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

40,000 classroom helpers 'should go'

J. Kirkup and C. Irvine

Day Telegraph, Sept.28th 2009, p.1 + 2

A leaked copy of an internal government report has revealed extensive waste and mismanagement in the state education system. The report said that schools did not monitor their spending and often spent many times more than they should on equipment and maintenance. It recommends abolishing up to 40,000 teaching assistant posts because they add little or nothing to the quality of teaching.

Academy schools 'are losing their freedom'

C. Irvine

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 7th 2009, p.16

The number of academies, schools set up and managed by private sponsors, is set to double in the next year. However, there are concerns that the majority of new academies have local authority involvement, depriving them of the freedoms which made them successful in the first place. They have also lost freedom to vary the curriculum and some of the control they had over recruitment.

Analysing the parameters of the duty of reasonable adjustment to facilitate access to e-learning resources

M. van Hoorebeek

Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, vol. 3, 2009, p. 227-241

Educational providers continue to develop new methods of delivering content in digital formats. The increasing use of broadband, web-based resources and new content creation software provides numerous methods of producing excellence in content creation and delivery. It is important that this excellence is available to all; to this end the disability aspects of e-learning provision are discussed in this paper, specifically relating to an anticipatory 'duty of reasonable adjustment' to facilitate access to computer-based learning within the UK education sector. The paper concludes that the concept of reasonable adjustment is likely to remain unclear within the current statutory framework, is dynamic in relation to e-learning software applications, and will continue to increase in scope and complexity as advanced software applications are used on a larger scale in the education sector.

Bigger really is better for A-level students looking for a sixth form

R. Garner

The Independent, Sept. 7th 2009, p. 14

An analysis carried out by the Association of Colleges (AoC), shows that smaller the sixth-form, the worse its exam results are likely to be. The data show that those with 50 or fewer pupils have an average score of 561 per candidate under the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's scoring system, the equivalent of two C-grade passes and an E. Performance improves with size until those with more than 250 pupils, which includes most sixth-form colleges, score an average of 802, nearly three straight A-grade passes per pupil. The findings call into question the Government's policy of encouraging schools and recently established flagship academies to provide post-GSCE education.

(See also The Times, Sept. 7th 2009, p.21)

'Facebook generation' of teachers must be promoted

R. Garner

The Independent, Sept. 23rd 2009, p. 9

David Hargreaves, a senior researcher with the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and former head of the Government's exams watchdog has said that the 'facebook generation' of young teachers should be appointed to top school posts to help pupils switch back on to learning. Schools, he said, had to recognise that older heads and senior management had little understanding of 'Generation Y' and had to give priority to creativity and innovation.

Lower your fees or lose 190,000 pupils, private schools warned

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 15th 2009, p. 10

A report by MTM Consulting shows that private school fees have increased by a third over the past five years. Over the same period, the income of upper middle class families, who are most likely to use private education, rose by only 18%. The report concludes that private education is becoming unaffordable, and that schools should bring fee increases under control by cutting costs. These could be reduced by increasing class sizes, cutting specialist subjects, and halting construction of expensive facilities.

Men are absent in a quarter of all primary schools

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 25th 2009, p. 8

Research by the General Teaching Council for England shows that 4,550 out of 16,900 primary schools are staffed entirely by women. Academics say that the shortage of male teachers is in part due to social concerns over paedophilia. There is also concern that the gender divide may lead boys to think that education is only for girls.

Perspectives on participation and inclusion: engaging education

S. Gibson and J. Haynes (editors)

London: Continuum, 2009

This book is a critical response to developments in the field of education studies and attempts to unpack popular policy initiatives by locating their origins, aims and impacts within the wide and varied field of education. It further explores critical and transformative pedagogies which foster inclusion and participation by drawing on case studies which exemplify these.

Poverty 'that takes us back to Dickens'

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 10th 2009, p. 1 +2

The president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers has claimed that Victorian levels of poverty in deprived areas are leading to pupils starting school lacking the most basic personal skills, such as how to eat with a knife and fork. Parents rely on older siblings to raise younger children in households lacking a stable father figure. She argued that it was next to impossible for schools to counter the effects of poverty, family breakdown and poor parenting.

