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  • 30 Jun 2015 12:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


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    The Institution of Mechanical Engineers and Royal Academy of Engineering brought together some big thinkers at a Big Ideas in Engineering Education workshop on 1 -2 June 2015.

    To provoke discussion, we asked six educationalists and creative thinkers to put down on paper some of their radical thoughts about what could be done to enhance the numbers and quality of young people studying and training in engineering and related subjects beyond the age of 18.

    Despite decades of effort by a multitude of bodies, the UK is still not producing enough engineers to meet projected industry needs, and some groups – such as women – remain alarmingly under-represented in the UK engineering workforce. Rather than ‘more of the same’, Big Ideas will explore whether these radical approaches are what is now needed to address these challenges.

    The event aims to provide a forum for innovative thinking and discussion on what can be done to improve the experience and perceptions of engineering in our schools and beyond. It will be informed by commissioned research, as well as the following six ‘think-pieces’:

    Inculcating engineering habits of mind by Professor Bill Lucas, Director of the Centre for Real-World Learning and Professor of Learning at the University of Winchester.

    • Can innovative teaching methods such as problem-based learning help to develop the ‘thinking skills’ characteristic of engineers – and encourage more young people to consider engineering careers?

    Stop this crazy early specialisation by Professor Louise Archer, Professor of Sociology of Education at King’s College London. 

    • Would a more balanced education, encompassing both science and arts/humanities subjects, benefit future engineers and increase the numbers of under-represented groups (including girls) studying engineering?

    Making space for making things by Professor Mark Miodownik, Professor of Materials and Society at UCL. 

    • Should schools devote more time – and physical space – to the making of things and the practical application of learned knowledge? 

    Speaking up for engineering by Professor Peter Goodhew, Emeritus Professor of Engineering at the University of Liverpool. 

    • Is a lack of understanding of engineering – and particularly its social value – hindering attempts to attract young people into engineering professions? 

    Mainstreaming engineering by Dr Ioannis Miaoulis, president and director of the Museum of Science, Boston, USA, and formerly Dean of the School of Engineering, Tufts University. 

    • School education overwhelmingly favours teaching of the natural world over the manufactured – is it time to correct this anomaly and integrate engineering into the curriculum in primary and secondary education?

    Time for some creative thinking by Clive Grinyer, currently Customer Experience Director at Barclays. 

    • Does engineering need to embrace creativity and design more enthusiastically, both to widen its appeal to young people and to make its products more user-oriented?

    The discussions, commissioned research and think-pieces will feed into a report to be published in autumn 2015. 

  • 20 May 2015 11:12 AM | Anonymous

    The Department for Education (DfE) wants to make England a global leader in teaching character, resilience and grit to students. Our latest digest (Spring 2015) explores what we mean when we talk about young people showing character, resilience and perseverance (often referred to as ‘grit’). It is important to understand these characteristics because they are significant, not just for educational outcomes but also beyond education, particularly in relation to employment, where they are often referred to as ‘soft skills’.  But there is nothing soft about them, and like any habit of mind, they can be taught and cultivated. Researchers have found that that perseverance leads to effective academic behaviours such as attending class, doing homework, engaging in classroom activities, and studying and that these behaviours appear to be most closely related to academic success. It is also claimed that self-control is far more predictive of educational achievement in the longer term than IQ. Furthermore, resilience and perseverance have also been shown to be highly important in securing employment and sustaining one’s employability. In our digest we identify strategies for successfully developing and teaching resilience and perseverance as expansive habits of mind, and provide examples from schools and colleges.

    Dr Janet Hanson

  • 15 May 2015 10:13 AM | Anonymous

    Article from SecED 14th May 2015

    We know that education goes beyond exam grades, but still we struggle to answer ‘the Ruby question’. Professor Guy Claxton introduces the seven Cs that we should be prioritising and teaching to our students

    Imagine that you are walking down the street and you bump into Ruby, an 18-year-old who left your school two years ago. She button-holes you and thanks you for the wonderful education that your school gave her.

    You remember that Ruby left with only a few mediocre GCSEs, so you suggest that maybe she’s referring to the friendships she made. True, she says, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I mean the real education you gave me. You ask her to explain. What do you imagine she says?

