All Together Now

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JIM CURRAN
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All Together Now

Post by JIM CURRAN » Fri Mar 07, 2014 10:31 pm

For any one who's interested here's an article that I had published in the Irish News on February 5th on the theme of social integration in education and here also is a very positive response to the article on the Letters Page on February 12th from Mark Langhammer the Director of the Association of Lecturers and Teachers.



All Together Now.
(The Case for Socioeconomic Integration in Our Schools)

In 2013 40% of Northern Ireland’s post- primary schools have failed to meet a key exam result target set for schools in England – 82 of our secondary schools fell below the English minimum standard of at least 40% of pupils achieving 5 or more Gcse’s at grades A*- C including English and Maths.

Of the 41 secondary schools with fewer than 20% free school meals 26 of these schools or 63% met the criteria. Of the 10 secondary schools whose intake included 50% or more free school meals pupils none reached the 40% benchmark.

We have known for a long time now that high concentrations of poverty defeat even good education programmes. Almost fifty years ago the Coleman Report, widely regarded as the most important educational study of the twentieth century, found that the most powerful predictor of academic achievement is the socioeconomic status of a child’s family. The second most important predictor is the socioeconomic status of the classmates in his/her class.

That’s not to say that schools which serve disadvantaged areas can’t be good schools, they can but they are the exception to the rule . In 2000 the Heritage Foundation published a report, entitled “No Excuses” meant to show that high poverty schools can work well . The author proudly declared that he had found not one or two high poverty, high performing schools , but twenty one high poverty, high performing schools . Unfortunately these 21 schools were dwarfed by 7,000 high poverty schools identified by the US Department Of Education as low performing.

Do disadvantaged students perform better in high poverty schools that receive greater resources or in more affluent schools with fewer resources? Which matters more for disadvantaged students: extended learning time, smaller class size, and intensive teacher development programmes- all made available in Montgomery County’s high poverty schools – or the types of advantages usually associated with schools in which the majority of students come from affluent families, such as positive peer role models , high aspirations and parental involvement. The results were unmistakable : disadvantaged students attending more affluent schools significantly outperformed disadvantaged students who attended high poverty schools with state of the art educational interventions.

The Transfer test acts as a filter for social selection. Rich children go to one type of school , poor children get what is left. Last year the Chief Inspector Of Schools in England, Sir Michael Wilshaw launched a scathing attack on the Grammar school system for being “stuffed full of middle- class kids” and taking only a tiny percentage of children on free school meals.

The influential Organization For Economic Co- operation and Development has consistently argued for a better social mix of pupils within schools as a way to boost the educational performance of disadvantaged students. In Northern Ireland we have the most socially segregated education system in Western Europe.

Extensive research by the Century Foundation clearly indicates that high levels of social integration in our schools creates a win – win situation. Not only will it benefit disadvantaged students but it will also benefit the high fliers and the more advantaged. Learning in socially mixed classrooms, where students from different backgrounds communicate their different experiences and perspectives , encourages students to think in more complex ways(Verends &Penaloz 2010). In addition , middle class students benefit in integrated environments by learning to work with others, unlike themselves- a 21st Century skill highly valued by employers.

Jim Curran is a teacher, psychologist and committee member of the Reading Reform Foundation.




Mark Langhammer (Director, Northern Ireland)
Association of Teachers and Lecturers



Education administrators and policy makers should be obliged to sit down, read, and digest Jim Curran’s excellent article (Irish News, 5 February).
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has been promoting the value of socially balanced pupil intakes for years, not as a form of social engineering, but as the most effective tool available to drive educational performance across the system.
We know that more that 80% of education performance differentials lie outside the classroom. Social class has the biggest effect on performance, by a factor of ten above all others. The ‘school effect’ accounts for just 15% at most. Recognizing this is not a council of despair. Simply put, the best, cheapest and by far most effective ways of raising systemic educational performance (particularly for our most disadvantaged young people) is to ensure socially balanced pupil intakes at each and every school.
Our position on socially balanced intakes, is built on decades of empirical research evidence demonstrating that the one key factor in raising performance at school for all is a mixed intake of pupils. In schools with mixed intakes pupils learn about each other; they see different dispositions to learning; they recognise each others’ skills – and those pupils who suffer the most deprivation and exclusion see that education can provide them with the skills and knowledge to make a different life for themselves. In schools that lack that social mix, where the only examples of other ways of life are the teachers themselves, the jump is too big, the gap too wide. Teachers are another country.

