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

Behavioural, emotional and social difficulties: a guide for the early years

J. Kay

Continuum, 2007

Part of the Continuum Series SEN in the Early Years, this book is aimed at early years practitioners, managers, students, tutors and parents interested in developing their understanding of Special Educational Needs. It is mainly concerned with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD) that may affect learning and development and aims to equip practitioners with a wide range of strategies for helping young children. The author stresses that for many children these categories are an artificial divide, useful for discussion and analysis but not necessarily reflecting individual children's actual experiences.

Coordinating special educational needs: a guide for the early years

D. Fitzgerald

Continuum, 2007

Part of the Continuum Series SEN in the Early Years, this book is an introduction to Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision and policy for all early years practitioners and is a particularly valuable resource for Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs). The book provides an overview of the legislation relating to SEN, examines the role of the SENCO, explores the impact of intervention on the child and family and suggests strategies to ensure the views of children and families are involved in decision-making processes.

Education by numbers: the tyranny of testing

W. Mansell

London: Politico's, 2007

In the light of recent evidence that England's schoolchildren are now the most tested in the world, this book explores the implications of placing so much emphasis on test results as a means of evaluating 'successful education'. Although the author acknowledges (and sympathises with) the increased stresses on, and reservations of, teachers, he is particularly concerned with the impact of constant testing on pupils. He focuses on the impact of using tests to raise pupils' educational performance, and in particular on the drive by ministers to hold teachers and schools to account for their pupils' pass rates, thereby defining the success of schools principally in terms of test scores and league tables. Among the central questions this book explores are:

  • Does exam-driven schooling work?
  • Are the results it creates reliable?
  • What action has been taken to limit negative implications for pupils?
  • Is there a danger that in doing all they can to help children through their tests, teachers are creating a generation of young people less willing to think for themselves?

Faith schools accused of middle-class bias

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 3rd 2008, p. 12

Research shows that faith schools are being monopolised by children from middle-class backgrounds, while pupils from working-class families struggle to get places. Even when situated in deprived areas, faith school admissions are said to be skewed in favour of children from more affluent backgrounds. Schools are alleged to use the fact that they can select by religion as a way of picking out middle class pupils.

The impact of public private partnerships on education: a case study of Sewell Group Plc and Victoria Dock Primary School

H. Gibson and B. Davies

International Journal of Educational Management vol. 22, 2008, p.74-89

This paper examines the implications of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) for education delivery by undertaking a case study of two partnership organisations: the first primary school in the UK to be built under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme and a leading construction and development group. The findings of the research suggest that the impact of the partnership on education is positive. Pupils perform significantly better than those at both the average local and national primary schools and there appears to be a positive impact on attitude, behaviour and attendance.

Key issues for teaching assistants: working in diverse and inclusive classrooms

G. Richards & F. Armstrong (eds.)

London: Routledge, 2008

Teaching assistants are increasingly relied upon to provide help for children who experience difficulties in learning. This book focuses particularly on the diverse roles of teaching assistants in supporting inclusive education and explores the values and possible contradictions in policies and beliefs. Each chapter, written by a leading expert in the field, contains an overview of topical debates, current research and initiatives, emphasizing inclusive approaches and the importance of understanding the perspectives of children, regardless of difference. Common classroom issues are explored, such as: inclusion and special needs; dealing with hard-to-reach parents; tackling bullying and supporting those bullied; boys, girls and the different ways they achieve; and being the class 'TA' not 'PA'.

Leadership in improving schools: a qualitative perspective

C. Penlington, A. Kington and C. Day

School Leadership and Management, vol.28, 2008, p.65-82

This article reports early case-study data gathered from 20 schools involved in the 'Impact of School Leadership on Pupil Outcomes' project. The authors present and discuss the perceptions of headteachers and other school leaders regarding leadership factors that directly and indirectly affect pupil outcomes in these improving schools. Included are issues relating to the pivotal role played by the headteacher in setting and communicating a strategic vision for the school; models of distributed leadership; and the building of leadership capacity so as to create a sense of collective responsibility for the improvement of pupil outcomes.

Learning disengagement at key stage three: effective dissemination of the evidence

S. Judd

ChildRight, issue 243, 2008, p. 22-24

Disengagement from learning is particularly evident at Key Stage 3, when children are aged 11-14. Many young people become disengaged at this age due to the lack of status increase as they move from primary to secondary school. Much educational discourse focuses on the importance of GCSE results, so pupils see learning at Key Stage 3 as less significant. This is perpetuated by schools which have less experienced teachers taking Key Stage 3 classes. Research points to interventions that could help disaffected pupils re-engage with the learning process. Collaboration between researchers and practitioners can make this evidence available to classroom teachers.

