In this episode, I give a summary of the excellent Children’s School Lives report (number 6!) which is focused on the curriculum and assessment. The document provides a comprehensive analysis of children’s experiences in Irish primary schools. It focuses on how children engage with and perceive their school curriculum and assessment processes. The report details children’s subject preferences, their learning experiences across different subjects, and teachers’ experiences in teaching these subjects. It also covers the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on curriculum and assessment practices, and includes insights from principals, teachers, and parents on these topics.
Of particular interest to me are the subjects of Irish, Drama and Religion. What roles do they fulfil now?
Show notes available: https://simonmlewis.medium.com/childrens-school-lives-report-6-10633d73fdc5 or https://www.anseo.net
Hello, you're welcome to If I Were the Minister for Education from anseo.n et. Live poetry reading. The Children's School Lives Report number six. Of all the studies that are made about primary school education, for me, the Children's School Lives Report is the best. of the best. Led by Jennifer Simmons and her team, they explore different areas of the primary school lives of children in Ireland. My school has taken part in it over the last few years and as have many other schools and while it's a good bit of work, the results speak for themselves. It's so interesting. This is report number six and it delves into the meat and bones of what we do in primary schools, namely. curriculum and assessment. I'm going to delve through this report as a live poetry reading and see what you think for yourselves. Hello, hello. You are very welcome to If I Were the Minister for Education from onshaw. net. This is Simon Lewis. I would do if I were the minister for education is a regular podcast where I explore an area of the Irish primary education system and say what I would do if I were the minister for education. You can subscribe to this podcast on any of your favorite podcasting platforms and all the show notes are available on Simon M Lewis. medium. com or you can go to anseo. net directly for further thoughts and opinion. This is a live poetry reading. I call them this because what I do is I look through a document or a report that's been written by a particular agency, in this case the Children's School Lives and I summarize all of the. very long pages into a short amount of time. I'll see how quickly I get through this one because there's about 80 pages of fantastic information. This is probably one of the hardest documents that I summarized because it's There's very little fluff. In fact, there's no fluff, unlike some of the Department of Education's circulars. This is all good stuff. As I said, this report is about the meat and bones of what we do. It's the sixth in the series of Children's School Lives reports, and they've always been very, very interesting. And this one in particular, for me is of interest. So I've had a look at the summary and some of the findings. And when it comes to the curriculum, I was kind of I suppose I'm going to be looking out for the things that teachers and children and, and even parents find important and not important, what subjects we hold a lot of value to, and is it bad news for some other subject, for some of those subjects as you know, on this podcast, I often talk about what subject or subjects are important. of I suppose extinction or at least under threat. And if they should or shouldn't be we've talked about should drama be a separate subject in the curriculum in this podcast in the past. And we've always obviously talked about religion as a, as a subject and should. We also look at the Irish language and how much emphasis we put in that. Obviously, I'm not saying it shouldn't be taught, but again, what are the thoughts on it? So I'm kind of hoping as I read through this where do those three subjects in particular land? I also think we possibly teach a lot of literacy and a lot of numeracy, probably more than we should. So again, I'm looking forward to seeing what the findings are there. And obviously. Every other subject in between. I know there's a lot of if you listen to the media, one of the things they focus on is P. E., so I wonder what the place is there. So look, there's only wondering before I actually get into the to the actual document. I have it open here in front of me. And for those of you who've listened to this podcast, any of my live poetry readings you'll have to forgive my lack of eloquence as I'm reading it really, I suppose, for the first time. And I probably may skim over things that are important because, as I said, there are over, I think it's, well, I'm just having a look here at the index. Yeah, there are over 70 pages. In the document, and obviously I want to read this as quickly as possible and get it done in well under an hour if I can. So I am going to skip over the introductions generally introductions happen to, you know, tend to be written by you know, some I suppose person high up in this case Arlene Foster is the person who's doing the introduction, who'll probably say nice things. I can't imagine in an introduction to a document she'd say anything horrible about it. But I wouldn't say there's anything particularly useful. Moving on already we're going to look at the key findings. I suppose what I like about the CSL document is they summarize may a lot of basically the whole document in a few pages and it may give us a bit of a taster of what's to come. So the key findings really, I suppose, let's get into them, are that most children starting primary school enjoy reading and writing as well as maths and their interest in those subjects remain as they progress into second class. By fourth class almost all children are interested in P. E. and art and less than half are interested in Irish. That is the first piece of bad news for the Irish language. Reading and writing as well as history, geography and science are also interesting subjects for most of the children. Children's interest in subjects is reflected in their attitudes and engagement towards them. So P. E., history, geography and science are subjects that are interested in and feel happy when learning. Maths is the subject children feel most confused and bored with when learning. That's interesting. However, it's a subject commonly chosen as their favorite. as well. So the bit of confusion there I'd like to, I'd probably delve into that a little bit. Children also reported feeling bored when learning reading and writing, but unlike maths, they were not necessarily confused. That's kind of interesting. And I think and I do know this is divided into different