobile phones can have a real impact on working memory and fluid intelligence, even if the phone is on a table or in a bag," he added.
His column was supported by a letter from seven fellow Tory MPs, also published in the newspaper.
Citing a 2015 study by the London School of Economics, they write: "Where schools banned smartphones from the premises, or required them to be handed in at the start of the day, pupils' chances of getting five good GCSEs increased by an average of 2%.
"The improvement was even more marked for lower-achieving pupils. Results among pupils in the bottom quarter of achievement improved twice as much as the average."
Finland is moving away from traditional school subjects and on to something called 'phenomenon based learning'. In Phenomenon Based Learning (PhenoBL) and teaching, holistic real-world phenomena provide the starting point for learning. The phenomena are studied as complete entities, in their real context, and the information and skills related to them are studied by crossing the boundaries between subjects. Phenomena are holistic topics like human, European Union, media and technology, water or energy.The starting point differs from the traditional school culture divided into subjects, where the things studied are often split into relatively small, separate parts (decontextualisation).
Phenomenon-based structure in a curriculum also actively creates better opportunities for integrating different subjects and themes as well as the systematic use of pedagogically meaningful methods, such as inquiry learning, problem-based learning, project learning and portfolios. The phenomenon-based approach is also key in the versatile utilisation of different learning environments (e.g. in diversifying and enriching learning while using eLearning environments).
In the diagram below (taken from http://livetheorganicdream.com/finland-abolishing-school-subjects/) the process is explained.
Will this be the end of subjects, of 'knowledge' Govean style, and the start of an emphasis on process? And will it be the end of HE and traditional academia? And if so, does that matter? It'll be interesting to see how this will pan out in Finland over the years.
There are a lot more women than men going to university this September/October - a third more youg women than young men so far, according to UCAS (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-410669730).
The latest figures suggest that about 133,00 18-year-old women from the UK have secured a university place in the UK, compared with approximately 104,800 men of this age. The BBC suggests that across the UK, 27.3% of all young men are expected to go to university this year compared with 37.1% of women.This is a huge gap (36%) - and larger than last year's gap; it's also 5% more than the 2012 gender gap.
UCAS has said that there is a 9% increase in UK 18-year-olds placed on nursing courses this year, so this will be a contributory factor; women significantly outnumber men for these degrees, with around 28 women recruited for every man.
According to the BBC, Dr Mark Corver, who is UCAS's director of analysis and research, said:
"More UK 18-year-olds will be starting university this autumn than ever before but large differences in who goes remain.
"Our research has shown that the difference between 18-year-old men and women entering university is now similar to that between the richest and poorest halves of the population.
"The statistics today show the difference between men and women slowly growing wider."
We should always be wary of gender gaps; they often have their roots in schools, and in and they tend to be subject related - as we can see from the nursing figures, above. It is great, I hope, that more young women are entering HE - but what of the young men? Rumour has it that schools are putting an increased premium on apprenticeships, and these may be more attractive to young men. So is this the continuation of the deskilling of the workforce and of our developing a cohort of technicians (e.g. in education and nursing), as opposed to sentient professionals?
£1.3bn has been 'found'
Justine Greening has announced £1.3 billion of additional funding for schools over the next two years – promising to maintain per-pupil funding in real terms until 2019-20. Apparently much of this is coming from the free schools budget - fair enough. But the rest is from 'efficiency savings'. So is there really any 'new' money? I think not.
Labels, quite literally
This is , I think, quite extraordinary. One of the issues has been that the pupils have to wear shoes that are 'polishable' - what an interesting rule. Does that mean no patent (apparently some shoes are too shiny) or suede? And what is so great about polishable shoes? No idea.
I don't think I would ever call this a positive behaviour policy, so again, what an extraordinary use of language. What I should prefer to see is rules negotiated and agreed (with staff, governors, pupils and parents), sensibly enforced, and most of all, without humiliating pupils.
Article taken from the Guardian, 17 July 2017
Vicky Duckworth's book on the learning trajectories of adult basic skills learners - very powerful and important.
Let me tell you a story….
Yesterday, I was privileged to be invited to attend a seminar given by my good friend Dr Vicky Duckworth. I have had many fabulous conversations with Vicky over the last few years, and I have always been impressed with her work and thinking. I was flattered and honoured recently to be given a signed copy of her book, which is essentially an adapted version of her thesis. The book- and the seminar- are entitled ‘Learning Trajectories, violence and empowerment amongst Adult basic skills learners’.
My own research is concerned with the lived realities of teachers’ lives, and one of the things that interested me is the integration – or lack of it between personal and professional identity in teachers. I’m also interested in the dual nature of professional identity – or sometimes even the hybrid nature of professional identities. As I've got to know Vicky better, I have been amazed at how she, in common with many other women, juggles a personal and a professional life; in fact she juggles more than one professional life, one as a teacher educator of note and one as an academic, with impressive list of publications, including peer refereed journal articles and books, to her name.
