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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2009): Education - UK - schools

60m sixth form cuts 'could scupper diplomas'

P. Curtis and W. Mansell

The Guardian, Apr. 7th 2009, p. 8

Headteachers are warning that they could be forced to abandon the government's new diplomas after sixth forms and colleges in England were told they face a 60m shortfall in funding from September. Individual schools and colleges report shortfalls of up to 200,000, raising questions about their ability to fund 35,000 places for 16- to 19-year-olds. Headteachers argue that the cuts could damage a key Labour plan to introduce diplomas, which ministers hope will rival A-levels and GCSEs. A guarantee to provide places for all 16- and 17-year-olds who want to study was also at risk, they said.

(See also The Independent, Apr. 9th 2009, p. 10; The Guardian, Apr. 9th, p. 13; The Times, Apr. 9th 2009, p. 3)

100m gap in funding puts school entry at risk

J. Kirkup

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 7th 2009, p. 6

The Learning and Schools Council wrote to head teachers in early March 2009 to inform them of their 'final allocation' of money for post-16 education in academic year 2009/10. However in a second letter, it revised the allocations downwards citing a larger than expected rise in the demand for places as the reason. The funding shortfall means that some schools and colleges may have to refuse places to applicants.

(See also Daily Telegraph Apr. 8th 2009, p. 4)

Appropriating professionalism: restructuring the official knowledge base of England's 'modernised' teaching profession

J. Beck

British Journal of Sociology of Education, vol. 30, 2009, p. 3-14

This article looks at efforts made by government and government agencies in England to prescribe and control the knowledge base of the teaching professions which under successive New Labour administrations since 1997 has been subjected to 'modernisation'. In particular, one key aspect of this ongoing process is examined, namely the specification by the Training and Development Agency for Schools of new 'standards' for both initial teacher training and teachers' subsequent career progression. It is argued that although this is represented as purely common-sense reform, it can be seen as a form of competency training that is rooted in selective elements of post-fordist management theory and a loose form of behavioural psychology. The paper also explores the capacity of this training discourse to suppress awareness of its own presuppositions as well as of alternative concepts of professions and professionalism.

Baby boom and credit crunch brings shortage of primary school places in London

P. Curtis and J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Apr. 20th 2009, p. 4

Councils in London are reporting an urgent shortage of primary school places prompted by a baby boom and fuelled by parents opting for their local schools due to the credit crunch. The tradition of families fleeing the capital as their children reach school age has all but ended because of the freeze in the housing market and also more parents are choosing state schools over the private sector, research shows. Councils in the capital have compiled a report that reveals a shortage of 2,250 places for September, rising to over 5,000 next year and have already been forced to provide temporary buildings and expand class sizes.

'Betrayed' teachers demand 10 per cent pay rise

N. Woolcock

The Times, Apr. 14th 2009, p. 19

The National Union of Teachers demanded a 10 per cent pay rise yesterday, saying that it refused to take 'lessons in morality' on money from the Government. Its annual conference in Cardiff voted to press for a rise of 3,000 or 10 per cent, whichever is greater, because teachers had been underpaid during the country's boom years. Other unions have accepted a deal with the Government that will see teachers receive pay rises of 2.3 per cent this year and next.

(See also The Independent, Apr. 14th 2009, p. 18)

Can competence or standards model facilitate an inclusive approach to teacher education?

A. Moran

International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 13, 2009, p. 45-61

The paper examines whether programmes of initial teacher education (ITE) can contribute to the development of beginning teachers' inclusive attitudes, values and practices. The majority of ITE programess are based on government prescribed competence or standards frameworks which are underpinned by Codes of Professional Values and it is these value statements that form the basis of the research alongside the views of ITE tutors. It is argued that since the professional values and practices element is integral to the teacher education framework, it is inevitable that a rather utilitarian approach has been adopted, both for the specification and development of the values statements.

Comprehensive head picks up 130,000 bonus over two years

A Frean

The Times, Apr. 7th 2009, p.8

It has emerged that Copland Community College, a specialist science school in Wembley, northwest London, paid head Sir Alan Davies bonuses of 80,000 last year and 50,000 the year before for additional work including fundraising. Hank Roberts, a geography teacher, used the figures to tell the Association of Teachers & Lecturers Annual Conference that an 'ethos of greed' is infecting schools.