age groups so we will look at why that might be. There's loads of gosh, I, I'm just looking here that they've a lot of these summaries. So there's going to be a bit. Big a big lot of stuff here. Let me see. Yeah, their experience of different subjects are strongly connected to their perceptions of their accomplishment. That's interesting. But their enjoyment seems to decline as they progress through primary school, partially what they perceive as repetitive and overloaded subjects. That's interesting. Children's enjoyment of subjects connected to child centered pedagogies. Good I'm just having a look here. There is an alignment between the subjects children felt were important in their everyday lives and those that, where teachers spent most of the recommended, more of the recommended time. That's kind of interesting. Whereas most teachers enjoyed teaching English, Maths and S E S E, the least enjoyed subjects by teachers were religious education. Drama, interesting. PE, also interesting. And music, also interesting. I don't think surprisingly, though, either. That's kind of interesting. We'll get into that. It also talks about SESE. Let me see. SESE indicated a high willingness among teachers in their schools to teach to the curriculum. But there's some Uncertainty around this understanding of and success in implementing curricular goals. I don't quite know what that means. I'll be interested in finding that. Principals who are in full time admin roles spend less time on curriculum related tasks than those who are in teaching principal roles. So that makes a lot of sense because teaching principals have to teach for for all of the day. Admin principals don't. I mean, maybe that wasn't the point. I'm going to skip over the assessment things because there's, there's a lot there in the summary, but I don't, I, I, I'm less interested in assessment than I am with the curriculum. But because, and I will come back to it later. Talking about, then, out of school learning, so during so they talk about homework. Homework is something that really interests me. I would argue that homework is something that we need to, refocus on and look at. I've spoken about homework before on the podcast. Looking here, they said it's not generally well regarded by children. However, parents view it as an indicator of how children were progressing in school which is kind of interesting. Parents of younger children express strong preferences for homework as important. That has waned a little bit as they get older. That's interesting and I wonder why. I might explore that a little later. I suppose I'll have to read a little bit more. Irish and maths were subjects identified as representing a challenge for parents when supporting their children doing their homework. That's kind of interesting too and, and not surprising. Strongly connected to parents views on assessment. Positive relations between families and school communities are regarded as a key element to support children's engagement with homework. Okay, I'm not quite sure what that means, but we'll find out about that. Then they go into COVID 19 and the effect of that. I might go into that. I'll see how time goes later on. I'm, I'm, I think we may have fatigue from COVID 19, but I suppose there are, I suppose we'll touch on it. I think we'll see how much time we have, because as I said, we're already nearly 10 minutes into this podcast and we haven't even started. I'm going to skip by all who they surveyed. You can take it. If you're interested, I'll put the document in the show notes. But it just basically says which schools, how many schools they went, what types of schools they went into, and that kind of thing. It also goes into the day in the life of children who drew pictures and talked about their experience of school. You'll know, I, I, I was struck by the amount of books that were in the pictures. Which is, which is kind of interesting in itself. And I suppose a bit disappointing. So children talked about what they learned. The Good thing is that most senior infances says they, they love learning reading and writing and they love maths and they're interested in them, which is always good. You won't be surprised to hear their favorite subject is P. E. and art from that cohort of second class. They also love SESE. But their least favorite subject, and very interestingly, they really, really dislike Irish. Which is, which is odd. And maths comes second in terms of what they dislike. But maths, there's a big gap between the likes and not likes when it comes to Irish. Irish is really, seems to be hated. And I think we need to maybe look at that in a bit more detail. And I, I just want to keep reading before I do that. Irish comes top of being not interested in by a long shot as well as the children get older. Drama actually comes second, which is really interesting. They don't like drama in fourth class. That's really interesting too. The favourite subject is P. E. and art as well. Again, not surprising when you ask children what their favourite subjects are. P. E. and art, I, I think are always top of the list. wHen you come to fifth class again, it looks like they're bored by Irish, um, they're confused by Irish, and again, very, very low down in interested, you know, they're interested in P. E., they're happy in P. E., they're interested in art, they're interested in you know, they're happy in art and It's kind of interesting, you know, the boredom factor is very high in Irish and maths. So, yeah, I don't know. I don't know what that says, but it's kind of like it's definitely worth looking into a little bit more, and I think I will do that. I'm going to skip through the quotes. There's loads of quotes from children there and very interesting kind of stuff there. Who are we moving on to next? Children's experience of learning different subjects. How useful these things are in their life. And P. E. is top of that list. Maths is second. Despite finding it challenging and not liking it, they do find it very, very important. But you scroll all the way down to the bottom, they do not find Irish extremely important. And that's, that's kind of interesting in itself. Anyway, the percentages but, you know, but they find music more important than they do Irish. They find art more important than they find Irish. They find SESC much more important than they find Irish. English, Maths and, as I said, PE. Really interesting children's perceptions at a very young age to have that attitude to Irish. You wonder where that comes from. You know and, and Again, I'm not making any comment on this. You know, we talk about we need to hear children's voices more often. We need to hear what they have to say. But when you look at the results there, Irish and PE are the most