Vicky’s paper, at the prestigious department for educational research at the University of Lancaster, concerned the learning trajectories of adult basic skills learners in Oldham, and uses Bourdieu’s thinking tools to consider issues such as symbolic violence and empowerment in such learners. The research is participatory action research. This is partly because, I guess, of the nature of the topic, but also it reflects something about the Vicky’s ontological and epistemological stance, about her approach to life, her inclusive approach to her students and to the nature of learning. As well, it illustrates Vicky’s belief that if she is asking students to give so much of themselves in relation ot their learning and the participatory research, she has to give a good deal back. Sometimes, this is in terms of the amount of work, preparation, and energy she puts into her teaching, and at other times this message may be more personal self-disclosure about her own learning journey.
Unusually for a formal seminar given at one of the top 10 universities in the country, Dr. Duckworth brought with her and had invited a number of significant people who were important to her. I was one of those people, and perhaps in many ways that is not so surprising, as I am myself working in the field of educational research; I do consider myself to be a friend of Vicky’s, but I might well have attend such a seminar anyway. However, a very close and old friend of Vicky’s, Michelle, who is working in community health, also came to the seminar, as did Vicky’s 10-year-old daughter, Niamh; and Sophie, a young relative of Vicky’s, who took an active and interested part in the seminar butt was also interested in looking round Lancaster University as it was a possibility that she might study there in the future.
As well, two of Vicky’s teacher trainees from her initial teacher education course had made the journey to Lancaster to attend the seminar.
In addition to these people, there were a number of well established and well-known researchers from the University of Lancaster at the seminar, which was videoed and which will be published on University website. So all in all, it was a varied, interested, knowledgeable and supportive audience.
One of the things that is a theme in Vicky’s work, is the idea of education as empowering; and the book as well as all of Vicky’s work, is an impassioned and exceptionally powerful account of the learning journeys which learners in in a marginalised community in a northern mill town undertook, and of the the barriers and struggles which beset them along the way.
I have myself struggled with a lot of the work of Bourdieu, but Vicky uses his thinking tools with facility to analyse and explain the narratives of the basic skills learners with whom she was working, and to put a significant amount of emphasis on the capitals which are held and developed by such learners and which both constrain and enable some of the individuals in their learning journeys through the education system. Vicky’s own journey was something which was also mentioned, and which is significant. Vicky grew up in the same town, in a family where she was one of the first to go to college and university, having had a background where education had not been a priority. She started off as a nurse and midwife, and then became a tutor and program leader delivering literacy in a large FE college in the north of England. She is now a successful teacher educator, author, academic, friend, wife, mother; a multiplicity of roles which she carries out with facility, authenticity and integrity.
The seminar itself was fascinating; talking to Vicky about her work always is, and always makes me think. However, the thing is I can’t get over, is how what Vicky was saying about empowering her adult basic skills learners, and in their developing resistance to some of the agendas and to the constraints of some of the factors which impact on their lives, was also being played out very graphically in microcosm, in front of us.
Vicky’s younger daughter, Niamh, was with this. She is an intelligent young woman; although still at primary school, she has a wisdom which belies her years. What was fascinating was to see that this young woman was completely at home in the rather rarefied environment in which she found herself. Being only 10, of course she was fascinated with a laser pointer. But she also chatted to participants of the seminar in an articulate and friendly fashion. Unlike the stereotypical 10-year-old, she sat and listened to her mother’s presentation (and quite clearly had listened), throughout the initial presentation. And then when the questions were being asked, Niamh raised her hand. The chair, Carolyn Jackson, is Professor of education, with a particular interest in gender and education, asked Niamh to speak. The question which Niamh asked was one which would have done any of the participants for the seminar proud. It concerns labeling.
One of Vicky's points is that Bourdieu’s concept of symbolic violence has limitations in that it does not really engage with the nature of labelling as a symbolic act of violence. Vicky expands and draws on Bourdieu’s notion of symbolic capital to include the work of sociologists such as Howard Becker and Erving Goffman and their work on labeling.
Vicky’s work refers to and analyses the dominant symbolic power of schooling and labeling which had in many ways pathologised the learners with whom she had worked. Niamh’s question was very perceptive. She asked whether there were in fact any learners in her mother’s classes who had not been labelled, and if so what had been happening to them, how had they behaved, and she wanted to know whether the non-labelling was significant. This is an important question, and one which would bear a considerable amount of further analysis. Vicky, the academic as well as the mother, answered this question thoughtfully, courteously and she, as well as the rest of us acknowledged the importance of the imput from this young woman.
