Focus on DERA (Digital Education Research Archive): Grammar Schools

The IOE Library has always collected documents published by government and other relevant bodies in the areas of education, training, children, and families. Today, the Official Publications Collection here at the Library is the largest of our special collections and is highly valued by our users.

In some ways official publications are no different to other areas of publishing and we have witnessed a rapid transition towards a “digital by default” approach. You may already have read our recent blog post about DERA – our online repository founded on the traditions of our printed Official Publications Collection, dedicated to preserving the digital output of government in relation to education – where we highlighted content on the subject of school meals. This month, we are highlighting DERA resources focused on Grammar Schools.

When I began to look for documents in DERA I realised I first needed to understand what was meant by ‘Grammar Schools’. Historically Grammar Schools (or scolae grammaticales) had been attached to cathedrals and monasteries and taught Latin and other subjects which might be useful to future monks and priests, (music and verse, mathematics, astronomy and law). Later Grammar Schools were seen as the entry point for admission to University.

The modern grammar school concept dates back to the Education Act 1944 which promised universal secondary education and to improve the kind of education provided. Under a Tripartite System of state-funded secondary education for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, children would be provided with the type of education which would suit their needs and abilities as determined by the results of the 11+ exam. Academic pupils would attend grammar schools and be encouraged to go to university. Practical pupils would attend secondary modern schools. The third type of schools were Secondary Technical Schools which were designed to train children adept in mechanical and scientific subjects to become engineers, technicians and scientists. In reality very few technical schools were built and in most areas of the country there was really a two-tier system. There are currently 163 grammar schools in England (of around 24,000 state schools) and 69 in Northern Ireland.

Over the years there has been vigorous debate about Grammar Schools and whether they reinforced class division and middle-class privilege. In their support it was said that grammar schools opened up access to an outstanding state education to those who could not pay private school fees.

Grammar schools soon fell out of favour with politicians and in 1965 a government circular (10/65) was issued by the Department of Education and Science (DES) requesting Local Education Authorities to begin converting their secondary schools to the comprehensive system under which schools largely admit pupils without reference to ability or aptitude and cater for all the children in a neighbourhood.

Further legislation, 1976 Education Act hastened the end of selective state education in Wales and Scotland. However some counties and local authorities in England have kept largely selective school systems including Kent, Medway, Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire, while others such as Gloucestershire have a mix. A few grammar schools have also survived in areas which are otherwise fully comprehensive such as Birmingham, Bournemouth and some London boroughs. In 1998 the School Standards and Framework Act forbade the establishment of any new all-selective schools.

In England there also Academies which were first introduced in 2000 and are publically funded independent schools. They benefit from greater freedoms (including from local authority control, ability to set own pay and conditions for staff and how they deliver the curriculum) and were intended to replace poorly performing schools. The Academies Act 2010 extended the programme, enabling all maintained primary, secondary and special schools to apply to become an Academy.

The most recent controversy surrounding grammar schools is the result of the announcement in 2016 by the PM Theresa May that she wanted to end the ban on grammar schools and funding would be provided under the 2017 Budget. This manifesto promise was later dropped.

Although new selective schools may not be being built there exists a loophole which allows existing grammar schools to open ‘satellite’ campuses or annexes . The first such school annex was opened in 2017 by the Weald of Kent Grammar School in Sevenoaks which is 10 miles from its original site in Tonbridge. The two sites have to operate as one school which means that pupils in the annex have to spend a day at the Tonbridge site at least every two weeks. Despite being described as an ‘annex’, the school has been seen by some as a ‘new’ grammar school.

There are also fears that annexes could be built in or near neighbouring local authorities without grammar schools, which could destabilise an area’s existing comprehensive schools and even lead to school closures.

At the time the 1944 Education Act (Butler) was being drawn up there was a strong belief in the value and accuracy of psychometric testing which was shared by many in the educational establishment. This led to the creation of an exam, the 11+, to be undertaken in the last year of primary education to establish which type of secondary school pupils should attend. France, Italy, Germany and Sweden also operated a state—run system of selective schools.