(See also The Guardian, 7th Apr. 2009, p. 8)

Empowerment or prescription? Workforce remodelling at the national and school level

L. Hammersley-Fletcher and N. Adnett

Educational Management, Administration & Leadership, vol. 37, 2009, p. 180-197

Workforce Remodelling in England, implemented between 2003 and 2005, has been presented by New Labour as a means of enhancing the development of teachers and promoting rising educational attainments. While the processes that schools were to follow were clearly prescribed, the authors argue that the outcomes were less so. They maintain that, conceptually at least, this initiative could be viewed as having more in common with policies seeking to empower schools rather than the performance management ethos evident in the dominant approach to reforming English state schooling. The tension created within national policy is reflected in the research reported in this paper and demonstrates that while in some schools Workforce Remodelling has largely taken the form of a centralised reallocation of tasks along lines favoured by the Government, in others a more delegated style of leadership has encouraged and enabled redefinitions of roles and opened up fundamental debates about current practice.

Exam scripts online to prove pupils know the answers

A. Frean

The Times, Apr. 6th 2009, p. 15

GCSE and A-level examination answers given by students are to be published on the internet so that the public will be able to judge whether standards are worsening. Kathleen Tattersall, the head of the exams watchdog, Ofqual, says she wants to put an end to the debate by publishing examples of GCSE and A-level exam scripts completed by the brightest pupils. She also wants to put on display artwork, technical designs and project work submitted for practical examinations to restore public confidence in the examination system. However, critics of the proposals say that the publication of a few highly polished exam scripts will only give a partial insight into standards.

Flunked your GCSEs? Now you can blame your teacher

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr. 21st 2009, p. 6

A study from the University of Bristol claims that children taught by the worst teachers get at least a grade lower than those taught by the best. The research reveals that a pupil taught by one of the weakest teachers would be worse off by more than one grade in that subject at GCSE. This finding is based on comparing teachers among the bottom 5 per cent in the country with those among the top 5 per cent.

Four-year-olds 'too young for school'

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr. 8th 2009, p. 6

According to a survey published by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), three in four teachers believe that it is wrong to admit children to mainstream classrooms at the age of four. In addition a third of all primary school teachers say that children should be allowed to delay the start of their compulsory schooling until they are at least six. The survey of 700 teachers says many pointed out that children from Scandinavian countries did better in international tests than those in the UK despite the fact they did not start formal schooling until age seven. The findings come at a time when a government inquiry is recommending that all children be allowed to start school in the September term after their fourth birthday.

(See also The Guardian, Apr. 8 2009, p. 14)

Gifted and talented in Northern Ireland

D. Ryan

Gifted Education International, vol. 25, 2009, p. 86-93

The paper presents a summary of the developments of Gifted Education in Northern Ireland. The research survey indicates that a significant gap exists between best practice in the international and English contexts and the quality of work within Northern Ireland. The research also identifies a wide range of best practice models and areas of development through recommendations. The author argues that the Department of Education must take a lead in this area given that it is a key player in terms of commissioning developmental work.

Globalisation and education: a review of conflicting perspectives and their effect on policy and professional practice in the UK

A. Kelly

Globalisation, Societies and Education, vol. 7, 2009, p. 51-68

Many disparate groups have written about the effects of globalisation on education and while some have promoted its benefits, others have warned against its ill-effects. This paper attempts to bring together and juxtapose the arguments as they relate to schooling policy and practice in the UK. It is argued that the current political environment has enabled policy-makers to drive education using economic imperatives and to devolve any liability for ineffective outcomes to the teaching profession. The author maintains that there has been very little debate around the core issues of the purpose of education, the role of schooling in safeguarding democracy and any obligation the state may have to the individual beyond encouraging economic well-being. So, as a way of illuminating the background to such a debate, the paper examines why skirmishes between opposing factions have taken place on the periphery and why the teaching profession has often been a spectator, seemingly incapable of challenging the emerging hegemony.

