Home » Uncategorized

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Operation Ultra


Put your code-breaking skills to the test with this WWII inspired bunker buster to keep you busy during #lockdown.

This activity is based on resources contributed to TES from Charlotte King and Matthew Jones. You can also access a lecture from Professor David Stupples on the History of Code-breaking here should you want to develop your understanding of code-breaking before you attempt the following project.



Get to grips with the following different types of codes, each of which you will need to draw on to successfully complete your final mission. As you go through each technique, make sure to take effective notes that will help you identify and crack future codes.


Dead Letter Drop: bit.ly/3aMrEc1

Educators: You can access addition guidance and MS through the TES online.

It’s all about you

Image Credit: UCAS

For most courses, the personal statement forms the core of the application process and enables you to differentiate yourself from other applicants. Effectively, you should be reflecting on how your academic and extra-curricular experiences to date have helped you develop the skills and qualities to set off on the right trajectory as an undergraduate student in your chosen field. It is, therefore, critical to start the process early, and craft a well-structured piece of writing that uses specific anecdotal evidence to support these reflections. In the first instance, we suggest pupils identify key skills required for their course and try to map these to their own experiences which they reflect on using the ABC approach form UCAS:

A – Activity: What did you do?
B – Benefit: How did you benefit from the activity?
C – Course: How does this relate to the course you are applying to?


“Rightly or wrongly, it is highly likely that your personal statement will be remembered by its opening paragraph” (Agarwal and Salt, p22, 2017).

The opening paragraph should be a high-level, punchy overview that provides compelling evidence of why you want to study your chosen course, as well as an insight into who you are. For the first part, what (specifically) is it about the course that interests you? Avoid cliches like ‘passion’ or ‘ever since I was 7…’ and instead chose a recent anecdote. You could draw on current affairs, work experience, commerce, or, alternatively, explain how the degree will help you achieve your longer-term goals, such as setting up your own company. As far as injecting personality is concerned, you could demonstrate creativity, by eschewing mainstream firms such as Apple, Tesla or Amazon, and instead reference an innovative start-up such as Gymshark.


Reflect here on your academic experience to date and make connections between your current studies and the course. For some subjects, such as Business, you can demonstrate your existing understanding and analysis by summarising a piece of coursework, or a case-study you have examined, which should contain subject-specific terminology. For others, such as Law, you may not have formal experience, however, you should refer to relevant skills from other subjects, for instance summarising a History essay to demonstrate research and analysis.


The second academic section is what will distinguish you from other applicants and, for vocational subjects such as Medicine, is paramount: what have you done outside lessons to gain additional insight? Reflections on work experience are fantastic, but not necessary (apart from Medicine), as you could also reflect on independent reading, MOOCs or analyse a topic from current affairs.

Extra-curricular and summary

Less is more for this final section, which should comprise approximately 20% of the overall statement. Rather that listing every sport and activity you have ever participated in, be concise and choose 2-3 in which you are most able to demonstrate the skills required for your chosen course. Widely understood programmes such as Duke of Edinburgh and the National Citizenship Service require no introduction so, instead, you can reflect on the key skills and qualities you learned from the experience. We encourage pupils to finish with a sentence that summarises how these skills, together with their subject knowledge, will stand them in good stead to succeed as an undergraduate.


Agarwal, R. & Salt, D. (2017) ‘UCAS Personal Statement Guide’.

Schwarz, B. (2004) ‘The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less. New York: Ecco

Sinek, S. (2014) ‘How Great Leaders inspire Action’, TED https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en accessed 19/01/19

Stannard, I. (2016) ‘How to write a winning ucas personal statement’.

The Times (2018) ‘Goodbye, student debt. Hello, bursary bonanza’. January 21st 2018.

UCAS (2018) ‘The past, the present and the future’ UCAS Teachers and Advisors conference.

Higher Ed: Charting a brighter future?

Successful applications are based on extensive research, craftsmanship and a clear vision of the end goal, explains RICHARD DAVIES, Head of Sixth Form at King Edward’s, Witley.

Credit: Will Pearson

Start with the ‘Why?’

What is your purpose or core belief? Those individuals and organisations that have had a transformative effect on society, such as Apple, Martin-Luther King and the Wright brothers, have succeeded precisely because they are able to answer these questions and this vision informs their decision-making (Sinek, 2014). Consequently, when confronted with the daunting University Admissions process it seems appropriate to start by asking ‘Why?’

Intelligent re(search)

Credit: Unifrog

Just as with any good piece of academic writing, there are three key principles that will predicate successful university applications: extensive research, structure, and craftsmanship. With over 50,000 UCAS courses, pupils are in danger of being paralysed by the ‘paradox of choice’, which you might be able to relate to when walking down the cereal aisle of the supermarket (Schwarz, 2004). Fortunately, there are a number of technology platforms that are able to refine search parameters to reduce this to a more manageable number. Last year King Edward’s subscribed to the Unifrog platform which has had a transformational effect on our pupils’ experience of the research phase of the application process. Pupils start, in January, by thinking about the course they want to study and use filters and rankings on the platform to create shortlists. Perhaps they prioritise teaching quality, student satisfaction, research, or the percentage of students in graduate-level jobs within six months. If they are captivated by the dark clouds hanging over the economy and want easy access to policy-makers and captains of industry, they can filter universities in London, or maybe they are interested in conducting scientific research far from the madding crowd and filter by campus universities. The platform also reconciles pupils’ predicted grades against the entry requirements for the universities on their shortlist and classifies them as ‘aspirational’, ‘solid’ or ‘safe’. This feature helps manage expectations. Inevitably, pupils may amend their courses and/or universities through the process as their insight develops, but by the end of the summer term they should have attended three university open days and be in a position to submit the first draft of their personal statement. We place considerable emphasis on academic craftsmanship at this stage, as pupils continually work and refine their statements with tutors, the Head of Careers and myself, in order to have a finished piece of writing ready to be reviewed and submitted by the autumn half term.

Explore | Discover | Take Action

Credit: National Citizenship Service

Beyond evidence of how academic studies have prepared you for your chosen course, you will need to demonstrate key skills and qualities from additional contexts. The first should be related to your chosen degree course and could consist of work experience, a Massive Open Online Course, Extended Project Qualification or additional reading, but the key here is to reflect on the learning rather than just listing experiences. The other context which you will be able to draw on is the skills and qualities, such as leadership and communication, from your extra-curricular activities and how these skills can be transferred to your degree course. There are a number of programmes with strong currency, such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and National Citizenship Service, but whatever experience you use remember the reflection is paramount. Invariably, the summer break is the only opportunity pupils have to complete an ambitious project like this, which again reiterates the importance of starting early and completing extensive research.

Bursaries and Scholarships

“We have a general misconception about scholarships that they are available only for severely disadvantaged students or extreme high-flyers.” – Myles Jarine, founder of Grantfairy

– Myles Jarine, founder of Grantfairy

Returning to the ‘Why?’, Myles Jardine reflects that it was only when he was in China, pondering what to do with his life, he realised the scale of financial support available to students. He since eschewed the £50,000 university debt in favour of founding the Grantfairy app which now lists 120,000 individual bursaries and scholarships totalling just shy of £1bn, ranging from small (£300 choral scholarship at Exeter University) to life-changing (the Bank of England offers a £30,000 scholarship together with two internships, for pupils from ‘black, mixed African or Caribbean backgrounds’ (The Times, 2018).