The 11+ exam has been criticised as being a barrier not a gateway to entrance to grammar schools. As the Education Policy Institute’s 2017 paper The 11-plus and access to grammar schools indicates

‘both the knowledge and the IQ elements of the 11-plus test assess skills which are significantly influenced by a child’s surroundings.’

The paper discusses the problem of wealthier parents being able to afford extensive coaching for their children in how to pass the 11-plus. As Chris Horrie’s 2017 article reveals there have been aids to passing available from the early days of Grammar Schools. The results of failing the 11+ exam, which meant children had to attend secondary modern schools, often had a long lasting effect both educationally and emotionally as discussed by Emma- Louise Wilson and Michael Rosen in their 2017 article. The positive effects of a grammar school education are still controversial and being studied even by researchers at the UCL Institute of Education.

Recent documents available in DERA which continue to discuss the question of selective education include the Department for Education’s consultation document Schools that Work for Everyone in 2016 (includes the Government’s 2018 response) which sought views on

  • Removing the current legislation prohibiting the creation of new selective schools
  • Lifting the restrictions on faith admissions in new free schools
  • Asked how to harness the expertise and resources of independent schools and the higher education (HE) to raise attainment across the wider school system.


Once again research in DERA and across wider documentation available using the Institute of Education Library’s collections answers some questions and leads to new ones.


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What the Dickens!

Charles Dickens’ seasonal novella ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a perennial Christmas favourite which has not been out of print since it was first published on 19th December 1843 by Chapman and Hall of London with four illustrations by John Leech (1817-1843). The first issue of 6,000 sold out by Christmas Eve and there were two more issues before the New Year.

Dickens was aware of the poverty that existed in Victorian London and he was especially concerned about the suffering of children. He had experienced hard times in his own childhood when his father was imprisoned for debt. At first Dickens was going to publish a pamphlet entitled ‘An Appeal to the People of England on behalf of the Poor Man’s Child’ but changed his mind and wrote ‘A Christmas Carol’ within six weeks. He felt that he could reach more people with a deeply felt Christmas narrative than with a polemical pamphlet. The treatment of the poor and the ability of a selfish man, Ebenezer Scrooge, to redeem himself by transforming into a more sympathetic character are the key themes of the book. The Ghost of Christmas Present has two emaciated children hidden in his robes named ‘Ignorance’ and ‘Want’.


‘Ignorance’ and ‘Want’ from Quentin Blake’s ‘A Christmas Carol’.

‘A Christmas Carol’ was written during the mid- Victorian period when the British were exploring and re-evaluating past Christmas traditions including carols and including newer customs such as Christmas trees. One of the writers who influenced Dickens was the American author Washington Irving whose 1819-20 work ‘The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent’ included four essays on old English Christmas traditions. Family gatherings, seasonal food and drink, dancing, games and a festive generosity of spirit were all popularised by ‘A Christmas Carol’.

By the end of 1948 there were eight rival theatrical productions of ‘A Christmas Carol’ running in London.  Dickens began public readings of the novella in 1849 and gave a further 127 performances until his death in 1870. The first film version was a black and white silent version released in 1901. Since then there have been numerous film and television adaptations and even an opera and a ballet. Who can forget the 1992 musical film ‘A Muppet Christmas Carol’ with an admirably straight-faced Michael Caine as Scrooge? The story’s popularity has not waned with at least six theatrical adaptations countrywide this year.

In the Library’s Curriculum Resources Collection you can choose from several versions of ‘A Christmas Carol’. Apart from “standard” copies of the text, there is a 1995 edition which has been lavishly illustrated by Quentin Blake. In contrast to Blake’s generally cheery pictures, the tone of the 2008 ‘A Christmas Carol. The Graphic Novel’ is much darker.


The Ghost of Christmas Present from ‘A Christmas Carol. The Graphic Novel.

Michael Foreman also illustrated ‘A Christmas Carol’ in 1989. For younger readers there is a 2003 edition abridged by Vivian French with illustrations by Patrick Benson.