Radical reforms: perspectives on an era of educational change

C. Chapman and H.M. Gunter (editors)

London: Routledge, 2009

Focusing on education as a major area of public policy in England, this book explores the past decade, seen as one of rapid and intensive modernisation, and attempts to draw some conclusions for those concerned with developing education systems across the globe. In 1997 New Labour set out to transform the public sector in general and education in particular. This work focuses specifically on reform in such key areas as: standards and accountability; workforce reform; choice and diversity; and Every Child Matters and beyond.

Special educational needs, inclusion and diversity

N. Frederickson and T. Cline

Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2009

The new edition of this book attempts to offer a balance between theory, research and practice as well as analysing the implications of the effects of linguistic, cultural and ethnic diversity on special educational needs. The authors emphasise inclusion and suggest practical strategies aimed at assisting professionals to maximise inclusion while at the same time recognising and supporting diversity.

Sponsors of failing academies face the sack, warns Balls

R. Williams

The Guardian, Sept. 23rd 2009, p. 10

The schools secretary, Ed Balls, has promised to take tough action on failing academies, threatening to replace governors and sack sponsors in schools where standards remain consistently low. Figures show that 270 secondary schools, including 40 academies, still have fewer than 30% of pupils achieving five A*-C grades at GCSE, including in maths and English. Balls warned that academies should expect to be scrutinised as rigorously as any other school, as the government sought to achieve its National Challenge target of getting all schools over the benchmark by 2011.

Sponsorship fee of 2m for academy schools is scrapped

D. Turner

The Financial Times, Sept. 8th 2009, p. 6

The Government has removed the sponsorship fee for academy schools opening from September 2011. However, business leaders say it won't make any difference to the number of private companies bidding to become sponsors.

State schools can take tougher GCSE

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 15th 2009, p. 2

Pupils in state schools will be allowed to drop GCSEs in favour of alternative examinations modelled on the traditional O-level. The government will pay for schools to enter pupils for the International GCSE in nine subjects, including French, history, geography, music and business studies. The courses have previously only been offered in private schools.

System shake-up to help pupils with special needs

A. Topping

The Guardian, Sept. 28th 2009, p. 15

Government proposals announced today aim to make the process of assessing a child's needs easier and more independent, taking assessment of children with Special Educational Needs out of the hands of local councils. The proposals are based in part on parents' complaints.

Teachers angry at Balls's 2bn cuts

J. Kirkup

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 21st 2009, p. 1 + 2

The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families is seeking 2bn savings from the education budget. His plan is to make the savings by squeezing teachers' pay and eliminating up to 3,000 head teachers' posts by forming groups of schools into federations run by a single head. These proposals have angered teachers' unions.

(See also Guardian, Sept. 21st 2009, p. 4; Independent, Sept. 21st 2009, p. 6-7)

Teaching assistants hinder not help progress of pupils

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 4th 2009, p. 6

Over the past decade, the number of support staff in schools has increased as part of a drive to give teachers more time to plan lessons and mark work. Research has shown that teaching assistants often had a positive effect on pupils, who were more likely to receive one to one help and less likely to misbehave. However the study also found that pupils supported by teaching assistants made less progress in the core subjects of English, maths and science.

Third of academies fail to meet minimum targets

N. Woolcock

The Times, Sept. 23rd 2009, p.19

One in three academies has failed to reach the minimum targets set for them by government. Exam achievement at GCSE has stalled or even regressed at some academies. Only a small number are reaching the target of 30 per cent of pupils achieving 5 good GCSEs. The academies were created by Tony Blair and have freedom from local authority control.

Thousands of class assistants face the sack

R. Garner

The Independent, Sept. 28th 2009, p. 12

An internal government report by Richard Handover for schools secretary Ed Balls suggests that 40,000 teaching assistants should be removed to reduce costs. The report was obtained by the BBC's Politics Show.

Understanding early years policy. 2nd ed.

P. Baldock, D. Fitzgerald & J. Kay

London: Sage, 2009

This book covers latest developments in early years policy and evaluates its impact on practice. The authors explore policy across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and discuss the new Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum and recent developments in special educational needs. The book provides an updated timeline of early years legislation and features several case studies covering the birth to eight age range.

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