    How do we describe a great education that did not result in good grades? Exams are a competitive game. Standards are deliberately adjusted so that not too many people get As or A*s, and roughly half of all 16-year-olds do not achieve five “good” GCSEs including English and maths. The latest measures of individual performance set the bar even higher. 

    So what exactly is Ruby, a “loser” at the Examination Game, grateful for? In our book Educating Ruby, my co-author Professor Bill Lucas and I argue that schools ought to have a proudly and fluently proclaimed answer to the Ruby question.

    There has to be another way of “winning” at school – a “second game”, if you will – that makes every young person, whatever their attainment, a Ruby. It should not be a matter of luck whether they went to a school that valued the second game as highly as the first, and pursued it systematically and effectively.

    The second game is, of course, what has come to be called The Character Curriculum: the deliberate cultivation of really useful, transferable habits and attitudes.

    We know from research, without a shadow of doubt, that characteristics such as resilience, “grit” and curiosity are powerful predictors of life-long flourishing and fulfilment (read Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed if you haven’t already).

    We know that the extent to which an 11-year-old is already an habitual and enthusiastic reader predicts their life success when they are 30 – not their ability to read but their love of reading. And we also know that these traits are perfectly capable of deliberate cultivation – or of being undermined and ignored.

    Grades get you through some of life’s critical gateways, but they are much less important when it comes to flourishing on the other side. It is no use teaching people how to pick the lock to the swimming pool if you forgot to also teach them how to swim.

    We call Ruby’s set of these habits – the valuable residues of her 12 years in school – the Seven Cs. 

    She is grateful for having been helped to build Confidence: the feeling that her thoughts and interests are worthwhile even though they were not academic. She values her Curiosity: her courage to try new things and “have a go”.

    She likes being a good Collaborator and a kind and trustworthy friend. She really values her abilities to Communicate and to enjoy reading.

    She feels Creative, able to engage imaginatively with all kinds of challenges. She learnt to Commit herself to difficult, worthwhile things and not be frightened of hard work and struggle.

    And she takes pleasure in a sense of Craftsmanship: putting in the effort needed in order to feel the swelling pride in a job well done, whatever that may be.

    She is saddened by how many of her friends, at different schools, came out quite differently: disengaged, deadened and defeated. Or brittle, angry and anxious in their response to anything that falls outside a narrow circle of friends and interests.

    But the Character Curriculum is not just for the low-achievers. There are many students at Oxford and Cambridge who lack those seven Cs. They learned only to feel good about themselves while they were winning at the academic game, and feel a constant subversive undertow of worry that they might be about to be unmasked, revealed as unworthy of their place among the dreaming spires. 

    As work gets harder and assignments pile up, they feel inadequate, and many of them slide into anxiety and depression. Instead of feeling a personal failure, they ought instead to write to their old school’s headteacher, pointing out ruefully that the way they were taught has left them unprepared to teach themselves – to know how to plan their time, to have the courage to ask their lecturer when they don’t understand something, to form successful study partnerships with their peers, to be powerful, self-organising researchers, and so on.

    Building the habits of effective learning is a gradual process that requires sustained attention to many different aspects of the school culture – especially the classroom atmosphere and activities routinely created by teachers. 

    The emphasis is as much on the way things are done, as on what is being learned. You can teach the Tudors in a way that builds dependency and credulity, or in a way that builds creativity and curiosity. 

    Both can get good results; only one also fits students for life. It requires clarity of direction and an effort of will to turn the ship around.

    Where this is not happening, it is not the fault of individual teachers or heads; it largely reflects an obsession by government and its inspectorate with just one half of the job they ought to be doing. 

    The concern with the fine details of pedagogy fails to register on the conventional radar of most politicians and policy-makers. They want things they can control, like mandating set texts, introducing “Progress 8” or setting up new kinds of school. Their constant re-arranging of the structural furniture distracts teachers’ attention from where it needs to be: on the mental qualities that are quietly being incubated in the classroom. 

    They also want things they can measure and count, and which have the appearance (though only that) of “objectivity”. And the gradual development of learning habits is harder to track than factual knowledge; not impossible, just somewhat harder.

    The good news is, there is a great deal that schools can do, if they have a mind to, to strengthen the character curriculum, despite the lop-sided pressures from the top. 

    There are many shining examples of schools that do build 21st century character – as well as getting good marks on their SATs or EBacc. Ruby went to such a school, and there are hundreds around. But they are still too few and far between. Some heads are understandably nervous, and worry about apparently “taking their eye off the standards ball” and blips in results triggering the unwelcome interest of Ofsted.

