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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2000): Education - UK - Schools

BLAIR VOWS TO DOUBLE SPECIALIST SCHOOLS

J. Carvel

Guardian, Jan. 17th 2000, p.9

By 2003 government intends that one in four secondary schools will be turned into a specialist college. Schools will achieve specialist status by raising £50,000 business sponsorship setting improvement targets and involving the local community. In return they receive £100,000 capital grant and £120 extra per pupil for at least four years.

BLUNKETT OUTLINES VISION FOR OVER 11s

J. Carvel

Guardian, Jan. 7th 1999, p.4

Summarises the governments vision for the transformation of secondary education in the 21st century. Main points are: Summer Schools for 11-year-olds to smooth the transition to secondary school; a new national test for 12-year-olds in English and maths to gauge the success of teaching strategy; all secondary schools to have challenging targets in tests at 14 in English, maths and science; individual learning plans to match the abilities and interests at secondary school pupils; lessons at neighbouring schools specialising in pupils chosen subjects; all young people to stay in education or training until 19; and, teachers to become 'learning managers' supported by assistants and IT.

(See also Independent, Jan. 7th 1999, p.4; Times, Jan. 7th 1999, p.11; Daily Telegraph, Jan. 7th 1999, p.5).

THE BUSINESS OF LEARNING: PARENTS AS FULL, UNWILLING OR SLEEPING PARTNERS

G. Heywood-Everett

International Studies in Sociology of Education, vol. 9, 1999, p.159-170

The concept of a partnership between parents and schools or parents and teachers has been written into policy documents such as home-school agreements and homework programmes without the term being adequately questioned. The concept of partnership is persistent and is used to drive ideological initiatives at the expense of those whom it suggests it serves. Article proposes that partnership metaphor has been inappropriately invoked from a business lexicon, and, with little to tie it into the school and home-school context, potentially does damage to those it claims to involve.

COMPANY WINS DEAL TO ASSESS TEACHERS' PAY

J. Kelly

Financial Times, Jan. 21st 2000, p.3

Announces the award of a contract to Cambridge Education Associates for the supply of external assessors to check performance related pay awards for classroom teachers.

CREAMING THEM OFF

R. Coward

Guardian, Jan. 18th 2000, p.15

Argues that the creation of specialist schools at the secondary level will introduce a covert selection process. A proportion of students entering the new schools will be chosen on the basis of "aptitude". Recognition of "aptitude" tends in practice to translate into exams, tests or interviews, which inevitably involve 11-year-olds in competitive processes.

DEALING THEM IN

T. Burke

Young People Now, no. 130, 2000, p.18-19

Describes the introduction of a new work-related curriculum in three schools in Newcastle upon Tyne for disaffected pupils identified as unlikely to be entering GCSEs. The work-related curriculum aims to instill into the young people a bundle of skills and attitudes valued by employers such as enthusiasm, honesty, adaptability and flexibility so as to increase their employability. Pupils are also introduced to the world of work through a range of supported work placements, community projects, basic skills training and outdoor education programmes.

FIVE-TERM YEAR 'MAY AID PUPILS TO LEARN'

J. O'Leary

Times, Jan. 12th 2000, p.10

Reports proposals to extend the school year from three to five terms. Four terms would be used for instilling the national curriculum while the fifth would be devoted to art, culture and creativity. Exams would be brought forward from the final to the penultimate term of the school year, to free up time for the cultural activities.

(See also Guardian, Jan. 12th 2000, p.8).

FORCES OF CONSERVATION

M. Taylor and J. Godfrey (eds)

London: Institute for Public Policy Research, 1999

Authors of the chapters on the forces of conservatism in the NHS and education recognise that medical practitioners and the teaching profession have sometimes been barriers to change. However they do not accept the view that public servants are inherently conservative. From their perspective, the issue is neither merely to want change nor simply to resort to ever more strident exhortation, it is to identify the right change levers and then to pull them. In some cases, the efforts of this government may be simply creating new points of resistance.

HEAD SAY 1,000 TEACHING JOBS LOST AS COUNCIL HOLD BACK SCHOOL CASH

J. Judd

Independent, Jan. 28th 2000, p.13

Head teachers are demanding a radical reform to drastically reduce the power of local education authorities. Former grant - maintained schools are claiming that 1,000 teachers' posts and 500 support staff positions may have been lost because local authorities have been retaining money for central services. Secondary heads are complaining that funding is a lottery with pupils in similar schools allocated vastly different amounts of financial support depending on the local authority. They are pressing for a national funding formula, with the government paying money directly to schools.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Jan. 28th 2000, p.12; Guardian, Jan. 28th 2000, p.6).

