How an economist would decide the what, when and how of reception year

Clare Sealy has written an amazing blog post explaining why rising 5s need to learn through a mixture of explicit teaching, whole class collective experiences, and play-based encounters. The early years isn't an area of research for me, but it is a field I spend a lot of time thinking and reading about simply because …

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We don’t need better sorting hats to improve social mobility

This is roughly the talk I gave at a Policy Exchange fringe at Conservative Party Conference in 2016   I don’t like the words social mobility because they are so slippery as to give carte blanche to politicians to do exactly as they please. We appear to have entered an era where social mobility policies involve …

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Mandating 10 hour opening times for school buildings*

*NB. Yes, buildings. Not teachers. Not headteachers. Not pupils. Today I’m blogging without data, or even much evidence. We have had a few interesting commentaries from education bloggers on longer school days (here and here), but the twitter debate fell quickly into criticisms about impacts on family life, which need to be challenged. I believe …

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Five observations on the TouchPaper problems party

Last weekend, Laura McInerney and I hosted a rather experimental TouchPaper problems party. Her blog here tells you what happened on the day and a few party goers have started writing up their own thoughts on the day (here, here and here). Here are five observations from the perspective of a rather-out-of-touch-with-the-classroom academic: 1. I …

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Announcing: The 1st TouchPaper Problem Solving Party

An invitation from Laura McInerney to our TouchPaper Problem Solving Party…

Laura McInerney

firework

Back in September, the ResearchEd conference hosted a vast range of speakers suggesting how research might be more effectively used in education. My own contribution was a presentation of 7 problems which, if answered, would help teachers understand important things about their job. (See the full talk here)

The list was called the “TouchPaper Problems” – a reference to the blue paper with which one lights fireworks. I created each problem because I felt it would give information useful in classrooms. They are difficult questions though. Each one will require several layers of theory-testing and consideration before they can be considered ‘solved’. This sort of public problem-solving approach in the past motivated mathematicians and engineers to solve some of the most fundamental problems in their sector. My theory is simple: we should do the same in education.

To move things forward the brilliant Becky Allen suggested it…

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Averages and tails: What sort of pupils benefit most from Teach First participants?

When Joe Kirby and I presented data on whether Teach First is working at ResearchED2013 earlier this month, the best audience question came from Arthur Baker who wanted to know whether the improvements in average school attainment following Teach First participation meant that the most disadvantaged students were benefiting, or not. This question struck a …

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