Performance of academy chains is a mixed bag | Full Fact

Headlines alone don’t often do serious research justice, but it’s a rarer sight to see two papers directly contradict each other as the Times and Independent did this morning:

Times: “Academy chains outperform state schools”

Independent: “Academy chains ‘worse for disadvantaged children’ than local authority schools”

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Jobcentres are no longer fit for purpose and are letting young people down | David Lammy

It is hard to speak the truth about valued national institutions. But when they are not fit for purpose, we must speak out. Reports on Monday suggested the government is considering a radical overhaul of the Jobcentre Plus system that is so badly failing to help the unemployed find work. The news doesn’t come a day too soon. Our one-size-fit-all national system doesn’t reflect the varying and specific needs of individuals and needs serious reform.

The system in its current form is clunky, impersonal, and suited neither to today’s society. Time and time again I meet young people being let down by a framework that fails to help people find lasting employment.

For Britain to build a balanced and sustainable economy, and to avoid a genocide of wasted talent and potential, that needs to change.

Some people will feel an instinctive hesitation about scrapping an organisation that aims to support the unemployed and help them find work. The fact is that jobcentres are totally failing in their primary aim: only around one in three claimants find sustainable work within six months of claiming benefits. That is not good enough for an institution that receives many millions in state funding and serves, in theory at least, a crucial purpose. Back in November I gave a speech calling for exactly these reforms.

Qualifications counting in future performance tables – News stories – GOV.UK


Qualifications counting in future performance tables – News stories – GOV.UK

The only English and maths qualifications that will count in the 2017 secondary school performance tables will be reformed GCSEs in those subjects or qualifications reformed to meet the same standards and expectations, the Department for Education said today.

This will ensure that there is consistency in terms of exams in these subjects, including linearity (exams at the end of the 2-year course) and limited non-exam assessment.

English language, English literature and maths are the first GCSEs to be reformed. They will be taught for the first time from September 2015, with pupils sitting exams in summer 2017.

The current arrangements for recognising other academic qualifications, such as level 1/level 2 certificates (sometimes known as IGCSEs) will end with the introduction of reformed GCSEs. Level 1/level 2 certificates in English and maths will not be included in the 2017 performance tables (due to be published in January 2018).

Similarly, level 1/level 2 certificates in subjects being reformed for first teaching from September 2016 (including history, geography, languages and the sciences) will not be included in the 2018 performance tables. This follows advice from the regulator about the challenges of including academic qualifications that could potentially be quite different from GCSEs in performance tables for 2017.

These are transitional arrangements to make sure all academic qualifications recognised in performance tables are of a comparable standard. Following the first exams in the new GCSEs, exam boards will be able to propose alternative academic qualifications for inclusion in performance tables. They will need to demonstrate that their qualifications are at least as demanding as the new GCSEs and share key characteristics.

All qualifications will need to be accredited by Ofqual, the independent regulator. New alternatives to English and maths GCSE could be recognised in performance tables from 2018 (and in other subjects in subsequent years).

Alongside these changes, the Department for Education confirmed that entries to the current GCSEs in English and maths from 2016 or earlier will not count in performance tables in 2017.

Schools may still enter pupils early for these ‘legacy’ qualifications, but if they do pupils will need to either take the new GCSE in 2017 or progress to a higher level qualification, such as an AS qualification, for their achievements to count in tables.

The exclusion of ‘legacy’ GCSEs from performance tables will apply only to English and maths, reflecting the weight placed on these qualifications in the new Progress 8 measure. As other GCSEs are reformed, we will continue to count achievements in ‘legacy’ GCSEs in all other subjects. This will allow schools to continue curriculum arrangements that allow students to take exams in some subjects – for example, 1 of the 3 separate sciences – before the end of year 11, having been properly prepared to do so.

A DfE spokesman said:

We want all pupils to benefit from the reformed qualifications we are introducing. Improving the exams and curriculum is a key part of our long-term economic plan. We want there to be choice in qualifications and would welcome revised level 1/level 2 qualifications being reformed so they can count in performance tables.

Levels of Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are increasingly recognised as the gold standard for work-based training. There are over 100,000 employers offering Apprenticeships in more than 160,000 locations; there are more than 250 different types of Apprenticeships available offering over 1,400 job roles.