Whilst the application process can be intimidating, by starting early and investing sufficient time in research, visiting potential universities, and crafting a personal statement that reflects on anecdotal experiences to demonstrate their academic, professional and personal suitability to the course (see opposite) pupils will reap the rewards.

  • Agarwal, R. & Salt, D. (2017) ‘UCAS Personal Statement Guide’.
  • Schwarz, B. (2004) ‘The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less. New York: EccoAgarwal, R. & Salt, D. (2017) ‘UCAS Personal Statement Guide’.
  • Sinek, S. (2014) ‘How Great Leaders inspire Action’, TED https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en accessed 19/01/19
  • Stannard, I. (2016) ‘How to write a winning ucas personal statement’.
  • The Times (2018) ‘Goodbye, student debt. Hello, bursary bonanza’. January 21st 2018.
  • UCAS (2018) ‘The past, the present and the future’ UCAS Teachers and Advisors conference.

Blue Sky Thinking Redesigns Refugee Education


Richard C C Davies 
ss1.pngSky School seeks to develop a Global High School for Refugees (Save the Children US, 2017)

As the International Baccalaureate celebrates 50 years of inspiring global engagement, open-mindedness and a commitment to lifelong learning, its Director General Siva Kumari believes that its expanding network will build an ever stronger community that seeks to create a better world (IBO, 2017a). From the outset, early IB influencers, such as Kurt Hahn, recognised the opportunity to develop a transformative, progressive curriculum that augments traditional elements, such as developing inquiring and caring students, with an explicit emphasis on taking action to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect (IBO, 2017b). Hahn believed that there are three pedagogical approaches through which such a curriculum could be delivered: you can preach at them (persuasion); you can say ‘you must volunteer’ (compulsion); and you can tell them ‘you are needed’ (Alchin, 2017). It is this final approach which, essentially, underpins the IB mission and places the onus on future ethical leaders and creative entrepreneurs to ‘carry the beacon of hope and incite positive change for the next generation’ (IBO, 2017a).

Sky School is an organisation whose co-founders, Polly Akhurst (Atlantic College, ‘06) and Mia Eskelund Pedersen (UWC Mahindra, ‘07), exemplify the next generation of ethical leaders and creative social entrepreneurs seeking to incite change. In 2015, 50 million children were uprooted from their homes, of which 27 million were a result of violence and insecurity (Unicef, 2018). Whether these uprooted children are refugees, migrants or internally displaced, every child has the right to an education, but there are 27 million children of primary and secondary age in 24 conflict areas without access to education, and less than 25% of refugee youth have access to secondary education (Unicef, p7, 2018). Empathising with frustrated young displaced learners denied access to education, Polly and Mia were inspired to tackle this perceived injustice and took direct action by drawing upon their experience in international education to establish Sky School in order to close the gap in quality secondary education provision for young displaced people (Martin & Osberg, p6, 2007; Sky School, 2018a). Rather than waiting for someone else to tackle this problem, it is precisely such direct action that characterises the entrepreneur who, inspired by the opportunity, seeks to realise their creative solution to overcoming the barriers and challenges that arise and act to maintain the status quo (Martin & Osburg, p6, 2007). Moreover, it is predicated on having such ‘alertness’ in the first place which economist Israel Kirzner argues is the entrepreneur’s most critical ability (Baumol, p2, 2006).

ss2.pngSky School Co-founders Polly and Mia, meet with Kakuma Camp Social Entrepreneurship Facilitator Daniel Christian (Twitter, 2017).

In seeking to articulate the difference between entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs, however, Dees (p6, 2018) argues that, for the latter, the social mission is ‘explicit and central’ and that mission related impact, as opposed to wealth creation, becomes the central criterion. Against a backdrop of real terms funding cuts to secondary education in UK government schools (Sibieta, 2018), achieving the Sky School mission, ‘A Global High School for Refugees’, at scale does not raise the prospect of wealth creation through any avenue other than in the capacity of an agent of change that empowers refugees economically; indeed their value proposition specifically targets a neglected and highly disadvantaged population that lacks the financial means of political clout to achieve the transformative benefit on its own (Sky School, 2018; Martin & Osberg, p8, 2007). Such an explicit focus on mission related impact would, therefore, appear to substantiate its credentials as a social enterprise.

Moreover, those personal characteristics in a successful entrepreneur (including inspiration, creativity, direct action, courage and fortitude) so crucial to the process of innovation are abundant in Sky School’s co-founders (Martin & Osberg, p5, 2007). Innovation, in particular, is paramount because, rather than tinkering around the edges and refining existing systems and structures, entrepreneurs think creatively and eschew these in favour of finding wholly new ways of approaching the problem (Martin & Osberg, p6, 2007). Taking a pioneering and transformative approach to education that resonates with those earlier IB influencers, Sky School has embraced such innovation by using ‘hackathons’ to develop a 10 module, 2 year high school curriculum for refugees, delivered through a ‘new educational model’ predicated on blended learning which harnesses the content rich aspects of an online course with the power of physical learning communities (Sky School, 2018a). Sky School works with project partners in refugee camps such as the UNHCR Refugee Camp in Kakuma, Kenya, to facilitate each module, over the course of 10 weeks, with the students completing 60% of the course through face-to-face seminars and the remaining 40% completed independently through its app provided by Aula Education (Sky School, 2018a; 2017a).

Whilst empowering students with an education in a particular camp is a laudable goal and undoubtedly provides a social service, such an initiative is not truly a social enterprise unless the learning programme is designed to achieve at scale, without which it is unlikely to lead to a new ‘equilibrium’ in the education landscape (Martin & Osberg, p11, 2007). The combination of a strong technology platform, together with the outsourcing of course facilitation to aid groups already in situ, alert to the particular demands of their learners, means that Sky School does possess this transformational potential to scale up and re-calibrate this equilibrium beyond the confines of a particular camp. The key here, however, is persistence and seeking to engage in a process of continuous innovation and learning; investing time in developing a course in the first instance before scaling it up is invaluable (Dees, P9, 2001). This ‘Innovate, Test, Scale’ model of development can be seen as a framework for ensuring innovation and evidence are used to complement effectively to change lives (Glennerster, 2017). Sky School’s first module, appropriately enough on Social Entrepreneurship, was piloted with a small group of refugees in Athens. The feedback from this was used to refine the second iteration of the module, as well as the general approach for delivering this ‘new educational model’, before expanding the programme to additional locations including Kenya, Jordan and Hong Kong (Sky School, 2018a). In reflecting on the lessons learned from observing and participating in using evidence to help improve millions of lives, Development Economist Rachel Glennerster notes that such an approach, epitomising the ‘Graduation programme’, can be considered the ‘classic model’ for affecting change through ‘Innovate, Test, Scale’ (Glennerster, 2017).

ss3.pngStudents on the Social Enterprise Pilot Course prototype their final projects. Credit: Instagram (2017)