    Proposals that schools be judged on rolling three or five-year aggregates of results, not on single years, are to be welcomed, so that possible teething troubles can be smoothed out and innovation not strangled at birth. Overwhelmingly, though, the evidence shows that more confident, creative learners do better on the tests, not worse. It’s a win-win.

    Confident heads are the pioneers of 21st century education. But the knowledgeable support of parents and governors for what may seem, to start with, like an unfamiliar direction of travel, is a vital asset. 

    Educating Ruby aims to take this debate out to parents and families, so they can see what is being done, why it is essential, and how they can support their children’s schools and put pressure on local and national politicians. 

    With the 2015 General Election behind us, we want politicians to be in no doubt that in five years’ time they will feel the hot breath of electoral defeat on the back of their necks if they don’t wake up and support the evolution of schools like Ruby’s. 

    Further information

    Educating Ruby: What our children really need to learn by Professors Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas is published by Crown House Publishing at £9.99. You can find out more and register your interest at See more at:

  • 12 May 2015 10:12 AM | Anonymous

    Published in TES magazine on 8 May, 2015 | By: Adi Bloom

    Focus on mental muscles not exam results, academics urge

    AS the new education ministers measure their offices for carpets and stretch their feet beneath their desks, two academics have a message for them: don’t get too comfortable.

    Education professors Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas want ministers to change the way schools teach, entirely.

    They insist there is a false dichotomy in education – one that requires politicians and teachers alike to rethink how they view the whole system.

    “The world either wants to put you in the traditionalist box or the progressive box,” Professor Lucas said. “You’re seen as someone who cares about academic knowledge and success, or you’re someone who cares about something else.”

    He and Professor Claxton, both of whom work at the University of Winchester, have outlined their vision for education in a new book, Educating Ruby. The title is a nod to the famous Willy Russell comedy Educating Rita. The academics’ heroine, Ruby, explores the challenges faced by students in 2015.

    “Ruby either fails at the academic game and doesn’t get her clutch of A*s,” Professor Lucas said, “or she will get her shiny A*s and go to a Russell Group university. But in her first year she has imposter syndrome, because no one’s really taught her to think for herself.”

    This is what the academics want to rectify. In the Educating Ruby vision of education, children would emerge from school with skill in “the seven Cs”: confidence, curiosity, collaboration, communication, creativity, commitment and craftsmanship.

    “Far more than grades, it’s character traits that determine how well you do in life,” Professor Claxton said. “Grades give you the key to get through some gateways. But how well you function once you’ve got through that gateway depends much more on your grit, confidence and collaboration.

    “Pedagogy trumps curriculum. If you really want a 21st-century education, that’s the only way to get it.”

    Muscle memory

    Professor Claxton suggests that, instead of thinking of the brain as a bucket, teachers should view it as a muscle: “As a teacher, you need to think, ‘That child didn’t do well in that task. Which of their learning capacities can we strengthen?’, rather than, ‘They didn’t do very well in that. They can’t be very bright.’ ”

    New lessons would be designed with the twin aims of teaching about a topic and strengthening pupils’ characters. Children studying the Tudors might look at period clothes and houses, but they would also be asked to imagine the experience of being a serf in Tudor times. “You’d be developing an understanding of what it was like to live in a very cold, draughty house, with a short lifespan,” Professor Lucas said.

    There would also be a change in the way that teachers relate to parents. “Teachers feel they have to report on a certain kind of progress to parents,” Professor Lucas said. “But what I want to say about Ruby as a person is actually more important than whether Ruby is going to get four As or five As.

    “There’s a lost art in that gentler, more subtle conversation about progress towards the person you could be.”

    This conversation, he believes, should come naturally to teachers. “There are two reasons people become teachers,” he said. “They’re passionate about their subject, and they want to help kids become the people they want to be.”

    But he also claims that the pressures of Ofsted and school league tables can get in the way. “Too many people are fearful of what happens if they miss a bit of data and Ofsted downgrades them a category,” Professor Lucas said.

    The academics also think that ministers are too focused on rearranging the window dressing of education. Instead, they should reconsider what the shop actually sells.