important subjects. Irish is the least important. What conclusions do we draw from this? Are children trustworthy sources of information? Is a, is a, is a question. I think they are by the way, just for the record. We have to take, obviously, I feel we have to take into account what children say. But is there some skewing there? Those who would be a big Gaeilgeoirí out there may look at that, these results and go, Ugh, sure children don't know what they're talking about. But I don't know. I don't know. It's interesting. It's, it's very interesting, I just think, to ask those questions. Let's move on to the teachers experience of what they teach. And what they teach more than recommended from the curriculum or less than what they what's recommended. And I, I wasn't surprised to see that English in English and literacy generally is taught way more than is recommended. We do, I think, Our results in PISA are reflected by this. I think we actually over teach literacy in our schools from what I can see. And I think that's why we do so well in it. I also see that maths is second in that regard for what we over teach. And I'm not surprised by that either. What I see interesting there is PE is actually taught exactly as recommended. I think teachers are scared now not to teach because there's so much emphasis on PE from parents. If you listen to any, I always think that radio stations are the voice of parents because the people who are researchers and people who present on it, when they talk about school, they always talk about it from a parent point of view. They're not very interested in things, academics And, and if you ever, if you talk, if you looked into the, I suppose, how much do radio, radio presenters talk about school and what do they talk about most? It's the amount of time you spend on P. E. And I think as a result of that, we actually even though I would argue, and I think teachers would generally argue that more P. E. is, while it might be fine and everything else, there's a lot of responsibility that needs to be put on parents and home life and outside of school time for, for increasing the amount of physical exercise that children do. So I think schools in a way, and I wasn't surprised to see that, you know, of all the results there when it comes to P. E. Teachers do that. Exactly as recommended, not because they might see it as important, not because they think they should do more or less of it, but I think it's because of the media focus on it. It's very interesting as well that they spend less time on discretionary time for those of you who are interested in that. They spend exactly, in, in, in almost every subject there, SPHE, SCSE and the arts, they spend, most of them spend exactly as recommended. But this is the big one for me anyway, religion, 67 percent of them. Teach less than recommended. Now, I'm not surprised to read that. If I was the patron of a school, I would be looking at that as very worrying. If I'm trying to uphold an ethos. 0 percent teach it more than recommended, which I think is really, which is interesting. I also think it's not true particularly in second class. I think it is taught more than recommended in second class. But you know, I'm not I, I think some people forget that when they're teaching sacramental preparation, they are teaching religious instruction or religious education. I think some of them say, oh, we're integrating that into our art and our PE and our science and our old or whatever. I wouldn't say science. But certainly drama and the arts, that kind of stuff but it is religious education. So, I'm not quite sure if that 0 percent is accurate, because, you know, look, a lot of these things are self reporting. But I was interested, you know I'm probably most interested in that they teach religious education. Two thirds of teachers teach religion less than recommended. And I, I, I don't know, I mean, that to me says quite a lot, that even if you do go to a Catholic school, there seems to be this Unwritten agreement that nobody's taking it really that seriously. You know, actually when I'm talking about this on online on Twitter or X I often find that teachers in Catholic schools sort of argue against me and say, but the reality is Simon, the reality is Simon, we don't really teach that much religion. Which is of no which is of no benefit to me, who, who isn't able to teach in these faith based schools, as they like to be called now, I don't like that term either, these denominational schools, because they can, even though the teachers within them aren't taking it very seriously, in order to get a job there, they have to pretend they take it seriously, and then it's all a bit of a game, and I don't think we need, I don't think we should have an education system based on that. A game where people pretend to be religious to get a job and then effectively ignore, you know, once they're in, they, they don't take it seriously at all. It's, you know, we're, you know, the consequences of that and the impact of that is that we don't, we have a lot of teachers that can't get into the system and don't get into the system because They can't pretend to be religious. And it's no, it's, it's no consolation to me when I hear these teachers and Catholics saying, well, you know, we don't really take it seriously. I'm not sure if we even teach it once a week. We're lucky. It's interesting. And there it is in in a, in a proper research study to say. Yep, that is factual. Let's move on. Spending so in, in older classes it's kind of interesting as well. And we're talking about, yeah, so actually, do you know what? I, I was wrong there when I said 0 percent I wouldn't say is actually true because that was only junior infants. This is cohort A junior infant teachers. As they get older they do actually, there is some admission, now very little, that they spend more time on religious education. But overall they spend less than is recommended in in that, in those subjects. And maths and English are taught more than they should be as well. So, interesting. Conclusions there and in terms of planning teachers spend a lot of time planning. In the average seems to be two to three hours a week in planning. Is that right? Yeah, I'm kind of, I'm kind of surprised that it's only that. I would have thought teachers would spend more than two to three hours a week on planning. But there you go. They're admitting it there. Which is kind of interesting. It's, it's actually the most interesting thing for me there is in junior infants spend more, more than three hours a week on planning. First class very few spend more than three hours and in fifth class it goes back up a little bit. That's kind of interesting. I don't, I don't really know what to conclude from that. Just that