Chalk Talk: In-depth research on schools often unearths some gems


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The Independent Online

I do love researchers – they are so fearless in their comments, ground-breaking in their recommendations.

Take this example from the OECD's Pisa in Focus research paper (Pisa, which stands for the Programme for International Student Assessment, is the international test in the core subjects which produces international rankings). Apparently, children taught in orderly classrooms are likely to perform better than those not taught in orderly classrooms.

But there is a bit more to it – the research showed that most students in most classrooms are taught in an orderly fashion with four out of five reporting that only occasionally do pupils not work well because of distractions from fellow pupils.

The interesting stuff comes in a country-by-country breakdown – fewer than one in 10 students in Korea and Thailand, for instance, say they cannot work well in class because of disruptions while the figure rises to nearly one in two in Greece. The Brits are 15th out of 67 for good behaviour. But the most interesting statistic, though, comes from Finland – often at the top of international league tables for the performance of pupils, but where nearly 50 per cent of pupils report there is noise and disorder in the classroom.

How about this startling insight from a paper presented to the British Educational Research Association conference at the University of Sussex: "A school set up to be single-sex will tend to increase the overall national segregation between boys and girls."

Wow! I think he may have a point there.

Speaking of research, you may recall a survey earlier this summer which revealed that Sarah was likely to be the name of the best behaved pupil in the class. She – along with Lucy, Hannah, Harry (!?!) and Jessica – was likely to be teacher's pet.

At the time, I asked the Schoolwear Association – which conducted the research – to come up with the most likely name of the naughtiest pupil in the class.

They have now done so – it is Jack, closely followed by Williams, James, Josh and Kyle.

Now that's the kind of research that's really interesting for teachers!