Michael Foreman’s version of ‘The Ghost of Christmas Present.’

Mike Gould’s ‘A Christmas Carol. Student Guide’ (2017) and Sue Bennet and Dave Stockwin’s ‘A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Study and Revise for GCSE’ (2016) are examples of the help available for those studying the book at school.

The 2017 children’s novel by Michael Rosen ‘Bah! Humbug! A magical retelling of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol’ illustrates the enduring influence of the story.


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“Outdoor learning and Physical Education in Schools – what DERA has to say?”

The IOE Library has always collected documents published by government and other relevant bodies in the areas of education, training, children, and families. Today, the Official Publications Collection here at the Library is the largest of our special collections and is highly valued by our users.

In some ways official publications are no different to other areas of publishing and we have witnessed a rapid transition towards a “digital by default” approach. You may already have read our recent blog post about DERA – our online repository founded on the traditions of our printed Official Publications Collection, dedicated to preserving the digital output of government in relation to education – where we highlighted content on the subject of school meals. This month, we are highlighting DERA resources focused on outdoor learning and physical education.

Doing research in DERA can lead to surprising discoveries, as I recently found out for myself when I was looking for documents relating to physical education and sport in schools. For example, I found a document from the Office for National Statistics called Children’s engagement with the outdoors and sports activities, UK: 2014 to 2015 which looked perfectly suited to my research and opened the door to a wealth of resources that were new to me. These included a fascinating document published by the National Trust, an organisation which has been criticised recently for evicting forest schools from its woods.

The document in question was Natural Childhood by Stephen Moss, whose overall conclusion is that

we as a nation and especially our children are exhibiting the symptoms of a modern phenomenon known as ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’.

‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ is a term also used by the author Richard Louv in his 2005 book Lost Child in the Woods to describe the human costs of alienation from nature. His ideas have influenced the research done by Stephen Moss, who hastens to add that his report acknowledges the many benefits of modern technology and is not about trying to return to some mythical golden age.

Children appear to have less freedom to play outside today for a number of reasons, which might be as simple as not living a house with a garden or having limited access to an easily accessible outdoor space such as a park, or even parents or carers perception of the ‘Outdoors’ as a dangerous place .However, another document that I found in DERA, Accident prevention amongst children and young people: a priority review (2009), provides the somewhat surprising evidence that, in fact, the home is not a particularly ‘safe’ environment. Data found on page 8 shows that there were 30,783 accidents in the home compared to 15,084 accidents caused by transport which resulted in emergency hospital admissions for 0-17 year olds in England in the 2006-2007 period.

Research by the University of Essex and the NHS has reported a decline in children’s cardiorespiratory fitness and an increase in childhood obesity, with researchers in these areas agreeing that the decline in the time children spend outdoors is a contributing factor. There has also been an increase in mental health problems as discussed by Richard Layard and Judith Dunn in their book, A good childhood: searching for values in a competitive age (2009), which reports on the findings of The Good Childhood Inquiry commissioned by the Children’s Society. The seventh annual report was published in 2018.

Physical and mental health problems are the most obvious consequences of a lack of engagement with nature and opportunities to maintain and improve physical and mental wellbeing through activity. There are more intangible problems which include declining emotional resilience and a reduction in the ability to assess risk which are vital life skills.

On a more positive note, the educational benefits of outdoor learning have been discussed in Learning outside the classroom, published by Ofsted in 2008.

The National Trust’s strategy for helping to improve children’s connection to nature includes its current campaign called 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾. The activities range from simple (catch a falling leaf or make a daisy chain) to those requiring more time and effort (bring up a butterfly or learn to ride a horse). Visiting a farm, flying a kite or checking out the crazy creatures in a rock pool are amongst the activities which can engage the interest of the whole family.

It is interesting to note that in Children’s engagement with the outdoors and sports activities, UK: 2014-2015 report mentioned earlier, ‘activities’ are defined as including walking, jogging, biking, ball games, swimming and water sports, fishing, picking berries and activities that usually take place indoors such as gymnastics and fitness.

