4th December 2015 at 00:00

Understanding the (recent) past

While schools have flexibility over which historical periods to teach at A-level, many opt for a narrow range of topics focusing on modern history. Simon Child, Ellie Darlington and Tim Gill from Cambridge Assessment spoke to 90 heads of history. They found that the most common reasons teachers gave for selecting these units were their own expertise and their understanding of pupils’ engagement with course content. These motivations were deemed significantly more important by state-school teachers than by their counterparts in independent schools.

‘Clustering’ of deprived students

Governments should address issues that lead to clustering of disadvantaged pupils, such as the existence of faith and selective schools, according to Stephen Gorard of Durham University. Professor Gorard examined data for all state-funded schools in England between 1989 and 2014. His report finds that segregation by poverty varies according to factors beyond policymakers’ control, such as the global economy. He concludes that to ensure a fair national school system, the state should address factors within its control such as the use of proximity to school to decide contested places.

Why teachers should be apprentices

Two-year “higher-level apprenticeships” for teachers should be introduced to counter “anti-intellectualism” and stop new staff from dropping out, according to research from Janet Orchard of the University of Bristol and Christopher Winch of King’s College London. They’re calling for the extra training to allow new teachers time to develop their theoretical and practical understanding of pedagogy before becoming fully qualified. They believe that most new teachers should spend two years as apprentices after completing education degrees or PGCEs. Their pamphlet What training do teachers need? is published as part of the Philosophy of Education Society’s Impact series.

The art of the matter

Evidence on the academic benefits of arts education is unclear, according to a review by Beng Huat See and Dimitra Kokotsaki from Durham University. The House of Lords recently argued for arts to be part of the core curriculum to encourage creativity and critical thinking. But the academics, who looked at 199 international studies covering preschool through to age 16, conclude that “more robust and rigorous evaluations” are needed to confirm any links between arts participation and academic performance.

Adi Bloom (@adibloom) and Helen Ward (@teshelen)

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