Underwood, Jean; Banyard, Philip; Betts, Lucy; Farrington-Flint, Lee; Kerlin, Lianne; Stiller, James and Yeomans, Suzanne
Narrowing the gap: An exploration of the ways technology can support approaches to narrowing the gap for underachieving and low-achieving learners in secondary schools.
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The research programme presented here comes under the Harnessing Technology Programme and specifically addresses how technology can be used to meet the challenge of equipping young people with the skills to participate in learning throughout their lives. The specific focus is on low-achieving and underachieving learners, with the aim of identifying and analysing a range of effective pedagogical approaches that may help to narrow the gap for such students in secondary schools.
The Narrowing the Gap project involved two distinct phases: an initial review of the literature followed by a programme of field research. This report presents the field research.
In phase one, the literature review explored how previous research had defined the target populations and identified the interplay of factors linked to low achievement or underachievement of learners. With these parameters established, the field research focused on current strategies proven to be effective in supporting learners identified as low-achieving or underachieving in a range of schools. Essentially we asked how technology can be used to reduce the attainment gap between low-achieving and underachieving learners and the majority of students in secondary schools.
The scope of the study was broadened to explore questions that arose from the initial fieldwork. In this further work we aimed to capture key activities at the interface of primary and secondary schools. The literature review had highlighted this period of transition as a critical event in many pupils’ lives. For some children, this transition opens up opportunities, but for others it proves to be traumatic. Teachers have identified adjustment to the school context as critical to a child establishing a place within the school community.
A further output emerging from this project (not presented here) is a set of examples of good practice that hold promise for addressing the problems associated with the target learners. These have been developed to provide a range of ‘Virtual school’ teacher-support materials [these materials are planned to be launched end of February 2010]. Alongside the research evidence, they provide guidance for future policy development.
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