There are three levels of Apprenticeship available for those aged 16 and over:

1 – Intermediate Level Apprenticeships

Apprentices work towards work-based learning qualifications such as a Level 2 Competence Qualification, Functional Skills and, in most cases, a relevant knowledge-based qualification.
2 – Advanced Level Apprenticeships

Apprentices work towards work-based learning such as a Level 3 Competence Qualification, Functional Skills and, in most cases, a relevant knowledgebased qualification.
3 – Higher Apprenticeships

Apprentices work towards work-based learning qualifications such as a Level 4 Competence Qualification, Functional Skills and, in some cases, a knowledge-based qualification such as a Foundation Degree.

26 Tips to Help Students Become Better Learners

Here is a cool chart featuring some important tips to help your students be smart learners. You can use this chart in your class with your students as a motivator to boost their learning moral or as a checklist for assessing their learning habits. While some of these tips are straightforward such as tip 6, 9, 11, other tips are a bit generic (tip 23, 25,26). Overall, these suggested tips cover several skills students need to work on to be better learners. These skills include sensory-motor skills, communicational skills, emotional skills, inter and intrapersonal skills, and critical thinking skills. They also touch on key areas integral to effective learning including: introspection, creativity, confidence, imagination, networking, passion, sharp observation, experimentation among many others.

Here is a quick round-up of the tips featured in the graphic below:
Be accountable
Believe in yourself
Connect the dots
Deconstruct new skills
Engage with others
Focused practice
Get started
Hypothesize, test, adjust
Use your imagination
Find joy in learning
Personal knowledge management
Listen more
Make space
Build a network
Find a passion
Question assumptions
Use spaced repetition
Tinker with things
Unlearn and relearn
Be vulnerable
Be willing to fail
Exercise regularly

This chart is created by


Does It Matter What School You Went To?

Originally posted on Tall. Black. One Sugar:

Department for EducationMuch has been made about the fact that the new head of the Department of Education (DofE) Nicky Morgan, and her team, are by and large privately educated. The photo attached has evidently proved to be a huge problem for many. I am curious as to why so many see this as problematic and based on what evidence?

Firstly let me state that the quote at the top of the picture “this team represents modern Britain” was a comment David Cameron made about his cabinet reshuffle and not the DofE. Just to be clear.

So lets address some key points here.

1. Shared Experience
There is the assumption that without a shared experience of state education, people who are privately educated will not be able to understand or empathise with those in state education.

I am curious as to why this is the thinking behind it?
Yes of course there…

View original 550 more words

The Educator as a Maker Educator eBook

Originally posted on User Generated Education:

I self-published an eBook: The Educator as a Maker Educator.  It is available through Amazon at



The Maker Movement and the accompanying Maker Education are inching their ways in both formal (school) and informal (after school – camp) settings.

Whether it’s a paper airplane or a robot that walks, kids have always wanted to create functional objects with their own two hands. These days, many educators are channeling that natural urge to build with help from the wider maker movement, which has spawned maker faires and dedicated make spaces” in classrooms and media centers around the country. Pam Moran, superintendent of theAlbemarle County Public Schools in Virginia, contends that American classrooms of the past regularly fueled this type of creativity, and now is the time to bring back that spirit of innovation. “I see the maker movement as being a reconnect, both inside schools, as well as…

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Skills system in London is ‘broken’ and failing to prepare people for work

London’s skills system is “broken” and needs a radical overhaul if future generations are to meet the needs of the city’s businesses, a group of MPs has been told.

London Councils, which represents all 32 London boroughs and the City of London, wants changes to the way the capital’s FE colleges and training providers are funded.

Giving evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group inquiry on small business productivity yesterday, Peter John, London Councils’ member for employment and skills, said the skills gap was getting wider.

A lack of local influence, poor labour market information and a “flawed” system of incentives for skills providers were leading to Londoners losing out on jobs and firms struggling to fill vacancies, he said.

“The skills system, as it stands, is not fit for purpose. There is a disconnect between the skills London is producing and the skills businesses, especially small businesses, need.

“Too much funding is being wasted on courses that employers do not need or want such as hair and beauty, car mechanics or health and safety.

“We need to address this urgently if we are to avoid producing a generation of Londoners unprepared for the labour market.”

Some 99 per cent of London businesses are small companies, which employ half the capital’s workforce.

Earlier this year the UK Commission for Employment and Skills found that businesses with fewer than five staff reported that one in three vacancies is hard to fill because of skill shortages and a lack of suitable candidates.

A report by London Councils published last year found that almost a quarter of vacancies in London were due to skills shortages, according to employers, with a particular lack of provision in growth areas like marketing, sales and the creative and cultural industries.

Mr John called on the government to overhaul the way colleges and training providers are funded and to devolve more powers to London boroughs so they can match provision to local needs.

