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Welfare Reform on the Web (January 2008): Education - UK - schools

The Academies Programme

Committee of Public Accounts

London: TSO, 2007 (House of Commons Papers session 2006-07; HC 402)

An academy is a publicly funded school that is supported by one or more sponsors and operates independently of the local authority. The Department of Children, Families & Schools aims to open 200 academies by 2010 at a capital cost of around £5 billion. This report examines evidence about the progress of the Academies programme and identifies the following trends: GCSE performance at academies has improved faster than that of other schools; there have been improvements at Key Stage 3; exclusions of pupils are higher than at other schools; literacy and numeracy of academy pupils have been rising but are still less than half the level of attainment in all secondary schools; and most academiesí sixth forms have not performed well so far. This report recommends that academies collaborate with other secondary schools to share the benefits of their facilities and the lessons from the educational improvements they have made, but also for the benefit of their own pupils, for example in broadening and improving the quality of education for all pupils, particularly post-16.

The Annual report of Her Majestyís Chief Inspector of Education, Childrenís Service and Skills

London: TSO, 2007 (House of Commons papers, session 2006-07; HC 1002)

This report introduces the new Ofsted, which came into being on 1st April 2007, and provides commentary on the outcomes of inspection of local authority childrenís services, schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning, adult education and more. Evidence is presented from more than 36,000 inspections and regulatory visits and provides a robust basis for the reportís conclusions. For the first time, the report draws together the findings from surveys and inspection work across all of Ofstedís remit and describes the quality of provision across the spectrum of care and learning, commenting on the themes of improving life chances, the development of childrenís identity in 21st century England and acquiring skills for employment.

Citizenship and sign bilingualism: ' Ö thereís nothing wrong with being bilingual Ö itís a positive and fantastic thing!'

S. D. Emery

Deafness and Education International, vol. 9, 2007, p. 173-186

Sign bilingualism is used to mean an approach to the education of deaf children that utilises both sign language and the written and spoken language of the hearing community. If a deaf child cannot or does not want to develop speech, the focus should be on their learning sign language and the written form of the native language. The author argues that:

  • Deaf children should not be forced to try to speak in the name of integration into mainstream hearing society
  • Phonocentrism in citizenship should be jettisoned, and people should be able to attain citizenship by acquiring fluency in sign language and written English
  • Parents should not be allowed the choice of placing a deaf child in an educational setting in which he/she is forced to try to learn to speak.

Creative partnerships and the curriculum

Education & Skills Committee

London: TSO, 2007 (House of Commons Papers session 2006-07; HC 1034)

Since the establishment of the National Curriculum (in 1988) and the National Literacy and Numeracy strategies (in 1998 and 1999 respectively), concerns have been expressed that creativity and innovative approaches to teaching may have been unintentionally constrained. Since 2002 the Department for Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS), with a smaller contribution from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCFS), has funded an initiative called Creative Partnerships. The scheme funds creative professionals to work in schools with teachers and students, offering continuing professional development to school staff and providing guidance on creativity in relation to wider school improvement. This report offers evidence of a very high level of support among school staff and practitioners for more creative approaches to teaching and recommends more systematic analysis of the evidence linking creative programmes with improved attainment. The report proposes that DCMS and DCFS should review policies such as Every Child Matters and personalised learning strategies to ensure that creativity is established as a core principle in learning and development. The committee considers a key priority for Creative Partnerships in the coming years will be to produce replicable models or templates, which can be used and adapted to initiate work in schools that have not yet participated directly in the programme, ensuring that all schools benefit from the investment to date.

Interventions and interrogations: an analysis of recent policy imperatives and their rationales in the case of home education

K. McIntyre-Bhatty

Education, Knowledge and Economy, vol. 1, 2007, p. 241-259

During the last two years, Britainís Department for Education and Skills (DfES) has commissioned several pieces of research into various aspects of home education. These items of research have served to illustrate several of the most pressing local authority concerns with regard to the educational outcomes, socialisation and welfare of children educated in this manner. As a result, in part, of the publication of these commissioned studies, and because of the perceived anomalous regulatory situation regarding such educational practice when compared with state and private education provision (which is subject to significant levels of legislation), a full public consultation into legislation concerned with the regulation of home education has been widely anticipated. Instead, the government has recently launched a consultation on elective home education guidelines. This article seeks to explore the need for, and implications of guidelines, further regulation and legislation for the home-educating community, in the light of increasing levels of national and international research into the educational attainment, welfare and impact of legislation on education other than at school.

Special educational needs: assessment and funding

Education & Skills Committee

London: TSO, 2007 (House of Commons Papers session 2006-07; HC 1077)

This report outlines how confidence in the provision for children with special educational needs might be improved through separating assessment from funding. It makes three specific recommendations: commissioning of assessments by local authorities or Childrenís Trusts; delegation of responsibilities for assessment to schools; and making educational psychology services more independent. Amid concerns that money delegated to schools to fund provision for special educational needs is not necessarily spent as intended the report requests an early statement from the Government on how the money from the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review will be used. The committee also asks the Government to make explicit commitments to provide a national framework for special educational needs and to encourage local authorities to publish provision maps setting out the services and support that schools and other providers across each area ought to be making available.

Uneasy relationships? Conceptions of 'citizenship', 'democracy' and diversity in the English citizenship education policymaking process

D. Kiwan

Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, vol. 2, 2007, p. 223-235

This article examines conceptions of participative citizenship, democracy and diversity and looks at how these concepts inter-relate in the citizenship education policymaking process in England. It is shown that the dominant model of citizenship is a participatory one, and this is linked to the concept of democracy. However, 'diversity' is not explicitly addressed in within the participatory concept, nor in relation to democracy. It is argued that unless there is a concomitant focus on peopleís diversity of identities, the dominant model of a participatory citizenship will not achieve inclusion and empowerment for all. The author proposes that citizenship education should focus on inclusive communication and collective problem solving, rather than privileging non-existent shared values and notions of the common good.

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