I'm surprised That it's so low. I, I remember when I was teaching I would have spent, yeah, I would definitely have spent four hours, four or four to five hours a week on planning and, and anyway it's, it's interesting. Looking at teachers responses to enjoying particular subjects. This is really interesting. Because, well, it's interesting to me, they love teaching English. They adore teaching English, adore teaching SASE, SESE. They generally like teaching maths. I was kind of surprised because I, I remember when I used to lecture in Highburnia College, I always asked, well, the first question I asked them, I went off script quite a bit. Maybe that's why I didn't, don't work for them anymore. But the first question I always ask them is, who loves maths in here? And very few people put up their hand. But they obviously get to love it. Visual arts, they love teaching visual arts. That's interesting. Children love doing it. Teachers love doing it. That's good. They love teaching Irish in general. Irish is, is, is, is quite a high percentage. And then it kind of goes down quite a bit to music. SPHE is and PE all faltering around, you know, between 66 and 78 percent of, of enjoying a lot. And then the last. You've got drama and you'll never guess religious education. Only less than half of teachers enjoy teaching religion. And when you look at the opposite of what they don't enjoy religious education is the highest by, by a long shot. And that's up to 30%, so 29%, 30%. So three in 10 teachers do not enjoy teaching religion. Now again, you know, this is all, I suppose in some ways music to my ears because it's, I suspected it I, I, obviously I have a an agenda in my life where I, I think there, there is absolutely no role for the church in the education system. I do believe, sorry, I should also add that I, well, I, I don't, I don't think, see what they say religious education is faith formation when they're doing these kind of things. Religious education sounds like we're teaching about religions. It's not in the vast majority of schools for those of you who don't. You somehow don't know this but basically, I think an ethical education program where you teach about religions or learn from religion is, is, is much more useful, but in the case of this survey, they're, they're asking the study, they're, they're asking people who teach in denominational schools in the main, so it's not so it's kind of, it's annoying for me in some ways because I know that most teachers don't you know, most, most teachers Don't teach it as much as they should. And then it's annoying to see that a lot of them don't enjoy it. In fact less than half of them enjoy teaching religion. And yet, 90 percent of our schools insist on it happening. It's just, it's just a little bit I suppose it's a bit, it's, it's, it's kind of annoying and that's at the junior end at the senior end of things, it's, it's very similar except that funnily enough, drama is the least favorite subject of teachers in that case, but it is very, very close to religious education as well so really kind of Yeah, kind of, as I said, there's, there's very little difference. Irish teaching, interestingly, goes down in the senior classes for levels of enjoyment for teachers, which is kind of interesting, too. And again, we'd look at that. I'm looking really at, I suppose, there's a pattern emerging here, as I said in the introduction, about Irish Drama and religion as subjects that are really, you know, interesting in this study. Kind of interesting to see how P. E. isn't enjoyed as much in senior classes as well. Another subject that is of interest to me. And then literacy and numeracy. So, maths and English I suppose. Remaining high as, as interest levels and being taught more than they should be, and how that kind of translates into results let's say in things like Pisa where we, where we tend to do very, very well. And I'm, I'm, I, I'm not sure what, what the, what that's about. They do go on about after the pandemic, about the things that teachers have to focus on and emotional. It's interesting that emotional regulation in younger classes and social. And relationship skills in senior classes, which is really, really interesting. Even over literacy and numeracy in both cases they numeracy was seen as a needed prioritization over literacy. I'm coming second and third in both younger classes and older classes and the thing that people felt least Were creative arts and music and science literature the scientific literacy as most important Which is kind of interesting and then managing behavior in class, which is kind of was, was quite low as well, which might surprise people. Maybe it doesn't. I, I, I'm not quite sure. I just saw that there. The principals had their own kind of say in this, and it's kind of unusual. They, they were quite high in all their responses. I, I, I don't know if you can gain anything from it, so I'm going to kind of skip by it, because we've, we've We've a lot to cover in this to be honest with you, I've had a look I had a, I have to admit, I cheated a little bit. I did have a brief skim of this document before I looked into it and I didn't find the principal section that, that useful in terms of that. So we'll move on to assessment where, how many, where are we? We're about 25 minutes into the podcast, and as I said, we need to move on to the next bit, if we're going to get finished in an hour. Assessment. is interesting because they ask children about day, how they assess themselves and they ask them about their smartness. How smart do they think they are? Do they think they're very smart? And it's interesting to see that most children think they are smart 75 percent of them which is very good. And I'm very nice to see that because it is true. juNior infants believe they are good at their schoolwork. 