    “Politicians love rearranging the furniture,” Professor Claxton said. “They invent new types of schools. They change exams. But what needs to be done is to change the nature of how people teach, and that takes longer.

    “For many teachers, it’s perfectly possible – it’s a little bit of a mind shift for some people in education. That’s all.”

  • 12 May 2015 9:30 AM | Anonymous

    Bill Lucas shares his “optimist’s” view of the five years of the next Parliamentary term.

    People who work in FE are resilient and resourceful. So despite the obvious financial challenges we will all face, I am confident that colleges, independent learning providers, universities, schools, charitable bodies, research agencies and anyone else involved in learning and skills have the potential to thrive in an unfamiliar political landscape.

    But we will need both to change and not to change if we are to seize the moment. Three immediate opportunities come to mind.

    First, we have a real chance to focus on the quality of the apprentice experience (rather than on quantity).

    Second, we must hold to our values for the wider purposes of education and think expansively, not restrictively about the nature of learning.

    And third, we have to become more holistic in thinking and acting across government departments.

    Let me start with a focus on something on which all the main political parties are in agreement, the importance of apprenticeships.

    In campaign mode would-be ministers told us how many hundreds of thousands more apprentices they would create. All their emphasis was on numbers.

    While we absolutely have to have, as the Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning put it, ‘a clear line of sight to work’ in vocational education, we equally need to have vertical and horizontal progression routes and much better coordinated planning

    Now, we need to think about the quality of what we offer this important group of learners. With my colleagues at City & Guilds, 157 Group and the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, we have looked in depth at the pedagogy of apprenticeships and shown how it is possible to go beyond simply training reliably skilled men and women for a range of occupations.

    For we also need resourceful individuals (who can do things which they have not been taught and think on their toes). Apprentices need business-like attitudes, a much broader set of literacies than previously assumed (especially graphical and digital) and the highest possible levels of craft and professional pride.

    And they need to be lifelong learners with the skills for personal and social growth they will need to thrive in uncertain times.

    For they may well have several careers and many jobs to navigate. In Remaking Apprenticeships: powerful learning for work and life we described the best kinds of teaching and learning methods to achieve the kinds of broad outcomes above.

    We are convinced that, unless we create rich, relevant and challenging learning experiences for apprentices, employers will not want to employ them and potential apprentices will choose another route instead.

    Secondly, while of course I want the kinds of success typically measured by tests and examinations, we also have a moral duty to prepare learners for a lifetime of active citizenship.

    This, as the Confederation of British Industry has argued powerfully in Ambition for All, requires them to develop certain key habits of mind such as grit, resilience, curiosity, creativity, emotional intelligence and sensitivity to global exchanges as well as academic or vocational expertise.

    With my colleague Guy Claxton I have laid out this argument in more depth in Educating Ruby: what children really need to learn. The arguments we make apply equally to schools, colleges and universities. We have to be expansive in other ways, too. Specifically we need a more explicit use of research in FE, an expansion from a teaching role to a researcher one. John Hattie has demonstrated unequivocally how this shift in identity improves learner outcomes.

    Our own Expansive Education Network has worked with a number of colleges — from Highlands on Jersey to Trafford in Manchester — to use action research as a means of developing teacher expertise in order to produce outstanding learners.

    Third on my wish list is for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education (and Department for Work and Pensions) to be much more grown-up and joined up in their planning and acting.

    While we absolutely have to have, as the Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning put it, ‘a clear line of sight to work’ in vocational education, we equally need to have vertical and horizontal progression routes and much better coordinated planning.

    The first two items on my wish list are achievable by a combination of clear leadership and a determination to use existing research and evidence.

    The third, as we found during the last Government, will be harder to achieve as long as the geographical distance between the departments clouds ministers’ abilities to think collectively.

    But I am an optimist.

    From an article in FE Week –

  • 07 May 2015 9:55 AM | Anonymous

    Teaching and the wider education system should move towards a character-based curriculum that focuses on students thinking “creatively and collaboratively”, a new campaign is urging.

    Heading by two leading academics, the campaign raises concerns that we are simply teaching students to “pass exams blindly” and are not preparing them for life in the 21st century.

    Professors Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas are trying to convince politicians of the merits of the seven Cs of a character curriculum – confidence, curiosity, collaboration, communication, creativity, commitment and craftsmanship – which they say are embraced by many other countries around the world.

