British Educational Research Journal

Published by Wiley
Online ISSN: 1469-3518
Publications
Article
The aim of the UK National Literacy Strategy is to raise standards in literacy. Strong evidence for its success has, however, been lacking: most of the available data comes from performance on tests administered in schools or from Office for Standards in Education reports and is vulnerable to suggestions of bias. An opportunistic analysis of data from a population cohort study extending over three school years compares school-based scores at school entry and at age 7-8 with independently administered scores on similar tests. The results show a small but statistically significant rise between 1998 and 1999 and between 1998 and 2000 in scores on both Key Stage 1 Reading Standard Assessment Tasks taken in schools and the reading component of the WORD test taken independently. This is clear evidence for a real rise in reading attainment over this period, which may be attributable to the children's experience of the National Literacy Strategy.
 
Article
The editorial gives an overview of the articles included in this issue of "British Educational Research Journal". Collected in this volume are six articles that reflect the range and diversity of researching early years education and care. Methodologically the articles are very diverse. They include a small-scale intervention study in two inner-city schools, a national effectiveness project, an ethnographic case study, and work with an international dimension. Their designs encompass interviewing, the evaluation of an intervention programme and statistical modelling. The first article from Australia begins to explore the area of children's contribution to the development of social capital. The second article is timely as it reports on the implementation of the Foundation Stage Curriculum during the first two years of its introduction with particular reference to practices in reception classroom settings. The third article reminds us of the importance of spoken language to enable children to access the whole curriculum. The final article in this issue goes into detail about the practices and policies that appear to contribute to effective practice in pre-school education. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
 
Article
The investigation reported in this article was prompted by discrepancies between the published outcomes from two international tests of science achievement: the Second International Assessment of Educational Progress (IAEP2) administered in 1991 and the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) administered in 1995. One finding was that while average science achievement for Irish 13 year-olds was reported to be at the low end of the distribution for the 20 participating countries in IAEP2, it was around the middle of the distribution for the 40 or so countries that participated in TIMSS in the early grades of secondary schooling. Initial comparisons suggested that there were also inconsistencies in outcomes for some of the 11 other countries that participated in both surveys, e.g. France, Portugal, and Switzerland. Analyses described in the article reveal that when sampling/population definition differences between the two surveys are accounted for, science achievement in Ireland was not at the low level suggested by initial interpretations of the IAEP2 data but was closer to the levels reported in TIMSS. While the sampling issue did not fully account for discrepancies with respect to the IAEP2/TIMSS outcomes for some countries, it is argued that the findings outlined in this article have a number of implications for policy-makers using data from future international comparative studies of student achievement.
 
Article
A considerable body of previous research has demonstrated that differences between schools and classes have an impact on students' learning and acquisition of skills. It is not yet clear, however, whether the effects persist in the longer term. The present study examines the effect of primary schools and classes on language and mathematics achievement over a period of two years after leaving primary education. Considerable short-term effects of the primary school and class on achievement levels at the end of primary education were found. Multilevel models with a cross-classified structure were constructed to estimate the long-term effects. Differences between secondary schools and classes turned out to be much more important for achievement in secondary education than the long-term effects of primary schools and classes, which were small and died out fast.
 
Article
This article focuses upon the role of gender as a significant aspect of self-concept, one that acquires particular salience at times of transition in a person’s life. We suggest that transitional phases intensify the sociocultural processes of identity construction, and that gender acquires particular salience as an aspect of identity at these times of transition. Both authors have undertaken studies that focused on gender as an aspect of identity during key transitional phases of the school career, one focused on the first transition to formal schooling and the other on the transition from primary to secondary schooling. Illustrations will be drawn from both these studies to support the suggestion that the social category of gender functions as a means of providing a schematic principle for ‘coping’ with transitions. We outline a programme for further empirical research that could be employed to develop and explore this suggestion further.
 
Article
Adopting a sociocultural theoretical framework and based on ethnographic data from two primary schools, this article seeks to answer the question: what meanings about inclusion and exclusion are encoded in school and classroom practices? It documents the (inclusionary and) exclusionary pedagogic processes that influence learning and children's participation in the learning opportunities on offer to them. From their analysis of observational, interview and documentary data, externally-imposed and monitored regimes of assessment are what really matters in the school lives of the year six children in the authors' fieldwork schools. Assessment, narrowed to testing, defines the school day, the curriculum, the teacher's responsibilities, the pupil's worth, the ideal parent, and what counts as ability; it pushes towards a particular type of learning at the expense of other types. The article begins with a brief theoretical and methodological account of the study and a note on each participating school. It then suggests and discusses models of 'SATurated pupildom' that are supported by the data. Versions of learning and ability as well as teacher subject positions that variously fit with the demands of summative assessments for accountability purposes, but that do not square with valuing diversity, are also discussed. The conclusion briefly considers the findings in the context of a macro-culture that circumscribes what schools and teachers must value most and in relation to tensions within New Labour's push for standardisation on the one hand and inclusion and social justice on the other.
 