76 percent of them believe that. Emphatically. In fact, if you just take on yes and then yes with an exclamation mark nearly 90 percent of them think they are good at schoolwork. It's sad to see like 3 percent of junior infants think emphatically they're not good at schoolwork, which is you know, I know it's a low percentage, but sad to see that. Even 3 percent believe that do whether the teacher thinks they're smart is fairly similar which is good. And then when they talk about assessment, it's kind of interesting. A worry seems to be a big word that comes up a lot or it's hard, which is interesting as well. I mean, this is when they're talking about assessments, tests, and things like that. And, kind of interesting that they're the biggest anxiety or if that's a word really or the biggest worry is if other people see their Scores or people see the results or the marks they get that seems to be a bit of a worry Even though they don't believe that that happens, which is kind of strange and and interesting the results for older kids, you know, are a little, it's very hard to make anything from it. It's sort of very even about whether they're, whether they're worried or not worried or sometimes worried. It's sort of even across the board, which I suppose makes sense. When you talk about parents, parents Seem to be, seem to use assessment differently in a way they seem to think they there's a couple of opinions that kind of came up really in a way. There's a lot, a lot of quotes ranging from, I think it's terrible to put children under such pressure when it comes to tests, which is kind of interesting in itself, but then also to the exact opposite, which is I find them very, very useful. And one thing that really annoyed me as a sentence in here is that dictation and spelling tests and tables tests are still ubiquitous in primary schools. I, I, it's just, I mean, I, I just don't understand why this, this happens still in primary schools. But I like, I'd like to think that, I mean, given that it was mentioned in the parent section, it's, it, there's an expectation. I think we're guilty as teachers of not. doing best practice because we're trying to appease parents who like these sort of things. And, you know, this, this kind of mad, in other words, parents even discussed that some pressure is useful to encourage children to progress. You know, it's really falls flat in the face of, of actually good practice. And Yeah, it's, it's kind of a bit strange that this scene is important. 4th, 5th and 6th class should really be drumming down the basics, which is a bit weird, as a kind of a, as a statement from a parent. Yeah, I don't know. I don't know. I think it's actually, I'm not going to read through it because I don't want to waste too much time on it. But you get to see, what I, my conclusion on it is parents are, you know, seem to be really focused either on, you know, They think it's good that we drum information into kids, even though that absolutely flies in the face of good research. Or they don't like it because they don't have time. Oh, my husband works full time and I work full time. So we find it hard to keep up with it. So therefore we shouldn't do it. That's not really good research either. You know, I mean, it is, you know, it's good research. Sorry, it's not good reason not to do these things. So. Assessment the parents assessment is kind of interesting and how bizarre the conclusions are, you know, and I actually kind of You know, and I'm not, I don't want to disregard what parents think no more than I wanted to disregard what children say at the beginning of this podcast, but parents aren't educators and they haven't a clue a lot of the time about what they think is important. They're like, you know, I mean, when you, when you see the biggest reasons. that they're giving is, oh yeah, it's important to drum information into children, even though that's not how you teach anymore. And it's a stupid thing to say. And then, you know, oh, I don't have time because I work, as reason for not giving doing assessment. That's a stupid reason as well. You know in, in much the same ways, should we, should we you know, take seriously, should we teach more P. E. in art? Because that's what children like, as, as good research. I don't know. You know, well, you know, my opinion is just because children like P in art doesn't mean that we should spend more time in it. What's more important, you know, is it more important to teach literacy and numeracy? I would suggest it probably is. There are core subjects. But no more than I think just because children hate Irish, we shouldn't teach it either. Are they good reasons? In much the same way as I'm talking about parents ideas of assessment, you know, and I, I, you know, being, being a bit daft a lot of the time and should we take it really seriously. Who are the people that actually know, know about education? I would suggest it's the educators themselves that actually do know what we're talking about. You know, we, we, you know, I think, I think there's a bit of a, there's a bit of a trend to Almost, um, not take seriously educators when it comes to education, not, you know, the people who study pedagogy to not take their views that seriously, or certainly at best, take them as seriously as people who don't have qualifications in education. And I, I don't know, maybe I'm being harsh here. And but I mean, I do think it's food. There's a bit of food for thought, even for me, you know, that when we're when we're doing these, when you know the government are doing their consultations, when researchers are doing the research and when we're talking about, you know, the views of the Children, the views of the parents and the views of the teachers, And who, who's been taken seriously here from an academic perspective? And we can see here in the research, and I'm sorry for harping on about this, but when we look at what are the most important subjects and we ask children, they'll say PE and art. Now we know, we know they're not the most important subjects. They're important. Don't get me wrong, but they aren't the most important. And when we ask them, we can see in black and white. When we ask children for their opinions, that's what they're going to come up with. As the, as, as, because they're the things they like the most. And absolutely, there's no, no doubt about it, that that's, that's important. But do we take it as academics? Do we take that as serious research? And there, you know, if we were to just Simply conclude from what children think we would be teaching PE and art all day. And you know, maybe that's not fair. We'd be certainly teaching more of us. But then when we talk about assessment, there were parents and the, and the things that they come across, come up with you know, that. Oh, you have to drum in information, you have to, you know, it just flies in the face of good practice. Anyway, you know, let's, let's, speaking of should we take teachers views and assessments seriously, let's find out what they said. They, they do assessment by the way, that's good, you're good to know. That they observe, 81 percent of them observe and provide immediate feedback. That's, most people do that. In fact, you know. Very, very few. It's kind of interesting, really hear from that by two things, really, that are interesting to me. Most teachers do regular assessment kind of let frequently. They don't let students evaluate their own progress. Only 38 percent of teachers let students evaluate their own progress. That's kind of interesting. Although, in fairness, never is only 4%. It's sometimes they let them do it. That's kind of interesting. And the other thing that's very interesting