Monthly Archives: November 2019

Blog of the Week: 29 November 2019 – EAL learners – five facts, five things you need to know and five things you can do to support them

This post discusses the recent research report from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) with The Bell Foundation and Unbound Philanthropy, ‘Educational Outcomes of Children with English as an Additional Language’ [1] and looks at how teachers can use this research to help English as an Additional Language (EAL) learners to access the curriculum and fulfil their potential.

Behind the headlines of overall ‘average statistics’ about learners who have English as an Additional Language is huge complexity, meaning that making assumptions based on averages can be misleading to the point of being meaningless, and it fosters a lack of understanding of the complexity of this group. This post will start by looking at five facts about this cohort which are not widely understood, these facts will be explored in more detail in the second section and finally practical solutions to support EAL learners will be …

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Blog of the Week: 22 November 2019 – Not just a run in the park


Independent survey commissioned by UK-based charity parkrun gets more than 60,000 responses and shows that volunteering has a bigger impact on health and wellbeing than just running or walking.

The first weekend of October 2019 sees the 15th anniversary of parkrun. To mark the occasion, parkrun UK have released results from an independent survey, proving that participation in parkrun really does make people healthier and happier, and not just from running or walking.

The survey showed that more people who volunteer at parkrun feel an improved sense of happiness compared to those who just walk or run.

infographics volunteer FB

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Blog of the Week: 15 November 2019 – Retrieval Practice in the Classroom: Is Asking Questions Enough?

By Cindy Nebel

In our workshops, we often recommend that instructors start by making small changes in their teaching, instead of trying to do a massive overhaul to a curriculum or design from scratch. One possible way that an educator may choose to incorporate retrieval practice into their classroom is to simply stop and ask questions throughout a traditional lecture. By asking students questions, they will all be in engaging in retrieval practice without the instructor taking too much time out of their class to develop or grade quizzes. But is that enough? In today’s post, I review a study that asked just that question and has implications for student group work as well.

In this study (1), Magdalena Abel and Henry Roediger had students study Swahili vocabulary words in pairs. First, both students sat at a computer while the Swahili word was presented with its English equivalent (study phase). Some of the words were …

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Blog of the Week: 8 November 2019 – Taking Curriculum Seriously

Curriculum is all about power. Decisions about what knowledge to teach are an exercise of power and therefore a weighty ethical responsibility. What we choose to teach confers or denies power. To say that pupils should learn ‘the best that has been thought and said’ is never adequate. Start the conversation, and questions abound: ‘Whose knowledge?’; ‘Who decides on “best”?’.

Such questions reflect concern about whether schooling reproduces inequalities or interrupts them. Such questions matter. But reducing knowledge to voice will not get us far either. The contentious questions – Which works of literature? Which historical stories? Which art? – cannot be resolved by some optimal blend of diversity, some nirvana of neutrality, as though distribution across the sources of knowledge or types of knower will settle things. No matter how redemptive of former injustice, no holy grail of content selection will be reached.

Nor does adding in preparation for the 21st century help. How can we decide what is relevant to the ever-shifting ‘now’? Worse, relevance quickly merges with perceptions …


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Blog of the Week: 1 November 2019 – The curriculum as progression model

Clio et cetera

What does it mean to get better at history? One of the problems we have in answering this question is that history is an incredibly diverse discipline: there are thousands of possible things that one might legitimately study at school. In one school pupils might be learning 18th-century French history, but in the next town pupils might never study this, and instead learn about 15th-century Italy. In one school pupils might learn about analysing monastic records from the eleventh century, yet pupils in another school might never encounter this source material, and instead focus on analysing Cromwell’s speeches in Parliament in the 1650s. To get better at history, you have to have learnt a sufficient number of things, but very few of those things can be understood as strictly necessaryin the sense that someone has to have studied them in order to be understood as…

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