Managing special and inclusive education

S. Rayner

London: Sage, 2007

This book focuses on leadership and the management of diversity in education. Managing inclusive or special education is further complicated by an evolving definition and understanding of special educational needs (SEN), as well as an awareness of the debate surrounding a system of special or inclusive education. The book is organised into three major parts: Part I is a critical review of SEN policy and the present inclusion imperative; Part II is an exploration of managing inclusive education and SEN provision in the educational organisation and the wider setting of a local community; and Part III is a discussion of how to approach managing SEN provision, inclusive learning and teaching in institutional contexts. While the immediate focus of this book is education in the UK, it draws case examples from international contexts as well from within the UK.

More lose out in scramble for schools

G. Paton, S. Borland and A. Simpson

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 4th 2008, p. 4 & 1

Reports that, under the new admissions system, as many as four in 10 children in some areas missed out on their first choice of secondary school in 2008. Across the country, most local authorities reported that the number of families missing out on their first choice school had increased over the previous 12 months, as competition for places in the best schools increases. Some experts say that school choice is an illusion.

Partnering for success: preparing to deliver the 14-19 education reforms in England

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2007 (House of Commons papers, session 2007/08; HC 99)

The 14-19 reforms are planned to be implemented by 2013, the main aims being to raise the participation of young people in education by increasing the relevance of learning and to raise their educational attainment. Central to the reforms is a new set of qualifications, the Diplomas, which aim to merge applied and more general learning and provide alternative pathways for 14-19 year olds into higher and further education as well as into employment. Implementation of the reforms will require partnerships that include organizations such as schools, further education and sixth form colleges, independent training providers, employers, universities and careers advice services. This report examines the progress that local 14-19 partnerships are making in preparing to deliver the reforms, across all areas of England. Six main areas of risk are identified as needing to be managed in order to achieve the successful local implementation of the 14-19 reforms.

Research into the impact of school leadership on pupil outcomes: policy and research contexts

C. Day and others

School Leadership and Management, vol.28, 2008, p.5-25

This paper presents the authors' study of successful school leadership and how it influences pupil outcomes. Critical to an appreciation of the external validity of the results is an understanding of the policy context within which the English leaders in their study found themselves. This is a policy context dominated by concerns for external accountability and increases in the academic performance of pupils. In addition to describing this context, the paper summarises the conceptual and methodological framework that guided the early stage of their research and outlines their mixed-methods research design.

Schools and Communities: working together to transform children's lives

J. West-Burnham, M. Farrar & G. Otero

London: Network Continuum Education, 2008

This book combines theory, research and practice to offer an integrated approach to rethinking the relationship between schools and their communities. It examines strategies to raise achievement and embed Every Child Matters into professional practice and school policies. The authors advocate a change of focus in the strategies that are being used to maximize the achievement of every child, based on the scenario that results at national level are 'plateauing' and notable improvements in attainment levels are increasingly difficult to secure. They argue that social factors are disproportionately significant in their impact on children's academic achievement, and that it may therefore be an appropriate time to focus on the social environment of the learner rather than purely increasing the emphasis on school improvement.

Seven strong claims about successful school leadership

K. Leithwood, A. Harris and D. Hopkins

School Leadership and Management, vol.28, 2008, p.27-42

This article provides an overview of the literature concerning successful school leadership. It draws on the international literature and is derived from a more extensive review of the literature completed in the early stage of the authors' project. The prime purpose of this review is to summarise the main findings from the wealth of empirical studies undertaken in the leadership field.

The Trajectory and impact of national reform: curriculum and assessment in English primary schools

D. Wyse, E. McCreery and H. Torrance

2008 (Primary Review research survey; 3/2)

This report, which forms part of the Cambridge-based primary review, finds that government control of the curriculum and assessment strongly increased between 1988 and 2007, especially after 1997. The evidence of the impact of various initiatives on standards of pupil attainment is at best equivocal and at worst negative. While test scores have risen since the mid-1990s, this has been achieved at the expense of children's entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum and by the diversion of considerable teaching time to test preparation. There has been some improvement in standards achieved by many primary school pupils, but there has also been a decrease in the overall quality of education experienced by pupils because of the narrowing of the curriculum and the intensity of test preparation. Drilling pupils to pass tests does not help their longer-term learning and is resulting in a narrower curriculum, poorer standards of teaching and lower quality of education.

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