Last Friday, the Times Educational Supplement (TES) published an article in which Dame Alison Peacock, Chief Executive of England’s Chartered College of Teaching, falsely claimed that the research supporting Cognitive Load Theory is not based on school-aged children.
I then wrote a blog post pointing out that this claim was false and I included a quote from John Sweller, a key researcher in the field.
As a result of my blog post, the TES contacted Sweller and has now run a story in which they quote Sweller’s response and in which ‘a spokesperson for the college’ has backtracked on Peacock’s claims. Oddly, this new article breaks journalistic etiquette by not mentioning that I broke the story.
The college spokesperson’s comments are strange. He suggests he is clarifying Peacock’s initial claims, but those claims were perfectly clear, albeit false. The spokesperson also suggests Peacock was caught off-guard and offers no regret, as if it is quite normal for the head of a body whose remit is partly to increase teachers’ research awareness to misrepresent entire fields of research.
And the spokesperson also says this:
“…the college stands by its wider concerns that in places Ofsted was citing CLT research that was based on undergraduates to underpin its decisions affecting school-aged children.“
This is not true. As someone who researches in the field of Cognitive Load Theory, I can think of very little that is based on undergraduates. The same effects appear in undergraduates, secondary school children and primary school children. Exactly what is it that this spokesperson is referring to?
I certainly cannot find anything in the Ofsted guidance. The closest this gets is to cite a definition of learning taken from from a paper that refers to Cognitive Load Theory in order to make a wider argument about guidance.
I can’t help thinking that as an organisation, the Chartered College doesn’t really know what it is on about.