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VIEWS & OPINION


Now is the time to consider the impact of teaching and learning resources


Comment by DR PENELOPE WOOLF, Director of Impact at Oxford University Press (OUP) It’s an understatement to say that the


coronavirus continues to transform education. Even as we look ahead to schools fully re-opening, we cannot truly know what education will look like in the future. One thing we can predict, however, is


the increased focus on impact. We were already seeing growing demand for evidence that educational products and services ‘work’—it’s partly why Oxford University Press set up Oxford Impact in the first place—but as schools deal with the longer-term effects of the pandemic, demonstrating impact will become more important than ever, driven in particular by three key areas.


Addressing the growing learning gap between students The impact of lockdown on learning has been widely reported. The Education Policy Institute’s report highlights that post-lockdown, schools should prioritise supporting students who have faced neglect, abuse or bereavement, and those who have fallen behind academically. Meanwhile, insights from London School of Economics showed that schools would need more hours than is feasible to compensate for lost time. The urgency to address these challenges drives the need to choose


evidence-based interventions and impactful teaching and learning resources that will deliver against learning outcomes.


Embracing the shift towards digital learning It is unlikely that the benefits of digital learning will be forgotten when schools re-open fully; instead, a blended approach to learning will become more common. This could, however, require some upfront and ongoing investment, which will need to be justified to teachers, senior leaders, and other stakeholders, particularly against the backdrop of a global economic downturn. If possible, evidence of impact should be built into the procurement process, because in austere times, schools cannot afford to make the wrong purchasing decisions.


The addition of new players in the education market Throughout the pandemic, more companies have stepped up to support education. While this is commendable, it can be difficult for schools to identify which products offer quality, value for money, provide the best learning experience, and deliver against learning outcomes. This can only be understood through measuring outcomes and impact. So what does this mean in practice? For the government, it means


advocating an evidence-based approach and encouraging schools to put impact at the heart of their ‘return to school’ plans. It also means providing sufficient funding so that schools can access the highest quality teaching and learning resources to support a wide range of interventions. For schools, it means having an impact-focused mind set; using


available research evidence (and guides such as those written by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Institute for Effective Education) to inform decisions on teaching and learning practices, and then evaluate the success of programmes implemented. The key is finding the most robust research evidence you can trust. It also means recognizing that effective teaching and learning stretches beyond grades; it’s about instilling confidence and motivation, and developing softer skills. This may require time, and you won’t be able to build impact into everything—at least not right away—but starting to integrate it into ways of working could be game changing.


Tap in to the wonderful


world of RSE Comment by DR POLLY HASTE, writer, producer and presenter for “The Sex Ed Diaries Podcast” in collaboration with Brook


I have been working in and around RSE for over 20 years and one thing I know is how hard it is for teachers to access information and resources and to know that these will be good quality. Teachers are busy, and RSE is generally bottom of a very long list. This is understandable given that, as we know from national data, the majority teach it with limited or no training. We wouldn’t ask a teacher to do that for any other subject, and yet, when taught well, RSE as part of PSHE, is the subject that could make the greatest difference to young people’s lives, now and in the future. After years running training programmes, I came up with the idea for


the Sex Ed Diaries podcast because I wanted more teachers to be able to tap in to the wonderful world of RSE, to have the opportunity to engage with the latest practice, innovations and research in a format that they


22 www.education-today.co.uk


could access. Partnering with Brook has meant that the series benefits from the incredible resources, expertise and on-the-ground knowledge that come from over 50 years of supporting children and young people’s wellbeing and sexual health. While we finally have updated statutory guidance that applies to all


schools, this comes with challenges of its own - and this is where the podcast comes in. Each episode covers topics that teachers are grappling with, exploring questions like: what does parental consultation mean? Should we still be teaching sex education at primary? How do we teach about pornography in the digital age? How can a teacher with no medical training teach about STI transmission? And what does LGBT inclusivity look like in practice? These questions and more are explored in episodes lasting around 45


minutes and guests include teachers, school leaders, researchers, medical professionals and RSE specialists. There is no shying away from those thorny issues and listeners will find plenty of references to resources, guidance and data to guide them through. Guests also share practical tips on how to take the fear out of certain topics, to teach areas you are not familiar with, and to start that dialogue with parents. My mission is to push RSE up that list and feedback so far suggests


that the content and the issues are getting teachers thinking and talking about what is happening in their schools. RSE is a fantastic subject, with a rich history and a wealth of expertise out there to support with all areas of the new curriculum. To quote one experienced PSHE lead from Episode 1: “When you do a good RSE lesson, it's one of those education gold moments. You just go, yep, just made a difference there, we changed people's lives.” Juliette Henry, PSHE Lead, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School You can listen on all the main platforms and there is a wealth of information on our website www.sexeddiaries.org.uk


July/August 2020


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