Half of primary pupils fail to master English and maths

A. Frean

The Times, Apr. 2nd 2009, p. 16

More than 160,000 11 year olds left primary school last year without reaching the Level 4 in English and Maths which is considered the standard necessary for pupils to do well at secondary school. The numbers of pupils reaching Level 5 in English, Maths and Science also dropped significantly. The results for boys were worse than for girls overall, although boys continue to do marginally better than girls at Maths.

Interrogating poverty, social exclusion and New Labour's programme of priority educational policies in England

C. Raffo

Critical Studies in Education, vol. 50, 2009, p. 65-78

This paper reviews New Labour priority educational policies since 1997 that have attempted to break the link between poverty and low educational achievement in England. These policy priorities are examined against a mapping framework developed by the author for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's Education and Poverty Programme and are found to contain two broad underpinning approaches, namely functionalist and socially critical as well as three levels of analysis - micro, meso and macro. The findings show that perhaps too many interventions are underpinned by a functionalist approach that focuses on the more accessible meso level with too little emphasis on the macro. At the same time, according to the author, many of the interventions appear disjointed, lack coherence and seem to eschew issues of power.

Learning behaviour: lessons learned: a review of behaviour standards and practices in our schools

A. Steer

Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2009

The final report of the review on discipline in schools calls for:

  • Teachers to have powers to discipline pupils misbehaving outside school
  • Reasonable punishments for bad behaviour to include one-to-one admonishment, removal from class, banning access to computers and excluding pupils from school trips.
  • Teachers to confiscate items such as mobile phones and MP3 players if used in class
  • Staff to be able to search pupils' clothes, bags and lockers for alcohol, drugs and stolen goods
  • Staff to be able to use reasonable force to restrain pupils
  • Parents to be held accountable through parenting contracts if their children repeatedly misbehave at school.
  • Parents to be fined 50-100 if their children regularly play truant.

Ministers forced to back down over Twitter effect on history lessons

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 6th 2009, p. 12

Ministers have climbed down over controversial plans to reform the primary school curriculum and will bring in measures to ensure that history is taught alongside lessons on how to use social networking sites such as Twitter. A broad chronology of the major events of British history will now be retained in the curriculum, but teachers will still be given the freedom to study two areas in depth. The original proposal was to include history and geography in the broad area of 'human, social and environmental understanding' and to give greater emphasis to the study of new technologies.

MPs 'have duty to opt for state schooling'

A Grice

The Independent, Apr. 6th 2009, p. 14

Barry Sheerman, Chair of the Commons Education Select Committee, in the Fabian Society's magazine, has called for MPs and public sector staff to send their children to state schools to correct the impression that independent schools provide a better education.

PM urged to embrace Tory plan for primary schools

R. Winnett

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 27th 2009, p. 10

Tony Blair's key education adviser has urged Labour to adopt Tory plans to extend the academies programme to primary schools. The plan has been attacked by schools minister Jim Knight.

Primary school Sats tests may be axed, hints Balls

A. Lipsett and P. Curtis

The Guardian, Apr. 7th 2009, p. 8

The schools secretary, Ed Balls, speaking at an education conference has indicated that the current system of Sats tests will be scrapped but insists that some form of test at the end of primary school will stay. However, he has stated that any reforms will not be introduced until 2011 at the earliest - after the 2010 deadline set by two of the teaching unions that are threatening to boycott next year's tests if they aren't scrapped. Balls is planning to publish a white paper next month setting out proposals for radical changes to the system of school accountability, including introducing New York-style 'report cards' which will grade schools according to academic results as well as pupils' behaviour, to give parents more information about schools in their area.

(See also The Guardian, Apr. 16th 2009, p. 4)

Pupils, 11, to learn about homosexuals

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 28th 2009, p. 1 + 2

The curriculum for Personal. Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE) will be extended to include lessons about homosexuality in primary schools and about contraception, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in the first three years of secondary school. Sex and relationships education , which has been optional, will become a statutory part of the national curriculum in 2011.

Pupils playing up again? Time for a game of Pictionary, says class behaviour expert

N. Woolcock

The Times, Apr. 16th 2009, p. 10

According to the Government's behaviour expert, Sir Alan Steer, teachers should play games such as bingo, Pictionary and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? in class to engage disruptive pupils. In his report, Sir Alan has revived the concept of community responsibility for children's behaviour. He says that all adults have to play a part in ensuring that children learn how to behave properly, particularly parents with whom schools should cultivate good relationships. Sir Alan also said that satisfactory performance by schools would no longer be considered good enough. Such a rating on behaviour by Ofsted, the school inspectorate, should be a trigger for local authority intervention.