is and this is something that's probably changed since we were in school, is that only 26%, and actually I find that quite high, 26 percent of teachers assign a grade or a score on their work. Now, I, I, I mean, I, I, Don't I mean, I, I, that's kind of interesting in a way, giving us, you know, giving a grade these days, it seems very American. And I wonder if we did this test before the Instagram influencer times, would that percentage have been lower? You know, in the last, let's say 20 years ago, you know, when I, when I started teaching. You know, the idea we were always trained, you know, not to give a grade because it's kind of meaningless. In a way, it was more interesting to give, you know, proper feedback to each other rather than reducing what they did to a score. And I know in America, you know, they're, they talk about grades still. I mean, as in giving a grade to a student, an A, B or C or whatever it is. I wonder I wonder if that's why the percentage has gone to, has gone high enough. Now, it's not high, high, very high. It's 26%, but only 44 percent of teachers never give a grade or a score, which is kind of interesting, you know. I don't know, I don't know. Speaking of who should we take seriously I guess maybe that's something that's that maybe I have to eat my words a little bit there. I'm not sure. Anyway. Let's, moving on to standardised tests parents of children in my class are anxious about their children's performance in standardised tests, and 61 percent say that. Very interestingly, though, only 7 percent of teachers, which is good prepare their, well, it's not good, it should be 0%, spend a lot of their time preparing their class for standardised tests. 81 percent never spend time. That's, that's, you, you, I have to commend the 81 percent of teachers there, because you're not supposed to. Are they anxious? Actually, whether, sorry, the question here, whether teachers are anxious about their class performance on standardized tests, and whether children are anxious about their performance. So, parents are more anxious than children, children are more anxious than teachers, only slightly, there's only 1%, so it's half and half. And then, standardized tests influence my teaching for the better. Most teachers said it doesn't. It does beg the question of what's the point of standardized tests? And, in fact, when you ask them whether standardized tests are a measure of good teaching, most say no. Again, you'd wonder about that 7 percent who said yes and strongly agree with that. It's bizarre. And most children in my class spend a lot of time preparing for standardized tests at home. And again, weird. Figures that it's not 0 percent as agree. And still 80 percent again. It's about the 80 percent that never strongly disagree with this. There are 20 percent of teachers out there that need to have a long look at themselves. In my view there. Feeling confident about standardized tests. Teachers seem to be absolutely fine and calm despite what they said before. And the school principal says that I am anxious during standardized test periods. Only 1%. Have said that, which is kind of interesting. Somebody said, one of the questions is, I experience heart palpitations during standardized test periods. Five percent of of younger teachers say yes, which is kind of interesting. Not younger in age, younger class size. Class age, which is a bit mad. But there you go. Not a lot of anxiety around them, which is good, I suppose. Going on to SESE. The only interesting thing is whether they take into account test results in deciding decisions around curriculum development. Mainly yes is the answer which makes sense, I suppose, in a way. And principals believe that their staff are calm during that time as well. So that's kind of interesting as well. Just more quotes. Let's move on, because to out of school learning, or homework, as it's more commonly known. Interesting to, again, to show, to hear about the children's views on homework. They generally don't like homework. They find it boring. Should we ban homework? They say yes. So this is, this is kind of interesting and to me, children don't like homework. And I don't like homework. As, as people might know they find it boring. They find it they find it isn't relevant to them. But then you ask their parents and they have exactly the opposite opinion. So, I suppose again, we have to ask the question of why do children not like homework? Why do parents like homework? And In my case, why don't I like over? So me with some academics behind me you know, I'm, I'm more in agreement with the Children, but I don't necessarily agree with the reasoning. You know, I find it very odd. You know, that Children, Children don't like it for different reasons. Parents like it for frankly bizarre reasons. You know, they, they You know, again, it's going back to my question here, and I think maybe this is becoming a theme of this study as to who do we, who do we trust in research and who do we take seriously in research and should we take You know, some views seriously or not now. I'm not saying we shouldn't. I'm just I'm just asking. I really just asking the question. Because I do think we need to ask parents and we need to ask Children the same questions as we ask teachers. But then when we're analyzing the results. What do we do as a result of that? Do we just kind of look at them as interesting? Or do we look at them as interesting and then do something based on that? So when it comes to homework here, and I suppose I suppose when I saw it I wasn't surprised, but I was disappointed that Parents, the majority of parents like homework, despite the fact that almost every study that you see out there shows that at primary level that homework does not benefit children in their learning. And this is, I suppose, where you have that tension between the actual research and then people's opinions, which are grounded in nothing apart from their opinions. And You know, again, I must say. You know, I, I have to concede a lot of the time that, you know, you know, academic research isn't always unbiased, you know, you know, I mean, we know that for a fact, like for an example, if you look at the research on single sex schools, if you look at any research defending single sex education, it will come from a biased place from, and generally the researchers are religious borders and single sex schools themselves. And if you look at Research on anything really these days, you have to look at who's written the research. So I'm not saying that academic research is infallible. buT, uh, you know, and I'm also the other thing aside of it as well. I'm also not saying that opinion isn't invalid either. You know, I think people's opinions count for a lot, you know, I mean, one