Article
The aim of this article is to initiate discussion about the pursuit of self-awareness—a concept embedded in recent policy—as an educational goal. The authors argue that complex theoretical questions need to be addressed if improvements in policy and practice relating to personal, social and emotional education are to ensue. Such questions relate to possible interpretations of 'self-awareness', a term that may be linked to outdated theories, implying a 'self' to be discovered and the possibility that people can sustain a 'sense of self' across time and place. From this perspective, self-awareness may seem overly individualistic, obscuring more pro-social goals (e.g. empathy, compassion, citizenship). Drawing on sociological and social psychological literature, as well as data from an empirical study of identity construction, it is hoped to contribute to the provision of firm foundations for personal, social and emotional education through a stronger theoretical exposition of 'self-awareness'. The authors' reconceptualised version highlights the importance of an expanded and flexible story of self, which they view as an invaluable tool for learning, fostering an openness to change.
 
Article
Teachers' perceptions and thoughts on educational matters reflect on their teaching decisions and actions to their students in general, and their students with emotional and behavioural difficulties, in particular. A study based on the theoretical assumptions of Weiner's model of attributional theory of motivation, Ajzen & Fishbein's planned behaviour theory and Bandura's social cognitive theory aimed to construct a portrayal of teachers' causal attributions, emotional, cognitive and behavioural responses to students with emotional and behavioural difficulties. The distribution of an Attribution Inventory to 391 elementary teachers revealed that teachers' causal attributions predicted their emotional and cognitive responses, which in turn predicted their intentional behaviour. Intentional behaviour in conjunction with perceptions of effective coping strategies finally predicted their actual behaviour. This study contributes to our understanding of teachers' perceptions of and decisions about emotional and behavioural difficulties, with relevance to teacher trainers and policy-makers.
 
Article
This article considers some of the methodological challenges involved in investigating, within the traditions of comparative research in education, the complex issue of educational 'policy borrowing'. It discusses notions of 'borrowing' and 'influence' and refers to a model previously proposed by the authors for the analysis of what are seen as four stages in the policy borrowing process which can be tested empirically. These are identified as cross-national attraction, decision, implementation, and internalization/indigenization. The problems involved in researching each stage of this process are considered, in particular in relation to the authors' previous work on the attractiveness to British observers of educational policy in Germany over a long historical period.
 
Article
Since their incorporation in 1993, further education (FE) colleges in England have been responsible for their own staffing and, faced with funding constraints as well as recruitment and retention targets, some have introduced a new category of staff referred to here as 'learning support workers' (LSWs). Though their employment conditions and specific duties vary considerably, LSWs' work often includes providing individual care for students. In this small-scale study, using semi-structured interviews, the perceptions of some teachers and LSWs about the nature of their relationships with each other and with students are investigated. The study is set broadly in the context of debates about the impact of public sector reform on FE colleges and teachers. A discourse analysis approach is adopted in discussion of the data. The authors conclude that although they are differently positioned in relation to traditional discourses of professionalism, both teachers and LSWs are perceived to be carrying out what Hochschild termed 'emotional labour'. The contradictory nature of emotional labour is also highlighted. Some of the implications of employing a new group of workers in FE are discussed.
 
Article
This article presents a critical review of complexity theory in relation to educational research. The `analytical reductionist' approach is one in which the educational researcher seeks to reduce complex wholes to particular factors and to identify correlations between them and desirable outcomes. Complexity theory shows how this approach in social research is both unreliable within its own terms of reference and misdirected. Complexity theory is characterised by a number of features. These include recognition that educational systems contain multiple variables. These connect in non-linear and dynamic ways, i.e. where factors are seen to interact in a causal relationship the effects do not necessarily relate proportionally to the cause, and few factors may interact with many and many may interact with few. The crucial point of focus is on (a) the nature of the connections that are products of previous interactions reaching into the particular history of the organisation, and (b) the constitutive nature of relationships between interacting factors. Three broad conclusions emerge. The first is that contrary to the promise of reductionist analytical methodologies, research cannot deliver the specific kinds of information that are expected to inform policy and practice. The primary role of educational research becomes one of providing descriptions and explanations that provide a broader perspective on development in which decisions are primarily situation-specific. The second is to recognise that school improvement (a) rests on problematic assumptions about desirable outcomes and (b) is dependent on multiple interacting variables and is thus likely to be local and temporary. The third conclusion is that, rather than seeking to understand schools in terms of factor analysis, research needs to look at the nature of information flow and its constitutive impact on clusters of possible causes and effects.
 
Article
This article reports on an Economic and Social Research Council-funded study into secondary-aged writers' compositional processes, both as observed in a naturalistic classroom setting and as gathered through post hoc reflections. The sample comprised 38 children drawn from Year 9 and Year 11 who were observed, using an annotated timeline, responding to a writing task in the classroom and were subsequently interviewed, using stimulated recall. The initial analysis of the pause and writing patterns observed during the writing task revealed different writing profiles for different writers, and subsequent analysis suggests tentatively that writers of different proficiency may present differing writing profiles. These patterns of composition are then illustrated further through use of the interview data, indicating the writers' awareness of their own composing processes. Finally, the article considers the pedagogic and theoretical implications of these findings, in particular the need for further confirmatory research.
 
