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Welfare Reform on the Web (November 2007): Education - UK - schools

Building a learning community in the primary classroom

M. Martin

Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press, 2007

The introduction of co-operative learning demands a reappraisal of the way teaching and learning is organised and a shift in the relations between teachers and pupils. Research indicates that co-operative learning brings major benefits, including higher achievement and greater productivity, more positive relationships and greater psychological health, social competence and self-esteem. Interest in this approach has begun to build in Scotland and the introduction of A Curriculum for Excellence has provided a focus for innovative approaches to learning, enabling young people to develop their capacities as confident individuals and effective contributors to society. At the same time the Assessment for Learning Programme has highlighted the changing role of the teacher and her relationship with children. However, the transformation required to build a real learning community in the classroom is more than just a change in instructional strategies; for many teachers it is a change of philosophy and this book explores the crucial personal dimension of putting policy into practice.

Citizenship education in the UK: divergence within a multi-national state

R. Andrews and A. Mycock

Citizenship Teaching and Learning, Vol. 3, Apr. 2007, p.73-85

The recent introduction of Citizenship in England marked an important moment in the history of education in the UK. But to what extent does citizenship education receive equal attention within the four UK Home Nations? And, what are the implications of different approaches to citizenship education? This paper assesses the nature of citizenship education in the four nations of the UK, examining the divergent approaches and attitudes in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Challenges for the future of citizenship education in the UK are explored, before the paper concludes by arguing that great care is required to ensure parity of provision is upheld across the evolving multi-national education system.

Cut number of A-levels, says Tory advisory group

J. Meikle

The Guardian, Sept. 27th, 2007, p.11

A Conservative education task force has published a report advising a future Conservative government to cut the number of A-levels available and to steer young people towards maths and sciences.

Leadership in full-service extended schools: communicating across cultures

D. Muijs

School Leadership and Management, Vol. 27, 2007, p. 347-362

Recent government policy in England has, as in other countries, encouraged the formation of Full-Service Extended Schools, which work closely with other agencies, such as health care, social services and the police, to provide a broader range of services to children. While research is showing some benefits of this approach, only a limited number of studies exist that have focused specifically on leadership in full-service schools. This paper looks at eight case studies where concepts of the effectiveness of full-service schooling, leadership challenges and leadership development have been explored. Findings indicate varied views on the effectiveness of full-service extended schools, which appear to be linked to the extent to which leadership shows a commitment to full-service schools that focuses on the benefits to pupils, and to the extent of distributed leadership within the school. Key challenges are communication and developing shared goals and understandings across different organisational cultures.

Professional school leadership dealing with dilemmas

D. Murphy

Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press, 2007

The ideal school leader is often portrayed as someone who is able to drive forward an agenda of change and improvement whatever the challenges. However, experience shows that tensions often arise within plural school communities as the competing priorities set for the education system by its political masters give rise to unavoidable dilemmas which affect individuals deeply often on a daily basis. Daniel Murphy uses this concept of 'dilemmas' to inform our understanding of the work of school leaders. This analysis offers helpful support to school leaders facing difficult decisions and provides a framework for 'dealing with dilemmas', drawing on experience of school leadership, the psychology of learning and the perspectives of the politics and the ethics of schooling. Dealing with Dilemmas will be of considerable use to school leaders and those training for leadership roles in schools and education administration.

The trajectory of 'political education' in English schools: the rise and fall of two initiatives

S. Clarke

Citizenship Teaching and Learning, Vol. 3, 2007, p.3-16

This article tracks the trajectory of political education in English schools by comparing the experiences of two initiatives that have occurred in the last seventy years, namely, the Association of Education in Citizenship established in 1934 and the Programme for Political Education launched in 1974. Although these initiatives have been interpreted as representing different models of political education, there is some evidence to indicate that they had more in common than is immediately apparent. Irrespective of the interpretation placed on the two initiatives' rationales, aims and outcomes, their experiences serve to demonstrate some of the circumstances that influence sustainability of reform in political education. Consideration of these circumstances is germane as Citizenship enters its fourth year as a compulsory National Curriculum subject in England.

'We are failing too many pupils in state education'

G. Hurst

The Times, Sept. 27th, 2007, p.26

Schools Secretary, Ed Balls admitted to the Labour Party conference that Britain's education system was failing many young people with one in five children unable to gain the mastery of English required to flourish at secondary school. Balls committed the government to raising the level of state spending per pupil but also urged local councils to commit themselves to driving up standards. The Education Secretary also confirmed government plans to make the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority independent of ministers in order to restore confidence in the UK examination system.

(See also The Guardian, Sept. 27th 2007, p. 36)

Why do Muslim parents want Muslim schools?

E. McCreery, L. Jones and R. Holmes

Early Years, Vol. 27, 2007, p. 203-219

This small-scale study focuses on a number of Muslim parents and practitioners who have rejected local primary community schools in favour of Muslim faith schooling. The rejection of the type of schools that we support and that we train teachers to prepare for prompts considerable concern. This concern has led us to question in what ways Muslim schools represent a challenge to our own educational beliefs and values. This study is an attempt to identify the source of that challenge and what it means to our understanding of ourselves as white educators and researchers and the work we do with trainee teachers. It leads us to question our perspective on a range of issues including diversity, inclusion, parental rights and ultimately the aims of education.

Why is leading school improvement such a difficult process?

R. A. Lindahl

School Leadership and Management, Vol. 27, 2007, p. 319-322

Leading meaningful school improvement and reform has proven to be a difficult process. This article looks at some of the interactive, contextual variables that contribute to the complexity of this challenge. These include complexities inherent in schools, in change processes and in the leadership role itself.

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