Not all schools can provide trees to climb or ponds to explore but they can encourage children to be active from an early age through physical education and sports. Intentions may be good but schools may find it difficult to engage and retain children’s interest in physical activity. Evidence of official help is provided by a DERA document entitled What works in schools and colleges to increase physical activity?, which identifies eight promising principles for practice, which have been tested with children and young people and practitioners (p.5):

  • Develop and deliver multi-component interventions
  • Ensure skilled workforce
  • Engage student voice
  • Create active environments
  • Offer choice and variety
  • Embed in curriculum and learning
  • Promote active travel
  • Embed monitoring and evaluation

Additional information is provided by two more documents in DERA: the first one, a recent briefing paper produced by the House of Commons Library and titled Physical education and sports in schools, presents a comprehensive overview of current policies and practice in England, while the second is a currently open consultation on the Department for Education’s Review of GCSE, AS, and A level physical activity list.

In conclusion my initial research in DERA for documents about PE and Sport in schools led to the fascinating topic of ‘nature deficit disorder’ and the impact it is having on us and especially on our children. Even small changes such as The Daily Mile initiative can have a significant impact as reported by the BBC earlier this year.

This post is one in a series highlighting the variety of materials held in DERA. If you want to find out more, please visit our LibGude.

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Anglo-Saxon art and life – for children and teachers

Golden knots hammered out on jewellery, golden knots painted around pages… a golden knot of letters forming the word ‘Book’, a golden grid of letters with an inbuilt riddle… This exhibition at the British Library held me spellbound, almost as if the pagan spells and chanted prayers, curiously mingled in those early days of Europe, had arisen out of the parchment or bronze. There are even mesmerising recordings, in both Latin and in Old English, also known as… Anglo-Saxon.

Round brooches with circular ornaments in gold and garnet, also glass and shell.

Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War runs until 19 February 2019 and is enormous; I strongly recommend walking through all rooms to decide where you start and what to look at in more detail. The show includes books, manuscripts, and a map with the British Isles squashed into a bottom corner of the known world, as well as swords, horns, bowls, brooches, and a huge cross with a Christian inscription in runes!

If you, too, were impressed by the exhibition at the British Library, you may wonder how you can pass your knowledge of Britain’s roots and your enthusiasm for the sheer beauty emerging from the ‘Dark Ages’ on to your pupils or children.

The British Library has created an overview on a dedicated webpage  featuring images of manuscripts in highest quality. It also organises workshops with schoolchildren  as well as training sessions for teachers and PGCE students.

The nearby British Museum displays its Anglo-Saxon treasures in the gallery spanning the long misty and indeed rather dark time between the end of the Roman Empire and the height of the Middle Ages (Room 41), right next to the gallery on Roman Britain (Room 49).

The permanent galleries of the British Museum are free of charge, of course, and that is where you find the treasures of Sutton Hoo and Staffordshire — literally, sparkling hoards dug out of the earth. The British Museum, too, offers plenty of online guides for teachers who plan a visit to the Anglo-Saxon galleries with their pupils, including slides to download.

Very simple cottages on meadow at edge of forest, in wood and thatch, some triangular.

The Newsam Library at the UCL Institute of Education can supply you with many materials for your quest and that of children in your care. Our Curriculum Resources Collection include much more than textbooks: a large collection of non-fiction and fiction for young people. For adults, too: I promise you you will not be able to stop reading!

A number of our books about Anglo-Saxon times are described on the Beowulf page of our LibGuides. You can find more on the UCL Explore catalogue by searching for Anglo-Saxon* and filtering the results to ‘Curriculum Resources’ on the left-hand menu.

You may want to grab Margret Sharman’s Anglo-Saxons for an overview in twelve double pages. The language is so easy that a child can follow as soon as he or she can read, and an adult can hoover the knowledge up in a glance.

You can look at everyday life in Anglo-Saxon times, at buildings and settlements, at religion, literature, arts and crafts – we have books or chapters on all these fields. Perhaps you could tie the ancient nations in with your area of the curriculum or with your children’s interests.