Article
Since 1998, upper level secondary education pupils in the Netherlands are required to choose one of four study profiles with their own specific and fixed combinations of final examination subjects. With the aid of multilevel analyses, the extent to which this situation has led to changes in the determinants of mathematics and science choice (i.e. selection of a science profile) is examined for more than 3500 pupils. From a meritocratic perspective, the relative contributions of background characteristics versus personal aptitude are examined. The introduction of the study profiles appears to have produced sharper lines with respect to sex and socio-economic status. Optimal use is thus not made of existing science talent.
 
Article
The article argues that the nature of lifelong learning research is marked by border crossings that require researchers to be conceptually literate. Two aspects of conceptual literacy are discussed. The first relates to the need to recognise the domain-specific meanings of concepts. The second relates to the need to recognise how meanings are drawn from, often suppressed, counter-concepts. The article draws on the fields of adult education, employment and family as key domains of lifelong learning research and explores these issues of literacy through a case study of feminist conceptualisations of responsibility.
 
Article
Education reform in England has seen many policies and initiatives introduced by central government. This article discusses two such policies, performativity and creativity. Performativity has been central to the government's agenda of raising standards and includes monitoring mechanisms such as Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) inspections, performance management and school league tables, all of which are used to measure or judge the value or worth of a school or individual teacher. At the same time as policies on performativity have been implemented, policy makers have introduced a number of policies to encourage creativity in education. This article foregrounds teachers of design and technology (D&T) at secondary level (11-16 years), describing how they struggled to implement both strategies. Teachers valued creativity and thought it was an important part of the subject, but the pressure to be seen to be performing and getting favourable positions in school league tables and Ofsted inspections meant the teaching of D&T became rather formulaic, which allowed very little opportunity for creative learning. Individual interviews were conducted with 14 D&T teachers across six schools and an open-ended email survey was conducted with a further 17 D&T teachers from 15 schools during the preliminary phase of a research and intervention project. In addition, 69 D&T teachers across eight schools completed a questionnaire at the start of the main intervention period. Data from 126 student interviews across six schools are used to support the teacher data outlined above.
 
Article
Children's interpretations of metaphors used in a science text and their teacher's use of explanatory metaphor are analysed and compared to identify key processes in metaphor understanding and to suggest factors that contribute to successful use of metaphor in learning science. The research adopts a Vygotskian socio-cognitive approach to metaphor in discourse. Participants are children in Years 5 and 6, aged around 10 years, and their teacher, in a UK school. The data include think-aloud protocols and teacher-led classroom discourse, analysed for metaphor processing. Sample episodes from the data are used to illustrate how conceptual knowledge is used to interpret metaphor, and how the learning potential of metaphor may be rendered ineffective by interpretation problems or by the choice of metaphor. The mediation of metaphor by a skilled teacher reveals strategies for avoiding such problems and maximising the impact of metaphor on the learning of the formalised concepts of science.
 
Article
It has frequently been claimed that work experience can contribute to higher educational standards in schools and in higher education and contribute to the development of a flexible, highly-skilled and enterprising labour force. This potential was endorsed by the Dearing Report on higher education, although there is little research evidence about the contribution of work experience to the higher education curriculum. This article reports on four empirical studies of work experience in higher education, which suggest that work experience is related to a more positive view of the learning experience and to higher employment rates. However, retrospective views of graduates tend to be more positive than those of current undergraduates and there appear to be distinct subject variations in the impact of different types of work experience. It is argued that the potential is more likely to be realised where work experience placements have six characteristics of good practice and where the higher education curriculum consistently encourages students to reflect well on their own learning.
 
Article
A common theme within the literature on higher education is the congested nature of the graduate labour market. Researchers have highlighted the lengths to which many students now go, in response to this congestion, to `distinguish themselves' from other graduates: paying increased attention to university status; engaging in a range of extra-curricular activities; and pursuing postgraduate qualifications. Studies that have focused on the strategies of Asian students, specifically, have pointed to the important place of studying abroad as a further strategy in this pursuit of distinction. Given that there is now some evidence that the number of UK students enrolling on a degree programme overseas is increasing, this article explores the extent to which an overseas education can be seen as part of a broader strategy on the part of British students to seek distinction within the labour market and whether such an education does indeed offer tangible employment benefits.
 
Article
A theoretical model describing coming to know mathematics was matched against the descriptions gathered from interviews with 70 practising research mathematicians. The model proved to be a good framework for understanding their epistemological practices and a number of pedagogical implications of wider application are drawn from the results.
 
Article
In this paper, we investigate the effects of competition on the performance of Italian secondary schools as measured by Maths achievement scores (PISA 2006 dataset). Competition is measured by an indicator of ‘perceived’ competition (generated from an answer provided by the schools’ principals). The methodology employed is a propensity score matching that is corrected to take into account heteroskedasticity and finite sample bias. The results show a positive effect of competition on school performance. Nevertheless, this effect is quite low (between 3.62% and 4.05% computed at the average score level) and is consistent with previous findings about educational systems in Italy and worldwide. This is relevant for policy-making because competition appears to impact school performance even in a country like Italy where specific pro-competitive policies are quite absent.
 
