Here is the #MIKTA #EiEchallenge Launch video featuring Opportunity2Change’s work with School leaders in Vanuatu (second item). Enjoy! Thanks @dfat_iXc for making this idea a reality and thank-you to the school leaders of Santo for being involved in the pilot.
April 9, 2018 2.07pm AEST (Taken from: www.theconversation.com, written by: Alfredo Paloyo and Silvia Mendolla, Senior Lecturer in Economics, University of Wollongong)
Parents and teachers are interested in ensuring children perform their best in school. Some believe putting smart students together can improve educational outcomes. But evidence about the impact of classmate or schoolmate quality (as measured by, say, test scores) on individual performance in an educational setting is only just beginning to accumulate.
Establishing the presence and size of peer effects in education is important. Targeted educational interventions for one group of students may spill over to their classmates. Deliberately sorting students may raise the average attainment of pupils in ways other interventions may not.
Who are your friends?
The principal aim of our study was to estimate the impact the quality a student’s class and schoolmates has on academic performance.
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as simply taking the outcomes of a student with good peers and comparing those to the outcomes of a student with bad peers, because students tend to choose their peers. The difference in outcomes may be due to differences in other factors that affect peer quality and the academic outcomes simultaneously, such as parental investment in education.
Also, any particular student is a peer of other students. Thus, this student can influence the outcomes of their peers just as much as their peers affect their outcomes.
A final complication is that students belonging to the same school are exposed to the same factors or shocks that could drive their outcomes. So, any seemingly correlated peer effect may simply be due to exposure to the same environment.
Ideally, one would take a random sample of students, assign half to classrooms with good peers and the other half with bad peers, then take the difference in average outcomes. Obviously, there are sound ethical objections to such an experiment.
Instead, we have to rely on a more complicated strategy to estimate the impact of peer quality. In our case, we use changes in one’s peer quality that we believe are not due to self-selection, reflection, or correlated factors to see how these changes translate to individual academic performance.
Using data on English children, our study shows peer quality has a small effect on an individual’s test scores at age 18. But a large proportion of low-ability students has a detrimental impact on the performance of average children. In addition, academically weaker students are influenced most by their peers. All together, putting a weak student in a class with other weak students would be detrimental for all of them.
The variation in peer effects is a particularly interesting result. To demonstrate this, we ranked students by ability. Weaker students are on the left and better students on the right, as measured by their test scores taken at around age 14.
A one-standard-deviation increase in peer quality (as measured by average test scores earlier in life) improves one’s performance in exams taken at around age 17–18 by over 50 points in the bottom quintile. This effect diminishes as we take better and better students. As we move from left to right, the impact estimate, represented by the red line, declines.
Two studies present findings similar to ours. In both cases, the researchers examine how changes in peer quality affect school performance as students transition from primary to secondary school in the UK.
One of the studies demonstrated that average peer ability has no significant impact on individual performance.
The other showed less variation in peer effects than what we uncovered. But their outcome is based on performance in tests at age 14, while we used a broader spectrum of academic outcomes. This includes test scores at age 16 and 17–18, and the likelihood of pursuing tertiary education.
Sorting students more effectively can help weaker students
It’s important to carefully select an appropriate pupil mix, especially to support weaker students. But such an adjustment is unlikely to compensate for deficiencies in other areas, such as early-childhood investments at home and teacher quality at school.
Can we do better than randomly sorting students into classes? Yes. When placed with better-performing classmates, weaker students are likely to gain from the improved learning environment, and smarter students are unlikely to be negatively affected.
The children’s author lamented the “awful kind of self-consciousness” among young girls who incessantly take photographs of themselves.
Speaking at the London Book Fair at Kensington Olympia, the 72-year-old told of how girls seem to have a “special selfie face” which they spend hours perfecting in front of a mirror.
Asked what she believes poses the greatest danger for young children, she said: “There are so many pressures – and I don’t want to sound like this terrible technophobe – but I do think there is this awful way of looking at pictures.
“I find it really interesting when doing thousands of selfies with young girls and they all have this special selfie face that they’ve practiced in the mirror for ages and ages.”
Dame Jacqueline, the former children’s laureate, warned that the preoccupation with uploading photographs to social media channels has led to teenage girls all wanting to look the same.
“Now girls are expected all to have long gorgeous hair, to be relatively willowy,” she said. “It’s this awful kind of self-consciousness all the time whereas I don’t remember worrying all the time about what other people thought of us. There doesn’t seem a place for individuality anymore.”
She added: “And also with the whole Twitter thing, if you post something that doesn’t try and immediately be what is considered valuable, kind and correct you are so hideously…trumped…it just seems sad.”
Dame Jacqueline was speaking about how to become a best-selling children’s author at the London Book Fair. She said that while girls today face challenges with social media, she praised the positive developments that have changed women’s position in society.
“I do think it is wonderful now that girls are expected to achieve and have brilliant careers,” she said.
“When I was a girl if you were considered bright there were two occupations – do you want to be a nurse or do you want to be a teacher? Nothing else was ever considered so we have moved forward enormously.
“In many ways it is wonderful how much more open we are as a society and for young people and yet we’re also closed because there is just a particular roof that we have to walk on.”
Dame Jacqueline, who has written more than 100 books over a 35-year career, has previously spoken about the disruption of modern technology.
Last year she complained that electronic life has “wiped out books”, as adults prefer to check their emails and smartphones to picking up a paperback while on the move.
Dame Jacqueline said she finds it “sad” to see adults are not reading as much as they used to, claiming she is often the only one on a train journey now holding a book.
The writer said that while children still have huge appetite for reading, thanks in part to encouragement from their schools, adults increasingly appear to prefer their smartphones.