He said funding should be devolved to London Enterprise Panel to manage the adult skills system at a London level. Currently this funding is agreed at national level, and although London gets £550 million a year, the employment rate still lags behind the UK average.

The All Party Parliamentary Group, chaired by Brian Binley MP, has been taking evidence since April.

Skills is one of its six areas of inquiry, including the quality of the education system and its responsiveness to employer needs.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said it was already building closer links between the world of work and the skills system by giving employers more influence over courses and qualifications.

It said this included putting employers in the driving seat in the delivery and design of high quality apprenticeships. Last year more than 77,000 Londoners were participating in an apprenticeships.

A spokeswoman said: “Employers tell us some school and college leavers’ literacy and numeracy levels are not good enough, that’s why English and maths requirements have been strengthened, specifically for 16-19 year-olds.

“The National Careers Service is helping to bring together schools and employers to help young people develop job-ready skills, and is working directly with Local Enterprise Partnerships to provide schools with expert advice on the world of work.”

How To Use Bloom’s Taxonomy To Write Learning Outcomes

How To Use Bloom’s Taxonomy To Write Learning Outcomes

By: Scott Davis Business Analyst, Pearson

It is often quite difficult to relate inputs to outcomes in the world of education. Traditionally, much work has been done to develop and provide inputs into the process of education. These inputs, such as a textbook, an assessment, a learning technology or platform, a course, a qualification, a high-stakes test or professional development for teachers are put into the hands of an educational leader, a skillful teacher, or an eager student. And, for all of the investment, expertise, and care that go into their creation, that has typically been where the involvement ends. Rarely has one been able to measure or predict the learning outcomes from using these inputs.

If we are going to really understand how we might be impacting student learning we must do two things. First we must define our student learning outcomes – these are the goals that describe how a student will be different because of a learning experience. The focus should be on what a student will be able to do with the information or experience. And second, we must measure if the program or service implemented to facilitate the learning was effective.

Defining Learning Outcomes

It may be difficult to know where to start in writing a student learning outcome. And you are not alone in facing the challenge of relating educational inputs to learning outcomes and understanding your impact on student learning. Learning taxonomies are a valuable tool for classifying learning objectives. A helpful and frequently used resource when writing student learning outcomes is Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Skills. Bloom’s Taxonomy refers to a classification of the different objectives that educators set for students (learning objectives). The taxonomy was first presented in 1956 through the publication “The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, The Classification of Educational Goals, Handbook I: Cognitive Domain” (Bloom 1956). It is considered to be a foundational and essential element within the education community as evidenced in the 1981 survey “Significant writings that have influenced the curriculum: 1906-1981″ (Shane 1981).

The committee identified three domains of educational activities or learning (Bloom, 1956):

- Cognitive: mental skills (Knowledge)
– Affective: growth in feelings or emotional areas (Attitude or self)
– Psychomotor: manual or physical skills (Skills)

The domains are further subdivided, starting from the simplest behavior to the most complex. The first of these domains is the cognitive domain, which emphasizes intellectual outcomes. This domain is further divided into categories or levels. The divisions outlined are not absolutes and there are other systems or hierarchies that have been devised in the educational and training world. However, Bloom’s taxonomy is easily understood and is probably the most widely applied one in use today.

Various researchers have summarized how to use Bloom’s Taxonomy. Following is one interpretation that can be used as a guide in helping to write objectives using Bloom’s Taxonomy. The major idea of the taxonomy is that what educators want students to know (encompassed in statements of educational objectives) can be arranged in a hierarchy from less to more complex. The levels are successive, so that one level must be mastered before the next level can be reached.

The original levels (Bloom, 1956) were ordered as follows: Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation.

Additional Information:

Bloom, B. S.; Engelhart, M. D.; Furst, E. J.; Hill, W. H.; Krathwohl, D. R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook I: Cognitive domain. New York: David McKay Company.

Shane, Harold G. (1981). “Significant writings that have influenced the curriculum: 1906-1981″. Phi Delta Kappan 62 (5): 311–314.


7 Strategies To Support Students Who Can’t Afford Technology

7 Strategies To Support Students Who Can’t Afford Technology

7 Strategies To Support Students Who Can’t Afford Technology

by TeachThought Staff

For all of its potential, education technology suffers from a flaw that public education has struggled with since its inception–equity. However you want to phrase it or refract it as an issue, the bottom line is that some people have more than others, and that creates gaps. Lots of them.

So we thought an over-generalizing and necessarily reductionist post that takes a swing at a timeless and painful theme that has more to do with social justice than teaching may be a good way to get this week started.