    They say this approach to our schools could “revolutionise the way children and young people are taught to think”.

    The pair have set out their arguments in a new book, entitled Educating Ruby – a nod to the 1980s stage show and film Educating Rita.

    While Rita battled against a class system’s attitudes to learning, Ruby is a student who wants to learn but feels that what she is being taught has little relevance to the skills she will need for the future – and so she becomes bored and disruptive. Despite being “intelligent and interesting”, she does badly in the current system.

    Prof Lucas, who is director of the Centre for Real-World Learning at the University of Winchester, said: “There are many Rubys in every classroom. Many of them are, or could be, high-achievers. But the education system as it stands is failing gifted pupils as much as it fails those with challenges.

    “Teachers and parents are being left just as frustrated as the students. We have to find a way of helping all of the Rubys in our classrooms to flourish and succeed.”

    The campaign attacks the “relentless test and exam pressure” and the “obsession with grades” in the current system and a culture that labels those who make mistakes as “failures”. It says that how students are taught is just as important as what they are taught.

    The campaign also attacks the language many politicians use: “Loose talk about ‘standards and rigour’, ‘helping students to fulfil their potential’, ‘banishing mediocrity’ is imprecise and meaningless,” it states

    Prof Claxton, an internationally renowned cognitive scientist, added: “Countries such as Finland, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand recognise that children have to be taught to think and work imaginatively in order to survive and flourish in the modern workplace, rather than just taught to pass exams blindly. That’s why these countries and others now focus on versions of the seven Cs.

    “But the seven Cs don’t compute with politicians who measure in black and white targets and can only see as far as the next election. 

    “That’s why our children and students find themselves locked into a system which forces teachers to tick boxes rather than develop character and often squanders the talents of the bright young minds entrusted to it.”

    A campaign website has now been launched and educators are being invited to contribute. It includes a call to action page with for how to raise concerns. Visit

    - See more at SecED

  • 05 May 2015 9:56 AM | Anonymous

    'Eton's commitment to enquiry and research is exemplary. The Tony Little Centre will enable Eton teachers and students to innovate and explore new ways of teaching and learning and, at the same time, forge new relationships with schools across the world which are intest in using and creating research.'

    Bill Lucas, Professor of Learning at the University of Winchester and acclaimed educational thought leader.

    An understanding of the different ways in which children learn and process information is crucial to ensure they get the very best from their education. 

    This centre, which is the vision of the current Head Master Tony Little, will be purpose-built to facilitate cutting-edge research into the latest innovations in the world of learning, thus continuing Eton’s tradition of promoting and ensuring outstanding practice among its masters.

  • 21 Apr 2015 11:15 AM | Anonymous
    Bill Lucas on BBC Radio Berkshire, BBC Radio Solent and BBC Three Counties Radio talking about the launch of Educating Ruby, you can catch up here.

  • 06 Feb 2015 9:14 AM | Anonymous

    Webinar: Tips and challenges for making the most of the Researcher in Residence model

    In this webinar, Professor Martin Marshall outlines a new model being developed by UCLPartners to bring improvement research closer to everyday practice of health care. Martin is joined by Dr Christina Pagel and Bethan George, who will discuss their experiences and reflections of introducing the Researcher in Residence model in practice.

  • 04 Feb 2015 10:54 AM | Anonymous

    Until December 2017.

    Engineer Your Future is an interactive exhibition that aims to inspire and engage young people, aged 11-15, with engineering careers.

    It will encourage students to think like engineers, enable them to explore the skills engineers use every day and discover the wide variety of places and jobs a background in engineering could take them.

    Why visit?

    Bring your class to Engineer Your Future to inspire them about the careers that studying maths and science can lead to.

    We’ve identified key engineering skills and built interactive experiences around them, so that students can enjoy trying them out whilst seeing that a variety of real-life engineers use those same skills in their work. We hope that students will develop the sense that this is something they might be able to do themselves.

    The interactive skills-based experiences in the exhibition are a fun way to inspire and will help engage students with different learning styles.

    Research has shown that most young people believe that science qualifications only lead to a narrow range of jobs such as scientist or doctor. This exhibition positions skills-based games and films alongside examples of real engineers whose backgrounds in science form the basis for exciting careers that will impact all our lives. We believe this can widen students’ perception of people who use science in their work and expose them to a range of STEM employers.

    Engineer your Future 





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