ILLITERATE WILL BE PAID TO LEARN TO READ AND WRITE

J. Hibbs

Daily Telegraph, Dec. 17th 1999, p.10

Reports government plans to set up a systematic screening programme to identify literacy and numeracy problems among all benefits claimants. Those found to be functionally illiterate will be encouraged to complete adult education courses, possibly through cash incentives. In an effort to boast IT skills, the government will also make free computers available to people living in deprived areas.

(See also Independent, Dec. 17th 1999, p.8).

LESSONS FOR WORLD CITIZENS

J. Clare

Daily Telegraphy, Dec. 22nd 1999, p.15

Examines why more schools are choosing the International Baccalaureate over A-levels.

LIVING WITH PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT: A CASE STUDY OF TWO 'OPEN SCHOOLS'

J. Stanley and M.G. Wgness

International Studies in Sociology of Education, vol. 9, 1999, p.131-158

This account is based on case study data collected in two first phase schools (5-8 years) in England. Results show that in the process of parent-teacher relations the advantage lies with the teachers, and parental empowerment is something of a myth. The metaphor of 'openness' is not questioned by parents and teachers, and it covers a process where trading takes place between routine parental needs and the professional power and control of teachers. There are clear indicators in the data that what drives parental involvement in the schools studied is teacher priorities coupled with some parental compliance, under the cover of the open school, and not government policy imperatives,

THE NATIONAL LITERACY STRATEGY: AN EVALUATION OF THE FIRST YEAR OF THE NATIONAL LITERACY STRATEGY

Ofsted

London: 1999

Finds weaknesses in the teaching of writing, with teachers needing training in grammar and sentence construction. Phonics teaching was also found to be weak in 25% of lessons. Reception and infant teachers were performing well, but the inspectors found that 40% of teachers of seven and eight-year-olds did not seem to appreciate the importance of continuing with the systematic teaching of phonics. Boys in particular gave cause for concern, with only 46% of them reaching the required standard in writing in the national tests for 11-year-olds, compared with 61% of girls.

PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT: WHO WANTS IT?

G. Crozier

International Studies in Sociology of Education, vol. 9, 1999, p.111-130

Article begins by looking at some aspects of parental involvement in the secondary school context. Evidence from a 3-year research project shows that parental involvement is characterised by power struggles, and tensions between the different constituents. Article discusses this contest between the main protagonists, the teachers, the parents and the pupils. The final section of the article is concerned with the government policy on Home-School Agreements, and discusses the implications of these for parental involvement.

SCHOOL MEALS

Education and Employment Committee

London: TSO, 1999 (House of Commons papers. Session 1999/2000; 96)

Recommends a nutrient-based approach to one using food groups as the basis for legally enforceable minimum nutritional standards. A carefully monitored school meals service is not an optional extra. This approach is a vital ingredient in promoting alertness, ability to learn and participation of children in the whole of school life as part of an overall effort to promote a healthier nation and to combat social exclusion and disadvantage in schools.

SUMMER SCHOOLS FOR ALL 11-YEAR-OLDS

J. Carvel

Guardian, Jan. 4th 1999, p.2

Reports government plans to set up summer schools for all 11-year-olds as part of a scheme to smooth pupils transition from primary to secondary education. Other measures proposed include transferring some pupil wearing the end of their last term in primary school to give them an early taste of the secondary experience and giving secondary teachers time in primary schools to assess their incoming pupils.

TEACH CHILDREN TO THINK, SCHOOLS TOLD

J. O'Leary

Times, Jan. 6th 2000, p.4

Reports government plans to train children in analytical skills from the age of 11 in order to raise standards in the early years of secondary education. Guidance on how to import these skills will be included in a programme of professional development for all secondary school teachers.

(See also Financial Times, Jan. 6th 2000, p.6;Guardian, Jan. 6th 2000, p.4; Independent, Jan. 6th 2000, p.6).

TEACHERS ON THE NET HELP WITH HOMEWORK

D. Charter

Times, Jan. 27th 2000, p.12

Describes Homework High, an Internet site sponsored by Channel 4 Television which provides access to a network of teachers ready to offer guidance about homework.

(See also Independent, Jan. 27th 2000, p.14; Daily Telegraph, Jan. 27th 2000, p.11).

TOP MARKS PLAN TO SAVE A LEVELS

J. O'Leary

The Times, Jan. 5th 2000, p.1

Reports proposals to give universities the raw A level marks of each candidate, as well as the grades, to help them identify top performers.

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