Article
In his inaugural Presidential Address, given to the BERA Conference 2013 at the University of Sussex, Ian Menter addresses a number of issues concerning educational policy and the contributions that educational research might make to policy development. As BERA approaches its fortieth anniversary, he also sets out some of the responsibilities that the association faces in ensuring the health and quality of education research in Britain.
 
Article
This paper contributes to the empirical evidence on participation and attainment in higher education by reviewing the patterns of entry and success of undergraduate students. It examines the characteristics of entrants to different subjects and considers the role that subject studied plays in determining the likelihood of graduating with a ‘good’ degree. The data used were drawn from the administrative records of over 38,000 UK-domiciled undergraduate students from one ‘elite’ British university. Despite considerable between-subject variation in degree outcomes, multivariate analysis of the relationship between students’ social and academic characteristics and achievement at university revealed that once social background and prior attainment had been controlled for, the subject students studied added little explanatory power to models predicting final degree classifications. Differences in degree outcome were most strongly related to attainment on entry to higher education, sex and ethnicity. In contrast with attainment during the earlier phases of education, the relationship with occupational class was relatively weak. Disparities between the proportion of higher level classifications awarded in different subjects can be largely explained by the background characteristics of the students who choose (and are accepted) to study on these degrees. This finding has particular implications for policies aimed at increasing both the number and quality of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates in what is often argued to be a ‘shortage’ or ‘priority’ area.
 
Article
Attempts to demonstrate a relationship between students' approaches to studying in higher education and their perceptions of their academic context have been bedevilled by limitations of the research instruments and the problem of aggregating students' perceptions and approaches across different course units. The extended version of the Course Experience Questionnaire (Wilson et al., 1997) and the Revised Approaches to Studying Inventory (Entwistle et al., 2000) were adapted for use in distance education and administered in a postal survey to students taking seven courses by distance learning with the Open University. Usable responses were obtained from over 2100 students. Both instruments proved to be remarkably robust, and the students' scores on these two instruments shared 61% of their variance. Students' perceptions of the academic quality of courses in distance education are strongly associated with the approaches to studying that they adopt on those courses.
 
Article
Academic research is subject to audit in many national settings. In Aotearoa/New Zealand, the government regulates the flow of publicly funded research income into tertiary institutions through the Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF). This article enquires into the effects of the PBRF by exploring data collected from 16 academic women of varying rank in the arts, humanities and social sciences. References to the women's emotions were extracted from the transcripts of semi-structured interviews, in which they were asked about experiences of being researchers and doing research in the early years of the PBRF. The analysis presented here undertakes a politicised reading of those emotions—as capacities subject to governmentality—to engage with two issues currently explored in the international higher education literature: (1) the gendered effects of audit, and (2) the notable absence of collective political resistance on the part of academics. We argue that, while the PBRF does produce emotions implicated in reshaping researcher practices, identities, and relationships with colleagues, those effects are fractured and far from predictably gendered. Moreover, the dominant flavour of the feelings described is unlikely to support collective political resistance and more likely to be implicated in increased individualism, pressure to perform and judgmentalism towards others. At the same time, some emotions prompted and sustained forms of active resistance towards research audit's threat to academic imaginations and collegial culture.
 
Article
This article will highlight the difficulties faced by qualified but disadvantaged young people in accessing higher education. This is an issue which has strong implications for education policy, economic efficiency and social justice. Over the past two decades, despite large increases in overall access to higher education, the gap in level of participation between the most affluent and most disadvantaged school-leavers has remained intact. This article will examine patterns of educational attrition amongst less affluent young people, who gain sufficient qualifications to enter higher education. In other words, in order to redress the imbalance in the uptake of places in higher education, this article will distinguish between the factors which qualify young people to access university and those which predispose them to participate. A range of factors (barriers) which impacted upon levels of participation in higher education was found. Access to higher education was primarily dictated by level of school achievement, although this in turn was found to be a function of disadvantage. Furthermore, some qualified but disadvantaged young people forwent the opportunity to enter higher education on leaving school, while others enrolled in less advanced courses, for reasons other than academic ability.
 
Article
This paper, based on some findings of a wider three-year study, sets forth the issue of languages used and taught in education as a dimension of inequality and highlights its implications for widening participation and access in the multilingual context of Pakistan. The paper takes secondary education in private and government schools in Pakistan as a point of departure, and through themes that emerge from a qualitative multiple-case studies account of 32 participants (final year graduating students and their same-sex five- to six-years older siblings) explores issues of inequality with reference to Amertya Sen's capability approach and Pierre Bourdieu's social critical theory. The findings revealed that the concurrent processes of (a) hegemony of English; (b) its discriminatory distribution through schooling; and (c) devaluation of local languages, led by the language policy and mediated through educational institutions, diminished the transformative impact of education in expanding opportunities for widening participation and access. Issues of inequality continue to haunt the underprivileged despite their secondary education. The paper highlights the importance of considering the political economy of languages chosen and taught in formal education as a means of evaluating social justice in educational contexts and considering languages in education decisions with reference to national language policy.
 