As I drove home, there are many things which came to my mind. But the one image that I will always have in my mind, is an almost eidetic image of a young 10-year-old woman, raising her hand in a seminar of distinguished people, to ask a question of her mother, also a significant academic and thinker. If I learned nothing else yesterday, I did see, in very concrete terms, that the cultural capital which was gained by Vicky in her time in education as well as subsequently, interacting with the social and other forms of capital capital, had resulted in her daughter having a significant amount of social capital which gave her the confidence to ask a question , and one which was sensible, in what was in many ways a very intimidating environment; and to be able to hold her own in an environment where many young women of Niamh’s age might has been sitting drawing, playing a game on a phone, or possibly listening to music quietly in the background.
If a clearer demonstration of the fact that capital reproduces, and education is empowering and emancipating, were needed, then I cannot think what it could be. It was intensely emotional and moving to watch Vicky and her daughter interact in what could have been a very intimidating environment for Niamh, and it demonstrated so clearly that Vicky’s own resistance and empowerment had resulted in Niamh having such capitals.
We know that there is a distinctive cultural pattern of social reproduction in relation to learners’ choices in many cases, and the example of Vicky and Niamh, show that in fact Vicky’s own resistance and learning journey resulted in her developing a relationship with her daughter where her daughter was empowered to ask a relevant, articulate, and interesting question about labeling in a seminar.
I wish I could explain in a more articulate way how powerful and moving that was to see, and what a wonderful illustration Vicky and her family and support network are of her own thesis, and how she and her relationships with her family and her friends exemplify the empowering nature of education and of caring capital. That picture will stay with me forever.
Thank you, Vicky and Niamh.
Details of Vicky's book can be found here .
Dr. Vicky Duckworth
More changes to GCSEs?
In 2000 those of us teaching A levels found ourselves in the unenviable position of reaching September and being faced with a number of students to reach, but with having no specification to teach, and few clues as to what might be on the new spec or how it would be assessed. There was a lot of gossip, but not much else. At the time as well as teaching I was working for one of the major examination boards and even they had no idea what was going on. I just hope this latest review does not turn into such a fiasco.
Gove keeps on trying to get rid of GCSEs. The E-Bacc has come (well, sort of) and gone.... so what next...ah, the I-GCSE. An Apple sponsored product, one wonders?
It looks as if teachers themselves haven't been - and aren't to be consulted and changing the name of the exam (which has to be done as in Wales they are keeping GCSEs) and marking the exam with grades 1-8 instead of giving UMS marks or grades A* to F is hardly innovative.
Getting rid of coursework from all subject except science really does not tak account of the differeing learning styles of learners. Nor does it allow for in depth and developmental study of a topic over time.
If there is to be a radical overhaul, surely it should be guided by evidence, and informed by teachers' experiences and by modern educational theory?
It'll be interesting to see what happens to this proposal.
I love this quote, and really identify with the sentiment....sometimes it feels as if we are living in a culture of 'if it moves, measure it, and if it doesn't move, measure it in case it moves later'. And then teachers are judged on the most inappropriate and bizarre criteria. The new CIF and the way that the new policy has been enacted by inspectors (particularly, I suspect, additional inspectors) has not helped in this regard.
I was talking to an eminent colleague yesterday who said that they had been in discussions with one of the Tory education team, and that all evidence, academic or expert opinion and so on was ignored in favour of biased bigotry, along the lines of 'well it never did me any harm'. Tosh.
End of rant.
On a lighter note, I have had two papers accepted for presentation at BERA this September, so if you are going to be there, please come and chuck tomatoes. It's in Brighton, at the University of Sussex! Very excited and happy. I've also been contacted by a researcher from Estonia who is doing similar work to my own and we have been corresponding. Tallinn is such a wonderful place, some collaboration would be great! Good day!
BERA in September
On Friday I submitted two abstracts for consideration for presentation at the BERA (British Educational Research Association) conference in Sussex in September. One is based on a pilot case study i have just done on identity in early career teachers. The other is a Marxist Feminist critique, using an epistolary methodology, of the new managerialism in education, and my co-author, Dr Vicky Duckworth and I, are really proud of it. Fingers crossed that one or both of these gets accepted! April 5th is when we will find out.
If Finland and South Korea take the first and second places then...hmmmm.
The ranking table is drawn up by Pearsons and is, of course, based on test results. Yet again a prescribed, test-based algorithm. I understand that Finland is very reliant on textbooks and a didactic method.
It brings us back yet again to 'what is education for?' Are we teaching our young people to think , and to be responsible, happy citizens? Or are we teaching them to pass examinations and test which have little validity?
Canada's education system is said to be pretty good - off I go to investigate......
I was a psychology and social sciences teacher for many years and now I am in the throes of a teaching and research career in HE. I care passionately about education. This blog will show you why and how.