For the most disadvantaged young people, the most important role model is someone who looks like them, who is their age - who perhaps shares the same interests in music, social media, gaming, dance, fashion or sports - but who has different attitudes to learning and different aspirations for life.
So, if we are really to make a difference, if standards really are to rise for all, we need schools which are socially mixed, in which peer group pressure can be used effectively to open minds, change outlooks and raise aspirations. Schools which do not have this mix always struggle. They may, under inspirational leadership, change for a while but the change is not sustainable.

The issue is not that pressing for socially balanced intakes is the wrong policy. It’s that it lacks political traction, largely because all our political parties worship at the altar of the false God of ‘parental choice. We should facilitate parental choice, but only to the extent that a broad social balance in pupil intakes is maintained. Jim Curran is right. Social balance costs less and is miles more effective than piling ever more resources to high-poverty schools – however morally correct that policy is.

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Re: All Together Now

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Sat Mar 08, 2014 1:45 pm

Wow, Jim - this is absolutely excellent - that is, the article itself, that it was published and the very welcome response.

I agree with your view on social integration - and I applaud your constant and consistent efforts for drawing attention to this issue as an important part of educational provision for ALL.

Isn't it amazing - indeed shocking - the way that people manage to justify separating out young children to different types of school in the many ways that this occurs.

I am very unhappy about this relatively modern notion of academisation, and free schools, and schools by religion, and schools by early tests such as 11+, and schools by postcode.

How the adult population dupes itself to hide and promote its various prejudices and promotion of inequalities.

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Re: All Together Now

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Sat Mar 08, 2014 2:28 pm

Jim, I've added your article to this thread (below) and re-tweeted Susan Godsland's tweet about your article. :grin:

http://phonicsinternational.com/forum/v ... =1348#1348

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Re: All Together Now

Post by john walker » Sat Mar 08, 2014 8:09 pm

Yes! Hats off to you, Jim, and well done! :grin:
I second what Debbie had to say:
Wow, Jim - this is absolutely excellent - that is, the article itself, that it was published and the very welcome response.
I agree with your view on social integration - and I applaud your constant and consistent efforts for drawing attention to this issue as an important part of educational provision for ALL.
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www.sounds-write.co.uk
http://literacyblog.blogspot.com

Derrie Clark
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Re: All Together Now

Post by Derrie Clark » Sun Mar 09, 2014 12:22 am

Excellent stuff indeed Jim. Thank you for sharing it. Such an important issue that needs to be kept in awareness. Unfortunately, the people who benefit from segregation do not want to see change.

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Re: All Together Now

Post by yvonne meyer » Sun Mar 09, 2014 1:06 am

There is no disagreement that some First World countries like the UK & USA lack equity in their education systems. What is of interest to us all is how some countries overcome inequity. I have 'bolded' the comments I think are important in the following newspaper article.
Family background no guarantee of academic excellence, study finds
February 28, 2014
Geoff Maslen

PISA has launched an interactive, web-based application to explore and compare the relationship between student performance in reading, mathematics and science and parents' occupations in PISA-participating countries.

A new report by the OECD has concluded that school outcomes based on socio-economic status are not inevitable and that considerable variations exist between countries in this regard.

When it comes to mathematics performance, for example, children of cleaners in Shanghai outperform those in Australia, the US, Britain and a dozen other nations whose parents are professionals.
On the other hand, Finland and Japan achieve high levels of performance for all their students by ensuring the children of parents with low-level occupations are given the same educational opportunities and the same encouragement as those of professionals. That is, their school systems are not as divided between the haves and have-nots as others such as Australia, the US, Britain and so on.

The OECD analysis is drawn from the results of the 2012 PISA tests, when nearly 15,000 randomly selected young Australians were among half a million 15-year-olds from 65 countries who took part in the global Program for International Student Assessment.