“I find it sad that adults aren’t reading as much,” she said. “On the train 10 years ago people were reading books – I would love trying to work out what titles they were reading.
“Now I’ll be the only person with a book on my lap and everyone else is glued to their smartphones or checking emails. Electronic life has wiped out books.”
These increasingly popular YouTube videos – some of which have been watched millions of times – show teenagers studying for hours on end, while sharing tips and advice about how to revise.
Ruby, whose channel is called Ruby Granger named after her hero Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, has had over 13 million views.
Among her videos are speeded-up clips of herself revising for her A-levels in English, Philosophy and Chemistry for 14 and 15 hours a day.
Introducing her Study With Me: 15 Hour Study Day film, said explains: “This is the longest study with me that I have ever filmed. I just want to quickly point out that I do not do 15 hours of studying every day.
“Usually if I’m not doing anything else that day I will do 10-12 hours of work. This isn’t always homework, sometimes I like to do extension projects.”
Meanwhile, Jade Bowler’s YouTube channel Unjaded Jade has had 10.3 million views – one of her posts shows her crying as she tells how she was rejected from Oxford University – and Eve Bennett from Revision with Eve, has had 12.6 million views.
Chris McGovern, chair of the Campaign for Real Education, said that “study tubers” can offer social support and reassurance for students who may otherwise feel isolated while revising.
He added that there is “rising panic” among teenagers about exams, and that YouTube vloggers can fuel their anxiety. “One of the dangers is that it creates a sense of hysteria, a collective hysteria,” he said.
“We need to get away from the videos, I suspect they are whipping up hysteria. Unfortunately for youngsters, they tend to whip each other up into a frenzy.”
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that on the one hand, youngsters should be congratulated for “being innovative and using technology for something constructive”.
However, he added that children must be “protected” from “setting themselves unattainable goals” after watching “study tubers” post videos of themselves revising for hours on end.
“Mental health is such an issue for young people. People present themselves in a way that is unattainable,” he said. “It goes back to schools helping each child to think about themselves, and not that everyone can do this or should do this.”
He explained that while teachers try to give their pupils as much advice and guidance as possible, there is always the possibility that they will look elsewhere.
“You always know that youngsters can access other resources, and that the quality control of these is always slightly dodgy,” he said.
Barnaby Lenon, the chairman of the Independent Schools Council, has previously advised teenagers to spend seven hours a day studying for their GCSEs and A levels.
He advised that pupils spend 100 hours working during the Easter holidays, covering 50 topics in two-hour slots.
“Plan to work for seven hours a day most days of the Easter break. If you work for 14 days, that will be about 100 hours of revision. If each topic takes two hours to revise, that is 50 topics,” he said.
To address the attainment gap, we must increase access to learning for all children and help them identify opportunities
Getting education right for working class children remains a challenge in many schools. As a working class professor, it’s something I think about a lot.
Theresa May has already admitted that the education system is failing to serve the needs of every child and that the odds are stacked against working-class pupils. The team behind the BBC’s new Generation Gifted series, which follows the lives of six disadvantaged 13-year-olds, say they were inundated with headteachers keen to highlight the uneven playing field that bright, disadvantaged pupils face compared to wealthier children.
The gap in literacy, writing and maths between students receiving free school meals and their peers is significant, even at primary school. By the end of secondary school, the most disadvantaged students are on average two years of learning behind their better-off classmates. Among girls, the difference is even more stark – a 2017 analysis by the OECD’s programme for international student assessment found that girls in the top 10% for attainment but bottom 10% by income – classed as “bright but poor” – in England trailed their bright and well-off female peers by three school years in science and reading.
How do schools begin to close this gap between rich and poor? I believe it starts by addressing the idea that being working class itself is a failure. Instead, we must acknowledge the curriculum’s inbuilt middle class prejudices, understand that not every child will go to university, and emphasise that success comes in all shapes and sizes.
Unfortunately the national curriculum in England has been developed based on the knowledge and learning experienced by middle-class people, rather than a world that all young children can identify with. Many of the social and cultural references in exams, for example, relate to middle-class experiences. As a sector, we need to do better to increase the understanding of how working class, disadvantaged and special educational needs children – groups particularly at risk of underachievement – learn.
Despite the push to increase the number of young people who go to university, a recent Ipsos Mori poll found the proportion of pupils from “low affluence” households who believe they will go on to university has fallen to an all-time low, thanks in part to higher tuition fees.
In other countries, vocational routes are seen as providing good opportunities. But UK children are pushed to pass the required exams, go to university, get a degree or two, buy their own house and contribute in a pre-specified way to society. More should be done to prepare children for the world of work, whether that is through a vocational or academic route.
Schools play a key role in breaking down barriers to learning by providing opportunities for all children – regardless of what their parents earn – to participate in social and cultural activities, sport, the arts, debating, volunteering, wider community-based provision, museums and other trips. But funding cuts have meant schools offer a declining number of extracurricular activities, which disproportionately impacts those from working class backgrounds. Richer students are more likely to have access to these at home and the subsequent opportunities to develop teamwork, creativity and problem-solving skills.
Learning about the workplace doesn’t have to start at secondary school. Offering career advice and suggestions at an early stage helps ambition develop naturally and is particularly helpful for students whose parents are not in work.
Working-class children aren’t born to fail. But we need an approach that will build self belief in every child. Schools can help by instilling aspiration, access, attainment , and achievement at the earliest stages of their development.
Increasing access to learning for all children should be the benchmark of any successful school. I have seen schools where building self-belief and a sense of belonging has improved academic outcomes, behaviour and attendance. But our approach should change because of more than that. As a society we must strive to create opportunities that build character, resilience, drive and grit for all children, wherever they come from.