Article
This article extends and develops earlier survey studies by reporting findings from detailed interviews with adolescents in Sunderland, Kentucky and St Petersburg. The interviews sought to examine a number of key factors underpinning educational motivation and engagement, in particular, attitudes about schooling, self-evaluations of academic performance, patterns and rate of work at home and at school, reasons why education may be valuable and aspirations for the future. A number of reasons for the presence of high levels of English and American self-satisfaction, and lower Russian self-evaluations are presented. In line with the earlier studies, yet contrary to a widely held position, effort appeared to be emphasised more than ability in explaining differential performance. Differences in the meaning and understanding of such constructs are considered. The article then examines the important influence of peers, and teacher-pupil relationships, upon classroom behaviour and work rates. Differing perceptions as to the intrinsic and extrinsic value of education are explored. In conclusion, the implications for educational reform and attempts to raise educational achievement are considered.
 
Article
The importance of teamwork skills as part of employability has been widely acknowledged and accompanied by active research on successful cooperative learning. However, relatively few studies have focused on the effects of gender on students' group work, and only a limited number of empirical studies exist that examine students' group work process and performance through the results of self- and peer-assessment. This study examines the effects of gender on group work process and performance using the self- and peer-assessment results of 1001 students in British higher education formed into 192 groups. The analysis aggregates all measures on the group level in order to examine the overall group performance. Further, a simple regression model is used to capture the effects of group gender compositions. Results suggest that students in gender balanced groups display enhanced collaboration in group work processes. The enhanced collaboration could be associated with less social loafing behaviours and more equitable contributions to the group work. However, the results imply that this cooperative learning environment does not lead to higher student performance. Students' comments allow us to explore possible reasons for this finding. The results also indicate underperformance by all-male groups and reduced collaborative behaviours by solo males in male gender exception groups (i.e., groups consisting of one male student and other members being female). The results thus have implications for the composition of groups. The pedagogical implications of these findings are discussed.
 
Article
Tens of thousands of young people leave school with no or very few qualifications in England. This paper asks: what is the ethnic dimension of the low achievement problem? We focus on six aspects, using the National Pupil Database: whether the relation between ethnicity and incidence of low achievement is symmetrical with the relation between ethnicity and achievement; whether economic disadvantage is an equally large risk factor for low achievement among pupils of all ethnicities; whether the relationship of ethnicity with low achievement varies by peer group; whether the relationship between gender and chances of low achievement differs by ethnic group; whether the relation between ethnicity and low achievement changes with age; and lastly, whether there is sorting by ethnicity into schools of better or worse quality. We find that: (1) the relationship between low achievement and achievement is not symmetrical and, therefore, that it is valuable to measure low achievement directly rather than as the negative of achievement; (2) economic disadvantage has a stronger effect on White students than those of ethnic minorities; (3) the relationship between ethnicity and low achievement does vary with age; (4) ethnic peer-group effects are not significant; (5) the gender gap in the probability of low achievement is significantly larger for most ethnic groups compared with the White group, at least by one measure of low achievement; and (6) attending poorer-quality schools is part of the explanation of differential ethnic minority performance. We offer explanations for our findings and for the presence and/or persistence of inter-ethnic differences in the chances of low achievement.
 
Article
Educational effectiveness research has identified school membership as being and important factor in relation to academic progress but it has also pointed to the importance of teachers. Additionally, districts have been shown to be of minor importance for progress once key variables are taken into account while data from international studies suggest that countries are important when attainment is studied while controlling for background factors. A perspective, named the Proximate Variables within Jurisdictions (PVJ) theory, is introduced to help understand and predict relationships. The theory holds that variables which are closest to the student are the most influential but that the jurisdiction where the student is educated, which has its own approaches to education and upbringing is of similar importance. A child's educational success in international terms is most influenced by actions in the home and the classroom seen in the context of the country where she or he is brought up. Does the theory hold when progress in classrooms, year groups and educational systems (jurisdictions) is estimated in a single analysis? This study compared progress of pupils in over 4000 classrooms across 11 educational systems. Large differences were found between classes and the educational systems both for reading and mathematics during the first year at school. The theory holds for the most part but questions are left unanswered and the paper sets out a series of testable hypotheses which may be addressed in the future.
 
Article
This metadata relates to an electronic version of an article published in British Educational Research Journal, Volume 32, Issue 4, August 2006, pp. 617-632. British Educational Research Journal is available online at informaworldTM at http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a773443793 This article considers the role of university researchers in a project aimed at developing inclusive practices in schools through collaborative action research. It tells the story of how these researchers became part of the action in one school—Beechbank Primary—through visits, the collection and reporting of data, and through the development of a relationship (particularly with the head teacher) that facilitated learning and change to take place. One of the issues highlighted is that it is in the process of setting up an action research project that many disturbances are evident and, perhaps, inevitable. We argue that it is in working with these disturbances that one might begin to establish the basis of a collaborative relationship, rather than implying that collaboration may result in such things. The approach taken in the section 'Beechbank Story' is a conscious departure from the investigations conducted as a consequence of audit mechanisms, where only particular measurable outcomes, designated in advance, constitute evidence of 'progress'. We focus instead on process and hope to illustrate the small shifts and changes, documented ethnographically, which we argue are essential if change is to take place in the culture of a school.
 