of the things that I would say you know, look at, look at, looking at homework here is, okay, there must be a reason why parents find value in it. Now I may not agree with their conclusions, but if they find value in it, what is the value that they find? And this is where this study actually gets into the meat and bones of it. It seems to be one of the only ways that parents know what's going on with their children's learning so that they can support it. And when I talk about homework, and I've talked about homework in this podcast before, I've debunked pretty much every myth about how beneficial homework is. But the one thing I wasn't able to do was that fact. You know, the fact that parents see homework as beneficial because it is the only way that they know what their children are doing in school. And I think that I couldn't find an argument against that in a way. And my conclusion really was, well, if that's the reason that parents like homework, well, then maybe we should, maybe we should tackle that by giving parents. What they want, which is knowing what their children are covering in class. They're not necessarily giving homework, but they might be but they might actually be giving We need to be giving them the information about what the children are covering So what I would be suggesting instead of homework would be that every week a teacher would summarize what they're learning in school that week And if you want for your to support your child in that here are some ideas rather than giving Homework, like lists of nonsense for, for, for homework. So it's kind of, kind of interesting, I suppose, when it comes to that. I'm kind of, I want to move on then to teachers. And this is really interesting. It was about the amount of time they expect per week for children to focus on homework. And it was really interesting to see that it's low enough. You know, most Junior classes spend no more than two hours a week on homework. 97 percent no more than two hours a week. So roughly, what is it, less than half an hour a day. Now, you know, and I could see actually 12%, only up to 10 minutes a week is, is there. And the vast, you know, the majority, more than half, up to an hour a week. So 20, what is it, about 10 minutes a day, 10 to 15 minutes a day. So that's, you know, not, not so much. But then you go into the senior classes. And you're looking at it. It's still not up to two hours a week. So we're looking at, I'm just adding up the sums here, 66, 60, 70 percent up to two hours a week, and then 30 percent of over two hours a week. You know, I, I dunno, time to me. Isn't that important? Really, I don't know why we measure homework in time. I, I'd be more inclined to to, to measure homework and meaningfulness. You know how much time doesn't correlate with success. And though you, you know, again, I can see where that comes from particularly when I was in secondary school, how many hours do you study a week? Or how a day for your leaving sort of whatever it is seems to be, seemed to be the biggest question. If I remember correctly being, being asked rather than. What did you actually study which is frankly odd, I don't know, very, very odd. Anyway, moving on to extracurricular activities which is of less interest to me, I suppose, from an academic point of view but more for, for children, when I was looking at the pictures, I was kind of nice. I don't know how biased the, the pictures I chose, but interesting to see that the majority of them were active rather than being on a tablet or on a computer, although that featured. Then it goes on then to COVID 19. And I said if I had time I'd cover it and I'm coming up to 45 minutes. I think I have a little bit of it there. I thought how the curriculum has changed was interesting since COVID 19. So the curriculum hasn't changed, but the amount of time we spend on subjects, what has changed there. And again, and it won't be any surprise to people, English and maths. Ha. We're now spending much more time than Prelock time on English and maths. We're actually spending more time on SPHE, which is really, really interesting. And I'm not surprised to see that the amount of anxiety that has, has risen in children. So we have to tackle that through wellbeing programs, which are now part of SPHE, which is kind of interesting. But what's the subject that has said that is, and, and by far I mean way, way, way, way, way far that we're spending the less time on, yeah, you've guessed it. It's religion. Religion, religion, religion. 58 percent of teachers spending even less time on religion than they did pre lockdown. And this will be bad news, of course, for people who are patrons of schools, who insist that Catholicism and Protestantism and Islam and Judaism are central. schools and we can clearly see at this point the pattern emerging is that teachers don't agree with that and they are spending very little time on their religious programs. I, I, in fact, in fairness though, I don't expect that everybody in this study was working in a religious school, but because it's religious education, I, I imagine that Probably translates to ethical education. That's how I certainly translated it when I was doing the, the thing. And again, I think the, the same could be said. But because it's religion that they're talking about in the vast majority of schools are religious schools. We have to look at that fact and we can see the pattern is undeniable. I, I, I'm Irish interestingly enough in this spending less time and and more time. That wasn't really affected. By the pandemic. I would have thought maybe the Irish standards would have gone down just based on the amount of Irish that's spoken in the home, but it really wasn't something that was massively impacted by the pandemic. So that's kind of interesting in itself. In terms of assessment when it came to COVID times, I suppose There was a few bits and pieces, but one thing that jumped out at me was this, it was a small little paragraph just around digital technologies and how that created new opportunities in schools. Which I guess was one of the I suppose maybe one of the only good things about COVID-19 times is that for it was the thing that ensured that everybody. Then started using digital technologies in a good way, mostly in a good way when it came to education, I've spoken about the history of education and technology, technology and education for that matter over the last 20 years in its history and how actually Although all the tools were there for things to happen, many of them weren't being used. Things like Google Classroom, Seesaw, and all the rest were being used by a few people. But when the pandemic came along almost every school in the country embraced technology for the first time. And it's nice to