Some books show how treasures were found and investigated or how history is explored in other ways. Some consist of humorous facts and anecdotes, while Beowulf  has inspired  novels and graphic novels, plays and films, some of which we hold.

If you wonder where all the other nations of the past come in, we have books about that, too: Celts, Romans, Vikings, Normans, not to forget the Scots. Two very appealing examples are Anglo-Saxons and Vikings from the Usborne history of Britain, and The Saxons and Vikings from Hamlyn’s History of Britain, both full of beautiful photographs and artistic impressions.

Bright illustration of St Luke, sitting on an armchair with a book, with many other scenes around him.If you need some background reading yourself, we can offer you the massive volume by James Campbell and one of those Very short introductions of Oxford University Press, by John Blair. For background knowledge of the arts, see Anglo-Saxon literature by Hugh Magennis, Anglo-Saxon art by Leslie Webster, and Anglo-Saxon crafts by Kevin Leahy.

Of course, UCL has more books on Anglo-Saxons in other libraries, for example at the Institute of Archaeology, and plenty of online resources, with full text available on site for visitors, and anywhere in the world for current staff and students.

I hope to see you wandering around with open mouths and eyes at the British Library and the British Museum… or crouching between the shelves at the Newsam Library!

Illustrations: Anglo-Saxon disc brooches, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Author: BabelStone [CC BY-SA 3.0]. — West Stow Anglo-Saxon village. Author: Midnightblueowl [CC BY 3.0]. — Augustine’s Gospel, 6th century AD, as seen at the British Library. Unknown author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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“Liberty, Fraternity, Labour” : histories of adult education in Germany

What we take for granted today had to be gained in tiny steps, had to be fought for in endless campaigns: learning to read; having something to read; learning to write; being free to write what you think; learning to think critically to start with. Striving for a better social position than the one you were born in; expanding the struggle to those less fortunate than you without patronising them; going beyond elementary schooling or bettering yourself through continuing education.

Ticket with man in blue shirt and red hat and neckerchief; motto: Freiheit, Brüderlichkeit, Arbeit.“Liberty, Fraternity, Labour”. Entrance ticket of the Cologne Workers’ Association (1848), founded for the ‘enlightenment and education’ of the working class. — Photograph: By Unknown author (Unknown source) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Some books are worth their weight in gold. Some annexes which scholars have poured years of sweat and sighs into deserve to be enlarged and put up as a frieze in classrooms. The beginnings of adult education in Germany in 250 pages with 100 pages of annotations may not be everyone’s idea of a good-night story, but the book offers a fascinating insight into social and political life two hundred years ago. In Germany, the struggle for equality, liberty, and democracy was inextricably linked with the struggle for national unity and identity.

In 1959, Frolinde Balser followed up the manifold roots of adult education: from patriotic fraternities to early communist and socialist movements, from Sunday schools to philanthropic efforts, from mechanics’ institutions to literary circles, and of course to public libraries – don’t take libraries for granted! In a table to fold out, she pulled her research together, with the milestones of adult education matched up to the first public libraries and essential publications, such as encyclopaedia and handbooks.

Encyclopaedia in large volumes, in black leather with golden lettering and ornamentation.The Newsam Library at the UCL Institute of Education is one of only five libraries in the UK to hold this study by Balser: Die Anfänge der Erwachsenenbildung in Deutschland in der ersten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts : eine kultursoziologische Deutung. Even with a limited knowledge of German, the work might be of great value to you, thanks to the author’s abstracts of her chapters and that final overview of institutions and events.

The Brockhaus, the German-language equivalent of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. 14th ed., 1896. — Photograph: –jha- [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL 1.2], from Wikimedia Commons.

The entire 19th and 20th century of adult education in Germany are covered by Olbrich’s and Siebert’s study of 2001, also new to our collection and otherwise available only at Cambridge University and the British Library. Josef Olbrich picks apart the agendas of colleges for adults: Catholic, Communist, Jewish, Fascist… The reconstruction and ‘re-education’ after the wars are followed by the contrasting histories of the two states on German territory, the reunification and slow adaptation, internationalisation and globalisation.