Article
This metadata relates to an electronic version of an article published in British educational research journal, 2001, vol. 27, no. 5, pp. 615-631. British educational research journal is available online at informaworldTM at http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/01411926.asp This article reports the outcomes of a research project designed to investigate and develop formative classroom assessment in primary schools. The project was a collaborative one, involving two university-based researchers and a team of teacher-researchers. The aims were to build on basic research already carried out by the university researchers by investigating the issues from a more practical and applied perspective; consider how a collaborative action research approach to the professional development of teachers might be used to bring about changes in classroom assessment practices; and provide a basis for the further development and refinement of theory on formative assessment. The article reports on changes in classroom practice, particularly involving the clarification and communication of assessment criteria to pupils, and on the processes by which this came about.
 
Article
This article reports the findings of a project funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which explored the participation of children in out-of-school recreational activities. The experiences of children living in poverty were compared and contrasted with their more affluent peers. The aim of the project was to explore these out-of-school activities as sites of learning and to identify the impact of the children's experiences on the development of individual "learning identities". Through in-depth interviews with 55 children it was concluded that there were substantial differences in levels of participation and in the learning gained from these activities by two different groups of children, and stages in the development of their different dispositions towards the activities were shown. Attempts to identify the roles occupied by the children within a community of practice led the authors to question the extent to which the terms "core" and "periphery" can adequately account for the activity within such a community. (Contains 3 tables.)
 
Article
Language shift is the process whereby one language becomes increasingly lesser used in place of the use of another language. In Scotland, language shift is occurring for Gaelic, as English takes its place for a variety of functions in the home and wider community. Extensive literature has argued the important role that education can play in the process of reversing language shift, and there is a growing body of research in this area as relates to Gaelic medium education. Gaelic (learners) education, which is second language education of Gaelic that begins in secondary school, is lesser researched and its effects on reversing language shift are not well understood. This article presents the findings of 13 in-depth interviews held with teachers, depute head teachers and head teachers of five schools offering Gaelic (learners) education in the Highland Council area. The interview design borrowed heavily from the National Plan for Gaelic 2007–2012 (Bòrd na Gàidhlig) in the selection of topics and questions for discussion. Transcripts of interviews were inputted into Atlas.ti and coded during content analysis, using inductive codes. Findings from this investigation supported the contention that Gaelic (learners) education is able to achieve benefits in the development areas of acquisition and status.
 
Article
This paper explores reasons why secondary schools with a religious character have pupil intakes that are of a higher social background and ability than their secular counterparts. We show that this is especially true across all regions in England once the characteristics of the pupils living in the local neighbourhoods are taken into account. Data from the National Pupil Database and the Longitudinal Survey of Young People in England are combined to show that likely reasons for this are complex. Parents reporting a religious affiliation are more likely to be better educated, have a higher occupational class and a higher household income. We also show that higher-income religious families are more likely to have a child at a faith school than lower-income religious families. Policy implications regarding the state-funding of faith schools are discussed.
 
Article
This paper investigates the effects of trainee teachers on secondary school student outcomes. The additional resources which school receive from being involved in teacher training offer them an opportunity to raise standards, but this has to be set against the possible losses due to school students being taught by inexperienced beginning teachers and the diversion of mentors’ efforts away from the classroom. Inspection evidence is used to assess whether trainee teachers affect school students’ test and examination results. The findings of this research are that the number of trainees has no significant effect on school results at A-level or GCSE, or on the overall value-added between Key Stage 3 and GCSE level. However, at Key Stage 3 level at age 14, while there appears to be a very small depressing effect on achievement in schools with low numbers of trainees, there is a significant positive effect on achievement in schools with larger numbers of trainees.
 
Article
The last five years have seen a radical transformation in adult education in England with a concentrated emphasis on national basic skills provision. This was prompted initially by a government response to low levels of literacy in the British adult population, identified by an influential international survey, showing unfavourable comparisons with other European countries. The response to the disclosure that seven million adults in England were not functionally literate saw the creation in 2001 of a national basic skills strategy in England entitled Skills for Life. It is a far‐reaching strategy creating a new infrastructure to support adult basic skills learning opportunities over a seven‐year period. It also created the entitlement to free basic skills learning opportunities, as a cornerstone to creating national economic competitiveness and social cohesion. Such an entitlement could be interpreted as a commitment to providing wider access to foundation skills for adults who had previously missed out, as part of a lifelong learning agenda. However, a critical reading of the policy texts, and recent funding priorities, show the strategy rooted more in a response to what is perceived as the skills demands of a knowledge economy for global competitiveness than to issues of social inclusion and increased opportunities for lifelong learning. The result of this may well be the creation of new sites of inequality that affect older women and adult ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) learners disproportionately, the very people that are identified as being needed to fill skill gaps in the economy.
 