But what kind of knowledge, skills and understanding constitutes ‘Lifeworthy learning’ relevant to refugee learners in order to convince them that ‘they are needed’ and, given the limited financial resources, how do you design this? (Perkins, 2016). Once more, Sky School has demonstrated its entrepreneurial flair by dispensing with traditional models of discrete subject blocks and embraced design thinking to generate a learning programme that empowers these displaced young people to proactively affect change in their communities. Besides the initial pilot module on Social Entrepreneurship, a module on Peacebuilding has been developed in conjunction with UWCSEA’s Initiative for Peace and other modules in the pipeline include Global Politics, Identity, and Arts and culture (UWCSEA, 2018a). Such an approach predicated on exploring knowledge that can be applied beyond national borders, building skills (such as critical thinking and collaboration), and developing an understanding of how these can be used to shape attitudes and inform direct action, is an effective blueprint for realising Hahn’s objective of creating a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect, peaceful co-existence and sustainable development for the future of the human race (Hill, 2012; IBO, 2017a). There are essentially 5 strands to the Learning programme each comprising an entry level and advanced component. Taken together, it is hoped that the 10 modules would be accredited to constitute a high school diploma which could then enable these learners to access American higher education institutions and seek to redress the despiriting situation in less than 1% of refugee learners enter university (UNHCR, p4, 2016).

ss4.pngCredit: UWCSEA, 2018a

The late Jo Cox MP noted that: ‘we are far more united than the things that divide us’ (UK Parliament, 2016). Against an increasingly uncertain geopolitical landscape, and the rise of populism, the importance of international education that transcends national boundaries and focuses more on that which brings us together has never been so important. With the next generation of ethical leaders and social entrepreneurs, such as Polly and Mia, demonstrating that the understanding from their IB education ‘that they are needed’ has endured, those initial key influential educators can take comfort that they have inspired a generation to take action in order to help realise a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect; for the next 50 years at least, the ‘beacon of hope’ is in safe hands.


In depth: What is a Hackathon in the context of education?

ss5.pngAction stations: The group hard at work mapping skills and knowledge (Twitter, 2018)

One of the most compelling aspects of the Sky School movement, has been its ability to draw on specialists to volunteer their skills. Nowhere, is this more visible than at one of Sky School’s Curriculum Hackathons; an intensive weekend at which a group of professionals from a range of backgrounds, both within and outside education, map out the curriculum for an entire module. One of the first hackathons was held this summer at UWC Maastricht to design a module on Social Entrepreneurship.

An eclectic mix of individuals, including educators, students, parents, technical specialists, a UN Development Economist, a corporate financier, and many others assembled to hear Polly layout the objective for the weekend and emphasise the prescient nature of the task given that it would be delivered to students in Jordan in only 3 weeks. Early sessions were predicated upon team building and learning about the tremendous range of skills within the group, before turning attention to the displaced learners around which the mission is focused and trying to prioritise the competencies within the confines of the module. Informed by what needed to be prioritised, and why the demands of the refugee learners made that so, work continued on the framework for the unit by looking at possible concepts and grouping these by key themes which were then mapped to a timeline. Trying to allocate particular skills to a discrete section of the module seemed problematic, at times, so it was decided to embed some of these, such as communication which had been identified as a key learning objective by listening to interviews with prospective participants, throughout course. By the end of the first day, a much more refined understanding of the purpose of the unit had been developed which, informed by research, had started to be mapped out a curriculum with specific themes, such as stakeholder analysis, systems mapping and design thinking.

The second day, however, was very much where all the heavy lifting was completed. Polly and Mia introduced us to Daniel Christian, a refugee at Kakuma camp from Burundi, who had completed a module wholly online and was so inspired by what he had learned, that he volunteered to facilitate the first module of the face to face module, only to end up himself being resettled to Canada shortly before it began (Sky School 2017b,). His video message about the transformational affect Sky School had on him was inspiring and provided renewed emphasis on completing the module.

ss6.pngAAA+ Learning: Director of Learning Stuart MacAlpin explains his model of learning pioneered at UWCSEA.

Following an intensive half hour session in which learning engagements were added to the theme for each week, Sky School’s pro bono Director of Teaching and Learning from UWC South East Asia, Stuart MacAlpine, then led a short workshop on conceptual understanding and the AAA+ learning model (Awareness, Abstraction, Application, Deliberate Practice) to establish by design curriculum planning (UWCSEA 2018b). This was drawn on throughout the remainder of the day as, working in small groups, the conceptual understandings, learning goals and teaching activities for the face-to-face section and online learning were articulated. The final stage was to refine the assessment rubric in order to determine the extent to which the module achieves its objectives. Throughout the 2 days Olaya Garcia, who had taken the lead for designing this module, facilitated the discussion and activities and was left with the task of polishing up the final unit, before it was delivered to the project partners in Amman, Jordan, and later in 2018, the course will also be delivered in Hong Kong, Greece and Kenya.

It was humbling to see how much a small group of committed individuals with the same shared vision could achieve over a weekend. However, emphasising the importance of ‘alertness’ to which Kirzner referred to earlier on, the outcome for Sky School was even more notable as the number of volunteers to have signed up to the Hackathon was such that, less than 24 hours before the start, Polly and Mia realised there was scope to build 2 modules and set about making a second module on ‘Culture and Identity’ possible. Consequently, before the weekend was out 2 of the 10 modules had essentially been developed, which together with the Peacebuilding Hackathon in Singapore, meant that Sky School had developed 30% of the entire curriculum.



Alchin, Nick (2017) ‘School Should be in the business of adaptive work’, August 13th, 2017. Accessed 30/06/18, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/school-should-business-adaptive-work-nick-alchin/

Baumol, William J. (2006) Return of the Invisible Men: The Microeconomic Value Theory of Inventors and Entrepreneurs, Allied Social Science Associations Conference. Accessed 20/07/18 https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/bc3a/110eff702e9de57ec5f2d896afbd1263b150.pdf

Dees, J. Gregory (2001) ‘The Meaning of Social Entrepreneurship’. Duke University: Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Accessed 14/06/18 https://entrepreneurship.duke.edu/news-item/the-meaning-of-social-entrepreneurship/

Glennerster, Rachel (2017) ‘When do innovation and evidence change lives?’, 9th November, 2017. Accesed 23/09/18 http://runningres.com/blog/2017/11/9/when-do-innovation-and-evidence-change-lives

Hill, Ian (2012) ‘Evolution of Education for International Mindedness’, Journal of Research in International Education Vol 11(3) pp245-261

IBO, 2017a ‘The IB is turning 50!’ June 2nd, 2017. Accessed 30/06/18; http://blogs.ibo.org/blog/2017/06/02/the-ib-is-turning-50/

IBO (2017b) ‘The history of the IB’. Accessed 30/06/18; https://www.ibo.org/globalassets/digital-tookit/presentations/1711-presentation-history-of-the-ib-en.pdf

Instagram (2017) @SkySchool_World, 17th December 2017. Accessed 25th July, 2018 https://www.instagram.com/p/BckRFnwjx_Z/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Kirner, Israel (1979) Perception, Opportunity and Profit. Chicago: University of Chicago Press cited in Baumol, William J. (2006) Return of the Invisible Men: The Microeconomic Value Theory of Inventors and Entrepreneurs, Allied Social Science Associations Conference. Accessed 20/07/18 https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/bc3a/110eff702e9de57ec5f2d896afbd1263b150.pdf

Martin, Roger L. and Osberg, Sally (2007) ‘Social Entrepreneurship: The Case For Definition’. Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring 2007. Accessed 14/06/18 https://ssir.org/articles/entry/social_entrepreneurship_the_case_for_definition

Perkins, David N. (2016) ‘Lifeworthy Learning’, Education Leadership, March 2016 Vol. 73 (6)