Digital technology, however, is barely on the horizon – this is how much the world has changed in less than a generation! I vividly remember trying, together with a colleague at an adult education centre, to operate a video recorder less than 25 years ago. We watched the tape being sucked into the machine and were not sure how we could get it out again!

Baroque building of subdued elegance on square.


Headquarters of the city adult education college (Volkshochschule) at the Chancellor’s Palace in Fulda, Germany. — Photograph: By Mattes [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons.


Horst Siebert, who contributed the chapter on the GDR, also compared the education systems of the Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic in a compact paperback. Half of Bildungspraxis in Deutschland (1970) is devoted to school and university and the other half to adult and continuing education. Perhaps social science researchers need to give more space to the latter?

Also hitting the library shelves is a festschrift for Ulrich Teichler of 2008, a collection of studies on higher education and indeed on the field of higher education studies. Some of the papers are in English, and so, of course, are many of Teichler’s own publications. Just have a look at the UCL-wide catalogue Explore or the nationwide catalogue Copac to find more English-language texts.

Rosa Luxemburg’s statement that “rapid mass production is not fit for a solid intellectual product” caught my eye. How does it fit in with current tendencies to teach to the test, force everyone through degrees, offer ‘massive’ online courses… and just stuff ourselves with masses of information? Besides school and college education, adult education must be taken seriously; it deserves resources and reflection. These works in the Newsam Library give us plenty of historical detail and plenty of theoretical background.

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Focus on DERA (Digital Education Resource Archive): literacy and reading

The IOE Library has always collected documents published by government and other relevant bodies in the areas of education, training, children, and families. Today, the Official Publications Collection here at the Library is the largest of our special collections and is highly valued by our users.

In some ways official publications are no different to other areas of publishing and we have witnessed a rapid transition towards a “digital by default” approach You may already have read our recent blog about DERA – our online repository founded on the traditions of our printed Official Publications Collection, dedicated to preserving the digital output of government in relation to education and we highlighted content discussing the subject of School Meals. This month, we are highlighting resources in DERA focussed on Literacy and Reading.

The ability to read fluently and with comprehension is an important skill. Teaching methods may have changed over the years but the desired end result – fluent readers – has not. What sometimes has been forgotten about is the fact that reading for pleasure as well as for educational purposes is also important. A love of reading and books encourages children to read outside of material they ‘have to read’ for school. The plethora of Book Clubs that are organised by everyone from celebrities, to local libraries to groups of like-minded friends are an indication of the perennial popularity of ‘Reading for Pleasure’. Advice can be found on websites such as the BBC’s .

Educators are interested in the ability of children to read for purpose but also do recognise the importance of ‘reading for pleasure’ as evidenced by the fact that a journal, Literacy (The United Kingdom Literacy Association), devoted a recent issue (Vol..52, Issue 2,May 2018) to the subject of Reading for pleasure: reader engagement. It was therefore interesting whilst researching ‘Reading’ in DERA to discover the 2004 Ofsted Report Reading for purpose and pleasure. An evaluation of the teaching of reading in primary schools. The main purpose behind this report was to identify “good practice in reducing under achievement”.  Methods of developing positive attitudes to reading and identification of the key features of the successful teaching of reading were highlighted so that they could be passed on to other schools.

Previously, research by Ofsted into and The teaching of reading in 45 inner-London primary schools (1996) led to Ofsted concluding that the wide variation in the quality of teaching of reading was a major problem. It noted that there was a need for ‘urgent action’ to improve the knowledge and skills of the existing teaching force which would require ‘systematic in-service training of primary teachers in the teaching of reading with a clear emphasis on phonics’.

The government set up a Literacy Task Force which was charged with developing a strategy to “substantially” raise standards of literacy in primary schools over a five to ten year period. The Literacy Task Force’s report of 1997 (A reading revolution: how we can teach every child to read well) established the foundations for the implementation and development of the National Literacy Strategy (NLS). Ofsted has regularly inspected and reported on the NLS since 1998 especially with reference to the teaching of phonics and support for early literacy.