Article
Full-text of this article is not available in this e-prints service. This article was originally published [following peer-review] in British Educational Research Journal, published by and copyright Routledge. Internet access has recently been introduced into over 30,000 schools in the UK. While web provision has been heralded by some as an educational panacea, it is also recognised that there are dangers inherent in school Internet use. Adopting the cultural risk perspective, drawing upon a social-cultural analysis of Internet regulation and utilising the concepts of liminality and 'otherness', this article explores staff Internet risk perspectives. While staff expressed concern about online pornography, hate-sites, bomb/drug making websites, electronic communication, security issues and copyright violation, interpretations as to who was at risk varied with student age. Younger students' Internet activities were interpreted with reference to narratives of innocence, whilst the inappropriate online activities of youths were labelled as 'dangerous'. In conclusion, it is argued that a distinction needs to be drawn between risks arising from liminality and those associated with 'otherness'.
 
Article
Book reviewed in this article: Professional knowledge, professional lives: studies in education and change I. F. Goodson Teaching in the knowledge society: education in the age of insecurity A. Hargreaves The activist teaching profession J. Sachs
 
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Student boredom within the school system has been widely studied and shown to be linked to various negative consequences such as diminished academic achievement, school dissatisfaction and truancy. However, little attention has been given to the issue of boredom within higher education and the current study aims to redress this balance. Two hundred and eleven university students completed questionnaires aimed at assessing contributors, moderators and consequences of their boredom. Results reveal that 59% of students find their lectures boring half the time and 30% find most or all of their lectures to be boring. The consequences of being bored included students missing future lectures and there was also a significant association between level of boredom and grade point average. The most important teaching factor contributing to student boredom is the use of PowerPoint slides, whilst the personality trait Boredom Proneness was the most important factor moderating the experience of boredom. Implications for future research and for teaching staff are outlined.
 
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Findings from the Deployment and Impact of Support Staff (DISS) project showed that support from teaching assistants (TAs) had a strong negative impact on the academic progress of pupils, and this applied particularly to pupils with a statement of special educational needs (SEN). Although the DISS project found that such pupils experienced less contact with teachers, little is known about school- and classroom-level decision-making relating to provision. This paper addresses the nature and quality of the educational experiences of pupils with statements, and who has responsibility for putting in place and delivering provision for these pupils within schools. Results come from the Making a Statement (MAST) project, which tracked the educational experiences of 48 9- and 10-year-old pupils with the highest level of SEN, attending mainstream primary schools in England. The study involved the thematic analysis of 48 detailed pupil case studies, drawing on interview, documentation and field note data. Results are presented in terms of four key themes: (1) the explicit and subtle forms of separation these pupils experience daily; (2) the high level of pedagogical decision-making TAs have for pupils with statements; (3) the impoverished pedagogical diet pupils with statements receive, compared to their peers; and (4) the gaps in teachers' and TAs' knowledge concerning meeting the needs of pupils with statements. The findings have particular implications for the deployment of TAs and for provision for pupils with SEN, with and without statements.
 
Questionnaire data of five variables, univariate test comparing means between Exp-1 and Exp-2 setting, using Bonferroni adjust alpha level of .01, n537
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Many recent intercultural studies have shown that people cooperate with each other differently across cultures. We argue that cooperative learning (CL), an educational method originating in the USA and with fundamental psychological assumptions based on Western values, should be adjusted to be culturally appropriate for any non-Western cultures in which it is applied. In the light of this assertion, this paper reports a series of experiments conducted in Vietnamese upper-secondary schools. One group was provided with a series of lessons designed according to mainstream CL practice. Another group was provided with similar lessons but these were modified so as to be more culturally appropriate in terms of leadership, reward allocation and group composition. Findings show that (1) the role and the type of leadership, although not a key element of mainstream CL theories and practice, proved to be influential; (2) groupings based upon existing friendships, rather than upon cognitive ability, appeared to be important. A key finding was that the group receiving a culturally modified programme appeared to work harder during, and gain more satisfaction from, collaborative learning activities.
 
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Furlong and Oancea's influential framework for assessing the products of applied and practice-based educational inquiry raises some important issues about the criteria by which research should be judged. They begin by outlining the current significance of the issue, and some of the uncertainties surrounding the definition of applied and practice-based inquiry. They then present four sets of criteria by which such research can be assessed, covering, in shorthand terms, epistemic, technical, practical and economic dimensions. The issue of assessment criteria has recently been highlighted by public criticism of the quality of educational research, by attempts to incorporate qualitative work into systematic reviews, as well as by the continuing disputes generated by major methodological divisions among qualitative researchers. In this article, several aspects of the framework offered by Furlong and Oancea are examined. To start with, there is a discussion of the mode of argument they employ, and of how they define 'applied and practice-based educational research'. It is argued that explicit justification is not presented for some key, and controversial, elements of the argument. One of these is the idea that a new social contract is required between educational researchers and the funders and non-academic users of their work. The nature of the proposed contract is examined, through a discussion of to whom educational researchers should be accountable, how, and for what. It is argued that the typology of research offered by Furlong and Oancea is inadequate, and an alternative is proposed. The ways that the authors formulate the four sets of criteria by which research should be judged are also examined in some detail. It is suggested that there are potentially serious conflicts amongst these criteria, and that by no means all of them are appropriate standards in terms of which educational researchers, of any kind, should be held accountable.
 