Save the Children (2017) @SavetheChildren 18th September, 2017. Accessed 27/07/18 https://twitter.com/SavetheChildren/status/909864675784916993

Sibeta, Luke (2018) School Funding Falls Faster in England than in Wales, 12th July 2018. London: Institute for Fiscal Studies. Accessed 20/07/18 https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/131

Sky School (2017a) ‘Announcing our New Technology Partnership, 30th August 2017. Accessed 20/07/18


Sky School (2017b) ‘Meet Daniel’. Accessed 20/07/18 https://www.skyschool.world/new-blog/2018/3/28/meet-daniel-sky-school-lead-coordinator-in-kakuma-camp

Sky School (2018a) ‘About us’. Accessed 14/06/18 https://www.skyschool.world/about-1/

Sky School (2018b) Home Page. Accessed 14/06/18 https://www.skyschool.world

Twitter (2017) @Skyschool_world 3rd September, 2017. Accessed 25/07/18 https://twitter.com/skyschool_world/status/904495726331281408

Twitter (2018) @UWC_Maastricht 17th June, 2018. Accessed 27/07/18 https://twitter.com/UWC_Maastricht/status/1008325796925267968

UK Parliament (2016) Jo Cox Maiden Speech in the House of Commons, 17th June, 2016. Accessed 27/07/18 https://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2016/june/jo-cox-maiden-speech-in-the-house-of-commons/

UNHCR (2016) Missing Out: Refugee Education in Crisis, 15th September, 2016. Accessed 20/07/18 http://www.unhcr.org/57d9d01d0

Unicef (2018) Education Uprooted; New York, September 2017. Accessed 30/06/18 https://www.unicef.org/media/files/Education_Uprooted_DIGITAL.pdf

UWCSEA (2018a) ‘The Sky’s The Limit’, UWCSEA Perspectives. Accessed 20/07/18 https://perspectives.uwcsea.edu.sg/points-of-view/skys-limit

UWCSEA (2018b) Triple A Plus Singapore: UWCSEA. Accessed online 20/07/18 https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/triple-a-plus/id1349112622?mt=11





The digital classroom


This article first appeared in “The IB Review” No. 3, February 1,2015. London: Hodder Education

The development of the internet, pioneered by British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, heralded the emergence of a new information revolution which has transformed the political-economic landscape and acted as a catalyst for the emergence of a global knowledge economy. In this new e-poch, international companies will only employ individuals with the requisite skills and competencies, and have more flexibility to base teams in whichever global region they deem most attractive. With an increasingly mobile workforce, graduates and school leavers find themselves in a global skills race to succeed in the knowledge wars of the future. Amidst this changing backdrop in the free market, in which firms such as BMW use technology to digitally taylor over 80% of their cars to precise customer requirements, is your school managing to evolve sufficiently to ensure your peers are also able to take advantage of such digital taylorism with a more personalised approach to learning? With some students still finding themselves in lessons being lectured at by a teacher and completing questions from a physical textbook, has there really been a commensurate digital revolution in education, or do you still feel trapped in the Victorian era? As you look ahead to forthcoming exams, what additional resources are there online for you to personalise your learning experience and transform the effectiveness of your independent study and revision in order to put you in the best position to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities in the global knowledge economy?

One of the biggest developments, in terms of making technology integral to student learning, has been through the advent of what is termed ‘flipped learning’. In contrast to the traditional educational model, whereby a teacher spends the first part of a lesson introducing a new topic which students then practice for the rest of the lesson, in the flipped classroom model students actually study pre-recorded instructional videos in advance of the lesson. The benefits of this approach are twofold and resonate with the principles of Digital Taylorism seen in business. Firstly, pupils can follow explanations and work through examples at their own pace, replaying key sections as appropriate, and, secondly, it enables students to spend more time during lessons applying these new skills, addressing misconceptions, and developing their understanding further by working collaboratively with their peers to complete more complex questions, or project work which requires them to apply these skills in consort with other techniques. Whilst many teachers take advantage of existing resources such as the Khan Academy, some find the idiosyncrasies of American terminology, for instance radicals as opposed to square roots, distracting and generate their own. One of the best examples of teacher generated instructional videos are from Colin Hegarty whose videos have been viewed over a million times. Whilst these resources are geared towards the A-level curriculum, specific topics are readily identifiable and, in addition, there are live sessions which are free to view and participate in. You can also find instructional videos grouped according to the IB maths curriculum at IB Maths resources thus enabling you to take advantage of the learning principles behind flipped learning, irrespective of your teacher’s approach.

Whilst the standard of professional instructional videos is high, it is fairly straightforward to actually produce your own tutorials. Research from influential Education Professor John Hattie has shown that when students themselves generate and share this content, as a form of peer tutoring, there is a significant impact on learning so, even though it may take longer than watching someone else’s, it will deepen your understanding. At the most basic level, you could simply video yourself working through a problem on paper and upload this to Youtube, but such an approach can be difficult for others to follow on screen, so consider using an application on an iPad such as ‘Explain Everything’ or ‘educreations’ which enables you to create something like Jonathan and Ryan’s tutorial on the Quotient Rule. If you do not have access to an iPad you can create a screencast of your work on a laptop using either the screen capture option from an application such as Quicktime Player or using an online application such as Screenr. Whatever mechanism you use to produce your tutorial, once you have taken the time to create it consider helping your peers benefit from your explanations an maximise exposure to it by promoting it through twitter. There is a huge mathematics community on twitter, and besides sharing your tutorials, you can also find people to answer your questions or just follow interesting mathematical articles and discussions. The best hashtags to follow are #math #mathchat #IBmath #AlevelMaths #mathhelp #STEM.

Mathematics is a subject that, especially, lends itself to myriad digital applications and programs. There are several platforms which effectively serve as online classrooms providing both instruction, through lesson slides and activities, but also enable students to develop their understanding further through applying principles to additional questions. The most relevant for International Baccalaureate Mathematicians is IB Maths, run by Adrian Sparrow, which, if your school does not already have a subscription, will cost you $50 for a year’s access. Others such as My iMaths also have excellent resources, but these are aligned to the A level curriculum and you may need to decipher the different terminology to locate your particular IB topic. A more comprehensive stock of past papers and exam questions can be acquired from the IB itself through its question bank and IB prepared resources available through its online store. Other useful software to consider, alongside your graphic display calculator, is the powerful free graphing website Desmos which may well be a more user-friendly complement to your school’s subscription to Autograph.


Desmos graphing website: Are you a maths superhero?

Another avenue through which to digitally tailor your learning in mathematics is concerned with the uniquely challenging IB requirement of the exploration. An essential piece of advice to remember when embarking upon this mathematical magnum opus is to choose a topic that genuinely interests you. Whilst you may already have visions of exploring number theory Prof. Wiles’ proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem, it can be hard to know where to look for inspiration. If you are interested in science the University of Cambridge’s NRICH site has a page dedicated to STEM with an array of topics and investigation that may appeal and catalyse your imagination. Similarly, if you are interested in the (very much) bigger picture, NASA has a site dedicated to Space Mathematics with an array of resources, data and investigations such as a problem involving how to ship cargo to the International Space Station. Other useful sites worth research include plus magazine from the University of Cambridge and Johnny Griffith’s Rich Starting Points for A-level Core Mathematics.