Redistribution and financing schools in England under Labour

A. West

Educational Management Administration & Leadership, vol. 37, 2009, p. 158-179

This article explores the policy changes made by the Labour government to the recurrent funding of school-based education in England, focusing in particular on the allocation of resources to meet the needs of disadvantaged pupils. Expenditure on education and in particular on schools has increased since 1997. However, it is argued that while there have been two major changes to the way in which government allocates resources to local authorities (LAs) and a new requirement for LAs to include a deprivation factor in their funding formulae for schools, the evidence indicates that resources are being allocated by LAs to schools in a less redistributive manner than they are being allocated by central government to LAs. In addition, while there is now some information about the level of funding allocated to meet the needs of disadvantaged pupils, there appears to be a lack of information about how these resources are actually used within schools.

A rising tide.meeting the needs of more able and talented learners in years

V. Donnelly and V. Scott

Gifted Education International, vol. 25, 2009, p. 81-85

The Welsh Assembly Government aims to develop Wales as a Learning Country in which all children and young people are given opportunities and encouragement to maximise their potential. In 2002, the National Association for Able Children in Education (NACE) was appointed as consultants, and 'A Curriculum of opportunity' was published in 2003 and distributed free to all schools. In 2005, an inaugural meeting of NACE Cymru was held and since this time interest and membership has grown. The distinctive approach taken in Wales appears to have been influenced by the drive to include and raise standards for all learners and the paper goes on to discuss the key features of the approach, current developments in the area and possible future developments.

Schools suspend three times as many persistent troublemakers

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr. 15th 2009, p. 12

The Conservatives have revealed that the number of pupils suspended from school for causing trouble has risen significantly in the past four years. Nearly 900 children were suspended from school more than 10 times in the year 2007-08, compared to just 310 four years previously. The Conservatives claim that this has occurred because schools have been repeatedly suspending pupils rather than permanently expelling them in case appeals panels order the children to be taken back into the classroom. They have pledged to abolish exclusion appeals panels.

Schools will close to let children celebrate Muslim festival of Eid

M. Beckford

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 21st 2009, p. 14

In order to improve attendance rates, Manchester City Council is considering allowing schools with large numbers of Muslim pupils to close on the festivals of Eid, when many parents currently take their children out of classes. Almost one in 10 missed days is put down to religious observance. Head teachers would be encouraged to hold teacher training days on non-Christian religious festivals.

Teachers could strike over sixth-form cuts

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr. 15th 2009, p. 12

Teachers have warned that spending cuts, which could deprive up to 50,000 teenagers of sixth-form and college places this autumn, will create a 'lost generation'. Delegates at the National Union of Teachers' conference also said they would strike if teachers were threatened with losing their jobs. The union unanimously backed a motion calling for a ballot on industrial action if teachers face redundancy over the funding shortfall.

Teachers threaten strike if SATs are axed

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr. 17th 2009, p. 10

Although members of the National Union of Teachers last week voted to take industrial action if the Government kept SATs for 11-year-olds, the Schools Secretary Ed Balls has now been told that schools could face industrial action from another teachers' union if he abolishes them. The National Association of Schoolmasters\ Union of Women Teachers has said it could take industrial action as teachers would face an increase in their workload if the tests were replaced with more time-consuming internal assessments of their pupils.

Teaching union's warning over 'rigid' national curriculum

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Apr. 14th 2009, p. 9

Teachers are under pressure to follow the national curriculum so rigidly they can no longer react to what their pupils are learning, a teaching union leader has warned. Schools fear inspectors will criticise them if they do not follow the national curriculum to the letter, according to Julian Chapman president of the NASUWT - the largest teachers' union in Britain. Chapman said that at a time when teachers were struggling to compete with television for pupils' attention, strict adherence to the curriculum did not allow them to respond to their students' needs or make the most of children's enthusiasm.

(See also The Independent, Apr. 14th 2009, p. 18; The Times, Apr. 14th 2009, p. 19)

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