Happy Holidays!

As the christmas countdown approaches, the Twig team would like to wish you a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year filled with joy, peace and lots of chocolate!

 

We hope you’re as excited about Christmas as we are and looking forward to a well deserved break.

 

What a year 2016 has been! There have been some big achievements in the world of education and science: Tim Peake was appointed STEM ambassador and LIGO might have discovered a whole new planet!

 

We’ve had our own achievements here at Twig World too:

  • We were named among the top 20 Edtech in Europe (wohoo!)
  • We won the the BETT Asia Award (Hooray!) and are shortlisted for BETT 2017 (fingers crossed).

 

2016 has also been a year of collaboration. We collaborated with Imperial college to bring you Reach Out Reporter, and partnered with Google for Education on Google Expeditions.

 

We’d like to thank all of our Twig and Tigtag users for your support and feedback that inspire us all here at Twig World to keep making science education inspiring for the next generation.

 

We have some great things waiting to be unveiled in 2017 but until then relax and enjoy this festive film we’ve put together especially for you.

Cheers!

 

– The Twig World Team

“The human mind is our fundamental resource”

It was John F. Kennedy who famously said ‘Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.’ The latest PISA scores were released yesterday and more than anything they draw attention to Kennedy’s words.

 

The USA ranked 19th in Science and 31st in Mathematics. The latest PISA scores also highlighted the same issues as the ones highlighted in 2012:

  • A potential source of inequality in learning opportunities and outcomes lies in the distribution of resources across students and schools.
  • About 20% of students in the United States scored below Level 2 in science literacy. This means that one in five 15-year-olds are below the baseline of proficiency at which students begin to demonstrate the skills that will enable them to participate effectively and productively in life.
  • The percentage of variation in science performance explained by students’ socioeconomic status has improved. However, the United States is stagnated in overall performance in all subjects, and there are still many students (20%) that perform below Level 2 in science.

 

So what is the take-home lesson from the latest PISA score?

Teachers have the largest in-school effects on student achievement (Hattie, 2003). Yet recent studies paint a grim picture of teacher satisfaction. New figures published by the UNESCO Institute of Statistics show a total of 68.8 million teachers will be needed worldwide by 2030 if we are to meet the goal of universal primary and secondary education. And this is where Kennedy’s words resonate.

 

Is it all Doom and Gloom then?

Not necessarily but there is a rising need to address teacher needs and satisfaction. One only has to look at the PISA scores to see what the competition is doing differently to be on top the game.

So what do the high-performing nations do differently?

They invest in early childhood education. They fully fund all of their schools. They make the teaching profession attractive and they support their teachers.

It is not just the amount of resources that matter for quality education, but how those resources are distributed. Heavy workloads means that all teachers – not just teachers in privileged schools – get access to quality professional learning opportunities and feel supported.

Whether it is the need for emphasis on STEM education, implement early childhood education, focus on equity in education the answer to solving all issues boils down to good teaching which from happy teachers.

What the PISA scores have taught us

The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) released the scores from Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for 2015 today reflecting England’s rise from 21st to 15th position in science. When we focus upon the top 10 per cent of pupils in science, the UK is amongst the world’s leading countries. England has some of the best young scientists anywhere in the world, and pupils think science is important for their future too. And while this is cause to celebrate, spirits are dampened slightly when one sees the OECD’s further findings which show the rest of the country trying to climb the ranks. There have been significant falls in the science performance of the most able pupils in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales since 2006. In each of these countries, the fall since 2006 has been around 30 PISA test points (one year of schooling) and sometimes more.

 

So what are we doing wrong?

A 2015 survey shows that more than half of all teachers are considering leaving the profession in the next two years due to workload and low morale. According to OECD education chief, Andreas Schleicher, spending per student only accounts for 20 percent of why a country performs well. He further highlighted concerns about the impact of teacher shortages warning that head teachers saw a teacher shortage as “a major bottleneck” to raising standards.

To make a real difference a country must invest in its teachers. Teachers, after all, go beyond their roles as educators; they influence ideas and life choices, moulding whole generations of thinkers and leaders. Yet each year sees structural policies within education while teachers go neglected.

 

So what have the PISA results really taught us?

Teachers should be on top of the list. High-performing countries like Singapore and China recognise this need, investing heavily in closer engagement of teachers in developing and sharing professional knowledge. Most years PISA score results spin out into criticism towards teachers. Yet most teachers treat their jobs as vocations, investing heavily into their students and delivering the best quality of education possible.

 

Digital technology can provide an answer, with studies pointing to teachers who use ICT to deliver lessons in the classroom work less those who don’t. Technology, however, is just one resource that can supplement a teacher not substitute one. Ultimately the latest PISA scores highlight the need to value to the most important asset education has – teachers.

 

One resource primary school teachers can draw from is Reach Out CPD. The 30 courses cover a range of science topics – everything from teaching plants to planets, with practical resources (such as short films, activities and experiments) that can be used directly in class. This resource – free in the UK – seeks to boost confidence amongst teachers, enabling them to teach with confidence whilst only committing to the time available to them.

 

Perhaps 2016 will see a wider allocation of training, and resources to make workloads manageable and let teachers do what they do best – inspire young minds.

Reach Out Reporter goes LIVE!

It was a busy week for the Twig World team last week as we pressed “go live” on our latest offering in partnership with Imperial College London, Reach Out Reporter.

 

Reach Out Reporter is an online primary science news service which helps teachers integrate topical science into everyday teaching and learning. Reach Out Reporter engages primary school children with the wonders of the world around them using high-quality films and other learning resources. The service is updated weekly with new content and is available free of charge to all primary school teachers across the UK.

 

So far, we’ve looked at space junkanimal mummiesdino craters and much more!

 

On the latest news update :

  • Record temperatures in the Arctic
  • Lightning mapping satellite launch
  • A tool making cockatoo

 

You can follow the stories on Facebook or Twitter, or sign up for the weekly newsletter and get the latest news, straight to your inbox!

 

Find out more about Reach Out Reporter.