Perhaps the greatest marginal gains from subscribing to this digitally tailored learning approach can be realised in the frantic last minute panic revision that fills the vacuum between the end of classes and the IB exams. Having practised all the questions in text book so much that you can remember the answers off by heart, and not being able to access your teacher as regularly as you might like, it can feel like an isolating existence in which new challenges and discussions could prove fruitful. But what if your teacher was able to hold a half hour google hangout for a small group of your class who, say, needed some support on integration but did not want to lose 2 hours of valuable revision time travelling in to school and back? Similarly, if you are struggling with how to plot a regression line using your calculator, why not view an online tutorial and then try to produce your own version and share it with your peers through social media. Allied to the myriad sites that have already been highlighted, with their plethora of additional question banks, past-papers, tutorials and live question and answer sessions, the ability to personalise your learning and recognise the “unknown unknowns” through online interaction should help you transform the effectiveness of this pre-exam hiatus!

Whether your teacher is on old-school advocate of ‘chalk and talk’ or you are completing interactive quizzes on your wi-fi enabled graphic display calculator, there have never been more opportunities for students to take charge of their own learning and embrace all that technology has to offer. As students of the International Baccalaureate, itself designed to provide global citizens with the skills they need to succeed, capitalising on this digital educational infrasture to help tailor your learning in this way may just confer on you a competitive advantage in the global skills race, and prepare you for the changing face of Higher Education. Although the education sector as a whole may be somewhat pedestrian in its response to the digital revolution, as Digital Taylorism proliferates at the macro-level driven by multinational companies, and the number of Private-Public initiatives in Higher Education increases, its effects can be expected to filter down enabling you to demand a personalised and modularised university course more closely aligned with the needs of your prospective employers.

Richard Davies is Head of Personal and Social Education at the United World College of South East Asia.

Download The digital classroom


Atomic Learning (2014) TI NspireTM Handheld Tutorials. Accessed 31/08/14 http://www.atomiclearning.com/ti_nspire

Brown, P., Lauder, H. & Ashton, D. (2008a) ‘Education, Globalisation and the

Future of the Knowledge Economy’. European Education Research Journal,

Vol. 7(2) pp131-156. Accessed 10/04/14



Brown, P., Lauder, H. & Ashton, D. (2008b) ‘Education, Globalisation and the

Future of the Knowledge Economy’. Teaching and Learning Research

Programme, Economic and Social Research Council. Accessed 10/04/14

Click to access globalisationcomm.pdf

Cogburn, D. L. (1998) Globalization, Knowledge, Education and Training in the Information Age in ‘Ethical, Legal and Societal Challenges of Cyberspace’, InfoEthics98: UNESCO. Accessed 10/04/14 http://www.unesco.org/webworld/infoethics_2/eng/papers/paper_23.htm

Desmos www.desmos.com Accessed 10/04/14

educreations http://www.educreations.com/ Accessed 28/06/14

Google (2014) Hangouts. Accessed 31/08/14 http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/hangouts/

Griffiths, J. (2014) Rich Starting Points for A-level Core Mathematics. Accessed 28/06/14 http://www.risps.co.uk/

Hattie, J. (2009) Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. London: Routledge

Hegarty Maths http://www.hegartymaths.com/ Accessed 10/04/14

IB Maths www.ibmaths.com Accessed 10/04/14

IB Maths Resources www.ibmathsresources.com Accessed 10/04/14

International Baccalaureate Organisation Store. Accesed 31/08/14 https://store.ibo.org/diploma-programme/subject-group/mathematics-and-computer-science

Khan Academy https://www.khanacademy.org/ Accessed 10/04/14

Kokuamai (2014) ‘The Flipped Classroom: Traditional Education Turned Upside Down. Accessed 10/04/14 http://www.kokuamai.com/test/flipped/

Logan, D. C. (2009) ‘Known knowns, known unknowns, unknowns unknowns and the propogation of scientific enquiry’. Journal of Experimental Botany Vol 60(3) pp 712- 714

MyiMaths www.myimaths.com Accessed 10/04/14

NASA ‘Space Maths at Nasa’ Accessed 28/06/14 http://spacemath.gsfc.nasa.gov/

NRICH (2014) Enriching mathematics – STEM Mapping. Accessed 28/06/14 http://nrich.maths.org/9153

Severs, J. P. (2014) ‘Maths teacher’s class mentoring videos hit one million views’ in The Times Educational Supplement School News 05 April, 2014. Accessed 10/04/14 http://news.tes.co.uk/b/tes-professional/2014/04/04/maths-teacher-39-s-mentoring-videos-hit-one-million-views.aspx

Twitter www.twitter.com Accessed 10/04/14

Project Jugaad

An International collaborative School Research Project exploring the Role of Maths in Technology

facebook comms

Figure 1: Global Communication Flows (Butler, 2010)

Globalisation is the “shift or transformation in the scale of human organization that links distant communities and expands the reach of power relations across the world’s regions [which] can be mapped by examining the expanding scale, growing magnitude, speeding up and deepening impact of transcontinental flows and patterns of social interaction” Held (2004, p1).

Irrespective of the precise nature and institutional architecture of globalisation, there are a series of ‘deep drivers’ that will continue to operate for the foreseeable future including the global ICT revolution; global markets in the knowledge economy; and economic migration (Held, 2010, p243). These particular ‘drivers’, representing technology and information dissemination, can be thought of as prerequisites for a knowledge economy which the World Bank (2003, p2) explains is predicated upon four pillars, including an ‘educated and skilled population to create, share, and use knowledge’. With science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects critical, therefore, to this emerging global knowledge economy, Project Jugaad was established with the aim of providing pupils with a real world, open-ended project which would not only develop their mathematical understanding but, in addition, foster key skills such as inquiry, collaboration, communication, leadership, global awareness, and cultural understanding which will be crucial to success in further education and employment wherever they ultimately end up working.

In 2013 UK Prime Minister David Cameron led the largest business delegation ever assembled on his state visit to India with ambitions of doubling UK-India trade by 2015 (Nelson, 2013). There are tremendous opportunities for firms to benefit from economic growth in countries such as India and, given the changing economic landscape, providing our pupils with experience of working on collaborative projects alongside their peers in developing economies should help prepare them for myriad opportunities in the global knowledge economy. Jugaad is a Punjabi term that can be translated as using innovative approaches to solve problems effectively given limited resources. As such, it was chosen as the name for this collaborative educational research project into the role of Maths in Technology initially set up between Bluebells International School in New Delhi and Southfields Academy in London (Radjou et al, 2012).

For the inaugural project, two top set year 9 classes (13/14 year olds) were selected and the project was deliberately open-ended to promote a growth mindset by exposing pupils to areas of mathematics that extend beyond the confines of the syllabus and challenging them to develop new approaches to thinking about the role of maths in the technology that surrounds them (c.f. Dweck, 2008). Groups consisted of two pupils from each school and, although they were free to communicate however they saw fit (Facebook, BBM, Skype etc), their activities were scaffolded by the fact that each member had to adopt a specific role (Project Manager, Chief Researcher, Digital Engineer, Communications Director). Whilst some groups did struggle to establish contact at first, as the deadlines approached there was a flurry of activity and nearly all groups established effective communication in order to submit their projects on time. In so doing they formed new friendships with their peers in an international collaborative environment which seeks to simulate what pupils can expect to find when they embark on a career in the global knowledge economy.