see from this report that a lot of it has remained, particularly in terms of communication. And in some ways going back to that thing on homework it's, it's one of the easier ways where teachers can communicate to parents what's going on in the classroom if that's why parents are like homework, so they know what's going on in the classroom. Well, with digital communication, it's very easy now to be able to communicate what's going on in the classroom on Google Classroom, or on Seesaw, or any of those other tools to let them know what's going on. And I'll conclude one of the SESE on the study said it was an effective way to communicate regularly with families about their individual children or about what is happening in the class or school in general. So that's pretty good. And some mention of Aladdin there, Class Dojo, and other tools as well, which are very useful. So there you have it. I mean, that is essentially a very, very, very brief summary. I actually didn't, I, I thought there'd be more to it. That's why I kind of skipped over lots of it. But I hope I got the main kind of things through. Just to summarize my own thoughts in a way before I, before I stop. You know, I, I went into that study. Because it was to do with the curriculum and to do with assessment and things like that, I was interested in attitudes towards Irish, religion some of the art subjects, particularly drama, because I, I've always seen those as the, you know, kind of low hanging fruits of the curriculum. I mean, whenever we're talking about You know changing the curriculum or moving the curriculum somewhere else or making big changes, you know, the lowest hanging fruits really were drama, I suppose, and religion were the two subjects that you probably look at first at cutting, if you were going to be cutting anything from the primary language curriculum, from, sorry, from the primary curriculum so it was interesting to see that drama is indeed thought of least By teachers where they teach it very, very, they don't teach very much of it and don't take it as seriously. Religion as well. I, I was kind of, and I've, I've harped on enough about the religion aspect of this. I suppose as I've gone on, but it is very, very interesting. Irish to me was a, another interesting thing in, insofar as it was a bit different from drama and religion, you know, with drama and religion, you know, it was fairly unanimous teachers attitudes. Whereas Irish was slightly different in that teachers did like teaching it and found it important and so on, but children had the opposite view of that. I would have been interested to see what parents felt about each subject and how important they saw them. But I think you know, aside from that, the, as it was the unintended consequence of going through this study, is it really got me thinking. about who do we trust when it comes to asking questions about academia, about education, about pedagogy. You know, while it's important to get the views of parents, of children, of staff, of the general public, and so on. I guess, you know, who do we take seriously? I suppose if we were going to be asking, you know, a different job, let's say the Garda Force, you know, you could ask the Gardaí about, you know, their, the inner workings of their, of their, of their job, and then you could ask the public for their opinion of it. And I would, I would like to hope that. Public perception might form a very minor part of any changes that were made, but certainly the internal workings of the Gardaí are best suited and best I suppose, engaged with by the Gardaí themselves, who actually know their jobs, eh, day and day, in, out, and so on. I'm not sure of education. In that case, or maybe if we could talk about health, for example, if we asked the public or we asked patients and we asked the the nurses and doctors and so on about medical practices, which of those three you take more seriously, I, I think, you know, in some ways, We have to treat education in the same way. We need to take the views of the people working within the system probably a bit more seriously than those who are experiencing it and maybe haven't done any background or qualifications in it. It's just a question, I don't know. I mean, I haven't really, as I said, this is a live reading so I haven't really looked into that very much and maybe it's just nonsensical. You know, that's I suppose really that's where I, I would probably conclude and it's always good and one of the things I really love about the CSL study is how it raises questions that you didn't really think you might have do you know, and it Explores areas which need to be explored and aren't explored very often. And, you know, to be fair, you get the children's voice. So it's nice to know what children are thinking. And and, you know, I think as educators, you do listen to the children. And you do adapt your practices to make the classroom a more enjoyable place for them. Because, while you want to get the education into them, and you want to teach them things, but if they're, I'm of the opinion that if children aren't happy or if they don't feel safe, well, they aren't going to learn. So, in some ways, obviously, their opinion absolutely matters. And I think, obviously, we should keep that in mind. So, I, I dunno, I mean, I think I'd love to be, I'd love to hear your thoughts on, on the study. I mean, do have a read of it, as I said. Everything's in the show notes. Great study as always. Fantastic. Congratulations again to Jennifer Simmons and her team for such a brilliant report. And I hope you enjoyed my live poetry reading of it too. So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed that summary of the CSL study number six, the report. And as I said, if you have any comments. Or you just want to completely disagree with me. I'd be all ears. I love hearing people's opinions on what I have to say, even if we don't agree with each other. Lots of conclusions to be made from that report, especially the role of religion, Irish, drama, P. E., and art as well, if you're taking the children's. points of views, homework and even assessment loads and loads and loads to discuss and explore. Listen, if you've enjoyed this, feel free to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcasting platform. And please add your comments and go to unshot. net. And you can now actually subscribe to a newsletter from me where I will let you know. When the next episode of this podcast is published. So you'd hear from me once every couple of weeks at this point. I also will send you links to articles I found very interesting and maybe some blog posts I've written in the meantime. Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed this. Thanks for listening. All the very best. Bye bye.