Reading for purpose and pleasure found that in effective schools there was strong leadership and management from headteachers who were knowledgeable about how to teach reading and ensured that there was whole-school commitment to teaching all pupils to read. Schools with high standards had strategies in place to identify and help pupils with problems. This early intervention meant that pupils did not fall behind their peers which could lead to damaging low self-esteem. They were also good at teaching phonic knowledge and skills to pupils to give them a good foundation on which to build their reading skills. Whilst most pupils were positive about reading, those who lacked competence and were not making progress often developed negative attitudes towards reading. A point raised that was of particular interest to me was the fact that there was not much effort being made to engage the interest of those competent readers who did not actually read for pleasure:

“Schools seldom built on pupils’ own reading interests and the range of reading material they read outside of school.” (p 4)

I was also very interested to learn that whilst many schools had well organised libraries and encouraged pupils to borrow from them, they gave little time to teaching them the skills necessary to use the library to research information for themselves. However recent developments indicate that the situation, at least in Scotland, regarding school libraries is changing for the better. Emma Seith writing in the TES in September 2018 (Use inspectors to improve school libraries) discusses a report on School Libraries in Scotland. In the foreword, Scotland’s Education secretary, John Swinney, states that

“School libraries have a vital part to play, throughout the learner journey from 3-18. They support literacy, numeracy, and health and wellbeing, improving attainment across the curriculum.”

Earlier this year, Justine Greening, the then Secretary of State for Education, had unveiled the Government’s new drive to improve child literacy in the UK, part of Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential. A plan for improving social mobility through education (2017). Meanwhile, Ofsted has continued to be strongly involved in the teaching of reading in the early years as evidenced by the speech given in June by the Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, to the 2018 Pre-school Learning Alliance where she describes reading as the “linchpin of a good education”

Yet it is clear that there is still work to be done on developing policies that not only develop the skills required to read, but also to encourage a genuine and deeply held love of reading in children. A recent article in the Guardian by Andrew McCallum encourages parents not to worry if their child is rereading a favourite book yet again, as that’s where the delicate balance between teachers feeling pressure to show demonstrable progress and children finding and returning to a text they love can be damaged.


The documents held in DERA clearly demonstrate the difficulties of designing policies that measure progress in reading which also manage to foster a culture of reading for pleasure at the same time. As Andrew McCallum suggests, literacy is not simply “a linear process to be tracked and measured’. What is clear is that teachers, parents and of course children themselves have important roles to play in ensuring that reading as seen as a pleasurable, enjoyable, and rewarding experience.

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Getting Started: 1, 2, 3

We’d like to welcome all new and returning students to the IOE Library.  We have wonderful collections, a vast range of online resources and knowledgeable staff whom you can get acquainted with in three ways below.

#1. IOE LibGuides. The dependable IOE LibGuides continue to provide essential and current information about collections, services, archives and how to advice.  The companion to LibGuides, IOE LibAnswers, is a database of previously asked questions which offers an enquiry service via email, phone, text and Twitter.  Both LibGuides and LibAnswers provide a great deal of the information used in library sessions so if you’re new to UCL, review the guides and check out the Getting Started LibGuide  which covers the basics for getting started in library and IT.

#2. Explore.  UCL Explore  is UCL Library Services’ single search tool for finding journals, books, full-text articles, archive material, etc. You can find much more advice and a video about searching the upgraded Explore on LibGuides.  You may also be interested in booking a Wednesday workshop on getting the most out Explore here.

#3. IOE Library.  We would urge you come in and have look around the library which houses a number of library collections as well as pc labs and study spaces. You will soon find a new IOE Map in the library to help you get orientated to the collections and zones. More information about social, collaborative and quiet zones can be found on the Finding LibGuide here.

We hope this gets you started, but keep in mind that there is a lot more that IOE and other UCL libraries can offer.  UCL-wide pages, LibrarySkills @ UCL, for getting started and training can be found here.

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