As an ex-schools minister I see value in the unions. But they are wrong not to join our battle against progressive educationalists. […] This might seem like an odd thing for a Conservative MP and former schools minister to say, but teaching unions are not the problem with our schools. […]
[…] who is to blame for our education system slipping down the international rankings? The answer is the academics in the education faculties of universities. This is where opposition to the use of phonics in the teaching of young children to read lies, despite vast evidence from this country and other English-speaking countries that systematic synthetic phonics is the most effective and successful method.
Within these education departments lie the proponents of so-called progressive education, which advocates that education should be child-led rather than teacher-led; many advocate a play-based classroom until children are seven years old. It is an approach that espouses learning by discovery rather than having teachers directly teaching children. For decades many education academics downplayed the importance of spelling, punctuation and grammar. Textbooks are regarded by many in the education departments as appalling teaching tools, and in the 1970s they virtually disappeared from primary schools. Progressive educationalists oppose testing and believe that a knowledge-rich education is pointless in the Google age.
It is challenging the hegemony of the education departments of the universities that must be the focus of any serious education reformer and anyone who believes, as Gove does, that the attainment gap between those from poorer and wealthier backgrounds needs to be closed. There are many in the teaching profession who share this view. There are many on the left who hanker for the type of education provided in the independent sector – largely untainted by the progressive ideology of the education faculties – but who want their children educated by the state. They, too, should be railing against these educationalists.
Monthly Archives: April 2014
Mathematics teaching in China: reflections from an Ofsted HMI
By Sean Harford HMI, National Director, Initial Teacher Education, Ofsted
Reposted from TES Connect.
In late February I was a member of a delegation representing HM Government that visited the three Chinese provinces of Shanghai, Beijing and Hubei with a specific focus on mathematics education.
I have waited until now to reflect on my visit to China because I wanted to go back into some English schools to test out the thinking I developed while there. The differences in maths outcomes for our young people between the two countries are stark and worrying for us, unless we act now to catch up – and I do not mean just in terms of PISA test scores. I am coming at this not only from an inspector’s point of view, but also from my background of being a physics teacher and so frequent user of maths, reliant on pupils being able to handle and manipulate numbers confidently. In this respect, Chinese children are streets ahead of ours, so the benefits of their high standards in mathematics go way beyond just this core subject.
As everyone knows, Her Majesty’s Inspectors are not concerned about the ‘how’ but ‘how effective’ with teaching. This approach requires a clear focus on the outcomes for the pupils and their response to the teaching, including crucially the evidence of learning and progress over time in their work books and folders. These were impressive in the classes we observed in China, and told a story of a consistency of approach and expectations that has led to the pupils being confident mathematicians, willing to have a go and able to tackle problems in different contexts.
For example, given this problem…:
X = 2√ (7/14 x 28/7 x 3/9 x 24/8 x 18/9)
… none of the 12-year-old pupils reached for the calculator; they couldn’t because they have been banned from their classrooms. They calmly looked for the potential to cancel and reduce the fractions, and spotted that this expression is really just the square root of 4. Not a job for the calculator; not for them at least. This was clearly not about them learning ‘tricks’ either. This problem was one of just 4 or 5 set by the teacher in a 5 minute burst of practice, to help the pupils master the concepts covered by her in the latest part of the lesson before they moved on confidently together to the next stage of increasingly challenging maths. The key was not the teacher’s ‘performance’ in this lesson, but the demonstration of the depth of the pupils’ mathematical learning over time and the impressive armoury of knowledge and skills they had built up to deploy as and when needed. Evidence of solidly knowing their times tables was absolutely apparent across the pupils, as was the ability to use efficient methods of calculation without having to really think. Their mathematical toolkit was there to be used as surely as a mechanic’s spanners, or a surgeon’s scalpel
Read the rest at TES Connect.
33rd MATHEMATICS TEACHERS AND ADVISERS CONFERENCE/WORKSHOP
33rd MATHEMATICS TEACHERS AND ADVISERS CONFERENCE/WORKSHOP
Friday 27th June 2014 13.00-17.00 – No registration fee
The 33rd Mathematics Teachers and Advisers Conference/Workshop provides an interface between the School of Mathematics at the University of Leeds and teachers in schools and sixth forms.
Teachers and university staff alike are given a rare opportunity to exchange valuable experiences and re-invigorate their perspectives on the ever-changing world of mathematics education.
Please book the date of 27th of June 2014 in your diary and attend the event.
If you have not done already so, in order to register, simply JUST SEND an EMAIL to:
D. Lesnic >>at<< leeds.ac.uk
and give your name, name of the school and email.
Julian Gilbey (University of Cambridge) “Cambridge Mathematics
Currently in the development phase, the project will provide innovative online resources to help support and inspire teachers and students of A-level mathematics. The aim is to help to make sixth-form mathematics a rich, coherent and stimulating experience for students and teachers. Join to get a preview of the web site, and to work together on some of the new A-level resources.
David Kaplan (Royal Statistical Society Centre for Statistical Education at Plymouth University) “SAS Curriculum Pathways”
Plymouth University has endorsed SAS Curriculum Pathways as a free-to-use online teaching and learning resource in order to promote the uptake of STEM subjects in further and higher education. The resource has been developed in the US over a number of years and has been successful for three main reasons:
(i) Commitment to Teachers. SAS Curriculum Pathways works in the classroom in large part because teachers have shaped every phase of the planning and production process.
(ii) Focus on Content. Teachers, developers, designers, and other specialists clarify content in the core disciplines. Content difficult to convey with conventional methods is tageted topics where doing and seeing provide information and encourage insights in ways that textbooks cannot.
(iii) Approach to Technology. SAS Curriculum Pathways makes learning more profound and efficient, not simply more engaging. Audio, visual, and interactive components all reinforce the learning objectives identified by teachers. It stands apart from other online resources becuase of its interactive nature students obtain immediate feedback. The resource promotes subject specific terminology and leads students through sometimes difficult methods in a structured way. http://www.sascurriculumpathways.com/portal
Sue Pope (Chair of the General Council of the Association of Teachers
of Mathematics) –“Post-16 Mathematics Opportunities and Challenges”
Despite increasing numbers of students studying level 3 Mathematics, England is remarkable in its low participation rates. The government is committed to increasing participation, yet will we have a curriculum and associated qualifications to do this? Will linear A levels, core maths, critical maths (MEI Gowers’-inspired) and other qualifications in development fit the bill? Have policy makers learnt from Curriculum 2000, or the Mathematics Pathways project? How do we ensure students have the mathematical skills to thrive whatever their future? And what are those skills?