The array of topics covered by the pupils was huge and the deliberations involved in shortlisting the final four were agonising. These 13 and 14 year old pupils completed extensive research into topics as diverse as maths in medicine and maths in space, and discovered, for themselves, topics that go way beyond the curriculum such as the Bernouilli Principle and calculus. Eventually, the four shortlisted groups were agreed upon and the pupils set about preparing to present their findings. This was a more intimidating task than normal, however; not only did the pupils have to present to a class full of pupils and a panel of judges sitting in front of them but, via Skype, they were also addressing pupils and judges in a class 5,000 miles away where the other members of their group were. Coordinating such a presentation within the strict 5 minute time limit required thorough planning, and it was brilliant to see how all the groups managed to achieve this with aplomb! In order to facilitate cultural understanding, pupils were also encouraged to produce short videos on ‘Life in London/Delhi’ with the best one being selected to be screened in the partner school immediately before the final.


Figure 2: Shortlisted pupils presenting to UK class and class in India in real time via Skype.

Now in its second year, Project Jugaad has expanded to include schools as far afield as the United World College of South East Asia in Singapore and, appropriately enough given the myriad extreme environmental phenomena experienced on both sides of the Atlantic, this year the focus is specifically on the role of mathematics in Green Technology. In so doing, it resonates on more that just an economic development level with Hill (2012) who extols the virtues of international mindedness into education as:

“The study of issues which have application beyond national borders and to which competences such as critical thinking and collaboration are applied in order to shape attitudes, leading to action which will be conducive to intercultural understanding, peaceful co-existence and sustainable development for the future of the human race’.

Where once skills were recognised as a key lever for prosperity and fairness, and material forces dominated growth, globalisation has led to the situation where countries can outsource their material production and concentrate on research and development: increasingly skills are the key lever (Brown et al, 2008, p132). As the rate of technology transfer increases, the link between education and economic growth becomes ever stronger as scientific knowledge accelerates the pace of technological innovation (Sab & Smith, 2001). Equipping pupils with the skills to succeed in this new economic landscape through classroom activities such as Project Jugaad is surely, therefore, not just in our interests as education professionals. It is, moreover, a powerful vehicle through which to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future in a manner that resonates with Hill’s vision (United World College, 2014; Hill, 2012).


Brown, P., Lauder, H. & Ashton, D. (2008) ‘Education, Globalisation and the Future of the Knowledge Economy’. European Education Research Journal, 7, 2, 131-156

Butler, P. (2010) ‘Visualising Friendships’, Facebook Inc. Accessed 16/02/14 https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=469716398919

Dweck, C. (2008) Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Ballantine: New York

Held, D. (2004) Global Covenant: The Social Democratic Alternative to the Washington Consensus. Cambridge: Polity Press

Held, D. (2010) Cosmopolitanism: Ideals and Realities. Cambridge: Polity Press

Hill. I. (2012) ‘Evolution of Education for International Mindedness’, Journal of Research in International Education. 11, 3, 245-261

Nelson, D. (2013) ‘David Cameron to lead second trade mission to India’. The Daily Telegraph, 15 February 2013. Accessed 16/02/14 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/9871786/David-Cameron-to-lead-second-trade-mission-to-India.html

Radjou , N., Prabhu, J., Ahuja, S. and Roberts, K. (2012). Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth’. Willey & Sons: New Jersey. Accessed 16/02/14 http://as.wiley.com/WileyCDA/PressRelease/pressReleaseId-102985,descCd-release_additional_material.html

Sab, R. & Smith, S. C. (2001) ‘Human Capital Convergence: International Evidence’. International Monetary Fund Working Paper, WP/01/32. Washington, D.C. cited in World Bank (2003) p5

United World College. (2014) ‘United World College Mission and Values’. Accessed 16/02/14 http://www.uwc.org/about_uwc/mission_and_vision.aspx

The World Bank (2003) The Knowledge Economy and the Changing Needs of the Labour Market. Accessed 16/02/14 http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTLL/Resources/Lifelong-Learning-in-the-Global-Knowledge-Economy/lifelonglearning_GKE.pdf

To find out more about Project Jugaad and see last year’s winning entries along with videos and other material visit www.projectjugaad.yolasite.com or join in the discussion on twitter #projectjugaad

Improving Teacher Effectiveness through Student Surveys


Amongst a cacophony of noise in the educational community from the competing and adversarial self-interested cries of practitioners, policy makers, education providers and  teaching unions, there is a deafening silence in one crucial area in which there appears to be a broad consensus of agreement. More than anything else in a school, teaching quality matters as more effective teachers are an essential prerequisite in the elusive quest to produce high performing students equipped with the skills to succeed in the 21st Century (Ripley, p1, 2012; Jensen, p3, 2011). A similar agreement surrounding what exactly constitutes effective teaching amongst the fractional parties remains elusive in spite of an increase in research, however ‘appraising and providing feedback to improve teachers once they enter the profession and are working in schools’ is one of the five mechanisms through which Jensen (p7, 2011) argues teacher effectiveness can be improved and will provide the focus for this study. Whilst traditional instruments such as quantitative analysis of pupils achievement gains and observations from senior leaders will be considered, one of the most significant developments for education reform over the past decade has been the advent of student feedback in teacher evaluations (Ripley, p5, 2012). The aim of this study is, therefore, to develop an effective student survey to be used alongside traditional instruments of appraisal and feedback as part of a ‘balanced scorecard’ approach in order to improve teacher effectiveness (Jensen, p10, 2011).


Dr Goldacre (2013) extols the virtues of the transition to evidence based practice in the medical community in the face of vociferous inertia and now advocates the proliferation of evidence based practice within the arena of education. In particular, he makes the following recommendations:

  • research on what works best should be a routine part of life in education

  • teachers should be driving the research agenda, by identifying questions that need to be answered.

  • teachers should be empowered to participate in research

  • myths about randomised trials in education should be addressed, removing barriers to research

  • the results of research should be disseminated more efficiently

  • resources on research should be available to teachers, enabling them to be critical and thoughtful consumers of evidence

  • barriers between teachers and researchers should be removed

It is the first two of these recommendations which this study encapsulates most clearly. The question that has been identified in the introduction is how can student surveys be used alongside traditional instruments of teacher appraisal and feedback to improve effectiveness? In order to develop this survey, it is important to draw on existing studies.

1. Capturing the Dimensions of Effective Teaching

As part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Measures of Effective Teaching 7,500 lessons from 1,333 teachers in six American districts were recorded and compared using five classroom observation instruments and compared with measures of achievement gain for 44,500 students on state tests and student evaluations of teachers (Kane, p35, 2012). Analysis of student achievement gains revealed that teachers with a track record of producing high gains are likely to achieve similar gains with another group and, in maths, this correlation was 0.48 (Kane, p36, 2012). The key value, therefore, in this quantitative approach is its ability to foresee the achievement gains of future students which, moreover, are associated with higher earnings and greater participation at higher education (Kane, p36, 2012; Chetty et al, 2012). If this measure alone is so powerful at predicting future success, why bother with other instruments for appraisal? In spite of its high predictive power, focusing on quantitative measures of growth has a relatively low explanatory power, that is to say that it can reveal large levels of progress (or not!) but it cannot shed any light on what a teacher can do to increase this growth further through detailed and effective feedback on an individual teachers strengths and weaknesses (Kane, p36, 2012). Given that the greatest impact on student learning comes from meaningful feedback (Hattie, 2009), if we re-contextualise student learning as teacher learning, we can see that relying on such measures of achievement gain alone is unlikely to result in learning or, more pertinently, any increase in teacher effectiveness.