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International studies have concentrated on the achievements of children during or at the end of their schooling. But such data are difficult to interpret without knowing the progress that they have made since they started school. This article argues that the time has come to study the starting points of children as they begin their education. Such a study is doubtless difficult to design and this study reports an analysis of data from a baseline assessment carried out with thousands of children starting school in very different circumstances, with different languages and cultures and in different countries. It is a pilot international study. Although difficulties are exposed the analyses indicate that such a study is now possible and, it is argued, should be carried out.
 
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Assessment has been dominated by Classical Test Theory for the last half century although the radically different approach known as Rasch measurement briefly blossomed in England during the 1960s and 1970s. Its open development was stopped dead in the 1980s, whilst some work has continued almost surreptitiously. Elsewhere Rasch has assumed dominance. The purpose of this article is to discuss the major criticisms of the Rasch model, which led to its rejection by some, and to give responses to these criticisms whilst encouraging social scientists to appreciate its strengths. The original breakthrough by Georg Rasch in 1960 has been developed and extended to address every reasonable observational situation in the social sciences.
 
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Today, teachers are expected to develop complex skills, such as research skills, in their students while implementing new views on learning and teaching and using authentic assessment strategies. About these new assessment strategies there is much debate and teachers are vulnerable in using them. We studied upper secondary education natural and social science teachers’ practices using two surveys and two rounds of expert panel judgement on teacher-submitted assessment-related material and information. Our study shows that there are grounds for concern regarding the clarity of teachers’ assessment criteria, the consistency between teachers’ goals, assignments, and criteria, and the validity and acceptability of teachers’ assessment practices. The extent to which it is justifiable to judge teachers’ assessment practice by professional quality criteria is discussed, and suggestions are given as to the main quality criteria for formative and summative assessment and as to ways in which teachers could improve their assessment practices.
 
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Recent research on the differential attainment of boys and girls at school has produced findings in significant contrast to the standard account on which most previous explanations of the differences between boys and girls were based. Put simply, much previous research may have been attempting to explain differences whose nature was incompletely understood. The result, if these new findings are accepted, is that further research is now necessary to discover the potential socio-economic, classroom and individual determinants of these gender gaps. In addition, it is important before such research takes place that the nature of the actual differences between the 'performance' of boys and girls is more clearly understood. This article is intended to be a part of that advance. It details differential attainment by gender for all students in Wales over 6 years and at every level of assessment from Key Stage 1 to A level. There are few significant gender differences in mathematics and the sciences (i.e. the majority of the core subjects). For all other subjects, there are no significant gender differences at the lowest level of any assessment. Otherwise, the gap in attainment between boys and girls rises with every grade or level in an assessment, leading to the conclusion that the problem, if indeed it is a problem, is one mainly facing mid-to high-attainers. Proportionately more girls are attaining high grades and more boys are attaining middle grades than might be expected. Trends over time reveal no great change in this picture at the subject level over 6 years, but in terms of aggregate scores such as government benchmarks, the gap between boys and girls is decreasing.
 
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This article explores the impact of pre‐school experience on young children's cognitive attainments at entry to primary school and analyses data collected as part of a wider longitudinal study, the Effective Provision of Pre‐school Education (EPPE) project, which followed a large sample of young children attending 141 pre‐school centres drawn from six types of provider in five English regions. The article compares the characteristics and attainments of the pre‐school sample with those of an additional ‘home’ sample (children who had not attended pre‐school) recruited at entry to reception. Multilevel analyses of relationships between child, parent and home environment characteristics and children's attainments in pre‐reading, early number concepts and language skills are presented. Duration of time in pre‐school is found to have a significant and positive impact on attainment over and above important influences such as family socio‐economic status, income, mother's qualification level, ethnic and language background. The research also points to the separate and significant influence of the home learning environment. It is concluded that pre‐school can play an important part in combating social exclusion by offering disadvantaged children, in particular, a better start to primary school.
 
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Mounting research evidence demonstrates that effective 'early childhood education and care' (ECEC) has short-term and longer-term social and educational benefits for children and families. An allied body of evidence attests to the contribution of social capital (i.e. social networks and relationships based on trust) to such benefits. The research reported in this article bridges these two bodies of evidence by researching the social capital of children, their families and community members in the context of a state-wide initiative (in Queensland, Australia) of integrated early childhood and family hubs. Drawn conceptually from the sociology of childhood, a methodological feature of the research is a broadened focus on children, not just adults, as reliable informants of their own everyday experience in ECEC. Some 138 children (aged 4-8 years) in urban and rural/remote localities in Queensland participated in research conversations about their social experience in and beyond ECEC. Children's social capital was found to be higher in the urban community than in the rural community, highlighting the potential of child and family hubs to strengthen children's social capital in those communities with few social facilities.
 
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Dylan Wiliam
  • University College London
Christopher Day
  • University of Nottingham
Stephen Ball
  • University College London
Diane Reay
  • University of Cambridge
Peter Blatchford
  • University College London