7 Strategies To Support Students Who Can’t Afford Technology

1. Write a grant proposal to purchase inexpensive technology

Grants take a special kind of personality to obtain. Some people just have a knack for finding, picking, applying, and qualifying for them–so much paperwork, bureaucracy, minutiae, and tedium. But if the technology you’re seeking is beyond the reach of your average book drive or bake sale, this might be the only way.

And there’s power here, too. Play your cards right, and you could end up with a completely overhauled classroom.

2. Ask local businesses to sponsor a classroom or club

Someone with enough money to help, but that is locally-owned would be ideal. Smaller banks can be useful here.

3. Solicit donated used electronic equipment through drives or related campaigns

Ask parents or the community to donate old technology. Ask Best Buy or some giant chain to support what you’re trying to do. Email us and we’ll share it via twitter to see if anyone out there can help. There are ways!

4. Purchase used, inexpensive gadgets and offer them as prizes for academic success

Even if craiglist or eBay aren’t your thing, you can get brand new Android smartphones for $50, and used for even less. No that money doesn’t have to come out of your pocket, but, well–that’s what district budgets and grants are for.

You could have a classroom set of used smartphones for less than $1000 if you’re resourceful enough.

5. Have students brainstorm ideas to help solve this issue themselves

Speaking of resourceful, students may or may not have “good ideas” to help here, but empowering them to try to address the issue on their own can be powerful, especially for older students. Being resourceful is an important “soft skill,” and requires practice, no?

6. Crowdsource it

Donorschoose, kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other platforms can help you socialize the needs of your classroom.

7. Design learning experiences where they don’t feel left out without it

If all else fails, design learning experiences where the students that have access can use it, and the ones without it don’t feel like outcasts.

This isn’t easy but it can be done through grouping strategies, after school use of school technology, or ensuring that the non-technology roles that the tech-less students have are even more compelling than everyone else’s.

5 Strategies To Support Students Who Can’t Afford Technology; image attribution flickr user karlisdambrans

iCollege sails close to the wind

Originally posted on The Scan:

The Australian    |   16 July 2014


iCollege, an online education start-up, has defended its claims to be accredited by an international accreditation agency – the International Vocational Standards and Accreditation Agency (IVSAA) – that is registered to its own address, saying an equivalent couldn’t be found so they had to set up their own.

Victor Hawkins, managing director of the newly ASX-listed company, said its claim that it “has adopted the IVSAA’s “Code of Professional Conduct” is not duplicitous, even though its website does not make clear the IVSAA is registered to the same Subiaco Perth address as iCollege.

According to Hawkins:

We are very transparent about it — we put out a notice to the ASX about six weeks ago.

It might be on the ASX site but we couldn’t find it.

Hawkins said the iCollege directors established IVSAA after it could find no equivalent…

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How Can Google Glass Be Used In Education?

It may not be quite ‘mainstream’ yet, but Google Glass is still growing, both in number of users and overall popularity. The idea of having a heads up display in front of you while you move through your day brings a lot of different options – but how can we put that to use in a classroom? We’ve written a few different things on Google Glass (and other wearable technology) in the classroom, but since Google Glass is ‘officially’ buyable (it was only available to developers for awhile), we thought some additional ideas might be fun and useful. The handy infographic below offers a look at the vast capabilities of the product along with some classroom ideas that fit with those features.

Using Google Glass in The Classroom

Glass is currently available to “Explorers” (sort of like a beta testing group) for $1500, but anyone can become an explorer and buy the product (as of this writing)
The market for Glass is estimated to be about $10.5 billion yearly
It can be implemented for many different uses in education, such as:
Supplemental material for lectures
Close ups of lab work
Safe viewing at a distance
Medical training
Documentation of field trips
Virtual field trips
Student monitoring
How-to films
Record practice videos
Student presentations and performances
Learning while participating
Remote group work
Remote tutoring
Teachers capture notes
Record lectures/classes
Performance evaluations


I’m the heir to Gove – and teachers’ pet


Nicky Morgan, the new education secretary, aims to press ahead with her predecessor’s reforms, but also to be less confrontational with schools

Nicky Morgan rejected calls to ease rules on parents taking their children out of school during term time (Jeremy Young)

THE new education secretary today warns teachers that she will continue to push ahead with Michael Gove’s radical school reforms despite his cabinet demotion to chief whip.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Nicky Morgan dismissed claims that she has been sent by David Cameron to call a halt to reforms, pledging instead to open new free schools and expand grammar schools where parents want them.

While Morgan said she would be “nice to teachers” — a move designed to distance her from Gove’s confrontational style — she insisted there would be no backsliding on Gove’s reforms simply to placate the unions.