Along with assessing student performance in mathematics, reading and science, the 15-year-olds were also asked about their parents' occupations. Their responses were then coded into an internationally comparable classification that allows for identifying individuals working in similar industries, on similar tasks with the same types of responsibilities.

According to the report, in most countries, children with parents who are professionals on average achieve the best results in mathematics. Colombia, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Peru and Sweden are the exceptions: in these countries, the children of managers score the highest.

"The gap in performance between the children of professionals and other students tends to be widest in mathematics and narrower in reading," the report says. "France and New Zealand perform around the OECD average in mathematics but have above-average inequity in education; the performance gap between the children of skilled workers and those of unskilled workers is among the largest."

Yet the relative high performance of all students in Finland, Hong Kong and Korea stems from their more equitable education systems, the OECD analysts say. The children of professionals in Germany are among the world's best performers in mathematics yet the great majority of students whose parents work in manual occupations perform very poorly.

In the US and Britain, where professionals are among the highest-paid in the world, students whose parents work in professional occupations do not perform as well in mathematics as those of professionals in other countries. Nor do they do as well as the children in Shanghai and Singapore whose parents work in manual jobs.

"The bottom line: while there is a strong relationship between parents' occupations and student performance, the fact that students in some education systems, regardless of what their parents do for a living, outperform children of professionals in other countries shows it is possible to provide children of factory workers the same high-quality education opportunities that the children of lawyers and doctors enjoy," the OECD analysts conclude.


Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/educatio ... z2vQ1PW4sO

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Re: All Together Now

Post by kenm » Sun Mar 09, 2014 10:33 am

The existence of better performing educational systems tells us that we need to change, but not what should be changed. We know, for example, that Finnish primary teachers are more highly trained that those in the UK; I suspect that, on average, they are more intelligent and the nature of their training is such that they must have an understanding of research in education. Did the Coleman Report control for differences between schools in the competence of their teachers? Do all the higher performing countries obtain a balanced intake over the socio-economic classes? if so, How?
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

Lesley Drake
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Re: All Together Now

Post by Lesley Drake » Mon Mar 10, 2014 6:57 pm

So Ken,

You suspect that on average Finnish Primary teachers are more intelligent than those in the UK.

And your suspicions are based on what? Do you know any Finnish primary teachers? Do you know any UK primary teachers?

Have you data to go on, such as that deemed useful by Lord Kelvin?

Jim, well done on a great article.

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Re: All Together Now

Post by kenm » Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:30 pm

Lesley Drake wrote:And your suspicions are based on what? Do you know any Finnish primary teachers?
No, but I've read about their selection and training.
Do you know any UK primary teachers?
Yes, several. Some very intelligent and well-educated, others not.
Have you data to go on, such as that deemed useful by Lord Kelvin?
Not a measurement, that's why it's only a suspicion, but all Finnish teachers have acquired master's degrees.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

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Re: All Together Now

Post by yvonne meyer » Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:51 pm

I can't speak for the UK but in Australia, our University Schools & Faculties of Education accept students with the lowest ATAR (end of Year 12) results. In fact, they accept students into a 4 year Bachelor of Education degree with ATAR scores that indicate the student failed all of Years 10, 11 and 12. This would indicate that they are, indeed, less academically able then the rest of the population.

In a recent discussion on another forum, I was ranting (as usual) about Ed Schools not teaching prospective teachers the scientific evidence-based information on beginning reading and a very well respected Dean of Education responded that they can't teach this material to their students because the students don't have the intellectual capability to comprehend it.

Another well respected Ed School Professor was asked what she thought of our Governments attempts to improve teaching by forcing Ed Schools to raise the minimum ATAR entry score and her response was that she was hoping that she would no longer receive students who are "still cutting themselves".

Here in Australia, our Ed Schools graduate far more students then our education system can absorb. There are currently tens of thousands of fully qualified teachers on waiting lists for their first jobs and our Ed Schools continue to graduate thousands more each year. In order to get 'bums on seats' they will not only take students with the lowest ATAR scores but we have 2 University Ed Schools who will take students with a 0 ATAR score.

