Public seminars from the Department of Education.
Oxford has been making a major contribution to the field of education for over 100 years and today this Department has a world class reputation for research, for teacher education and for its Masters and doctoral programmes.
Our aim is to provide an intellectually rich but supportive environment in which to study, to research and to teach and, through our work, to contribute to the improvement of all phases of public education, both in the UK and internationally.
Religion and belief in Britain: The Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life
Dr Edward Kessler, University of Cambridge, gives a talk for the Department of Education public seminar series on 7th November 2016. Religion and belief are driving forces in society today.
Although there is some divergence of opinion over the extent, there is unanimity that the UK is becoming less Christian, less religious and more diverse. Dr Ed Kessler, Vice Chairman of the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life, will discuss the implications of the dramatic changes in the religious landscape in less than two generations.
The Commission’s report, ‘Living with Difference’, was published in December 2016 and generated a fierce debate about UK public policy related to religion and belief. Dr Kessler will reflect on the reaction to the report as well as its impact in the areas of education, the media, law, dialogue and social action.
Understanding religion and belief is not an option but a necessity that the Government needs to factor into their approaches. The pattern of religious affiliation has changed and continues to change. Policymakers and politicians need to catch up with events, to enhance their capacity to read a most potent sign of our times - religion and belief.
Does market competition and/or the growth of participation foster diversity in higher education systems?
Professor Simon Marginson, ULC Institute of Education, gives a talk for the Department of Education Public Seminar Series. This seminar returns to a long-standing issue in the literature on higher education systems, that of the relationship, if any, between diversity (horizontal differentiation based on variation in HEI mission, organisational cultures, educational practices etc), the growth of participation levels, and marketisation.
The classical American literature suggested that diversity, participation and competition all tended to advance together but more recent empirical studies in the English-speaking world suggest that markets foster vertical differentiation rather than horizontal variety and encourage imitating behaviour which reduces diversity, while the growth of participation is neutral in relation to horizontal diversity. States have contrary implications for diversity: sometimes they regulate greater homogenisation, sometimes they deliberately foster variety in the form of specialist institutions or sectors.
The paper surveys the world wide terrain, in which participation is rapidly advancing—in 56 countries more than 50% of the young age cohort enters higher education. It finds that the principal features of the present period, in association with growth, are (1) the advance of the multi-purpose multi-disciplinary research multiversity as the main institutional form, (2) a secular decline in the role of non-university sectors and specialist institutions, (3) an increase in internal diversity in the large multiversities, (4) an increase in vertical stratification in many systems, (5) no increase in horizontal diversity overall and a probable decline in diversity, except for the rise of for-profit colleges in some countries.
Education in divided societies: The role of school collaboration
Professor Tony Gallagher, University of Belfast, gives a talk for the Department of Education Public Seminar Series on 24th October 2016. Mass education has traditionally been used as an integrating force, perhaps most notably in the role of the public school in the United States.
In the latter part of the 20th century overt assimilation through education was increasingly critiqued and attention shifted towards the incorporation of various forms of multiculturalism in schools. In some societies separate schools operated in recognition of different identities: in some contexts separate schools were used to maintain patterns of dominationoppression, but in others it was an attempt to allow minorities to maintain their own identities.
Northern Ireland has operated separate schools for over a century, and many pointed to this as a factor in social division and political violence: various interventions were applied during the years of the violence, but few showed evidence of creating positive systemic change. For the last decade a new approach, based on promoting collaborative networks of Protestant and Catholic schools, has been put in place. ‘Shared education’ seeks to create dialogic processes between communities, at all levels, by using network effects to change the nature of the relationship between schools and communities in local areas while focusing on social, educational and economic goals.
This presentation outlines the background to the development of shared education in Northern Ireland and traces how it has developed. The paper also will examine briefly how the idea has been adopted in other contexts, most notably in Israel.
Making use of international large- scale assessment data in national contexts: PIRLS for Teachers
Dr Therese N Hopfenbeck, Department of Education, Oxford, gives a talk for the Department of Education Public Seminar Series on 17th October 2016. Co-written with Dr Jenny Lenkeit More information is available here;
There is a knowledge gap between information provided by international large-scale assessments (ILSA) such as PIRLS, PISA, and TIMSS, the publically available research results and what is of interest and use to teachers in England.
Considering the public costs needed to participate in international studies, the link between this form of assessment and its impact on classroom pedagogy is alarmingly low and questions about the use of this data and related research grow more urgent. But, the understanding of how to engage the users of research is still developing and the use and impact of research on practice is as yet minimal. One reason for this is seen in excluding practitioners from research activities that concern their professional field.
The PIRLS for Teachers project (ESRC IAA funded) first engaged with teachers to increase their knowledge about PIRLS and their capacity to use data and information provided by the survey. Second, it aimed to increase researchers’ understanding of the challenges teachers face in dealing with PIRLS findings and identifying their specific needs and interests. Third, teachers and researchers acted as co-producers of relevant new knowledge by jointly interpreting the PIRLS findings, addressing new research questions and finding ways in which results can be used to improve teaching practice.
We will outline the rationale of our project, discuss the challenges for us as researchers and for the teachers, present the materials developed in collaboration with teachers and discuss the impact and dissemination strategy.
We expect the outcomes of the project to enhance not only teachers’ professional learning about PIRLS and its use for improving classroom practice but also that of researchers about practitioners’ needs for understanding and using findings provided in ILSA. We also expect teachers to wrestle with the possible contradicting evidence from their own classrooms and from PIRLS. Overall, outcomes of this research will contribute to strengthening the link between ILSA, teachers’ understanding of its findings and the improvement of classroom practices, partly through possible new research collaborations.
What Can We Learn from students' reports of their secondary school experiences and their role in shaping academic outcomes at GCSE?
This lecture discusses the development of various measures of students experiences and views of their secondary schools based on self report questionnaires taken at ages 14 & 16. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/
Promoting quality in education: A dynamic approach to school improvement
Professor Leonidas Kyriakides, Department of Education, University of Cyprus, gives a talk for the Department of Education public seminar series. This lecture refers to the dynamic approach to school improvement (DASI) which attempts to contribute to the merging of educational effectiveness research and school improvement. The main underlying assumptions and the implementation phases of DASI are presented. The recommended approach gives emphasis to school policies and actions taken to improve teaching and the school learning environment. Moreover, the importance of establishing school evaluation mechanisms and collecting data to identify improvement priorities is stressed. Furthermore, DASI emphasizes the use of the available knowledge base in relation to the main aims of the efforts made by schools to deal with the different challenges/problems being faced. Therefore, an advisory and research team is expected to support school stakeholders develop, implement, and evaluate their own school improvement strategies and action plans. Five group- randomization studies investigating the impact of DASI on promoting quality in education are also presented. These studies reveal the conditions in which DASI can promote student learning outcomes. Finally, suggestions for research, policy and practice are provided.