Teachers are still falling for 'fads', warns senior Ofsted official

Teachers need to be able to distinguish between pedagogy that is evidence-based and 'fun ideas', says Ofsted's head of research

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Teachers are still falling for fads, despite the growing interest in evidence-informed teaching, a senior Ofsted official said today.

Speaking at a London conference, Daniel Muijs, head of research at Ofsted, said: “There is still a big issue in education in terms of being still susceptible to various fads and there is not enough clarity on what is really evidence-based and what is the latest fun idea from someone giving a TED talk because they went to school 20 years ago and are a very successful entrepreneur, for example.”

He told delegates at the Westminster Education Forum that while educational technology could attract a lot of financial investment, it did not necessarily have the evidence in terms of impact

When asked about examples of fads, he said: “Ipad schools .. I am entirely unconvinced that we have any evidence of impact in that particular area."

'Effective use of ed tech'

Speaking after the conference, Professor Muijs said that it wasn’t iPads in particular that he was concerned about but the wider issue of schools investing money in expensive technology but not necessarily changing the way they teach to make the most of it.

“If you invest in a laptop, and then all you do is type, rather than write notes, then it is not very useful. It could be useful – but if you’re going to invest in it then you need to invest in pedagogical process that allows teachers to use that technology effectively."

Dame Alison Peacock, chief executive of the Chartered College of Teaching, said the pressure on schools led to teachers grasping for answers.

“Fads are symptomatic of a culture that is trying to find a silver bullet, in a system that is hyperaccountable,” she said.

Professor Muijs added that while it was great that teachers wanted to attend conferences on a Saturday, it should not be expected and space should be found within their contracted hours to carry out CPD.

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