My understanding of the Finnish system is that they only accept fairly high performing students into their Ed Schools, and their Ed School content is rigerous.

From my personal experience here in Australia, many teachers are as thick as planks. Perhaps they are victims themselves of the entrenched Whole Language education philosophy but how else would you describe someone like my son's Year 1 Reading Recovery teacher whose spelling was worse then his. Or his Year 8 teacher who couldn't teach him to write an essay because (in her words to me during our parent/teacher interview), she "...couldn't write a sentence. My father does all my written work for me. He wrote my application for this job."

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Re: All Together Now

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Tue Mar 11, 2014 12:22 am

It's a very sad state of affairs, Yvonne, for the teachers themselves and for their pupils.

I do think that the teachers are victims of the history of reading instruction and inadequate teacher-training.

It may take many more years of plugging away about research on reading before we help young people to become more knowledgeable teachers.

What upsets me the most is that it should not be 'chance' as to what the children receive by way of teaching when they go to school - but it should also not be 'chance' as to the training that student-teachers receive when they go to college - and, yes, they should have a certain level of literacy themselves before being accepted for training.

It is not unusual for us to hear on Twitter and various forums that the situation in schools is more 'whole language' in Australia than it tends to be here in England.

Even if children are still taught 'multi-cueing' at least they are getting more phonics teaching than they did in the last few decades or longer.

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Re: All Together Now

Post by Lesley Drake » Tue Mar 11, 2014 12:34 am

Jim's article called for more social integration as the way forward to improving educational outcomes for children from economically and socially deprived backgrounds, and he's right.

While no-one would disagree that that teachers need and deserve the best possible training in order to do their job properly, to imply, as Ken does, that our education system is behind others due to our teachers being less intelligent, in not all possessing MAs, is not acceptable.

Neither is Yvonne's labelling of many Austalian teachers as being thick as planks.

It's the waste of human potential due to poverty that's stupid, not our teachers.

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Re: All Together Now

Post by kenm » Tue Mar 11, 2014 9:56 am

Lesley Drake wrote:Jim's article called for more social integration as the way forward to improving educational outcomes for children from economically and socially deprived backgrounds, and he's right.
He probably is. What is not clear is the precise reason for this. Also I wonder whether his assertion that it also improves the outcomes of high fliers applies to the most able. To produce a mathematician able to advance research seems to require a mathematical education several years in advance of what most grammar schools offer; when Bertrand Russell went up to Cambridge at the age of 17, he had already been taught (by a private tutor), and mastered, all the subject matter of Part I of the Mathematics Tripos.
While no-one would disagree that that teachers need and deserve the best possible training in order to do their job properly, to imply, as Ken does, that our education system is behind others due to our teachers being less intelligent, in not all possessing MAs, is not acceptable
.
Carefully avoiding an investigation that might uncover embarrassment is typical of the worst of the education blob.
Neither is Yvonne's labelling of many Austalian [sic] teachers as being thick as planks.
Her description of her experience rings true.
It's the waste of human potential due to poverty that's stupid, not our teachers.
Your trying to use assertion because you can't point to evidence supports my suspicions.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

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Re: All Together Now

Post by Lesley Drake » Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:54 am

Bertrand Russell?

"If the Germans succeed in sending an invading army to England we should do best to treat them as visitors, give them quarters and invite the commander and chief to dine with the prime minister," Russell wrote to British critic Godfrey Carter. "Such behaviour would completely baffle them."

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Re: All Together Now

Post by kenm » Tue Mar 11, 2014 2:24 pm

Lesley Drake wrote:Bertrand Russell?

"If the Germans succeed in sending an invading army to England we should do best to treat them as visitors, give them quarters and invite the commander and chief to dine with the prime minister," Russell wrote to British critic Godfrey Carter. "Such behaviour would completely baffle them."
Yes, he was an important mathematician, though a notch below the best. After that, he wrote detective stories of little staying power, founded a school in which he tried to teach but failed disastrously, and spent part of a vigorous old age sitting down on pavements in attempts to ban nuclear weapons.

Self-referential statements with a particular sort of internal contradiction are known as "Russell paradoxes"; e.g. "The set of all sets that are not members of themselves".
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

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