The second tenet of teacher appraisal is classroom observation, but of the three in the study this appeared to be the most problematic. 900 observers received between 17 and 25 hours of training on one of five observation criteria and graded 7 500 lessons; each lesson was graded 3 times by three different observation criteria (Kane, p37, 2012). The results from each observer were then compared to an agreed master observation and any that fell outside set parameters from the master were disqualified – in all 23% of observations (Kane, p37, 2012)! Allied to such inconsistencies in observations, concerns about observations stifling innovative teaching styles and the opportunity cost of senior leaders time in completing such observations raise concerns over the suitability of relying too much on classroom observations (Kane, p38, 2012). Moreover, eschewing these concerns, although such observations do, in theory, enable teachers to receive specific feedback about how to improve their practice which, if implemented, should manifest itself in improved teacher effectiveness, there is little evidence to suggest that the feedback does lead to improved student outcomes (Kane, p37, 2012).

The third tenet of teacher appraisal to be explored is the new component of student surveys. Student surveys have been a component (often the only component) used to feed back on instruction in Higher Education but it is only recently that this practice has been implemented in Secondary Education (Kane, p38, 2012). Two articles relating to this use of student surveys in Higher and Primary Education led to me to first consider using student surveys to improve my own teacher effectiveness last year and are explored in detail in  ‘Pupil generated feedback: the wisdom of crowds?’ (Davies, 2013) In the first, a university Professor, used to teaching final year students, struggled to engage Freshers until he enlisted the support of one of his former students (Brighouse, 2013) and in the second, a Primary Teacher in Florida who periodically asks her class: “What are ways that I teach you that you like or that are really working for you? What could be changed to help you learn even more?”

In the Measures of Effective Teaching report the most powerful finding is the reliability of student responses to the survey. Student responses had a greater degree of correlation with student achievement gains in Maths and English than did classroom observations and, moreover, not only were the responses consistent across classrooms but they were also predictive of student achievement gains across classrooms (Kane, p39, 2012). In response to the question: “our class stays busy and does not waste time” less than 36% of pupils agreed in one classroom whilst more than 69% agreed in another (Kane, p38, 2012). Also, it was shown that feedback for teachers tended to be consistent across multiple classes with a correlation factor between different classes of 0.66 which was greater even than the original achievement gains measure (Kane, p38, 2012). It can be argued that even without the 17-25 hours of training that classroom observers were provided with students themselves were better at evaluating teachers because they have had months to form an opinion rather than the 30 minutes which senior leaders are typically present for (Ripley, p4, 2012). Whilst there will always be some “knuckleheads” who just mess the survey up and do not take it seriously, these may constitute as little as one-half of one percent which means the wisdom of crowds should prevail to allow teachers an accurate reflection of pupils experiences (Ripley, p4, 2012). Taking into account the effectiveness of student surveys and the fact that they are a relatively inexpensive way to add predictive power and reliability to evaluatory systems, they would seem particularly well suited to augmenting classroom observations in grades and subjects where student achievement gains are not available (Kane, p40, 2012).

2. Better Teacher Appraisal and Feedback: Improving Performance

Systems of teacher appraisal and feedback which are directly concerned with improving student performance have the potential to increase teacher effectiveness by as much as 30% (Jensen, p3, 2011). With a view to improving Australia’s current broken system of teacher appraisal and feedback the report encourages schools to employ at least four methods of teachers’ performance from the following list (Jensen, p9, 2011):

  1. Student performance and assessments;

  2. Peer observation and collaboration;

  3. Direct observation of classroom teaching and learning;

  4. Student surveys and feedback;

  5. 360-degree assessment and feedback;

  6. Self-assessment;

  7. Parent surveys and feedback; and

  8. External observation

Although schools are free to employ the methods most appropriate for their context, there is manifest support for the inclusion of student surveys and feedback on the basis that students are able to report on teachers with a high degree of reliability, indeed their ratings of teachers have been found to be better predictors of student achievements than self-assessment and principal measures of effectiveness (Jensen, p16, 2011).

3. A Balanced score-card approach

To address the individual weaknesses inherent in any system of evaluation that relies on any one instrument the Measures of Effective Teaching Study explored a combined approach. Even with achievement gains, classroom observations and student surveys equally weighted the explanatory power was increased (Figure 1). However, by more accurately weighing each instrument to 0.758, 0.200, and 0.042 respectively on the basis of their effectiveness the resulting criterion-weighted or balanced score-card approach yields more of the two desirable properties – predicative power and reliability- than any of the other measures alone (Kane, p39, 2012).


Having explored the rationale for embracing a balanced scorecard approach to teacher appraisal and feedback, this section focuses on how best to design a student survey. In order to elicit student’s perception of teacher effectiveness – the questions within the survey are paramount: if you ask pupils the right questions, they can identify with uncanny accuracy, their most – and least- effective teachers (Ripley, p8, 2012). Whilst students are able to report on teachers with a high degree of reliability, the validity of the survey results depends on the instruments used (Jensen, p16, 2011). Of the 36 items included in the Measures of Effective Teaching study studied earlier, the following five correlated most with student learning and are surprisingly effective (Ripley, p4, 2012):

  1. Students in the class treat the teacher with respect.

  2. My classmates behave the way my teacher wants them to.

  3. Our class stays busy and doesn’t waste time.

  4. In this class, we learn a lot almost every day.

  5. In this class, we learn to correct our mistakes.

Using this architecture as a starting point and augmenting it with college specific questions relating to values and learning principles, the following survey was designed:


The survey is to be introduced by the regular classroom teacher at the beginning  of the lesson with an accompanying explanation that its purpose is to help the teacher develop their professional skills. This also helps to prevent any recency effects whereby a the particular lesson in which a survey is conducted skews responses in either direction.


In initial versions of the survey students were encouraged to leave their name in order to enable teachers to continue the discussion of any specific issues. However, in order to reduce the risk of pressure from teachers or peer pressure from fellow students and prevent pupils masquerading as others, it was considered important that the school takes steps to ensure anonymity of individual student responses.


The results remain solely with the individual teacher who themselves sends the link to the google survey and the results which are automatically populated on a colour-coded spreadsheet to facilitate analysis. Teachers are encouraged to share their results but there is no obligation to do so. Instead, there is, however, an expectation that the individual teacher will include reflections on the outcome from the surveys in their individual Professional Portfolios.


In order to prevent saturation, each department will have a designated month when it alone completes the surveys. The Head of Department has discretion as to which year group or ability range to target and even if some individual teachers decline to formally share their findings it would be expected that, at a departmental level, key findings and themes are at least discussed.


