Children, their World, their Education. The basic premise of the Cambridge Primary Review (CPR) was as clear in the title of its final report as in its choice of investigative themes and questions: education is meaningful only when educators understand and coherently respond to the nature and needs of children and the society and world in which they are growing up. Mastering the practical skills of teaching is a necessary but not sufficient condition, and as an educational rationale mantras like ‘effective teaching’ take us to the nearest 3Rs test but no further. Continue reading New evidence on childrens’ voices and rights. But does DfE get it?
It is widely acknowledged that Teaching Assistants (TAs) have a prominent influence on the education of children in mainstream primary schools. However, the role of TAs is regarded by many educational professionals and researchers to be both highly complex and unclear. TAs undertake numerous pastoral and educational responsibilities within their role on a daily basis. Taking account of all of these in a role descriptor is very difficult. Continue reading Teaching Assistants: reconceptualising the role
From an international perspective, the over-representation of students from minority groups in special education placement is well documented in the research literature (Artiles et al., 2011; Ahram, et al. 2011; Skiba, et al. 2006; Valencia, 2010; Zion and Blanchett, 2011). My recent research in Ireland builds and expands on such research as it brings the intersectionality between social class and placement in special education centre-stage. The research highlights empirically, the disproportionality of students from lower socio-economic status (LSES) backgrounds in special education programmes. Moreover, empirical data illustrate that ‘students least likely to encounter widely available educational resources at home are also least likely to encounter them in school’ (Darling-Hammond, 2010, p. 22). These observations of discomfort mirror the seminal work of Illich (1971) that school can be the problem not the solution to in/equity because it creates mechanisms to discriminate against some and to privilege others. Continue reading Home/School Discontinuity is not Disability
The legacy left by the IQ test is an assumption that human intelligence is an innate and immutable personal attribute, that is normally distributed throughout the population (on a bell-shaped curve). This can be seen to have far reaching effects on the organisation of education as children are categorised according to whether they are thought to be ‘high ability’, ‘low ability’ or perhaps deemed to have ‘special educational needs’. The presumption that we can make judgements about future ‘potential’ on the evidence of current performance continues to legitimate practices of providing different educational experiences for children according to their perceived ability. Continue reading Extending opportunities to participate in learning