“No information is perfect. But better information on teaching effectiveness should allow for improved personnel decisions and faster professional growth” (Kane, p41, 2012)

Whilst measures of achievement gain, classroom observations and student surveys all have their relative strengths and weaknesses and no mechanism of teacher appraisal will ever be completely accurate, analysis of the literature reveals that by incorporating student surveys into traditional measures of teacher evaluation, teacher effectiveness can be improved and is more likely to result in higher performing students equipped with the skills equipped to succeed in the 21st Century (Ripley, p1, 2012). By building on existing research relating to what works with regards to student surveys and augmenting it with College specific questions relating to learning principles, a student survey and framework has been designed to be trialled across all departments in the High School through which, alongside traditional methods of teacher appraisal, it is hoped to elucidate a range of information through which teachers can better inform their practice. Although the student survey will not form part of official appraisals, it can be used by teachers alongside walk-ins by senior leadership, peer observations and achievement gains predicated on examination data to provide additional information upon which they can improve their effectiveness and therefore exemplifies the following four methods which Jensen (2011, p9) advocates:

  1. Student performance and assessments [Exam results where available]

  2. Peer observation and collaboration [Peer observation]

  3. Direct observation of  teaching and learning [Formal observation / SLT drop ins]

  4. Student Surveys and feedback  [To be introduced]

Whilst the introduction of student surveys is currently being restricted to the High School, there is no reason why it could not be extended to the Middle and Junior schools as even young children can evaluate their teachers relatively accurately with students in the same kindergarten class agreeing with each other across thousands of surveys (Ripley, p7, 2012).

Incorporating student surveys in to teacher appraisal (albeit it informally) as an additional instrument with such a high level of reliability that is independent of the race or income of pupils is truly, therefore, one of the most significant developments for education reform over the past decade however, the success will depend on the extent to which teachers themselves act on the results in order to ensure the feedback they receive is translated into higher performing students.

Improving Teacher Effectiveness through Student Surveys


Brighouse, H. (2013) ‘Employing a student to criticize my teaching’. Accessed 04/01/14


Chetty, R., Friedman, J. & Rockoff, J. (2012) ‘Great Teaching’ Research, Summer 2012

Jensen, B. (2011) ‘Better Teacher Appraisal and Feedback: Improving Performance’. The Grattan Institute, Report No. 2011-3 APR 2011. Accessed 04/01/14 http://grattan.edu.au/static/files/assets/cdbcfbfe/081_report_teacher_appraisal.pdf

Davies, R. (2013) ‘Pupil generated feedback: the wisdom of crowds?’. Accessed 04/01/14 https://rccdavies.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/pupil-generated-feedback-the-wisdom-of-crowds/

Goldacre, B, (2013). Teachers! What would evidence based practice look like? Bad Science, March 15th 2013. Accessed 04/01/14 http://www.badscience.net/2013/03/heres-my-paper-on-evidence-and-teaching-for-the-education-minister/

Hattie, J. (2009) Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. London: Routledge

Kane, T. (2012) ‘Capturing the Dimensions of Effective Teaching’. Education Next, Fall 2012. Accessed 04/01/12 http://educationnext.org/capturing-the-dimensions-of-effective-teaching/

Marshall Memo No. 453 http://www.marshallmemo.com/headlines.php

Marshall Memo No. 461 http://www.marshallmemo.com/headlines.php

Ripley, A. (2012) ‘Why Kids Should Grade Teachers’. The Atlantic, October, 2012. Accessed 04/01/14 http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/10/why-kids-should-grade-teachers/309088/

Sandford, H. (2013) ‘Want to Improve Teaching? Listen to students’. Accessed 04/01/14


PICTURE CREDIT: Alamy in Tait, P. (2014) “Forget ‘Asian Tigers’ we need to focus on learning smarter”. The Daily Telegraph, 08 January 2014.

What is the role of Tertiary Education in Promoting Economic Development in India?


Secondary analysis of macro-economic data from the World Bank is conducted in order to investigate the role of tertiary education in promoting economic development in India since the neoliberal economic reforms of the 1990’s. Globalisation Theory provides the theoretical framework to analyse the economic rationale for expanding Higher Education (HE), by incorporating a greater role for the private sector and directing a greater proportion of public funds towards specialised Institutions, as an instrument through which to realise economic growth and emerge as a key player in the global knowledge economy.

Comprehensive background analysis reveals that globalisation manifests itself in HE through commercialisation, privatisation and capitalisation which are driven through financial considerations rather than a coherent strategy for improving education. The de facto privatisation of HE in India, which emerges against a background of reduced government investment, appears chaotic and unplanned. In 2005 the government belatedly began to recognise knowledge as the key driving force in the 21st Century and the National Knowledge Commission it created has helped influence educational policy by emphasising the importance of HE not only in contributing to economic development but also social progress and political democracy (NKC, p62, 2009).

Statistical analysis reveals significant correlation between enrolment in HE and economic growth over the period but cautions that HE is only part of socioeconomic policy and that additional research is required to prove causation. Establishing HE as a necessary, but not sufficient, precondition for economic growth, an education production function is developed which incorporates other precipitant factors, such as digital communications infrastructure, innovation, and a business friendly regulatory environment. Only by considering investment in HE in consort with these other components of socioeconomic policy prescription, and in conjunction with action to address market failure in the sector through the introduction of a credible and universal system of quality assurance, can India seek to maximise the contribution of HE to economic development.

Download Paper: What is the Role of Tertiary Education on Promoting Economic Development in India

Charting the Nexus: A Comparative Analysis of the Relationship between Education, Economic Growth, and State Formation in Pakistan and South Korea

With the advent of the ‘knowledge economy’, the role of education in development has, arguably, changed substantially (Green, p16, 2007). The concomitant advances in science and technology, especially Information and Communication Technology (ICT), can be harnessed by developing countries to realise economic development, provided they have either a workforce endowed with sufficient levels of human capital to assimilate and transfer this knowledge in order to establish an indigenous industry, or they are able to convince foreign multinationals that there is a sufficiently skilled workforce for them to invest (Green, p16, 2007). Education, however, should not only be considered as an instrument of economic policy through which to stimulate growth; as a political tool educational policy can be orchestrated to facilitate state formation by manipulating pupils’ perceptions of their national identity. It may well be the case that the resulting increase in social cohesion, and sense of national unity, may also have positive externalities in terms of effects on development but such effects are likely to be omitted from analysis which concentrates solely on the role of education in promoting skills formation. Therefore, by examining both the political and economic consequences of education policy, through a comparative analysis of Pakistan and South Korea in the second half of the 20th Century, this paper will seek to develop a holistic picture of the role of education in international development.

Education, economic development and state formation in Pakistan & S Korea



‘Of all the issues facing development economists, none is quite so compelling as the question of economic growth’ (Ray, 1998)

Article 45 of the Indian Constitution obliges the state to provide free and compulsory education for all children, up to the age of 14, and initially envisaged that this would be achieved by 1960 (Dréze & Sen, p17, 2003). Fifty years later, this goal of Universal Primary Education (UPE) has been incorporated into a rights based approach to education through international frameworks, such as ‘Education For All’ (EFA) and the ‘Millennium Development Goals’ (MDG) (UNICEF, 2007). The 2009 ‘Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill’ does not, however, fully comply with the assurances the Indian government made at Jomtien, where it acknowledged expansion and development of the early years curriculum as an integral part of the EFA objectives, as it does not cover children under the age of 6 (Singh, 2009). Given that the Bill confers on individual states the responsibility to provide free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school within a period of three years from the commencement of the Bill, it is hard to envisage that India will fulfil its 2015 MDG commitments concerning access to education, let alone address inchoate concerns about the abysmal quality of Indian schools which continues to discourage many parents from sending their children to school, and yields extremely low average attainment of those pupils who do attend (Singh, 2009; UNDP, 2011, Dréze & Sen, p10, 2003).

Digital Divide – Quality Education in India